Friday, 1 August 2014

Right yet wrong

Arabs and Jews are lobbing ordinance at each other and frankly I’m bored with it all. I’ve been bored with this subject all my sentient life and I feel pretty safe in predicting it will continue to arouse nothing but ennui well into my dotage. So sod the lot of them; today I’m writing about dear old Richard Dawkins. I like old Dickie-D; he’s how I imagine I would be if I possessed a half-decent intellect… and I’m not quite clever enough to work out if that is an insult or not.

Anyway, he’s been getting it in the neck again for saying something which, on the face of it, is entirely reasonable but reasonable or not he has managed to upset those who seek to prevent free speech whenever it doesn’t suit them. The professor said that some rapes are worse than other rapes. He’s right; he really is. There is a world of difference between a regretted, tipsy, post-date penetration and a full-on, I-might-actually-die-here knifepoint assault, just as there is a world of difference between a verbal battering and a fist fight.

I’m not belittling rape; I wouldn’t dare. Besides I know this is a subject about which men are deemed incapable of holding a valid opinion, let alone debating, so I almost never get involved but the Dawkins slag-fest pissed me off a bit because of the double standards involved. Some women REALLY hate men poking their noses in where they are not wanted, yet feel they have some divinely-granted permission to wade straight into arguments that don’t concern them either. No wonder most men tend to avoid conversation with women altogether; it’s such unstable ground.

We get shrieked at for agreeing, shrieked at for disagreeing and shrieked at whenever we try to remain peacefully neutral… when we get called weak for allowing ourselves to be shrieked at. And while women may hold rigid, unassailable ‘correct’ and accurate opinions about ‘men’, men simply know nothing at all about woman and should keep their silence. It’s a paradigm which takes time to learn and many a man goes through the whole of life perplexed at always being wrong.

Should a woman ask a man, “A penny for your thoughts?” he should merely reply “Nothing; I was thinking of nothing at all.” If it isn’t the truth it is at least the safest version of the truth; they already think we are profoundly stupid anyway. All of this explains sheds, pubs, gardening clubs and why men die before their partners… Richard Dawkins was right; he just forgot that being a man and being right over an exclusively female issue is a hanging offence. Now, let's get back to safer ground and sort out about war, religion and the Middle East... 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Doing it by Numbers

Fish, reptiles, amphibians… cold, slimy unfeeling, primitive inhabitants of our planet’s thin, life-supporting layers breed like there is no tomorrow. For them there isn’t; at least in the sense of any notion of legacy. Their offspring burst forth and struggle for survival – like tiny baby turtles being picked off by a deadly Luftwaffe of gull-Stukas as they instinctively dash for the sea, in a literal race for their lives. The numbers game is the strategy of indifferent forebears who will have no interaction other than, perhaps, a fight for territory with their grown-up but unrecognised progeny. It works, but it epitomises the red-in-tooth-and-claw nature of, er, nature.

The cold-blooded appear to be from an earlier evolutionary strain, successful but with small brains and driven by pure instinct. Higher up the chain of life come the mammals and birds which, generally, invest rather more in raising their broods, the young needing protection until they can fend and fight for themselves. But still, when push comes to shove, certain animals will readily devour their own young… and then have some more. All playing the numbers game; the more you have the greater your species’ chances of multiplying and of dominating.

The higher primates however, have a different strategy. With bigger brains and therefore bigger heads, they drop their sprogs before the giant heads make natural birth impossible to survive and then, despite all that pain, they dedicate a huge part of their lives to rearing the young and schooling them in the ways of their societies in order that they may then go on to do the same. It appears to be more than just raw nature driving their actions and the survival of that revered infant is placed at the highest level of their priorities; in humans sometimes coming even before survival of themselves… which is a bit short-sighted, if you think about it, but that’s primal urges for you.

Still, there’s only so much love to go around and there is a limit to how many children can be given the best chances in life. The more you have the more thinly you spread their possibilities and the more you depend on levels of altruism that may not be available when resources are stretched. Breeding in numbers is a survival trait adopted by animals with lower cognitive functions; a trait that fish, reptiles and amphibians appear to share with the worst of welfare dependents, primitive societies driven by authoritarian religions… and certain strains of Labour voters.

Many, many hands...
Better to give than to receive?

You can almost forgive the chavs for they know what they do, but there’s only so much oxygen to go around. If you want to know who the enemies of human evolutionary progress are you only have to look at who in the world has the biggest families. I mean, for fuck’s sake, how many Kardashians does one planet need?

Monday, 28 July 2014

Chill Pill

Are you a Useful Idiot? Are you unwittingly doing the bidding of an unseen master, banging the drum and flying the banner for an ideology that despises you even while it uses you as a foot soldier? For that matter, am I a useful idiot also? Am I swallowing a sinister, worldwide Zionist plot to rid the planet of islam by deliberately and cynically sacrificing thousands of its own innocent civilians in order to incite people to unite against Hamas while claiming to be the victim? Are they playing me? Then well played, I say… well fucking played.

It may be possible that, Matrix-like, the world I experience is just the world that some sinister conspiracy wants me to see but you know what, I’m more than happy with that; it’s a world that works for me. Why would I want to take the red pill and wake from the dream? Why would I want to even know about the pills at all if, as the likes of Owen Jones and Co like to insist, reality is that a cold hard puppet-master is twisting my mind to despise the little people? In the world of my experience most people – and I include myself - are enormous bell-ends anyway.

But wait. If those on the left, as they constantly tell us, believe the world is in the thrall of a massive capitalist conspiracy to enslave the masses to corporate ends, why do many not on the left see socialism as a massive plot to subjugate and enslave the masses to statist ends? Surely, if I was bound to the Matrix, I would see neither argument. And if I was in thrall to the Zionist master plan, why would I take a middle view that would happily see both sides expunged from existence… anything for a bit of peace and quiet?

Or is this all a clever – too clever by half – double bluff, whereby William of Ockham was induced, almost seven centuries ago, to develop a hypothesis of simplicity simply to persuade me, little old me, here today, that the more complicated things look, the less likely that explanation may be? In this way I can scoff at Owen’s People’s Assembly and their fervent belief in foul intent and dastardly doings, while remaining blinded by my partisan prejudices to the complexity of the other argument; believing instead that shit happens and it’s every man for himself. If that is how the supposed right-wing controls the affairs of man it is sheer genius.

Think about it – I do – to adopt a leftist stance I need to believe first of all that a species capable of the gross stupidity, recklessness and tribal loyalty that causes millions to be senselessly exterminated is also capable of a system of benign public stewardship of the planet’s resources. That such a system can fairly distribute to each according to his needs without favour or prejudice. If I believed THAT maybe I could also be persuaded to believe that the nasty people who make things and grow food and build factories and hospitals and schools and houses are all engaged in a bid to herd the rest of humanity into cruel servitude.

Take a chill pill!

To me, that way of thinking is way too complicated and takes up far too much processing power that could be used for getting on with your life, but it turns out that there may be a natural explanation for socialism after all. There appear to be evolutionary origins for the morals we adopt and we may in fact be powerless after all; not to resist some big plot to gain our endorsement but powerless to engage in thinking beyond our biological imperatives. Left or right, it seems, we are at least partly victims of our genes. Given that nature tends towards greater efficiency it looks very much like those on the left are just not as highly evolved as the rest of us.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Greatest Show on Earth?

So, this car pulls up, all the doors fall off and a funny-looking bloke with daft hair and ill-fitting clothes gets out and hilariously ‘soaks’ the audience with a bucket of glitter and a squirty flower on his lapel. Enter Ed Miliband to the rousing rendition of Entry of the Gladiators and all those in the audience look nervously at each other, unsure whether to laugh… or stampede for the exits. What fresh experimental, presentational hell is this?

The Labour Party is in panic; nine months to a general election and not a single credible policy in sight. Even in opposition, which ought to be easy, the rigid sticking to gimmicky cries of ‘flatlining’, ‘he just doesn’t get it’ and ‘cost of living crisis’ has failed to make a dent in support for the Conservatives, while any hanging onto Labour vote pledges is entirely accounted for by people who would vote for a month-old turd if it sported a red rosette. Labour is desperate and so desperate is it, it wants to give Ed one more chance.

So here it was, his bi-monthly, make-or-break speech where he would finally differentiate himself from the uni-dimensional portrayal of schoolboy Marxist so beloved of the tabloids. What did he do? He repeated all the usual, insubstantial, ineffectual, impotent, aphoristic, idealistic, unachievable juvenile gumpf  about fixing things that are so far out of his compass as to be practically celestial and then, in order to distance himself from the beauty parade of politics he referred to himself as looking like Wallace and made light of ‘BaconGate’. What a fucking tool.

Ed thought that by making a joke about the pig buttie business he could become a self-deprecating, down to earth man of the people. No Ed, no matter that nobody believes you can achieve a single one of your wild visions, it was just possible that while you were off on your flight of fantasy, some people were engaged enough to forget about what an idiot you are… but then you reminded them. Send in the fucking clowns indeed; Mock the Week is unlikely to come calling any time soon.

His main point seemed to be that he couldn’t compete in Glamour Politics with the likes of David Cameron who, despite all you may think of him, looks the part. He certainly looks better IN the part than Miliband ever could. Neither would Ed engage in Gesture Politics, promising things that, while sounding like good ideas, were undeliverable. Maybe he hopes we will have forgotten his vote-winning intervention in the energy markets last year - mere empty words being enough to put everybody’s electricity bills up at a stroke.

“If you want a politician who thinks that a good photo is the most important thing, then don’t vote for me,” says Ed, the man who posed with the Sun newspaper to the chagrin of the most intransigently tribal Labour voters in the land. He then went on to have publicity photos taken which may as well have been captioned: "Look at me with all the brown, lady people NOT exploiting a photo opportunity!” Desperation, thy name is Beaker and thou art a Muppet.

Awkward Ed's photobomb fail
There's a reason you can't buy publicity like this.

Ed’s attempts to appear normal are painful. His attempts to explain how he understands that he doesn’t appear normal only make it so much worse. Whatever he thinks the people of Britain want, they definitely don’t want somebody who pretends to care about what he thinks they ought to care about… I think. What Miliband’s joke writers may have missed in their frenzied re-branding of the damaged goods their leader represents is that Send in the Clowns is a song about rejection.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Sick as a Pirate!

Tattoos, eye patches, earrings, cutlasses, rum and parrots litter the folklore of the endeavouring  Jolly Jack Tars of yore, roaming the seven seas in search of excitement, plunder and even more rum. Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest and yo-ho-ho, let’s raise a toast to them all. No, it’s not International Talk Like a Pirate Day, but my heart of oak was stirred today by the recollection of an old sea-farers tale to gladden the heart of a ship’s company during a Friday make-and-mend.

Following a run ashore in the Bahamas, the Chief Bosun’s mate of one of Her Majesty’s sleek grey messengers of death procured a wondrous bird. A bright macaw, sharp of beak and gifted of tongue, he taught his new companion to respond to the morning pipe with a traditional, “Call the hands, call the hands, call the hands! Rig of the day - Number Eights, negative woolly pulleys!” the Number Eights to which he referred being the traditional navy blue, day-working uniform but with the sleeves rolled up and no pullover to be worn. How the ship’s company roared with laughter to hear the squawk over the main broadcast and all turned to with a smile.

After a few days, however, the parrot began to get bored and would launch into the call without prompting, on some days, hands being called every half hour. The parrot was confined to the Chief Petty Officers’ mess but after two days of “SQUAWK! Call the hands, call the hands, call the hands! Rig of the day - Number Eights, negative woolly pulleys!” both the parrot and the Buffer were banished to the starboard waist paint store. It was no good. Even with all clips closed the penetrating cry could still be heard: “SQUAWK! Call the hands, call the hands, call the hands! Rig of the day - Number Eights, negative woolly pulleys!”

Soon the Jimmy heard the commotion and summoned the Buffer to a mini-tribunal in the wardroom flat. “It’s no good, Buffer” he ordered, “the bloody parrot has to go before we get alongside in Gib. The Captain will go mental if it’s still there for the cocktail party.” The Chief Bosun’s Mate sadly agreed and set about planning the creature’s demise. All attempts to shut it up or re-train it had so far failed so, with a heavy heart he went in search of the ship’s cat which he found lazing in the sun on the flight deck, quietly digesting the remains of the last albatross to get too close.

The cries of the embattled Buffer competed with the frenzied roar of the enraged moggy as, with claws gouging and teeth snapping the cat fought like a miniature tiger. Curious heads appeared around hatches and men began to line the route to the paint store, cheering on the struggling man as gouges appeared in his flesh and blood began to spatter. An advance party cleared the way and as man and furious cat approached the store a Killick drew back the clips and opened the door. From inside came the now hated refrain, “SQUAWK! Call the hands, call the hands, call the hands! Rig of the day - Number Eights, negative woolly pulleys!” The Buffer threw the spitting, hissing ball of fury into the store and slammed shut the weathertight door.

For a few seconds the cacophony from within was if all the denizens of Hades were clamouring to enter the world above and then, suddenly, all went quite… except for a low grumbling noise. The Buffer, recovering from his trauma, stood up and cautiously approached the door. He put his ear to the steel, but still he couldn’t make out what was happening, although there was no further noise of fighting. It was surely all over. Slowly he unclipped the door and carefully looked in.

Pieces of eight, my arse!
Call the hands!

There in the middle of the store, surrounded by fur and feathers was a terrified, almost naked cat. The parrot was still tearing out the last remaining clumps of fur with his beak and growling under its breath. It stopped as the sunlight flooded the scene and rotating his head, cast his beady-eyed glare toward the Buffer. Spitting out the last tuft of cat fur the parrot declared, “When I SAY negative woolly pullies, I MEAN negative woolly pullies!”