Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yes, it's that time of year again. No sooner does an important traditional religious holiday roll around than the PC-brigade feel the need to strip-mine it of its original significance, just so's no-one's feeling get upset. Fuck that.

For many years now, it's become unfashionable to talk of Geola, as Muslims, atheists, and Christians have all attacked our traditional holiday. It is the Christians who have the most gall of all, daring to attach the name of some first-century Palestinian to a once-proud British festival. 'Yule' I can live with, despite its being a continental bastardisation of our British pronunciation 'Geola', but 'Christmas' is just wrong. You even have to mispronounce 'Christ' to say it.

It's important that we remember that Geola isn't just about family and friendship, it is also about the ritual human sacrifice of male slaves, once every nine years. When was the last time any of our loony local councils allowed this traditional practice? Once again the feminazis and Health and Safety Ceaucescus have stamped their grubby little Christian boots over our heritage.

Just think of what we have lost because of our spineless governing elites. Where once we swore fealty on the back of our best boar, loud enough for the god Freyr to hear, before slaughtering it and spending 12 days eating its carcass; now we have dried-up turkey and Iceland breaded prawns.

What is perhaps most disturbing is the way in which the Christian brigade have felt free to take the bits of our festival they liked (the decorated tree, the holly, the mistletoe, the Yule log, gammon), and pretend that our holiday has nothing to do with our traditional celebrations of the death of winter. They even crow about it!

When Pope Gregory wrote to St Mellitus as he came to convert the Britons, he instructed him not to change too many of the details of our festivities, but just the god they were worshipping. Such blatant contempt for our pagan heritage is, quite frankly, frightening, and yet another example of what happens when you let immigrants from the EU roam willy-nilly, preaching their message of hate.

The fact that our once proud Joulenpukki, who came to distribute presents to good children and devour the bones of bad ones has been forced in many government depictions to take off his robe of rotting goat hides and wear instead a red coat is surely shame enough. Now, his belly shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly, rather than rattling with the femurs of naughty children. Will we never learn?

The really scary thing is that, by the Back To The Future scale, we are way closer to the world of Back To The Future II (2015), than that of Back To The Future (1985)... We live in what I thought was going to be the distant future.

We'd better get auto-clothes and hoverboards pretty damned quickly...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Guardian Unlimited: Arts blog - books: Catch of the day: Books in blog form: "the DIY jackanory style of the Charles Dickens podcasts, as read by the typically Dickensian Nathaniel Tapley."

Excellent. I love being typically Dickensian.

Now, I must go and evict some orphans...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

For those who have a Paypal account, and believe that writers should be compensated when studios exploit their creations for money, I'd advise going to United Hollywood, and sending a box of pencils. With the exchange rate being what it is, it will cost you all of 50p, and is something constructive that people on this side of the Atlantic can do to show their appreciation of the work of writers in America.

For those who want to know a little more, before jumping to show their solidarity with Hollywood media types, here are some informative videos...

And for a gratuitous John Oliver appearance...

And let's face it: without American television we'd all be forced to watch Sold and Doc Martin for all eternity...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Yes, Messrs Amis and Hitchens, you're right. It is their culture that is 'mediaeval'...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Huzzah! All of our sketches are now up at ComedyBox, you can find them hidden in my 'comic profile', here. Please go, watch, and give them many stars, and add them to your Favourite Things, if you feel so inclined. Thank you all, and we'll see you soon...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

For those whom I have not yet pestered to so do, please watch this. Then click on lots of stars and watch it again. Then tell your friends.

If you'd like...

***Update - All references in the post below to John McDonnell MP are actually to John Hutton. I feel an utter fool for having written in haste without having bothered to go back and check to see if I remembered the facts correctly, particularly as I quite like Mr McDonnell. I apologise to Mr McDonnell, and wish him nothing but good things. Sorry, all.***

I think the most dispiriting thing I saw during a thoroughly disheartening conference season was Andrew Neill's interview with John McDonnell at the Labour Party conference. Andrew Neill - who looks more like an inflamed testicle with every week that passes on This Week - pressed Mr McDonnell on why there were 'still' 5 million people on incapacity benefit.

Mr McDonnell responded by pointing out, with some pride, that this was 1 million fewer people than had been receiving it in 1997. These exchanges continued for some time, one suggesting that too many people were on incapacity benefit, and the other saying that there were fewer than there used to be, and that the government was working to ensure that there would be fewer in the future.

Did I miss the moment at which it stopped being the correct response to Andrew Neill's question to tell him that there might be 5 million people on incapacity benefit, because there are 5 million people in need of incapacity benefit. The fact that a Labour minister accepted the implications of those questions - that no one really needs incapacity benefit, and it is government's job to not give it to people - without question is a worrying sign of how far we have drifted into a neo-liberal dreamworld over the last 30 years.

The fact that it has become taboo for Labour ministers to suggest that some people need to receive incapacity benefit because they are ill, or because their family circumstances do not allow them to work; to suggest that the welfare system in Britain was established precisely because some people needed to take advantage of it, and the rest of society decided that one should not be penalised for being unfortunate became more and more depressing as it sank.

There will always be the ill, those whose families are breaking up, those who have been made redundant, the disabled. Government cannot solve all of a society's ills. What it can do is support those in need, help them when they need help, and to try to ensure that misfortune does not become lasting misery.

That's what he could have said. Adding: " brutal, callous millionaire, Andrew."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

Johann Hari: Yes the BBC is biased - but to the right - Independent Online Edition > Johann Hari

Johann Hari: Yes the BBC is biased - but to the right - Independent Online Edition > Johann Hari

Oddly, this is the second time in as many months that I've liked one of Johann Hari's articles. Maybe I shold lie down...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Kilogram has lost the weight of a fingerprint - Boing Boing

Kilogram has lost the weight of a fingerprint - Boing Boing

Congratulations! You now weigh more, in kilograms, than you did before. The kilogram itself (and, by which I mean 'THE kilogram') is getting lighter. Will we see athletes worrying if the metre starts getting longer? If seconds start getting shorter?

Who knows, I've got to go and run off those extra fingerprints...

Ministry of Truth » Blog Archive » The novelty soaks in

This, as Ministry of Truth almost always is, is just spectacular blogging. Highlights include:

"If, as a society, we were just that bit smarter and more observant, just that bit more inclined to be sceptical, think for ourselves and question people’s motives, then maybe the question we’d be asking ourselves is just exactly what the media coverage of the McCanns tells us about how the media operate and what that, in turn, says about the pernicious effect they have on the nature of the public discourse in this country."


"I’m not shocked or horrified by anything that’s happened and I don’t particularly sympathise or empathise with the McCann family at anything more that the completely superficial level of thinking that losing a child in these kinds of circumstances is a pretty shitty thing for anyone to have to go to. I don’t know them, they don’t know me and, so far as I know, our respective lives have never crossed paths so nothing in this has the slightest personal dimension for me at all and I’m not about to pretend otherwise."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New Yorker Confirms What You Know: Colic Is A Form Of Torture -- Daddy Types: "Sheila Kitzinger, a British social anthropologist who studies pregnancy and childbirth, has written, 'The sound of a crying just about the most disturbing, demanding, shattering noise we can hear.' The United States military has reportedly used the sound of wailing infants as an instrument of psychological stress, piping recordings of their cries into cells of detainees at Guantanamo Bay."

Good. Now I know my child is torturing me. Huzzah.

Tim Worstall: Now What's a Good Liberal To Do?

Tim Worstall here asks the question that, I think, underlies all of our political opinions. From vulgar libertarians to state socialists, the question of how to regard property that was taken by force in the past colours how we perceive the present, and what we recommend doing in the future.

"The conundrum of course is that the latter is clearly illiberal. But then so was the original taking of the property. But, then again, so have been most of the acquisitions of land and property throughout history. At some point a line needs to be drawn and, OK, yes, he thieved and murdered to get it but it's now 700 years, 300, 50, whatever later, and for society to continue to have property rights at all we've got to ignore that.

So how many years is it?"

It's a question, however, that 'classical liberals' choose not to address. They do not propose an answer because any answer would entail some redistribution of property from its current arrangement, something too horrific for them to contemplate.

It doesn't take much thought to recognise that the historical distribution of property was based on someone's ancestor, at some point in the mists of time, being physically larger than someone else's ancestor. In Britain we helpfully have the Domesday Book, which tells us that it was between 1066 and 1068 that some people's ancestors took other people's lands by force. That, after all, is what conquest is.

It's not a huge leap from here to suggest that the current distribution of property is not the sacrosanct absolute that some libertarians suggest. The remedies that some suggest: nationalisation of land, redistributive taxation on inheritance, may not be the right remedies, but they are, at least, partial answers to the question Tim poses; a question he will never answer.

Is it a question that needs an answer? Vulgar libertarians would argue that any attempt to use the political process to right the wrongs of the past is bound to create new wrongs. There may be something in that, but it does not follow that they will be as wrong as the crime initially committed. I do not believe that should adopt, as a principle, the holding of people to account for the actions of their ancestors, but do we really believe that everything that happened in the past, no matter how contrary to our principles, just has to be accepted as the way things are? Even if the ramifications of those actions affect society today?

This question is fundamental, because it is not just about Franco's house. It is the underlying bassline of all political discussions, pounding underneath arguments from Palestinians' 'right to return' to apologies for slavery to positive discrimination. The question is simply, when do we try and correct the mistakes of the past, and when do we just have to let them go?

Of course, Proudhon gives us an easy out here, as pointing out that as well as stating that 'property is theft' he, in the same book, claimed 'property is freedom' will inevitably make it sound as if you are a balanced and thinking person who has answered the question, when you have not. So...

After all, as Proudhon points out, not only is property theft, but it is also freedom. So there...


Thursday, September 06, 2007

'President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become "President-for-Life" Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.'

This is part of an article apparently written in all seriousness by Philip Atkinson, author of A Study Of Our Decline. It was published on Family Security Matters, a site that nominally informs families about how to keep their homes secure from terrorists. As they say:

Our mission is to inform all Americans, men and women, about the issues surrounding national security; to address their fears about safety and security on a personal, family, community, national and international level; to highlight the connection between individual safety and a strong national defense; to increase civic participation and political responsibility; and to empower all Americans to become proactive defenders of our national security and community safety.

It's probably just a coincidence, then, that it is owned by right-wing think tank, the Centre for Security Policy...

Still, it's a worrying reminder of how often we here calls to sacrifice our principles because we are threatened by those who hate our principles. It is a theme often elaborated by President Bush, who claims that we are hated because we are free, and whose response to attacks is to remove those freedoms. We are told that 'there are no options that we should take off the table' from torture to pre-emptive nuclear strikes on a non-nuclear country. The example above is only notable because it follows these arguments to their logical conclusion. Democracy is weak, and slow, and often wrong, and full of checks and balances.

I happen to believe that our claim to be civilised is based exactly on what we are prepared to 'take off the table'; in saying that there are certain things that we will never do. If we're not prepared to behave differently than those whose behaviour we deplore, what separates us from them?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

This is a very interesting post on Quaequam Blog (and one of the best I've seen on a Lib Dem blog in a long time). I particularly liked the paragraph:

"One thing we, as a society, might try is to reverse the trend towards viewing anti-social behaviour as criminality. 12 years ago, we had more crime, but no-one knew what anti-social behaviour was. One of New Labour’s most pernicious legacies has been to convince people that naughtiness, rowdiness and petty vandalism is something the police should handle when in the past it was something the community itself sorted out. The more we concentrate on anti-social behaviour, the worse it seems. We can never win the war on anti-social behaviour because it is so mutable: unless all young people transform into angels en masse, there will always be someone doing something that upsets someone."

It's probably just me being a hoary old leftie, but I'd also argue that the last 30 years have seen a consistent attack from all parties on the structures we, as communities, had created, and this has left us looking to the state to help us solve problems we would rightly have seen as our own. From trades unions to churches to civic amenities, we have been encouraged to seek fewer solutions in voluntary collective movements, or through local democracy.

You can only tell people for so long that 'there's no such thing as society' before they begin to believe you, and behave accordingly. Or maybe that's overly pessimistic...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Burnley BNP Case - Sentencing | Blairwatch

Blairwatch has a nice piece here, comparing the relative sentences given to members of the BNP who are convicted of terrorism offences and Muslims who are convicted of offences which do not involve the possession of explosives...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Look, I don't want to get into Big Brother, but having seen those godawful twins in the Diary Room together all I could think was: two Orvilles and no Keith Harris. Or is it just me?

Pickled Politics » Ex-BNP ‘terrorist’ gets jail

As a follow-up to a story I mentioned ages ago...

Monday, July 30, 2007

This is Eleanor Rose Tapley. She was born at 7:13 pm on July 28th, 2007. She weighed a lot, as her mother will attest. She is the reason I shan't be seeing much of any of you for a while, probably. She has a very squishy nose.

*Edit 01:38 July 31st - And right now she's a Googlewhack. Her first Internet achievement...*

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

All right. I don't really like Johann Hari. He's too young, too doughy, and he oozes from the screen like a particularly smug oyster mushroom... However this article on the pro-war left, a review of Nick Cohen's 'What's Left' is a fine piece of journalism. I may spit less bile next time he sits sideways in a chair to pontificate on something about which he is uniquely unqualified to talk.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Pay for my brother's car.

If you'd like.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

This article on Denise Pfeiffer, the erstwhile media consultant for The Silver Ring Thing (the po-faced chastity promotion group), is interesting for the light it sheds on the links between certain groups of 'Christians', the BNP, and other assorted homophobes.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Boy, am I out of touch with the kids of today...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Here's the latest Marsipan mission...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Found this on another site, and thought it was worth knowing...

Article 11, Treaty of Tripoli -

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;

approved by President John Adams and Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, and ratified unanimously by the United States Senate, June 10, 1797.

Posted by Chris Harper (Counting Cats) at June 20, 2007 08:46 AM

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Here's the trailer for our upcoming documentary about one folk band's struggle to bring English music back to the English. And to reinstate imperial weights and measures...

Here's our latest video for Clantessential's new single.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Snake vs Alligator! Who wins?

No one wins in situations like that, as this story proves. Violence doesn't solve anything. I hope they both feel very proud of themselves, now.

You're a sick, sick human for even thinking about such a thing.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Although it doesn't happen often, when Christopher Hitchens gets it right, he really gets it right...


Monday, May 07, 2007

Here's a review of my playing the motionless, naked corpse of a beggar in Offenbach's Two Blind Men last week.

Just for completeness' sake, you understand...

Here's a review of my playing the motionless, naked corpse of a beggar in Offenbach's Two Blind Men last week.

Just for completeness' sake, you understand...

Friday, April 20, 2007

"Self respect is cool and so are you!" Thus saith Henry Winkler.

Note to anti-paedophilia campaigners. If you're going to write a song about the proper names for private parts, don't have it presented by a man named Winkler.

Now, everyone remember Fonzie's Rule...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Here's the new Marsipan mission for those of you who haven't yet seen it...

Saturday, March 31, 2007

So, you want to see Columbo's baby pictures, huh?

Yes, you do. You can't wait to see pictures of his great-grandmother, either, or to purchase some of his artwork, which is why you're going straight to his website to do just that.

Yes, you are.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Unintentionally funny comic book panels.

Does exactly what it says on the tin. And has excellent use of the word 'butt-stroke'.

Monday, March 19, 2007

This site is a wonderfully comprehensive look at the 'sexed-up' Iraq dossier. It tracks the document and its authors through time and space to show you what really happened. Sort of.

Still, I enjoyed poking around it...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ross McKibbin gives a wonderful analysis of the Blair years here, it's measured, well thought-through, and right. He correctly (in my view) identifies the most prominent characteristic of Blairism as being defeatism (and I would add a lack of faith in the British public). If you're interested in that sort of thing, I suggest you go and have a read.

If you're not, here's a picture of a dog. There.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

There are so many things wrong with this story about a 'Christian' doctor refusing to treat a child because her mother had tattoos that I'm really not sure where to begin.

Whether it's more disturbing that he believes a 'Christian atmosphere' involves turning away those in need of help because we do not like the way they look, or that the AMA representative believes that doctors are like any other businessmen, and should therefore be free to withhold service from anyone they do not want to treat, I am not sure.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Some things work so brilliantly, and so perfectly that you can spend an awful lot of time wondering why you didn't think of them first.

This is one of those thing. Dylan Hears A Who.

It's officially my favourite thing of the day.

In the absence of a proper new podcast for your Friday afternoon, the Dirty Blondes have provided this, from their friend Chris Martin...

powered by ODEO

Monday, March 05, 2007

We're rather proud of this...

powered by ODEO

The music is 'unghie/sporche' by Tagliogrezzo, released under a Creative Commons Licence, as is the podcast.

Find more here...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

London Air, Killed by – Old Parr

There is a corner of Westmister Abbey which holds the tombstone of Thomas Parr, buried there in November 1635, at the age of 152. Yes, 152. Thomas Parr, or Old Parr as he was better known, apparently lived from 1483 to 1635, when he was brought to London to meet Charles I. The experience killed him.

Old Parr ascribed his longevity to his vegetarian diet and strict morals. His strict morals didn't stop him having an affair at the age of 100. He was apparently bored with his wife, whom he had married at the age of 80. As penance for his affair he was made to stand in the parish church, draped in a white sheet.

He lived in Winnington, near Shrewsbury, on the estates of the Earl of Arundel. Westminster Abbey says: “A diet of green cheese, onions, coarse bread, buttermilk or mild ale (cider on special occasions) and no smoking kept Thomas healthy.” Considering that commercial tobacco production did not start in Virginia until 1609 he couldn't have taken up smoking until he was 126. If I'm still alive at 126, I'm going to smoke for all I'm worth. Sod the coarse bread and buttermilk.

Most of the information we have about Old Parr comes from John Taylor's 1635 pamphlet: The Old, Old, Very Old Man or the Age and Long Life of Thomas Parr. Which is a boring, boring, very boring read.

Not content with outliving one wife, Old Parr married again, when he was 122. He lived through the reigns of ten kings, from Edward IV to Charles I. He was born before Columbus sailed, and yet, when he died, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was already exiling people (who would go on to found Rhode Island).

The Earl of Arundel was told about him as he was on his estates in 1635. He decided that the best thing to do would be to take Old Parr to London, to show him off like the freak he was. So, he dragged the blind 152-year old (he'd already been married to his second wife for 30 years) up to Court to show him off, and generally hold him up to ridicule.

He met Charles I, who asked him witty questions like: "You have lived longer than other men. What have you done more than other men?" Old Parr refrained from answering “Shat.” but referred to his penance instead. He quickly became a favourite object to coo over and patronise at court, and had his portrait painted.

Unfortunately, the change in atmosphere and diet (and possibly having to meet Charles I) led to Old Parr's dropping dead within a few weeks of arriving in London. The post-mortem was carried by Dr William Harvey, who discovered the circulation of blood, but could find none circulating in Old Parr. Apparently, the fine wines and London air did for him.

Old Parr's advice for living a long life was: "Keep your head cool by temperance and your feet warm by exercise. Rise early, go soon to bed, and if you want to grow fat keep your eyes open and your mouth shut". This all sounds very boring, but probably an ideal way to get to 152.

If, however, you prefer carousing with courtiers into the small hours, life at Court, enormous meals and having your portrait painted all the time, you're just asking for it.

Poor old Old Parr. He was done for by not following his own advice, and being seduced by life at Charles I's Court, having lived to 152. Either that or his birth records got mixed up with his grandfather's.

(PS – This is one explanation of his great longevity, but it would still mean that Old Parr was over 100, no mean feat in the 17th century.)

More of these can be found over at How To Die.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Here's the latest posting from one of my other blogs: How To Die

Of Laughter, Watching a Donkey Eat Figs – Chrysippus

It's late in the afternoon. You've spent all day debating both sides of an argument and drinking to keep your strength up. You step out into the evening sun, which is a lot brighter and hotter than you remember it being. There's a tinny noise somewhere inside your ears you can't get rid of.

Look over there! There's your donkey! Stupid, old donkey. He eats grass. You know what, you bet the donkey would like some wine, too. Yes, good donkey. The donkey's so stupid it can't even stand up properly now. Ha! You didn't want to stand up properly either.

Figs! That's what always goes well on a stomach full of wine. Figs! Fi-i-igs! Must. Find Figs. Aha! You've got loads of figs, figs galore. It's figs all round. Some for you, and some for...hey! The donkey's asleep now. Probably all that grass it ate. What it needs is a kick in the head and some figs. Figs!

Go on, eat the figs.

Stupid donkey can't even eat figs properly. Look! Look at the way he's eating those figs! That's not the way you eat figs! Only a moron could possibly eat figs like that, you dumb donkey! Dumb ass! Ha! Dumb ass! That's the dumbest way in the world to eat...

As far as we can tell these were the last thoughts of one of the ancient world's most talented philosophers. Chrysippus was a man so supremely confident in his abilities that he used to argue both sides of a debate for fun, and said when asked who should instruct a friend's son: “Me; for if I thought any philosopher excelled me, I would myself become his pupil."

After the death of Cleanthes in 252 BC he was the foremost of the stoics. The Stoics placed a great emphasis on not being led by their passions, but by their reason.

The first of the Stoics was Zeno of Citium (who strangled himself to death because he had stubbed his toe, thus earning himself a post on this blog of his own), and the Stoics got their name from the porch ('stoa poikile') on which he used to teach. And from which he used to shoot varmints and critters.

The Stoics were ahead of their time in believing that all of mankind were expressions of the same universal spirit, and they stressed brotherly love and helping each other. They emphasised the individual's spiritual well-being, and were harsh critics of superstition. The philosopher most important in shaping Stoicism, after Zeno, was Chrysippus (who got into it after some sort of land deal had fallen through in Tarsus, meaning that he had to get a job as a philosopher in Athens).

Chrysippus wrote an enormous amount, reportedly, over 500 lines a day. He is meant to have written more than 700 works, but all of them are lost to us now, except for excerpts that were quoted by other people. He was perhaps the most voluble and eloquent exponent of the virtues of self-control.

And yet he died drunk, laughing at the stupid way a donkey ate figs.

I like this. I like the fact that a man who devoted his life to demonstrating how passion should never be allowed to control reason, died laughing.

Most people on this site dies grotesque and hideous deaths, notable mainly for the way they shock us into conceiving of our own mortality. Not Chrysippus. He had his amphora of wine in his hands, and a funny-looking animal in front of him. He could never have coped with Youtube, or being emailed attachments of kittens in pint glasses.

Here's to Chrysippus, and may we all die laughing.

Yes - I'm getting old.

I find the most exciting thing about Web 2.0 is the way you can use it to make lists on paper. See to see what I mean. I have a stationery fetish at the best of times, this is the equivalent of internet pornography for me.

Don't even get me started on the paper-synch of Scrybe (watch the video - it's not available to play with yet).

It's like paper, but better...

Friday, March 02, 2007

I don't care about Jodie Marsh. in fact, I'm not even really sure that I know who she is.

This person, however, does. And has lovingly crafted many pages in which they take quotations from Jodie's blogs and use them to show exactly what's wrong with her, and the Britain that treats her as if she's worth listening to.

It is most amusing. I advise you to read it.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

This is my hundredth post. It's taken five and a half years to get to it. I've only had 100 interesting things to say in over half a decade, and quite a lot of that was just filler. Ho hum.

Here's a new Marsipan bit for you.

I'm so rubbish...

Here's a link to all of the documentaries on Google Video.

You're welcome.

It occurs to me, when reading about the increasingly-bizarre case of Abdel Kareen
Nabil, whose father and brothers learned the whole Koran to show their devotion whilst abandoning their sibling, that one of the reasons many people around the world have less than total confidence in the War on Terror is its hugely selective imposition.

It is not a War on Terror. George Bush has no intention of invading the Basque region or Northern Ireland. It is a War on Certain Terrorists of a Religious Nature. However, the catch-all term does allow Vladimir Putin to gloss over the Chechnya problem, and his troops actions in Beslan as part of the War on Terror.

We claim that we support democracy in the Middle East, which is quite clearly an untruth. If you have the misfortune to be living in Saudi Arabia or Egypt, whose regimes provide us with lots of money and oil, our troops probably won't be riding in any time soon to secure your freedoms. Sorry. The same applies if you're living under military dictator Parvez Musharraf in Pakistan (who even got interviewed on the Daily Show, we like him so much). You're going to have to do it yourselves.

Also, our siding with Shia militants in Iraq, providing a base for Moqtada al Sadr and the Mahdi Army shows that we aren't even consistent in opposing violent religious fundamentalists. Not if they dislike the same people we dislike.

What Tony Blair and George Bush do not realise are that there are many people who opposed the war in Iraq who would support a general push for greater freedom for the peoples of the world. They just don't think their way is the best way of doing it.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Well, I'm the Pick of the Day, over at 4Laughs again.

However, the observant among you may notice the changes in the sketch that have had to have been made for legal reasons. Barry is very litigious.

If you've got time, do go and rate everything we've done incredibly highly, please.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

To the person who ended up here, having typed the search term 'wanks surrey' into Google, I can only apologise. And hope you found what you were looking for.

Of course, the search log for our Dirty Blondes site makes for even more interesting reading. 'Barry Scott porn', indeed...

Friday, February 23, 2007

There's a new Dirty Blondes podcast out...

(It occurs to me that I'm using this blog almost wholly to promote what I'm doing on other sites, at the moment. Oh well. Tough.)

Right - things are really kicking off over at The Podcasts of Charles Dickens. And by 'kicking off', I mean, occurring quite slowly and with no one noticing. Oh yeah...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dave Devries makes monsters out of children's drawings. They are brilliant, and I urge you all to go and look at them now...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Here is Matt Taibbi, an American columnist on what a complete repeal of the Estate Tax would cost most Americans. Given that Stephen Byers is so eager to thrust the same idea on us (with the help of Richard Madely who mentions it as often as he can wedge it into an item - God, I have too much time on my hands), might it not be an idea for someone to do the same for Great Britain.

Who benefits the most from the repeal of inheritance tax? In numbers, in Great Britain.

And who pays? What won't we have (hospitals? schools? roads?) as a result. Unfortunately, I'm far too lazy to do it myself. Richard and Judy doesn't watch itself, you know...

Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch, scammer style!

Dickens, eh?

He's the one who writes incredibly long, boring books which everyone has to read at school, right? Wrong, he's only one of the funniest writers ever to have used the English language. And that's including me.

So? I really can't be bothered to read books. They're so...old.

Ha! That's why I've decided to jump on one of the irrational urges I've been harbouring for a while, and turn the complete works of Charles Dickens into podcasts, so you'll have no excuse not to download them, listen to them and laugh. Or, for the full Victorian experience, contract tuberculosis, laugh, and die.

The Podcasts of Charles Dickens - a shit-sight more fun than the podcasts of Anthony Trollope. Oh yeah!

For those of you (this means you, Mike) who are interested, the test posting is up now here. This, however, is just the prefaces, we're not started yet. Coming soon - The Old Curiosity Shop, Chapter One...

Please leave comments to let me know what you think...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

On The Need For Religious Discrimination

Last year, Tony Blair told us that the power to which he is ultimately accountable is his God. This was met with gasps of horror, and apopleptic, spluttering shock in some quarters. The Prime Minister had been duping us for the last nine years; we did not mind so much that he believed it, but rather that he had had the gall to say it out loud.

The most surprising element of the situation, however, was that intelligent social commentators found this out of step with the rest of Blair’s premiership. There were mutters that ‘Alistair Campbell would never have let this happen’. However, for the last two years it has been clear that the British government has a radical Christian agenda. Or rather, as this is the twenty-first century, and we don’t do anything as crass as monotheism, a radical faith agenda. From the indulgence of threats against artists to the Religious Hatred Bill, to the Religious Discrimination Act of 2004, to the open advocacy of faith schools which will be free to teach creationism, to Tony Blair’s statement that he had ‘prayed’ with George Bush, The New Labour project seems obsessed with forcing religion into our lives.

The assumptions of this government were perhaps shown most clearly during the debates over the Religious Hatred Bill. They told us that, as Christianity had the protection of the blasphemy laws, which were centuries old and an anomaly, the same protection should be offered to other religious groups. We learnt, as if we needed telling, that Christianity was unfairly protected under the law. However, when a government’s answer to this disparity is not to remove the special protection afforded to a specific irrational belief, but rather to extend it to all irrational beliefs, this shows us to what extent the government is controlled by a clique of religious activists.

What is perhaps most ridiculous about this protection is that it treats all faiths as equally deserving of it. Common sense suggests that if one religion is the truth, then large chunks of the others cannot be. Not only do the precepts of the holy texts of religions contradict each other, but sometimes the same text contradicts itself. Those who believe an eye should be taken for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth cannot possibly believe that one should turn the other cheek. As definitive authority cannot come from these religions, then, we as a society must come up with a set of rules for ourselves, to which we can all subscribe separate to any religious injunctions to which we might feel beholden. There can be no rational basis for the government to treat all faiths as equally valid, equally worthy, and equally worth encouraging in our children.

This, of course, raises the question of what constitutes a religion. Thanks mainly to an Internet campaign to have as many people as possible list it as their religion on the last census, Jedi is officially an ‘emerging religion’ in the United Kingdom as of 2001. As such, it is afforded protection under the Religious Discrimination Act and Religious Hatred Bill. One wonders how enthusiastic the Church of England will be when millionaire Satanists begin to set up their own faith academies. Do we, as a society, really believe that the taxpayer should pay for most of the facilities at a new school designed to promote Zoroastrianism? Should it really be illegal for me to ‘foment hatred’ against the Jedi? What if I am a Sith, and my faith instructs me to pursue the Jedi across the universe and destroy them?

The obvious assumption that underlies all of this is that, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, faith, irrational belief in the improbable and unprovable, is a valuable characteristic, and one worth nurturing in society. That this can be held to be true in an age when even Sikhs (who, after all, believe that all religions are merely different paths to the same god) are rioting to prevent plays being produced is quite astonishing. The argument is often made that faith brings with it such values as compassion, a willingness to do things for charity and a sense of community. However, for every social virtue, we should recognise that religion is equally able to being social vices, primarily intolerance. It is perverse that in desiring compassion and charity we should seek to promote religion, rather than choosing to promote compassion and charity themselves. The values of a liberal, tolerant society as a whole and those of any particular religion are bound to clash at some point, and there is no need for society to nurture that which is antithetical to it.

There is another interpretation of the government’s protection of religion, and this is one that is perhaps more worrying than a simple wish to promote it. The 2004 Religious Discrimination Act put religion on a par with race, sex, sexuality and disability, in the ways employers must treat them. This elides a fundamental difference. Race, sex, sexuality and disability are all fundamental genetic characteristics of all human beings, religion is not (although disability may be acquired, it is equally immutable by choice). It is right and proper that we should stop anyone discriminating against someone because of the way they are. However, a religion is a chosen belief. No one is born a Moslem or a Christian or a Wiccan. A religious belief is just that, a belief, and beliefs can be changed. There is no inherent religion which should be protected as it is a part of who we are. We may use religion to define our identity, and we may be more drawn to one religion having been brought up within it, but it is not genetic. One chooses to submit certain beliefs to rational analysis or not. The choice not to is not one that should be encouraged by government. We are being told that it is correct and a social benefit if we think less, apply our critical faculties less, reason less.

This confusion is evident when supporters of the rights of Moslems to call for the deaths of cartoonists cite the easy but misleading example of anti-Semitism. They elide the difference between the religious anti-Semitism of the Early Modern period with the racial anti-Semitism of Nazism. Yes, in the seventeenth century an anti-Semite distrusted a Jew’s religious rites and practices. However, in the twentieth century anti-Semitism was, on the whole, a racist movement: the practices of Judaism were not the motivational point for the movement as much as the archetypal Jew’s racial characteristics. Anti-Semitic caricatures very rarely dwell on the Feast of the Passover, or the sitting at seder, it is the Jew’s swarthiness, his avarice and his prominent nose that feature most highly, none of which are functions of his religion.

The fact that we allow this elision of the difference between racial and religious discrimination to go unchallenged shows how confused we are on this issue. It is perfectly reasonable to challenge a belief. The Islamic community is now trying to perform the same sleight of hand as is performed when Israelis claim that any opposition to the domestic policy of Israel is symptomatic of anti-Semitism. The only difference is that they are calling it Islamophobia. It is utterly right that we should challenge entrenched beliefs, and that we should be allowed and encouraged to do so. We are allowing dissent to be stifled through the conflation of different ideas. A challenge to an idea is not an attack on the person holding that idea, and, automatically, their race or religion.

Not only is it right that we should challenge entrenched beliefs, it is absolutely imperative that we do so in many situations. As an employer, should one indulge an employee’s religious belief that women are inferior (“Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” 1 Corinthians 11:9), even in a role which will lead the employee to have to interact with women on a daily basis? Should one be compelled not to take their religious beliefs into account when hiring? The Religious Discrimination Act 2004 not only suggests that an employer should do these things, it makes it illegal for them not to. It is illegal for a butcher to refuse to hire someone on the basis that they refuse to touch pork for religious reasons.

The Act makes no provision for the fact that there may be occasions in which employees’ religious beliefs conflict with each other, and yet each has a right to have their beliefs protected. It leaves agnostics with less protection under the law than the religious. Under the law as it stands, if a pagan wishes to have a day off to celebrate the summer solstice they have more protection under the law than someone who has decided that they do not have enough information to make a reasonable decision about religion, but who wants to spend the longest day of the year in the sun. Or seeing their terminally ill mother. Or doing anything of a non-religious nature.

Having impinged on the rights of the secular in the workplace, the Religious Hatred Bill showed the first counter-attack by the faithful on the freedoms we have worked so hard to establish over the last two hundred years. In its altered form, it is true, the bill is less pernicious, only prohibiting ‘threatening’ speech or behaviour based on religion. Still, it means that the English tradition of calling for the beheading of the Antichrist Pope and his Romish spies every 5th November may have to be toned down in our household.

However, the bill promotes thinking of religion as a different sort of thought or concept to any other. It is an attempt to impose sensitivity to irrationality upon us. Any other example of muddy, prejudiced thinking would rightly be scorned in public discourse, and yet we let amateur theologians of all stripes speak on news programmes as if they were informed. The fundamental texts of religions are ancient and well-examined, and yet their content, if the present trend continues, will become less and less assailable by those who value truth.

Everyone should be expected to defend their beliefs, no one’s prejudices should be beyond question. This should be a fundamental part of being a member of a free society, and yet we are trying to restrict the arenas that are open to debate, rather than expanding them. With so many extremists in the world it is time for us to become more discriminating, not less.

In this sense, and in any sense, we should encourage religious discrimination. We should encourage people to examine the tenets of the various religions and discriminate about them, to decide which are compatible with a free society, and which are not. Discrimination, the making of value judgements, is exactly what religions should be subject to. It should also not be unreasonable to suggest that someone who has chosen to adhere to beliefs that are thousands of years old and to suggest that they are more valid than scientific evidence is, by their very nature, not the sort of inquiring mind we wish our children to become.

This is not, of course, to argue that there is no place for religion in our society, merely to argue that it must be subject to the same treatment as any other prejudice. It, as many moderate religious people would argue, must be subject to the laws of the land, and one should be as free to explore it on stage, in comedy and through debate as one is to explore ideas of democracy, love or politics.

This is a time when the rational majority who might describe themselves as spiritual, but who reject religious dogma must stand up for their right not to believe. Our right to make up our minds based on evidence rather than creed is under attack. Now, more than ever, is the time when we need to be discriminating about religious beliefs. Now is the time for more religious discrimination.

See my Faithless Academies blog for more evidence...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fucking tube made you late for work? Or anything else?

Use this site to claim money back from the sprawling, monopolistic greed-farm that is Metronet...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

New terror legislation we'd all like to see...

The Government today announced a further crackdown on those it suspects of being terrorists or terrorist sympathisers. After the recent spate of attacks on the DVLA, John Reid has called for the leaders of the motoring community to take a firm stand against terrorism. He also added that the government may have to introduce 'transport profiling', with those who owned cars forced to undergo more thorough searches at airports.

"It is clear that amongst the community of car users there is a radical fringe which poses a danger to our freedoms," he said "And until moderate car users do more to distance themselves from these extremists we have no choice but to put these new restrictions in place."

Hate preachers such as Jeremy Clarkson, and the baldy ratty-looking one off the other car programme will be detained as terror suspects. Dr Reid opined that some sections of the car-owning community were ghettoising themselves as 'motoring enthusiasts', making them more susceptible to the venomous nonsense spouted by Clarkson and his ilk.

The public were told to be aware of anyone wearing gloves with little holes in them, or muttering insane ideas, such as the fact that global warming is a conspiracy to stop people having fun.

Those on public transport were deemed to be quite safe.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

An interesting article about how studies increasingly show that rises in the minimum wage actually lead to *gasp* more people being employed. For those of you that care about that sort of thing...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Here's yet more evidence that there are home-grown terrorists in our country and that they are actively planning to blow us up. However, yet again (see my post of 10th october last year), because they are not terrorists of the right religion you'll be hard-pressed to find the stories in the papers.

(Although it still evidence of our weird mindset that he's criticised for owning "rice and sugar, both of which can be used in the manufacture of explosives." And rice pudding.)

How many earths would we need if everyone lived like you?

Here's a quiz to show you what a horribly wicked and selfish person you really are. If everyone wanted to live like me we'd need four planet Earths. Of course, we wouldn't, we'd need fewer 'everyone else except me's. Or just better ways to produce the things I enjoy.Still, it's worth thinking about...

read more | digg story

Monday, February 12, 2007

Marsipan: Mission Video from the British Mars Exploration Programme

Have a look to witness some of the perils of Mars exploration.Come to the site and subscribe for regular updates of exclusive mission video from Mars and pubcasts from Professor Colander.Be part of the New Intergalactic Order!This was just a test from Digg to see that this worked. As no one reads any of this anyway, I shan't worry about filling up your RSS readers with repetitive ols shite. Now I'll have to look and see if it did (work).It did!Flight Director Barnaby Bottomley

read more | digg story

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Is there life on Maaaaa-a-aa-ars?

Yes, we've remade Marsipan and so you can now find out! It's all new, it's stop motion: it's got voices, jokes and bits about aliens farting. Read it, lick it, like it, subscribe, send it so your friends...

And the mice in their million hordes, from Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads...

Friday, February 02, 2007

This is very interesting, and a great return to form for the magazine formerly known as Living Marxism...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

OK. First crabs that look like samurai are definitely cool.

Second, astronomy brain Carl Sagan sounds like a muppet, which is also cool.

To recap. That's double-cool...

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Miami will have a carnival when Fidel Castro dies.

Again, no comment. Too lazy.

For someone who is strongly rumoured to be converting to Catholicism at some point in the next two years, you would expect the death penalty to be a fairly serious issue. However, according to this analysis of the Blair's position to the death penalty in the European Union, it appears that even the threat of eternal damnation as a result of mortal sins pales into comparison to 'making things difficult for the Americans'.

Of course, I'm an American, and it wouldn't make things difficult for me. I haven't executed anyone in ages, not since the moratorium I imposed on myself in 1996. It was for the best.

I wonder which American he's actually thinking of...

This is a plea for a humanistic Islam.

I found it interesting, and I pass it on to you without further comment. Because I am lazy.

Monday, January 22, 2007

As I used to say in 1996: "Isn't it ironic? No, Alanis, that's unfortunate, bad planning, and, in one of your examples, nonsense."

Fortunately, someone's now fixed the whole thing.

Now, that's ironic!

Friday, January 19, 2007

There's a lot of argument on certain sites about the ordination of gay bishops in the Episcopal Church,and whether or not it is a sign of 'end times'.

Here, for what it is worth, is my response to some of the more outlandish freaks:

"Many writers on this topic have noted the assertion from Leviticus 18:22 that homosexuality is an abomination, and gone on to ask how can a Biblical Church ordain gay bishops.

The answer is very simple: many Christians accept the Bible as containing the Word of God, telling the life story of Jesus, and containing compelling moral guidelines, whilst also realising that they are reading a translation of a number of texts written by a number of different people between two and four thousand years ago.

Many Christians would emphasis that, for them, the importance of the Bible, is its information about the life of Christ. Many would point out that Jesus himself said he was making 'a new covenant', replacing all of the precepts of the Old Testament with two: "Love God with all your heart" and "Love thy neighbour as thyself". "There is no other commandment than these." (Mark 12: 28 - 31). Christians, in an acceptance of Christ, are forced to prefer his teachings to the Old testament laws when they come into conflict: the exhortations to 'turn the other cheek' are clearly not compatible with the OT's demand of 'an eye for an eye'. Otherwise there would have been a whole lot of cheek-slapping going on...

So, people have a nuanced, textured view of the Bible, recognising that no two translations are the same, and that the texts of which the Bible is made up are not necessarily the same as they always were. Are the Apocrypha just as much part of the Word of God as the accepted Bible? What about the books from the Nag Hammadi Library?

To conclude, let us look only at Chapter 11 of Leviticus. What other things does it consider an abomination? Eating of shellfish (11:10). By the logic that this is an abomination, God hates it, no bishop who intends to eat shellfish in the future should be ordained. God even hates lobster shells: "their carcasses you shall have in abomination." Odd that the God who made prawns should feel so strongly about them.

In verses 7 and 8 Leviticus clearly states that no one should touch the skin of a pig ("their carcasses you shall not touch"). Someone obviously forgot to tell Pope John Paul II, who, when playing soccer in Poland, must certainly have come into contact with the skin of the pig, or he would have been terrible at his position in goal.

If we take God at his word as revealed in Leviticus God hates gays about as much as he hates menstruating women (Leviticus 15:19) and Wilbur from Charlotte's Web (11:7).

Leviticus also states that we should atone adulterers to death (20:10). Thus, among those who should be stoned are such leaders as Jim Bakker, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich. Maybe Leviticus does get some things right...

Jesus, you may remember, actually intervened to stop an adulteress being stoned to death, saying: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." He clearly disagreed with some of the teachings of the Old Testament, and said so explicitly.

That is how one can be a Christian, a Biblical Christian, and believe that the ordination of gay bishops is part of Jesus' challenge to us to love one another as ourselves, and his affirmation of the new covenant for all mankind."

Tee hee! This is immensely cool. Make your own little man dance with hordes of his online imaginary friends. Here's mine!

Thursday, January 18, 2007


It's not easy being a battered wife in California. The children keep asking why you're bruised, the bills won't pay themselves, and you spend your evenings hoping that your husband will drink so much that he lapses into an alcoholic stupor before deciding that he feels 'amorous'.

Fortunately, when you're in need of a safe place, a place of refuge, somewhere to jst get away to, the Northumberland Services for Women are there to help. And their website, will tell you all about how they can help.

Just don't type Whatever you do, don't expect "a respectful environment that facilitates empowerment and choice" at .com.

(The same holds true for those children involved in the National Schools Film Week at, you won't want to see the movies at .com. Well, you might, but you're not allowed.)

That's it. The game's up. There's no more need for comedians. They are burning effigies of Jo from S Club 7 in Bangalore.

I like the new, surreal world we're living in...

(Right activity. Wrong reason.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Today I had my wife scanned. I have spent the afternoon gazing misty-eyed at a grainy picture of the parasitic proto-human who seems to have established residence inside her.

Herbert Hoover said that children are our 'greatest natural asset'. I think he was suggesting that we melt them down for their valuable proteins...