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Friday, October 27, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

BABYTHEFT: THE QUIZ!

It's dead easy, this.

Simply rate these statements according to those that most offend you.
(One point for condescension, Two for racism, Three for utter stupidity and Four for “I’d like to poke her eyes out with a very large stick”)…

1. “From my perspective, there was no one looking after David's welfare”

2. "This is a simple man who comes from a village who has nothing"

3. “I'm disappointed because it discourages other people from doing the same thing - for anybody who had the idea that they, too, would like to open their home and give a life to a child.”

4. "I assure you it doesn't matter who you are or how much money you have, nothing goes fast in Africa.”

5. "There are no adoption laws in Malawi. And I was warned by my social worker that because there were no known laws in Malawi, they were more or less going to have to make them up as we went along. And she did say to me, 'Pick Ethiopia. Go to Kenya. Don't go to Malawi because you're just going to get a hard time.'"
(N.B. Sorry…No Known Laws in Malawi?)

6. “It is a state of emergency. As far as I'm concerned, the adoption laws have to be changed to suit that state of emergency. I think if everybody went there, they'd want to bring one of those children home with them and give them a better life."
(Ahhh. Solving Global Poverty, the celebrity way. When people go to Spain on holiday they generally WANT to bring back those hideous straw donkeys and bottles of sangria, but it don’t make it right. That’s all I’m saying…)





Anyway, I’m bored of the sound of my own voice where this story is concerned, but there are plenty of other people being considerably more amusing about it than I ever could be.

I particularly like the live web log of Madge’s Oprah interview recorded on EW.COM. The whole thing is splendid (Only truly awesome way for this episode to end? "YOU get an orphan! YOU get an orphan! YOU get an orphan! EV-ry BO-dy GETS an OR-phan!") but I particularly liked this:

4:01:42 FYI: Today's British Accent Alert level is orange.
4:01:59 What's really surprised Madonna is how great her children are with young, possibly-illegally-adopted David. Because lemme tell ya, they treat the help like ass.
4:02:14 Picture of David being manhandled by Rocco gets obligatory "aw" from audience, who are still trying to assess if/when they're getting free stuff today.
4:02:20 Picture of David being manhandled by Guy Richie, however, gets a laugh. Curious.
4:02: 34 "That's the amazing thing about children," says Madonna. "They don't ask questions." Unlike all those horrible people who are trying to figure out what, exactly, I told the illiterate African man before I took his baby away
.

http://popwatch.ew.com/popwatch/2006/10/oprah.html

Teenage Kicks

This is from the local paper in Hendon, pointed out to me by my good friend who has the misfortune to live slightly closer to that part of town than me (lest we forget, I live in the part of town recently voted ‘The Worst Place to Live in Britain’):

"A 14-year-old girl from Colindale has appeared in court charged with conspiring to supply firearms, including a sub-machine gun capable of firing 1,000 rounds per minute. She was joined by three other suspects, including a 16-year-old boy, also from Colindale.
The 16-year-old boy, who also cannot be named because of his age, was charged with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life; possession of crack cocaine and cannabis, and possession of five CS sprays."


Unless I’ve misread this and these delightful kiddies are actually characters from Grand Theft Auto, I’d say that’s quite a Friday night they had planned.

Burn his town

Rush Limbaugh. Now, really, is there a bigger c**ksucker walking?

He has claimed that the actor Michael J Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s, was “putting it on” for the cameras in a recent political broadcast. Fox was – like Christopher Reeve had done before him (wonder if he was putting it on too? He was probably just lazy) – giving his support for stem cell research, the big moral issue for conservative Americans who haven’t quite grasped that they’ve got a hell of a lot more important things to get worked up about.
Beggars belief, frankly.

I’d hobble the fat-faced moron for his butchering of the English language alone:

“I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act, especially since people are telling me they have seen him this way on other interviews and in other television appearances."

Spandex

Towers of London.

Seriously though. I know they’re a tongue in cheek outfit, but do people think they’re sexy?
Noticed these folk at various outdoor musical extravaganzas last summer and – pleasant enough though they seemed to be – it was very difficult not to laugh out loud, continuously, in their faces. There’s only so ironic that leopard-print tights on a man can actually be.
I think the fact that I found myself looking on incredulously as women drooled and draped themselves over the bighaired ones is probably proof that I am now part of the out-of-touch generation.
If this were the 50s, I imagine I’d have insisted on filming Elvis from the waist up.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My theory is correct

This is good:

Ronnie O'Sullivan became the first player to book his place in the last 16 of the Royal London Watches Grand Prix in Aberdeen on Monday.

This is better:

Ex-world champ Ken Doherty, defending champion John Higgins, Ian McCulloch and Neil Robertson also made it into the knockout stages.

But this? Well…this makes me all warm inside:


But seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry is threatened with an early exit after losing 3-0 to Matthew Stevens - his second defeat in three matches.
The Scot said: "They're the worst tables I've ever played on. It's verging on unplayable out there. It's very difficult to play snooker on.
"It's verging on a farce. I've got to stop myself going into a rant because I'll probably get disciplined (by World Snooker) for this."

I'm really sorry I didn't do it...

Well, would you believe it? One of the greedy bastards from the Enron scandal is finally – despite the fact that corporate corruption doesn’t usually merit so much as wobble on the Bush administration’s moral compass – being sent to jail.


He’s not getting a light wrist-slapping and a couple of weeks self-catering at Ford Open, either, apparently: they’ve given him 24 years. Not much consolation to people who lost their entire savings and will no doubt spend their pensionable years foraging for discarded foodstuffs in skips, but cheering nonetheless.


Funniest part of course is Jeffrey Skilling’s (for tis he) continuing denial of wrongdoing. It’s funny because he’s got to try and somehow express the required level of remorse while simultaneously protesting his innocence for the purposes of appeal:


"In terms of remorse your honour, I can't imagine more remorse," Skilling told the court before he was sentenced.
"That being said your honour, I am innocent of these charges."


For students of language, it’s just lovely…

Go on love, I dare ya...

Heather Mills is sueing, apparently.

“Legal proceedings will be taken against the Evening Standard and Daily Mail, her lawyers said. Solicitors Mishcon de Reya added that legal action will also be taken against The Sun.”

Really? Cast your minds back.

June 2006:

“Heather Mills McCartney, estranged wife of Beatles star Sir Paul, is to take legal action over newspaper claims that she worked as a prostitute in her 20s. Lawyers for the 38-year-old ex-model said the News of the World's claims were "untrue and highly defamatory".

What happened there, then? Perhaps she forgot. Distracted, as we all were, by pictures of her on porno shoots during her shagging for money days (her pre-McCartney-shagging for money days, to correctly differentiate, obviously).

She can’t be blamed, of course: litigious amnesia is a tragically all-too-familiar ailment in the celebrity classes. Take our very own Victoria “people used to think I was black” Beckham, who seems to be equally of the delusion that threatening to sue someone is the very same thing as actually taking them to court. She’s threatened to sue many times more than she’s ever threatened to eat, let’s face it.

By the time Vicki's puffed enough hot air into the tabloids - the iron lung that ensures her very survival – to have the gormless public believe her outraged denials that her husband is an indiscreet Neanderthal-like philanderer, it no longer matters if the actual “lawsuit” bit fades discreetly into nothing….

Monday, October 23, 2006

Work it out

"Home Secretary John Reid is to outline plans to restrict Bulgarian and Romanian people's right to work in the UK when they join the EU next year... Britain cannot stop EU citizens from moving here, but restricting the right to employment is expected to act as a brake on initial immigration volumes."

Hang on. Is it just me, or does this seem a bit daft? If you can’t stop people moving into a country – and therefore necessarily making demands on the country’s resources - why would you want to stop them working legally when they get there? Eh???? Has EVERYONE gone entirely mad?

Oh for the love of GOD....

Pop star Madonna is to be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey about her planned adoption of a one-year-old from Malawi.
She will appear on the US television chat show on Wednesday following claims by baby David's father that he never meant to give away his son for good. The boy's father says he is now having regrets about the adoption.
It would be the first time that the singer had given her side of the story, a spokeswoman for the programme said.


what does it MATTER what the woman's "side of the story" is? It's not a bloody marital dispute, for crying out loud... Hasn't ANYONE explained to this woman that genetic parents have a lengthy period of time post-adoption to change their minds? Does she not understand what the term 'interim adoption' means?
Or did she just hope that the child's father, being illiterate, wouldn't actually work out what the hell was going on? Clearly, his was a vain (but heartbreakingly sincere) hope that he was providing his son with a much-needed rich benefactor rather than giving him up permanently to the highest bidder.

I feel queasy.

It’s not Nonse Sense

Sasha Baron Cohen is a clever wee chap and he has it in him to be quite witty, so I’m honestly at a loss as to why he’s wasting time on this ‘Borat’ character of his. Presumably Americans love it, but still…


'Most of Borat's victims were ensnared in a similar way. They would be told about the foreign correspondent making a film about life in the US, with the pitch tailored to each person's specialist subject. Then on the day of the interview, they would be presented with a release form at the last minute, be paid in cash and, finally, Borat would amble in, beginning with some serious subjects before starting his provocative routine.
"And as we're talking, out of the blue, he says: 'Do you know Baywatch?'
"I knew something was going on but I didn't know what it was. I'm looking at the cameramen and everyone was stony-faced. And then he would come out with outrageous things."
Ms Stein first tried to throw Borat out when he started talking about women having smaller brains than men. The producer persuaded her to carry on, apologetically explaining that Borat did not realise he was saying anything wrong. But the final straw came when Borat asked the women to lift up their shirts at the end of the interview.'


Yessssss…..that really doesn’t sound all that ‘clever’ to me.

(It certainly isn’t in the same league as tricking Capital Radio DJ ‘Doctor’ Fox into telling people that paedophiles have the same DNA structure as crabs, but then very little will ever come close.)

If a person is the representative of an organisation, and they’re asked for an interview on behalf of that organisation by what seems to be – right up until 20 minutes into the interview – a legitimate TV company, they’re not really that dumb for taking it on face value, are they? So wherein lies the funny?

It’s true to say that Sasha Baren Cohen can be amusing: convincing people that he’s black when clearly he’s white and Jewish-looking, purely by dressing and talking in a certain way, is a beautiful way of exposing people’s prejudices. Even when he makes lame, weak jokes about ‘getting caned’, you kind of forgive him.

However, playing the part of an Eastern European ‘yokel’ and asking intelligent New York feminists to lift up their shirts just isn’t that amusing (unless you’re nine), and the only prejudice it illuminates is his own.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

What no Preston?

This is fantastic: Hackney is OFFICIALLY the worst place in Britain to live. Hurrah!

Here's the top ten:
1. Hackney, east London
2. Tower Hamlets, east London
3. Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales
4. Newham, east London
5. Islington, north London
6. Middlesbrough, North East
7. City of Nottingham, East Midlands
8. Strabane, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
9. Blaenau Gwent, south Wales
10. Manchester, North West

Doesn't really add up though, does it. I mean, if you're not partial to getting shot, mugged or high on your way home from the pub, you could probably afford to give Clapton Pond a miss, but I'm still not entirely sure that living in central London - even the grubbier parts - could ever really be worse than living in south Wales...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Starkey for Schools Campaigner

Continuing my increasingly tedious educational theme, David Starkey – author of some of the best books and television programmes on Tudor history you’ll ever read – reckons that history teaching in England is rubbish. He believes that teaching history in fragments, and focusing on the process of historical fact-gathering while failing to clarify how historical facts relate to one another, produces “nothing but elaborately polished mediocrity”.

He doesn’t need me to say this, obviously, but he’s absolutely right. I left school with a GCSE and an A Level in History with the highest grade achievable at the time (I expect it’s now called the “Budweiser SuperSize™ Big Fat Gold Star Who’s the Daddy A Level”), and frankly, all I’d ever really studied was four pointless years of Hitler and Mussolini.
If I recall correctly, they half-heartedly chucked in a bit of Industrial Revolution in my pre-exam years, and Chartism got a mention (which they managed to make sound like a meeting of the WI), but basically I left school knowing everything about Hitler but his inside leg measurement, and very little else.
I complained viciously even at the time, without any effect, but the tragic part was that I was deemed to have done really well.

I have an interest in history, so I’ve carried on reading as much as I possibly can, filling in the canyon-sized gaps in my knowledge. I first learned about the French Revolution, the Tudors, the Victorian period and…well, you name it – in my late 20s. Shamefully, I barely even knew that England had even HAD a Civil War until I was at university.
The point is that, even at my advanced age, I still feel quite sharply the anger and embarrassment of my historical ignorance.

If the state school history syllabus today is even half as bad as it was in the pointlessly trend-conscious dark ages of my schooling, I really hope Starkey keeps complaining. You never know, Hitler could become David Starkey’s very own Turkey Twizzler…

The many faces of Ruth Kelly

Ruth Kelly, our esteemed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Minister for Women. Or, for short, Minister for Equality. She’s been very vocal of late, has Ruth, waxing lyrical about how religious diversity is to be protected at all costs (presumably because - as per the 'school dinners' debacle - that’s what is making headlines this week, and causing Daily Mail columnists to froth at the mouth – and it’s not even a full moon).

Sexual preference, it would seem, is a different matter.

If a business were to refuse the custom of a person on the grounds of their religion (if, for example, said customer was partial to wearing veils – dunno where I got that one from) we’d be reading reams of inflammatory nonsense about it from here till Easter. In Ruth’s World, however, if a Catholic hotelier refuses to give a bed for the night to a holidaying gay couple, that’s absolutely fine.

Thanks for clearing that up Ruth. Glad to see personal politics doesn’t play a part in how you help to run the country.
Now, where’s my dictionary? I think I’d better go back and relearn my definitions of ‘diversity’, ‘community’ and ‘prejudice’…

Ruth, speaking on 24th August 2006

"I want to start by saying that I believe that Britain's diversity is a huge asset to our country - economically, culturally and socially.

The capital's diversity now commonly acknowledged to be one of its key attractions…And I believe that we should celebrate and clearly articulate the benefits that migration and diversity have brought - but while celebrating that diversity we should also recognise that the landscape is changing, changing rapidly. And we should not shy away from asking - and trying to respond to - some of the more difficult questions that arise."

Ruth quoted on the BBC, 8th October 2006

Ruth Kelly yesterday defended the wearing of the veil as a 'personal choice' by Muslims that must be respected. She made her comments as the Cabinet began distancing itself from Jack Straw's disclosure that he asked women attending his constituency surgery to uncover their faces.
Kelly, the Women's Minister and Communities Secretary, also warned that more serious threats to female freedom must not be 'swept under the carpet', citing the refusal of some Muslim families to let their daughters go to university for fear of exposure to undesirable influences or the failure to confront domestic violence in the Muslim community.

Daily Mail, 14th October 2006

A bitter Cabinet row has broken out over sweeping new gay rights laws aimed at punishing businesses which refuse to serve homosexuals, it emerged yesterday.
The Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly, a devout Catholic, has blocked the plans following a storm of protest from churches and other opponents.
The measures were meant to make discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation illegal in the same way as race or sex.
Miss Kelly, who is a member of the controversial Catholic organisation Opus Dei and a reluctant supporter of gay rights, has already delayed the introduction of the laws and is now considering shelving them altogether.

We don't need no edukashun (no really, we do)

A poll earlier this year showed that 39% of people believe in creationism or ‘Intelligent Design by God’. Nothing new or particularly shocking in that, if you live in Arkansas.
This poll, unfortunately, was conducted in the UK. Let me repeat that: well over a third of the population of this country believes that the earth was created by a Christian ‘god’.
Sigh.
I don’t really care what people believe, because if I did, I’d have trouble sleeping at night. After all, 40% of the viewing public are of the opinion that Eastenders is entertainment. Approximately 60% of females believe that Robbie Williams is talented, and there are even a small number (as I understand it, 12.7%) who think that Carol Vorderman is good at maths.
(N.B: figures may not be 100% accurate. Or even 20%. You get the idea).

Good luck to them. Frankly the creationist argument, in itself, deserves little more of anyone's attention than any of the above.
However, given that we’re teaching this stuff to our children, it is a problem. After all, children in publicly-funded education have a right to be taught information that is based in fact, in science, and in research, not a preposterous form of Noddy-science that is formed entirely from faith and from ‘belief’. Religious Education has a very important place in the classroom, but that’d be the RE classroom, not the science lab. The clear suggestion that creationism is an 'alternative' to sound scientific theory is utter madness.

The creationist argument?
Darwinism is a religion. The debate between evolution and intelligent design is not a debate between science and religion, it’s between religion and religion”.
Nick Cowan – a former teacher, do you mind – and now head the Christian Institute.
Someone give Nick his medicine back, for crying out loud…

This comes at the same time that the government has announced its intention to open up GCSE science teaching to include ‘debate’ about scientific ‘issues’ such as the MMR vaccination controversy. This is, frankly, wrong. The reason why people learn science is to become informed about…well, scientific fact. Sure, they’re entitled to have a debate about key issues alongside their core learning if they choose, but this is a little bit like asking art students to comment on the perennial “Is the Turner Prize crap?” question instead of teaching them how to draw. Except worse, obviously - if every artist on the face of the earth suddenly disappeared, we wouldn’t find ourselves any further away from solving global warming or discovering a cure for cancer.

Not teaching people science properly means that we will not produce talented and effectual scientists. End of story. So it matters. Britain was once one of the world’s best breeding grounds for promising young scientists (granted, they generally ran off to the US to get paid properly, but that’s a different issue). Now all we’re producing is overweight, underqualified youths whose ambition is to work in PR and who are taught to believe that womankind was cobbled together one Wednesday afternoon out a spare rib.

Unfortunately, the entire country is being governed by a man who rules according to his own belief system (a Christian belief system he shares with his good mate George W). Given that Tony has consistently put his personal views ahead of both logic and the views of the nation that elected him as their representative (“What matters about the invasion of Iraq is that I BELIEVED I was doing the right thing. The fact that I was proved wrong is entirely irrelevant” - remember that?) what chance do our schoolkids have?

Thinking ahead

According to press reports, as part of the government's proposals for helping out children in care (or as it irritatingly insist on calling them, "looked-after children"), “young people in care could face regular screening for drug abuse to help them to avoid falling into addiction”.
Eh? How does that work, then? Presumably the thinking behind this is that kids in care are more likely, due to their being more likely to have crappy lives than kids with secure home lives, to develop drug problems.
Good to know that this is where a “caring” culture takes us. If policies like this are developed on the grounds of how likely a person is to do something, am I to expect, then, that London kids will be screened for drug and alcohol abuse ahead of those from Cornwall? Statistically, they’re more likely to take drugs, aren’t they?
What about Scottish kids? Everyone knows they’re more likely to jack up. I’ve seen Trainspotting, damn you.

Yes! Let's hammer home our suspicions of young people before they've actually done anything! A quarter of the prison population of this country apparently started out in care, so I think what's needed to stop them ending up there - rather than positive encouragement and emotional support - is the insulting, defensive and condascending presumption that they're all wrong un's.
What a fine idea. As if there isn’t enough stigma attached to the care system already, and as if they aren’t socially maligned enough - now children going through care will have to live with the authorities’ assumption that they’re all crackheads and deviants in waiting. Excellent work.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Whatever happened here?


This McCartney stuff is riveting, isn’t it? There’s nothing quite so enjoyable as watching a person as smug as Paul McCartney being dragged through the gutter by a crazed money-grabbing fantasist. Particularly when the accusations being levelled are so hilariously erratic and left-of-centre: he got DRUNK, you say? He made you cook him DINNER? He objected to pots full of wee being stored under his marital bed? The crook! The scoundrel…


Quite why we’re expected to believe that the spoilt wife of a multimillionaire would be regularly found “crawling around on her hands and knees” when, I’m fairly sure, they could afford to adapt their home for disabled access, I really don’t know.


Deliciously, one of Heather’s top outraged complaints in her divorce petition (handily faxed to the two biggest news agencies in the world, well done) is that Old Queen McCartney refused to use his clout to blackmail people into pulling negative stories about her when they were married. Amazing, isn’t it, how quickly she appears to have lost her sensitivity now that the money’s on the table?


One thing was bugging me about the story though: jealousy, drunkenness, abuse of ageing wheelchair-bound harridans…why was this so familiar? Why did I feel like I had heard this story before?
Ah yes…


The movie turns to horror as Jane begins to grotesquely abuse Blanche. She tears out her buzzer and the phone cord. She then goes downstairs and calls the lawyer…She serves disgusting things, such as a dead rat, and gets a big kick out of Blanche's revulsion.
While Jane is away, Blanche goes to her room in her wheelchair. She finds a box of chocolates and devours them ravenously. She then sees where Jane has been practicing writing the signature Blanche Hudson and proof that Jane has written checks for cash in Blanche's name. Eventually, she crawls downstairs to call her doctor for help. Jane returns during the call. She then beats and kicks Blanche. Afterward, she calls back and, imitating Blanche's voice, tells the doctor that it was a mistake, that all is fine. She ties Blanche up in bed and begins to starve her to death.



Squint your eyes a moment and you really can’t tell them apart…

Spot the Difference




between these two caring sharing kiddie lovers...

It's a mixed bag, alright

Much though it pains me to add my voice to the reams of ill-informed nonsense already written about that modestly-talented crackbucket Mr Peter Doherty, I noticed this and my heart sank. Genuinely for him as much as anything else:

Babyshambles singer Pete Doherty's lawyer has described the star's battle to come off drugs as a "mixed bag"...Mr Clark told the court: "He's giving up a lifestyle he's been living in the East End, which is not the best place for him to be.
"There are alternatives for him though. He is now living at an address out of London," he added.

There are many who believe - and I suspect I may be one of them - that one never really recovers from a serious crack and heroin addiction. Or a serious bout of either, come to think of it. To reference (worryingly enough) AA for the second time in a day, alcoholics will always be alcoholics, the variant is whether or not you're active or in recovery. Same goes for drug addiction - therefore any discussion of 'recovery' is ludicrously misleading.
What's sad about this nonsense is not so much that your man Doherty is a probably reasonably decent bloke trying to recover in the glare of the public eye (let's face it, that's pretty much his own fault) but that he's making the textbook schoolboy error of believing that his problems are geographical. Seen that "I'll be alright if I leave here" nonsense before, and seen it fail. He thinks the reason he's still crack-addled is because he lives in a grubby part of town with a dealer down the road? Wrong.

It's a cliche for a reason: wherever you go you take yourself (and your addictions) with you. Believe you me: he could move to a remote corner of the Scottish Highlands and get heroin if he wanted it. Actually, scrap that, if it's Scotland we're talking about, it's as easy to find as heart disease.

Anyway, this is all entirely irrelevant: wherever Doherty goes, if he's planning on taking his codependent scrag end of a girlfriend with him, he's f**ked.

No need for the bikesheds

Apparently, a school - or learning centre, whatever that's meant to be...they should've just gone the whole hog and called it an 'educational solution' - somewhere in T'North is allowing the kids to smoke in the break rooms between classes.
Now, hold up a second. I'm all for a bit of misbehaviour at school, but this doesn't really make any sense. Quite apart from the fact that it's illegal to buy fags when you're a child, the book-based learning provider solution whateverthehellyouwanttocallit management say this policy is designed "to help pupils stop smoking". Seriously.

A school is allowing pupils as young as 14 to smoke between lessons as part of an anti-smoking drive. Students at Tinshill Learning Centre in Leeds can light up in a smoking room during breaks, as long as they have a note from their parents. The new policy is meant to help pupils stop smoking and reduce confrontations with teachers.

Whichever way you look at it, that doesn't really work, does it? Unless encouraging children to cram their faces with Krispy Kremes is a surefire method of reducing obesity levels, or bringing along family-sized bottles of Lambrini to AA meetings (the lesser known number 13 in the 12 step programme - thou shalt drink cheap booze) is a tip top idea.
The world's going to hell in a handcart, society's gone mad, etc.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Roll Up, Roll Up

While I am aware that I am in grave danger of becoming obsessed by the Madonna with Child, I couldn't help noticing this:

Madonna's publicist Liz Rosenberg said the star was "going to do her best to not make it a public circus".
During 18 months of temporary custody the couple "will be evaluated by the courts of Malawi per the tribal customs of the country," the statement said.


Two things about this strike me. Firstly, the decision to fly by private jet home without a vulnerable one year old child you wish to adopt - allowing him instead to travel home with a bodyguard and a nanny would not tend to suggest, in my view, that the new adoptive child and its needs are exactly top priority. Would it have killed her to hang around and take "her son" home with her?

For most people, having a new baby is kind of a big deal. If she wanted to avoid turning this into a public spectacle, and she wanted to allay the suspicions that her visit to Africa was merely a shopping trip, she might want to have lent the situation a little more gravity. Nothing says "I take parenting seriously" quite like pointing at the kid you want and asking for it to be packaged and delivered to your door later that week...

And what in the name of our condascending lord does the spokeswoman mean when she describes the Malawian Court System as being the home of "tribal custom"?
How cute! How quaint! Look at the poor backward African folk and their twee little "customs"!You know, like the custom of not allowing rich white women to walk in and grab whichever cute little child takes their fancy.....

I don't want to be a goblin

This is all rather marvellous. All the more reason to choose my partners carefully - I'd quite like my long-distant descendants to be seven foot tall and coffee-coloured. Producing an entire sub-human breed of Anthony Worrall Thompsons, on the other hand, would be most disappointing:


Social division might split humans into two sub-species 100,000 years from now, an evolution expert has claimed. The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative. They would be a far cry from the "underclass" humans, who will have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures.
The forecast was made by Dr Oliver Curry, who spent two months investigating the ascent and descent of man over the next 100 millennia.
He said, within a thousand years, humans will evolve into coffee-coloured giants between 6 and 7ft tall.
But Dr Curry said centuries of sexual selection - being choosy about one's partner - was likely to create more and more genetic inequality.
The logical outcome would be two sub-species. Dr Curry said: "Things could get ugly."

Monday, October 16, 2006

The cases are real, they said so!

Found something very funny. The Judge Judy website (yes, my life really is this empty) has a button on inviting you to, "subpoena a pal".

Unfortunately, the site's photographs of the fabulous Judy herself do make her look rather like a ghost train ghoul (with a better tan):

http://www.judgejudy.com/home/home.asp

She's definitely a woman who shouldn't smile.

Oh my lord: her book is called Don't Pee on my Leg and Tell me it's Raining.

What a legend.

Quick, start the engines

...let's get the kid out of here before his family have the chance to raise objections:

The Malawian baby that pop star Madonna is seeking to adopt has left the African country on board a private jet.
An immigration official told BBC News that the passport of 13-month-old David Banda had been authorised.
A group of Malawian charities has said the adoption is unlawful because Madonna has not lived in the country.
The Human Rights Consultative Committee of 67 organisations had been due to go to court on Monday seeking an injunction to halt the adoption process.
But it deferred the move, saying it needed more time to follow up reports of family members opposed to the boy going abroad.
The group said it wanted to interview an unidentified uncle of David's who is "said to be opposed to the adoption plan".
Justin Dzodzi, who chairs the rights group, said it had sent investigators to the orphanage where David lived to "get a feel of what the villagers and relatives feel about the adoption and if anyone opposes it".



Thank the lord for private jets, eh? Baby stealing was never this easy.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Homoerotica

Brad Pitt is to star in the film version of hit BBC drama State of Play, writer Paul Abbott has said. Pitt will play journalist Cal McCaffrey, portrayed by John Simm in the TV version of the political thriller, Abbott told BBC Five Live.

No no no, all wrong. Brad Pitt is an attractive man, in an unimaginative and tired all-American blonde kind of way (although the armour and skirt getup in that woeful homoerotic comedy Troy did him no favours) but an actor he isn't. Let's face it, this is a man whose most notable role to date has been as "the bare arse" in Thelma & Louise. It's not method acting, that, is it...

For this we turn down the chance of seeing Mr Simm on the big screen? Saleability be damned, if you look at the pictures Pitt has made in the last couple of years, he's hardly much more bankable...
Given that they're stopping Life on Mars this year, I'm up for selling John Simm to Hollywood.

As if my social life weren't bleak enough already...



Las Vegas forensics show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its Miami and New York spin-offs were acquired as staples in Channel Five's schedule.
From Monday, it will offer a schedule which is "stripped and stranded", with coordinated blocks of programmes designed to attract viewers at specific times.
So, for a dose of each of the three CSI programmes, tune in on Friday nights. Perhaps it will be named Forensic Friday - that's the sort of thing Five would do.


God bless Channel Five and all who sail in her.

Now, isn't CSI: NY the show with a man called Carmine in it? Yes, yes it is. There he is. Hello, little Carmine chap.

Special Needs

In an age when even the least academic people can get enough A grade A Levels to apply to NASA's fast track programme (or something), Oxford and Cambridge Universities have, rather splendidly, decided to do away with logic altogether, and just adopt their own peculiar brand of Gonzo Interviewing to get the right kind of students through their doors.

Applicants for places at Oxford and Cambridge universities are being asked increasingly "eccentric" questions, interview experts have claimed.
Students have addressed issues such as how much of the world's water is contained in a cow, and the perennial teenage concern: "Are you cool?"

Other quandaries posed during Oxbridge interviews included:
At what point is a person "dead"?
Put a monetary value on this teapot.
Of all 19th-century politicians, who was most like Tony Blair?
How does a perm work?


I for one am looking forward to the days when this newfangled batch of students finds its way (as Oxbridge kids have always done) into the country's financial powerhouses and corridors of power. Should fast track the revolution by a good 50 years. And if it doesn't, it'll be fun to have a country run by people suffering from an even greater degree of educationally-induced insanity than the current bunch.

Oh Happy Day

An open letter to a particular kind of bus passenger.


Dear F**kwit,

Good morning. You seem to have a total inability to understand the concept of being sensitive to the needs of others without being told, so in despair I'll do my best to get through to your walnut-sized, shrivelled little testicle of neurological matter.

I know not whether it is a fear of developing piles by sitting down, or perhaps a fear that the exertion of walking upstairs will induce an embolism in your tiny little mind, but - here's the thing - IF YOU STAND BLITHELY AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS ON A BUS, OTHER PEOPLE CANNOT GET TO THE EMPTY SEATS UPSTAIRS.
Sure, they can push you out of the way like the insignificant little irritant that you clearly are, but people are sheep: they will assume that you are standing in everyone's way making a total w**ker of yourself because there is nowhere else for you to go.
Now, while causing a wholly unnecessary human backlog of people on public transport clearly doesn't bother you, let me explain further. When you do this, the bus driver will (not unreasonably) assume that the reason there is an 80 year old man wedged precariously in the doorframe and a fat profusely sweaty man obscuring his mirror view is because the bus is full. That is why, you offensive little scrote, the bus is sailing right past queues of people at bus stops who've already been waiting half an hour.

If there is any justice in this world, useful parts of you will shrivel up and drop off.

x

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Don't mention the genocide

Is it just me, or is this the most POINTLESS argument in the history of time? It's as if the French government has got too much time on its hands, and all the Cabinet ministers decided one afternoon to wind up the first country it could think of, just for a laugh:

The French parliament has adopted a bill making it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered "genocide" at the hands of the Turks, infuriating Turkey.
The bill, which provides for a year in jail and a heavy fine, still needs approval from the Senate and president.
Turkey called the decision a "serious blow" to relations with France. It has already threatened economic sanctions.
Armenia says Ottoman Turks killed 1.5 million people systematically in 1915 - a claim strongly denied by Turkey.
Turkey has been warning France for weeks not to pass the bill.


Shame really, the French can normally be relied upon for a good spat. I'm particularly keen on the ones where royal heads end up in baskets and Ronald McDonald ends up covered in poo

Flinty logic

Fast becoming one of my favourite people, it's public health minister Caroline Flint again. (She of the academic approach to medical research mentioned earlier).

Flint has been sharing her characteristically treacle-brained thoughts on the fact that England has the worst obesity rating in Europe (no great surprise, although I'll be willing to bet that the Belgians and their mayonnaise on chips insanity are breathing - or wheezing - down our necks):

Many people don't consider themselves overweight, according to fitness minister Caroline Flint, who says it's one reason why nearly a quarter of adults in the UK are obese.

No, see, that's not correct, Caroline, is it? Sit down and have a little think about it. The REASON why people are obese is because they eat too many pies and don't exercise.

Not knowing that you're overweight is what we like to call denial.

Everyone loves a bitch

Boy George doesn't like the new singer in Culture Club, apparently:

"They're my gay love songs about my boyfriend. He can't sing them, can he?"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

People TIRE me

Oh, for the love of GOD: there really are people in this world I'd happily beat about the skull with iron bars in the hope of kickstarting their brains into some kind of slovenly action. (Particularly when they own cats, which everyone knows are feline Mussolini equivalents: fat, vicious, insanely arrogant and unnecessarily hairy squat little beasts. )

A woman is paying two mortgages after refusing to move house while she searches for her missing pet cat.
Corrina Mackenzie and her 11-year-old daughter Amelia said they were "devastated" three-year-old Siamese Wilbur has vanished in Aberdeen.
The mother and daughter will not move to their new home in case Wilbur returns to the old one.
Mrs Mackenzie, offering a reward, said: "Someone may have taken him in thinking he was a stray."

Every Little'un Helps

Bangladeshi textile manufacturers have pledged to investigate child labour allegations after Channel 4 showed children making clothes for supermarket giant Tesco.
Channel 4 had secretly filmed children as young as 12 it said were working at four factories that supply the British supermarket giant.


Strenous denials all round, spot checks carried out by Tesco finding C4's accusations 'baseless', no suggestion the supermarket giant was aware of wrongdoing, blah blah...


The footage IS from Tesco's factories, but apparently the footage was "old". The company insists it has a conscience, see, albeit an apparently recently acquired one. Tis a bit strange that, in a four month-long investigation, the highly dubious and disreputable outfit that is Channel Four News wouldn't have already checked for themselves when the footage was actually filmed....

Curious.

Pretty Brown Babies

So, it not-at-all-predictably transpires that Madonna’s latest fashion accessory is not an orphan at all, but has parents – a father, at least – who is outsourcing his son in order to provide him with what he obviously hopes is a better chance in life than he would get in his own AIDS-ravaged, poverty-stricken village in Malawi.
"I am the father of David, who has been adopted. I am very, very happy because as you can see there is poverty in this village and I know he will be very well looked after in America,” he has been quoted as saying.
If you can think of a single statement that more depressingly illustrates how rich westerners trample over the needs and rights of people in the developing world and call it “charity”, I’d love to hear it.

Same thing happened to the First Lady of Baby Buying, Ms Jolie, when she went shopping for the second addition to her “Rainbow Family” in Ethiopia. It soon emerged that the aesthetically pleasing child she had carefully selected was not, in fact, conveniently parentless. Still, that story soon handily disappeared, to be replaced by the “selfless act of charity, helping our needy brown brothers” line to which she is now obstinately sticking.

Interesting that, rather than approaching any one of the slightly closer to home London Boroughs, from where she could have had her pick of extremely needy children struggling their way through the care system, Madonna decided to take her charitable cause to Malawi, which has a ban on adoptions from overseas*.
(*NB: Ban is negotiable for the famous and wealthy. Bring a cheque book.)

Well, that’s understandable, isn’t it? Poor and desperate is one thing, but kids with possible emotional problems? Don’t be ridiculous. Madonna hasn’t the time for that, what with needing to dress up like a chicken breast in a leotard and strap herself to an oh-so-controversial cross and everything. Far better to secure oneself a wide-eyed little orphan Annie and have the nanny teach it English.
By the time it starts suffering the well-documented cultural and familial dislocation experienced by such kids - that Madge and her kind are choosing to ignore in the name of trend-setting - or god forbid, realises that it was sold into a "better life", it'll be years later, and as a celebrity child, it'll have so many problems with champagne and crack by that point that nobody will notice.

Handily for Madonna, however, the child appears to have already been given a name that she finds acceptable (David, apparently).
Not so for poor old Meg Ryan. When she bought a one year old a while back, the child was saddled with a thoroughly non-celebrity moniker, which she was then obliged to alter to Charlotte. Not cutsie enough, it would seem: Charlotte was rebranded a few months later when Meg got tired of her original choice. "I already had to change her name. I thought she was a Charlotte and she's just not, she's a Daisy." (Not just a global marketing initiative as it was when Opal Fruits tragically underwent a metomorphosis and took on the horribly bland US title, Starburst.)
That’s that explained, then.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Oh, the joy

hahahahahahaha
and again,
hahahahaha.

Ronnie Corbett has laughed off rumours of drug abuse after convincingly simulating cocaine use on Ricky Gervais' comedy series Extras last week.
The episode saw Corbett, 75, and Gervais in a BAFTA spoof, where the veteran funnyman was seen snorting the drug using a £20 note in a toilet cubicle.
However, the diminutive star was criticised over his realistic performance - and he was quick to reassure fans no substance abuse took place on set.
Referring to his partnership with the late Ronnie Barker in their Two Ronnies double act, Corbett says, "I would just like to assure people that we never resorted to drugs - or drink for that matter.
"My wife did say she thought going on Extras would be the wrong thing to do. But I love the programme and it was good fun."

TOP quote of the day

This from two Universal studio executives, who are trying to justify the obscenely astronomical cost of the Jim Carrey Bruce Almighty follow up movie:

"This movie is a great bet," said Universal Chairman Marc Shmuger. "It's a spectacle fantasy and also a comedy. And a sequel to one of the most successful hits in the studio's history."
"It's based on two story sources: 'Bruce Almighty' and the Bible, both of which were incredibly successful," Linde said.

Glorious stuff.

Sky & The Sun

A couple of VERY sinister looking people (the woman has the eyeballs of a dead fish, while the man appears to have been plastinated) who were contestants on Big Brother are, apparently, getting married. Congratulations, scary people.

Despite the 'engagement' having taken place a mere four days ago, The Sun reports the following - displaying the kind of disregard for the basic intelligence of its readership for which the ginger witch Rebekah "Burn Paediatricians" Wade was well known at the NOTW:

A spokeswoman said last night: “It’s true, Mikey and Grace are getting married.
“I can’t believe you found out — they wanted to keep it quiet. They’re both over the moon.”


News of the engagement came as it was revealed Grace, 21, will compete in Sky One reality show Cirque du Celebrite, starting this Sunday.

Give me f**king strength.

Video Nasty

Google has bought YouTube. Very good, well done.
For £883 MILLION?????

Are they HIGH?

Granted, YouTube has an absurd amount of online users, and granted it's a good match, but it's a tiny, loss-making business. Obviously Google might do far better than YouTube has done so far in generating advertising revenue, but even so, that's a ludicrous pricetag.

And as today's papers have pointed out, the site has no permission to actually distribute copyrighted videos. Which would tend to suggest that Google has just issued a big fat "Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough" to any music or movie company that fancies taking them on for a few quid.

Utter madness.

Gravity & The Sun





The Sun newspaper, with an impeccable sense of occasion, today greeted the news of North Korea's nuclear weapons testing and the resultant possibility of a shiny new war with the following front page headline:

How do you solve a problem like Korea?

That it itself would not be all that worthy of mention, were it not for the fact that they've illustrated it with a photograph of the marionnette Kim Jong Il (or as the ginger witch and her cohorts would have it, The Pint-sized Crackpot) from Team America.

Scotch N Threat

It is a sad sad day. Fred Elliott is no more. Even if you hadn't read John Savident bitching earlier in the year about having to leave due to the increase in episode numbers and consequent rubbish storylines (he knows not of what he speaks) , you'd have suspected something was up when the ordinarily emotionally botoxed Ashley announced "I don't know what I'd do without you, dad" in the butcher's shop last week.

And last night, after a highly improbable love triangle storyline involving Audrey (aka Mrs Popoff) and the peculiarly thyroid-looking Bev, he had the kind of heart attack that could only ever be considered predictable in a man of his girth.

'pparently, Bev and Mrs Popoff have a fantastic bitchfight on Wednesday, which I anticipate to be pure comedy. I fully expect Liz McDonald to get involved, while wearing full warpaint and a leopard print bustier top, Tracy to hit someone over the head with a stiletto shoe, and Ashley to suffer a mild blow to the head while attempting to break it up, causing him to spend half the remaining episode in the Rovers with a piece of his own rump steak slapped on his forehead.

If Eastenders did a bitchfight, someone would get stabbed, someone would cry for the entire duration of the episode, Dot Cotton would bemoan the state of modern society and launch into a dull soliloqy about the Blitz, and Wendy Richard would hover in the background making the kind of sounds that shatter crystal.

It is a sad, sad day

Monday, October 09, 2006

HUGE SLIDES!

Visitors to Tate Modern will be able to try out five giant slides that have been unveiled at the London gallery.
The largest of the spiralling slides is more than 55m (182ft) long and descends from the fifth floor of the venue.




I must go IMMEDIATELY.

Keeping it Real

“As delegates voted 3 to 1 in favour of the motion Jamie Oliver is a national hero, Boris Johnson shouted “The Messiah”….”

Talking once again of Jamie 'Not really in a position to comment on obesity, if you don’t mind my saying' Oliver….
I have been trying to think how to vocalise my thoughts on Mockney’s decision at the weekend to expand his self-appointed remit to include the world beyond school canteens.
The man has a 20 point manifesto, for the love of GOD.
Then I realised: I don’t have to say anything. (Reading it was making me want to punch things anyway, which can't be good).

The World According to Jamie is so absurd and masturbatory in itself, that comment is not required (except to draw your attention to plugs for both his restaurant AND his supermarket employer. GO TIGER). So instead I’m simply copying it in here in its entirety. Enjoy.


In his frankest interview ever, Jamie tells how he thinks our country could be improved.
And he slams our Government and the police for being too scared to tackle crime and youth problems.
The 31-year-old employs disadvantaged youngsters at his Fifteen restaurants and has seen first hand the problems they face.
He said: "Crime starts from an early age. Most of the problems I've witnessed are about the family unit, gangs and sheer boredom.
"And when the police force are too scared to go into our cities' estates what chance do the children have?"
The dad of two also stresses the importance of family values. Speaking in the run up to his Home Cooking Day on Thursday—to get families to eat dinner together—he said: "Many crime problems begin because of the problems in the family."

Here's his 20-point plan in full...
TACKLE CRIME
Problems often start at home with youngsters simply not having enough to do outside school hours. There should be better funding and a total review of how kids spend their time.There are areas in many cities where the police wouldn't dare go unless they were in large numbers. Just imagine what it's like living there as kids.
WELCOME IMMIGRANTS
They are a profitable part of this country, and I'm proud to live in a multi-cultural England. If it wasn't for the Polish in the last few years, many factories would have gone bankrupt and half the buildings in our cities wouldn't be built.
BENEFITS
I think people should show they care about the country and want to be part of the community before getting all their benefits.
CUT POWERS
Having the guts to look at things in a non-political way is vital. I don't reckon healthcare, schooling and transport should be ruled by government.
TROOPS
Stop wasting our time fighting other people's wars. Now we're part of the EU there's no need for a massive Army. If we halved our troops the spare resources could help fight crime.
KEEP IT REAL
If I had my own department I'd let my senior team run it
and have six months in the field listening to the public so you can make intelligent, informed decisions.
RECYCLING
We've got one of the worst recycling records in the EU although things are changing (albeit I'm still waiting for my recycling bin!) If you buy loads of packaging then it's your responsibility to sort out disposing it sensibly.
EXPERTS
When I started looking into school dinners there wasn't anybody high up with a history of catering. Most of the people who have the answers aren't politicians, they're experts, and I think they're vital in government.
SEE IT THROUGH
I'm bloody proud of what we did with school dinners and I'm going to babysit it for ever.
SCHOOLS
I believe in comprehensive education. A mixture of ethnic minorities and social classes is really important. I think our primary schools are fantastic too.
SPORT
This should be such an important part of our kids' schooling, just like in Australia. I think it's about time we took it more seriously. Stop building on playing fields and make sport compulsory.
LESSON CHOICES
I think education should incorporate sport and life skills. I'll probably get my a*se whooped by the science dudes for it. But I believe there should be enough choice for people to excel.
TEACH KIDS TO COOK
I've just been to Melbourne to open my new Fifteen restaurant and Stephanie Alexander—a bit like Delia—is concentrating on a charity to put kitchens and gardens in primary schools. Through growing food and cooking, nippers also learn numeracy, spelling, chemistry...it's a wicked idea.
HOSPITAL GRUB
Food in hospitals is more urgent than schools. Good quality tucker is crucial for the sick. I thought when we'd got it sorted in schools it would translate across the board. I'm hoping it still will.
QUALITY NOSH
It's harder to get the good stuff to the kids who need it most. It's largely class bound. You can buy a Shepherd's pie from a cheapo place and you can bet there will be more rubbish in it than one from Waitrose or Sainsbury's.
AND FINALLY...
I'm still banging the drum on school dinners because more needs doing. The government is planning dinner ladies' training schools. Brilliant! But many schools have kitchens that are falling down. Tony Blair's the only one who's done anything. So come on Tiger, let's carry on the good work.

Potty Mouth



And meanwhile, also from Camp Cameron (not intended as a comment on sexual preference) comes this splendid creature, who I am delighted to have discovered and am shocked to have never encountered before, so fabulously Boris-like are his musings.
In a daringly Nazi-esque piece of profile-raising, the aspiring Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg recently described state-educated people as “potted plants”.
It’s a lovely term, but as a state-educated weed of a human being myself, I haven’t the faintest clue what he means by it. His view seems to be, essentially, that us state school thickos are incapable of being politicians. It's just as well, then, that 52 per cent of would-be Tory MPs are privately educated (more than six times the national average).

Despite this imbalance, Rees-Mogg is nonetheless an adamant supporter of fair representation in his party: he says that, in a country where “Ninety-five per cent of the people are white”, the Tory candidate list cannot possibly contain too many “ethnic” people. Of course it can’t. That simply wouldn't be fair, would it?

"The Tory Party...is not there to represent the make-up of the country. It's there to govern the country," he says.

He wants to have a word with Dave. Dave can explain to him all about the need for the Conservative Party “ghetto” to be broken up. After all, the Party needs "[to] turn out young men and women who have experience of life beyond their own community”. Doesn’t it?

P.S. Apart from looking like a sexually-frustrated adolescent Harry Potter, this numpty has a sister called Annunziata.
Sounds, ironically, rather like the name of a South American potted plant.

Cameron "Karma" Chameleon

Last week, at the tory conference I tried so hard to avoid, David Cameron predictably chose the easiest path to tabloid headlines by saying that Muslim “ghettos” in Britain need to be broken up. He then followed up this piece of radical wisdom by suggesting that Muslim schools should be forced to accept pupils from other faiths.
Jesus. (Or Mohammed, I'm not fussy). Everyone’s an expert.

The fact is that there are towns and cities in this country that are hugely racially and religiously polarised, which creates social problems. To pretend otherwise would be foolish. And certainly there are things that you can do to help integration, if integration is what you’re after (knocking down a council estate’s community centre and building an Asian community centre instead, as the council once did a few years ago in Camden, is probably a good example of the way NOT to go). Dave is also right to pinpoint childhood – the stage at which prejudice and preconception have had little time to foment – as the best time to encourage social mixing.

But what good is it to hijack the faith schools debate in such a flagrantly lazy manner? There are thousands of Catholic, Jewish and Church of England schools in this country that he does not suggest forcing to “do more than provide a good education…[to] turn out young men and women who have experience of life beyond their own community”. Thousands. Dave gives them a mere cursory mention (anti-Semitism being just so last year).
Meanwhile, there are six Muslim state schools in this country.
SIX: count them. If Britain’s Islamic educators genuinely are attempting to use the state school system to corrupt the minds of their own young against their non-Muslim peers – the clear implication here – they’re doing a fairly poor job of it, I’d say.

Dave’s speech is hardly Rivers of Blood, granted, but exploiting Middle England’s fear of otherness just confuses what is, in fact, one of the most important and valid issues for modern times in Britain (i.e. how we ensure a cohesive multi-faith and multicultural society when our community is now made up of groups of people whose beliefs are fundamentally opposed to one another).
Choosing to fan the flames of an already heated debate about Muslim integration as a means of guaranteeing press coverage is a decidedly cynical move, and probably tells us more about Cameron’s motivations (i.e. an ambition for the seat of power so great that he’ll do and say whatever it takes to shoehorn himself into it) than he or his speechwriters probably even intended.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Religion - The Revised Edition

This confused me:

Catholic experts are expected to advise Pope Benedict XVI that teachings on the state of limbo - somewhere between heaven and hell - should be amended.

Now, hang on a minute....how does that work? Those in the know in the Catholic world are, apparently, not keen on the bit in the Catholic teachings that says that dead babies float around in a fictional no man's land after rolling off the mortal coil, instead of trotting into a fictional heaven filled with angels and, presumably, all the rusks they can eat. So they decide to CHANGE it?

I really didn't think that's how religion worked. But I'm very excited to find that I was wrong. If it really is as simple as tippexing out the bits we find problematic, I've got several suggestions. What I'd like to see now is a rubbing out of the part about Eve and the snake in the Old Testament. Certainly it's convenient in a patriarchal society to be able to pin the blame for mankind's loss of innocence on us women, but let's face it, it's a rubbish story.

While we're at it, we could take a new look at the religiously-sanctioned enslavement and oppression of women across any number of faiths. Perhaps the Pope could see his way clear to granting Catholic women sole rights over their own bodies, for example. Or perhaps leaders of the Muslim faith could strop being so peculiarly fanatical in their endorsement of the cult of virginity. And let's face it, it's not like we don't need a handy solution to the irksome problem of women being stoned to death in public arenas.

Thinking about it, we could easily lose the notion of homosexuality being sinful as well (I'm sure plenty of Catholic priests will be with me on that one). The only thing sinful about homosexuality is, as far as I can see, the prices charged for bottled beer on Old Compton Street.

Easy. Religious harmony here we come.

We love Charlie

http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1888750,00.html

Ahhh, Charlie Brooker, you lovely, lovely bile-filled vitriolic little muffin you....

Look, you hopeless waddling gluttons: look how revolting it is when we take all the cream cakes and sausages you ate in a week and stack them on top of each other! Watch how the tomato sauce from Thursday's spaghetti hoops congeals with Monday's chocolate milkshake. Weep! Weep, you fat fools!

What's really lovely about all these dietary/lifestyle Nazis ganging up on us (and yes, I do mean Ian Wright as well, much as it pains me) is that it's people like Charlie and Boris who are leading the backlash.

Ian and Mockney and even G Poo McKeith might have the blood pressure and colonic cleanliness of 8 year olds, but at least the opposing team is funny.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Paramilitary Rebranding

I know the IRA have slipped a little lately in the fear and glamour stakes (having been usurped by Al Quaeda in the 'Top of the Terrorist Pops' number one slot), but according to this news report, the IRA folk themselves now seem to have been replaced by South Park characters:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/5405942.stm

How very unusual.

Apparently explanation is necessary

although I can't possibly see why.

Dave is the one man acting masterclass that is David Caruso. He has the best freeze-dried approach to acting of anyone I've ever seen. He's not so much method, as....well....corpse-like. He delivers his lines in a ginger monotone that soothes as much as it reassures, and there is a set pattern to his on-screen behaviour that is as predictable as the Incredible Hulk's when someone steals his chips.
He ends each episode - after having solved a complex crime far beyond the capabilities of normal men - stood with his head to one side like he's appraising a Penthouse centrefold, at which point he removes his sunnies, delivers his killer line (normally, "I'll look after you little girl", "I'll take care of it", or "he's never going to harm you again") and puts them back on again before walking away, in a John Wayne fashion, into the Florida sunset. Glorious.

The lovely ginger bundle of repression.

Just cos I want to



"I promise you, nobody will hurt you again..."

From a rehab centre near you

Read this story carefully:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/5405018.stm

"Anyone who had knowledge of these instant messages should have turned them over to authorities immediately, so that kids could be protected," he said earlier...The leader of the House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, has said Republican leaders "admitted to knowing about Mr Foley's abhorrent behaviour for six months to a year, and failed to protect the children in their trust."

They're talking as if this bloke has basically been sexually abusing children, yes? Yet as far as I can make out - and I hope I'm not just reading this wrong - the bloke was exchanging instant messages (i.e. a mutually agreeable exchange) with "young men on his staff". (i.e. they were employed adults). So could you say that his was a wholesale abuse of children, on that basis?

What he did isn't right, by any means, but surely he could be said to have, at best, behaved in a wholly inappropriate and unprofessional manner? If the "messages" were unsolicited, then his is a case of sexual harrassment in the workplace. Though you wouldn't want it on your CV, it isn't really in the same ballpark as child abuse.
The American propensity for piety never ceases to fascinate me.

Remind me, at what age and at what stage in life is it acceptable to become a sexual being in the US?
When you're over 21, married, Christian and straight?
Oh.

I do like the litany of Mel Gibson stylee "excuses" he's seen fit to disclose, mind. Abused as a teenager? Check. Alcoholic? Check. Gay? Oh go on then, it's not like I'm getting my job back.

Fag Ash Babies

There's a story on the BBC News site today about teenage pregnancy. It's not quite Daily Mail ("Teen mothers trigger house price collapse"), but instead quotes public health minister Caroline Flint, as saying that pregnant teenagers are deliberately smoking through their pregnancy in order to reduce the size of their babies and, therefore, the pain of delivery.

I don't really have a lot to say to that story, really. While there are undoubtedly people out there stupid enough to do such things, my guess would be simply that these women are addicted to nicotine and are being selfish in their choices, rather than thinking that the twin powers of Messrs Lambert & Butler will prevent them being ripped from here to Christmas come breeding day.

However, what did strike me about this story was its source. As the site cheerfully explains,

"Ms Flint told the meeting she had heard about the issue anecdotally from health professionals, and from young women she had met."

Oh, that's alright then! Splendid research there, Ms Flint. Firstly, as a government minister, what the hell is she doing expressing unsubstantiated theories such as this as hard fact? And while there may well be anecdotal evidence to support Flint's theory, since when did anecdotal evidence become useable as 'fact' in a national news story?
"This is what I say is happening. I have no actual tangible proof of my theory, but it is nonetheless a fact". I'm sure I remember hearing a similar sentiment on Brass Eye not a million years ago...? (cue musings on life imitating art, etc).

I've been noticing this more and more of late.
It is courtesy of the national appetite for 24 hour news, as opposed to bad journalism, that we are now subjected to strands in the evening news in which half-baked reporters stand outside empty buildings where the newsworthy action happened several hours before, with nothing new to say. But that doesn't excuse some of the sloppiness that has increasingly crept in.
Earlier this week, for example, there was a school shooting in the US (well, it was a Monday). There were very few details available for the first 24 hours, as is normal, but instead of writing what it knew and leaving it at that, the BBC (again) attached a handy email link at the bottom of the page with the following desperate-sounding plea: "Are you in the area close to this incident? Use the form below to send any information".
Not that THAT is inviting every crazy and his dog to send in "information".
Worrying though it is that 'audience participation' (once the preserve of shows hosted by Bruce Forsythe or Leslie Crowther) is now routinely solicited by news broadcasters, I don't think I've ever seen a reputable broadcaster invite its audience to actually write the news on its behalf.
I had presumed that any contributions to the story would be carefully checked and verified, but to be honest, I'm really no longer sure.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Paving the way nicely...

Gorgeous has an almost Walliams-eque moment:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/5401878.stm

Boris for PM

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5402100.stm

God bless him - he's talking guff, of course, but he's ever-reliable, isn't he?

"I say let people eat what they like. Why shouldn't they push pies through the railings?"

I don't suppose it harms to mention here that Boris is (quite aside from being a preposterous relic of a bygone, P G Wodehouse-tea and crumpets-punting on the river-E M Forster age) the Conservative Party's spokesman on education.

Reading the thoughts of Boris is a bit like watching an advert for Hovis bread: comfortingly reminiscent of a more innocent, golly-gosh period of England's past that, 10 seconds later, you realise never actually existed.
Then you accept that, actually, the bloke's just mad.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Y'Mum

This from the BBC website...strangely, it passed me by (actually, not all that strangely, given that by Day Two of the Labour Conference I was sick of the sight of politicians...even more than usual): George Osbourne (shadow chancellor, and no, one isn't supposed to know or care) apparently decided to make a "lighthearted joke" about the lovely Gordie Brown by (in response to a journalist's prompt) suggesting that he is "faintly autistic".

It's long been observed how closely politicians, when bantering with one another in Parliament, resemble the tedious flatulent public schoolboys they have never really ceased to be, calling each other names and feeling jolly clever in doing so. Course, as long as they restrict their bun-throwing to the tuck hall - sorry, the Commons - nobody notices and therefore nobody really cares. That's why conference time is so dangerous for the poor chaps: it's really the only time of the year that anyone is actually really paying much attention to what they say.

The problem is that if you spend your career locked into a gin-soaked reality bubble like the Houses of Parliament, doing little more than chucking wit-free insults at one another to a background of upper-class honking from your colleagues, you are left with very little concept of the feelings and opinions of the majority of society. I suppose that's what's most striking - and most depressing about this story. It just demonstrates how very far removed politicians often are from the society that they've been hired to represent.
I'd be willing to bet that your man Osbourne didn't realise until much, much later that comments like his would be likely to offend.

However, the quote of choice on the subject, rather splendidly, comes from the terribly nice Nick Hornby:

"George Osborne doesn't seem to have noticed that most people over the age of eight no longer use serious and distressing disabilities as a way of taunting people"
Nick Hornby, who heads a charity for autistic children

It really isn't because she is black

Now, honestly. Really.
My best buddy pal chum, to use my favourite tabloid terminology, has drawn my attention to this - possibly the greatest magazine coverline in the history of time (except, perhaps, "Courtney Love: Is she the Devil?", courtesy of NOTW circa. 2004, I believe). Victoria Beckham thinks that, apparently, "People used to think I was black".
"People used to think I was flatchested" I can handle. "People used to think I had flesh", certainly. But as my dear friend so rightly says of Vicky's off-the-sanity-scale remark, "HOW? Did she live with blind people?".

I really thought we'd scraped the underside of the mouldy "I'd do anything for publicity" barrel a few years ago, when Skeletor's former buddy pal chum Geri Haliwell cheerily confessed to eating limescale off George Michael's tropical fish tank (or something similar), but this one has me stumped.

Bypassing the zeitgeist

Hmmm.

Apparently I am now so tediously unfashionable that I can be at a supposedly noteworthy gig and not even consider it worth the entrance fee. This is further proof, if such thing were needed, that I am almost pathologically clueless as to what turns on the kids these days.

Thank our sweet lord jesus for that.

Gig, Friday night, Chalk Farm. Average indie band, sweaty people, painfully self-righteous 20 year olds with trilby hats and no sense of self, a handful of snotty-nosed teenagers in Top Shop finest, thinking they're doing a near-identical impression of debbie harry circa 1979, overpriced drinks, Liam Gallagher cameo... an entertaining way to spend an evening, I suppose, but not one I'll remember in years to come.

However I have since been told by a friend that the night was written up in near-reverential tones by the NME, and went further to suggest that the night must've been highly memorable. Now in fairness, I found this (on further inspection), to not be quite true. After all, the NME didn't do its usual, depressingly breathless arselicking routine:

"The crowd just started chanting 'Liam!', 'Liam!'," an eyewitness told NME.COM. "He managed to push his way to the front and got on stage with Dirty Pretty Things. He just stood there with his back to the crowd banging a drumstick."

but still, I certainly managed to bypass the Gallagher hysteria.

What is brilliant, however, is that the appearance of a sweaty drunken mancunian - banging along in simian fashion (more or less) in time with the music - apparently caused such a surge of teen adrenaline that the bar staff had to be drafted in as makeshift bouncers - yet the night was (prior to his unscheduled arrival) deemed such a pivotal event in modern musical terms that the NME couldn't be arsed to even send along a junior reporter. An "eyewitness" indeed.

The greatest possible thing about being 30 - and there are many - is that I cannot, even if I tried, belong to the zeitgeist, but unlike my 20s (when I was equally poorly equipped for a position at the heart of youthful society) I'm allowed not to care.