Tuesday, January 31, 2006

You have the right to be offended

A Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, caused a right stink in September 2005 by publishing cartoons featuring the prophet Muhammad; one of which depicted him as having a bomb hidden in his turban.

Boom and, indeed, boom.

Unsurprisingly, this caused widespread offence throughout the Muslim world. The representation of Muhammad is forbidden under Islamic law under any circumstances, so an illustration of the prophet portrayed as some kind of suicide-bomber was always going to raise a few eyebrows, to say the least. Cue the closure of the Libyan embassy in Denmark, the recall of the Saudi Arabian ambassador, the burning of Danish flags in Gaza and the threat of a boycott of Danish products across the Middle East. (Although seeing as Denmark’s chief exports are lager and bacon this strikes me as something of a futile gesture.)

Ironically, the paper had commissioned the work for a piece on self-censorship and freedom of expression prompted by the publication of a children’s book about Muhammad, whose artists had only been prepared to provide illustrations anonymously for fear of reprisals (i.e. Salman Rushdie forced into hiding after writing The Satanic Verses; Theo van Gogh knifed to death on the streets of Amsterdam after making a film about attitudes to women in Islam).

The newspaper has apologised for any offence that was caused. The Danish government, however, has not issued any apology, despite pressure from Muslim nations and organisations. Nor should they. This is a fundamental principle of western liberal democracy – we operate a free press and media, independent from government interference or influence, which can publish anything it sees fit, within the limits of the law. The pictures were in poor taste (and if anyone wants to see them, they can do so here) and politically insensitive (the implication that Muslim=terrorist is a slander on millions of people), especially in this day and age. But you can bet that they would have had no qualms running any satirical cartoons about Jesus – nor would they have faced much of a backlash if they had done so. The only reason they would have decided not to publish would have been due to unease about a potential reaction by Muslim extremists: self-censorship through fear, in other words.

Interestingly, in London today, people have gathered outside parliament to protest against the proposed ‘religious hatred bill’, which intends to sanitise speech to the extent that it becomes an offence to ridicule another person’s belief. Which is absurd. People have the right to be offended, and the right to ask for an apology. Nothing more.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Calling all lurkers. Come out, come out, wherever you are!

As the diagram on the left demonstrates, the link last week from Andrew Sullivan saw a massive spike in visits to this site. As you can also see, it soon dramatically levelled off again. But it seems that a few more people than usual are coming back for more, as overall traffic is still slightly higher than usual.

But comments are still pretty rare as a percentage. So I thought it would be a good (and, admittedly, slightly tacky) idea to see who you transitory readers actually are. Seems like a fair few of you pass through every day, have a read, then swan off again.

So here's an an invitation to all lurkers to come out of the shadows and use the comments feature. Nothing too extravagant required: just a quick hello and maybe even a few words about yourself and where you live if you're feeling daring. Say whatever takes your fancy.

Go on, be a devil. Introduce yourself.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Enjoy the silence

Readers may recall that I sent an e-mail to the Respect 'coalition' three weeks ago seeking clarification of their position regarding their biggest contributor, Dr Mohammed Naseem. Dr Naseem is an executive director of the Islamic Party of Great Britain, who believe that 'lewd displays of homosexuality' should be punishable by death.

I was curious why a party of the left which advocates (or so you'd think, anyway) socialism, sexual and gender equality, worker's rights, etc., was comfortable being associated with someone who holds such medieval views. Maybe I'm being old fashioned, but I was under the impression that the radical left stood in opposition to people who believe this sort of thing. I guess I was wrong. Apparently, it is instead acceptable to share a platform with them and benefit from their financial backing.

Funnily enough, I have yet to receive any answer or acknowledgement. So I suppose there is only one conclusion to draw.

Of course, the actions in recent weeks of their most famous member and sole MP on a certain reality TV show have probably kept them very busy in terms of correspondence. So maybe I should cut them some slack and presume they have a backlog of emails to answer.

But I shan't be holding my breath.

It could be you. But it almost certainly won't be.

Due to eleven successive rollovers, the EuroMillions lottery jackpot is predicted to stand at £125m on Friday. (That's $220m for any US readers.) A serious bit of cash by anyone's reckoning, and there has been a mad scramble for tickets as a consequence - sales are up 1,000 per cent as millions of people pursue the (highly unlikely) dream of winning this life-changing amount of money. "Life-changing" should be a condition of winning, by the way: I cannot stand those people who win millions of pounds and then say "Oh, it won't change my life. I'll carry on working at the dung factory". There should be a clause of instant confiscation should anyone utter those words. Sorry, but if winning millions of pounds isn't going to change your life, then you don't deserve it and it should go to a more worthy cause (i.e. ME).

Anyway, according to this website, the chances of winning the jackpot are 1 in 99,884,400. That's roughly the same odds as Simon Hughes being the next Prime Minister, Wayne Rooney being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature or Stephen Hawking winning the 400m hurdles at the 2008 Olympics. In fact, you are fifty times more likely to be struck by lightning and, by that logic (presumably - I'm no statistician), just as likely to be struck by lightning fifty times.

So anyway, best of luck!*

*(I'll probably still have a crack at it anyway. As the adage goes: someone has to win it.)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

I'll sail this ship alone

The Realist has decided to hang up his blogging hat and retire from the blogosphere. He may reappear for an occasional post, but from now on I will be guiding the good ship Liberal Elite by myself. . .

Friday, January 27, 2006

Israel and Hamas

I was going to say something about yesterday’s shock election victory for Hamas in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, but realised I don’t really have much to say on the subject beyond the obvious: they have to announce immediately and unambiguously that they have abandoned terrorism and are open to negotiating a workable and permanent peaceful settlement. Oh, and dropping the commitment to destroy Israel would also be helpful.

Anyway, here’s two links to blogs with a far more interesting take on it than me:

First up is Slightly Mad, by The Artist Formerly Known As Purple Parrot (or PP as she will be known from now). PP is an ex-pat Brit who’s been living in Israel for six years, so knows more than most how this result has been received in all quarters. You can read her post here.

Secondly there’s Oliver Kamm, who’s become something of a blogging legend. He’s spent the last week in Israel speaking to political figures on both sides and his thoughts can be read here.

Hughes a pretty boy?

Much has been written of the self-confessed revelations of Simon Hughes (Liberal Democrat president and leadership candidate), who has admitted having ‘homosexual relationships’ in the past. Should this affect his chances of becoming Lib Dem leader? Will this damage his political career?

Of course not. He’s as unelectable now as he was when we all thought he was straight (or, to be precise, did not know that he was gay). He’s a tiresome windbag with fuzzy policies; the fact that he’s been with other men is utterly irrelevant.

I don’t know. Alcoholics, rent-boy frequenters, people trapped in closets. What next for the Lib Dems?

He who must not be named

I said I’d stop writing about George Galloway for a while, and I am holding true to that promise. However, for those that need a fix, I thoroughly recommend you read Charlie Brooker’s column in the Guardian today, where he shares his thoughts on our favourite AWOL parliamentarian. Hilarious.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Google and the Great Veil Of China

What should we make of Google’s decision to enforce self-censorship in order to get a foothold in the lucrative and booming Chinese market? They had resisted up until now, while competitors signed up to the conditions laid down by the Chinese government over what its citizens can and cannot access on the internet. Contraband search terms, as defined by the faceless totalitarian government in Beijing, include such shocking words and concepts as: ‘democracy’, ‘human rights’, ‘Taiwan independence’, ‘Free Tibet’ and, of course, the words ‘Tiananmen’, ‘Square’, ‘brutal’ and ‘massacre’ used in conjunction.

Meanwhile, Google (whose slogan is “Don’t be evil”) argue that withdrawing completely would be worse. Although they don’t actually explain how, so I guess we’ll just have to take their word for it.

It’s a shame, because as giant corporations hell-bent on world domination go, Google are one of my favourites. Their search services whip everybody else into irrelevance, and they provide lots of pretty cool (and free) software such as Google Earth and Picasa. Gmail is far better than any of the other free web mail services too. Even Blogger, of course, is Google owned, so these very words are hosted on their servers (although I expect this site would be blocked via Google.cn due to containing naughty words like ‘liberalism’ and ‘freedom’).

Ultimately though the censorship will prove to be futile. Nothing can stop the flow of information - it always finds a way through - and the Chinese government attempting to hold back the full force of the internet is rather like the legend of King Knut standing on the beach, demanding that the waves turn back. Totalitarianism always fails and China, as it increasingly opens itself up to free market capitalism, will be no exception. Free markets and democracy are a double act – neither lasts for long without the other - and China’s attempt to develop international open markets while enforcing domestic social oppression will one day buckle under the weight of its own contradictions.

Which is ironic, because that’s exactly what Karl Marx said would happen to capitalism.

Go on now go, walk out the door. Just turn around now, 'cause you're not welcome anymore.

Watching George Galloway being evicted last night was a highly enjoyable experience. Apparently it was the loudest round of boos ever received by a Big Brother evictee. You can say what you like about the British public, but they clearly recognise a shit when they see one.

He seemed genuinely bewildered by the amount of coverage he had received while being inside and I’m convinced, when they showed him the headlines from the newspapers about his antics, I saw shock and fear in his hateful little eyes. Bless. He was also reported to be dismayed that Channel 4 had chopped all his political speeches from being broadcast. Arf! So much for that then. Still, at least he achieved his main objective of reaching the “mass, young, overwhelmingly not-yet-political audience” that primarily watches the show.

Or perhaps not. A text message vote held on Chris Moyle’s Radio 1 breakfast show yesterday asked listeners (predominantly in their twenties) whether they liked or hated George Galloway. 19,661 people responded in the space of 20 minutes – 18,189 (a whopping 92.5%) of whom expressed a preference for the latter. I also laughed when Chantelle, a 22 year old dizzy fellow housemate on CBB, asked one of the others: “What’s the name of George’s band?” So after nearly three weeks in George’s constant company, she’s not even aware that George is a politician. Presumably, in her head, he’s some ageing C-list entertainer.

Mission accomplished then.

Right, that’s it. No more about this man from now on. I promise.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Sadness Of King George

Great news. George Galloway is officially the Most Hated Man In Britain™. The whole nation is now fully aware that he is a duplicitous, petty little man with no regard for anyone other than himself. He alienates everyone through his arrogance and vanity and has no redeeming features whatsoever. When he comes out of the Big Brother house tonight, to a chorus of boos, he will meet this realisation head on. Oh, he’ll claim to be the victim of a conspiracy, selective editing, etc, but nobody is going to believe that.

Later, when he gets home and reflects on the situation, he will realise what an abject failure the exercise has been. The whole grisly spectacle has trashed his standing (well, what there was of it) and left him a figure of ridicule (not that he wasn’t already as far as I’m concerned). Alas, not even a saucer of milk and a nice bit of fish will lift his spirits, especially when he learns that he may face another enquiry into his dealings, this time from the serious fraud office, concerning alleged receipts of large sums of cash from his old chum Saddam Hussein.

So a rough welcoming committee awaits our favourite celebrator of tyrants. Couldn’t happen to a nicer chap. I’m not usually one to kick a man when he’s down, but it’s difficult to resist when it’s this much fun.

Although the court of appeal has ruled in GG's favour in his libel case with The Daily Telegraph.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Shamless self-promotion

Somehow or other, Andrew Sullivan picked up on my latest tirade against Galloway and linked here. As a consequence, Liberal Elite has had more visitors overnight than it usually gets in a month. Which is fantastic. Long may it continue!

If you have just arrived via AS, welcome! Please take a snoop around the blog, leave comments, etc. May your visit be repeated!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Georgie Peorgie pudding and pie, wore a leotard and made us cry

Oh mercy! Just as I thought my contempt for George Galloway had reached its apotheosis last week with that nauseating role-playing milk-lapping incident, it turns out there's more. It would seem that, just as the universe is infinite in dimension, so too are the possibilities given to us to deride this man still further. And we would not be fulfilling our civilian responsibilities were we to let them pass unmentioned, would we? If we were to miss an opportunity to heap scorn on this egregious narcissist it would be a serious dereliction of duty, wouldn't it?

So come, and bring your trowel, as we scrape the bottom of this particularly battered barrel still further. Perhaps we will find some traces of Galloway's dignity amongst the debris?

Actually, we won't. Because the scant amount still remaining after he pretended to be a cat licking milk from Rula Lenska's cupped hands was obliterated over the weekend in the latest ritual humiliation inflicted on this pitiful crew by the producers of the show. The housemates had to convey an emotion using the medium of dance. George, paired with the equally hideous Pete Burns (sort of a cross between Simon Weston and the Bride of Frankenstein), had to depict 'the emotions of bewilderment when a small puppy won't come to you' via robotic dance.

This man has no dignity.

Oh the humanity! The look of bewilderment on his face! Perhaps he is justifying it all to himself internally by thinking "It doesn't matter. I'm still getting my message across. I'm reaching a bigger audience, I'm getting the chance to engage with the youth, to tell them the truth about Iraq/Tony Blair/American imperialism." This is probably the funniest aspect of the whole charade: he's completely oblivious to the fact that all of his political speeches have been ruthlessly edited out before transmission. That said, I actually suspect he hasn't been talking about these things at all - he's too bogged down in petty house politics. What a complete waste of his time.

Still, it's amused the rest of us enormously and I look forward to seeing him booted out on Wednesday night. Although I'm still perplexed he's lasted this long.

Perhaps on his exit he could treat us all to a reprise of this task? I'd like to see 'the emotion of realising that even your most ardent supporters will never take you seriously again'. Set to the Cha Cha.

Altogether everyone: Miaow!

To anyone visiting this post via Andrew Sullivan, welcome!
Please, take a look around!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Meat isn't murder

Like David Cameron (and it's a horrifying concept, when you realise you like some of the same music as the leader of the Conservative Party), I love The Smiths. In a short but prolific period, Steven Patrick Morrissey and Johnny Marr produced some of the most effortlessly poignant and wonderful songs ever written, scattered across a handful of superb albums. Even in his solo years, Morrissey has continued to be one of the most enigmatic people in his profession, not to mention one of the wittiest and most articulate.

So it was disheartening (but, if I'm honest, not that surprising) to read in The Times today that this most committed vegetarian supports animal rights extremists who target scientists and companies involved in animal testing.
I support the efforts of the Animal Rights Militia in England and I understand why fur farmers and so-called laboratory scientists are repaid with violence — it is because they deal in violence themselves and it’s the only language they understand — the same principles that apply to war.
A contemptible argument. I’m not going to defend fur farmers or hunters – they clearly perform no useful function, satisfying only the needs of the vain and the bloodthirsty – but nor would I advocate harm against them. The use of animals in medical and scientific experimentation, however, is a different matter entirely. Citizeness Sane, for an example close to home, is kept alive on a daily basis by a cocktail of drugs to treat a medical condition, almost certainly all tested on animals at some point. A horrible fact, but it’s true. So, my girlfriend is alive as a direct consequence of scientists testing on animals. I’m also willing to bet large amounts of money that every single reader of this post is either alive, or knows somebody who is alive, due to a medical breakthrough reached by testing on animals. Nobody wants to do it, nobody is happy about it, it’s just necessary. Animal ‘rights’ activists bombing individuals and companies associated with the industry operate within the same moral universe as all other terrorists and their behaviour can never be condoned.

So I wonder if, were he to be struck down with a potentially lethal condition, Morrissey would refuse to take life-saving drugs if he knew that animals had suffered along the way in their development and preparation? There’s nothing to wonder. Of course he would. In a flash.

They do say you should never meet your idols. You should certainly never read about their political beliefs.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Big Brother is watching you. (And so are we.)

It would be impossible to catch up on some of the events of the last week without mentioning the antics of George Galloway on Celebrity Big Brother. We all saw him, with a mixture of horror and revulsion, frolicking with that haggard old brass who used to be married to Dennis Waterman. Preparing for a ‘task’ to see if ‘humans can communicate with animals’, everyone’s favourite Trotskyite despot-rimmer pretended to be a cat, with Rula Lenska playing the adoring owner. It was a stomach churning display with dollops of hideous sexual overtone. Really, it had to be seen to be believed. As somebody, somewhere put it: “(Galloway has gone) from being Saddam’s bitch to Rula Lenska’s pussy.”

Shouldn't there be a law against this sort of thing?

But it’s all worked out for the best because agreeing to appear on the show will prove to be the most poorly calculated decision he has ever made in his political career (and considering he routinely praises dictators, that’s up against some real howlers). It is backfiring in spectacular fashion. His stated intention was to have an opportunity to air his vehement anti-war opinions but, if he is discussing these at any point, they’re being cut before it goes out on air. A spokesperson for the increasingly laughable Respect Coalition claims that Channel 4 are censoring their man. Personally, I suspect he’s too ensconced in the whole experience to give a damn about any of it anymore. He has managed to irreparably damage his own credibility (such as it was) while ensuring that his new party can never again be taken seriously by anyone. And considering the ‘coalition’ is, at heart, a cabal of hardline socialists married to sections of the Islamic far right, this is a very good thing indeed.

Other news this week.

Dawkins on religion. I enjoyed The Root Of All Evil, a two-part investigation into the nature of religion (and in particular the growth of fundamentalism) by Professor Richard Dawkins shown on Channel 4 last Monday. Dawkins, probably the world’s greatest authority on evolutionary theory, took a look at religion from his militantly atheist viewpoint and met with some very unsavoury characters. One, a bug-eyed evangelist preacher from somewhere in the bible belt, took enormous displeasure to having his belief system poked with the stick of science and accused Dawkins of ‘intellectual arrogance’. There’s nothing wrong with intellectual arrogance, of course. It’s certainly preferable to philistinic ignorance. Speaking of which, he also met with an ex-pat American who was raised as a secular Jew in New York, but now lived in the West Bank as a devout follower of Islam. His ‘opinions’ were terrifying. Anyway, part two is being shown on Monday night, Channel 4, 8pm.

Ruth Kelly. A real storm about sex offenders teaching in schools this week. To be honest, I haven’t followed it that closely and I have a built-in switch-off reflex to tabloid hysteria. That said, it seems pretty obvious to me that anyone with such history should be permanently excluded from ever working with children. For much the same reason that bankrupts are permanently excluded from selling investments and arsonists tend not to get a look in during fire brigade recruitment drives.

Lib Dems. The leadership race for the Liberal Democrats is underway. Not that you’d notice. According to candidate Simon Hughes, it’s not a “beauty parade”. You can say that again: I’ve never seen such an uninspiring bunch. Hughes and ‘Ming’ Campbell, standing in for departed Charles Kennedy at Prime Minister’s Question Time on Tuesday, were worse than hopeless. Apparently there are two others running as leader too – Mark Oaten and Chris Huhne – but it might as well be Champion The Wonder Horse and Olivia Newton-John for all I know about them.

Mentalist. Our old friend, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the lunatic ‘president’ of Iran has said today that Iran will hold a conference to discuss the Holocaust, which he recently described as a ‘myth’. Excuse me, a conference? To be held where? The Birmingham NEC? Kind of like the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition, but exclusively for agents of Nazism and fundamentalist Islam. According to a spokesman, the seminar would examine the “scientific evidence” supporting the Holocaust. Regime change has rarely looked so inviting.

The Golden Wonder Age. And to finish on a lighter (and indeed, crunchier) note, Golden Wonder went into liquidation this week, deep-fried into oblivion by the unstoppable (Pepsi owned) Walker’s. I’m of the generation that remembers a time when Walker’s crisps were unheard of on the school playground, when cheese and onion packets were green and salt and vinegar packets were blue. Walker’s reversed that and it never felt right to me. Additionally, Golden Wonder brought us such legendary snacks as Wotsits, Wheat Crunchies, Ringos and the infamous Nik-Naks (the scampi and lemon flavour was so toxic it made kids glow in the dark). The end of an era, but all is not lost. . . .

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Kennedy Assassination

Poor old Charles Kennedy. Hounded to resignation by a pack of wolves. Who ever would have believed that the Liberal Democrats had such a ruthless streak? So much for their friendly uncle, sandal-wearing image. When push comes to shove, they're as conniving and two faced as anyone in the political arena.

A reader's letter in yesterday's Guardian raised an interesting point: Kennedy has had this drink problem for a number of years and it was common knowledge throughout the higher echelons of the party. So were the individuals calling for Kennedy to stand down the very same people who, only last May, were publicly endorsing the man and trying to convince us, the electorate, that he would make an excellent Prime Minister? Hmmm. Let's assume (and yes, this requires great use of imagination) that the Lib Dems had miraculously won the last general election - would the hounding of Kennedy still have taken place?

Nobody comes out looking very good from this saga do they? And as for Sir Menzies Campbell being the likely replacement: how can we be expected to take someone seriously when they are commonly referred to as 'Ming'? I'm afraid there is only one person I can think of when I hear that name.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

More on Galloway and the RESPECT Coalition

In case anyone else was wondering just how much taxpayer’s money George Galloway is wasting by appearing on Celebrity Big Brother over the next three weeks (potentially, anyway, but I’d be surprised and horrified if he lasted that long), the answer can be found here in this handy website put together by some concerned Bethnal Green and Bow residents.

Elsewhere, Johann Hari writes how he, as a constituent and long time critic of GG, feels about it. Suffice to say, he’s not terribly impressed. The article also contains some interesting facts about Galloway’s parliamentary record (he’s only turned up for 15 per cent of parliamentary votes) and some information on some key members of the RESPECT Coalition. Dr Mohammed Naseem, for example, the biggest donor to the party (follow link and choose ‘Respect – The Unity Coalition’ from the dropdown. He isn’t the biggest outright cash donor, but he paid for services worth a total £15,457.50), believes that the London bombings were orchestrated by Tony Blair or Mossad. Tony Blair or Mossad? Well, which is it? You're claiming, doctor, to have a source that says it was one or the other, but you can’t be sure which? What a compelling argument. Fuck it, while we’re tossing out conspiracies, why not just say it was Ian Botham working with Warren Beatty? Oh, Naseem is also an executive member and spokesman for the Islamic Party of Britain, who apparently believe that ‘lewd’ displays of homosexuality should be punished by death. Presumably ‘subtle’ displays are treated more leniently – chopping off a hand or something.

‘Respect’ indeed. And yet there are many on the left comfortable to be associated with these people, based solely on an 'anti-war' agenda. The RESPECT Coalition is composed of factions from the Socialist Workers Party (not the National Socialist Workers Party – but with views expressed like the one above, it wouldn’t surprise me) and is openly supported by the Socialist Alliance, the International Socialist Group, the Socialist Unity Network, the Socialist Resistance and the Communist Party of Great Britain. And not forgetting the People’s Front of Judea. Probably. Harold Pinter and Ken Loach are also supporters, the latter being an elected member of its national council. Idiots, every single one of them.

Meanwhile, on the RESPECT website, there’s a written statement from Galloway himself explaining his reasons for going on the show. Apparently, it’s for the people of Palestine. Of course it is, George. Of course it is.

Anyway, this has prompted me to contact RESPECT directly to get some answers about the afore-mentioned Dr Mohammed Naseem and his views. I have sent them the following:
To Whom It May Concern:

I recently learned that Dr Mohammed Naseem is (or, at least, was) the biggest single non-cash contributor to the RESPECT Coalition. I also stumbled upon the information that Dr Naseem is an executive member of the Islamic Party of Britain, who believe that ‘lewd displays of homosexuality’ (I have no idea what this means, by the way – can you shed any light?) should be punishable by death.

I would be very interested to know if: (1) your party reflects this view also and (2) if so, how murderous intent expressed upon people of different sexual preference fits in with your party’s ideals of ‘respect’ and ‘equality’.

If your party does NOT condone this opinion, I assume you will be refunding Dr Naseem or, at the very least, accepting no further contributions from him?

While I appreciate that Dr Naseem has not personally stated this intention, his position within said organisation and the lack of any refutation on his part make him an advocate of this belief by implication.

I would be very interested to know the official party line on this. In lieu of an answer, I will assume that your party does indeed condone Dr Naseem’s beliefs.

I look forward to their response.

Ariel Sharon

In the light of Ariel Sharon’s condition, anyone not sure what to make of the man and his legacy (and I’m one of them – I’m not very clued up on Israeli history and I had no idea that this one man was so central to the story from the very beginning) could do a lot worse than read this summary of ‘The Bulldozer’ by the ever excellent Christopher Hitchens.

Sharon could still theoretically survive, but his political career is definitely over, placing the future of the peace process in serious jeopardy. The elections are coming up on March 28th and, as leader of the newly-formed Kadima (‘Forward’) party, Sharon was the clear favourite. I have no idea what will happen now. I know we’ve got a couple of readers in Israel – maybe they can shed some light on what this will all mean? Should we expect the return of the housewife’s favourite: Binyamin Netanyahu?

Friday, January 06, 2006

By George! The Realist beat me to this story by about ten minutes. What the hell, I’ll post it anyway. Great minds, and all that. . . .

Form an orderly queue, ladies. 'Gorgeous' George can only take you one at a time.
(Picture nicked from The Daily Ablution)

He’s only just received his Liberal Elite Twat Of The Year award, but it seems that George Galloway is so keen to win it again in 2006 that he’s agreed to appear as a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother. At first I was surprised by his inclusion but, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. His politics are cartoonish so it’s only appropriate that he gets an opportunity to demonstrate them on the country’s favourite pantomime. He’s also a self-publicising whore, so he’s a natural candidate for the show. I mean, what else would he be doing at this time of year? Certainly not what he’s paid to do (with taxpayer’s money) – be a parliamentary representative for one of the most deprived areas of London. Good to see him taking his role so seriously though. I just hope the electorate of Bethnal Green show their disgust when they next have an opportunity to boot this fuckwit (and the whole ridiculous ‘Respect’ Coalition) out of mainstream politics once and for all.

I salute your courage, your strength, your inde-twat-ability

Originally posted by The Realist

Not content with winning the prestigious Liberal Elite Twat Of The Year award, the man-twat that is George Galloway is going to be on our televisions every night for the next month. Not entirely sure how he’s helping the good people of Bethnal Green and Bow by doing that, but on the positive side, at least he’s locked up.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Helluary Bites or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Sofa

Being back at work is awful. Just awful. I’d completely forgotten how boring it is, sitting at a desk all day dealing with things that really do not interest me a great deal. I could chew my desk with frustration. To make matters even worse, we’re now in Helluary: the devil’s season. Winter isn’t so unbearable in November and December: there’s always something going on and you’re working towards the Christmas break. Come January though, and what is there to look forward to? Your friends are all ‘detoxing’. Everyone plans to quit drinking or smoking, so the pub is out of the question. Nothing of any interest is on the horizon. Just weeks and weeks of getting up and going to work. In the dark. Then a full day dealing with nonsense. Then going home. In the dark.

Oh joy.

Worse still, in the first couple of days back there’s endless platitudes to be exchanged with colleagues:

“Happy New Year! How was your Christmas? Did you go away? What did you do for New Year’s Eve? Are you going skiing this year?”

As if either of us gives a shit. Please, let’s desist with the small talk, return to our desks, and keep our heads down until spring. I might be able to do work chit-chat by, ooh, the end of March. Until then, please, fuck off and leave me alone.

So no, I’m not in the greatest of moods today. And then I read about this study by Gothenburg University claiming that what people need to lift the depression of returning from the festive break is. . . hard work! What Weberian horseshit is this? Oh, the protestant work ethic will lift your melancholia and cleanse you of original sin! The devil makes work for idle hands! Arbeit macht frei!

According to the findings of the study:

“. . . winning the lottery or achieving a goal at work gave a temporary high, but it did not last.”

I agree. If I were to win a huge sum of money on the lottery, I would only feel good about it temporarily. Fifty years, say.

There’s more:

"From our research the people who were most active got the most joy. It may sound tempting to relax on a beach, but if you do it for too long it stops being satisfying."

Unlike working, of course, which just gets more and more satisfying as it piles up. I don’t know about you, but I’m never happier than when I’ve got a mountain of arduous tasks to get through. Who was answering these questions? Not me, that’s for sure.

There was an editorial on this subject in the Guardian today too:

“A recent paper by Jonathan Gershuny, of Essex University, argues that 'busyness' rather than leisure has become a badge of social honour in modern Britain. High human capital is these days associated with long hours of work, and not with the opposite. It says a lot about the kind of unsettled prosperous society that this country has become that in 2006 so many people find it so hard to reconcile their impulse to be up and doing with their desire for proper downtime.”

Whatever happened to the idea of doing nothing and enjoying it? It’s something I’m trying to keep alive. I’m going home now to sit on the sofa and revel in an evening of lethargy. Join me.