Friday, September 28, 2007

Would de la Hoya be crucified for falling victim to diabetes or MS?

I must admit, I feel more than a tad sorry for Oscar de la Hoya, who, it is alleged by a couple of women whom he had previously partied with, liked to be dominated while wearing fishnets, panties and high-heels. One photo even shows him wearing a tutu-like skirt. Russian model Milana Dravnel published her photos on the paparazzi website, while another woman, a strip dancer named Maria, attested to the veracity of Dravnel's claims, saying that she too experienced de la Hoya's considerable feminine side and is the one who took the photos of de la Hoya and Dravnel together.
Now you may say that cross-dressing is a deviant aberration to the nth degree, that it violates society's ideas of all that is good and proper, that it goes against God and whatever other Mom-and-apple-pie musings you can think of to express your disgust. But you cannot deny that it's an impulse that, however unfortunate and odd it may be, affects men from all walks of life—even a macho boxer. I would classify cross-dressing as a disease myself, and if it is a disease, then it is entirely wrong to blame or belittle the person afflicted with it. You wouldn't poke fun at someone would cerebral palsy or leukemia, would you?
Is de la Hoya a transvestite in the privacy of his own home or hotel room or wherever the public spotlight isn't turned on him? Who can say?
De la Hoya furiously denies any of it and insists that the photos of him in drag are fake. Who can blame the man? He's a boxer. That is his work, his job, his career. It's what he does for a living and it's what awarded superstar status upon him. If these allegations about him turn out to be true, he won't be fit to box anymore. His opponents will have a solid psychological advantage over him. A lot of his former fans will turn against him, and his detractors will get nasty and personal. And that's a crying disgrace, because de la Hoya is a talented fighter.
And that's assuming any of this sub/tranny business is true. What's the motive behind releasing the pictures? Did de la Hoya and one of his lady friends have a falling out for some reason? Did he fall out with both of them? Is this some form of retaliation meant to deliver a crushing TKO to de la Hoya? Whose idea was it, Milana's or Maria's? Dravnel herself has recently expressed remorse, saying she was pressured into releasing them and that she cannot attest to the authenticity of the photos, but Maria swears de la Hoya is a cross-dresser who likes getting raunchy with doms and backs Dravnel's original claims.
So, if it is all true? Then de la Hoya fucked up big-time. He chose to reveal his kinkiness to people he obviously could not completely trust. If you are a boxer with a penchant for wearing pantyhose and saying "yes, ma'am, whatever you say, ma'am," then you cannot reveal this to anyone else. It is absolutely vital that you keep it as secret as FBI files. Admitting your feminine side will destroy you in a testosterone-and-sweat drenched line of work.
Personally, I couldn't care less if Mssr. de la Hoya really is a submissive cross-dresser once the lights go out for the night. That's his business—and that of his partner—and no-one else's. What bothers me is how personal people will get if this information turns out to be genuine, and how they'll blow it completely out of proportion. De la Hoya will then have notoriety on a par with Michael Vick, Mike Tyson, O.J. Simpson or other fallen sportsmen. And that's just not right because de la Hoya doesn't hurt anyone outside of his particular sporting arena unlike the others I've mentioned.
If anything, de la Hoya should be held to account for partying with women other than his own wife. The cross-dressing is neither here nor there, nor should it be.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Hey hey, President A., how many people would you like to kill today?"

So some Iranians are absolutely aghast at the idea that their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would receive such a poor welcome in New York. Get real. New Yorkers should not be happy that the Iranian leader bankrolls the type of terrorists that attacked their city six years ago. They have every right to express their disgust and anger that he is there.
They should also not be impressed that Columbia University president Lee Bollinger defended his invitation for the Iranian leader to speak at the school. Bollinger said that the invitation was in line with Columbia's tradition of providing a "major forum for robust debate, especially (on) global issues." If Robert Mugabe ever steps foot in the States to address the U.N., will you invite him too, Mr. Bollinger, citing the same raison d'etre for your esteemed university?
Of course, Mr. Bush would never let the likes of Mugabe in. So why the hell did he give the all-clear for Ahmadinejad to enter the country? I don't care how necessary he thinks dialogue with that lunatic is, he should provide the dialogue while the Iranian president has both his feet firmly planted on Iranian soil. Having Admadinejad in New York is a grevious insult not only to New Yorkers but to all Americans. This Holocaust-denying, insurgent-arming, nuke-hungry maniac should not be disgracing our ground or polluting our air with his presence.
Thank God that New York City authorities denied the Iranian leader a chance to visit Ground Zero. That would be like a neo-Nazi touring Auschwitz. In fact, when it comes to dangerously rabid anti-Semitic sentiment, Ahmadinejad and neo-Nazis are on the same page.
I have nothing against Iran. Iran has more than its fair share of decent, intelligent and freedom-loving people. It's Presdient Ahmadinejad and his cabal of religious conservatives running the Islamic Republic that I feel signficantly less than admirably toward.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Of Britney, K-Fed and a bit of common sense

I know. It's very rare when I would comment about anything from the world of pop entertainment garbage—but, Britney losing her kids? Golly gee. Doesn't take a genius to work out how that happened, now does it?
I've never really liked Kevin Federline. He's one goofy numbnuts. But it seems to me that he's a responsible father and will take good care of his kids. You never hear about Federline getting too wild, hardly ever see a picture of him with glassy eyes as he stumbles to the next party venue, and you just know that the paparazzi follow him around too. Kev just does what he does, whatever that is—let's face it, he's only famous because he's Britney's ex—and does it fairly quietly. So I've gotta give the dude credit where it's due.
Britters, on the other hand, shows no sign of putting a lid on her outrageous behavior. It's just one incident after another. Losing custody of her children is the price she now must pay.
I do feel sorry for her, insomuch as I can feel sorry for anyone who's loaded and doesn't seem to realize that they should be happy. I've heard that she's anti-fur, which I respect, but she has worn it on occasion. Too wasted to keep to her principles? That's anyone's guess.
I've tried to like Britney, God's witness, but I'm past the point of trying to understand why she carries on the way she does. How much longer can she remain in meltdown? She must surely realize that there's millions of people wishing her the best, hoping she'll bounce back. Her main problem, as I see it, is that she thinks she can remain famous and in the public spotlight through her partying ways if she can no longer dance or belt out a No. 1 album. Not exactly what you'd call straight, responsible thinking.
But, given that state of her mind, it's easy to see why she's lost her kids to K-Fed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Got to hand it to O.J.—he sure knows how to make the news

This has got to be the story of the decade.
He got acquitted of double murder through his legal team's manipulation of the race card, right? So all he had to do was retire to his mansion and live with his conscience—not that he's got one. Bad enough he tried to capitalize on the murders last year.
But, twelve years after "getting some get-back" got him off murder charges, he masterminds and carries out an armed robbery at a Las Vegas casino museum to retrieve some memorabilia from his football career?
That's either really stupid or really insane.
Let's see him wriggle out of this one. Maybe life imprisonment will wipe that arrogant smirk off his face.
If so, I hope the bastard lives till 120.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Talk about throwing a paddy

Early in his career, George Carlin cracked an Irish joke on-stage and then quickly said, "Hey, man, that's OK, though, 'cause I hit my own. You're allowed to hit your own."
I've always believed that to be true. Jewish jokes can come from Jews, Italian jokes from Italians ... and Irish jokes from Irish (or Irish-Americans). 
But apparently, those days are heading to an end, if this story is any indication.
In Cornwall—England's southwest peninsula­—Denis Lusby, an Irish Catholic editor of a parish magazine, was forced to resign his post after cracking some light-hearted Irish Catholic jokes. One silly twit in the Cornwall County Council's "Equality and Diversity" office complained, objecting to the use of the word "Paddy," and the resulting uproar was enough to make him resign his post. Mr. Lusby's nemesis on the council urged a boycott of the magazine, forcing his hand.
(If "paddy" is so offensive, how to explain Paddy Power?)
This assumes Lusby knows nothing about racism or prejudice. But as an Irishman living in England since the early '70s, he would beg to differ. "IRA bombings were going on, so I reckon I know a lot more about racial prejudice than she does," Lusby said.
This is just plain sad. Now we have humorless government types telling us that it's possible to be racist against ourselves. Wonderful.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Political correctness and its enforcers won't stop until laughter itself is an offense.
That won't stop me, however. I'll laugh in their faces and if the fuckers don't like it, then they can lock my paddy, spud, thick mick, Guinness-drinking, potato-eating ass in jail.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11 musings

The sixth anniversary of America's worst terrorist attack on her own soil is upon us. And now, just as ever, pundits are asking, "Is the world safer?" Unfortunately, shamefully, this day is always used as a great excuse to lament about the state of the world and how America under George W. Bush has failed in nearly every respect to bring about a safer, smoother world.
You can get political about 9/11 or you can honor the memory of those who perished on this day and remember when you were shocked and enraged by the destruction and death you saw or perhaps even witnessed. I wrote the following one year after the event. It may be a bit dated, but it still speaks volumes about how I view this day.

September 11, 2002 ...
Written by Nightdragon, September 11, 2002. Originally appeared on Diaryland.

This, no matter how it was presented on the surface—and for me it was a business-as-usual work day, complete with deadlines and a board meeting—was not, and could never hope to be, a normal day. At 1:46 p.m. our time (British time), I was showering in the stalls after my swim. I observed the moment of silence that was the law of the land on this sunny, pleasantly mild day. The warm water ran down my back while I just lost myself in remembrance of the terrible thing that happened on this day, at that time, last year. Concentration all day was an effort, office jokes and good humor lost on me. I saw the date "11 Sep" on the digital display on my phone and thought I would fill the trash basket with pure bile.
Lately, I have endured criticism in the papers and in the media about what a failure the American-led War on Terror has been and how pernicious the Americans are to even think about causing further mayhem and destruction by attacking Iraq. So inured was I to this—for it seemed the whole damn country had turned into a seething mass of hippy pacifists from hell—that I forgot that there were memorials and dedications and services that took place here, in this country, in this city. At the American Embassy, Home Secretary David Blunkett declared, after receiving a tattered Union Jack that had been found among the rubble of the World Trade Center, "God bless America." Later, at St. Paul’s Cathedral, where the very same British flag draped across the altar, the American national anthem was played, 3,000 flower petals representing the dead were dropped from a balcony, and many families of the victims—American and British alike—in addition to Princes Charles and Harry and Prime Minister Tony Blair were present to pay their respects. I was heartened while watching news coverage of these events.
It’s as if, for one day, we were all Americans again. It’s as if we all grieved once more, felt the shattered nerves and dug down deep inside our souls. This time, there was no need to think about war, revenge or even justice. Over the past year, we have seen to that and still are in the process of administering justice. Today, on this one-year anniversary of hell on earth, we were liberated from the anger and could truly and refreshingly come to terms with the attack and what it has meant to every one of us. September 11 violated all of us, personally and spiritually, in some way. The fear and the sorrow were real and they served as a reminder that, yes, there really is such a thing as evil. Evil perpetrated by men turned chillingly robotic by fanaticism.
But there is also good. Warm, bright, encouraging goodness. We cannot lose sight of that. Even in the face of detractors whose muddled thinking regarding their opposition to ousting Saddam Hussein is downright scary—one can only wonder what their approach to Hitler would have been—there is good. Even in the face of the self-righteous who declare, as one did in a letter to The Metro, that they plan to spend the moment of silence thinking about the innocent victims of "America’s lust for revenge," there is good. Even in the face of crazy, ruthless, tyrannical men such as bin Laden and [Saddam] Hussein, there is good. The outpouring of sympathy and affection that took place one year ago and which took place again today, all across the world, restores one’s sense of faith that maybe, just maybe, we’ll get through this harrowing era of history alive and well and happy.
Dove or hawk, Left or Right, American or otherwise, this was a tough day to get through—tough for anyone with any sense of compassion or goodwill. Like or loathe the ongoing War on Terror, on this day you needed to contemplate the future and promise to learn from the past and vow to live in the present. It’s all you can do. And it’s certainly enough.
Tomorrow is another day. And, for a whole lot of us, it cannot come soon enough.

Monday, September 10, 2007

BBC: Animal rights extremists more of a threat to life-and-limb than radical Muslims

Anyone who knows just the most rudimentary aspects about life in contemporary Britain knows that we—the Government, businesses, and most of the British citizenry brow-beaten by political correctness—bend over backwards to avoid offending our Muslim community. A lot of members of this very community are hard-working and loyal to this country, no doubt about it. But if you were going to write a script for a medical drama where a bomb goes off at a British bus station, circa 2007, from what community do you think it's likeliest that your bomber originated?
For instance, for roughly twenty years—from the late '70s to the late '90s—if you wanted to write an effective script for a gritty drama involving a bombing in Britain, then you would have focused on the IRA, the Real IRA or any number of little similarly minded splinter groups. You could have made it as clear as possible that you weren't blaming the whole of the Irish community in Britain, that this was only the work of fanatics. But nevertheless, your bomber would have been Irish and he probably would have come from a heavily Irish community that may not necessarily have "harbored" him—they may not even have known about his politically fanatic leanings—but certainly the point would be taken. No matter how apologetically you tried to write the script, the tragedy would have been caused by an Irish man or Irish men.
Still with me? Good. Just for the record, I am half-Irish myself, and proud of it, yet I fully acknowledge the reality of this sort of typecasting. It just would have made no sense to blame the fictional atrocity on any other group because anyone living from 1978-1998 would have automatically thought, in the wake of a bomb blast, "Those bloody Irish!"
These days, it's fanatics from the Muslim community that are attacking us, their sense of grievance being stoked by reactionary mosques across the land. Fact, not fiction, not conjecture. But that hasn't stopped the BBC from ignoring reality and blaming their fictional bombing on someone else as they did with the latest edition of Casualty.
Casualty is a BBC-produced medical drama which takes place in an Accident & Emergency Unit, sort of the British answer to ER, and it's damn good entertainment. But the show's writers have a penchant for making certain "terrorists" out to be a bigger threat than the more likely suspects. A year ago, Casualty had an episode where two animal-rights extremists set out to bomb a medical researcher at her home, but end up accidentally blowing up a veterinarian, who came to the researcher's house to look at her dog, instead. This particular storyline was laughably unrealistic—as if a vivisectionist would spend all day slicing mammals up and then come home to her dog!—but now they're at it again.
This time, two more animal-rights extremists accidentally blow up a bus station, when the incindiery material they place into the luggage area of the coach they were to board ignites for some reason. Although the script-writers made it clear that the two animal rightists did not mean to cause carnage at the bus station, the message somehow is that there are loads of animal-rights extremists swarming across this land, constantly screwing up their plans, maiming and killing innocent people in the process.
To be fair to the writers of Casualty, they originally wrote the script to feature a young Muslim blowing himself up at the bus station. So it's not so much the show's fault as it is their puppet-masters'. The BBC forced the program's writers to re-write the show so that animal extremists get the blame instead, because we all know that the Animal Liberation Front and PETA are greater enemies to our civilization than Al-Qaeda and other like-minded terrrorists. Right?
It's a load of rubbish and the BBC knows it, but they'd still rather peddle this nonsense to people thick enough to believe it. Yet, the fact is, animal-rights extremists do carefully target those places where they know vivisection takes place, looking to disable a facility's equipment or suchlike. Sometimes they'll go after the breeders of animals used for research and, though they can get downright insensitive about it, they are no threat to the general public whatsoever. Yet, ludicrously, we have a situation in this country where stalls disseminating animal rights literature are disbanded by the police, but books by terror-advocating imams can be found in libraries. It seems that the BBC are simply taking their Casualty storylines from Government propaganda.
But money talks. It always has, it always will. There's no money in going after radical Muslims. However, the Government is happy to hop into bed with animal researchers because their legal torture rakes in loads of moolah. So, to placate their sugar daddies, the Government cracks down on the animal rights crowd, telling them sternly, "We won't tolerate your terror!" Gee, we can all sleep easy at night then, huh? Never mind what Mohammed or Abdul may get up to after soccer practice.
I'm not the only one nonplussed by Casualty's latest storyline: Right-wing columnist Richard Littlejohn was similarly bewildered. In his August 21 Daily Mail column "Truth is the first Casualty—again," he writes:
In real life, it's Muslims committing all the terrorist atrocities in Britain these days ... [T]o pretend that the bunny liberation brigade are bombing bus stations is preposterous.
Admittedly, the animal rights movement contains its fair share of violent lunatics. But as much as they love beagles and lab rats, there is no recorded incident to my knowledge of any of them being prepared to lay down their own lives for the cause.
Even if we concede that the decision to pull the Casualty episode was taken for the most laudable of reasons, it is yet more evidence of the institutionalised bias, cowardice and cultural cringe that runs through the Corporation like the lettering in a stick of rock.
The simple fact is that the BBC, like the police, the CPS and so many other of our public institutions, is scared to death of upsetting Muslims.

Again, this should be common knowledge to anyone who knows even the remotest of aspects of life in modern-day Britain. The BBC's most recent episode of Casualty only confirms that beyond a shadow of doubt.

(For more fellow-blogger analysis of the Casualty episode, read Newport's excellent take on it.)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

We're here, we're childless: deal with it

"Any dissident is suspect: neurotic, obsessed by her career, selfish or a lesbian." These are the words of author Corinne Maier, as it relates to the French attitude toward the purposely childless. But I would say that's the attitude most of the world over.
Mme. Maier has written a book entitled No Kid: 40 Reasons Not to Have Children, which has sparked outrage in Maier's native France. Maier wrote a guest column for the British newspaper The Daily Mail on August 21st, to explain herself to British audiences. In this column, she wrote:
The world is in the grip of baby mania, with celebrities flaunting their pregnant bellies in magazines, live births on TV and everyone demanding the right to have a baby at any cost.
To be a la mode, the must-have accessory is a baby. If you can't make your own, then a whole business has sprung up to service your needs and now as long as you've got the cash, you can buy IVF eggs, sperm or even children.
Anyone who dares to be different and suggest that being child-free is the better option is villified as immature or selfish. It's a brave woman who will stand up for her right not to have children.

Indeed, but I would venture that it's not just childless women who are brave. To tell people you're a married man and childless also invites varying degrees of suspicion regarding your male virility or your wife's worth. When I first began talking to a new young lady at work, I told her I've been married for eight years. Her eyes lit up. "Oh," she crooned. "How nice." Then, without wasting a breath: "Any children?" No, I told her, matter-of-factly. Her smile disappeared and she looked at me as if I'd suddenly grown wings and horns. "Oh dear. Couldn't you ...?" No, nothing like that, I assured her, before she could even say that filthy c-word: conceive. We just didn't want any. "Oh," she said quizzically, still regarding me like a rare specimen—which, to be fair, I probably am. "Well, children are lovely."
Yes, I thought, rolling my eyes. They're so lovely that there's no length I won't go to avoid them.
If you're prepared to sacrifice, if you've got the patience of a saint, if you're prepared for your life to change beyond your wildest imagination, if you're prepared to fork over a cumulative $100,000 dollars over 18 years to bring a child into the world and raise, nurture and discipline it to the age where it becomes a polite, responsible, hard-working adult, then go for it.
Reason #1: Temperament: But could you parental types please stop assuming that everyone is cut out to be a parent? I decided a long time ago that I would become celibate, with Squirrel's approval. Sex is dangerous stuff, it can land you in hot water—hot water that baby takes his or her bath in. I would not make a good father; I'd be whacking the kid left, right and center. And God help the "little angel" if it ever got wise with me. Remember what Bill Cosby said about "I brought you into the world; I can take you out"? That definitely applies here! Squirrel herself has also admitted that she too would lose her temper too much to make a good mother. Not everyone is endowed with a paternal or maternal instinct. Not everyone has the patience to deal with babies and little children. Fact. Deal with it.
#2: Money:
Squirrel and I both work full-time jobs. We don't have a car or gym memberships or anything frivolous that we waste money on. Yet, we both live from paycheck to paycheck. Mortgage rates keep rising, and we've had no end of things breaking down around here that we've had no choice but to fix. I am considering getting a second, part-time job myself just to get a bit more in the black. Now then, do you seriously think we're in good financial shape to have a kid? We'd have to move, for one thing, and the only place we could afford that would be bigger would be in a slum estate. Sorry, but I'm not moving to a ghetto just to contribute to mankind's out-of-control population! I know the government would give us tax breaks for children, but it just wouldn't be enough.
#3: Quality of life:
If your vision of a great life is children hopping into bed with you in the morning to greet you, fixing them their breakfast and sending them off to school, playing toys or games with them in the evening and all the little things that make up a parent-child relationship, then wonderful. Again, stop assuming that's everyone else's vision of the good life as well. Because it's not. Squirrel and I both like to be free to travel (whenever we can snatch a bargain trip, that is); we like the freedom to go out to eat, to the movies or for a few drinks whenever we like; we both like doing our own thing without anyone else around to disturb us. If this is selfish, then so be it. This is the only way of life we've known for nearly nine years now and we're not willing to give up our free-to-choose lifestyle. We both value our freedom very highly.
#4: Time:
I need lots of sleep. Lots. I need at least nine hours to feel refreshed. I have barely enough time to fit in writing, reading, playing the guitar, running and all the other things I enjoy, with work and my need for sleep getting in the way. And now I'm expected to fit fatherly duties into the mix? No thanks. There's just not enough time in my day as it is without some kid demanding even more of it.
#5: Environment:
Here's what really baffles me. We're supposed to fret over carbon emissions, solid waste disposal, water quality, land space and a myriad of other things that we know humans beings are making worse or are at least likely to be making worse. And yet, as Mrs. Maier states, the world is in the grip of baby mania. Everyone wants a baby, demands a baby, thinks they have a universe-decreed right to a baby. Overpopulation of the world never seems to figure into the list of things that we should be concerned about. If the environment and the health of our planet is such a big concern—and it should be—then our attitude to our birth rate ought to be of some concern as well. But, it's obviously not. Can you say hypocrisy?
#6: Social life:
If you've got a kid, you've got no social life. Period. Being a doting parent means you don't care; your child becomes the center of your life. That's as it should be. There's nothing in the world more irresponsible than a parent that still wants to party.
But there are some people who don't see children as the center of their universe, who don't get all nostalgic or sentimental when surrounded by the creatures. I have often thought that someone with enough capital for a business would do pretty well for him or herself if they started up a child-free airline. Or a child-free coffeeshop. Or, how's this—instead of holiday companies who constantly market themselves as child-friendly with free nights and free dinners and free entertainment for the kiddies, what about a travel company that markets adult-only vacation packages? Instead, everywhere we go, the breeders interact with the childless and think that their precious spawn should be seen, heard and appreciated by all. Call me selfish or immature or—*gulp!*—even worse, a liberal, but rare is the time when I'm out-and-about that I don't fantacize about my desire for a child-free refuge other than my own home to escape to.
Squirrel and I have never fully made friends with couples with kids. We have met and socialized with the odd person here or there who had a kid, but the great majority of people we are friends with have been childless adults like ourselves—people who've never had children, never regretted it and never once felt that it impacted negatively on their lives. The fact is, we just don't relate to parental couples. We don't understand or desire their lifestyle any more than they they understand or desire ours.
I think the breeders—the "children are so lovely and you're nuts for not wanting some" crowd—have some growing up to do themselves. Nothing is more selfish than pushing children on people who just have no longing for them, for making any man or woman feel guilty or worthless for simply trying to life a happy life. For the fact is, some people are perfectly happy to not have children. There are more of us than you would like to believe. And when we see you with your kids—whether you're playing merrilly with them or trying to control one of their zillions of temper tantrums—we do not envy you. We do not look wistfully at you. We do not think, "awww, how sweet." It doesn't even register. It does not make our day that your path crossed ours. We're happy with our own lives, unencumbered by children as we are. We do not even think twice about you.
Deal with it. Start learning to respect people's choices in a free society. We are not endangering the human race by not breeding because you're doing plenty of it for us.
This is not the first time I've had to stick up for childless couples like us. But, assuming mainstream society's attitude doesn't change, I'm probably going to have to keep explaining my position for the rest of my life.
As for you, Mrs. Maier—merci beaucoup et bon sante! We need more women like you. A truly strong and independent woman is one that says "no" to being bullied by society into having children.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The vandal would make a lesser criminal as Mayor ...

Two days ago, a Routemaster double-decker bus travelled through central London in broad daylight with "Livingstone Is A Cunt" written in three-foot-long letters across its rooftop. The driver knew nothing about it—until he saw people in the upper stories of office buildings looking down, pointing and laughing their tails off. The night before, a vandal broke into the bus garage and scrawled the anti-Mayor graffiti on the top of the bus.
It's not hard to understand why Livingstone is so loathed by some. After all, he isn't nicknamed "Red Ken" for nothing. His Castro-worship? His anti-Semitism? His anti-Americanism, and his buddy-buddy relationship with a hard-line imam? His Congestion Charge, and his insistence that national embassies pay it when they should damn well be exempt from it? His decision to scrap the classic, iconic Routemaster buses for those "bendy bus" monstrosities? Take your pick. There's no end of reasons to want to kick Ken where it counts.
Hell, I worked with a young lady a few years ago who was very liberal politically and who I had convinced myself was a Red Ken fan. Imagine my surprise when I heard her say one fine morning, "I hope that bastard gets run over with his own bendy buses someday!" That alone speaks volumes; even some Lefties don't like our Stalinist mayor. Even The Guardian, Britain's answer to The New York Times, took a cheerworthy hit at Livingstone, an editorial so good that it makes me rethink my classification of the newspaper as evil and anarchic.
I've had all I can take of Ken the Cunt myself. The final straw came just a few nights ago when I saw a Mayor's Office advertisement at the bus stop which extolled the city's cheap fuel supplements for elderly residents. Guess how our esteemed mayor came across such cheap fuel to hand out like a modern-day Robin Hood? Well, the "Bolivarian Government of Venezuela" banner lying directly to the right of the "Mayor of London" logo ought to tell you all you need to know. London's elderly will be kept warm at the expense of Venezuela's much poorer peasants who that fat-faced faggot dictator, El Presidente Chavez, exploits. (No, I'm not homophobic, in case you're wondering why I'm using such harsh language, but I would give almost anything to call Hugo a faggot to his face and damn the consequences!)
That's when I decided I'd had it up to the ionosphere with Red Ken.
Actually, it gets worse, and with an issue that's literally close to home. The mayor apparently wants to build houses on part of the land that belongs to a large park in our neighboorhood. A few years ago, the residents of this community defeated a bid to build a mall on some park land, and hopefully there's enough community spirit left to defeat Ken's latest development ideas. It's not the fault of whatever little nature is left that the Government is allowing more people in than the country can absorb, a policy they're too chickenshit to reverse, even though nearly everyone, of every creed or color, would cheer if they did. (Only guilty white liberals would be objecting.) I'll never understand how anyone can look at a lovely large batch of field and other greenery and think, "Hey, we can tear all this up and build here!" But Marx wrote that nature was there for exploitation and Red Ken apparently agrees.
I have never exactly been a Boris Johnson fan—espcecially since I had cause to cross swords with him earlier this year. Besides that, he's just a big-headed silly-ass. But I would be enthralled if he became London's mayor next year, now that he's thrown his hat into the ring. I'd rather a Conservative stubborn, arrogant asshole as the mayor of the city I call home than a stubborn, arrogant socialist-Lefty one. In short, anyone but Ken. Hell, I'd vote for the anti-Ken vandal for Mayor. He clearly hates Ken, and that's enough to qualify him for the city's leadership as far as I'm concerned. If Steve Norris, who I've backed for mayor in the past, can't get past the gates, then Johnson is my choice. Boris would bring back the Routemasters and he would cancel the fuel deal with Venezuela, which he called "completely Caracas." He also said he did not see the need for a space program "unless of course the present incumbent is volunteering to go into orbit." Brilliant!
Sock it to 'im, Boris. And Boris? Maybe you could make it a campaign pledge to give those "No Olympics" buttons on the "Ken is a Cunt" website free to every Londoner who wants one? I'd sure have one and I'd wear it proudly.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

An ode to the guitar—and raw, blood-stained fingertips

If you love something enough, you've got to put up with the pain and discomfort it may well, and usually does, bring you.
This could apply to a lot of things in life, but I speak of musical instruments.
I've heard of piano players who've suffered from painful or numb fingertips. A trombonist friend of mine in Florida said that the hand that operates the slide is "locked" in slide position; when he tried to play a violin, he found he lacked the dexterity to do it. And then there are guitarists.
Like myself.
We get string grooves in our fingers. Now with regular practice, the fingertips become hardened and become immune to the pressing of the strings. But if you go even just two weeks without playing, the fingers soften up and it's time to get used to the pain all over again.
It does hurt. A budding guitarist's fingertips can become quite raw. It's a pain I love, however. When the fingertips on my left hand ache, I know I've had a good playing session. And I also know to keep practicing.
Believe me, when you, for instance, have to play even a simple progression like A minor - F - D - C - G on soft fingertips, you really feel it. After an hour, a C chord is murder. An F becomes nearly impossible, and a bar chord becomes something that anyone considering the art of torture would be proud of. Bar chords also cause the wrists to ache, if you play them enough.
Do you remember what Bryan Adams sang in his song "Summer of '69," about playing till his fingers bled? It's true. In addition to the sweat and the tears, sometimes guitarists even shed blood in the quest to master their instrument.
I enjoy playing the bass in addition the six-string, and I played bass in a high school band. We played coffeehouses in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a year. Anyway, one day at our practice studio at the back of a music shop in Stow, we were gearing up for a fresh batch of gigs but we'd had a few months off for studies—months in which I hadn't picked up my bass at all. My fingers were tender again. Near the end of our practice session, I was playing on the upper range of the bass, using the higher-pitched D and G strings. The G string—no pun intended here!—actually sliced through the indentation on my index finger that was created by all the string-pressing and it bled—profusely.
Now I have a blood phobia. But I was "in the zone," so to speak. I was so high from the chords, the steady twack of our drummer's snare and the feedback from the amps that I uncharacteristically ignored the bleeding index finger and kept playing. Blood ran down the fretboard and actually shorted out one of my pick-ups. It cost me two hundred 1987 dollars to get that fixed. But at least I'd mastered a rather tricky bassline!
I have never shed any blood since that day. But I continue to get raw string grooves in my fingertips when time gets in my way and prevents me from playing as often as I'd like. But, as I say, it's a pain I enjoy. Raw fingertips are the price I'll happily pay to become a virtuoso.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Jacobson is right: Jews do come last

Columnist Howard Jacobson recently wrote a pensive piece entitled "There Seems To Be a Pecking Order Among The Dispossessed, and Jews Come Last" that appeared in Britain's The Independent this past Saturday. He argues that the mainstream liberal worldview is that Jews—largely by virtue of a militarily strong Israel—are no longer among the dispossesed but are dispossessors.
Jacobson agrees that Israel must help ease the Palestinian exile because Jews should always be aware of their own history of exile. However, he states: "If it is terrible to lose your home today, then it was terrible to lose your home yesterday, whoever you are." He writes that instead, the liberal consensus holds that there are "disrespected Palestinians on the one hand, and the 'fanatics of Zion' on the other." The diasporic longing, as Jacobson puts it, is so entrenched in Jewish history that Jews have come to expect a mention when it comes to a list of the world's displaced peoples, and when that doesn't happen, Jews start to question their own right to a homeland. Which shouldn't happen.
Jacobson mentions the notoriously pro-Palestinian war reporter Robert Fisk, whose recent piece about Mount Ararat and the Armenians and wasn't even about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict includes the obnoxious line, "When a people claim to have settled again in their ancestral lands—the Israelis, for example, at the cost of 'cleansing' 750,000 Arabs who had perfectly legitimate rights to their homes—the world becomes misty-eyed." Jacobson parries this by bluntly stating that the world is surely not misty-eyed about Israel. He's right.
I mention Jacobson's column specifically because it brings the anti-war crowd to mind. I cannot see how any hippie with any conscience could join in these protests or marches. It's one thing to be against the war in Iraq, but to actively join hands with the Great Unwashed is another. For the fact is, these anti-war rallies have always brought out a sizeable contingent of anti-Semites, who argue that American foreign policy parrots Israeli foreign policy and that America's top brass is controlled by the Jews and the Jewish lobby. Anti-war protests are a great excuse to bring out the Jew-haters on both the extreme Left and Right as well as militant Muslims. Even if I was against the war, I would have kept my distance from this puerile lot and I would have stated my antipathy toward them. Yet it's amazing how many anti-war types have failed to do just that.
In the diseased minds of the anti-Semites, it follows that, since America and Israel are so intrinsically linked, then America's wars are Israel's wars—and vice versa. America kicked the Arabs out in '48 and again in '67 and took part in the irredentist actions of '73. And so on and so forth. These are the sort of people who nodded their heads solemnly and muttered genuine agreement when they first heard about Mel Gibson's drunken rant that the Jews were responsible for the world's problems.
I've heard it said that because Israel is a militarily strong nation-state, perfectly capable of sticking up for itself and never showing any reticence to do so, the Left abandoned the Jewish cause for the Palestinian one. So Leftists sought out another dispossessed people to rally around in order to make themselves feel good and righteous.
We hear about the nobility of the anti-wars, sticking up for a different America they wish to see, one that kicks the Israelis in the face.
Little wonder, in this environment of hostility toward Jews and their nation-state, that Jacobson felt moved to counter the bias in the press with regard to Israel in his latest column.

Monday, September 3, 2007

"You don't bring me flowers ... (and I'm glad)!"

OK, this makes me very inclined to keep my distance from any man that I do not know well. I do so anyway, but now I actually have a valid reason besides my usual anti-social misanthropy.
A survey by the Society of American Florists reports that 60 percent of men would like to receive flowers on Valentine's Day, or as a thank-you or general I-love-you type of gift. I'm sorry to sound so prejudicial, but that's quite a bit too candy-assed for my tastes.
I wonder how many of these men would also like to don a tu-tu and prance around a maypole? I'd be interested to know. Hell, if you are a guy and admit to wanting flowers, then I guess anything goes.
The survey was conducted on American men. Which tells me that the percentage of men who want flowers here in England, throughout Europe or in Canada is probably much higher. Men are becoming emasculated, and this is the proof. First, they started wearing earrings, and then pink shirts. Then they started getting highlights in their hair. Now they want flowers. Great. I can hardly wait to see what the latest trend will be.
Don't get me wrong. Flowers are great. A meadow of wild flowers swaying in a gentle breeze is one of nature's finest creations. And flowers on a woman's desk always looks attractive. But if anyone, including my own wife, gave me flowers, I wouldn't know whether to be insulted or sardonic. I'd probably flutter my eyelashes—what little eyelashes I have, that is—extend a limp wrist and go: "Oooh! Why thaaaaank you! My oh my! Mmmmm!" And that would be my reaction if I was in a good mood.
I even told my wife about it, this puzzlement I feel at flowers for men. She didn't share my bewilderment. "Oh, don't be such a macho prick," she said. Actually, she didn't. What she said was a lot more tactful, but that was the larger point I took from her. This is something I just cannot bring myself to understand, no matter how much thought I put into it. My brain just announces DOES NOT COMPUTE, DOES NOT COMPUTE, DOES NOT COMPUTE everytime I throw the flowers-for-men argument at it. My cranium seems irrevocably hardwired into accepting the formula: flowers + men = WTF?!
Long story short: Flowers for dudes? No. I just can't picture it, anymore than I can picture Vinnie Jones jazzercizing in a leotard.
Hmmm, come to think of it, I wonder how many men wish they'd receive leotards?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

An example of real justice

Now this is the sort of action that will drive away undesirable elements from any neighborhood where they're not wanted.
By "undesirable elements" I do mean criminals, including drug dealers.
Last Sunday, on a street in the Taughmonagh section of Belfast, a drug dealer was tied to a lamppost by two men in balaclavas, had hot tar and feathers dumped over his head and then had a cardboard sign hung around his neck announcing "IM [sic] A DRUG DEALING SCUMBAG." The men who carried out the attack are suspected to be memebers of the UDA (Ulster Defense Association, a loyalist paramilitary organization).
Although I do not in any way condone either republican or loyalist violence during Belfast's Troubles, I fail to see how this will revive them. This is simply a holdover from the days when the Troubles were active, when both groups routinely used tar and feathering as punishment. The fact is, a drug dealer was active on the Taughmonagh estate. People complained to the police about him. But of course, as anyone living in this country who isn't a brainless celebrity or soulless vivisectionist knows, the police and the laws they enforce are good for nothing. Needless to say, that's exactly what the police did about the drug dealer—nothing. The UDA orginally told residents of Taughmonagh to contact the police. In the words of the Ulster Political Research Group's Frankie Gallagher, "The UDA told the local community to go to the police about this. The community responded in the way it did because it had no confidence in the police."
So the people of Taughmonagh looked after themselves, as so many other people throughout Britain are often forced to do. Two pissed-off residents of the area captured the man, tied him up and administered the tar-and-feathering while a crowd, inclduing women and children, watched. Justice served.
The UDA, however, denies it masterminded or carried out the attack. They describe it as a "community reaction."
Of course, the fallout from the attack has been only too predictable. A Belfast police report moaned that there's "no place in civilised society for people taking the law into their own hands resulting in such a brutal and barbaric attack." You can just hear the unwritten/unspoken codicil to the police statement here: "Especially when we do nothing, as always." Alliance Party leader David Ford whined, "[M]ost people will find it very hard to believe that the UDA was not involved in this despicable act." Other Northern Ireland politicians also decried the "thuggery" behind the attack.
Callers to a local radio show in Belfast, however, supported the tar-and-feathering attack by a majority of six to one. That certainly speakes volumes about how far removed politicians, judges and the police are from the people they claim to serve.
You can whine all you like about the drug dealer's alleged human rights—and since when could a drug dealer be considered human?—and there will always be people who will actually tell you with a straight face that British justice is "good" justice. You could say that vigilantes are far worse than the criminals they go after. But as far as I'm concerned, my sympathies lie entirely with the average person in Belfast: This attack was justified. Whoever was responsible for it, I salute them as heroes.
And until the political correctness that cripples our judges, politicians and police forces is dismantled and done away with, I hope we will have a lot more of this type of community reaction.