Saturday, December 27, 2008

Surviving Christmas week

This has to be the sparsest Christmas I've ever had—which means, it just might be among the best.
One, it was true to the real spirit of Christmas in which giving and receiving a few small gifts is enough. It's the season of giving which is what counts, not seeing how much loot you can acquire.
Two, it was very much in line with my anti-consumerist ethic. I long ago grew very fed up with the whole "shop 'til you drop" mania of the Christmas season which only ends up raising people's expectations to an inflated degree, degrades the environment, blows a big hole through everyone's personal finances (especially now) and, again, devalues the real message and spirit of Christmas.
I received a DVD boxset of the British comedy Are You Being Served?, a shirt, a box of chocolate mints and £20 cash.
And that, I feel, is sufficient. I don't long for much else, except a 17 percent flat tax. Unfortunately, that's not something friends and family can provide.
I also have never understood why people feel the need to gorge themselves over Christmas and then pass Christmas off as an excuse as to why they've gained so much weight. Humans continue to amaze me with their silliness if not outright stupidity. I've continued to watch what I eat, take part in exercise and keep my waistline slim, Christmas be damned. I don't stuff myself or stop running just because it's Christmas.
However, I've had to keep myself busy over this festive week, because there's always a danger of me becoming very bored and drinking too much as a result. But I've been successful at fighting the boredom—and the excessive drink—with housecleaning, running, napping and spending time with family (which in my case amounts to only my wife and mother-in-law!), so I'm surviving this week. Christmas week is all very well, but by God, it takes strength to get through it. I can so easily find myself wishing for the arrival of January and the resumption of normalcy it will usher in. But then again, I do love order and routine, which the week between Christmas and New Year completely throws out of whack.
And, hey, the NFL playoffs start in January—another reason to get past New Year and back to normal!
Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and that your New Year's Eve will be a safe and healthy one.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Obama's inaugural pick exposes hole in liberal tolerance ethic

(Previously published on Blogcritics)

If you want some real insight into how much gays and liberals respect the concept of tolerance, which they're always preaching about, you need look no further than the latest "controversy" surrounding our President-elect.Gay-rights advocates, the homosexual community and most liberals are in a huff over Mr. Obama's decision to allow California pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his presidential inauguration. Warren is an outspoken advocate not only of pro-life issues but also of traditional marriage.
The Human Rights Campaign wrote a letter to Obama in which they angrily assert that they "feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination." The editor of the gay newspaper The Washington Blade opined, "This tone-deafness to our concerns must not be tolerated. We have just endured eight years of endless assaults on our dignity and equality ... [t]he election was supposed to have ended that era. It appears otherwise."
Three salient points here:
(1) Messiah Man campaigned on a promise to give a hearing to both sides, to conservatives and liberals alike. The move to include Rev. Warren in the inauguration ceremony, whose church Obama visited during the campaign trail to hear Warren speak on faith issues, is a fig-leaf to conservative Christians and is, thusly, a classic Obama tactic.
(2) Mr. Obama and Rev. Warren share many thoughts on social justice. Like the President-elect, pastor Warren has not embraced fiscal conservatism and is an advocate for a government-led war on poverty.
(3) Mr. Obama opposes same-sex marriage, and this fact was public knowledge during his campaign. While his presidency will no doubt be the gay-friendliest of all, Messiah Man will not likely back down on the issue of gay marriage. Unfortunately, for most gay advocates, that is not good enough. (This common knowledge of Obama's stance on gay marriage must surely be the reason why he received less votes from gay voters than did John Kerry in 2004.)
It's understandable—and entirely predictable—that the gay community would react in this way. The gay rights movement, after all, is reeling from the Proposition 8 vote in California which seeks to overturn the legality of gay marriage in that state, and is looking to flex some serious muscle.
Obama's pick of Rev. Warren to deliver the invocation speech was just the fight the gay community was looking for. Liberals, who largely showed restraint over criticism of Mr. Obama's conservative cabinet selections, are now boiling over with disappointed rage at the Warren issue as well.
Mr. Obama asserts that dialogue is what his campaign was about, as well as his upcoming presidency.
"We're not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans," Obama said in response to the furore over the Rev. Warren debate.
In other words, by selecting the Rev. Warren to be part of his inauguration ceremony, Obama was demonstrating tolerance—true tolerance. But that's not what the gay community and its liberal supporters desire.
In fact, the lesson to be learned from this debacle is not what liberals expected from Obama, but from what Obama expected from his liberal supporters. Mr. Obama wants debate and tolerance; the majority of liberals demand nothing less than total militancy over the issues dear to them.
I feel kind of sorry for the President-elect already. The poor man may only just now realize the hornets' nest he's walking into.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Do you think Obama's discovered the hornets' nest yet?

You know, Messiah Man continues to surprise and impress me. By selecting the anti-gay marriage Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation speech at his presidential inauguration, Mr. Obama is displaying true tolerance, the tolerance that the gay community and liberals are always preaching about.
But, of course, it's not tolerance but militancy that most liberals want and expect from Mr. Obama. We certainly will have change under his Presidency, but, in many cases, not strong enough for the liberals who swooned at the almighty Obama's presence and kissed the ground upon which he walked.
I think Mr. Obama did the right thing in selecting Rev. Warren. It may be tokenism with respect to social conservatives, but at least Mr. Obama is proving that he's serious in fomenting genuine debate.
Most Obama supporters feel that the selection of Rev. Warren to take part in his inauguration ceremony is a slap in the face.
Which reminds me of the reaction here in Britain to Mr. Obama's win over McCain. Predictably, the reaction was one of elation and happiness. Mr. Obama is about change, the British public asserted. He's going to make a difference in the world.
OK, fair enough. That is without question. But, two-thirds of the British public want to pull out of Afghanistan. Not only does this expose how seemingly weak of will and mind the British have become, how they've already forgotten their fight against the IRA's despicable terrorism, and how they're no longer interested in combatting Islamic terrorism. But it shows a fault line in how they regard the new Leader of the Free World.
Mr. Obama is committed to the Afghanistan war, and he will pressure Britain not only to keep up the fight there but to increase troop levels. One can only wonder how the 68 percent of limeys who oppose Afghanistan feel at the prospect of the American messiah pressuring their country to contribute more to a war they have no stomach for.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

News & events "mish-mash": Part II

As my Irish ancestors may have once said: "Jesus God almighty!" Can we not have a new president or a presidential transition that doesn't court controversy? First there was the Gennifer Flowers affair with Clinton in 1992; then in 2000, you heard the accusation against conservative judges on the Supreme Court handing Bush victory; now, we've got a "pay to play" political situation regarding the Senate seat vacated by Messiah Man, Barack Obama.
Granted, this has a lot more to do with Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich than Mr. Obama. Blagojevich, your typical sewer denzien of a political hack, was apparently offered a million dollars for the seat by Jesse Jackson Jr. Jackson has denied any wrongdoing, however, and has stipulated that the governor should "forfeit his authority to make this Senate appointment." A November 3 transcript of a telephone conversation had Blago opining that the Senate seat was a "[expletive] valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."
Blagojevich has also, according to federal prosecutors, appropriated state funds in order to convince the Chicago Tribune to fire editorial board members who were critical of him, tried to place his wife on a corporate board, and tried to secure campaign contributions in exchange for official actions. And to think that Blago was elected on a pledge to clean up after his predecessor George Ryan, who is serving a six-and-a-half-year sentence for fraud!
Hopefully this will mark a turning point for Chicago and Illinois, the politically sleaziest city and state in the nation.
● I'm guessing this is a bad time for a Greek vacation. Major cities across the Hellenic nation are burning as protestors go on the rampage. All this over a 16-year-old boy? It is absolutely a pity that the young man was shot by police, but the reaction to his death is a bit extreme, or so one who was not a far-Left anarchist airhead would think.
It is an unsettling thought that democracy in Greece has historically had the concept of anarchy at its roots. And now, anarchy means being anti-capitalist, anti-globalist, anti-American, anti-police and anti-common sense. It means to raise hell at any opportunity, at any provocation.
These Leftie whackjobs certainly lay to rest the notion that extreme liberals are always peaceful, non-violent protest types.
Honestly, the Greeks can have these people. The more I learn about Greek society, the much more grateful I am that the two societies that I know best and which have informed my worldview—American and British—frown upon anarchy and the mega-violent philosophy it engenders.
● Proposals for a change in the laws regarding prostitution here in the U.K. will be most welcomed by yours truly. The new law proposed by the Home Secretary will mean that a plea of ignorance by men who purchased the services of any woman who has been trafficked or is being exploited by a pimp will no longer be a satisfactory defense. Men can also be charged with rape on account of any sexual interaction with a trafficked prostitute, and curb-crawlers also face naming and shaming.
Now, normally I raise the alarm bell over how men's contributions to society have been cheapened or ignored, and how feminists have turned the societal tables on us. However, that sentiment—however you feel about it—does not apply here. I hardly think it's right or fair to blame the women involved in prostitution, especially as prostitution these days boils down to nothing more or less than a modern slave trade.
It's the men who call the shots, from the pimps who control the sex trade to the idiot male customers who partake in the services it has to offer. To prosecute curb-crawling men and close any and all brothels with links to trafficking should hopefully shut down the demand on this perhaps oldest but no doubt filthiest of occupations. Especially when you consider that many of the women involved did not take up this "occupation" by choice.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

News & events "mish-mash": Part I

Sorry, dear reader. In case you wonder why my writing becomes so sporadic at times, the reason is most likely to be that (a) I'm too busy to write, (b) I'm feeling ill, (c) I lack motivation to write, or (d) any combination of the above three—quite often, all three. So I apologize for the absence. I also don't like being away because it means I haven't responded to anything you may have written. Don't take it personally. I am definitely not ignoring your writing, and I always catch up with it once I have the time to peruse my friends' blogs at leisure.
Now that we have established that, I've got things to get off my chest here. These were all meant to be separate entries, but it's obvious that they are going to have to be thrown together in a mish-mash. So, without further adieu, here we go:
The Times, that highbrow paper of the Old British Right, recently published an opinion piece by an obviously testosterone-soaked author named Matthew Syed. I wrote a letter to The Times to give my persepective on it, but since they did not publish it—and rarely do I get rejected whenever I write a letter to a newspaper—I will do so in this space:
I'd like to register my disgust with the Opinion article written by Matthew Syed. He writes that "Britain is finally shedding its stifling and hypocritical prudishness." What, exactly, is so stifling and hypocritical about not condoning casual sex? The "prudish" attitude of decades ago ensured healthy families and a strong society.
Mr. Syed also writes that "Britain has come top among Western industrial nations in the world casual sex league." That's not the only thing Britain tops the tables with. Britain is also first in sexually trasmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, abortions and single motherhood. And this, according to Mr. Syed, is a reason to celebrate promiscuity? I'd like to know what world Mr. Syed is living in which makes it possible for him to conclude that one-night stands are not evidence of moral bankruptcy. I may be a smug married, but I do sincerely believe a commitment to someone should be a requisite for sexual activity. To be honest, I would normally regard this sort of opinion as tabloid fodder. For a venerable paper such as The Times to publish this screed is nothing short of disappointing.

I think that makes a rather satisfying riposte to the "let's all do it and not care about the consequences or the immorality of one-night stands" argument put forth by Mr. Led-By-His-Groin-and-Not-His-Brain Syed!
I can't tell you how much I've had it with left-wing celebrities. But, actually, it's the ordinary Joe or Jill who hold such celebrities so close to their hearts who really drive me crazy.
Leonardo DiCaprio cares about the environment, you see, despite having starred in a film whose production techniques completely destroyed a significant portion of shoreline in Thailand. Bono so cares about the downtrodden people of the Third World that he dodged taxes in his native Ireland so that he could save up even more money, taking part in a capitalist system that he so often inveighs against. I could go on, but the number of column inches of this entry would circle Earth's equator 50 times if I did.
Still ... then there's George Clooney. Nice guy? Probably. He certainly looks like one, a dapper gentleman down to his core, the sort of guy I'd like to be sipping coffee with, just as he does on his Nespresso ads. Clooney also loves to preach to us about the many sins of capitalism and of the American way of life; he pulled for Barack Obama on the hope that Messiah Man would deliver on his socialist promises.
And then, last week, he held a bash in London, for which it cost £10,000 to attend. Now, admittedly, the party did raise £10 million for charity, but Cripes—wasn't that just another excuse for these celebrities to prance about, drink their drinks, take their drugs and preen for the cameras, articulating with their expressions, "Look at me, aren't I wonderful? I spent £10,000 to attend this orgy of self-congratulation because I can!" The aforementioned Bono was there too, no surprise.
I just wish people would realize that the lifestyles of the celebs they hold in such high esteem buck the very crusades they so often lecture the rest of us about.
Going back to the real world, which those of us who aren't celebrities have to live in—and work in, if we're lucky—a Tory politician here in England got in trouble for suggesting that the recession could be "good for people." Insensitive comment? Yes and no.
When Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, asserted that the recession was good for us, he may have touched several thousands of raw nerves, nerves that have been affected by loss of income, loss of property, etc. But here's what Mr. Lansley actually wrote (in his blog) about the recession:
"Interestingly, on many counts, recession can be good for us. People tend to smoke less, drink less alcohol, eat less rich food and spend more time at home with families."
Face it, he's right, isn't he? If no longer having the cash to buy cigarettes forces a smoker to quit that filthy habit, then couldn't it be said that the cloud of recession did indeed have a silver lining?
After the firestorm of controversy that erupted, largely thanks to the Labour party calling him "shameful" and "out of touch," Mr Lansley issued the following statement: "I'm very sorry for any offense this has caused and I totally withdraw my comments."
He should not have had to do that. Anyone with half a brain cell could easily interpret the argument Lansley was trying to make.
Unfortunately, after 11 years of a Labour government, most people in this country have been left with only a quarter of a brain cell. (Which, of course, is just what Labour was counting on all those years ago to stay in power for so long, no doubt.)
Speaking of the Tories—and a solid reason why Labour should be trounced in the 2009 General Election—the shadow Home Office minister Damian Green was arrested and had his office and home searched by counter-terrorism officers. He was released on bail but will face further questioning in February.
Green's crime? He leaked information on the Labour Government's immigration policy, provided by a whistleblower. David Cameron, the Conservative leader, called the arrest "Stalinist," and he's dead-on with his description.
Mr. Green had this to say, shortly after his release: "I emphatically deny that I have done anything wrong. I have many times made public information that the government wanted to keep secret, information that the public has a right to know ... In a democracy, opposition politicians have a duty to hold the government to account. I was elected to the House of Commons precisely to do that and I certainly intend to continue doing so."
Damian Green was further highlighting Labour's total incompetence with regard to immigration policy and Labour decided they had enough of Green's political incorrectness. The complaint against Green, after all, came from the Cabinet Office.
The Home Office whistleblower was arrested as well, which should come as no surprise.
And the present Government insists that mass immigration is good for us. Bad enough illegals steal precious land from us, but stealing our democracy via a government so keen to encourage them?
Stalinist? I'd say that Pol Pot, Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe have all had a say Green's arrest as well.
Well, I'll have to continue this mish-mash tomorrow. It appears that I'm getting a genuine column out of stuff I intened to write columns about!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Feeling some hope for Obama's foreign policy administration

You'll forgive me for feeling this way, dear reader, but I am not feeling so awful about America's foreign policy under Barack Obama.
One: The obvious. Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State. While I shuddered at the thought of her being President, while she's quite liberal, and while she's a Clinton, I nevertheless thought she was a good pick for the post. Mrs. Clinton may be lacking in several ways—and I can never forget the way she treated those Travel Office staff—warmth, empathy and cuddliness are not what I look for in a Secretary of State. Condi was an excellent S.o.S., but it's obvious that Obama would not keep her on (despite the fact that she's black), and Clinton is apt to be much better and more effective than the maudlin Madeline Albright. Hilary is tough-as-nails and she will not back down. It was Hilary, after all, who talked of "obliterating" Iran if they attacked Israel back in April. You cannot accuse Hilary Clinton of being a dove; so therefore, I think Mrs. Clinton will make a credible Secretary of State.
Two: Robert Gates remaining as Secretary of Defense. Gates served well as S.o.D. for two years and he adds another vital hawkish element to Obama's foreign policy administration. Mr. Gates also has a close working relationship with General Petraeus, who has overseen both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and Obama is committed to the Afghanistan effort—even risking the goodwill of Britain and the European nations by demanding higher troop levels—and may even be brought around on Iraq. Adding Gen. James Jones, the former head of NATO, as National Security Adviser is also a very shrewd move on Obama's part.
Three: The almost Bush-like speech that Obama delivered the other day, in which he declared that the United States must be the strongest military power. Obama said, "To ensure prosperity here at home and peace abroad, we all share the belief we have to maintain the strongest military on the planet ... We cannot tolerate a world where innocents are being killed by extremists." He added that his administration was "absolutely committed to eliminating the threat of terrorism."
Mr. Obama seems to be travelling down a more conciliatory path while still sounding tough, something that Bush himself has been demonstrating for the past two years.
I still gravely fear Obama's domestic policies. But, far from signing away the farm, as I feared he'd do, Barack Obama seems genuinely committed to protecting America, foreign policy wise.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

News demonstrates the predictable result of allowing the feckless and feral to fornicate

(previously published on Blogcritics)

If you, faithful reader, knew nothing about Britain and went by what you read in the current headlines over here, you might very well conclude that the neglect, beating, torture and even killing of young children was as much a British tradition as high tea.
We have the recent case of the single mother whose two young boys died in a house fire that they may have inadvertently started. It is quite likely that she was too stoned out of her gourd to properly supervise them. Their mom, you see, loved to party which didn't leave much time for parenting. She was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and child neglect.
Next we have the case of the mother who drowned her four-year-old daughter because she, the "mom," was embarrassed by her cerebral palsy. Another mother killed her two sons in order to better love herself. Well, that's what she told the police. She is, obviously, currently being assessed in a mental health facility.
In 2007, a "mother" by the name of Karen Matthews organized a kidnap of her schoolgirl daughter Shannon by the uncle of her live-in partner. The live-in partner, incidentally, a retarded-looking lowlife by the name of Craig Meehan, was prosecuted for possessing child pornography soon after the kidnap story broke.
I'll give you just one more example, but this one is the most galling and most disturbing of them all. A 16-month-old child, known to us only by the name Baby P, was routinely beaten and eventually killed by his mother's boyfriend and the couple's lodger. Baby P's mother now brags confidently that she'll be out of jail by Christmas. Despite the baby's horrific injuries, social workers kept accepting the mother's lies about how the toddler incurred them. A 15-year-old who lived in the house, but was too scared to come forward before now, has revealed the full horror behind the child's torment and eventual death. It makes for gut-wreching, stomach-turning reading.
What really boils my blood is that these people will not know anything approaching the terror that the infant routinely felt during his 16 short months of life, unless they receive vigilante action by fellow inmates in prison, which I most sincerely hope they do. They certainly won't be put to death by the legal system, as they should be, as Britain abolished capital punishment in 1964.
Now, the question for you, dear reader, is this: How on earth does a mother kill her children "in order to better love herself"? How on earth can any parent think it's alright to party till the small hours when she's got two kids to look after? How does a mother fake the kidnapping of her daughter simply for attention or for greedy purposes? And how does an infant boy get treated so viciously, for so long?
The answer: We permit morons to breed. Plain and simple. We are allowing children to be born to people who—and I'm being kind here—are better off dead, because they barely have the brainpower and social skills necessary to conduct a transaction at the convenience store for their booze, cigarettes and lottery tickets (bought with welfare money, of course), never mind having and raising children. But have children they do and in ever-depressing numbers. And we allow it. Despite knowing what desultory sort of life these children must be leading, we continue to cling to the liberal notion of, "Well, we can't tell others how to live their lives."
We are talking about the third and fourth generations of violent layabouts being born to parents who were themselves the victims of hedonistic, immoral, alcoholic, drug-addled cretins with no sense of social responsibility whatsoever. And this is why children are being neglected, tortured and/or killed everyday across Britain and why the cycle will simply continue, because we aren't sterilizing these wastes of space and resources as we should be doing.
Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn nails it perfectly when he writes, as he did on November 14: "Britain seems to have cornered the market in welfare layabouts, drug addicts, feral gangs of obese children and hideous, drunken scrubbers, littering the gutters of even our more genteel suburbs. The women are the worst of the lot, giving birth to a procession of bay-bees by different, transient fathers and expecting—nay, being encouraged by—the state to pay for their upbringing."
And there you have it. Decent, hard-working people, who so often cannot afford to raise more than one child of their own, have to support the ever-growing underclass of imbecilic filth who can have as many children they like, most of whom would have to consider themselves lucky if they make it past the age of 10.
Which, of course, according to public school education, is just the right age to start the next generation of scum. After all, they've long become a British tradition.

Monday, November 17, 2008

British sperm donations face impotency

Apparently, sperm donations in Britain—and in London especially—have fallen so dramatically that it can be quantified as a critical shortage, and a radical overhaul of sperm donation services is required.
Now for the million-pound question: Why, exactly, is this a bad thing?
You only have to look around you at any point in the day or evening to conclude that Britain certainly does not, in any way classifiable or conceivable, have a fertility problem. Little buggers are everywhere, getting pushed along the sidewalks in their oversized prams by chain-smoking mamas or picking their noses as they waddle four-square along the sidewalks on the way to school.
I wonder if the freefall in sperm donations is in any way related to the fact that over 50 percent of British adults view children as "animals"? Which really distresses me as I consider that a grevious insult to animals.
Of course, mind you, I don't necessarily consider children on the same level as cockroaches, but all people in general. I found myself nodding solemnly while reading this column by Charlie Brooker, in which he opines: "Two's company. Three's a crowd. And whoever they are, I don't trust them. Yes, in the ever expanding list of things I don't 'get,' the most crippling entry has to be people. I don't get people. What's their appeal, precisely? They waddle around with their haircuts on, cluttering the pavement like gormless, farting skittles. They're awful."
Anyway, getting back to sperm donations, that's one thing that I've never gotten. Who in their right mind wants to consider the fact that somebody, somwhere, will be conceived carrying half their genes, possibly even their same facial features, hair and eye color, blood type and the same curious inability to not say "heeeellll, yeaaah!" at the end of every conversation? Honestly, who can be comfortable with the thought of spreading themselves around without even enjoying the so-called action? (Don't get me wrong: I'm very much a keep-it-in-your-pants sort of guy. I simply ask on a theoretical level.)
On a more serious note, sperm donation also encourages single motherhood. I cannot in all honesty say that I am a fan of that lifestyle. There is definitely a straightforward relationship between the "children are animals" sentiment and the emotional effects that single motherhood creates in a child who, through no choice of his or her own, has been denied the vital male influence.
The article cites the removal of anonymity in 2005 as the biggest reason for the nose-dive in sperm donations. In other words, once a child born in 2005 or after turns 18, they can chase their sperm donor down. This was just the sort of thing sperm donors never had to worry about in the past.
Which leaves me to conclude one salient point about all this: For once, this Labour government actually did something good. Only the sperm banks would disagree.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Better food standards needed now to avoid the obesity horror show

OK, if we could just move away from the subject of the Obama-nation that has occurred just for a bit, because there is, believe it or not, other news out there besides our rock-star of a messiah of a President-elect ...
I have never really liked Britain's celebrity chef Jamie Oliver—second only to Gordon Ramsay in terms of fame and notoriety—as this piece that I wrote many moons ago testifies. Mssr. Oliver really hit a low point when he slaughtered a live lamb on TV in 2005.
However, since that despicable incident I have slowly started liking Oliver a bit more and more. Earlier this year, Oliver highlighted just how terrible living conditions are for battery-reared poultry birds, and persuaded the supermarket chain Sainsbury's—for whom he's been doing television commercials for the past ten years—to stop selling poultry from battery farms and sell only free-range bird meat instead.
I also appreciate Oliver's ceaseless attempts to highlight the obesity crisis and how it's down to a real lack of education about food, and his demands for better food standards constitutes a noble cause. Mr. Oliver recently told a parliamentary inquiry that poor food standards are contributing to a real breakdown of family life and that the U.K. is heading for an obesity horror show. Mr. Oliver even linked the problem to working mothers who are too busy to feed their families and themselves properly. That took some guts in this politically correct, how-dare-you-say-that culture of ours, which, on that basis alone, wins him my admiration and respect.
"Health, obesity and education has struggled to be taken seriously for ten years, but I think it's a bloody emergency," Oliver told politicians at the inquiry. Oliver also asked of the government to consider putting a cap on the number of fast-food outlets in town centers. He's right. Take a walk down any main street in Britain, and you will be amazed at how many burger, kebab and fried chicken shops you'll encounter. There should be a limit on just how many of these joints are allowed to exist, and they should not be allowed to proliferate to the extent that they have.
I was thinking about all this the other day while waiting for my bus into work. A chubby man was there, sipping a regular, full-sugar Coke and smoking a cigarette. He then chucked the can over the wall—proving that those who don't care about themselves certainly do not care about the environment—and walked straight into the Morley's fried chicken establishment. This man represented everything that is wrong with contemporary lifestyles, especially in urban areas.
I am not an advocate for big government or the nanny state. Honestly, I'm not. However, I do think some sort of government intervention is necessary when the ignorance of people who just don't know any better is contributing to a public services emergency. I don't relish paying higher taxes to keep the NHS alive because the health service is being burdened by people who are ill simply from smoking too much, drinking too much, not getting enough (or any) exercise, and eating way too much fatty, nutrient-poor garbage.
Personally, I'd just exterminate people like this and be done with it. (Joke!) But seriously, unless we want to be regarded as no better than the Ba'athist regime we overthrew in Iraq, then we need to try other, far more milder tactics: Even higher taxes on tobacco products and strong booze; alcoholic drinks stronger than 3.5% by volume to be sold only in state-run shops as they do in Sweden; ban trans-fats; institute a cap on the number of fast-food joints for every square mile of urban area; and at least consider delivering a healthy eating pamphlet to every household, similar to the Home Information Packs that the government came out with last year.
If this seems too radical, then please tell me where it's written—anywhere—that liberty and democracy means being as corpulent and unhealthy as you please, placing a strain on public/social services and driving up health care premiums for people who actually deign to look after themselves.
Jamie Oliver warns of a "profound" health crisis if this issue of good food and health is not taken seriously.
"This isn't about fresh trainers (sneakers) or mobile phones or Sky (satellite) dishes or plasma TV screens—they've got all that. It is a poverty of being able to nourish their family, in any class," Oliver told politicians at the inquiry.
Godspeed, Jamie Oliver. The sooner you win your battle for nationwide healthy food standards, the better off we'll be.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The "ballad" of Barack Obama

While doing the dishes, a chore I loathe and so usually try to entertain myself while doing it, I made up the following scenario in my head:
Barack Obama addresses the crowd on Inauguration Day in January. He looks solemnly over the cheering audience and intones:
"Ladies and gentlemen, you voted for change. Change is paramount and will be an essential part of my administration. I solemnly promise to give you that change. But, first: Yo, hit that shit!"
Obama immediately launches into a rap:

"Barack Obama, that is my name
Celebratin' ma victory over John McCain
Proved to everyone that I was man, not mouse
Tell me everybody—who in da House?
Bush, yeah cuz, he won't be back.
I won the election 'cause I is black.
I gonna spend fo' years just spendin' and taxin'
And I gonna do it without first axin'.
Now break it down!"

Then Obama starts breakdancing and body-popping while the crowd goes wild.
Honestly, it's just the sort of thing In Living Color could've done.
If any of you out there wish to add to Barry's rap song, please feel free. Let's try to stretch that motha' out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

America: It was nice while it lasted

Americans voted for change, and—oh, boy!—they are about to get a big-time dose of it.
The Republicans brought this on themselves though. After promising, under their Contract With America, to be the frugal party, government expanded ten-fold—or so it seems—under Bush. It didn't help that the Iraq War did not go exactly as planned and that financial meltdown occurred during their tenure.
John McCain didn't help matters by taking on Sarah Palin as his running mate. She was just too controversial, and too much of a whack-job, to present to Americans as their would-be Vice President. I said it before and now I'll say it again: McCain should have picked Mitt Romney as his veep. That would have been one hell of a ticket.
But I still can't believe that people could pick an obvious socialist for their President. That just blows my mind.
If Obama stacks the Supreme Court with even just two or three judges (should that many retire) during his administration, the U.S. will be mainly Spanish-speaking and Muslim by 2030. A Republican president in 2012 may try to reverse the damage done by Barack Obama, but there's nothing that can be done about a Supreme Court packed with left-wing judges who think that America isn't redistributionist enough.
Our only hope is that Joe Biden will reign Obama in somewhat, to instruct him that he can't go as far with his plan for a socialist utopia as he'd like. But I wouldn't bet on it.
In the meantime, the American flags in my home are all going to be hung upside-down and they'll stay that way for at least the next four years. Hey, if the Bush-bashing pinkos could do it, so can I. Two can play at that game.
Bush wasn't their president. Well, Obama sure as hell isn't mine. Touché, motherf'ers.
My heartfelt thanks goes out to the 36 percent of Bay Staters who voted for McCain. It's a comfort to know even that many people in the People's Republic have brains and aren't afraid to use them. And, of course, thanks to everyone across the country who voted for keeping America safe and secure.
At least it was nice having a country I recognized while it lasted.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This will not be job creation, just more government bureaucracy

Apparently, Barack Obama wants to create five million "green jobs" in a massive $150 billion government project called the "Apollo project." I don't have a problem with green jobs. But I do have a problem with $150 billion of public money being used toward this purpose. I especially have a problem with the concept of Obama creating jobs in this case.
This is yet another example of Obama's socialist naïveté, and is wrong on three levels.
Firstly, one man—even the President—does not create jobs without that being an expansion of government, and, hence, government power.
Secondly, it's the marketplace that creates jobs that benefit society, not the Government. One man may create jobs, but this man will be a business owner who hires staff and pays them with private money. When the marketplace dictates the job market, taxes have no need to rise.
Third, you do not need a massive environmental project. All Obama needs to do for a sound environmental policy is to tell packagers and manufacturers to stop using superfluous plastic packaging, and, if they don't, to ban polypropelene packaging. (Note, dear reader, that I have not said ban polypropelene as a material.) I can already hear some of my readers saying, "Ban? What? We don't ban things, it's not the American way!" But that would not cost the American taxpayer one dime, while at the same time cutting CO2 emissions and significantly reducing our solid waste output. It would also force these unscrupulous packagers and their clients—supermarkets, for instance—to devise much more environmentally friendly packaging. That is about as sound an environmental policy as I can think of.
But, alas, in the minds of Obama and most Democrats, an environmental policy is worthless and has no bite if it doesn't raise taxes and create thousands of pages of federal policy.
I wonder how much paper Obama's administration will use in order to print out job descriptions for "the Apollo project."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Further evidence that the BBC is clueless

The BBC just doesn't get it.
After 33-year-old dandy "comedian" Russell Brand and his guest on his BBC Radio 2 program, 47-year-old comic and TV show host Jonathan Ross, landed themselves in seriously hot water by leaving rude prank messages on 78-year-old actor Andrew Sachs' home answering machine—referred to as Manuelgate, given the fact that Sachs played the waiter Manuel in Fawlty Towers—the BBC saw fit to accept Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas' resignation instead.
Brand left three messages on Sachs' machine, taunting him about the fact that he'd had sex with his grand-daughter and suggesting that Sachs might kill himself as a result of this disclosure. Then, Ross joked that they should break into Sachs' house to delete the messages they had left, and Brand crassly suggested that he masturbate Sachs to cheer him up.
In any other instance, abusing an elderly man in such fasion would have led to a police investigation and caution. But guess what? Ross and Brand received no such punishment under the law. The police did investigate the incident, but nothing came of it. If Sachs had wanted to persue this, Brand and Ross might have received jail sentences of up to six months, but Sachs declined to do this, just wanting peace instead.
The BBC suspended both Brand and Ross after enraged listeners lodged 31,000 complaints against the organization. Just a day after his suspension, Brand resigned from the BBC and said he'll concentrate on his career elsewhere. Ross is so far content to sit out his suspension with an eye toward returning to his TV show.
The most galling aspect about Ross is that he earns £6 million a year of publicly-funded BBC money for his TV show. A year ago, Ross callously joked about the massive job losses at the BBC, boasting that he was "worth 1,000 BBC journalists." That's when I personally decided that I loathed Ross and would never watch his show again.
Greg Dyke, the former director-general of the BBC, asserts that the corporation will continue to lose public support if they insist on paying its presenters and other assorted "celebrities" such high and lavish wages. One can only hope that Dyke is correct.
Even though veteran television personality Terry Wogan predicts that this is the end of Ross, at least as far as his career at the BBC is concerned, it is hard to see how this has damaged him as much as Wogan stipulates. The market will dictate that Ross receives a £2 or £3 million salary at ITV or Channel 4 instead. (The best that can be said for this is that at least it will be private money paying Ross' undeserved wages.)
The BBC should have cut Ross lose, and that would have been the best form of damage control. Instead, the BBC only suspended him for three months while allowing Lesley Douglas to leave instead.
Douglas had transformed Radio 2 during her tenure there, making the station more hip and attractive to younger listeners, after years of losing out to Capital Radio and Virgin Radio. She had made a mistake by hiring Russell Brand, but she was aware that Brand was big among the Big Brother-worshipping, slack-jawed, fried chicken-eating yout's of this country and knew, therefore, that the sex-obsessed Brand would bring a lot of clout to the station with his own radio show. Douglas should never have hired that former heroin addict, but should she have paid the price for his ill-minded immaturity? Should she have shouldered all the guilt for Manuelgate instead? Douglas had never heard the tapes before they went out over the air. Being so high up, she couldn't be expected to edit and hear everything.
It was Jonathan Ross who need to be kicked out from the organization. But the BBC's failure to do the right thing, and its insistence on trying to save their precious middle-aged prima donna, shows just how extensively the moral rot has spread throughout the once-proud organization. Their obsession with trying to outdo the wastelands of ITV and Channel 4 are only too indicative of this.
The BBC likes to pretend that it listens closely to the concerns of the population which funds them, but that claim too is nothing but a sick prank.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

An ode to October

Dear reader, autumn—October in particular—encompasses a lot of feelings for me, all of them good. I love the smell, the look and the sound of leaves that litter the sidewalks and lawns. I love the crisp smell of the autumn air, the sort of smell you only get in late fall. As a kid, I loved the ability to dress in costume and collect candy. Even having a cold at that time of year could be a bit fun, because you had a great excuse to stay curled up in bed longer on chilly October mornings! 
Fall does herald the coming of the winter solstice. I am not fond of winter, especially winter in England when all it does is gust and rain. 
But if I approach autumn as its own unique, charming season, then I am very fond of it. 
And as for Hallowe'en? I love the whole spooky kitsch, the black cats and jack o'lanterns and such. I used to go to Salem, Massachusetts every October years ago when I lived in Boston, and I could walk every square foot of that city, shuffling through leaves while observing the "Witch City" really come into its own.
It's nice to explore old cathedral towns here in England during the autumn, and to sit in a pub by a crackling fire with a glass of autumn ale. Hallowe'en was never a big thing over on these shores, but the celebration of the harvest is a quintessentially British thing. And Hallowe'en gets more popular here with every passing year.
If I had my way, I'd make October last at least six weeks as opposed to the standard four. But at least it's got 31 days.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Comeback kings provide yet more magic

There they go again.
Down 3 games to 1 in the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox pulled a rabbit out of their hat to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-7. Boston was down 7-0 as late as the sixth inning. By winning Game 5 is such awesome fashion, the BoSox wrapped up the biggest postseason comeback since 1929.
What can you say about this Red Sox team? Words fail me. They are the team that just won't die. Just call them what they are: the Comeback Kings.
But I still get pessimistic. I remember hanging my head after Game 4 against Cleveland last year, thinking it was all over for us. And last night, going into the 7th inning, I had prematurely started rooting for the Phillies to win the World Series. No way am I rooting for a division rival, no matter how good for major league baseball it may be—especially not some pissant little team whose entire existence dates back only to 1998. Let Tampa suffer some more, I say! I admit, I have no love for the Rays; I loathe them as much as I do the Yankees. In fact, now that the Yankees are pretty much irrelevant, I loathe Tampa more. Eight years ago, Tampa Bay screwed with us, the pathetic upstart twerps, and have tried to screw with us ever since—and I will never forgive them for it.
They could call themselves the Tampa Bay We All Love Dragons And Think They're Wonderful Squad and I'd still loathe the bejeezus out of them.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that Tampa Bay could easily have dethroned us last night. Instead, they let this one slip through their fingers. Now they will pay for it. If 2004 and 2007, and even 1986 (when the Sox rebounded from a 3-1 deficit against the Angels), are any indication, they are in trouble. Josh Beckett and Jon Lester will be unhittable and we will see some real power from Dustin Pedroia, J.D. Drew and "Big Papi" Ortiz.
The Red Sox surprised us all again. Just magical.
If they can take care of business in Tampa for just two more games, I may not have to resort to rooting for Philly after all.

Friday, October 10, 2008

High School (Gay) Musical

Are my wife and myself the only people on the earth who are completely underwhelmed by High School Musical 3—or any of the High School Musical productions?
I recognize the fact that these films, and the resultant books, albums and stage shows, are good, clean fun for the 8-14 age group. Disney did a good job with all of these works, and they deserve to be commended for putting out a wholesome product for today's youth given the troubled moral times they're living in. Combined with Hannah Montana, the High School Musical productions could serve as a balance between the gangsta rap and Grand Theft Auto influences that they're all exposed to.
However, the point I'm getting at here is this: Are there any adults who are excited by HSM3? Do you regularly sing or hum any of the songs from any of the soundtracks? Does it make you nostalgic for high school all over again?
If so, why?
Frankly, I wouldn't see any of these films or stage shows, or even listen to the music, unless I got paid no less than £500 to do so. (OK, £250 to listen to the soundtracks, but only once!)
I mean, it's not as if I can't relate to stuff meant for younger generations. After all, this writer owns four Pocket Dragon Adventures DVDs. So, I'm not necessarily turning my head up at kiddie stuff.
Nevertheless—and I'm being brutally honest here—the first word that enters my head whenever I hear or read the words High School Musical is "gay." Fodder for 14-year-old girls (or 14-year-old twinks) who drool at the sight of Zach Efron, and nothing more.
Or is there some actual substance to this High School Musical phenomenon that I may be missing? As I've said, I acknowlege the wholesomeness of it. But I am still quite comfortable with the fact that I could go the rest of my life without hearing so much as one recorded note of any of the soundtracks or watching one split second of the movies unless given a powerfully compelling reason to do so.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Why does society accept segregationists?

I do my best to live by the rules that Martin Luther King dreamed of—of a color-blind society and judging people on merit only. I think that's a proper way to live one's life, no matter what race or ethnicity you are. I've always thought that if a black person is more qualified than a white person to have a job, then the black person should be the one who's hired and to hell with the "old boys" network. People misunderstand conservatives: it's merit that matters to us, not race. True racists are too dumb to really understand politics, so they judge people by the only system of classification they understand and allow no room for exceptions. To me, that is stupidity supreme.
So, isn't it odd how after decades of fighting for the social equality that they were due, blacks have become the new racists, the ones who now stupidly live their lives based on a person's skin color? One would think that the great majority of black people would have risen above that because they know, from long experience, how asinine and unjust that is. But, sadly, it seems black people who are willing to live by MLK's maxim are the exception and not the rule.
Even during the 1970s, which wasn't long after race riots plagued the country, you had a feeling of coming together. The emphasis was still on blacks making their mark in society and achieving the things that their ancestors had been denied. James Evans, the fictional father of Good Times, worked hard because he would never stoop to accepting hand-outs, and he seemed to exemplify the average black person of thirty years ago: one who has not forgotten the past but is willing to look toward the future while improving his present. Even the music seemed to flow together. Earth, Wind & Fire commanded the adoration of white audiences as well as black, and Al Green loved to occasionally perform with the all-white Chicago. What have you got these days? Gangsta rap vs. emo vs. metal (with bland corporate pop filling in all the blank spaces). A perfect musical example for a society that doesn't quite know where it stands.
I'm not suggesting that the '70s where all sweetness and light in terms of race relations. They were not. But there was a feeling of success and accomplishment and, above all, integration among blacks. Something good was starting to form.
So how and why did it turn so sour?
By 1995, we saw just how polarized blacks had become. It didn't matter to them whether or not O.J. Simpson was guilty of double murder. All that mattered was that Simpson was black and his victims were white. That was payback for things that white people had done 200 years previously, and that was all that mattered. Whites, meanwhile, secretly prayed for a not-guilty verdict too, just so massive race riots wouldn't ensue.
There is a concrete, and personal, reason for me to write about this, dear reader, in case you were wondering. My sister recently dated a black guy from her work named Kevin. I'd met him during the summer and I thought he was pretty cool: laid-back and friendly. So I had no problem with it. The dude seemed like a hard worker and, of course, that's all that mattered to me. When I first met Kevin, I didn't see "black guy"; I saw "American."
That's also how I thought he saw himself. I just may have been very wrong though.
At one point, my sister asked him, "Would you please accompany me to the Bon Jovi concert?" Kevin laughed and said, "Nope. No Bon Jovi for me. I'd have to hand in my brother card if I went to his concert."
OK, just a joke, right? But Kevin knew how much my sis adores Bon Jovi and he knew that she really wanted someone to go to the concert with her. So, joke that may have been, but the fact that he didn't go displayed a certain lack of commitment.
So it wasn't entirely a surprise when I recently learned that Kevin had just been using her. When I said that, if he wants to date white girls, then he's got to accept the fact that they just may like rock'n'roll, my sister replied:
"Well, I knew he wasn't entirely comfortable with that. He told me that he forbade his 22-year-old daughter [from a previous failed relationship] from ever going out with a white man."
So, this man who I accepted on the spot, whose color I didn't see, and who was dating my sister—who, like me, has English and Irish blood—turns out to be a segregationist. Believe me, if there's any way that you can get me to see color over fellow countryman, Kevin has found it.
And there you have it. Blacks are allowed to see color and act upon it, but God forbid a white person act likewise. In fact, according to our politically correct Lords Temporal, if you are white and you do not feel guilty about it and do not kiss every square inch of ground that a black person has just walked across, then you are scum. If you encounter a black person and do not immediately exclaim, "Hello there, fellow human being! What can I do you for? Is there anything you need? C'mon and give me a hug," then you might as well join the KKK or your local Neo-Nazi group.
Just take the 1995 movie "Nick of Time," for instance. Isn't it wonderful how Charles S. Dutton's character could so freely use phrases like "white ass" and "honky," and absolutely no-one raised a stink over it? Welcome to today, where white people can be insulted and racially abused and no-one thinks it's wrong or despicable behavior. A year or two ago, on the bus into work, a black guy called me a "cheap paddy." I told him to stick it up his ass because I really didn't care what he thought. But if I had called him a ditsoon in response? I'd have spent the night in a police cell and brought up on charges, I guarantee you.
The biggest worry is this: If black people have become so racist and segregationist, and if they keep having kids—which, let's face it, they do by the truckloads—then how is this problem ever going to disappear? Generation after generation of black youth are growing up being told to hate and distrust whitey, and never knowing the can-do spirit of their predecessors from just thirty to forty years ago. Is it solely a black problem, or is it a by-product of the entitlement culture? If we dismantle the latter, will this poor attitude among blacks dissipate?
I don't know. I just find it immensely sad that after decades of fighting segregation, blacks have decisively decided on segregation. And that apparently no-one, apart from the too-silent majority, thinks it is wrong.
Our "tolerant" society apparently tolerates segregation. How ironic!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My wife's punk-ass moment

I've got to hand it to Squirrel. I've taught her well. Or maybe it's just that 10 years of eventual osmosis has done the trick. I have no idea. But anyway, here's the story:
I used to wake up at 9 p.m. every working night, but now that I want to get to work even earlier, Squirrel insists that I get up at 8:30.
Now, if there's one thing you must understand about me, dear reader, it's this—I do not like waking up. The only times I can remember rising from bed in a reasonably bright and active mood are those rare and lucky times when I've slept over twelve consecutive hours.
But when I've had only a standard eight or nine hours, I'm grumpy as hell when getting up. Squirrel knows this as well as anyone else, though she still insists on dancing around the room and singing my name and calling me her "drag" while doing so, even though she knows damn well that this will surely not put me in any better frame of mind.
And so, as you can guess, I've had plenty of opportunity to sound off about this routine in the past, and I have done so. Sometimes I've been so blisteringly sarcastic about it—such as stiffly saluting her, military-style, when awakening at 8:30 or 9 on the dot—that Squirrel wouldn't even speak to me.
Well, to quote Britney Spears: Whoops, I did it again, last Tuesday night. Squirrel woke me up at 8:30—on the bloody split second, as always—and I had several things to do before joining her in the living room. What Squirrel wants is to "spend time with me" for at least an hour-and-a-half every night before I head off to work, which involves me parking my ass on the floor in front of the TV and either watching something on DVD that I've already seen 1,000 times before or watching some documentary-like show on the television which always seems to be narrated by the same guy and always directed in the same style or some painfully left-wing comedy current-events programme (British television, in a nutshell). She actually considers this "quality time." Personally, I'd rather she just cuddled up to me in bed and talked every night as she occasionally does, but no—we've got to worship the idiot box on most nights.
So, getting back to Tuesday night, I heard Squirrel calling me at several points after I rose from the bed chamber.
"Hon, where are you?"
"I'm on the toilet, hon!"
Two minutes later: "Honey? C'mon!"
"I'm just getting a fresh pair of running pants for my workout this morning! I'll be through in a few."
One minute after that: "Hon?! What are you doing now?!"
"I'm making a cup of tea so I can wake up. Will you just hold your horses, for fuck's sake?"
Eventually, at 8:39, I walked into the living room and announced, "OK, break out the streamers and the party hats, I have arrived!"
Squirrel didn't say a word about it. I thought she'd just shrugged it off. We had a normal evening—or as normal as things are ever likely to get in this particular household.
The next night, upon waking up, I stumbled into the kitchen and discovered a party hat, still in its plastic packaging sheath, on the linoleum floor. I really didn't bat an eye at it, because I'm used to Squirrel buying strange things. But then I walked into the living room and saw her sitting on the couch and wearing a party hat. I stopped in my tracks.
"Uh, hon, can you tell me what's up with the party hats?"
"Well, I wanted to break out the party hats to greet the arrival of my gorgeous husband. I'm sorry that I couldn't find any streamers."
I was gobsmacked. I just stood there for a few moments, open-mouthed. Then I started chuckling.
I wasn't angry. I was impressed. My wife had just beaten me at my own game. I was proud of her, even if begrudgingly.
She even had the nerve to ask me the next morning, "Shall I break out the party hats again tonight?"
"No," I said. "You've had your little punk-ass moment. Now let it rest."
When Squirrel and I celebrate our 10th anniversary in Gothenburg, Sweden this coming weekend, I will be thinking of that. I can't imagine her having played this joke on me years ago, but now she knows how to fight fire with fire. I've taught her only too well.
But I'm proud of my girl. I love her.  I'm glad to have her in my life.
Happy 10th, hon. I'll be by your side for another ten, and another ten after that, and so on for as long as we both shall live. And it will be a pleasure, because you mean more to me than I think you even realize.
I adore you, even if you do never give me even one second's grace come waking-up time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What is wrong with some people?

I had the opportunity to teach someone basic manners yesterday morning.
I walked down the train platform to get on my preferred carriage and I thought that there was no-one left to disembark. Then I saw him—a dishevelled looking man of about 45 clutching a timetable or a map, about to get off. So I did what any decent person would do: instead of pushing past him to get on the train, I retreated a few spaces and stood well out of his way.
But, alas, he did what most people seem to do these days when you hold a door open for them or provide them with any other small courtesy: he completely ignored it.
So I sardonically told him, "You're welcome!"
He shot me a quick but nasty glance and mumbled something that was probably along the lines of "Piss off" or "Go Get Fucked."
"What's that?" I said. He didn't answer. He glared at me again.
So I stood in the carriage doorway and glared at him, and my stare told him that I meant business. He looked at me for perhaps just a second or two longer and walked off, not saying a word. He just walked away.
That's one confrontation that I won, hands-down. I stared the bastard down. I'm not proud to admit this, but it made my day. I don't like to fight, hardly ever do, and will go some reasonable length to avoid it. But when I'm charged up, I don't pull any punches.
I said it all with my stare. That look of pure poison that I bore down on him with told him, "If you don't back the fuck off right now, you're gonna get a pummelling." I didn't expect him to apologize—the time for that had passed. I just wanted him to have no doubts as to how serious a challenge I considered this if he didn't stop glowering at me and that I would rise to the occasion if he didn't.
Was I in the wrong? Am I just too angry a person, looking for any excuse to have a go at someone? Or, was I right to call this guy out?
As I say, he looked at bit dishevelled or disoriented. He had been clutching what looked like a map of the train system. Should I have just forgiven him for what was undoubtedly a bad morning on his part?
But consider this, dear reader: I may be high-strung and have a considerable temper. But—but—I still say "please" and "thank you" to people, no matter how good or bad I'm feeling. I never ignore people when they do me a courtesy. In fact, that sort of thing helps cheer me up if I'm hot under the collar. If I'd had a rough morning, and someone had stood aside while waiting for me to exit the train, I'd have acknowledged it. I would have said thanks. Sure, I might have mumbled it, but I'd've said it all the same. And that's all I wanted. Just a mumble. A positive grunt. Something.
What I didn't expect was some piss-poor attitude that would suggest, "well, of course you got out of my way, you little peon. What do you want, a medal for it?"
And that's the sort of behavior that I am not going to stand for. I simply won't tolerate it.
I just hope the next time someone holds a door open for him or stands out of his way when they see him coming, he does the gentlemanly thing.
Because, as far as I'm concerned, there's a very fine line separating a gentleman from a blinding-and-effing rage.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Anti-war ignorance and disrespect, British-Style

 It seems to me that anti-war sentiment in this country has gotten completely out of bounds. First we had Royal Air Force personnel being abused in the streets for daring to wear their uniforms into town on errands. (To be fair to Gordon Brown, he tried to quell the backlash at the time.) Then the National Teachers Union wanted to bar all Army recruitment personnel from schools. Soon after that came the story of the soldier who was thrown off a train for not having his armed services discount pass. When the rifleman tried to explain that he shouldn't pay the full fare because he was entitled to a discount, the train conductor told him, "I don't know what you're complaining about. It's not as if you've taken a bullet or anything." That anyone, especially in a public service position, could disrespect a squaddie as the ticket inspector did reflects just how low civilians in the U.K. are capable of stooping.
The immaturity doesn't even end there. A couple of weeks ago, a hotel refused a room to a soldier who was injured in Afghanistan.
Corporal Tomos Stringer was on leave and visiting a friend in the English county of Surrey. He tried to sign in for a night's stay at the Metro Hotel, but was told that it was hotel policy to not accept any of the Armed Forces as guests.
Stringer's mother, understandably enraged by this impudence, said, "We've been to America, and their military get treated like heroes over there. I think it's terrible they [the UK Armed Forces] can't even wear their uniform with pride."
It wasn't always that way, however. During the later years of the Vietnam War, American soldiers returning to the States were treated horribly by most of the general public. They were spat at, called "baby killers," and no-one cared that homelessness and alcoholism were their only rewards for fighting for their country. This was, of course, when the baby boomers, known for their me-first mentality, were coming of age, a terrible time in our history.
Now then, the prevalent mood in Britain appears to be that everyone should be proud to be British, to stop mimicking American trends and behavior. So why are they all intent on copying American anti-war ignorance circa 1972?
It's quite amazing to watch people in this country waving flags around madly whenever England has a big soccer match, to honor their outdated and irrelevant royal family, or at events of no particular importance such as the airy-fairy classical concerts known as The Proms. But when it comes to the brave fighting men and women of the British Army, the flag-waving abruptly ceases.
It's bad enough our troops have to fight with such limited resources and in such violent situations prevailing in Afghanistan and Iraq, but to demoralize them on top of it with infantile disrespect is the very definition of selfish behavior. Poor dears, the sight of a squaddie is enough to put them off their tea and biscuits, so consumed with white colonial guilt as they are! Instead of fighting terrorism, why don't we lay down our guns, open our borders completely and celebrate diversity?
It's time the British public smartened up and realized that their soliders do not have a choice as to what war they fight, that it's time to stop taking their displeasure with the war out on their returning soldiers. They are only doing their job.
The British public's childish, insufferable attitude to the very people protecting their freedom and way of life (such as it is) is a disgrace and only too representative of a nation that has lost its way.