Thursday, July 27, 2006



I have a feeling I might regret this but there is bile in the Amstelladagain liver which no amount of single Islay malt can flush away.

Wasn't it Spitting Image who first accused Israel of attempting to rewrite the Old Testament and improve on it a bit with respect to the smiting? Whoever it was, they got it pretty much spot on.

So, where shall I start? Talking about the who, why and what of the birth of the state of Israel will do me little good here...although it might be worth reminding the Israelis that, were it not for their own acts of terrorism, it would not have come into being at all.

Should I deal with the facts on the ground? Shit, there aren't any. If truth is indeed the first casualty, then it was stretchered off on a drip to the field hospital before I was even born.

Sod it then, I'll add my own take on events and the hell with it. If you think me ill-informed, I can only say that of course I am. Along with the rest of the world.

So, as I see it, the biggest problem is that you have a whole shedload of people, the Palestinians, who were kicked orf their land and are;

1. almost totally without any form of what we would recognise as representation and independence. Israel is in almost complete control over their water supply in the West Bank and Gaza, for example.

2. because of their lack of a viable state and their diaspora, subject to being used as pawns in other States' political machinations...most other Arab states look down on the Palestinians and yet this does not stop their using them as an emotive issue at home to demonstrate Arab solidarity and divert attention from other, more potentially dangerous domestic issues.

Hamas and particularly, Hezbollah arose in an attempt to solve these problems. The latter runs schools and hospitals in southern Lebanon and provides an infrastructure which includes social services, student grants, help with medical expenses...all those things which no state can provide for them. Hearts and minds? Maybe, but for a poor Palestinian refugee family it's manna from heaven. Even now, who is it that is ensuring a supply of food and bottled water to those suffering as a result of Israel's bombardment? Who is it that funds rebuilding programmes after the dust has settled? You got it. Hezbollah.

There are all the elements of statehood in the above and yet this exists within other states outside of the control of the host government...another problem but I'll skip that for why is it that we are surprised when such a state, demonstrably existing to serve its constituency, decides it needs a military to protect it?

And, by God, did it need protection. Just who else was going to look after their interests? The US? Britain? Syria? Who was Israel going to sit up and take notice of? The UN? Israel does what it damn well pleases and always has done and is still the subject of more ignored UN resolutions than all other countries combined. Who else was going to respond to Israel's acts of aggression?

Were any other country in the world to have followed the same actions as Israel's over the years, the Marines would have been sent in ages ago. So why haven't they?

Is it the Jewish lobby in the US? The fear of being thought anti-Semitic? A post WWII sympathy? Is it that we just hate/fear the fucking arabs? The fact that Israel's got the 'bomb'? Probably all the above, I don't know.

What I do know is that, if one were to look for examples of rank hypocrisy anywhere in the world, the ones of stupendous, off-the-scale magnitude will be found here and I, for one, am heartily sick of it.

You commit acts of terrorism. We wage war.
You commit atrocities. We talk about collateral damage.
Your actions are wanton. We merely defend ourselves.
You fire one rocket. We drop 20 tons of ordnance.
You are non-people, refugees at best. We suffered a diaspora.
Your democratic government is illegitimate. We are exporting democracy.
You abduct and kidnap. We capture and arrest.
You are unlawful combatants. We are prisoners of war.
You can rot without trial in Guantanamo. We expect the Geneva convention.

Our state has the right to exist. Yours? Who gives a fuck?
We enter your territories with armour and uniforms and are therefore, within our rights to do so. You enter ours with explosive clothing and are therefore, not.
We have the right to protect ourselves. You can just get on your knees and assume the position.

And then you've got that fucking chimp, Georgie boy stating for the record on prime time Republican TV that he cannot in all conscience sanction stem cell research because of his regard for the sanctity of innocent life. 'Kinell.

And then all the political media machinery in the US oiling its cogs over the prospect of WWIII. Give me strength.

I realise that all this seems pretty one sided but hey, whaddaya know? Bush and Blair are hardly balancing the arguments, are they?

We're fucked. Absolutely and totally.

A patriarchal world, eh? I'm lovin' it.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


The referee didn't see it, the assistant referee didn't see it, so how can FIFA's insistence that video evidence is inadmissable stand up after tonight?

I am in no way condoning the action of Zinedine Zidane, although I would love to know just what Materazzi said to him; there just remains a suspicion that the fourth official (whose verdict has so far in these championships been restricted to timekeeping) only decided to radio his opinion to the referee after Zidane's marvellously aggressive headbutt was relayed to the entire audience via the video screens in place at the stadium. (Whoops, according to eye-witness reports, the replay was not shown in the stadium but you're not telling me that the official did not have access to TV monitor replays).

Now, were similar evidence to have been admissible during the rest of the championships, Italy would probably not have progressed beyond Australia, whose fortune at this World Cup was determined by a decidedly dodgy penalty decision which would not, under any reasonably fair video scrutiny have stood up to even the most cursory examination.

I'm agog at the possibilities for FIFA to explain away this one, but I'm sure they'll find a politically acceptable press release, one which absolves Materazzi, as a World Cup winner, and the referee, as a FIFA appointment, of any wrong doing whatsoever.

But I have this nagging suspicion that Materazzi was extremely well briefed. Any lip readers aware of Algerian insults?

I guess advertising agencies have known for some time that there is nothing like alliteration when it comes to embedding marketing slogans into a consumer's psyche (P-p-p-pick up a Penguin) but it would appear that in the quest for fantastically effective fricatives...the 'voiceless' and 'labio-dental' both sacrificed here for their assonance...consonantal consonance has begun to take precedence over any semantic considerations to the extent that a manufacturer of bath and shower gel will accept a marketing presentation containing the words 'Family Friendly Formula' without instantly dismissing it as mere babble from the sick bed.

Given that even the less sentient among the populace would probably have among their expectations of such a gel the assumption that it would not corrode their epidermal layer to the extent of necessitating a visit to their local NHS provider, one wonders just how this formula can demonstrate its acclaimed chumminess.

This aside, what really grates is the ubiquitous shorthand of 'family'. The use of the word by advertisers, politicians and apostrophe unaware signboard writers has rendered it absolutely meaningless or, more accurately, to a state of such vagueness that it can safely be used by such masters of the art of saying absolutely nothing while sounding deeply profound as huckstering political candidates in the sure and certain knowledge that heads will nod among the electorate at any mention of the phrase, 'family values'.

Family holiday, family meal, family fun, family there's an image for car, family shampoo and family bloody values; all intent on conjuring an image as unreal as that of a nostalgic reminiscence of the supposedly halcyon days of the 1950s where fratricide, incest, spousal abuse and child battering all, no doubt, took place without the confines of the family and idyllic Sunday afternoon picnics formed the focus of a fun family weekend.

Would it were just a laziness abroad in the land but I fear it is but a symptom of a deeper malaise; a desire, especially on the part of politicians and the media, to reduce even the most complicated issues to an easily remembered soundbite using enough emotive language to trigger an emotional response among the intended audience in an attempt to stifle any rational debate on the subject. The word 'family' has already been hijacked, 'democracy' would appear to be going the same way. We are indeed, a civilisation in decline.

All I can say is that any family containing Warren Terrism and Laura Norder is not one among which I would wish to spread my genes, that's for sure.

I must go now. I think my family pizza is just about done.

Friday, July 07, 2006


"...and we'll be covering that two minutes silence live, as it happens, here on CNN."

I'll probably be joining in. Words fail me.