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Chase me, ladies, I'm in the cavalry
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
 
HOW TO BLOG
My friend Tony Pierce has a book out: How to Blog. You would be mad - literally insane- not to buy a copy.

Don't know what it's about; but as long as it isn't the moving tale of a single father bringing up his son in London (learning what words like love and family really mean), I'm not that bothered.

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Monday, November 29, 2004
 
MACHETE MAN ASKS ME FOR MONEY
So I'm walking down the street in Managua when a guy with a machete asks me for money. Lots of people walk around with machetes in Central America, even in the cities, and lots of people ask for money; but I've never had the things combined before. He is not a mugger, merely a mendicant with a fruit knife, so I ignore him, and cross to the fashionable side of the street.

Then I can't find the hotel so I stop to ask the way. Wait, they say, the owner is over there; we'll get him for you. This "owner" is an obvious criminal, very ugly, who tries to get me to go round the corner with him. I could have outwitted them by asking why, if he owned the hotel, could he not afford front teeth. Not as stupid as I look. In fact, very few people are as stupid as I look.

Just then a taxi pulls up, which I'd have been a c*** not to take. As we pull away I want to shout an insult out of the window, but am not sure if it is safe to do so. Had it been High Wycombe, where I know my way around, I would have done.

It's a question of knowing the terrain.

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THE LABOUR PARTY REPLIES
Anyway, so I got a reply from the Labour Party:
Thank you for contacting the Labour Party... the Labour Party values your comments... appreciate the time and trouble... take all comments extremely seriously...
Then these ruthless people try to sell me a credit card- "Your spending can help us build a better Britain."

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KILLER FACT!
Honduras was the original "banana republic" (O.Henry coined the phrase).

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Saturday, November 27, 2004
 
DE MINIMIS NON CURAT LEX*
A group of people calling themselves "the Labour Party" recently sent Chris Lightfoot a threatening email. So I sent them a threatening email:
TO: THE LABOUR PARTY, DEPARTMENT OF CREATIVE LITIGATION

Dear Toe Rags,
When you disrespected Lightfoot, you disrespected The Family. And no one disrespects The Family.

You will rue the day.

Yours sincerely,


Harry Hutton.
That'll put the wind up them. Let them know we mean business.

A big hats off to these nice people, who linked to Chris Lightfoot. They are now in The Family (if they want to be- it's up to them.)
Peter Black
Michael Brooke
Nick Barlow
Backward Dave
Jews sans frontiers
The current outlook
Mr Perfect
Blah Blah Flowers
Lenin's tomb- "When I hear that 'p-' word, I always remember the scene from the Rocky Horror Picture Show where Dr Frankenfurter says, of the bland all-American Brad, "You must be orfully pride of him, Janet!"
Blood and Treasure
Young Fogey
Bored Town
Honourable Friend
Meme Tank
Dead Men Left
Shot by both sides
http://proud-of-britain.blogspot.com
Manic Net Preacher
The Virtual Stoa
pas au-delà
An it harm none
Doctor Vee
Resolute Cynic
I hope I didn't miss anyone. By the way, let's not be mean about the children themselves. They are probably perfectly nice kids. It's hardly their fault if they have irresponsible parents who leave them in the custody of a gruesome bunch like the Labour Party.

*The law does not concern itself with trifles.

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Friday, November 26, 2004
 
I DEMAND TO BE SUED IN A BLAZE OF PUBLICITY
As you may know, the Labour Party are currently on one of their patriotism binges, and are inviting the citizens to tell them how much we love our country. Chris Lightfoot set up a parody site, which I invite you to Googlebomb.

But now they've sent him a sub-literate threatening email, accusing him of "copyright theft" [sic] for his use of the patriotic kiddies photo. If you scroll down a bit you can see that I, too, am infringing this copyright. In fact, what the hell, let´s infringe it some more.




No, I will not take it down. I demand to be sued in a blaze of publicity. I´m in Latin America and I´m as poor as a dingo, so I'm probably not a good target for litigation; but if they don't like it, let them pursue me in a Colombian Court of Justice (if they can find one).

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BLUNKETT
"Deport homeless people to Guantanamo Bay, and then fit them with electronic tags." From the David Blunkett policy maker (randomly generates David Blunkett policies.)

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TIPS FOR VISITING PRISONERS
Today I visited a Nicaraguan prison. Tip from me: when visiting prisoners, take food and cigarettes, or books; don't take a jigsaw puzzle- that only pisses them off.

Prisoners in Nicaragua get most of their stuff from their families -this is often the practice in Latin American jails- so I took some food and soap for the people who don't get any visitors. With the soap I was careful to buy only one brand. I didn't want a brawl erupting because one guy got "lemon zest" when he had been hoping for "a rich and creamy foam".

You've got to think about these things.

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PEOPLE ARE NOW IDIOTS; TV TO BLAME
Here are some exam papers from 1898, for 11-year-olds applying to King Edward's School in Birmingham. These days even Uxbridge professors would have trouble with some of the questions. Case in point: I saw Richard Dawkins* at Heathrow a few months ago. "Give some account of Egbert," I said. "What?" he replied.

Television has made morons of us all.

*An Uxbridge professor
ENGLISH GRAMMAR
1. Write out in your best handwriting:—

‘O Mary, go and call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
Across the sands o’ Dee.’
The western wind was wild and dank with foam,
And all alone went she.

The western tide crept up along the sand,
And o’er and o’er the sand,
And round and round the sand,
As far as eye could see.
The rolling mist came down and hid the land —
And never home came she.

2. Parse fully ‘And call the cattle home.’

3. Explain the meaning of o’ Dee, dank with foam, western tide, round and round the sand, the rolling mist.

4. Write out separately the simple sentences in the last two lines of the above passage and analyse them.

5. Write out what you consider to be the meaning of the above passage.

GEOGRAPHY
1. On the outline map provided, mark the position of Carlisle, Canterbury, Plymouth, Hull, Gloucester, Swansea, Southampton, Worcester, Leeds, Leicester and Norwich; Morecambe Bay, The Wash, Solent, Menai Straits and Lyme Bay; St Bees Head, The Naze, Lizard Point; the rivers Trent and Severn; Whernside, the North Downs, and Plinlimmon; and state on a separate paper what the towns named above are noted for.

2. Where are silver, platinum, tin, wool, wheat, palm oil, furs and cacao got from?

3. Name the conditions upon which the climate of a country depends, and explain the reason of any one of them.

4. Name the British possessions in America with the chief town in each. Which is the most important?

5. Where are Omdurman, Wai-Hei-Wai, Crete, Santiago, and West Key, and what are they noted for?

LATIN
1. Write in columns the nominative singular, genitive plural, gender, and meaning of:— operibus, principe, imperatori, genere, apro, nivem, vires, frondi, muri.

2. Give the comparative of noxius, acer, male, diu; the superlative of piger, humilis, fortiter, multum; the English and genitive sing. of solus, uter, quisque.

3. Write these phrases in a column and put opposite to each its Latin: he will go; he may wish; he had; he had been; he will be heard; and give in a column the English of fore, amatum, regendus, monetor.

4. Give in columns the perfect Indic. and active supine of ago, pono, dono, cedo, jungo, claudo.

Mention one example each of verbs followed by the nominative, the accusative, the genitive, the dative, the ablative.

5. Translate into Latin:—

1. The general’s little son was loved by the soldiers.
2. Let no bodies be buried within this city.
3. Ask Tullius who found the lions.
4. He said that the city had been taken, and, the war being finished, the forces would return.
6. Translate into English:—

Exceptus est imperatoris adventus incredibili honore atque amore: tum primum enim veniebat ab illo Aegypti bello. Nihil relinquebatur quod ad ornatum locorum omnium qua iturus erat excogitari posset.

ENGLISH HISTORY
1. What kings of England began to reign in the years 871, 1135, 1216, 1377, 1422, 1509, 1625, 1685, 1727, 1830?

2. Give some account of Egbert, William II, Richard III, Robert Blake, Lord Nelson.

3. State what you know of — Henry II’s quarrel with Becket, the taking of Calais by Edward III, the attempt to make Lady Jane Grey queen, the trial of the Seven bishops, the Gordon riots.

4. What important results followed — the raising of the siege of Orleans, the Gunpowder plot, the Scottish rebellion of 1639, the surrender at Yorktown, the battles of Bannockburn, Bosworth, Ethandune, La Hogue, Plassey, and Vittoria?

5. How are the following persons connected with English History,— Harold Hardrada, Saladin, James IV of Scotland, Philip II of Spain, Frederick the Elector Palatine?

ARITHMETIC
1. Multiply 642035 by 24506.

2. Add together £132 4s. 1d., £243 7s. 2d., £303 16s 2d., and £1.030 5s. 3d.; and divide the sum by 17. (Two answers to be given.)

3. Write out Length Measure, and reduce 217204 inches to miles, &c.

4. Find the G.C.M. of 13621 and 159848.

5. Find, by Practice, the cost of 537 things at £5 3s. 71/2d. each.

6. Subtract 37/16 from 51/4; multiply 63/4 by 5/36; divide 43/8 by 11/6; and find the value of 21/4 of 12/3 of 13/5.

7. Five horses and 28 sheep cost £126 14s., and 16 sheep cost £22 8s.; find the total cost of 2 horses and 10 sheep.

8. Subtract 3.25741 from 3.3; multiply 28.436 by 8.245; and divide .86655 by 26.5.

9. Simplify 183/4 – 22/3 ÷ 11/5 – 31/2 x 4/7.

10. Find the square root of 5.185,440,100.

11. Find the cost of papering the walls of a room 16ft long, 13ft 6in. wide, and 9ft high, with paper 11/2ft wide at 2s. 3d. a piece of 12yds in length.

12. A and B rent a number of fields between them for a year, the rent and other expenses amounting to £108 17s. 6d. A puts in 2 horses, 5 oxen and 10 sheep; and B puts in 4 horses, 1 ox, and 27 sheep. If a horse eats as much as 3 sheep and an ox as much as 2 sheep, how much should A and B each pay?
Did you know about Saladin and Frederick the Elector Palatine when you were 11? And where the f*** is Plinlimmon? I'm 32, and I still don't know that one.

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FUCK THE NORTH
Remember that Fuck the South thing from a couple of weeks ago? Well Fuck the North is coming soon. Looking forward to it, though FTS will be a hard act to follow. Given that FTN's side is victorious, the rage might not be so authentic; on the other hand, the more the American right keep winning, the more furious they seem to become.

Via Hemlock.

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Thursday, November 25, 2004
 
THIS SEPTIC ISLE
Are you proud of Britain? Do you love your country? The Labour Party want to know why.

Me, I'm just loaded with patriotism. Gonna think about it for a while, then fill in the form later today. So far I've got the Royal Navy and Mad Cow Disease. And Orwell's "old maids bicycling to Holy Communion in the morning mist", and getting pushed off their bicycles and mugged by teenage visigoths, ripped to the tits on alcopops. Other countries can only dream of such things.




Some multi-racial school children yesterday, enjoying this great land of ours.

Via John B. ("He conducts electricity! He talks to reptiles! He's the man!")

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"I HOPE JAPANESE PEOPLE WHO HATE BUSH IS NOT FOR FOLLOWING AMERICAN FASHION, BUT FOR THE POLITICAL REASON"
My Bolshevik friend Lenin just had his life saved by a policeman. Yeah, he thinks he's pretty smart with his "dialectics" and his "paradigms", yet here he is choking to death on a piece of bacon:
My eyes bulged out of the sockets, sweat suddenly couldn't get out of my body fast enough, and I casually pissed down the side of my leg.
I trust you have learned your lesson, comrade.

For further knee slaps, head over to Hung Bunny, who is bitching about London drivers:
Volvos are bought by people who don't care whether they mow down twenty gentiles, as long as little Bethany doesn't get whiplash when they swerve to avoid a puddle.
And I don't know if anyone is still reading that Japanese site I linked to a couple of weeks ago, but it really is funny. Now he's started on politics:
I have no intend to be proud, but we won at the Russian war in the past. We wan to China, Korean etc. but we could not win to America. We got atomic bomb twice and lost... Yoko Ono run away from Japan to America and fucked by White people and live in USA. She is the symbol of Japanese dream. If other country people see this situation, Jap seem ass hole... But don’t worry sir, some people also hate Bush. Fuck Bush! Fuck bush is popular trend in Japan now... I hope Japanese people who hate bush is not for following American fasion, but for the political reason.
This is my favourite one.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2004
 
KILLER FACT!
Mussolini was expelled from school for knifing one of his classmates. He went on to become a primary school teacher (Mussolini, not the classmate).

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THE SANDINISTAS
The Sandinistas are back. It didn't really make the English-language press, but there were local elections in Nicaragua a few days ago and they won nearly every major city in the country.

The Sandinistas: a good thing, a bad thing, or just one of those things? I throw it in for debate.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004
 
THAT'S PROGRESS
One of my old students just sent me some funny animal pictures. A single mouse click was all it took and this crap came beaming to me at the speed of light. Ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough, to keep a photo of a laughing dog from my inbox.

One is struck by the gulf between the technology in place to make the message possible, and the value of the message itself. I chose to interpret it as an ironic take on the communications revolution. Look, she is saying, here we are in the new millenium, able to send data across the oceans faster than a speeding whippet, yet we have nothing to say, so we send each other amusing pictures of kittens. Look at the kitten, Harry! It's in someone's pocket! Ha ha!

Or perhaps she felt that I am a simpleton who would welcome such kittens in his inbox, and that when I saw its dear little ears I would be happy. Though, in fact, I was unamused by the kitten.

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Monday, November 22, 2004
 
THE ONIONS ARE KNOWN
I'm going to be away from the intersurf for a couple of days. In the meantime, why not see what Brad Delong has to say? He seems to know his onions.

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Saturday, November 20, 2004
 
KILLER FACT!
More than half the world's countries have a smaller population than Hong Kong.

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Friday, November 19, 2004
 
MORONS REPRESENT MY CORE BUSINESS
A couple of people have had trouble posting comments, and one guy accused me of banning him. (One of the people was Bint, who seems to have gone mad and moved to Morocco.)

It might be the pop-up blocker on your computer, or a problem with Haloscan; either way, it is nothing to do with me. I never ban people. Even complete morons are welcome here- indeed, I regard them as my core business.

If you think something I have written is particularly idiotic, feel free to let me know. I won't ban you, or take it personally, or bear grudges, though I reserve the right to change your name to "Arsewipe". On this point, as indeed on all points, I am firm.

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Thursday, November 18, 2004
 
FIGHT CLUB
When we were voting on worst films a couple of days ago this reader mentioned Fight Club.

Jeebus, Fight Club; I'd forgotten all about that. If you haven't seen it, it is about a pair of pseudo-philosophers who don't like their jobs and are cloyed with soulless mass consumerism, etc. The obvious answer would be to learn to play the sitar, or join the local library; but their idea is to organize punch-ups in cellars. If you enjoy bare-knuckle fighting in basements, that is up to you, I have nothing to say. But where this film got on my nerves was in suggesting that it was all somehow a protest against "Swedish furniture".

To me, IKEA is a non-problem, and punching people in the teeth is a non-solution. People buy it to make their homes look nice, but if you do not like it, you are free to sit on the floor. That is what democracy means. There is certainly no need for violence, or for going around with a gloomy expression saying "Our lives are ending, one minute at a time."

How do I deal with existential ennui? Prank phone calls, mainly. Meanwhile, if you enjoy the sight of near-naked men rolling around on the floor sweating, with now and then a sickening thud, I recommend Brazilian Ultimate Fighting. All of the violence, but none of the crappy dialogue.


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Wednesday, November 17, 2004
 
KILLER FACT!
Costa Rica has 35,000 documented species of insect. Off the top of my head I can only name four of them -five, if you'll let me include the ant- but it is comforting to know that the other 34,996 are buzzing around out there, living their life of love and laughter.

Do you think that mosquitos fall in love? I like to think that they do. Isn't love wonderful?

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WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE ANTI-MALARIAL?
I'm travelling to the Mosquito Coast next week. Trying to work out which malaria drug to take. Which side-effects would you prefer: nausea and blurred vision (Chloroquine); or anxiety, hair loss and mood changes, with risk of psychosis (Mefloquine)? Also, with Mefloquine I won't be able to breast feed.

Reckon I'll go for the nausea and blurred vision. Too bad they don't have anything that will give me epilepsy, or a limp.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004
 
I DON'T LIKE PEOPLE, AND PEOPLE DON'T LIKE ME
"Got any election-related friendship-over stories?" asks Jim Blair. Well, no, not really, Jim. I didn't have any friends to begin with: I don't like people, and people don't like me.

But I was thinking about this, and I really cannot imagine anything more foolish than losing friends over something as trivial as an election in America. It would make as much sense to fall out because you have different theories over why Rome fell, or why the dinosaurs went extinct. People take politics way too seriously.

Seriously, what kind of prat would you have to be to go through life only having left-wing friends, or right-wing friends? I once had a French girlfriend who was not merely right-wing, but an actual Nazi (she voted for Le Pen). And you know what, it was fine. Other things being equal, I would have preferred her not to be a fascist, but, even so, this struck me as less important that the question of whether she was a real blonde. I certainly wasn't going to throw away a perfectly good French au pair girl merely because she was a right-wing extremist.

"They are building mosques in Normandy. In France. In France!", she would say, as if France were some kind of holy land. But this was never more than irritating. Had she been the sort of Nazi who carries out arson attacks on synagogues, I guess I might have found it a bit off-putting. It's a question of where one draws the line.

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KILLER FACT!
The 1911 Austro-Hungarian elections were contested by "The Party of Moderate Progress Within the Bounds of the Law," founded by Jaroslav Hašek (anarchist and dog-stealer; wrote The Good Soldier Schweik). He only got 20 votes, despite their stirring election song:
To arms, to arms,
Our aim is moderate progress...
I wouldn't recommend his stories, to be honest. He was paid by the word, so he tends to go on a bit.

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WORST FILM EVER- VOTE NOW!
TonyT is banging on about his favourite films. While he's doing that, let's have a another poll on Worst Film Ever. Everyone loves voting in those. I'll go first:
1. Moulin Rouge
2. GI Jane
3. Moulin Rouge
I still haven't published the results of the Mad Dog Arafat poll. That's not to say that I won't.

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Monday, November 15, 2004
 
BOYLE'S LAW OF BUSES
Bit a squeeze on the bus yesterday. Everyone who didn't have his face violently pressed against the windows was wrestling furiously not to fall out of the doors. This is because of Boyle's Law about pressure being inversely related to volume. I spent nearly the whole journey -a nightmare three hour ride through the jungle- standing up.

Before it left I waited to see if I could get a seat; otherwise I was going to hire a taxi, and pay whatever it took. I found a seat, and it was all going well, but the driver thought he could squeeze a few more stinky pissers on board, and kept making stops. Then a crone got on. For several minutes I ignored that crone, hoping that she would go away or that someone else would see her and do the gentlemanly thing. Fat chance. So in the end I gave her my seat, albeit with the utmost resentment and bad grace.

Had we not been jammed in like battery chickens I would have fallen on my arse several times, for the driver was the usual idiot, hurling around mountain bends as if he only had five minutes to live. After ten minutes of this I was sweating like a pig in a sauna, and soon I was aching all over. At times I only had one foot touching the floor. A child dropped a toy and I bent down to pick it up just as everyone was flung to one side, and for several moments my head was trapped. My neck was twisted like an owl's and the side of my face was squashed into the stomach of the surly peasant next to me, a stinking oaf in a vest.

It was most unpleasant.

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Sunday, November 14, 2004
 
SWEET WAIST OF AMERICA
Killer Facts about Central America:
-Costa Rica has no army.

-The average toll for using the Panama Canal is $48,000.

-The death toll for the Soccer War (El Salvador vs. Honduras) was approximately 2000.

-There are seven countries in Central America. Costa Rica is the richest (approx. $8200 per capita); Nicaragua is the poorest (approx. $2200 per capita).

-Guatemala is the most populous; Belize is the least populous. If you subtract the population of Belize from the population of Guatemala, and then multiply by the number of Police Academy movies (8 at the time of writing), you get 109,143,552- roughly the population of Mexico. (When they make Police Academy 9 these calculations will no longer be valid.)
If you know any more, please post them. Killer Facts about pirate attacks on the Spanish Main are particularly welcome.

*the title of this post from a Pablo Neruda poem.

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Friday, November 12, 2004
 
THE LAND OF THE FREAK, AND THE HOME OF THE DEPRAVED
Another piss-weak American sex scandal. I'm from the United Kingdom: do you expect me to be impressed? A few years ago one of our Conservative Members of Parliament died of auto-erotic asphyxiation, with an orange in his mouth. He was found naked, except for a pair of stockings, with electric flex around his neck, a bag over his head and, as I say, an orange in his mouth. For many of us in Britain, this is a typical Saturday afternoon.

None of your Senators or Congressmen can remotely compete with this sort of thing. We beat you every time.

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KILLER FACT!
Approximately 10% of Panama's GDP comes from the canal.

The percentage derived from money-laundering is uncertain, but considerable.

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ISRAEL / PALESTINE: THE PROBLEM OF TWO MEN IN ONE TROUSERS
Lotsa talk about the Palestinian / Israeli problem, now that Arafat has croaked. People always make out that it is complicated, when in fact a child could grasp it. The best explanation I have heard came from a Palestinian taxi driver: "How is two countries in one land?" he asked. "Is like two men in one trousers- how can it be, this?"

If you had to summarise the conflict in a phrase I doubt this could be improved upon. If I'm ever on the Nicky Campbell show to talk about the current crisis, whatever it is, this is the line I will take. "Well, you see, Nicky, what we are bascially dealing with here is a question of two men in one trousers..."

Towards the end of WW2 my grandfather was in Palestine with the British Army, where he acquired a strong distaste for all concerned. He thought the wars they kept having simply reflected their understandable dislike of each another.

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Thursday, November 11, 2004
 
ARAFAT POLL
Rather surreal comment from Ball Bag this morning, on the death of Arafat:
So what do we think? Is he howling in the depths of Hell, or knocking on the gates of Heaven with the skulls of Zionists? Let's have a poll! Just post either 'howling' or 'knocking', together with your age, sex and place of origin, then Harry can collect the data and publish a graph. It will give him something to do. I'll start -

knocking - 31, male, Northern Ireland.
It isn't what you would call a brilliant idea, but on the other hand it wouldn't be a bigger waste of time than anything else on this blog, so I don't see why not. In addition to Ball Bag's vote we have:
howling - 42, Super Hero, Australia
howling - 32, female, London
A majority for the howlings, so far, but it isn't over yet. Indeed, it has just begun. Please don't vote more than once, or it will balls up the data. This is important.

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FISKING THE POET KEATS
Speaking of the Darien (see previous post), it's in that Keats poem:
Then I felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific -- and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise --
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
Only it wasn't Cortez, fuckstick: it was Vasco Nunez de Balboa, as every schoolboy knows. Cortez was miles away- don't you know anything? This kind of thing really makes my blood boil.

Incidentally, why do people always refer to him as "the poet" Keats? Do they think we might confuse him with Mad Jack Keats, the butcher's boy?

UPDATE: I went out to get lunch and the first place I came to was Restaurante Boulevard Balbao. A small world, is it not? Had afternoon coffee in the MMMMMMM Toasty coffee shop, named after Don Hernan Xerez Leon de Toasty, surely the least impressive of the conquistadors.

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A MAN, A PLAN, A CANAL: PANAMA
Tomorrow I’m going to Panama City. I’m leaving my laptop in Bogota, but I’ll update this weblog if they have internets in that land of Panama.

Killer Fact!- until 1903 Panama was part of Colombia.

The security situation in Colombia has improved a lot recently. But the jungle up by the Panamanian border –the Darien Gap- is still a no-go area: you have to fly over it; you cannot go through it. Not only is it an appalling Pittsville swamp full of fevers and snakes, but the guerrillas and the paramilitaries are wrestling over it, since it has great strategic value: as well as the border it gives access to both coasts; just the ticket for smuggling drugs and arms. It is one of the most dangerous places on Earth, yet in 2000 a pair of plonkers from London and Kent went there on an orchid-collecting holiday, and got kidnapped.

They have written a book about it.

*The title of this post is a palindrome, by the way.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2004
 
MICK JAGGER, MERKAVA TANKS, PIPE BOMBS, etc.
On top of everyone else, it seems I have now offended Rolling Stones scholars. Apparently I misquoted Mick Jagger yesterday, and someone wrote in to bitch at me. Deeply sorry for any distress I caused.

Another reader wanted to know why someone threw a bomb into our garden. We never found out, I’m afraid, but I imagine it was some kind of anti-Tony Blair protest. Either that, or they were annoyed with the US and attacked a British target as a proxy. After it happened I got an email from one of the al-Rantisi family –you may remember Abel Aziz al-Rantisi, who recently had the misfortune to be blown up by a rocket- who told me it was "a private action" i.e. just kids messing about. In the camps you can buy home-made "pipe bombs". They're not much use against a Merkava tank -mostly they just blow your own hand off- but it was enough to smash our windows and do some slight damage to the coffee shop.

But not much, and no one was hurt. Hamas or Islamic Jihad would have done a more professional job. They would have blown us up so that we stayed blown up.

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I COULDN’T GIVE A HOOTING HOG ABOUT ANY OF THAT
The word "rant" is overused. People are always claiming to be ranting when mostly they are just grumbling. But this is a genuine example of the genre. (Found via Ang).

"But Harry, the Democrats are going to have to distance themselves from stuff like this, if they want to carry swing states." I don’t give a toss about any of that, about swing states or the Democrats. Certainly it’s offensive, but if you worry about offending people you’ll end up doing comedy about where do all the lost socks go. Christopher Hitchens said, "If everyone laughs, you’ve failed." And the supercilious fat sod was correct.

See also this by Tony Pierce. It was so good that I’ve added him to my blogroll. Not that standards on my blogroll are high, particularly.

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IT IS HIGH TIME MR ARAFAT MADE UP HIS MIND WHETHER HE IS GOING TO LIVE OR DIE
Fox News just said that Yasser Arafat was "procrastinating" about whether he is going to live or die, just as he has procrastinated in so many negotiations, etc. (I haven’t got it word for word, but that was the gist of it- she definitely said "procrastinating".)
"Well, I must say, Algernon, that I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd." (The Importance of Being Earnest)
I don't normally watch Fox News, by the way. The servants had it on.

UPDATE: Arafat has croaked. To stick with The Importance of Being Earnest: "[He is] quite dead. What a lesson for him! I trust he will profit by it... In Paris! I fear that hardly points to any very serious state of mind at the last."

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Tuesday, November 09, 2004
 
THE TIME I WORKED AS A FILM CENSOR IN THE GAZA STRIP
An email arrives from Jim Leitzel of Vice Squad: "Your point about not wanting to offend Islamic fundamentalists is a serious one -- as maybe you know, bloggers are being named as fatwa targets. The Aussies are a safer bet."

I met quite a few religious headbangers when I was in Gaza. I think I have a rough idea of how far you can go with them i.e. not very far. Even quite innocuous things in English textbooks used to set them off.

One morning my employer gave me a list of videos they had ordered from the UK, and asked me to check if anything in there would be unsuitable for Islamic countries. It was lucky I did check, as it turned out: one of the films was Life is Sweet, in which Jane Horrocks has chocolate spread licked from her quivering tits. With Palestinian audiences this would have gone down like a rat sandwich. Someone would have taken it home, father would have said, "Where did you get this pornography?" and next day our offices get burnt down by an angry horde. "Rape, murder, it’s just a kiss away," to quote the poet Mick Jagger.

So I only recommended nice films like Chariots of Fire, and Laurence of Arabia. After a while the power went to my head a bit, and I suppressed two films by the National Trust: Classic Cornwall and Classic Devon. I put a line through them and wrote "FILTH!" in the margin. Next to Richard Attenborough's Ghandi I put, "Not suitable. Subversive." I also banned Absolutely Fabulous because to me it is very far from hilarious.

Not long after, someone threw a bomb into our garden. But that was over an unrelated matter.

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JAPANESE SITE
Very funny. (Via The Shaky Kaiser)

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Monday, November 08, 2004
 
ALIENATE THE READERSHIP DRIVE, DAY 1
Still trying to work out how I can taunt my Antipodean readers. It's harder than you would think. In fact, it's quite frustrating, like being stuck on a crossword clue.

It really isn't easy to offend Australians. How to dent their enormous complacency? They are not a victim nation; no one is oppressing them, or has ever oppressed them; off the top of my head I can't think of a single challenge that they have faced, or difficulty that they have had to overcome, as they blundered their way to great riches; compared to almost everywhere their country is wealthy and problem-free. And civilized, give or take the inhabitants.

Life for them is a big fat strawberry. They have nothing to hold them back but their own congenital stupidity.


UPDATE: Just to be clear, this post wasn’t actually supposed to be offensive. I was trying to explain why winding them up is difficult, due to an absence of chips on shoulders. In Ireland you only have to refer to Derry as Londonderry, or vice versa, and everyone starts shaking with rage. I can’t think of anything one could say to Australians that would provoke more than a shrug.

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PABLO ESCOBAR
When I was in Medellin a few days ago I took some photos:



.

This is the house where they shot Pablo Escobar, front.





This is the back of the house. He came out of the top window, and tried to run across the roof.




.

This is his grave.






And this is Medellin. It's a very nice city.


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ALIENATE THE READERSHIP DRIVE
Still unable to believe the reaction to that map. This is supposed to be a site of interesting facts, and I thought that map was interesting. For the record, I don’t believe that Bush supporters want to re-introduce slavery, though I do believe –I have come to the conclusion- that many of them are amazingly touchy. A map, a column in The Guardian, the loutish hurling of pies- almost anything sets them off.

I didn’t mean to annoy anyone, but it occurs to me that, since I don’t have advertising on this site, it doesn’t really matter how many hypersensitive Americans I offend. So from today I am going on an all-out Alienate The Readership Drive. Over the next few months this site will have something to offend everybody. I'm going to try to abuse every single nation, religion and ethnic group- that's really something to shoot for, isn't it? Even groups that are easy-going and relatively difficult to wind up, such as Canadians, will be singled out and insulted.

What do you say to that, moose-fuckers?

I’m going to do a pro-Mussolini piece one of these days. That should piss off my left-wing readers nicely. But after that, what? Christians? Homosexuals? The Chinese? And can anyone think of an offensive word for Australians?

"So little done, so much to do." (Cecil Rhodes)


UPDATE: If you found my -Kevin Drum's- map offensive, read this by Roy Edroso. They'll be prizing your teeth from the carpet.

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Saturday, November 06, 2004
 
THE LEGACY OF THE DEAD GENERATIONS...
"The legacy of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare upon the brains of the living"- Karl Marx.



Map from Kevin Drum.

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KILLER FACT!
Per capita, the Greeks are the world's biggest smokers.

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Friday, November 05, 2004
 
MEDELLÍN
Can't write anything tonight. Their idea of hospitality in this country is to try to force you to drink half a litre of rum. Every time I go out I come back hog-whimpering drunk. I don't even like rum.

Medellín is a wonderful place. It doesn't deserve its appalling reputation. In Colombia it is known as "The City of Eternal Spring"; everywhere else it is known as The City of Violent Death. It's a pity, they're such nice people. Speaking of violent death, I took some photos of the house where they shot Pablo Escobar. I'll post them for you when I get back to Bogota. Saw some people in a restaurant tonight whom I thought looked like narcos, though they could just as easily have been bee-keepers. I'll be in Cali tomorrow, if anyone is interested.

Right, I'm going to call room service. See if they can't whistle me up a couple of floozies. I'll see you in the morning.

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Thursday, November 04, 2004
 
RATS' TITS
Four more years, then, of laughing boy. I'll try to keep myself sane by howling and throwing dust on my head.

In the meantime I have ordered a pair of glasses with googly eyes on springs. I think a second Bush administration will be easier to cope with if I own a pair of these. I had a pair when I was at university. One day I asked my girlfriend if she would mind wearing them in bed: she left me.


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Wednesday, November 03, 2004
 
ELECTION LATEST
Bush has won Montana. What a dick! I wouldn't be seen dead in Montana.

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DELICIOUS BEAN DRINK
Just decided I'm going to buy an electric coffee grinder. Grind the beans myself, make sure they are fresh, oh yeah.

Life for me is going to be pretty good whoever wins the election.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004
 
MEDELLIN
I’m travelling to Medellin today. I’ll give you my wise thoughts on the election, if any, when I arrive. Failing that, I’ll check in with a Killer Fact, maybe a Killer Fact about bees.

To paraphrase the poet Coolio, I’ll see you when I get there, if I ever get there...



The poet Coolio.

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THIS "ELECTION" IN OUR REVOLTED COLONIES IS ESSENTIALLY A FORM OF TREASON
Reader David C writes in to remind me that the fact that our revolted colonies are having an election at all is essentially a form of treason. The appropriate response is ignore it, and withdraw disdainfully to the country for a few days, until the whole debauched circus has moved on. I, of course, will not be recognising the new President, nor do I recognise the previous 42. God save the Queen! She would be a much better candidate than either of these chaff-heads.

I actually wouldn’t mind them having elections if they'd elect someone sensible from time to time. Fat chance.

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ELECTION 2004: A DRONING PAIN IN THE ARSE vs. A DANGEROUS BLOODY IDIOT
You know how excited you feel when you think the toothpaste is empty, then you discover –no, wait!- that there is just enough for one more squeeze? That is how pumped I feel at the prospect of a Kerry victory.

Having said that, I would sacrifice my left gonad not to have another four years of these lunatics. I see from the newspapers that the President still has a 48% approval rating. How can anyone, looking back at the past four years, possibly approve? You enjoyed it? You think he did well? One can make a good case, or at any rate a non-ridiculous case, that he would be less ruinous than his opponent. But to try and claim that he is any good per se is preposterous.

I really would hack that gonad off right now, if I thought it would do any good.


UPDATE: Christopher Hitchens, in conversation with Andrew Sullivan:
"...in the election that pitted him [Thomas Jefferson] against John Adams, the electorate had a choice between the president of the American Philosophical Society and the chairman of The American Society of Arts and Letters. It makes you weep, doesn't it, to think about that?"
Too bad we can’t dig them up.

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Monday, November 01, 2004
 
SECOND AMERICAN CIVIL WAR ONLY HOURS AWAY
According to the latest polls, a very large majority of American voters couldn’t give the most tinkering of tinkering damns what I think about their election or, indeed, what I think about anything else. Nevertheless, for what it’s worth, here is my prediction: A close race; the losing side alleges fraud; no one accepts the results; the country descends into chaos; world economy collapses; entire planet fucked and buggered.

This will all be happening a few hours from now. Sell shares. Buy gold. Stock up on tinned fruit. That’s Hutton’s advice.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum calculates the odds of this happening as 25%

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KILLER FACT!
Normblog Geras has a Killer Fact about Nobel Prize winners. According to The Economist's World in Figures, the United States comes top in every category, and the UK comes second, except for Literature, where France comes top. In the first part of the twentieth century Germany won the most prizes, and in the second half of the century a lot of the American winners had German accents. (When the Russians were ahead in the Space Race, Bob Hope said that their German scientists must be smarter than our German scientists.)

UPDATE: I was curious, so I tried to add up Nobel Prize winners up to 1933. It is difficult to be precise because some years the prizes are split, and it isn’t always obvious what nationality someone is. But this gives a rough idea:
Physics
Germany 11
United Kingdom 8
France 7
United States 3

(I have counted Einstein as a German).


Chemistry
Germany 14
United Kingdom 5
France 4
United States 2

Medicine
Germany 6
United Kingdom 6
France 5
United States 2
See also Nation Master.

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THAT LUNATIC FRIGHTENED THE PISS OUT OF ME
Bogota- I was in a taxi this evening, and the driver was making me suspicious by the way he kept taking wrong turns. He did it again, drove into a street without any light, then stopped and started doing a very leisurely U-turn. A deranged-looking individual appeared from somewhere and started hammering on the windows. It frightened the piss out of me. He tried to get me to wind down the window, then stuck his head through the driver’s window and started roaring and bellowing. At first I thought I was going to get kidnapped, but in fact he was just trying to get me to go into a brothel down the street. He’s going to have to work on his sales pitch- if I’d had a gun I would have shot him, scaring me like that. As we pulled away he stood in the middle of the road, howling at me.

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EMINEM, BIN LADEN, TIM BLAIR, etc.
Disturbed to see that Eminem and Bin Laden both have new videos out. Eminem is a form of toothache I had learned to live with, but Tim Blair had assured me that the notorious bearded person was a stiff:
If bin Laden is proved to be alive at this point, I’ll take out a year-long subscription to the Sydney Morning Herald [a left-wing newspaper of which Blair disapproves- Ed].
Now he has to go down to his newsagents –"a deal’s a deal"- and eat the bitter bread of affliction.* Sorry to hear that, Tim, old bean. Even sorrier that the weird-beard has risen from the dead to hatch plots against us. I myself have subscriptions to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Adelaide Advertiser and the Tasmanian Monthly Bugle, but I’d give it all up tomorrow to live in a world without terrorism.


*I don’t know what that means, but it sounds apt.

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