For services to bogling

re-Posted 31 December, 2015

Back again, and after a bout of hawking and spitting on a Chinese scale this morning while out walking with dogs under grim-looking skies in the brief interlude between Storm Frank and the next one – Freda? – I’ve managed to clear my lungs of some of their protective coating of grey phlegm brought on by three days in London.

I’ve been staying with my 90-year-old, chain-smoking mother; who, whenever I sneakily opened a window, would complain pointedly of feeling the cold, as she thinks my objection to inhaling secondhand Chesterfields day and night is just cissy; and now I can hopefully breathe again.

So, next my New Year’s resolution for 2016 is to take at least five minutes out, not ironically starting paragraphs with ‘So…’.

Actually, all resolutions to change anyone’s transatlantic verbal acquisitions are pretty futile. My campaign to get non-Americans to stop saying ‘re-search’ when they mean ‘research’ (with the Schwa) has been an abysmal failure; while supposed grownups continue to use ‘cool’ and ‘like’ indiscriminately, indeed ‘awesome’-ly, remindful of their glory days as teenage princelings and principessas at private prep schools in California.

I’ve even started to say things like ‘You guys’… especially when there are women present. I disgust myself sometimes.

Nor have I managed to convince anyone much during 2015 that refugees are not to be confused with useless, parasitic scum; a description I reserve for the so-called people who Comment in that vein from their prominent addresses in Sofaville.

Hey ho.

 

For services to bogling

But the exciting news is that I am vastly indebted to Her Majesty the Queen and the Conservative Party Treasury for my Knighthood, which I have deservedly obtained this New Year in exchange for a very reasonable contribution.

Yes, it is ‘Arise, Sir Bogler, KFC and Bucket’, Editor Egregious of The Boglington Post: champion of consumer capitalism, fun-raiser extraordinaire and general contributor to the intellectual life of both my Followers!

Alongside muh gudfriends, the diminutive Dame ‘Boobs’ Windsor – no relation to HMQ, attagirl; that tax-woman who hasn’t managed to collect any and has just resigned; ‘sex-shop queen’, Goldie whatsername, and Dame Barker of Wimbledon; plus many old school-chums, like the brilliant election-winning Aussie PR supremo Lynton Crosby; and, er,  Henry Bellingham MP (that’s enough obscure Tory backbenchers for one Post. Ed.), I can see no reason other than merely vindictive, crapulous, post-festive petulance for anyone to sneer at this year’s New Year’s Honours list.

Various so-called journalists have pig-ignorantly claimed that this thoughtful encomium to excellence trivialises what should be an occasion reserved for the genuinely Great and Good, rather than for the usual swarm of gong-hungry political, sporting and TV has-beens; and (of course) at least thirty formerly anonymous Tory donors, mainly longstanding members of White’s Club such as my newly ennobled self.

I beg to differ.

After all, who else counts as close friends of the Prime Minister, now that Sir Cliff and Klaxon, J. are no longer on the Christmas Card list? Would Citizen Corbyn have been elected to permanently scupper the Labour party’s chances of ever returning to power, without us and our humoresque three-quid donations? Would we not be overrun with cheating migrants, wearing white poppies to the Cenotaph and failing to mouth the national anthem? Would we continue to recognise the vital role the banking community plays in our fragile economic recovery, after years of Labour misrule?

I fear probably not.

And now it is time to see if I can book a table at a decent restaurant….

 

Rain, rain, go away

On the night of 8 June, 2012, our local river rose by what must have been about three meters, to overtop its levees. About a dozen houses across the road from me were flooded to a depth of at least a foot, after two days and nights of incessant rain. The owners were evacuated, loss-assessors descended and it was six months before they all had nice new kitchens and TV sets to go home to, just in time for Christmas.

It had never happened before, as far as anyone could remember, so most people presumed there had been a cock-up at the hydro-electric scheme further up the valley, a barrage from where the river level above the town is carefully regulated. The subsequent inquiry of course exonerated the power company, as the insurance companies would presumably otherwise have got together and sued them to death.

It has rained here every day for the past two months, the wettest (and warmest) November and December recorded in the past 100 years. Yet the river level has remained fairly constant, seldom even covering its shingle beaches; any managed overflow has easily been taken care of by the flood-pits excavated years ago upriver by sagacious and farsighted town burghers, and which even now in the wake of Storm Frank are not even half-full.

Not a single home here has flooded, unlike in the North-west, Yorkshire and Scotland; where, for weeks, TV news reporters have been sploshing around in their wellies, vying to find weeping householders and bankrupted traders to recount their tales of thrice-waterlogged woe, to the accompaniment of endlessly repeated shots of the same city streets unexpectedly turned to boiling torrents, and of those interesting men and women in high-vis. jackets and red plastic hats, towing old ladies in rubber dinghies off to rescue centres, who seem to emerge out of nowhere whenever disaster strikes.

Perhaps the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency should come and see how we do it in Boglington-on-Sea, now he is back tanned and refreshed from his holiday home in the Caribbean?

The bastard.

PS I was being ironic, but the poor chap has taken the b****** epithet to heart, and resigned. I feel a bit sorry for him. £100,000 a year is not a vast salary by modern standards, although he worked only a three-day week; and lo, on the fourth day it rained….

 

With a bang, not with a winter

Fabulous New Year’s fireworks, London guys. What, five, 10 million quidsworth? Good old Boris. We once had an Irish builder, we asked him, ‘could we turn this boxroom into a second bathroom?’ and I’ve never forgotten his reply: ‘If you’ve enough money, you can do anything you like.’

And Dubai? Masterstroke, setting fire to an entire 63-storey hotel. Upstaged all the rest! But a bit disconcerting to imagine you might have booked your wife and kids fatally into a giant Roman Candle for the holidays. What is the building made of, tallow? Were the sprinklers not working?

Anyway, no harm done. Happy New Year, possibly.

or, blwyddyn newydd dda, as they say in these parts. (There’s a New Year’s sale here on the letter ‘d’.)

  • ‘Sir’ Uncle Bogler

 

Rules of engagement

Whenever an inquiry is held into allegations of political or institutional malpractice, the media finds it incredibly hard to get anyone in authority to comment. ‘We must not prejudice the outcome of the inquiry’ is the usual line. ‘Let the police do their job.’

Strange then, how politicians and generals have been queuing up to get on TV and into the papers to pre-trash the investigation by the Iraq Historic Allegations team (iHAT) into complaints of over a thousand instances of torture and unlawful killing of Iraqi civilians by British military personnel in the wake of the invasion in 2003, following the unwise announcement that prosecutions may be brought.

Oh, yes. Here’s our old friend, Defence Secretary The Hon. Michael Fallon MP, again. Mr ‘Why was I not told I was screwing my expenses?’ has commented in the Daily Torygraph that British soldiers could be rendered incapable of carrying out their duties on the battlefield, for fear of ‘being hauled in front of the courts’ by ‘ambulance-chasing British law firms’. Nice use of pejorative language, Mike. Right up the back-alley of the internet Commentariat.

But we are not talking about what happens on the battlefield. Mr Fallon’s big lie, seemingly a speciality of his, ignores that the alleged abuses are said to have taken place against unarmed prisoners, civilians and militia suspects in captivity. Stirring this particular hornet’s nest will only serve to help swing public opinion further in favour of the Tory party’s campaign to get rid of the inconvenient Human Rights Act, endorsed by the European Court and the UN. Bunch of cissy foreigners.

Many of the 1,500 alleged victims, including the relatives of the 280 dead, might have welcomed the timely arrival of an ambulance. The inquiry is estimated to be costing £57 million, and is not expected to report before at least the end of 2019 – bearing in mind that with a general election in 2020 it seems fanciful to expect delivery even then. It’s likely to become a performance comparable with the long-running inquiry into the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Northern Ireland, when 14 unarmed demonstrators were shot dead by members of the Parachute Regiment.

For over 30 years the army had claimed the victims were all armed members of the IRA. Even after possibly the most exhaustive and expensive legal inquiry in history, the military and political establishment still complained of being ‘betrayed’ by the verdict. Is nothing able to shift this massive prejudice in support of ‘our heroes’, no matter what unholy messes they get themselves (and us) into?

Lord Saville’s report ran to 5,000-pages and resulted in one arrest, in 2015. His conclusion: there had been a breakdown of military discipline; something we are assured by Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, speaking on the Today programe, does not happen in the modern army. Or not very often: it is ‘inconceivable’, he said, that so many complaints should have arisen. They could not all be true.

Possibly the complainants are all liars. But should we not leave it to the investigators, led by a respected former senior police officer, to pose the questions, and to the courts subsequently to decide what is true and what isn’t, before issuing a prejudicial blanket denial?

Two inquiries have already accused the British military of systemic misconduct in specific cases, including that of the murder in custody of Iraqi hotel worker, father-of-two Baha Mousa, beaten to death by his interrogators. It is perfectly possible that this one will conclude that there are no further cases to answer. (While, of course, we are still awaiting the much-ridiculed Chilcott report on why we invaded Iraq so disastrously in the first place.) But if it doesn’t, might not the interests of justice be served? Or are our security services beyond justice? In which case, what are they for?

We should perhaps acknowledge the fact that frontline troops do not as a rule take part in prisoner interrogations in shithole dungeons behind the lines; so there is no suggestion, here or anywhere else, that they have not done, and do not continue to do where asked, a fantastic job; displaying skill, bravery and even selfless heroism beyond the best of most people’s ability.

There is nothing very brave or heroic, however, about other large men in uniform screaming at and manhandling hooded and shackled, sleep- deprived prisoners, as video footage has shown them doing. Even I could manage that, if I were so minded. And were the outcomes of interrogations not official secrets, we might question the success of such techniques at extracting any useful or timely intelligence.

It serves no one’s interests, least of all the interest of justice, to carelessly or dishonestly conflate the two spheres of activity, as Mr Fallon – and sometimes the media – are doing. BBC editors are guilty of extreme stupidity in that regard, overlaying a report of reaction to the iHAT investigation with pictures of frontline combat troops in action.

If we are going to have rules of war at all, or indeed any rules, we ought perhaps to remind ourselves that if we don’t follow them, we have no moral or legal case to make against the terrorists operating in our own countries.

 

World News: the crisis deepens

News arrives by cleft stick today that an expatriate Scottish mining engineer, Michael McFeat, has been arrested and is facing deportation from the feudal central Asian demesne of Kyrzgystan, after creating an international incident.

Mr McFeat unwisely facetweeted a photograph of a horsemeat sausage in a local shop, which he crudely compared to a horse’s penis. Unbeknown to him, the ‘chuchuk’ sausage is Kyrzgystan’s national dish.

According to the BBC report, insulting the national dish carries a possible five-year gaol sentence.

Lucky for him, in Saudi Arabia he might have suggested a pair of sheep’s eyes looked like testicles and been hanged.

Or is it hung?

I think I’ll just stay here. It’s hard to insult seaweed.

 

– UB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Peake of silliness?

“As the support structures fell away from the Soyuz rocket, there was tension among everyone who had been following Mr Peake’s amazing journey. Then the engines fired up and the rocket soared into Baikonur’s clear skies on a column of flame.”

  • BBC report, 15 December

Yes, the ‘first ever British man into space’.

We’ll ignore the British woman who did it 24 years ago. Dr Helen Sharman is mentioned in the report as having merely ‘visited’ the Mir space station, like a district nurse dropping in on an elderly patient for a cup of tea. She actually spent eight days in orbit, in far less luxurious circumstances. Several other Brits have been up before; one, Michael Foal, was half-American by birth, two took out US citizenship to work for NASA and the other two were ‘private individuals’, so they don’t count either.

This is former army test pilot Major Tim Peake and some Russian guy and a Yank, who has daringly been launched into the air on a column of flame to join three other crew orbiting aboard the International Space Station. Can’t be certain where they come from, foreigners probably.

Already, we’ve had a pretty solid week of interviews and TV documentaries about Major Peake and his amazing journey. After six months more of near-insane media gush, and some fireside careers chats with British schoolkids on the ground, he’s due to come down again, I make it sometime in May. Up, round a lot, down.

Now, look.

I don’t doubt that, given the number of launches that have failed – happily thus far with only inanimate cargo aboard – it takes some chutzpah to ride the Soyuz up to the ISS. Major Tim, as he’s being christened in the media with a brainless nod to the Bowie song character (an astronaut fatally stranded in space, not a great analogy), is doing something pretty risky. He knows that, his attractive wife and kids know that. We all know that, and wish him bon voyage.

But for him it’s a logical extension of his career as a pilot.  A daring profession, yes, that has involved presumably quite a lot of risk already. The point being, you learn to manage risk, not deliberately court danger. This hardware costs money. He’s been training with the European Space Agency six years, he didn’t just win the X-Factor. Massive technological resources are poured into ensuring the safety of every mission, as far as possible.

He’s a cool dude, no doubt, and I don’t mean to take anything away from him. But the only difference I can see that marks him out from the many others who’ve done a tour of duty aboard the ISS, or visited the Moon, as a ‘Boy’s Own Paper’ British hero of our times, perched astride a column of flame, is his nationality.

This Post is therefore not about him.

It’s about the infantile, flagwaving, superpatriotic, insular nonsense of the British media, and how it’s one more reason why I really don’t want to be trapped on this backward-looking island when we vote next year to get out of Europe and slam the prison gates shut on the 65-odd million brainwashed, dribbling introverts, media baboons and Twitter account holders, with our 600 channels of TV blither, blather, porn and other absolute tosh that make up its inhabitants and our increasingly banal concerns.

At least we can say, Tim Peake himself is defying the banality of British life and raising our sights somewhat by doing something a bit unusual. His place on the ISS has, however, only been made possible because in 2012, Britain finally paid a few £million to join the European Space Agency – after many years of worrying that it has the word ‘Europe’ hidden in the name.

Lots of people do risky things. Entering my late sixties, I have to cross the busy main road outside my little house every day, several times a day, on a blind bend where I can’t see what’s coming more than 30 yards either way. No-one respects the 30 mph limit. Luckily I still have razor-sharp reflexes. It’s statistically (note: I did say ‘statistically’) more risky crossing the road than sitting on top of a Roman candle containing God-knows how many pounds of liquid oxygen, but because it’s something many of us disposable oldies have to do every day, it doesn’t cut the mustard in the hero stakes. Getting hit by a Cathedral City Cheese 32-tonner late for its next delivery being so much less romantic than flaming-out in the azure skies over liberal Kazakhstan, nicht war?.

“…the evening sun cast a warm glow on the Soyuz rocket that was to take Tim Peake on his first flight into space. Tim looked to be in good spirits as he got into his white Sokol flight suit earlier in the day – smiling, giving the press the thumbs up…”

  • BBC report (I assume so. It might be a quote from ‘Biggles Rides a Column of Flame’.)

The British media are constantly looking for guys to slap that hard-to-wear ‘True Brit’ hero label on. It’s a product of the monstrous inferiority complex we’ve developed since we waved goodbye to the half of the world we once thought we owned. An empire that swivel-eyed demagogues like John Redwood, Liam Fox*, arch-Tory cunt Owen Patterson and political turncoat Douglas Carswell yearn to return to, away from those dastardly garlic-munchers who’ve stolen our precious sovereignty; away from all those hateful migrants, many of whom hail from… ah yes, one former British Mandate or other. They should know their place, then.

We conveniently ignore whose idea the EU and its dream of ‘ever-closer union’ – now a phrase translating in the power-hungry High Tory mindset simply as ‘treason’ – originally was.

Winston Spencer Churchill.

But he was half-American too, so he doesn’t count.

Nationalism, as I have bogld before, is almost as bad an idea as religion. Like God, borders really are all in the mind.

Ultimately, then, Major Tim is enjoying – as well as the adulation of the media and the admiration of Union flag-waving little proto-scientists down here – an unusual freedom we should envy. For the orbiting ISS, our man-made planetoid that has I’m told grown to the size of a soccer pitch, looks down on no borders; sees no nationalities or colors, no crazed religions and unbalanced ‘free trade’ agreements: only one frail blue world.

On board the ISS, from two hundred and forty miles up, amid an indiscriminately multinational crew, his being ‘British’ doesn’t matter a damn.

Lucky man.

For the rest of us, it is sometimes an intolerable burden.

*I suggest you read the Wikipedia entry on the good Dr Fox. That’s if you should happen to need an enema. Could any other supposedly educated human being in existence support more rotten causes?

 

Careful what you shout for

What are we to make of the bloke who went berserk with a knife at a London Underground station, shouting something about IS – and the now viral, non-Muslim white man recorded inexplicably shouting back: ‘You ain’t no Muslim, bruv!’ Bruv? Whatev.

The association between any kind of violent assault and mention of a banned terrorist organisation might not automatically mean the assailant has any actual connection with organised terrorism. He, or she, may just be a deranged individual. Such attacks on random members of the public by mentally disturbed persons sadly happen from time to time: mental health services being as lousy as they are. Often, the poor unfortunates believe their actions to be directly ordered by God. Immediately terrifying, yet not politically motivated.

However, any assault involving mention of some proscribed affiliation is now grounds for an automatic, specialised anti-terror police response, probably leading to serious charges of plotting or promoting terrorism. Are we really so terrorised as a nation, 64 million-strong, by random actions affecting a tiny number of victims, their individual assailants armed only with kitchen knives and self-motivated to attack? Is this really equivalent to planting bombs in crowded subway cars and hijacking airliners?

Well, the story has dropped out of the news, especially in the wake of the Paris outrage. So perhaps we need reminding that over in Jerusalem there have been a large number of similar incidents lately in which Palestinian protestors have launched random, lethal knife attacks on Israeli civilians in public places; usually at the cost of their own lives. Israeli police take few prisoners.

It appears to be a co-ordinated campaign; yet it has no structure.

As I have bogld elsewhere, it’s my totally uninformed and speculative belief that much of today’s global terrorism has behind it, the dispersed command of the former PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Discounting the long and tangled history of the Crusades; the overtaking of the corrupt Almoravid caliphate in Spain by the Almohads, puritanical forerunners of the Taliban;  the exploits of the Fi’dai – the feared 12th-century Ismaili terror cult of the ‘Assassins’ (based in Syria); all the later sectarian groups arising from bitter rifts and schisms in Islam; disregarding the rise of the criminal, so-called Islamic State, the almost 70-years-old Israel-Palestinian conflict is very probably still the main driver of Middle East-exported terrorism today.

It seems likely – and again, I speak from a platform of blissful ignorance, closeted out of the rain in my garden shed – that the organisers and movers of terrorist outrages designed to demoralise and destabilise their enemies have in Western countries at least largely exhausted the obvious avenues of aircraft and ship hijackings, bombings and gun attacks. Our intelligence-led defences have got too good; groups are infiltrated, plots foiled, the supply of weapons disrupted.

Crucially, communications intercepts and surveillance technologies are making life more difficult for the internet generation of terrorists. Thus a ‘DIY’ mentality seems to be catching on, under a general ordinance just to ‘do what you can, wherever and with whatever comes to hand – just don’t talk to us first’. The days of interceptable plots by networked terrorist cells are probably  over.

The massacre by a mixed-nationality married couple of fourteen people at a drop-in centre in San Bernardino made no sense in terms of targeting, and seemed to have no connection to any chain of command going back to Syria or Afghanistan; but produced evidence that the perpetrators were previously unsuspected, radicalised Islamists – sleepers – sympathetic to the aims of the IS. They were able to arm themselves heavily thanks to America’s non-existent gun laws, and suffered a satisfactory martyrdom at the hands of the local cops, ensuring a propaganda victory their cowardly act scarcely deserved.

Significantly, the woman – a Saudi national – had made attempts to contact IS, but her calls were ignored.

The fear must now be that IS and other groups are going off-line, dropping beneath the radar. Strategically, they can enjoy a good laugh watching the Western nations running around spending ever-more millions of public money and pissing everyone off monitoring our trivial, day-to-day conversations, our rancid blog posts; spying from on-high on our innocent, non-radicalised populations; while offering an untraceable blanket benediction to any fruitcake nutty enough to pull off some small but well-publicised stunt in an underground station before the fascinated gaze of the Smart personalised-media community, who will handle the public relations for them.

This tactic effectively turns us all into either police, terrorists or media. They are stealing our innocence. It’s almost impossible to counter; it is not even, in terms of casualties on a nationwide scale, that serious – other than for the immediate victims and their families. But (like the seemingly random attack on the beach at Sirte in Tunisia, in which 39 holidaymakers died) it can happen anywhere, to anyone, at any time. It will lead to more armed police on the streets and in public places; more surveillance, more fear, more forbidden holiday destinations and annoying flight delays, more late cancellations of public celebrations, more paranoia.

And it costs the real terrorists nothing. All they need do in the wake of Paris is make a phone call.

 

Paris Blues #2

I raised the topic of the attacks in Paris with our French teacher. She agreed we were grownup enough to discuss the issue. The following week she brought in a comprehension exercise consisting of excerpts from two published articles.

From which I drew the conclusion, yet again, that we have to stop this lazy and unhelpful media habit of viewing every nasty event in isolation. They’re not just random acts of ‘evil’ that come out of nowhere.

Paris has been the site of numerous outrages down the years; from bombings in the 1950s by disaffected rightwing French ex-servicemen and politicians covertly opposing Algerian independence, more than a dozen attacks on Turkish-owned businesses by ethnic Armenians, to the pro-Shah Iranian train-bombing campaign masterminded in the 1970s by the freelance Venezuelan terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez – aka Carlos the Jackal.

Not to mention the gruesome événements of 1793…. Excluding three-quarters of the aristocracy, then, over 1,000 people have been killed or injured in terrorist outrages in Paris since WW2.

Along with cultural complexity, liberty and freedom of thought (and some of the rudest waiters in the world), it seems, comes Nemesis in the form of those who would impose a new Dark Age in the West.

 

A monstrous blast of the Trump

Friday? What happened to Thursday? And my weekly Multi-Post?

I’ve been doing a spot of decorating this week and seem somehow to have lost track. Paint fumes, probably. Generally, ideas for articles come to me on my morning walk with Hunzi. It’s nearly five pm now, which might explain why there’s no theme. We didn’t get our morning walk.

I remember thinking yesterday that something was missing, something I was supposed to do. I went to bed feeling I hadn’t accomplished anything at all. I have two rival plans in mind: redecorate the living-room (I’ve not been decorating my own house, just helping with someone else’s), or edit that play I wrote thirty years ago, that everyone says is terrific but half an hour too long.

Instead I drank another bottle of wine and watched a fascinating documentary about the Mona Lisa. I recommend it. The documentary, not the wine: that was a bit thin and sour and I had to force myself to drink it and spent the night trumping sulfurously until I couldn’t bear being in the same room. Never drink a wine someone has brought to your party and left behind, however kind their intentions (it was estate-bottled and had some notional vintage).

Apparently, see, science has shown the real portrait of Mona Lisa was painted underneath the famous portrait in the Louvre, that is of someone else entirely.

I forget who.

I’m looking for something to act in next year, and the only script I’ve been offered thus far is awful: a turgid old Irish museum piece in blank verse. The director is obviously out of her mind: an intellectual conceit, surely no-one will pay to come to see it.

Unfortunately, one of my many personal problems is that, having been brought up by jobbing actors, I was trained on the potty never to say no to any offer of work, however unpromising. As a result, I’ve had lots of pretty grimy jobs, made silly career moves, worked for too many lying bastards and never made any money myself, whilst helping my employers get rich.

I think I might just say no to this one, to see how it feels. Bad, I expect. I hate letting people down, especially when they deserve it.

A monstrous blast of the Trump

Okay, so you can’t ignore him.

No, actually, you can.

And should.

But wait… What if?

The other Republican runners are reportedly beginning to whisper. Loudly. So dismayed have they been by Trump’s more far-out grotesqueries, they are beginning to wonder if this longtime friend of the Clintons might really be working for… the Dark Side?

They point to the coincidence that whenever they’re about to dish some good dirt on Hillary and the Democrats, Trump comes out with another outrageous remark or ludicrous policy initiative and off the media goes yapping in pursuit.

An interesting piece on the BBC website by Anthony Zurcher takes up the story.

Watch that space!

Pathetic wimps

The morning after the purulent, meatfaced money-sausage told a rally aboard a World War Two destroyer that he proposed to ban Muslims from entering the USA ‘until our national representatives can figure out what the hell is going on’, the BBC’s correspondent spoke to some supporters who had been there.

Most agreed with the policy. One man explained earnestly that he was frightened of being killed by terrorists.

Give or take a few Muslims, there are 320 million inhabitants of the USA, thinly spread like Marmite over three-and-a-half million square miles. Since 9/11, fourteen years ago, almost no-one in the USA has been killed by actual terrorists, largely because the odds are so heavily stacked against it. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, however, have been shot to death by their own, well-armed countrymen and/or the police. Dozens have been clumsily executed by the nation’s anachronistic justice system.

What is it in the American psyche that makes them so pathetically fearful of things they could understand if they really wanted to?

What the hell do they think is ‘going on’?

Even a cursory reading of the history of US foreign relations in the Middle East could be cross-referenced with some residual Puritan fellow-feeling for the stern morality of Salafist Islam and a few hours’ critical viewing of Eddie Murphy movies, against the global index of relative poverty, to explain why some violent lunatics on the other side of the world consider America to be the Great Satan.

Perhaps it’s catching.

A report today from a health watchdog here in the UK stimulated a press headline claiming that obesity in women is ‘as big a threat as terrorism’. No women at all having been killed by terrorists in the UK in the past year, we can therefore be fairly confident that guzzling a pound of chocolates and a large bucket of KFC every night poses no danger to women whatsoever.

Paris Blues

Delegates from 195 countries around the world have, it is reported this morning, finally agreed a watered-down draft agreement in Paris on what to do about the man-made element of global warming, that all now accept is causing climate change. (Except ‘Dave’ on Yahoo!)

Just in the nick of time, because it’s still bucketing down outside my window.

The mercifully short (30 pages) agreement largely consists of vague commitments by the ‘developed’ nations to bribe the ‘developing’ nations with large sums of cash, to get them to shut up about it.

Britain will of course claim to be the prime mover of the new paradigm. The insufferable crowing of Cameron will fail to mask the fact that his government has deliberately killed off our world-leading program to develop carbon capture and storage, and removed at a stroke, the subsidies that were both driving our renewables roll-out and helping people in substandard old housing to insulate their lofts.

Instead, we are to build – is it fifteen? – new gas-fired power stations, presumably to burn the as-yet hypothetical volumes of gas to be produced at some unspecified time in the future by fracking Blackpool.

The expected vote next year to leave the EU will also help George Osborne achieve greater competitiveness for British industry, as Britain will no longer be bound by the renewables obligation or indeed, any of its obligations to reduce carbon to 20% of today’s effusions by 2050.

We can spend the money instead on raising flood defences and paying unemployment benefits to the 30,000 people now working in the renewables industries.

Oh well, okay then…

“In his statement, Mr. Trump quoted a poll by the Center for Security Policy, whose president and founder, Frank Gaffney, has claimed that President Obama is aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, an extremist political movement born in Egypt, and that agents of the Muslim Brotherhood have infiltrated the U.S. government, the Republican Party and conservative political organizations”

  • New York Times ‘First Draft’ website*

Sometimes it’s hard to know what planet Americans are living on.

Trump’s poll ratings in Iowa, the first of the upcoming party caucuses, were on the slide when he came up with his doozy idea of banning the 100,000 people believed to be of Muslim extraction who visit the US every year; and of putting all resident Muslims on a database (a form of electronic internment). Immediately, his ratings firmed into a lead.

Although you might expect the New York Times to be somewhat biased, given the gruesome episode in which Trump mocked their reporter for being disabled, I can recommend this piece to any of the 500,000 Britons who have signed a petition agreeing with his immigration policy (as opposed to the 500,000 Britons who signed the other petition calling for him to be banned from entering Britain. He is certainly a divisive figure.)

*http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/12/07/donald-trump-calls-for-banning-muslims-from-entering-u-s/

Signifying nothing

And should Tyson Fury, our homegrown IBF World Heavyweight title winner, be removed from the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, for his absurd sexist and homophobic bollocks?

Well, I looked at the rest of the names on the list and thought, at least he’s got a personality, even though we may not like it much.

Another joke occurs…

Sorry, I’d intended to stop there but I thought of another joke the other day and needed somewhere to curate it.

I’ve latterly been playing the parts of two different pirates in a production of Treasure Island, so it’s a pirate joke, to be read with a pirate accent:

Long John (for it is he): “Arr, oi’ve fathered ‘undreds of children from ‘ere to Port o’ Spain!

(pause) Unfortunately, none of ’em could swim…”.

Hey guys, it’s a party!

What does IS/Daesh want for Christmas? What is the strategy?

Armageddon.

The master plan is clear: to open-up by any outrageous means, including self-immolation; to provoke and exploit, the historic faultlines between as many countries and religious sects as possible, to create the perfect conditions in which a new global war rapidly turning nuclear will burn away the old order and bring about their heavenly Caliphate.

To fulfil the ancient prophecy.

So, tonight they have succeeded in suckering another bellicose and all-fired-up, gung-ho Western parliament into the maelstrom that is Syria, against the sage advice of the 70 per cent of the population urging caution.

The veneered moonchild and ex-PR agency gopher, Cameron has played right into Daesh’s bloodstained hands. (Is there not something mystical about the number 7, the ‘7 terror plots’ Cameron keeps telling us have been foiled, the angelic Host of 70,000 fighters that will come to the aid of Britain’s streets? Just what arcane numerology does inform matters within his strangely glowing head?)

And here we are, off on another postcolonial adventure, reminding ourselves just how Great we used to be.

Russia, the USA, Britain, France, Germany, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAR,Turkey, Canada, Australia…. Sunnis, Shi’a, Alawites, Wahabbis, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Yazidis….

If you gave Nigella a list of ingredients to make an end-of-the-world plum pudding out of 65 countries and religions that all hate one another in different ways and for different reasons, after two thousand years of squabbling over minor points of doctrine, swathes of territory divided by endless peace-treaties into indefensible squares on the map, you couldn’t plan it better.

Just whisk them all up into the limited airspace of Syria, high above a blasted lunar landscape in which over a hundred different criminal, tribal, religious and sectarian militias (together with the remnants of the legitimate regime) are circling for power and ten million people have been displaced; arm them with excitingly expensive and techy new laser-guided ordnance, on a hair-trigger; stand back, and watch what happens.

How can so many politicians be so stupid, all at the same time?

Answer: put them into what they think is power. Light blue touchpaper. Stand well back (small house in West Wales for sale.)

I know, it’s still only Wednesday.

 

Elephant. Room.

Israel?

 

Almost apologetic

After the sound and fury of what was quite a measured debate on the Syria thing, despite the perverse outcome I have begun to feel a little queasy about some of my recent Posts.

For a start, this muh bogl has always been intended to be sharply satirical, leavened with humor: not vicious and despairing.

I have noticed however that Uncle Bogler has been becoming more and more troll-like in his comments about the tendency of various Tory cunts who have roused his ire, to piss on the bathroom floor.

Albeit he may be undergoing the male menopause, it paints the Boglington Post, frankly, in a similar light to those so-called party members who have been sending vicious and bullying emails to any and all of the 60-odd Labour MPs who supported Cameron and his motion to send our last remaining Spitfire into action in the lurid skies over Syria.

It’s not good.

And I’d like to stop, only a petition has arrived in my inbox thing from barrister Jan Doerfel and Change-org that has set the blood of the Boglington Post boiling and its teeth gnashing again.

Fucking Teresa May, is all we can say. The evil hag with the Imelda Marcos-sized shoe collection has done it again, ordering the deportation of a sick, virtually blind 92-year-old white South African woman who has been living here peacefully with her British daughter (a qualified carer) and her husband, who is also suffering from various debilitating medical conditions, because elderly non-EU dependants have no right to remain. She has no living relatives in South Africa, and nowhere to stay. The couple cannot return with her as they in turn have no right to remain in South Africa. The courts have said their hands are tied by our grossly unfair immigration laws, over which May presides with maximum cruelty.

This bestial, bullying, vicious, sneering, sexually incontinent Tory scumbag regime and its immigration rules operates in unspeakably horrible, headline-averse, vindictive ways, totally without morality or compassion; chasing the illiberal votes of internet trolls and UKIP dregs.

I cannot write what is in my heart, it is against the law.

Mrs May, for once do the right thing.

 

Petition fatigue

I’m actually getting tired of signing petitions.

Sign one, and three things happen.

One, you get an email thanking you for signing the petition. Now, please can you pass it on to all your imaginary friends and Likers on the Bookagram thing, with extra points, regardless of whether you think they’ll think you’re an annoying dickhead?

Two, you get an opportunity to send another email to your MP, that has been prewritten for you. I actually have more respect for him than that. The poor sod has a policy of writing back personally by snail-mail to petitioners. And he voted against the Syrian thing without me even having to threaten his children with cancer.

Three, you get a pointed request for a financial donation to support the cause. So, I gave a while ago, I’m a pensioner. Don’t push it.

And behind the petition you signed are always half a dozen more, of dubious relevance, clamouring for your rapidly waning interest.

I had a vague recollection of a film.

So I went online and found it. It’s called ‘The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer’. I first saw it back in the ’70s. Starring the late, great Peter Cook, it’s about a smooth operator whose totally untraceable personality enables him to rise, prophetically Blair-like, first through his firm and then in politics, to the top.

He does it by the simple tactic of asking everyone what they think, and agreeing with them: blitzing the voters with hundreds of referendums about every minor aspect of government policy. Until they get sick of being asked for their views and make him President, giving him carte blanche to just get on with it, whatever.

I cannot be responsible for the state of the entire world. You’re welcome to what I can give.

But be aware that the Powers that Be are soon going to stop taking any notice of these multiplying petitions.

Enough, already.

 

Last gasp

The miserable and damaging floods in Cumbria (Northwest England) this past week following an unprecedented rainfall of 14 inches in 48 hours served to highlight the debate on climate change just as world leaders and experts were assembled in Paris to try to thrash out some sort of global agreement to limit carbon emissions.

Few people I suspect know that there is a difference: weather is not the same as climate! Climate describes the overall tendency to wind direction and speed, day/night temperature and rainfall/sunshine hours at different times of year in different places. Weather is what we experience as a result, on a day to day basis. Global climate is thus an aggregate of many averages. We can safely say the Earth’s temperature range is from about minus 50 to plus 50 Celsius; windspeeds vary from zero to 200 mph; rainfall can be from one inch in 300 years in the Atacama region of Peru, to 14 inches in 48 hours on the Cumbrian fells  in December, once in however many years…

What was predicted of a planet slowly warming as a result of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is that the process will not be linear but that extremes of weather will increase either side of the average; and that is precisely what we are seeing. 2015 was the warmest year globally ever recorded, and follows on from ten of the warmest years ever recorded, that have occurred during the past 20 years. Glaciers are melting at an unprecedented rate; coral reefs being eaten away by carbonated water. But that does not mean, as internet baboons  continue to drivel, that it should therefore never snow again anywhere.

What is so peculiar about human responses to climate change is how even those who accept the principle of global warming seem to be constantly in a state of denial about the actual evidence.

Every news report of a major event such as the Cumbrian floods seems to focus entirely on that singular local event. Experts are invariably quizzed on whether it proves that there is climate change, and every expert always says, well, no, obviously it fits within the expected pattern of warming but by itself it proves nothing, because extreme weather events happen, and they always fall within the normal range of extremes – albeit at the outer limits – because the extremes define the average!

I have yet to hear a single expert point to the annual increase in extreme weather events around the globe as an interconnected phenomenon; other than occasionally in relation to predictions such as that made earlier this year of an unusually strong ‘El Niño’ effect; from which we need not react in surprise whenever something appears to ‘go wrong with our weather’. The ‘El Niño’ and ‘La Niña’ effects relate to warm currents in the central Pacific region, that come and go according to some as-yet not fully understood cycle – which appears to be speeding up.

Of course, if you warm the oceans you’re going to get more transpiration and hence, more rainfall; and greater energy in the atmosphere generating stronger cyclonic winds. And the oceans are warming – the North Pacific this year by two degrees above average. The sea is absorbing the warming of the atmosphere faster than the land. But the sea has more influence on weather than the land does!

A cursory review of weather events over the past year suggests they are indeed becoming much more chaotic. The week before Carlisle, a vast inundation followed unprecedented rainfall in southern India around the city of Chennai, with several hundred deaths. The month before, much of South Carolina in the USA was under record depths of floodwater. The Philippines, Vietnam and south-east China have been hit this autumn by two of the most active cyclones ever recorded. The midwest of the USA is experiencing tornadoes of unprecedented size and ferocity almost on a year-round basis. Dustbowl conditions are returning: Denver was blanketed by an enormous duststorm three weeks ago; Sydney has been similarly afflicted.

And so on, and on. It’s all ‘normal’, until you look at the number of events, the significance of their locations at the same latitudes, and their increasing severity.

So we tend to ignore what is happening beyond our own backyard; and we tend also to forget what happened last year, and the year before. Several people I have spoken to recently look mildly surprised when I remind them that between December 2013 and February 2014, the west and southwest coastline of Britain (let’s not forget Ireland, which the UK weather pundits always do) where I live was battered by some seven major Atlantic depressions, including the infamous ‘weather bomb’ that hit Scotland with 50-foot waves, resulting in extreme coastal erosion, infrastructure damage and inland floods. (In fact, the north and west of Scotland has had the most appalling run of bad weather over the past three years.) This same pattern has been repeated over the past three months in 2015/16, with windspeeds in excess of 100 mph.

But Atlantic depressions are the winter ‘normal’ here on the northwest edge of Europe. So we only notice them when they are extreme, and the number of extreme depressions is increasing, and we’re getting used to it, and we don’t notice them. Trees don’t get blown over much now, or chimneys, but that’s because the weaker ones have already gone.

Another observation I have mentioned before, as a gardener, I have tried to explain to uncomprehending friends that this year, the sheer volume of seasonal biomass – tree cover, undergrowth – has been more profuse than I have ever seen it before. I felt somewhat vindicated by an official report, I forget from whom, that says global biomass has increased by 11 per cent since some not too distant point in time. And the Cistus in my front garden is in flower again. Ominously, because increasing biomass is a symptom of increasing carbon in the atmosphere.

Of course there have been extreme events in the past. I was four when two thousand people in southeast England and Holland drowned in a massive tidal surge pushed down the Channel by hurricane-force winds. Let’s not forget, that same year (1953) up to 12 thousand people died from respiratory disease brought on by a sulphur dioxide smog that blanketed London for five days. Smogs, such as that which has covered Indonesia for months now with smoke from illegal forest clearances, or Beijing and New Delhi currently with poisonous traffic fumes ten times the WHO ‘safe’ limit, are of course man-made, but result principally from extreme atmospheric conditions trapping foul air over heavily populated areas.

There is nothing to say that extreme weather events at opposite ends of the spectral average cannot happen at any time; or will become less severe as the world warms.

Looking further back, in 1703 there was an Atlantic hurricane that raged for a week: 12 thousand people died on the south coast of the UK and in northwest France. In 1605 a storm surge drowned thousands around the Bristol Channel and permanently inundated Swansea Bay. We’ve got much better at surviving these events: better prediction, better communications, stronger structures. In 2013, Typhoon Hayan killed seven thousand people in the Philippines: a year later, the most powerful storm believed to have been recorded anywhere, Typhoon Hagupit, killed only a few dozen. A lesson had been learned.

Sadly, lessons are not being learned in Britain. It was purely chance – or the southward extent of the jetstream –  that Storm Desmond arrived in the North-west, but that’s how it goes. It could have hit anywhere along the coastline. A year ago it was Somerset. This week’s ‘once in 250 years’ floods in Cumbria are happening for the second time since 2005. Building ever-higher walls is only part of the solution. Better river management is the best strategy: re-forestation of the uplands, widening, dredging, re-landscaping with diversionary sluices and flood-pans, even the creation of hydro-power schemes could all play their part, along with some joined-up thinking between developers and the planning authorities.

All these measures were adopted back in the C19th by our local town planners; the worst flooding anyone can remember on our river happened three years ago, in June 2012 – but only as a result (apparently – an internal inquiry exonerated the power company, as might be expected, given the insured costs) of human error at the upstream barrage. The foot or so of water that ‘inundated’ the few parts of the town that had been unwisely developed in the 1970s on the flood-plain left a dozen families temporarily homeless and B&Q’s newly opened DIY store out of business for four months: no-one thought to close the doors!

And meanwhile, it’s been a record warm and windy November-into-December here, day and night temperatures still in double-figures, while ‘the rain it raineth every day’…

Clearly, the weather was just as lousy in Shakespeare’s time.