Friday, 30 January 2009

Tow Yard Complaint

This is old, but pure pleasure.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Guilty Secrets

The Fink has a piece today about a New York journalist who has shat on Billy Joel from a great height. The Fink, who does not strike me as being avant garde about anything in life, is a BJ fan, and feels compelled to defend the short fat Long Island songster. The NY journo is a certain Ron Rosenbaum, so this could be a sort of Jewish professional writers' spat. Oy vey!
The bit where Rosenbaum tries to cover his guilt in buying BJ's greatest hits (for professional reasons, to help him write his piece) by adding a street-cred Gram Parsons covers disc he already owned is great stuff. The Fink reckons Ron is being too precious, snobbish and sensitive about being seen (by the till-girl!) buying Billy Joel.
But I think there is something in this. When I browse a big record store (only during sales), I also have brief moments of embarrassment when caught looking at the playlist on the back of a disc by a long-remembered 70s band. This sort of thing happens with Bob Seger, perhaps, or the Allman Brothers - to take two names from the top of my iTunes listing. (But obviously NOT with Aretha, The Band, or the great Barry White, to take three others).
Another angle: bands that go bad (or, as someone once memorably said about post-Gabriel Genesis 'started sucking commercial dick'). I want everyone to know that I own Tres Hombres by ZZ Top (1973), but none of the later 70s and 80s stuff. Where does one draw the line on Elton? (post-Captain Fantastic, I suggest).
Those who don't take music seriously - Abba fans seems an accurate collective description - couldn't give a stuff about any of this and haven't read this far. But the rest of you will have guilty secrets, and here is your chance to come clean and seek absolution.
Billy Joel? Yes, I listen to it when Mrs Idle plays it, and I enjoy the mid-70s stuff. Neil Diamond too.
My own guilty secret: Talk Talk. What's yours?

Saturday, 24 January 2009

"BBC Impartial" - Shock

Minister presses BBC on Gaza appeal
Last Updated: Saturday, 24 January 2009, 04:28 GMT- Search: Gaza appeal DEC

A Government minister has urged the BBC to "stand up" to the Israeli authorities and broadcast an appeal to raise emergency funds for Gaza.
Ben Bradshaw, himself a former BBC journalist, said that broadcasters' decision not to screen the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) was "inexplicable" and dismissed the Corporation's explanation for its position as "completely feeble".
BBC director general Mark Thompson on Friday turned down a request from International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander to reconsider his decision.
Mr Thompson said that he was concerned that broadcasting the appeal might compromise the BBC's impartiality. The BBC and other broadcasters have also expressed anxiety about whether any aid raised could be delivered effectively on the ground in Gaza, where thousands of people are in need of food, shelter and medicine following a three-week Israeli military offensive.

This is strange.

Anyone who has watched Al-beeb's coverage of Gaza this past month might consider that Thompson's defence: "might compromise the BBC's impartiality" is pretty risible. Jeremy Bowen could not have been more obvious in his partiality had he presented his reports in Arab headgear and followed every mention of the word 'Israel' by spitting on the ground.

The Government, meanwhile, has been tolerant of Israel's action, and has taken a lot of flak from the Left as a result. Perhaps this is a disciplined approach. Perhaps Miliband has said little because he is on the naughty step after his childishness, arrogance and stupidity in India. Perhaps they were waiting to take their lead from the Great One, Obama (who kept his head down over the whole thing, quite correctly). Anyway, they have pissed off their own people.

So this Disasters Emergency Committee appeal tiff provides the fig-leaf for the Government (it's humanitarian, innit?). But the BBC is suddenly sensitive of being seen as the Hamas Supporters' Club, so has turned down the disaster appeal, in a thoroughly illogical attempt to achieve balance. The Government, unable to criticise Israel in the way its instincts tell it to, have unleashed that deadly attack dog, Ben Dover-Bradshaw, to try to gain some credibility with the Left. He is trying to lead us to believe that the Beeb won't broadcast because of pressure from 'the Israeli authorities'. Is this likely? Wedgie Benn will be marching on Broadcasting House later today, with a full tobacco pouch and a large thermos.

Socialist fur flying. Love it.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Desperation of the Man Made Global Warming Moonies

As the great Ronnie used to say: there they go again. Inexplicably, the messiah Obama didn't come on strong enough for the new religionists in his inaugural address, so Susan Watts of Newsnight got her scissors and paste out, and put things right. What a dishonest and arrogant woman. Plus, she manages to patronise her pin-up Barrack.

I have no prejudicial reason to deny man-made climate change; I have as much interest in a healthy planet for my great-grandchildren as anyone else. But I can spot cant, hypocrisy and humbug when I see it, and the Al Gore lobby has a big red warning light flashing on it. It couldn't be more obvious if it was standing on a stepladder in no-man's land at night, wearing a luminous balaclava and chainsmoking.

H/T The excellent Englishman's Castle

Monday, 19 January 2009

So, Farewell Then

I had an account opened for me at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Union Street, Aberdeen when I left prep school for my public school. No longer would I clutch the few ten bob notes collected from relatives and godparents in my grubby hand and take them to the housemaster on day one of a new term; I had a chequebook (no need for a bank card) and by golly I was pleased with myself.

My bank manager was the same man who had looked after both parents for many years. He was a gentleman Aberdonian of the old school called Bill Munnoch and he wore a kilt every working day, I understood. He looked upon me and my brother with an avuncular kindliness that owed everything to his relationship with my parents, which was one of mutual respect and trust. Whether he articulated it, or whether it simply went without saying, there was no chance of him bouncing a cheque of mine, just as the idea that I would (deliberately) write cheques beyond my limit was unthinkable.

Bill Munnoch retired, known and respected by all Aberdeen, it seemed, and doubtless spent his retirement shooting wildfowl and playing golf at Banchory. My father muttered that things would never be the same again, which, given his mortage, crumbling house, unproductive farm, school fees and limited naval income, meant that he had not yet achieved the same level of support from Munnoch's replacement, who was a trousered chap without his predecessor's charm.

The Royal Bank, it seemed to me, was as solid as Grampian rock, and about as flashy. For the next twenty years, I took it for granted that its success was the result of centuries of caledonian sagacity. Only about ten years ago did it occur to me that a new breed of pushy Edinburgh professionals had usurped the auld grey men and had bet the farm, ten times over.

Well, we know the rest. Today's news and the disemboweling of the share price leaves one very short step to complete nationalisation, and the total loss of a reputation for financial acumen and conservative stewardship that had been built since 1727.

The misery will be felt by millions - many times more outside Scotland than within. And the blame can be fairly pinned to the board in general and Fred 'the shred' Goodwin in particular. He and they have been guilty of a degree of gross negligence and malpractice for which retrospective confiscation of assets seems to be the only adequate punishment. A greed for personal enrichment drove these bastards to do what they did and its loss is what they will most keenly regret.

Surcharge them.

Friday, 16 January 2009

It Always Pays to Travel First Class

We don't want those expensive loafers getting wet.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Different Strokes for Different Folks

The Tuscan has a story that I suppose most of you have seen. In short, pleasuring onesself on a long straight road, whilst filming it, is deemed dangerous driving, even by Australian standards.

I thought the judge was unnecessarily harsh on the poor, bored bastard. Given that she was going to bang him up for his drugs offences anyway, it was bad form to introduce the onanism angle.

The French, of course, take a different view of this, as this tale confirms:

A gendarme was strolling down the Champs-Élysées one balmy summer evening when he saw a man, partially obscured by a tree, apparently having a pee.

"Monsieur!" shouted the Frog plod, "défense de pisser ici. C'est interdit!"

"Je pisse pas" said the man over his shoulder, "je m'abuse"

"Pardon Monsieur!" said the gendarme hurriedly, "vive le sport!"

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Samuel Johnson's Dictum....

......."Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier".

Seldom truer than after reading the obituary of this man.

What a fellow. RIP.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Top Spin

Judy Wallman, a professional genealogy researcher from California , was doing some work on her own family tree. She discovered that both she and Congressman Harry Reid shared a common ancestor: Remus Reid, who was hanged for horse theft and train robbery in Montana in 1889. The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows in Montana territory. On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription:

'Remus Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889'

So Judy emailed Congressman Harry Reid for information about their great-great uncle. Harry Reid's staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy research:

'Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.'

Thursday, 8 January 2009

The New Politics...

... in which Obama's new Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, answers his phone to fellow Chicago politician, Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, under investigation for 'selling' the vacant Senate seat. It was released by US Attorney Fitzpatrick. It reads like a Tarantino script, but the internet appears to verify it as true and unedited.

Ain't they classy?

FBI File #9536B
Wiretap on line 312-XXX-XXXX -- November 10th, 2008 - 12:42 PM Eastern Time
Rush transcript:

RAHM EMANUEL: This is Rahm.
ROD BLAGOJEVICH: Hey Rahm, yeah it's Rod.
EMANUEL: Uh-huh. What's going on governor, I'm busy.
BLAGO: Well, it's about that Senate appointment...
EMANUEL: We already gave you the list of people we like.
BLAGO: Yeah, I been looking the list over. Interesting names. Good people. How's the transition going?
EMANUEL: It's going fine, governor. Are you calling to fucking tell me anything, or what, 'cause I--
BLAGO: No no, I'm just wondering if you have all your picks already made. I heard something about Daschle for HHS--
EMANUEL: I'm not gonna discuss ongoing deliberations, gov, you know that.
BLAGO: Hey, come on Rahm, let's not act like I'm a stranger here.
EMANUEL: Did I call you a stranger? If I thought you were a stranger, you think I'd be interrupting my important fucking business to take this goddam fucking phone call?
BLAGO: Hey you don't have to get curt with me, Rahm.
EMANUEL: This isn't me being curt, Gov, this is me being fucking busy. Now what did you call about?
BLAGO: I'm just feeling you out, seeing if Valerie [Jarret] still wants that Senate seat, just wondering what kind of priority that is for the President-Elect.
EMANUEL: Actually, it's not a priority. Valerie's had second thoughts about the job.
BLAGO: What, she doesn't want it anymore?
EMANUEL: She's having second thoughts. You want more details, you ask her.
BLAGO: She won't take my calls.
EMANUEL: Big fucking surprise.
BLAGO: What's that supposed to mean?
EMANUEL: Um, I don't know, what's it supposed to mean governor? A.) You're a fucking crook. B.) You're a fucking asshole. C.) All of the above.
BLAGO: I'm clean Rahm, you know this. You think that fucking Fitzgerald would being twiddling his fucking thumbs if he had shit to go on?
EMANUEL: I gotta go, Gov. You appoint who you want, we don't really give a shit.
BLAGO: What if I appoint Valerie, what if she takes it?
EMANUEL: What do you want me to say? We'd appreciate it, I'm not gonna fucking kiss your ring over it.
BLAGO: "Appreciate it"? Come on, this is a senate seat we're talking about. It's worth a fuck of a lot more than appreciation.
EMANUEL: You asked us for a list, we gave you a fucking list, you want to make your own list then make your own fucking list. [Raising voice] But if you're asking for anything else from me, or Barack, or Valerie, then you can fucking stop talking right now Rod.
BLAGO: Wait a sec there Rahm. Wait just a fucking minute. Who are you to talk to me like that? I fucking made you.
EMANUEL: You made me? You made me? Tell me you're fucking joking.
BLAGO: No no no, you listen to me shit-face. You see this list I got, the names motherfucking Obama fucking wants for the Senate. I just ripped it in two. How you like that? Oops, Harris just dropped it in the shredder. Harris?
HARRIS (muffled): Yes sir?
BLAGO: Did you just drop that list in the shredder?
[Whirring, shredder noise]
HARRIS (muffled): I did.
EMANUEL: Do you have me on fucking speakerphone?
BLAGO: It's in the shredder, Rahm. The list is bye bye.
EMANUEL: Hold on a sec -- you got me on fucking speakerphone? Who the fuck do you think I am?
BLAGO: Who are you Rahm? Who are you? You're shit, you hear me? Don't come back to Chicago Rahm, it's not your town any more.
EMANUEL: Pick up the phone Rod.
BLAGO: I'll put someone in the senate who will fucking fuck you. I might even put myself in there, how you like that Rahm? How you gonna explain that to fucking Barack, every time he's gotta call me up for my fucking vote. He'd have to take my calls then, wouldn't he?
EMANUEL: [Screaming] I said pick up the FUCKING phone!
BLAGO: [Picks up phone, speakerphone off] I got your attention now, didn't I?
EMANUEL: Shut the fuck up and listen to me for one second Rod. And I want you to listen carefully, because this is the last time I'm ever going to talk to you. You are fucking dead to me. You been fucking dead to Barack since '06, now you're dead to me. Know what that means? That means you're dead to my people in Chicago, Daley on down, and all these friends you think you have aren't gonna touch you with a ten foot fucking pole.
BLAGO: Oh now you're the fucking Godfather? Fuck you.
EMANUEL: No fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.
BLAGO: Fuck you!
EMANUEL: Listen up asshole. The shit's gonna hit the fan, maybe tomorrow, maybe next month, and when Fitz finally brings down the hammer it's gonna be my name that's going through your head. You won't know the hows or the fucking whys, but it's gonna have my fucking fingerprints all over it. Have a great life fatso.
BLAGO: Hey fuck--
EMANUEL: [Click.]
End of conversation
End transcript.

I Want One of Those

Fast forward though the first 90 seconds or so to get to the demonstration.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Don't Put Your Daughter on the Obituaries Page, Mrs Sheikh

Mark Steyn on the Gaza inflagration:

On Christmas Eve, Samuel Huntington died at his home at Martha's Vineyard. A decade and a half ago, in his most famous book "The Clash Of Civilizations," professor Huntington argued that Western elites' view of man as homo economicus was reductive and misleading – that cultural identity is a more profound behavioral indicator than lazy assumptions about the universal appeal of Western-style economic liberty and the benefits it brings.

Very few of us want to believe this thesis.

"The great majority of Palestinian people," Condi Rice, the secretary of state, said to commentator Cal Thomas a couple of years back, "just want a better life. This is an educated population. I mean, they have a kind of culture of education and a culture of civil society. I just don't believe mothers want their children to grow up to be suicide bombers. I think the mothers want their children to grow up to go to university. And if you can create the right conditions, that's what people are going to do."

Thomas asked a sharp follow-up: "Do you think this or do you know this?"

"Well, I think I know it," said Secretary Rice.

"You think you know it?"

"I think I know it."

I think she knows she doesn't know it. But in the modern world there is no diplomatic vocabulary for the kind of cultural fault line represented by the Israeli/Palestinian dispute, so even a smart thinker like Dr. Rice can only frame it as an issue of economic and educational opportunity. Of course, there are plenty of Palestinians like the ones the secretary of state described: you meet them living as doctors and lawyers in Los Angeles and Montreal and Geneva … but not, on the whole, in Gaza.

The whole piece here.