Monday, December 31, 2007

Full frontal lobotomy

Just when you think The Guardian cannot possibly sink any deeper into self-parody, it does. Tanya Gold went undercover speed dating to find out what men are looking for in a woman:

As a lawyer, I walked into a Soho bar. My first date appeared. I smiled at him, and said: "I am a human rights lawyer (grin)." "I work 60 hours a week (grin)." And watched him shrivel up. "I'm an engineer," he said (no grin). And then he was silent, so I told him I was reading Heidegger. He stared at me as if I had told him that I boil men's heads.
Or bunny rabbits? Definitely rabbits.

Investigative journalism doesn't get much better than this. Not in The Guardian, at any rate.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

It's a man's world

Or so we keep being told:

At first, this was a fifty-something career gal I started to feel some respect for. She said she'd been in the investment business since leaving University and had started her own practice twenty-years ago. Her offices were nice and fancy, her desk big and oaky, she owned and ran the business on her own - no rich hubby in the background funding it; I don't think she was married anyway, or at least she had no wedding ring on - and the receptionist was constantly answering client's telephone calls whilst I waited for my interview. She seemed to know her stuff and evidently made a lot of money for herself and her clients.
Eternal Bachelor had an interview with the Patriarchy.

SFTW: Everyday I Write the Book

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What the Holy F...?

Trawling through a backlog of unread news feeds, I have just come across the Christmas homily on the importance of the family, from last Sunday's Telegraph. It comes from Vincent Nichols, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, who is particularly concerned about proposals in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill to abandon the requirement to consider the need for a father in fertility treatment.

So far, so good. But then he goes on to expound the importance of fatherhood generally, adding this:

No one can have listened to the pleadings of movements like "Fathers Direct" without recognising that underneath their anger at family courts lies a more fundamental truth: a man is changed for ever once he becomes a father, and that fatherhood calls out for fulfilment in daily action.
No, no, NO, Vinnie! Fathers Direct is not a movement, it is a government-sponsored poodle, whose primary objective is to get fathers to change more nappies so that women can go out to work.

Or perhaps you knew that already? Perhaps it just stuck in your craw to mention the name of a legitimate interest group, such as Fathers 4 Justice or Families Need Fathers?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Shining

This time last year I was holed up on my own for a week with only a bottle of Jack Daniels and a copy of The Shining for company.

Not a wise move. Stanley Kubrick's horror masterpiece may well be one of the finest cinematic experiences of all time (ideally viewed alongside 2001: A Space Odyssey), but watching it in a loop when you are already half-crazed with grief over the loss of your child is just a recipe for disaster.

And so it was; but rather than dwell on that, I invite you instead to enjoy this rather excellent spoof trailer:

Blair, the Pope, and a young Polish plumber

One of the rising stars in the blogging firmament this year has been Stanislav, the young Polish plumber whose insights have enriched the comments section at Guido Fawkes immeasurably.

This is what he has to say on the subject of the Pope and Blair's conversion:

The head of the Roman Catholic church which our Tony has just joined is a bully, a brute, a liar a criminal and a fucking disgusting protector of those who commit the foulest, most aberrant, most delinquent, most unfuckingforgiveable offences against the most vulnerable. Bend over, sonny, I have a present here from you from God. Bless you my child and your tight little arse.

The Holy Smirking Father is an utter cunt who needs a quick rub down with a housebrick and relocating out of his jeweled nonces' palace and down a mineshaft.

Plumber only mention all this because someone above thought Blair's angling for forgiveness and maybe even beatification unnewsworty. In a way Blair has come out. Aligning himself with yet another international criminal he confirms once again his venality; his addiction to showy, kitsch self-publicity, his Me-First indifference to the suffering of others and his complete disregard for the conventions of decency, let alone the laws which govern most of us. Bless me, Father, for I would never sin. I would never do anything wrong. Ask Mr Campbell.

Don't believe any shit about God, this is all about Blair, the warmongering hypocrite. God, you can bet your sweet arse, would smite the foul Blairs with an rod of fucking iron, from here unto fucking Eternity.
Read the rest here, where you will also find the plumber's various other contributions diligently assembled.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The patron saint of fathers' rights activism

Disenfranchised Father offers a unique take on the nativity story:

Here's a fellow who has the decency to take in and care for his betrothed when she turns up pregnant, whereas the standard response would have been to have her stoned in the local square. Then he gets to escort said knocked-up virgin to Bethlehem as required by the bureaucrats who even back then didn't have anything better to do than mess with people's lives.
Please do go and read more about the most important father who ever lived.

And here is another angel...

Happy Christmas

Peace, goodwill and all that -- whatever your condition.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

What's in a name?

The media feeding frenzy surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal back in May has been one of the most notable and depressing developments of the year.

Sections of British press have demonstrated once again that there really are no depths of innuendo, slur and sensationalism to which they will not stoop in pursuit of a sale; an appalling personal tragedy has been turned into a soap opera with endlessly revolving story lines. All this, of course, fuelled by the Great British Public™ and its insatiable appetite for lurid gossip (if rubbernecking were an Olympic sport, we'd be guaranteed a gold medal every time).

Anyhow, here's a thing: the ONS has just published its annual list of the top names for babies in England and Wales, and Madeleine, which has been hovering around 70th position for the past five years, has now slipped down to 80th.

Given that Madeleine McCann's disappearance came halfway through the year, the real drop is probably even greater than the result for 2007 suggests. The 'Maddy' factor has definitely had a marked impact on its popularity.

Blair & Co: Family Butchers



So the sanctimonious cunt has finally converted to Catholicism, the religion which exhorts us to uphold the sanctity of family life. Does the church not realise who it is letting in?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pussy Galore!

The Creator reckons he's got the best line from the best Bond movie ever. Poppycock. I can't argue with his choice of film, but this wins hands down:

Friday, December 21, 2007

Winners and losers

Barbara Kay on the plight of divorced fathers (in Canada, but equally relevant to the UK):

Most men think such kafkaesque scenarios can't happen to them. Happily married men parenting with equal diligence believe in their hearts that men who find themselves savaged by the family law system are congenital losers, or were demonstrably lousy husbands and fathers. Many such "winners" are in for an unpleasant surprise.
Required reading for any man contemplating settling down to family life.

h/t Disenfranchised Father

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sure, I knew that

One of the side effects of parental disenfranchisement for me has been a descent into the ranks of the nouveaux pauvres, and with it an intimate familiarity with the budget foods in our supermarkets.

So, as somebody who studied the labels at great length before biting the bullet and purchasing that first 18p tin of baked beans, it comes as no surprise to me whatsoever to learn that:

Luxury ranges of food in supermarkets are often less healthy than the budget versions, the consumer group, Which? reports today.

Researchers found that one in four shoppers buy these premium lines, such as Tesco Finest or Sainsbury's Taste the Difference, because they think the products are better for their health.

However, they are often the highest in saturated fat - one of the most unhealthy forms of fat commonly associated with strokes, heart disease and obesity. They also often contain more salt and sugar than the standard versions.
Moreover:
The report - which scrutinised the labels of 54 ready meals from Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Tesco - says that while the difference between premium lines and standard lines are noticeable, the difference between budget and standard ranges are less obvious, with the ingredients often appearing remarkably similar. Often the only difference is extravagant wording on the packaging.
Sure, a lot of offerings in the 'value' range are a bit grim (the soups are weedy, and the jam is thin on fruit, for example), but I've found plenty -- the aforementioned baked beans being a case in point -- which are essentially indistinguishable from the standard supermarket own-brand stuff, at around half the price.

It's not so long ago that my weekly food bill ran to £60 or more (a fair chunk of which was expended here and here); these days, when push comes to shove (and mostly it does) I can get by on £20 and still eat tolerably well (and probably more healthily too, if it weren't for that 30p packet of choc digestives which seems to have insinuated itself into my diet).

h/t Tim Worstall

The Independent Offline

When it updated its website a couple of years ago (I think it was), The Independent managed to break all the existing incoming links to its content. That was a singular act of stupidity which must have cost it dearly.

These days, though, it seems that the problems with the Indy's online presence are more far-reaching: the regularity with which server errors are thrown up is a long-standing irritation, but my subjective impression is that things are getting progressively worse. Around 6am this morning, for example, the entire site was inaccessible:

When I tried again (around 15 minutes later), what I got was this:

And the last time I attempted to access an article, about a week ago, it was this:

And so on.

Perhaps the explanation lies here:

Our relationship with our own website is one where the paper is first and foremost, and the website comes second. Until there is a model for making money out of a newspaper website, we're not going to plough millions of pounds into it.
That comes from the Independent's editor, Simon Kelner, quoted in the Press Gazette last year.

As somebody who refuses to buy the print edition of The Independent (owing mainly to the presence of unconscionable gobshites like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in its pages), I don't suppose I have much cause to complain; but as audiences increasingly move online, it does strike me that the Indy is shooting itself in the foot -- spectacularly -- by failing to maintain at least a minimally functional web presence.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The silencing of the lamb

Another day, another teenage scumbag.

The sins of the fathers

Following up on my previous post on the People's Front of Judea London Pro-Feminist Men's Group, I find that they have posted the minutes of the third meeting (present: Adrian, Daniel, David and Jon), held on 29th November. This was the occasion, remember, at which they were to discuss the tricky issue of fathers.

The main thrust of their findings -- predictably enough -- is that men are emotional pygmies. More interesting is the response to a female commenter who asks whether they had anything positive to say about their fathers:

One person emphasised that their father was always really interested in his life and what he was up to another said his father was always good at giving him hugs and another mentioned how his father was a very peaceful man and was never violent!
Bit of a bummer, that -- they had dads who gave them hugs and were never violent! Much like the rest of us, then. Just think, though, how much more street cred they would have if their fathers had rolled in drunk every night and beaten them to within an inch of their lives (a fate, I am beginning to feel, they would have richly deserved).

Finally, they went on to consider the prospect of becoming parents themselves (shudder), reaching consensus on one point:
We all agreed that the desire not to repeat our own fathers’ mistakes is very powerful.
I imagine that their fathers, reading this drivel, would be of much the same sentiment.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What is the best age to have children?

Spotted in the comments over at The Telegraph:

Never!

Sorry, but the woman friendly rules that have grown up over the last 40 years mean never being a father is the only way to go.

I know someone who discovered his wife had found a lover, she threw him out - but he got to pay the mortgage and child support for three children for fifteen years. When the youngest child turned eighteen and got a job, the last of the child support ended and she promptly threw all three children out and sold the house - keeping the money and moving in with her lover of fourteen years. My friend has stopped living with his mother and can now look to buy a house - providing he can pay for it in fifteen years.

Recently I overheard a conversation on the bus between two young mothers. The first was new to it all. The second explained that she lived apart from the father but he had to pay maintainance. She had a lover and "they" (benefits Agency) thought they were living together.

The conversation went something like -

"It's not right you know, I only see him Friday to Sunday"
"What about the kid?"
"Oh, his father's parents look after him"
"Are they OK about that?"
"If they don't I'll go to court saying he (the father) is abusing him and they won't get any access."

Those two are only a couple of examples amongst many but this is the basis of why I would not have children.
Or you can learn the hard way. Like I did.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Pussy power


h/t Mr P.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Coming to a reality TV near you

Snapped in the window of my local newsagent in Bristol last month:


Finding it difficult to realise your true potential as a lone parent? Fed up with having no time for yourself? Would you consider an alternative way of living that could transform your life?

BBC3 are looking for ten single mothers and their children to share a house together. We would like to offer you the chance to find out if by living, working together and sharing things like domestic chores and childcare you can improve your quality of life and more importantly help you enjoy some much-needed time to yourself.

We want to see if this radically different support network can improve your life!
With 1 in 4 kids now growing up in a household headed by a lone-parent (read: single mother), and the current vogue for parenting programmes (pdf), it was only a matter of time before the 'reality' TV mongers came up with Pramface Mansion.

The cunts.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The People's Front of Judea lives!


This is why I can never find any time to blog about the serious issues of the day:

Laban led me to Stroppy's, where (via this recommendation) I discovered the London Pro-Feminist Men's Group blog.

There isn't a great deal on there yet, but the minutes of the group's second meeting on 15th November (present: Daniel, David and Jon) whetted my appetite for more:

Why use the term pro-feminist?

We discussed the idea of feminism as a movement of women to emancipate women from patriarchy and that men who support this should call themselves pro-feminist not feminist as they cannot know what it is to be an embodied socialised woman fighting against sexism. The alternative viewpoint argues that anyone who is against patriarchy (which includes people of all genders) should call themselves feminist. One person suggested that regardless of which you thought was the correct approach, calling ourselves pro-feminists has the advantage that it is less likely to antagonise existing feminists against us. None of us had a problem with the term pro-feminist and there was broad agreement with the first of these two basic ideas about using the term pro-feminist rather than feminist man or male feminist.
Phew. At least they got that settled. Now onto the difficult stuff:
We agreed that the group is undoubtedly going to be in tricky territory when it comes to discussing men and gender and there’s a strong temptation to pick our way carefully through this terrain in an intellectual way.
I'm just guessing here, but I'd venture to suggest that a surfeit of intellect will be the least of their problems.
We agreed that it’s important to develop a level of trust between group members so we can talk about how we feel about these issues and say things that might be controversial or sound silly and feel safe doing so.
Well, if they are worried about sounding silly, they're probably not best advised to publish their ruminations on the web...
We mentioned the fact that a small group isn’t such a bad thing but that 3 people was probably too few.
Or three too many?
We discussed the possibility of trying to attract more men through some kind of social event, possibly a film and discussion or something.
Aha! This is how they suck you in: they lure you along to a free showing of Die Hard, and then brainwash you into believing that it is a manifestation of patriarchal cultural imperialism. Cunning.

Next up is the agenda for the next meeting:
... a general discussion on the topic of fathers.
Now I'm interested...
Some of the questions we might talk about include: did you have a father? - if not, what was that like? What was your relationship with your father, what did they teach you about how to be, as a man? How did patriarchy and sexism operate in your family? What is your relationship with your father now? What did you learn from him, what would you like to teach/give him? If you are a father, in your own parenting what are the mistakes he made that you're avoiding, which ones are you repeating? What are the challenges for fathers now, and the obstacles to sharing parenting and housework equally? How can non-fathers support fathers, and mothers?
So many questions, yet no mention of disenfranchised dads like myself?

Somehow, I suspect I'd be about as welcome as a tramp at a garden party; but I might be tempted to go along just for the entertainment value.

Actually, no: I'd sooner stay at home and drink my own whiz than endure the company of these feeble-minded guilt-trippers.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Is that an outsize root vegetable in your pocket?

Women of Britain can sleep a little easier, knowing that one of the nation's most infamous sex criminals is now safely behind bars. The BBC reports:

A sex attacker who hid a carrot in his trousers and pretended it was his erect penis has been jailed for 18 months.

Driving instructor Stephen Cooney, 51, groped three female learner drivers in a series of attacks on Teesside dating back to 2002.
Specifically:
The court heard how Cooney put the 12-inch carrot down his trousers and told a pupil in her 40s that a perfectly executed manoeuvre was so good that it had given him an erection.
Okay, so this was a bit iffy. But which of us wouldn't succumb to temptation in the face of a perfectly executed manoeuvre and the ready availability of a 12-inch carrot?

But then he overstepped the mark:
He then took her hand and made her touch the vegetable before showing her the carrot, the court heard.
And she was not his only victim:
Giving evidence, another of Cooney's pupils said when she failed her test he offered to waive the £80 she owed him if she pulled over into a lay-by and had sex with him.

She told the court: "I just said 'No thank you, Steve'."

He regularly groped her during lessons between August 2005 and February last year, the court heard.
She endured six months of his groping? Wow, driving instructors must be thin on the ground in Teesside.
Jailing him, Judge George Moorhouse, said: "You were in a position of trust."
Okaaay... So driving instructors are on a par with teachers and doctors now, are they, in the trust stakes?

It's just as well the Government has a programme of new super-prisons in the pipeline, because at this rate (what with all the carrot creeps and lyrical terrorists coming out of the woodwork) we are going to need them.

And why isn't the carrot grower being pursued for recklessly releasing an intimidating vegetable onto the market? Surely, Elf 'n Safety legislation must have something to say about this?

Friday, December 07, 2007

SFTW: Guitar Town

An alt.country treat for the weekend; the delectable Emmylou Harris performs a Steve Earle classic:


Original here; guitar tab here.

If you lie down with dogs...

You wake up with fleas.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A little midweek pick-me-up

Police chief urged to resign after speeding ban:

One of Britian’s most senior policeman is facing calls to resign after he was banned from driving for speeding.

Meredydd Hughes, chief constable of South Yorkshire Police and former head of roads policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers, was clocked at 90mph in a 60mph stretch of the A5 in North Wales.

Mr Hughes, 49, was banned for 42 days and ordered to pay £350 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to speeding in his Audi on a trip with his family.

The conviction is the third time the officer, who in the past has called for “less conspicuous” speed cameras to slow traffic, has been caught speeding.

Road safety campaigners said he should now “seriously consider his position”.
I can barely contain my mirth over this, coming as it does hot on the heels of the latest figures revealing the scope of the Government's persecution of motorists:
Almost two million speeding tickets are being issued to motorists each year following Labour's vast expansion of the speed camera network, official figures disclosed last night.

Since the party came to power, the number of fixed penalty notices for speeding has almost trebled from 700,000 a year to more than 1.9 million, the Government statistics showed.

Coupled with an increase in the basic speeding fine, this means speeding tickets are now raising almost £120 million a year - most of which is simply ploughed back into operating the cameras.

But despite the significant increase in speeding penalties in the past 10 years, road deaths have fallen only marginally, while the number of deaths from drink-driving has remained stable.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A love defiled


Mr Eugenides has been affronted recently by Google's suggestion that his blog might satisfy the baser appetites of fellow admirers of that fragrant red rose which passes by the name of Wendy Alexander; he should therefore avert his gaze from the tasteless speculation peddled by The Englishman this week with regard to hard-boiled eggs and straws.

Just to remind you, the poor little Greek boy's paean to Wendy stands as one of the most affecting blog posts of this (or any other) year:

How shall I count the ways? Eyes, wide and bright like saucers of champagne, yet also dark and passionate as goblets of ruby Buckfast. A neck, slender and playful like a faun’s, framed by hair delicate yet supple, like silken ropes of song. Her mouth – the mouth that launched a thousand policy discussions – a mouth that seems to defy the laws of physics, that exists in four or even five dimensions, curving space and time around it into an exquisite event horizon of pure sensuality. Breasts like quivering moulds of vodka jelly, barely restrained by the power suits and prim blouses, with peaks hauntingly reminiscent of Paisley Abbey on a misty, moonlit night. And the lisp – O, the lisp! Each word magically transformed into a teasing, seductive invitation that no mythological siren of yore could ever hope to match. And Wendy knows lots of words; she’s brighter than a brain pie.
Etc, etc.

And just when Wendy's current travails might dampen his spirits (if not his ardour), Mr E will also be dismayed to learn that being 'Wendied' may not turn out to be quite what he imagines.

P.S. To rub salt into the wound, he also fails to feature on the map of Wendy's achievements, teasingly entitled 'What has Wendy Done for Me?'

Saturday, December 01, 2007

SFTW: The Best of Foo

A little something for the weekend:



Electrifying stuff, from the 2005 album In Your Honor.

It's been ten years since I first encountered the Foo Fighters (I bought their second album, The Colour and the Shape, on the back of a review in The Guardian), and I have been blown away by them ever since.

And notwithstanding their current blistering form, I have a feeling that the best may be yet to come...

P.S. The acoustic version is also not to be missed (and, if you want to strum along, here are some very serviceable guitar tabs).

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A nice little earner

Crime does pay:

A lay preacher who bought himself a lordship has been jailed for 10 years for a £51m VAT scam and stealing from personal injury claimants.
Wat Tyler does the maths:
So that's five years inside, equals £10.2 mill pa.
And this is precisely the calculation which ran through my head (kerrrching!) when I heard the story on the news while I was driving today.

In my current wretched financial circumstances, I'd cheerfully do a year inside in exchange for £10m. Heck, I'd do it for just £1m (I may be desperate, but I'm not greedy).

HMP Leyhill in South Gloucestershire (open prison, pleasant location, and not too far from home) would fit the bill nicely. Plenty of time to catch up on some reading, and perhaps do a bit of gardening. That, and savour the prospect of liberation from wage slavery for the rest of my days. What's not to like?

Well, I can dream, can't I?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Carry On Rocking


And he calls this 'just messing around'.

Sublime.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A very un-British coup

How have we allowed this rolling putsch against our freedom? Where are the principled voices from left and right, the outrage of playwrights and novelists, the sit-ins, the marches, the swelling public anger? We have become a nation that tolerates a diabetic patient collapsed in a coma being tasered by police, the jailing of a silly young woman for writing her jihadist fantasies in verse and an illegal killing by police that was prosecuted under health and safety laws.
From Henry Porter's latest swingeing critique of the erosion of civil liberties in Britain under NuLabour, in today's Observer. Please, go and read the whole thing.

UPDATE 21/11: Henry Porter's personal website, complete with RSS feed of his latest articles, is here.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

Who is the fairest blogger of all? Why, 'tis you, Neil Clark! Yes, really, it is. No question about it. None at all.

Bless.

DK comments in uncharacteristically restrained terms, while Matt Wardman delivers chapter and verse.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Huh?


Pick Me Up, 14th November 2007.

Welcome to the weird and ever-so-slightly-disturbing world of women's magazines.

My brain hurts.