Crete, smashing, super

I’m following the general trend, and going on holiday for a week of metaxa, sun and more metaxa – bloggage should resume on July 25 or 26.

Have fun without me. Feel free to leave comments about banana-slapping and/or people killed by mad world leaders; if you get bored of that then try any of the excellent sites on the right of the screen. (Blood and Treasure and Jonny Billericay are my latest additions).

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Aaagh, my eyes

Peter Cuthbertson has written a post with which I entirely agree.

If your god really is all-powerful, then he’s not exactly going to be harmed by my saying that he doesn’t exist and that you’re an idiot for believing in him. And while my words may sting, you can at least comfort yourself with the knowledge you’re going to heaven and so forth.

I assume the reason some religious people refuse to accept the sentiments above is because such words tempt them into abandoning their silly superstitions and having fun, which would be terrible.

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Eff eff ess

I broadly like the anti-war left (although their tendency to assume that Islamists are somehow not wrong, stupid, and opposed to all sane progressive goals is unfortunate). They even turned out to be closer to the correct position on Iraq than pro-war left-ish-ists like me. But sometimes… bah.

Geordie blogger Bykersink quotes Billy Bragg in his blog title and elsewhere, which makes him inherently cool. Although he’s a lot more pro-nationalisation than I’d generally view as reasonable, he’s still well worth reading. And I hope no-one’s under any illusions on my views about evil corrupt bigot George Bush.

But this is just fucking stupid (the link probably won’t work because Haloscan is rubbish, so you’ll either need to scroll down the Haloscan box or move your eys down a couple of centimetres):

I said month for month Bush has killed more [Iraqi] people than Hussain. God knows what Bush could achieve if he was in power as long as SH.

No wonder the conservatives think we’re shrill…

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Silly Odeon

UK cinema chain Odeon has one of the world’s ghastliest websites. Said ghastly website is also illegal, since it doesn’t meet the Disability Discrimination Act’s standards (being only accessible through MSIE).

Public-spirited ubergeek Matthew Somerville created an accessible site last year, which scraped the listings information on the useless site and presented it in a useable format.

A year later, Mr Somerville has received not one, but two semi-comprehensibly worded letters from Odeon’s marketing director, Luke Vetere, demanding that he remove the accessible site. These strongly imply that Mr Vetere either has no understanding either of online marketing or the Data Protection Act (both somewhat crucial to his job role, one might have thought), or is acting on orders from someone with no understanding of them.

Anyway. Email Mr Vetere and tell him what you think of his company’s policy (here’s my effort). Email Mr Somerville and tell him what you think of his plans. Should you (or someone you know) be unable to use the ghastly Odeon website for disability reasons, I’d also recommend getting in touch with the Disability Rights Commission.

The most boggling thing about the whole debacle is Mr Vetere’s claim that Odeon has “received an increasing number of complaints from customers about [Mr Somerville’s] website”, and the potential privacy risk it’s brought. Even if ‘increasing” means ‘increasing from 0 to 1′, this still means that some cocklord was sufficiently incensed by the possibility that Mr Somerville could have illicitly obtained details of which films s/he likes to make a complaint to Odeon…

Actually, I suspect the relevant person complained with a letter saying something like “I’d like to complain about your appalling website. At first I thought this good website was your website, but then I realised it wouldn’t sell me tickets. Then I went to your website, and it was rubbish”. You don’t get to work in marketing without being devious. Which is lucky, since most people who work in marketing have no other obvious skills.

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Shoot Blunkett in the balls

As evidence of how minimum sentences are a wrong-headed idea supported only by lunatics and fascists, I cite Mr David Walker of Dinnington, South Yorkshire.

Mr Walker unwisely drank 16 pints of lager (I imagine Carling or similar; if he’d been a real man he’d’ve been on the Duvel). Even less wisely, he then proceeded to shoot himself in the balls with a shotgun.

I suspect this may have taught Mr Walker his lesson.

Nonetheless, under blind cunt David Blunkett’s new gun crime policies, the judge sentencing Mr Walker for illegal gun possession was obliged to give him the five-year minimum term anyway.

Never mind the BBC, I want to stop paying taxes to fund this ‘tough on crime’ lunacy (which, rather like airport security and chip-and-pin cards, is entirely made up to appease stupid people. In this case, people who are stupid enough not only to believe the risk of crime is significant, but also that draconian punishment is the best way of stopping it).

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Testimonials

“When the revolution comes, I will be shot by both sides” – Rachel Polanskis

“There’s no worse scenario than being shot by both sides” – Valentin

“Paralysis and paranoia, shot by both sides” – Marino Guida

“The bleak, doom laden Shot By Both Sides is a classic” – Amazon.com

A resounding verdict, I’m sure you’ll agree. Although I’m aware the last one is cheating.

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This week’s theme

The comments sections of blogs are rarely places to look for demonstrations of ground-breaking and rational thought. This comment from Kevin Drum’s blog is no exception to the general rule – but it does shed worrying light on the right-wing psyche.

[in the event of a smallpox outbreak in America]

will Americans look to Ted Kennedy or Michael Moore to make speeches bashing “another Bush intellegience [sic] failure” if this happens? Will we want to convene a bipartisan investigation? Should we hurry to the UN and ask for the Security Council to pass a new resolution? Will we march in the streets, shouting “Bush is a chickenhawk! Release those National Guard pay records, Mr. Presdient [sic]!”

Or will Americans want to nuke Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, North Korea, and any other state that might possibly be responsible?

The sensible answer is A. The conservative who made the comment believes that the best description of what America will actually do is B. I’m not as convinced as I’d like to be that he’s wrong.

It’s far from implausible that bioterrorists will attack the West at some point during the next 20 years. If idiots were to deal with this by nuking millions of innocent Muslims, there’s a fair chance that the (rather more) millions of remaining Muslims would be quite annoyed. And any subsequent terrorist attack would be morally justifiable, since its targets would consist of perpetrators and tacit supporters of genocide. I don’t necessarily see this as a recipe for an end to terrorism.

Obviously, taking as many steps as possible to avoid a bioterrorist attack would be sensible. But we also need to ensure that in the horrible event that the intelligence fails, we don’t let the macho headcases dig our graves for us.

And if this involves rounding up the armchair hawks in the dead of night and shooting them in the back of the head, so be it.

(thanks to Chris Lightfoot for inspiration, and for proof-by-exception of the comments rule mentioned earlier)

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As if on cue

This anti-gay marriage screed is a timely reminder of what George Bush is about [1].

If you’re a conservative who thinks gays are wrong, then go ahead and support him. If you’re an ashamed conservative who doesn’t admit you think gays are wrong, but certainly wouldn’t want them living next door, then go ahead and support him. But if you claim to be a liberal or a libertarian and still support him (for whatever reason), then you’re as much a liar as he is.

[1] The underlying conservative bigotry has been obscured in recent months by the obvious incompetence, corruption and deceit. While in many ways the latter three *are* what the Bush administration is about, it would be pushing it to call them ideological.

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Incestuous blogging commentary #2329

It’s been a while since I last made a “gosh, isn’t my typeface pretty; here are some magazines I like to read; how do I improve my printing press?” post, and I imagine that my three readers are all crying out for one – so here you go…

I’m probably the last person in the world to discover Fafblog, but just in case I’m not then you should read it. Religiously. While standing on one leg. And eating pie.

Ditto (except for the standing on one leg and eating pie) for Damian Counsell’s PooterGeek, which is not only politically astute, but also viciously funny about his ‘friends’.

Ryan Beatniksalad is off to South America for six months in about 12 hours time – but he has a new travel blog created to record his trip, and presumably also to wind up the pro-war ‘left’. Which is good.

Finally, if anyone knows how to do trackback pings without the associated content management software, then I’d be grateful if they could point me towards a sensible explanation.

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Perspective

It’s sad that the near-irrelevant issue of militant Islam, and more importantly the overreaction to it stirred up by our political leaders, has led many former liberals to abandon all their sensible principles.

The Muslims aren’t a serious threat. If we disbanded the armed forces and abolished nuclear weapons, the Muslims still wouldn’t be a threat: the only Muslim countries with non-comedy armies are Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia, and they aren’t logistically in a position to do us harm.

Yes, Muslim terrorists might blow up some buildings. Really, so what? If 3000 people die in a terrorist attack, it’s an appalling thing, but it has no impact at all on Western society’s ability to survive. There are 700 million of us, and no nefarious ‘they’ could even make the smallest dent in our numbers. The only serious exception is the risk of nuclear terrorism.

So while Al Qaeda are more evil than Dubya, and only a rabid maniac would claim otherwise, American liberals are absolutely right to devote more energy to hating the latter than the former. Much as he’d love to, Osama isn’t in a position to try and ban abortion, declare war on pornography or abolish the rule of law.

Even if Bush were more competent at fighting the terrorists than his likely rivals, I’d still rather take a 0.0012% chance of dying in a terrorist attack than a near-certainty of losing some of the liberal freedoms that our ancestors have spent the last 200 years fighting for. Making the opposite call would seem somewhat craven and cowardly.

But he demonstrably isn’t competent. The War on Terror has so far been focused around a pointless war with a crippled dictator, while the risk of nuclear proliferation has been almost ignored (the USA has pulled troops out of Korea to serve in Iraq, and has backed the Pakis despite their nuclear dealings – apparently because of the desperation to bag a top Al Qaeda man to boost the re-election campaign).

This would seem to make the ‘pro-Bush liberal’ call not only craven and cowardly, but also stupid.

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