Great condolences to the friends and family of Simon Cumbers, the BBC cameraman who was murdered in Saudi Arabia today. Best recovery wishes to journalist Frank Gardner, who was injured in the same attack.
Congratulations to all the brave people like Mr Cumbers and Mr Gardner who risk (and sometimes attain) death to tell us what’s really happening in scary, dangerous and important bits of the world.
Brickbats to any scumbags who seek to celebrate or justify these deaths. Particularly if they aren’t themselves murderous Arab terrorists.
Update: That’d be like these scumbags, then. I can’t quite bring myself to check LGF…
Every year, an enormous scandal miraculously erupts from nowhere. It doesn’t really matter to anyone involved whether the “threat” is from shadowy Internet paedophiles, murderous foreign immigrants, life-saving vaccinations – as long as ignorant masses are stirred up and headlines grabbed, it’s all going well. This year, the relevant topic appears to be one close to my heart: the drink.
From our floundering PM to the BBC via the police (and obviously the traditional right-wing authoritarian commentators), the consensus is that every night, our city centres are reduced to drunken approximations of Falluja. Honest God-fearing folk are scared to leave the house for fear of being looted, raped and pillaged by barbarian drunkard hordes. Civilised society is on the verge of collapse.
This view, obviously, is a steaming pile of horseshit.
Last night, I went out in Manchester city centre. I don’t normally go out in the city centre, because the going-out venues are either fairly pleasant but close at 11, or stay open till late but play terrible music too loudly, serve pissy American and English lager at extortionate prices, and have nowhere to sit down. Indeed, the places we went to last night conformed perfectly to this rule, so we went home bored at about 1:00.
The point? We were all sober or almost sober, and not exactly full of wild Bacchean abandon – but town featured no trouble, no perception of trouble, and the drunks we noticed staggering around were a danger only to themselves. To recap, this is the binge-drinking centre of one of England’s top going-out cities, at bingeing peak time.
Now, Manchester, London, Leeds and Bristol are pretty much the only places I regularly go out in England – and I guess it’s possible that they’re unusually calm venues by the standards of the rest of the country. In which case, I’ll be highly pissed off if the provincial crowd impose restrictions on us civilised types to deal with *their* problem.
However… I can’t help finding it somehow more likely that the whole binge drinking hysteria is a load of made-up nonsense, in traditional government/media/’expert’ crusade style.
The only solution from the citizenry is resistance to this crusade – so it’s clearly time to go to your local, order a drink of something agreeable (if your local serves nothing agreeable, then find a different local), and drink to the day when the absurd puritans fuck off and die.
Update: as Norm says, I should probably also point out that Manchester has a great many excellent drinking venues. However, these tend not to be in the city centre, which is a very Big Chain, mainstream, jugs-of-Carling-for-£8 kind of place.
For anyone who’s managed to miss the news, Ronald Reagan has finally died.
When I was younger, I always planned to have a party to celebrate this occasion; however, it now seems not quite right. I’m not sure whether that’s because 17 years of Reagan being a very long way from any kind of power at all has mellowed my view towards him, or because the past three years have reshaped my view of what a truly bad American president is like.
Both, I suspect.
I’ve finally added an RSS feed for SBBS, so those of you who can’t face the appalling colour scheme any more no longer need to. It’s on the far right, like Peter Cuthbertson.
For people who want to dwell and extend their visits, I’ve also added a highly exciting “referrers” page. You too can find out that most people who visit the site find it by googling for porn and/or decapitation, and that nearly all of them use MSIE.
And for people who are *really* impressed or annoyed by this site, I’ve finally (sort of) added an email address. You too can join my ex-partners, co-workers, friends and family in sending me abuse and death threats.
Update: I’ve also added proper archiving, and fixed a few other things that needed fixing. Finally the site has approximately the functionality I wanted in the first place…
Colorado-based Marvin Heemeyer provides yet more evidence for the theory that Americans take innovations pioneered elsewhere, and just take them that little bit further.
AL Kennedy says “it’s as if my whole country has woken up tattooed and married to Derren Brown – there was this guy, he came up to us, seemed a bit dodgy but harmless, gave us a whole load of patter and the next thing we knew, we’re all sharing responsibility for amputations and rapes and epidemic terror and blowing up a wedding singer and riding on a 70-year-old lady as if she were a horse”.
I missed that show – seriously, let me know if they repeat it; it sounds exceedingly cool. Although I do now understand the 700 complaints.
One day, assuming I acquire a week or so to do so, I’m planning on answering Patrick Crozier’s list of 100 state failures.
Should anyone else want to have a go, the fish-barrel-shooting-ly easy ones should be 18, 19, 21, 25, 26, 27, 32, 41, 42, 44, 47, 49, 51, 60, 62, 63, 67, 68, 70, 77, 85, 88, 89 and 90. Although if you’re feeling particularly brave, I’d recommend 22, 23, 33-36, 40 and 48.
I’ll concede 72 right away, however.
Since it’s Friday:
1) Derren Brown describes himself as a master mentalist. Indeed, you’d have to be a bit of a mentalist to shoot yourself in the head on national telly.
2) Is “fuck from both sides” a commonly used synonym for (I’m guessing) double penetration? If not, why do I get several visits a week courtesy of Googling onanists hunting for FFBS pictures? Or is it all the same Googling onanist, who gets off on the extreme sexiness of my writing (and occasional exciting pictures)?
3) Is it possible to be a serious political commentator, given the fundamental unseriousness of the current political landscape?
4) Here is a picture my girlfriend made:
Just as well Joe Strummer’s dead, otherwise I’m sure they’d be coming for him too.
Unlike most of the nonsense I talk on SBBS, I actually know a bit about stem cell research, have spent several months a few years ago reading up on it and interviewing people involved.
As a result, I can’t even be bothered to deal with the lunacy of the latest “stem cell research debate”. There is no fucking debate. It’s not even the clash of a scientific-rational worldview and a mystic-superstitious one, since the mystic-superstitious types who shrill-y protest against stem cell research in the US are far too hypocritical to also protest against IVF…
The only interesting debating point I’ve ever seen raised “against”(-ish) stem cell research is that people suffering from degenerative neural disease don’t actually suffer, so we shouldn’t necessarily view their apparent distress as a serious criterion in our medical priorities (thanks to Tom Stoneham, who sadly now only blogs about smartphones rather than interesting things, for that one).