Internet monkey

Not some kind of Flash animation, unfortunately, merely a rant against the incompetence of my ISP.

I found out on Sunday that they haven’t charged me for Internet access for over three years.

I didn’t, as one might have expected, find this out through receiving my monthly bills for three years: they state the monthly amount owed rather than the cumulative total, and say at the bottom “if you’re paying by direct debit this is for your information only”.

Nor did I find this out by receiving a phone call or a letter saying “you owe us an enormous amount of money and we’ll take you to court if you don’t pay”.

I found this out because they cut off my Internet access, rang up to ask why I couldn’t access the Internet, and was told that I owed them £650.

Now, assuming the billing department actually gets around to restoring my connection by the time I get home today, I won’t have lost out too much. I’m fortunately (well, *was* fortunately) reasonably cashed-up this month, managed to argue the amount owed down to £500 as compensation for their utter uselessness, and paid the lot over the phone.

However, I’d have been very displeased, not to mention living off beans for several months, had this happened while I was poor.

What kind of accounts department doesn’t chase unpaid bills until *three years* after they’re rung up? Also, what’s a good ADSL ISP to switch to?

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Song for Americans to sing

Why’d you never listen to us?

We could be invisible to you

Anyway it doesn’t matter now

‘Cos we have found somebody new

Sorry if your heart is broken

Why’s your mouth just hanging open?

Don’t look so surprised

We found another guy

Kerry’s in this photograph:

Kerry says the war will last forever

And he should know

That boy Kerry’s not the kind

To mess around and change his mind

Kerry is as tough as Marlon Brando

No-one thought you were a smartie

And Kerry knows about karate

There’s other things he’s good at too

Kerry’s not a bit like you…

(apologies to the memory of Kirsty McColl. But I think she’d broadly have approved of the concept).

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Irony watch

UK libertarian commentator Sean Gabb is a comedian in a wide variety of senses of the word, if not the traditional one. Unusually for a libertarian, his latest article is a wonderful piece of ridiculous, unjustified, snobbish, borderline-racist Yank-bashing – deriding them as (among other things) terribly insecure.

More amusing still is the enraged reaction from American commenters, who are falling over each other in the race to point out that they’re not insecure, don’t have an inferiority complex, and anyway are better than the socialist, snobbish Europeans, who would still be slaughtering each other and living under tyranny today if it weren’t for America baling them out, so there.

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My milk stout brings all the boys to the yard.

And damn right, it’s better than yours.

(further suggestions welcome).

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Float like a bee

Leo Caesius manages to combine detailed knowledge of the Middle East with a laudable willingness to tackle the taboo. So among his first posts are an etymology of the term “Sabaeans”, and a horrible frame-by-frame critique of the video that’s reportedly beaten Paris Hilton to the top of the Internet search stakes (adding weight to the theory that Something Fucking Strange may have gone on, although quite what is very unclear indeed).

Well worth a look.

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See title before last

Based on his photograph and his writing, TCS’s Lee Harris is a dangerous lunatic.

The linked article features the traditional Powellian rhetorical trick of superimposing one’s vile views on ‘the masses’ – “I’m much more civilised than that, of course, but *everyday people* hate the blacks and will probably murder them all if we don’t stop immigration”. Guess which ethnic group it’s applied to this time round? (clue – it’s the ones that we’re entitled to simultaneously invade, slaughter, and blame for their own plight).

It also features an impressively stupid sentence.

From the photographs of men and women jumping from the World Trade Center to the videotape of Nick Berg’s butchery, our enemy has flooded us with images that will haunt us all until our dying day.

Some Saudis blew up the WTC and the Pentagon. One Saudi cut off Nick Berg’s head. Many Iraqis have justifiably (if wrongly) killed the soldiers and mercenaries occupying their country.

To say “from x to z” when x and z are the only examples is a poor trick, and surely not one to which a conservative writer would stoop… so who is “our enemy”, and what else have they done? Answers appreciated [1].

[1] Remember: Bali and Madrid are not in America. Iran is not Arab.

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A thought

I would *happily volunteer* have my head cut off by Al-Qaida, if I believed the result would somehow be to deny George Bush another four years in power.

Obviously I’d prefer to see his head cut off off, ideally after some kind of Charles I-esque trial, but nonetheless…

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Conservative stupidity (reprise)

In this post, Glenn Reynolds links to a blogger named Jeff Quinton, who’s spotted that his blog has seen a huge amount of extra traffic in the aftermath of the Nick Berg decapitation, and that nearly all of the hits are from people Googling for phrases like ‘nick berg decapitation’.

Mr Reynolds believes that because the hit spike has come from this, rather than ‘Abu Ghraib prison scandal’, the American public care about some random nutcases cutting a peace campaigner’s head off far more than they care about the institutionalised vileness that appears to run through the heart of their armed forces – and therefore, that the media is liberal and rubbish.

If his first assertion were correct, then it would be a very good argument in favour of the American press. If people are genuinely too stupid to understand why Mr Berg’s death is sad and evil but inconsequential, whereas the Abu Ghraib abuse is bad and evil and very consequential, then they really *need* the media to show them that the opposite is true.

However, the conclusion is way off. For a start, Mr Reynolds appears to misread Mr Quinton’s post as claiming that the phrases are *the top* Internet search phrases. Certainly the otherwise excellent Natalie Solent reads Mr Reynolds this way, and goes on to claim stuff about The World that’s almost certainly untrue.

Whether or not Mr Reynolds is mistaken, all concerned (even Andrew Sullivan, strangely enough) are suffering from a deeply overinflated sense of self-importance.

The reason their traffic (and mine) has rocketed on Nick Berg-related search terms is that there is a video of the bloke having his head cut off on the Internet – and the number of people weird enough in the head to want to watch a secret snuff movie that you can’t get anywhere else dramatically outweighs the number of people who normally read political blogs.

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