06 August, 2019

The lyin' and the unicorn

With apologies to George Orwell for the title, a summary of Brexit so far...

"We want a unicorn!"

David Cameron: You don't really want a unicorn, do you?

"Yes! We want a unicorn!"

Cameron: Are you sure you've thought through all the ramifications of getting a unicorn?

"Stuff thinking! Unicorn or GTFO!

Cameron: Alright, if you're very good and re-elect me, I'll hold a vote on whether you get a unicorn...

[Cameron re-elected]

Cameron: Okay, you can have your vote on whether you get a unicorn, which I am sure you don't really want.

"We want a unicorn!" 

Cameron: Look, I really don't think it's a good idea...

[referendum]

"WOOHOO! WE'RE GETTING A UNICORN!"

Cameron: I see. You have voted that you will get a unicorn and therefore I will... [car door slams, tyres squeal]

Theresa May: Fuck!

"Where's our unicorn?" 

May: Well, we have this horse. If we just affix this silver horn...

"That's not a unicorn!"

May: Alright, we have a silver horn. If we were to get, say, a donkey...

"No! Still not a unicorn!"

May: Okay, fine. I believe if we were to find a zebra...

"NOT A UNICORN!"

May: Look, I think we can all agree that a species of the Equus genus with a silver horn protruding from its forehead, is for all intents and purposes...

"NO! UNICORN NAO!"

May: Look, be reasonable.

Boris Johnson: I can make a unicorn.

May: You can't be serious.

"YAY BORIS! HE'LL GET US A UNICORN!"

[to be continued...]

Spoiler: Unicorns don't exist.
 
 

04 August, 2019

No more sympathy

Following the Australian federal election in May, there was a move on social media to stop donating to regions that regularly suffer drought, bushfire and flood. It may seem cruel and petty, but there is a certain logic to it.

You see, the regions which are suffering these events with increasing regularity due to climate change, are the ones that keep electing climate deniers to parliament.

It’s not a question of ‘punishing’ them for voting in the wrong people. No-one is suggesting they deserve the hardships of extreme weather. Nobody does. It’s simply a case of recognising that decisions have consequences. There is a direct connection between the way regional areas traditionally vote and successive governments’ inertia when it comes to mitigating climate change.

Why should people in areas that didn’t vote for climate deniers throw good money after bad? Why should we protect people from the consequences of their own decisions?

Which brings us, with extreme sadness, to El Paso.

Embed from Getty Images

Yet another mass shooting with depressingly familiar details. Yet more calls for gun control. Yet more offers of thoughts and prayers, and yet more mocking of those same offers. It’s all become clichéd.

This may sound callous, but as with the farmers who keep electing representatives who deny the real causes of their situation, perhaps the time has come for some tough love. America can wring its hands over this latest* slaughter all the way up to the next one, but if they keep electing representatives who are either beholden to the gun lobby or haven’t the spine to stand up to them, then this is going to keep happening.

In any democracy, however flawed, you get the government you deserve. I’m not going to make the case for gun control again. It’s been made. You can heed or ignore. It’s up to you. I’m sorry America, but you can have as many dead kids as your precious Second Amendment is worth to you. Your decisions have consequences. It’s just a pity everyone has to live with them.
  
 
*UPDATE: I posted this less than three hours ago, and El Paso is now no longer the latest mass shooting.

YES, it IS the GUNS and America's attitude towards them!

25 July, 2019

Boris Johnson vomits into the Queen's hat

Well, that didn't happen. At least, it hasn't yet.

The premise came about from a comment I made on the socials at the time Boris was being announced as the winner of Most Popular Actor in a Comedy Soap:
Theresa May was expected to achieve the impossible. Of course, it's still impossible for Boris too, but expectations are so low that if he manages to avoid vomiting into the queen's hat, he'll be considered a success.
A friend made the comment that they would probably let him get away with that too. And that got me to thinking exactly how the reflexive right and gratuitous contrarians would justify it, and I am sure my correspondent is right.

Boris Johnson 
Look, I happen to be aware that when Her Majesty was working as a nurse, tending to our brave lads on the Russian front in the first world war, she liked nothing more than the scent of a bit of hardworking chunder as bit of a pick-me-up at the end of a long hard day. 


Donald Trump
I believe it's considered a mark of great respect in the British aisles. I know it is in Scotland. They always offer it to me. Beautiful place. They have the best golf there. They invented it, I perfected it. Boris is a very good friend of mine, he says very nice things about me, he's making regurgitation great again.  


Scott Morrison
How good's spewing? 



Piers Morgan
Oh, it's just the leftie snowflake fun police at it again. When I was a young man, blowing chunks in a girl's ear was a sign you liked her. In fact, it was quite a leg-opener. Oh, I suppose I'm not allowed to say that any more either!  



Paul Watson
The liberal left wing elite are supposed to believe in recycling and sustainable use of resources, yet when a Conservative Brexiter does it, suddenly they hate him for donating his excess nutrients to the Sovereign. They also claim to hate royalty but are now using the Queen as their new poster child for loony left victimhood. And I'll bet YouTube won't monetise this video for me.

  

10 February, 2019

It’s the 24-hour news cycle and social media

Theory:
Saying, “I think it’s the 24-hour news cycle; I think it’s social media,” has become an acceptable answer to absolutely any topic on a news discussion panel show. It has already been blamed for everything from road rage to teenage body image problems, despite both being around a lot longer.

Try it for yourself...

Why does political discourse seem so juvenile these days?
I think it’s the 24-hour news cycle; I think it’s social media.

Why are more children being driven to school by their parents rather than taking the bus or walking?
I think it’s the 24-hour news cycle; I think it’s social media.

Why are we seeing an increase in childhood obesity?
I think it’s the 24-hour news cycle; I think it’s social media.

How do we explain the increase in religious extremism?
I think it’s the 24-hour news cycle; I think it’s social media.

Why are people deserting mainstream religions?
I think it’s the 24-hour news cycle; I think it’s social media.

What’s with the rise of neo Nazis?
I think it’s the 24-hour news cycle; I think it’s social media. (yeah, because that’s how it happened last time)

Why are we seeing such extreme weather?
I think it’s the 24-hour news cycle; I think it’s social media. (nah, really. Back in my day we just said, “funny old weather” and got on with it)

It climate change real? (YES!)
I think it’s the 24-hour news cycle; I think it’s social media.

Why are we seeing so many severe food allergies?
I think it’s the 24-hour news cycle; I think it’s social media.

What’s the go with the au pairs?
I think it’s the 24-hour news cycle; I think it’s social media.

Where’d all the good people go?
I think it’s the 24-hour news cycle; I think it’s social media.


03 February, 2019

LET IT BE - The Beatles (1970)

It was supposed to be a rebirth. It turned out to be the death throes.

With the news that Peter Jackson will be ploughing through the 96 hours of film shot for an album and documentary originally to be titled Get Back, I thought I’d take another look at the original. The film has never had an officially sanctioned DVD release but there is a version of the original cut issued by United Artists available if you look hard enough.

It is both fascinating and depressing. Paul’s idea was for the band to get back to the ways they used to make music – recording live, no overdubs – and film the whole process. What becomes evident even without the history we know, is that John and George have accepted that the group has all but broken up; Paul is in denial, desperately trying to hold things together; and Ringo is just dutifully coming to work.

The film is basically split into three acts: the Twickenham sessions, the Apple sessions, and the rooftop performance.

It’s immediately evident that attempting to make a record in a film studio was a mistake. The most notable section is the argument between Paul and George. The music is terrible. The environment of the film studio was so cold (both figuratively and literally) that the sessions were abandoned. Recording shifted to the Apple offices in Savile Row resulting in a noticeable improvement in mood. The presence of Billy Preston at these sessions seems to help them keep on track, and it’s here that they actually complete some takes.

Naturally, it’s the rooftop session that is the highlight – arguably the first ever guerrilla gig. Even though they had several weeks of rehearsals under their belts by then, we get the impression that having an audience – even of passers-by – forces them to behave themselves and put in a decent performance. It’s a rightly legendary show, but will give nightmares to anyone brought up with a 21st century understanding of health and safety.

Even though it’s obvious the four of them have completely drifted apart, when they’re playing they still give their all. It also reveals how underrated John Lennon is as a musician. He plays sensitive bass on The Long and Winding Road and Let It Be (despite his distaste for the latter), some blistering slide blues on For You Blue, and one of the most recognisable guitar solos in history on Get Back. It’s worth remembering that none of these were his songs.

Both the film and album were shelved, and only released to satisfy contractual obligations. The film does deserve credit for its honesty. None of the Beatles come out looking particularly good but it’s Paul who comes out worst. In fairness, his domineering is clearly an attempt to give the band direction and delay the inevitable breakup, but it’s not hard to see why none of the Beatles were keen on having the film reissued in any way. One hopes the new edit will not be a whitewash.

The transfer on this version is abysmal so Peter Jackson’s cut will probably be worth the wait if only for picture quality, providing he doesn’t CGI it all into a flaming island castle.

Highlight: The rooftop session
Feature: * * ½
Extras: None
Audio: Dolby mono



31 January, 2019

Let sneaking presidents lie

Many have observed that when it comes to defending his policies, President Donald Trump likes to just make shit up. Shit like this:
Many have also observed that normally this would be a big deal, and lamented the fact that in 2019, it’s not as big a deal as it perhaps should be. It’s true that in normal times, such shameless falsehoods would be a big deal. But these are not normal times.

The one true skill Donald Trump has is his ability to change the story. His willingness to say things that are so obviously stupid with such regularity means there’s always something new to be shocked at. The previous shocks are forgotten.

In the essay On Bullshit, Harry Frankfurt argues that the liar needs to recognise and accept the truth on order to say the opposite. The bullshitter just doesn’t care either way. He could have been writing about Donald Trump.

It doesn’t matter whether Trump bullshits because it’s in his interest or because it’s in his nature. The fact is, his blatant disregard for the truth makes a convenient distraction from his blatant disregard for the rule of law.

At a time when thousands of federal employees were having to choose between rent and food due to a completely unnecessary government shutdown, Trump successfully launched a thousand hot takes about the White House serving cold hamberders. However delicious an allegory the story may have been on Trump’s character or 21st century America in general, it wasn’t the most important thing going on. It was just easier to write about. That’s Trump’s talent.

Pay no attention to the 800,000 furloughed workers behind the curtain
It’s enough to make you believe that Trump really could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and get away with it. Here’s how he would do it: First, he’d shoot someone. Then, as the police and ambulance were on their way, he would tweet something like,
“Mexicans faked the moon landing becos it’s really made of mozzarella cheese!!” 
And suddenly everyone would be saying, “That’s not true! OMG, you’re so stupid!” while the victim bleeds out.

The level of Donald Trump’s malfeasance is so deep that we need to prioritise. Yes, it’s shocking and sickening that the president of the United States can lie with such ease and abandon. What’s even more shocking and sickening is that this isn’t the worst thing about him. At a time when there is reasonable suspicion that the US head of state may be acting on behalf of a hostile foreign government, either wittingly or unwittingly, who cares if he pulls figures on illegal immigration out of his ass? You know it’s bullshit. I know it’s bullshit. Even he knows it’s bullshit, or would if he cared. But there’s still only so much people can think about in one moment, and as long as people are talking about whether he really knows anything about Mexican immigration (spoiler: No. Duh!), they’re not talking about whether he’s a criminal or a traitor.

If America had a president truly deserving of the title, the steady stream of untruths would indeed be scandalous. We so far beyond that now as to render the bullshit trivial. Stay focussed.