Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Playing Catch Up

Great cartoon by Dan Wasserman of the Boston Globe, reprinted in the IHT.

Hamas winning the elections also puts Lebanon in a precarious position regarding the Palestinian "guests" and their guns question. We now have yet another envoy to tackle that situation. I love all this high-level mediation that does absolutely nothing except raise the profile of the envoy and ultimately ends with them trying to force-feed Lebanon some crap solution.
PM Saniora said after a meeting with Egyptian president Mubarak (who is sponsoring the mediation: "Palestinian weapons in the camps should be brought under control and there is no reason why they should leave these camps."

How about "There is no reason why Palestinian weapons should be in the camps at all."? Works for me.

Also, a wonde
rful Beirut headline states: "Extraordinary Parliament Session May Lead To Heated Political Debate." and it wasn't in The Onion.
Doesn't that tickle anyone's funny bone? Am I just blinking in the dark here?

And this story about a Kiwi dog food company wanting to send food aid to Kenya made me laugh uncontrollably, although it's really not that funny.


Monday, January 30, 2006

7 Things....

Finally did it. Obviously for the "attracted to" section you can add your own subject.

7 things to do before I die:
  1. Fly to the edge of space.
  2. Swim with Great Whites.
  3. See the England football team win another star for their strip.
  4. Land a blue marlin .
  5. Brew the perfect beer.
  6. Have my 80th birthday.
  7. Learn to play guitar.
7 things I cannot do:
  1. Support France in anything.
  2. Drink absinthe - what is that?
  3. Put a good book down.
  4. Laugh convincingly at unfunny jokes just to be polite.
  5. Let a bully get away with it.
  6. Forgive & forget.
  7. Explain the offside rule to women.
7 things I say:
  1. Dude.
  2. Waynak? (or of course, waynik?)
  3. Shyeah, right.
  4. Fuck off.
  5. No way.
  6. Whatcha doin'?
  7. I'll have one of the large, please.
7 books I have loved: (I cheated a little here.)
  1. The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson.
  2. All of Douglas Adams (with emphasis on the Salmon of Doubt.)
  3. All of Louis de Bernieres.
  4. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet.
  5. Damon Runyon's Omnibus.
  6. All of Stephen King (except the Dark Tower series.)
  7. All of Terry Pratchett.
7 movies I have loved:
  1. The Big Hit.
  2. Restoration.
  3. Apocalypse Now.
  4. The Godfather I & II.
  5. The Hitcher.
  6. Animal House.
  7. The French Connection.
7 things that attract me to.....London:
  1. Sunday newspapers.
  2. Live music.
  3. Theatre.
  4. Billions of restaurants.
  5. Parks.
  6. Real pubs.
  7. My lovely Chelsea (you saw that coming, dincha?)
7 people to tag:
  1. MacDara
  2. Scarl0
  3. Graeme
  4. Beirut Bill
  5. Deeelite
  6. John-no
  7. Dylan

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cry Havoc

The meeting between Assad and Ahmadinejad in Damascus earlier last week produced the expected mumbles about the need for stability in Lebanon and their support for the Resistance. Of course, these days those two statements are mutually exclusive.
I mention it only now because it's been keeping me thinking - not a state of mind I like to be in too often - and it worries me what sort of mad scientist plan they have concocted along with Hezbollah, these leaders whose backs are, internationally speaking, against the wall.
Not having anything to lose is not a state of mind that can be reasoned with and the human impulse to not go down alone is a strong one. A scorched earth policy would be the endgame here as both sides have proved that they are either unable or unwilling to act as statesmen. Thug is the word that comes to mind. Plenty of other words do too but I won’t get carried away.

The UN has again called on Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah. Although the statement seems more directed towards Syria than towards Lebanon, it's still a sign that the international community hasn't forgotten. The Lebanese government hasn't even ordered them to disarm, as if ignoring the situation will make it will go away. Desperate times call for desperate measures, people. Find the cojones.
Amazingly, resolution 1559 was passed in September 2004.
Aahhh, I remember it as if it was yesterday....

The news this morning carried the hardly surprising news that Sven's been forced out. So in the Reality League that's Gutter Press-1, Sense of Proportion-0.
As usual, a pretty one-sided game and no match report necessary.

A lot on my mind this month - my lovely Chelsea playing Barcelona again in the Champion's League. Jammy fecking LiverPoo, minging whiners that they are, get Benfica. I know I've said this before, but the time draws near and the reality is setting in like some depression-inducing concrete. Mind you, the Poo's way-overhyped weekend "Clash Of The Titans" against Manure FC was boredom personified. Yawnfest.
Luckily, before I tense up and get all stressed over anything, the Six Nations starts in less than 2 weeks. It's a good time to be a sports fan, sports fans.

In case you're wondering, I've removed Michael Totten's link from my sidebar because he's starting to believe his own publicity and is in danger of disappearing up his own fundament. For those of you wishing to link to him yourselves, he's still here.

If you are sitting around at work with not a lot to do and have access to the net, do yourselves a favour and go here. Download the StumbleUpon toolbar and enjoy some great sites chosen according to your preferences. Some of the gems that I've come across in my Stumbles include this and this. One of my absolute favourites is this guy, but make sure you check out his archives especially Steve, Don't Eat It! Nasty.

Alright, I've been tagged by GrocerJack. I'm gonna go and do the 7 things thingy and post it later. Consider 7 of yourselves warned.


*Update*....this tagging thing isn't that easy after all. You can be pretty sure I won't be posting it today. For those who were about to be tagged - a reprieve.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Purely English Post

A detective constable in Nottingham faces the sack after being recorded on video calling a career criminal “pondlife”. The remarks were caught on tape during an unrelated covert operation investigating corruption. The detective was told that the criminal, with many previous convictions, could have been offended had he heard it. The other officers who were with the detective at the time may also face disciplinary action.
When they have robbed your house, mugged you, conned you and killed you, you’ll be happy to know that their fragile psyches won’t be damaged by police insults.
Political correctness can kiss my arse. Go ahead, make my day. Bring back Dirty Harry.

While on the subject of England, I was watching the whole Sven thing unfold on Sky news last weekend. The weather came up and there was a map of the UK with clouds a-swirling around it and rain a-lashing down and generally ugliness of a meteorological nature.
I watched as the weathergirl (or do I have to say weatherperson?) said there would be rain in eastern Britain and pointed to Anglia. I watched as she said rain in western Britain and pointed to Wales.
But I watched and fumed as she pointed to northern Britain and said there would be rain in Scotland.

In last Sunday’s Sunday Times, Minette Marrin has an article entitled ‘England is waking up to the patriot game.’
In it she discusses Gordon Brown’s ridiculous touting of ‘Britishness’. She writes that Brown “feels a worrying excess of Scottishness, well corroborated in opinion polls” and that it is a “nail-biting” problem for him. She continues “Generally speaking most people in England quite like the Scots, even though they seem to hate us. Surveys show we find their accents suggest intelligence and reliability. Politically speaking, however, this easy affection is disappearing fast, as Brown is well aware. Devolution in Scotland and Wales – fought for and introduced by new Labour – has much undermined our common sense of Britishness and fostered instead a new and rather irritable sense of Englishness in the South. Meanwhile Scots feel more Scottish and less British than at any time since 1707, according to some surveys, led astray, possibly by films such as Braveheart.

More importantly the English public is beginning to sit up and take notice of the famous West Lothian question – the problem first identified by the then MP for West Lothian, that Scottish MP’s at Westminster can vote and carry the Commons on domestic policies such as education and health that don’t affect them or their constituencies. The government has increasingly relied on the Scottish vote to push through purely English legislation, against English votes, and yet the reverse is not true; English MP’s have no say over comparable Scottish affairs.
This is obviously unfair, as is the fact that more taxpayers’ money goes to Scotland, per head, for public services than in England, following the old Barnett formula. Devolution has made this long-standing injustice feel worse.
In response, a feeling of English separatism is growing; the English hardly need Scotland and Wales and would be freer and richer without them”……..…. “so (in order for him to reach his ambition to be PM) Brown has to persuade us somehow that he is not that Scottish at all.
No, he’s British. We’re all British (though this leaves out the question of the Northern Irish who aren’t exactly British.) He might even fly the Union Jack. But these questions are not going to go away”……..”The big ideas of Britishness and national identity are now much too fragile to serve the purposes of an ambitious socialist like Brown. There is some justice in that.”

This dismantling of England by the Scottish Mafia (the G-Man excepted) is so insidious.
And AA Gill, that small man-complexed wannabe Scot writer for the Times, is a cunt. (Excuse my language, I won't call him a man again.) Read any of his articles for proof. In the same vein, I used to really like Jeremy Clarkson, a writer and TV presenter for Top Gear, until I found out they are best friends.
There. Enough said.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Weekend Warrior

What a good weekend.
The News Of The World must be desperate if they think their "sting operation" on Sven Goran Eriksson was actually news. I've watched it on TV and read about it and still can't find anything that Sven said or did morally or legally wrong. I like to watch the mighty fall just as much as the next news voyeur, but I don't think setting up someone and then carefully editing their words to fit a scandal actually counts as a headline.
On top of it all, why try and bring down the England coach in a World Cup year?
Maybe, juuust maybe, that's what really pisses me off....

Tit-for-tat alive and well and living somewhere near here. To paraphrase Samir Geagea, "if they (the pro-Syrian camp) hold a big demonstration, we'll hold a bigger one."
My dad can beat up your dad.

My lovely Chelsea powered through to a well-deserved win against Sunderland last night. Arjen Robben got himself a ludicrous second yellow card and a sending-off for celebrating his winning goal with the fans. The ref is obviously a closet Arse-nal fan.

That's pretty much it. I've got the Sunday Times AND the Sunday Telegraph to read.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Verbal Diary

Check me out. Over a week with no posting. No particular reason, just wasn't really interested enough by anything to write about it.
I did use the time to read other people's blogs, all the ones on my list and many others, and was quite surprised at how many reasons I saw there are for actually blogging - some do it to vent, some do it for money, some do it in a genuine desire to inform, some are on an ego trip, some are just keeping a journal.
Personally, I do it because a drinking buddy told me I was one of his Pepys.

And now, on to stuff that's been annoying me.
Guest (n.) - One who is a recipient of hospitality at the home or table of another.

Why do we still refer to the Palestinians in Lebanon as guests? Why do they have more weapons and autonomy inside our country than we do? Why do we accept that they be used as another way for Syria to terrorize and intimidate us?
If in any other country foreign guests decided to take potshots at officers of the law in the course of carrying out their duties, those guests' feet wouldn't touch the ground as they were rapidly and very forcefully dealt with, with incarcerations and deportations and other good stuff all round. A spokesman for the Palestinian group said that, apparently, the officers had provoked the gunman - of course they did, they were bill-collecting.
A strong response from the Lebanese government is required.

How can we be expected to have a 'normal' relationship with Syria, as suggested by Saud Prince Saud al-Faisal? Until the truth comes out about the killings and disappearances there can't be any real reconciliation. Draw as many border lines as you like, exchange diplomatic representations and words until you are blue in the face but the underlying problem is still there.
Commissions for Truth and Reconciliation under various names have been put to work in countries from South Africa to Fiji and maybe something along those lines is needed here.

Then I think about it a bit longer and laugh at the thought of any of the main protagonists being honest about anything.

Also, happy thoughts what with the Iranian government pursuing nuclear capabilities. I get a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that a stable, democratic regime run by rational, progressive, liberal technocrats are developing the ability to blow the Middle East back to the Middle Ages.
Although some of you naysayers might say that it would only take a very small explosion to push us back there (and in some aspects you are correct) this does have major repercussions for the rest of the world. If Pakistan, being West-friendly, got busted for disseminating nuclear technology throughout the Islamic world for money, can you imagine what could happen if Iran decided to pass on their know-how or even worse, the finished product, to their allies and protégés?

Gordon Brown thinks we should have a day to celebrate "Britishness". All I really want to say on the matter is this - before being British, I'm English. Can we sort that out first?
I am not spitting on the Union flag, quite the opposite, but there's no way I'm going to celebrate yet another attempt to make England and all that she stands for, irrelevant. While we're on the subject, one of the always brilliant gifts I got from my mam for Christmas was a leather passport cover from Smythson. In black leather, it has embossed on the top front "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". The wonderfully cheeky part was the 3 lions covering the rest of it.

Oh crap, there's that warm, fuzzy feeling again. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Take 3

The second Khaddam interview was mysteriously postponed yesterday. It was supposed to air around 9pm last night but there was nothing. An "informed source in Beirut" said that it was only postponed for 24 hours but I have heard another reason which seems to make sense.
Khaddam has obviously had his diplomatic passport revoked and as a result, he has no status in Paris. One way he could sidestep this problem would be to declare political persecution and request political asylum in France. The most important factor in being accepted as a political refugee is that you refrain from making any political comments at all - hence the sudden disappearance of the interview.
If true, this is another problem that needs resolving because I think Chirac, just as much as the rest of us, wants to hear him speak publicly for posterity about the crimes committed by the Assad regime.

In other news, Ariel Sharon, the Israeli PM is in intensive care after suffering a massive stroke. I have already heard rumours from friends who claim they heard on the radio that he was dead but I have been unable to find anything in the mainstream media. I'll update if anything changes.

Jack Straw visited Lebanon yesterday and met with PM Saniora but snubbed Lahoud. Nice. Not a big fan of Straw's, but that was nice.

And on a final note, I think that after the flop of his last film, Jim Carrey has had a career change and is moving to Stamford Bridge to play with my lovely Chelsea under the unlikely name of Maniche (he also does a great Portuguese accent - uncanny!). He should bring a smile to any midfield.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Take 2

Update - I fixed the link...thanks for the emails!

Look forward to some more comments from our friendly, neighbourhood Syrian whistleblower ex-VP Khaddam on TV tonight. Despite all of your disbelief, it seems that there is still more dirt to dish on the Assad-run regime.
Rustom Ghazali had his 15 minutes of fame yesterday on TV when he declared that he would "step down and even die as a martyr if his leadership wanted."
Martyr? Did he really say martyr? Man, them's some big balls.

It is also looking more likely that Khaddam will somehow present himself as an alternative for leadership in Syria when Assad & his thugs are forced to pack their bags and run for the hills. Unfortunately, Khaddam's 30-something years as a top Baathist architect in the Syrian government only prepared him to be Assad Lite at best. Democracy doesn't become your 'thing' in a lightning bolt in the way, say, religion (or for that matter, lightning itself) supposedly can.
Anyway, to quote Yoda, "interesting still may this become."

Quiet week so far. Enjoy.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Taking A Baath

Happy New Year everyone.

Ex-Syrian vice-president Abdel Halim Khaddam must be really gutted that the ruling Syrian Baath party has expelled him. Not only that, the Syrian "Parliament" has voted (unanimously, no less) to have him tried for treason and also, from an irony-free zone, corruption. I bet he didn't see that coming.

The UN Hariri probe team will now ask to interview Syrian President Bashar Assad as well as his Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa following Khaddam's explosive TV interview. It's incredible how the most damning of evidence comes from the centre of the viper's nest when even up until a few days ago we were wondering if the Hariri probe would regain its former impetus. An interesting tidbit from BBC news stated that Khaddam had been in Paris with his family since June, when he quit his post very quietly.

I think Khaddam's main worry now is not to commit suicide, which I imagine is easier in Paris than downtown Damascus.

President Lahoud is now claiming that he and Rafic Hariri were the best of friends. Well, not exactly those words....what he actually said was that he had "a respectful and positive relationship" with ex-PM Hariri, but coming from him it, you have to admit that it sounds as ludicrous as my interpretation.

Now that the Syrian regime is scrambling to retain some semblance of credibility, the coming week should provide moments of hilarity, absurdity and good old Soviet-style propaganda. Let's just hope that no one decent has to die violently because of it. Keeping my fingers crossed seems to be as effective a deterrent as any.

The New Year celebrations around the country were suitably muted. I had a great time and even (against all of my BEST efforts) awoke on January 1st without an accompanying hangover. I'm not sure whether to feel proud or disappointed in myself. That day also contained a full English and builder's tea - later on a 10 litre keg of beer was tapped and and left a lot lighter than it was when opened. Good times, good times.

My lovely Chelsea play today against West Ham, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole's former team. Frankie has asked the Hammers' fans to respect him and not boo but I don't think that's going to help much. If you gave up a player who went on to become England's finest with London's finest, you'd boo hoo too.
Another thing to look forward to - my horoscope says that my self-confidence will today attract members of the opposite sex in bewildering numbers. A quick check on the meaning of bewildering: to cause one to lose one's bearings; to disorient.
Zero is a number, right? Man, I'm lost.

Farris Hassan is back home finally. The American 16-year old went to Iraq apparently inspired by a course in immersion journalism without telling anyone. He managed to get to Baghdad and stay in a hotel used by Westerners where presumably he cacked himself for a week.
Him and anyone who says he was brave and adventurous.
Not every growth experience should require the services of the 101st Airborne Division.

Have a good one.