Monday, January 30, 2006

The death of the NHS...

I would write something about the new white paper on health, which is encouraging private companies to come in and take over the National Health Service. I would wonder about the final blows to its thrashing corpse being struck by a government which pretends to be of the same party which created it. I would wonder those things, but I seem to have lost the will to live.
Could the last person to leave this blog please turn the lights out?

Aren't theocracies fun?

Oh look. Those nice folk of Hamas have won the Palestian elections. With their fundamental doctrine of not recognising the state of Israel. Hooray! Meanwhile Israel help matters along by refusing to negotiate with the Palestinian authority whilst Hamas are on in charge. Double Hooray! And the great and good of the world - Jack Straw and Condi Rice, so it seems - make demands of Hamas which they refuse to accept. How good is religion? It allows you to make all sorts of unreasonable and pointless statements, because god has told you you're right. He's told Israel that it's his chosen country. He's told the Muslims of Palestine that in fact Israel is really theirs. And he's told Mr Tony and George W. that not only were the WMDs in Iraq, but that they need to utilise all the skills they showed there in sorting out other world troublespots.
A small message for god - make your fucking mind up. Or shut the fuck up.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

In praise of German women

Apparently 30% of German women are now choosing not to have children - a figure which rises to 40% amongst university educated women. This seems to create panic amongst the political class, but is it really all that suprising? It seems fully understandable that educated, intelligent women, leading enjoyable and fulfilling lives, don't want to ruin them with 9 months of discomfort and pain, several years of cleaning up someone elses shit, then even more years of subordinating their own lives to those of a mewling brat or a petulant adolescent.
Futhermore, there are plenty of good reasons for not having children. The planet is over-populated with humans as it is, all demanding more resources to consume. Why add to that burden? And is it even moral to bring another consciousness into existence? People are unhappy for most of their lives - I'd guess about 80%. Our time is spent trying to find ways to blot that out - how can anyone justify inflicting that on anyone else?
Finally, of course, we suffer the pandemic of behooded, gun-toting youths, rampaging across our towns and cities, mugging, raping and murdering all that cross their paths. Put together, along with other factors, we can call these issues The Child Problem. However, I have a solution. My, as yet unwritten, manifesto - "Towards a child-free utopia" spells it out. Compulsory sterilisation for everyone living in the UK. Combined with a completely free immigration policy for anyone over the age of 21, provided they consent to be sterilised, too. That way, within a small number of years, the country will be entirely child-free, and the money saved in educating, protecting and punishing them can be put to use making life more tolerable for adults. I can't see a flaw in it, myself.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


It has been suggested that we at "What Would Puskas Do?" are humourless, holier-than-thou types, with giant chips on our shoulders, and a paraniod self-righteousness which overspills into all aspects of our lives. This is self-evidently true, but even so, we present the following joke, topical for tonight. Or, rather, last night, since it's gone midnight. Dusted down once a year, for its annual outing. Just don't expect us to approve...

Tony Blair is being shown around a hospital. Towards
the end of his visit,
he is shown into a ward with a number of people with
no obvious signs of
injury. He goes to greet the first patient and the
chap replies:
"Fair fa' your honest sonsie face,
Great chieftain e' the puddin'.race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang 's my arm."
Tony, being somewhat confused grins and moves on to
the next patient and
greets him. He replies:
"Some hae meat, and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit."
The third starts rattling off as follows:
"Wee sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an chase thee,
Wi murdering pattle!"
Tony turns to the doctor accompanying him and asks
what sort of ward this
is. A mental ward?
"No," replies the doctor,
"It's the Burns unit."

Kebab Machine

Spotted in London's fashionable, and not-at-all-seedy Kings Cross district, the memorable "Kebab Machine" take-away. Which creates images of a vending machine, much like the sort which may sell soft-drinks, or crips, with a giant elephants leg, rotating, dripping with healthy, life-affirming grease, and with razor-sharp knives, which every now and then slice of strips, which drop into salad-filled pitta breads to be coated in chilli sauce, and dispensed on insertion of £2.50.
Sadly, such a machine wasn't in the shop. It remains one of the last great gaps yet to be automated in our lifetimes. But there's the idea, if someone wants to patent it. You can buy me a pint with your profits.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mel And Kim

There seems to have been some talk of philosophy on here, recently. Let's continue with that theme, by bringing up two of the greatest philosophers of the ancient world, Mel and Kim, and, specifically, one of their most famous tenets - "Take or leave us, only please believe us, we ain't ever gonna be respectable". Cocking a snook (and I don't even know what a snook is) at bourgeois society, they positively mocked the whole idea of respectability.
Now, traversing onwards through the ages, to the present, we live in a world where the 7 inch single has vanished, replaced by the downloadable MP3, and where the talented artist is replaced by the vacuous celebrity, famous for merely having sex live on television. Which brings us nicely to Big Brother, and it's current spin-off, Celebrity Big Brother. The fact that many of those celebrities only became celebrities by being in other, non-celebrity surreality television programmes only goes to show the cannibalistic nature of the beast. But that's not our concern now. We stop to pause and stare at possibly one of the most self-obsessed egotists in the whole show. Step forward (ex??) Stalinist and friend of the fundamentalist, George Galloway MP. Let's not consider here what the rights and wrongs are of a democratically elected public servant ignoring his constituents and promoting himself in the hope of a television career once he's removed from parliament at the next general election. Let's not even concern ourselves with the accusations of financial impropriety which have once again surfaced. Let's simply look at the effect he has on the beliefs he supposedly espouses. He becomes the target of attacks himself, making it easy for right-wing pundits to mock criticism of government policy, simply by mocking George. Indeed, read the likes of Nick Cohen, Christopher Hitchens, and so on, and this is precisely what they do. The rest of us are then obliged to disassociate ourselves from him, which is difficult when not merely the man himself, but the whole of the right-wing media, wants to present him as a spokesman of the left.
Meanwhile, whilst we're on George, consider his party. Emphasis on "his". Respect. Respect for whom? George seems to show precious little of it to his constituents, or indeed, to his fellow celebrities. It seems the only person we're meant to respect here is George (and possibly his former friend, Saddam, but that's another matter).
But the respect theme allows us to segue nicely to out glorious Prime Minister. Who wants to foster a culture of respect. Ah, respect. When we all doff our caps to him, I imagine. But it's a riff he's played before. Back to when he was first elected, the lack of respect in society causing criminality. Overtones of the Victorian gentleman. Everyone knowing their God-given place, and being content with it. But, sadly, in this age where anyone can be a celebrity, we don't respect people for simply being born "better". Indeed, healthily, respect has to be earned, and it is very difficult to respect Thatcher's ideological heir, particularly when Thatcher had the excuse that she was driven by sociopathy, and a hatred of life and beauty, whilst all that motivates Blair is a small-minded, money-grubbing mentality, desperately trying to enrich himself as quickly as possibly.
So we return to Mel and Kim. And with them, looking at Mr Tony wants, I too ain't ever going to be respectable. Sadly Mel died a of cancer some years back, and I have no idea what happened to Kim. Looking at Mr Tony's Britain, we seem left merely with a profound sense of Mel and Colly.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Whining liberals and Puritans.

I have spent the past few days/weeks/months etc becoming more and more irritated with the newspapers I've been reading. For a start, one of them used to be a broadsheet, before becoming a pseudo-tabloid.
But more than that, there's a strong streak of goody-goody liberal shite to them. The Guardian, for example, is fond of a "Is it ethical to...." column. "Oh, dear guardian, is it ethical to breathe air that may have been ripped from the lungs of Columbian peasants?" "Is it ethical to eat food when, instead, it could have been shipped in environmentally friendly fashion, to Africa, and used to feed a starving village?" "Is it ethical to utilise huge fucking amounts of paper to sell at what is now 70p a shot, when you could put it on the web for nowt?"
And so on. The great dilemma of the liberal - how to live a life which doesn't cause anyone else harm, whilst still maintaining a house in Islington, a second home in Devon and a holiday villa somewhere south of Spain.
Well, I'm sorry, but you can't. Make your fucking choice. Either you're happy with capitalism, and everyone getting screwed so you can have your luxury goods, or you're opposed to it. Your attempted middle ground won't wash.
And connected to these Liberal types are the new model puritans. Most Sunday broadsheets have covered these. Humourless types who hate the world, and every form of fun available in it. You like to drink? How dare you - you have a drink problem. You enjoy sex? Weirdo! Traitor! To hell with you.
Me? I just hate the world, and get on with it.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Superstition, reason and happiness...

So yes, happy new year, and so on. Despite it no longer being particularly new. Or happy. I did think about writing a review of the year, but I did that gag last year. Then I pondered turning my hand to futurology, but realised the futility of that gesture - either a collection of grandiose, but pointless pronouncements, or, even worse, a "2006 Perspectives" document, written as though by the Central Committee of some small Trotskyist group. So no, let's avoid that too. Let us, instead, go back to our favourite themes - rationality, superstition and religion.
On television tonight, the ever-excellent Richard Dawkins presented a programme entitled "Root of all evil" giving us his arguments why society can never progress sensibly with religion, since there will always be people unwilling to compromise what they "know" to be the truth, that revealed to them, and them alone, by God. Generally, of course, that they are God's chosen people, and that everyone else is unworthy to share the planet with them. So far, so uncontroversial.
He did say one interesting thing early on, though, raising a point I've thought about quite a lot, and had several discussions on, generally after a lot of beer. In a pub. Late at night. His proposition, stated without comment: that it is better to accept a harsh truth than a comforting lie. Hmmm. Is it? On what moral obligation do I need to accept the truth, if falsehood makes me happy? If I were capable of abandoning reason to such an extent that I could accept I had some imaginary friend who would look after me, so long as I did what I thought he told me, and would make everything better after I died, why shouldn't I believe that? It sounds nice. Or, to take matters on step further, if I could have a lobotomy, turning me into a drooling idiot, but a happy idiot, would it be worth taking?
I think there are several problems with this. The first one is the practical argument. How do I know I would be happy? Real life isn't a thought experiment. But surely there's a better answer than that? I think the answer comes down to the meaning of life. To live a good (ha!) life. We need to give ourselves some purpose, surely some of which would be to help others live happier lives. And, no matter how comforting the lie may be, it won't help other people improve their lives. You can't feed the starving of the world if you base your agricultural principles on falsehoods, for instance. The only way we can really make the world a better place is to understand it properly. And why is it incumbent upon me to make the world a better place? Well, it isn't. But we do need some purpose to our lives. Otherwise we may as well give up. So we carry on. Battling for reason and rationality over superstition and the comforting lie. Maybe it isn't worth it, but what else can we do?