This is me, returning from my night of triumph at the annual awards night of Northwood Boys Club. So many certificates, cups and shields, huh? To be honest the two cups were for winning the clubs snooker tournament. The big one has my name etched on it. The little one was to keep. I must have been about 12 or 13 years old. I did pretty well with a cue. Be it snooker or pool.
Every once in a while, a town that is local to me will hit the national news. One of the most exciting events was back in the late 90s when a bunch of animal activists burst into a fur farm in Ringwood, releasing thousands of mink. Yay for the freed mink! Not such great news for the native wildlife that then came into contact with the mink. In 2011, Mrs P and I returned from the land of the narco, where grisly beheadings were the norm. Only for someone to behead a man across the road from our workplace. And just recently, a well off gentleman is an exclusive neighbourhood round the corner from mother was shot dead in a bungled Continue reading
We’re at war. Again. Sort of. I’m not really sure why our latest campaign in Syria is being called a war. Obviously there is a war happening on the ground. We’re not participating in that. We’re just dropping bombs on distance targets from a safe distance. But anyhow. I have a few thoughts.
- Why are we bombing Syria? Well, there’s a very simple answer to this. Its what we do. It’s what we’ve done for hundreds of years. It’s what we’ll continue to do until someone gives us a sound thrashing and puts a stop to it. Even then, it’ll probably only be a temporary stop. It’s in the national psyche. It’s tradition, pride, vanity. If there is a bit of a kerfuffle going on someone in the world, we feel obliged to throw our hat in the ring. Especially if the French are involved. You think this is a ridiculous explanation? The world is, more often than not, ridiculous. Besides, I have evidence. A map of the world. Everything in red is a nation invaded or occupied by the UK at some stage. I know what you’re thinking. How the hell did Luxembourg get away with it??
- I voted Labour at the last election. I’ll be voting for someone else at the next election, unless Corbyn is replaced. I like him. His analysis of a problem is often spot on. He is principled. He is eloquent. He says what needs to be said. But his solutions, when he actually has one, are usually ideological, impractical and devoid of consideration for all other connected factors. The chap is an activist. He is not a leader. He demonstrated that last week. He is 100% against bombing in Syria. Yet, rather than force Labour MPs to vote against military action, he gave his colleagues a free vote. Why? Because his colleagues were going to ignore him anyway and he didn’t want to look weak. He’s not in control of the party and even if he were, his continued leadership is almost certain to see another Tory win in 2020. Who might replace him? Some would now say that Hilary Benn is a candidate. Picture yourself in the year 2020 at a UK/US convention. PM Hilary and Pres Hillary. Cartoonists are going to have a field day.
- The argument in the UK as to whether we should bomb Syria seems to be devoid of substance on both sides. The Right believe they can bomb ISIS into oblivion. The Left want a political solution. A political solution? Who are they kidding? A political solution with who? Russia? Assad? Turkey? The Kurds? That’s like sitting at at table with a bowl of dog shit and declaring that you are going to make a cake. Ain’t nobody gonna be swallowing that, I’m afraid. As far as I see it, there are two types of war. Total war, which is the one we most want to avoid. The other type involves running around trying to put out fires, but doing little to actually stop the firestarter. Which is also unpleasant, but probably better than sitting back and watching the fires spread and burn some more. But when all is said and done, there is no answer to this (or many other) of the world’s problems. Such is life.
- No one seems to be asking the most important question. It’s a simple one. Can our bombs kill radicalized terrorists more quickly than the bombs radicalize new terrorists? There’s got to be someone doing the maths…
- I’ve also noticed that those people I speak to who are most in favour of bombing Syria are also the least likely to approve of us taking in refugees. There has to be a formula out there to calculate the bombs to refugee ratio. Factor in tonnage of bombs dropped, the period of time over which they are dropped and the density of the receiving population per square mile. Plus a few other contributory factors. We can then present the maths to fans of the bomb and explain the concept of cause and effect in numerical form. Getting them to understand the concept of ‘responsibility’ is another matter altogether…
- Putin is nuts. He may sometimes make a valid point. But I suspect that’s by chance rather than design. The Turks are also nuts. They are doing more to prolong and aggravate the Syrian conflict than other nation. They have definitely occupied the moral low ground. I read somewhere recently that Turkey and Russia have waged war against each other more times throughout history than any other pair of countries. Although producing such a stat is a very dubious art. But anyway. They’re not buddies at the best of times. That should be everyone’s biggest concern, perhaps.
- I’ve long needed a post relevant for my warplane photos.
PS. We’re still bombing Iraq, dontcha know?
Fools Idiots Fuckwits and Arseholes. Pardon the language, but you know what I’m talking about. It was the most suitable acronym I could come up with at short notice. Needless to say I have a few thought about how this mornings vote for the 2018 and 2022 hosts went. I had previously, in the comments on one of my recent posts, queried the ethics of a secret vote.
FIFA has long been known to be a corrupt little club of tin pot dictators. This morning they added further evidence of that. The organisation doesn’t simply need to be cleansed, but closed and replaced with a more open, transparent and representative body. There should be more voters for a start. The Olympic hosts are chosen by a body of some 150 voters, not 24. Or 22, due to the suspension of two FIFA officials for corruption. And each person who has the privilege of casting a vote should be obliged to reveal who they voted for and why.
It has to be said, they may have voted for Russia and Qatar because they believed them to be the best bids. But we’ll never know if there was more to it than that, and have no way of investigating the matter. It could be found in future that a voter had received a dodgy payment, but without knowing which way he voted, there is no final proof. Only suggestive evidence. The fact the England’s bid finished fourth out of four is suggestive evidence in my opinion.
Were Russia and Qatar the best bids? From an environmental point of view, they were both, without any room for argument, the worst options. Not only does Russia need to build almost all their stadiums, but also airports. And the travel between venues is going to leave a high carbon footprint.
As for Qatar. I always thought that was a nasty bit of mucous you get in your nose and thoat when you are sick. But anyway, it turns out they are a country, and they also need to get busy stadium building. Indoor, air conditioned stadium building. The other thing both countries have in common? Corruption. They are arguably the two most corrupt nations of all the bidding entries. Russia has recently been labelled a ‘mafia state‘. It’s all coincidence, I’m sure.
I’ve had to look up info on Qatar, because beyond being aware that it lies somewhere in the Middle East, I know nothing of it. Wealthy they are. But small. A total population of just over one and a half million. The biggest city has less than a million people. The sixth biggest, less than 10,000. And they’ve been given a World Cup? What are they going to do with all the stadiums afterwards? Where’s the legacy? Ridiculous. Farcical.
Qatar, whilst being one of the more liberal Mid East states, still has the death penalty on its books, has a form of Shari’a law, supports Iran’s nuclear program, operates a legalised form of slavery and gay football fans might not be too keen on visiting – they may not leave for five years after the tournament has finished. But they do permit women to drive.
I don’t begrudge Russia winning the vote at all, although Qatar is another matter entirely. Everyone wants to host the World Cup, but only one country every four years can do so. I’m sure they will host a great tournament. What I do begrudge is the process. The corruption. The farce. FIFA.
I can choose to not pay a penny for anything that FIFA takes a cut of. That’s how capitalism is supposed to work. I couldn’t vote this morning. But I can vote tomorrow and every day after that. With my wallet. Except…when you look at this bid video from Russia of their stadia…you do kinda want to go.
The Qatari bid video seems to suggest that they need the World Cup because, quite frankly, their television reception is crap and the only way they’ll get to see a World Cup is by hosting one. I’m surprised their bid opponents didn’t mention that their nicest stadium is in fact a replica of Noah’s Ark from the Bible. That would have had the Qatari religious police pulling the plug on the project pretty quick, I’m sure!
The last point I will make is that my animosity is aimed at a handful of fools, idiots, fuckwits and arseholes. I’ll bet the ordinary people of Russia and Qatar are feeling over the moon right now, and are looking forward to their moment, just as I would have been. And I can’t begrudge them that. I’m sure both countries will put on a show, and Russia in particular is a country whose size and football passion deserves a World Cup.