Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Why So Syrias?

Another domino in the chain has fallen, provided you think of the dominoes as countries, and them falling as high levels of protesters gathering in public areas to voice political dissidence against their leader. The latest domino has 4 spots on the one side of oil production (A relatively low score in terms of those tricksy middle-eastern dominoes) but has a mere 2 spots on the side of public approval of the political system. Their current leader, Bashar Al-Assad, looks a bit like a de-moustached Basil Fawlty* from Fawlty Towers. But what has our Basil look-a-like done politically? Has he [a] listened to protesters demands and gone peacefully? [b] implemented some sort of political reform under the pressure of public disapproval? Or [c] Fired shots into the crowd? I'll let you ponder that one. Yes, it WAS [c], well done, have a biscuit, I've put one magically in your biscuit tin. Anyone who said [b] expecting me to include the very VERY modest concession of "Declaring the half century of emergency officially over on Saturday" was very optimistic in what I consider political reform. Ironically, he hoped stopping the state of emergency when there was ACTUALLY a growing emergency on his hands would make the emergency go away. He was very much mistaken. Still, we'll see how it pans out. These things generally end up tickety-boo.

Local UK news, now! I bet you're thinking "I know David Cameron is a dick, but he wouldn't deliberately scupper the chances of former prime minister Gordon Brown to get a new job" right? Well, I'm afraid to tell you, you're wrong. That is precisely what he's doing. He's like Britain's new boyfriend, badmouthing our old boyfriend and telling everyone he beat us, when in fact he was just emotionally distant and unelectable. Only we and he know what really happened between us, and it's not fair for David to go around telling all his new mates at the IMF that he had a gambling problem, drank a lot and that we only went out with him because he was a friend of our ex, Tony. At least Gordon didn't cut our housekeeping and force us to sell our cooker, instead relying on volunteers to heat the food with their communal breath.

Muslims Against Crusades, the weird, far right semi-extremist Muslim group (Shattering any good work done by anyone to suggest that Muslims are alright by pointlessly stealing their name and stapling it to an incendiary, provoking group) want to protest around Buckingham palace on the day of the Royal wedding. Normally, of course, I'd be against this, but the EDL (equally alarming neo-fascist group) has said they will have a counter march if permission is granted. It is, of course, tradition dating back to the wedding of Ethelred the Unready, that there shall be an almighty racist or sectarianist bust up on the day of the royal wedding (Having found no convenient foreigners to hate, Henry decided to fight the Catholic church instead, a modern twist on the old classic). The last major royal wedding between Charles and Camilla merely had a commemorative slap on the face for Frank Bruno after a cheeky remark to the Duchess. However, this could be one of the best racist fights on a royal wedding since the 1840 fracas with the Qing dynasty in the Opium Wars over Victoria's marriage to Albert (In which we won Hong Kong, incidentally). I for one hope it all kicks off, especially as it will be televised. The British equivalent of the WWF is some drunk middle-aged men from Hull fighting some bearded Muslim extremists, and it'll all come to you live from the BBC. Obviously, this is all made up, the police have banned the march, and I fully expect all bearded men will be kept at least 400 yards from anything of any importance for the entire day, meaning I, once again, am going to have to not attend another royal wedding.

More local news now! RBS chief gets paid £7.7 million to be crap at his job. Despite us owning 83% of the company, the government allowed it to go through. To quote the BBC site
"RBS, which made a loss of more than £1bn last year, insisted it had to pay staff "fairly" to retain talented and motivated workers.". Christ. Imagine what it would be like if they had lazy, untalented workers if they managed to lose a billion pounds with the cream of the crop. That's like your football team losing 48-0 and paying the players millions to stop them utilising their skills elsewhere. Can you imagine what their interviews would be like?:

The setting is a drab office block, with rain streaking down the windows as the interviewers sit at a desk clearly designed for one, but curiously shared between both of them, leading to an awkward closeness between the two. The office is windowed out onto the main floor, but curtains are drawn, and a small sign saying "Interviews in progress" is hung on the door. The applicant enters, formalities are shared, in the case of the interviewers, hands accidentally, but nevertheless, inappropriately, graze in passing for handshakes, causing a frisson of excitement between both of them.
"How did your financial year go last year?" say the interviewers, armed with pens, paper and a nervous sexual awkwardness from their close confines.
"Well, I suppose we did lose more than a billion pounds." says the applicant, armed with boundless optimism and general naivety.
"...don't call us, we'll call you." say the interviewers, possibly ripping up his application form in front of his face, and calling it time for lunch, with Kevin awkwardly asking Sandra "if, y'know, if she wanted to, you know, go get coffee. Just as friends though! Nothing like...No, it's not like a DATE! Silly!".

Honestly, if you want someone to come and lose you a billion pounds, I will GLADLY come and do it for a mere £1 million a year, a saving of over 87%! You can't argue with that sort of improvement! Come on David, it'd cheer up the taxpayers if you could say RBS made an 87% reduction in CEO costs! Eh? Eh? I'll wait by the phone.

Made Up News

Archduke Ferdinand recently came out of hiding, claiming that being shot was merely a “Student prank gone wrong”. The moustachioed Austrian, aged 147, said to press “I was aware I’d accidentally precipitated a global conflict on an unprecedented scale” whilst twiddling his impressive handlebar. “It was never meant to go down like that. The collapse of the ruling classes in several countries, and the economic destruction of Germany, all for a bet between me and Wilhelm as to who could fake their own death most convincingly!”. Wilhelm, for his part, has convincingly remained dead since 1941, leading critics to claim he won the competition. A close aide to the former emperor said “Typical Wilhelm. Did anyone ever tell you about the time he got into an all night poker contest with King George and lost Namibia to him? Course, in those days, it was called German South-West Africa.” (I like the German method of naming countries. “What continent are we on? Right, and where are we on that continent? Right, this is South-West Africa. And it belongs to us, so it’s German South-West Africa. Perfect.”). There is no word from Wilhelm with regards to the events of the previous 70 years.

*This has led me to invent a new game, whereupon, you compare world leaders who are under pressure from protestors to characters from British sitcoms. President Mubarak looks a bit like Norman "Fletch" Fletcher from Porridge. Colonel Gaddafi looks like Mrs Slocombe (If you squint. Admittedly, you have to squint very hard, but it's like a magic eye puzzle. You squinting? Hard? Uncanny, isn't it?). Feel free to play this at home with your family. If you can't compare Massoud Barzani (Leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party, as if I have to tell you) to Del Boy Trotter (From Only Fools and Horses) by the third go round, I can't tell you how disappointed I'd be. Bonus points for using any characters from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (Other than the obvious Bomber for Khaled Mashaal). Ali Khamenei for Uncle Albert is a little too obvious, beard wise, so that only gives you half points. That's the game: Have fun and PLAY SAFE.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Special Made Up Bonus Edition!

The UN today announced that we, as a communal whole, are at war with Jupiter. The Earth, longstanding “Most efficient at developing life” champion of our solar system, has always borne a minor grudge against the much larger planet Jupiter, and as a political tool to collectively bring together all the inhabitants of Earth, that grudge has been blown out of proportion and then swung around to force the Earth into action. UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon said “It’s been scientifically proven that nothing creates more camaraderie than war. Why else do you think we had the crusades in what was a difficult time politically for the Catholic Church? We’re hoping to capitalise on that by bringing a common foe to all of the world, almighty Jupiter.”. We asked several people on the street what they thought of the 4.5 billion year old behemoth, and Janet, 43 from Middlesborough said “I heard that he sneaks into your house at night and eats you children while you sleep next door. That’s why he’s so big and so many kids at the equator go missing.”, whilst Gary, 22 from Leeds said “I dunno, really, it’s just a celestial body with little or no impact on my day-to-day life, really.” Whilst 84 year old Terry from West Ham said “We can’t give in! show ‘im a bit of the ol’ Blitz spirit! Eh?! Come at us, you grotesque planet!”. Sandra, 44 from Oxford has already composed a song to unite the world’s population, although a rather cruder one has been taken up about Jupiter only having one moon, his others being gnawed off by a raccoon, by all accounts. The major papers have already taken to the story, with the Sun demanding to know if the gravitational pull from the 1.896 x 10^27 kg planet caused the recent tsunamis and earthquakes, whilst the Times editorials wondered if the permanent cloud cover on Jupiter is obscuring a more treacherous misdeed plotted against the planet of Earth. The Guardian wonders whether the dossier compiled which suggest that Jupiter could hurl Europa or Io towards Earth with enough force to knock us out of orbit and into the depths of space, far from our loving Sun, had been “sexed up” to amplify the threat the previously docile planet really poses to the world. Ban Ki-Moon added with his final quip “’If you want peace, you must prepare for war’ has always been true, but perhaps not as the original author intended”.

Ban Ki-Moon, UN general secretary, was originally intended to be called "Ban Keith Moon", a protest by his parents at The Who's 1968 tour of Korea and Keith Moon's prodigiously fast beats which encouraged moral depravity on a scale not seen before or since.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The world according to ICC

The ICC have written their rules for the 2015 World Cup, and limited it to ten, predetermined teams that, conveniently, are the test playing nations. So basically, only 10 teams can ever win the "World" cup, regardless of quality, thus, there are only 10 countries according to the ICC. They've contacted the UN and offered their revised map:

England gets all of Europe. South Africa and Zimbabwe are to divide Africa between them. India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka divide up the entirety of Asia, including Russia. Pakistan to be given all of the Middle East. Australia to be given America as a memento. West Indies get South America. And New Zealand gets Antarctica.

A New Zealand spokesman said "We're sort of happy with Antarctica, as we now control the world market of penguins and have been looking heavily at penguin-skin cricket balls which allow greater turn for the spinners on flat wickets, and have a habit of reverse-swinging a bit earlier." whilst Australia's spokesman said "What are we supposed to do with this?! Look at it! It has a world series for teams that are only in its country! How does baseball even work?!" whilst a West Indian cricketer wondered if mahogany bats might stop his team collapsing in embarrassing fashion from seemingly strong positions. South African politicians were clever enough to call first dibs on any of Africa that isn't "Saharan wasteland", whilst Robert Mugabe said "This is exactly what the people of Zimbabwe need. People will always need sand! Always!". The idea of India and China uniting forces seemed too much to bear for some, so Sri Lanka have taken Chinese territories whilst Bangladesh takes its neighbouring tropical nations such as Laos and Vietnam. India have been gifted all of Russia, and Sachin Tendulkar said "This is why I've been batting almost impeccable for decades for the Indian team, so that we may one day take Russia." before worrying the inevitable pressure of the international series against a weak West Indian side would stop him getting his century of centuries. English spokespeople said "We've had an empire before: To have one again was seemingly inevitable. We saved them in the war, and these ingrates are moaning about the ICC flouting international conventions by redefining the entire world to the 10 test playing countries. We gave them plenty of opportunity to put together a good cricket side, and now they've learnt the dangers of not having a good swing bowling attack and competent batsmen."

Non-test nations were understandably aggrieved, the Vatican sending out a message saying "We've been working on a spin bowling attack to rival anyone and our batsmen have the required grit to grind out a result against even the toughest of teams" before adding "We'll play you for it!". England, taking up the challenge, were skittled to 243 all out in the first innings before the Pope knocked an almost miraculous 823 on a batsman's pitch on days two and three, before declaring on 1723-4, leaving the English the unlikely total of 1481 to win, the English eventually grinding out a draw as Alistair Cook reached 192 not out after 935 balls, a new best for him. The Vatican want another match, this time without the 5 day time limit enforced, as they look to reclaim God's land from the English.

America, much maligned as having had the opportunity to learn and embrace cricket but ditching it in favour of elaborate rounders, said "The collapse of our Empire due to the understandable desire for our population to neither play nor enjoy cricket is something we feel we can respect of our people." before calling their Australian rulers "Petty thieves" and adding "that accent really is ridiculous.".

The ICC said "We feel our new boundaries are acceptable, and have allowed any border countries to debate on which side of the border they wish to be on, in order to support the cricket team they feel best represents them. The Turkish are certainly in talks with both the English and the Pakistani team over who can offer the most incisive number 3 batting and have a consistent strike bowler capable of breaking partnerships." to press. Regarding international laws, the ICC said "We'll use impartial umpires and if any nation feels hard done by with a decision, we'll allow them three referrals per century to the third umpire, who will take a look in the TV replays.".

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Ow, I think I broke my Libya bone!

Libya is once again making some of, if not all, the headlines this week, largely due to the wild and chaotic revolution that is taking place there and the occasional, seemingly random bombings by UN-backed "Peacekeeping forces". An odd oxymoron, that. A tad like a "criminal policeman", or a doctor handing out free cigarettes. Still, we apparently have the moral authority to drop bombs on them, which is both mildly pleasing and fairly disappointing. Like the death penalty, a group of disconnected people have determined that it's a-okay to exact the eye-for-an-eye punishment. Maybe if we catch Gaddafi, we can exact the similarly biblical revenge and stone him to death.

In a brilliant combination of stories, Gaddafi was one of the men who had his phone hacked by News of the World. Glenn Mulcaire hacked his phone between 2005 and 2011, with revelations such as his support of the IRA in the 80s and his alarming fondness for terrorism. Also, calls from American prime ministers asking how the oil was coming along and whether or not he could make a token payment to the people affected by that pesky "Blowing up a plane in mid air, killing several people" issue (That's the sort of thing people people tend not to forget easily, but a few million dollars always greases the slipway to forgetfulness). A few messages from Gerry Adams saying stuff like "Thanks for all that funding! Really appreciate it.". Not really, I made that all up.

But the biggest story of the week! Police bother to solve case 6 years after it was opened. A police spokesman said "I know we should have solved this earlier, but honestly, we're busy people, and it totally slipped our mind that politically-advantageous reporters might be incriminated by phone hacking. Admittedly, I say slipped when I mean "Was pushed* by political powers who needed the sway of tabloid papers to connect with the increasingly disenfranchised electorate", but the point is still absolutely valid". Murdoch's other newspapers reported the story, the Sun reprising its 1997 election victory model with a minor alteration to "It's the Sun wot done it". Still, the police, aided by several lawsuits, have finally got off their arses and decided to try and solve the ever-expanding mystery of which tabloid journalists might not be impeccable with their investigating methods. I dare say they'll roll out Frost, Miss Marple, Poirot and indeed, Morse to solve this case; a conundrum on such an unrivalled scale as this deserves no less. Or they could go into the News of the World offices, throw some rocks, and arrest whoever they hit on suspicion of phone-hacking.

Nick Clegg breaks another promise news now, as his reform for political interns getting paid to work (How very modern) fails to materialise. Similarly, his children were promised bicycles if they did all the dishes for a year, and 6 years on, there is nary a hint of wheel nor pedal in the Clegg household. Interns at the illustrious Lib Dem offices (Slogan "Breaking promises since 2010") have been told there is no chance they'll get paid this year. One unpaid intern, Moses, 22 from Egypt, said "I shall reign down with the righteousness of the almighty for this grave injustice" before turning to camera to offer a direct message to Mr Clegg saying "Let my people GO!". Unconfirmed reports of a plague of locusts o'er the Lib Dem offices have been flooding in, several staff members have been seen removing frogs upon exiting the building, and some visitors reported seeing Red crosses on the doors of the interns' offices.

Made Up News

With the news that the police are to re-open old cases which had a political motivation behind them, several lions up and down Italy have been scared into hiding. One such lion, who spoke to me on condition of maintaining anonymity, revealed his role in the killing and devouring of several Christians several thousand years ago. The lion, since retired from the consumption of new testament admirers and living a quiet life in Turin, north Italy, said "I was only following orders! It's so hard to do what's right when everyone is telling you to savage the man in the robe. This is just like Nuremberg!". He added "There's a Lion-hunt out there ever since the Pope revealed he's not forgiven us for the wanton mastication of several key figures in Catholic history." before cowering behind the curtain as a mob armed with pith helmets and hunting rifles passed his riverside apartment. "Doesn't the Milgram experiment count for anything!?" he growled, running a paw through his greying mane. Another lion I spoke to, who was until recently part of the thriving Rome community and admired by all, said that he was living in fear for actions he'd done as a youth, 2000 years ago. "Everyone was doing it" he said. "Peer pressure is so persuasive in these scenarios, y'know? Do you know what we call the Androcles and the lion story? Androcles and the wimp. Despicable, I know, but it's what we did at the time. The lions who were in with Daniel and didn't eat him were laughed at for years. We always said Gerry died of shame because of that. I just got my life back on track and then this starts up again!". The Catholic Church stressed that it had no official policy towards the 2-millennia old crime, but did suggest privately that, were I to reveal the location of the lions, I would receive a large reward and a free pass to heaven. I must stress, I declined.

*The sort of technical detail still bogging down that Ian Tomlinson death case. "He fell. Well, alright, we pushed him, but the pathologist said we weren't responsible. Well, alright, the pathologist admittedly lost his licence later for a completely unrelated event proving him to be about as trustworthy as a Lib Dem leader (ZING), but can't you just FORGET about this?! I mean come on guys, what's one pesky little death. I'm already over it." said absolutely no-one. Hey, conveniently, it's hard to find any coverage of that whole police-killing-innocent-bystander thing at all on the "Left alone by police after breaking laws" News of the World. I don't want to suggest that they left them alone to have good coverage by them, but it's all very unfortunate. Hey, I wonder who was editor of the News of the World during the phone hacking... Andy Coulson, the recently resigned political spin doctor for the conservative government!? My my, what a coincidence.