Thursday, September 29, 2005

Creationists out of Gas?

I respect people of faith. I respect their right to dismiss the theory of evolution. I also believe it is right that they can choose to shelter themselves from outside interests who would seek to force views counter to the teachings of the Bible upon them.

Such as Gas Stations.

That's right. I would like to protect Creationists/Intelligent Design proponents by banning them, for their own safety, from the heretical use of fossil fuels.

After all, the very youngest fossils are at least 10,000 years old. Many are millions of years old.

"Young Earth" exponents insist that Earth is a maximum of 6,000 years old.

Oil, natural gas, and coal, all come from fossil material. Is it right to let God-fearing people have access to fuels that completely contradict their most deeply held religious beliefs?

I propose that Creationists make the switch to Faith-Based Fuels. Or, failing that, walk or use bicycles.

With the invasion of Iraq, it is an uncontestable fact that the US now has access to the world's second largest oil reserves. But for people of faith, people who simply cannot Belive in God AND fossils, there's another huge source of energy in Iraq, one that has been overlooked simply because it is, by its nature, a little squeamish. But why should faith-based people mind a little blood when they can serve God's purpose (to eradicate Muslims) AND keep their huge trucks purring along at the same time?

Ladies and Gentlemen, Extreme Unction presents:

Dead Iraqis - the new fuel of choice for faith-based people

If prayer has failed to start the engine of your 8 litre SUV, then do not despair! God, in his inifinite mercy has come up with a ready source of fuel for the family vehicle. Dead Iraqis. Yes, skinned, boned, cleaned, and finally, pulped, each dead Iraqi can produce an "energy harvest" of up to 2 pints of fuel. That's 240 to a barrel! The infrastructure is already in place for a simple switch over from carrying crude oil to transporting new DeadIraqi Oil.

While DeadIraqi may be a little more expensive at your faith-based pump, people of faith will have the satisfaction of knowing that they are burning the remains of heathen terrorists as they plough through traffic. Hell, switch to premium and burn off a few Sheiks on your birthday - person of faith, you've earned it!

*

I hope that this modest proposal will be accepted in the spirit of respect for Creationists/Intelligent Designers, and people of faith in America.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Wrestling Language

The Daily Show is playing. Some of it I find really funny, even if it does cause pangs for The Day Today, which prefigured just about every aspect of this show and went faster and further.
Anyway, on what is a show that prides itself on featuring some long words and evidence of brain activity, why do they persist in having Actors on to talk?

None of these actors (and they are mostly men, for the record) has ever said anything interesting or funny in all the times I've watched them trying. They should make the actors come out in superhero costumes and do WWE style wrestling with an opponent called "Language". Every encounter follows the same path, as Language scores a swift and total victory.

"Did you see that, Gene? Jeepers, while Actor X was struggling to come up with a suitable verb, Language broke his feeble toehold and kapow! bounced him right off the top turnbuckle and out of the ring! Amazing stuff..."

England draws three years...

"FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- A military jury at Fort Hood, Texas, Tuesday sentenced Army Pfc. Lynndie England to three years behind bars for her role in detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison." (CNN)

This doesn't make anything better; the smallest rotten apple who was caught red-handed is going to suffer, sort of.

I wanted More.

Natalie Evans and why I disagree with her legal action

I do not know Natalie Evans personally, but I have followed her legal action for some time, as it throws up some interesting issues regarding the status of embryos in IVF treatment. The latest instalment of the story is here, but I will recap the salient facts.

*

Natalie Evans began IVF treatment after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The treatment resulted in six of HER ovaries being fertilised with THE HUSBAND's sperm, to produce six embryos. These embryos are currently in storage.

The marriage ended and her husband withdrew his consent for the embryos to be used by Natalie Evans. Consent from both parties, who were Equally Responsible and both contributed their Genetic Material to produce the embryos, is required at each and every stage of IVF treatment.

Natalie Evans has sought recourse to the law to overturn her ex-husband's withdrawal of his consent. She wants to use the embryos to give birth.

* END of Recap *

I believe that Natalie Evans' request should be denied access to the embryos.
The sentiment she expresses that I take particular exception to is this -

"I feel that I have to pursue every possible route to save my embryos"

I disagree absolutely with that word - MY. In point of fact, they are not Natalie Evans' embryos. Both Natalie and her ex-husband contributed genetic material. Natalie Evans needs to look up the meaning of the word 'Our'.

What about an alternative scenario, where Natalie Evans doesn't want a child, and her husband, having become impotent, wants to have the embryos implanted in his new partner. Natalie Evans refuses to consent. He wins a legal decision and takes ownership of the embryos.

Would that be right?

To my mind, no. Why? Because I believe that the fate of these frozen embryos must be reached through Agreement, as Both Parties have Equal Ownership of the material. What is the point of mutual consent, if, when parties differ on whether the embryos can be used or not, one partner simply uses the law to overturn the wishes of the other? That means that consent, and the opportunity to withdraw consent, never meant anything.

While I support women's rights absolutely, I do not feel that this particular case is about women's rights; it is about rewriting the rules to suit the desires of one of the parties. I cannot support a change in the law as a result of a decision that fails to respect the wishes of Both Parties, and that awards Sole Ownership of something produced with Both Parties genetic material, to a Single Owner.

I sympathise with Natalie Evans' position, but, in the interests of fairness to both Wives and Husbands who pursue IVF treatment, I hope this legal action fails.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Goodbye England

The England, in this case, being Private Lyndie England, who has been found guilty of torturing prisoners at Abu Graib prison in Iraq.

It transpires that Iraqi prisoners did neither spontaneously form themselves into pyramid-shaped crystals, nor did they see such acrobatics as serving their aesthetic, moral, or spiritual purposes upon planet Earth.

Likewise, having Lyndie England point at your genitalia while smirking seems also to have not been a conscious choice on the part of Iraqis, although I understand there are Englishmen of middle years, who received boarding school educations, who would be happy to pay for the privilege of receiving such treatment.

Please just sentence Private England to 10 years in Abu Graib.

If we wanted to take the vile and the disgusting, such as the above, and see how it is rendered by the decadent, too-much-money, not-enough-braincells, Western consumers of today, then it is worth turning the EXTREME Unction searchlight momentarily on the antics of Video and Adventure services (VAS), and its "master-mind" Brad Enright, who stages "executive kidnappings" for the bored rich.

"Another client, David, paid for the pleasure of being blindfolded, locked in a box and driven to Massachusetts ("I am very surprised that I survived"). What was the attraction? "I am such a conservative individual," he says. "I don't do outlandish things. This is my bungee-jumping - which is something I would never do." He struggles to articulate what appeals about kidnap: "It's a very personal experience, very personal." But he will admit that, "I like the fear. I like rollercoasters and this was like a rollercoaster." Was there anything unpleasant about the kidnap? "Oh yeah," says David. "One time I got maple syrup thrown all over me. I was flipping out. You couldn't wash it off."

Do I have to point out the doubly sordid nature of what's going on here? First the real-life transgression against "the enemy", followed by the utterly safe, Hollywood parody of the real, that is the phoney kidnap. I would have more respect if the company cut their client's heads off at the end.

What next? Will it emerge that bored executives are being "Arabized", equipped with new skin colour, brainwashed into extreme Islam, their memories of the West erased totally, and then dispatched to Guantanomo bay or Afghanistan, etc? In a devilish twist, the company who organizes their "exectuive excursion" is destroyed by a hurricane, and all its records lost. Meanwhile, bored executives slowly recover their memories and begin desperate legal battles from Camp X-ray... they try to reason with their captors:

"BUT I'M AN AMERICAN!!!"
"You are Isfaq Iqbal Muhammud, captured 2005 in Southern Afghanistan, with six pounds of plastic explosive in your possession; you are an Al Qaida operative."
"No, I am Dave Schneider, from New Jersey, and I was here on an executive package, just for a month while the rest of my team went snowboarding in Colorado..."
"Okay, Isfaq, that's enough! You will not insult my intelligence, or my proud nation, with your disgusting lies......"
"But it's my country, too, and I bow before the same flag..."
At that, the interrogator snaps and flashing forward, smashes Dave's nose with a well-placed punch.
Dave lies on the floor, clutching his broken nose. He manages to sob, "That isn't fair... that wasn't in the brochure..."

*

EPILOGUE

I have to go now. I am about to become a millionaire selling Koran toilet paper that true American patriots can wipe their patriotic asses with and flush down their Star Spangled Commodes... watch for me on the cover of Fortune magazine.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Yeats

Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder's gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start,
In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.

Book Reviews #1 - Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde - Well of Lost Plots



Review: I had the terrible terrible sense that I was wasting my precious time on Earth with every word I read of this hokey sham of a fiction. I gave up after 50-odd pages, when the Cheshire Cat manifested in a wraith-like manner.

Rating: Zero Stars and Had to be Torn Up

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A fortune from dog bites

I was researching the USPS union movement tonight. Please do not ask why. And from there it was but a small leap to a heap of information on Dog Bites. I found the attorney below, waiting for me at DOGBITE.ORG

Just look at him, expensive watch, tie-pin of a slavering Rottweiler (with diamond eyes), stood next to his Rolls Royce with a huge house behind him. This guy must get a stiff-stander every time he sets eyes on a Pit Bull or a Dog Bite victim.



Even better, check out this sinister little animated DOG that patrols his website! Grrrrr...


Monday, September 19, 2005

Great Resource...

http://wiredforbooks.org/

If you don't do ANYTHING ELSE today, please click on this LINK and listen to the great Dylan Thomas discussing the secret societies of boyhood, so damn funny!

Some Excellent Things here, spent last night listening to the John Irving interviews from 1985 and 1989. and this link too http://wiredforbooks.org/swaim/
An absolutely GREAT pile of gems in this pile, James Purdy, William Burroughs, James Ellroy, Dick Francis!
*

Finished two novels in the last week, Dickens' Hard Times, which was excellent. What a master of character Dickens is, I loved the pompous Mr Bounderby.

The other novel was Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome. I have to say, this novel was precisely written, with some choice descriptions of nature, but the Intro by the Author! Please, the vanity of it. Wharton considers Harmon Gow a character, despite his sole contribution being to pilot a horse and cart into town and speaking about 20 words. She also lays claim to having leant on the dramatic device employed in La Grande Breteche and The Ring and the Book, yet doesn't actually make use of a multi-faceted narrative AT ALL, outside of a preamble and an epilogue. So, thumbs down, pretty much. Zeena is a great tyrant, though, and i do like a good hypochondriac in fiction (just as Dickens' Hard Times features Lady Scadgers, bedridden on account of her "mysterious leg")

(The Dover Publications site is a great source for cheap editions of a range of classics)

*

I'm quietly obsessing over the Richard Burton narration of Under Milk Wood that is available on itunes. Me want, Me want...

Extreme Unction is One Year Old

12 whole months of Blogging. Shame I seem to be in something of a visitor trough, though. I just haven't been able to focus single-mindedly on being Super-Funny when the world has felt very much like it's going to Hell in recent times. One part of me wants to be A Political Blogger and disappear into an exploration of my frustrations with where Britain (where I was raised) and the US (where I live now) are heading. But there's sooo many people doing that already, being one more voice in the choir just isn't what makes Extreme Unction great.

Maybe I should offer refuge from THE Bad World and the Bad Men who Control It and return to documenting the irrelevant but somehow compelling madnesses of everyday life.

Anyway, I'm torn between these two options and have felt like two people are writing this blog at times. Happy birthday to both of us.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

This is SO unfair

Here are details on a discriminatory prize draw

If you thought the usual 3 for 2 book deals were something to write home about, then wait until you have seen this! We’re giving away your very own height in best selling and new books, from Books etc.

Stock up for the autumn on some great reads that’ll keep you entertained till the cows come home or maybe you could get some very early Christmas presents. Whether you enjoy steamy best sellers, science fiction or perhaps reference books, you’ll be able to choose books to suit. Just enter below for your chance to win.

***

What if you're only 4 feet tall? This is blatant discrimination. At least with a Win your own weight in chocolate Prize Draw, you can stuff yourself full of food before the prize-giving.

My advice to the winner -> ARRIVE ON CUNNINGLY CONTRIVED STILTS

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Blunkett Caught - AGAIN!!!

One of my least favo(u)rite politicians of recent times, David Blunkett, has seemingly been caught again, using his political influence to help smooth the progress of his personal affairs.

Let me remind everyone - this is the same Blunkett who took a deep interest in rushing through a visa application for his nanny.

Now, Mr Blunkett appears to have used his influence to make sure that his son didn't suffer unduly from an examination grading fiasco. Nevermind lots of others suffering, just so long as Boy Blunkett didn't get caught up in it.

This is the same Mr Blunkett who espouses his working class credentials and spent many of his weekends tramping around country estates as the guest of aristocratic chums. Oh, he's a veritable Mr Bounderby, to be sure, sat back in his chair, lecturing those assembled thus:

"My word, your Duchess, those were delightful veal cutlets to be sure. Not that my palate is well used to them, my having been born in a ditch and raised chiefly on garbage. Let us not for one moment mistake me for a Gentlemen of all things. No, I am riff-raff, that much is plain. And now, if you please, I would avail myself of some vintage wine, the better to rinse out this low-born mouth of mine, which in childhood so often was forced to swig toxic run-off from a chemical waste-pipe..." (raising his glass) "To Our Good Health!"

The same Mr Blunkett who fathered a child with another man's wife!

Yes, he is a good fellow, Mr Blunkett, far too good to simply being a private citizen, exercising his lack of integrity within such a limited sphere. NO! Mr Blunkett needs to Hold High Office, from where his crushing lack of judgment can best be exhibited and the National Interest can be suitably served by one so upright.

Bring on the Knighthood!

Arise Sir David Blunkett! For you are verily the Finest and Most Noble of What England Hath to Offer in the Sphere of Misdeeds and Rank Hypocrisy!


the hymn of black-hearted dispensation

when i make a million dollars
i will build a convenience store on my country estate
and you will work there for minimum wage
with no benefits
serving all my rich friends

and

at the weekends
to supplement your meagre income
and keep you from death
my pet monkeys will throw their shit at you
for the amusement of myself and my cronies

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Customers redefining stupid

Customers call the bookstore and ask for a book.
Only... they don't know the Course, the Course number, the Professor, the ISBN, the author, or the title...

"It's blue..."
"Oh, yes. We have it."
"Oh, how much does it cost?"
"It's seven million dollars..."
"Seven million dollars?"
"Seven million dollars... and fifty cents..."
"Thank you..."

These people are Not Worthy of living in the same universe as Thomas Dolby and his Amazing Hit Record, She Blinded Me With Science!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Microlecture 1 - Barrel Travel in a Toeless World

... a Microlecture on the Substance from Which the Toes Pertain...

Far well, it has been held fast to the commonplace, that the toes are in the depth of their matter, composed strictly, incontrovertibly, from the same essence as that part of the body to which they are commonly affixed, namely, the foot. Folly, says I, for with my home-made microscope, I have reached an alternative view, that the toes are not resident to the human being, their alien manner and modes of behaviour, having thus far, throughout history, been shrouded by their chosen instrument of denial, the shoe. For, when the independent mind doth remove both footwear, and, where climate necessitates, the socks, is one not confronted by the very real proposition that what one observes is uncalled for, hostile even. A wild mix of rumour and scientific study maintains that without the toes one is unable to propel oneself successfully throughout the world without recourse to stick or wheeled chair. Is this true? What does it say for the munificence and worldly sense of our Divine Creator, to suggest that He, in the infiniteness of His Wisdom, should provide us with such a delicate mechanism as the toes for making our way in the World? Aha, say some, but the Creator also gave us the capacity to Invent Shoes as Protection, and to implement safety regimens and to exercise varying degrees of caution.

To this, I have but one word by way of rejoinder - Shoo!

It is my contention, reached honorably and without need of mind-abraiding potions or elixirs of the distilled sort, it is my unabashed, unabridged, and unbending view, that the prime means of perambulation for humans is not to walk upright at all upon this earth. Rather, we have been misled by the parasitic invasion of the toe, forced into the monopoly of walking when other means exist. If only men of firm mind could grasp them and ride out the inevitable rabble-roused hue and cry, the opprobrium afforded all those who would exercise their faculties without slavish adherence to convention, and, undaunted, strike out upon another path, whither it may lead.

It is for this reason that I have begun moving through the world by means of sitting inside a barrel. In this toe-free pursuit, I simply set myself in the direction I wish to travel, and then, in accordance with Newton's Laws, all one requires is a sufficient Push, the better to generate Momentum. In this, I have claimed able assistance from passers-by, their intentions admittedly not always noble, the Energie imparted to my Barrel often being of an Intensity and Duration that throws both my physical and immaterial body into a Storm of Confusion. It was in this manner that upon 3rd March, 1841, I travelled from Burton-upon-Trent to the fine city of Derby, a fulsome fifteen miles, in less than 2 hours. I emerged from my barrel, bloody but unbowed, and was able to keep my appointment with the local scientific society, who listened with open gobs to my astonishing findings, both theoretical, and practical, as attested to by my advanced state of dishevelment.

*** End of Report ***


Thursday, September 08, 2005

ipods are no longer cool

we bought one

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A character in the bookstore

Oh yes. A character, a man who may have to be dropped while still warm into the boiling hot soup of my big stack of writing that is becoming a Very Worthy Tome indeed (working title, The Three Million Musketeers)... anyway

The Man who was Obsessed by the Condition of Books that he Purchases

"This book is no good. It was billed as new... it's practically destroyed, look, the pages are crimped."
"Okay, Sir. I will exchange it for another new copy."
I return.
He looks at me like I've pulled down my pants and made number two on the floor of the bookstore.
"This is the SAME BOOK I returned yesterday!!! Look at this corner."
He invites me to look at the corner by bringing it quickly towards my eye. He shouts, "This is OUTRAGEOUS!!! This book is totally fucking unacceptable, I want a new book, it's a hundred and fifty bucks, I'm picky about the condition of books I buy, I want a book that is NEW, I want it still shrinkwrapped..."
We go and look. I am foolish enough to offer him a book to consider.
He looks at me like I am barely alive, like I just crawled out of the primeval slime and am awaiting the dawn of consciousness.
"Look at this! It's not NEW. Look at these spots, look at the corners, Jesus! a hair! a hair! look, this isn't NEW, it's... it's USED!!!"
He finds some shrinkwrapped new books.
"These may do. I want one that is shrinkwrapped correctly. For a hundred and fifty big ones, it has to be PERFECT. NO! Not this one... NO! Not this one... NO! Hmmm..."
He considers a book.
"This one seems acceptable."
He says thanks as if he is trying to spit his teeth into my skull with so much force that they shatter bone and lodge in my brain.

***

Then, I think...
what about a character who loves literature, who loves books, but can never Buy an Actual Book, as they are so perfectionist regarding the condition of books. even simply taking a new book from a shelf and walking ten steps to a cash register will, in their opinion, see a book, "hopelessly wrecked, decimated, killed..."
they walk into a store, wearing breathing apparatus and thick gloves.
they select a book and walk over to the cash register.
"i wish to make a purchase."
the cashier reaches out for the book.
"NOOOOOOO!"
they carefully drop the book and run away.

etc

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Both Barrels

i subscribe to the New Writing e-newsletter. today's issue was sent from someone called Julia Wragge-Morley. yes, you read that right, Wragge-Morley, and here i was, thinking it was 2005, not 1805. no matter, the Wragge-Morleys march on, their double-barrelled bellies full of cheer.

anyway, i sent a rejoinder

***

wragge-morley

i had to write in recognition of your high comedy, indefatigably middle-class name. i really did think double-barrelled names had dwindled from the world of english letters these last two centuries, most of your ilk having been killed by tigers while out game hunting, but, alas! and alack! here we find one last specimen, paddling grimly against the currents of history, on the New Writing newsletter. i guess democracy will have to wait.

could i also suggest, if we are going to suffer the wragge-morleys of the world, that your next mailing include an e-elephant gun and some e-darkies to clean my e-colonial pile. that would be absolutely ripping.

yours faithfully

jason kennedy,

e-peasant

Monday, September 05, 2005

Of Human Bondage

Finished a large novel today, W. Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage. It's a Bildungsroman of a character called Philip Carey, something of a drip, but there's much humo(u)r and interest in its 679 pages. It's unavoidable not to drift off into thoughts of Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which was published the next year (1916).

Joyce wins out, of course, but I will never quite rid myself of the horror of Mildred in Maugham's novel, the unresponsive, devious, money-grubbing slice of vileness, who ends her days as a streetwalker.

On reflection, Maugham's novel is staggeringly stupid, but there we are, I've read it now and nothing can be done. There are a few good character studies contained in its pages, in its defence.

Okay, next up, Victor Hugo, Les Miserables.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Observe the survival instinct / Don't knock it until you've tried it

As an Englishman in America, I have been shocked and perturbed by much of the coverage of the conditions in New Orleans for those who didn't get away. There has been a great big conflicting message today, namely:

People don't have enough food and water and there is no power

BUT

People are wrong to take stuff without paying (hmmm, funny, but no-one seems to be working the cash registers right now), to secure food and presumably bottled water for themselves (as well as sensible "purchases" such as tobacco, alcohol, and a range of electrical items that they cannot make any use of right now - "Damn! When this water recedes, I can't wait to watch HBO on my new 60 inch plasma screen...")

I saw pictures of one woman running out of a store clutching boxes of Huggies. Huggies! Because, yes, a baby needed its diaper changed. So what's the problem?

Taking things from the shops that you need to survive doesn't bother me. No-one who is taking stuff just to survive is looting. For sure, there's some looting going on, but it should not distract from the main event here, that it's basically every man and woman for themselves down in New Orleans at the moment. Instead, there are self-righteous people living in cities that aren't underwater and they are bellyaching that people in New Orleans cannot be stand-up Americans and starve to death instead of self-serving at their local supermarket.

The Media needs to stop demonising the people there, and yes, maybe they're demonised more quickly because they are poor and black. I've already seen right wing blogs festooned with footage of looting with "Yo mama would be proud" etc. The inference being that black people return to savage ways when there aren't police around to keep them in check and regularly thump them on the heads. Nay, nay, and thrice nay! I believe that we all quickly become survivalists if our city is 20 feet underwater and there's no power, no food, and no water. It happens all over the world to every shade of people when disaster strikes. It's the height of arrogance once again from a right-wing section of White America to contend otherwise.


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