Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Gordon Brown namesake turtle also a bully

"I don't think it helps that, as a more mature Snapper Turtle, Gordy has quite a jowly chin and a grumpy face," says Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary manager Alex Blackman.

"Please think twice and thrice before acquiring a prime minister. It is cruel to take home that cute baby on an impulse if you cannot provide permanent quarters. Prime ministers are living, breathing beings and not playthings. Please award them the compassion they deserve." -

Monday, 22 February 2010

"Get this bill passed or I'll tell the House of Lords you're gay!"

Oh touchy feely Europe, what you need is more pickup trucks and less universal health care. You're going soft!

Friday, 19 February 2010

When Chavs Attack

or: Freedom Chips' Harrowing Evasion of Cans of Pomegranate Seeds Hurled Through the Mean Streets of Liverpool

Chavs are urban and suburban tribes of shaven-headed, tracksuit-clad, English-mangling ruffians. Unlike the toff tribe, which maintains home bases in the cities of Oxford and Cambridge, the chavs operate in independent cells of young men and boys. They have a thing for draping themselves in fake gold and hoodies (so to better hide from the CCTV).
Chavs in action

Freedom Chips' exposure to chavs has been heretofore limited as they rarely appear in the countryside and its small towns. This blogger has only been able to observe them on a pair of ocassions, when several would be stationed outside the Sainsbury's, drinking and cursing and harassing customers carrying groceries to their cars. A valiant security guard once ordered them away, only to be slandered and threatened.

Chavs are neither common in Freedom Chips' current outpost of Birmingham, where the white working class seems to have been largely replaced by immigrants. (Interesting to notice on the bus the other day more women with their hair covered, in everything from modest hijabs to full burkas, than not.)

So your faithful correspondent was ill-prepared for the burst of chavvish aggression which befell him yesterday eve as he walked through the city center of Liverpool (pron. livapyool). He was even more perplexed by the quick succession of events and the cast of characters. The scene, courtesy of Google Earth:

Coming towards the viewer, your blogger enters the scene walking along the street next to the gray and blue modern building (blue arrow). He happens upon a group of eight or so feral chavs, ranging in height from maybe 4'10" to 6'5" (red arrow). Agitated and wild-eyed, the leader is yelling something inscrutable, save for the word "fookin'". Freedom Chips keeps it rollin as the chavs ascend the driveway behind the sloped brick wall to the left (yellow arrow). He notices a group of Spanish tourists stopped just ahead (pink rectangle), baffled, apparently, standing there watching the chavs disappear. Had it been a quarrel of chavs vs. Spaniards?

No time for analysis: as this blogger reaches the position of the man at the lower left, the bombardment begins. SMASHfizzzzzzzzz! A Coke can explodes in the street. Your correspondent turns and sees only brick wall. Best to shuffle. Clipping down the street, BASHcrack!, a can of something pinkish, some pink food, bursts on the sidewalk before him. Its innards disgorge, looking like so many pink kernels of corn. Are those...pomegranate seeds? Wtf? Where did they get a can of pomegranate seeds?

The American and the Spaniards scuttle down the street to find deliverance from these can mortars. A Spaniard wonders, "Era para nosotros?" I don't know, amigo. Maybe it was, or maybe it was meant for me. The chavs' motives are not to be known by we foreigners. In their tactics, weapons, and general comportment the chavs have mystified us all.

What drives you, chavs?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Oi ginger!

"Britain has racism, it's just not very good at it. Y'all give it a go...but, like, ginger-haired people...that ain't even a race but y'all lay into them like...." -- American comedian Reginald D. Hunter

A disorientated BNP voted to include non-whites on Sunday and took the opportunity to get back to their roots and exercise the oldest British discrimation of all, as Hunter astutely mentioned--antigingerism:

This headline is especially grabbing because the story appeared in the Times and was written by the very journalist on the receiving end of the dreaded five-finger ginger nose clutch.

Another minor item in yesterday's news concerned the Serious Organised Crime Agency (formed to fight only the gravest organized crime or possibly to replace a previous whimsical and libertine Organised Crime Agency). They claim British police are more vulnerable than ever thanks in part to - you guessed it - our benevolent but jealous overlord Facebook. It seems gangsters search for police who note their professions on the site. Those with such likes as "moral relativism," "living above my means" or "meeting in shadowy alleys" become prime targets.

Freedom Chips will be in Liverpool tomorrow in order to take part in a drunken brawl with Malaysian sailors.

Friday, 12 February 2010

The evolution of primitive thinking

"Kick out the foreigners" crazies collective the BNP will be searching their souls this weekend after landing in a catch 22: a judge has ordered them to allow non-white members under anti-discrimination law or face prohibition. They vote today on minority inclusion.

Well, you might say, that's all pretty silly; what self-respecting British Asian or black person would ever want to join? Very few, of course, but don't forget about the people with no self respect. Like Islamocynic Rajinder Singh, who admits he only wears a turban for photo ops:

Singh, a Sikh who came to the UK from India in the sixties and who plans the join the BNP, does not quite see the big picture: "I've had people shout 'Paki Go Home!' when I walk down the street," he says. "But that speaks much about the 'Paki' reputation – it's a negative reaction to Pakistan." Alright then. Singh lost his father in the partition of Pakistan and India, but doesn't blame Britain for causing the fighting that killed two million people: "[T]he violence sprang from the Koran. The Muslim answer to reasoned argument is knife, dagger and bomb." Singh is right in time for the probable transformation of the BNP, which, to survive, will need to narrow the focus of its loathing. Britain's Muslims should prove a fitting target.

[Quick background: The BNP was and is of little import, but gained a national profile last summer when their leader Nick Griffin won a seat in European Parliament. (They also hold a handful of city and town council seats.) They pop up in the news from time to time, such as when Griffin, a former member of even further-right party National Front, was given a seat on respectable BBC political debate show Question Time.]

The BNP's base is obviously angry, confused and outdated white males who need something to hate. To carry on, they'll be forced to incorporate the hatred of people they hate, but hate will always find a way, apparently.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Onward and upward

Freedom Chips is pleased to announce the conclusion this week of field research in the English countryside (nice castles, very quiet). In order to more closely observe the urban tribes of Britannia, all operations will now be moving to the Forbidden City of Birmingham, pictured above.

Birmingham is something like Britain's Pittsburgh, if the US were so small that it had no other options and its second city had to be the home of the Steelers.
Like its American counterpart, Birmingham is a former industrial power horse that's been trying for a few decades now to reforge itself as a center of commerce and research and development. Things seem to be going pretty well, as evinced by the poncey new flats and restaurants that have sprung up around the city's once putrid canals (of which they have more than Venice, which means very little in a city like Brum).

Luckily for a curry conoisseur like this blogger, Birmingham is also home to a lively Indian cuisine scene, the jewel in its crown being balti, a tomato-based Kashmiri fusion of Indian and Pakistani curries that somehow popped up in Birmingham. They say it's not even available the Indian subcontinent.

No man can live on curry alone, of course, so Freedom Chips looks forward to trying the ninth best fish and chip shop in the UK, according to the Times. Expect a review some time next week.

British pragmatism: Build and adapt

The UK, like the rest of Europe, just isn't making enough babies. The country now has more old people than children. Now, the government could try to spur babymaking by offering monetary incentives to prospective parents and pumping Isley Brothers records from public speakers. But that's too much effort. Instead, they're just handily adapting to the situation at hand, as you can see here:

That's right, the UK has assigned grumpy pensioners children status, in some bizarre Hindu-inspired circle of life scheme. The British government is now building senior citizens their own play areas in parks. Perhaps with a little moxy and old-fashioned know-how these geezers will build enough strength to attack Martin Amis. Gertrude, stop hitting Mortimer!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Britain to Iran: Go ahead, enrich uranium...just hope you don't want your URN back!!

The offending urn
At least that's how Tehran tells this tale of diplomatic woe. They want their urn back, dammit, but the British Museum is holding on tight. Iran says for political reasons, the Brits say for research reasons. Who's to be believed?

Well, this isn't the first time the British Museum has been accused of cultural larceny. Egypt has been gunning for the Rosetta Stone for a while now. The central London museum's defense is a bit milquetoast:

"Museums nowadays see themselves as centres of the human story, so we’re able to tell the story of humanity, and Egypt, in London at a museum that attracts 5 million visitors a year. I understand why people want [artifacts] back in their countries but I see it as being part of the human story," says Bonnie Greer, deputy chairman of the museum (and an inspiration to the the American immigrant community). Cairo's like, "Pshhaw...."

In Freedom Chips' opinion, maybe Bonnie Greer is right, but not all can be excused by the British Museum being such a badass institution. (And that it is, though they need to replace some of the peeling-off captions.) Egypt and the UK should work out a sharing deal. As for Iran, they can wait. A rich country like the UK will have better research capacities than Iran, and we'll all learn more about this troublemaking urn.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Crazies on patrol

Here's an interesting video of Anjem Choudary, leader of recently proscribed fanatic group Islam4UK.

Meanwhile, Foreign Policy sounds the warning: Be careful with London.

England has of course long been a fundamentalist and draconian society. There's a church around here whose basement houses a ducking stool for dishonest bakers and squabbling wives, but I don't think they still use it.

Diary of a mad Victorian clerk

No, he's not mad, but he certainly is a Victorian clerk. He's Nathaniel Bryceson, wharf clerk of Soho and Pimlico, whose 1846 diary is now available online. Bryceson takes on everything from bad soup to public hangings with a classic stiff upper lip:

"Saw in Chelsea ‘Leg of Beef Soup 2 [shillings] per Bason’, so had a bason for dinner, which make-believe bason was nothing more than a large saucer on a high stand, with a broad thick bottom with pieces of meat like so much twine. ‘Remarks’: no more Chelsea soup," he says, a few days before describing an execution. "The culprit showed great presence of mind on the occasion and ascended the gallows with a firm and steady step, and without any assistance. The body was cut down at 9 o'clock."

I'm still not quite sure what the problem with the soup was.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Excellent documentary: "Dispatches" on Channel 4

Still from the show
In disconcertingly Western style, Afghan insurgents Hezb-e-Islami recently allowed their every waking move to be filmed by a journalist. The result is an excellent documentary, broadcast the other night on Channel 4. (You may not be able to watch in America without some stealthy Interweb tricks, but here's the link.)

It's striking to see in living color the everyday machinations of the sort of shadowy group you read about in the paper, a raggle-taggle set of mujahideen dedicated to setting off IEDs. What discomfits is the human face Hezb-e-Islami present--just a bunch of lads off on a mission. Replace the AK-47s with pickaxes and they could seem at first a bunch of miners off to get the job done, albeit miners who slap each other in the face for incorrectly reciting memorized Koran verses. There's no glassy murderous stare in their eyes or ranting and raving about swords of Islam and raining hellfire. They joke about their shoddy equipment, they say they want the Americans and Europeans out of their country, and they don't seem all that crazy...until one lieutenant non-chalantly mentions beheading prisoners who refused to recite certain prayers.

The terrorist/freedom-fighting group is headed by a millionaire former car importer and controls large swaths of northern Afghanistan. They've charged themselves with disrupting, through an extensive network of observation (
"Call covertly when they pass...") and amateur bombs, this north-south coalition shipping route:

(The highway has replaced the former main supply route coming in from Pakistan, made unserviceable by Taliban roadside bombs.) The Germans are officially in charge of the Kunduz and Baghlan provinces but don't patrol. The Afghan police are either clueless or dishonest, claiming that there's little insurgent activity in the area while standing yards from where Hezb-e-Islami was earlier filmed attempting to blow up American tanks and Afghan police trucks driving along the coalition thoroughfare. (They fail to when they confuse two remote controls.) Hezb-e-Islami themselves claim to be in control of all small towns and the countryside, and they've replaced civil services with their own, collecting taxes from the peasants and imposing sharia law. They are judge, jury and, literally, executioner. They're proud of their position and seem to share a good relationship with the locals. They're confident they'll prevail against the Americans as they did against the Russians because the Russians were stronger, says one lieutenant, not pausing to consider the irony of the Americans having armed the mujahideen in that conflict.

After nine days some insurgents grow suspicious of Najibullah Quraishi, the Afghan reporter, and challenge him: if you went to the front lines and we asked you to wage holy war alongside us, one asks, would you? "Didn't I go with you the other day [when you tried to bomb the American tank] ?" counters Quraishi. Pushed further, he professes: "My camera is my gun." Soon two important-looking men arrive from Pakistan, excoriate the leader of Hezb-e-Islami for allowing this shit, and Quraishi is sent packing and told never to return. But not before having filmed for a piece that took balls of steel to do. Well done, mate.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Tony Blair recall

All 1997-2007 models of British Prime Minister are being recalled due to extreme defectiveness, according to - hold on, that's not right... Here we are: Tony Blair is being recalled to the Iraq Inquiry, where he last week pulled an Edith Piaf. Problem was, it seems to me, he was entirely mistaken about the aim of the inquiry, placing a singular importance on Iran that was, as Vicky Pollard would say, well out of order. He invoked the country 58 times.

The jilted lover of George W. Bush will return in the next few weeks for what may be a more interesting appearance. The helmsmen of the inquiry should be fired up and focused and ready to make an actual fact-finding mission of what could so far be dubbed the No Shit, Sherlock Sessions with special guest Equivocatin' Tony Blair.