Is Daryl Dixon dead?

I’m betting that he’s not dead. I think this is a safe bet, but there’s still a chance he might be. Why is it likely he’s not dead?

Because Daryl is one of the show’s most popular characters is one reason. It’s also the main reason, actually. I mean to say, if the producers didn’t have the nerve to kill off Glenn, then they won’t have the nerve to kill off Daryl, right?

Well, here’s the thing. The producers pulled a stroke when they made us think Glenn was getting his guts munched, so doesn’t that mean they’ve used-up that trick? Why would they risk making the audience groan by pulling the same stunt? So maybe he will be dead come the season finale?

Why didn’t we get to see to whom the shooter was talking when he said ‘You’ll be alright’ under a black screen? Was he talking to Daryl, telling him his wound isn’t all that serious, or was he talking to Rosita, letting he know that she’s not getting shot because a bunch of outlaw men can make use of her? Or was he talking to the others tied and gagged and sat down?

We’ve got to go back to the Governor cutting Hershel’s head off to get a death of a lead character which is actually shocking. Since Hershel, they’ve just been surprising. That’s not the same thing at all.

I don’t like this ‘an episode a week’ crap. Netflix needs to buy The Walking Dead from AMC so we can sweat an entire season on one lazy Saturday. I know AMC wouldn’t sell it – I’m just annoyed at having to wait.

Posh Undefined

 

If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.

  • Dorothy Parker

 

 

When Bret Easton Ellis wrote American Psycho he was making a point about the society he occupied: the New York ‘yuppie’ society of the late 1980s. It’s obvious from reading the novel that he wasn’t fond of the men from that society. His novel suggests these men were slick-haired but teak-headed, but he uses extraordinarily graphic violence to misdirect the reader away from this point.

Oscar Wilde was supposed to have said that a gentleman is one who never insults another person unintentionally. It certainly sounds like Wilde. He spent a lot of time around ‘gentlemen’ from London society and the little quote suggests he didn’t like them that much, either. The point Easton-Ellis takes a novel to make was made by Wilde in one sentence. Wilde was a clever bastard.

Examine the idea that a gentleman is one who never insults somebody unintentionally for a moment and it becomes clear that the qualifications for gentleman status in Wilde’s opinion were not difficult to attain. To not be so coarse as to give offence by accident is all it takes. In other words, to be a gentleman requires nothing more than basic good manners. Goodness me, in that case, even a working-class man could be a gentleman: a notion the ‘gentlemen’ of Wilde’s time might raise an eyebrow to, and it’s there one finds the point of the utterance.

Those who believe that one should drink white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat – because to do so shows a certain refinement or a sense of correctness – have no refinement and don’t understand the world they are not part of.

Who decided we should communicate by knife and fork semaphore instead of simply speaking? Wouldn’t it be lovely to just say ‘I’ve had enough’ rather than having to send signals via cutlery – sorry, silverware?

I’ll put it another way.

Do you think the Bullingdon Club leave their knives and forks straight or crossed on their plates when they finish eating?  I wonder what they think of the horror-show that is ‘elbows on the table’?

The ‘table manners’ of the working class are revealing. The more of them there are, the more self-loathing and self-hatred is revealed.

Since when did putting your elbows on the table mean you were a bad-mannered person? Who decided for the rest of us? What connection is there between your elbows touching the table and bad manners?

The answer is there isn’t any connection at all, and having your elbows touch the table only means something to those who want to feel better about themselves by thinking they are following some sort of ‘standard’ which might be followed in finer houses than theirs.

The thinking goes like this: ‘If they do it in ‘posh’ houses, and we do it here, we are a little bit ‘posh’ too. And if we’re a little bit ‘posh’ then we’re not the bone-sucking scum we secretly know we are.

Oscar said it better than me.

 

 

Beware of people who genuinely believe this crap:

All The Things I could Do

How far in the past does something need to be for it to not matter anymore?

For example, there are some who think that the descendants of slaves should be given money because of what happened to their forebears.

Okay, then.

I am descended from slaves.

‘My people’ were enslaved under the Roman occupation of Britain, and were so again post-1066 under the Normans.

During the years 1600 to 1800 ‘my people’ were kidnapped by Muslim pirates and sold into slavery across the Middle East and North Africa. This was such a huge problem that Thomas Jefferson had to invent the US Marines to deal with the caliphate.

(We don’t get taught about this particular slave trade in British schools for some reason.)

That’s three examples from history where ‘my people’ were enslaved and do you know what – I feel pretty damn upset about it.

I feel like I need somebody to give me some money right now so I can use it to repair my hurt feelings.

Who do I sue?

Does anyone know a lawyer who would take on my case? I’m going to sue the Italian government for the Roman invasion, the French government for the Norman invasion, and the Turkish government for the Muslim pirates.

(I might yet have a pop at the Danish for the Vikings I’ll see what the lawyer thinks first.)

To repeat the question:

How far in the past does something need to be for it to not matter anymore?

subway footlong 11 inches

How to Make a Bacon Sandwich

Perfection, as Marco Pierre White once said, is just a matter of doing several little things well. He would know. The chap was the first Englishman to win three Michelin stars, and when he won his third, he was the youngest Chef – of any nationality – to do so. I would take his advice on almost any culinary question, but not on the humble bacon sandwich. I am the expert on this one.

Perfection starts, obviously, with the bacon. The stuff which is sold in the supermarkets these days – all packed in plastic trays and sealed with yet more plastic – is not bacon. It is a grotesque imitation of bacon. This strange substance looks like bacon, but that is where the similarities end. This substance is sliced wafer-thin – so thin it is almost transparent – and is packed with additives and salty water. So bloated with fluid is this rubbish, that if you attempt to fry it you find the meat – if it can be called that – is boiling in liquid within seconds of hitting the frying pan. It sloshes about in a cloudy broth which slowly burns and bubbles away, leaving a curly, burnt mess. The pan is left with rust coloured sticky bits stuck to the bottom. If you attempt to grill this sort of “packed for convenience” junk, it curls up yet again, making it difficult to cook evenly, and shrinks to a tenth of its original size if you cook it either way.

Do the supermarkets sell this rubbish this way because we want it or force it upon us, knowing we will soon forget what came before? Real bacon – at the very least – must be sold loose. Before the bacon sandwich can be attempted, one needs to find either a decent supermarket or a proper Butcher. The Butcher is the better option.

The only cut worthy of the bacon sandwich is middle – smoked middle. The sandwich begins by grappling with the meat.

The whole slab of smoked middle must be taken in hand, and a knife inserted into the “joint” between middle and streaky. Saw upwards, separating the two. Then, the bacon must be laid across the grill-pan. This is done on a “one for you, one for me” basis. This is to say, alternate between a middle piece and a streaky piece. This is not about being even, but a requirement for the sandwich. Middle has the most meat, streaky the majority of the fat. Fat is a better carrier of flavour than meat, but meat makes the weight. Both are necessary. Place under a hot grill, but not too close to the flame. (Never cook bacon using one of those horrid, curly electric-bar grills. Gas only.)

As the bacon grills you will notice it hardly shrinks, retains its shape, and maybe only the rind will curl. (The rind needs special attention and will be mentioned later.)

Now is the time to prepare the bread. A “medium sliced white” will never do. For perfection – as Marco understands the word – a seeded and unsliced bloomer is the only choice. These loaves are fatter in the middle than the ends, and both slices for the sandwich need to be roughly the same size, so cut the loaf just shy of half way, and discard the smaller half. Then, cut two thick slices. As you do this, the poppy seeds from the bloomer will fall onto the plate or chopping board. Do not worry about this. They will be taken care of.

Next comes the butter. Goat’s butter is better because it has a creamier taste, and is slightly smoother. Whichever butter you choose, you had better have researched the saltiness of the smoked middle against the saltiness of the butter, and balanced accordingly. Butter the bread right to the edges, leaving no crumb without its coating; then, flip the slices upside down and pick up all the loose poppy seeds by blotting on the chopping board or plate. Now, check the bacon.

There should be a slight curl and shrinkage to the rashers, but nothing too much. They should still look about the same size as they did when you popped them under the grill. However, you should see clear bubbles of fat dancing upon the surface. These are more obvious upon the white fat than the red meat, but should be noticed. When these clear bubbles have a red or rust coloured crust, turn the bacon.

The second side takes much less time than the first, so you must stay close. Also, the cooked second side looks different from the first. It doesn’t bubble or colour in the same way. When you are convinced the second side is done, then the rind requires your attention.

The garbage which is sold in the plastic packets tends to have no rind. It is removed thanks to something to do with “health”. The rind is one of the best bits about a bacon sandwich, and needs to be loved. This is what you do. Take the bacon from the grill – you must move quickly – and place on a plate. Pick the rasher up and peel the rind by tearing at an end. This takes skill because we do not want to rip the meat. If you have enough delicacy, you will be left with a meaty rubber-band dangling from your fingers. Eat this straight away. Do this with all the rashers. If you do not burn your fingers you have been too slow, but the sandwich might still be saved.

Place the rashers on one piece of buttered bread, piling them up. Put the second piece of bread on top, and leave for a second. The heat from the bacon will melt the Goat’s butter.

During this interlude, go to the fridge and pull out the cold milk. Pour yourself a glass. Then, attack the sandwich with all the ferocity you can muster. The fresh bread will give; the meaty bacon will give (remember you have already consumed the rind. This prevents tugging too hard and ripping the bread. Think of the problems offered by a steak sandwich and you’ll get the idea.)

When the sandwich is gone, slug the milk down in no more than two gulps. At this stage, cigarettes are optional.

Not a Psychopath

Somebody today suggested that Stalin was a psychopath, and that’s why he did the things he did, and was able to get to the top of the hierarchy to begin with. I was discussing the power of ideological absolutism on the mind as compared to the condition of being a psychopath with a person.

Which person would be the most dangerous – the absolutist or the psycho?

There’s one factor in the murder of millions by Stalin which doesn’t always get a fair hearing, and that might be because it’s a point which suggests that humans generally – just being the creatures that we are – are not all that nice in terms of our basic natures, which suggests we are no better than the Bolshies on Stalin’s committees.

This point is this: bureaucracy brings out the inner sadist in a person.

It allows them to hide behind the organisation, and our more base natures get an airing in a way which might not happen if we were named and accountable publicly.

This means mass murder by memo under Stalin, or vindictive orders and strange rules about this and that by local councils: it’s the humans inside the machine expressing their true characters, and perhaps getting a little fluttering of power in the belly as they do it.

This, considered with the results of Milgram’s experiments (read his book about these famous experiments, ‘Obedience to Authority’, and suddenly the ‘Nuremburg defence’ makes more sense than is comfortable) suggests that ordinary persons – just regular guys and gals doing regular jobs – could easily turn sadistic, vicious and downright murderous quickly and easily if they are allowed to.

Note the word ‘allowed.’

All this garbage about Stalin and Hitler’s people being ‘evil’ is how we try to pretend that they were somehow less than human because we don’t want them to be the same as us. We pretend they were ‘monstors’ because we can’t face the truth that they were just like us.

Or maybe that, under different circumstances, we’d be just like them…

https://i2.wp.com/saravanan.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Psychopaths.png

 

Cool as Air

Poor Maria Sharapova. She’s going to be banned from Tennis for some years, and for a stupid reason. No thinking person believes she was cheating because the substance she tested positive for was only made illegal in January this year. She deserves sympathy. It’s almost certainly her ‘team’ who are at fault, here. What are they paid for?

Below is an account of a better day in Sharapova’s life, and one hopes she’ll have more in the future.

Maria Sharapova walked onto court to begin her attempt to win her first French Open and the expression on her face was one of stark unfriendliness. She had the look attractive and popular head-girls at English public schools reserve for uglier and poorer first-years. If it was a look of superiority, then unlike most English public school-girls, it was a justified superiority. Sharapova had more than a little fight in her; it was her natural ruthlessness which dragged her talent up to meet it. It seemed in Sharapova there was no talent without the desire to draw blood.

Her opponent, Sara Errani, playing in her first Grand Slam singles final, brought her special racket, Excalibur, to the match. It was a particular racket, one she had struggled to have the right to use after buying herself out of a contract with another manufacturer. One of the commentators remarked that the match, with Sharapova in blood-letting mood, was a gunfight. That comment summed up the contest. Errani’s blade versus Sharapova’s bullets. The match was not much of a contest at all.

In interview before the match, Sharapova had spoken to the press and appeared to have nothing of the “ice-queen” personality she wore on court. Her eyes appeared to change colour from a pale brown to a soft green depending on her expression, which was never cold. When she smiled she showed rounded yet prominent cheekbones which suggested the looks of a model, yet her mouth seemed to disagree. She had a serious mouth, a slightly tight bottom lip, perhaps too used to being stretched into serious expressions for her model’s face to be complete. Her eyebrows suggested her looks were not her primary concern; though shaped, there was no excessive work plucked into them. She wore diamond earrings, small stones linked into tear-drops, which were a subtle indicator of her significant if not limitless wealth. Sharapova’s attractiveness was different from, say, Kournikova’s. Kournikova had glamour, though she made one think of pretty, colourful plastic, whereas Sharapova has elegance and appears graceful and artistic on and off court. It must be said of her that she is unreasonably beautiful. One thing her face did suggest is that she had long-since mastered the art of being stubborn; here was a woman who knew what she wanted and was used to getting it. As she walked onto court one got the impression that Errani was the short, less pretty first year up against the popular head-girl. One feared for her. If a match can be lost before a ball has been struck – if a player’s sense of place can determine the outcome – then it happened here.

Sharapova served first and won her first point with her second hit of the ball and took the first game easily. She broke Errani’s serve with her first break-point, taking the second game and battered Errani to take the third game with an ace. 3-0 in the first set to Sharapova and she did it in 8 minutes. At this point the commentators were concerned that Errani might not get on the board. The fourth game went to Sharapova. It was then her serve deserted her and she double-faulted to love-30 to gift three break points to Errani who, sensing she was playing for pride, took the game to the relief of the commentators. They didn’t want the Russian to humiliate her opponent but Errani’s serve was close to ten mph slower than the Russian’s, so holding it was always going to be a problem when Sharapova’s returns were fired like bullets. Swords bring nothing to a gunfight. The first set went to Sharapova 6-3 and one got the impression that score was a generous one for Errani: More a case of unforced errors from Sharapova than strong winners from her opponent. The first set should have been taken 6-1.

The first game of the second set saw Sharapova go straight to love-40. Errani’s serve had gained nothing from the experience of the first set and Sharapova offered her opponent’s short-comings powerful and precise shots to rip the first game of the second from Errani. In the first game of the second set Sharapova did violence to her opponent. The match was won with that game. It was only a matter of time. Errani was never going to win.

Errani played better tennis in the second set, pushing Sharapova out wide on a couple of occasions and winning the odd point on merit with skilful drop-shots, but one got the impression this annoyed the Russian rather than worried her. For all her superior muscularity, Errani could not match the power being pumped out by Sharapova’s more slender frame. Technique beats muscle every time.

The final game was the most entertaining. Sharapova was serving for the championship and went down 0-15 but brought things equal straight away. Then, after some scrapping, Errani hit too long to gift 30-15 to the Russian, yet remained composed enough to lob Sharapova and get back to 30-30. Could she take the game? Sharapova took 40-30 to bring the championship point but hit too long herself – another unforced error – and it was duece. Errani, perhaps smelling a chance for the game played a sweet drop shot to take the advantage, but held it only for moments as Sharapova smacked a cross-court forehand with vicious power to drop Errani’s advantage back to duece. Sharapova then aced to take the advantage and Errani showed she had some reserves of character and dropped Sharapova again to take her back to deuce. Then it was the Russian’s turn to show what she was made of. She aced Erran to rip the advantage back and her opponent had nothing left. Moments later it was over and Sharapova was on her knees, face in hands, and she started life as the 2012 French Open champion and one of only ten female players to do the singles career slam.

She revealed her face from behind her hands and all the warmth and friendliness was back. The bitchy head-girl was gone and the smile was not one designed by professional image-consultants or one preferred by her sponsors, but the radiant smile of a happy young woman. One hopes the “ice-queen” tag might melt into disuse.

Stop Bloody Whining

There I was standing in front of a vine
I took some grapes and I crushed them to wine
I gave some to Pharaoh who drank from my cup
I tried to interpret but I had to give up

 – Joseph and the Amazing Techicolour Dreamcoat

 

I am an admirer of Sam Harris. I am now and admirer of Maajid Nawaz. One of Harris’s regular complaints is that his critics misrepresent his views on many topics, and misrepresent him on the Islam question very often. It was actually pleasant to have Naawaz – someone who can be called an ‘expert’ on the topic of Islam and Islamism – actually explaining certain Koranic doctrines.

Harris for instance argues that the Koran actually tells people to do certain things, and some of those things are not ambiguous. He gives an excellent example to Hasan when he says that, nobody reading the Koran is going to close the book and believe they can now eat bacon and drink alcohol. Some things are directives.

Nawaz responds on alcohol:

[..] everyone assumes that all alcohol is absolutely prohibited for all Muslims. In Arabic the word assumed to mean alcohol is khamr. There’s a long-standing historical discussion about what khamr means and whether or not it’s prohibited. An extremely early tafsir (exegesis) of the Qur’an was by Imam Abu Bakr al-Jasas, who hailed from the Hanafi school of jurisprudence within the Sunni denomination of Islam. The Hanafi school is known to be the first school of interpretation and therefore the closest in proximity to the time of the Prophet. In his interpretation of the Qur’an, al-Jasas discusses the linguistic meaning of khamr at length and elaborates on why for Hanafis a literal interpretation of the word covers only a prohibition on wine from grapes. This means that for the jurists of this first school, it was permitted—and still is for those who follow the early Hanafis—to consume any form of alcohol other than wine.

Suddenly, a reading of the Koran can allow alcohol so long as it’s not wine from grapes. This was an eyebrow-raiser for me.

Nawaz’s basic position is that Islam is not a religious of peace, nor is it a religion of war. It’s just a religion which can be ‘interpreted’ to mean this or that.

‘Interpretation’ is an interesting word in respect to textual analysis.

Persons misuse language all the time. Persons will use one word to disguise another because the one they use suggests they are smarter, or kinder, or something else. For example many parents and teachers will demand ‘respect’ from the younger person, and might shout this. They don’t realise that ‘respect’ cannot be demanded because it’s is a matter of how the other person feels about you. When the parent or teacher demands respect they are probably demanding obedience. This is a different thing, and it makes sense why the parent or teacher would perform a sort of doublethink on themselves by masking the word. Such a person might genuinely believe they are asking for respect.

It’s a similar thing with ‘interpretation.’ When a person declares that they ‘interpreted it to mean..’ they probably mean that they ‘imagined it to mean..’

(Imagination in this context is connected to desire.)

Using ‘interpret’ sounds more technical, it sounds like you’ve being doing some hard mental work; ‘interpret’ is only a step away from ‘decoded’ which really would require some hard work. So it’s obviously better to claim this than to claim you’ve ‘imagined’ the meaning of the words, because ‘imagined’ just means you’ve ‘made it up’ – so who would need to take you seriously?

I wonder if those in the head-removal community find Koranic warrant for their bloody fun by choosing to ‘interpret’ the text to mean what they want it to mean.