The Royal We

This week saw the Queen (of the United Kingdom and the blah blah) visit Ireland for the first time in living memory. Or my memory, at least. It all went splendidly. The old girl made a big effort to heal old wounds and even spouted a few words of Irish (known in the newspapers as ‘Gaelic’). She even sat through bloody Riverdance with a straight face. Nice one the Queen. We are not amused, but we are most certainly pleased.

This Segways me nicely (at a slow rolling pace) onto my actual topic, the use of “we” by people in relationships. You know what I mean. You ask a workmate “so what are you doing at the weekend?” And the answer will begin with “Well, we are…”

Hold it there, big boy. I didn’t ask what you plural are doing, I asked what YOU are doing. As in, you yourself. Why do I have to get an answer that includes a person I might not even know? It’s like you asked me what my plans were and I decide to inform you about the weekend plans of a nine-year old boy in Perth.

And tell me this. At what point in a relationship do a great many people stop seeing themselves as individuals? Does it creep up on them, or is it a conscious decision? Is it around the same time they get a shared email address? And start going to the gym in pairs? And start sending out Christmas cards with a photo of them both grinning like morons? Maybe somebody can explain.

I could also go into the practice of using photos of your offspring as your Facebook profile pic, and of informing the world on an hourly basis how much porridge little Glen threw on the floor this morning. I won’t though, because then you’ll all think I’m a baby-hater and a grumpy old bastard. Whereas I’m not. Babies are lovely. Asleep.

Now where’s those fuckin’ slippers and me best pipe.

/ paddy

Debt

I am a very unusual creature in that I have no debts at all. No study loan, no apartment loan, no car loan, no credit cards. And for this I need to be punished. Allow me to explain.

In Sweden if you have a mortgage you get tax relief on the interest payments. It’s around 30% if I’m not mistaken. This can be a reduction in the region of 1500 Euros per year for the average person. However if, like me, you rent your apartment then you get a tax relief of zero.

So, as a buyer, you own the place you live in PLUS you are subsidised by the taxpayer so that you can afford a better place than you otherwise could. You are effectively being rewarded for being in huge debt.

I heard that in the 80s in Sweden the relief rate was much higher than 30%. The banks then would happily give mortgages that exceeded the value of your property and properties with mortgages attached were sought after, as a way to reduce your tax.

I must admit that I don’t understand this at all. Surely I should be getting a bonus for paying my way and not borrowing huge chunks of money? It’s almost as if the state wants me to borrow money. Which, of course, they don’t. Mmm, yeah.

Does this system exists in other countries, that the tax payer subsidises borrowing? Come on readers, tell me, as I have no idea. It’s all too adult for me. The more I find out about the world, the less I get it all.

Oh well, at least I get to gloat when the interest rates go up as then I am richer compared to most other people. And when I pop my clogs I might actually have money to give the family members I leave behind, instead of the huge debt that most of my contemporaries will be leaving after them. Debt, and real ugly houses.

/ paddy (still in the black)

Silence in the Silent Section

I was on a train over the weekend. I do like trains. As long as they aren’t the shitty modern double-decker ones without a proper bistro. But that’s another rant.

I had a seat in the silent section. Many Swedish trains have a silent section. I applaud this, as I really don’t like listening to details from other people’s tedious private lives. I’m kind of weird that way.

So I sat myself in the silent section. A lady sat across from me and started to talk on her mobile. Loudly. We hadn’t yet left the station so I figured, okay, whatever. The train soon did leave the station though and she continued to talk. I gave her 10 minutes and before that time was up, she had put the phone away. Phew, I thought, as I turned to my laptop to do some writing.

The guy behind me farted. Okay, I thought, it’s not noise, relax. I continued to try to write as the smell of arse drifted around me. Then the lady made another call. A longer one. 15 minutes of drivel. I dug my fingers into my palms to control myself. And then, thankfully, she shut up. I settled down to write, whereupon I heard a very loud male voice from two seats behind.

“So I wanted to check about the tickets, and the-” he blared, as if to a very deaf relative. I gave him two minutes and then I stomped back to him. “You do know this is the silent section?” I said, all red faced and foreign looking. “Isn’t that over there?” he said timidly, pointing to a tiny compartment with 4 seats behind a glass partition.  “No it isn’t,” I growled. He mumbled in the phone and hung up and I headed triumphantly back to my seat.

The thing is. Here’s the thing, right. The thing is, it says “Silent Section” on the tickets. It also says “Silent Section” on the wall and door as you enter and leave the silent section. And someone actually makes an announcement before the train pulls out to say exactly where the silent section is. And this guy pretended not to know about it. Which makes him either supremely thick, or just a rude bastard.

He didn’t say anything else for the duration. However, mobile lady decided to listen to very loud music through her crappy ear buds for the rest of the trip. And, for the sake of not having a heart attack, I let her and grumbled into my beard (I don’t have a beard) instead.

Well, as I like to say, people are like slinkies. Not good for much, but they sure are funny when you push them down the stairs.

/paddy

Japan Pearl Harbour Earthquake Fuckwits

It’s pretty hard to miss the news coming in from Japan. If a crushing earthquake wasn’t enough, the country was ploughed by tsunami and now faces nuclear fallout from its aging reactors. Thousands are dead, more are missing and millions are homeless. Watching the news for just five minutes is pretty heart-wrenching.

You would think the world would show its sympathy for Japan in the same way that most of us showed sympathy for the events of September 11 2001. Unfortunately this wasn’t entirely the case as shown by this image doing the rounds over the last day or two. I’ll link to the fucking thing, but I won’t give it any column inches. It’s basically a collection of retarded moronic red-neck comments made by idiot Americans on Facebook. Have a look, if you must, but hold your breath.

These brilliant samples of humanity are pointing out how the Japanese deserve this horrendous situation because of Pearl Harbour. They bombed us, yeah, de sure did, so fuck ’em. Well pass the shotgun ma there’s a squirrel on my knee and my dick is the sick of an acorn, ha-yuck.

These people. These fucking people. There’s not much to say really, is there? It’s just mind-melting that useless pieces of crap like this can live and breath and share the same planet as the rest of us. Even if their little comments were accurate, it would be a very nasty thing to say right now when the Japanese are suffering like this. However there is very little that can be considered true in their Pearl Harbour comment. Let’s just throw a few facts out there, shall we.

A good many people died at Pearly Harbour. Mostly soldiers though. Soldiers in a war. At Hiroshima and Nagasaki civilians were targeted (which I believe is called terrorism) and vastly more were killed. And there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the atomic attacks were not actually necessary to stop the war at all and were only done to show the world what the American atomic weapons could do, and also to crush Japan quickly so the USA wouldn’t have to share it with the Russians as they did with Germany. “Saving American lives” wasn’t really a consideration. It was about power and posturing, and as for dead civilians… fuck ’em.

Then of course Pearl Harbour wasn’t really part of the US at all, but annexed by them, which means basically stolen, in 1893. Do our fantastically thick Facebookers know this? No, of course they don’t. By all means, prove me wrong people, please do.

Finally, of course, being Americans, I would guess that the majority of these fine people would describe themselves as Christians. And not at all understand why that’s ironic. Because, as I’ve mentioned, they are as fucking thick as a shit slushy.

I’ve checked a few people on this image, and they do indeed have real Facebook accounts. This is possibly the most scary thing of all, that this is actually for real. If anybody wants to harass them and send them naughty words, you have my blessing. They deserve nothing less, the rancid malevolent little turds.

Ignore those morons, Japan. They don’t represent us. We promise.

/ paddy

The Fall of the Soldiers of Destiny

So yeah, there’s been an election in Ireland. The main gist of what happened is the following: the Fianna Fáil party, having rode the country like a horny fat man on a lame donkey for decades, has been well and truly shat on. Their share of the vote dropped from around 40% to under 20% and they lost seats all over the fucking shop.

This is good news. Those miserable bastards with their too-big suits, their thick country accents, their moist lips on the Bishop’s firm member and their fingers jammed up their own arses to the second joint, deserved nothing better. In fact, if you ask me, those despicable cunts should have to pay back their wages for the last two years and have their pensions docked forever. A finger or two removed wouldn’t hurt either.

The Green Party, in coalition with Fianna Fáil, lost all their seats. Every single one. Well that’s what they get for getting into bed with the devil. I am, in a way, personally responsible for the Greens being in government at all as I was on the campaign team that got their leader, John Gormley, onto his first Dáil seat in 1997 by a margin of 27 votes. So yeah, sorry about that folks. It’s all entirely my fault.

Of course Fianna Fáil weren’t thrown out for being nasty and shite. If the country had been ticking along as normal, they could have been as corrupt as they liked and nobody would care. They lost their power because the economy folded. The main reason for the crash was the bail-out of two huge banks, and the resulting fuck-load of debt following a staggering loan from the EU and IMF.

Other reasons include real estate agents (the miserable fucks) pushing up the property prices, the banks lending money to any ould tosser who wanted it, the developers covering the country with ugly houses and the Irish population scrambling to buy big fuck-off cars and tiny mobiles and borrow themselves into the fucking ground. The huge loan was the last massive stone on the already rickety raft. And Irish people, feel free to correct me on the real reasons for the crash. I don’t actually live there any more, you know.

Anyway, now the reins of power pass to Fine Gael, a centre-right party with very fine suits, very likely in coalition with the centre-left Labour party. Sinn Féin made big gains too and look like being a power in the next government. And along with them a shitload of independents with fascinating names and haircuts are heading to Dublin to claim their seats, all getting ready to deal with the biggest fucking mess in Ireland since Bloody Sunday.

I think it’ll be worth watching.

On a side note – have any bankers been brought to task for crippling the state and hurting the lives of Irish people for generations to come? Of course not, don’t be daft.

Where’s my hammer, pa, I think we got us some finger smashin’ to be done…

/ paddy

It was Christmas Eve, Babe

I just got one of those “I’d better blog” moments. You know the ones.

So. It’s soon Christmas. Americans note that it isn’t “The Holidays”. It is, in fact, Christmas. I have wrapped the boy’s Lego Mindstorms, my Art Nouveau 2011 calendar and my annual Space Opera novel and shoved them under the plastic tree. I’ve also bought myself a bunch of nice stuff, and been by the English Shop for tea and pies. We are also good for chocolate and rum, oh yes we are.

It’s at Christmas that I most miss not having a regular family life. I have the boy with me half the time, and that’s great, but I miss the whole thing with two people, and the kids getting all excited and annoying, and collapsing on the sofa beside somebody with a silly hat and a glass of Baileys. Being single has a lot going for it, but, you know. Christmas is not a time designed for singles.

But, on the other hand, I have a week off where I can do whatever the hell I feel like. Drink coffee until it pours out my ears, visit museums and take a careful walk in the snow-covered forest, glittering at -17 degrees. And I must say that I really am happy to avoid the Christmas shopping insanity, what with people, cars, noise, music and suicide bombers. Why the hell do people complain so much about doing their Christmas shopping? If it’s that annoying, then don’t do it. When did buying random shit become a token of affection? It’s all a bit sad really.

But, let’s all cheer up with this – the possible Christmas number one in Ireland, and the best song from Limerick about a horse, ever. Plus a truly excellent pop song.

So happy Christmas, my little ones. And may 2011 kick fucking arse.

/ paddy

Pathetic Postage Plea

I am currently sending off The Novel to those pointy-headed demons known as “agents” so that they can ridicule me with their form-letter replies. Nothing new there. Except now I have exhausted all relevant agents and publishers in the UK who accept email submissions (about eight, all told) and have to move to the next step. This entails printing out a lump of the The Novel and actually posting it. In the mail. With a stamp and everything.

In theory, this is fine. In practise, it’s akin to an itchy case of pubic lice. You see, since the fine ladies and gentlemen of the publishing world will not reply by email even to say “piss off” to aspiring writers, I have to send them a stamped self-addressed envelope for the conveyance their hateful little notes. This requires that I either get hold of some British stamps to put on said letters, or else send international reply coupons.

And there the shit deepens. The Swedish post office stopped selling international reply coupons about ten years ago. “There’s too little demand,” they told me. Well, maybe, but aren’t you the fucking POST OFFICE? And if you don’t sell them in Sweden, who does? Nobody, turns out to be the answer.

So onto option two – get hold of some UK stamps. Which seemed easy to do via the Royal Mail’s site. I picked out my stamps, picked my country, paid with my Visa card, and got a confirmation mail. And then the next day I got a mail from a dude at the Royal Mail to tell me that unfortunately, they couldn’t sell me the stamps I had already paid for since I lived “abroad”.

But why, I asked, did your site allow me to buy stamps at all, since it asked me for my country, and I told it, before it TOOK MY MONEY? Our site is shit, the dude explained. So sorry, but no stamps today. Money shall be returned. And here, contact this office in the Royal Mail and they can help you.

I mailed that office. They never replied. Plus my money was not returned. I mean, Jesus on a hover-board, how hard can it be to buy some fucking UK stamps from the fucking UK POST OFFICE?

Deep breath. Right, the only other option (short of taking a Ryanair flight to London) is to find a nice English person and ask them to go down the road, buy a booklet of first-class international UK stamps, and post them to me. So that’s what I have been reduced to.

Please, blog readers in the UK, buy me some stamps and I’ll send you a number of shiny new shillings to cover their purchase and transport. Or else the story of two Irish expats in Stockholm and their sexual misadventures will never see the light of day at all. And that would be a bloody shame.

/ paddy

The Last Catholic Rant

This blog post may contain traces of religious ranting. You have been warned.

So, I promised myself a while ago to not do any more rants about religion. Because, let’s face it, listening to somebody rant constantly about religion is about as interesting as watching already dried paint dry some more. And so unless organised religion directly impacts upon my life in some way, or tries to fuck with the rule of law and human rights, I will let it slide by as the troubling and incoherent fairy story that it is.

But now, alas, it has pissed me off again. According to the Irish Times, the Catholic Church has made “changes to the Code of Canon Law” in order to remove all traces of the act of defection. This, you may recall, is the procedure I went through a few months back to divorce myself from the robed loonies who ran my childhood. And now it appears that the same church is trying to kill even this option to staunch the flow of people officially leaving its ranks.

Fig 1: Scary men in dresses

To quote the article: “the Archdiocese of Dublin said following the recent changes to canon law it will no longer be possible for individuals to formally defect from the church. However, it added that the Archdiocese intends to maintain a register to note the expressed desire of those who wish to defect.”

So they put us on a list. Whoop-de-fucking-doo. Slap on the back for you, sir.

This makes me so incensed that I don’t know where to start, or finish, or even middle. So I’ll put it succinctly and let you get back to your tea. The Catholic Church forces parents by guilt and “tradition” to sign their newborn babies up to an organisation without their consent, and then suddenly change the fucking rules so that they can never leave? NEVER? And this is accepted behaviour in the modern world?

I’m glad as fuck I got out before the gates clanged shut, and I hope that somebody, somewhere, takes these self-important sons of bitches to court and fleeces them alive. Because, you know what Mr. Ratzinger, you and your dress-wearing ring-kissing turds suck donkey dick, every last one of you.

So I’ll see you in hell. I hear they have a good library. And hot babes.

/ paddy

Too Much News

Today I made the classic mistake of watching the news at breakfast. Bad idea. I am not normally know for my pleasant demeanour in the mornings, and watching that carnival of inanity pushes me way over the edge into proper “grumpy old man” territory.

Article one that lit my fuse was a collection of total fucking morons in Belgrade who turned out in their Soviet-era sweats to protest the fact that other people had the nerve to exist. In this case, they were showing their displeasure against the upcoming Pride parade. And, as homophobes always do, the people interviewed went on about “traditional values” and “family values” and “religious values” and other such steaming horse shit to justify their actions.

I mean, when will these people grow a pair and actually say what they are thinking instead of just hiding behind religion and tradition? Fucking tossers. I would have much more respect for them if they turned out with signs simply saying “I Hate Homos”. Fucking cowards and fucking idiots all in one, with their tiny piggy eyes and their big penile compensation signs. It almost makes me glad that there is no heaven as, if there were, I might have to share it with gobshites like that.

Article two that inflamed my wrath is this one. A divorced man in Sweden takes his two kids and hoofs it. The article tells us there is a risk he might take the kids illegally back to his own country and then asks for our help in looking out for them. Whereupon the “journalists” tell us what kind of dress the little girl is wearing and then stop talking. They completely don’t tell us what the guy looks like, surely the most important piece of data here. They have pretty much told us he is not a white Swede, but then don’t dare to tell us his actual appearance.

This, I imagine, comes from the classic Swedish fear of being portrayed a racist. But in this case, I just don’t get it. Just what is wrong with saying “It’s a Middle-Eastern dude” or “It’s a Kenyan dude” or “It’s a white dude from South Africa” or whatever. Don’t they want the kids to be found? And, if so, shouldn’t they actually just give us the info and let us make our own minds up?

Seriously, saying that the dude is from country X and looks like Y is not racism. If the press really cared about those kids being found, and not just about looking PC, then they would tell us. But I guess they don’t. It’s just news, something to fill the seconds with.

I could go on, oh yes I could, on and on and on. But I won’t. There’s a nice day ahead full of things that won’t annoy me, so I’ll think about them instead. And I’ll have my trusty TV-B-Gone at the ready, just in case a TV tries to sneak up on me when I least expect it.

/ paddy

Stupid Razor Names

I hate it when I give away all the tension directly in the title of the blog. Like I just did now. Damn it. So, yeah, men’s razors have daft names. Really incredibly daft. As if all the meetings take place in day-care centres and involve Duplo and modelling clay. Examples? Oh you betcha.

  • Fusion ProGlide Power
  • Fusion Power Phenom
  • Mach3 Turbo Champion
  • Quattro Titanium Precision

See? Now Dara O’Briain below says it rather better than me. Note there are Greek subtitles because some kind moron removed the swear words in the English version. Because we are so delicate. (For the sake of completion, here’s what they removed: shit, fuck, fuck, fucking, Christ, shit, Jesus Christ, fuck, Pope Rat’s Arse).

The reason, I imagine, is because advertisers are idiots. Yeah, actually, that’s it right there, dans une nutshell. Advertisers are complete fucking morons who should be whipped to within an inch of their lives, and regularly. That’s been established by me, Bill Hicks and pretty much fucking everybody. QED. From the Latin: Quadvertisers Er Diotes.

And what do I shave with? A simple honest Protector. Twelve years old and still going strong. And therefore to the advertisers I say – shove THAT in your arse and smoke it. Or shave it. Whatever.

/ paddy (Turbo Laser Ultra 4)

Toilet Door Confusion

I like standards. Standards make life easier. Like the ISO 8601 time and date standard, that removes all the confusion wrought by Americans in their reporting of dates. And also in their driving of spaceships, but that’s another rant.

But the standards pertaining to the marking of toilet doors has me confused. In my job we have toilets with that little red/white colour window that shows when the toilet is occupied. Red means it’s locked, white means it’s free. (I tried to find a photo but failed. I might take a photo tomorrow. Instead, behold the mighty Defendius Labyrinth. Sweet.)

But when you are on the inside of the door, the rules break down. The marker on that side seems to show white when the door is locked. Causing me to panic and imagine that I forget to lock it and have to test the handle repeatedly, like some kind of crazed toilet paranoid. Why is this? Does the white on the business side of the toilet door signify “it’s cool, everything’s cool” or does it signify “vacant”? And does it vary from door to door? Or from country to country?

And why do they pack the disposable hand towels so tightly into the fucking holder that you can never pull out less than seven at once? And why does the “air-freshener” have a picture of a guy in a shirt on a beach wearing sunglasses? And why does the “half” flush seem to do just as good a job as the “full” flush?

I think I need a hobby.

/ paddy

SciFi Things That Shouldn’t Be

I do like my science fiction. I also don’t see a problem calling it “SciFi” unlike a great many anal people out there. Call it SciFi, call it SF, or whatever you like. Just as long as you don’t call it “SyFy“, because that’s plainly fucking stupid.

But yes, the point. I am prepared to give SciFi a wide latitude when it comes to ideas, and rules, and breaking those rules. I will accept most things, as long as the consequences of those things are logically extrapolated. Books are good at this, and even if the premise is wild it is generally followed through logically. But there are four things in SciFi movies that I find to be unforgivable.

And they are:

1) The Borg Queen – The Borg were a fantastic creation. A completely zombie-like race who shared a common mind and didn’t give a shit about you as long as you weren’t a threat. And all they wanted was your gadgets. Which they took. Plus those fantastic cube ships, showing a complete lack of imagination. Wonderful. Then what do the writers do? They thrash the idea by introducing, for dramatic effect, a fucking queen Borg, a move that destroys the best thing about them – their coldness and pure socialist ethic. And as much as I enjoy seeing Alice Krige in latex, the idea of a Borg leader is just fucking dumb. Goodnight, the Borg.

2) The second Star Wars trilogy – Oh don’t even go there. It never fucking happened, alright? Midi-chlorians my dangly hairy balls. Jesus. They should have done a trilogy of wookie coming-of-age movies instead. Or just six hours of backstage footage of Carrie Fisher squeezing into that gold bikini. Now that I’d watch!

3) The Independence Day virus upload – I love this one. Let’s fly to the Alien spaceship, hook up to their extraterrestrial WiFi (with a fucking iBook!) and upload a virus, to a system we have never before seen and don’t understand. It takes me half a day to set up my network at home, and that’s when all the parts have been produced on Earth. Nope, I don’t buy it.

4) And then we have the Matrix battery, the single biggest missed opportunity in SciFi movie history. Why did the machines keep the humans in slavery in those pods? To use them as the universe’s least efficient batteries? No, of course fucking not! They used their brains as the processing power for the Matrix itself! The Matrix hardware WAS in fact their brains, all of them, running that massive MMO, making them the slaves of their own minds. How the fucking hell was this plot point missed by the scriptwriter? I still shiver with anger when I see that scene, and it’s a black mark on an otherwise excellent movie.

Yeah, well, that’s it. And that’s the last thing I’ll ever feel the need to rant about, ever. From now on it’s all flowers, sunsets and  butterflies. And skipping through the tall grass while humming a happy song. Tra-la-la-la-fucking-laaaah.

/ paddy (who loves you all very VERY much)