Clarkson: The Weekly Times Comment Column by Jeremy Thread

Revelator

Active Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2012
Messages
478
Yet another unusual column:

Labour's little leftie does not deserve the abuse. But I know a man who does (Nov. 8)

After Labour lost the election and Ed Miliband went off to begin an exciting life of obscurity, the party needed candidates for a new leader and lined up a selection of milk bottles. There was a milk bottle in a suit called Andy and a milk bottle in a dress called Yvette and some other milk bottles whose names I can't for the life of me remember.

And then someone thought, quite rightly, that party members should perhaps be given the opportunity to vote for someone who wasn't a milk bottle. They wanted someone from the Industrial Revolution, someone from the past: a churn, perhaps, or a pail.

So they put forward a little beardy bloke from the hard left who didn't sound or look anything like the other production-line politicians. And of course, against all the odds, the little beardy bloke won. It was a storyline that could easily become a Hollywood film.

Everyone was delighted. The huge number of young people who'd joined the party specifically so they could vote for the little beardy bloke danced in the streets with joy. I was delighted because his appointment would keep his party out of the hot seat for a few more years, and for much the same reason the City, business and ordinary "hardworking" families up and down the country were delighted too. "Phew," we all said.

Since then, though, the little beardy bloke seems to have become the living embodiment of evil.

Everything he says or does, or wears, is seen as yet more conclusive evidence that he is basically the ebola virus on a bicycle.

Last weekend, at the wreathlaying events in Whitehall, he was the centre of attention. He'd said in the past that the whole remembrance thing was "mawkish", so everyone reckoned that he'd spoil the event somehow by staging some kind of potty sixth-form protest.

Many thought he'd wear a white poppy or turn up in a donkey jacket. Perhaps it would say "NUM" on the back. Maybe he'd go the whole hog, rock up in cycling Lycra and then give a black power salute during the Last Post.

But no. He wore a normal suit and a sombre tie. He stepped forward properly and placed some correctly coloured poppies in the right place at the right time. Apart from the beard, he looked like all the other milk bottles who'd turned out on that unseasonably warm Sunday.

And for the young people who'd voted for him and who were undoubtedly hoping he'd goose the Queen and vomit on the Cenotaph, he'd prepared a clever little statement saying he was there to remember soldiers who'd fought for peace, and those who'd helped rebuild lives in countries such as Sierra Leone, and not just the gung-ho commando sergeants who'd stormed a Jerry machinegun nest armed only with a teaspoon. So well done, little beardy bloke. You kept everyone happy on what is an important day.

Except he didn't in fact keep everyone happy at all, because after he'd laid the wreath, many decided his bow wasn't reverential enough.

The coverage of this slight was extraordinary. It's yet another example of shoddy behaviour, everyone said, from a man who plainly hates his country. We were then reminded for the 40th time of how he'd turned up at a Battle of Britain service with his top button undone and then not sung the national anthem.

And how, when he was supposed to be meeting the Queen, he'd gone on a walking holiday in Scotland. Well, of course he had. He's an antiroyalist. We know this. He loathes privilege.

And it would be revoltingly hypocritical if, after spending a lifetime of dissing Mrs Queen, he suddenly decided to put on a white tie and crawl about on his hands and knees in her presence.

It's the same story with Remembrance Sunday. This is a man who's deeply anti-war. He has said that he would never push the nuclear button, and it's clear he'd still be trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement with Isis even when he was dangling, naked and upside down, from some scaffolding in Trafalgar Square.

So he's not like the milk bottles who turned up on Remembrance Sunday to pay their respects. They wanted to be there. He didn't. He'd rather mourn all the cyclists who've been killed on the streets of his constituency. But he was there and he did what was necessary, which in my book is good manners.

Let me put it this way. How deeply do you think Mr Cameron would bow if he were asked to lay a wreath for all those who had fallen while fighting for workers' rights? I'm getting a bit bored with the endless criticism of Labour's little beardy man. And embarrassed, actually. Because he seems a nice chap, and endless criticism of every single thing he does will be driving him mad with despair.

I don't like that and think that if we want to bully someone, we should stick with his deputy, Tom Watson, who deserves everything you can throw at him, up to and including the tractor unit of a Scania lorry.

You can argue, of course, that Jeremy Corbyn wants to become the prime minister and that it's only right and proper that the voters are aware of who he is and what he stands for. But we know that already. He's from the loony left. He thinks everyone should be poor, ugly and on a bicycle.

The fact is, though, that because of all this and because of his beard, he is less likely to become prime minister than my dog. I think he knows that. I think he also knows he won't even be given a shot at the top job because long before that happens the milk bottles will kick him out.

So I'm going to set an example here and try my hardest to leave him alone from now on. Easy though it may be and fun to kick him and tease him and bully him, I shall remember that he is keeping the red flag in a drawer for now and in future stick to abusing his ghastly little nasal sidekick Watson.
 

Tzarrim

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2008
Messages
626
Location
Holland
"I don't like what he stands for but at least he's honest about it and has a spine".

Sounds like they should meet in the pub and have a good laugh.
 

Revelator

Active Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2012
Messages
478
Bon App?tit.

The snooper's charter is a danger to us all. A man in the pub told me (Nov. 22)

So you're walking down the street one day when you encounter a young chap with a ready smile and a clipboard. He's conducting a poll, and since you're in no particular hurry, you readily agree to answer his questions.

Of course you do. It's nice to be singled out and asked for your opinion. It makes you feel important. You may even find yourself standing a little taller as the question begins ...

"Does it worry you that deep packet inspection probes could soon be used when communications service providers refuse to submit data, even though it's expected that most would maintain data about users in unencrypted form, from which contact information could readily be separated from content?" At this point Captain Clipboard looks up and, with much gusto, says: "This of course would circumvent SSL encryption during transmission."

So what's your answer? Are you a) very worried about that, b) not worried in the slightest or c) unable to answer because you have absolutely no clue what he's on about? Well, you're in a minority because according to YouGov, which did a poll on this subject, a whopping 71% of people in Britain are very unhappy about the prospect of these deep packet inspection probes snouting about in their ISP's SSL secure sockets layer encryption programs.

This is because the actual question was more like: "Are you happy to let policemen rummage about in your emails and your internet browsing history?" Put it like that and everyone who's had a peek at some online sapphic action is going to say: "Whoa there. Just a cotton-picking minute ..."

But now let's translate it another way. "Would you like the police to be able to prevent some kind of terrorist atrocity on the streets of London?" This not only exposes the big problem with opinion polls you always get the answer you want but also highlights the dilemma in the current "snooper's charter" debate about individual liberty and freedom and the Big Brother state.

On an individual level none of us wants our thoughts and our dreams and our sexual fantasies to be available to the forces of law and order. But we do want the security services to be able to access the electronic secrets of the weird-beard loner at No 43.

I've been trying to work out where I stand on the issue, and it's not easy because we simply don't know what's possible already. We hear from Tom Clancy and others of his ilk that if you use the word "bomb" or "gun" while on the phone, government-run tape recorders in limestone caves are automatically triggered and will record the rest of your conversation. But is this true? We have no idea.

We're told that shadowy figures can work out exactly where we are on the planet because our mobile phones are trackable even when they're turned off. But are they? Likewise, we have learnt by watching films and television that the security services run a fleet of geo-stationary satellites that can read the sell-by date on a strawberry flavoured yoghurt. Is this for real? Again, we don't know.

We do know the police can gain access to every text message you've sent and possibly every email as well within a certain time frame. But we don't know what kind of permission they need to telephone Vodafone and say: "Hand over the info."

We learnt after the Russian airliner was brought down in Egypt recently that western intelligence agencies were able retrospectively to identify chatter on social media that hinted at an attack. But were they? Or is that just a bit of PR to make us more inclined to support those deep packet inspection probes? This murkiness is of course important. Because if we don't know what our security services can do, then the terrorists don't know either. That's why it's important to keep on filling the internet and the nation's pubs with claims and counterclaims and conspiracy theories.

I sat next to a cybersecurity expert at dinner the other night and he said that if you gave him a laptop and an aerial he could kill any diabetic with a high-tech insulin pump in about 20 minutes. When I asked him about people with pacemakers, he said, "I wouldn't even need the aerial."

Is medical wi-fi security really that lax? I only have his word for it. It is said North Korean agents managed to hack into Sony's emails. And they were using nothing but two beetroots and some coal. So what can the CIA do with all its cloak-and-dagger hitech wizardry? More? Who knows? Did you know that you can switch someone's phone on without them knowing? Well, you can. Apparently. You send it a text that turns on the microphone. So then you can listen to every word its owner is saying even though the screen is dark and silent.

Certainly it's very easy to hack into an Android phone. Though when I say "certainly", what I mean is "probably". And before iPhone users get all smug, let's not forget what happens when you put your nipples on iCloud. Next thing you know, they're on YouPorn.

Time and again we are told that by far the safest way to hold a conversation in secret is while playing electronic games on a PlayStation. Do you believe that? Or is it a clever scheme dreamt up by Messrs Bond and Bourne to get disaffected Muslim youths to converse openly on a channel that appeals to them and that in actual fact is as secure as a piggy bank? Which brings us back to the so-called snooper's charter. It worries me, if I'm honest, because if the government sets out exactly what's legal and what's not, all the murkiness and subterfuge is gone. This means that Johnny Terrorist can work up a strategy that allows him to remain in the electronic shadows.

Far better, surely, to maintain the mystery. To keep him guessing. To force him to communicate with a pen and paper and a stamp.

Though there is even a danger there, because forcing him to return to the Stone Age is kind of what he wanted in the first place.
 

Elijah B.

Active Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2010
Messages
269
Location
Oz
Clarkson should ask himself who benefits from the intrusive snooping.

Is it us? It appears that all the years of snooping hasn't stopped an actual terrorist attack. Is it the terrorists? It's unlikely they use such means to communicate, knowing the risk. Is it the snoops? They gain a lot of information that has nothing to do with terrorism, from business secrets to whether someone is opposed to the Powers That Be.

I go with option three. Saying the snooping is to stop terrorism is the cyber equivalent to saying something must be done for the "sake of the children".
 

MWF

Now needs wood
Joined
May 29, 2008
Messages
28,283
Location
MWF HQ, Ukadia
Car(s)
MX-5 1.8i Indiana SE, update pending
Well that's really a question for the Politics section but how do we know that is hasn't stopped an attack? We only know about the ones that happen, not the ones that don't. It's a paradox really, and although we have been told that attacks have been foiled we only have their word for it.

What amazed me is how quickly the French were able to identify and arrest a huge number of people in the wake of the Paris attacks. Seems like they knew who they were already which begs the question why didn't they do something sooner? Dunno is the short answer.
 

Tzarrim

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2008
Messages
626
Location
Holland
Well that's really a question for the Politics section but how do we know that is hasn't stopped an attack? We only know about the ones that happen, not the ones that don't. It's a paradox really, and although we have been told that attacks have been foiled we only have their word for it.

What amazed me is how quickly the French were able to identify and arrest a huge number of people in the wake of the Paris attacks. Seems like they knew who they were already which begs the question why didn't they do something sooner? Dunno is the short answer.

Exactly, they're not going to tell us which attacks/problems they kept from happening. On the other bit: I bet they have whole diagrams of who knows who and how they are connected so when one of that web is named then they can backtrack a whole bunch of others.
 

Revelator

Active Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2012
Messages
478
This week's entree:

Come on, Charles: put Frankenfish and bio-bees in your world peace plan (Nov. 29)

Oh, how we laughed when Charlotte Church went on Question Time recently and told the audience of lunatics and lefties that the conflict in Syria was caused by global warming. But it turns out that she has a powerful ally the future king of England.

Yup, Prince Charles will head to Paris tomorrow to tell a conference on climate change that the city was attacked recently because of your local pub's patio heaters and that the Russian jet was brought down last Tuesday because so many people are now driving around in those Range Rover thingies.

Well, Your Royal Highness, I've done some checking and it turns out that the Su-24 was actually brought down by an AIM-120 Amraam missile fired from an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. My Range Rover had nothing to do with it.

But let's say for a moment that the powerful double act of Charles and Church is correct and that global warming is to blame. This of course means that we have to forget the problems caused by Winston Churchill drawing up borders in the Middle East with no regard for Sunni and Shi'ite sensibilities.

We must also forget the woeful idiocy of George Bush Sr, who went all weak-kneed in the first Gulf conflict, and the astounding stupidity of George Bush Jr and Mr Blair, who eventually did remove Saddam Hussein even though they had no plan for any kind of replacement.

Other things we must forget are the rousing rhetoric of western leaders, who a year ago were ready to support any group that wanted to overthrow Syria's regime and who are now dead set on keeping Bashar al-Assad in the hot seat, and the tribal issues, which are as old as the hills.

And the Kurds. And the mysteries of Islam. And the sense among Muslim youths that America is somehow out to nail anyone with a tea towel on his head. Yes. We must forget all that and assume that all was well in the region until 2007, when the summer was a bit warmer than usual.

This, according to Charles and Charlotte, meant the crops failed, and that meant people who lived off the land were forced into the towns and cities, where for reasons that are a bit unclear, if I'm honest, they decided life would be better if they threw a homosexual off a tall tower and set fire to their next-door neighbour.

And that in turn led to Turkey's Roy Lichtenstein shouting, "Fox three," and pressing the Fire control that unleashed his Amraam into the back bottom of the poor comrade's Su-24.

If you squint a bit and don't think too hard, you can just about see that this makes sense. But what exactly are we supposed to do about it? Sell our patio heaters and Range Rover thingies in the hope the world cools down and the Isis fighters put away their AKs and go back to a life of goats? I'm not sure that's realistic.

Or are we supposed to draw a lesson from what's happened in Syria and resolve to peg climate change where it is? Because if things stay as they are, the farmers of, say, Devon will never be compelled to come to London one day to set fire to Graham Norton.

Nor would the good people of Cardiff wake one morning to find the streets have been taken over by a load of disgruntled sheep farmers who've been driven from the high ground and are now embarking on a life of bank robbery and global terrorism.

This is what Charles and Charlotte seem to be saying: that when simple country people have a bad year on the farm, they are filled with an overwhelming desire to explode in a Belgian shopping centre.

Well, if that's the case, Charles must stand up in Paris and tell the delegates that if we want to prevent another country from falling into the clutches of a lunatic mob, scientists must be allowed to develop genetically modified food that can grow to be strong and delicious with very little water.

After the audience has taken this in, and the applause has died down, he must adopt a serious face, look straight into the camera and tell Greenpeace activists to stop rolling around on these crops every time they are tested and, to hammer his point home, he should then hold aloft a genetically modified salmon that in one of the farms throughout Panama and Canada became fully grown and ready for the pot in half the normal time.

Then he needs to eat it, possibly with a bit of hydroponic lettuce drizzled with some biotech corn oil. Afterwards, he should grin and rub his tummy and say: "Yum, yum."

He needs to say that last year in the United States 94% of all soya beans, 96% of all cotton and 93% of all corn was genetically modified in some way. And then, to show he cares, he must make a plea for this incredible engineering to make its way to the poorer parts of the world as soon as possible.

Because who's going to buy a manky Syrian goat when for half the price they can buy a tasty in vitro burger that and I'm not making this up was never part of an animal? It's made from meat that was grown in a Petri dish, in a lab.

Charles needs to be spooning the stuff down like a five-year-old at a jelly party as he tells the audience how meat made by Brains out of Thunderbirds rather than Farmer Giles requires almost no land, how there's none of the methane you get from cows and how it would end the debate on factory farming. He needs to sell this stuff as though his life depended on it. Which, if you share his views, it does.

In short, Charles and Charlotte need to stop telling us about all the problems we're creating. And start promoting, enthusiastically, all the solutions.

Of course he will say it's absurd to suggest global terrorism can be ended by science meat and a genetically altered bee. But he was the one who started it by saying the attacks in Paris were caused by my patio heater.

Question for the board--at point should I start posting these columns in the new Amazon show sub-forum?
 

skylock

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2006
Messages
2,546
Location
USA
Car(s)
Honda Civic
I think you should move this one over. I mean, it is open, so you might as well use it.
 

Revelator

Active Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2012
Messages
478
Okay, starting next week Clarkson's column will appear in the Amazon show's sub-forum.
 

MWF

Now needs wood
Joined
May 29, 2008
Messages
28,283
Location
MWF HQ, Ukadia
Car(s)
MX-5 1.8i Indiana SE, update pending
Is he still writing his car column? If so it would be good to see those as well. Or links to them if they aren't behind the paywall.
 
Top