The Blog

What Kind Of Week Has It Been? 1 August 2014

You'd think it being August (dear God, how?!) the news would have simmered on with complaints about marauding seagulls or a former media ubiquity starting the political equivalent of Wayne's World until autumn. And while those things are happening, so is actual, terrifying news.

Putin is still acting in the way that made him such a stern competitor at the International Staring Championships a few years back, with international powers pouring slightly nervous scorn over him and implementing sanctions, the geopolitical version of having your allowance severely docked. Benjamin Netanyahu meanwhile gets no such equivalent teenage punishment, because the West is Israel's stepfather: sure, they give them money whenever they want it and bend over backwards to keep them onside, but they feel weird punishing them because, it's not like, their kid, you know? Incidentally, money is one of the lesser-discussed issues that shows the imbalance of the conflict quite clearly: the US withdrew funds to UNESCO because they agreed Palestine could join, whereas Israel still gets billions despite dismembering Gaza.

People around the world have not been so reticent in their criticism of Israel and the death toll wrought, with more and more famous people making their voice heard. Some comments, like Jon Snow, has gone down extraordinarily well, while others like Zayn Malik have...not. When a member of the otherwise untouchable One Direction starts getting heat, you know something is badly amiss. Perhaps the most striking celeb tweeter denouncing the treatment of Gaza is Rob Schneider, an actor whose name has become a punchline funnier than any of his movies. His heartfelt pleas for peace is all the more pertinent because he has previous experience dealing with the Israeli military.

Northern Ireland meanwhile is a rolling Middle Eastern syllogism (the more Israeli flags we put up the, line?) but the long-running tension over rival cloth inexplicably cost a man his life this week: Oswald Bradley drowned trying to remove Irish flags from an island to replace it with a Union flag. Such nationalistic ardour is being seen in more dangerous ways across the country, as graffiti and other more, smashy intimidation tactics are being used on recent immigrants. Or ones who've been here a few years, they aren't picky. If you're wondering how on earth people could do this to other people, much less people who think their own culture is treated with contempt, then this clip sums everything up.

This, of course, its the way of the modern world, where a foreign citizen trying to make an honest, tax compliant living near the breadline are often pilloried by their peers, and even their adoptive government. And yet, some oligarch who could afford to buy they Gherkin (which is on the market) with money left over, and for whom The Breadline is a high-end caterers that do foccacia canopes can more or less influence tax policy single-handedly. The government are much more likely to serve people like this. Or rather, serve to people like this.

On the other side of the house Ed Miliband has serious issues of his own to deal with: the notion the the UK isn't ready for a claymation Prime Minister. He dealt with these concerns head on, getting his defence in early like Bill Clinton's triangulation policy in the 1990's. Except they probably don't call it triangulation, as anything that puts the image of odd shapes and Ed MIliband's head in the same sentence rather defeats the purpose.

If Miliband doesn't, in his words, look like the guy from central casting, Jamie Dornan arguably does. He becomes the leading man in a movie remake of Miles & Boon adjusted for inflation, Fifty Shades of Grey. The much-vaunted trailer features a powerful man called Mr Grey who exerts a physical and mental influence over a female colleague, culminating in some pretty intense scenes of dominance and submission. Of course, so does Secretary, and Dornan is a godawful amateur compared to James Spader.

If Richard Dawkins was around, he'd probably object to the phrase "godawful" for being too theocentric. But it's well worth remembering that, outside the strict confines of his academic work, Dawkins' opinion is as much use as a napkin at an ATM. Case in point this week as he decided that, as Linnaeus did with plants and animals, he would categorise various things into degrees of severity. Things like rape and paedophilia. The evolved response would have been to say nothing.