Get off your ass and vote

politics,war for the whitehouse 8 November 2016 Tell me what you think

America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. You’d need to be very fucking brave if you’re prepared to wake up tomorrow with Donald Jackass Trump as the president elect of the United States.

There is one proven way to prevent this from happening. Grab this election by its genitals, go get in a line and cast the vote that a load of Presbyterians from Northern Ireland poured tea into the sea to earn for you.

People fought and died against the sort of arsehole you know in your heart Donald Trump is. That’s not to say Hillary ‘Tammy Wynette’ Clinton is perfect – in fact, in any normal election, the kinds of people I respect would sooner eat tuna salad out of a raccoon’s corpse than vote for her. But this election is not normal.  This is an election to say ‘thanks but no fucking way’ to a painted combed-over demagogue.  This is an election to say ‘fuck you’ to the idea of a wall against Mexico.  This is an election to say ‘blow me’ to ‘too close to call’.

Vindicate the rights of human beings in this election. Do the things the United States stood for back when things weren’t so bleurgh.  Go vote – if he gets in there may be little to vote for again.

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Vote for Trump

politics,war for the whitehouse 6 November 2016 2 incisive, intellectually engaged comments

There’s a lot wrong with America, or so it seems.

Social Welfare and crime are out of control, race relations are strained, police are treated with suspicion, mostly because of their apparent predilection for shooting young African Americans, and for some reason, people are allowed to freely practice their religions.  Additionally, for some reason, there is no wall between the United States and Mexico, nor, for that matter, between the United States and Canada. Additionally, there is no wall between the United States and Cuba.

You can’t get over a wall on a rubber ring, am I right?  Obviously these are terrible things. Huge problems.  America has become small, and America needs to be great.  America needs a man (and it must be a man) to make it great again, and, if at all possible, gold plate it.

America can’t wait for people who receive emails to fix things with detailed plans open to scrutiny and understanding, involving the intellects of educated experts and open dialectic process.  That kind of silliness is okay for other minor nations, but absolutely no use whatsoever for a nation whose mighty eagle longs to soar yet again. No eagle ever consulted an expert on how to be great and fly.

America needs secret plans, dreamt up by the only man who truly understands the problems, and who, given the opportunity, has the great skill to create even more problems, which can then be transformed into opportunities for greatness.  These plans have to be cunning and resourceful, and if they require property development to make them really pop, then so much the better.

You may have been toying with the idea of voting for an ‘insider’ – one of those people who will be able to ‘navigate’ the ‘system’ and ‘deliver’ ‘change’. You may have even considered voting for that satanic woman who did lawyering and writing and being first lady and secretary of state and a United States Senator.  You know the type. Someone ‘qualified’ to be President of the United States.  But you know, deep down in your heart, that you don’t want that sort of President. Deep in your heart, you desire to be ruled as if by a God. You want a man who isn’t afraid to use a Tic Tac and grab America’s problems by the pudenda , and then, in a moment of genius, turn them into greatness.

America is a nation practically tumescent with potential greatness. All it needs is a bit of stimulation by a great man to make it spurt out its greatness, covering and eventually gold-plating everything.

A great man once said: a nation gets the leaders it deserves. A vote for Donald Trump is a golden opportunity to prove it; if you vote Trump, you deserve all you get.

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Angry people in search of something about which to be angry

#WasItForThis,Advertising 27 October 2016 Tell me what you think

A recent Carphone Warehouse media campaign proclaiming itself ‘pro-choice’ has raised the ire of a large number of Irish social media commentators.  The advert is below.


There are a few things to say about the campaign.

First is an apparent failure to understand what ‘pro-choice’ means to people.  This is best considered a form of tone-deafness.  When people say ‘pro-choice’ they mean one thing which is readily and absolutely understood by the majority of people. For a company to take on the phrase with a twist, they need to be absolutely clear that their message chimes correctly. This one does not chooch, because it’s not actually saying what it initially seems to. It’s trying to be coy and provoke an ‘ahhh’, but it’s too clumsy to do that. The use of pink and denim is 1980s and it leaves the viewer feeling hollow or angry.

Second, in Ireland, the pro-choice message is taken seriously.  This is a country which denies women the right to bodily autonomy and restricts their lives to an extent many feel is in violation of human rights and liberties. You don’t piss about with messaging around that area, partially because many activists are humorless and partially because even the witty ones aren’t joking about overturning the state (and male) monopoly on personal freedom. The campaign to overturn the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution is real and very serious.

Third, no button campaign should say ‘we’, because a button is a personal item. The campaign feels just as contrived as it is.

This isn’t the first time a marketing campaign has just felt stupid.  The ridiculous Smirnoff ‘we’re open’ ads were different, because they absolutely were an attempt to virtue-signal and associate themselves with right-on values.  They didn’t chime to me because they were also an attempt to noose market share from Absolut, which has been associated with support for LGBT causes for donkeys’ years.

The humorless virtue-signalling* of the twitterati on the subject of this plainly ineffective campaign is painful to watch, but entirely 100% self inflicted by Carphone for not being wittier or more on the money.  Nobody expects a High Street brand like Carphone to join the pro-choice campaign, even on the bandwagon.

But equally, nobody believes that it’s big or clever to abuse a phrase in common parlance for the purpose of selling a mobile handset. The best thing Carphone could have done was to use the phrase “We’re for choice” and run the rest of the campaign as is. Inoffensive, playful and doesn’t scare the horses. By appropriating the phrase ‘pro-choice’ they’ve made a silly mistake and removed the prospect of claiming honest misunderstanding.

*@betaburns on twitter queries this.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with virtue-signalling. We all do it every day.  Also, the ‘humorless’ is crossed out because it’s not particularly fair. 

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Still a Conservative

Conservatives 5 October 2016 1 lonely comment

In the twenty years since I joined the Conservative Party (and I am only thirty-six now, so imagine how insufferable that was), I have only expressed outright disapprobation with the direction of the party once – when Iain Duncan Smith was leader, after his ‘never underestimate the resolve of a quiet man’ speech, I despaired for the party I had joined.  We were no closer to power  than under Hague, and Hague had been a damn sight more electable than the man who one can have imagined Googling ‘what would a leader do?’.  I digress.

Today, as the Conservative Party splits up on its way home to constituencies and prepares for the return to Westminster in a short while, I must admit that I am wavering in my support for the leadership.

Amber Rudd’s speech was light on things to cheer for, and heavy  on things for the left to categorise as ‘nasty’.  She’s already rolling back on some of the most serious bum notes, but it’s fairly clear that nobody with any common sense had an opportunity to listen to it in full and determine what the biog picture message from it was.  That’s a pity, because ceding law and order as our area of competence is a silly rookie error.

Philip Hammond scared the markets with the roller-coaster analogy. I don’t believe Philip Hammond has ever been on a roller-coaster, so I don’t know who wrote the speech.

My concern now is that Theresa May has sought to utterly change the direction of the party – from a liberal, non-state-interventionist party to a state-knows-best party.  Ronald Reagan had it right when he said the most dangerous nine words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’.   The state is the thumb pressing down the enterprise of the people – this interventionism is bad and dangerous.

I was a remainer for the express purpose of keeping David Cameron on as PM – but that ship has sailed, and we have the leader we have.

I want Theresa May to be brilliant – and I believe she can and will be, once she stops the inevitable new-leader process of throwing red meat to party animals. On some basic level, the party is now out of control and is testing the boundaries of the mandate given to it by the people in the General Election.

I therefore believe the argument for a new General Election is becoming insurmountable – and it should happen before Brexit, to give a solid, clear mandate to the government on the way it proposes to take the nation forward.

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Application to replace Seumas Milne

Labour Leadership 3 October 2016 2 incisive, intellectually engaged comments

Jeremy Corbyn,
Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition
House of Commons
Palace of Westminster,
City of Westminster

Dear Jeremy,

If the rumours in the hated mainstream media are to be believed, you will soon be seeking a replacement for your strategic support Seumas Milne to work with you towards the realisation of the Project. There is much to mourn in the departure of Seumas:

  • Irrespective of the obvious inevitability of some political objective’s failure, Seumas never sought to dissuade you or redirect your political energies to things the doubters suggested, like policy development, consultation or communication with anyone outside the party.
  • Even during the most tense crises, Seumas kept his glowering, deeply unsettling presence at the edge of meetings, coldly appraising the utterances all around you and making dissenters less likely to give their distracting ‘thoughts’.
  • Seumas, as was well known outside the office, did not eat or drink; the times when he appeared to do either were carefully choreographed efforts to put people at extreme unease, as his slow, methodical faux chewing or sipping were carefully developed efforts to make people consider whether their own consumption of food was bourgeois and self-indulgent.
  • He could see in the dark and wore ‘wheelie’ shoes so he appeared to glide about the office, to suddenly appear behind and scare the living fuck out of staffers.

Whilst it would be churlish to claim I can live up to the bounty brought to the party by Seumas Milne, I believe I have some qualifications which could have benefits for your new dispensation on leadership.

  • I am almost always extremely angry. Not your run-of-the-mill, confused anger. The kind of anger normally occasioned by someone borrowing but not replacing one’s screwdriver, or a plug that won’t quite go in even though you’ve found the earth-socket with your finger before trying to line it up, or the bourgeoisie controlling the means of production even though you’ve written columns detailing how this order is inevitably doomed.  The impotent, all-consuming rage I harbour almost always makes me worry that I will end up killing someone or wetting myself, or both.
  • When I am not experiencing my daily paroxysms of debilitating anger, I tend to relax with a glowering, brooding, dark malevolent presence which lingers long after I have left a room. My joyless, energy sapping demeanour, whilst it is nowhere near as personally scary as my default state, is still pretty troubling for all those around me. This seems to me in keeping with the tone you have set over the last twelve months, and is effortless for me. If there are still people in HQ needing their spirits crushed, I am just the person to do it.
  • I am the opposite of a populist.  I actively seek out popular opinions and, in detail, seek to tear these things apart. In recent times I have written articles warning against the petty bourgeois activity of breast-feeding, the risk to national production of an educated workforce and how awful sugar is. These are just examples, of course. I can also write stuff praising quasi-socialist dictators, ideological demagogues and opinion pieces blatantly misrepresenting my own position for the purposes of obfuscating an entirely accurate complaint against me. It’s possible you’ll have more use for these skills.
  • I have perfected a smile of disapprobation. This is an upgrade on Seumas’ tendency to simply sit entirely still and suddenly exit the room without anyone noticing him standing up, and is twice as creepy.

In short, Jeremy, I am exactly the sort of unhinged lunatic your campaign needs now to recover from the loss of Seumas Milne. My general creepiness and the majesty of my silent, dark spectre cannot fail to keep your headquarters operation in a state of chaos and suspended animation, just how you like it.

Give it some thought.  No need to give me a ring. Just think about me twice and I will be right behind you.

Ben Archibald


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This is thirty-six

unstupidity 29 September 2016 Tell me what you think

If someone had asked me as an eighteen year-old what I would be like, a whole lifetime away, I would probably have said that I would be happy, amused and comfortable.  I certainly thought I would be richer than I am now, and I definitely thought I would have finished the book I started thinking about all those years ago.

My life’s journey has been fairly typical except in the detail; on by birthday I had travelled 13,149 times around the sun, which means 12,360,060,000,000 (twelve trillion) kilometers.  Couple that to the rotational velocity of the sun around the centre of the galaxy, and I have in effect (just adding the two figures because the cam-speed rotation calculation needed is beyond me)  travelled 262,296,252,000,000 km (two hundred and sixty two trillion) during my lifetime.

Thinking less enormously, I have just in the past year cycled a little over 2,600km at a little over 24km/hr, which is up on the 18km/hr average before the catastrophe.

The catastrophe was almost a year ago – the sudden and unannounced passing away of my dad. Between them, my mum and dad were 3/4 of my world, and he was absolutely the die from which I was cast.  I miss him every day and I wish he was still here.  There are days I share with my friends who have also lost their fathers, where the pain is too much to bear, and where the simple will to get the fuck on with making people happy kicks in.  How bizarre that this should, in the end, be the thing that gets me through.  That and my mum – a tower of fragile strength whom I have grown to respect more and more with every passing week.

In other matters, I am fitter than I have ever been. I still wish I had listened to Brian McLaughlin and not turned into the fat bastard I was for a few years. I haven’t shaken off the size yet, but my heart is reassuringly strong and small steps are taken every day for the purposes of making life a little longer, because life is fun.  My desire to stay active and do something a bit stupid every month is paying off.

Work is work – we get paid for the difficult stuff, but the fun stuff we do because we’re allowed to.  I’m blessed to work in an organisation where work is valued and progress is measured in successes every month – and where failures are learning experiences.

I am grateful for the people around me.  The Producer is a constant grounding influence, and after more than a decade, we will have the ability to make one another laugh, and sometimes it’s even ‘with’ rather than ‘at’.  My brother has never been taller in my eyes and I love him dearly, even if we don’t see enough of each other.

So, this is thirty-six.  I miss lots of the things I had when I was 34, but 35 has been about coping with losing the thing you couldn’t live without, and discovering, with amazement,  that thing was what set you up to live anyway.

My latest application for the position of England senior football manager

Uncategorized 27 September 2016 2 incisive, intellectually engaged comments

Manager Appointment Standing Committee
The Football Association
Wembley Stadium
PO Box 1966

Dear Sir Greg and everyone at the FA,

I write again to apply for the position recently vacated by Sam Allardyce.  I have lit a candle for him and sent him an invoice, as he would have wanted.

Since you most likely have my CV on file since the last time I applied for the position and the four previous applications I have made, I shan’t burden you with it here.

Suffice it to say my GCSEs (4A*s, 4As, 2 Bs and a C) and my A-Levels (B,B,C) have ensured that I can tell the difference between a Sheikh from a country which does exist from a man with a teatowel on his head from a country which doesn’t.  This will be helpful in our future deliberations.  Further, I have learned recently to begin every conversation with someone unknown to me with the phrase “if you’re from a national newspaper, please realise that everything I say from this point on is a colourful, whimsical comedy routine and not to be taken seriously.”  However, unlike Roy Hodgson, I will begin every conversation with players with the phrase “please realise that everything I say from this point on is an instruction or direction as a football coach and not to be confused with a colourful, whimsical comedy routine.” Every conversation I begin with Gareth Southgate will begin “Hello Gareth, how is it in the West Country?”

Since my last application, my approach to football has changed slightly.  Whilst I still favour putting the fast, wiry men with decent ball control on the flanks, the surly psychopaths with gambling and cocaine addictions to the back of the field and the hyperactive cretins with narcissistic personality disorder at the front wearing the 9 and 10 shirts, I have recently determined that the best place for people called Southgate is somewhere in the West Country (see above) and that Alan Shearer should be employed to shout pithy epithets at the group of millionaires we have assembled to represent the country in what is our national sport.

I would, as manager, bring some new disciplinary ground rules to the training regime.  First of all, no player would be allowed to arrive in a car which cost more to purchase than a small housing estate. Second, no player would be allowed to bring pro-forma contracts, fake passports, disguises or golf clubs to training. Thirdly, any player passing to Wayne Rooney would be sent to the reserves.  Wayne Rooney is to be employed totemically only from now on.  If a ball happens to ricochet off him into a net and put him on the score sheet, we will take that disappointment stoically.  He will be played in every match until 2024 for the full regulation ninety minutes and serve as a lesson to other players.

I would employ Paul Gascoigne as the team trouble shooter. In the event of any family crisis or problem for a player, Paul would be summoned with some chicken and a fishing rod to stare wistfully at the player until he returns to full fitness.

In all, I think you can see my absolute seriousness in my application. I know the offside rule, I know that they’re “referee’s assistants” and not “linespersons” and that the flag they hold is not a signal for a slice of Battenberg Cake.

I hope this application is successful.  I believe I have Des Lynam’s endorsement, but he won’t return my calls.  Did you know he was born in Ennis, Co Clare?  Blew my fucking mind.

Ben Archibald

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Corbynism: the gateway drug to McDonnellism

Uncategorized 24 September 2016 Tell me what you think

Jeremy Corbyn is startling sometimes. He has amassed such a bewildering (and bewildered) group of disparate supporters around him, and communicated his ideas so poorly, that it is deeply complex to ascertain exactly what we’re looking at when we see his Labour Party operate.  In no reasonable sense is the Labour Party today the same entity it was when it was, say, winning elections.  They don’t seem to have a problem  with this, because, as any Momentum supporter will tell you, elections aren’t the point.  The point is stimulating activism.

Whoa there, spooky. The UK is, constitutionally, a parliamentary democracy where the people are represented – Parliament is sovereign, thanks to the decision to cut the head off Charles I and the coronation vows of successive monarchs. Elections are the fucking point, and anyone in any doubt should try to subvert or overthrow parliamentary democracy (protip: you’ll go to jail).

As a result, it doesn’t matter how many clam-bakes, safe-spaces, die-ins or bake-offs you organise, if you want to wield actual power in the United Kingdom, you need to run for election and win some seats.

Even the most pugnacious Labour MPs know this – but for some reason, Momentum’s drones either seek to marginalise and minimise the importance of parliamentary elections or to undermine their own members of Parliament. The people who know how our democracy functions are being undermined by people who think one-way streets are systematic capitalist oppression.

Momentum does not, yet, own the Labour Party, but they’re about to get the keys to the shop at Party Conference. When that happens, it’s curtains for both the ability of the party to construct a coherent narrative in the leadup to the general election, and for the authority of Jeremy Corbyn himself.  When he is returned to his leadership, the strategically shaved morons shilling for him will begin the purge, to get rid of the people who know how the fax machine works, and the people who moderate the worst bits of McDonnellism, the thuggish, aggressive, militant tendency in the party.  McDonnellism has had to be quiet and loyal up to now – but even Tom Watson, the intellectual heir to McPoison and Brown, must now be able to see what’s coming now.

We’ve been able to laugh and slightly worry about Labour up to now – from this weekend on, we need to reflect on the crisis McDonnellism inflicts on UK politics – because nobody’s actually foolish enough to vote for the thug, but they may be prepared to put up with Uncle Grandpa.

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Open Letter to Mike Ashley

Sport,unstupidity 6 March 2016 Tell me what you think

Mike Ashley,
Newcastle United Football Club,
St James’s Park,
Newcastle Upon Tyne


Dear Mike,

In light of the disappointing performances of Newcastle United Football Club in the current season, I hereby offer my services to take over from the lovable bumbling rogue you have in charge at the moment.

I will freely admit that my knowledge of football management has been recently untested, since they started putting copy protection on Football Manager, so allow me to briefly establish my doctrine and approach.

I have noticed that we get more points from a game (on the league table) when we have a higher number beside our team name than the other team, when the referee blows his whistle for a long time at the end of the match.  I do not believe this is coincidental, and I believe there is a cause-and effect. I have also noticed that when the little dashed line on the league is somewhere below our team name, fewer people in Newcastle try to set fire to Sports Direct adverts.

I favour placing players who aren’t very good either on loan or on the bench.  I favour putting players who seem to know one side of a boot from another on the field, wearing a football kit, and playing the game.  I know this is a bit different from the general scheme over the last few months, but bear with me, as I think it’s a strategy which could pay dividends in the future.

Further in terms of squad selection, I favour putting shirts with the numbers 9 or 10 on people who enjoy running toward the opposition goal, passing it to one another and then eventually, when there’s not much pitch to go, hoofing the ball into the net, past the goalkeeper.  Now, I’m aware of the excitement caused when a player simply kicks the ball to the side of the pitch, or passes it gently into the warm arms of the opposition goalkeeper, or, as in the last few games, tries to send the ball up to Tim Peake in the International Space Station; but imagine the excitement if we actually employed some people to do some of the passy-passy, kicky-kicky stuff that some of the other teams do?  Their fans seem to like it.

Moving on – if we were to consider putting some people in the middle to keep a formation, intercept opposition players who have the ball and pass forward to the people with 9 or 10 on their backs, that could be helpful.

I favour putting surly, ill-tempered people in shirts with lower numbers and keeping them to the back of the field, with an occasional lunge forward when they have possession of the ball and see a space on the pitch from which they could pass the ball forward.   The recent trend within Newcastle United of having people at the back apparently paid to observe the opposition players running past them towards our goal is actually an unwelcome one and I would like to see us try something different.  What if some of them (obviously not all) tracked back, watched the space and prepared, with insight into the probable next steps of the attacking players, to intercept them before the box?  It seems to work in Ladies’ football, and I see Leicester City using an similar approach to their advantage.  If I was the manager, I’d at least give that a go.  I could draw diagrams for the players.

Finally in terms of squad selection, I would put a big player who seems to understand the flight characteristics of a near-sphere in a shirt with the number 1 on it.  I’d have him stand near our goal to stop the opposition team from kicking the ball into our goal, either by catching it in some gloves, or punching it away from the goal, or by kicking it away, or, like I did when I played in goals in the quad at school, blocking the ball with my face.  Again – controversial strategy but imagine if it worked.

In conclusion, Mike, I have in the past bought shoes from you and I trust you.  You could repay my trust by hiring me – for £30/hr (not a penny less) on match days and training days to apply some of the strategies I have outlined above to help out our football team.  It may be, of course, that you thought you were buying a Formula One racing team when you hired Steve McClaren, and that this really isn’t your fault.  In that case, feel free to direct him to this page to help him.

Yours sincerely,

Ben ‘Glory Hunter’ Archibald


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Fonts screwed

Uncategorized 23 February 2016 Tell me what you think

If you’re looking at this on a Mac, it looks like shit, and you paid far too much for your computer to be looking at something this fucked. If you’re looking at this on a PC, it’s not much better, but at least you aren’t a hipster fuck.

I screwed up the fonts and I’m working on it.

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