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roger and me

man united fans are people too
roger moore was one of my very first movie star crushes, and one of the first celebrities i heard speak up against the fox hunt. that in itself was part of a long commitment to animal rights that also so him play a key role in having foie gras removed from the shelves of the british grocery chain selfridges. indeed, he made headlines again in the wake of the murder of cecil the lion by decrying trophy hunting as the pastime of cowards.

he was an ambassador for unicef and was knighted not for his acting, but for his humanitarian work. he spoke publicly about the fact that he had been molested once as a child in order to reassure young people that they should not feel shame if they had been victimised.

as a child, he suffered from measles, mumps, chickenpox, jaundice and almost died from double pneumonia at age five. at age eight, he got an infection in his foreskin, which meant he had to be circumcised- a procedure that is considerably more painful at that age than in infancy. during his youth, he had his tonsils, appendix and adenoids removed. he survived prostate cancer in the earlier nineties and a slowed heartbeat in the early 2000s. in 2012 another bout with pneumonia left him bedridden, but he learned to walk again as he recovered. from 2013 on, he lived with type 2 diabetes.

a longtime member of the conservative party, and an outspoken critic of britain's high taxes. he moved to switzerland and then monaco in the 1970s in order to escape his home country's tax burden, something which garnered him a lot of criticism. moore, however, was unrepentant and lived the life of a bond-esque playboy, hobnobbing with royalty and europe's wealthy elites.

he continued to support the tories through the leadership of david cameron, but passionately opposed brexit and believed that the united kingdom should allow more immigrants, especially refugees into the country. his last public act was to turn down an invitation from theresa may to appear at a party campaign event.

this is a particularly sad day for england, europe and the world, as we're left to process, once again, a vicious attack on an audience made up largely of the very young, and of girls and women. with almost two dozen dead and five dozen injured in what may be the work not just of the bomber himself, but of a group who worked to assemble a bomb without being detected, something a lot more difficult for an individual to achieve than it was ten or twenty years ago.

and the british are not the only ones suffering. here's a few incidents where innocent civilians have been forced to pay the price for another's political views:


  • earlier today, car bombs in homs and damascus killed four and injured sixteen. not combatants- just regular people who are trying to survive in the war zone that is their home.
  • yesterday, venezuelan police shot and killed a nineteen year old protester, bringing the death toll over eight weeks of public protests against the government to forty-nine.
  • 141 indonesian gay men were arrested and charged with violating the country's strict pornography laws. these charges have nothing to do with 'pornography' as westerners understand it, and basically boil down to these men being arrested for being gay.
  • yesterday, an as yet unidentified assailant detonated a bomb in a hospital in bangkok, thailand.
  • on friday, a string of suicide bombs killed more than 50 people in different locations in iraq's basra province.


the world is scarred every day by people who cannot abide sharing the planet with anyone who espouses views different than their own. and sadly, the most common result of that is that the contagion of that mindset is spread to others, ensuring an endless tug of war where the vast majority of us are the rope.

to return to sir roger moore for a moment, regular readers of this blog will have guessed that i have a lot of differences with him. i'm appalled that a man whose early life was marked by extreme ill health would so easily shrug off any sense of obligation to fund his home country's health system [through taxes] in order to allow himself to live a life of ease in monaco. his insistence that david cameron was doing a marvellous job as he slashed away at the social safety net, which had protected the "ordinary citizens" whose home budget surpluses kept sir roger earning a lot of money on the big screen, seems not only selfish, but amoral to me.

but, despite those political differences, which point to some pretty fundamental differences in worldview, my early star-crush and i had commonalities. he did believe that he could use his celebrity to do good for the most vulnerable, and he acted on that. despite his cosiness with traditionally aristocratic people, he called them out in no uncertain terms for their barbaric hobbies. i would never have found it impossible to live on a planet with such a person. [and to those cynics who want to point out that as white, western, english-speaking, educated people, we had more important things in common than different... have a look on twitter, or in youtube comments threads, and see what americans coming from even more similar backgrounds threaten to do to each other every day over "minor" political differences.]

we have long valued passion over compassion, because we are hardwired to be suspicious of those who are unlike us and to believe that our lives depend on our ability to aggressively drive off those from outside our tribe. we are the descendants of the ones who defended themselves best. but, having moved into a network of complex societies, controlling [but never eliminating] is now more important to our survival. precious few of us are equipped, physically or psychologically, to retreat to the wild [particularly when you consider that much of the wild is uninhabitable for our species], which means we have to find a way to be able to interact with people who are different than us in many, many ways.

and there are enemies: people who blow up hospitals, or mow down people with machine guns, or who simply lock the ones they don't like away to rot; people who drive us to think that our natural state is at each other's throats, seeking to blow us collectively back to the stone age [as if that were possible]. those are the people who threaten our lives- the only thing our brain is ultimately trained to protect at any cost. those are the people who we cannot accept. everyone else, we pretty much have to learn to live with.

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jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

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