Saturday, 8 February 2014

Your Thing With Vladimir: An Open Letter To Antiputinistas

Dear Antiputinistas,

Before I begin, let me congratulate you: you have finally compelled me to give recognition, despite myself, to your existence.

I tell you, this was not easy. I worked, wrote stories, drew cartoons about terrorism, and in general managed to carry on as though you didn’t exist. But there came a point that you couldn’t even come across the words “Putin” or “Russia”, “Olympics” or “gay” online without you descending in hordes to declaim shrilly about him. Finally, there was no way I could stay oblivious, despite all my efforts.

I suppose that was your goal, to make it impossible for anyone to ignore you.

As I said, congratulations.

But, my Antiputinista friends, though your attempts at garnering publicity for yourselves have worked, what have you actually – in concrete terms – achieved?

Not much, actually. In fact, nothing at all.

Why not?

Because, whatever you may say or think, it has absolutely no effect on Putin himself. Is Putin going to change his views because you call him a despot and demand he be hanged in Red Square? Of course not. Is Putin going to stop his (alleged) persecution of homosexuals because you Photoshop rainbow-coloured Hitler moustaches on his photo? Will the President of Russia give up his policies because George Takei condemns him? Are you kidding me?

In fact, let me tell you a little fact which might surprise you, my Antiputinista friends: your campaign is not just useless, it’s completely self-defeating. Why?

Well, in the first instance, the vast majority of the world doesn’t give a fig for what you think. Sure, you can create a lot of noise online. You can derail otherwise serious discussions. I’ll give you that. But exactly what effect will all that noise have on the real world? None.

The vast, overwhelming majority of the world, you see, doesn’t care about you. The vast majority of the world isn’t even reading your rants, let alone agreeing or being converted. In fact, if the majority of the world would be interested at all, they’d simply be tempted to take Putin’s side, because...

...secondly, you’re tools.  You’re the quite cynically manipulated tools of the Western Imperial propaganda machine, being fed a narrative line that you’re following blindly (if you’re innocent that is). You’re the same kind of tool who demanded the bombing of Syria for Assad’s alleged (and since completely disproven) chemical weapons attack. You’re the same kind of tool who demanded that Saddam Hussein be overthrown for complicity in 11/9. You’re the same kind of tool who...I could go on and on.

Hell, my Antiputinistas, you aren’t just the same kind of tool. In a huge number of instances, you are the exact same tool. Hands up if you believed the Iraq WMDs story. Hands up if you wanted to bomb Syria and still believe that the cannibal headhunters there are heroic freedom fighters. Hands up if you want Edward Snowden jailed or droned as a traitor.

In fact, if Putin had refused Snowden asylum, if Putin had allowed Syria to be bombed and invaded, and if Putin hadn’t tried to reassert Russian influence as a major world power, would we even have heard of his alleged despotism and his hatred for gays? How many of you are aware that barring Iran, just about all the countries in the world which impose death sentences or life in prison for homosexuality are close US allies? How many of you care?

And that leads me to the significant point, the decreasing effect you have on the Russians themselves. What? You forgot about the Russians? They’re, the people who, you know, inconveniently keep voting Putin back to power. Why on earth do they do this?

They do this, Antiputinistas, because they’ve been through the era of Yeltsin, and they’ll do almost anything to avoid the chance of having to live through that kind of societal collapse again. Did I say almost? Forget the qualifier: I meant anything. They’ll do anything. Putin has not only pulled them up from the gutter, he’s given them a modicum of national self-respect.

And this is why all your support for Pussy Riot doesn’t strike the slightest, tiniest, spark of sympathy among the Russians. Most of them don’t give a damn for Pussy Riot. Some of them do give a damn, but only in that they consider Pussy Riot to be Western-paid and controlled agents provocateur, and think they deserve all that happens to them. The more you pour adulation on Pussy Riot, the more certain they grow of this, and the less actual influence Pussy Riot has in Russia.

And let me tell you this – the more you rave and rant, the more the Russians gather behind Putin. Because they feel attacked.

I don’t know how to break this to you, but there’s this little facet of Russian character (Russkaya Dusha, literally "Russian soul") that you may not know about; when attacked or threatened by a foreign invader, they always gather behind leaders, even if those leaders are not popular people otherwise. It’s called patriotism, and is a very different thing from the “my country right or wrong” of nationalistic chauvinism. The more you attack Putin, the more you harden support behind him, for the simple reason that everyone can see that you’re tools, and the tool wielder is using you to attack Russia by attacking Putin.

And, hey, you know what? By comparing Putin to Hitler, you actually managed to get Russian Jews to support Putin

Isn't that great going so far?

Now, let me tell you another unpleasant little truth: not only the Russians, but the other nations of the world aren’t going to give up on Putin on your say-so. This is because Russia is a major nation, like it or not, a major rising nation with an increasingly important share of the world’s resources, and nobody wants to be on their bad side. Despite all the raving about gay rights, did you see any country actually boycotting the Sochi Olympics? You didn’t, did you? When it came to it, they all went like good little boys and girls. And after all the tales about hotel rooms and murdered dogs, the world will move right on engaging with Russia.

Oh, while we’re on the subject of gay rights, let me cue you in on a couple of things:

First, Russia is culturally as much as Eastern country as a Western. In the East, posing shirtless showing off your body doesn’t in any way mean you’re gay, any more than holding another man’s hand in the street does. And guess who, in the response columns of articles in which Putin’s shirtless pictures appear, appreciate them? Well, it’s not the men.

Secondly, do you know the actual anti-gay law Putin passed – what it actually bans, and what the penalties are? If not, you can check it here. Make sure to educate yourselves or you risk looking like ignoramuses, people.            

Let me repeat what I said elsewhere a couple of days ago:

I've been thinking of why the Western media establishment (and, after Iraq, I think that we can agree that the Western media is an organic part of the government?) is so anti-Putin... and why media-dependent people, who know nothing about actual conditions in Russia, are so eager to speak against him.

It's not because he's a "despot"; even if he were. If that were so, the Western media would be filled with daily excoriations of Saudi Arabia, say, or Paul Kagame of Rwanda, or the Bahrain royal family. But where are the diatribes against them?

It's not because he's allegedly anti-gay; if that were so, we'd hear something about US allies Saudi Arabia or Uganda, where homosexuality carries a death sentence.

It's not about Putin exerting control over other neighbouring nations. If that were so, where's the white hot fury deserved by Turkey, or Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, or Burundi or Uganda? All of them are busily interfering in the affairs of other nations...with US blessings.

It's not about him cracking down on the media. Were it so, we'd have raving and ranting about Erdogan in Turkey, or closer to the Western home, Cameron in Britain.

So what's left? One thing only: Putin is being singled out because he stands in the way of Western hegemonism. Without Putin, right now, the oil of Chechnya would be flowing abroad to Western markets; Syria would have been bombed and occupied; Iran would likely long since have been attacked, and Russia would've been reduced to vassal status. Instead, he's built up the country back to a major position in world affairs, and a pole around which opposition to the US is coalescing.

That is why Putin comes in for all the abuse. Nothing more or less. 

Thank you for your attention. 

What do I personally think of Putin? Does it matter what I think? It does not. But, just for kicks, let me tell you.

Putin is a politician. Like all politicians, his primary goal is power. He will do whatever he has to to hold on to that power, like any other politician. If you think politics is a clean business, you shouldn’t be allowed out alone. And Putin’s brand of politics is succeeding where he needs it to – among the people who actually vote for him.   

And that is all that matters.

No, I am not going to watch the Sochi Olympics, but not because I'm boycotting it. I have no fondness for sports, and in a snowless country, winter sports like skiing and ice skating mean nothing to anybody.

Your well wisher (because I think it’s time you stopped making absolute fools of yourselves on the internet)

                                                                                              Bill the Butcher.

And I posted this picture to mess with your heads. So there.

Thursday, 6 February 2014


Helena saw the man the moment she reached the platform, and for an instant she stiffened instinctively, and caught Peter’s hand tight.

Peter wriggled. “Mum,” he said in his little-boy voice. “You’re hurting me!”

Helena forced her fingers to relax slightly. “Sorry, darling,” she said and smiled briefly, tight-lipped, down at her son. Then she cast another anxious glance at the man.

He hadn’t seen her, wasn’t even looking at her, and to most people there would be nothing unusual about him. He was young – early twenties, maybe – with a short beard and dressed warm, in a heavy brown leather jacket, a bag over his shoulder. Everyone was dressed warm – it was snowing in the street above – and most people were carrying bags. There was absolutely nothing unusual about him, except his brown skin and pronounced Semitic features.

An Arab, Helena thought. He’s an Arab, and he’s here on the Underground. Oh my God.

She herself knew that her reaction was completely irrational. She must have brushed past hundreds of Arabs on the street without even noticing them. But she couldn’t suppress the memories of suburban trains, torn apart like cardboard boxes, because of a few young men just like this one. And she had Peter with her.

She had a sudden, insane impulse to go back up the escalator. To hell with the trip uptown to see her parents. She’d go another time, next weekend maybe.

But the crowd was pressing behind her, pushing her ever closer to the Arab by the pillar, and she’d have a hard time fighting her way back up. And – she thought suddenly – wasn’t this unfair to him? She remembered how she had more than once declaimed online and to friends how it was unfair to tag all Arabs – and by extension all Muslims, and all brown people – as terrorists. And here she was thinking like the bigots she had condemned so many times.

Well, yes, but online and in a restaurant she wasn’t at risk of being blown to pieces, and her son with her.

She was still struggling with herself when the crowd had pushed her right next to the young man by the pillar. It was a large crowd, much larger than usual at this time of the day, and she cursed herself for having picked today to come.

Standing by the man’s side, she glanced at him quickly from the corner of her eye. He was looking straight ahead at the station chart on the wall across the line, oblivious of her existence. She thought she could see a little muscle twitching at the edge of his beard. Was he tense? Was he tense because he was nerving himself to press a switch which would complete a circuit and send an electric impulse to a detonator which would –

Stop it, she told herself. Stop it, this is too damned much. He’s just a student like a thousand others in this station, at this moment. What a hypocrite you are.

The crowd was getting really too large to manage, and she began slowly advancing towards the edge of the platform, or she might miss this train; and the next one to her parent’s station was half an hour later. The young man by her side was edging forward, too. They would be on the train together.

Don’t think about it, she told herself, gritting her teeth. Don’t.

In order not to have to look at him, she peered down the track past the platform to where it vanished into darkness round a curve in the tunnel. She hated the Underground, hated the feeling of confinement it gave her, the feeling of being crushed against people to whom she, with her life and interests and everything else, was just a lump of matter occupying space that prevented them from stretching their legs out. But there was no other practicable way of mass transit in the city, unless she wanted to spend hours on a bus every day.

The train was coming. She could see the light of its headlamps, yellow on the curving concrete wall. Quite automatically, obeying a childhood habit, she leaned a little forward, to have a better look. She never even noticed when Peter’s hand slipped loose from hers.

The next thing she did notice, though, was a terrified cry. She jumped round.

Peter was down on the tracks.

She never knew whether he’d fallen off, or been pushed by the crowd, but there he was sitting between the rails, his tiny face screwed up with fear. And the rails were thrumming as the train began to pull into the station.

She opened her own mouth, to scream.

By her side, a blur of movement.

The Arab moved so fast she barely saw him. One moment, he was standing beside her, like a statue, bag over his shoulder. The next moment, he was down on the track, vaulting over the nearer rail, scooping up Peter and turning even as he flung the boy back towards the platform, Peter turning over in the air as he hurtled towards her, and she fell backwards with him in her arms, falling on people behind as the train roared past, and she was down on the ground and people around her, white faces shocked and bloodless. And the scene dissolved in a rain of tears.

“Ma’am?” A heavily accented voice. “Ma’am? Are you all right?”

She knew who it was before she even looked up. He was bending over her, concern on his bearded face. “Are you OK?” he said. “And the boy?”

Peter was clutching her tight, but was already beginning to calm down. “He’ll be all right,” she said, and tried to smile. “ did you move so fast, down there and up again?”

He shrugged. “Good reflexes. Well, if you’re all right, then...”

“Wait,” she said, climbing with difficulty to her feet. “I haven’t thanked you.”

“That’s all right. As long as the boy’s fine.” He was actually quite good-looking, she saw, with clear brown eyes and excellent teeth which flashed when he smiled. “I am very glad he is safe.”

She looked down at her son and she was suddenly crying again, great sobs racking her body. “Thank you,” she sobbed. “I owe everything to you – my life...”

“Stop it, please. You owe me nothing.” He glanced over his shoulder. “Your train is about to leave, ma’am, you should board it.”

“Yes...aren’t you coming too?”

He shook his head slightly. “My train is not this one, the chart says. Have a safe journey.”

“Thanks again,” she said, as she boarded. She turned as the doors were beginning to close, and looked to where he was waiting, watching her. “Wait,” she called. “What’s your name?”

His lips moved, saying something, but she only caught the first syllable, “Ali...”

The train moved off into the tunnel. She kept looking at him through the window until the platform vanished and she could see him no longer.

Then she looked down at Peter, and hugged him as tightly as she could.


She had just reached the top of the escalator when she noticed the police. In black uniforms, visored helmets and body armour, they were rushing down on the other side, running, not waiting for the escalator. At the same moment her mobile began ringing.

It was her mother. “Helena! Are you all right?”

“All right? Of course. Why do you ask?”

“Haven’t you heard what happened on the Underground?”

“Oh, that. I’m all right and so is Peter. But how did you get to hear that...” She stopped suddenly, realising. “No.” Her voice rose. "No."

Her mother had not even noticed. “There’s been a bomb, a train blown apart, god alone knows how many dead. Where are you?”

“I’m at the station, Mother! At the station. I’m all right. I’ll be there soon.” There were more police coming, and some of them were pointing at the passengers leaving the escalator, pointing them to one side. She could no longer hear what her mother was saying due to the noise. So she cut the call.

A policewoman was talking to the man in front of her, a TV set on the wall behind. A news bulletin showed images of smoke and mangled metal, survivors staggering past the camera. A police officer appeared on the screen.

“It was obviously a suicide bombing,” he said, “Based on closed-circuit TV cameras, we already have a suspect. He’s...”

“Ma’am?” the policewoman said. “Ma’am? A few questions, please.”

Helena hardly registered her voice. The TV screen was beginning to fade from the policeman’s face to that of the suspect, and she could not look away.

 Of course, even before the image appeared, she knew who she would see there.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2014

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Regime Change Associates, Inc.


Regime Change Associates, Inc
Everywhere, Richistan.

Your Majesty/Excellency/CEO/Mr President, Sir

I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where we really, really needed to overthrow the government of some pesky little country which stands in the way of a pipeline, or military bases, or other avenue of profit, haven’t we? In the old days it wouldn’t have been a problem. We’d just invade the hell out of that country (or hire a nifty little mercenary outfit to do it for us), and take it over. Ah, remember those good old days?

Unfortunately, these days, invading countries you want to regime-change has become a little difficult, as I’m sure you’re well aware. More and more, these days, traitors within and enemies without gang up online and in such criminal organisations as the United Nations Security Council to denounce and block invasions. Why, for a while one might almost have imagined that this route to making an honest profit had been permanently blocked! One might have had to actually resort to trade or market rate payments to get what one wanted and deserved!    

Happily, that terrible era, with its anti-free-enterprise stance, is behind us. We’ve successfully found a way round it. Today, Your Majesty, Excellency, CEO or Mr President, Sir, we can bring you tidings of great joy; the route to regime change is open again to you, without the expense and opprobrium of an invasion. Why, it even comes with an added bonus: your own liberal compatriots, who would have condemned an invasion to the skies, will hail you as a hero for carrying out the regime change.

We at Regime Change Associates, Inc believe that with our tried and trusted model, you can simply not fail. You don’t even have to lift a finger! We will do it all for you, for a fee that is absurdly modest in comparison to all that you stand to gain. After all, the entire resources of a country are there for the asking! Imagine that!

Attached with this letter is an in-depth description of the techniques Regime Change Associates, Inc, uses in situations where a regime change is indicated, but for your convenience we will summarise them here:

The first thing is to know your target. What works in one situation won’t work in another. Remember that you are actually waging a war, shall we call it a fifth-generation war, against this other country, and that in war, strategy is all-important.

Now, if your target is a white, European nation, military invasion can almost certainly be ruled out. This is because Western populations have now been systematically indoctrinated to believe that white people are being targeted by freedom-hating brown hordes. This is, of course, correct (or, if Your Excellency/Majesty is an Arab monarch, it is not correct, with craven apologies), but in any case, the idea of invading another white nation is now extremely difficult to sell to western populations for any reason whatever, even if they are despicable Eastern Europeans of Slavic extraction.

In these cases, we use what we call a “controlled chaos” approach, more generally referred to as a “colour revolution”. In this technique, used against white nations or non-white nations too difficult to provoke an armed rebellion against, we organise massive street protests designed to completely swamp the state and remove its ability to respond democratically. The idea is to leave it with only two choices: either to cave in completely, or to crack down with overwhelming force. If it chooses the former, your regime change has been accomplished. If it goes the latter route, we can arrange for the media to taint it with international opprobrium. Sanctions can then be easily imposed, and a “government in exile” formed. Most nations these days in the civilised white world are soft and will collapse rapidly once sanctions are imposed, and “negotiations” can be held to impose the “government in exile” of your choice.

 Please note that this controlled chaos approach can be used even against perfectly democratically elected governments. It is, in fact, the perfect weapon to use when election results go against what you would like. As you are doubtless aware, assuming you’ve ever participated in that effete exercise known as an “election”, there  will always be some people unhappy with how the results turned out. These people will always be convinced they were somehow “robbed” of a victory and will be seething with anger; they’re the tools we shall use, and their fury shall be the fuel.

But, after all, tools need controllers, and this mass of formless anger is useless unless carefully directed. Therefore we need reliable, efficient agents who can take charge and direct this fury, to the logical goal of making things unendurable for the regime to be overthrown. Regime Change Associates, Inc, guarantees to find such agents from non-governmental organisations in the country, or, failing that, from expatriates living in the West. If these expatriates are already celebrities (like a former professional boxer, say), all the better. If they are not celebrities, RCA, Inc, undertakes to carry out a media campaign designed to transform them into celebrities. Once this is achieved, they can be made the face of the protests, returning dramatically to the homeland to play a role because “their consciences could not let them rest while the people were suffering.” High profile Western politicians can be invited to appear with them on camera and endorse their protests, if necessary after entering the country illegally.

Like this

Or this

At the same time, the protests must be extensively marketed in the media abroad. The importance of this cannot be overstated. This marketing must follow two simultaneous routes.

First, the incumbent government must be vilified to the utmost. Its democratic credentials must be trashed. If it won its last elections with a bare majority, that should be cited as claim that it did not, actually, have that majority, and that it bullied and stole votes to power. If it won with a big majority, the line to be taken is that the election was fraudulent – a “Mickey Mouse election”. Either way, the average Western citizen must, and can, be conditioned to believe that the election as no election at all.

Simultaneously, the protests must be made catchy and easily identifiable. One way of doing this is to put a celebrity face on them. Also, in the manner of a sports team, they must be given a uniform – a colour, say, such as pink or yellow.

Regime Change Associates, Inc, guarantees to market the protests and make them visible and identifiable in the media.

Once this is achieved, the next step is a dramatic escalation in violence. Peaceful protests are out; they look fine for the media, but they don’t achieve anything. Besides, peaceful protests – as you’re probably aware, Your Majesty/Excellency/CEO/Mr President, Sir – are easily ignored and allowed to run out of stream on their own. How long, after all, can people continue to maintain enthusiasm for peaceful protests when they can see for themselves that these protests are going nowhere?

In these violent protests, the focus has to be tightly maintained, too, to attack, as far as possible, police and government property only. Petrol bombs and stones are great for this. Here we may have a problem. You see, extensive research has revealed that common people, no matter how inflamed by rhetoric or filled with resentment, tend to be wary of committing acts of unprovoked violence. In these cases, we can rely on criminal gangs and far-right-wing groups to take advantage of the opportunity to join in. If necessary, they can be lured with the promise of being allowed control of organised criminal activities under the new dispensation.

The involvement of criminal elements in the protests provides hardened rioters, but runs the risk – we should call it the near-certainty – that they will exceed their brief and attack private property and citizens. This will, of course, tend to alienate fence-sitters and other potential opponents. This is the point at which media management is extremely important to convince the people of the West, who really matter, that it is government agents provocateur who are responsible for this property damage. If the marketing has been carefully handled, it will be extremely easy to achieve this.

In the course of these protests, of course, while the hard core is composed of the criminal gangs and our handpicked organisers, the bulk will belong to the ordinary disaffected. No reliance should be placed on the willingness of these people to fight; they are by and large soft and easily scared away after a dose of tear gas or a water cannon blast or two. However, they are as well easily replaced, and as they drop away, more can easily be recruited to take their place, so long as the momentum does not flag.

By now, the authority of the state will be severely challenged. With a little luck, the government may cave in at this point and offer negotiations. Said negotiations must be rejected completely. Whether negotiations succeed or not, they will inevitably take the steam out of the protests and make it difficult or impossible to start them again. Besides, people might begin to think, and they must never be given the opportunity to think. Once they do, they will soon discover for themselves that they are being manipulated, and we can’t have that, can we?

So, the offers of negotiations must be rejected in toto. If required, an excuse can be manufactured – a tortured “activist”, say – to reject negotiations, but the demand must be the same; an immediate departure of the incumbent government. Offers of fresh elections must also be rejected. The government’s legitimacy, by now, will have been completely destroyed in the Western eye, and it must stay that way.

At this point, Your Majesty/Excellency/CEO/Mr President, Sir, we will ask you to threaten to impose sanctions (or have politicians you control threaten to impose sanctions, as the case may be) on the government concerned. It’s highly likely that the mere threat of sanctions will be the final push required to push it into surrender; if not, a period of actual economic pain may have to be imposed to see the regime see reason. Either way, it will go, and the celebrity face of the protests can be placed at the head of the new dispensation, hailed as a “liberator”. Of course, we will ensure that we have his or her signature on all relevant documents giving our patron (that is you) whatever is wanted.

If we cannot win with these men, then... 

Now, there is a chance – if the target is a non-white, non-European nation – that the government concerned will not cave in tamely. Even sanctions might not work. Such nations are likely to be hard targets, and can be relied on to crush the protests with massive force. In these cases, we must be prepared for Option Two; the route of the armed revolution.

Now, in this instance, we must reluctantly be compelled to admit that the application of armed force will be necessary at some stage. However, the conditions for the application of the armed force must be carefully created. Even before the protests are manufactured, armed groups must be seeded in the country to take advantage of the chaos to attack the police and army. Once they retaliate, the conditions will be set for what – to the world – can be presented as a civil war.

This “civil war’s” primary battlefield is the cities. The purpose of the armed groups will be primarily to force the governments to either lose control over the urban centres (and thereby lose legitimacy to call themselves the government) or attempt to take them back by force. If they try to do the latter, they will likely fail initially since the average conventional army is not trained in city combat. They will, therefore, have no option but to resort to either siege or mass aerial and artillery bombardment. This will help the “rebels” by achieving these aims:

First, it will compel the civilians – who are likely to at least be ambivalent about the armed uprising if not actively hostile – to depend on the “rebels” (who are, of course, beholden to us) for security and sustenance.

Secondly, it will force the regime to inflict mass civilian suffering, whether by starvation or bombardment. Regime Change Associates, Inc, will ensure that friendly media people are smuggled into the cities to report on the suffering (with suitable embellishment as necessary) at first hand.

Thirdly, it will create dissensions in the regime’s ministers and generals about the morality of inflicting violence on the people. Some weaker links can be relied on to defect, and such defections can be played up to great effect.

At this time, civilians will be recruited to demand a foreign invasion to overthrow the regime and “liberate the country”. Children are great tools for this – they must be placed at the forefront of these demands. Everyone wants to help children, and anybody refusing is liable to be seen as a monster.

A UN Security Council resolution can then be demanded in order to invade and overthrow the regime on “humanitarian grounds”. If required, Regime Change Associates, Inc, will arrange for “atrocities” to force the Security Council’s hand.

If the Security Council gives the go-ahead, there should be no need for a ground invasion. Your (or your politicians’) air force can pulverise the regime’s armed forces, which will be massed against the “rebels”. If the armed forces disperse to escape your air strikes, the “rebels” can overwhelm them. Either way, in short order, you win.

...we have to market these men as glorious freedom fighters

However, this is contingent on the UNSC giving the go-ahead. If, owing to the recalcitrance of two particular nations, the resolution isn’t forthcoming, then I am afraid that we will have a choice to make. One of these choices is a unilateral, unauthorised invasion. However, after the Bush presidency’s invasion of Iraq, this has become extremely difficult to justify. The only other option is to provide training, arms and safe sanctuary to the “rebels”, in the hope that they can force the de facto partition of the country. The “liberated zones” can then be at least exploited in whatever way possible.

I agree that neither option is particularly pretty, but war never is. And, Your Majesty/Excellency/CEO/Mr President, Sir, this is the modern way of war.

I await your decision on hiring our firm with great eagerness.

Yours in anticipation

                                                                    G. Reed Isgud

                                                                    Regime Change Associates, Inc. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Bedbug Love


The snores were a gust of noise in the dark night's mysteries

The moths flitted like little vampires on the midsummer breeze
The beetle larvae gnawed happily inside the wooden floor
When the mouse came squeezing, the mouse came squeezing
The little mouse came squeezing, under the bedroom door.

It had a long tail attached behind, big ears to hear the din

And fur like grey velvet, bulging eyes dark as sin.
Its whiskers were always a-twinkle; ears cocked for the slightest cry
And it crawled like darkness a-wrinkle
Darkness come alive a-wrinkle
Under the door, oh my.

Over the floorboards it came in the bed's dank sward

And nosed at the bedposts, but to gnaw they were too hard
It sniffled a little at dust bunnies, and what should it find waiting there
But Cimex the bedbug's daughter
Cimex the bedbug's long lost daughter
Joyous at the smell of the mouse upon the night's dark air.

And dark in a dark eyelash follicle a short antenna twitched

Where Demodex the eye-mite listened; its body was like a grain of wheat
It had no eyes or legs to speak of; its colour like an overcast day
But it loved the bedbug's daughter
It loved the bedbug's long lost daughter
Dumb as a mite it listened, and it heard the mouse say:

"Just one bite, darling, I haven't had much luck tonight

Thought I had a biscuit, but someone turned on the light
Again I thought I heard a cat, pad-pad-padding away
And I took refuge in flight
I took refuge in headlong flight
I saved my life by headlong flight
And staved off hunger by nibbling a lump of clay."

The bedbug rose high on her spiny legs - she scarce could reach his neck

All she could do in the darkness was stab at his skin and peck.
Then her mouth parts, questing, found a little vein
And she punctured his skin in the darkness
(Oh sweet rich blood meal in the darkness)
Then he crawled out under the door, and ran off to his nest.


The mouse didn't come the next night

Or the next night, or the next -
And poor Cimex sat wringing her spiny forelimbs, all worried and so vexed
Then, while the beetles gnawed at the door in midnight
A bedbug troop came crawling in midnight
Cimex' parents came crawling at midnight, down the bedpost to the floor.

They said not a word to the dust mites - to the beetles they said no word

But down in the darkness, where the shapes are all blurred -
The took Cimex, held her, her legs by her side
They waited at every crevice
And stuffed Cimex into one deep crevice
Waited for him to come, so they'd bite holes in his hide.

They had wedged her tight in the crevice, her spiny legs hard pressed

They had yelled and threatened, but still she had not confessed -
"You ruined the family's honour" - and they left her. She heard the mouse say
"I took refuge in flight
I took refuge in headlong flight
I ran for my life in headlong flight, and lived to flee another day."

She wriggled and twisted in the crevice, but it had caught her good

Then she had an idea, and vomited out some blood
And she felt herself get thinner - yes there was some relief there!
And on the stroke of midnight
She puked again in midnight
And beside her spiracles she felt a slice of air.

A slice of air was great indeed: she puked out again

And the drops of his digested blood fell on the floor like rain
Now she could move in the crevice! Yes she felt wriggle-room in the crevice
She could move again in the crevice
And the muscles in her spiny legs flexed to signals from her brain.

Scutter creep in the distance! A scratch upon the door!

Was that a mouse-shaped shadow dark upon the floor?
Her compound eyes tried to focus; her antennae sniffed away
At what the scent molecules in the air might say.
Here he came, a-crawling
Under the door he came crawling
Her parents kept to their bickering! ...she puked the last of the gore.

Scutter creep, in the darkness! Mouse-claws upon the floor

There was enough to rouse an army! Did her parents expect even more?
She crawled out of the crevice - she ran out from under the bed
As he entered the room in dark night
She ran to him in dark night
And as he squeezed under the door, she jumped right on to his head.

He turned, and ran with terror - he did not know what clung

To his head with spiny claws, and to one ear hung
Not till his nest he saw it - and fainted with relief to see
It was the bedbug's daughter
The bedbug's new-found daughter
Who had eloped with him and set herself free.

Afterwards was there such celebration! She sucked on him, what fun!

Till she was full to bursting, tight as a drummer-boy's drum
Blood-soaked was his fur in the dark nest; anaemic was his weary eye
When Demodex the eyelash mite
The eyeless, wheat-shaped eyelash mite
That crawling little eyelash mite, a-wandering came by.

And still, they say, at night, when the snores ring out at ease

And the hours crawl by as though crippled by disease
When beetles and dust mites eat skin fragments and floor
The mouse comes crawling, crawling, crawling
That little mouse comes squeezing, under the bedroom door.

But no bedbug to suck him - now he's all alone

And his fur and flesh lie healthy upon the bone
Meanwhile the eyelash mite is happy - high up in its lair
It lives with the bedbug's daughter
The bedbug's blood-sucking daughter
Who finds no blood in the eye-mite, and lives on dew and air.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2014

(This is a parody of The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, which we had to do in school and on which I have always harboured a deep-seated desire for revenge.)

Note to reader: There was an image of a bedbug here, but one Alex - who claims to have taken the image in question -  filed a DCMA copyright notice against this blog instead of, you know, just asking me to remove it. Big man, huh? I filed a counter complaint, and during the two wek waiting time for processing that counter-complaint, said Alex did nothing to contact me. Only when the two-week period was over and Google reinstated the blog did the big man think to contact me about it.

Hope you're happy, Alex.