May 8th, 2004

breaking bad

You only sing when you're winning

I just had a phone call from my boyfriend leaving a football match. For months now we have been expecting his team (Chesterfield) to be relegated at the end of this season. Their performance has been, frankly, rubbish. The only way they could avoid going down was if they won today's match (against Luton) and if Tranmere Rovers simultaneously beat Grimsby.

Tranmere had a man sent off, and neither they nor Chestefield had scored. At 5pm Sky Sports announced that Chesterfield were going down.

But - the match had been two minutes late in starting. It wasn't due to finish until 5:02. Tranmere had rallied and defeated Grimsby, despite being a man down. And, in the 89th minute of the last match of the season, Chesterfield finally scored a goal, and beat Luton.

This is why you can't make good films about football. It only works because it is unscripted.
breaking bad

sentio et excrucior

selenak has a post about torture (linked by altariel) which I do not doubt to be sincere and well meant, but which I think expresses a mistaken view. Here is a reply I posted to it, the italicised quotation, apart from the final remark, is selenak quoting Ariel Dorfman in the Guardian today. Yes, I am arrogant enough to think I know better than him.

"What if we could erect a future of love and harmony on the everlasting pain of someone who had himself committed mass murder, who had tortured those children? (...) And more urgently: what if the person whose genitals are crushed and skin is being burnt knows the whereabouts of a bomb that is about to explode and kill millions? Would we answer: yes, I do consent? That under certain very limited circumstances, torture is acceptable?"

And I don't think there is an easy reply for this.

(my reply)

I appreciate your posting this long discussion of important issues. However, I think there is a very easy reply for this. It is that we don't live in a universe where torture has or could have any of these effects. Torture does not give us access to the truth - the history of witch hunting tells us that much. Torture could not deliver utopia.

It is a false moral dilemma to imagine that we could achieve worthwile ends by committing torture, and it is self indulgent (in my opinion) to imagine that only our high moral standards restrain us. In fact torture is a dead end, in every sense of the world.

(EDIT - my point here is not that in fact torture has never delivered good, but that it is inherent in the design of our species and the universe that it could not)