Thursday, August 28, 2003

Sometimes the sheer weirdness of what you can find on the internet just amazes me. The Fatboy Slim 'Weapon of Choice' video redone with a stick figure. [Via B3ta ]

Our Lady of the Flowers

is a Giant Lizard that breathes Ice Vapour, and has Prehensile Eyes and X-Ray Vision.

Strength: 8 Agility: 4 Intelligence: 4

To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
defeat Our Lady of the Flowers, enter your name and choose an attack:

fights Our Lady of the Flowers using

The future has generally turned out not to be as interesting as I was promised back in the early Eighties in Tomorrow's World but spray on computers the size of grains of sand. Wowza!

Looking for Mars tonight? Why not stay inside instead and try and get this damn thing to work to tell you where Mars should be?

Reading the local papers I sometimes wonder if my borough is full of NIMBYs, because there seems to be people opposed to anything new. There are people who are opposed to the building of a nice new art centre on a patch of mud in the middle of North Finchley (it's not like you can consider the area a high point of artistic excellence and as it's surrounded by shops it's not like it's going to block the light to anyone's homes) and people in East Finchley who are opposed to a two storey building opposite the tube station entrance being converted in to a two storey building which has Waitrose downstairs and a new East Finchley library upstairs (and believe me, we need it) but then people in East Finchley tend to flee from anyone carrying a camera on the grounds they fear they might steal their souls.

However, in local news this week 'anti-graffiti vigilantes' have been, um, sticking up posters around a Hendon underpass popular with graffiti kids taking the piss out of them. Sounds a bit like fucking for abstinence or fighting for peace but there you go. Now, I will admit that it seems unlikely that the next Banksy will be coming from Barnet, travelling around the borough it does seem that the taggers are interested only in spraying the three or four letters of their name, such as 'TOX 02' and there's no attempt to make it look interesting, just white spray-paint on whatever surface comes to hand. I do wish that they'd put a bit more effort into things so that we could have the sorts of wonderful murals you see in, umm, books on graffiti. But this campaign isn't much of a way to deal with things, especially when they have such slogans such as 'Graffiti is a sub-culture for a sub-species' and 'Graf ain't hip hop - it's a batty boy 'ting'. Charming. But then, if you actually live in that part of Barnet, you need your head examined as it's a quite staggeringly ugly place, which is probably what drives people to random acts of homophobia. Shit, maybe I should move down to Brighton...

Just watched 'Live Forever' which I'd videoed on Monday night off the telly and what a load of steaming toss that was. I think the only way they could have made it more incoherent was by randomly adding shots from early 80's kids TV shows throughout the program although that could have conceivably improved it.

'Live Forever' was supposedly a 'chronicle of Britpop' but right from the start seemed to be unsure and ambivalent about what it was going to concentrate on. The music? Britain (or to be honest London and Manchester) through the middle years of the nineties? 'Cool Britannia'? Was it a simple chronicle of the times or was it going to try and analyse what happened to this country during that time? In the end it decided to go for everything and missed it all.

It started off being about the music but after some no-mark Oasis tribute band called 'Wonderwall' and the obligatory mention of Spike Island, it went to Massive Attack. Why? Who knew, certainly 3-D (who was the only one there) seemed unsure as practically the first thing he had to say was how at no point in their career were Massive Attack in tune with either the Americanism that pre-empted Britpop, Britpop itself and the après-Britpop atmosphere. Later on we even had about a minute of shots of the beach at Portishead with one of their tunes playing in the background, again, not really a Britpop band. Britpop music itself was represented by Damon Albarn, The Brothers Gallagher (and again an argument for why Liam should have an intravenous drug/booze supply so he doesn't go out in public, open his mouth and embarrass himself and anyone who knows him), Louise 'Sleeper' Wener and Jarvis Cocker. Suede and Elastica were mentioned in passing but presumably no one from either band wanted to talk to the producer which is why they are pretty much ignored.

But then we keep cutting away, James Brown gets to reminisce about the glory days of Loaded (I swear, in ten years time he's just going to go the Tony Wilson route and write a book that gets turned into a film about the whole thing) AGAIN, Oswald Boateng gets dragged in presumably so it's not just a load of white kids talking and rambles on about fashion for no real reason, Jon Savage pops up once or twice though is so ruthlessly cut it seems pointless. It flirts with culture, so we have Damien Hurst, Toby Young talking about Cool Britannia in Vanity Fair, Peter Mandelson about New Labour aligning with Britpop. But, just when it threatens to spin off on to an interesting idea it gets dragged back to the centre and the moment is lost. The thread of class pops up once or twice, that Blur were seen to be faking it whereas Oasis came from building sites and working class culture (strangely, despite the fact that His'n'Hers and Different Class are obsessed by it, Jarvis doesn't get to add anything to the discussion beyond that Common People was based on a true experience), but although Noel seems to have an awareness that that doesn't really matter no-one points out that Britpop was a success only because it managed to sell working class culture to the middle classes.

So, we have the Stone Roses and Nirvana, but presumerably because there is no Suede we don't get any coherent idea of how Britpop started. Before you know what's happened Damon is talking about how they won four Brits for Parklife, so that's three of their albums which arguably shaped how Britpop was going to happen which was overlooked. At no point do we ever do anything as boring as asking any of the artists involved to talk about the creative process on their albums, though Noel is refreshingly honest in describing Be Here Now as a crap album ruined by cocaine. But again, though James Brown talks about Loaded being written on champagne and cocaine there's no danger of dwelling too much on the negative sides of fame. And it doesn't even bother to stay in chronological order, so we have This is Hardcore being inaccurately claimed as a Britpop album being looked at before Be Here Now which was released a year earlier. And, just as there's no real attempt to explain how Britpop started there is nothing about why Britpop ended, just that it did somewhere in the late 90s.

I'm hoping that, in making a program to fill a slot on TV, the BBC took a much longer and better film and carelessly butchered it to shrink it down. That there is a version of 'Live Forever' where there's a reason for why we have a long tracking shot through a house and upstairs before finally finding Jarvis Cocker in a back room, that there's a reason for why we need a long shot of the construction of the Dome without any comment on it or the Government, for why we need to cutaway during the last five minutes to S Club Juniors. However, if this is all the film is, then it's a deeply unsatisfactory and failed attempt to look at a recent era in history. Much better is The Last Party by John Harris.

Are The Darkness just a Queen tribute band run amok? And am I alone in finding something slightly unnerving about the Beyonce 'Crazy in Love' video? I mean, she's fairly well established as an artiste and yet this song places her as second fiddle to Jay-Z, who blows up a car that she's 'in'. The rest of the time involves her strutting around showing off her T&A. Now I know that pop videos generally and hip-hop videos are generally fucked up when it comes to sex, but this sort of thing normally only happens to women when they turn up in other men's videos, this one makes the Destiny's Child videos look like the SCUM manifesto in day-glo colours. This video positions Beyonce as nothing more than a sex doll meant only for men's sexual pleasure which can, with the exploding car bit, be disposed of as soon as he's achieved orgasm. It's not even ironic, not that that would be much of an excuse.

She had earlier told me that she was gay, and while I was watching Richard and Judy, I saw a piece on how a lot of gays come from abusive families. My ex-husband used to be quite abusive, so I got this idea in my head that that might have something to do with her being gay.

Oh great, Richard and Judy got something wrong in a good cause.

Honestly, just because the United States had a power cut we don't have to have one as well...

Armpit hair, Armpit hair...

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Oh great, Newsnight is going to be talking to Clare Short about Geoff Hoon's day in the Hutton Inquiry. Have they already run out of people it's worth talking to about this issue?

[ Via LMG ] Diamondgeezer on the unholy mess that is the new Directory Enquiries services. Just remember, if you do decide to use any of them, have pen and paper to hand and write the number down. Don't take up their offer to put you through as it'll be even more expensive than if you called that person direct.

Wow, that was quick. The Flashmob backlash, already?!. I was talking with someone at Bicon about whether Smartmobbing would work in this country if it were used for more political things than just assembling in furniture shops to worship scatter cushions. I tended towards the view that people will happily trek thirty miles to do something stupid and pointless but will tend to shuffle their feet if you tried to get them to flashmob the Houses of Parliament or something similar.

Showing admirable tunnel-vision David Blunkett continues on his ID card tip with plans for tests of biometrics systems in a 'seaside market town'.

To the surprise of pretty much nobody except it would seem the US Government and the poor fools that believed them Paul Bremer today admitted that reconstructing Iraq would require US taxpayers and foreign governments to contribute billions of dollars in the next year. Well, if the US Government has all that money with which to try and bribe Turkey to let them use their country as a base or to spend on 'Son of Star Wars' I'm sure it could actually transfer some of that money into helping people. Oops, I forget, the US Government is happy to throw money at projects to kill lots of people, not at ones to save them. And if not for the humanitarian disaster that would inevitably unfold I'd be quite happy for 'Old Europe' and all the other countries that opposed a war in Iraq to laugh should the US and UK come cap-in-hand...

In the New York Times at the moment the attitude is more US might let UN force into Iraq with a US commander. Unless their masterplan is to either find the money themselves or let the Iraqis starve (which has pretty much been US policy since the first Gulf War) they might want to try making friends with the rest of the world again.

Okay, that was bizarre. I had the world's quickest cold, from about 5:30 this evening through to 7:00 fever (of the too hot/too cold variety), tiredness, nausea and then, suddenly, gone! I wonder if my local college is offering evening classes in hypochondria, as that was weird and if it happens again I want to be able to capitalise on it.

Yipe. Suddenly this 'straight pride' nonsense is everywhere. Truth be told, I would have no problem with a kid wanting to wear a 'straight pride' t-shirt to school, but then we have:

Chambers [the kid in question] began wearing the top partly in objection to the school's practice of setting aside some rooms as "safe zones" for gay and lesbian students.
Chambers -- a Christian who believes homosexuality is immoral and unhealthy,
oh, and someone supporting Chambers quoted as saying:
"When the politically correct invoke 'tolerance' they usually mean tolerance only for those promoting deviant and socially destructive behaviors. (My emphasis).

So, a victory for hate speech then. A victory for a bigotted young man who thinks it's wrong that queer students should have areas of the school where they don't get harassed for their sexual orientation. Can I recommend that every student at Woodbury High School wear t-shirts on the first day of term saying 'Elliott Chambers is a small-minded ass'?
As points out, the school can't stop anyone wearing any t-shirt they want to now, it would be unconstitutional.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Surely there should be some sort of rule in the Conservative Party about not talking about things they don't understand? If the Tories somehow won the next election they'd shut down the BBC's website and BBC3. As a result of their own study of the station after Iain Duncan-Smith decided that it was less effort to claim the BBC was biased against the Tories than make any effort to attack the Government, we get gems like:

"The BBC cannot continue doing what it's always done when everything around it in the broadcasting world has ultimately changed."

Well, admittedly the internet is quite old now, but digital TV is relatively new, so I'm not sure how 'setting up digital TV channels' counts as 'doing what the BBC has always done' as it was a fair old time since they even set up a terrestrial station.

"But I am not persuaded that there is necessarily a case for a public service website. I'm not persuaded that anything on the BBC site could not be provided elsewhere, [for instance] the newspapers are mostly providing sites, which provide news and comment."

I must say that I'm not persuaded that there is necessarily a case for the Conservative party, their policies can be provided elsewhere, [for instance] the Labour Party are mostly providing policies which follow Conservative doctrine.

The Hutton Enquiry: Official Website.

At this stage in the proceedings, my opinions on the whole thing, for what they are worth.

The Innocent Parties.
1/ The BBC.
2/ Ali C.
3/ New Labour.

The Guilty Parties.
1/Andrew Gilligan. Presuming what we've heard so far is true and pending the man having a chance to explain his actions, what the fuck was he thinking? His work on the original 'ready to deploy weapons in 45 minutes' story was fair enough, as far as he could tell, but what's all this about briefing or trying to brief Lib Dem and Tory MPs, especially as he then pretty much gives away Doctor Kelly's name to them, while his bosses are going on TV talking about how journalists don't reveal their sources? If this is true then his behaviour has been very embaressing for the BBC. If he can't give a convincing reason for his behaviour then he should consider his position. Or the BBC should do it for him.

2/Ali C. So, if we believe what we are told then Ali C did not spice up the dodgy dossier. That's why he's up there in the innocent parties. However, he's down here for the more serious crime of using his position in the Labour Party to try to use the power of the Government to clear his name. His prima donna behaviour after the original Today report is the reason Tony Blair has gone down in the polls so much, if he'd just sat on his hands then the story would have been forgotten months ago (after all, how many people listen to Today anyway?) and Beckham's latest haircut would be the main item of news. As it is, he's already said he's leaving his job and that will probably come up before Hutton's final report comes out, if it doesn't then he needs to go.

3/Geoff Hoon. Everyone in Government and the Civil Service doesn't think it's a good idea to allow David Kelly's name into the public domain. But Geoff knows better. It's sad that 'falling on his sword' is only a metaphor in this case but he's now in the same situation as Stephen Byers, he's allowed the need for spin to preclude intelligence and must now pay the price.

4/Doctor David Kelly. Of course, it's inevitable that in these sorts of inquiries it's always the person that can't be there that would be the best witness. Why did Dr. Kelly say what he did to those BBC reporters, they could of course be lying but he's reported as saying that Campbell was responsible for changes to the dossiers when he had absolutely no evidence for that. Was it like the 'Walter Mitty' comment about him, he was just suggesting something that was then reported as fact? And when he appeared before the F.A.S.C. and said he didn't believe he was Gilligan's source because he didn't recognise what he'd told Gilligan in that report it does seem to me that he was lying, that he knew precisely what he'd said to Gilligan and was now trying to desperately backtrack to avoid getting into more trouble.

5/Rupert Murdoch. Just on general principle, because he's got to be guilty of something.

I think my Bicon euphoria just got delayed in the post as I spent a lot of today walking round with a big 'cat who got the cream' grin all over my face (and check Plums feelings on the weekend too). Typically the day after it's all over is the day that I go out and buy a swish new digital camera but I will not let that ruin my mood. The weather has turned noticeably cooler which is a bit annoying as I'm still on holiday until next monday, heavy rain for Thursday and Friday last time I checked. I promise I will stop going on about Bicon, but it's rare that I can look back over the last week in my life and think "Blimey! Did I really come that far?"

Woot! Living in a world designed to disappoint her, Mordant is angry about that Straight Pride website and it's associated mindset. Well worth a read.

Monday, August 25, 2003

News to make geeks everywhere go squishy: [Greg] Dyke to open up BBC archive. Admittedly it's couched in aspirational language rather than 'we are going to do this' and when, but it would be wonderful if it happened.

Meanwhile, the Government that is currently in conflict with the BBC promises a fair, unbiased look at the BBCs websites. There have been complaints that they are spending the license fee on something that not all the public use, but quite frankly fuck those people. A miniscule part of the TV license that I have just started a direct debit to pay goes to fund Songs of Praise, part of the money goes to Eastenders, both programs I have no interest in at all, but I don't mind. This is a stupid argument that comes up regularly from people that tend to have a tie to people that would benefit if the BBC lost it's license, such as Rupert Murdoch. While Tessa Jowell can say until she's blue in the face the recent difficulties between the Government and the BBC won't influence this in anyway this is just damn stupid timing.

From the Approach of the Guilty Until Proved Innocent State desk it's The Government want to set up a database to list troublesome children that might become criminals in later life.

Professionals will be encouraged to include other factors, such as the likelihood of teenage pregnancy or the risk of "social exclusion", in deciding which children should be monitored.

So the government wants teenage pregnancy to be considered a crime now? Because no matter how they cut it, that's what it's going to seem.

Children's charities are concerned that the new system will lead to registered youngsters being stigmatised as tomorrow's criminals.

Maybe that's the point, maybe Tony Blair is such a control freak he's now seeking to control who the criminals will be. Maybe special schools could be set up for these kids, where they are taught skills like how to steal cars, shoplifting and benefit fraud?

The Committee to Protect Journalists list of journalists killed in 2003 around the world. Journalist deaths in Iraq were very impressive and the only group into double figures, compared with none over the last three years, which is not to say that no journalists were killed in that time.

And now, after pretending to have a life of my own, it's back to posting links to stuff I've seen elsewhere...

There's a petition here on behalf of Stephen Funk, a soldier in the US Marine Corps who is being charged with desertion when in fact he'd applied to be a conscientious objector. However, reading his latest statement you get the feeling that this situation is as much a result of his own stupidity as anything else. He says that he was born and brought up in Seattle, in an environment where he campaigned for the rights of the poor and siasvantaged of the world. Yet he believed the recruiter telling him he would learn teamwork and leadership skills in the Army. That's the army, the rabid dogs of the overpriveledged elite as they're sometimes known. It's like protesting outside Starbucks and then going in and getting a job because you'll learn good business skills. Not surprisingly, once in the poor diddums discovers that it's all a lie and wants out.

He also doesn't support gay inclusion in the military because he doesn't believe there should be a military. Supporting prejudice purely because you agree with the end result is not a valid philosophy. Stephen Funk says he is gay, so unless this is an additional ploy to get out of the army he lied to get in in the first place, why should someone who wants to die pointlessly serving the political ends of the political elite- sorry, serve their country in the fight for liberty and justice for all, have to lie to do it?

Bicon Day 3: Another journey on the Northern Line and DLR out to UeL. We know about 'dog years' and 'human years', but what about 'train time' and 'real time'? I timed it and it only took half an hour to get down to Bank, which is the amount of time it used to take me to walk to work but by crimminey it seemed longer. I suppose the enforced pacifisity (Is that a word? I doubt it. But it should be.) of sitting on a seat extends all journeys when you're not actually driving.

Anyway, halfway there halfway through the morning and I realise that I'm missing the workshop I wanted to do most of the entire weekend, 'Transgender Issues' but, arriving on site I happened to get talking to the person who ran the course (and who was wearing a spiffy 'Transsexual Menace' t-shirt like me) and found they'd been working from the excellent 'My Gender Workbook' which I've played about with in the past myself.

So, the first workshop I went to was the 'Bisexual Stereotyping and Biphobia' one. We split off into groups to talk about negative portrayals of Bisexuality from all sides in the media, such as Jackie Clune talking about there being a continuum of sexuality but at the same time seeming to believe that everyone should be at one end or the other. I was trying to keep things straight (as it were) in my head to make sure I didn't treat either the straight or queer communities as being uniformly hostile as a few uneducated people from Canal Street reported in the back of the Pink do not a uniform community position make. I'm not sure if anything particularly new was said at the meeting but it was just a nice experience to talk to people about it. And that's the main thing about Bicon for me. The amount of 'new' things I've learned is low (mainly because I didn't go to the BDSM or Flirting workshops) but it's just nice to talk to like-minded people (and get badges!).

So, after finding a certain person who, quite reasonably, stayed at UeL for the party on Friday night and didn't come home to be miserable and tired but made sure to phone me to bring her clothes in with me, we went to find lunch, accompanied by the lovely Saxey and Dan (and the apparently unblogging George from Brighton who was with us for most of the weekend). Game of the lunch was to replace 'love' with 'Loz' in songs, a la 'Tainted Loz', 'Loz, Loz me do' and 'Have you ever fallen in Loz, ever fallen in Loz, fallen in Loz, even fallen in Loz, ever fallen in Loz with someone you shouldn't have fallen in Loz with?'. It managed to get me buoyant enough to deal with the soul-destroying despair that is the Asda caff. Having a good nights sleep I'd foolishly not eaten anything in the morning before heading out to Bicon, so by lunchtime had not eaten for about eighteen hours. Plums was quite right to give me a verbal slapping for not taking better care of myself and although I felt fine when we went to get food by mid-afternoon was flagging. So perhaps if I want to feel justified about wondering why my body decides not to sleep some nights or throws up or whatever, perhaps I shouldn't give it any excuses by not eating or something.

Still, I made it to 'Revolution in 30 minutes per week' although even less substance came out of it than the 'Biphobia' one, like concrete ideas for doing stuff, possibly because a warm Sunday afternoon isn't necessarily the best time to try and start a revolutionary movement of some kind out of thin air.

Spent most of the rest of the afternoon slumped on the steps by the UeL union bar talking to people and swapping some emails and whatnot with people for more contact after Bicon. I may try and get a thing on the Wiki for people to list Blogs and Livejournal names and whathaveyou, there are people I'd like to keep contact with but I'm not willing to swap over to LJ just to do it. We admired the work of the people who'd gone to the body-painting workshop (someone who was done up like a bass, a woman with considerable frontage who initially seemed to be wearing a blue shirt under her blue shirt but then revealed all to show that there was only one shirt). Waiting for a report back from Dan and Saxey from the Slash workshop the sun was out and giving us headaches, so Plums and I returned home for something to eat as everywhere around UeL seemed to have decided to shut mid-afternoon. Recharged Plums put on her gladdest rags and launched herself back into the fray, your crap reporter whimpered and went to bed.

There is a sort of halfday today which I can't really be bothered to struggle out to, especially as it would have meant leaving early in the morning. It's pretty much all over now.

So, Bicon 2004 is going to be in Manchester, which I do intend to go to almost certainly, though I find these things best not to think about when I'm tired. Certainly if my health is better next year (or conversely worse so that I can at least then hopefully get something done about it or have some exciting invasive surgery) I'll be able to enjoy it more and will hopefully have a flat on site which will make getting to the morning courses easier and recharging my batteries before the evening festivities.

So, if you're bisexual, bisensual or just bi-curious and haven't gone to Bicon, should you? Hell yeah! I had a great time and I missed 2/3rds of it! 72 hours of hanging with some of the most interesting people gathered in East London and I'm suddenly taking more pride and pleasure in my sexual identity than I have in years. It does what it says on the tin! (If there was actually a tin involved and if it said something like 'makes you feel much more centred in your sexual identity than if you were just to sit at home and watch 'Will and Grace'.)

A WARNING TO HOUSEWIVES (and househusbands and houserelatives of all kinds): You know those yellow dusters you buy in petrol stations and from door-to-door tat sellers because you don't feel you can turn them away even though they're not selling anything you really want? That yellow runs you know. I do now. So, just use them to dust and then throw them away and wait for a fresh supply from your door-to-door purveyor of crap. Meanwhile, I'm wondering why we can send a man to the moon and can give a music career to Craig David yet there appears to be no liquid you can put in your wash to negate the effects of running colours?

Hello Reg!

Sunday, August 24, 2003

The website for the nicest train to travel by in London. However, thought the DLR seems smooth to travel by it's still not smooth enough to allow you to, say, paint your nails as you travel. Luckily there were enough station stops between Westferry and Cyprus to allow me to do one or two nails per stop...

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Grrr. Straight Pride. The About Us page makes it clear that the guy behind this page isn't homophobic, he just seems to think that millions of queers walking through the streets means that heteros have become the silent minority on the planet. Isn't it supposed to be a ratio of ten heteros to one homo on earth?

Bicon 2003, Day 2: Fuck but it was hot today. Despite getting about eight hours sleep last night I still felt knackered this morning and, if the journey in on the Northern Line had been bad yesterday it was worse today as it was properly hot. It was a partial relief to get on to the DLR again, only Plums insisted on sitting at the front so she could pretend to be driving the train. We were talking about Harry Potter and I was alarmed that without any conscious recollection I knew the train station was 9 and 3/4s, I just worry that HP information has slipped into the part of my brain for important instant recall information and that if I read another novel it will push out something inportant, like how to move the left side of my body. That would be a novel selling point: "Read Harry Potter and become a quadraplegic".

At the Beginners Meeting yesterday we were all told that if we were going to write anything about our Bicon experiences we shouldn't name names without their permission. No problem there, I have a terrible memory for names so didn't even remember them five seconds after leaving the room. I went to three sessions today, and they were really The Good, The Bad and The Average. The Average was first, on Fitting and Non-Fitting. Labels a go-go, it was all about how we define ourselves and there were several exercises such as speaking for a minute on our self-definitions and what we felt about the Bi-community. It was average because it was rather assumed that we were all involved with the Bi-Community ourselves, so as I'm not it was a bit difficult to answer questions trying to define the Bi-community. I left the session wondering what we'd actually achieved from all that.

After lunch was definitely The Good session. 'Coming Out as Bisexual'. I probably talked too much in this session as many of us talked about our experiences and evaluating how successful or indeed useful they'd been. In recent years I've belatedly realised that I've been probably rather bad about it, as I told each of my parents and then left it for them to deal with and even now some seven or eight years later I've never once asked them how they feel about it, whether they're okay with it or thought to get them a Parents of Queers helpline number (not that they'd ever use it) in case they needed someone to talk to about it. The fact that they've never turned me away since says something but I didn't make it easy for them.

Then finally The Bad Session. 'No Gender'. Now, possibly I misinterpreted the leader and heaven knows I know next to nothing about the subject, but ze seemed to be using 'gender' as a term to cover 'how society defines you' AND 'your biological sex'. Ze gave the example of when a baby is born a doctor picks it up and looks at it's genitals to see it's gender, which they don't. Gender is what the doctor imposes on the baby normally decided by it's sex. But when I queried this ze said I was wrong. But no-one else seemed to pick up on this so maybe I was in the wrong in my interpretation of what ze was saying. But although she did get a discussion going between everyone in the room everything that anyone said started hir off on them talking for about whatever it was for about five minutes each time. A lot of people got no chance to share their opinions. And this person has apparently written websites and campaigned on gender issues. A truly amazing achievement if ze believes there's no difference between sex and gender (if so, I wonder how ze discriminates between a m-2-f transvestite and a m-2-f transsexual? Surely they must be equal in hir world?).

Hung around with some really cool people, all of whom's names have gone down the memory plughole. But looking forward to the last day tomorrow.

Bicon day two report momentarily, just wanted to link to a very good article on Withnail And I by Flyboy.

As a follow up to what I said yesterday about travelling on the DLR, the only other time I went on it was when I went to Greenwich for a thing at the theatre on satire. I only went for the first day as I couldn't be bothered to go again and it was a big talk/debate thing about satire, past and future. And I'm sure now that Aaron Barschak was there, as when they opened the thing up to the floor I remember a very nervous sounding Jewish guy talking about how he'd got a lot of work post-9/11 appearing as Osama Bin Laden at wedding parties.

Friday, August 22, 2003

So we managed to make it to UeL without injury, although if I'd had a larger breakfast before leaving there might have been a different story on the stuffy and poorly ventilated Northern Line. Signing in in the main atrium of one of the buildings was nice and easy, and then with time to spare we went to the uni canteen where some fresh fruit invigorated me somewhat. Being Bicon newbies we decided the sensible course of action was to go attend the first-timers introduction to Bicon in which a couple of the committee members basically explained the general rules and regulations of Bicon, along with tips and advice for how to make the most of it, before giving us a chance to mingle and chat. After that it was lunch. Back to the canteen once more, for some quite decent grub. We had to wear our name badges at all times as there were other groups on campus and the name badges were the only way to distinguish Biconners from other people and so stop other people getting where they shouldn't be. As we sat outside after lunch we saw some members of one of these other groups, about a half dozen teenagers who seemed to be giving it all So Solid Crew and filming some sort of pop video. Most bizarre.

Looking at the time-table for the afternoon activities I didn't see anything that appealed, 'The ABCs of BDSM', 'How to set-up and run a bi-group', 'erotic writing' and many others, so I decided that was it for me for today and made my way home. There's other stuff tomorrow and Sunday which has more appeal, 'practical relaxation skills', 'fitting and misfitting', 'transgender issues' and many others, so I shall conserve my energy for them. Travelling there this morning I was gripped by the fear that there would turn out to be only a dozen people there and it would be badly organised, it was a relief to be proved wrong on both counts, around 175 people were there and there were more people expected at the weekend, people who couldn't get the day off work. And a high proportion of the people there seemed to be goths, so Camden must have seemed a ghost town today. And so far the organisation has run smoothly without problems, except the map they gave us of where all the rooms are is wrong in every respect, but it seems to be a fairly small campus, so we've found our way so far. So, my plan for tonight is to relax, followed by serious sleeping, so that hopefully I won't be too frazzled when I turn up there tomorrow.

Aah, Bicon. It's at the University of East London which necessitated a trip on the Docklands Light Railway. Crowded, smelly and badly ventilated as the rest of the underground is the DLR does look lovely. Admittedly I say that having travelled on it precisely three times by the point I'm writing this. But when you emerge into the light before Shadwell, then the track splits off into many different directions and it all looks like fairground tracks and you're thinking 'loop the loop'! UeL is at Cyprus, so right near the end of one of the tracks. And these stations are all new, almost the only ones on the accessibility map as any good for wheelchair users, so a lot more clean and tidy than the inner London stations. Travelling to Bicon you run a real range of the sights of Inner London, passing close to the Dome, posh flats and less attractive areas where there are boards over the doors.

The last thing I needed last night was an attack of insomnia, so what did I get? I've noticed that the last two or three times I've had insomnia it's tended to be because I didn't go to bed until after midnight so the obvious thing is to try going to bed before midnight and see whether that works, though quite why an arbitrary time marker would have an effect I don't know. Alternative explanations are that I slept too much on wednesday night, which is a possibility, especially as now I'm not that tired. Another was that it was hot last night, I had the divine Ms. Plums staying with me for Bicon (you may not have known it was on, the two of us have generally taken the line of not really mentioning it) and she was having the same problems, so we stayed up harassing people on the Internet and reading. We did manage to get to sleep around half four but then had to get up at about eight a.m. to go to Bicon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

After best part of a month my Alix Olson CD finally arrived this morning. Yay! The full saga of it's journey, plus perhaps more profound thoughts and opinions on it at a later date, as it is I listened to it this morning and it is brilliant.

Feeling tired and rundown again. It's another early night for The Lady methinks. I tried to go into London this afternoon to do one of my walks but made it as far as Euston before just having to turn around and come back. I better not be coming down with another cold, not with Bicon starting tomorrow. As I can see it there are two possible explanations. This is another stage in my development of one of those terrifying diseases that initially just seem to be a collection of ailments too minor to trouble a doctor with. OR, I've been a bit careless with the various cleaning products I've been using in the flat over the last few days, the place wasn't properly ventilated and I've ended up breathing in too much fumes a la Jif, which just wants to play with my insides.

Pentagon plans to use nuclear weapons against seven other countries comes to light. It's hard to tell from this report whether this is something genuinely unprecidented or whether it's the standard kind of military planning you'd expect any government to engage in. But the fact that it's Dubya we're talking about, who seems to have more problems than most people in telling the difference between the things that go on outside his head and the things that go on within, does mean it's perhaps more alarming than if it were Clinton or even Bush senior's plans.

And while we're on the subject, has anyone reworked 'Move Your Feet' using Bush 'Junior' and 'Senior' yet? Why not?

Surely this article is misquoting Dubya? Surely he didn't say:

"...And we gave him a chance to allow inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in. And therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power, along with other nations, so as to make sure he was not a threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region." (My emphasis)

Because, unless I spent the entire pre-bombing of Iraq period in an alternate dimension, he did let inspectors in. The only time they weren't in the country was at that period when Dubya said "we're going to start bombing in a couple of days, I'm so excited!"

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

[David] Blaine reveals next stunt. Although you've got to admire his ability to do stupid things for a long period of time (it seems to be like 'Jackass' with less genital torture and over a longer time frame) this whole thing is getting a bit tedious now. Can I suggest for his next stunt he gets smeared in blood and thrown in a pit with three tigers that haven't been fed for a day? Let's see him levitate out of that...

I alone, it sometimes seems, out of all the people on Barbelith, am immune to the Friendster germ. Frankly, I hope I stay that way as I wouldn't have the time to devote to it and I don't need another reminder of precisely how few friends I have. Another good reason, that Cherry has linked to, is the owner's insistance that everyone plays it straight. What a boring, twentieth century view, and completely contrary to what the Web is all about. And, though I put the phrase 'I hate to say it but...' in just to try and fool you into thinking I'm not completely cold and heartless but to be honest I don't really mind what you think, I hate to say it but about two sentences into the section about him, it becomes suddenly extremely obvious why this guy had to invent Friendster in the first place.

There are those who say that anti-war campaigners are rubbish-spewing litterbugs who leave chaos and a mess in their wake whenever they campaign. So check out the campaigners trying to raise money to have their 'No War' slogan cleaned off the Sydney Opera House. Now, if we could just persuade the armies of the world to clean up after they've finished playing somewhere and take their rubbish home with them as well...

Malcolm Evans was, until recently, a political cartoonist for the New Zealand Herald. It seems that he pissed off people by suggesting that the Israelis and the Palestinians were as bad as one another when it came to sabotaging the Peace Process. There's a collection of his cartoons here. There's some background and information here. As for who was behind getting him sacked, our old friends at Honest Reporting (and surely even their God must soon strike them down for such blatant misrepresentation?) are happy to claim responsibility.

And similarly, despite the dire protestations from the Daily Mail/Evening Standard/Metro (all interchangeable) that Congestion Charging was going to drive all businesses out of the centre of London and therefore cause outbreaks of Communism and abortion clinics (hey, it's what the Daily Mail always says every May Day) actual facts tell a different story.

Well, strangely enough the news doesn't seem to support the music industry's contention that Internet Piracy is killing the music industry and taking the food from the bowls of our poor minstrels. Indeed, it seems that the music industry is itself to blame. How much longer are we going to have to put up with them crying wolf like this, home taping didn't kill off music in the eighties and piracy is not to blame now. There was an item about this on Newsnight last night and only the BMI spokesman insisted on sticking his head in the sand and squarking that Internet Piracy visited his house like a thief in the night to steal his childrens toys, everyone else was grown up about it.

The industry in singles is down. This is also the industry's fault, bringing in those daft rules almost a decade ago that made a single ineligable for the charts if it had more than three tracks or was over twenty minutes in length? Thereby sacrificing the chart to no talents like the Spice Girls, or the Atomic Blue Hear'say Babes crowd who were grateful for any restriction that helped them get away with passing less music on to their fans. 'Internet Piracy' isn't the sound of kids wanting to get something for nothing, it's the sound of ver kids taking an alternative to singles as the way of hearing what an album sounds like. Especially if it's not a new album but an old one. How many people would be willing to spend around £15 or more (because old albums rarely get included in money of sales) on the off-chance they might like something if they can't download a few tracks first to get an idea what it's like?

I've said before that I've got a couple of albums on my computer that I haven't bought, though in my case I got them from the library rather than downloaded them from the net. For my upcoming birthday I've asked for the genuine article and any I don't get given I'll buy myself afterwards. If I hadn't heard what they sounded like already them the BMI wouldn't be getting anything at all, because I wouldn't have been willing to spend money on something I wouldn't be sure I liked.

Perhaps the BMI needs to look at it's priorities. Perhaps it shouldn't waste millions of pounds trying to chase little boys who have downloaded Eminems latest album, it certainly shouldn't be going after Metallica fans with their albums on their computers, because anyone willing to subject themselves to Metallica is in a whole different dimension of pain already. Maybe opening gates would solve their problems. Maybe not. Maybe micropayments would help them, maybe not. But dropping a few poor to middling performing bands from their roster because they've spent all their money chasing five German kids who'd downloaded the lastest Strokes album is not a good blueprint for long term financial stability. Perhaps the reason the BMI is getting less money for more product these days is because if I wait a few weeks then an album I might have had to pay a tenner for will be part of a sale where I get four for twenty quid.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Cheek of the Week: The continuity announcer on Sky One has just said that John Leslie: The Verdict is all about his trial by media and whether, despite being found innocent in court he's been judged guilty by the media. This is a program about the ethics of 'trial by media' on a station owned by Rupert Maxwell, who also owns Fox, numerous media sources in Australia, and in this country The Times and The Sun/News of the World. I can only assume that if I watched this show it would say how wonderful the media jumping to a conclusion and then printing it as fact is, surely even News International couldn't be that hypocritical?

OK, stupid me, they can quite comfortably be that hypocritical. This is NI, for who shame is only something anyone they write about should feel...

What should I do with myself over the next two weeks?

1. Overview: Hagalaz, Disruption.
Change, freedom. A pressing need to break free from constricting identification with material reality and experience the world of archetypal mind. Expect disruption, possibly as gradual 'coming to ones senses' or sudden disruptive changing of the way you believe the universe works. This will be negative, a failing relationship or plans going wrong, the more severe the disruption the more it was needed to allow you to grow.The lightning strikes branches off the tree, these might be dead wood, they might still be living parts of the tree.
2. Challenge: Othila, Separation.
The appropriate action is submission and, possibly, retreat. To benefit, you may have to give something up, some part of your behaviour or something you consider part of yourself. This will allow you to become more truly who you are.
3. Course of Action: Uruz, Strength Reversed.
If you don't pay attention you may fail to take advantage of the moment. The opportunity will be missed and your position weaker for it. Strength reversed is sometimes experienced as a series of minor failures, if you are really not paying attention it's a more serious jolt. Consider your relationship with yourself. But this is always part of the cycle, the going and the returning.

A lot more active than the last reading of waiting and seeing, which is certainly how creatively the last month or two turned out. This reading worries me in relation to the two main events in my life in the next fortnight, Bicon and my birthday at the end of next week. Whether the former is going to challenge my current celibacy and emotionally detached nature we shall have to wait and see, the cards and my own history would suggest that me and my emotions don't get on that harmoniously. My interpretation of this reading is that my life is going to change and not in a positive way. Submission and retreat are two different actions, possibly irreconcilable. So I have to either let the changes sweep me where they will or try to actively back away from them. Uruz reversed seems to me to say that I have to make the right choice at the crucial moment or else I'm stuffed. No pressure!

Some good news coming from the Kelly affair, in this report Geoff Hoon believes he's going to have to quit over the way he handled this affair. Hoon, Byers, Mandy... I think it's only Ron 'cottaging' Davies who resigned for a good old-fashioned sex-related scandal, and Geoffrey 'honestly officer, I was only looking after this cocaine for someone else' Robertson for misusing his office, the rest have all had to go for shabby behaviour relating to 'spinning'. The only shame from this BBC report is that Hoon doesn't seem to believe he's done anything wrong, when it seems that everyone and their mother were telling him not to put David Kelly's name in the public domain or him in the spotlight.

Still, Ali C gives evidence tomorrow. Eyes down for a full house...

If there's anyone in the U.S. still without power, here are some hints and tips on how to survive the heat from somewhere which has got used to a lack of power, especially in recent months...

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Bad news for Dubya, those Iraqi trailers weren't being used to make biological weapons. If this report is true, is the US going to set up a Camp X-Ray every time it goes to war in another country? Meanwhile, U.S. Abandons Idea of Bigger U.N. Role in Iraq Occupation. Choice quotes? Certainly:

The Bush administration has been reluctant to give the United Nations more than minimal authority in the reconstruction of Iraq. Many administration members say that France, Germany, Russia and other countries demanding such a role are actually doing so to try to get more contracts and economic benefits for themselves.

For shame European countries! Why could you not follow the US's example of being involved purely to help the Iraqi people, where it's pure coincidence that all of the contracts for the restoration of Iraq were only tendered to US companies, most of which are connected in some way with someone who is one of Dubya's cronies.

The Pentagon said today that besides the United States and Britain, the other countries that have already sent troops to Iraq are Albania, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine. The troops in Iraq serve under American and British command, and so would the troops of any other countries that took part.

In addition, another dozen countries have been asked to help with forces to protect and carry out relief. They include Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Portugal and Thailand.

So truly a coalition of the great and the good. I can't help but wonder if Dubya and Rummy have decided the best way to get their troops out of Iraq so they stop complaining is to replace them with the troops from other countries but still have 'tactical command' over them (or some such meaningless phrase). That way, American popular opinion may not care much if the bodybags going home are actually going home to a different country.

Friday, August 15, 2003

George W. Bush is evil! ACTUAL PROOF! All right, so I'm paraphrasing slightly...

I'm not sure if I should know who Charlie and Paul are, but they're up at the Edinburgh festival, and they've seen the comedy fuckwit's show in it's entire awfulness. Read about it here.

Hmmm. If the New Scientist is right, the next stage in the arms race will be a weapon that can turn puny humans into green goliaths! Gamma-ray weapons could trigger next arms race.

Hulk Smash Internet!

George W. Bush Action Figure Recalled; Weapons of Mass Destruction Not Included.

The Sun brings us terrifying news of a hideous bunny-human hybrid. The Sun helpfully illustrates it with a picture of what a 'Bugs Bunny human' might look like before going on to explain that if the experiment had been completely different (as it was the purpose was not to create a hybrid life-form of rabbits and humans) and if what we currently understand as the biological laws governing how foetuses develop were completely different (at the moment it's difficult enough to stop a cloned embryo aborting, let alone a mix of two species) then we could have had a half-human, half-rabbit baby!

I know that The Sun staff writers are confused, but tests have proved that Garry Bushell and Richard Littlejohn were both lower members of the ape family, not human/dog hybrids.

And at Moorewatch, where the most heinous of Michael Moore's crimes, based on the amount they bleat on about it, is not that he dared to suggest that America is not the bestest place ever but that he is fat, there's this gem, where all of London's crime problems would be solved if we were all allowed to carry guns. Presumerably it is the fault of all the people in America who don't have guns that they still have any crime over there. Is it Moorewatch's belief that if all the other kids at Columbine also went to school with sidearms then all those that got killed would be alive today? Is there any problem that Moorewatch believe cannot be solved with More Guns? Anyway, one of the gems is:

If the UK feels that the solution to gun violence is to ban guns, then it logically follows that passing a law against muggings will stop them as well.

Sadly, making something illegal does not stop people doing it. We have speed limits in suburban areas but people in cars still break them. The answer is not therefore to remove the speed limits.

And while we're on the subject of Defective Yeti, here's one for the people at MooreWatch... Fox Sues Michael Moore Over Use Of Term 'Michael Moore'

OK, The latest pointless meme to sweep across email and blogs* is this one, getting you to draw clockwise circles on the ground with your foot while doing number 6s in the air with your hand. I was wondering why anyone in the world was having difficulties with it until, checking the comments, I realised the important information lost in these instructions is that it's assumed you start drawing the number six from the top, not from the loop at the bottom. This whole shenanigan might have been a lot simpler if they said: "draw a clockwise circle with your foot and an anticlockwise circle with your hand"

*well, it was last week, but I'd forgotten about it. This week the pointless meme is shrew-tossing.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

And from the male reproductive organ to The War Against Terror (Ba-boom cha!). ABC News question whether the sting operation with the arms dealer and the stray Russian missiles was more set-up than sting. It'll be interesting to see what happens when this gets to court as it seems that, in a staggering break from favoured Bush operating, Mr. Lakhani is actually getting a trial.

NTL have just increased the number of music channels on my cable box again. This seems to lead to an increase in my opportunities to see Salt 'n' Pepa and the Massive Attack 'Unfinished Sympathy' video. Yay NTL!

Meanwhile, Scientists believe the shape of the penis may have evolved to help men remove the semen of love rivals during sex.
(Via Nancy's Naughty News Bits.)

"Waiter, where's my helping of wha-?!"

What movie Do you Belong in?(many different outcomes!)
brought to you by Quizilla

These electoral register forms through the post. As nik points out here it's a bit weird because in the box where you put a cross if you don't want your address details available to any crappy company or crazed nutter they've already put half a cross, for no. Are they worried that faced with having to do two small lines people will through their arms up in disgust and unwittingly subject themselves to a mountain of junk mail? Are they concerned that people don't know what a cross is, so they thought they'd start them on the way? What if someone really wants to get junk mail, do they now have to tippex out the one extant line? Enquiring minds want to know!

All right, not really.

An interesting alternative perspective on life in the new Iraq to compare to Where is Raed? and the person from yesterday, Turning Tables, apparently written by a soldier currently serving over in Iraq.

no political leadership does what is right simply because what is right is the right thing to do...that reason simply is not entirely worth it to the powers that be...people get real caught up in thinking that there are actually rules in the world scheme...i don't think that's the's all about who comes out on any pays to be the top dog...because you can make and break the i think that this is right??? hell's so screwed up that i want to start screaming...

How very English. Transsexuals in America get frisked by cops and arrested when they go to the toilet. In Britain they get banned from the pub.

[The judge] ruled that the claimants, only one of whom had undergone a sex change at the time of the alleged offence in March last year, were perceived as men dressed as women.

The judge said the group were biologically men in law and said their actions upset some of the other customers.

(Slightly more information on the case here.)
The upset caused by the publican and the 'other customers' towards the transsexuals doesn't count.

In another earlier report the landlord mutters darkly that 'other customers had complained' and he thought there was going to be trouble, which suggests rather that he banned them for being transsexuals.

"I was led to believe that should any of their female partners meet these people in the ladies that there would be trouble, verbal abuse, or it could escalate to physical violence."

This is rather like being caught 'driving while black'. But in the first report the landlord's solicitor rather smugly points out that it's not a crime to discriminate against transsexuals before hurriedly adding that he didn't think it was discrimination anyway.

Hmmm, all of a sudden I want to take a coachload of men in skirts to flashmob this pub at the weekend...

The time has come for those who are different to stand united.

I swear I'm a mutant. I'm not sure what I'll be at the end of all this but an early sign of my power would seem to be the thick ropes of yellow mucus that come out of my nose when I have a cold and I sneeze. Soon I'll be swinging around London by my nose, apprehending bank robbers and the like by pinning them on the ground with my nasal webbing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Complaints upheld against BBC showing film with a few seconds of film of dead British soldiers. I wonder if anyone has written to complain about the pictures the BBC showed through their war broadcasting of dead Iraqis? Although my sympathies go out to everyone who lost someone in the assault on Iraq I can't help wonder, would the families of the dead soldiers have complained if they hadn't been warned that the BBC intended to show the footage? Writing for The Sun means never having to say you're sorry...

I see the FBI are still doing their 'happy happy we finally did something right' dance after taking a break from hassling innocent Americans to actually catch a would-be terrorist.

Grrr. I'm trying to work out what it is about this that irritates me the most. In the end I think it has to be the attitude of 'hey, we invaded your country, destroyed most of your infrastructure and buildings, killed a lot of you with our 'smart' weapons and 'smarter' troops, made no effort to stem the rioting and looting that took place after we won, make no effort to stem the current crime wave because that would mean we'd be a stationary target and make no effort to provide a replacement for those water and sanitation systems that we destroyed when we invaded, so now you're all starving, thirsty and on the edge of a health disaster, in the middle of Summer too. What right have you got to be angry?'

What right at all?

Oh, it was 'Arnold Brown'. No wonder my Googling wasn't getting anywhere...

More searching fun.
Woo-hoo! I'm first on for face fuckers.
And to the person who was searching on Yahoo for Murdoch is Jewish, he's actually Australian of Scottish descent. I think it was Arthur Brown who once said "I'm Scottish AND Jewish, two racial stereotypes for the price of one".

Now, I'm not that keen on Camden itself, but the fault for that I lay at the doors of the Britpop boom of the nineties and the chain stores that are slowly starting to claw their way along Chalk Farm Road. London Underground's insistence that they can't use the current Camden Town station but need to instead rebuild it with a large shopping area and expensive flats seems more an attempt to cash in on an attractive area whilst destroying it at the same time, taking out the Electric Ballroom and the market behind it. Now, I'm no expert, but I'd love to see how a new station would allow them to stop having to close at the weekend, when access for them isn't much different to any of the other inner London stations.

Anyway, Support the campaign against London Underground's development proposals.

American Civil Liberties Union challenges Colorado law over Pledge of Allegiance in American schools.

Gov. Bill Owens defended the Pledge of Allegiance as "a treasured and positive civic tradition" and scolded the ACLU as publicity-seeking.

Whereas the old dictum of 'patriotism being the last refuge of the scoundrel' doesn't apply here, and Owens has no mind for his own publicity in speaking out against the ACLU?

I find patriotism a very hard concept to grasp as it seems to come into play to put the needs of one group of people above that of another group, who may well be worse off. Patriotism may be fine of itself, but it seems to easily lead to xenophobia and nationalism, which in turn lead to the dark side of the force and very bad taste in uniforms.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Blimey, I've managed to invoke Godwin's on my own blog!
Adolf Hitler
You were Hitler!

Oh, dear. Well, someone had to be.
You were born in Austria in 1889, and you were a good student and a rather talented artist. Not talented enough, however, to be accepted into the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Perhaps it was this that feuled your insatiable need for order. In 1913, poor and hungry, you moved to Munich in hopes of avoiding service in the Austrian military. You couldn't avoid World War I however, in which you were wounded in the leg. In 1919 you first met the nationalistic German Worker's Party, which later became the Nazi party. You became their chief propogandist and quicky rose politically. You became Chancellor in 1933 and within 4 months had installed a complete dictatorship. Your immense popularity with the masses helped ensure your power. That, and, of course, the SS. You were even Time Magazine's Man of the Year in 1938! You married Eva Braun during World War II and, as the Russians were closing in on your bunker in Berlin, you and Eva both committed suicide.

Which Leader Were You in a Past Life?
brought to you by Quizilla

Ahhh, that explains it. I was trying to answer the questions to get Dubya...

Smooth and dark, you are potent and bitchy yet seductive and irresistible
Congratulations! You're a black velvet!

What Drink Are You?
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You know, from this angle it looks suspiciously like a glass of coke...

(both via Daily Prescott)

I really wish that every member of the Labour party would have it drilled into their basic training that they've got no right to go on telly and complain about media spin. Even if the entire news crew had got together in April to concoct a story to try and bring down Ali C and the Labour Government in that order, Labour MPs simply do not have the moral right to complain about BBC spin when it's what their empire has been built on.

My lovely manager has given me the evening off. I think the fact that I phoned the wrong branch to try and phone her and when she answered the phone I almost called her by the name of the library persuaded her that my brains had melted and I would probably cause less damage if I didn't have to go there this evening. So I've got about another half hour here then I'm off home to put my feet up.

I've just found out to my disquiet that our council doesn't have any upper limit for temperature at work. I'm working at the library that's like a greenhouse at the end of the work and am rather concerned that if we have another day like last Saturday then there's nothing I can do about it, we just have to stand in front of our one fan and suffer. If it got so hot that people could come into the library by just pressing their way through the walls we still couldn't do anything.

Found while weeding:

The Bedbug.
Tony Harrison.

Comrade, with your finger on the playback switch,
Listen carefully to each love-moan,
And enter in the file which cry is real, and which
A mere performance for your microphone.

Another sweltering day at 'the closed library'. It's now been closed for over three weeks. This is probably my last day here (hopefully!) as holiday-related staff shortages mean I'll be elsewhere for the rest of the week, dealing with real people rather than having to resort to talking to the imaginary people in my head. Still, there are other staff here today, two people doing the childrens stuff and a couple of library assistants who have the big fun of three weeks of accumulated shelving to do.
ThenattheweekendI'monholidayforafortnightandI'malllike "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Monday, August 11, 2003

This will bugger things up for Plums, Brighton plans first UK public smoking ban.

Jean-Paul Gaultier launches make-up for men, The Independent finds some men who are very secure in their sexuality to try it on.

Geoffrey Robinson MP slightly done for drunk driving, nothing done about the bag of cocaine on his back seat.

Yeah, that 'restoring peace and order to Iraq' idea is going along smoothly.

My quest for spiritual serenity and oneness with my body have received a bit of a knock as it turns out the Qui Jong course I noticed at my local college has been cancelled, for the entire academic year. Extremely irritating as the location would have been walking distance away and it was on my day off from work. Oh well, back to the Floodlights directory but I'm not hopeful of finding anything else. I might just have to give up on that idea and fixate on becoming evil and wealthy.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Go over to Flux's blog, enjoy his 'guest bloggers' and download the Kids in the Hall Eminem song. Sure put a smile on my face.

Head teachers have welcomed the suggestion that sixth-formers should apply to university after getting their A-level results. I think this makes perfect sense and having got into university by going through the Clearing system always thought that getting offered university places based on a teacher's estimate of how well they thought you were going to do in the exam a rather old-fashioned and anachronistic approach, even though I'm sure teachers can be quite skilled at making judgements. It always sounded as dodgy as those old wives tales about how you can guarentee the sex of your baby when having sex.

The only problem is how to change the education system to allow this. Exams will have to be earlier, which means squeezing the curiculum tighter, and puts more pressure on exam boards to get the papers accurately marked in time. Then there's all that getting interviewed by the university staff bit. Of course, the traditional autumn-summer academic year is a holdover from the nineteenth century when the only way to get kids into school was to promise the parents the kids would be available during the summer to help get the harvest in. If the university year was switched to follow the calender year, they'd have several months between end of school and start of course to work at Tescos to try and make as much money as possible to try and offset that crushing student debt they're going to get.

The UK officially declared bloody hot.

Before the 1997 general election that swept Labour to power the spin-masters set up an 'instant rebuttal unit', if anyone said anything about their policies which were untrue or misleading, this unit would ensure that within hours there would be a Labour rebuttal in the media and on the news. Back to today and, a week after it happened, Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith says the Government should apologise for smearing David Kelly as a 'Walter Mitty' fantasist. What fantastic reflexes IDS has. Maybe next week he could offer his condolences to the Queen on the death of her sister and mother last year? With someone like him at the helm, the Conservative Party will be ready to fight the next General Election, several years after Labour have won it.

Having become a regular watcher of Newsnight over the last month or so I've become aware of the talents of one of his Shadow Cabinet, Oliver Letwin. Like the rest of the Conservative Party Letwin would be massively unsuitable to run anything more important than the Westminster sweetshop, but as a thorn in the government's side and opponent he seems to have found a niche from which to flourish. But then he's the Shadow of David Blunkett, so it's not difficult to appear charming and rational.

When even the Bush administration dismisses evidence for going to war in Iraq because they don't think it's strong enough you know that means they think that Satan investing in ploughing equipment and road-gritters is a better bet. But Tony Blair continues to insist that Iraq was buying material to manufacture WMD from Niger and The Independent on Sunday believes it has finally disproved that once and for all.

From the Anything You Can Do We Can Do (But Not Get Bollocked For It) desk: Academics from various universities are setting up a futures exchange similar to the scrapped Pentagon terrorism idea, for people to trade on what they think the Bush administration is going to do next. You can trade on which countries the administration will threaten or invade next, and which company with a crony in government will turn out to be rotten to the core next.

Australia's leading relationship counselling body is urging lonely older single women to become lesbians. Apparently all the old men in Australia are out chasing young women or are dead. Or presumerably, if they don't get a divorce first, the one if swiftly followed by the other...

Eventually got to sleep last night around midnight so thankfully don't feel quite so monged out today. I've been watching and enjoying I, Claudius, from the BBC. As an old man and emperor, Claudius (Derek Jacobi) writes the story of his family, from his grandfather Augustus (Brian Blessed) to insane Caligula (John Hurt). Mocked and spurned as a cripple and a half-wit Claudius outlives them all to become Emperor. So far I've watched three episodes, which mainly involve Augustus's wife, Livia (Sian Phillips in cracking form), finding ways to dispose of most of the rest of the cast, anyone in any danger of stopping her son Tiberius (George Baker) from succeeding Augustus as emperor. Most of the rest of the family have been poisoned, executed or banished so far and Claudius knows that the only chance he has for survival is for every one to believe he's an idiot.

Time has not been as kind to this production as other shows. But this is both a weakness and a strength. It's all done in a studio, even the garden scenes, so there's none of that 'interior-video, exterior-film' nonsense that you get with so much BBC stuff. But, as things are done on a set of stages, so you have theatrical actors like Phillips, Hurt and Jacobi to play on them, who mesmerise so that you tend not to notice that the prosthetics used to age them are awful. But the drama relies on dialogue, excellent though it is, at times of passion, such as a bedroom scene in episode three which Livia has engineered to bring down yet another rival to Tiberius for eventual Emperorship, lacking coherent dialogue it flags, only to be made up for almost immediately by the subsequent scene where the unlucky 'rapist' tries to convince Augustus of his wife's hand in all the mishaps of the last twenty years. It moves on at such a speed that I find it difficult to keep all the names and faces in my head, so at times am looking out for young versions of actors I've seen in later things. As well as Brian 'Flash Gordon/numerous other things' Blessed and George 'Inspector Wexford' Baker, in upcoming episodes there's going to be a young Patrick 'Captain Picard' Stewart and, Play insists, Christopher Biggins will be making an appearence. Definitely something to get me through the hot summer evenings!

Vertigo have finally released the last part in their collection of Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing. For something that was released some twenty years ago to start the so called British 'invasion' of American comics, it's amazing first how well it's aged and secondly how in this age of rather sanitised horror how shocking some of it was. If Frederick Wertham was alarmed by the comic books of the 1950s, what would he have made of Swamp Thing #46 with mutilated babies, flesh stripped from the bodies of the living and cannibalism?

In around three and a half years at the start of the eighties Alan Moore took a fading horror comic that had limped along for years and which it seemed was doomed to failure. The Saga of the Swamp Thing was the story of scientist Alec Holland, killed by gangsters out to steal his experimental plant-restoration formula, he found himself resurrected as a creature made of plants from the swamp his lab was located in. Just another monster character, no-one thought he was going to last much longer when Moore took over.

The most important thing that's changed about Batman since he was created was the size of his bat-ears. Superman, though still faster than a speeding cliche, is not as mighty now as he was fifty years ago. Moore changed everything about Swamp Thing short of getting rid of Holland. No, in fact, that was the first thing he did. He started with issue #20, which never gets collected because he was finishing off a story written by someone else. But at the end of that issue Swamp Thing is killed. Issue #21, which starts all collections, including these ones, has his corpse being dissected and studied. But here the first change that Moore decided upon is made. Every writer up to that point had assumed that Holland was in there somewhere, Moore changes that. Swamp Thing discovers as we do that he is not Holland in a plant body, but a plant body that thinks it's Alec Holland. It can't regain it's humanity because it never had it. Naturally Swamp Thing is a bit upset by this.

But as Moore takes him and us off into a wild ride around the universe of DC comics, meeting Superman and Batman and other creatures like the mysterious Stranger, Deadman, the rhyming demon Etrigan and London sorceror John Constantine he constantly continues to change the character. As Swamp Thing comes to realise that his existance is a matter of will then the exercise of willpower can alter him in more profound ways. As we approach issue fifty Swamp Thing becomes involved in a battle that has lasted longer than the universe itself, but it's Moore's genius that he's then able to go beyond that and top it with a simple story about the heart of this plant man.

For years only available in cheap black and white form, it's only in the last year that Vertigo have released these collections as they were originally seen. The artwork and colour does occasionally seem to lack inspiration, mainly because of the increase in paper quality between then and now, but the psychedelic world of the mindspace of plants, the wastes of Hell and a giant Swamp Thing made of redwoods stalking the streets of Gotham City overcome these limitations to seriously impress.

If you've never read a comic before in your life this is probably not the best place to start, as some characters may seem unitelligeable without a knowledge of the DC comics world. But Swamp Thing is horrifying, exciting, mysterious and ultimately uplifting, and well worth anyone's time. And when you've finished, there's Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell and Promethea, highlights from an astounding career of someone who is probably the best comic writer ever.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Please... I just... want to sleep...

Sheesh. Sparking Reaction. An unbiased examination of the issue surrounding nuclear power, sponsored by British Nuclear Fuels. Meanwhile, some foxes have been asked to form a committee to look at the question "Are chickens happier alive or in foxes tummies?"

Farmer Tony Martin is considering offers from a television company to refurbish his dilapidated home. Oh yes, I can see it now, Lawrence Llewelyn-Boweyn saying "Now, I couldn't get the dying man's blood out of the wall so I've gone for a charming red stipple effect wallpaper instead." You could have Two Strong Boys showing how to effectively booby-trap your house against intruders so you don't have to do all the work with a shotgun.

Still, why stop there? Why don't we give this murderer/'decent man driven to desperate measures' ((c) whichever paper he's sold his story to this week) his own TV show? 'Neighbours From Hell' perhaps? A family details how their lives have been made a misery by them next door, and Martin goes and shoots them all with a shotgun. Or perhaps some sort of game show with John Leslie, Leslie assaults some women and Martin has to kill them before they can sell their story to the papers/tell the police?

Of course, Martin could take some steps to improve his public image. If he smiled a bit more and told jokes about killing the burglar, to The Sun, they'd instantly cannonise him as a 'loveable rogue' like 'Mad' Frankie Fraser.

'The Times Desire for a Snappy Headline Sends Wrong Image: Gay summit will seal church's fate'. It's simple, next year, have the Archbishops Conference in Hyde Park at the same time as Pride.

You might have thought the Government would have learnt it's lesson but no, MI6 is preparing a new dossier on Iraqi WMD. How many experts will the Government kill to ensure their survival?

OK, after the disappointment of having my day-trip cancelled I needed something to cheer me up, so naturally I turn to Julie Burchill. After last weeks alarming touchy-feelly Julie she has thankfully returned her head to it's usual position of her arse to spout a load of crap about reality TV. Apparently, I don't like it because I hate to see the lower classes get above themselves and I feel that they should be where they belong, namely buffing my limo and serving me french toast in bed. It's nothing to do with the pop music being dull twee rubbish or the TV not being that interesting, oh no.

But halfway through Burchill admits that in the case of things like Fame Academy or Pop Stars you end up with a load of stage-school trained kids which, like public school, tends to discriminate towards a particular type of child.

And then, wahey! Her masterstroke of this particular article:

[Richard X says] "We live in quite a trashy world, where the girl from the checkout can be in the top 10." Gosh, Mr X, what would be a non-trashy world? Where the council slut from the checkout would be kept in her place and the top 10 kept safe for classy bints such as Dido?

Without knowing the wider context we've got to go by her word that Richard meant what he said in a disparaging way, based on what he said I was thinking of Suede's 'Trash', or Pulp's 'Mis-shapes'. To extrapolate from that, well, we don't read Julie because we expect her to make logical and rational arguments do we? No, come to a decision, work backwards, insult anyone who disagrees with you. All reasons we love Julie B.

Perhaps I should change the name of this blog. To something with the word 'soul' or 'life' in the title. Then I could be indistinguishable from the millions of other adolescents that infest Blogger bitching and moaning about the pathetic imagined slights and minor misdemeanors that make up their shabby and unnoteworthly lives. Like me.

I have no known long-term medical conditions. I live in a decent flat and have enough money that, if I lost my job tomorrow, I could support myself for a couple of months while trying to find a new one. I'm part of the white middle-class.

In fact, the only thing wrong with my life at the moment is that I'm awake at half-past-three in the morning of the Saturday of Brighton Pride. I'm awake because I haven't been able to get to sleep since eleven o'clock last night. I needed a good night's sleep because I would have to make a forty minute slog across town on the underground, then an hour/hour and a half train ride to Brighton, then there would be a march of a couple of miles, then an afternoon in a park.

Only, I can't do any of that now. The insomnia means I have a cold, as if the sneezing, sore throat and cough weren't enough of a clue, which means a couple of hours of travel in situations where the air-conditioning is minimal to non-existant, when there could be delays due to the effect of the hot weather on the tracks, is out of the question. Even if I made it to Brighton, would I be in any shape to march and enjoy myself? I felt very tired yesterday (Friday) afternoon at work, it could happen again at Pride.

Only yesterday evening I was on the phone with someone, making plans for what we'd do. Later this morning I'm going to have to phone and cancel. 24 degrees centigrade was what the weather report said was going to be the temperature in Brighton, much more bareable than the 35 degrees predicted for London. At least not living in the centre of the city I'm spared the worst of the smog and pollution but with the air so still it's little comfort. Why did this cold have to come on now? It's probably from the week before last, when we had a cold week and I didn't cover up properly, by why it's waited ten days before developing just seems like the act of a cruel deity with a twisted sense of humour.

Obviously I'll need to work on the new title for the blog, something to show that even Ethiopian famine victims and Iraqi torture sufferers don't have it as bad as me, inconvenienced for a couple of days. But when I'm done I know I'll be like all the other Bloggers out there.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Now that the FBI's role seems to have changed to being 'waste time following leads from overzealous and nosey members of the public', who actually deals with law enforcement these days?
(It's worth reading the article that started this whole thing off as well.)

Oh bloody hell, Dubya action figure.

The Planetary Society want to send a big birthday card to Ray Bradbury, one of the giants of sci-fi, so why not sign the card here?

A clear sign that Bush's post- Sept. 11th honeymoon is well and truly over, Someone criticises Bush and the news sources cover it! It's nice to see at last, whether it's motivated by elections or not, people finally waking up from the 'to criticise is un-American, Big Dubya loves you' coma the administration hoped to smother everyone in permanently. Whether anyone is strong enough to beat Bush is another thing. But there's hope, look at the French. In the first round of their last presidential election the Far Right candidate came a surprise second place, this turned out to be due to a mixture of 'protest voting', people voting not expecting or wanting him to win, but to register their dissatisfaction with the current government. This mobilised people into frantic work, with the result in the second round the incumbent, Chirac, won resoundingly as people realised the danger of letting a fascist, as opposed to a bastard, become head of state. The parallels can be made here, this time Bush will be seeking to win and therefore ligitimise his illegal throne-squating of the last four years. Hopefully people will look at the lies he's said over Iraq and Afghanistan, the damage he's done to international relations, and the restrictions he's placed on civil liberties and the damage he's done to the country as he's tried to share the pies between all his cronies, and they will make a wise choice.

Warren Ellis has linked to a load of stuff at Die Puny Humans about the London SmartMob shenanigans.

Have you had the spam email from someone looking for parts to mend their damaged time machine? Someone took the time to try and get to the bottom of the whole affair. Maybe this supposed time-traveller should break into the BBC, after all, The TARDIS is just sitting there.

Weird. These guys have linked to this entry of mine from this entry of this person's blog. Why? Search me...

Another rather dodgy advert, this time on the telly. Gary Lineker's latest advert for Walkers Crisps (which normally involve him doing nasty things to people in order to get a bag of crisps) involves a large Bollywood/wedding sequence, getting married to Meera Syal's ribald granny from The Kumar's at No. 42, all so that he can get the keys to a cornershop, where he promptly locks himself in so he can scoff the crisps.

Feel a bit better for something that was approaching a decent night's sleep. Was it the exhaustion from the previous night? Was it the Rescue Remedy I tried? Who knows. Let's just hope I can keep it up, especially tonight. I'm sort of interested in lucid dreaming, though like so much else in my life I never put my full effort into developing it. But I've noticed recently that in some of my dreams I'm getting close to that level of awareness, although I can't remember the details I know that last night I was repeatedly in danger of getting trapped in an endless recursive fragment of my dream and whereas normally it happens and I have no control over it this time I was sort of aware I was dreaming so kept 'switching the channel' of the dream to avoid it happening. Which worked.

Anyway, after calling in sick yesterday I'm back at work, sorting out books. Yay me. However, I have a sore throat and a cough. I wonder whether it's a good idea to go down to Brighton, but we shall have to see tomorrow morning shan't we?

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