Sunday, November 30, 2003

Just when people were starting to wonder what the point of the UK-US special relationship was, didn't you know it was suggested that the UK inmates of Guantanamo Bay might be sent home soon, on the grounds they spent the rest of their lives in UK chokey. Now according to the Independent on Sunday, one of those inmates has 'confessed' to being part off a terrorist plot despite the charge being absolutely ludicrous and the strong likelihood of physical coercion being used to extract it. Full story here.

Is Blogdex where you go if you want to find right-wing blogs or something? Following on from yesterdays risible Julie Burchill column blogdex lists various blogs who all link approvingly to it. In some two-for-one offer the Guardian had two columns on this subject and this is the other.

Israel errs like all other nations: it is normal. What anti-Zionists find so obscene is that Israel is neither martyr nor saint.

Is it bad to hate them for killing innocent people, or are we only allowed to hate Palestinian suicide-bombers for that?

Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. Not a happy bunny. Not even an unhappy bunny. Somewhere in the realm of being an incredibly fucked-off and angry bunny this evening.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Further to this article, the website for the campaign for an enquiry into the death in custody of Benjamin Zephaniah's cousin is here.

David Blunkett faces possible contempt enquiry for remarks made about the man arrested in Gloucester on possible terrorism charges. As with the case with Prince Charles several weeks ago, the BBC can report this but not the remarks made by David Blunkett, which cannot be repeated for legal reasons. They might be the comments reported in this article, when he said that Badat posed "a very real threat to the life and liberty of our country".

UPDATE: It's gone from 'possible' to 'definite'.

Julie Burchill responds to the general air of celebration that surrounded news of her leaving the Guardian with typical good grace, then proceeds to demonstrate why she and The Times will be ideally suited by a barking rant about anyone that's nasty about the Israeli state. Her premise is wildly unoriginal, because it's used by everyone that seeks to defend Israel, and is roughly thus:
1) You disapprove/dislike the Israeli policy towards Palestinians and Palestine.
2) You therefore hate all Israelis and Jews (despite those terms not being synonymous).
3) Therefore you're a Nazi who obviously supported the Final Solution.
Oh Julie, you came and you spoke without thinking...
Even better is the joke about how only ugly people are Anti-Semitic.

It doesn't seem to occur to her that people might not be against the foreign policy of Israel because the Jews are hook-nosed blood-drinking monsters who were responsible for the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ and we polish our copies of Mein Kampf every night before we go to bed, but because we are concerned by their peacemeal destruction of the Palestinian state and how scores of innocent Palestinian men, women and children get killed every time they go after a terrorist. We're concerned by the fact that, without America to back them up in the UN, they'd be one of the states with the most motions of condemnation passed against them. We're concerned that they have weapons of mass destruction and that their intentions towards neighbouring states may be hostile. But it would be awkward for Julie Burchill to acknowledge that there are Israelis that feel the same way.

Friday, November 28, 2003

New Labour foolishly open themselves up to their public at The Big Conversation, how long is it going to be before they have to take steps to avoid being swamped by people complaining about ID cards and Blair's closeness to Bush?

You are Spider Jerusalem.
Spider is THE journalist of the future. He smokes, he does drugs, and he kicks ass. The drugs are going to eventually kill him but not before he gets his way. And his way is the demise of the failed American dream. Although full of hate, he cares about his city. All he wants to bring the world is truth.
Spider Jerusalem, conscience of the City. Frightening thought, but he's the only one we've got.

What Gritty No Nonsense Comic Book Character are You?
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Battle Imp

Who's your battle imp?

Backstabbing: 6

Dodgin': 1

Guts: 4

Magic Mojo: 9

Smackdown: 6

Will your battle imp beat Loz's?
Enter your name and fight.

I'm not a well bunny (again) but the first part of this post from Fridgemagnet had me sniggering like a loon.

More proof of what a danger Bush is to the British public! < g > Street robberies up during Bush visit.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

This is an interesting article from last month, it's admittedly conjecture but I'm aware that Bush Senior at least once expressed misgivings over his son's Iraq adventure.

I've got a cold, and less than twenty-four hours before a nice long weekend with the meeting and socialising with of friends. There is no justice.

I read this years ago in Read my Lips but have just found it online: "Twenty-one things you DON'T say to a Transexual".

Makezine is kind of back after recent 'oops we deleted all our data' accident. Check it out.

Following on from this morning's story about Israel being short for a few bob, US cuts Israeli loan guarantees. Expect the usual suspects from Bush's team to claim this is them getting tough on Israel and be sure to note this is bollocks. They've cut $290 mil from a $9 bill package. The deduction was AGREED between the two sides beforehand ("How about we deduct a symbolic $300 million?" "No, too much." "$290 million?" "Oh, all right") and the Israelis are even saying themselves that "The fact is they aren't putting any political pressure on us to do anything on the substantive issues of the political process", so America still aren't taking seriously the task of bringing peace to the Middle East any other way than by Israel doing whatever it feels like to the Palestinians.

"I got a letter from the government the other day
I Opened and read it, It said they were suckers
They wanted to give me an OBE for poetry
Picture me given' a damn -- I said never."

Benjamin Zephaniah explains the multitude of reasons he's turned down an honour from Mr Blair and Mrs Queen.

The state of Israel seems to be a bit short of cash, according to this letter from the mother of a British protester shot in Palestine by Israeli troops.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

A very good anti-Al Qaeda piece at Yellow Pages. Worth pointing out to any Islamaphobes who are convinced that all Muslims unconditionally support terrorism.

Now, maybe Tory London Mayoral candidate Stephen Norris takes job with Jarvis, who have a big role in the controversial Public-Private Partnership Privatisation-by-another-name of the London Underground, because he's realistic about his chances of winning the job at the next election. After all, Labour look likely to readmit Ken livingstone to the party and have him as their official candidate, but he'll have the full wait off most of the papers gunning for him over the successful but unpopular (to them) Congestion Charge scheme. Should Norris get the job there would be a clear conflict of interest. Norris has played it dumb and said that if he did become mayor he would resign from Jarvis, but before he left he would get briefed on their plans, would know where they stood on PPP and could expect to go back to work for them after his term as mayor, so whether he's officially on the payroll or not is irrelevent, he'd be working for them in all but name.

I'm occasionally checking my windows messenger these days, so if you want you can find me there, just search with my email address...

You better be in front of a telly on Monday evening.
If you're out you better set the video.
If you lack either a telly or a video you better sell yourself to a twisted scinetific genius to have a telly implanted in your belly so you can watch yourself in a mirror.
Little Britain has made it on to BBC2. This is quite possibly the most important thing ever in the whole history of everything. Little Britain is the funniest thing I've seen all year, and I did see Colin Powell's stand up routine in front of the UN security council. David Baddiel described it as a 'gay Goodness Gracious Me' but then he had his comedy surgically removed in the 90s and grew a beard instead. It's like an early Fast Show, but when they relied on good writing rather than dashing to the catchphrase. There are some queer characters, like Sebastian who is the rather overly familiar advisor to the Prime Minister (played in wonderful cameos by Anthony Stewart Head) , Daffyd 'the only gay in the village', and crap transvestite Emily Howard ("but I'm a lady!") but many other non-gay characters such as teenage delinquent Vicky Pollard who talks in gibberish ("Yeh but, no but, no what happened was SHUTUP! You don't know nothin' about it but Shelley said, but no...") and the teacher who gets his class to read out books in the style of The Elephant Man. All topped off with liberal splatterings of surreal nonsense delivered by Tom Baker.

If you miss it, you'll feel all left out when all the other kids are reciting bits of it in the playground the next morning...

So, Michael Jackson has set up a website to help what is technically a perversion of the course of justice, surely? But on the other hand, surely it's impossible to give Michael Jackson a fair trial unless you shipped in some pygmies from the depths of the Amazonian rainforest to act as jury.

A Senior British law lord condemns the US's treatment of inmates at Guantanamo bay as 'a monstrous failure of justice'. And who said the judiciary were out of touch?

The Brass Neck award of the week must go to Alistair 'I'll burn the BBC to the ground and salt the earth' Campbell for giving a speech entitled 'Why my respect for the media has fallen'. The words '...once I found how easy they were to manipulate' don't seem to appear in this extract, basically he still seems to be pissed off about the BBC and that whole 'did Government exagerate the need to attack Iraq?' issue.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

I really dislike people who don't cover books when they walk with them in the rain. Books are like witches people, they don't mix well with water! But you don't care about that do you, because you're returning them aren't you? So sure, dump them on the desk, so we can pick them up and marvel at how the publishers seemed to make a book out of tissue paper and let us worry about drying them out, because you couldn't be arsed to get a bag out of your kitchen draw.

As you can probably guess, I also have a headache this evening.

What's going on? I thought you didn't like me and I was more than happy to return the favour. Though we didn't speak you did wave so now I'm all confuzzled. Are we friends?

Hmmm, this is quite cool. Someone is putting up signs on the motorways (all right, freeways, you crazy Colonials) of California, then taking pictures of it. Cool, funny, tragic and thought provoking. Check it here.

It seems Islamaphobia is on the rise over Europe, or maybe it's just part of the worldwide tide of intolerence and xenophobia ({coff}littlegreenfootballs{coff}). France seems to be one of the worst offenders in this, French juror banned from court for wearing headscarf. The judge claimed that they wouldn't be impartial in the case. After the schoolkids that were banned from wearing headscarves in school France's direction is a bit worrying. While they claim to be a secular state more than half the population consider themselves Catholic, so would a jury be frisked for small cross pendants and then someone be dismissed for being Christian? This ruling perpetuates the belief that Muslims don't want to be part of society, which makes you wonder exactly why George Bush doesn't like France...

I note, with what could be mistaken for interest if you squinted at it from a distance in poor light, that the British Library has changed, or extended, it's legal deposit laws to cover electronic material, such as CD-ROMs and the Internet. Now, CD-ROMs I can see not being too much of a problem, though will the British Library be investing in making sure that they can be run by curious researchers in twenty, fifty, a hundred years time? As for the Internet, they've said they're going for 'anything with a .uk' domain name, which sounds a rather arbitrary decision to make. It will also change the nature of the way the British Library works, because if the Government made it law that websites send the BL copies of their site every time they add it'll soon become unworkable. Possibly by limiting this to online journals they seek to minimise their workload, technically everything on the internet is 'published', so what criteria they end up using might be interesting. As will be how this information is indexed, stored and accessed. Time will tell whether working on the Internet like it was just another library collection will be the best way of dealing with things.

This one's for Patrick, Stroke gives American woman English accent.

OK, this is this weeks deeply disturbing and ill thought-out idea from the desk of David Blunkett: Asylum seekers could have their children taken in to care. Just when you wonder how the Home Office could sink any lower, they show you how. What happened to 'children need their parents'? Not if they come from outside the UK it seems.

Monday, November 24, 2003

I'm back from seeing The Matrix Revolutions. It's not completely bad, but they spend an awful amount of money on making an extremely average film. The film doesn't answer a number of important questions from the preceeding two films, and doesn't answer them in such a way as though trying to pretend they were never asked in the first place. More later.
But you can read this fairly accurate review here.

Barbelith stands ready to admit you! We're having a little recruitment drive at the Barbelith Underground board, closed to everyone but registered members for a long while due to some sustained and unpleasant trolling. Most of the people that I link to and who read this blog regularly are already members but I would hope that those who aren't would join up and join in, as the board can only ever be as good as those who contribute. It is a bit annoying that as things stand that you have to sign up before you can see inside and see what it's like, but there are forums and discussions on an extremely wide range of subjects, from philosophy, science, current affairs, TV, comics, magic, our own creative works... Come join in, it'll be a blast!

Sunday, November 23, 2003

You go girls! Two girls get suspended from school for lesbian kiss, or as CNN delicately put it Female-student kiss spurs debate at school.

I have no idea who I am...

You are Hhomi K. Bhabha! You're the most important
post-colonialist alive. You taught at the
University of Chicago for a while before you
were finally hired up by Harvard. You actually
only have one book, but it's a really important
book, and everyone respects you tremendously.
You are not dead.

What 20th Century Theorist are you?
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Or alternatively, "Anyone for TARDIS Tennis?" Worth it just to hear Winston Churchill exclaim "Who's your daddy?"

You'll probably need this tomorrow morning as you wait for Friday evening to come...

I may not know a lot about architecture but I know what I like, and I definitely like this:

which is the proposal by the Foreign Office duo of Alejandro Zaero-Polo and Farshid Moussavi who have an exhibition of their work at The ICA. I really must go and see this, and educate myself on architecture.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Thirteen years ago today, a nightmare ended.

Following on from this post of yesterday, Daniel Drezner responds to James Lileks responding to Salam Pax.

Strange Google Searches:
This is someone who desperately needs to know the answer:
what the fuck are "daylight hallucinations".

Misbehaving are Musing on Diverse Presentations of Self, which I shall come back to when I've had a chance to work out where I stand on the issue. I've always tried to go for a genderless presentation in my online doings, though this inevitably ends up with me presenting like a Drag Queen with PMT.

California demands paper trail for E-Votes. I'm surprised this wasn't a requirement already. Meanwhile in New Mexico, officials there are starting to get worried too. I guess it's like that article on biometric cards that I linked to yesterday, a 1% error rate may sound fine, until you work out how many people that actually affects.

Come back in a month: Academics from Aberystwyth are studying peoples opinions about Lord of the Rings when they've seen Return of the King.

UK Minister demands British Muslims choose between 'the British way' and 'the way of the terrorist'. FFS. I guess this shows how racist Western society still is, it's hard to believe that if radical Christian terrorists committed an act of terror that there would be demands for the national Christian society to choose between peace and terror. Denis Macshane deserves to become this weeks Margaret Hodge for this.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Whoops! Richard Perle admitted on wednesday that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. He was putting forward the 'international law would have stopped us taking out Saddam, therefore we had to ignore it' thesis, a justification which I'm going to use if at some point in the future I decide to go ram-raiding: "It's the Perle Doctrine officer. British law would have stopped me from stealing that hi-fi and TV/DVD with surround sound system, therefore I had to steal it."

Due to being busy last night I videod the Horizon program on the Bible Code. It was a fairly awful program really, I think the debunkers did a pretty good job of showing that for every secret message you could find in the Talmud there was an equally valid message encoded into Moby Dick but the program didn't really want to accept that. A much more interesting program might have been to look at cryptology, to ask WHY we can 'find' messages in the Bible or Moby Dick but the Horizon production team seem desperate to find a 'human interest' angle to hide their stories on, as though without that no-one would want to watch. Last week's episode was basically Is Britain about to freeze to death? So, they present a controversial thesis, give some time to those that refute it, then finish off with a fudge that says "We can't prove this conclusively one way or another". And the same again this week, when experiments to show once and for all that the Bible Code was just random chance selectively picked from seemed to be going the sceptics way the believers claimed their methodology was faulty and the program ended with "Well, maybe the prediction that the world will end in 2006 is true, who knows?" This was the angle, the Bible Code predicts Global Thermonuclear War in three years time, so the program is proceeding from a bias towards this being true, yet we know how large a part chance has to play in the creation of our universe and it's amazing how thousands of years ago people managed to encode information into the Bible yet we can only find it today with computers. The huge unanswered question was "Why would they do this?"

Moving on to other grievences, The Guardian have published STAND's complaint about the Government fiddling public responses to try and claim public backing for ID Cards. I got a very quick reply from my MP to the fax I sent asking him to try and find out more about the Home Office's attitude, to which he replies "I am afraid I am not in a position to go behind the conclusions of the Home Office summary" which could mean he couldn't be bothered to ask, misunderstood my fax as asking him to work it out himself or that the Home Office wouldn't tell him the answer. Touchingly he says three times in the letter that he does not favour compulsory ID Cards. Elsewhere, New Scientist publishes an article that claims that biometric systems are not good enough to do what David Blunkett wants them to do.

Right, just a couple of photos really...

Direct and to the point...

"What do you mean you didn't bring sausages? Do I have to think of everything round here?"

The Church at the top-right of Trafalgar Square (looking from Nelson's Column), there were people here, and on all the outlying parts of the area gathered, probably at least a football pitch or two's distance away from the epicentre, at the base of Nelson's Column. From this angle, Nelson's Column would be to my right...

From the I Wonder What Would Happen if I Shoot This Gun at my Foot? desk, this bloke (who Little Green Footballs approvingly links to) slams Salam Pax for negative comments made about Bush. The gist is this. Salam has no right to complain about the conditions in Iraq because he's not dead. If he had died as a Freedom Fighter against the Hussein regime then he'd be allowed to say if he thought the American action was insufficient. Living his life in the shadow of Hussein was apparently not good enough.

You have to wonder what LGF think the US have invaded Iraq for? Because he doesn't seem to think it's to allow Iraqi people the freedom to speak their mind...

The Bush and Blair men.

A sensible perspective from the New York Times.

Dates for your diary.

The march yesterday was great fun. I've got some photo's on my camera which if I can get the software to behave I'll post later. I got to Charing Cross around 5:00 pm. The police claim there were 100 000 protesters against the organisers 200 000, but to be honest I'd treat both numbers with caution. All I can say is that of all the demo's I've been to that ended up in Trafalgar Square this was the biggest. And there could well have been any number of people like me who didn't go on the march but turned up later. The side roads around the Square were completely chocka too, even the stairs of the church at the top of the Square (Saint Martin's in the Field?) was full of people.

It was good natured as well, but this was a wide range of ordinary people coming to make their views known, not a narrow sub-section of society.

Finding people was almost impossible, it was dark by this point, though the street lamps and people's torches were illuminating things unevenly. But with the noise of the crowd and a police helicopter flying fairly low overhead mobile communication was extremely difficult. I bumped into Mister Posters, more by luck than judgement, and we ended up around the back of Nelson's Column, so we only got to hear not see the epic moment when Bush's statue was toppled, but we did get to see some arse setting off fireworks from the square at the top of Whitehall. They only managed two thankfully, one which went straight up and then another which went a few feet in the air then hung a sharp right. For a second I thought it was going to explode in a crowd of people that were coming to the Square from Charing Cross but thankfully it exploded above their heads. There were no more fireworks thankfully, whether the person was malicious or stupid we will never know.

Otherwise the crowd was very good natured. Some people came dressed up, there was no Anti-Americanism that I could see, just anti-Bush. The right-wing might choose to ignore or not grasp the concept that the majority of people demonstrating do still value the 'special relationship' our country has with the United States, it's just that we can differentiate between a country and it's head of state. We can love America and hate the prick-in-chief and find no contradiction between those two stances.

Anyway, after a while some small bonfires started up, which the police surprisingly didn't do anything to stop. The basic fuel for these bonfires were the signs that had been carried all day. This wasn't supposed to signify any kind of disagreement with the point of the march, they were fuel. However, should something like a poster of Bush or a dummy of Blair be added, then that was a political statement to be cheered.

Stayed for a couple of hours then left, made the long slog along to Goodge Street station, nearby which I finally met up with all the other people I'd been hoping to meet on the march...

More later, and check the Indymedia site here.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Record companies now blame poor sales on too many songs on the albums. Ridiculous, I've always felt short changed if I've bought an album and it's only around thirty-five/forty minutes long. And if the record industry were to try capping how long an album could be then they could well see sales fall further and piracy rise as people conclude that albums aren't value for money any more. I don't have the figures to prove it but I believe that in the UK, when the record companies put limits on CD singles, maximum of twenty minutes music, maximum of four tracks, that led to a drop in singles sales.

Heh, whoever it is that runs Little Green Footballs seems to be very upset that the people of the United Kingdom are exercising the freedoms that both Blair and Bush have commended as a vital part of western life to demonstrate against Bush and Blair. Check the fun here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

George W. Bush sniffed a long line of cocaine from the Philippeno girl's back, took a swig of absinthe and belched loudly. He looked down, Tony Blair was still sitting motionlessly at his feet, gazing up at him with devotion in his eyes, toying idly with one of the tassles on the French maid's outfit that George liked him to wear.
"I've been told that the package has arrived." Blair reported breathlessly.
"And?" Bush raised an eyebrow. Truth be told he couldn't remember what Blair was talking about, but he remembered Rummy had told him that if he acted like he knew everything that was going on then people would often fill in the blanks for him.
"Loz has received The Two Towers Special Edition and will be too busy watching that to come to any of the demonstrations. Without Loz the Anti-Bush campaigners will crumble before us and we will be unopposed when we announce that we are taking over the world!"
Bush smiled, then remembered himself.
"What's this 'we' bitch?" He growled. He reached down and twisted hard on one of Blair's pert nipples until the premier squeeled in pain. "I don't remember giving you permission to speak either."
"Sorry Daddy..." the chastised Prime Minister whimpered.
"Better..." Said Bush, taking another swig of absinthe before sending the glass flying to shatter on the fireplace above the prone corpse of Prince Charles. He lent back and unzipped his fly. "Now show me how sorry you are..."

I've been looking through old blog entries and found this one about the Daily Mail organising a ballot on the European Union Constitution. Hmmm, thinks I, never heard anything more about that. So, I had a look around, and found the Vote 2004 website (due to the Daily Mail's lack of an archive), which claims [a]n overwhelming nine out of ten members of the public want a referendum on the new European constitution, according to the Daily Mail's historic national poll. Unfortunately, that's not quite true...

In the Mail poll, a total of 1,692,071 votes were cast... According to the National Statistics Office the population of the UK at the time of the census in 2001 was 58,789,194 people. So, when they claim nine out of ten people in the UK want a referendum, that's nine out of ten people that bothered to take part in the Daily Mail poll want a referendum. So that's actually one out of every fifty-eight people, or approximately 2.5% of the British public. No wonder the Daily Mail had the good sense to keep fairly quiet about their dismal failure...

Do you remember Stephanie Theobald? She wrote this article that annoyed me intensely. She's got her own website now, still under construction and largely content-free, except for some puff about her books, but I'll be keeping an eye out when the 'journalism' section gets filled in...

How to Risk Getting Fired at Work: Make the mistake of reading X-Entertainment at work. It's an incredibly funny site that reviews all kinds of comics, cartoons and plastic-comic related tat from those wonderful days in the 80s and 90s when we were all innocent and cared less for global warming than seeing the next episode of Transformers. Check the archives for reviews of He-Man (perenial question: "Why is Man-At-Arms so shit?"), Transformer toys ("Look at the cannon on that one!") and related cartoon and sweet related tomfoolery. Don't Fuck With Megatron! is quite possibly the work of comedy geniuses (What is the plural of genius, Plums, Catherine, anyone?)

I'm reading another book from the BBC Big Read list...

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
'That's some catch, that Catch-22,' he observed.
'It's the best there is,' Doc Daneeka agreed.

Joseph Heller, Catch-22.

Well, the eagle has landed. After the red carpet welcome at Heathrow Bush was whisked secretely by helicopter into Buckingham Palace, it looks like they're only going to let him out into daylight for a short time each day before hiding him away again. But he'll get his pictures of him meeting the Queen beamed back to the States, which is the only reason he came for.

But the US administration has already made rumblings that they aren't willing to move on either the prisoners being held in Guantanemo Bay or on the illegal US steel tariffs. You would have thought that, after sticking the UK neck out on the US behalf, they might actually want to do something to show their gratitude to us? Nope. Thus far the special relationship has been entirely one way. The only gift we've got out of this is an increased risk of attack from Al Qaieda.

But Blair is unlikely to mind. Why? Because he now seems unable, or unwilling, to admit that something that's good for him is not also good for the country. He got lots of applause when he went to America earlier this year and that's what he sees as important. He needs support, especially when he's not getting it back home. Trying to get the US administration to uphold their international obligations jeopardises the applause. Tony Blair has dragged us into two wars on the basis of his own psychological shortcomings.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

There's an old byelaw or town charter or something that says that if you want to talk about Doctor Who you have to insist that you watched it from behind the sofa. I'm not sure why this should be, behind the sofa was were we kept the guns and the drugs. Anyway, the BBC have done an animated version with Richard E. Grant as the Doctor, if you haven't got a very VERY big connection don't even think of trying it, but it's here and quite fun too...

The Guardian have been maintaining a fairly good left-wing front recently, they don't seem to have had David Aaronovitch letting the side down much with his "hey, war's great! And ID Cards! Let's have a war with ID Cards!" schtick lately. Zoe Williams has a good column on the imminent anti-Bush demos in London.

So, when in February the nation witnessed one of the largest anti-war demos in British history, Tony Blair took the opportunity to praise them for their "democracy". In Iraq, such a thing would have been impossible, because they have no democracy. Oh, the fox! Do you see what he did? He took the peaceniks' impassioned objections, and turned them to his advantage. Except he didn't, really, since the endpoint of his argument was that we were attacking a country in order to bestow upon them the right to march in their hundreds of thousands, and then not be taken any notice of.

Massachusetts backs gay marriage. Hmmm.

The US state of Massachusetts has ruled that same-sex couples are legally entitled to marry...
But the Supreme Judicial Court stopped short of ordering that marriage licences be issued to seven gay couples who challenged the law.

So, they're willing to say it's wrong, but the actual politically tricky bit of changing the law to enable gay marriages to go ahead they're leaving to someone else?

Don't look Patrick...

Nina's moaning about Barbelith. What she neglects to mention is that the latest argument, full of 'damaged people and people who react irrationally' has been caused by her boyf and his friend, acting like a pair of twats in size eleven twatting boots. And even that wouldn't matter, except that they do their best to spread the memes, then when people complain go all "well, no-one is asking you to read it" or "Oh but Barbelith is so booooooooooring these days!". Christ, the Internet is being run by people who weren't even allowed to use wooden scissors when they were kids...


>President G.W. Bush is due to visit this country as a guest of the Queen between the 19th and the 21st November.
>We are a group of female activists who are making a call for all women around the country who oppose the policies
>of war and neo-liberal globalisation, which have been pursued by the Bush administration, with the active support
>of our own government, to come together and demonstrate their opposition to Bush's visit.

>We protest because:

>- - The Bush administration has pledged itself to pursue a "war with no end "which threatens to drag our world
>into a state of perpetual conflict.

>- - Women and children are the majority of victims of armed conflict; are 80% of refugees and displaced people.

>- - Rape is routinely used as a weapon of war, but rape victims are rarely granted asylum.

>- - Women's liberation has been used as justification for the wars pursued by the Bush administration, yet women
>have been left exposed to high levels of violence in the countries the Bush administration has targeted and there
>has been no significant increase in women's rights.

>- - The Bush administration has launched an offensive against women's rights to control their reproductive lives by
>imposing a ban on US aid to international groups that promote or offer abortion or abortion counselling.

>We call for women to join us in our protest by:

>Shaving their bushes and sending the trimmings to the Queen. Put them in an envelope with a note saying, "We've
>got rid of our bush, you get rid of yours!" When you have done this please send us an e-mail at:
> You don't have to put your name if you don't want to, we would just
>like an idea of the number of women who have taken part in the action.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Linda Smith is on Room 101. Now, call me suspicious, but has this woman ever done anything that didn't involve the BBC in any way? She's been on Just a Minute, The News Quiz, Have I Got News For You and now Room 101. Did she make her way up the comedy ladder, gigging in dodgy pubs and clubs? Was she created in the comedy vats below the BBC studios, with Paul Merton screaming "Live! Live!" and Willie Rushton as his hunchback assistant?

And she wants to banish 'Adults that read Harry Potter books' to Room 101. Does she want to shatter the UK's slash industry?

Sharwoods accidentally name new range of sauces after the Punjabi for 'arse'.

It's wrong, but so, so right... Pope Countdown.

David Blunkett faces huge embaressment as Scotland opts out of his ID Cards scheme, with similar doubts being expressed about it going ahead in Wales and Northern Ireland. With Wales I daresay the legislation can be forced through, it's not as if they have a real parliament or anything, but if it doesn't come in all parts of the UK it's pretty much worthless for any number of those 'fighting crime' reasons he gave. Now, if we can just persuade Ken Livingstone to declare London a fully independent state then I'll be happy.

So, had my new mobile phone get delivered this morning, after the old one mysteriously stopped working on Saturday, so hopefully won't need to replace it until February now. Then a technician came out and sorted out why my computer wasn't noticing the floppy drive. As I suspected, when the bloke at PC World got the jammed disk out of it last week, he'd cleverly neglected to plug the drive back in when he put it back in. Which I'd kind of guessed for myself. Which means I'm smarter than the guy at PC World. Go me!

Hello to any dyslexics reading this blog!
Pince Charles Allegations.
how to make a hand mad children's flower cards.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Just been listening to the Five Live Report on BBC Radio 5, all about They almost manage to avoid the "The Internet rapes our children and eats their brains!" hysteria of Carol Vorderman, and also the trolls that populate the group, but they concentrate on how people go there and will get information and advice that they can use in a suicide attempt, while ignoring that people will often advise against methods, that there are people that have been on there for years, rather suggesting that they aren't in imminent danger of catching the bus, or the people that have moved on from there because they no longer feel suicidal. I spent several difficult years on there and no longer feel it's an appropriate place to be, but while there were other people that died, there were more people that didn't.

The show features someone who posts methods, but he's from the Church of Euthanasia and, as the show is forced to admit, this guy posts all over the place. It's not really a specific newsgroup's fault if this guy is here, any more than the right wing guff that frequently gets posted in the BBC's Talking Point forums means they should get shut down. They feature the always lovely Karin Spaink who points out that on the subject of method, any fule knews they can jump off a twenty storey building or tie a rope around their neck.

Hopefully one day ASH will close and the bus-stop will be empty. But that's only going to work due to a massive change in society and a better understanding of neurochemistry.

Hah, now I have a digital camera, and my own webspace, it all starts to come out... Now, I love my folks deeply, but there are just some things which are inexcusable, such as this:

You put a tape in the back, turn it on, and Father C. tells you a story while rocking back and forth in a faintly unsettling manner. I suppose I should count myself fortunate that I don't live with them any more and that, after just over twenty-five years of married life their collection of tat is thankfully low...

Unsurprisingly US-centric, Ibiblio is a new and completely free on-line reference library [via this article at Wired.]

Ooh, pretty maps of the London Underground! [via BoingBoing.]

"We can feel scant respect for the current President of the United States. But we must never abandon our affection for his country."- Max Hastings.

"He will be met by a great wall of democracy. There will always be a special relationship. Our anger is not with Americans: it is with Bush."- Anthony Scrivener QC.

"I wonder if anyone will ever know about the emptiness of my life. I wonder if anyone will ever stand in a room I have lived in, and touch the things that were once a part of my life, and wonder about me, and ask themselves what manner of man I was. How to ever tell them? How to ever explain? How to say that I never found Love- how to say that it was all my own fault- that when presented with it, I was afraid & so I spurned it, or laughed at it, or was cruel, and killed it: and knew that in the process I was killing myself. Who can say where it all goes wrong?... All the recipes of the past are no longer valid. I've spent all my life in the mind. I have existed. I know everything vicariously. I have entered into nothing. I've given some sympathy but never empathy."- Kenneth Williams.

You're going to hell, you're going to hell, naah nahh!

Thanks to Lurid for the above, which is a right laugh.

Homosexual Hellbound:


Being Bisexual is just as bad as being a Homosexual! who are you kidding? Do you think you will get a nicer PIT in HELL then the Homosexual? Let me help you understand this.. When you die you will be judged.. I do not care what you think you are or what religion you think you are right now.. Every single disgusting perverse act you do is marked against you! this is called SIN.. God is not letting your disgusting perverted soul into Heaven! You should be repenting and pleading the blood of Jesus on your life and washing this filth off yourself.. If you continue with an "I don't care attitude" you're in for a big surprise! Because one day you just might wake up in another dimension.. And start screaming and burning and never stop screaming and burning.. You have heard some good news today.. that good news is the name Jesus.. Check him out! If you are worshipping a Goat, Goddess Diana, Demons, Snakes, Birds, Earth, Wind, Satan, Buddha, Cats or Pigs.. whatever you think your sick beliefs are.. There all a one way ticket to HELL!.. Jesus is waiting for you with open arms right now!

I especially liked how one of the Hellbound of the Month is Ted Turner, for the sin of claiming Christianity is an intolerant religion. Somehow the irony of this has passed the creator of this website by...

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Irritatingly my mobile has just packed up, and just as I was about to leave to go visit my parents in Maidstone too. Oh well, back to urine-soaked phone boxes for me then...

Someone is blogging the trials of Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr, although having said that it does just seem to be putting any media report or conspiracy theory he can find up there...

Most Labour backbenchers want further research on the benefits of ID cards before they are introduced, a poll for the BBC suggests. Or at least, they will do, right up to the point where David Blunkett tells them to shut up and agree with what he says.

"I know some people believe there is a sinister motive behind the cards; that they will be part of a Big Brother state.
"This is wrong - only basic information will be held on the ID card database - such as your name, address, birthday and sex.
"It will not have details of religion, political beliefs, marital status or your health records." [Blunkett said]

So, the other argument is, if the ID Card isn't going to have useful information as part of it, why are we going to have it. I'm not saying that there is ever a form of this that I would be happy with, but what are OAPs or Daily Mail readers going to think, they're paying for this but they can't access benefits (despite the fact that the card is going to be used to make sure they aren't receiving any fraudelently) or healthcare (despite the fact that the ID card is going to be used to stop health tourism). This does rather suggest that Mr. Blunkett has seen the answer, ID Cards, but has not yet found the problem.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Diana the Acrobat
You are Diana the Acrobat. You are very agile and
down to earth, practical. You have a magical
quarterstaff that can expand or contract at
your will.

Which Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon Character Are You?
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Well, just so long as I wasn't Bobby or Uni I was happy.

Some brief news stories: Well-off bloke reunited with wife and daughter. The weird thing is, in speaking to reporters, how much Prince Edward seemed like Clive Anderson...

Children's Minister Margaret Hodge has said sorry to the sex abuse victim she branded "extremely disturbed". There's no doubt that she's been stupid and hurtful, the excuse of making the claim in what was supposed to be a private letter not one of the best excuses in the world, but the more I see of Demetrious Panton the more I can understand why she said that, as he does seem to be living up his own arse. "We have a copy now of the letter that went to the BBC ... My instinct clearly is that I have been libelled. I'm shocked and I'm horrified. I have completely and utterly been slurred. The letter is a complete and utter libel against my character." Get over it. Get over yourself. Return to the obscurity from which you have been momentarily plucked. However, Mrs Hodges shows admirable cheek in claiming that being responsible for a massive failing of a borough's children in the early 80s leaves her particularly well placed to lead the drive to improve child protection in England in the wake of the Victoria Climbie scandal.

"I don't like war" Says Bush as he prepares to come to Britain. Aah, the poor love, so presumerably the last twenty-four months have been a form of aversion therapy then? I'm sure an Iraqi of Afghani child, orphaned by Allied air raids or ground assaults will be extremely comforted by the news that one of the men mostly responsible is saying "Now I didn't like doing that at all." It's fantastic really, him saying that as though all the demonstrators will now go, "Oh, well as long as he doesn't like declaring war on people he doesn't like..."

Every now and then the House of Lords does something intelligent to try and make people think that getting rid of them might be a bad idea. Certainly, the presence of a number of law lords who have a better idea of how the criminal justice system works than Home Office ministers like Michael Howard or David Blunkett will be something that will be missed will be gone, though their penchant for discussing schoolboy buggering whenever they get to vote on issues relating to sexuality will be one of those quaint traditions gladly consigned to history's rubbish bin. News has come in that they have defied MPs and voted for sex offense suspects to be given up to the point charges are brought. All well and good, though the Government will ignore them one way or another, Blair not wanting to do anything to spoil his mate Rupert's tabloids fun giving stars trial by newspaper coverage months before their case gets thrown out by the courts. If nothing else, with the Lords soon to be defunct they probably could just wait them out.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

British court rejects Russian request to extradite Chechen.

But the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office said the court had attempted to find a political overtone in what was a purely criminal case. "Once again, terrorists are being split into two groups - good terrorists and bad ones," the office said in a statement.

Which is pretty cheeky because Russia has been using the excuse of The War on Terror to bomb the shit out of Chechnya in a sustained way for years, the US unable to complain what with them doing the same in Afghanistan and all...

Will have to check, but I think the UK courts tend to be a little less willing to accept the 'at risk of torture back home' argument when the person in question isn't white.

Bah, there should be some sort of law against your friends meeting up for drinks when you can't make it. Anyway, I shall console myself with the knowledge that I'm nearly at the end of the week, then the weekend it's down to visit the parents and see my sister's new flat, and her boyf's birthday, which I finally managed to get a card for today... It's getting harder and harder to buy stuff for men that isn't in that booksCDsDVDsvideos area, if a clothes shop near you opens it's invariably for women with, if you're lucky, a men's section which is about the size of a matchbox. And now birthday cards, it's getting increasingly difficult to get cards that don't involve swearing and/or reference to sex or bodily parts (I'm sure that in a few years time the cleanest birthday card I can get my Mum would say "C*nt!" on the front in large letters and then have said orifice pop up when you open up the card, it plays 'happy birthday' if you tongue the cl*t), and for men you can almost forget it. It's as though the categories in the card shops are 'cards for people that involve sex', 'cards for people that involve drinking too much', 'cards for people that are uptight', which is not the case. If I wanted to buy something with pictures of naked people in it, I'd buy a jazz mag, if I wanted to give a gift that would involve swearing, I'd give them the Daily Mail.

A friend was astonished the other day that I had never seen The Great Escape or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, "what do you do at Christmas?" they said. Normally I argue with someone over which video/DVD we watch first. But anyway, I've got both of them out to watch from the library now as they may be called upon for parody duties in stories I'm working on at the moment.

Absolutely genius bit of sweary animation, the end of the world. [found via b3ta.]

Oh yes, I forgot to mention it earlier, Salam Pax was on Newsnight the other night. If that was him, of course. Who can tell? He looked rather like Joel Silver, erstwhile producer of The Matrix flicks. It was a rather positive story, life under Saddam bad, life at the moment not good but in different ways, some prospects for improvement in the future.

Financier [George] Soros puts millions into ousting Bush.

George Soros, one of the world's wealthiest financiers and philanthropists, has declared that getting George Bush out of the White House has become the "central focus" of his life, and he has put more than $15m (£9m) of his own money where his mouth is.

Meanwhile Bush's visit to the UK is causing more headaches for Blair, with Michael Howard able to land a few punches on Blair at Prime Minister's Question Time we will have to wait and see how much longer Blair believes he can just ignore what everyone else says just so long as he believes it's right. But the London Mayor is insisting that people who want to protest this visit have the opportunity to do so, whereas on the pretext of security the White House have, in some reports, wanted the centre of London completely cleared. Also it is being insisted that the Government pay the cost of the visit, not local ratepayers through increased taxes.

what kind of social software are you?

Flamboyant Jack
You're flamboyant Jack. Wild guestures, swaying
walk, c'mon

Which of Jack's (from Pirates of the Caribbean) multiple personalities are you?
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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

He's done it, he's actually gone and done it. David 'Big Brother was a poof' Blunkett has apparently managed to put in to place measures to ensure that by 2012 every man, woman and child has an identity card, something that will not increase your safety by one iota, but will make it easier for the Government to know where they are if for any reason at all they want to come round and kick your head in. Metaphorically speaking. After all, we have a Conservative party leader who, like Blunko, has a poor record when it comes to gay rights (the only difference being that Howard actually introduced anti-gay legislation whereas Blunko only voted against repealing any of it). Once ID cards are established, it might be 'common sense' for them to contain all the sort of information you'd be expected to fill in on a census form. Blunkett is trying to push legislation through the Lords so that juries in trials will be made aware of criminals past convictions before they decide whether he's innocent or guilty. This is a man who wants to redraw the legislative map to redefine what it means to be guilty or innocent. Now consider, do you trust him to bring in ID Cards?

He's been fairly clever about it really. No one wants them, his cabinet colleagues don't want to support them so what does he do? Integrate them as much as possible with everyday life, ID Cards by stealth. Over the next few years they will be part of people's driving licenses and passports. So most people will have no choice but to have ID Cards if they also expect to continue to drive or travel abroad. It's the same with GM Foods, concentrate on weakening the safeguards stopping them getting into food manufacturing and then the public don't have any choice but to eat them, they're in the food.

But let's hear it from the donkey's mouth. There are no great surprises in this press statement; lots of the proposals have been down as suggestions for months.

The scheme would:

*boost the fight against illegal working - giving employers a recognisable secure way of ensuring people are entitled to work - and making it easier to prosecute those employers who break the law. From the commencement of the scheme all foreign nationals entering the UK for more than three months will have to pay for a biometric residence permit;

Utterly ridiculous. There are many people out there desperate for work, and people looking for people to do work who don't care where the workers come from. In 2001 it was thought there were 170 000 workers in the 'grey economy' of the UK, purely in terms of UK citizens, this article from May this year estimated that there could be 'hundreds of thousands' of illegal workers, doing the jobs no-one else wants to do. Where is Blunko, having had to find the money to pay for the creation of the ID cards and the database, going to find the money to pay for the rooting out of companies that hire people illegally and what is it about ID cards here that will help them to stop these employers that they can't currently do? And check that last line, foreign nationals... will have TO PAY for a biometric residence permit. I can imagine that Gordon Brown will have words to say about that, and the CBI, and unions such as the Nursing and Teachers unions, who often rely on foreign workers to prop up their services in areas where they are short. Young teachers and nurses don't earn enough to live in the areas of London where they work, another charge, even a small one somewhere under £100 will be most unwelcome.

*tackle immigration abuse - the lack of a card in the UK compared to most other EU countries is a pull factor for those who think they can come here and disappear;

I don't even need to argue this one, it's just indefensible. There is absolutely no proof for this as it's just hearsay. You could equally say the lack of a card in the UK compared to most other EU countries is a pull factor for those who think they can come here and have all the Long Island Ice Teas they want.

*disrupt the use of false and multiple identities by terrorists and organised crime groups such as money laundering which supports their terrorist or other criminal activities. Using multiple identities is one of the most common practices of those involved in terrorist activity;

Anything worth having is worth copying. If the current system of passports and checks do not stop terrorists and organised crime groups then there is absolutely no reason to think that they won't get around ID Cards too. The individuals who took control of the planes that crashed in September 11th 2001 weren't using false papers. A terrorist doesn't become a terrorist until he commits an act of terror. Often then it's too late.

*ensure free public services are only used by those entitled to them - preventing abuse such as 'health tourism';

Ironically this should be where the Tories support the Government as in July they wanted an entitlement card system for eligibility for access to treatment but again, they have no concrete figures on how much health tourism costs the NHS. Also, this is a situation which cannot be solved unless the ID Cards are held by 100% of the population of the country, issued at the moment of birth and cancelled at the instant of death and are mandatory documents which must be carried at every single moment of the day, so that even if people were running from their burning houses they would all be carrying their ID cards with them. Until such a point the ID card scheme will not work for this aim. As it is, it will ensure a steady stream of work for the counterfeiters, if the problem is as acute as Blunko would have us believe.

*help protect people from identity theft - it can take the average victim 300 hours to put their records straight.

I wonder how they worked that one out. That is almost forty-three days, and what are they defining as 'putting the records straight', how long it takes to get new bank cards or passports? Even so, it's unlikely to be forty-three active days worth of effort. Unless the passport people go on strike again I suppose.

The press release then continues From October 2004, only holders of biometric visas will be able to enter the USA, so far I've only been able to find reports that the US is demanding Canadian passports to contain biometric data, not the whole world.

Public responses to the Government's consultation last year showed that 62 per cent of people are in favour of ID cards. This rose to 80 per cent in a survey of a representative sample of the population.

Have a look at The STAND website. The figure of 62% in favour has been achieved by ignoring everyone that emailed opposition through STAND. Now, STAND quotes the figures that the Home Office have given. They're accepting the views of 5000 people, and 4200 of which that expressed an opinion. Now, my maths is crap, but that works out as 2520 people in favour of ID cards. Now, assume the STAND site sent 5000 opinions, 96% of them would be 4800. That would mean that in total, there would be 30% in favour of cards and 69% against, a pretty ringing defeat there, especially considering the Home Office wasn't pretty vocal in telling people that this consultation was going ahead (see update).

As ever, I can only recommend you read the STAND report on ID Cards, if you do you'll have already made more of an effort than Government officials, then perhaps Fax Your MP and try and ensure they're on-side and against ID Cards, if they're Opposition MPs or rebellious Labour backbenchers you might like to point out the discrepancies in the numbers too, give them some ammo to help make Blunkett squirm. Genuine 'public support' has thus far been lukewarm, The Sun and The Daily Mail are keen as they think that it'll help stop these millions of illegal immigrants they imagine swarming into the country every night. The more vocal people are now, the greater chance that they'll swing round to support us later when the actual orders are made.

If you want an image, think of a black Labrador, licking your face. That's Sadie, licking you while her master David Blunkett's boot is grinding in to your face, forever.

UPDATE (13/11/03): According to a report in The Scotsman the Home Office have decided to ignore the STAND emails because it was "an electronic petition which is qualitatively different from ordinary responses from members of the public" according to the Home Office minister Beverley Hughes. However, as I've shown above, they HAVE ignored the STAND messages, purely because of the way it would affect the figures. Strangely, anyone who emailed them through STAND has become an unperson, which at least is good news for 5000 of us as unpersons don't need ID cards, we don't count as members of the British public who might be a tadge concerned about civil liberties erosions. It also shows the woeful IT ignorance of the Government, it was an identikit letter that was sent, not an e-petition...

The report also quotes the Association for Payment Clearing Services as being extremely doubtful about how good biometric systems are, having declined them themselves as not being advanced enough yet to work...

Hmmm, now I'm curious: What is the biggest flower in the philippines that starts with the letter R?.

Kettle Minogue declares pots to be black. Aussie pop rocket Kylie Minogue says she is "horrified" at the amount of sex portrayed throughout modern pop culture. Speaking ahead of the release of her ninth studio album - 'Body Language' - the 35-year-old singer said she often feels embarrassed watching music videos that go too far.

Flyboy on Pink. No, not like that you dirty people. Go read...

Hah! She got it wrong! Hah! Went to the Bisexual Underground last night with Plums and G. Saw Loz there too ( I don't know, we had two Lozs, two Lawrences, is this some kind of new ultra-incestuality where we all share the same name? "Welcome to Bicon 2004, here's your welcome pack and your name badge. Yes, I know it says 'Loz' but when you become bisexual you don't get to have any other name"). But anyway, got involved in a game of Scrabble with G and someone else. And the 'someone else' whipped our arses. Apparently while doing so her boyf was over the other side of the room going "who are those poor fuckers she's playing at Scrabble?" I never had a chance, not helped by the first five or six rounds having to try to find words to make entirely out of vowels. Still, at one point she had 'tilda', which doesn't exist. It is 'tilde'! If only I'd challenged her... I would still have come last but perhaps I would have at least got my score into three figures...

Otherwise I switched to coke far too early in the evening which meant I was still bouncing around at home in the early hours when my brain just wanted to sleep. Damn sugar rush, why do I never get one when it could be useful?

Monday, November 10, 2003

If you want a free calender for next year, The Open University Big Read calender is quite a nice one.

Claims by a former servant about Prince Charles cannot be true as he wouldn't have had the opportunity to witness the events say former valet. Well, that's just the kind of damning... conjecture that Charles needs to save his reputation.

Guantanamo cases go to top US court. Let's hope, though I doubt that it's going to achieve anything. But something needs to be done about these people. I can't even see that even the most insane, detached from reality, Conservative viewpoint could justify just keeping these people here and if the US government takes the view that they have no rights under the US system then by the same token the US don't have the right to hold them. It also exposes the US 'War on Terror' for the oil-grabbing, money-grabbing fraud it is. After WW2 the Nazis that were captured by the Allies were put on trial and granted the same rights as anyone else in an International Court of Law. The fact that the US don't seem to trust the International community to put these men on trial suggests that they fear the humiliation of these men being acquited of some or all charges if the US were to present them. But they cannot stay as they are forever and two years without rights is far too long as it is. Either charge these men or let them go.

Managed to squeeze out about a page of work on my book, I've never gone in for the Nanowossname thing because the chances of me finishing even a short story in a month is unlikely. But though the beginning and ending of the book are clear in my head I'm unsure of the entire middle, which involves having to spin things round several times in a 'magical realism' stylee. I'm beginning to think it was a mistake to have it involve the death of a man with no family, no friends, who kept himself to himself in a remote location. Really cuts down on the 'witnesses and/or evidence' factor.

Wow, look at this, the county I grew up in in unsurprising 'we want to remain prejudiced, thanks!' decision...

We really need your help!!

You may recall speaking to me a month or so ago regarding section 28 being kept in Kent and it's implications on young people. At the time I mentioned a day of action and an ongoing campaign that The Queer Youth Alliance is organising, we aim to go to Maidstone, Kent in partnership with Manchester Revo, Maidstone Youth Association, Cambridge University Students Union, and the Kent University LGB society along with several Radical LGBT Youth Groups from around the UK to hold a day of action outside Kent County Hall on Saturday 15th November 2003 at about 12 noon (only 3 days before Section 28 in the rest of England and Wales is officially dead and buried).

As you may know, in 2001 Kent County Council voted to create their own section 28, should section 28 be repealed they have a back-up. Section 28 in Kent takes the form of local legislation which applied to 600 schools, that's around 40,000 young people (of which 4000 are likely to be Lesbian, gay or bisexual). The Queer Youth Alliance feels this is wrong, Kent County Council cannot be allowed to continue to persecute young people this way by denying them the right to learn about sexuality.

The day of action will encompass signature-collecting, placards produced by young people, some street theatre and a peaceful vigil. Our aim to for Kent County Council to remove their home made restrictions on the 'promotion of sexuality in schools'.

Maybe it's time to visit the old home town again.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

John Simpson is all "They bombed me?! The fuckers!" in A Panorama Special: In the Line of Fire about how his newsteam got caught in friendly fire while in Iraq earlier this year. Firstly there's lots of bravado, before the war starts Simpson is coolly explaining how they might get thrown in an Iraqi jail when they get to Baghdad ahead of the coalition forces, then we see Iraqi forces deserting under attack from Allied bombers. You can't help but think that they are insane to be just driving around in Iraq like it was an afternoon drive, albeit in flack jackets. They meet up with Kurdish soldiers working with American troops who call in air strikes on Iraqi positions, often very close. As part of a convoy they feel safe because they're near special forces who are directing aircraft. And nearby some Iraqi tanks...

And then they get bombed. Utter devastation. Bodies everywhere, stored ammo exploding, injured people screaming, car alarms blaring. Then Simpson's shouting "it's coming back! It's coming back!" about the plane and they run on.

It's shocking, absolutely shocking and should be shown to anyone who's stupid enough to think that war is ever a good thing.

I've got to see this film. An unprecedented array of US intelligence professionals, diplomats and former Pentagon officials have gone on record to lambast the Bush administration for its distortion of the case for war against Iraq. In their view, the very foundations of intelligence-gathering have been damaged in ways that could take years, even decades, to repair.

A new documentary film beginning to circulate in the United States features one powerful condemnation after another, from the sort of people who usually stay discreetly in the shadows - a former director of the CIA, two former assistant secretaries of defence, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and even the man who served as President Bush's Secretary of the Army until just a few months ago.

Sir John Stevens, head of the Met, calls for the urgent introduction of ID cards, describes them as essential in the fight against terrorism but, it seems, neglects to explain how...

And if you look it up in a synonym dictionary, next to Mcdonalds is 'clueless tossers'... Something of a joycore article at Boingboing, McDonald's don't like Mcjob making it into the Merriam-Webster dictionary, defined as any kind of crap job.

you smell like butt
congratulations. you are the "you smell like butt" bunny. your brutally honest and always say whats on your mind.

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Do you want to feel bad about what you haven't done today?
Things Other People Accomplished When They Were Your Age.

...At Age 27

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. dropped out from his job at General Electric to become a full-time writer.

Henry David Thoreau went off for two years to live alone in a cabin at Walden Pond.

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space.

Memphis millionaire Frederic W. Smith, whose father built the Greyhound bus system, founded Federal Express.

Scottish botanist David Douglas discovered the Douglas fir.

Ernest Hemingway published his first novel, The Sun Also Rises.

Boston dentist William Morton pioneered modern anaesthesiology after learning that inhalation of ether will cause a loss of consciousness.

Went out with some friends to their kids school for a firework display. I seem to have rediscovered my liking for fireworks in the last few weeks after a couple of years of disliking them based on what I say was an increasing desire by the firework makers for less interesting spectacles in favour of larger bangs. But now there seems to be a reversal, going for pretty displays rather than trying to sound like downtown Baghdad. But a darkened school field, with entrance available to anyone who paid at the gate, my friends said after the display as they tried to find their kids, who had run off with friends as soon as we arrived, that it was difficult not to think of situations like Soham at times like this.

Another program last night in 'The Big Read' as the quest continues to find the nation's second favourite book (as Lord of the Rings seems to have taken up residency at pole position since the polls opened). John Humphries film for the merits of To Kill a Mockingbird was the best yet, ignoring all the fancy techniques that other celebs have used and instead relying on his own delivery, passages from the book and stock photos and film from the period. A technique Arabella Weir could have done well to copy as her lightweight push for the merits of Gone With the Wind relied too much on the faffing about of her Scarlett-playing actress, walking down the street barging people out of her way, walking through fields, being photographed in various poses in a police line-up.

Something of an interesting split along gender-lines has developed thus far. With the exception of Claire Short for the women and, to a lesser extent, Phill Jupitus for the men, the ladies thus far have all said something about what the book meant to them personally, while the blokes have tended to claim how good the book is for humanity at large. part of the argument of the women has been, I liked this book, so will you, while the men have been more read this book, it's magnificent. The BBC are collecting some data about voters, so it'll be interesting to see the age split between the male and female championed books at the end of it all.

Hmmm, just had an email from someone saying they can't read the comments on their 'old version of Netscape'. Anyone else out there having problems?

One of the magical machine elves that lives in my computer has sent me a message concerning this whole Prince Charles brouhaha. Hirs contention is that Mr. Windsor is not involved in rape (which hopefully means I can get rid of those images of Prince Charles going "Who's your monarch? Squeel piggy!"), but has had relationships with men for quite a while. This would certainly explain why he prefered Camilla Parker-Bowles to Diana anyway. As the machine elf points out, for someone who will be head of a major world church to have had homosexual relationships would be extremely embaressing to all concerned, for fairly obvious reasons. More here.

Meanwhile, that bastion of all that's great about British journalism, the News of the World, has decided to lead with Is Prince Charles bisexual? Apparently Sir Michael Peat, Mr. Windsor's closest aide, phoned a NotW columnist last year, when he was a press secretary to Prince Charles, as he was concerned about whether Charlie liked the boys as well as the girls. They also report their News International stablemate The Times as printing "The valet [George] Smith alleges that he saw the prince in a compromising position with another employee. It is not the first time Mr Smith has sought publicity for highly coloured tales of sexual incidents". The Independent on Sunday meanwhile says the heir to the throne is willing to sue George Smith for 'breach of confidence', which would certainly make us have to reconsider exactly how stupid Prince Charles is. If he wanted to come out to the nation there are surely any number of less painful and embaressing ways of doing it.

(It hopefully doesn't need to be said but just in case anyone is in any doubt, I don't care the slightest who's genitalia Prince Charles finds more attractive, my only concern is the various abuses of power involved, the possible ramifications for the monarchy and the CoE and the fact there are people that get millions of pounds of our money to fritter away each year and go around as though they are better than us. I remember when Jackie Mason appeared on 'Have I Got News For You', around the time Mandelson was outed by journalist Matthew Paris. He angrily criticised everyone because he thought they were having a go at Mandy for being gay, not realising that everyone was having a go at Mandy because he was unpopular and the gay thing was pretty much unimportant. Prince Charles is not being hypocritical as such, I don't remember him ever saying anything anti-gay, though it would make any future relationship between him as monarch and the CoE untenable, unless the later were to change their position over homosexuality. Maybe he'll come out on national TV and tearfully blame his parents again?)

UPDATE: It seems that even American papers are keeping quiet over the allegations about Prince Charles...

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Another CoE Bishop has foot and mouth disease: The Bishop of Chester, the Right Rev Dr Peter Forster, said some homosexuals could "reorientate" themselves with medical help. Tell you what, I'll seek psychiatric help if you agree to also seek psychiatric help for this compulsive lying disorder you have bish. I mean, men that come back from the dead, everlasting life, a lake of fire where we burn forever for our sins, you're taking the piss right?

The BBC's report on 'certain allegations' doing the rounds about Prince Charles. I especially liked the last section, and the line: The Mail on Sunday was blocked last Saturday from publishing the allegations but now says the situation regarding its plans for the story is "fluid". As I understand it, it's 'fluid' that is at the centre of these allegations. And while British news-sources are prevented from even talking about the alleged rape of a member of palace staff by Prince Charles, others need not be so circumspect.

Aah to be in New York so I can visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Men in Skirts exhibition...

Halley Suitt, one of the Misbehaving ladies doesn't like men in skirts. It seems to be hairy legs thing. While I favour ankle-length skirts and dresses myself, do we need a campaign to not hold transvestites to male-defined standards of female beauty? < very big grin >

It's interesting that most people seems to be concentrating on Jessica Lynch's criticism of media coverage of her 'rescue' in Iraq rather than vague allegations of bum-rape by those swarthy desert types who like nothing better than chucking babies out of incubators when they're not twirling their moustaches and planning world domination. I would have thought the conservative media would have loved a chance to put the boot into the previous regime but they seem to be uncharacteristically shy about it. It can't be that they're waiting for proof of the allegations.

I've been forgetting to mention all week but issue two of Smoke is out. I haven't read it all yet, but on flicking through it seems to be even better than issue one. They're getting stocked in quite a few places now so you don't really have any excuse do you (unless you're not living in London but even then you should be coming just to buy this really)?

Friday, November 07, 2003

That wacky Melanie Phillips... she's updated her website to include comments for each of her articles, there's no proof yet that she reads or takes part in those conversations, at the moment it seems to be mainly people disagreeing with her. But perhaps you might like to go and question her why she insists that Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israel are the same things (as she does here) or her insistence in Barnet last week that Britain needs a 9-11 style attack to 'put right' it's views on Israel and Palestine. If Anti-Semitism is unacceptible, perhaps you might want to ask her why she feels anti-Arab sentiments are okay.

Someone pinch me, please... Portillo to stand down as MP. < does the happy dance > Even the fact that he says he wants to pursue opportunities in the media (ie: more telly shows) doesn't depress me, after all, you can turn the telly off...

I'm avoiding the reviews for Matrix Revolutions because I don't want to be spoiled. But I've seen them enough to know they are not good, not good at all. I'm hoping that everyone is saying it's awful because they don't understand it, and not that everyone involved has completely lost anything approaching the plot.

I'm back at The Greenhouse today, outside it's chilly but inside it's so warm we're having to open windows and are seriously considering turning the fan on. Hence the name. I seem to have been doing little more than stock weeding this week. On Tuesday I was here and finished my weeding of the non-fiction, yesterday I was at The Cube and weeded their large print books (and it seems only recently that publishers have considered the idea of making their large print books still look visually attractive, I was pulling books off from the mid-nineties with horrible basic design schemes and the appearance of something from the 1960s. These are books for people with reduced sight, not the blind!), now I'm back at The Greenhouse and pulling out fiction. Fiction weeding can be quite difficult to do. On the whole, non-fiction you can pull off if it hasn't been without within, say, a year, because in a public library if it hasn't been out for a year it might well never go out again and the information in it will be out of date. Travel books, depending on when you're weeding them, might be okay if they're a year old but much older than that and it's time for them to go, even if they're still going out, because the information is out of date (I remember doing a travel book buy a few years back when there was an earthquake in South America, pos. Colombia? Anyway, the next day I went int to work and crossed the Colombia Rough Guides, Lonely Planets etc off the list as I knew the information was now out of date by default).

Fiction is a bit different. It doesn't really go out of date, just people's attitudes (such as with Noddy and his Gollies). I find it a bit more difficult to do as you have to try and judge books on the grounds of 'no, it hasn't gone out this year but could it become popular again? Is this the kind of author for whom there might be a sudden resurge in interest?' and I hate having to make those calls. So I've probably pulled some stuff off which I could have left on, but if you take that attitude you'd never weed anything.

Years after we all stopped caring, Suede call it a day. I did only get into them with their third album Coming Up but then going back and getting Suede and Dog Man Star I realised they were so much better. The pairing of Anderson and Butler produced great songs whereas apart they were both rubbish. Suede Mark Two had a few great songs, based around the keyboards of Neil 'Lizard King' Codling, but were rocketing in to irrelevence. I heard that at their recent ICA week long residence tickets for the second night, where they were performing the songs that make up their second album, Dog Man Star, were being touted for around £1000, tickets for their final and fifth album night were being touted for less than what the ICA had charged.

This Steve Bell cartoon in the Guardian makes a good point. Why are Blair and Brown fighting when the Tories are, relatively speaking, in their strongest position to attack since 1997? Overconfidence?

OK, to up the library related content on this blog by 0.00000000001%, Tori Amos' new album is called Tales of a Librarian. I should point out that despite being a Neil Gaiman fan, and a friend of Neil Gaiman fans, I've never managed to get through one of Ms. Amos's songs without wanting to knock myself out with a medium-sized planet. And quite why she's made up like Cybil Shepherd on that album cover I don't know, I'm just glad she's not been forced into a tweed skirt and pince-nez glasses.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

From the Blimey! How did that happen? desk, I seem to have got included on a blog of library-related weblogs. I've obviously been far too bored recently...

Another interesting perspective on the situation in Iraq from Healing Iraq.

The tabloids have been using the same old photo's in the last few days as the trial of the man ACCUSED (i.e: NOT YET PROVEN TO HAVE DONE, for the benefit of the slow people in the media) of the killing of schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman begins. I think everyone in the country must now be familiar with the three pictures now, of the girls wearing their football kit, of the accused, Ian Huntley, looking like a mental defective, and his girlfriend Maxine Carr who has been given the starring role in her photo as Myra Hindley: The Next Generation, despite the fact that no-one ever suggested that she had anything to do with the actual murders, whether or not Huntley was involved. By the end of it if Huntley and Carr aren't guilty they may wish they were, and the tabloids will be attributing miracles to Saints Jessica and Holly. What remains to be seen is whether their parents will slip away into obscurity or take it upon themselves to try and get the law changed so 'nothing like this can ever happen again'.

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