Sunday, February 29, 2004


This article by Chris Hitchens claims that Mel Gibson denied the Holocaust in a Reader's Digest interview about The Passion. Don't suppose anyone can confirm or deny this?

You can find the website for Starsky and Hutch here. You know you want it.

It does seem that the Democrats may have a good chance of overthrowing George W Caesar Augustus Germanicus. Therefore should Democrats work for a Bush victory in the Presidential election? In school history lessons we were taught about the principle of retreating armies burning the land and seeding it with salt to make it unfit for the following army to use to sustain them. Although in the last four years Dubya may not have retreated at all he's certainly sewn salt around him, alienating foreign countries and ruining his economy, while preparing an attack on the principles of the Constitution. If a Democrat were to win, most of his term will be spent undoing the damage Bush has done, which will certainly involve doing unpopular things to the economy. This could cripple him and his party, come 2008 and possibly for much longer. The public punishes a Government by voting them out at the next election. But they then tend to blame the replacement straight away if things aren't sorted out. If Kerry promises things that Bush's handling of the economy doesn't allow him to do, all people will remember at the next election is that Kerry lied. It won't matter why. Will Bush give up his dream of a second term in the White House in the name of full Republican domination of the political process from 2008 through to maybe 2020?

Therefore, is it better to allow George Bush to be at the helm when the American economy hits the iceberg? To have Cheney, Rumsfeld and all the rest playing as they sink? What's better for the world, a Democrat in charge of the White House, or Bush, who launched two wars when his country was in a stable state but is now sliding into meltdown?

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Yeah, so of course I'm scared. Sometimes. I mean, terrorists on one side may drop off anthrax at any time because it matters not to them if we all die because they've convinced themselves that they'll go to heaven because they're sure that if you read between the lines of their holy book of choice what God actually meant was "I gave you free will so you'd choose not to use it. Follow these laws which I made up using one of those origami fortune teller things and then deal with your intellectual impotence by fucking shit up!". Then, on the other hand, are the fascists that took 1984 as a good starting point, not a warning. "In the Commons today David Blunkett announced the end to jury trial, the end of the right of appeal and the mandatory death penalty for all crimes. 'War is Peace!' He announced. 'Freedom is Slavery!' He added to approval from the backbenches. 'Ignorance is Strength!' He quipped as Clare Short was ripped apart by rabid dobermen." I don't have much faith in the benevolence of either side towards my freedom, or indeed continued existence.

So I look for my continuity in the past. I don't know where I might be going so I seek to understand from where I came from. Unfortunately most of the evidence is gone. In the last few years of her life we did try to encourage my Nan to talk about her life, it was hard work and we didn't have a huge amount to show for it, my abiding memories are her talking about when my Dad led the church choir in to the Christmas service one year, or how as a young girl she played Emily in 'The Ni**er Play' which I frankly didn't want to hear any more about.

I only really got a look at her large photo collection after she died. It's a real shame because there's so many photographs, even in the small selection I've seen, that I want to ask her about. People who would have been Great-Aunts and Uncles that I want to know about. It's like Shooting the Past, I want her here to explain to me where it is I come from.

Instead, I have to make do with the occasional scribbled note on the back of a photograph. This one has an address which is near Catford, in South-East London for you out-of-towners, and says 'our new house'. There's no date but I would guess from my Nan's age it was the early 1920s. The children are, left-to-right, Frank, Bill, my Nan Lillian, and Nell, all of whom I assume are her siblings. There's another photograph I haven't put up of a terraced house that my Nan wrote on that was where the family lived while the men were away fighting in World War One. Of course, that photo and this one weren't taken by Nan, so my question would be about who took these photos? Her father? What was he like?

I suspect this is one of the oldest photographs we still have. These are my great-great grandparents, my Nan's maternal grandparents. Proper Victorians, though again there's no date so I don't know whether this photo was taken while Victoria was still alive though as my Nan was born around 1910 it's a good chance. But all I knew of these people before seeing the photo was their names on a family tree my aunt had done a few years ago. There don't seem to have been any important personages on any of the branches of our family tree, always common as muck and Londoners without being Cockneys.

This is my Nan's uncle as an angelic choirboy. His name was Walter but apparently he was always called Mick. Unfortunately he was run down by a horse and cart while working but Nan doesn't provide details about when.

This is my grandfather who I never knew as he died when my father was young. It was always difficult to get my Nan to talk about him, I know what he did, how they'd go to Covent Garden to get the cheapest seats to see opera, but it was difficult to find out what he was like, though there's a noticeable physical resemblance in the men in our family. It came as a surprise even to my father when Nan revealed he was partially sighted due to a couple of accidents.

So perhaps I want to take photographs to aid my often poor memory which I'm half-convinced is in the early stages of CJD. And maybe I want to learn about and preserve the past to reassure myself that these were all people that had a past and future and there is no reason why I don't have both as well.

The Tory MP who made the joke about drowning cockle pickers has refused to apologise and insisted that as she was talking at a private party she has nothing to apologise for. She's on very dangerous ground. Yes, she was talking at a private event. Yes, as most jokes are based on xenophobic, racist, homophobic, sexist grounds we probably all do tell our friends such jokes every day. However, if I told such a joke and someone found offense, I would at least say "sorry" and then move quickly on. Also, being a public servant may well mean that one of the things she has to sacrifice to do the job is this ability she has to speak without thinking. It doesn't really matter if she was misreported or was reported by another MP for purely political reasons (and I think she overestimates how important she is, as though the entire Labour party was devoting it's entire time to bringing her down) but all that's needed is for her to show some fucking decency and apologise and then we'll take her whining about her treatment a bit more seriously.

Remember that Pentagon report last week that said that global warming was an actual and real problem, that Pentagon report which Bush ignored? He's also going to have to ignore 60 of the world's top scientists, 20 Nobel Laureates among them, get[ting] together and writ[ing] one of the most scathing, damning reports in the history of modern science, aimed squarely at BushCo's thoroughly atrocious record of cover-ups and obfuscations and outright lies regarding the health of the planet. But, like global warming, or the lack of evidence for WMD or indeed that most of his friends are crooks with the morality of mayflies, I dare say Bush can ignore this too. He's just so damn good at it. At least huffing and puffing over gay marriage has made almost everyone forget that he still hasn't shown any proof about his national service all those years ago.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have apparently been standing in for Richard Bacon on x-fm all this week. I only realised this today. Balls. But Simon has said that, although they'd like to do a third series of Spaced the problem is finding the time, having spent the last two years on Shaun of the Dead. So they might just do a couple of specials.

New just in; Dubya vows to ban gay sex on the moon. Two memes for the price of one.

You'll never hear me saying "I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen."

Rather predictably, Mel Gibson's 'not anti-Semitic in any way' film about Mister Jesus has generated anti-semitic feeling from Christians and perpetuating the whole 'blood libel' thing.

For Friday, you should download this excellent Mario cartoon Part One, Part Two & Part Three before Nintendo wake up and let loose with the C&Ds, 'Grey Album' stylee. In all sincerity, more moving than Matrix Revolutions.

Clare Short reveals the UK intelligence service bugged the office of the UN Secretary General. Yet again the redoubtable Ms. Short crawls from under her rock to insist that Tony Blair was personally involved in the latest Iraq war intelligence case du jour. What's next? Blair was the second gunman on the grass knoll? Geoff Hoon was the cameraman on the faked moon landing films? Tony Blair should consider himself lucky, if this information was going to come out, and in this case it's not Clare Short making a new accusation but confirming what the GCHQ mole had said, then he's lucky that it's Short and not someone with an ounce of credibility. Every time she opens her mouth, not only is she condemning the Government but moreover her role in it. She quit her job, eventually, because she didn't think Tony Blair was interested in helping poor Iraqi babies. Yet her morals weren't outraged by, in this case, a breaking of international law, by bugging the Secretary General of the UN.

The ever-excellent Steve Bell on Bush's anti-gay marriage stance.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

My sister's dog has gone missing. It has a collar and one of those chips in it but has been missing since Monday with no luck. The omens therefore aren't great, although a dog could probably live wild for that long. It did escape once before and was found half a mile down the road.

I did honestly want to watch the program on BBC2, What the World Thinks of God, but it's got Sister Wendy on it and when her first words are "I think God is a very personal, undescribable thing..." I knew we weren't on to a winner. It's also got Sean Hughes who looks like he's struggling to keep a straight face.

Popped next door after work today to see my landlords and discuss the plumber that I had to call last week to fix my boiler. I gave them the bill, which I'm now beginning to worry was a mistake, and they said they'd discuss what they were going to do. What's there to discuss? They should repay me what it cost to get the boiler fixed! They've had all evening so I'm now wondering what's taking them so long. Are they going to pay me the money? Am I ever going to see that invoice again?

I bought New X-Men #153 yesterday, the penultimate issue of Grant Morrison's run. In common with most of his recent output I've found it disappointing, the continued repeating- sorry, reimagining of old themes. It's clearly supposed to be a story about evolution but the characters, almost all of which by now are Morrison's own characters (only Wolverine isn't if you want to be technical, as Morrison reimagined Beast as soon as he came on board) seem clumsy grafted on to it, as though this was something Morrison would have prefered to explore as some crazy project of his own. No real attempt is made to justify what happens any more, so Esme is a traitor. Why? Because she is. So Magneto is able to take over New York with no difficulty from all the super-heroes that live there because he managed to lure them out of the city with a fake bomb scare. Why? Because he did. And let's not go anywhere near issue #150 when the most powerful telepath on the planet isn't able to stop his sworn enemy, in a weakened and exhausted state, from killing a creature who is supposed to be a goddess. The story is driving the characters, not good.

After the last issue comes out I'm thinking of writing an essay on the entire series. You've been warned.

Ahh, the ever-cynical and sarcastic speechwriter. Gutsy and not afraid to speak up or clash with authority, his dry wit is amusing. But under it all he's just a big teddy bear... and the world's biggest Yankees fan.

:: Which West Wing character are you? ::

One of the things that would tempt me to dump Blogger full-time for LiveJournal is that latter's friends option where you can get a feed of what your friends are writing in their LJ. This seems to do something similar for blogs just so long as they have RSS feeds, which already sounds far too complicated to bother about...

It's strange, A Lib Dem MP expresses sympathy for Palestinian people and gets sacked from her position and people call for her resignation. A Tory MP insults two different ethnic minorities on seperate occasions yet there's hardly an uproar.

It must be getting harder for Conservatives to ignore or attack the credibility of the people coming out to tell the truth about life in th Bush regime. The latest is Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked in the Pentagon. Although a Conservative and with almost twenty years of service to her country she resigned because she saw American intelligence being directly hijacked by Donald Rumsfeld and his Orwellian Office of Special Plans in order to manufacture the case to go to war.

You gave your life to the military, you voted Republican for many years, you say you served in the Pentagon right up to the outbreak of war. What does it feel like to be out now, publicly denouncing your old bosses?

Know what it feels like? It feels like duty.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Cambodian monarch who last week supported same-sex marriages now announces he's not gay.

Apparently someone with the name 'Tom Adams' accused him of being gay. Because he supports gay marriage. As you would only do if you were gay. Or you were 'Tom Adams' and had a brain the size of a pea. And were desperate for some m2m action.

"After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilisation," Mr Bush said.

"It has been proven, both scientifically and in the Bible, that women are mentally and physically inferior to men, and therefore should not be allowed to vote. And those coloured people positively enjoy working in the fields."

Oh wait, no, it's all right, he's just talking about denying rights to gays and lesbians.

British National Party member sues people for calling him racist.

Mr Lee said in an interview with London's Evening Standard before his Bexley [2002 local council elections] defeat: "We want an end to all new immigration, all applications cancelled, anyone in hostels or prison sent back. Clear 'em out. They've only been here 50 years. It's the blink of an eye. It's time to start celebrating our own culture - Britishness. When was the last time you heard someone stand up for white people?"

So clearly, not a racist in any way then.

Irritatingly cute/sickening game du jour, Balloon Piggies. [via B3ta]

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

According to the Grey Tuesday website EMI have decided to respond in a sane and sensible manner to twenty-four hours of protesting by sending cease-and-desist letters to the websites hosting The Grey Album. Now that's the sort of behaviour that can turn a grey day in to a grey week or a grey month. All these companies that protest that they have to 'protect their copyright', never realising that by doing it in such a heavy-handed way they just draw attention to it. Just ask McDonalds and the McLibel Two...

Today's passing obsession:

But perhaps we all have that same 'software' factory installed... Could it be that we instinctively and defensively also keep some factory-installed software "hidden" so as not to detract from vitally needed memory or other active tasks in that complex "computer" we call the brain?

The queen basically keeps the workers uninterested in reproduction on their own by secreting a pheromone. This chemical is spread from body to body among the workers starting with those tending the queen. The basis of any number of dodgy episodes of sci-fi/fantasy stories of course. Time to find some more interesting applications...

(Off-topic: Eons ago a starfaring race came to Earth, intending to help the humans with impending floods... their ship crashed and they were stranded on Earth, minus many of the specialists and materials that were needed to accomplish that mission. It's the 'B' Arc isn't it?)

Blair says the release of the Cuba detainees was 'a difficult decision'. "On the one hand, they are British nationals who have not been charged with anything and for most of which there is no evidence of wrong-doing. Most of them were picked up in Pakistan rather than Afghanistan. On the other hand they're pesky Darkies who we see no reason to give a shit about as we follow George W. Bush into his Brave New World." He was NOT quoted as saying.

"Scrap the license fee, sack the Governors, force BBC to charge for digital channels" Conservatives are urged by committee that just happens to have been headed by someone who used to work for Sky TV, part of News International.

It's the show that everyone at Fox and News International will be put on the phones for, Panorama on the seventh of March investigates to find out [w]hat's the point of the BBC?

Monday, February 23, 2004

I've finished reading through all the London Bloggers. Now I have to fight back the sad librarian part of me that wants to go through it again and somehow get rid of all the defunct links, dead blogs and spam links...

Solitatry [sic] Christianity is as unsatisfying as solitary sex.

Obviously it depends on what flavour jam you use. Mmmmm, blueberry...

I'm a bit bemused about all the bad feeling going around about Ralph Nader deciding to run for US President. Ignoring the fact that Gore didn't actually loose in 2000, blaming Nader is simply an excuse for his personal failings. As Michael Moore said about a month before the elections, if Gore supporters were making pleas to Nader to step down and put his support behind Gore then that really meant that Gore was admitting defeat early, and he should be stepping down and urging Democrats to support Nader. What's disappointing is that the US seems to have an electoral system which stops almost all the people in the country from trying to stand for the job when the consititution is supposed to be about everyone being free to try anything they want. Instead US citizens get to choose between the party that supports the rich or the party that supports the ultra-rich. So, supposedly the stakes this time are 'too high' to risk having Nader stand as a candidate. Gee, maybe the Democrats would like to suggest that Bush is also prevented from standing so they have a better chance but let's face it, the Democrats could loose a one-horse race. Maybe the solution is to stop whining and concentrate their energies on getting the message across to the public about where Bush's manifold failures and problems are and what their party would do to make it better.

Meanwhile, meet the crackpots who think Dubya is too much of a lefty.

Are you ready for Grey Tuesday tomorrow? I must admit I didn't think that much of the album when I downloaded it last week...

God, iliadawry has sent me a link to a Patrick Buchanan article in a Conservative magazine, No End to War, and I'm finding I agree with large sections of it. This is obviously extremely distressing. I would only say that I agree more with the first half of the article, with Buchanan's views of the current political situation in relation to Frum and Perle's book, than I do with the second half, which I'll come to below. In Shakespeare the fool had license to say things to the King that no-one else could, so perhaps we can feel better if we present this as the wisdom of the fool:

Indeed, it is because Americans cannot see the correlation between the wars the authors demand and security at home that Frum and Perle must resort to fear-mongering about holocausts, the end of civilization, and our demise as a nation.

And in the second half of the review, where Buchanan leaves behind the book to navigate the choppy waters of the influences of Those Who Sit Behind Bush in Darkness and we must carefully navigate the waters of Anti-Semitism being used as an attempt to shut down discourse. There's this fascinating comment:

National Review’s response was to brand Zinni an anti-Semite. In a separate column, NR regular Joel Mowbray not only accused the general of having “blamed the Jews,” he insisted that the term neocon, in common usage for 25 years, is now an anti-Semitic code word for Jews.

Which would at least explain what Melanie Phillips was on about in that article I wrote about on Friday. It reminds me of David Icke and the lizzzzzards. The Left were convinced he was talking about Jews and not admitting it, the Right were convinced he was talking about Jews and wished he'd admit it, and David Icke was trapped in the middle convinced he was talking about lizards and wishing people believed him.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

I'm dashing through the last parts of The Koran at the moment, I have to return it to the library on Tuesday. But at the risk of bringing a fatwah down on my head I'm rather troubled after reading the chapter called 'Prohibition'. If it were read by someone of a sceptical frame of mind, who might consider Muhammad to have been an epileptic rather than a prophet, that person might consider that it was written less with divine guidance but by a man who has some standing as being holy to try and get himself off the hook with one of his wives who saw him sowing his oats where he shouldn't have been. It might have reminded this person of the Christians who in the eighties and nineties got caught in various sex scandals that brought them low. And this person might wonder why Allah thinks it's more the fault of the wives for catching him at it then the Prophet for playing away. This person, having read this far through the book, might also be wondering exactly where the bits are that liberal Muslims claim are highlighting how the religion is so good for women...

I hope that Patrick lives well inland and has a large larder, seeing as even Dubya's experts are telling him the climate is fucked then I think 'the special relationship' means that surely the US won't dump us when global warming floods our country and makes it as cold as Siberia?

Top episode of Bremner, Bird and Fortune tonight. Especially when it was pointed out that if Kerry were to become President that would be very embaressing for Blair trying to justify what's happened in post-war Iraq.

Thanks to friends of the non 'illusory, they live under the bed' kind I've got a hold of Map Music by Andrew Hodson. It's not, or shouldn't be, commercially available, but instead is, or was, given away free by arts and book shops in Newcastle. It's supposed to be listened to while riding the tram, divorced from that it's okay, although rather derivative of the more ambient moments of the Boards of Canada/Four Tet/A Silver Mount Zion stuff I've been listening to a lot recently.

As advance warning, if you happen to go into Gosh comics on Wednesday and see someone gesticulating excitedly at the comics, that'll be me. I'm hoping to use a comics buying exercise as an opportunity to read some early Cerebus stuff without having to pay for it myself.

So had the divine Ms. Plums up for the weekend, originally it was supposed to be everyone to hers for a birthday party, that's got put back to next weekend which I won't be able to make, because of the sudden announcement of Mono and Stoaties wedding in (my brain is telling me Hackney but I'm almost certain that's wrong) so that involved getting up early on Saturday morning, going down to Kings Cross to meet up with loads of other Barbeloids and then, after loading up with provisions catching the bus to possibly-Hackney. We had been told the service started at midday and that if we were late we wouldn't be let in, the bus got to Kings Cross at 11:40. We got to wherever it was we were going at about 12:15, so you had the sight of half a dozen of us, stunningly dressed I must say, running up the High Street in best Four Weddings stylee. However, things hadn't started when we got there so we got to mingle with all of the Stoat and Mono's Stokey friends before taking our seats. Stoatie was resplendent in best punk-chained denim suit, Mono a lovely thrift-store white dress, Stoaties Best Woman was in a fierce red rubber dress while Mono was being given away by a Moomintroll-elf who had been in Mexico twenty-four hours previously.

It was one of those days.

Then back on the bus to head back into town to some vegetarian Indian restaurant near the Angel Inslington for the marriage lunch, then a pub for the afternoon, where we annoyed the straights by sitting at the only free space, underneath a huge screen showing the rugby, and by being a lot more excitingly dressed than most of them will ever know. Lots of chatting was done, Plums was braiding people's hair with wool as she fought the urge to give up giving up smoking and I was chatting to everyone, including Miss Spooky, Jack's girlfriend, who I've never really talked to before. People were getting ready to move on to another pub around seven o'clock, I was tired and cold, having sacrificed wearing thick warm clothes in the name of looking stunning, so headed home. I was really tired, so had something to eat and then collapsed in bed.

So, this is odd. Anyone coming to live in the UK after Thursday will have to publically pledge loyalty to Queen and Country. This makes a number of rash assumptions about the loyalty of people that already live in this country. I wonder why Blunkett assumes that, as someone that was born in this country, I have any loyalty at all to Brenda or the country that he would dearly love to turn into Facistopolis?

Friday, February 20, 2004

Got Plums one of these for her birthday.

In music news, go over to Die Puny Humans where Warren Ellis has been spending the week pushing music.

Otherwise, I'm currently listening to Missy Elliott's Under Construction. Does she really have to start each track with "this is a Missy Elliott exclusive". Shouldn't that be a given on a Missy Elliott album?

I am no longer a frostbitten Flowers! Called a plumber this morning who has just been and replaced the automatic air vent and now my flat is flodded with blessed warmth!

An old article but an interesting one, Ending Biblical brainwash.

You can download the episode of The Moral Maze from the end of January in which the downgrading of cannabis is discussed. It stars blog favourite Melanie 'You don't have to be anti-Islamic to be me... oh wait, yes you do' Phillips. It's extremely funny. The first thing she says is to admit that tobacco and alcohol are harmful and that cannabis shouldn't be decriminalised because it would be 'adding to the harm', yet she doesn't seem to advocate anywhere that tobacco and alcohol should be criminalised. She believes cannabis does 'a unique kind of harm to society', as opposed to the harm that alcohol does by making people depressed and violent, to impair someone's judgement so that they might try to drive a car when their co-ordination is poor, or the strictly run-of-the-mill kind of harm that you get from smoking, including diseases and cancers of the lungs.

About seven minutes in it's Melanie Phillips versus Howard 'Mister Nice' Marks, she quotes reports that list the harmful effects of cannabis and asks Marks why he doesn't believe them, he replies that he's read other reports that state just the opposite. She then accuses him of choosing to believe the report that says cannabis is okay because he was a drug smuggler. Unfortunately Marks doesn't point out that she's chosen to believe the report that says cannabis is bad because of her self-appointed role as moral guardian of society. She accuses him of selecting the data he likes. He points out that he's aware that both exists and that at this point of time he is inclined more towards the 'harmless' data. She asks him about his drug use and tries to say that it makes him psychologically inclined to believe cannabis is harmless. Again Marks is probably too much of a gentleman to point out that writing for the Daily Mail makes Phillips psychologically inclined to believe that things were better in the good old days when the lower classes/blacks and women knew their place, there was no questioning of our social betters and the sun never set on the British Empire. How many cigarette smokers believe they should be criminalised? How many people that drink want us to bring in a prohibition against alcohol?

At the end of his interview (around 11 minutes in) Phillips comes back and Marks actually accuses her of dismissing evidence that doesn't fit her argument. She just flat-out denies that the reports, from an Australian research institute is unreliable, but Marks humorously badgers her to explain why she doesn't accept it and she doesn't. It's quite fun to hear her get flustered as he lets her refusal to explain show that while there may be reasons for concern (Marks doesn't deny that cannabis psychosis may be a problem but that evidence doesn't really exist to support this being serious enough to keep cannabis illegal, he's happy for the public to be warned of the dangers to drugs (which personally I find sensible as cigarette packets tell you that they'll kill you and we have don't drink and drive adverts on telly)) that Phillips view is based on personal dislike of the drug rather than genuine concern. (25:40 and a professional in the field has criticised her for putting across inaccurate and misleading information in her Daily Mail articles, ha ha!)

Interestingly Phillips mentions this all in her blog, mentioning the Howard Marks thing only to kick 'trolls' on her site (which elsewhere she says have forced her to drop comments from new entries). I would point out that she doesn't linger on her defeat, prefering to turn the discussion onto Israel via the Hutton Report, the clear implication she would like us to take is that because one of her opponants is wrong about a part of the history of Israel therefore all her opponants are wrong about anything where their views differ to hers.

Finally, check this entry here.

'The National Theatre is to pile on the agony for the Government later this year by staging a new play about the Iraq war by the Left-wing playwright Sir David Hare.' Mel Brooks made a film called The Producers, whose plot revolved around a musical called 'Springtime for Hitler'. This was a side-splitting joke. Now Sir David Hare is evidently about to do for the Protocols of the Elders of Zion what Leonard Bernstein did to Romeo and Juliet.

Now, someone might have to explain the Romeo and Juliet reference to me, but I've looked at the Telegraph article that has her up in arms. Sir David Hare is preparing a play about the Iraq war and the British and American Government's involvement in it. Nowhere in the article are the Protocols mentioned, or Israel, or Jews. So her response has me baffled. This must be great if now anti-semitism can be used as a charge not just against attacks on Jews but also attacks on conservatives of any religious persuasion. Perhaps Phillips is privy to information about the march to war and Israel's involvement in it that the public don't know about. Would she like to share it with us?

Thursday, February 19, 2004

About fucking time.

But not all of them have been released yet, and we mustn't forget that the UK has it's very own Guantanemo Bay, where people are held without any rights.

[via daily mail rehab]

Big Mouth Strikes Again...

So I didn't keep my mouth shut during the team briefing this morning and ended up volunteering myself to do a mini-display in the library, based on book awards. The idea is that we put up the lists of nominations for various book awards so that people looking for something to read go "Wow, these books were voted for by a bunch of rectally-damaged chimpanzees who eat human kidneys for fun! That must mean these books are shit hot!" But, as well as the Richard and Judy book club I've also got The Big Read, the W H Smith book award, the Booker-sorry Man-Booker Prize and the Orange Prize. Can anyone think of obvious mainstream British book prizes I've missed?

Oh horror! Scrawn and the Boy Lard are leaving Radio One. Admittedly at twenty-seven I'm probably squeezed out of Radio One's demographic anyway (which I think is now people who find the Tweenies too intellectually challenging or still believe calling women 'birds' is wit of the highest order) and, no, I haven't actually listened to Radio One for a month or two, but it gave me a little twinge of pleasure to know that the two Marks were doing their thing on a station they didn't really fit any more. Last time I listened, they had Robert Plant on to talk about Led Zeppelin. On Radio One!

Oh well, the only radio I regularly listen to is The Remix on X-FM, Radio 4 comedy (Absolute Power is a must!) and Mixing It on Radio 3.

In what I promise I'll try to make sure is the last time I mention Julie Bindel until the next time she says something offensive, there's another perspective at Transfeminism.

But I am fifth in a Google search for Julie Bindel evil.

Is this the best picture the BBC could find to illustrate that Lord of the Rings was the nations favourite book? It looks like it was done by someone who hadn't read the book, so didn't realise that Gandalf was a wizard not a pirate. And something very strange is going on with Tolkien (for I assume it is he)'s hair...

At last, the truth about Dubya's military record.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

And as ever, thanks to Plums for helping me pull out of a nosedive...

Grrr. There should be a law which means that any proposition along the lines of 'I believe x is wrong because my Holy Book of Choice says so' is automatically ruled invalid and anyone within hearing is legally entitled to give the speaker a slap. Whenever I hear someone talk proudly of their religion what I hear is "Me no like thinking. Thinking makes brain hurt. Tiny book think for me. Tiny book good. Brains for eating, not thinking."

(This does not count for the two or three people I know for whom religion is merely the start, not the end of their existence and who coincidentally believe in equality for women, equal marriage rights for gays and that Dervla Kirwen appears in far too many TV programmes these days.)

I think... I may possibly hate everyone in the world right now. Let me check...

Which Family Guy character are you?

Yep, I hate everyone...

Where the fuck is my landlord? Tell me the family hasn't gone off for a week's holiday because it's half-term... If they don't show up soon then fuck it, I'll order a plumber myself and bill them.

And now it's time for Blunkett's Totalitarian Tips: "This week I are been mostly creating a national database of unproven suspicions and allegations." So, do you think there is some way we can get an MP mentioned on there for noncery or something? Blunkett for bestiality perhaps?

Jenny Tonge MP, who was forced to resign as a frontbench Lib Dem spokesperson last month for opinions inaccurately described as supporting Palestinian suicide bombers, has visited Palestine for the BBC. Her report doesn't say much that other reports haven't already mentioned and, like them, will probably be ignored.

At last, a candidate for the US Presidential capaign has emerged that could unite all factions of the left and would have George W. Bush quaking in his cowboy boots. Yes, do your patriotic duty Americans and vote Gay Penguin for America!

Just finished reading Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country? which was a great read. I did spot a few errors, such as Moore's assertion that Osama Bin Laden couldn't have been behind the Sept. 11th atrocity because he's on kidney dialysis. Ummm, OK. But there's good stuff in there too, nothing as stupid as his essay from the last book about how everyone in Ireland should convert to Catholicism to end the conflict there (stupid only in that it was the wrong tone for the rest of the book). His chapter on how the WTC disaster could be the work of Saudi Arabia was interesting (though I think it conflates Al Qaeda and The Taliban). The one thing that doesn't add up is that the Taliban were negotiating with the US to supply them with the oil that the US has now got through bombing out the Taliban and installing their own stooge and Saudi Arabia has always been worried about who has access to what oil, so I think Moore's inference that the Saudis caused the WTC disaster BECAUSE talks between the Taliban and the US broke down needs examining, unless the links between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family were thicker than the oil it was obvious that the US would have access too onec they took over Afghanistan.

I recommend that everyone reads this book, especially if you happen to live in the States and your first name is Patrick. Moore makes a compelling case. I'm not saying it's right, just that I think it's worth considering, based as it is on reputable sources. And you'll probably enjoy the chapter where he admits mistakes the Left in the US has made, on the numerous times he bashes the Democrats for failing to be an opposition.

Mwahahaha! My local MP has invited me to one of his 'tea parties' to chat about issues that concern me. Unfortunately it's on a work day so I don't think I'll be able to go, what a shame.

Brain fingerprints under scrutiny. This sounds rather like that nineteenth century belief that bumps on the skull determine criminality. I'm also dubious about why this new form of 'truth detector' is being wheeled out for a Death Row appeal, was there no way for the inventor to get the machine's supposed ability verified without something as important as this? If I were a judge I would be doubtful about any judgement given by the machine if there were no other coroborating evidence.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Why does your central heating always break down at nighttime when you can't phone your landlord or someone to sort it out?

For anyone interested in comics and especially Grant Morrison's stuff, this person has been writing some great stuff about Animal Man recently.

It would seem that the only question left in the Senator Kerry and Alexandra Polier story is where did those quotes come from the woman's family describing Kerry as a scumbag come from? Today Ms. Polier denies there was ever anything between her and Senator Kerry and her family think the Senator is great. Seeing as News International was the first to track her down and the tendency of their Fox arm to act like Pravda for the Republican party, suspicion must be placed on them. But barring any more twists in the tale it looks like this is another Kerry rumour that has been debunked.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Horrible Sky One 'straight men unknowingly date a MtoF transsexual' show will be shown next Sunday evening.

Of course, I can't recommend you go here and download this album because that would be illegal...

Oops, look like I spoke too soon, she's been found, her name is Alex Polier and suddenly everyone who knows her is eager as anything to talk about how Kerry pursued her.

Still no news about Senator Kerry's mysterious and possibly non-existant 'other woman', but at least one picture doing the rounds, of Kerry sharing a platform with Jane Fonda, has been revealed as a fake.

I'd like to see how the conservatives try and smear him... Archbishop Desmond Tutu tells Blair and Bush: Apologise for 'immoral' war.

Well, it's even better than the real thing, the Dishonest Dubya doll.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

The other Osama and a film I must go see as soon as possible...

Yep, everyone's favourite bigot is now on Livejournal. Check it out before the real deal complains or, worryingly, says he likes it...

Curated by Fällt designers Fehler, 'Invisible Cities' offers the opportunity to experience an intimate series of portraits of the world's cities painted with sound.

"My name is Loz and I am an introvert."

I am an Intellectual

Which America Hating Minority Are You?

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Saturday, February 14, 2004

Some mixed-to-cloudy news in the battle to keep Britain out of Blunkett's Big Brother state, Government forced to rethink ID Cards plan after being told passport and driving license agencies databases weren't accurate enough for task. This is good because something that is seperate to those can't be sneaked through by piggyback legislation (which is what I believe was going to happen, correct me if I'm wrong) and now Parliament might have to vote directly. But the bad side is that the Government signalled it intended to create a ID card-specific database and no Government IT scheme has ever come in on budget and on time. So this could be another chance for Crapita to get loads of the people's money for turning in a substandard and buggy piece of software.

A worrying hour or two in the afternoon. Was at the Greenhouse for work today and we noticed that some teenagers were outside, they seemed to be exchanging words with someone, and then they were picking up bricks and hurling them at him. Not in our direction thankfully. Then what must have happened was that both parties circled the library in different directions as they met on the other side and another brick was thrown which slammed into the window a few feet away from where I was. Luckily the glass was strengthened, the caretaker reckoned it hit the window flat on, so made a loud noise but didn't really hit it too forcibly. Luckily the youths weren't interested in the library but I made sure that the member of staff who was getting picked up phoned to make sure her lift was waiting for her when we finished work, didn't fancy the idea of any of us hanging around in the area any longer than absolutely necessary, but though the packs were circling there wasn't any more trouble.

But when the fear kicks in and you immediately turn Conservative for a minute, "the police? A fine body of men who do a very difficult job, let down by a few bad apples. I think they should all be armed and allowed to shoot anyone they don't like the look of" until you calm down and sanity returns.

Looking through my notes of graphic novels to buy for The Closed Library I realised that, in my haste, I'd written down that I simply must buy copies of all of Grant Morrison's 'GLA' titles. Images of 'The Comic Strips' Strike! (starring Al Pacino as Arthur Scargill) began running through my mind. Unfortunately, you can't cast any further than Ken Livingstone as Superman and Trevor Phillips as Steel because no-one knows who any of the other Assembly members are...

David Blunkett's got a blog dedicated just to him, Big Blunkett Blog.

Managed to find the Guardian letters page for last weekend, which carries some letters of complaint about that Julie Bindel article. As Auntie mentioned in the comments, one of the letters is from Julie Hesmondhalgh, who plays the transsexual character in Corrie. My favourite letter might well be Since when was it feminist to make ignorant generalisations about a marginalised and vulnerable group?

However, the Guardian, predictably, isn't apologising, though their column title might make you think they are.

The column attracted about 200 letters, nearly all of which I have read. There was clearly an international lobby at work but this by no means accounted for all the mail.

Chuckles, the article is on your website, it can be read by anybody IN THE WORLD.

The editor of Weekend said: "We [run] vigorous, opinionated and provocative columns on a whole range of subjects and this is something I'm keen to continue and protect ... There are very many times that we disagree with our columnists, sometimes vociferously, but that is not the point - we are not looking for consensus.

"In this case, we thought that what Julie Bindel was writing was particularly interesting because it came from her - a lesbian activist for the rights of women and children. ... She is a rare kind of writer who puts her money where her mouth is."

So, Bindel's views on transsexuals are inherently fascinating because she's a 'lesbian activist for the rights of women and children'. OK, just not transsexuals or sometimes not gay men.

So, which came first, Bindel's prejudice or her investigation in the subject? The concerns about the relationship between psychiatry and transsexualism isn't new. But she does go too far.

Most people who change sex rely on adopting traditional appearance and behaviour patterns to enable them to 'pass' as their chosen gender. Men who change to women rarely dress in jeans or wear their hair short, instead striving towards an extreme form of femininity, presumably to contrast as much as possible with the way they looked as men.

Galloping generalisation alert! Two things, if you're having to jump through hoops for the magic recommendation from the psychiatrist that you are really a woman after all, might that not influence your presentational decisions a bit? And my Mum, who is either a woman born woman or has a LOT to explain to my sister and I, almost always wears dresses. I can't speak the lingo, but isn't there a theorybitch term like signifiers or something, isn't Bindel defining women by what they wear rather than what they are? I do think that if Bindel cast her net a bit wider she'd find plenty of women that have cast aside her stereotypes.

A final thought. If Bindel was confronted by an m-to-f sex worker, would she explode?

The backlash against the whitewash surprised the Government. So much so that when it became necessary to hold another inquiry, this time into whether good, honest Mr. Blair was misled by evil, wicked intelligence types, they learnt from the mistakes of the Hutton Inquiry. So that there's no danger of people predicting before the publishing of findings that it's bad for the Government because they've heard the evidence, this inquiry will be held in private. That way, when the Government are absolved of any responsibility we can sit back and relax, knowing that there was nothing underhand in that decision and we can watch 'I'm an ex-BBC Executive Get Me Out of Here' and never have to trouble ourselves to worry that our Government are a shower of lying, spinning, toadying fuckers ever again.

However, as issues to do with our Government's preparation for war rely so heavily on their government's preparation for war (Blair was determined not to have another inquiry right up to the point that the US Administration decided it would be the best way for Dubya to try and wriggle out of his hole), is the decision for the inquiry to be closed to pulic gaze anything to do with this report about the American inquiry, that the Senate panel will also look at whether the administration accurately used the information. Very few people listened to the evidence in the Hutton Inquiry and didn't come away thinking that there was not evidence tampering and it's on this very point that the Liberal Democrats decided not to take part in proceedings. Blair will resist this change to the inquiry strongly, but it is vitally important that this inquiry is to be far reaching and open. And, considering the number of times a piece of legislation is examined and gone over before it becomes law, I don't think the Government can seriously claim that the issue of how they handled information is dealt with in the Hutton Report and that's an end to the matter.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Biased BBC Blog. There are some people who think that the BBC was baised for years. That is perfectly natural. On the other hand, here are those select band of weirdos who are of the 'BBC full of dope-smoking, beard-growing, communist-lesbians' school.

As part of my spending on new stock for the Closed Library (£5000 for science fiction stock! £1000 for graphic novels!) I came across the lists of Science Fiction Masterworks and Fantasy Masterworks. Now, I'll definitely be buying these, we've had some of them in the library before and they are generally very well produced and packaged. But when you look at the lists the one thing you get almost immediately is that the lists are very male. I don't know a huge amount about the Golden Age so it's possible I'm missing a few who wrote under pseudonyms, but of the sixty or so Science Fiction Masterworks there's Ursula Le Guin for three books and Sheri Tepper for one, compared to the eleven Philip K. Dick titles published so far, or the four Arthur C. Clarke books in the series thus far, which doesn't yet include either 2001 or a Rama book. The Fantasy Masterworks is similarly dominated by the Y chromosome.

Is this simple prejudice or lack of knowledge of decent female writers? Of what I've read and enjoyed there's a lot that I would hesitate to call 'a masterwork', but if Moorcock can get in with stuff that he often says he knocked off briefly in the sixties you have to wonder how seriously the 'Masterwork' tag is meant. So, based on the lists I've linked to above, is there anything missing that you think merits being a 'Masterwork' by a female writer?

Another triumph for multiracial Britain: High performing schoolgirl not allowed to wear hiljab to school. Luton council say they have a 'flexible uniform policy' and that they consulted with local mosques and Islamic groups before announcing what was an acceptable uniform, yet claiming health and safety reasons for not allowing her to wear the hiljab at school is ridiculous. It'll be interesting to see what the next excuse is.

Alex Blur rails against the Brits. To be honest, who cares? We're going through a period of smothering corporate control of what music we get to see on mainstream TV and radio, with them also trying to stop me hearing music online despite the fact that most of the albums I have or will buy in the immediate are stuff I heard from Flux, Said the Gramaphone or Radio Three's Mixing It.If it gets worse before it gets better there is only one way this will end. The major record label's stranglehold will hurt their bank balance and their ability to control the market will loosen and let fresh talent in again. Optimistic pessimism see? The Brits and the Mercury and everything, they were always bollocks. The only difference was when Jarvis Cocker wiggled his bumat Michael Jackson, they were entertaining bollocks.

A National Guard soldier at Fort Lewis, Washington, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of trying to pass information about military capabilities to the al Qaeda terrorist organization, military officials said. Why couldn't he use internet chatrooms for trying to pick up underage girls like every other American soldier? Anderson allegedly offered to pass the information to al Qaeda agents through an Internet chat room, Pentagon officials said. But it is not believed he actually made contact with al Qaeda members, the sources said. Presumerably he was stopped because the CIA thought it would be embaressing if a US soldier found Al Qaeda using the Internet when they've been looking for them for years.

There's a rumour circulating about a sex scandal including Senator Kerry and an intern who has now 'fled to Africa' and is conveniently unavailable to either confirm or deny these rumours. Expect this weapon of mass distraction to be fired sometime between Kerry becoming the official Democrat candidate (if he does) and the elections. If the rumour is discovered to be untrue, expect to hear that only when it's too late to make a difference...

UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph is running the story (needs registration), but that seems more or less it so far over here. They aren't saying much about the nature of the claims, more about who is saying what about it. It would seem that so far no-one wants to give it too much credence until there's proof.

Some Friday fun... The 213 Things Skippy is No Longer Allowed to Do in the U.S. Army. Once upon a time, there was a SPC Schwarz stationed with the Army in the Balkans. SPC Schwarz was either very clever or very bored; but probably both, since he managed to attempt or be warned about 213 things he wasn't allowed to do...

10. Not allowed to purchase anyone's soul on Government time.

29. The Irish MPs are not after 'Me frosted lucky charms'.

118. Burn pits for classified material are not revel fires - therefore it is wrong to dance naked around them.

194. Shouldn't take incriminating photos of my chain of command.

195. Shouldn't use Photoshop to create incriminating photos of my chain of command.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

He doesn't have comments, so I'm forced to say: But while MTF's have not been "made" women in the traditional, de Beauvoirean sense of the term, they are women none the less, as the result of a physical illness that has resulted in a malfunctioning physical sex... yes, they are "sick" but not the way homophobes mean it. They're simply physically ill.

Um, no. Okay? I know it's difficult for you to understand, what with being a kid and all, but the grown-ups are talking now. Geddit?

I've just watched the first episode of Jake 2.0 on Sky. Or at least, I think I did. It slips in to the brain and out again without troubling much along the way. The characters (if that isn't to strong a term to describe them) are bland and formulaic, there's the dumb frat flatmate, who isn't too dumb and fratty, there's the love interest that Jake just can't bring himself to express his attraction to, the bosses, the doctor who keeps taking her glasses off so we see how attractive she is. But there's not one funny line in the pilot. There's also no cringeingly bad ones either. I can't remember any line at all.

We're also talking science-fantasy here as opposed to science-fiction, running into a dark corridor Jake pauses and his nanite-infused blood somehow increases his visual accuity, but he seems to run back into daylight without his eyes needing any time to adjust to more light. He also has telekinesis for some reason, it's repeatedly referred to as the ability to interface with machinery, but by the end of the show he doesn't need to touch it to control it.

This show positively screams that it was designed to fight an hour of otherwise dead air, rather than trying to pretend that there's a greater story involved. I'll give it another couple of weeks and if it hasn't made an impression by then I won't even need to remember to forget it.

They're actually showing that fatist Toyota Corolla advert again. Watch closely, at the moment that woman picks the keys out of the bowl she makes a 'let's get this over with' expression, a 'none of them are going to want to go with me' expression. Not a victim? Yeah, right.

Don't forget, check STAND and Spyblog for the latest on the Home Affairs Select Committee on ID Cards.

I'd like to think that this is extremely accurate...

Which British Literary Period are you?


1660-1785--Pope, Swift, Johnson. Times they are a changing. You're very cynical and you like looking out for the little guys. You have a sense of humor a lot of people just don't get.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Peter 'Shut That Door' Mandelson comes out from under whatever stone he was hiding under to attack some Labour backbenchers for questioning the Government's honesty. This is Peter Mandelson who, let us not forget, had to resign from the Cabinet TWICE due to his own dishonestness.

Slightlyfoxed directs our attention towards the first transphobic article in the Guardian of the year from Julie Bindel, who seems to have been drafted in to fill the seat left vacant by her near namesake Ms. Birchill. Possible good points that she might make if taken on their own are knackered by the fact that when she deploys them here they are to the detriment of, mainly, MtoFs, who are, you guessed it, blokes in frocks. That's presumerably why she decides to segue from rapists and serial killers to the story of a Canadian MtoF who had sued an organisation set up to counsel rape victims when they refused to train her as a counsellor. Now, I would have tended to come down on the 'I think it unwise for a transwoman to be a rape counsellor' side of things but then I came across this page which, about two thirds down, mentions that Nixon was herself a rape survivor, and this post which suggests that Bindel's problems with transsexuals are old and numerous.

Call me old-fashioned, but I thought the one battle we feminists won fair and square was to convince at least those left of centre that gender roles are made up.

Shit, I must have missed school the day that the headmistress called a special assembly to announce that one. It couldn't be that < gasp > people might disagree with her opinion, aren't as well read as her or (in the case of the part of her rant where this quote comes from) don't expect to have to have a philosophical argument in order to use the little girl's room?

If you are tired of being stared at for snogging your same-sex partner in the street, have a sex change.

Surely that statement is offensive to every queer and transsexual in the known universe?

An excellent bit of Fisking of Lord Hutton's findings.

So my current working philosophy works out as a kind of optimistic pessimism. I'm pessimistic about the state of the world and our species, as with yesterday's post. However, I'm fairly optimistic that humanity can be persuaded to act in ways that affect the slope of this decline and the speed our handcart traverses it, instead of going straight down at high speed I think we can reach a gentle slope at a slow trundle. The longer we can hang on to the catastrophe curve without tipping over it the greater chance that more of us will be able to survive.

With that in mind, today I are been mostly interested in Scenario Building.

Pity poor Dale Steinrich, he's watched Fox's coverage of the war last year in order to catalogue the lies.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Right, how I see this panning out is this way... we're screwed. Me, you, your family, your friends, people you've met, people you know, the people you pass in the street, the Z-List celebrity you keep locked in the cupboard under the stairs that you don't think I know about, 'Betty Ford Clinic' indeed... Strangely, this screwedness probably includes a lot of people you see on TV. Most politicians are screwed. Almost all musicians are screwed. Michael Jackson wouldn't have been screwed until quite recently but now his complete madness and the allegations, whether true or not, of his kid's-pants-rummaging have landed him squarely into the screwed category.

I've been browsing transhumanist and extropian websites a bit today, mainly inspired by reading Warren Ellis columns, as these seem to be things Warren Ellis likes a lot. And just as $cient*l*gy is a religion that only the rich should approach, it seems transhumanism is likewise a philosophy that only the insanely rich can benefit from.

The last time I sailed the internet in search of these topics I found a lot of stuff that was the equivalent of bullied geek revenge fantasies through more hardware, the unpopular kids that got bullied at school would upload their brains to flawless steel bodies and go in search of the jocks that kicked the crap out of them before partying out eternity. What little I've looked at today sounds both more measured and mature. But it's a rich kids sport.

I'm not sure when I accepted the screwedness of a large proportion of the human race. I suspect it was 2000-2001, it might have even been post September 2001 when a lot of us saw those twin towers fall and our main reaction was "Oh shit, what's Dubya going to use this for?" I don't blame Dubya for this screwedness, but he was the lens for a vast acceleration of the screwedness. It's possible that, come the day, he might be chucked to the screwed-over hoards to be ripped apart while the unscrewed make their escape.

Basically, around this time a new phase in history began. Humanity is dividing in to two races, you can call them what you want, the Morlocks and the Eloi if you want, but it's more brutally honest to call them the screwed (that's us remember), and the screwers (in my original draft I called them the fucked and the fuckers and I was tempted to keep it, but some people react very strangely to perfectly honest words so I decided to moderate my language slightly to try and avoid giving them an excuse to ignore the meat of it. Mmm, meat...). Here's how I think it's going to work.

There are people on this planet that you cannot convict of any crime. No matter the proof they have the money and power to bury you so thoroughly that even conspiracy journals will most likely think it was natural causes. Within the next ten to fifteen years you will know each and every one of these untouchables by name. They will be open and blatant about it. And why not, you cannot touch them so they have nothing to fear. They will have learnt from the state of (mainly) American politics at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, their teachers were Clinton and Bush, Rumsfeld and Campbell, their tests are marked by Blair and Cheney. They will still use the courts because they are in many ways socially conservative, and will need to reassure themselves that they are doing things the proper way. No one but the screwers believe this.

Within a decade of that government gives up the pretence of being for the people and becomes the means by which the screwers manage the screwed. Now, this isn't necessarily a completely bad thing. Taxes are proportionally lower than today, but only because the screwers not only control most of the wealth they also control all the means of production. They can therefore be kind to their vanquished foe. If they took all of our money and all of our food and we die, then they have to subdivide amongst themselves and fight. They will learn a measure of generosity because it will ease their own survival. Some of us will be looked on with the same condescension as some of us look towards the Third World or Arab countries today, where some of us mistake difference for backwardness. You will get charity from the screwers, Comic Relief for the screwed. Their culture will move away from whatever remains of screwed culture but at the same time, elements will remain the same, in twenty-five years time there will still be a publication that likes to pretend it writes for the left which has a fat idiot on who thinks that goatee beards are a good idea spouting bilge. The screwers will choose certain parts of the planet to be for them and them alone. They might claim some historical reasoning behind this but they wouldn't need to. They won't take Israel or any of what are Arab lands today. Too 'hot'. The screwed inhabitants of these lands will be forced out, if they're lucky, or killed, if they aren't. There won't be any outcry. One of the nice things about this world is that, when the screwers talk to the screwed, they've abandoned the current pretense of pretending it's for the screwed's own good. But there is less and less actual communication between the screwers and the screwed.

Once there is a clear demarcation zone between the screwers and the screwed, enforced by law, then you'd see the screwers really embrace the things their money can buy. Religions will become openly about money, as I said earlier, the phoney religion can thrive in this environment and the others will adapt. Genetic engineering will become the norm. Cornea implants to allow instant access to the net/TV/databases, personality backups kept in junk DNA stores in hair follicles, age-retarding, age-reversing, sex-changing, new-sex-developing. With the screwed having to do things by the slow, ugly, old-fashioned way of trial and error we will see our status downgraded to the point where a screwer who kills a screwed will merely earn some mild tutting for a waste of material. But there will be scientists and philosophers on hand to prove that we don't feel pain or fear death like the screwers (i.e.: real people) do. We are there to service the screwers, as Eric Lehnsherr so nearly remarked, the overrace can't be expected to clean their own toilets and take away the garbage.

By their own standards the screwers of a quarter-century hence aren't bad, indeed for survivals sake they will have to turn to loosely left-of-centre for survival, the rabid right-wing government of a Sharon or a Bush would be wildly destabilising in the rarefied world of tomorrow. But when I say left-wing it's left wing compared to them, centrist is probably the best we could hope for.

Stress comes due to the scarcity of resources. You will be able to identify the screwers as, once we reach Hubbert's Peak, they'll be the ones who have petrol for their cars and have no restrictions placed on their rights to travel. And, if that comes before they are segregated from us, they'll kill any number of us necessary to get it. We could well have wars which no one, not even the most rabid right-winger, could seriously deny was a war about oil. Maybe it's already happened.

So, perhaps something like a mission to Mars should be welcomed and encouraged. The sooner the screwers see virgin territory (it lacks oil and coal of course, but we're pretty much ready to start making more use of the energy the sun gives out) the sooner they'll be happy to leave earth and us behind. We become a spent, zoo planet being watched over with benign eyes by the posthumans from Mars. It will be the posthumans that go on to meet the future, whether that destiny is to create something like the United Federation of Planets or something that may be positive instead. The human race will go on, but we won't even be mentioned in the footnotes. Without the screwers looking over our shoulders and grabbing the first thing that looks promising, we might even be able to have some halfway decent sort of life.

This is the broad brushstrokes of how I think things will turn out. I don't think it can be avoided now and I don't think the masses will win, even though the screwers will largely consist of Americans and Chinese. All that cannot be guessed is how bloody the transitional period will be.

Predictably David Blunkett has claimed that ID Cards would have prevented the death of the cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay although he doesn't go in to any detail as to how ID Cards would prevent illegal workers from working illegally.

Monday, February 09, 2004

The reason New Labour are having problems winning hearts and minds over ID Cards (and please, if there's a 'silent majority' in favour then all that matters is the vocal minority against it. If you can't get the millions of people who didn't march against the war to march for the war then their opinion has no place in the debate and should be ignored) is that they are dealing with the problem in such a a boring, old-fashioned twentieth-century way. Much as I hate to admit it, piggybacking it in on the back of passports and drivers licenses is actually a smart thing to do, but it's been forced upon them by public opposition to the scheme, not by themthinking that it was actually a good idea in and of itself.

I was thinking of this when looking at a friend's Livejournal profile, which gives spaces for things like ICQ and Messenger IDs for all those annoying little chat programs that the kids seem to like these days. And Warren Ellis, in a collection of his Bad Signal columns bunched together and spewed out by Avatar, saying about his die puny humans blog was somewhere for him to put all the links to stuff thatinterested him that he could access from any terminal with web access. Now, none of this is new information and we all use our blogs for much the same thing, but walking the cold mean streets of London today it got me thinking of armbands.

It would have to start with armbands. Unfortunate Nazi-esque imagery I know, but sub-dermal chips would probably come later. Forget CARDS, they are passe. Also, you have to present an ID Card, which means you put down whatever you are holding, fiddle around in your back pocket/purse, then struggle to get the bugger out and give it to the security guard. It's a hassle. Promise people something which allows you to do what you want to do with genuinely no effort on their part and they'll be happy with it. So, your armband would have a chip sewn in to it. Now for all the hipster kids this would contain details about your ICQ, email, blog, personal reality transmission codes, etc. There's nothing to stop you carrying your blog around with you for that matter, 'I've just come from the 'Nature of Panic' exhibition over the river. Don't go, it's shit' (you can get digital watches these days that are more intelligent than the dear old 48K Spectrum I had when a sapling, so the days of always-on, always-connected computers that are as powerful as what we use now but not much bigger than a credit-card or a thumb-nail must surely reach us before the eschaton, after all, look at the capacity Apple are reaching for small music players), all of which is controlled by blink-click eye-controlled cursors projecting a screen on to the inside of your sunglasses (if the police think it's difficult to enforce a law to stop people using mobile phones in cars, how are they going to stop people using computers projected onto the inside of their sunglasses?).

Now, you offer something like that to the cool kids (and I'm just projecting what we use today onto the technology, they'll probably have something different and attuned more snugly to what exists by the time we catch up with them) but say, oh by the way, part of this chip will have details on your name, age, address etc, the technology that allows your mates to read your card will allow government officials to identify you just as easily, then I think they'll still go for it. The more you piggyback on current technology the more it's accepted.

This is Labour's problem, it looks and sounds like a tired old party. In 1997 it was either looking for radical solutions to problems or, perhaps, it was able to make itself look like it was looking for radical solutions to problems. But for the next election we already know that Peter Mandelson and Alistair Campbell will be helping out at Labour HQ to co-ordinate the campaign. They're both very good at it, after all Alistair Campbell has been able to lie and not just get away with it but practically get congratulated for it, but while Tony Blair still has the power and authority to make changes, in all other respects New Labour doesn't look much different from John Major's Conservative Government. And you've got the Conservatives who have turned the dial on the radio and are now broadcasting a completely different channel of 'hopeless'. Michael Howard started strongly but seems to have come unstuck in recent weeks, quite how he managed to make a complete pigs of the absolute gift he was given in the form of the Hutton Whitewash is something that will mystify politics students for decades. More worryingly for Conservative spin-doctors his speeches seem to be drifting into the territory of thinking that the public will be nostalgic for the good old days of the early nineties when the Tories were in power. Seeing as there's often little difference between the politics of the two parties this approach will tend to encourage apathy rather than a Tory vote. They should start coughing "Poll Tax" behind him until he gets the message.

New Labour have to work out how to become New New Labour. The only way to do this while avoiding a spell in opposition (hopefully) would depend on whether Tony Blair genuinely loves his party more than his career as a world statesman. If the former were true then he should give the leadership to Gordon Brown, not Blunkett who I think wouldn't be supported by no-one other than Lynda Lee-Potter in the Mail, and become the Professor X of the Labour movement, act as a headmaster looking at developing ideas and talent behind the scenes to send through to help Gordon 'Cyclops' Brown fighting Conservatism.

I realise that most of the proceeding is completely impossible but there's something liberating in writing it none-the-less. That's what you get when I'm blogging while listening to The Shamen's Boss Drum. But there's more...

I never checked any of it out so I don't know what exactly happened over there but I hope that Howard Dean's complete and total failure to get any kind of vote (which humorously Newsnight over here seems unable to grasp, whenever they cover the Democrat elections and whatnot they always ask about what chance Dean still has, even when he's coming third) doesn't turn politics off using new technology to try and reach out to people. An article I read somewhere over the weekend was all about how Conservative success in the last twenty to thirty years has been due to them taking hold of the debates and twisting them in such a way as to make the left-wing forced to debate it on the right's terms. The gap between the two is closing again but the left is probably marginally ahead in terms of the know-how to use technology to try and prevent Bush actually winning an election for once (Patrick: don't bother).

Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase 'God is my copilot'.

They wanted me to pass it on, so that's what I'm doing...

>Every American, at one point or another, comes up with a Big Idea, be it a get-rich quick scheme, a scientific
>discovery, or some other entrepreneurial mission. We at Stay Free! would like to hear about yours -- your
>lemonade stands, your unusual consumer goods, your quirky business plans -- especially projects that you
>seriously pursued (if only for a few hours).

>If you don't have any revealing stories of your own then tell us about a friend's. We want it all: the inspiration, the
>buildup, the followthru, the result.

>Of course, in some cases you won't need to get into the details. It's up to you. Responses can be anywhere from 2
>sentences to 3-4 paragraphs, and should have some basis in reality.

>Send to ---->

>Here are the results of two similar queries to give you an idea of the format:
>Ever Been Fired?

>After breaking up, what do you do with your ex's stuff?

I'm sorry, but if you found this website by searching for The Nature of Panic and 'review' or 'opinion', then I'm afraid I thought it was shit. I wouldn't have thought it was possible to put on an exhibition in a small a space as the gallery and for it to look bare but this exhibition managed it. Some, what?, six or seven prints, mainly of a humorous nature such as someone apparently running along a cliff edge, with the colour filters turned up (a la that Doves video Here Comes the Fear or whatever it was) in a futile attempt to add some drama to dull snaps. And the text was similarly uninspired. You have to rely on your friends to get you through? You can be doing something that is actually very stressful yet strangely the panic attack doesn't kick in? Waste of space, waste of time. Avoid.

Seeing as Michael Palin has gone everywhere in the world it seems fellow-Python Terry Jones has no choice but to go everywhere in time. Tonight he goes back to the Middle Ages to show what life was really like for your commoner in Terry Jones's Medieval Lives. His shows on Romans and Egyptians last year were great fun so this shall be more of the same. I wonder if the last episode of this series will be on life for a king.
"Must be a king."
"He's not got shit all over him."

Can I just say, that Kelis track is one of the most boring half-arsed singles it's been my misfortune to hear in a long time. No wonder she goes for the T&A and 'two round objects as metaphor for my breasts, DO YOU SEE?!' approach in the video as otherwise it would have sunk without trace. And is MTV2's output just the work of Zane Lowe and one other guy? Do they have no other staff/presenters there? Still loving the Scissor Sister's album immensely though.

OK, we all know astrology is a load of cock (I say whilst looking over anxiously at my Tarot and rune cards), but we know that while individual actions can't be predicted mob actions can, so isn't it possible that astrology could be seen as having some relevence as it predicts the actions of a mob of Taurans or Cancerians? Of course, the main flaw in this is that proper scientists actually look at the mob whereas Mystic Meg looks at the stars then tells you what you are going to do.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Ah bless them, at least they tried. Channel 5, in an effort to distance themselves from their image of being the purveyor of crap American daytime telly, made-for-TV films and seventies sex comedies were showing a serious documentary tonight, just like grown-up channels do, about a woman with a strange neurological disorder. So how did they start the show? Playing Basement Jaxx Where's Your Head At?...

After visiting them for The F Word, it looks like I'll be heading back to fairly soon. There's The Nature of Panic from now until the 22nd of February, then A Taste for Life from the 27th until the 14th of March. The former is about panic attacks, the latter about the Fairtrade movement which will be ten years old this year. Both look fascinating.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Well, it's now starting to look as if Dubya really did skip his military service after all. Still, it's not all bad. He skived off so he could start out on the lowest rungs of his political career, so at least he never made the mistake of claiming he wasn't where he should be for ethical reasons.

And if you look below this post you'll probably see a comment from Patrick along the lines of how this is 'old news' (as though this were somehow a valid counterargument) or something similar.

Venusberg is back, for a certain value of back...

There's an interesting entry from rodcorp that I came across in my London Blogger reading (in which I just noticed that Creepy Lesbo's favourite person is registered as living just up the road from me. She doesn't support her local libraries though, for shame! :)) about (loosely) cities and stories.

What Italo Calvino considers the drawback about writing stories about Paris so setting them in New York instead I consider the boon when I write stories set in London. Wondering about how much we have to write to bring London to life, or whether by existing in it we already make the city alive for some certain value. Certainly when I bring myself to read Iain Sinclair's poncy psychogeographical perigrinations (wonderfully sent up in Issue 2 of Smoke if you can still find a copy) of London I wonder that, if we take the literary life of London as a form of consciousness whether this is the scratchings of the organism displaying self-awareness and investigating itself, as opposed to all the irrational daydreams that make up the rest of it's mind. Are the Samuel Pepys diaries part of the leviathan's memory?

The Independent has a poll saying 51% of voters think Tony Blair should resign while 54% think he lied to the country about the threat Saddam Hussein posed, that the Tories are 1% more popular than Labour while he is in charge when, with Gordon Brown in the drivers seat Labour have that 1% lead instead. 68% meanwhile think the new intelligence inquiry is going to be a whitewash. However, in The Guardian, they report that most backbenchers still support Blair for taking the country to war. As Jim Hacker once pointed out backbenchers are more important than the public because while the public can only vote you out every five years backbenchers can get you out by the end of the week.

Friday, February 06, 2004

For several people as well as me...

A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly, your wholeness when you are broken, your innocence when you feel guilty, and your purpose when you are confused.

I swear, next you'll be training them to be librarians! Primate Programming. But you know it's a joke site, tests have shown that apes can only handle simple tasks like working for Microsoft or [insert generic US administration joke here to annoy Patrick, maybe something involving Dubya and nepotism]. [via Metafilter]

(Oh, and don't forget, we rock!)

The museums and libraries of Iraq will be important to future rebuilding of the country to help the people remember their culture. Last year a team of American specialists were sent to evaluate the state of the Iraq National Library and Archives after the war and reported looting. It's an interesting report (the section of the archives that contain information on Iraq after Saddam Hussein came to power has been almost completely destroyed, with evidence pointing to items not assicated with normal looters) even if you're not particularly interested in libraries (and so therefore are obviously sub-human scum) and is here. [via the Middle East Librarians Association]

Found this interesting blog that links to articles in the UK and beyond to do with Freedom of Information issues.

The Royal Society is up-in-arms about the prospect of Baroness Susan Greenfield being elected to join their ranks. They insist that her credentials aren't up to snuff, not that it's anything to do with her having girl parts. But frankly this whole thing about it being an insult to more eminent scientists who haven't joined is trying to ascribe higher motives than this thing warrants. Politics is in everything and to try and pretend that just because she was in Hello! magazine or knows who Kylie Minogue is that she's therefore famous just for being famous is sour grapes. Hopefully the scientists who threaten to resign will follow through and then perhaps those scientists that Greenfield shouldn't be elected ahead of will take their place. Then everyone's happy!

The Independent has been given details of the legal defense the BBC lawyers were suggesting that the BBC use after the Hutton Report was published, pointing out the legal errors Lord Hutton had made. Instead, with Davies and Dyke gone, they rolled over and apologised unconditionally. Is this possibly because those in the frame to replace the Chairman and Director General are proteges and friends of Lord John Birt, the much disliked previous D.G. that Dyke replaced, who now has a high position in 'policy' and 'blue skies thinking' in Tony Blair's cabinet?

Does anyone have an MP that's on the Butler Commission in to the mis-use of intelligence in the lead up to the British involvement in the invasion of Iraq? You might want to forward them this article which suggests that, even if you accept that Dubya was genuinely misled by 'bad intelligence' to believe that there were WMD in Iraq (as opposed to being misled by 'bad intelligence' from Rummy and the 'Project for a New American Empire that Shall Last for a Thousand Years!' cabal), that the British Government were prepared to deliberately plant misleading stories and distort intelligence about the terror capability of the Iraqi regime. Keyword: Rockingham. Tie that in to the Jonathan Powell "what will be the headline in the [Evening] Standard on the day of publication?" comment and it looks very interesting indeed. Everything leads back to Jonny and Ali C.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Oh wonderful, I've been locked out of Barbelith AGAIN and have just found out that Tom has buggered off to the States. There's no way of knowing how much of a disruption Callo is causing to the board because the locked out can't post on there to say "hey, we're locked out" but at the moment even the fact that Tom's put hours of his life and tons of his cash into keeping the place going above and beyond the call of duty I'm still fucking irritated that there is no second in command for matters of board security, or considering the number of times that Tom and I have emailed one another over the last month he doesn't bother to contact me whenever he cancels my account. No, I email him and he always generally says "Well, maybe you're Andrew Callo," and it takes several days for him to get around to unbanning my account. If it wasn't for the fact that his forum is the only way I can keep in contact with most of my friends I'd tell him to shove it and walk away.

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