Sunday, February 29, 2004
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
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.
Friday, February 27, 2004
Thursday, February 26, 2004
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?
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? ::
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
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.
"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.
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.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
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?)
Monday, February 23, 2004
Obviously it depends on what flavour jam you use. Mmmmm, blueberry...
Meanwhile, meet the crackpots who think Dubya is too much of a lefty.
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
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.
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.
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.
Friday, February 20, 2004
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?
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
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]
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 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.
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...
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
(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.)
Which Family Guy character are you?
Yep, I hate everyone...
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.
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Monday, February 16, 2004
Sunday, February 15, 2004
Which America Hating Minority Are You?
Take More Robert & Tim Quizzes
Watch Robert & Tim Cartoons
Saturday, February 14, 2004
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.
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?
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
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?
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.
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
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?
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.
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
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?
With that in mind, today I are been mostly interested in Scenario Building.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
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.
Monday, February 09, 2004
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).
>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 ----> firstname.lastname@example.org
>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?
"Must be a king."
"He's not got shit all over him."
Sunday, February 08, 2004
Saturday, February 07, 2004
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.
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?
Friday, February 06, 2004
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.
(Oh, and don't forget, we rock!)