Saturday, January 31, 2004

Another American state wants to take it's schools back to the dark ages. Georgian state education officials, led by a Creationist by the way, want to remove the word, but not the concept (for now) of evolution, from teaching in their schools. It is interesting how, having lost the argument in the public sphere, Creationists now seem to go for the kids through indirect means, teach kids evolution and they'd know the Creationists were full of shit, so the Creationists try to prevent them being taught the truth. I wouldn't mind so much if there were some sort of limits put on what jobs a Creationist-taught kid could go for, and when he or she says "Dad, how come cousin Jerry's an accountant and I'm stuck in Burger King?" Dad has to admit it's because he allowed school to teach his child things that weren't true.

Still, a couple more decades of this, Dubya will seem like some mental giant and we'll have a nation of people too thick to use the internet. So everything has it's upside.

So Gavyn Davies, Greg Dyke and Andrew Gilligan have all resigned from the BBC. It's a strange world we live in when men have to resign due to small errors whilst others get away with large ones. No one really believes the Hutton report unless they have something to gain from the BBC's downfall and by accepting a report that clears them so comprehensively the Government is just making trouble for itself in the long run. A judgement that had accepted the self-evident truth that while Gilligan erred in his broadcast Dr. Kelly was used as a political football by Alistair Campbell for reasons both political and vindictive would have given both sides some consolation and it would all be yesterday's news.

It was perhaps not surprising that Lord Hutton would decide not to rule on whether the intelligence on Iraq was accurate or not, fortunately we have other avenues that have shown that it wasn't. But there was a lot of evidence which our noble lord apparently judged to be irrelevent, on how the information was processed 'tween agency and public. Both Campbell and Powell were shown to have phrases changed to alter meaning. If that is beyond the scope of Lord Hutton we need to have an enquiry that covers it. The BBC may have been wrong in this case, Lord Hutton was unable to prevent the country from seeing that the Government do have a case to answer.

But, whither BBC? The important thing to remember is that this case doesn't mean the BBC News staff are a bunch of anarchic crusty-hippies who all decamp to Glastonbury come the summer. Part of the problem comes from the fact that Campbell complained so much that it was initially difficult for the Government to read it as anything more than him just complaining for the sake of it. What Campbell wanted was sycophantic coverage of all the government's deeds. But if the BBC obeyed and Labour were in Opposition he would have spent the summer complaining as bitterly about Government bias.

If we can't trust the Government in something as major as a war, we can't trust the Government when it comes to the renewal of the BBC's Charter. Check the BBC website here and be ready, when the time comes, to Fax Your MP to make sure that this episode isn't used to turn the BBC back into the propaganda wing of the current British administration.

And page 9 of today's Telegraph, a full page ad in support of Greg Dyke and the BBC's independence paid for by BBC staff. Even listed in what must be about point 4 size type they say they have more names that can fit on the page. Respect!

And now the view from the inside, a BBC worker's memories of Greg Dyke as BBC DG.

This is interesting: For Albania's Kanun followers, dress is an important gender marker... Thus, if a woman dresses like a man, she is a man. [via Metafilter]

You may have noticed the new icon on the right. Go clicky please.

Watched Newsnight last night. Now admittedly Greg Dyke is enjoying being free of the shackles of corporate responsibility to say exactly what he feels about the Hutton Report while his acting replacement, Mark Byford, isn't. Byford also has to act as though he's the Director General of an evil news organisation that made unfounded slurs against the Government when the truth is quite different.

But... did he have to come off as quite such a joyless, grey, drab corporate worm as he did? If he lasts long enough to have impressionists take note of him, his impression wouldn't be that different to John Major, just with a slightly different voice. And those large staring eyes... I swear there were several times when he forgot to blink for minutes. Bland, bland, bland. Even though he seemed to be agreeing with the prevailing opinion that the BBC was treated unfairly by Hutton he was talking like a Labour MP, refusing to answer the question and twisting and turning like a rather large worm on a hook. Hopefully he won't be there long. It would be nice if we use this occasion to get some non-white, non-male, non- public school faces in there. The first female DG perhaps? The first black DG? Anything other than the now apparently deleted breedar suggestion that Ali C get made DG...

Friday, January 30, 2004

I've been working my way through the London Bloggers over the last few weeks in the only way I knew how, yep, from A-Z. And I came across this bloke at Charing Cross. He describes his site as "A love letter from a domminant man to submissive women", yet it gets a bit more creepy when you go there, as this bloke seems to have mixed up 'submissive woman' and 'sex slave'. It contains such gems as Happyness does not come from owning things, or from beauty. It comes from being yourself. A caring domminant can help you escape from these ilusions and So far I have called you a woman. I would prefer to call you a Girl. Mmmm, does that make you horny baby?

Women are more sexual than men. Men are mostly non sexual but have a small part of there personalities entirely devoted to sex. Men will buy magazines on fishing, motorcycles, DIY or any other tehnical subject you can imagen. All of these magazines are entirely sex free zones. A man will then buy a magazine entirely devoted to sex.

Some submissives have a double load of guilt an confusion to carry. Many black submissives find themselves atracted to white owners, and this can be uncomfortable. The submissive may feel that she is betraying both her sex and her community.

Lovely. So, are you a submissive woman, or at the very least, are you someone that can help him with his spelling?

David Hasselhoff demands recognition for his part in the collapse of the Berlin Wall and therefore communism.

The wonderful Daily Mail headline generator!.




It's an arresting image...

Dyke comes out fighting. This is what we like to see. Now that he's no longer working for the BBC Greg Dyke is free to say exactly what he thinks. If you've got the bandwidth for it, it might also be worth trying to watch last night's Question Time, available until next Thursday. I haven't watched it yet but the first question is about Hutton, the Government minister on is Margaret Beckett so presumerably she was chosen as they didn't want to have any of their important ministers damaged by the scorn they knew would be heaped upon them.

I'm curious as to the decline of the use of 'please'. Now maybe it's just me, but first I noticed that people weren't saying 'please' as often as they were saying 'thank you' (or making soem grunt of appreciation before loping off into the distance), and then realised I was doing it too. I first noticed it amongst the body of foreign au pairs that come to our libraries every day to use the computers for one hour free a day. Our chief executive might complain about falling borrower numbers, if we could get these au pairs to take a book out each time they come to use a computer, even if they don't read it, then he'd have numbers that more accurately gauge how much we are being used, but I digress.

Most commonly these girls, central and northern European mostly, would present their cards and say something like "computer". Once assigned a terminal they would thank me. But then I realised that amongst people that would claim English as their first language it's much the same. I don't know if it's a lazy vocal thing, in the same way that you might slur 'government' as 'guvment', you don't bother with superfluous words. I did wonder whether we say 'please' when someone important has the metaphorical power of life and death over whatever endeavor it is that you are trying to pursue, there's no 'please' between perceived social equals. Or perhaps that in our rights obsessed culture people will only say please for things they do not think they have some automatic right to. Someone at work suggested that often tone of voice carries an 'implicit please' within it, if you ask someone you know to pass something over in a pleasant tone of voice you may not say please. Or maybe we just aint brung up proper no more. Please give me your views. Thank you.

Well Julie Burchill started her new column in The Times last Saturday and, oh blessed relief, it would seem they aren't archiving it on the website.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

But we need something to cheers ourselves up after a couple of depressing days. So how about this article in The Guardian that suggests it was approximately thirty minutes after Lord Hutton started pardoning the Government that a member of Her Majesty's Government libelled two BBC journalists?

An excellent article on the Hutton Inquiry If it went to the West End they'd call it Whitewash. I was looking to The Times to be leading the grown-up people's charge against the BBC on behalf of Daddy Murdoch, but even they didn't seem to think the Government were as blameless as Hutton made them out to be.

Hello Andrew if you're reading. I hope you're not trying to hack my Barbelith account again. If you have a problem, apart from the obvious one, you know my email address, obviously, why not drop me a line and vent your spleen, or you could always apologise. I'm fairly easy going like that.

My current mood? Pissed off. Everyone in the world who disagrees with me is obviously a moron and should be shot between the eyes. Anyone who thinks Hutton's attack on the BBC was not partisan and not severely flawed is an idiot. But we take these things as read. Yesterday's snow has become today's ice, making it 4.354 times more difficult to get to work. However, once at work someone made me a cup of hot chocolate, which I enjoyed immensely. One of our borrowers who has had books overdue for about a year finally brought them in today (typical, he forgets about it for a year, then on the one day when he'd have an excuse for not bringing them in he turns up!). He's the uncle of the kid who got killed in Germany under mysterious circumstances by a far right group. Barring earth-shattering news it's apparently going to be covered in next Tuesday's Newsnight, worth a watch!

Freeserve's work on the email lines seems to be messing my email around and it's cold in my flat. And people still don't acknowledge that I'm obviously the best person to rule the world as tyrant. Some people you just cannot help...

Now Greg Dyke's quit as well. With the news that the Government has changed it's mind and the Hutton Report will give it the excuse it needs to make the sorts of changes to the BBC's charter that could cripple it's ability to report in a way that displeased the Government of the day, or they could just sell it lock, stock and barrel to Murdoch, it's an intensely worrying time for BBC supporters. There is some support lurking around for the BBC but whether it's enough to stop Tony Blair getting medieval on their collective 'ass' remains to be seen.

Some of the key points from Lord Hutton's career. It's a shame this didn't become public knowledge at the start of the Inquiry, then the concept of Hutton coming down on the Government side wouldn't have been such a shock. Last night's Newsnight had Ali C on, even though he no longer works for the Government he put forward what will probably be their point of view for the next few months, "Are you still here? Why haven't you apologised for ever doubting us about anything? Why haven't you quit in disgrace? Why hasn't the BBC shut down?" while other people believe that Lord Hutton seriously misjudged or misunderstood the role of journalism in a democracy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

BBC chairman Gavyn Davies has resigned in the wake of Lord Hutton's criticisms of the corporation's reports. He says that it's the role of the head of an organisation to take responsibility for it's actions and to resign when it goes wrong. It's a shame that the Government and especially Geoff Hoon don't take the same point of view.

Funny, as late as early afternoon I could have sworn the BBC weather were promising the snow wouldn't touch us here in the wilds of North London, yet a cubic fuckload of it has just dropped. It genuinely started at five minutes to five, i.e; five minutes to closing time. By the time we were making our ways to our cars in the car park at five minutes past five there was enough snow on the ground to take a footprint. One of my work colleagues graciously offered me a lift home but rush hour and snow meant it took longer than if I'd walked, so at about two-thirds of the way home I took my leave of them and walked the rest of the way. Fresh fallen snow is a joy, I don't think there's many people who don't like the crunch under foot or the feel of a snowball in the hand. Tomorrow, when the snow has a chance to thaw and then freeze as ice, that's the bit I don't like.

Aaah, anger my old friend, you'll never leave me. Lying scumfuck Tony Blair tries to turn victory in Hutton Inquiry into validation of UK's War in Iraq. Yes, despite the fact that Lord Hutton specifically says that he is not going to pass judgement on whether there are WMD in Iraq or whether the war was right, Tony Blair has decided that because the Inquiry said that Andrew Gilligan was wrong in reporting that David Kelly has said that Ali C made changes to the dodgy dossier to promote Tony Blair's unproven case for war, then therefore the war was valid.

Mr Blair said the "real lie" was the claim he had misled the country by falsifying intelligence on weapons of mass destruction or lied to MPs.

Without the kind of full inquiry that Tony Blair would not dream of sanctioning he will never be able to prove that he did not lie to the country and the Houses of Parliament. The only apology he is warranted is from the BBC for broadcasting Andrew Gilligan's report without checking, though perhaps he'd like to explain why if the accusations levelled at him by BBC correspondent Andrew Gilligan were extremely serious he did nothing about it until Gilligan accused Ali C of being responsible for it in a seperate article for the Mail on Sunday?

And consider the following statement from Lord Hutton's conclusions as to why he didn't find the Government guilty of anything:

Therefore, whether or not at some time in the future the report on which the 45 minutes claim was based is shown to be unreliable, the allegation reported by Mr Gilligan on 29 May 2003 that the Government probably knew that the 45 minutes claim was wrong before the Government decided to put it in the dossier, was an allegation which was unfounded.

This was a clear example in the end of how Lord Hutton was refusing to use his Inquiry to judge the validity of going to war, just that, in the case of Andrew Gilligan's report, it was a claim made without proof.

If the BBC found out tomorrow from another source with slightly more evidence that the Government had lied or misled the people of this country I would hope that, after verifying it, they wouldn't hesitate to make that report to the country.

Damn, bugger, bloody, blast. That it would be bad for the BBC had been more or less expected for quite a while, that the Government and especially Hoon and Campbell would emerge without a stain on their character will be a result they couldn't dare dream of.

So, Ali C was justified in his response to Gilligan by engaging all the machinery to Government on his behalf? So the Number 10 press office working with the joint Intelligence Committee on the report the JIC made, based on intelligence from MI-6 was okay, despite the fact that Intelligence Services are supposed to be free from interference from political parties? What about the argument that a news agency has the right to report allegations made against a member of government if it's in the public interest?

This gives a green light to Government to put out information to the public that they know may not be true just so long as they don't know for certain that it's untrue. It means no-one in the Government is to be held responsible for the actions of anyone else. Most ridiculously it means that news agencies should not report accusations about people unless that person confirms the allegation themselves.

The only hope will be whether, once people have been able to read and digest the whole report, it transpires that Lord Hutton thought there was evidence on which to blame the Government but that it went beyond what he considered the limits of his investigation. He does take care to make it clear he's not judging the Government on whether the information they had was accurate or whether there were WMD in Iraq.

This is turning out to be a very disappointing week.

I'll probably need this later today: The Hutton Inquiry website.

At the moment I'm pinning my hopes on The Sun report being wrong, incomplete or a lie. I wasn't expecting Tony Blair to be found guilty of any wrongdoing in this, but for Lord Hutton to conclude that no-one in the Government was wrong of anything just seems beyond belief. I guess we'll find out in four hours time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Never rely on a Labour backbencher when you've got a job that needs a backbone. It seems like they all wimped out at the last minute and caved in to Blair, causing a bad bill that became a worse bill under concessions that made the bill completely pointless to pass. Once again, Guy Fawkes was the only person to enter Parliament with honest intentions.

Was in central London yesterday so popped into The F. Word. It's a tiny little gallery, one room really, so took all of about twenty minutes to work my way around. What it is is a collection of photographs of people. Next to the portraits are a bit of text about the event in their lives about which they've either seeked for forgiveness or given it, then a bit in their own words. There's a wide range, Archbishop Desmond Tutu about the importance of forgiveness so that South Africa could move on after Apartheid, Brighton Bomber Pat McGee and the daughter of one of his victims, An Israeli and a Jew who are both members of a cross-border group for people who have lost family members, a couple of murderers, the parents of one of the Alder Hay children, Victoria Climbie's parents. Displayed on a plain white wall these testements are often shocking in their simplicity, and the oft repeated message is, the second victim of an act of violence is the person who surrenders to hate.

What was odd though, and made me email the people behind the exhibition to ask, is that one of the photos, in amongst the rest, apparently given no special position, is of the wife of murdered reporter Daniel Pearl. Marianne hasn't forgiven his murderers, quite the opposite. She wrote to the Pakistani government asking for the death penalty for his killers and when one of them asked to see her she refused. So quite what her portrait was doing in an exhibition on forgiveness I'm not sure. We'll have to see what they say.

UPDATE: (28/01) According to an email I received today, the above item was included because it's intended that the exhibition be about all apsects of forgiveness, including Not forgiving.

There's a report from last wednesday's Guardian on BBC plans to make all their TV programs available on-line much as they do at the moment with radio shows. I'm just hoping they don't use the broken piece of crap that masquerades as their radio media player. You can't rewind and can only fast forward in five minute jumps. Using RealPlayer for weather reports isn't much good when you can hardly make out what weather-presenter blob is pointing to on the map, is that a heavy fall of blobs on your home town, or is blobby pointing to somewhere a hundred miles away? And you need broadband to get this quality of picture as it is! Many miles to go before this technology is ready to be rolled out I think.

When we're less than twenty-four hours away from the release of a report which will criticise, directly or indirectly, handling of intelligence relating to WMD in Iraq the government probably doesn't need the single source for their claim that weapons could be deployed in forty-five minutes to admit he had absolutely no way of knowing if that was true. Guess what happened.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Weapons pass screening on flight to Denver International Airport. The scariest thing about this story is how the woman forgot she was carrying weapons about her person. Forget overpowering the Sky Marshalls, perhaps the next time terrorists want to take over a plane they can just tool up from any American passengers hand luggage...

Proving they still aren't coming up with reasonable policies for when they are in Government, Tories promise to cut one tax a year. Well, if it was income tax and the council tax they abolish I'd be interested. The question is, are the public stupid enough to fall for this rubbish? The whole notion that the Government are wasting so much money in red tape that the Tories could scrap it and release money necessary for health, transport, social services and all the things this country needs is just one huge lie. It's taken the Tories seven years to find a leader that can take on Tony Blair, is it going to take them another seven years to come up with policies that aren't a load of headline-grabbing shit?

Teacher 'insulted Muslim pupil'. To be fair to the teacher the actual physical assault part looks like a genuine accident, although I don't think she had any business trying to remove the hijab in the first place.

In an action rather reminiscent of the 'Cthulu for President- Why Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils?' mock-campaign from the good old days, Republicans for Voldemort!

Over at Boom Selection now under January 18th is the amazing 40 minute long 'raiding the 20th century', an audio tour of bootlegs, cut-ups and all kinds of other stuff that I would know about if I was in wiv the kool kidz. Kenny Everet vs. The Sugababes vs. Alvin Lucier vs. John Lennon vs. Madonna vs. some stuff from the Illegal Art CD vs. Intro Inspection vs. The KLF vs... tons of stuff. Check it out!

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Just watched American Virgins about abstinence programs in the US. It mainly concentrated on The Silver Ring Thing, which is all about wearing a ring to remind yourself not to accidentally have sex with anyone so you can give your virginity to your husband, or wife, come wedding night. I don't have that much of a problem with abstinence programs, although I think the fact they invariably are connected to religion says more about the reality tunnel they're projecting through than whether sex is truly 'good' or 'bad'. Anyway, from what we saw SRT seemed a fairly benign version of the 'an angel dies every time there's sex outside marriage' shebang, they seem to concentrate on the more valid problems of sexually transmitted diseases (though from what we saw they harped on about this so much they sounded like they were performing hypochondriac porn) and personal choice and freedom (an interesting tack for a faith-based group).

It was only when they arranged for some experts to put up there side in a debate at a university campus that things got unpleasant, not their fault but that of their experts, browbeating their opponents and interupting, it did rather smack of getting nasty because their side of the argument doesn't really stand up. The funniest moment is when the SRT teens in one van hear the other van has been delayed due to mechanical problems and they decide to pray about it. They start off praying that God keeps the other van safe, but then the girl leading the prayer seems to get a bit carried away and asks God (who she keeps referring to as LorGod, as though he's Superman's Kryptonian cousin or something, "Kneel before Zod, son of Lor-God!") to give them super-strength and invulnerability to see them through.

The 50 lies, exaggerations, distortions and half truths that took this country to war.

Meanwhile, Blair is still insisting that there are actual WMD in Iraq rather than just programs. I don't know whether this is stupid pig-headedness or rather canny, by the time that an exhaustive search of Iraq could be completed Blair will be in the Margaret Thatcher Nursing Home for the Permanently Baffled Ex-Politician, if still capable of rational speech he can easily say "Well yes, but by the time the search was done the WMD had been long destroyed, but they were there when we invaded. Can I have a new bedpan please?" I don't think it's unfair to judge Blair and Bush NOW on the fact that to date neither weapons nor any kind of program more concrete than Iraqi generals saying "Wouldn't it be nice if we could somehow make or buy WMD?" have been discovered SO FAR because the clear implication of their speeches before we invaded was that we'd be tripping over the stuff once we invaded Baghdad. All this 'Well Iraq is a very big place' guff is precisely that, Iraq was supposed to have been heavily monitored by the intelligence agencies of at least two countries, I don't believe that we could not have, on day one after fighting had finished, have gone to where they were being hid if they existed at all. There is no need to be patient on this.

Melanie Phillips, who we could call Ann Coulter's British older sister if she admitted that she was Conservative rather than 'progressive', on Dr. Tonge's remarks. Now, when I read them, I understand Dr. Tonge's use of the pronoun 'I' to mean that her comments about how she could see herself becoming a suicide bomber if she lived in the desperate situation of your average Palestinian refer to her and her alone. Ms. Phillips reads it as 'if I were you, I'd stick a load of semtex down my pants and get on an Israeli bus right now'.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Hah! Am cheered up on this dull evening to discover The Sun is pissed off with Islamic Hatemonger Abu Hamza.

We don’t care what lies he peddles about The Sun — being insulted by a creep like him confirms we’re doing our job properly. But when he turns his bile on to our army of loyal, decent readers then he’s asking for trouble.

Of course, all that your average Sun writer needs is a hook and one of those Marilyn Manson fake eye things and it would be truly difficult to tell the difference between them and Hamza. But the idea of arranging a fight between the two does appeal. As Ian Hislop said about the Neil Hamilton versus Mohammed Fayed case, "You just wish that it was possible that somehow they both lose".

What Flavour Are You? Cor blimey, I taste like Tea.Cor blimey, I taste like Tea.

I am a subtle flavour, quiet and polite, gentle, almost ambient. My presence in crowds will often go unnoticed. Best not to spill me on your clothes though, I can leave a nasty stain. What Flavour Are You?

Heh heh heh... [found at Visible Monsters.]

The Promised Land. [via]

Saddam's WMD never existed, says chief American arms inspector. Handpicked by Bush for the job, went in expecting to find WMD, you'd think it would be difficult for the Bush administration to positively spin this but you have to admire them for adapting quickly. Presumably to try and buy time and tread water until the elections they've had both Richard Perle and Dick Cheney giving interviews with the new line, namely that we should make no judgement until every cubic inch of Iraq has been searched, which would mean judging the Bush presidency until long after it had finished, whether he actually wins this election this time or not.

Tony Blair meanwhile seems to have decided to ignore the nuanced approach and is insisting the WMD are still there, waiting to be found. This stubborn ignoring of the facts possibly explains exactly WHY Ali C made the changes to the dodgy dossier, he either shared Blair's belief or believed in Blair so that he thought that there truly were WMD out there, the British Intelligence Services just lacked proof. After all, if the day after we had invaded Iraq we'd found big piles of anthrax, would there have been any complaint about the lack of accuracy in the dossier? An alternative is that if Gilligan did lie and put words in Dr. Kelly's mouth at their interview, then like the 'psychic' in From Hell he made it up, and it still came true anyway.

In news that probably won't surprise anyone, Lib Dem MP Dr Jenny Tonge was yesterday fired from the Lib Dem front brench after showing empathy with Palestinians. It would seem that you're not allowed to pay any more than lip-service to the plight of the Palestinians. It's curious, tabloids are allowed to print screeds about how we should go and bomb the crap out of countries far away, despite the fact that it will inevitably lead to civilian deaths. A member of the British Parliament is censured for saying she understands why such people who feel rather pissed off.

And yet again, there are quotes from people that read as though they were about completely different incidents:

"I can tell you one thing," added [Israel's ambassador Dr Zvi] Shtauber, "We must stand up against such remarks, which are an incitement against the state of Israel and against Jews."

"It recognises that her statement was irresponsible and gave the green light to terrorism," said Ms [MP Louise] Ellman.

I challenge either them or anyone else to explain exactly how her comments are an incitement to anything other than understanding of the desperate situation of the Palestinians.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Crunchy Christs! Perdido Street Station- The Movie?! If this is in any way true and not some wind up it's great, some excellent casting (Lawrence Fishburne), some incredibly bad casting (Jennifer Aniston? Well, at least she's a bug from the torso up) and some worrying casting (Bruce Willis as the Remade Commander? I'm not even sure that character exists in the novel).

For the next week or so I shall be reading The Koran, part of a trilogy of books by Mr. God, though some doubt it's providence due to it's making it's way to us through at least two dictations. Still, he's hopefully learned from and improved on the mistakes he made in his earlier work, The Bible, which I found to be even longer and duller than Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. And though I tend not to get too carried away with the design of books I really do like the Penguin Classics design and the typefaces they use for the text.

Wow, lookit! A strangely beautiful and geographically accurate version of the London Underground map... [via geofftech.]

Sudden Thought: So Christians claim that sex for any other purpose than a man and woman in wedlock having a baby is wrong. But, horny teenagers and abstinence. Christians aren't stupid. Well, there's a certain cunning involved anyway. Abstinence tends not to work more often than it works, so the guilt that the mother gets during the pregnancy for having succumbed to her natural instincts encourages her to push her children towards Christianity after they're born. When Christians promote abstinence, they're not doing it to lower the birthrate or because God frowns on the getting off of rocks. Abstinence isn't what pleases God, it's the Christian way to ensure there're more Christians in the world!

And the Stating the Bleeding Obvious Award goes to...

Lib Dem makes comment about how she empathises with what makes someone become a suicide bomber, Israel supporters in Labour go mental. Let's make no mistake, this is not another Kilroy. A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats says "The Liberal Democrats do not condone terrorism in any circumstances whether by suicide bombers or anybody else" but the MP in question was not suggesting that it was great, rather that she just felt she understood the desperation that drove Palestinian suicide bombers and "I think if I had to live in that situation, and I say this advisedly, I might just consider becoming one myself. And that is a terrible thing to say".

But Labour, who had to contend with similar smears in the 80s with regard to the IRA, are seeing the possibility to try and distract the media from spending the rest of the time between now and next Friday ruminating over the Hutton report and the Student Fees vote. So:

James Purnell, chairman of the Labour Friends of Israel, said: "Having sat down with people who have lost children, mothers and fathers to suicide bombers and to military action in the West Bank I am really appalled by what Jenny Tonge has said. "There is real suffering on the Israeli side and on the Palestinian side. British parliamentarians should be helping to find a way out of the conflict."

Unless the Guardian is neglecting to report that the Lib Dem MP prefaced her remarks by shouting Pro-Palestinian slogans I don't see where Mr. Purnell is coming from. He is saying there is 'real suffering' on the Palestinian side. So is Doctor Tonge. So unless he thinks the only way out of the conflict is for Israel to kill every Palestinian in their way he should be supporting what she said.

(Interestingly, the Labour Friends of Israel website hasn't been updated since 1999. It also describes itself as a lobby group for the State of Israel in the Labour Party, just in case you hadn't guessed from Mr. Purnell's lip-service to Palestinian suffering. Indeed, there is some question over how even-handed members of the LFI really are.)

And what report would be complete without the point of view of the Israeli government itself?

A spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy said such remarks would inflame the conflict by encouraging militants to become suicide bombers. "We were shocked to hear these remarks which were extremely disgraceful. We would not expect any human being - and surely not a British MP - to express an understanding of such atrocities. Her words show something about her moral standards."

Aah, it's always fun when either side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict talk about 'moral standards'. I suppose I could be generous and assume that the spokesperson was basing her comments on either an incomplete or wrong report of the MPs comments, as it doesn't actually seem to have much relevence to the reported situation.

Notably Labour seem to have stopped short of demanding she resign, possibly because if they did so they'd have to insist Tony Blair divorce Cherie for similar comments she made a while back.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Penguin Baseball.

Just in case you were one of the four people left on the Interwebnet not to have heard about it, you should go download Alan Moore and the Sinister Ducks right now. [via everyone everywhere]

Andrew Gilligan is furious about last night's Panorama special and probably understandably so, as it did suggest that his carelessness was what started the whole ball rolling in the first place. But there was little new to anyone that had followed the trial, even the unscreened interview with Doctor Kelly wasn't that exciting. Gilligan started the ball rolling but Ali C was guilty as hell for mobilising the Government to effectively fight to clear HIS name, following the Mail on Sunday article where Gilligan said Kelly named Campbell as the reason for the changes. This was Campbell's own vendetta against Gilligan, including the BBC due to previous skirmishes. He went far beyond any conception of what his role was supposed to be and the fact that he was never rebuked for this was shameful. I don't think there's much for Tony Blair to personally worry about, I think he'll wriggle free on this one, but combined with the row over soldiers dying because they weren't properly equipped I don't think Geoff Hoon should start reading any particularly long government reports right now.

How delightful. Someone's just thrown a half-brick sized rock through the window of the children's library. Luckily none of the class of pre-schoolers in the library at the time were hurt. In fact everyone was so calm about it that when one of the other members of staff told me it had happened I assumed he was joking. Anyway, the kids were all cool about it and have no been taken over the road to see the fire station instead. Likely culprits are the two teenage boys we kicked out of the library yesterday for causing a nuisance, hopefully this is the limit of their spite.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

So apparently The Bloggies are the important awards thing for Bloggers and Tom Coates has been nominated for several categories and an article he wrote. I must admit that all this stuff interests me not a whit so I leave them to get on with it, what irritates me slightly is one of the awards he's up for, and it's not his fault but more The Bloggies and society in general. Tom's up for the best GLBT blog. Yes, like so many other things out there which at least admit that there are alternatives going out there, they conflate sex and gender, sexuality and presentation. Is it any wonder if members of the trans-community keep getting asked if they're gay, or lesbian couples get asked "which one of you is the man?" when these things gets lumped in together? As far as I know Tom hasn't touched on L,B or T issues in his blog in the last year, does that mean he shouldn't win the award? I'm dubious enough about what entries for a 'Transsexual' blog would look like, but would it really kill them to have at the very least two categories for the Gays and Lesbians, at least then so we can start moaning about non-representation of people who don't feel comfortable identifying in either. Looking at the Bloggies site it looks like they're striving for non-genderspecificness wherever possible, but how do you compare the queerness of Gayboy and DykeGirl? And what about Transgendero, are they at a disadvantage if they are attracted to Members of the Opposite Sex to the One They Present As?

Aah sod it, I'm going to go have a bath...

Are the BBC trying to tell me something?

Whilst the authorities in France are trying to stop Muslim women from wearing headscarves, the authorities in Saudi Arabia are angry when they take them off.

As we're in to the final week before the Hutton report the BBC have decided to clear their evening schedule for a Panorama special to remind us of what happened where in the fight between the BBC and the Government. News to me however is that the previous October Dr David Kelly gave an interview to Panorama that was never broadcast, in which he made most of the objections he had to what the Government said, with it seems the one exception that he didn't blame Campbell by name. Of course, we will have to watch tonight to see if this gets mentioned, I don't remember seing any of this in the excitement over Kelly getting named as Gilligan's source for his Today report or in the furore following kelly's death or the Hutton Inquiry. But if it's true then it would seem to be yet another example of how the entire 'battle' between the BBC and the Government was at the personal instigation of Ali C, now departed Government Communications Head, because Gilligan named him personally as being responsible for inserting claims into the infamous dodgy dossier. If true it is him that has Kelly's blood on his hands and if true it's shameful he'll never be brought to book for Kelly's death.

It's the numbers game. The Real State of the Union.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Call me a bonkers conspiracy theorist if you want to (but only if you know what it is in Welsh) but is it just coincidence that it's only when the Government plan to lower the penalties for posessing cannabis that we start getting scare stories in the press about how dangerous to our health it is? The Daily Mail and The Telegraph, usually through vassals like Melanie Phillips, have spent the time since the news was announced trying to make out that it's worse than heroin.

On the Olympics in London thing, the Guardian sent some poor sod to test what the travel situation in the capital is currently like. It's not very encouraging.

The Cup of Cthulu

Monday, January 19, 2004

American Amnesia is a blog all about how Americans easily forget the past, though I think this is not just an American problem and something to concern everyone. Lacking the resources to be able to always rewrite our history books to make it clear we were always fighting Eurasia, our leaders do instead aim for amnesia, so they can instead tell us that thirty years ago we were fighting Eurasia.

Microsoft take Canadian teen to court over his domain name-

Customers of Microsoft could also be confused by the mikerowsoft Web page, the letter said.

People stupid enough to confuse the two surely can't operate computers...

There's not much you can say about the waste of time and resources that is The London bid for the 2012 Olympics. After all, that old chestnut about how bringing the Olympics to a country encourages it to improve it's human rights and democracy, surely no-one believes that now? However, the more money put in to improve transport in the capital before the announcement of (hopefully) our failure to win the Olympics, the better. It's a truth universally acknowledged that there's a lot of great stuff to see in London which is bloody difficult to reach.

What Type of Villain are You?

[via Scaryduck]

Four out of 10 whites do not want black neighbour, poll shows. About the one crumb of comfort that can be taken out of this is that this isn't a rise of new racism in the UK, more that resentment that ten years ago the media had directed against lone parents and 'unemployed spongers' has now been directed towards asylum seekers, rarely refered to in the media without the word 'bogus' before it.

Turkey warns over 'ethnic Iraq'. Of course, didn't Turkey oppose any action by the Allies in the first Gulf War to overthrow Saddam Hussein because they didn't want a Kurdish state on their border when they'd done their level best to try and wipe their own population out? When Turkey warns of an ethnically-divided Iraq causing bloodshed doesn't that mean they fear a war between them and a Kurdish state?

These demonstrations in France provoke a response from the Government which uses exactly the language that you'd think would be used to signal that the rights of religions to express themselves unhindered had been allowed, but no:

"It is only through dialogue, the path of compromise and mutual respect that each person can find his place in the republic," said [French Interior Minister Nicolas] Sarkozy.

The sooner we dump all religions the better for humanity, but we're not going to get there by banning them or limiting their exhibition. The seperation of church and state is something to strive for but to suggest that if you force a child to worship then they'll never realise the whole thing is a crock, then I'd have spent most of yesterday morning in Church. The strongest human impulse is towards freedom, the danger isn't from Christianity or Islam or any religion, but from those on the right wing of each who are frightened that their manipulation of teaching for their own power (Why do you think that one of the most electrifying issues for Catholicism is reproductive health and sex? Free that up and the transvestite in Rome doesn't have a chance) is coming to an end.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

We should never laugh at another's misfortune, neither is the serious problem of paedophilia something to be trivialised and joked about. With that in mind, why not play Escape From Neverland, where you are Michael Jackson using a net gun to prevent children from escaping your rastapaedic impulses. [via (where else?) B3ta]

In as much as I've considered my personal politics I consider myself fairly left-wing, opposed to capital punishment and the death penalty, I consider the primary role of prisons should be redemptive and reducational rather than punishment and I'm broadly in favour of euthanasia, although at the moment that's more the idea than as an actual policy.

So, I'm completely against this article from today's IoS, Mark Leech: Give them enough rope - why lifers should be offered a dignified exit. Mainly because if it were ever adopted as policy I see it as the return of execution under the guise of euthanasia. Having little faith in the concept of life after death and none in the idea that an eternity of pain or pleasure exists to punish/reward you for four score and ten's worth of living, I see euthanasia in this case as denying something to everyone's views of prison, it doesn't punish someone, it doesn't give a chance that they can understand they were wrong or find someway to make some recompense to society from their cells. Unlike Herod Blunkett I didn't want Shipman dead because I wanted him to see society go on despite his attempts to destroy part of it, just as I want Saddam Hussein not to be given a death sentence at his forthcoming trial because I want him to live long enough to see Iraq return from the brink he drove it to.

Even to my 'pinko liberal' ears some of the writing makes me feel like I'm sitting over on the bench with Blunkett when I read this:

It's not that hard to imagine why [Harold Shipman hung himself]: he was facing the prospect of the next 30 years or more inside after David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, told him he would serve "whole life" - and I guess he concluded there was absolutely nothing to be had in his future that was worth the pain and anguish of going through even one more day.

'His pain and anguish'? What about the pain and anguish the families of his victims felt?

It would be remiss of me after yesterday not to admit to some small twinge of pleasure at the news that Richard Littlejohn is being investigated under hate crime legislation after comments he wrote a few weeks back on gay policemen.

Something to add to my ever-growing, pulsating list of art exhibitions I really need to get off my backside and go and see, The Forgiveness Project is a new organisation working with grassroots projects in the fields of conflict resolution, reconciliation and victim support. And it opens with an exhibition, The F Word: Images of Forgiveness at

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Came across John Sargent giving it large for Blackadder in the BBC's Big Rea- Best Sitcom thing. They've followed this with the last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, which ends with everyone going over the top. Now, most of that episode isn't that good, it's amusing certainly but smacks too much of 'we have to waste time before the inevitable slaughter that everyone knows is coming', there's some nice turns but there was better stuff in the other episodes. However, along with most of the rest of the country I do believe the last five or so minutes of the show are amongst the most moving television moments EVER... All pretense falls away, everyone is aware that they are living their last few minutes, few seconds and they are about to die, horribly and needlessly. I think it was this episode that was one of the things that persuaded a young Flowers that war is always a cruel, stupid thing, that most 'necessary' wars are nothing of the sort and to distrust anyone who sends you to war especially if they say it is for the good of your country.

George: No, really, this is brave, splendid and noble! Sir?
Blackadder: Yes, Lieutenant?
George: I'm scared, sir.
Baldrick: I'm scared too, sir.
George: I mean, I'm the last of the tiddlywinking leapfroggers from the Golden Summer of 1914. I don't want to die. I'm really not overkeen on dying at all, sir.
Blackadder: How are you feeling, Darling?
Darling: Erm, not all that good, Blackadder -- rather hoped I'd get through the whole show; go back to work at Pratt & Sons; keep wicket for the Croydon gentlemen; marry Doris... Made a note in my diary on my way here. Simply says, "Bugger."
Blackadder: Well, quite.

That moment when you think they might have avoided everything, then Darling reveals that the current date is two years before the end of the war and then that's it...

Watching Jon Sargent's show we saw the rough unedited footage of the climactic final charge, to see the actors all collapse as though shot was very sad, even though two seconds later they all sat up and dusted themselves down.

Damnit, I told you I WASN'T a Goth!
Northern Line
Congratulations, you are the Northern Line!
You are most probably a goth. Your perfect match is the Bakerloo line.

What London Underground Line Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I mentioned this in mid-December and now it seems that as the Government thinks that Far Right Hate groups that AREN'T affiliated with the Labour Party are a bad idea, Redwatch has spawned a Paramilitary wing calling itself the Aryan Martyrs' Brigade to send threatening letters to non-white MPs in a kind of 'we know where you live' stylee. We wait to see whether this is a group to genuinely be concerned about or whether it's three guys called Kevin who split their time between badly spelled threatening letters and reading Star Trek slash.

Perhaps inevitably, the ban on wearing headscarves in French schools have sparked demonstrations.

What's Chinese for coffee morning? Not so much the translation of the words into a Chinese dialect, but what's similar to the idea?

Management is trying to start a coffee morning for the Chinese community at the Greenhouse and yesterday was the first day. We had a grand total of one and a half people turn up, (half being a lady that turned up halfway through). The most obvious thing to look at was how we advertised the event, although the Greenhouse is used by a local Chinese community are they the sorts of people that would find a coffee morning appealing, do we have to do more to reach those people that don't use the library? But the other thing pointed out by our latecomer was that there isn't really a cultural equivelent for 'coffee morning' for Chinese people, it wouldn't mean anything to people who might be interested in what goes on. So now we have to find an alternative way of describing the event so we can try and get the community engaged.

And we need that more than ever. Two other branch libraries are closing this year, with at least one more as a possible next year. Two day care centres for disabled people, the only ones in the area, are being shut down too. The council are making redundant some two hundred people at the moment and when librarians came back from the Chief Executive's Motivational Day to describe it more as a 'Dismotivational Day' (the impression he gave was that if he was allowed to shut down the library serice completely he would) people are wondering how secure our jobs are.

No one is sure whether we're going to have any money in the next financial year. We have a ring-fenced budget for the refurbishment of the Closed Library which is safe and cannot be touched. But we don't know whether we'll have any money after that. We could end up in the same situation as other library authorities in the country over the last decade or so, the slow bleed of resources which has immediate effects on lowering the measures we use for evaluating how the service is being used which is then extremely difficult to climb out of.

The Chief Exec, and this is hearsay but I seem to remember him saying similar things at last years Day when I went, was asking how we could justify getting our money when our borrowing figures are down. But take the Greenhouse yesterday morning, we had very few issues or returns yet we were very busy with the coffee morning, a drop-in organised by the Bookstart project to encourage parents to read to/with their kids, a creche for those kids, a drop-in with someone from the local college for people to talk about computer courses, and people wanting to use the library computers for Office and The Internet. How does that use, and all these sorts of activities which don't get offered anywhere else, get measured in the Chief Executive's Issue stats?

There's an interesting speech from Dr Kay Redfield Jamison to the Writers Guild of America from last year on the links between mental illness and creativity, and how it's portrayed on TV and the media. Her books in the past on depression and her own experiences were extremely illuminating and well worth a read from anyone with an interest in the area.

Now that Kilroy has gone, can we plead with the BBC to hire Richard Littlejohn to replace him? Then we can demand they fire him for writing stuff like this. This is why Dicky sticks to working within Rupert Murdoch's grubby little Empire, if he worked for anyone halfway reputable they'd have to fire him five seconds after the next time he wrote or said something. This time he's fulminating about the hopefully imminent release of the british Guantanemo detainees. Dicky does reassure us halfway through "I’m all for the presumption of innocence" but surrounds it with gems such as insinuating that as soon as the detainees return home, we'll have "one of them walking in to the Bull Ring shopping centre with a Semtex corset under his parka or tipping a tube of ricin down the air vent at Holborn Tube station".

"[T]he prospect of them being released back on to the streets of this country without the evidence against them being tested is insane." As Dicky well knows, there isn't evidence against them, that's why they're going to be released rather than standing trial. He knows that if there were the faintest chance of them being charged with something they would be, he can hardly claim that Britain is soft on the US's 'War Against Terror'. But then, like I said at the start, if Dicky had to produce proof for anything that skittered across the gaping void that is his brain, he wouldn't be working for News International would he?

(Barry Cryer on Kilroy: "He's a difficult man to ignore but it's worth the effort")

Herod Blunkett has opened his mouth and put both his feet in it over death of Harold Shipman. "I laughed when I heard Shipman hung himself" as he might have said if he were a Welsh bass player. One might ask whether if he considers Shipman's death a cause for celebration, is he is suitable to work in a justice system where we don't have the death penalty? And it reopens the old debate, is prison supposed to be primarily about punishing someone who's broken the law or about rehabilitating them to be a valuable and upstanding member of society?

I've mentioned the Circus to Iraq project before, but now some of them are over there and doing what they can and there's some reports on their website: Circus2Iraq.

Friday, January 16, 2004

And now it turns out those shells for chemical weapons found in Iraq didn't contain chemicals after all. Oh well, better luck next time...

The promo for Shaun of the Dead is up at the Working Title Films website in the news section, wanky Flash stops me from getting you in any closer, so be prepared for random glances of Love Actually related filth.
It does look as if it may be a little bit pants, the first you see of our heroes when the first zombie bursts in looks like they can't be bothered to act, but other parts of the trailer show that sense of humour that made Spaced so great, who else would argue over the merits of records they are going to use as discusses to cut off zombies heads?

Kilroy has quit. At the moment it's being presented as a fairly amicable parting, I suppose we'll have to wait and see what the Sunday Express says...

Have added Man-At-Arms to the sidebar, and from that site link to this letter from a worker to the management (possibly not work-safe, if your work doesn't like words for the male reproductive organ).

Earlier this week a leading Belgian Catholic cardinal said he accepted people using condoms if one of them was HIV poisitive and the main reason they were using them was to prevent transmission of the disease to their partner, which is surprisingly liberal and would suggest that it's going to be disowned and contradicted by the leaders of this branch of the death-cult based in Rome. If nothing else they are still putting about the false and misleading idea that condoms do not stop the transmission of AIDS and other STDs because they want to bury their head in the sand until all their little cultists have died.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

...And a disturbing article about Columbine from the Independent about The Cult of Eric and Dylan.

There's a longish article from Haaretz about suicide bombings and why they happen. What was most interesting to me was that they are done as much to drive the Palestinian people to support the groups in their militancy because of the Israeli clamp-downs and revenge attacks that almost inevitably ensue. It does seem that what is needed for the region is a peace plan less tipped in the Israeli's favour, that offers genuine hope to the Palestinians, which hasn't existed for some time now, and a commitment by the Israelis that they won't let these groups disrupt their involvement. It will be bloody but they can only ride these events out, they have to stop using Arafat is an excuse for inaction. Once the Palestinians see the benefits of peaceful coexistence the support for the militant groups will wither, but expecting this to happen before co-operation is a dream. of course, this all depends on whether the Israeli Government wants peaceful co-existance with a Palestinian state or whether it wants them all dead and the land for it's own.

Some Muslim doublethink for you. A prominent Muslim preacher was sentenced to 15 months in prison yesterday for writing a book advising men on how best to beat their wives without leaving tell-tale marks on their bodies.

In his defence, Mustafa argued that he had interpreted passages of the Koran and that he opposed violence against women.

So how does he explain advocating the beating of women? Once a woman is married she's no longer a woman but someone's wife, their property? That violence is justified if it's against a woman who has shown you disrespect? Let's hope this man is single...

Something fun for the weekend, the Barbican and the BBC are hosting a John Cage Weekend, celebrating his life and music.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I couldn't bear to link directly to the NME but Flux saves me the effort, go to his blog then follow his link to the NME for Scissor Sisters videos which are great.

Yesterday, went for a little walk as part of my keep fit/try and learn my way around this capital city I've lived in for some five years now plan. Went to Queensway on the Tube and walked down through Kensington Gardens where they grow the wildlife huge, the crows and squirrels looked big enough to feed a family like they were Christmas turkeys. I'd heard of the Albert Memorial and the Royal Albert Hall many times before of course, but this was the first time I'd seen them. I was surprised by how big the monument seemed and how small the Hall seemed. No wonder they have things like Proms in the Park now, you could hardly fit anyone in there.

So then I walked down to the Victoria and Albert Museum. There wasn't anything I specifically wanted to see and this was only a couple of hours before closing so I just wandered aimlessly around, as my fancy took me. I couldn't believe how huge it was. Most museums and galleries that have tried to impress me with their size in the past have failed, but you keep turning corners in the V&A, expecting to find the door or window out on to the street and you see another long gallery running off in to the distance. There were two huge rooms full of statues and sculptures, including a vast replica of some tower that had had to be cut into two it was so high, quite how it was made and how it was got in there without a TARDIS amazed me. They also had the Rachel Whiteread Room 101 sculpture there, in amongst a load of medieval statues. It didn't work for me. The accompanying description was very evocative and described well what she was trying to evoke, how because you couldn't enter into Room 101 the exhibit evoked the claustrophobic atmosphere that Orwell wrote about in his book, but all we have is a huge block of off-white concrete. I doubt it'll still be there in fifty years time.

And then off to the Bisexual Underground for an evening of chat, laughter and blahblahblah. Most of us seemed to end up in the back room playing complicated card games based around a never ending game about inventing a horror movie or selling imaginary products to other people. A number of goths turned up and thank God they found a table where they could sit quietly and just look really moody. There was one bloke who turned up who didn't seem to talk to anyone at all and just sat quietly in the corner. I'd like to say that I went and talked to him but I didn't, and I don't feel any guilt at all.

Catching the Tube home I got talking to this guy, mid-fifties I guess, who was wearing a crumpled suit and completely pissed, think Peter O'Toole but very nice and affable. We were talking about Eddie Izzard mainly. There was a young teenage girl with an Alex Parks hairstyle, I guess Creepy is right, that's the next de rigeur haircut for the British Isles...

It would seem the public have spoken... BBC viewing figures increase after Kilroy show goes off air. I think that might have more effect on the BBC than Kilroy whining about 'freedom of speech'.

You're Afghanistan!

In the words of Bob Dylan, you "haven't known peace and quiet
in so long [you] don't remember what it's like!"  Sad but true.  Boss
after boss has led you around, using you for their nefarious purposes, and dumping you
when the time was right.  You've hurt and been hurt and now you're just sick and tired.
 When will people leave you alone and let you do your own thing?  But you
don't really even know what you want anymore.

Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid

This one's for Patrick, as he was trying to defend the Dubya-in-Chief a couple of days ago against that nasty Mr. O'Neill. The Awful Truth, 'So far administration officials have attacked Mr. O'Neill's character but haven't refuted any of his facts'.

Picked up a leaflet for this from the V&A yesterday: Linked.

Stretching across from Hackney Marshes to Redbridge, the M11 Link Road was completed in 1999 after the demolition of 400 houses amid dramatic and passionate protest. Now artist Graeme Miller has filled the empty spaces these buildings once occupied with a treasure trail of sound celebrating a century of everyday moments in East End life. Concealed along the three-mile route, 20 transmitters continually broadcast hidden voices, recorded testimonies and rekindled memories of those who once lived and worked where the motorway now runs.

Sounds interesting and worth a go, once the weather warms up a bit.

British peace activist shot by Israeli soldier has died in hospital. But this comes as, according to a press release from The Thomas Hurndall Fund, his killer has finally been charged on six counts, Aggravated Assault; two counts of Obstruction of Justice; Incitement to False Testimony; False Testimony; Improper Conduct.

There is apparently going to be a vigil tonight at Downing Street, 5:30 pm. Anyone that can make it is urged to do so, though I probably can't.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Since September 11th, 2001, it seems the biggest find of WMD has happened in Texas in the United States.

Weird Searches That Found Me:
The strangely sweet Where is Loz.
The strange one looking for Planet Comedy Maidstone.
And the quite sick and disturbing Lord Tebbit Buggering Radio 5 which I'm quite pleased to come second on.

There's an interesting article from the Washington Post which would suggest the new US-VISIT system is completely pointless for it's stated aims, Millions Fingerprinted But Who Is Served? Worth a read. Is the US Administration throwing money away on useless but tough-sounding measures to convince the people that it's doing something to protect them from terror? Wouldn't be the first time would it...

Got this article from Opedfish which is a new blog which looks well worth keeping an eye on.

Monday, January 12, 2004

So, I was watching the Hulk film and was struck by how similar it was to the Spiderman film. I was planning on trying to work Daredevil in as well, but I'm still receiving therapy to get over that one (He's a blind man! Fighting a woman in broad daylight in the middle of his 'hood! And no-one notices!).

1) Both main characters are CGI.
2) Both films have Stan 'The Man' Lee in.
3) Both films have respected older actors slumming it as bad guys.
4) Both films are about the relationships between father and son, whether biological or imagined/spiritual. In Spiderman, Peter is the son Norman doesn't have, and wishes Harry was more like.
5) Both films have the main character haunted by a death in the family, with Bruce it's his Mum, with Peter it's Uncle Ben.
6) Both films have the father working on military applications, whether a personal flying armour thingy with super-strength add-on, or instant repair systems with super-strength add-on.
7) Both films have lots of shots involving the main character arcing through the air, either through jumping or webslinging. Both of them get involved in fights with airborne opponents.
8) Both films have the fathers undertaking forbidden procedures on themselves because their project is about to get shut down.
9) Both films have the father come into conflict with the son, whether biological or imagined/spiritual, when one of them fails to live up to the others expectations (okay, bit of a reach in the case of Spiderman I admit, but I think it's a possible reading that Norman is disappointed he will have to fight and kill Peter).
10) Both films have the lead character NOT get the girl and come to terms with the danger of the power within them.
11) Both films aren't that good.

So, who's turning out these cookie-cutter movies? Every film suffers from having to spend most of the film setting up the premise of the world, X-2 was better than X-1 because it didn't need so much exposition and I suspect Spiderman 2 might be good for similar reasons. But when you consider their comic book origins, Spiderman and the Hulk were quite different so it's interesting that the films are so similar.

Kilroy fights to get his show reinstated on the BBC. And now it's serious, he's got Richard and Judy in his corner.

And he told Trevor McDonald, in an interview to be shown in full on Monday, he was right to say that some Arab regimes amputated people's limbs and repressed women.

Except that's not what you said is it Bob?

We're told that the Arabs loathe us... What do they think we feel about them?... That we admire them for the cold-blooded killings in Mombasa, Y emen and elsewhere? That we admire them for being suicide bombers, limb-amputators, women repressors?

Or is that the pesky sub-editor again, removing equivocation and the paragraph where you made sure that no-one doubted you weren't talking about all Arabs everwhere? The more you try to explain yourself the more you're digging yourself in, I suggest that shutting up for once, something that you were never that good to do on your show might be the best course of action now.

Anyone coming out to play tomorrow? Oh come on, you know you want to...

Stop the presses! Even Blair is now showing doubt over WMD in Iraq! He lied to the country, if he's shown to have lied to Hutton and looses the top-up fees vote, he's going to have to go.

The Bush administration started making detailed plans for the invasion of Iraq within days of coming to office, with the President himself anxious to find a pretext to overthrow Saddam Hussein, a high-ranking former cabinet member said yesterday. Is this a surprise? It wasn't about oil, it wasn't about WMD, it wasn't about terrorism, it wasn't about the Iraqi people. Innocent American men and women have died for Bush's personal grudge.

Some of the different ways people in the UK will loose their rights and freedoms thanks to Tony Blair involving us in illegal and immoral fights. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!

2003: The Year of the Fake.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Oiled and sent to my room please...

John Craven must be rolling in his grave, and he's not even dead yet! CBBC Newsround exposes the pooing powers of penguins.


Based on what I wrote in Patrick's comments this morning I shall probably never write the long and detailed post about the differences between the British reaction to terrorist attacks (resignation/stubborn refusal to let it ruin our lives) and the US reaction (instant revenge against someone). It would have been brilliant, but I've got Tipping the Velvet in the video recorder and presumerably at any minute Miss Kitty Butler is going to get off with Nan, despite the fact that Nan speaks like the backward girl all the kids in the Special Needs class look down on. Quite how she's supposed to sing later on in the episode I don't know. Anyway, I can't be bothered to do the research to back this thesis up, but it probably will ask whether the American response was due to the forty-odd years of the Cold War where it was always assumed that the Russians were going to attack sooner or later, and whether the British restrained response was because we didn't think we could get away with invading Ireland again.

Well, it looks like the chemical weapons in Iraq were the wrong type of chemical weapons, namely not ones that could have been used against anyone any more. And there seems to be a little confusion over whether anyone is looking for WMD any more? It seems odd that warbloggers think so little of their Governments. The US and UK Governments are supposed to be the best in the world, with billions of dollars/pounds spent on the military complexes of both countries, yet despite that they haven't found the WMD which we are assured exist. Possibly they haven't found them because they haven't tried smashing open Tony Blair's skull as probably the only place they exist is in his mind. He's in big trouble as on both Iraq and tuition fees he's insisted on making this about him, if he's shown to be lacking on either, can he survive? He's threatened to resign on both subjects, can he survive an unsuccessful vote on either? And if he falls, is it going to have a similar effect on Labour that Thatcher's decline and fall had on the Tories?

Why the crapping fuck does Norton Firewall stop me from seeing some blogs properly? I'd turn the damn thing off to look at them only that doesn't work and some fucker is trying to break into my computer with a Trojan every five minutes it seems.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

This is scandalous, I hope it's just an early April Fool... As part of a divorce settlement a man has been ordered to keep from his son the fact that he is gay. He's also not allowed to expose his son to a 'gay lifestyle'.

Turning Muslim in Texas. Another show in Channel 4's Texas season. What seems to be a common element is that deeply Conservative Christians see in Islam an even more Conservative way to live. One woman gave a roll-call of society's ills that sounded suspiciously like what we've come to expect hearing from Christians (by which I don't mean to suggest that it's not a concern of conservative islam (what little I know of it)), drugs, prostitution, abortion, sex outside marriage, divorce etc. Do Muslims believe there's going to be a Day of Judgement? Because one of the converts says that 'come the day' she wants to be sitting near Muhammad. But then later on she's insisting that as a convert she knows more about Islam than those born into the religion and can help them get back in touch with their religion.

The Bible as IRC. [via B3ta]

Bravo! Bravo!

Came across this interesting blog article on good design in American National Parks guides which is well worth a gander.

I have no idea what it means, if anything, but this rocks.

She shoots, she scores!

I remember I once made the mistake, or faux pas, at least of saying how I didn't like Poppy Z. Brites second book (which I'd just read), on the Neil Gaiman newsgroup, only for her to pop-up right after. Fortunately I hadn't said anything insulting and she was most gracious. However, there does seem to be something odd about this Childfree Community and their 'too cool' moderator, but I suspect it's no different to most other groups out there when you're on the outside looking in... [via BoingBoing]

Robert Kilroy-Silk grovels to try and get his show back on telly.

The column, headlined We owe Arabs nothing, carried in the Sunday Express of January 4, has caused outrage. It had originally been run, albeit with different editing, last year by the newspaper. In a statement last night, Kilroy-Silk said he "deeply regretted" the article's re-publication, but stood by the original. He added: "When the article was originally published last year, it caused no comment or outcry... It was originally written as a response to the views of opponents to the war in Iraq, that Arab states 'loathe' the west, and my piece referred to 'Arab states' rather than 'Arabs'."

So, it wasn't a 100% racist towards Arabs, just somewhere between 50% and 99%? And because it was originally published in April that means we shouldn't be offended by it some nine months later?

A spokeswoman for the newspaper... added: "It was legalled by lawyers and there is absolutely no case to answer. The Sunday Express believes that the BBC is gagging free speech and is absolutely appalled."

As their website is pretty much non-existent, does anyone happen to know what the Sunday Express' opinion was of Andrew Gilligan and the whole David Kelly affair?

(Meanwhile, if the prospect of monday morning with no Kilroy has you panicking, hasten ye toward the Robert Kilroy-Silk generator. [via The Big Smoker])

There's an interesting article on what news topics got the most coverage on US TV last year here.

US disbands Iraq team looking for battle weapons.

The Pentagon has pulled out the 400-strong military team which was searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, but US officers insisted yesterday that the hunt would go on.

Presumerably on the principle of "Our new WMD-detection team is standing over there. Only smart, insanely right-wing Bush-supporters can see them".

Yesterday, the US secretary of State, Colin Powell, acknowledged that he saw no "smoking gun, concrete evidence" of ties between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida terror network, but insisted that Iraq had dangerous weapons and needed to be disarmed by force.

And next time there's a story about how there aren't any WMD someone in the UK or US administrations will talk about how, no, there isn't any proof, but Iraq was working with Al- Qaeda. Then when there's a story about how proof of links between Iraq and Al-Qaeda haven't been found then someone will say "but he was oppressing his people" then, when it's pointed out that Iraqi's, while grateful for the US's help want the Allies gone, and that the US betrayed the people of Iraq after the First Gulf War by inciting them to rise up, then not helping them overthrow Saddam, someone will say "but Saddam had WMD"...

It's the same old story. There's a number of unjustified excuses for going to war. Whichever one is being disproven at the moment, simply choose another one and go with that.

Meanwhile, someone gets a bit overexcited and shoots their load too soon. Sorry, you're not right, but please feel free to try again in the future.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Can I just point out that the 'Simpsons go to England' episode is mostly awful? Except for the 'Trainspotting' reference. Thank God that Tony Blair gave his support to Dubya, just imagine if he'd had any moral standing to loose by appearing in this episode.

You have to wonder, is David Blunkett's desire for ID cards just the biggest act of political voyeurism ever? Anyway, as feared, Gordon Brown has decided he wants a bit of the red-hot leather fascist action and has deployed Paul Boateng (a genetic experiment to cross-fertilize a human with the slime that slugs and snails use to walk on) to carry the glad tidings to the rest of us. The Treasury's big idea is to give each of us a unique number in a huge register of people in the UK. How nice, a register, just like the one they use for sex offenders.

Len Cook, the registrar general for England and Wales and head of the ONS, said: "The most critical attribute of such a register is that it protects privacy and makes it possible to extend ways to do this as society and commerce become more intrusive. It should enable each citizen to see the contact data that government holds on him or her, and to know which public sector organisations have access to their contact data."

You see? Have a register of the information in one place and it protects your privacy! But that would only work if the information was then removed from the departments.

The BBC has done a service to mid-morning TV watchers everywhere: The Kilroy programme will be taken off air immediately following comments made by Robert Kilroy-Silk in a newspaper article, the BBC has announced. While I think his comments deserve to be looked at by the BBC I'm not completely sure in my mind about whether any punishment they think of should necessarily go as far as sacking him. But then, on the other side of the argument (sorry, I'm feeling very liberal today) his show is supposed to be part of the news/current affairs axis, which makes the pretense of being fair and balanced, even when nothing of the sort. Perhaps the best thing would be for the BBC not to renew any contracts they have with Kilroy-Silk and let nature take it's course.

Something that makes my librarian's soul shriek in horror, Cambridge University Library have produced a display of books defaced by various means, whether accident, animal or human. Oh, I feel queasy...

Something that makes my librarian's soul shriek in horror, Cambridge University Library have produced a display of books defaced by various means, whether accident, animal or human. Oh, I feel queasy...

Hilary 'My Dad is Tony' Benn mounts a defense of the work of his Government's department and talks about how they have invested millions in making the world a better place. What he doesn't mention is how the Government have also put money into backing up schemes which will make the world a better place for the rich and powerful while making it worse for the poor people in those unfortunate parts of the planet. Such as the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which will be built for the benefit of BP, and the Illisu Dam, a project so mired in corruption even the World Bank decided not to invest. Critics of the later say that it would destroy Kurdish culture which, considering that this is Turkey, isn't that surprising. (Amnesty 2003 report here)

Although the Government no longer subscribes to Robin Cooks infamous 'ethical foreign policy' it does seem they want to still act as though that were the case, but in the short time that he's been in office Benn has managed to prove that his deeds do not match up to his words.

Things might be looking up for the British inhabitants of Guantanemo Bay, The softening of the US line could remove what was perceived to be the main stum bling block to repatriation - the inability of the British government to promise that the Guantanamo Britons would be prosecuted on their return to this country. We shouldn't relax just yet, what guarentee do we have that they won't just be switched from Camp Delta US to Camp Delta UK, where men are being held because the UK Government doesn't believe it can successfully prosecute them? In the UK they can be tried in courts without being present and without any means to properly defend themselves. Just because they may be transferred back to the UK we shouldn't assume their human rights will no longer be violated.

I'm fairly disappointed about this...

How evil are you?

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Muslim leaders have accused Robert Kilroy-Silk of "anti-Arab and anti-Muslim views" after a newspaper piece entitled "We Owe the Arabs Nothing". And that anti-Arab article is included in the letter of complaint from the MCB here. And it is quite staggeringly stupid on Kilroy's part, maybe daytime TV has rotted his brain. It makes Wolfowitz's pronouncements seem positively sane and benign. To read it you'd think that all Arab countries consisted of a couple of mud huts before being shown the 'beacon of civilisation' by the noble white people from the West. There's a total lack of discrimination between the terrorists and the ordinary people. LGF, of course, think it's great but they should be getting the Israeli government PR account any day now and then will be happy as sandboys.

Homer: Oooh, I feel like a kid in some kind of store!

I have to spend £1000 on comics in a couple of weeks for the Closed (but hopefully reopening in the Autumn) Library. I'll finally be able to read Cerebus without having to buy the things myself. And we'll get some Bone as well, and I might be able to sneak in a Jane's World collection too... Oooh I think I need to go and lie down somewhere...

It's the story that just won't go away. Another institution criticises the US Government for misrepresenting the threat from Iraqi WMD.

You can't make this stuff up. Tory leader Michael Howard has asked troubleshooter David James and a group of experts to scour the government books for ways to save taxpayers' cash. And, on the dark day that the Tories come to power again, perhaps they'd like to turn this little group into a Government office to which all departments must submit their proposals so they can be vetted to make sure they don't generate unnecessary bureaucracy?

It's not like I particularly like fast-food or the greedy rapacious environment-defouling companies that sell them, but it does annoy me when feckless people try to put the blame on them for problems such as obesity. Take dimwitted Colin Ord for example. He seems extremely unwilling to own up to the fact that it was him eating the burgers and other junk, instead he blames his mother who couldn't refuse her boy anything and then the fast-food manufacturers for advertising their products. With diet fads and surgery available to staple stomachs and wire jaws there seems to be an unwillingness in society in general to accept what is a pretty simple straight-forward truth, none times out of ten the main reason someone is fat is because they eat too much. Diets named after dead people and extremely intrusive surgery encourage people to shirk the responsibility for taking control of their lives, we all know what to do if we're involved in a car crash, none of us would want to admit to being responsible if it's us that caused that crash.

Most of us have the right to eat what we want, when we want. However, we then have to take the responsibility that if we eat too much, we're going to get fat. And relying on diets results in an unhappy person in a fat body. It shouldn't be McDonald's job to tell you that eating their products is bad for you. Burger King don't owe you an invalidity benefit if you eat there every day for years. Grow up, take some responsibility.

Here endeth the lesson, jeez.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

My broadband link at home started working on Saturday, which was nice. I've installed Norton's firewall-thingy which is more or less okay, but something weird is going on when I try to load my blog. I don't know whether it's the broadband connection or the firewall, but it takes longer than when I just had the 56K modem working. Even if I disable the firewall it still drags it's feet loading the page and not always correctly, comments missing, archives gone. It occasionally is a bit sniffy with some other blogs but most of them it loads okay. So I don't know what it is about mine which makes the broadband and/or the firewall go all weird.

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