Friday, April 30, 2004

Your connection might balk but if you can check out this beautiful ten minute film. It's from last year's Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival. In these hi-tech days it's worth remembering, everything you see is being done in real-time and by just one man and a few handfulls of sand...

Weird Search Requests: Breastfeeding Wall Photos?
Religious Word Games Dealing With Facts About Flowers?

At times like these, I look to my professional body for reassurance. The diagnosis may be right, but the treatment isn’t - that was the immediate response from CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals to Who’s in Charge? - a new report from Libri on the public library service in the UK.

Oh, and the email I sent to Roger Warren Ellis so Libri seem to be uncontactable at the moment. If it wasn't for the fact I was about to go on holiday for a couple of days I might be interested enough to take it further.

Everyone has probably heard that Michigan passed a bill to allow doctors not to treat people they didn't like (ie: gays). Now the idea is spreading. This is America's Religious Right on a new crusade, which will see all queerterosexuals not cured, not marginalised but dead.

US military in Iraqi torture scandal.

One of the soldiers, Staff Sgt Chip Frederick is accused of posing in a photograph sitting on top of a detainee, committing an indecent act and with assault for striking detainees - and ordering detainees to strike each other. He told CBS: "We had no support, no training whatsoever. And I kept asking my chain of command for certain things ... like rules and regulations."

Sounds like everything any military commander could want of a soldier, he has absolutely no concept of right and wrong beyond what he's told by a superior officer. In fifteen years time he'll probably be jobless, massively obese and probably just snap one day in a convenience store with a semi-automatic.

More Terry Jones goodness in the Guardian: Similarly it's fiendishly difficult to get people to accept the label "rebels" for those Iraqis killed by American snipers when - as in Falluja - they turn out to be pregnant women, 13-year-old boys and old men standing by their front gates. It also sounds a bit lame to call ambulance drivers "fighters" - when they've been shot through the windscreen in the act of driving the wounded to hospital - and yet what other word can you use without making them sound like illegitimate targets?

There might be something worth watching on American TV tonight: We’re going to do something different, something that we think is important. Friday night, we will show you the pictures, and Ted will read the names, of the men and women from the armed forces who have been killed in combat in Iraq. That’s it. It's a bit of a pain that ABC doesn't seem to be one of the American stations I can get on my cable TV, but I dare say some thirty seconds after it's broadcast some enterprising soul will have ripped it and put it up on the net.

It might be the only way some Americans are going to get to see the show as well, currently at the top of this page, is the news that Sinclair Broadcasting Group aren't going to run this edition of Nightline. It wouldn't fit in with their policy of ignoring all the death and destruction and presenting only the good things in Iraq. Still, at least they aren't claiming to be fair and balanced.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Yay! I'm going to Bicon!

Following on from what I wrote yesterday, are Libri a fraud? Or are they just very bad at designing a website? They say they are a new charity... formed a couple of years ago by a group of enthusiasts for public libraries dismayed at the present decline. They don't appear in the Charities Digest 2004, or the current Directory of British Associations. A search for them as a business on British Telecom's website doesn't find anything. As they don't display a charity number I'm not sure if they are breaking any laws here by calling themselves a charity. Anyone out there know more about the legal situation?

We believe that the public library service has important lessons to learn from all sectors of the book trade and the information provision sector. Learning the lessons will help create a public library service that is efficient, serves the needs of local communities and maintains public libraries as the heart of community life.

No explanation of why they believe libraries to be declining or why they have to follow 'the book trade' to be successful. You might as well say that libraries should follow 'the greengrocery trade' or 'the petrol station trade' for the sense it makes.

Demand for books has never been greater. The public library service is excluding itself from this trend and the time is ripe for change.

You have to wonder how many libraries they've been in recently.

I sent them an email, complaining about the lack of the promised discussion forum on their website to challenge their ideas. It bounced back, with a Delivery Status Notification (Failure).

However, by a piece of staggeringly clever detective work (ok, I admit, I just looked at the Libri address,, and tried I found this collection of folders, which connect to things such as LeftRights, Bulletin of the Socialist Civil Liberties Association, and a link, eventually, to LivePolitics. I'm going to email the owner of these various sites, Roger Warren Ellis, and see whether he knows anything about Libri. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

We blew the doors didn't we?
Pissed in their champagne
And did a real thing didn't we?
Gave ourselves a name
And peeled away the shame
I wanted to explode
To pull my ribs apart
And let the sun inside

Red stain blossoms
And all you have is kisses

And when the sunshine
Throwin' me a lifeline
Finds it's way into my room
All I need is you

We called that love
All you have is kisses
And all I need is you.

Elbow- Ribcage.

Haven't we been here before? Another group of parishoners don't want Gay Canon Jeffrey John as their Dean either. I hope someone reminds them of this the next time the Church of England agonises over how to make itself more relevent to today's society.

Had a rare bout of librarian rage occasioned by this report on libraries. I'm not going to go into it now as I haven't read the full report but my considered professional opinion is that it is a load of arse and as a librarian it would delight me no end that if Tim Coates were to google his name he would discover that he was a fucking idiot. I'm about a third of the way through, he generalises wildly based on Hampshire County Council's library service and a clutch of stats, and he seems to believe that people want libraries that act like bookshops and that we should open for much longer hours, increase our book budgets three times and redecorate ourselves, all without having to increase the funding we get by a penny.

Tim Coates (fucking idiot remember) has produced this report for Libri, which coyly describes itself as It was formed a couple of years ago by a group of enthusiasts for public libraries dismayed at the present decline. The use of the word 'enthusiasts', coupled with the use of 'decline' to refer to libraries should give you clues to where this lot are coming from. Tim 'fucking idiot' Coates comes from the background of working in bookshops, not libraries, so it's not surprising that in the first ten or so pages I've seen that bookshops get books to people better than libraries, and that bookshops would not survive with the satisfaction and success rates that Coates gives for libraries. I'm sure that fishmongers wouldn't survive either, or restaurants either. You're comparing a business with something that is not a business. There is no charter that demands that your bookshops stay where they are unprofitable, libraries are required by law to provide a service.

The forum that Libri want us to discuss this report on doesn't appear to exist yet. If I can be bothered to write a response I hope they'll get their act together to provide one for it.

High School student questioned by Secret Service after Anti-Bush sketches.

One of them depicted President Bush's head on a stick. Another pencil-and-ink drawing depicted Bush as a devil launching a missile, with a caption reading "End the war — on terrorism."

[Prosser Superintendent Ray] Tolcacher said the boy was not suspended. Tolcacher insisted it was not a freedom-of-speech issue but a concern over the depiction of violence. "From what I saw, (school officials) were right to be concerned," Prosser Police Chief Win Taylor said.

Of course we're all aware how cartoons are considered more psychologically damaging than news of hundreds and thousands of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still, as long as America's finest makes sure that more Iraqi civilians than US troops die then the homeland will be safe for the persecution of those with 'wrongthoughts'. I suppose the student should now be thankful he hasn't been shipped to Cuba.

Check out Bloggerheads excellent Let Down by Labour animation, made in response to the Tories pathetic Let Down by Labour campaign.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Blunkett still shows little sign of having a sound grasp of the actual capabilities of ID systems... Blunkett seems unable to stop presenting biometrics as some kind of magic.

Are you American? Do you suffer from two-tone perception disease?

David Blunkett's ID cards "not sufficiently Orwellian enough" says David Blunkett. [via Social Scrutiny]

Monday, April 26, 2004

So here it is. The Governments philosophy laid bare. If you oppose them, if you oppose their draconian fascist attempts to impose upon us all Big Brotheresque eyes that watch us in our pockets at all times, you’re just an intellectual Dwarf Darkie N!gger.

The Taliban threaten to kill anyone who votes in Afghanistan's September elections.

£2500 fine for disagreeing with David Blunkett. Amongst other things David Blunkett has announced that it will be compulsory to get an ID card, with a fine of up to £2500 if you don't.

David Blunkett said not making registering a criminal issue would avoid "clever people" becoming martyrs.

First time I've heard not doing something making one clever. So presumerably, if you don't want an ID card, that makes you clever and if you do then you're a moron! Which means, I'm smarter than David Blunkett. Mind you, I've just watched Finding Nemo, which was great, and there are krill in that that are smarter than David Blunkett. And you won't get martyrs anyway, nothing involving cards begins with 'm', so martyr is right out. We might have some ID idealists I suppose, or some Blunkett bashers, or just people who think that David Blunkett is about to waste a huge amount of taxpayers money on something that at best will have absolutely no effect.

The latest googlebomb: Go to Google UK, do a 'Uk Only' search, and click on 'I Feel Lucky' for 'poodle'.

Pah. I knew I should have touched wood yesterday, talking to Angel I said I hadn't had much of a problem with the old insomnia for a while, and what happens last night? So, is insomnia the actual condition of not being able to sleep, or the emotional feelings you get while in that state of non-sleep? Because to be honest when it happens I don't mind it that much, the most unpleasant bit is lying there thinking "I should be asleep! I should be asleep! Argh fuck!"

Shiteyes Blunkett was on the BBC Breakfast News this morning, which is not a pleasant thing to have to face when you're sleep deprived, or in any mental state really. Now, to be fair to the racist xenophobic shit who shows less respect for the rule of law than a left-wing anarchist dedicated to violent overthrow of the state, he did make a pretty good pretense of being a reasonable human being. All too often, as soon as someone get's a little power it goes straight to their heads and far too many Government ministers du jour appear on news programs with an attitude of 'how dare you question me you lowly maggot?'. Blunkett did at least appear to be listening to the questions people were asking. But because it was cuddly Dermot Murnaghan running the show he wasn't really pressed on some of the gaps in his policy, so at it's most charitable, ID Cards is Blunkett's solution which is now in pursuit of a problem.

Take illegal immigration, which is the 'problem' the British people are most worried about. During the forty-five minutes or so we learnt many seperate things. There will be a three month grace period on people moving to this country to get an ID Card. There will be no compulsion to carry an ID Card and people will be required to bring it to a police station within a certain period to verify who they are. For health checks people will be required to show their card when signing up with a GP or if they are going in to hospital for major but pre-planned surgery. Someone turning up in A&E with a serious injury will not be expected to show their card in order to receive treatment.

So I don't see how this will all stop illegal immigration. It won't stop working of the kinds that killed those cockle-pickers. They are working illegally at the moment. ID cards will just be another thing they aren't using, and another part of the danger.

Big business will have their own links to the card database in order to verify someone's card says they are who they say they are (Blunkett seemed completely convinced that biometrics makes ID fraud impossible) though currently they won't be able to do much more than check the ID, one of the first changes I suspect will be made if ID cards come in will be employment history will be made available to employers, and I guarentee the Government minister who proposes this will look innocent at the camera and say "well, this is just building on what currently happens when you fill in a form that asks for your employment history Jeremy". But interestingly Blunkett mentioned that small businesses will have to check ID at Job Centres or 'main libraries'. I wait with baited breath to see what libraries are involved in this and how, but it rather suggests that whoever is in charge of recruitment for a small business will have to walk out of the office mid-interview and march the person to their nearest Job Centre or Library to check their card.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Unbearably lovely hot weather, took advantage to pop down to Brixton and hanging out with Angel, had a distinctly average Sunday roast at a restaurant on what I think was Atlantic Road, they asked me how I wanted my meat and I said medium, they promptly burned the veg to within an inch of it's life and left the meat practically untouched. That's what I get for choosing a place purely on the grounds that it had a big cartoon of a woman on the wall with a sign saying "never mind the bollocks..."

Anyway, after that and a trip back to Angel's flat to allow a tactical regroup and also to dump the bag of Babylon 5 videos I'd brought for her (sorry Invisible Al, but she got to them first), we headed out and made our way to Brockwell Park (site of the filming of some bits of Spaced IIRC) to spend the afternoon lounging around drinking. I need to organise a Barbemeet there with some great urgency. Admittedly in our search for shade we sat down on the east side which doesn't give you much by way of views except some hedges and the tops of the houses beyond them. When we came to leave we walked around 'the mansion' and I saw the west side of the park for the first time. A view that stretched out as far as the Millennium Eye and the Gherkin. It quite simply qualifies as one of the most beautiful sights I've seen for a very long time. In this entry from his excellent blog Dan Hill quotes approvingly Cory Doctorow on London:

London is a practice: London is what Londoners are doing right now, which is informed by, midwifed by, descended from what Londoners were doing yesterday. London is what Londoners do.

We were all doing London this afternoon. I Love Everybody.

Anyway, as we relaxed I expounded my theory about how we needed to knock down old houses and ruins in this country down in order to revitalise the left-wing and stuff Conservatives like Howard and Blair. There was a third part to this argument, possibly involving sexuality or polygamy but unfortunately I've forgotten. Isn't this just the way? Would the world have been a vastly different place if Marx had gone and sat in a park one day instead of the British Library? Would there have been a vastly different theory of physics if Einstein hadn't got that job as a watchmaker? Oh well, my theory would have changed your lives and now it won't. Your loss.

I give thanks to the Great Pink Pixie in the Sky that I have so many great friends that encourage me, admittedly what you might consider one of the duties of a good friend, Plums, Butch Julie and Angel to name but three. I love you all. But anyway, as writers block seems to be in place as far as forward movement on my unfinished work is concerned I'm going back to write the second draft of my first and greatest unpublished work, Thanatos. I'm going to have a reread first, see what needs to be rewritten and what is okay (I've extremely pleased with the entire last chapter whereas most of the rest of it has it's moments) but Angel has really made me see the opportunities this offers.

And why is it that whenever I'm wearing a skirt does my right DM bootlace always keep coming undone but not my left lace or either of them when I'm wearing trousers? What is so different about my lace tying procedure en skirt that teases it loose so easily?

Apparently Michigan is going to pass a law which will allow doctors to let gays and lesbians die. Well, this is what it'll come down to. But why on earth stop there? How about a law to allow anti-semitic doctors not treat Jews? Or racist doctors not treat black people. Hows about Michigan passes a law which allows doctors not to treat patients if they 'look at them funny' or if 'they just don't feel like it today'?

Mark Thomas's latest prank revolves around the support that the Coca Cola company gave to the Nazis before and during the Second World War. Thomas is organising a gallery of ads and work by artists based on those ads. More information here.

Bush's choice of allies in Afghanistan as misogynistic as Taliban, rise in female suicides.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

I'm not the world's biggest Chomsky fan or anything, but I did like this article in his blog.

Consider, in contrast, the invasion of Iraq... The ending... was certainly welcome to the population. The US had enormous resources to reconstruct the ruins. Resistance had virtually no outside support, and in fact developed within largely in response to violence and brutality of the invaders. It took real talent to fail.

Belmarsh 'terror' detainees suffering severe mental problems. And what's the official Government response. David 'I laughed when I heard Shipman died' Blunkett calls it 'bonkers' that any of them should get released, and someone, I think it was Labour MP David Winnick (who I thought was a Tory MP, maybe I'm getting him mixed up with someone) basically telling everyone to stop moaning because it was only a dozen men who will be held indefinitely with no examination of whether there is a need to hold them. It suddenly seems that the intelligence services are infallible. What's more, if they were wrong, which they aren't, they wouldn't feel any shame about coming forward and admitting they were wrong, but they aren't, so they won't.

The noise you can hear is that of the UK falling down from the moral high ground. You would have thought that as there are only twelve men that would have made it easier to put them on trial and decide whether they should be locked up or not.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Say, you know how, only yesterday, there was a MORI report released that signalled broad public support for ID Cards? Well, turns out that that report was comissioned by Detica. Yes, us too. But they are quite unashamed to admit that their clients include Government departments. Fair enough. But when you look at the services they provide it starts to become obvious.

Our National Security clients include those UK Government departments who rely on advanced technology to protect the UK from a broad range of threats. From the design and implementation of advanced software radios to the integration of very large databases with associated analytical tools these projects all have one common characteristic; they are at the leading edge of what can readily be achieved with today's technology. (My emphasis)

People with long memories will remember that the last time that it was reported that the public was really really keen on ID cards it was also from a technology company.

UPDATE (24/04): The MORI website on the ID Card survey is here. What concerns me is that 73% of the people asked said that they'd only heard a little or less about the government wanting to introduce ID Cards, yet 80% are moderately or greater in favour of ID Cards. So we have an uninformed populace coming out in favour of ID Cards. That will make Shiteyes very happy.

We seem to be so woefully understaffed these days that even by mid-April, some of the weeks in Summer are already booked up holiday-wise. Mind you, due to understaffing it could be that that means one person has already booked other days, but now it's looking like I won't be able to make all of Bicon 2004. Damnit!

1. Canadian newspaper columnist mentions Fox News being available in Canada. 2. Fox News Idiot Bill O'Reilly takes this as an insult and mentions it on air. 3. Intellectually challenged Fox News viewers (the people most likely in the country to believe Saddam did have WMD and was giving financial support to terrorists remember) send badly spelt insulting letters to Canadian newspaper columnist. 4. Canadian newspaper columnist writes column about the letters. 5. Boing Boing links to it. 6. I laugh like drain.

For the first time since The War Against Terror started, Americans are able to see the return of their dead sons and daughters. Though perhaps predictably The Memory Hole, which is the site that is hosting these pictures, doesn't seem to be loading at the moment. Bandwidth issues?

The two sides of xenophobia and racism in this country: Ron Atkinson does the decent thing after making racist comments about a French football player, Richard Desmond wouldn't know the decent thing to do if it bit him on his backside, repeatedly calls Germans 'Nazis'. Dirty Dickie yesterday told his paper,the Daily Express, to switch allegiance back to the Conservative Party, so presumerably his racist outburst was an example of how he'll fit in nicely with them. According to this BBC report Dicky seems to be denying that anything happened whilst other people are using the excuse "He's a maverick, he's eccentric, there's none like him. For most people he's just medicine that's too strong to take."

A worrying story from America where anti-abortion protesters have succeeded in pretty much stripping women of all their rights when they get pregnant.

Some news to cheer up Dubya and depress those of us capable of rational thought:
In Spite of Media Coverage, Widespread Belief in Weapons of Mass Destruction and Iraqi Links to Al Qaeda Remain Virtually Unchanged.

A 51% to 38% majority continues to believe that "Iraq actually had weapons of mass destruction," virtually unchanged since February.

A 49% to 36% plurality of all adults continues to believe that "clear evidence that Iraq was supporting Al Qaeda has been found." These numbers have scarcely changed since June 2003.

A 51% to 43% plurality continues to believe that "intelligence given before the war to President Bush by the CIA and others about Iraqi's weapons of mass destruction" was "completely" or "somewhat" accurate. In February a 50% to 45% plurality believed this.

While a 43% plurality believes that the "U.S. government deliberately exaggerated the reports of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to increase support for war," a 50% plurality (also virtually unchanged over the last eight months) continues to believe that the government "tried to present the information accurately."

Of course, no matter who you want to vote for in November it might not matter: The president of a Diebold Inc. subsidiary said on Wednesday an electronic voting system made by his company had a glitch that may have contributed to the recent election-day troubles in California.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

It's days like this that make you despair for your fellow countrymen... 80% of people in the UK would accept having ID cards but over 50% don't trust the Government not to cock up their introduction and only one in five would be happy paying the fee. And on that last point, I presume this 'mooted' £35 charge was the figure that MORI were using. Last time figures were being discussed I was sure it was in the £75 to £100 range.

Most of the 1,000 people surveyed by telephone said they believed the card would counteract illegal immigration.

I bet the next question wasn't "how exactly?"

[David Blunkett] promised the public their introduction would not be a "cock-up".

Which would be Shiteyes committing to something not achieved by a British Government in decades, an IT roll-out that was on schedule, on budget and not a bug-ridden farrago.

OK, rather than looking at the source and going "Loz, the Moscow Times? Really!" and then chuckling to yourself, would anyone know whether the attempts to change the Constitution as mentioned in this article are genuine?

The Act -- drafted by a minion of television evangelist Pat Robertson -- is the fruit of decades of work by a group of extremists known broadly as "Dominionists." Their openly expressed aim is to establish "biblical rule" over every aspect of society -- placing "the state, the school, the arts and sciences, law, economics, and every other sphere under Christ the King." Or as Attorney General John Ashcroft -- the nation's chief law enforcement officer -- has often proclaimed: "America has no king but Jesus!"

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I've just finished reading Six Days by Jeremy Bowen (yes, Jeremy Bowen from BBC Breakfast News) which was an interesting and informative guide to the six day war, which gave me an appreciation for why Israel acts as it does. I don't have to like it but now I can begin to understand it.

Now I'm reading Gilliam on Gilliam about the films of Terry Gilliam. I don't particularly rate Brazil that highly, I found it overlong, rambling and unfocused in places, but I was interested in how he effectively said that Sam Lowry's eventual fate of loosing his sanity under torture is almost deserved in the same way you cheer when the bad guy is defeated, because Sam Lowry is a bad guy because he goes along with the state and the evil people in his life. He's complicit in their activities until the point that it conflicts with his own.

There's also a lovely story about meeting George Lucas and chatting, and George Lucas saying that he believed that Darth Vader really is evil.

I argued that he's not evil, he's just the bad guy in the black hat, who you see coming a million miles away. Evil, on the other hand, is Mike Palin in Brazil: your best friend, the nice-guy family man who, for reasons of his career or whatever, will torture and do awful things. You just don't know where evil is coming from.

And I'm certainly as guilty of projection as the next gender-ambiguous blog writer, but this is how I see conservatives see the world, they think that evil is a full time occupation done by people who wear badges that say 'I'm evil. Ask me why and then scream in pain'. Whereas I see it, if anything, as just a job.

Is it a legally sound position to argue for a temporary ban on something in the hopes that it's made illegal two or three years down the line? This seems to be what the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts is arguing in the States. Can they do this? Surely the only action they can take is to argue that gay marriage is illegal full stop, if they can't or won't surely they can't ask the court to basically put everything on hold on the chance that Bush might win the next Presidential election and might decide to change the Constitution and that might get through whatever the stages of the political system are and might not get successfully challenged...

If this gets through could liberals get the

Odd. Stalin Versus Hitler. I especially liked the faux copyright notices at the bottom of the title page.

The young American Marine is exultant. "It's a sniper's dream," he tells a Los Angeles Times reporter on the outskirts of Fallujah. "You can go anywhere and there so many ways to fire at the enemy without him knowing where you are. Sometimes a guy will go down, and I'll let him scream a bit to destroy the morale of his buddies. Then I'll use a second shot."

Now, if you're a patriot, you might see nothing wrong with the above. The problem is, if you are a sniper then you are firing at targets some distance away. Now, if you are doing that in an urban area, there is no way that you would be able to discriminate against a legitimate target and a civilian. The attitude of the sniper would seem to confirm the accusation made by Jo Wilding, they are shooting anything that moves. Regardless of the motives of the people the Allies in Iraq are fighting, regardless of whether they were fighting 'Satan and all his little wizards', being a sniper in an urban area, whether you wear a US uniform or the clothes of the resistance, makes you an urban terrorist. The Allies (and in this case the reports seem to be mostly Americans) are using terrorism as an instrument of war.

Explain to me again how you are better than the bad guys please.

Guns for peace! War for peace! Bush continues to use 1984 as a policy document and has been reading the sections about how Big Brother changes words to mean their opposite. Bush plans world recruitment drive to arm for peace. The most obvious thing is that Bush seems to be trying to bypass the structures that exist in NATO, the EU and the UN, Bush wants to create a clone of any or all of these with the sole difference that they are controlled directly by the United States. God forbid there be any power structures in the world that America doesn't control.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I feel gypped. There's this big article on how money from the UN's 'Oil for Food' program might have found it's way via Saddam to fund terrorism as well as the kickbacks to the French and Russian governments but nothing for the millions of us who demonstrated in the streets against the bombing of Iraq! So all we got was the satisfaction of knowing that we were opposing something that was morally wrong and has turned out to be disastrous for the people of Iraq. But if we'd known we could have made some ready money out of demonstrating as well...

Experts from the identification cards industry will tell parliament what type of cards they think should be introduced to the UK. So, we can rely on them to be completely honest about the drawbacks and shortcomings of their various technologies yet. Is there anyone in the Government who's likely to care that if they claimed their technology had a 99.9% success rate that's an awfully large number of people that would fail?

And the moral of the story is: Don't fuck with librarians.


A moment of silence please... Record Breakers' Norris McWhirter has died.

It was as the show's resident records expert that Norris McWhirter was best known to children of the 1970s and 1980s. Each week he would answer from memory any question about records that the audience chose to ask, and the exchanges were never rehearsed.

Possibly some bad news for Shiteyes Blunkett and his desire to turn the United Kingdom into a panopticon, Identity theft could be next big crimewave, warns internet firm. But especially:

A survey by RSA Security - admittedly based on a small sample - suggested that 79% of people would be prepared, when questioned in the street, to give away some personal information which might allow a dedicated fraudster to steal their identity. "Around eight out of 10 people are prepared to effectively give away their passwords," said Tim Pickard of RSA. "They don't see a high value in that information. A worrying number of people actually have passwords stored within their wallets."

As the banks are now rolling out this new scheme where people will have a second pin number to use rather than their signature when buying stuff in shops we'll have to see what effect that has on the numbers of cards stolen and goods and services paid for that are then revealed to have been done fraudulently. If people don't take their money seriously how much attention are they going to pay to their identity within the state?

Tuesday May 18th 2004 4.30pm till 6.30pm

Landmark Hotel, 222 Marylebone Road, London NW1, (nearest tube Marylebone Road, Bakerloo Line)

George Bush Senior, the architect of the first Gulf war, is coming to London to raise money for his son's re-election campaign.

He will be the main guest at a dinner party hosted by Republicans Abroad on Tuesday 18th of May. Tickets for the event are $1000 each!

Stop The War Coalition will be calling a mass picket of the event. Let's give George Bush senior the reception he deserves and night that the guests would wish they had not paid $1000 each to attend.

For further information please call 0207 053 2153/4/5/6 or e-mail

Ding Ding! It's round three in The War Against Terror starting here.

Monday, April 19, 2004

What Jo Wilding did next. She also has her own blog.

The Government wastes £200 million a year in subsidies to arms manufacturers to help them sell their weapons abroad. Thank goodness we don't have an ethical foreign policy huh?

I know where I came from...

The leader of Kent County Council, Sir 'I'm Julian and this is my friend' Sandy Bruce-Lockhart claims that children with parents of both the male and female variety have a more rounded upbringing and are less likely to slip in to crime when they are adult. Sadly no-one has started a fund to send Sir Sandy to Italy and China to tell the Mafia and the Triads that he thinks they are a bunch of poofy gay-boys. (Meanwhile, "Really? I'm an American professional in Public Health and I've yet to read a single study in the American medical or sociological literature that suggests anything but the opposite claim.")

But of course, there is history here...

Where it all began. "We need to re-emphasise family, Christian, religious and traditional values; and take pride in our country, our culture, our heritage and British history." Ah yes, the notorious Queer lack of national pride exposed by the KCC. And I'm sure that the Council's insistence on emphasising Christian values will go down well with the parents of all the children from non-Christian backgrounds. Perhaps the Council will also bring back the Spanish Inquisition to deal with those who deny that their God is the one true God.

How the BBC reported the story: Kent defies Blunkett on gays. Which is ironic, because Blunkett is as homophobic as Bruce-Lockhart.

This charmless man.

Sign the Scrap the Kent Section 28 Petition.

The website of the Kent Conservatives: Caring to come.

Gay Tories: I respect your right to hate my guts because of mythology, let us join together in our true objective: making lots of money and keeping the poor in their place.

(And in other news, Kent have also launched their own version of the ID Card, to try and stop underage kids buying booze and cigarettes.)

And in another part of the country, the campaign to allow the bullying of gay students to continue runs into a hitch when campaigners fails to spot The Onion is a satirical publication.

Salam Pax: A tip on how to make your blog popular: position yourself in a place where a bomb might fall on you. Tickles everybody and makes your hits-counter happy. Possibility of death is a downside, but hey! You get linked by A-list bloggers.

[Terry Jones:] "Without the lobotomy," Mr Cheney told the American Academy of Neurology, "it might have proved difficult to persuade the president to start wars all around the world without any good pretext. But the removal of those parts of the brain associated with understanding the outcome of one's actions has enabled the president to function fully and without hesitation."

Sunday, April 18, 2004

The Scifi channel showed 2010 last night. Sceptics might moan "what, again?" but I always find myself captivated by it, as it's all about two of the really big ideas, aliens and evolution. In the case of 2001 Arthur C. Clarke's novel is vastly superior to Stanley Kubrick's sprawling and boring movie. It's one thing to show that docking space vehicles would be a slow and careful process, but when you can't make a story involving a psychotic computer or strange faster-than-light travel interesting then you've got problems. I haven't seen all of Kubrick's ouevre but Clockwork Orange must only have been highly rated because no-one in Britain could see the thing for decades and The Shining killed any suspense or tension by refusing to have anything happening until after the audience was comatose. Only Doctor Strangelove and Full Metal Jacket were half decent and the latter was overlong.

But anyway, 2001 the movie is worse than the book. But, though it perversly seems more obviously dated, 2010 the film outshines the book. I think it's seems dated to our eyes because it needs obviously special special effects, whereas the former was supposed to rely on atmosphere, which it would have had if it was directed by someone with a human heart, but enough Kubrick-bashing. I think the reason I prefer the film to the book comes down to the scene where Bowman makes contact with Floyd. In the book HAL relays the messages and then Floyd sees Bowman build a statue of himself out of dust and that's it. In the film, Floyd see's him, follows him and has a conversation with him as he grows older before finally circling back to the start of his life cycle as the space baby again. The microphone treatment on Bowman's voice, though extremely low-tech, really does emphasise the strangeness of what he's become, and then the final scene on Europa, thousands of years in the future, the moon is all swamp but there stands the monolith, waiting, waiting...

You'll have immense difficulty finding it but if you liked the films and/or the books you really should find a copy of Arthur C. Clarke's Lost Worlds of 2001 which describes the creative process behind both book and film. At one point HAL was a little android character and the film would have ended with Poole and Bowman meeting the alien who built the monolith. It's a fascinating glimpse at creativity at work.

I don't know Chris, if I could understand what you were saying, I could give an opinion...

I didn't want to mention anything until I'd had a chance to listen to at least the first one, but the BBC are putting this years Reith Lectures up for download as MP3s.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Whilst there are reports as yet unpublished in the Western media that the US has been smuggling WMD into Iraq, nuclear facilities in Iraq have been left unguarded by coaltion forces and looted by persons unknown. That material, none of which has been reported as being from any post-1991 Iraqi weapons program, has turned up in European scrapyards is worrying, even if the Spain train bombs weren't dirty in nature.

Still catching up I'm afraid.

Still, when I hear talk about "anti-Americanism" it angers me. Why does American identify itself with its military and government? Why is does being anti-Bush and anti-occupation have to mean that a person is anti-American? We watch American movies, listen to everything from Britney Spears to Nirvana and refer to every single brown, fizzy drink as "Pepsi".

I hate American foreign policy and its constant meddling in the region... I hate American tanks in Baghdad and American soldiers on our streets and in our homes on occasion... why does that mean that I hate America and Americans? Are tanks, troops and violence the only face of America? If the Pentagon, Department of Defense and Condi are "America", then yes- I hate America.

American troops involved in a Rodney King incident in Iraqi city of Kut on wednesday.

Friday, April 16, 2004

OK, I've noticed this nearest book meme flying around for several days, but I refused to do it at work and have to quote from the pile of Mills and Boon waiting to be processed. Actually, that might have been a laugh...

Anyway. 'Pick up the nearest book. Open it to page 23. Find the fifth sentence. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.'

According to Rabbi Chomer, an exegetical authority quoted by Levi in 'Transcendental Magic', the governing spirits of the sign of Cancer are Rahdar and Phakiel. It's a description of the Angel of the sign of Cancer, from A Dictionary of Angels by Gustav Davidson. One of my novels stuck in development hell is an alternative earth western with angels (funny, it sounds a lot less crap when I just think about it) and I got the book out of the library to help with names and descriptions, I liked it so much I bought myself a copy, which promptly sat at the bottom of an ever increasing pile of crap by my desk when the writers block settled in.

Osama Bin Laden offers Europe 'truce', Europe tells Beardy where he can stick his truce.

If nothing else, on a purely practical level, how could we trust Bin Laden to keep his word? He's got Allah on his side, did God tell him to offer a truce, what if God tells him the week after a freezing of hostilities to bomb somewhere in Germany? And even if Bin Laden were sincere, the Al Qaeda cells are supposed to operate with a certain level of autonomy so as to be difficult for intelligence agencies to locate, if he says "stop" and means it, could we be sure all those cells will hear it, listen and obey?

But he's committed crimes or been directly implicated in them, which means he doesn't get to say "I got to the tree! White rabbits, fayneights, you can't get me!", the end comes with his death or, more preferably, capture and trial.

The BBC claim this message is aimed at European left-wingers but while people might agree with his analysis of the situation I don't think that it will win him much support, or do much to further widen the gulf of popular opinion between the Left and their leaders. They disagree with Bush and Blair going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan as a response to Sept. 11th 2001, it doesn't mean they think it was an awful and cowardly act of terrorism that Bin Laden was involved with. Fridgemagnet on Barbelith thinks that, as ever, it's really a message for his fans in the Arab world, if countries such as Spain and Poland do pull out of Iraq he gets to claim "It was international terrorism wot won it".

If Bin Laden really wanted to cause trouble in Europe he should surrender to the European Union, preferably France or Germany, and demand that he have the chance to defend himself at the International Criminal Court. The United States would tear the United Nations apart to try and get at him, both so that they can bung him in Guantanemo Bay and in the hopes that they can get him out of the spotlight before he reminds the world how it was the CIA that got him started in the Eighties. The problematic idea of putting Bin Laden on trial should probably be thrashed out now even though it seems unlikely to happen, rather than waiting for the chance it happens.

The ICC wouldn't be acceptable to the current US administration, it's slow, not sexy enough for Fox News cameras and he wouldn't get the death sentence that the US would want him to get at the end of it. But the US trying him would be unacceptable to the rest of the world, many other countries have crimes to charge him with and what about those that don't have the death penalty? While the US may like to tell itself it can be self-sufficient the West Wing has had to work hard to ensure that people didn't see Bush (and Blair, though they don't care about him) going cap-in-hand to the UN for help after his 'victory' as the humiliation it was. It would probably be better for the US if Bin Laden decided to retire, get himself a little cottage somewhere called 'Dunterrorising' and concentrating on bee-keeping or something.

Thanks to Danah Boyd I've found an article that I wanted to link to for ages but was too feckless to find for myself to show what could happen once Blunkett has given us all a shiny ID Card. The Dark Side of Numbers: The Role of Population Data Systems in Human Rights Abuses. It isn't actually the guilty that have something to fear. Put the ID Cards together with the census and oh! what larks follow!

Cake or Death

Which Eddie Izzard Quote Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

"She was, in many ways, the people's Blue Peter presenter." Hovering somewhere between ridiculous and icky, Emma Brockes in todays Guardian massively over-eulogises Caron Keating after her death from cancer.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Iraq body count, trying to keep track of how many 'whoops-a-daisy!' mistakes there have been in Iraq.

I'm Buttercup, which ambiguous dyke are you? Quiz by Turi.

Shiteyes Blunkett hopes to stop community vigilantism against paedophiles by recruiting community vigilantes to public protection panels that monitor paedophile movements. No mention is made about whether it would be considered a criminal offence should anyone on these panels find out names and identities of paedophiles and then release it to the public. It'll probably only take one more paedophile attack on a child to have Shiteyes legalise the hunting of paedophiles with hounds anyway.

It's hard to say what effect Bush declaring Palestinians have no rights in Middle-East will actually have. After all, the US have always backed Israel for decades whilst trying to play it to their public that they wanted to broker a fair and just settlement between the two, which is why news of every new Palestinian atrocity is met with eyes to the heavens and an "I can't understand why they don't like Israel taking their land and killing their people!" attitude. The Road Map was yet another flawed document that demanded the Palestinians had to do all the work to ensure there was peace which would, in the final analysis, be measured on the Israeli's terms.

So at least we had honesty from Bush. The gameplan is simple. The Palestinians now officially have no hope, where as before that was simply an informal fact. The suicide bombings will continue but I doubt there will be much increase in frequency, they were almost certainly going to happen anyway. But Bush has committed the US to the destruction of another Muslim state and it's people by proxy, which means that the safety of the Western world has decreased further.

And politicians claim they don't know what makes people want to be suicide bombers!

What else could we buy for the £6 billion* cost of a national ID card?
Following the Prime Minister's announcement that a compulsory ID card is likely to be introduced swiftly, Privacy International proposes a "Top Ten" list of alternative ways to spend the £6 billion.*

1. Building 600 new schools @ £10 million each
2. Building 30 new hospitals @ £200 million each
3. Paying for 10,000 more police for the next ten years
4. Giving each of Britain's poorest 6 million pensioners and families a £1,000 windfall gift
5. More than doubling the total UK Gift Aid to charities and voluntary organisations
6. Increasing the total investment in new technology by a quarter over four years
7. Paying 75% of the funds required for urgent rail track upgrades
8. Doubling the combined budget for medical research and research & development within the NHS for five years
9. Doubling the budget for the Sure Start early education and childcare programme for eight years
10. Indefinitely halving the cost of Top-Up fees.

*This figure is based on the proposed £77 per card for 60 million people plus compliance costs, card replacement costs, back-up system costs, enhanced visa application and "non standard" biographical footprint checking that the government did not include in its estimates.

From Privacy International.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The article from Jo of Circus2Iraq seems to be making the rounds now, it's supposedly been mentioned in the New York Times and is here at Open Democracy along with a Pentagon rebuttal.

Dear Mr Henderson

There are those who falsely report that US forces are targeting non-combatants. The truth is, US forces have attempted to protect civilians to the best of their ability. When US forces are attacked we apply the appropriate, proportionate combat power to eliminate that resistance. With respect to the Marines in Fallujah, they are being very deliberate and precise in the application of their combat power to prevent non-combatant casualties in the area.


Bruce Frame
Capt, U.S. Marines
CENTCOM Spokesperson

So, mistakes don't happen in the US military? No-one is being shot at who doesn't deserve it? In which case the US policy in Iraq is now one of 'kill everyone, God (or possibly Allah) will know his own'?

Zanzibar outlaws homosexuality and lesbianism. No news yet on whether bisexuals are alright.

I'm in two minds about whether Branding the Street: New Directions in Graffiti Art is worth going to. It would mean taking a few hours of work tomorrow night, which may mean it's a non-starter anyway, but it's hard to judge from the write-up whether this is worth visiting or whether it'll just be a bunch of tossers in their 'dress down Friday' clothes.

A report from Jo of Circus 2 Iraq from Fallujah, where they were before events overtook them. Now they're trying to help medical staff where they can, not easy when she thinks there are American snipers shooting at ambulances.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

The Republican Policy Committee have put out a handy little document (.pdf, boo!) explaining how Iraq is not Vietnam. Reading it though, it's very difficult not to get the impression that what they really want to say is "Iraq is not Vietnam because it's a different country! It's even spelt differently! Hah, you can't pull the wool over our eyes!"

It's another claim from within the Axis of Evil that the US are shipping in WMD so as to 'discover' them before the Presidential elections. It's a shame that no Western media is reporting this, though perhaps they're having a harder time verifying the story.

Question: Is it possible for a woman to act as a transvestite in modern society as opposed to just a woman in trousers, without going all the way into drag king performative territory?

One year ago today...

Monday, April 12, 2004

It just goes to show, the last people that should be allowed near religion are the religious. Look at Million for which explicitly states 'Imagine what God can accomplish when 1 million of us decide to pray together and work together to help build His Kingdom on Earth'. 'Can accomplish'? God NEEDS one million people praying? Or God WANTS one million people to pray before he gets off His Omnipotent Arse to do something?

Two sides of the same ugly coin, racism from Britain's white community and the radical Islamicism it provokes in return. If he could engender the same levels of disquiet between communities in America then Osama Bin Laden could pack up and go home, job done. By standing alongside Bush Blair has failed his country. And when in a few years time he's buggered off to the US or the UN to take up his next job he'll have left us all behind to suffer the consequences of his actions.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Just back from seeing Shaun of the Dead. It's a pleasant enough film with some good jokes in it. If that sounds a bit of a weak recommendation, it is, as it bills itself, a romantic comedy... With a battle against zombies in the middle of it. Most of the young British comedy establishment, most of the cast of Spaced, obviously, League of Gentlemen, Black Books and Little Britain have at least walk on parts. And it does have some chills and shows what you can do when you need to do it cheap. If it does feel a bit slight at times, well it is a pastiche/homage to horror films that weren't exactly the most taxing examples of the genre and you will enjoy scenes like arguing over the musical merits of vinyl albums to use to attack zombies or beating up a zombie with pool cues in time to the drum beat of Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now'. I haven't seen the films they are referencing, so I don't know if the deliberately sudden climax is a comment on them or just needing an end to the script.

Meanwhile, in the news this morning was a report that Hollywood will be producing a film that shows how it was Americans that won the Battle of Britain. A couple of years ago I wouldn't have minded. I didn't mind the fact that Mel Gibson made two wildly inaccurate films in which he got to kill lots of Englishmen. I didn't mind the RAF in Independence Day saying "Thank God" when the finest examples of minority actors that could be found worked out how to save the world. British actors playing baddies in Die Hards 1 and 3? They were good actors. So almost all the upper-class English scum on the Titanic drowned? Well, that was accurate, at least. U-571 and Saving Private Ryan? Didn't care.

But now we have a situation where we don't know our past, we're forgetting what was truth and what was fiction and I think that's dangerous. The argument over The Passion showed, people do seem to think what they see on the screen is some kind of literal truth, "It is how it was"? Jesus Christ... Fifteen years ago the Prince of Thieves was played by an American who at least attempted an English accent until he was through the opening scenes. In a few years time I genuinely believe that it might be explained that even though America wouldn't exist for another five hundred years still a good old boy came over from Texas to kick medieval English ass. Hands up anyone who saw the episode of Monkey Dust where they did the film about the Crusades and all the 'English' knights were Americans and the 'Arabs' were all played by English actors, and the knights find the Cup of the Grail and get it past the Arabs by playing American football?

I don't know who's at fault here. Tom Cruise? Hollywood? Mrs Tamplin, my fifth year History Teacher? Tick all or none of the above? What can we do if history is insufficient for the task of American chest-beating and the need of the more conservative (please note the small 'c' Patrick) elements of the American media machine to reassure itself with stories about how good and noble a place America is? We did something similar when we were fighting our war, but Laurence Olivier doing Henry V or The Douglas Bader Story were somewhat closer to the truth, or recognised as fiction. If American politicians conspire to keep their people in a state of perpetual war, sooner or later they were bound to run out of genuine stories to tell about themselves. Does it matter if, in a film, an American wins the Battle of Britain, when in real life it was British fighter pilots? Or is this just another example of how our close association with the United States is detrimental to our feelings of self-worth? If all white England is allowed to own is a legacy of murder, rape, torture and repression from it's past, where's our motivation to change that in our present or future?

I'll be coming back to this topic again some other time and will try to make sense then.

ID cards 'to be compulsory in six years'. Shiteyes Blunkett drops all pretense of ID Cards being voluntary. ID Cards will be compulsory by 2010. It will cost about £80 to apply for. Police will only be able to demand the card if the person is suspected of committing a crime. When the card becomes compulsory, it will be needed to access NHS care and claim benefits. And worryingly, the Tories are slowly waking up to the idea that it might be a vote winner to oppose this:

'I haven't yet seen the slightest evidence from the Government, or indeed from anyone else, that ID cards would actually substantially contribute to the battle against terrorism,' [Oliver Letwin] said. 'I haven't yet heard anything from the Government that persuades me that they have really thought through how having ID cards, with all the admitted civil liberties implications, would really help us in the fight against terrorism.'

Blunkett and all of his little cheerleaders haven't answered this one because there is no answer Oliver. They avoid the question because they know that Spain has a compulsory ID card system and it did them zero use when the terrorists came calling.

It's sounds like a radio site presented by Professor Stephen Hawking but check out Radio Vox Populi. Created by Cameron Marlowe (one of the many who helped demolish Chatnanny AI claims) for Media Lab Europe, it uses synthesised voices to read blogs out. It gets weird when you have a voice approximating a middle aged man reading a diary entry about some teenage girl and what she got up to in school.

Vile bearded shiteyes Blunkett now plans to enshrine guilt by association in British law. I'm sure it's only because the bastard is blind that we haven't had a bill passed to jail people who look at him funny. This also proves that dogs are inherently very stupid animals or else his guide dog would have done us all a favour and led him in front of a bus. Tosspot!

Saturday, April 10, 2004

It's political correctness gone mad! Or something.

The Sun, obviously finding that it can't fill ALL it's pages with the detailed sexual history of this woman that's slept with David Beckham or something (I haven't being paying much attention because it's essentially a very dull story), has decided to fume about a prison that is giving it's inmates a Cadbury's Creme Egg each. The paper, for whom we should rename the Manics song as 'IfTheSunWereForcedtoKeepASenseOfProportion It'sWorldWouldFallApart', seems to think that the prison spending, by my working, £152.28 on sweets the size of a regular egg, is bigger news than the war in Iraq, where daily spending by the UK Army dwarfs that figure, AND they don't get Easter Eggs!

Two similar stories from the broadsheets, namely what the pro-war commentators said a year ago about the war and how things would be better for the Iraqis now that Saddam was gone: The Guardian view and The Independent view (which doesn't ignore the fact that Guardian columnist David Aaronovitch supported the war).

Meanwhile, things are getting worse. And are the Allies ready if this battle against Iraqis spreads to include Iran as well? Meanwhile, Jack Straw understates his view on what was going to happen after war 'finished' last year, I thought that they would go from some good days and some bad days.

Mr Straw said "the lid of the pressure cooker has come off," but he blamed events on the Saddam regime's legacy. "Some of the tensions and pressures which were there, and would have come out in any event, have to a degree been directed towards the coalition."

Strangely, before Saddam Hussein was being held at His Emperorships Pleasure, the argument the West used for not invading Iraq was that Hussein effectively held together Iraq and stopped it falling apart into civil war along ethnic and religious lines.

The Washington Post is keeping readers informed about the US casualties, a similar list for Iraqis would be much more difficult to organise and many times larger, others have a more picturesque version. [from American Leftist]
you are swell mel!

what garbage pail kid are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Friday, April 09, 2004

Japan is refusing to withdraw troops from Iraq despite the death threats hanging over three of its citizens but there's a growing anti-war movement demonstrating in Japan.

Something to look forward to at the start of May. Sky Ear will release a load of mobile phones tied to helium balloons into the night sky above the National Maritime Museum. The balloons will change colour according to changes in the electromagnetic atmosphere around them, and people will be able to dial up the phones and listen to what the sky sounds like up where the air is clear. Therefore this is obviously one of the most insane things I've heard of in the last hour. [via Metafilter]

The Bush/Cheney election 2004 team came up with a bright idea, putting a poster generator on their website so that loyal Republican drones could create their own posters. About four picoseconds later they had to take it down because it was being used by the bigger majority of people who were using it to register their disgust with the Shrub. And it's now been touchingly memorialised here. [via B3ta]

Most central London arts venues seem to have tapped into various sources of finance in order to look good, perhaps they could pass on some tips to the Royal Festival Hall. Maybe I'm being unfair as I've only been there once and didn't go into any of the halls, just the ground floor and first floor bar, but I visited yesterday and it looked grotty. Horrible tacky furniture in the downstairs restaurant, and various multimedia whatnots and dojibs, none of which worked. And as for the prices in the bar...

Anyway, had a good time yesterday evening, meeting up there with various Barbeloids and setting the world to rights. Funniest moment being when our Grand Lord Archon expressed the concern that the day the Magic forum 'charged their sigils' in an attempt to help him get a job he was after was the day when the planes crashed in to the WTC (he didn't get the job and was wondering whether the energy had gone in a different direction, but it turned out it had been a different job interview on a different day).


It needs to be said. While the BPI and others are constantly trying to make out that online piracy destroys music, rapes musicians and says nasty things to their grandmothers, I think it's useful, where possible, to represent a different point of view. In this case, Flux posts a Buffalo Daughter MP3, I like, so I buy the album. Net consequence? Whatever Amazon pay on for selling a copy to me. There is absolutely no other way that this would have happened. Same as with the Scissor Sisters, same as when I got into Godspeed You Black Emperor! and A Silver Mount Zion after hearing them on the radio. The only difference between the two is that the BPI and it's hellish minions have no means to control filesharing. Filesharing forces the music producers to put more effort into putting out stuff that appeals. That's the real reason they want to stop 'piracy'.

It should be pointed out that I thought the Buffalo Daughter album 'Psychic' is okay at best. Standout track is the one that Flux posted, 'Cyclic', and none of the other tracks quite reach that melodic standard, which reminded me of Underworld's 'Two Months Off'.

I like Nirvana. I like Kurt Cobain. I like comics. This, as centrefolded in the latest NME, is a fucking abomination. Look at the pictures down the side of the artists website. Great art let down by a mediocre script, I mean, Kurt with angel wings? For... fucks... sake.

More on the Chatnannies story. You may want to read this article at The Register, this article from Michael Williams and this item from Language log which, if true, has information on where Nanniebot creator Jim Wightman is coming from. have a page for all the information on this story that's fit to print.

Um, yeah. Subservient Chicken.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

According to enrobso it seems that ex-sometime Blair business partner Peter Foster has gone on record in Australia that Tony and Cherie have considerable money hidden in offshore trust funds and that Tony has been adulterous at least once and the occasion nearly produced an issue. Considering the people involved, Blair and Foster, who would you prefer to be telling the truth here?

Couple of 'read these and let me know what you think' articles: The Powerful Women Problem, do we have the wrong kind of women on the track?
The Pregnancy Police. Now that Bush has signed this bill, will the GOP write a similar bill that will punish an unborn child for killing it's mother?

A Letter from an Iraqi Mother to the Mothers of the Americans Killed in Fallujah.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

You sick, sick bastards.

I don't like conspiracy theories as a rule but there's something about this massive chemical attack that we've been saved from that concerns me. As experts will say, the important part of this, the osmium tetroxide, is not easily available. It's also not particularly nasty in a 'dirty bomb causing massive amounts of radiation' kind of way. So there is a little part of me that isn't convinced. Al Qaeda don't seem to have gone in much for chemical attacks thus far, Sept. 11th was straightforward blunt force, the Allies used more chemicals in their attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. Madrid was very much a home-grown affair, as the suicides of the surviving conspirators proved. It's not beyond the realm of possibility but so far the only other chemical attack, the spate of mailed Anthrax in America, looks more like it was the work of some nutjob in the Government trying to draw attention to his or her countries lax security when it came to dangerous chemicals.

So who was reponsibile this time? Something tells me we won't be seeing a dossier from Tony on this occasion.


Latest ill-thought out scheme to stop dem paediophiles from groomin' dem kids via the interweb is Chatnannies. Sign up with them and get a unique and untraceable ID, with which you can file reports on Chatnanny about unsafe chatrooms and people that are 'acting suspiciously' in cyberspace. The people behind Chatnanny seem to be blissfully unconcerned about the danger of malicious users filling deliberately incorrect information and the only qualification you need to be involved is access to a computer, which surely counts some of the mob who couldn't distinguish between a paediatrician and a paedophile. Let's hope they don't find any podophile chat rooms.

The Guardian is right to be concerned about amateurs dabbling in this area, no matter what Chatnannies might say.

There are basically two positions on this, which all revolve around their claims regarding their 'Nanniebot'. [O]ur NannieBot which uses the most advanced Artificial Intelligence ever built. Nanniebots behave like humans, sound like humans, and report to ChatNannies as if they were human, but with one massive difference - they never sleep. NannieBots self replicate so as you read this there are already thousands of them watching over chatrooms. The only limit is the processing power of the PCs and servers upon which the Nanniebots are with more funding we can have even more NannieBots and make chatrooms even safer. Now, look at what is apparently a genuine transcript of someone talking to a Nanniebot from the New Scientist website. Of course I'm happy to admit that I'm no technical expert, but basically Chatnanny are asking us to accept that they have made the first artificial intelligence capable of passing the Turing Test. Which means either, a) they're lying, so have no business in the realm of paedophile detection, or b) they're geniuses, and have no business in the realm of paedophile detection because they should be solving the big problems in the world today.

When did you last see your father/husband/son? There's a mystery afoot as the 2001 national census suggests there are a million fewer men in the United Kingdom than there should be.

MI6 has told members of the Butler inquiry... that it never again wants to be used by politicians to provide a public case for going to war.

I'm in two minds about this mainly because the Hutton Enquiry showed there had been meddling at the Government end, but it all does rather depend on whether the intelligence is accurate or not in the first place. This would seem to be less about whether it is right for intelligence to be used for political reasons or whether MI6 is trying to ensure it doesn't get embaressed in future if their information is incorrect. Next time we have a war we'll probably follow the lead of the American Neo-Cons and set up a rival intelligence unit to find out only goodfacts to support the Government line. The stakes are obviously far too high to rely on things like realfacts any more.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

At the moment, if you type Jew into Google, the top result is for the rather Anti-Semitic 'Jew Watch', so everyone is encourage to ignore that and instead link their blogs to either the entry from the Judaism 101 site entitled who is a Jew? or the wikipedia entry on Jews in the hopes of googlebombing that undeserved entry from it's place at the top.

A couple of links from Bloggerheads that I wanted to draw to your attention. Firstly, 'Heads links to this entry, where it's nice to see Americans once again holding their hands out to the French.

But there's also this article, which is one of those that I might have thought would be an April Fool if it wasn't three days late. It could well be true, but why would you want to study that and does this guys institution know how he spends their money? Is it; "Are you gay? Can I watch you make out? Oh, by the way, do you smoke?"

I'm wondering whether it's time to retire the 'I Believe in the BBC' icon at the top right, not because I no longer do but it is beginning to seem as though the danger may have passed over (geeky reference alert!) much the same way as the Eye of Sauron passes over Frodo and Sam as they tramp towards Mount Doom (warned you!), for now anyway. Okay, maybe just for one more month...

But meanwhile, something I hadn't noticed previously on that Bloggerheads page, it's Alistair Campbell's Wheel of Retribution!

I expect that it's just one of those rumours that gets distorted as it travels around blogs, but I thought I'd heard it said it was possible to go home from work in the evening happy and satisfied having achieved things during your day.

Bah! I'm now doing non-fiction ordering for my sub-group of libraries in the borough which means attending weekly buying meetings where we go through the CD-ROM with the new titles on and choose what we want and where. Obviously this isn't excitement on a par with living or breathing, but it gets me out of the library for a bit. The one drawback is it's first thing in the morning in another branch which is right over the other side of the borough, so this is one of the few times when it would be advantageous of me to drive (unlike the other thirty or so days in the month when a car would just get in the way). So it looks like I've got to get up early to catch either the series of buses to get me to my destination or the series of tube trains.

Guh! After weeks of waiting I've finally been told I can start my fiction ordering for The Closed Library. Never mind that I should have been doing this a month ago, at least we've got a pretty good chance that if we order books now then we should have them all ready to go into The Closed Library when we start moving back in in the Summer. Only, we can't start ordering stock. The problem now is that our passwords have all been sent to our email addresses that have been set up on the Council server. Only we can't access our email addresses because I.T. probably quite rightly, don't think it's their highest priority to sort out how to persuade Outlook to accept our roaming log-in profiles on the Council server. So I'm still as stuck as I was a week ago, only now in a different way.

Feh! The council must be wondering if it's ever going to be able to close any of our libraries. The two earmarked to go have been saved and apparently the public want consultation over the closure. I know that I really should support public consultation over the matter but I can't see that the council has room for manouever on this. But there are harsh truths which the public need to hear here. Every day these libraries remain open because they can't be bothered to get off their arses and walk or drive for what is genuinely five or ten minutes to the next nearest library means there is less chance we can buy new stock to go in their libraries. This borough already has a higher proportion of libraries to inhabitants than the average or mandated minimum. I obviously don't want libraries to shut and the council have pulled a dirty trick by funding them from the book fund but I'm thinking the problem is not so much one that can be resolved by sacking the council and voting in a new one but by sacking the public instead.

Right. Read this, then this, then check out the latest information at STAND. Then read this. Now Fax Your MP or else I will eat your braaaaaains.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Went to the British Library and joined today, so I have yet another ID Card in my collection, yet still am opposed to an official ID Card. And the British Library is a lovely place.

Then down to the Science Museum for the Pain exhibition. Annoyingly I trolled all the way through all the levels of the museum before asking a member of staff for the directions, I think there was one sign in the entire building. It was a very average experience, someone had obviously raided the Museum basements for anything that looked icky, a torture chair with blades instead of a seat, primitive dentists equipment, films of a recreation of the experiments which made average people torture other ordinary people. What made me ill was not anything I saw or heard, but the fact that room one was pitch black while rooms two and three were pure white and mirrored. It was that, not man's inhumanity to man, that made me feel ill.

And I now have a copy of Issue #3 of Smoke. Hurrah!

And constructive criticism is the only way Smoke will ever get better - we've tried all the other ways. For instance, this time we're using bigger type whenever possible, and being more careful with backgrounds, because people told us Smoke#2 made their eyes hurt... We're also using softer paper, with gently chamfered edges, because people told us it made their hands hurt. We're also selling our mailing-list to junk-mail companies, because we realised you were all taking the piss.

Sadly Ian Sinclair (no relation to Iain Sinclair) doesn't make a reappearance.

Meanwhile the full horror of the month has settled in. Yes, it's the tenth anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death and the nations music magazines turn into a load of girls masturbating over their Nirvana albums. Look, the guy was good, but until he stops acting like a prima donna and comes back from the dead to make the fourth Nirvana album we should leave the guy alone. And this is a message that especially applies to New Musical Excretions who, barely a month after printing extracts from his journal and pointing out that his list of top songs didn't mean much because if asked the next day he'd almost certainly change his mind have marked the anniversary of his death by... putting out a CD of his list of top songs.

Laughing my arse off.

Take the quiz: "Which American City Are You?"

San Francisco
Liberal and proud, you'll live your lifestyle however you choose in the face of all that would supress you.

Hitler was a fictional character but Conan really did exist. I don't think we can blame Hollywood exclusively for the fact that a large percentage of people in the United Kingdom are stupid idiots!

So, what was it about the bombing in Madrid that made the Cabinet think fast-tracking ID cards was a solution rather than just being seen to be doing something?

And to think that Tony Blair was worried that George W. Bush was going to stab him in the back over the War in his efforts to get re-elected, former British ambassador to America confirms, Blair has repeatedly lied about when Iraq war was decided on between Sept. 11th 2001 and invasion of Iraq.

This is The Guardian trying to be humorous (check The agony you cause).

Another kiddy's show defiled... The Rainbow Plucking Orgy [nothing rude but of questionnable worksafeness].

Sunday, April 04, 2004

So, I was going to write a big essay on what I saw as the flaws of The Matrix Revolutions and what needed to be changed to make the story work, however partly the lack of time but mainly the lack of impetus is preventing me (basically the two main errors that I see are the fact that the real world that has Zion in it is considered 'The Real World', and the undefined political status of the Architect in the machine Matrix and what it is like). I saw Good Will Hunting this evening and was disappointed with it. Just as Will had the intelligence to tear another man to shreds but was helpless if put on a field where he has no mastery, like emotionally, so Matt Damon and Ben Affleck had the intelligence to write a good script but lacked the emotional experience to give it any real feeling. So although there are some good scenes in the middle, at the end all they can muster is
Matt: Shit Sean, how do we get out of this one?
Robin: You cry, we hug, people will mistake it for a psychological breakthrough.
And of course, once Will can cry then he's completely cured.

And went to see Starsky and Hutch this afternoon. More obvious mainstream appeal than Zoolander, which I loved. But with that film you had to want to like it, as Stiller wasn't setting out to do a film that mercilessly satirised the fashion industry but gently poke fun at it. S&H is a more straightforward piece that can be read as a comedy-action film, though I prefer to think of it, like Z as a romantic comedy between two straight men. Favourite lines? "Little dancing man" and "Your balls are yours, your balls are yours!"

The thing that blew me away though was that you have David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser turn up, of course, to give Ben Stiller as Hutch the keys to what was supposedly the car they drove when they were Starsky and Hutch. And they are credited in the movie as 'Original Starsky' and 'Original Hutch'. I mean, there's your Grant Morrison hypertime right there! A world where it'll always be the Seventies and there will always be a Starsky and Hutch ready to fight crime...

This article makes fascinating reading about how, when the BNP manage to win council seats, they then prove to be completely useless as councillors.

Last summer it was revealed that [Burnley] BNP councillors had only spoken once in a full council meeting in 14 months of holding office. Rather than apologising or even being embarrassed, their group leader, Len Starr, not only confirmed that they had stayed silent but went on to say that they had no intention of presenting any proposals to the council in the foreseeable future. And this was when they were the official opposition party.

Last summer Sandwell’s two BNP councillors thought they would outfox their political rivals by proposing a motion to the full council calling on the government to stop sending asylum seekers to the borough. They knew full well that the motion would fall but they would then be able to tell electors that the BNP was the only party that opposed the arrival of more asylum seekers in the area. To their surprise the motion was passed with an amendment. The BNP happily supported the new motion quite unaware that the changes reversed everything the BNP originally wanted.

When the English football team plays abroad the British police liase with the force of whichever country the team is travelling to to keep an eye on known trouble makers, sometimes not allowing them into the country, sometimes monitoring their actions before and after a game. Now, not all of these are going to be white, but it's a fair bet that there's more white football hooligans and white people convicted of disorder offences around football matches than Muslims who have got involved with anti-US and UK activity, even if you work on the assumption that every British citizen arrested was guilty.

Yet, strangely, the white hooligans are called a bad example of the country, examples of the worst that UK has to offer. No one demands that white social and religious leaders have to denounce such activities and call on other white people to make clear denounciations of their activity. You don't get people writing into newspapers letters pages saying that these people should be shipped 'back' (a misnomer) to somewhere like Scandinavia, France or, at the most extreme, Africa.

So why the fuck should it be demanded of Muslims every week it seems? Why do we allow the racist idea that one man of Middle-Eastern ancestry can speak for any other? Why does this miserable pissant Government not stand up to the media, all too eager to shriek about Muslim fundamentalists but strangely quiet about the more unwholesome elements of their own constituency? Why won't the Government at least risk being seen as massively condescending and say "We see no reason why one section of the community of this country should be ask to defend themselves over something they aren't involved with"?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?