Thursday, July 31, 2003

I think if I have to hear that ad for Kellogs Crunchy Nut Cornflakes one more time, or the one with the woman who is doing something 'random', cos she's getting a coach, yes! A Coach! To Paris! Aargh! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT YOU STUPID BINT! Are you trying to get people to use 'random' as a euphemism for 'off-the-wall'? How's this for random? I'm going to make it mission to find the fuckers that came up with that assinine advert, track them down to their office and kill them slowly, one by one, making them watch, as I break every bone one by one, from the toes up. And stop playing the Flaming Lips you fuckwigs! You're supposed to be an alternative radio station, try playing some alternatives to 'Fight Song' and Snoop Dogg!
...I might go insane. Just one more time I swear.

But... why?! Web Designer looking for the Internet's favourite colour.

The Application Form for the LGBT High School in New York.

Back at the closed library once more, pulling stuff off the shelves to send to other libraries... Thankfully I've now managed to work my way past the cookery books, full of recipes for delicious starters, gorgeous curries and divine chocolate puddings. My stomach is growling, be patient my precious, soon we will feed!

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Yet another opinion on the 'gay high school' issue, though it's mainly the comments after the main article that helped form my opinion that this is both not addressing the real question here and even if it were this is not the answer.

Hmmm. I ordered a copy of this from CD-Baby and had a copy of this instead. I emailed them straight away when I got it, yesterday morning, but haven't had any acknowledgement of the email yet. Wonder if I'm ever going to get my hands on the album I wanted?

Was reading this article for an American perspective on the shambles that is the US in Iraq. The most interesting thing that I got out of it was that the US Military has kicked out all the 'embedded' reporters that were with it due to the whole US troops getting shot thing and the facts that the troops are getting pissed off and going off-message.

Sweet Transformable Jesus! Wil Wheaton is only four years and one month older than me! I don't know why, but that seems significant in some way.

Richard Bacon has an ID for his show on X-FM with Chris Evans in it. He's proud to pretend to have an association with Chris Evans.

Richard Bacon, proof positive that cocaine turns you into an arsehole.

National Secular Society drops legal challenge against BBC not allowing Atheists to deliver Thought for the Day.

Gleefull Doctor Rowan Bigbeardy, Archbishop-in-Chief of the Church of England says "We thought we were stuffed when our members voted to exclude anyone that was non-white, gay or a woman from coming within a mile of our churches, but I'm sure that the news that godless atheists who are all vegetarian communists (just like Hitler don't you know?) have failed to overturn a three-minute slot on a program that no-one really listens to anyway will have people flocking back to the pews. Except for those black gay women obviously."

Richard Dawkin's wife said he wasn't available for comment as she'd had to lock him in the special padded room they'd had installed for whenever he hears the 'R' word. Jehova's press secretary, the Metatron, said that he was delighted and had released an official statement: "Booyaa! Who's your Daddy? Swivel on that Voltaire!"

'Comedy Terrorist' reaches fourteenth minute of fame. The end is near, thank Lada...

It's a week and a half and there are still people who didn't know we closed ten days ago...

Gah! Richard X, the Fatboy Slim of bootlegs, has a new single with Kelis, and I know the track he's put her vocals over but just can't bring it to mind, and now it's driving me crazy...

If you haven't had a chance to see it yet, Channel 4 are showing My Wrongs #8245-8249 and 117 by Chris Morris tonight.

While doing stuff I just heard what I assumed was some sort of comical advert for cars or a magazine or something, it had a woman with what sounded like a very bad stereotypical 'Oirish' accent and deathless dialogue of some 'Oirish' heavy threatening to beat her up. Turned out to be an advert for Veronica Guerin.

CILIP are fuckers Part Two. I got my PDR back along with the marking sheets the evaluators returned. I don't know why they had to refer my report to the board to mark as pretty much every point I'm marked as 'fail'. Which, naturally, I disagree with, especially as I can show someone else's PDR who wrote a lot less than me who passed. But now I'm more pissed off at the guy at work who read my report and said he thought it was fine to submit.

And I had my appraisal meeting yesterday evening, where my line manager said that she thought I was a 'good worker and a valuable member of the team'. Now yes, in that case I'm not getting evaluated on the same criteria as I am by CILIP, and she is saying that based on seeing me work whereas with CILIP it's all based on my report, but if it wasn't for the professional blackmail of needing their say-so to progress up the career ladder I'd quite happily tell them to FOAD.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"Kylie Minogue might be a great singer but in many of these things you can see more of her bottom than you hear of her voice."

Richard Littlejohn, who makes something of a living from, amongst other things, writing an opinion column for The Sun, rarely succeeds in making me angry. It's partly a matter of pride but also it's the fact that some of the stuff he comes out with is so off in the worlds of Izzard-like surrealism that it's actually extremely funny.

Take todays column where his traditional homophobic attack on gays and lesbians everywhere attacks... a bouncy council by the Metropolitan Police's stand at Pride. Apparently this is an insult to Tony Martin, the farmer just released from prison after killing a robber. It is, quite frankly, brilliant. I can't help but suspect that Littlejohn is a closet queen who writes these little articles as Wallace Arnold-like jabs at the stupidity of homophobia.

I think the last time there was any danger of Richard Littlejohn being taken in any way seriously Will Self saw to that...

SELF: [On Littlejohn's book 'To Hell in a Handcart'] It is a 400 page... I've read 200 pages of it and that is a 200 page recruiting leaflet for the BNP.

LITTLEJOHN: Well, you can't comment until you have read the other 200.

SELF: Why? Does it suddenly turn into Tolstoy?

Later on...

LITTLEJOHN: No it doesn't turn into Tolstoy. I don't set out to be Tolstoy. It is a much more complex book than that.

SELF:Than Tolstoy?

Other opinions on the 'gay high school' thing I linked to yesterday, here.

...And an extra-specially rakeish, Terry Thomas style "Hel-lo!" to whoever is reading this from Cheltenham Ladies College... "Ding dong!"

Monday, July 28, 2003

Segregation returns as New York plans first queer-only High School. Not sure how I feel about this, I guess my natural reaction is to worry that this means that other schools won't make much of an effort to teach their kids to be tolerant of other sexualities. That they're including transgender students in with this is a good thing, depending on that larger issue of whether such a school is good of course. I do wonder whether students will feel more uneasy about a school which would effectively 'out' them, after all, some of the most vulnerable students who might need a school like this are those who feel they can't come out to their family and friends, so they're stuck. I wonder if the school will offer some sort of PFLAG outreach to the parents of queer teens?

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long criticized the creation of the school. “Is there a different way to teach homosexuals? Is there gay math? This is wrong,” Long said.

Exhibit A in 'the case for why we need this school' ladies and gentlemen...

Kids, do you want to be involved in the next big social craze? Ignoring the concept of 'spontaneity', someone is planning the next Smartmob gathering in London for just over a weeks time.

OK, so I had to get a monthly bus pass for the daily journey to The Other Library. And a monthly bus pass means I have to provide a passport sized photo of my face. It's not something I'm usually keen on. But the photo booths are quite advanced these days. I got to control when the photo was taken so I didn't have that "hey I wasn't ready!" factor. And I saw the photo on screen so I could decide whether I liked it and got the option of three attempts before, presumerably having to make do with the last shot. In the end I chose one in which I was smiling thinly, rather like a corpse or Cherie Blair.

When the BBC needs to advertise how great it's news service is it periodically picks on the fall of the Berlin Wall as an example of how the BBC was there to document a great moment in late twentieth century history. This it most certainly was, but from what I remember, the news coverage, by the BBC and everyone, completely failed to capture any drama in the moment. It never does. Instead, in those usually unflappable tones, it seeks to smother the moment in heavy velvet drapes and consign them to history. It also seeks to disconnect viewers from the emotion of the moment on the off chance that they might think "That looks like a good idea, let's try that here!" Only when it's safely in the past, by a good few years, are we allowed to look back and acknowledge it's momentus nature.

I remember how undramatic the events of September 11th 2001 were (I refuse to refer to it as 9-11, although the BBC itself now does, even though it uses the UK data format dd-mm-yyyy for everything else). I was on my day off, on the other side of the Atlantic and had no relatives or friends involved. I must admit that as I saw the towers fall my first thoughts were to who the Americans were going to blame and punish. It wasn't that I was callous (believe it or not), but on TV we can see hundreds, millions, entire planets of people being destroyed and it gets called fiction. It's incredibly easy for the mind to detach and start thinking about how poor the special effects are in tragedy. I spent most of the afternoon watching the one American newsfeed I had access to, CNBC Europe which, I believe, switched over to it's pure news feed for a couple of days. And here for me was the only emotional time, when I could hear presenters voices cracked as they realised they had friends and colleagues in the WTC when those planes hit. Switching back to the BBC News and it was all reported with the same enthusiasm as the news of a cat being stuck in a tree in Hertfordshire. 'Professionalism' always.

Which is a long and rambling prelude to a very short entry. John Adams conducted and presented his WTC Memorial piece On the Transmigration of Souls at The Proms last night. I'm kicking myself that I didn't record it. It was haunting, very beautiful and holy, which is a strange word for an atheist such as me to use, but it conjured that idea of sensory overload that many artists in different mediums use to suggest the journey into the afterlife. It was a carefully constructed landscape consisting of sound samples, two choirs and an orchestra, conjuring up at once, confusion, desolation but always the hope for something positive to come out of any great tragedy. It suggested the slow dissolution of the gestalt of all the people who died in the WTC as their souls went on to whatever lay beyond. And it's the one thing in this entire sorry business that came closest to bringing out an emotional response from me.

Hmmm, has anyone got a copy of Graphic, as I suspect that Chris is taking the rizz. Damn, now I'm going to spend the weekend wandering around Charing Cross looking for their stores and then demanding a copy of their in-house mag...

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Anyway, did another walk today (Print it out and do it yourself!), went to Camden for comics, then walked along to Chalk Farm. From there I walked up to Primrose Hill, and up to the summit. About halfway up someone has painted on the path It's windy there but the view's so nice, was it because of the Blur song or did that come from this bit of graffiti? If you know, let me know...

From there it was down the hill and across into Regent's Park. The walk called for me to pass the zoo on my right, then at the end turn right just before I reached the fountain. There was a bit of a problem as large sections of the field were cordoned off. I presume they're either in the middle of reseeding the grass or laying new paths, although i would have thought that those would have been winter rather than high summer jobs. Lots of football games going on. I circled the cordoned area and tried to rejoin the path of my walk, crossing the little lake at one end of the park, but I made a mistake and then went off in the wrong direction, instead of going across the Inner Circle of the park I went around and ended up rejoining the walk at Chester Road. We cut across that corner of the park and out onto the Outer Circle, then past the various posh-looking Terraces (with their signs forbidding common plebs like us from doing anything to dirty their lovely roads) and the rather startling building that's the HQ of The Royal College of Physicians. This picture doesn't really do justice to how odd it looks, not only do I think it's not a particularly nice bit of architecture, a large square centre with slit windows and curvy external stairs on the outside, but it also doesn't fit in with the surrounding area. I think it probably qualifies as one of prince Charles's 'monstrous carbuncles'. But passing that, along into Park Square East, finishing at Regent's Park Station.

I seem to have developed a huge list of web-page addresses that I never have time to check out, because what they link to is far too long for me to give valuable time to looking at, but I know that as soon as I empty the wastepaper bin I'm going to realise I did want to read the essay on Anarchism after all...

From the Annoyingly Cute Desk it's an on-line cat.

Young, techno-savvy middle class men are most likely to be found peddling in e-porn. Are we sure they're not health practioners?

After the downs of last night I've perked up again thanks to B3ta and this, which is Gollum's acceptance speech for winning an award at the MTV movie show. Slightly rude, very funny.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Rather bored and restless this evening, unable to settle on anything. Ended up watching Love Again on BBC2. A play about Philip Larkin. I started to identify with Larkin, what with the career and my somewhat hermetic withdrawn existence. And I've got a fear that I'll end up in twenty or thirty years trapped in one of those peculiar, emotional relationships with whichever of my parents outlives the other, as he was with his mother. At one point he says "I'm so trapped in this life... In me" which is essentially my dilemma. I want to change the way I live my life, but I make no real effort to do so.
'This is the first thing
I have understood:
Time is the echo of an axe
Within a wood.' PL.

Gay police officers join Pride parade.

It seems the uniforms have changed a bit...

Jon Ronson goes to meet the man who gatecrashed Prince William's 21st birthday party dressed as Osama bin Laden and finds he's not actually funny. Calling him a 'comedy terrorist' for getting up and interupting other people is giving him rather too much praise. 'Tedious little fucka' is probably a more accurate term.

"You've got to fight to the death for the right to live your life." -Pulp, 'I Love Life'.

Doh! I had a feeling this afternoon that I'd forgotten something was happening, I knew it wasn't Pride, because I never bother going to that, only to realise this evening it was Nina's birthday party. Whoops!

Minnelli splits from husband. I mention this only because they were in the Radio Times a fortnight ago pointing out how their marriage had outlived everyone's expectations.

Was very surprised that my bosses went all "Everything must go!" about the library stock to the staff, but I decided to take their word for it, and have so far taken copies of:
Aphex Twin Drukqs and 26 Mixes for Cash, Ash Intergalactic Sonic 7s, Biosphere Patashnik, Booth, Carol Woman to Woman, Constantine, Storm Sea Dragon Heir and Crown of Silence, Matmos A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure, Polhemus, Ted The Customized Body, Pulp We Love Life, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Talbot, Bryan The Tale of One Bad Rat and Various Secret Origins Featuring the JLA.

I need a new armchair, do you think they'll mind? :-)

Friday, July 25, 2003

Blunkett attacks BBC asylum day, presumerably this is because he doesn't want the country to think there is anyone more racist and xenophobic than him in the country. I'm sure the only reason he's still in the Cabinet is so that Blair can go "Of course, I could step down, but then you might have David or John Prescott running the country. Suddenly lying about WMD doesn't seem so bad does it?"

Hmmm, look what Need to Know have found. Someone has done their own version of the Odeon website. Considering that the week after the day that The Matrix Reloaded was released the booking function wouldn't work, with no explanation, if this did that job too I'd be using this in future. Could The Odeon people hire this person to redesign their site into a decent one that worked?

Actually, I'm an Odeon customer, so my opinion matters, so Odeon, sort it out now!

And just a quick mention for The Section. After Flux linked to one of their pieces earlier in the week, I'm very interested to hear their album of classical versions of Radiohead songs.

OK, weirdest thing I've seen so far in The Proms, some guy playing a glockenspiel with violin bows, drawing them gently up the ends of the individual... wossnames... notes? keys? of the glockenspiel. Friday night is obviously avant-garde weird shit night.

Aaah, Friday afternoon. Not having any public in means we can act like office people the world over, wait for our manager to leave early, then leave about ten minutes later ourselves.

The library is slowly starting to look emptier, though not as much as you might hope/expect after spending three days stock weeding. The refurbishment work doesn't start until September, so we're in no rush. But, although I've been taking stuff off the shelves for the last three days I've left stock to be deleted on, which is about two-thirds of everything, so far, so it doesn't look that different. But some shelves have gone and IT have been here all day removing the public terminals, so it is starting to look different. The inclement weather has put a bit of a dampener, as t'wer, on the enjoyment we can get from stupid people trying to get in. The idea seems to be filtering through. I read somewhere that with monkey colonies, once a certain number of monkeys learn a new skill the entire colony somehow 'know' it. I wonder how many library users will try to open the door and read the notice to see we're shut before all the rest will know it without having to try to open the door?

The other libraries in the group have given me shopping lists of stuff they'd like from our stock. Unfortunately what they haven't really counted on was the fact that the stuff they al;l want is the same and is mostly the stuff we have nothing to give them. Oh well...

Idle Thoughts: Am currently at the pregnancy section in my library, throwing away stock or sending it on to other branches.I'm just wondering why all the books pre-1999 seem to be written by men and all the books post-1999 are written by women. What happened in 1999 to cause this massive swing?

The Daily Mail, where Europe is a place which should only exist for the middle classes to go to on holiday, is on it's high horse about the photo's of Saddam's dead sons, complaining about whether it's necessary for them to be put out. Presumerably this is because the invasion of Iraq was all for the benefit of Britain's white middle-class middle-Englanders. Iraqis? Who they?

The photos are going round everywhere today, news agencies happy to have some new war pornography to share. Private Jessica Lynch returned home earlier in the week and appears to be a real example of the typical American soldier in Iraq, her equipment didn't work, her patrol were possibly caught in friendly fire and her first words on anyone finding her were "I'm an American!" (Get me out of here?) Meanwhile, Congress issues a report damning intelligence failures that led to the events of Sept. 11th. Combined with their intelligence failures about those errors that slipped into Bush's State of the Union address last January it looks like the decision has been made that if anyone is going to resign over this it isn't going to be any of Bush's cronies and they'll just point at the Director of the CIA and wait.

When you look at the amount of men and equipment used in the attack on Uday and Qusay it does seem a little bit like overkill, reminiscent of the Monty Python sketch where two hunters use bazookas to kill mosquitos, "There's nothing more dangerous than a wounded mosquito", but stung by their completely inability thus far to find any of the most evil people that these wars were launched to overthrow I suppose the US weren't taking any chances.

And on the subject of Bush's cronies, Dick Cheney has crawled out from under his stone to say war critics ignore proof, the proof being much the same as before. If the report is correct it shows that the US priority was never the humanitarian needs of the people that suffered under Bush, but instead the threat he posed to the US.

"[Baghdad] could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material."

Which is a bit like me admitting that I could make a nuclear weapon within a year if I acquired weapons-grade fissile material, that is rather the point. And it's extremely unlikely that Saddam would want a missile he could aim at the US, Israel would be the more likely target.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

The Daily Mail is waging another war on the female body, this time the pregnant one, suggesting that maybe the current fashion for baring the bump is in some way a bad thing and perhaps women should go back to being hidden in coal cellars for nine months. Or something. Unfortunately the online version of the article is shorter and full of less flattering pictures than the print version, but as a unashamed admirer of the pregnant figure I find the Daily Mail opinion unsurprisingly to be a load of rubbish. Anyone seen the Travis Flowers in the Window video? Certainly the only conceivable reason to subject one to Travis is for the gorgeous video full of gorgeous gravid girls.

(Bucket of cold water for table two please!)

Hmm, 'Gravid Girls' sounds like a great name for a new superheroine comic...

The stereo in the library is now being used for radio, partly because we don't have any more CDs but mainly because it's skipping whenever we play anything.

And hugs going out to the Creepy Lesbo, currently going through break-up trauma...

Awww, bless... A new credit card month means I'm finally able to get that Alix Olson CD I've been waiting to buy for months and kept forgetting. Haven't used CD Baby before, what with them being an America-only company and all but finally did it and got these email confirming postage today...

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved 'Bon Voyage!' to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Wednesday, July 23rd.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as 'Customer of the Year'. We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

If I order from them again they'd probably explode with pleasure...

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

And finally... Spelling mistake sees billions wasted on Human Gnome Project. (From Future

I think I've been watching BBC4 more in the last week than I have since it started. As well as half-watching their Proms coverage I'm now also taken with Alistair Cooke's America, the veteran journalist's history/love letter to the U.S. Made in 1974 it looks like it's going to do for America what 'Simon Sharma's History of Britain' did for the U.K, for me at any rate.

Keyword: "CILIP". Additional Keywords: "bastards, fuckers, shit, fuck-faced face-fuckers"

I've just found out that I've failed my CILIP Chartership course, which means money wasted and a delay in developing my career of at least a year. And yes, I know, a course where there's no danger of failing is worthless and a farce but as far as I'm concerned CILIP and chartership are both a farce anyway and if there wasn't this false standard of being judged to be 'professional' by a body made up of people too maladjusted to work in libraries then CILIP would be burned to the ground tomorrow.

Now there's an idea, where are my matches?

And would any psychologists out there care to explain why people don't read notices? We have people come up to the door of the library, rattle on the door for several seconds and then notice the signs saying the library is closed. Now admittedly, as I said a week or two ago, we haven't been going round to individual people's houses telling them the library is closing but there seem to be a surprising number of people that have managed not to notice or hear about this for the last seven or eight months.

At the risk of turning this into 'Music To Shelve Books By' we've been listening to the first Fun Loving Criminals which is ideal, what with it's bouncy choruses, and now it's Pulp's 'We Love Life', just so long as the stereo can last out, it was skipping rather badly with the FLC.

Aaaah... And now Suede's first album is on the stereo... This could possibly be my idea of work-related heaven... :-)

Now this is librarianship as it should be! In a closed library, with no public annoying us, with the stereo down from upstairs, playing CDs we've got from the music library (although there might be violence later on when the person I'm working with will insist on putting the Stereophonics on). It doesn't get much better than this.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

(In the style of The Simpsons episode where Mr Burns gets shot) Oh you're a dead man Prescott, you hear me? You're dead! Dead! Arghhhhh!

And the world turns and today it's the Government's turn to be back under the spotlight in the Dr. Kelly affair, Hoon in spotlight over Kelly naming. Will it be the BBC Governers turn tomorrow?

OK, OK, I've chilled out, taken some big deep breaths... I was a bit alarmed at coming to work in what would be my home for the next nine to twelve months and finding it staffed by about twice as many people as would normally be here. And it's a late night, so I was bit cranky. But things aren't so bad, I've realised what I've got to do, I'm not even going to be here for a while as I'll be back at the closed library dealing with the dispersal of stock. And when I'm back here, some other people won't be... so all is well.

This morning I found that I can make the journey here in half an hour, providing the buses all work okay. So the journey here and back shouldn't be a major hassle. When I'm here full time I'll have to look into the embaressment of having a monthly bus-pass again, which tends to have me sitting in a photo-booth looking like a strategically shaved character from Walking With... What The Hell Are Those?! Oh, All Right, Let's Be Charitable And Call Them 'Cavemen'.

One of the benefits of this library is that it seems to be cool. There aren't massive windows that eagerly face the morning sun.

There's going to be a work-rant following at some point today, but it's been delayed by my discovery of my new favourite thing: Return to Sender.
(Found via

New deck of cards available, the Operation Hidden Agenda anti-Bush deck. Still, it's nice to see that in this America that Dubya built some ignorant idiots are using their freedom of expression to send the creator a death threat. Is there a town in the central US that just looks through the newspapers and automatically sends people death threats? "They're cancelling Enterprise, death threat to them, a transsexual is standing for Senate, death threat to them, a kitten was stuck in a tree in Chicago, death threat to her, her owner and the firemen that got her down..."

Monday, July 21, 2003

Oh poo, Banksy show shut early. And everyone, Pin is just whining because being under the age of twenty he naturally regards physical activity as evil... :-)

Well, we certainly don't want him... Tony Blair for US President.

He's done the time, so I guess we have got to accept that Jeffrey Archer is reformed and is now a valuable member of society.

The lying corrupt scumfuck.

Are there any treaties the US have been involved with in the last thirty years again that Dubya doesn't want to break? Bush ready to wreck ozone layer treaty. It occured to me reading this report that he wants to destroy a treaty that his Dad was fine with. His Father also publically disagreed with him attacking Iraq without UN support. So, does this strain things over the big Bush dinner table or is Bush senior rich and evil enough not to really care what his son does? The final line is:

Dr Joe Farman, the Cambridge scientist who discovered the Antarctic ozone hole, added: "This is madness. We do not need this chemical. We do need the ozone layer. How stupid can people be?"

You'd almost think he was making some sort of satirical point about Dubya wouldn't you?

Jeremy Hardy Versus The Israeli Army is not a great film. It's a good film but not a great one. Jeremy's narration is at times flat, nasal, and sounds like it was recorded in a shoebox. However, this is a film that should be seen by a lot of people. Preferably on the BBC or at least Channel 4, it's disappointing that it hasn't been taken up for national broadcasting.

The film follows Jeremy's two visits to Palestine and the West Bank to join the International Solidarity Movement in 2002 as they try to stop Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory and their illegal blockades of Palestinian villages. Wryly desribing himself as a comedian 'or writer and broadcaster if I want to sound grown up' at first Jeremy seems clearly out of his depth and wondering exactly why he has agreed to director Leila Sansour's request to come out and see what is going on. He tours Bethlehem, first with a ISM march to Manger Square, then with the mayor of Bethlehem, seeing the damage previous attacks have inflicted, including the Bethlehem Hospital. But he's not that impressed with what he sees of the ISM as they train in non-violent conflict resolution, thinking them to be people who 'want to be heroes'.

But on April 1st they march to break a curfew imposed by the Israeli Army who invaded the town the previous night. As they approach the Israeli tank one of the occupants starts firing real bullets at the ground in front of them, which ricochet up and injure some of the protesters. People in the UK will have seen this on the news at the time as the Israeli Army weren't squemish about trying to drive away anyone that could report on what they were doing. In the aftermath Jeremy's opinions of the ISM change and, although he is evacuated the next day, returns in the summer.

A couple of people complained after the film that it makes no attempt to show the Israeli side of the situation. If I understood her correctly Leila believes this is a red herring, She is a Palestinian from the area that is being attacked, so she's naturally going to want to make a film about that. She feels that if Israelis consider this unfair, they should make their own film. Cetainly her film concentrates only on the ISM and it's peaceful protesting, we don't see anything of Hamas and Yasser Arafat is on-screen for ten seconds when some demonstrators manage to break into his besieged offices.

The film is a bit disjointed as we have Jeremy's first brief visit to the area, then his media appearences after returning where he and other returned demonstrators talk about being shot at, then after some reportage about what ISM do while he's not there, such as getting some supplies and medical attention into the Church of the nativity where some Hamas gunment are holed up, before Jeremy and the others return in the summer. ISM has transfered it's operations to Jerusalem. Jeremy is only there for four days and decides to help with an attempt to break an illegal blockade of a Palestinian village, I didn't get the name but phonetically pronounced Sal-feet. After being stopped by the police and army they are let through, where they deliver their supplies and hold a peace rally.

The film, Jeremy and Leila get a round of applause. There's a short Q&A but apart from what I've already mentioned there's not much worth mentioning. Jeremy says that at the border in Israael you have to lie to get into Palestine, signing a disclaimer that you aren't going to be a protester.

This isn't a recruitment film for the ISM and while it's unavoidably a little anti-Israeli it's not anti-Semitic, Leila said afterwards she wants a peaceful solution between both sides.

All in all, though not a great film it was one that was worth watching, when the news is filled with stories of atrocities on both sides it's heartening to see some people working FOR peace, in a peaceful manner. Jeremy meets an Israeli and a Palestinian in the ISM who have married and are working together for peace. Check the website and your local listings and if you get the chance you really should see this film. It's a shame that TV stations don't agree. It's currently on at the Prince Charles Cinema for one final day, catch it there!

Sunday, July 20, 2003

I was running a bit behind this morning and hungry so rather than do myself some food I went to McDonalds instead (please don't be angry, I couldn't bear to think you would be disappointed in me as I contemplate my slightly higher risk of stomach cancer from eating the Bic Mac) but while I was eating I flicked idly through their copy of the News of the World.

It's not on their website but page eight is given over to moralising about the whole sorry affair of Doctor Kelly, and my eye was drawn to this paragraph:

Isn't it the BBC, and in the first instance their reporter Andrew Gilligan, who should be asking of themselves if they are the guilty ones? For ultimately it was their misuse of that gentle man that drove him to the edge.

Now, expecting fair reporting of Murdoch's empire is a waste of time. Apart from anything else he hates the BBC and the license fee that funds them. So this isn't surprising, but it is worth pointing out, as anyone who has stayed abreast of developments for the last week or so, that it was Dr Kelly that approached Gilligan initially, the Government that released his name and the Foreign Affairs Committee member who angrily called him 'chaff'. So where is the BBC's mistake? Is the News of the World suggesting that the BBC should have released his name sooner so that other journalists could start badgering him earlier over the affair?

But then, page nine has an article 'Becks in Kidnap Alert No 2':

David Beckham is the target of a sensational new security alert, just eight months after his wife and children were at the centre of a kidnap drama

A kidnap drama it was thought the News of the World had a substantial part in creating, if memory serves, when the trial of the would be kidnappers collapsed a month or two back...

Got back about a half hour ago from my fun afternoon out. I'm just about to do some food so I'll leave the Jeremy Hardy film until later or tomorrow. Before that I went to the Banksy exhibition with young Pin. We foolishly walked all the way, which was best part of two or three miles, though I'm fairly sure at least one of the buses from Liverpool Street Station, where we met, goes up that way. Still, it was a lovely day for a walk, who wants to be cooped up on a smelly old bus?

Sadly there were no mejahoors in attendence when we arrived, we knew we were there because there was a vandalised milk float out front. The 'gallery' was an old warehouse/garage that had been stripped. Banksy' work consisted mainly of paintings, photo's of stuff he'd done out in the real world, and stuff he'd done straight onto the walls. He was also branching out into three-d, a large 'touched up' version of The Thinker and several pens where originally the animals had been. But it had been decided (and I believe the RSPCA had turned up at the start) that the hot weather wasn't going to be good for them so they were gone, although some of them had left presents which stank the place out before they'd gone. Pride of place went to an exhibit which consisted of two police-cars on top of one another.

There was an upstairs, which allowed a view out over the area and got one closer to the police with angel wings that were hanging from the ceiling. Below ground there were toilets, completists hanging around to check both cubicles to see whether Banksy had left any message there. Next to the Gallery were some office spaces which weren't used and were full of rubbish. However, as they hadn't been locked some people were walking in there and stroking their chins thinking it was just another part of the exhibition.

I think tomorrow is the last day, if you have the chance then you really should pop along, it's free and a good laugh. And they're selling his two little books of photos too. And you'll be able to wonder if any of the staff there is Banksy himself, though I suspect he's really about five people.

It's going to get messy(-er). Gilligan denies misrepresenting Kelly. If the argument before last week was all messed up on how words and phrases were used and interpreted it looks like now they're going to be even more so. Both the Government and the BBC could pass lie tests that their point of view on the matter is right, so really it returns to the issue that Ali C has not really wanted to deal with directly since this began, whether the BBC is allowed to put out information the Government doesn't want in the public domain. If he wants a government-controlled media he should ask Tony to tell the relevent Government departments to prepare legislation to bring the BBC under the Government's direct control. If he doesn't want that then he should shut the fuck up.

BBC says Kelly was weapons source. Finally something is going the Government's way. Although BBC Director of News Richard Sambrook's statement is not online yet he says something like 'the BBC believes it accurately interpreted Dr Kelly's remarks'. Which seems to stand back from the way they've behaved so far, introducing a note of doubt about whether their information was correct, which should please Ali C and remove some of the pressure from Downing Street. There's also the matter that at the Select Committee Dr Kelly said he wasn't sure he was reporter Andrew Gilligan's main source. The fact that the BBC says he was can lead to the belief that the whole report is Gilligan's view of information he got from Kelly and not fact. So now there may be less chance that Government officials will be resigning for this and more chance that it will be Gilligan and Sambrook quitting.

< beam! >

You're beyond bisexual. Your weirdness factor goes off the scale of this test. You might be a hermaphrodite, an alien or even a furry.
If you are sexy, please send us a picture.

How Bisexual are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

There's an interesting quiz here that tests whether your religious/philosophical beliefs are logically consistent. Worth a try, though I suspect it was made to test people who consider themselves religious as I, a firm agnostic/atheist border dweller, got accused of saying that 'my' God was above anything we could say about the rational universe.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

OK, I have a ticket for the Jeremy Hardy film tomorrow evening. My plan is to try and take in the Banksy show beforehand, zoom to Gosh! for comics if I have time then head down to the Prince Charles for the film. I must remember to take my notebook, as it'll help me remember anything witty that Jeremy says to regale you with after (He's on this week's edition of The News Quiz which is always worth a listen).

Apparently, the Banksy exhibition may not be strictly legal which means that if I can find the location it may not still be there. And irritatingly it's become the hot ticket for this weekend. I try to avoid the 'oh I hate it when my favourite indie artist gets lots of attention from the mainstream' trap, but when people like Jamie 'Gobshite' Oliver and Sara Cox are mentioned in relation to him it is hard to bite down that insitinctive dislike.

Rejoice, for today is
Setting Orange
Day 54 of Confusion, YOLD 3169
Know ye that today's Holy Name hath been decreed thusly:

Discordian Calendar.

What do you do with this? It's like one of the flowerpot men's hats crossed with an ashtray.

Help me out here. Was the whole 'Rumble in the Jungle' thing just George Foreman fighting Muhammed Ali just to advertise his kitchen products?

Meanwhile with Bill Hicks: "Hairy Bobbing Man Ass!"

It used to be that when I was bored and listless I would go and buy stuff from internet shops. Luckily I've managed to work out how to avoid this. I go to Amazon and browse the elctronic section. Now I get so busy being depressed that I have no idea what these things are that they're selling that I fail to buy anything. Thanks Amazon!

OK, this is a scary image. What did that woman do two seconds after that photo was taken?

There is something unsettling about the customers also bought... suggestions, all about listening to your dog, understanding dog psychology. What happened to the good old days when animals were pets, rather than the senior member in the human/animal partnership? Should we be legislating to let some animals have a vote? At least then Bush will be able to sniff arses without anyone feeling embaressed.

Feeling completely monged this afternoon. Not tired but in one of those moods where everything is too much effort, TV is no good because it's too much effort to think "hey this is shit, maybe I should change the channel". Reading is too much effort because of the whole focusing on the page thing. It's taking me several hours to write this thing. But I've just put a Bill Hicks CD on so I think it's waking me up...

"The door is ajar."
"'How can the door be ajar? What kind of jar?'"


So the media are buzzing around the now certain suicide of the Government 'weapon's expert' Doctor David Kelly wondering who is going to fall on their sword over this (answer: probably no-one).

What I really like is, in that Mirror report above, this sentence: As the furore mounted, Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said he had not ruled out demanding a recall of Parliament, just for the sheer futility of it. It should be As the furore mounted, Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said that as he had no actual power to do anything in this country and never would do as long as he lived due to the fact that he looks like he should be running a post office rather than a political party, although admittedly if he was running a post office he'd probably be seeing most of the people that still vote Tory anyway, he had not ruled out demanding a recall of Parliament and being ignored by the Government.

Friday, July 18, 2003

If there is one film I must see this weekend it's Jeremy Hardy Versus the Israeli Army. Whether I can or not is another matter...

What the hell?! Iraq expert quizzed by foreign affairs committee on Tuesday turns up dead. As someone pointed out this could so easily be turned into a massive conspiracy.

"Kiss the cross! Kiss the cross... for the unity of the Motherland!"

I've made a deliberate decision to try and watch as much of the BBC Proms as I can this year, on the grounds that when I've come across it by accident I've tended to like it (I've got Holst, Shostakovitch, Satie, Debussy and Elgar CDs in my record collection). Tonight is Russian night, with a performance of Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible which I keep breaking off to watch while typing this. It's actually really good stuff.

So, I'm back from the party to celebrate the closing of the library for refurbishment. Now, the idea of a room full of librarians may sound like something out of a really bad sitcom (probably starring Ronnie Corbett or something) and even for librarians it sometimes feels like it, but it's not that bad. We get a load of booze in, half the staff end up plastered and end up amusing the other half. The buffet tends to be nice anyway. I wish I'd brought a doggy bag home.

I spent the actual working part of the day rushing around like a mad thing. Basically, I'm convinced that a fair amount of excrement will be hitting rotating blades over the next month and that things will be going in the direction of levitating mammary glands. For a start, the public seem blissfully unaware that we are closing, although in our defense I would say that I think they would have been unaware that we were closing unless we'd personally visited their homes and spent a nice evening with them before mentioning as we were leaving that the library was closing for refurbishment. And although things like stock have been considered where to move them to, little thought has been given to the paperwork. So, all our forms for people who claim that they've returned stuff to the library which is still showing as on their ticket has been left unclaimed. All the paperwork for when people bring in videos and DVDs saying they are unwatchable, no-one has taken that. In the end all I could do is try and ensure that anything that could be considered my responsibility, anything that if something went wrong with it could be considered 'my fault' has been sorted out and dealt with. As Trillian says in Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy, "anything you still can't handle is therefore your own problem".

I do dislike PDF files and it's probably why I tend not to read SchNEWS as often as I should. So I heartily agree with Jakob Nielsen, PDF: Unfit for Human Consumption. (via

Cheering me up, the unused 'Fellowship of the Ring' commentary by Chomsky and Zinn.

Is the Internet really shit? It's a mix of a few good ideas but mainly elitism (the internet is shit because soap operas have websites) and a deliberate insistence on missing the point, as (again) Plasticbag (amongst others) points out. The internet is not the sole basis upon which you can determine existence. When did anyone ever say that it was?

The news that men get to frequently visit Madame Palm and her Five Lovely Daughters (I don't want to use the 'M' word because it's been turning up in Google searches that have found this blog far too frequently recently) has been in loads of blogs recently, but I'm linking to Plasticbag's mentioning of it, if only for the comments suggesting a national health campaign to encourage people to get to grips with themselves for the sake of their health.

(Need a euphemism? Look here and here.)

Well, we're at the end of the Parliamentary term, so into the newspaper 'silly season', I must admit it would be nice to have a break from the 'dodgy dossier' and 'Bush/Blair lying' stories, as in the former it seems a concerted effort is being made by 'shadowy forces' at Number 10 to destroy the journalist at the centre by any means necessary rather than letting the story die. Blair meanwhile is becomming insufferable, "Look, even if we are wrong then I'm sure that history will forgive us for killing lots of Iraqi's to try and get someone who pose no verifiable threat to his neighbours and- whoops, wrong script there, Saddam, more evil than Hitler and Stalin, he was the serpent that tempted Eve, it was our duty to invade the country, all the dead Iraqis actually asked us to kill him, you should have seen them, tear to my eye, "Please Mister American, shoot me in the head as it will save our country from Saddam", marvelous stuff, I'm goiong to be out of a job soon so if any of you wants someone to clean their shoes, see you in Tehran next year?"

Think happy thoughts...

Thursday, July 17, 2003

morally deficient
Threat rating: Medium. Your total lack of decent
family values makes you dangerous, but we can
count on some right wing nutter blowing you up
if you become too high profile.

What threat to the Bush administration are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Oh bumclouds! Was pondering a week or two back taking up some chi gong classes to try and loosen the body up and possibly marginally improve my health. To my shock and horror I may have to actually act on that as I've found a college in easy walking distance is actually offering classes which I can easily afford and they'll be on my day off as well. Putting up or shutting up? That isn't my style, man, I don't put up and then complain bitterly for a fortnight about how I didn't have the opportunity to put up and anyway I didn't want to put up really...

You might have thought, what with the equalising of the age of consent and the often-promised but not quite here yet repeal of Section 28 that the Government had a slightly more realistic and less fucked-up view of sex. Whoops! New bill will make teenage kisses illegal. Anyone care to tell me whether this bill made it though Parliament this week?

Banksy goes overground. Location here.

Well, it looks as if Blunkett didn't make that ID card announcement after all. Maybe the government thought it was in enough hot water for ignoring the wishes of the British public and didn't want to add to it.

Rather than a quiz, it's the Geek name Generator!

And here, how much the Iraq invasion has cost the US so far.

Couple of articles from the Guardian on the current situation about the political fallout from the invasion of Iraq: America wanted war (and how Tony knew this all along, and The spies who pushed for war. The fact that Bush and his cronies don't seem yet to mind too much if anyone claims their motives for the war were not altruistic does mean he's the best weapon the opposition to it in this country have in order to damage Blair. Blair now looks mortal, especially for a foolish decision like insisting that the Niger uranium story is true when everyone else in the world knows and excepts it was false.


Well, I've finished it. It's pretty good actually, certainly better than I feared what with it's size and my reaction to reading Goblet of Fire. I'm a bit disappointed that the whole imminent doom we felt at the end of Goblet isn't sorted out here, with elements like Hagrid's mission to the Giants and whatever it is exactly that Snape is doing aren't resolved here but dealt with in a way that means they will be dealt with in the next book or, God forbid, book seven. So a cynic might suggest that the centre around which the entire long book revolves is a very small one, Voldemort trying to break into the Ministry of Magic to find out the details of a prophecy involving him and Harry.

Aah yes, the Prophecy. The two key points in the pre-publication publicity were that someone dies and Dumbledore tells Harry the truth about him and his past. In these two areas I feel Rowling disappoints. I won't say by name who dies, but I didn't get that feeling when something truly awful has happened (as when Gandalf 'dies' in LotR), though others disagree. But the big reveal by Dumbledore (which, as I feared, does come at the end of the book) is a let down. What new facts do we learn? That Harry is safe from Voldemort at the Dursley's because of the blood bond between his Mum and his Aunt (which at least closes one plothole, though still leaves unanswered the question of one of Voldemort's followers finding the location and killing Harry) and that the prophecy says that either Harry must kill Voldemort or Voldemort must kill Harry. Now, considering that Harry has survived four encounters with Voldemort I'd be surprised if he had thought Voldemort was coming back from the dead in order to settle down and make crochet bobble-hats. So we don't get a revelation that turns our understanding of things upside down but rather a result akin to drawing a line between dots 19 and 20 when you already can see the join-the-dots makes the picture of a rabbit.

As replacements for the threat of Voldemort and his Death Eaters being genuinely nasty the Ministry for Magic is quite a good one, although Fudge's ostrich-driven attempts to discredit Harry ring truer than Umbridge and what seems like genuine malevolence on her part. The way that Harry slowly wins round other students from thinking he's a mad glory hunter to seeing that he's right and then, led by George and Fred, in open defiance of Umbridge when she predictably seizes control of Hogwarts is a genuine heartening moment in the book. She certainly makes up for the total lack of threat from Malfoy and co. I hope that Rowling will have a serious think about Draco and his little group before writing the next book as their continued existence is a real pain, the lack of nuances to their character makes them easy to dismiss as pantomime school nastiness. Even making Malfoy a super-prefect does not make him any more than a plot-delaying nuisance who's only role is to turn up every few chapters to toss insults at Harry and his friends who, growing up now, find them easier than before to brush off. I would love it if he follows through on his threat at the end of this book and next time does something truly horrible to Harry. Either that or just break the sexual tension and go to bed with him.

So, that actually turned out to be a pretty good book, although it should have been trimmed a little, and Rowling's writing style still isn't the most amazing in the world. Seven and a half out of ten I think.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Icabod Crane

What Johnny Depp Boi Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

National Viewers and Listeners Association still pretending that anyone gives a flying fuck for their opinion, publishes report complaining about the amount of obscenity on television. Yarbles to the lot of them.

Interesting legal dilemma here. Shevaun reunited with parents, Toby Studabaker held in custody pending charges of abduction. Will the fact that he thought she was nineteen when he travelled to meet her (according to his story) have any relevence in a possible trial? Or does the fact that they still flew off to France following meeting in Manchester when both their secrets were out negate that? I think this is one case where the motives of someone who isn't on trial are as important as those of the person who will be.

From the You found me by typing WHAT into a search engine? department: Hello to the reader that typed 'sex school fuck' into a Spanish search engine.

Thanks to Grant for a report dealing with the same issues as here but in a much more positive and intelligent way.

What interested me was the rumblings of discontent coming from the lesbian community as there seems to be some overlapping between young butch dykes and transbois. But this seems to stem from a non-acceptance of the transexual element as anything other than a fashion thing.

I'm hot and sweaty and not in a good way.

After spending the morning in a branch library with small windows that works on the same thermal principles as a greenhouse I'm back at my normal place of work. Things are slowly getting more and more fraught, reservation issues which I thought sorted out days ago aren't, our stock is now a gigantic joke, the heat is aggravating the public and staff and none of the public seem to be aware until we tell them now that the library is actually closing on Sunday. Still, I've got tomorrow off and then will only have to work on Friday and am off for the weekend.

On Monday it'll be my day off, on Tuesday I'll be starting at my new library and then Wednesday to Friday I'm back here to help box up the stock. So plenty to look forward to there.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003


Currently at page 452. Hagrid is back at Hogwarts, Dumbledore is still playing hard to get, Harry is teaching other students Defense Against the Dark Arts and Professor Umbridge is doing all she can to discredit Harry and covertly take over the school.

Professor Umbridge is being appropriately annoying, though at times comes off more as though Rowling has a bone to pick with OFSTED inspectors in much the same way as the journalist character in Goblet of Fire was there to settle personal scores. The punishment pen was a more genuinely chilling moment.

Draco Malfoy is being inappropriately annoying. He bores me intensely and I wish he'd just corner Harry in the toilets and admit he's crazy about him. The fact that we have yet another book with Malfoy and his goons being nasty to Harry and friends when he's not actually someone that matters results in another couple of dull chapters. And more quidditch... we need new ideas.

I'm still waiting eagerly for the scene promised on the back of the book, which I'm worried isn't going to actually happen until the last chapter. I wonder if the Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons are going to end in a kind of Buffy 'Graduation Day'-style charge at the OWL results announcing. And on the subject of Buffy, I find Harry teaching other students as believable as when it happened in the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Halfway through now I'm interested to see where it's going but I feel there's still an awful lot of padding in this book.

It was a bit worrying the other day to find that, on pondering my upcoming twenty-seventh birthday (end of August if you're anxious to send e-cards) that I realised that at the same age, my Dad was married and, a few years later, my Mum was 27 when she had me. Now, I live quite happily alone at Misanthrope Towers in PissoffWithTheLotofYer Street, but there is that nagging thing at the back of my head going "well, what have you got to show for the same amount of time? Have you changed anyone's life in the same way your parents changed each others?" Luckily I can kill this little voice with much alcohol.

Found this by an almost random following of links, The City as Exhibition (from City of Sound) which I think would be a great idea, though I'm a bear of too little brain to understand how it might work. But I'd certainly borrow someone else's stuff if on doing one of my walks in London I could 'point and click' and get information on interesting places I'm visiting, rather than the sentence or so the guide books tend to give.

Travelling on the Underground frolics.

You got 35 points.

Congratulations, you are queer, a cool person who don't care too much for sexes. See you at the sexual revolution.

Well, it's always good to seek validation from quizes for my lifestyle... The new and improved queer quizz.

(And I'm not pouting because Plums beat me.)

Dyke furious after BBC compared to Enron. Yeah, I'm sure it's just coincidence that a Labour MP compared the BBC to an American company that collapsed in one of the biggest frauds in history only a few months after the BBC presented a news item that suggested that the Labour government had perpetrated one of the most heinous pieces of fraud against the British public ever. Pure coincidence. I'm sure the apology is in the post.

The Daily Telegraph has obviously decided not to wait for Carol and is steaming on ahead with it's own article, Danger lurking in chatrooms.

Tips for parents:

Keep the computer near you.
Talk to your child about what they do online.
Keep a "favourites" folder of agreed sites.
Ask your ISP about safety features.

"No Mum, I'm not on a chatroom, we agreed that I'd only go to 'Yahoo's very boring websites for incredibly dull people'."

Tips for children:

Never give your address or phone numbers to strangers.
Do not meet a stranger alone.
Tell your parents if you are exposed to anything you dislike.

And don't let them palpate your skin with a 3D soundwave either.

Every time I hear any more news about this missing school girl Shevaun Pennington who has possibly run off with a former US Marine the story seems to get weirder and weirder. Based on what I've heard on the BBC, they met on an internet chatroom (which probably means that well known internet expert Carol Vorderman will be back on the ITV news to warn parents how internet chatrooms turn their children into drug-taking, drinking, smoking louts, five seconds after even hearing the word chatroom teenagers are out killing people, she knows, she's done tests!) where she thought he was fourteen, he thought she was nineteen. He flew to Manchester airport where they met and, despite the fact that presumerably they both realised they'd lied to one another they both flew off to France anyway. Now the French are saying that they're sure the girl flew back more or less straight away and the Marine's family have admitted he was in court, though acquited, for attacking an underage girl. The fact that they describe him as 'gentle' should worry anyone. I expect that in a few more days we'll find out they've both joined a cult or something.

I've been a member of UNISON for a couple of years now and haven't been particularly impressed with them. Admittedly I haven't needed to call on their help for representation at some kind of disciplinary meeting, thank god, but signing up to them does seem rather like paying them some money to send me junk mail a few times a month. Last Summer we took part in industrial action. There was the national strike for more pay for public-sector workers, which got lots of mention in the press and resulted in a two stage deal over two years. But London UNISON members have also been striking for an increase in London weighting, on the grounds that it has not kept pace with the cost of living in London. I don't have a problem but apparently nurses in London are finding it just too expensive to live anywhere near their hospitals or the surrounding areas. There's still no agreement on that.

Anyway, I took part in all but one of the strikes and after the final one last November got a thing from UNISON saying I could claim back from them some money for each day of the strike at the jaw dropping amount of £15 per day which, in total for all my strike days came to £75. It's less than a day's wages but I took it anyway. They needed proof of my being on strike so I provided photocopies of my pay-slips. I couldn't do this for the most recent day, because we'd obviously only just had the strike and I'd have to wait one or even two months for our payroll department to deduct the money.

Now, here's where I made my mistake. I wrote on my slip asking UNISON to check with the payroll department to confirm I had been on strike for the final day. I know this was a mistake because the UNISON steward told me that, being an outside organisation, of course UNISON had no right to private financial information from my employers. However, I only know this because I went and asked the local UNISON rep when I could expect the money, some three months after I'd put the claim in. Despite the fact that they have my name, my address, my work address and contact phone numbers on file, they had put the unresolved funds claim in a filing cabinet where it would stay indefinitely, unless I just happened to pop in and ask about it. Nice huh? You join the organisation, you pay their wages, and their local secretary can't even be bothered with a thirty second phone call or a postcard through the door with the junk mail exhorting you to take out a UNISON credit card. So, on finding this out, I returned a week or two later with the proper proof, so this all has to be checked. I return two months later, so we're looking at mid-May now, to find out what's happened and I find out that the previous week it had been accepted, and I would receive the cheque. Which arrived today.

Now, UNISON are planning more strikes in London over the weighting issue. They are considering closing down targetted services for anything from a few days to possibly even a month. My service isn't currently intended to take part in this, although we might be involved in later action in the Autumn. If we do take part we've been assured already that the pay situation will be different this time, that we'll receive cheques from UNISON at the start of the week we'd normally get paid. Because I know I haven't been the only one in the library to have to struggle to get anything out of our branch of UNISON.

Actually, although I ache in a number of exciting places, my day at the book store was quite fun. In the sense that rather than our incredibly hot library we were in the basement of another library (different library authority) where it was nice and cool, despite the lack of air conditioning. There was only pain when we were outside, namely driving there from the library we were meeting up at, and driving home afterwards. In the direct sunlight it was extremely nasty, I could practically feel my skin turning cancerous, and most of the shaded spots were warm too. Still, we weeded a lot of books, trying to decide whether a book by someone we'd never heard of that doesn't seem to have been issued since before I was born and shifted a load around, which is quite fun. I feel I could possibly start a new range of fitness video-tapes, all you need is a set of high shelves and a set of low ones, and you just move books between the two. Watch out Mister Motivator, I'm comin' for ya!

Monday, July 14, 2003

It's going to be thirty degrees tomorrow. Am I going to be out there, enjoying it? Am I, even more sensibly, going to be lurking inside in the cool? Nope, I'm going to go to a room which isn't even this borough to help weed our collection of books which probably no-one wants any more but which we keep hold of, just on the off-chance. This is obviously punishment for me thinking a few weeks back that I liked my job. I bet the room isn't even air-conditioned.

Must... buy... sugary... products. A Mars bar will sate my hunger and give me a sense of wellbeing derived from the eating of chocolatey goodness. Just because it has never actually worked like that before is no reason to believe it not to work for me before, even though the only physical remnant of those other snacks is in my prominent belly.

During my holiday I rather broke my ban on sweeties and stuff, so now I am having the junkie withdrawl thing.


I'm now around 170 pages into Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with the same sort of dread as when I read Goblet of Fire and realised that Rowling isn't going to be able to sustain a story over such a long book. Maybe I'll have to reconsider as I get deeper in but I'm not holding my breath.

We've just had the obligatory one-mention-per-book of the apparently only non-white pupils (Cho Chang has really got that "Hello Harry" thing down) and Harry is all moody this chapter because apparently the most important thing in his life isn't stopping Lord Voldemort but being a school prefect.

So, plot points so far?

Well, Harry's aunt knows more than she's previously made clear about the magical world. She may be one of those non-magical types like the woman who saw Harry with the Dementors, but it will hopefully explain exactly why Dumbledore doesn't seem to mind sending Harry to live with people who are so serially unpleasant to him even when murders and monsters are after him. It's hard to imagine why someone from Voldemort's group hasn't gone to the Ministry of Magic and got the address Harry lives at and attacked the place. Of course, that could just be because of Rowling following the literary tradition of children having to live with unpleasant aunts and uncles. Am I looking for depth in all the wrong places?

Dumbledore seems to be keeping his distance from Harry. I'm certainly wondering what the real connection is between him and Voldemort although the fact that he was headmaster when Tom Riddler was at school (in book two) would possibly puncture my 'they are the the same person' theory (unless everything both Riddler and Dumbledore told Harry was a lie). Again, the fact that Rowling is writing CHILDREN'S books (as opposed to someone like Pullman who writes books that children read) means that it's hard to tell whether the fact that in four years the students have never had a decent 'Defense Against The Dark Arts' teacher is significant or just accidental.

Sirius Black not Sirius Black? Possibly a way for Sirius to get his freedom (at least long enough to clear his name), I can't believe Rowling would play the impersonation game again, after what happened in Goblet of Fire.

The Ministry of Magic. Apparently Voldemort is using the Malfoys. Whether it's to destroy the Ministry from within or to turn it against Dumbledore is unclear, knowing who is involved, probably both. As everyone who works for the Ministry in the last four books has had a silly name and a comedy job title I can't see them being something that Voldemort is particularly scared of.

And on we go...

Sunday, July 13, 2003

And while we're on the subject of gay biphobia... Natalie Davis reprints this article by Paul Varnell from March this year.

Most bisexuals aren't out, they socialize mostly with heterosexuals, and form longer relationships with opposite-sex partners. So are they gay?

A quick Google on Varnell seems to suggest that he's quite comfortable being biphobic, and I'd take more notice of what he writes here if he didn't include sentences like this:

The survey found that 55 percent of lesbians and 67 percent of gay men said they had come out to their physician. But only 23 percent of the self-described bisexuals said they had done so.

So, being lesbian or gay is something you are, being bisexual is purely a matter of self-definition? Oh piss off...

In other words, bisexuals face discrimination only because they sometimes behave like homosexuals.

Homophobia comes from a mistaken belief that 'proper' sexuality is purely hetero, based on the reproduction thing, and that all other forms of sexual expression are distorted offshoots of that. Gay biphobia seems to operate on the belief that there is 'proper' sexuality which is two places, like towns, hetero and homo, and that all other forms of sexual expression are distorted offshoots of those two. This is equally flawed.

In a way, I think the gay liberation movement of the second half of the last century was an incredibly bad thing for everyone involved. It chose to present itself as polarised to the hetero 'norm', allowing all manner of other sexualities to slip between the gap, as well as those people who were unfortunate enough to be non-middle-class, non-white etc. What was needed was rather than the setting up of camps, 'gays', 'lesbians', 'straights', 'bisexuals', instead a movement to encourage everyone to take pride in their sexuality, whatever it was, as we're seeing coming out of the transsexual community. We currently have an arse-above-tit situation where transgenderism is seen as part of the LesBiGay community when in fact it is the LesBiGay community that is part of the larger trans community. Let's not forget who it was at Stonewall that kicked off the action. Is the house part of the bricks, or are the bricks part of the house?

So, when Varnells asks:
Most bisexuals aren't out, they socialize mostly with heterosexuals, and form longer relationships with opposite-sex partners. So are they gay?

The answer should be: No, they aren't. But they are, like gays, like lesbians, part of the transsexual movement, which should give them the same rights of access to 'queer' spaces.

(A Livejournal users reply to the same article.)

I'm so tempted to join this Yahoo group as I expect it to be highly amusing.

This is a group for Gay and Straight Activists to discuss the topic of bi-sexual infiltration and misuse of Gay and Lesbian organizations to further their cause. We will discuss the documented and experienced probelems inherant in bi-sexual behavior towards both the gay and straight communities...

However, the fact they spammed a Bi newsgroup about this suggests they're either clueless or there's some scam going on.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

According to the Telegraph ID cards have got cabinet backing to go ahead. An announcement is going to be made on Thursday which is, coincidentally, the last day of term at Westminster Primary School so all the children will be restless and anxious to take their PE bags home and the pictures made of dried pasta so won't be listening to anything the headmaster will be saying. Of course, the Government might engineer a big story so that the media look another way, so if Ali C is really going to leave government look for an announcement at either lunchtime or dinnertime Thursday.

Then start Faxing Your MP over the Summer.

Jump, Jump, Jump!

trec is changing
trec is houston’s oldest and largest technical education center specializing in microsoft
trec is conducted on friday evenings at a variety of community
trec is not responsible for the privacy policies
trec is a christ
trec is an annual activity of the information retrieval
trec is that research groups work on a common source of data and a common set of queries or tasks
trec is very suitable for cobs
trec is a safe
trec is consumed
trec is considerably larger
trec is guaranteed in one work day or less
trec is by nature a place of trial and error

Well, that answers that one...

The Need to Know people have spared no time in finding a humorous location in the census website. Go here, although you may have to reload the page a couple of times to get the desired effect.

This feels like deja vu, all over again. Have I mentioned before about the school using retinal scanners for security and school dinners?

And apart from anything else there's also the little matter of cost.

[The Headmaster] said he expected the system to be paying for itself in seven years' time.

If a school is losing that much from the school dinners budget there is something seriously wrong. Check to see if any of the children are wrinkly, need a zimmer frame to walk and can remember WW2. If any of them are then the school will find it's been subsidising the lunches of the nearest old folks home.

And there are loads of schools around the country that don't know if they'll be able to offer school dinners next September, let alone some expensive system that will keep them in debt for best part of a decade.

You're the best kind of librarian: a member of

What kind of librarian are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
Yay me. Unfortunately I don't have a clue what or who TREC is.
Congrats, you are Madame Pince from Harry

What Fictional Librarian are You?
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Will Harry Bloody Potter never leave me be?
You are Giles.  Intelligent and a little old fashioned, you make being a librarian dead sexy.
You are Rupert Giles, from "Buffy the Vampire

What Type of Librarian Are You?
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Ahhh, that's marginally better. Especially as I don't know any of the other choices.

I want to have this boy's babies. Or kill him. I'm not sure. It's a thin line between love and crime and in this situation, it's a thin line between love and crime and... collaboration... < wrestles self to floor >

Unfortunate cross-cultural movie title confusion: Jism.

Oh yes! HULK BLOG!!
And The Thing's Blog.
But why does MODOK not have his own Blog? There's no justice...

One of the library staff has just been attacked by/involved in a scuffle with, one of our beloved users. Don't know the exact circumstances but the member of staff, although physically unharmed was bit. Jesus, you expect that sort of behaviour in an inner city school in downtown L.A. where the teachers are armed only so they have a fighting chance against the students, not in genteel north London. We need Librarians with Guns, I swear, Librarians With Guns...

I pass through Slashdot only infrequently as I'm not really a techno-type person (I hover somewhere around Eddie Izzard's 'technophile', who enthusiastically uses things without bothering to check the manual and accidentally gets computers over the world playing Global Thermonuclear War), but am cheered to hear that the Domesday information that the BBC made in the 80s on big laserdiscs for their BBC Computers have been saved for the posterity of future generations by bunging the info over on to DVDs.

And somewhere on there is a little scrap of writing that a little Flower who was no more than a bulb wrote. I can't remember what I wrote now, it was about twenty years ago, I just remember Mr Davies getting very excited about it as he talked in assembly.

Probably the BBC Domesday Project is as pointless as the Blue Peter time capsule, but it's nice to know that a load of inconsequential rubbish is being saved. It's the first blog!

Now this is a t-shirt I should be getting for Bicon...

Friday, July 11, 2003

An interesting, if now rather old, article on body dysmorphic disorder at The Atlantic Online, although perhaps not with the most sensitive title in history: A New Way to be Mad. But ties together the strong belief that parts of one's body need to be removed in order to achieve happiness with cosmetic surgery, anorexia and transexuality. At some level, is an m-to-f someone who wants their dick removed rather than a leg? Is an anorexic someone who feels at least initially, that they can reach their ideal weight without having to chop bits off?

I've been watching Newsnight now for a couple of weeks and have mostly enjoyed it, but Newsnight Review is pretentious crap. Mark Lawson on Hulk going on about how comics are for little boys to flick through quickly. "Grrr, Flowers smash puny journo!"

Weeble and Bob are on MTV2 in the afternoon. PIE!! WANT PIE!!

"Gomez, this is Miss Jellinsky."
"What a ladykiller!"

"These Addams men, where do you find them?"
"It has to be damp."

"Children, this is Miss Jellinsky. What do you say?"
"Be afraid, be very afraid."

"Some day you'll meet someone special. Someone who won't press charges."

"Wednesday's at that special age when she's got only one thing on her mind."

It's Addams Family Values on Sky One tonight, one of the few better-than-the-first movies ever. I consider it my mission to develop the world's first time machine, so I can go back in time and kill Raul Julia after he did this film, so that this rather than Street Fighter was his last film. Can any true fan offer more?


Wake up to find out the Prime Minister might be reneging on his manifesto commitment to outlaw gay-bashing within the lifetime of this Parliament. He now says he much prefers the compromise measure of licensed gay-bashing, whereby groups of readers of the Daily Mail can apply for a licence to gay-bash if they can prove abolition will lead to the loss of columnists' jobs.

Hurrah for Armando Iannucci!

From the Telegraph, Marriage rights planned for transsexuals.

But don't worry bigots, the Government hasn't forgotten you.

*In a concession to concerns in the Anglican Church about the sexuality reforms, priests will for the first time be able to refuse to carry out a marriage ceremony if the bride or groom is a transsexual.

*[Transexuals] will have to meet medical criteria, give a sworn statement that they have lived in their new gender for at least a few years and that they intend to continue until death.

*Lord Filkin said he expected a Bill to go to Parliament some time next year.

Oh, whenever you feel like it really. I mean, it's only transsexuals right? And they have to persuade the 'Gender Recognition Panel' that they're serious about this whole 'changing sex, spending a year or two 'living their new role' and risking getting attacked or killed, major internal surgery'-thing. Because, as we all know, one wild night and the next morning you're waking up wearing new clothes and someone's nicked most of your sexual organs.

PM to issue election warning. Well, it's nice of him to warn us the bullshit level is going to increase.

Anyway, did anyone see 'Newsnight' last night? Michael Portillo versus Peter Mandelson over what will surely be regarded to by future generations as the 'Illusory Iraqi WMD scandal'. I had that awful moment of clarity when you realise the Conservative is actually lying less and making more sense than the Labour representative. But then Mandelson was trying to disseminate and spin by trying to involve the seperate issue of the BBC and Ali C's dodgy dossier so that the host, Gavin Estler, was reduced to shouting "that's five times you've mentioned the BBC now! Can you answer the question?!" Great stuff.

Ahh, the joys of being back at work. Thanks to the hot weather keeping me awake most of last night I come to work tired, exhausted and looking like the creature from the swamp, just as though I'd never been away. And I find out that instructions I'd left appear not to have been followed so lots of stuff which should have been made someone elses problem while I was gone have remained to become my problem once I was back.

But on the bright side, things are nice and quiet. All the students are finally gone for the summer so the librarians get to slink around the building from cool spot to cool spot.

Oh, and apparently I missed a meeting yesterday which I thought was next week. Oh well, these things happen...

Meanwhile, over at the Mudshow, they're getting the righteous anger flowing over those horrible Tranquility Bay articles from the Observer that everyone was mentioning at the start of the week...

Whoever it was that found my blog while Googling for 'Masterbating in school whilst at', you are a naughty, naughty person.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Have you Googled for 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' yet?

Pot calls kettle black. In other news, US Officials complain about bad taste.

Woman still pregnant after giving birth? All right, I'm being mean about the write-up, but this BBC report about a woman who was attacked.

When it comes to piracy, I view it as a similar thing to borrowing something from the library. I use it, not as a means of not buying something necessarily, but trying it out to decide whether to buy it. Most things I borrow from the library I then decide not to buy for myself, this is completely natural. on the pirated material I have come into contact with, 'Equilibrium' is just as if I'd taken it out from the library. If I wasn't able to borrow the DVD I'd never buy it, so a purchase hasn't been lost. With the music on my hard disk I consider that the albums I have on there right now are going to be bought later on, the exception being music that isn't commercially available, like Radiohead's Salamanca concert from last year. Again, these are albums I originally first borrowed from the library, I wouldn't have bought them without checking them first, so no sale has been lost.

Sorry, this sounds like desperate self-justification for something doesn't it. Look at this instead, Music fans who download songs from the internet go on to buy more albums, a survey has suggested. File-swapping is being used as quality control, not replacing the act of buying an album. Well, not always.

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