Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I is back. I is bloody knackered but I is back. There will be calling of phones tomorrow, as well as mailing of e's (don't get excited druggies) and a huge big rant about why Kent is crap. Only right now I need to get something disgustingly unhealthy to eat.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Woooh, I'm now getting way too many search references for 'girls masturbating'. It's the way that these people do the search, find my blog listed which has normally got something like 'Bush sucks!' in the reference and go "Yes! I've hit the jackpot! Obviously this is a blog full of dirty stories! And my mate Zeke Junior said there wasn't any value in learning how to spell 'masturbating'."

Anyway, I'm off on holiday for a couple of days. I'd tell you where but it's not that exciting and I've heard Patrick's put a bounty on my head for bad mouthing that guy that cutely he still thinks was the democratically elected President of his country. Be good and if you can't be good work out ways to take out David Blunkett that don't hurt his dog in any way.

Doubts now surfacing in '14 year old suicide bomber' story.

Indian Aravanis (eunuchs and people with various types of hormone imbalances) are going to court for 'third gender' status.

Aravanis were also demanding right to education, right to employment, right to marriage, right to child adoption and voting rights among other things.

Meanwhile, the man who came up with more euphemisms for being hung over than Oliver Reed multiplied by George Best, Mr Agreeable is back, if slightly content free at the moment (though David Stubbs does have his own blog in there as well).

[via Die Puny Humans]

A project is under way to provide free wireless internet access to rural libraries. However, this BBC report seems to have been written by someone who has no idea what is actually on offer. Much better is this press report from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council which has been written by someone who understands what 'wireless' actually means. Take your laptop into any of the ten pilot sites mentioned, you can connect to the Internet and they'll lend you the kit you need if necessary. Of course, the really smart libraries will incorporate the correct warchalking signs into their literature, or is that all old hat now?

Julie Bindel writes in the Guardian again today. This time she's writing about how information from the 2001 census has been used to build a map of gay Britain. It's interesting reading right up until the end when you realise that Bindel is being nostalgic for the Seventies when you had political homosexuality (which we don't have now apparently), queer-bashing and grief over your sexuality were widespread everywhere. Based on the opinions of the people in the report she's in another minority on that issue as well.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Summer's coming, time to get some new t-shirts. Or maybe you'll find something more to your tastes here? Or here? Meanwhile, in the name of balance, here are shoddily put together badges and t-shirts for conservatives.

Gather round children and let me tell you a story...

Tony ran a small country somewhere off the eastern coast of America. And he had a problem. He needed gas and oil for the people in his country and had thought that if he made friends with the man who ran the United States he might help him get oil and gas from over the hill and far away. The man in the US, who was called Georgie-Porgie said "Yes, I'll help you Tony. If you help me get a 'in-ter-nat-ion-al co-alit-ion' so I come bomb this country without anyone complaining then you can share the oil this country have." So Tony agreed and soon everyone was saying "Well, if Tony Blair thinks it's all right then it must be all right, for he is a man of principle and integrity."

A few years passed and it had all gone wrong for Tony. Georgie-Porgie wanted to invade more countries because they had said rude things about his Dad. Now when Tony said everyone should help Georgie-Porgie people said "Huh! That Tony Blair, he's no more than Georgie-Porgie's poodle! We shouldn't listen to him!" And when Tony went to Georgie-Porgie and asked for the gas and oil he needed, Georgie-Porgie looked at him and said "Gas and oil? We weren't doing this for gas and oil. We were doing this because Saddam Bin Ladin had Weapons of Mass Destruction and tortured his people." Tony was in a jam. No-one liked him because of his sticking by Georgie-Porgie and if he had nothing to show for it then he would loose his job and his house. Then he had a brainwave. He'd just copy Georgie-Porgie. He'd find an oil-rich country and take it.

But the bank manager, Gordon, told Tony he was overdrawn. "My wife Prudence doesn't think you're a safe bet." Said Gordon. "If I give you more money I couldn't be sure you could pay me back." What could Tony do?

Then Tony had another brainwave. He made a phone call.

"Hello, it's Tony here." He said to a foreign leader. "I know we haven't talked much but I've got an idea that could help both of us out."

"Oh yes?" Said the foreign leader.

"I'm friends with Georgie-Porgie. What if I were to persuade him that your country isn't a part of the Axis of Evil any more? You could rejoin the International Community again."

"And what would I have to do in return?" Said the foreign leader.

"Dismantle those big catapults you were trying to build and promise you won't try to build any more." Said Tony.

"Done." Said the foreign leader (who was secretely relieved because he hadn't found a way to stop the elastic in the catapults from breaking).

So Tony went to Georgie-Porgie and told him how the foreign leader, whose name was Muammar, had promised to throw away his big catapults and how it had all been due to Georgie's inspiration. But as Tony left Georgie-Porgies' big white house he could already hear Georgie-Porgie talking about the oil and gas in Muammar's country. So he decided he would have to act first and make it clear to Muammar that he would be a much better friend than Georgie-Porgie could ever be. So he visited the country, despite the fact that it wasn't the normally done thing and despite the fact that some of the people in his country blamed friends of Muammar for killing their friends and family. And Tony introduced Muammar to his friend Mr Shell, who worked in the petrol station. And Tony hoped that they would all, finally, live happily ever after.

Now it's this sort of behaviour that would make me inclined to believe that the US aren't planning a dirty trick involving WMD in Iraq for Dubya's re-election bid. Although there's always plausible deniability. Is this really making light of the WMD issue? Or is this that strange urge that Presidents have in their last year (I remember Clinton did something similar in his final days) to arse about in the home movie format?

There's an article in the Guardian today primarily about the new touchy-feely gay-friendly Tories, which kind of follows on from what I was saying yesterday in the US. I guess it's going to take actions rather than words. There are Labour frontbenchers that are known to be homophobic (including possible Blair replacement David Blunkett) but the Lib Dems claim that all that Labour have done has been forced by Europe isn't really fair, the Equal Age of Consent was battled through the Lords before European legislation became an issue, and the Government has opted out of so many other directives that if they wanted to they could have opted out of gay rights too. However, Labour were the first party to legislate to make homophobia legal. Similarly, for Tories to try and claim that gay rights is a natural branch of Tory libertarianism when their current leader brought in Section 28 to pander to the worst elements of homophobia in the country when he was last in charge looks similarly unrealistic.

Vote Lib Dem/Green!

Georgia bans female genital piercings. It was attached to a bill aimed at outlawing female genital mutilation after the case of an Ethiopian man who circumcised his daughter with a pair of scissors. There is currently no law in Georgia about what men choose to stick in/through their genitals and seems to have been adopted purely on a "Hey, did you hear that some women like doing this? Ewwww!" factor.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Is it a slow news week? The BBC seems to be rather fixated on Charles Kennedy's health, going on about whether an apparent stomach bug signals the end of Kennedy's career as Lip Dem leader. They seem to be more concerned about this than whether Tony Blair's heart problems last year meant he was finished.

There's a good article here on anti-transgender violence in Washington.

What has made transgendered people such popular targets? "It's partly because we're coming out into the daylight," says Toni Collins, who works ... at Transgender Health Empowerment.

Jack Levin, the criminologist, agrees. "There are more transgendered people who are coming out, willing to expose themselves to the possibility of victimization," he says. "It reminds me of the period beginning in the '80s when gay and lesbian Americans began to come out in larger numbers. They exposed themselves to the risk of being victims of homophobic offenders. The same thing is happening with transgendered people now. They are encountering much the same violence, for much the same reasons."

You may also want to read another report on [a]n 'elite' cadre of scientists and journalists [which] tries to turn back the clock on sex, gender and race. It highlights The Man Who Would be Queen by J. Michael Bailey, which the good folk at Gendertalk were quite rightly incensed at for being nominated for an award at the Lambda Literary Awards until Lambda realised they'd made a mistake.

There's an overview of what Lou from Little Britain might call "a right kerfuffle" here.

Meanwhile Tony Blair meets an isolated world leader responsible for much pain and misery who isn't George W. Bush. I must admit I wasn't hugely concerned but the fact that Blair is photographed shaking this hand and their small talk is recorded:

Mr Blair said: "It's good to be here at last after so many months."

Like he's the rockstar he once imagined himself to be, "Hello Tripoli! Are you ready to rock?!"

Colonel Gaddafi spoke first in Arabic before switching to English to tell the prime minister: "You did a lot of fighting on this issue and seem exhausted."
Mr Blair replied: "There's been a lot to do."
The Libyan leader added: "You look good, you are still young."

Behind closed doors I can imagine Gaddafi giving Blair hints in how to deal with opposition. "This George Galloway? Shoot him in his legs then leave him to die in the middle of Birmingham. Robin Cook? Kidnap his wife then send her back one finger at a time. Clare Short? There is nothing you could do to that woman that is any worse than being Clare Short."

Now that we're welcoming Libya back into the international community I'm sure that the UK and US will use the same amount of pressure they used to get Libya to give up it's WMD programs to ensure that the human rights of it's peoples are respected.

I'm trying and failing to understand the mindset that is responsible for a fourteen year old Palestinian boy nearly becoming the latest suicide bomber in the West Bank. It's perhaps easier for those who believe in 'good' and 'evil' as real things to be out in the land to simply palm this off as the latters influence, this is one delusion I can't share so I'm at a loss. Religious groupthink? Had this boy allowed himself to be drawn into something he didn't understand? The report mentions a brother who describes him as 'slow'. Did this make him more pliable to the terrorists who organised this? Were his parents still alive, did they know what he was going to do? Did they sanction it? Did they care?

Is there a code of conduct for Western diplomats? A list of things they can and can't do? I ask only because the American ambassador to Britain has been busy recently. The week before last he basically slandered the people coming back from Guantanamo Bay in the Sun as terrorists (yet several years of interegation by US and UK intelligence couldn't find a case to answer) from behind the privilidge of diplomatic immunity. Today he's writing an article for the Independent about Richard Clarke. Now, I thought the job of an ambassador is to relay the opinions of the US Government to the Government of the country they are in and to act as a link between US citizens in the UK and their Government. Now, this isn't based on what he's said in this case, but it does seem a teeny bit questionable for an Ambassador to talk to the citizens of the country they are Ambassador to. But I suppose Tony Blair appears on The Simpsons and Dubya sometimes escapes out of his cage long enough to be interviewed by people on telly so I suppose there aren't rules against it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Coincidence? Tony Blair goes to visit Colonel Gaddafi while his boss in Washington has a hard time as Sept. 11th committee hears more evidence that he dropped the ball on terrorism.

You've used the toilet roll, now buy the book!

The people behind Grey Tuesday have set up a new website Banned Music, which attempts to use P2P and BitTorrent to help the distribution of material that record companies would ban. And what's available first? Have you still not downloaded The Grey Album yet?

Are you a looker or a nodder?


Give an accurate critique of the anti-war movement based on what it is not what you'd like it to be and I'll spend more of my time explaining why you're a moron.

Following the success of 'The Passion' Monty Python's The Life of Brian is getting a timely rerelease.

"Working together, we can expand the Republican Party's outreach to nontraditional Republicans," [Mary Cheney] said in the statement. "We can make sexual orientation a nonissue for the Republican Party and we can help achieve equality for all gay and lesbian Americans."

What a load of total crap. Any idea that you can 'work the Right around' to give equality is like believing that if you flick the privates of a rabid pit-bull it won't attack you. They will never like you. They will never tolerate you. If you're queer and you want to hang around with Conservatives, then be prepared to submerge your sexuality right down where it will never pop up again, because it's more acceptable for heterosexual men to commit adultery with women they have no intention of seeing again than for a man to sleep with a man or a woman with a woman that they intend to stay with for the rest of their lives. After all, consider all these fine people who obviously can't believe in the sanctity of marriage. Beware anyone who says that their sexuality isn't the defining aspect of their lives. Because on the whole they only use that when they're in the position of trying to justify the unjustifiable. Sexuality isn't plug and play, you can't take it out when you're not using it and stick it in a box under the bed. A lesbian is still a lesbian even if she doesn't get read. And working for a homophobic party is still collaborating with your oppressor. Queers have no business helping or voting for the Right, period.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

ID Cards: There will be an audit trail. There's a glimmer of light in the fact that the Government is going to need some fucking big data storage to handle this, but we pay our taxes to be turned into tagged prisoners in our country, not for services like ambulances and firefighters. So, the Government is tracking where you go. All they need to do then is decide that you must always carry and ID card and make it madatory to have it scanned when you purchase something, travel on public transport or fill your car with petrol, or any of the hundreds of innocent things we do each day, and David Blunkett will always know where you are. Even a law abiding citizen like myself finds the prospect of someone else knowing where I am, without my consent, a very scary prospect.

Zombie attack... send help... I'm not mad, honest!

It would seem, based on this entry at Google Blogoscoped, that there is something of a battle going on between George W. Bush and Michael Moore to be returned on a 'I Feel Lucky' search for 'Miserable Failure'. I'm sure that all Mike's fans at Moorewatch are doing what they can to help him out, but currently George is in first place and this is one race I don't mind him winning.

Monday, March 22, 2004

David Blunkett is at it again, apparently trying to fast track ID cards (well we knew the Home Office select committee meeting about them was going to have to struggle to even reach the status of a procedural figleaf). As with every other stage of this he's trying to minimise the opportunities for anyone to vote on this so as to avoid the chances for defeat.

Public support for ID cards has increased since the bombings in Madrid, according to a poll for The Sunday Times today. The Experian survey shows that more than 86% of people would be prepared to carry an ID card, with the overwhelming majority believing that it would help to fight crime and terrorism.

Grrr. Everyone is stupid. I believe that people should only be marked as 'supporting ID cards' if they can give, say, three examples of how carrying an ID Card would help to fight crime and terrorism, and the pollsters be obliged to argue when the member of the public makes an obvious mistake in their assumptions. If they fail, they get marked down as against it. Then you'd see 'support' down to almost nothing.

Yet another ex-member of staff from Bush's White House has gone on record about how crap his boss was. This time it's his former chief counter-terrorism adviser who is accusing him of doing a terrible job of protecting his country from terrorism. Of course, some people who read this blog might come to some crazy conclusion that because Mr Clark has a book out that somehow renders his criticism invalid, rather than if Bush and another members of the administration thought him good enough to hire that means his views carry weight.

Did anyone watch all of Gunpowder, Treason and Plot? The first two episodes were fifty minutes and shown back-to-back last Sunday, the third and final part was one hour forty, shown last night and, despite the fact that James the Sixth is Mary Queen of Scots' son there was no effort to link the final episode to the first two. It's as though Jimmy McGovern wrote James story, then wrote the Mary story at a completely different time and then accidentally sent them to his agent at the same time so the latter thought it was one proposal.

The two stories were pretty good, although the Mary story did suffer a bit from being like most historical dramas, 'here's a historical figure and guess what? She had lots and lots of sex!' The drama concentrated too much, especially in the second part, between a love triangle between her, the husband she hated and her servant Boswell. This rather eclipsed the war between her and the armies of Elizabeth so rather suddenly everything goes from her doing quite well to having lost everything and being imprisoned and her baby being seized by her half-brother.

This is where some awkwardness comes in, Boswell announces he's off to France to raise an army to free Mary and we never find out what happens. The third episode opens with James as a man, we never know anything about his upbringing, except he appears to have cerebral palsy, which results in him limping around castles looking like a medieval Keyzer Soze and loathes women. Robert Carlyle was electrifying as James, although it's like having Begbie from Trainspotting as your king, but I think Tim McInnery was even better as Robert Cecil, banishing memories of him as Lord Percy in Blackadder.

This is the much better part, the sex is brief and instead we get to see much better character work. Characters are suddenly addressing the camera, House of Cards style to help set the drama in context, Cecil sits by the ancient and dying Elizabeth I, Emilia Randall and Hopkirk Fox reveals she's a Puritan spy on the Catholics, but we see how James goes back on his promise to stop persecuting Catholics because he is short of money, driving the Gunpowder Plotters to what they saw as a desperate necessity.

Especially interesting is that McGovern makes no real effort to excuse James' cruelty, especially to his wife, Anne of Denmark, who he makes clear to at the start that he will always hate and that she will hate him back, yet as time goes by they come to a strange form of love for each other. And the Plotters are shown to be desperate, decent men who feel they have been backed into a corner when it's a capital crime to worship as Catholics, James allowing their persecution because he can seize their money for his own when Parliament refuse to give him any. McGovern doesn't try to excuse James, at the end he's still a monster but we feel we can understand why this monster has been monstrous in this situation. The drama ends with the Plotters being shot, medieval-Butch and Sundance fashion and James announcing the persecution of Catholics will continue until they are wiped out.

It was a great bit of telly, shame about the lacklustre first two parts though.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Another report from one of those left-wing sources that certain readers of this blog ignore or scorn, this time on journalism coming from Iraq. It also mentions that report I mentioned about WMD being smuggled into this country, though luckily for certain readers of this blog, this time the report was from that well known left-wing state of Iran.

They're walking on thin ice. Rhea county, Tennessee, wants to change the law so that homsexuals can be charged with crimes against nature. However I would have thought any such law would end up biting them in the backside as I can't believe that nature would willingly create humans so mean and bigotted.

I knew from the start there would be less people at the march yesterday than a year ago, if I hadn't been looking out for it I wouldn't have known it was going on. And most people wouldn't turn out for a march on an issue that they perceive as being over and done with. Our Government ignored us and took part in an action that cost many thousands of lives and has done nothing but heighten the probability of us being the target of a terrorist attack. Thank you Mister Blair. Still we marched anyway. The crowds were good natured and calm, whether there were 25,000 of us (police estimates) or 100,000 (organisers). The weather varied between overcast and sunny, a few spots of rain here and there but the first serious shower wasn't until late afternoon.

We met at Marble Arch by the famous Arch, currently under wraps for renovation. The police presence at these events is never subtle, but this was the first time I've been standing around with friends and having my photo taken by the police photographer (who turned up after I took this photo). Presumably this is the heightened state of alert caused by the events in Madrid but when we crossed over to join the main crowd of protesters in Hyde Park I couldn't see any police taking such a close interest. Maybe they were monitoring groups that were gathering away from the main group due to the well known tendency of Al Qaeda members to have 'does not play well with others' on their school reports. Anyway, none of us turned out to suddenly become a terrorist and we eventually went over to the park when the march was heading off.

This is Stoatie carrying his pirate flag which we try to use at these types of events as a visible rallying point. Before we headed over to the park Stoatie was rather unnerved when one of the police approached him and said "Hello [Stoatie's real name]" when he didn't recognise the policeman. Anyway, if I suddenly disappear you know that Stoatie is a low down dirty grass.

It was very windy yesterday, some of the people carrying other banners seemed in danger of flying off and some people carrying less sturdy banners and flags did lose them as we marched. At the point of the proceedings we are walking through the park away from Marble Arch, looking to join the march which you can see on the right of this picture, on The Ring.

We followed the traditional march route, round on to Park Lane, down to Hyde Park Corner, then along Piccadilly to Piccadilly Circus, where these two fine specimens of policehood were separating hoards of teenagers and bemused tourists from our great tradition of demonstrating. The one on the right seems annoyed that he didn't have the same bright idea as the one on the left to wear a snood under his police jacket. Either that or he was just about to say "Did you just fart?"

After the Circus we were onto Haymarket which is always where things start to slow down as in this direction the police tend not to close Pall Mall so we have to squeeze to about half the width of the road in order to continue. There was lots of singing and dancing of various levels of proficiency, thankfully I was near one of the more tuneful groups, rather than the ubiquitous whistles they had drums and cowbells and gave us the ditty 'Blair Out! Blair Out!' to which the verse went "Blair Out! Blair Out!" and the chorus "Blair Out! Blair Out!" It was very infectious and we were all soon joining in.

At the bottom we saw this truck showing solidarity to the cause. It looked familiar though I couldn't think why, then as I passed and looked at the driver I realised that it was Chris Eubank, who had last year done something very similar outside the gates of Downing Street itself. No time (or to be honest inclination) to take a photo of the fop himself as we approached Trafalgar Square.

We'd started somewhere fairly far back in the march and though we'd all got split up had ended up arriving at Trafalgar Square at different times. I ended up on what I'm guessing is the west side of Trafalgar Square, with the National Gallery to my left. Literally seconds after I got there the police formed a barrier to stop people from stopping there and to force them around the top of the Square and down the other side. The black blobs on the far side of the fountain which you can see in the top of those two photos were actually a load of black balloons which were released, a very stunning effect in the high winds.

I must admit I didn't stay very long in the Square. I was tired, rain was threatening and the kinds of speeches you get at these things are pretty much always the same, especially when the Government's position hasn't changed since the last march, even though their evidence has been discredited or disproven.

And, as I walked away from Trafalgar Square I saw this statue, which I mentioned yesterday, as if for the first time. And I think it's message, in these days when anyone who objects to the murdering of any group of people by any other group of people is labeled as 'unpatriotic' or a traitor to their country, this is a lesson from someone who died doing what their conscience told them was the right thing to do.

Richard Littlejohn whines this week that those that returned from Guantanamo Bay have talked about the treatment they received. None of their claims can be verified but that didn’t prevent them being repeated at great length in an interview with Winston Silcott’s hagiographer David Rose. This from the paper that spent at least two days insisting that the U.S. had told them that the former prisoners were terrorists and had the proof that they were card carrying members of the Taliban and/or Al Qaeda. Seeing as there's another Britain still in jail who looks like he's going to go on trial for planning to attack the Houses of Parliament using surrealism, it's odd that the US authorities didn't put them on trial with all this evidence they supposedly have, or at the very least hand it over to the British authorities so they could do it.

When the BBC lies once that seems to be big news. Yet News International and Murdoch's various companies lie daily and that's business as usual.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

I am exceptionally tired. Marching does that to a body. However, there will be a full report tomorrow, possibly with pictures. Thanks to Stoatie for the new tagline for this blog. Meanwhile, consider the words of Edith Cavell, whose statue I really saw for the first time as I left Trafalgar Square today: Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness for anyone. I love it when the world gives me little gifts like this one.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Galloway wins damages for Saddam slur. Not really news, because CSM admitted they lied ages ago, but I've had a bit of a 180 turn on Gorgeous George. Not because of this whole 'best mates with Saddam' thing per se, although that is a bit galling. But you see him on television, he's one of the few people more full of themselves and arrogant than Tony Blair and David Blunkett locked in a lift. And presumerably the damages are going to fund his wonderful new political party.

Admittedly, I fixed the result...


Which Black Books Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

The industry watchdog also knocked back a complaint about a second Tesco poster featuring models dressed as the 1970s disco group The Village People standing at a till queue. The ASA said the poster was intended to be a light-hearted play on Soho’s reputation which was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

Oh no, because stereotypes are good things which helpand promote peace and understanding in our community. Plus, everyone on Old Compton Street really does dress like that, so that's all right.

I am the cowboy
You're the cowboy. You're charming, old fashioned,
and down to earth. You're more comfortable
alone on the range than in social situations,
but that doesn't mean you don't want someone
around to rope and ride now and then.

What member of the Village People are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, March 18, 2004

I feel we should have some sort of celebration. We had an episode of Horizon tonight that wasn't about how the universe is a horrible place that wants to kill us all (the climate change means Britain is going to be in the grips of an ice age before you finish this sentence) and that wasn't about some grubby and implausible pseudo-science (the writers of the books that would get chosen to make up the Bible actually imprinted it with details of Princess Di's death) but was about real science, the discovery of neutrinos. And fascinating it was too.

I wonder if this is an endorsement Dubya is going to put on his website... The statement said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November... as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom."... "Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization."... "Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected."

So there you have it, vote Bush, it's what Osama Bin Laden would want.

It just keeps on happening, go to Google and do an 'I Feel Lucky' on 'unelectable'...

I'm about halfway through the novellette that I've now been working on for over a year. It's completely ridiculous and I've been struggling against writers block every damn step of the way. However, I think that's partly because the first half of the book is written in a 'realistic' tone, or at least the cod-'realism' of the English detective genre which I found difficult. I'm not particularly good at realism in my writing it would seem at the moment, I know in the last piece I did it was supposed to be about this shady wannabe gangster type, only I found it much more fun to write about the ultra-secret service agency he'd be drawn into conflict with, to the point where at the end of the first draft their role overwhelms his. When I get round to rewrites I'm going to have to beef his part up a bit. But thankfully the magical realism angle has now well and truly kicked in. There are two hurdles to a more smooth writing process. I need to visit the British Library (well, I don't think I need to, but my imagination seems to think it's important as my main character is visiting there for a chapter) and I also need to work out the book he reads while he's there. It's the hinge on which the whole story revolves and although I've got most of the rest of it pictured I've not worried too much about this until now.

Anyway, if you have any interest in what I'm writing, I've bunged a bit of it online and you can read it here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

This dihydrogen monoxide menace must be stopped. Do you have any idea how many people die from dihydrogen monoxide inhalation each year? It's quite frightening really.

God, it's been days since I last commented on how wonderful Mordant is. What was I thinking?

Right now I have a very special message for the (largely) right-wing pro-war lobby, in respect of their comments on the Spanish election result. Obviously this is a complex issue, one which needs a sensitive and even handed approach, showing due regard to both sides...

When Philip met Rowan: The transcript of a discussion between Philip Pullman and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

So let's see. I've had my clothes line break. My washing machine leak. My central heating pack in. A floppy disk get stuck in my computer. My computer mysteriously stop autoplaying CDs. Two chairs break. A phone stop working. A mobile phone stop working. A toilet seat break. My digital camera won't connect to my computer for a month. A tape get jammed in my video. My kitchen taps washers go. My vacuum cleaner goes doolally for a day. My discman headphones stop working. My NTL box stop working twice and once needed to be replaced and has now gone up the spout again some time yesterday. All this happened in or around my flat.

Know any good exorcists?

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

A collection of warbloggers on the Spanish election result. This is what happens when you let people who aren't mainly American warbloggers vote on things I guess. [via a good article at Sullywatch]

Alistair Campbell signs up for Channel 5 chat show. I wonder who his first guest might be?

Mr Campbell quit his post last year to spend more time with his family.

I don't blame him for deciding it's time to go back to work then. When I was a kid I think that's what my Dad was looking forward to at the end of the fortnight holiday to the south coast.

Well, it's what everyone thought might happen, is America shipping in to Iraq WMD that it can 'find' before the US Presidential election? At the moment it's not from what the West would consider the most reputable source but will any American media, suckling at the proverbial Bush teat as they are, investigate this claim in any meaningful way?

An alternative to bra burning.

Genetic origin discovered for Republicanism.

Monday, March 15, 2004

A useful source of cash if you can get involved is as poll clerks or presiding officers in elections. It's a long days work and can be very dull, especially if you're working on a European election. But if you can get on it, and getting on it can be a bit of a problem, you do get a decent days pay. This year it's European elections and, in London, London Assembly and Mayor, if you get involved a Presiding Officer gets £360, a poll clerk gets £230. Not to be sniffed at...

They've chosen the selected artists for the Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth project. I'm just confused as to why it's going to be another year before they install the first one in there. You would have thought that with the space being vacant since 2001 they might have organised things to get something there a bit quicker?

UPDATE: There's an article about it here in The Guardian. Apparently the reason it won't go on display until next year is they need to find the money to install it. Anyone got a spare £120,000?

Had my parents up to visit yesterday. We went for a very agreeable meal at a local Italian restaurant for Mother's Day dinner (one week early because I'm busy next weekend), then off to help me do some shopping for a new office chair as one of the spokes on my old one was bent, causing tippage of the Lozbutt when in the seated position. We finished off the afternoon looking at, and trying to identify, the photos from my Nan's collection that I've scanned in. I might post some more here at some point when I'm not so wrapped up in my work making the world safer for terrorists.

So, it's a changing of the guard in Spain. It's being read as a reaction to the bombs and the outgoing administration turning away from Europe to embrace the Bush doctrine of 'kill people and label their corpses a threat'. The new administration has denounced the War Against Terror and talked about a troop pull-out. This will be worrying for Tony Blair and any other of Donald Rumsfeld's 'New Europeans' as they consider their majorities, although in Blair's case it's probably going to have an effect on turnout rather than a swing of opinion away from him, the Tories supported the war and inspire little confidence except among their usual fanatics.

But a read of the BBC's Talking Point is instructive and good for a laugh. So many people assume that the bombs were Al Qaeda's party political broadcast, or that voting in Socialists is capitulation and cowardice (as several Americans allege). If you try to walk through a patio door only to bang your head, you know enough to pull the door open before you try again. These idiots seem to believe the mass bombings of innocent people in Afghanistan and Iraq, that did so much good in stopping terror attacks like those in Iraq last week and on a daily basis and these attacks in Madrid, are the right way to continue. They are willing to keep walking into the plate glass on the grounds that eventually they'll break through. This DEMOCRATIC vote by the people of Spain is pointing out that if you want to reach your objective, brute force and ignorance is not the only, and not even the best, way.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Couple of links I want to bung in your direction just in case you don't check out B3ta already. First up is the extremely work-safe Channel 4 ad. This is so work-safe that I suggest you go into work tomorrow, invite your co-workers and your boss to gather round, get your parents to come along to, plus any church ministers that you want to impress, turn the speakers up load and then load it up. That's how work-safe it is.

Next up is this cool little dance program. I've seen the shake the screen effect in a Weebl and Bob episode from a few months back, join in the craze now, as in a few months everyone will be doing it and it'll be extremely irritating.

And finally, big up Rogan Josh and his It Came From Over There! anim, as we went to school together. Aah, the happy days we had ridiculing Stubby, or Mathew Kelly's ball control...

Fuck. Right. Off.

What movie Do you Belong in?(many different outcomes!)
brought to you by Quizilla

If I wanted to get hold of surface-to-air missiles in Tipton, where would I go?

This is how it feels to be considered by the Governments of the UK and US to be an 'unlawful combatant' in their 'War Against Terror'. The Observer interviews the 'Tipton Three'. Although I'm happy to admit that it's hearsay, what if they are correct in their closing assertion that no one dangerous is locked up in Guantanamo? With Bin Laden and many Al Qaeda still on the loose, and if Michael Moore's Saudi Arabian connection hypothesis is correct, then US intelligence is deliberately looking in the wrong place for the terrorists who were responsible for Sept. 11th, because to look in the right place would destroy the US economy and plunge the world in to an oil crisis, much worse than anything Al Qaeda could achieve.

All this being mad speculation of course.

A reminder of some very interesting quotes from Conservatives of various stripes. Say what you like about Democrats, as far as I'm aware none of them have advocated assassinating the President of the United States, unlike some of the people mentioned here...

Saturday, March 13, 2004

I hate Warren Ellis. I hope one day to relieve myself over his still warm corpse. It's what he would have wanted.

I started rereading Transmetropolitan a few weeks ago, the first years worth of comics to get me through boring lunchbreaks at The Greenhouse. I read the second and third year a fortnight ago when I was off ill from work. Today I read the fourth and fifth (and final) years. When I was collecting them as individual comics, it was in the middle of the fourth year that I began to get irritated with the story, I didn't like what Warren was writing, I thought it was predictable 'see Spider swear! See Spider make a humorous joke about drugs and/or bizarre sexual practices!' stuff. I reread it for the first time since it finished today. And Warren Bastard Ellis makes it all work. The last two years of Transmetropolitan, more than the preceeding issues, can only be read in one large chunk. You can't read the issues on an individual month-by-month basis because often the actual events of one issue aren't substantial enough, they can only be experienced running in to one another. Transmetropolitan isn't perfect, there's something we should see which Warren doesn't let us, which is a mistake, there are at least two strange inconsistencies about the world of the future that the story takes place in and at least one big plot hole. Read all together it doesn't matter, the force of the story carries us forward regardless.

The rest of this entry should only be read if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

Transmetropolitan is five years in the life of Spider Jerusalem, an old-school journalist in the brave-new-world of the future, several hundred years from now. He lives hard, plays hard, and holds everyone to impossibly high standards he never bothers to aim for himself. But when getting involved with covering the US Presidential elections in his second year leads to tragedy, Spider has to bring down the President of the USA before he is brought down himself. Very violent, a fair amount of nudity and large amount of profanity. Perfect for young children.

If you haven't got them, you can sell the kidneys of your family and friends to pay for them.
Book One: Amazon UK, Book Two: Amazon UK, Book Three: Amazon UK, Book Four: Amazon UK, Book Five: Amazon UK, Book Six: Amazon UK, Book Seven: Amazon UK, Book Eight: Amazon UK (with an incorrect write-up I might add!), Book Nine: Amazon UK, and by the time you've read all those you'll be ready for Book Ten, released in June: Amazon UK.

I have found though, that reading lots of Transmetropolitan while watching loads of The West Wing really does your head in. I don't recommend it. More Warren Ellis can be found at his weblog and rantspace.

Well, this is interesting. One of the five Britons freed from Guantanamo Bay has said he received "horrific" treatment while he was detained by the US government. Unsurprisingly Colin Powell, in this case, has denied that the guards so much as looked at them funny.

"We have watched Guantanamo Bay very carefully knowing of the interest of a number of nations, including the United Kingdom, and knowing that we have responsibilities under the Geneva Convention and because we are Americans, we don't abuse people who are in our care."

Excuse me? At exactly what point was it that the US Government decided that the Geneva Convention applied to people at Guantanamo Bay? Was it while they were leaving or something? If the Geneva Convention applied to them then why was the US Government so insistent at the start of it all that they were 'illegal enemy combatants' and therefore not covered by the Geneva Convention? This White House press briefing says that everyone at Guantanamo will be treated in a manner consistent with the principles of the Third Geneva Convention, but then immediately goes on to say that the Convention only applies to members of the Taliban, not to members of Al Qaeda. Now, of course I'm naturally suspicious, but point two could be read as a qualification of point one, in which case it allows wiggle room for the legal torture of inmates. Why would someone say they were part of a plot to drop anthrax bombs on the Houses of Parliament if American agents were doing nothing more than giving him the Paddington Bear hard stare? If the US administration was being as fair and honourable as Powell claims, what do they gain from letting news circulate that the conditions in the camps are awful and treatment is inhumane? Was this all for the benefit of the toxic Texan, that he doesn't mind the US's stock in world opinion go down just so long as it's seen as being because he's being a hard man with the terrorists?

When the security services in Britain hire more staff they make it clear it's going to be very dull, boring stuff. When the CIA wants to hire people, it tries to imply successful recruits will get to be like Jennifer Garner in Alias.

Sometimes I love Dan so much...

This is the kind of politics I want to see. Ken Livingstone threatening to skullfuck people who don't pay the congestion charge. Michael Howard ripping out Iain Duncan Smith's liver and hurling it from the highest window in Smith Square. Gunfire at the motherfucker of parliaments.

Have I told you about Invisible Cities? I may have done but at the moment I can't be bothered to go and look through the last couple of months of blogging, so sod it, besides, 'The Wench is another country' and all that... Go and have a listen, it's nearly two dozen five-minute soundscapes made by artists in various cities. The Catania piece may well make you shit out your own pelvis.

My feet hate me. I'm currently using a formaldehyde solution to get rid of the veruccas on my heels, while my toes itch, which means the athletes foot is back again. I've decided I shall stalk the people of North London until I find the person with ideal feet that I can have forceably transplanted on to my legs. I shall then sell my old feet to American Military Intelligence as they continue their research in to new weapons to kill people they don't like in needlessly unpleasant ways.

Friday, March 12, 2004

An alternative take on Bush's 9/11 ads.

Guardian editors take note: An extremely positive article from last weekend's New York Times about gender-queers on campus. Respectful throughout and with an acknowledgement of there being more than just two genders.

Spain's 9/11:
BBC photos.
Guardian photos.
CNN photos.
New York Times photos.

There's still confusion as to exactly who's done this, though Spanish experts tend to want to blame ETA, while attacking members of the public at the time of the day when the most of them are about would rather suggest it's Al Qaeda or a related group. Objection to that idea seems based purely on the fact that they wouldn't announce responsibility so early, which hardly seems conclusive. CNN quotes 'intelligence sources' as saying the group that claimed responsibility is unreliable.

I'm trying to find the full text of Prime Minister Aznar's statement he made yesterday after the bombings. No-one seems to have put it up anywhere.

UK reaction.
European reaction.
World reaction.

Blog Reaction: Gayle's LJ, Mordant Carnival.

Sex case footballers freed on £160,000 bail. So I have to wonder, if I was in Spain and charged with a series of sexual offences, would I be allowed to leave the country if I had a holiday booked at Disneyland?

'Outstanding' teacher cleared of assaulting 'misbehaving' Muslim pupil.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

CIA director disputes Cheney assertions on Iraq. Does anyone really care any more? Bush and his mates got their result, Saddam deposed, the country poised to be taken over by their puppet/stooge, it doesn't matter to them that the flimsy house of pretexts they used to dazzle the world has collapsed behind them, they're all moving on now. Eyes to the future!

CIA Director George Tenet on Tuesday rejected recent assertions by Vice President Dick Cheney that Iraq cooperated with the al-Qaida terrorist network and that the administration had proof of an illicit Iraqi biological warfare program...

Tenet admitted to Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the committee's senior Democrat, that he had told Cheney that the vice president was wrong in saying that two truck trailers recovered in Iraq were "conclusive evidence" that Saddam had a biological weapons program...

[A top-secret memorandum] purportedly set out evidence, compiled by a special Pentagon intelligence cell, that Saddam was in league with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

"Senator, we did not clear the document," replied Tenet. "We did not agree with the way the data was characterized in that document."

Apparently Al Qaeda have claimed responsibility for the bomb in Spain, not ETA. Makes sense as their Prime Minister joined ours and Bush as the big three in the alliance against Saddam Hussein. If true, means that it's only the UK, and probably London, that's left for a terrorist attack. Makes me feel safe in my bed.

Ah yes, this should silence the critics of The Sun that it isn't a serious newspaper... Nazi racoons on warpath.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Idle Thought: Brody Dalle is the punk-rock Louise Wener and the rest of the Distillers ARE the Sleeperblokes. Discuss.

OK, so admittedly I don't know much about music but there seems something ever so slightly suspicious about NME's sudden desperate championing of Dangermouse's Grey Album, that it's two weeks late is the first clue, that they suddenly decided to swing behind it when they realised it was popular rather than ignoring it totally. But 10 out of 10 for the album? Especially when the review spends more time waffling about surrounding issues and about thirty or forty words about the actual music. Did anyone at NME Towers stop downloading Libertines and Franz Ferdinand slash long enough to download the album and have a listen?

Meanwhile, Time Out have an article in their latest issue about the plummeting interest in singles sales. Which suggests to me that a new model is needed. And here's my idea.

1) Don't waste money on producing actual CD singles any more. The music majors have managed to kill this market off and have done so since that point in the mid-nineties where they had the rules changed so that CD singles couldn't be over 20 minutes or have more than four tracks on them. This was deliberately aimed at lengthening the shelf-life of the teeny-bopper bands by not forcing them to do anything more than the single, an instrumental and a couple of remixes. This meant that most often, there would be no need to buy a CD single because you wouldn't be getting anything that you didn't get on the album.

2) Still make pop videos. With no single sales it doesn't matter that they come out months ahead of the single and make everyone bored about them. They're consciously promoting the album now. IIRC, Coldplay have released a video for a song that wasn't released as a single for both of their albums thus far. Seems to have done them no harm. The cost of making a video will hopefully stop record labels from promoting too many songs off of the one album, another thing that damaged singles credibility was the ridiculous number of singles launched from Michael Jackson's Thriller.

3) Have the single tracks free to download from the band's website. Initially I was going to say 'micropayment' but then it occured to me that all this material is leaking out on to Soulseek et al, may as well go with it. I got into Scissor Sisters through free downloads from Flux et al, and from seeing their videos free on NME's website, so the record company is ?13 richer than it otherwise would have been. Now, multiply that out by the number of clueless people like me in the UK and US... So, have a single, a 'b-side', maybe a few remixes, for people to download for free (or don't, and let the bootleggers rip off the source from somewhere and do their own thing). You maybe need to spend some more on advertising to let people know the product is there (though not much for established bands because they tend to sell to fans who will be hanging on their every website update as it is). Have them available for a limited time only and judge demand by how often your servers crash.

4) Acknowledge my foresight. Singles are no longer the life blood of the music industry. Think The Corrs and Eva Cassidy, both enjoying recent album success from being championed on Radio 2, single success, nill.

National Demonstration Saturday 20th March 2004

The Muslim Association of Britain will be jointly organising a national demonstration on the 20th of March 2004, along with Stop The War Coalition and CND, to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the war on Iraq.

There can be little doubt that over the past year, events and facts have proven the argument proposed by the Anti-War movement in Britain to be absolutely correct, and all the claims made by the Government and the warmongers to be false and untrue. Had the consequences not been so tragic and desperately inhumane, we would have been excused for gloating.

As a result, we have witnessed an unprecedented decline in public confidence in the Government and are hearing demands from all corners for a public enquiry to be set up to investigate all the circumstances that lead to the decision to take the country to war against a people whom now exist under unbearably unstable and insecure conditions. The Coalition forces' continued reminders that they managed to get rid of Saddam Hussein, clearly serves as no more than a fig-leaf in light of the tragic circumstances.

The Palestinians whom, lest we forget, were promised by Tony Blair and George W. Bush a just resolution to their plight and a just state, as soon as the war on Iraq was over and Saddam Hussein was toppled, are nowhere near their life-long dream, and are now facing a new Israeli crime in the shape of a Wall which can only be seen as a further confirmation of the racist and Apartheid nature of the Israeli government.

In the midst of all this, the people of our country have stood tall and have spoken loudly and proudly for justice, freedom and humanity, and have defied all the synics who forecasted a decline of the people's
movement following the fall of Baghdad.

The 20th of March will always be a date held in infamy.


A year of Bloodshed:
20 03 03 - 20 03 04

*On the anniversary of the start of war on Iraq Join the international day of action:*
over 20,000 lives lost
£6.3 billion squandered on war
no weapons of mass destruction found
the whitewash of Hutton

Freedom For Palestine

Very subtle guys. What's this got to do with Iraq? (Sigh)

End The Occupation of Iraq

Saturday 20th March, 12 Noon, from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square

Jointly Organised By: Muslim Association of Britain, Stop The War Coalition and CND

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

So, in the Shadow Cabinet we have a leader that voted for the Poll Tax and Section 28, we have a future leader that believes we should bring back capital punishment, and now we have someone with the wonderful title of 'Conservative homeland security spokesman' who believes that the bans on guns should be lifted.

[Patrick] Mercer said some children in rural areas should be trained to handle and therefore respect dangerous firearms.

Perhaps children in inner city areas should be forcibly shot up with crack so they 'respect' hard drugs?

More media transphobia, but at least it's where you'd expect it to be, the Daily Mail, and from who you might expect, Melanie Phillips. I've developed quite a soft spot for her due to her being completely nuts, and if you haven't you should really check out her appearance on Radio 4's The Moral Maze, on cannabis, where she manages to turn even people who are against decriminalisation of the drug against her for her complete misuse of facts.

But anyway, yesterday she decided to take a stand against the Gender Recognition Bill.

Almost without notice by the public, an astonishing proposal to falsify sexual identity and make criminals out of people who tell the truth about it is on the way to being approved by Parliament.

The Daily Mail never likes giving people rights, unless it's the right to shoot someone you don't like. Or who is black (pretty much the same thing for Mail readers).

The predicament of transsexuals, who experience untold anguish from their conviction that they are trapped in the wrong sex, deserves much compassion. No-one disputes that they should be free to assume the lifestyle of the opposite sex, even to the extent of enduring surgical and hormonal alteration.

You can smell the 'but' coming can't you? 'These people have a terrible time of things, but I don't like them so I think this should continue'.

Nevertheless, the problem from which they suffer is not a physical but a psychological disorder. Yet this bill effectively denies the biological facts of sexual identity, replacing them as the basis of law by psychologically disordered feelings instead.

Actually, I'm not sure from what I've seen that the Bill does 'deny the biological facts of sexual identity', rather that it allows people to be registered as the gender they feel appropriate to them.

In other words, the birth certificate, the most basic guarantee that we are who we say we are, will be a lie. It means that someone who was born a man, married as a man and fathered children as a man will have a birth certificate which says he was born a female if he so chooses.

Ummm, no, it doesn't, as Melanie well knows. In this and the paragraph before she tries to make out that people can change their birth certificates on a whim (and to which a valid point might be "Yeah? So?") but the fact is that people have to be 'diagnosed' as gender dysphoric and then satisfy a panel of this, it's not something anyone can do on a boring Saturday afternoon.

Worse still, a wide variety of people will be prosecuted if they make known the truth. Suppose a fitness club advertises for a personal trainer and takes up a reference at another gym for an applicant named Barbara. If that gym's owner employed this person as Barry, it will be a criminal offence for him to say so. So he may be forced to tell misleading half-truths about 'Barbara's performance.

Well, at least Melanie hasn't tried to use Norman Tebbit's line that transsexuals are only in it so they can compete in women's athletic events, based on Tebbit's own belief that men will naturally be superior to women in any sport. But really, Mel is just inventing reasons here. If second gym owner is halfway professional, he will be writing about Barbara's aptitude for the job, not "well, there was this one time when me and Baz went down Stringfellows and you should have seen what he, sorry, she did with the stripper and the Peach Melba!"

This Orwellian situation is to come about because sexual identity will cease to be a biological given, and become instead a matter of whatever a panel of experts decides it to be.

Strangely, 'Saddam can launch nuclear weapons in 45 minutes', or whatever similar headline the paper she's writing for chose, was also a case of truth being whatever a panel of experts decided it to be.

Moreover, the criteria by which this panel will make such judgments are extraordinarily flaky. The person wanting 'gender reassignment' won't even need to have had sex-change surgery, only a statement by two doctors that the person has suffered from 'gender dysphoria' for two years, that he or she assumes the opposite sex and that the intention to do so is permanent.

I'm sure the psychiatric establishment in this country will be pleased to hear that Melanie thinks they're shit.

So biological facts are to be replaced by the fantasies of feelings. For feeling like a member of the opposite sex does not make it true. Even after surgical or hormonal treatment, people still remain chromosomally a man or a woman, a biologically unalterable fact.

Well, we agree on something. However, Melanie uses this as a jumping off point for prejudice (and is inconsistent, for after all marijuana is a natural herb so wanting to get it banned is illogical for this argument) whereas I believe that nature is hardly a good enough reason for anything, sitting at a desk of wood as I do, writing to people who aren't there, wearing clothes... etc.

Indeed, in a number of tragic cases the transsexual has sought to reverse the treatment and return to his original sex. Are we really to believe that such a man becomes a woman and then turns back into being a man? Isn't this rather a man with a distressing psychological problem? And will his birth certificate keep changing, along with his mind?

Again: "Yeah? So?"

As a result, priests may unwittingly marry people of the same sex. The bill allows them to refuse to do so ( an exemption not provided for registrars at civil weddings) - but how will they know whether half of the happy couple has had 'gender reassignment'?

Oh, won't someone think of the chil- Priests?! So Melanie wants to protect the right of the church to be bigotted and transphobic? I wonder why she isn't so thoughtful of the rights and feelings of anti-Semites? ( / low shot)

Even if they ask, they will have no way of checking since the birth certificate may be a lie. And when a priest asks if anyone knows of an impediment to the marriage, if an employer, public official or voluntary worker replies: 'Actually, the bride is a bloke' they may find themselves under arrest for a criminal offence.

Actually, if for some reason God is so concerned about what goes on under the brides dress, then if no-one points out to the Priest that she used to be a man the sin is theirs, not the Priests. If God isn't prepared to send three million volts through her in the form of a thunderbolt then I think Mel shouldn't be too worried about His views on the matter.

Conversely, married transsexuals who are judged to have changed sex will be forced to dissolve their marriages, maybe deepening the already huge anguish of such couples. The government says such marriages can't continue as they will then become same-sex marriages.

Again, we must preserve and cherish homophobia wherever it may lurk!

Although the bill has been amended so that sporting bodies can exclude transsexuals from competitions where they might have an unfair advantage, competitors may still have to share changing rooms with a transsexual person. And the same problem may emerge in public lavatories.

Oh I was wrong, she did bring up the sports thing. And the toilet thing. This is very important, as we all know of the rash of cases of rapists who went through full SRS just so they could rape women in women's only locker rooms and toilets. The only 'problem' here is in the minds of the phobics, and the answer should be to educate them rather than preserve someone else's misery.

Ludicrously, the bill says that if a woman becomes a man, 'he' remains the mother of her (his?) children. Similarly, a man remains the father of his children and therefore still liable for child support - even though his birth certificate might say he was born female.

I actually like the idea of a man being a mother, but I guess in Melanie's world men are real men, women are real women and small blue-green creatures from Alpha Centauri are columnists for The Sun. And has she seen the statistics for the poor income that most transsexuals have to put up with? Few get to keep their jobs and most have difficulty finding decent jobs once they've transitioned. If someone has to raise kids above and beyond that they need all the help they can get.

And I think Melanie means 'mother' rather than 'father' in the above. But there is another important point that Melanie has inadvertantly made. If a mother leaves her partner to bring up the kids, can he claim child support? If not, this is not a transsexual issue but a issue of basic rights.

The government presents this bill - which has been forced upon us by the European Court of Human Rights

Damn those filthy Europeans and their ungodly notions of fairness for everyone!

as an issue of rights and privacy. But no-one has the right to expect public servants to promulgate a lie. And it is hard to imagine a more public matter than redefining what it is to be a man or woman.

Melanie should check her history. The roles and duties of men and women have always changed, what it means to be a woman has always been redefined, ask the Suffragettes. And as for 'promulgating a lie', well, gender would be the least of their problems...

More profoundly, this bill continues the systematic attack being mounted upon all moral and social norms, to the extent of challenging what it is to be a human being.

Once again, "yeah? So?" Melanie is claiming that progress and change are bad things? Is the Daily Mail going to be advocating a 'back to the trees' movement?

The general silence and acquiescence in the face of this are simply astonishing. It's as if the nation is anaesthetised.

Or rather that the nation has outgrown you Ms. Phillips, although sales figures for the Mail and the Sun would suggest that's wishful thinking.

The outcome will be a sexual identity free-for-all, and a further descent into a moral vacuum.

We can hope.

Monday, March 08, 2004

And to finish, a story to warm the cockles of your heart. The trainee policemen caught on camera last year, variously referring to Stephen Lawrence as 'deserving' to be killed, wearing a homemade Ku Klux Klan outfit or saying they wanted to throw Asians under trains will not be prosecuted due to insufficient evidence.

The Truth About Killing is a fascinating program about studies from wars about the lack of ability of men to kill other men, even in the midst of war. A lot of men assume that 'if they were forced to' they could kill someone else but evidence doesn't seem to bare this out. The presenter takes part in a war game and, tired in the middle of the night, finds he's terrified. Some scientists, including ex-soldiers, suggest that when fear shuts down the rational forebrain, the supposed animal backbrain is not the bit of the brain that helps fighting. They think that to kill someone needs the rational forebrain, rely on the backbrain and all you're going to get is the posturing of apes struggling over who is the domnant Alpha Male. Hand to hand soldiers have a lower success rate in managing to kill someone than those that didn't have to see the people they were fighting, the people fighting bombing planes, firing line squads who didn't have to see the faces of the people they killed.

Food for thought after watching Saving Private Ryan last night. Overlong but any film where Vin Diesel gets killed in the first hour are fine by me, though I was sorry to see Giovanni Ribisi buy it in hour two. Certainly miles better than Windtalkers which I saw a couple of years ago and is shit in all it's forms.

The second part of The Truth About Killing next week is about what the military has done to make soldiers more able to kill.

It's an intense comic strip about a bu&&a&e party (replace the &s with ks, as I've said before there are certain words I'd rather this blog not be found with). If you need a definition click on the word. It's well worth a read as long as you're not using a work-computer, it's psychologically rather than sexually explicit, and can be found here. [via BoingBoing (again)]

Guys, get something special for the lady in your life, yes, it's the Loo Light!

This image could close the case against Michael Jackson, once and for all. [via The Accidental Video Game Pron Archive, via B3ta]

Sunday, March 07, 2004

This at the Aquarium Gallery is one of many reasons to be in London next week. While we're on the subject of art, just how long has Banksy had a bastardised version of The Thinker installed in Shaftesbury Avenue? Did I know this, forget it and rediscovered it today? Enquiring neurosurgeons want to know...

"...I just wish I could control these fookin' mood swings!"

Oooh, pretty! I want, I want, I want!

Saturday, March 06, 2004

In a staggering break with tradition there's actually been decent telly this evening, first Alain de Botton's Status Anxiety on Channel 4, which handily he's just released a book to accompany. This time his thesis was that we're all unhappy because we're worried about our status in the eyes of society, when you don't have that pressure you don't have the misery. It was an interesting idea, I especially liked the Extremely Conservative lobbyist who didn't believe the state should have take any more in taxes than the bare minimum needed to execute criminals, that's all right you see, but when you take any more then that's the state stealing your money. And De Botton certainly put forward a good argument, although invoking Rousseau and the 'noble savage' argument, I thought that had been debunked ages ago. The only real problem I have with De Botton, which is perhaps my fault rather than his, is that whenever he's on TV I'm reminded of the Fast Show sketch about the three men trying to outdo one another to prove which of them is the most middle class. I always come away feeling that De Botton is writing books and putting arguments to assuage white middle-class liberal guilt, how Senneca can make you feel better about having a Korean cleaner, that sort of thing. The examples he tends toward for things tend to be ones that more typically you'd put in the middle-class bracket, problems that come from having a good disposable income, a holiday home in the south of France and plenty of free time on one's hands. People who might be worse off than this are mentioned once in a brief segment, on the very real tendency in society for the false belief that people at the bottom of the ladder to be looked down on as though their situation is their fault. But capitalism is the tool which people like De Botton use to try and make themselves feel better, the impulse to shop one's way to happiness is mentioned and lightly scolded, but De Botton is aware of the audience he wants to address, and doesn't want to attack one of their defining characteristics.

And for some light relief the popular Austin Powers spoof James Bond, The World is Not Enough. Starring Robert Carlyle, Robbie Coltrane and Goldie (together at last! As Need to Know might say) as Russian gangsters and Desmond Llewelyn's last appearance as Q. It's a fun outing, with just enough plot to take us from one exploding set-piece to the next. I must admit though I always had a soft-spot for Timothy Dalton. But I did idly sketch a plan a couple of years ago which would have the current 007 as the baddy in the first film with whoever would be the new actor playing James Bond. It's revealed that James Bond is a viral agent, we don't try and pretend Doctor No happened only ten years ago, we accept that all the films happened the time they were filmed. But agents have the skill set for 'James Bond' downloaded into their minds when they are assigned to be 007. As one agent is being 'debriefed' (ie: having the Bond personality removed from his mind) while the next agent is prepared, something goes wrong, and Bond is forced to fight Bond. You could then rope in Connery, Moore and Dalton in some way as previous carriers of the Bond memeplex. Felix Leitner is explained as Bond's opposite number in the CIA. It seems odd that considering the rest of the whole Bond mythos is sci-fi rather than Smiley's People, the creators play it so straight about the nature of Bond himself.

Need a clock? [via boingboing]

Keith Vaz has called for the Leicester City players to be returned to Britain. Reasons? Well, the Spanish are stinking foreigners so their justice is bound to not be as good as good British justice. The Spanish are foreigners. Spain is next door to France. The Spanish are foreigners. Spain is part of the European Union and therefore of the devil. Did they help out in fighting Iraq? No one can remember or care any more. The Spanish are foreigners. And it was only women they assaulted.

Yet all that seems to be only a slight exageration of the facts.

"They should be allowed to return and continue their lives" says local MP Keith Vaz. They 'might' be in custody for two years before they have a trial, funny how it matters when they're footballers, not when they're Muslims held in a prison camp in Cuba.

Chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, Gordon Taylor, said the media had a tendency to "blow up" such allegations because of the "pop star" status of players.

The PFA that stopped a woman from going to a PFA dinner on the grounds of being a woman. I suppose we should be thankful that Taylor didn't conclude his remarks with "Anyway, what did the silly bitches expect?"

A majority of the country want a change in the way the BBC is funded according to a Panorama poll. This is because a majority of the people in this country are fucking morons. 36% favour a paid subscription for BBC services. This would not work. Because the only channels that have any success with paid subscription are narrow remit stations, like Nickelodeon or MTV. Or look at Sky with it's sci-fi and sleaze doubleteam. And as far as I can tell, every single hour of programming today is a repeat. A subscription channel will just turn the BBC into an entertainment service that is a shadow of Sky. Which would probably make Rupert Murdoch very happy.

31% want funding through advertising. They really want more ITV? With dull shows that everyone complains about like When Z-List Celebrities Attack Naughtiest Television Blunders On the Beach 17 which are also repeats? Which have to rely on the vagaries of the advertising market which until the middle of last year were moving away from television advertising?

The BBC is not blameless, a lot of it's primetime programming is rubbish and it deserves a kick-up the Chairmanship. But I pay my license fee like I pay the taxes that go towards funding the NHS. I don't watch Casualty or Eastenders, I don't listen to Radio 2 or 1Xtra, but I pay for them so I get the shows that I do like or which interest me, the odd art program, The Battle for Britain's Soul, The History of Britain With Simon Schama, their filming of Copenhagen from a few years back, or the Wannassee thing with Kenneth Branagh. And if I recall correctly, they showed the first two series of 24 before Sky took an interest. Newsnight's coverage of the Hutton Inquiry was amazing considering that they were part of one of the involved parties. I pay my money to the NHS because I believe this country should have a National Health Service that helps everyone. I don't begrudge the fact that up until now, I've needed it less than others. And I feel similarly about the TV License. You might question why you should pay it if you don't ever want to watch the BBC? Because it's good for the country.

So I think most of the people that voted for any other option than the License fee did so because they thought the BBC would go on much the same as it ever did, just without them having to pay. This is not the case. People are idiots.

In one of those embaressing "I'm down with the kids in the 'hood" things that political types like to do, OFSTED chief holds up Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a positive role model for girls. Which is fine and dandy just as long as, like the OFSTED chief, you've never actually watched an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where the titular character often wins the day not by tactics, skill or intelligence but by being the heroine. Take the last season, where her idea of training Potential Slayers was to scare them and frighten them until they were convinced they were going to die, then scare them and frighten them some more. She's rightfully kicked out for one episode, feels all sorry for herself and unappreciated, then takes over again by virtue purely of being the star.

Friday, March 05, 2004

If you remember The Far Side then you'll appreciate these Photoshopped Real Far Sides. [via BoingBoing]

Does anyone know whether the British Library keeps any retrospective records of items users have borrowed and what they would require from a policeman who wanted to check those records if they existed (badge, court order)?

The Bush 'Re-elect me, Why Vote for the Lesser Evil?' campaign has released their first three TV Ads including 'Safer, Stronger', the ad that directly invokes Sept. 11th (and is the only one of the three that is available in another language, Spanish. Coincidence?). "Ah'm George Dubya Bush, and ah approved this message" drawls President Bush. He might want to rethink that because it reminded me of the little kid that says "I made this!" at the end of X-Files.

January 2001: The challenge. An economy in recession. A stock market in decline. A dot come boom gone bust. Then... a day of tragedy. A test for all Americans. Today, America is turning the corner. Rising to the challenge. Safer, stronger. (Shot of baby smiling in back seat), President Bush. Steady Leadership in times of change.

So basically, their line would appear to be that it was actually Clinton that had fucked up the economy, not them and that a crew of people who have been circumspect about what they were doing when they were supposed to be doing some sort of military service are better to lead you in a time of military strife rather than someone who actually went and fought in Vietnam.

Another one talks in rather sick-making terms about how President Bush is the one that 'knows what we need to do to ensure that everyone has a chance of realising the American dream', if there was any honesty his next words would have to be either 'unless they're fags' or 'providing they get some sort of treatment to stop being gay'.

Update: The firemen are pissed off, both with Bush for using Sept. 11th anyway and for him using images of them when he's cut back on their funding.
However, what will certainly be a relief for Dubya is that one of his party representatives did not say a vote for John Kerry was a vote for Hitler. It would be a victory for Osama Bin Laden. So that's all right then. [via Metafilter.]

Thursday, March 04, 2004

People are a little surprised that Mary Cheney, openly gay daughter of vice-president Dick, is putting time and effort into helping her Dad's re-election campaign after he has gone on record supporting Dubya's attempts to enshrine queer people's second class status in the Constitution. So people are being encouraged to write to Mary asking her to fight the intolerence in her own home. [via All Facts and Opinions]

Aren't these guys supposed to be threatening to kill abortion doctors or something? Anti-Abortion groups lead boycott of Girl Scout Cookies. Because there aren't enough crazy/stupid people in the world yet.

Parents were upset to learn [from emails and ads from Pro-Life Waco] that the local Girl Scout organization had given a "woman of distinction award" last year to a Planned Parenthood executive. And they were disturbed to find out that the Girl Scout organization has been giving its endorsement for years to a Planned Parenthood sex-ed program in which girls and boys are given literature on homosexuality, masturbation and condoms.

Please note that the Girl Scouts aren't attending these sex-ed classes or being sent the literature. It's a bit like how Dubya's grandad had connections with the Nazis.

"It's not that we're a bunch of activists. We're just a bunch of moms who care about their kids," said Lisa Aguilar, who took her 10-year-old daughter out of her eight-member Girl Scout troop. "For us, it's the morality. Where is Girl Scouts going?"

Obviously it's better to nip this thing in the bug now rather than when their girls ask for help sewing on their 'prostitution' and 'back-alley abortion with coathanger' badges.

Some 400 to 700 fifth- through ninth-graders attend the half-day Nobody's Fool conference in Waco each July. The program never mentions abortion, according to Planned Parenthood. The youngsters receive a book with chapters on homosexuality and masturbation, as well as illustrations of couples having sex, people examining their naked bodies and a boy putting on a condom. Some Girl Scout mothers called it soft-core porn. "It embarrassed me to look at it with my husband," said parent Shannon Donaldson.

She must have been fun on the wedding night. I'm impressed that she's a parent.

"Our girls have been through a lot these past three weeks," said Jennifer Smith, who quit as leader of Girl Scout Troop 7527 and removed her daughter. "After I told my 10-year-old daughter that they are supporting some things that are not morally right, she understood."

"Then I told her that she is cursed for all time for Eve's sin and that periods are God's way of showing her she is unclean. She seemed a lot happier then." [via Mordant Carnival]

Lord Hutton has stuck his head above the parapet to talk about his reaction to people's reactions to his little old report. He was 'shocked' by public anger and convinced he'd been 'even-handed' which just shows how right the Government were to pick him to run the Inquiry.

He's going to be quized by MPs in May but [u]nder an agreement between the law lord and the committee's Labour chairman, Tony Wright, MPs have agreed not to question him directly about his findings or challenge his core judgment, which makes you wonder exactly what they'll find to talk about.

Tony Wright: Thank you Lord Hutton for coming to see us today.
Lord Hutton: Thank you.
Tony Wright: ... Lovely day today sin't it.
Lord Hutton: I think you would find, under proper examination that it is wholly consistent with the weather one migth expect for this time of year.
Tony Wright: Are those new glasses your Lordship?
Lord Hutton: No.
Tony Wright: Well, thank you for coming.
Lord Hutton: Not at all. See you at the next whitewash!

One of these two websites for the Butler Review of How Tony Didn't do Anything Wrong and When Are People Going to Stop Saying That He Did Something Wrong Because I- Whoops, He Didn't You Know And Anyone That Says I- Damn He Did is a Big Smelly Liar And I'm Going to Get my Mate Dave to Set his Vicious Dogs On You is genuine and the other is fake. Can you tell which is which?

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Well, at least I'm not seasons four through six...
season seven
Season Seven - You're about looking at the world as a whole, looking at the grand design of things, the way good balances evil. You are Buffy philosophy, and your best episode is "Conversations with Dead People."

Which Season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Are You?
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It's funny, only the other week I was talking to someone about the British education system that we both went through and how it wasn't as bad as the American one and now, right after announcing mandatory drug testing, the Government want to introduce US style Proms. Presumerably there's a lot in the American model for the UK to emulate as education ministers seek to lower levels of numeracy and literacy still further. And maybe the American system of forcing pupils into much stricter peer groups than we've had over here. That'll need some work though, classes to explain that the answer to bullying isn't to hang yourself with a letter explaining how the bullies made your life hell but to go crazy at school with a selection of weapons from your 'grandaddies arsenal'.

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