Saturday, July 31, 2004

Grant has written a very interesting article in his blog about secessionist America. Go read.

The spoof of the Government's 'Preparing for Emergencies's webpage is back on the web after the Government tried to get it shut down and funny it is too, hurrah!

A not utterly awful article about transsexuals who regret having SRS in the Guardian. I say not utterly awful as the author doesn't seem to take into account that the men and women he talked to went through the system at the start of the nineties at the latest, important in that the central part about the state of research into post-operatives is current.

The key paragraph is this one: Rachael Padman, a physicist at Cambridge University, was treated at Charing Cross from 1977 to 1982. Now aged 50, she has no regrets about her decision to change gender. Although she had an overwhelming desire to change gender from early childhood, Padman believes the main reason for her post-op success is that her identity is not solely based on her being transsexual. She was working on her doctorate while undergoing gender reassignment. She saw genital surgery as just a step towards leading the life she wanted, rather than her ultimate goal. She says: "I don't think that surgery is what created me. I suppose it did make me feel more female because I wasn't loaded up with two competing sets of hormones any more. But being an astronomer and physicist is my prime identity. I do get the impression that some people lose sight of the rest of their life."

I've received a copy of the Home Office Select Committee's Report on ID Cards, presumerably due to my having made a written submission to them way back at the start of the year. Next time I find myself trapped in a parallel dimension with time to spare I'll be able to read the thing.

Anyway, media reaction has tended towards emphasising the negatives of the reports, mainly because if not sorted out they render the whole process an extremely expensive and pointless experience, costing the taxpayer loads and giving none of the benefits that Blunkett claims, although he's gone back on most of these already anyway.

The Register goes with A bad idea, but we'll do it anyway.

The National ID Card programme will be too expensive, has been shrouded in secrecy and lacks sufficient safeguards against abuse. So says a report from the Home Affairs Select Committee, which describes the Home Secretary David Blunkett's secretive approach as "regrettable"... However, in apparent defiance of its own findings, the report broadly supports the introduction of a national identity register and identity card. The general sentiment is that ID cards are OK, but the government must proceed with caution.

The BBC say Plans for introducing ID cards in the UK are poorly thought out and vital details are still unclear, say MPs. They report the committee's concern that too many of the decisions relating to ID Cards are made in private with no public oversight and call for the process to be made open and transparent. Shiteyes reaction? The political equivelent of "Fuck off!"

But Home Secretary David Blunkett said the desire for more information had to be balanced against getting best value by keeping market-sensitive details of contracts confidential.

The Independent go further with Home Secretary David Blunkett is refusing to publish full details of finances behind the controversial national identity scheme, despite recommendations today from an influential committee of MPs.

Precious little support either from the Telegraph, MPs scathing over plans for national ID cards (login required), while The Times gives the matter the briefest of mentions.

It's also worth having a look at what STAND and Liberty (in evil, evil pdf form) have to say on the subject.

Putting aside my feelings on both the worthlessness of the cards and the pointlessness of pissing on Shiteyes if he were on fire what concerns me most is the massive secrecy Blunkett is shrouding the whole affair in, rejecting all calls to open his plans to scrutiny. It's as if the stakes are so high now that, despite there being no credible argument for these cards helping in the problems we face with security today, Blunkett can't back down on ID cards without destroying his parliamentary career, so like Gollum he has to hide away from the sunlight of public scrutiny while muttering darkly about his 'precious'.

Here we go again...

Shaaaaat it! I'm the fucking Pope!

Blimey, he looks... animated. After all these years when people have been talking about the Pope having Parkinsons or Alzheimers, is the truth just that someone in Vatican City has been forgetting to plug him in to recharge before they go to bed?

The Pope will call on leaders of the Roman Catholic church today to attack feminist ideologies which assert that men and women are fundamentally the same. The Vatican is concerned that this belief is eroding what it regards as women's maternal vocation.

I see, so telling lies about condoms is just the church acting out of concern for the woman's 'maternal vocation'?

It emerged yesterday that the Vatican itself had taken a further step towards incorporating women into the previously all-male leadership of the Roman Catholic church. A nun, who was not named in Italian media reports, was said to be working as a high-level aide to the Pope's "foreign minister", Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo.

So women are allowed to be something else than somewhere for men to dump sperm if they want to be a bride of Christ, the ultimate deadbeat who's always out all hours of the day, otherwise they should be having babies all the time. How can the biggest bunch of transvestites in the whole world be so clueless when it comes to gender issues?

Friday, July 30, 2004

Reagans tell Bush they don't support his re-election and Nancy tells him not to use her husbands image or speeches in his campaign.

I've just bought this book for The Closed Library...

Is it raining?

This is the sad story of what happens when you highlight the human rights abuses of a regime that the UK and US don't want to blow up.

[British Ambassador Craig] Murray was determined not to let the [Uzbeckistani] regime's abuses be drowned out by the country's newfound strategic importance. Uzbekistan had allowed the Pentagon to hire a vital military base in the southern town of Kharshi to aid the hunt for Osama bin Laden in neighbouring Afghanistan. In return, Tashkent got about half a billion dollars in aid a year. Some of the aid itself highlighted American double standards. In 2002, $79 million went to the Uzbekistani security forces and law enforcement (in 2002, the US aid budget to Uzbekistan was $220 million in total) - the same people whom the State Department accused of "using torture as a routine investigation technique".

Murray has plenty of first-hand evidence of the Uzbekistani's "routine methods". Sitting in the plush living room of his ambassadorial residence, he tells me: "People come to me very often after being tortured. Normally this includes homosexual and heterosexual rape of close relatives in front of the victim; rape with objects such as broken bottles; asphyxiation; pulling out of fingernails; smashing of limbs with blunt objects; and use of boiling liquids including complete immersion of the body. This is not uncommon. Thousands of people a year suffer from this torture at the hands of the authorities."

...In October 2002, Murray made a speech to his fellow diplomats and Uzbekistani officials at a human rights conference in Tashkent in which he became the first western official for four years to state publicly that "Uzbekistan is not a functioning democracy", and to highlight the "prevalence of torture in Uzbekistani prisons" in a system where "brutality is inherent". Highlighting a case in which two men were boiled to death, he added: "All of us know that this is not an isolated incident."

Thursday, July 29, 2004

It was the Big Brother awards last night, with the UK and US Governments walking away the biggest winners.

That press release you shouldn't be reading until a minute past midnight in full...

Home Affairs Committee
News Release

Committee Office, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Media Enquiries: Adele Brown 020 7219 0724 / 07711 155 722


Attn: News Desks
Political, Home Affairs Correspondents


A wide-ranging report published today by the Home Affairs Select Committee gives broad backing for Government plans to introduce identity cards but warns of a number of key problems that must be tackled to ensure the scheme's success.

The Committee concludes that the ID card scheme should go ahead and says it can make a real and important contribution to the fight against organised crime and terrorism by disrupting the use of multiple identities, identity fraud and related crimes like money laundering. An ID card scheme, accompanied by wider enforcement measures, could play a significant role in helping to reduce illegal working and immigration.

The report notes it would be easier to establish entitlement to public services and to prevent abuse and says the scheme has the potential to help with joined up government.

Civil liberties' objections to the scheme were carefully considered. Whilst recognizing that it would change the relationship between citizen and state, the report concludes that identity cards should not be ruled out on grounds of principle alone: the test should be whether the costs are proportionate to the benefits. International experience indicates that compulsory and voluntary ID cards and population registers operate successfully in other countries. The Committee concludes that the Government has made a convincing case for proceeding with the introduction of identity cards.

However, the Committee is concerned about the lack of clarity over the scheme's scope and practical operation: the report warns that key elements in the proposal are poorly thought out and that the draft Bill goes far wider than is necessary to introduce a simple system to establish and demonstrate identity.

It is unclear how the card and the register will work in practice. The Government should clarify the number, type and costs of card readers and supporting infrastructure required by the scheme. It should also be clear about the number and level of checks on card use that it anticipates.

Stressing that the detailed design of the ID card and the national identity register is critical to its successful operation, the Committee calls for the current proposals to be open to wider scrutiny by technical experts and the public. Concerns were also raised about commercial confidentiality and the current IT procurement process with MPs concluding that more openness is needed.

The report expresses concerns about the proliferation of Government databases and says that an opportunity for joined up Government is being missed. It notes the significant overlap between the General Register Office's proposal for a UK population register-the Citizen Information Project-the proposed identity cards database and other databases. MPs believe that there should not be a central database holding all individual information, but the identity card should enable access to all Government databases.

The Committee makes a number of recommendations to strengthen the draft Identity Card Bill, including a clear statutory aim for the ID card scheme, a powerful and independent regulator, and new primary legislation before a compulsory scheme is introduced.

Commenting on the report Committee Chairman Rt Hon John Denham MP said:
"The Government's ID card scheme can help in the fight against terrorism, serious crime, illegal immigration and abuse of public services. It could also help the development of joined up government. The potential benefits justify its introduction.

"The Government has only one chance to get it right: whether public support continues will depend on how the scheme works in practice, and its impact on everyday life.

"This ID card scheme should go ahead but the Government must take serious note of the criticism we make of the way the plan is being developed.

"A successful scheme depends on whether the cards and the national register are used and checked effectively. We need more clarity on how the card and the register will work in practice. We don't know how many card readers and biometric readers will be needed or paid for, or how may times each card will be checked and whether that check will be visual, card reader or biometric.

"The Home Office has allowed commercial sensitivities to stand in the way of proper technical and public scrutiny of the practical details of the scheme. Too many major IT projects have failed in the past and the Government must adopt an open procurement process. At the same time, the proliferation of Government databases must be tackled.

"There is a golden opportunity for joined-up Government here, and a real risk that the opportunity will be missed. An ID card scheme could play a useful role in improving the co-ordination of access to public services. But the Government has not yet put forward clear proposals to do so.

"The draft Bill must be strengthened, and clear statutory limits placed on the use of the national identity register.. The Bill creates, for example, a statutory national fingerprint register. This is a major step to take without any legal aim or purpose."


1. The report is the result of a 9 month inquiry into all features of identity cards including the practical aspects of the Government's proposals and its draft Bill. The Committee looked at: the practical issues involved in the ID database and biometric identifiers; the security and integrity of the proposed system; the operational use of ID cards in establishing identity, accessing public services, and tackling illegal migration, crime, and terrorism; issues to be addressed in the longer-term, including compulsion; and the estimated cost of the system.
2. Further information about the inquiry along with evidence transcripts are available on the Committee's website:
3. The report's title is Identity Cards and will be published as the Committee's Fourth Report, Session 2003-04 (HC 130). The report will be available on the Committee's website from 1530 on Friday 30 July.
4. Committee Membership is as follows: Chairman: Rt Hon John Denham MP, Janet Anderson MP, Mr David Cameron MP, Mr James Clappison MP, Mrs Claire Curtis-Thomas MP, Mrs Janet Dean MP, Mr Gwyn Prosser MP, Bob Russell MP, Mr Marsha Singh MP, Mr John Taylor MP, David Winnick MP
5. Media Enquiries / bids: Adèle Brown, 020 7219 0724
Press Notice No. 34, Session 2003-04

Hmm, I wasn't expecting this: MPs attack Blunkett ID card plan. David Blunkett's plan for compulsory identity cards will be condemned by MPs tomorrow as improperly costed, poorly thought out, secretive and "lacking in clarity both over the scheme's scope and practical operation". The MPs, on the home affairs select committee,... express alarm about what they describe as "function creep" once a national identity register is in place. They warn that ministers are already planning to use the ID card scheme as a cover to introduce a national fingerprint system within five years.

However, as the plans are underway and Parliament isn't sitting at the moment I don't think this is going to make Blunkett stop and consider his monomaniacal plans. The committee has no legal power to make Shiteyes reconsider and come up with a plan that would actually work.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Had great fun at work today. There's an innocent young girl who's a fan of Smallville. Somehow she's watched several seasons of this now thinking that there's some sort of relationship between Clark and Lana. She's been blissfully unaware of the real relationship between Clark and Lex. She doesn't know what a 'beard' is.

"I felt like destroying something beautiful..."

Tedium in the skies. Part One: Annie Jacobsen is on an aircraft flight with a group of men of Middle Eastern appearence. They have to use the toilet. She gets scared. The flightcrew, as reported by her, try to reassure her by saying "Yeah, we're alarmed too, don't worry, you're surrounded by air marshalls but don't tell anyone else because you're not supposed to know that."
Part Two: Having made it to LA without getting blown up Jacobsen files that report and then follows it up with letters of support from other people in her fine country. She doesn't seem to be going as far as an outright call for segregation on aircraft. She's not a rascist because, as the original Sept. 11th hijackings were committed by gangs of Saudi men then naturally it's quite valid to assume that all groups of Saudi men must be hijackers. It's not like she was allowing paranoia to get a grip of her or anything.

Part Three: Her scaremongering is rebutted in Salon by one Patrick Smith, who is a pilot halfway through a series of articles for the site. He scorns her tone of breathless terror from her first article and questions both her motives and facts, before spinning it out into a depressing tale of American anti-Middle-Easternism today.

Part Four: The story is picked up by Snopes who report that the only person who was in any way concerned was Jacobsen herself, that the flight-crew weren't worried that they were about to get plastic forks held against their necks, and that the stewardess was asked to tell Jacobsen about the marshalls in an attempt to get her to calm down and shut up, as there was more of a danger from something starting from her hysteria than the actions of a few Saudi musicians.

Pass it on. The Daily Mail is doing a little poll on gay marriage, at the moment the no's are winning, it'll take twenty seconds but go and cast your vote here.

What Classic Movie Are You?
personality tests by

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

France annulls first gay wedding. As I've said before, with values like this, it's crazy that the administrations of France and the US don't get on better...

Any Knight Rider fans out there? KITT goes under the hammer at between £22,000 and £33,000.

"Oy Pot! This is Kettle! I'm calling you black you slaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag!"

Yes, it's the man that proved that Ronseal should not be used on human skin, Robert Kilroy-Silk. No sooner has the perma-oranged one turned up in Brussels ready for a ruck than he feels all homesick, and is thinking of standing as an MP in the by-election caused by Peter Mandelson leaving to go to Europe. The choice quote is as follows:

"This appointment of Mandelson shows that the European Union is a gravy train for failed politicians."

Lest we forget, Mr Kilroy-Silk is already a failed politician and TV presenter. Common sense would dictate he should stay where he is.

"He has never been the natural person to represent the people of Hartlepool. Now the prime minister has found him something better to do he is off, without a thought for his constituency."

Mr Kilroy-Silk's mandate is of even more recent vintage than Mandelson's and for all his faults Mandelson can at least mesure his time as an elected official in years rather than weeks. I hope Kilroy-Silk does stand, because he'd have to give up his seat in the European Parliament to do so, it would be delightful if he then fails to win the seat. If he does win a seat as an MP I'd quite like it if Tony Blair elevates him to the peerage, meaning he has to give up his seat, and then culls him in the next round of reforms of the House of Lords. Oh I've thought of so many ways to fuck around with Robert Kilroy-Silk...

I knew he looked familiar...

Meanwhile, it seems that the Republicans are backing Nader in order to divert votes away from Lurch's left wing (I wonder if this will encourage him to actually journey out to the left rather then gallop towards the right?). However, equally shamefully if true, Nader is complaining that desperate Dems are doing what they can to keep him off the ballot. Elsewhere Talking Points Memo reports that Republicans in Kentucky have taken to sporting stickers in their cars claiming that Kerry is Osama Bin Laden's choice for President. Annoyingly I can't find any surviving news reports of Bin Laden's statement, but what I copied here should be enough, Bin Laden is saying at least that he doesn't like Kerry and he wants Bush reelected because he deals with matters with 'force rather than wisdom', which is presumerably the sort of recruitment poster that Al Qaeda needs. Wonder if I should email the Republicans and suggest their bumper stickers are wrong?

Monday, July 26, 2004

Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9-11 opens in Poland. I'm not aware of an American Republicans that called Moore a Nazi though.

Duck and Cover! The Government's Summer of Low-Level Worry begins this evening with telly adverts preparing the way for their 'Preparing for Emergencies' leaflets to be delivered next month. The accompanying website is here.

A senior intelligence expert who criticised Tony Blair over his Iraqi weapons claims is to leave his job... His contract as chief investigator to the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, which is due to end in October, will not be renewed... Mr Morrison's comment that intelligence officials reacted in disbelief to Tony Blair's claim came in a BBC Panorama programme broadcast two weeks ago... "Mr Morrison has worked for the committee for five years and his contract will end in October 2004. The committee has no plans to employ a new investigator," a spokeswoman said.

The fact he won't be replaced sounds as if it may be ominous, it's not clear what he actually did for a living but it sounds as if his non-replacement would make it difficult for the committee to have any kind of proper oversight over intelligence matters.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Waaaah, I'm so fat! No surprise why of course, I have rather allowed my at home eating habits slip towards 'constantly grazing', too many crisps and ice-cream. Though not at the same time. I'm not pregnant or anything. Both my sister and I tend toward my father's body shape, while my sister has the fairer all-over distribution that seems to come more from my mother's side of the family the simularity between the my profile and that of my Dad (or indeed Alfred Hitchcock) is undeniable. My sister has the dog to walk several times a day and goes to the gym regularly, both activities which would drive me crazy in no time at all. The alternative I've settled on is fervently wishing for the excess poundage to magically disappear overnight. So far my sister is in the lead when it comes to tangible results.

Meanwhile, The Sunday Telegraph have decided to blame the events in Sudan on me. The Nimns prepare the way for evil. Yep, by marching against Bush and Blair ignoring international law and the will of the international community whenever it suited them I've given material comfort to Sudanese militias and torturers. Apparently I'm currently torn up by trying to decide how to square supporting military intervention in the Sudan after not supporting it in Iraq.

This is of course, all bollocks. I support neither. As ever the Telegraph is busy fulmigating against so many straw men and other fallacious arguments.

The UN's refusal to authorise armed action to make Iraq conform with UN resolutions (thanks to the French unconditional veto) was the green light for dictators everywhere.

Whereas the constant support of the US for the Israelis unconditionally vetos any UN advancement of a peace process in favour of whatever crumbs the Israelis feel like dropping from their table. I would also suggest that the 'fuck you then' of the 'Coalition of the Willing' to the UN is more damaging than the 'no' vote, the latter, however odious, following the procedures of the UN to come to a democratic decision, the former having all the legality of Saddam's land-grab of Kuwait almost fifteen years ago.But both arguments are equally invalid. If one or other worked then everyone would be a member of the UN and abide by it's decisions as a global government, the fact is that of course many countries were quite happy to stay outside the pale, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iraq, before the vote and after the American invasion. But Conservatives have always distrusted organisations like the UN which threaten their power, so they come up with excuses for why it's bad.

On the other hand, it could equally be argued that rape, murder and mass expulsion are also other time-honoured cultural traditions in Africa, which the West would be wrong to intrude upon.

Note the casual racism.

Either way, the Nimns are baffled. What can they say? Full of froth and wrath, they opposed US military action against an Iraqi regime which had caused the deaths of some two million people. How can they now demand that the US intervene in Sudan? Worse still for them, it has to be the US, because all major UN projects are only made possible by US military and logistical strength. So how could the UN logically authorise the US to use force against Sudan when it withheld permission for the US to use force against a regime which - incredibly - was actually more vile than the rapists and hen-eaters of Khartoum?

Of course, it might help if the Telegraph could point to some NIMNs that opposed force in Iraq yet support it here. The fact they haven't suggests to me that there aren't any. That the clamour is one entirely in the heads of the opinion writers for the newspaper.

Of course, Sudan still has "friends" - of a sort. It is both a member of the Arab League and of the African Union. This means that one of the worst - certainly this week: as for next week, who can say? - countries in Africa enjoys a double indemnity. It associates with two rival sets of unspeakable, if spectacularly inept gangsters, who despite their many differences regularly call upon one another's diplomatic muscle in the UN.

The Telegraph opposes such practices when it's a cartel of black men doing it for one another. The paper, still nominally under the proprietership of Conrad Black, arch-Zionist and friend of the Israeli goverment, supports it fully when it's the US protecting Israel from those wicked Muslims.

It just goes to show how short people's memories are if, thirteen months after 'formal' warfare in Iraq ceased, conservative cheerleaders are trying to argue that the disastrous campaigns of Tony and George in Afghanistan and Iraq are perfect models for how morality should operate in the modern world. At the risk of setting up some straw men of my own, are the Telegraph really suggesting the best thing for all concerned is for an non-UN force to invade Sudan, terrorise and kill a large proportion of the people suffering at the moment, allow most of their torturers to escape and then invite them to return and take back control when we've had enough?

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Hmmm, I don't think I need to be worried about my job just yet: a group of robotics researchers at University Jaume I in Spain is working on a robot librarian which... has cameras, sensors and grippers so it can locate and collect a book. The hope is that one day teams of service robots could work in libraries.

Still, I could do with one of those in a few weeks. I've been told I'm going back to start work at The Closed Library in mid-August, which effectively means lots of scanning of stock as it goes on to the shelves, then I have the fun task of putting it on to the shelves. The fun level of this is going to depend on whether there's anyone there with me. More people means the work gets done quicker, but personally I'd like it if it was like when we shut last year and it was just me on my own. That way I can take my time, not have to worry too much about getting in dead on time in the morning and wander around nekkid if I wanted to. Not that I would...

Friday, July 23, 2004

A chance for people to oppose the Far Right of both the White and Muslim communities. Take Back the Square is an attempt to counter both a demonstration by fundamentalist Islamic group Al-Mahajiroun and the counter demonstration being organised by the National Front. Mind you, anyone who turns up will probably end up with their DNA in the police's new database...

"This is the last call for flights for the free world." Police will be allowed to keep indefinitely the DNA and fingerprint records of anyone they haul in to help with their inquiries EVEN IF THAT PERSON IS NEVER CHARGED AND THEN RELEASED.

So, if the police can keep the records of convicted people and now innocent people that were in the wrong place at the wrong time, do you think it'll be before Christmas or afterwards that Shiteyes Blunkett decides to close the crazy loophole that means the police don't have the DNA records of the completely innocent?

Tony Blair Shut Up!

According to an email I deleted too hastily, the Home Office Select Committee on ID Cards will be releasing their report on ID Cards on July 30th. I don't know how much we're supposed to be reading into the fact they are releasing this one week after Parliament goes on it's summer holiday, one might wonder if they're releasing it too late for the sceptical Opposition to make a fuss in the Commons and hoping that everybody's forgotten it by the time Parliament reconvenes in the Autumn. I also don't know whether it's important that although there will be a statement for the press there won't be a press conference for it. Maybe the members of the committee want to leave as soon as possible to get down to the seaside.

Oh yes, the weekend is here and it looks like it's going to be a fucking beauty. Of course, by Sunday lunchtime I'll be hiding under the desk and begging for the return of the cold, wet weather. As it is I've got stuff which I really should turn my eye to this weekend, not least the fact I've got Starsky and Hutch, I suspect all I'll need is one hot night and I'll get to explore what it does to watch that when you've got insomnia. I'm currently thinking there's no male double act that Stiller and Owen couldn't turn their hand to, Green Lantern and Green Arrow, the Dukes of Hazzard, Bert and Ernie in the live action Sesame Street movie?

I've got to try and do some writing as well. My whistle feels slightly wettened by the editing I've done over the last few weeks, so I might be able to move ahead with my current project. I've felt a little disheartened as in one of my completed stories I created 'MI-Null' and thought I was being really cool and cutting edge by naming it's head Aleph. Since finishing I've joined the Bad Signal email list where Warren Ellis has been talking about his Global Frequency TV Show, where one of the key characters in this super secret organisation is called... Aleph. Oh well, no need to worry, it's not like my stuff would ever get published, or if it did, it wouldn't be until after Ellis' eventual Cerebus-like death anyway.

So, I've been watching The Prisoner a fair bit over the last few weeks. I'm about six episodes in thus far (and I can't help but laugh that the number one on Google for 'The Prisoner' at the moment is a redirect to the official Harry Potter movie website), it's, umm, it's not actually that good is it? I think it's one of those programs that started dating as soon as it was made. I suspect that if it were remade today we'd replace incredibly grumpy scowl-meister Patrick McGoohan with someone like Matthew Perry and rather than his reason for refusing to tell them why he was resigning being some vague abstract notion of his freedom not to tell them, it would be because he knew they'd shoot him as soon as they found out. But for Number 6 to be put out that the Secret Service are concerned with security in the middle of the Cold War, a decade after Blunt and his mates legged it to Russia, and he's moaning because Leo McKern wants to talk to him about why he doesn't want to be a spy any more? It's not as if he's resigning from being a Chartered Accountant. Things have been vaguely straightforward so far, though the election episode seemed to have been made on very bad drugs by all concerned.

On the subject of TV, BBC America, the BBC's commercial US digital channel, has announced it is now available in 40 million homes for the first time. Checking their website BBC America are showing The Prisoner and some class acts too, like The Office and Waking the Dead. They're also showing Little Britain, but no Smoking Room yet, hah! Mind you, BBC America is showing Coupling and Monarch of the Glen, which is probably enough to get us added to 'The Axis of Evil'.

In what sounds like a worse idea than 'In Bed With Grahame Norton and David Blunkett' the BBC are asking for people who lack any trace of humility (or indeed humanity) to volunteer for The Real Little Britain. Yes, if you're as big a freak in real life as the characters in Little Britain you can be followed around with a video camera for a day as you live your warped little lives. They want to hear stories on such subjects as falling for your boss, life as a teenage girl who talks incoherently or Are you the only gay in the village or is there a thriving community? How important is meeting/socialising with other gays? Much as I love the show, would I really want to use that as a context to talk about gay/transsexual issues?

Oh, and Kirstie Alley is to star in a US comedy about an overweight celebrity called Fat Actress, should we expect a lively comedy about and outgoing and vivacious woman, or lots of jokes about her arse eclipsing the sun? In these pictures here she doesn't even look that fat, except by the anorexic standards of Hollywood.

Michelin guide sues Israeli satirist over spoof guide to Israeli Prisons, Jails, Concentration Camps, and Torture Chambers.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Oh, we're in a new age of Swiftian repartee here. Michael Moore calls Australian PM John Howard a man "with half a brain", Aussie Treasurer Peter Costello quipped back Mike Moore is entitled to his opinion but that's the quintessential ugly American, sitting down attacking the Australian prime minister". I'm not sure where the 'sitting down' bit comes in, whether Mr Costello's remarks concerning the parkedness of Moore's derriere was correct, or whether, if he was right, had Moore made the comments while standing up Mr Costello would have supported him wholeheartedly. But otherwise, Mr Costello was effectively saying that all Americans are ugly. Go get him Patrick!

The cocking Libertines are on the cover of the NME for what seems like the 30th time this year (work it out). Their new album is supposedly the most eagerly awaited thing ever, which is news to everyone with ears. Let's face it, no-one associates the words 'Libertines' with 'top quality music that really tells me something about my life'. No, they associate 'Libertines' with 'the twats in the guardsmens uniforms' and 'that smackhead guitarist. Is he dead yet?'. The only reason that the NME is fixated on Pete Doherty is that they reckon the little streak of piss is going the way of Sid Vicious and Richey Manic sometime soon and they need to be close to touch the vestements and do the whole 'The Last Interview', 'The Last Pictures', 'Win the Charlie He Didn't Take in the Overdose (Well it Would Be A Shame to Waste It)' spiel. Who gives a shit about the Libertines' music, hell, Franz Ferdinand have come along to steal their thunder by actually doing songs rather than being a smackhead's punching bag. If the fans and the music press really cared they wouldn't print acres of adoring text on his merest bowel movement while talking of wanting to respect his privacy (though to be fair, reading this weeks NME he seems to have given up on trying to get rid of his addictions and is going to try being a hopeless addict and a functioning musician. Well, anything's possible...). It seems all there is to do now is what for him to snuff his pathetic little candle and then wait for him to be risen to the level of Saint Richard of the Bleeding Arm in the hearts of Indie kids everywhere.

A new report challenges the music industry's insistence that file-sharing is lowering their sales. Unsurprisingly the BPI and the IFPI have responded by saying that it is 'a flawed study'.

A recent study from the Commission for Racial Equality said 90% of white people in the UK had no or hardly any black or Asian friends. However, 47% of people from ethnic minorities say white people form most of their friends. I must admit, discount people I work with and I've only got probably two Asian friends (three counting one of them's husband), and one of them was someone who I used to work with who is now a friend.

Meanwhile, The UKIP reassure everyone, as they take their seats in the European Parliament, that they aren't just xenophobic, they're capable of sexism too.

Speaking on the fringes of a press conference [Godfrey] Bloom [, nominated by UKIP for the Euro-Parliament's Women's Rights Committee,] joked that women "don't clean behind the fridge enough" adding: "I would represent Yorkshire women who always have dinner on the table when you come home." As the episode reached a surreal climax he turned to a television camera to declare: "The more rights you have [for women] it is actually a bar on their employment. No self-respecting small business man with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age. That isn't politically correct is it? But it is a fact of life; I know because I'm a businessman."

I wonder what sort of business he's involved with, if he doesn't need to worry about insulting women? Condom manufacturer perhaps? So we have a group of people here with anger-management problems, drink problems, links to fascist groups and who would like if they could to turn back the clock on women's rights. And they were democratically elected.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Dykes to Watch Out For. My new favourite band ahem, comic strip.

Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow. Ow! Ow ow...

Whatever possessed me to think that having a meeting in one part of London which would involve me getting up early, then doing buying in another part of London, then finishing off with friends in a pub until chucking out time was a way of easing back in to working life?

Up at 6:30 a.m. yesterday, as I needed to get out early to make the trek to another library for a non-fiction book buying meeting. It's about the one thing in my life that makes me wish I drove and had a car, driving directly there is a piece of piss and would take about half an hour. Public transport involves several buses, which should not be attempted during the school year as it goes through several busy transit points for various schools, or a long journey on the tube. I tend to favour the tube only because I'm more likely to get leg room.

Anyway, I don't remember much about the meeting except that it was in a hot room with no air conditioning and the stock was so dull I nearly fell asleep. There wasn't even anything interesting coming through, not like a couple of weeks ago when there was the new edition of The SCUM Manifesto, crap but interesting crap.

Then down in to London where I walked around the British Museum looking at people looking at old dead things (often more rewarding than looking at the exhibits themselves) before heading to Gosh to do a stock pick. Last time I did this I went down with a long list that it turned out was about twice as expensive as the money I had to spend, so was lucky to have a second go. Managed to get a lot of good stuff, when we reopen we're going to have seperate sections for 'adult graphic novels' and 'teenage graphic novels', I have my doubts about whether that's going to be a good idea or not, and we're having to put Ultimate titles in 'adult' because the children's librarians had no idea, but it does have advantages in that we can put out more extreme stuff (like From Hell for example) without having to worry about members of the public complaining. Well, they will complain, but if we're not leaving these things near the teenage stands then we're covered.

After that to The Plough to meet up with other people who'd been mostly coming from work. We stayed until chucking out time at 11:00 pm, I stayed on the orange juice or lemonade all night as I was flagging at points and knew alcohol would be a bad idea. Paleface brought along Like a Splinter in Your Mind: The Philosophy Behind the "Matrix" Trilogy which he'd picked up from work. We were taking the piss out of it but when I read a chapter I saw it was doing pretty much what the first film was doing, introducing philosophical concepts to people who had never thought of them before. As it's about the 'trilogy', presumerably two-thirds of the way through the book it dumps all pretense of intellectualism and just shows lots of glossy pictures.

It was amusing to see one of our number downing pints as I don't think I've ever seen her drunk before. Most entertaining. I won't mention who though, my lips are sealed. Got home around midnight and didn't manage to get to sleep until about half one, but at least the advantage of being a morning person meant I was able to force myself to get up and go to work, though there were a few points where I was just monging out in front of a screen. As I tend to do this a lot anyway no-one noticed.

I got a copy of this when I was at Gosh yesterday, no good for the graphic novels stand at the library as it's the wrong shape but just perfect for the graphic novel shelf at chez Flowers. Enjoying it immensely, especially the strand with the woman plunged into depression by Bush stealing the election. Wonder if she'd be cheered up by Bush declaring "No really, I want to be the peace President". News about the possible child buggering done by US troops at Abu Ghraib is hard to come by, but does this report, if accurate, mean the public will or won't hear about it before the US elections?

Talking of buggering bastards, Nicholas van Hoogstraten has won the substantial part of his appeal over a £5m claim by the family of a man he was jailed for killing.

And the first Canadian lesbians to get married now want to be the first lesbian couple to get divorced. See? It proves we can be just like any breeder couple...

Tuesday, July 20, 2004



PICKET 5pm - 6.30pm

Coca Cola Great Britain and Ireland

1 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith London W6 (just near Hammersmith tube)

One year ago today, Sinaltrainal (the Colombian Food and Drink Workers Union) called for a boycott of Coca Cola and all its products, in response to a brutal policy of terror and repression that Coca Cola had unleashed against their own workers in Colombia.
Since 1994, 8 Coca-Cola workers and Sinaltrainal union leaders have been assassinated by paramilitaries, who the evidence suggests, were hired by Colombia's Coca-Cola management. Hundreds of other workers and union members have been imprisoned, tortured, threatened, disappeared or forced into exile.

The first year of the boycott has been a success in many ways.
Individuals and social and trade union organisations all around the world have pledged their support of the boycott (including the Scottish Socialist Party and Unison in the UK). However Coke have refused to abandon their hard line, have refused to negotiate with Sinaltrainal, and the repression against the workers has continued. Since the boycott started on 22 July 2003,

* Coke workers in Colombia had to go on hunger strike to fight mass sackings.
* Union Vice President Juan Carlos Galvis was injured in an
assassination attempt.
* Union leader Luis Eduardo Garcia's son escaped from a paramilitary kidnap.
* 4 members of union leader Efrain Guerrero's family were
slaughtered in their beds by paramilitaries
* Coke launched their seventh libel case against a Sinaltrainal leader.

When the union launched the boycott campaign, they knew there would be a price to pay, and are relying on international support and solidarity to see them through to the end of their fight for justice. We have a moral obligation to support the workers of Sinaltrainal.


On 22 July this year, please send messages of protest to Coca-Cola (an example is included). Fax, email or telephone (or all 3) to make your feelings known.

The addresses are:
Tim Wilkinson, Director of Public Affairs and Communications Coca-Cola GB.
Telephone (020) 8237 3000 Fax (020) 8237 3700. E-mail

Dear Coca-Cola,

The International Boycott of all your products has been going for one year, and people across the world now know about Coca-Cola's crimes in Colombia. However, I am very worried that instead of negotiating with Sinaltrainal, Coca-Cola seems to have increased the repression against their Colombian workers. I will continue to boycott all your products, until Coca Cola has

* Mitigated the pain of the victims by making reparations for damage caused.
* Publicly recognise that it benefited from crimes carried out by paramilitaries against Coke workers.
* Committed itself to not making any new attacks on the workers, and hand over to justice those criminals who carried out attacks on their behalf.
* Negotiated with the union, a code of conduct to safeguard workers' lives, in the presence of international observers.

Yours Sincerely

Monday, July 19, 2004

As Planet Hopkins has started linking to me it's probably only fair to return the favour.

Blair should apologise for handling of war, says poll. Although would it just be another apology like last weeks? Brian Cathcart in yesterday's IoS wrote a brilliant article (now behind the iron wall of their portfolio) about how what Blair said, "As I shall say later, for any mistakes made, as the report finds, in good faith, I of course take full responsibility, but I cannot honestly say I believe getting rid of Saddam was a mistake at all" sounds like a full apology, using words like 'take full responsibility' but is in fact no such thing. The use of 'I cannot honestly say I believe getting rid of Saddam was a mistake at all' is the giveaway, as the Butler report was not about whether it was a mistake or not to 'get rid of' Saddam Hussein. Blair might as well have said 'I take full responsibility for the events of the Third Crusade but I cannot honestly say I believe getting rid of Saddam was a mistake at all' for all the relvence it has.

Still, Blair only has to survive another week and then Parliament gets let out for the summer, we're in to the silly season and when the MPs finally crawl back to work in October most of the country will probably be moaning about someone else. Blair won't apologise, even if some miracle forces him out of office between now and Wednesday because he's pretending to be your half-deaf grandad. "Mr Blair, will you apologise for your government's lying about Saddam Hussein's WMD and it's twisting of intelligence to bolster your desire for war?" "Young man, I will not apologise for the war as I believe that whippersnapper Hussein was a very bad man!" "With respect Mr Blair that's not even remotely close to what I asked you. I didn't ask you whether the war was wrong I asked you whether you apologised for misleading the country in the lead up to it?" "Saddam was a bad man. In unrelated news I've replaced my Cabinet with Seventies singing sensations Saint Winifred School's Choir." "Grandad, Grandad, we love you..."

Still, even tomorrow must seem like a long way away.
David Kay, handpicked by the CIA to find Saddam Hussein's arsenal, said Mr Blair and President George Bush should have known that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction.
Hans Blix stirred the row by describing Mr Blair's haste to war as an "error of judgement".
[A] former intelligence chief in Britain [Sir Paul Lever] suggested that the evidence given to the Hutton inquiry by John Scarlett... had been "economical with the truth".
Bill Clinton... [said] that intelligence reports he had seen from 1992 to 2000, during his period in office, did not suggest Saddam posed an imminent threat.

With Blogger's new look (which their email tells me is them deciding that what Blogger users want is WYSIWYG) I've found the 'edit HTML' pane at least looks like what Blogger was like a week ago. I'd advise against ever using the 'compose' pane as if you were ever going to put any code in you'd have to switch to 'edit HTML' anyway, because Blogger stuffs up the code trying to translate it into an active hyperlink.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Some NSFW Flash fun.
Cactus and Son.
Episode One. Cactus has the hiccups and sets his son straight on the way the world is.
Episode Two. Some banging toonz while Cactus has an encounter from beyond the grave.
Episode Three. GUEST STARRING DAVID BLUNKETT! Cactus goes through The Oxford Handbook of Religions.

All lewd and crude, but very funny. [via B3ta]

Meanwhile, back at the old war... Downing Street secured vital changes to the Butler Report before its publication, watering down an explicit criticism of Tony Blair and the way he made the case for war in the House of Commons.The Telegraph has established that the disagreement between No 10 and Lord Butler's inquiry team centred on a passage in an original draft of the report about Mr Blair's statement to MPs in September 2002. The original passage drew a much clearer contrast than the final version of the Butler Report between the strong case for war made by Mr Blair and the weakness of the intelligence the Prime Minister received about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The changes secured by No 10 diluted the criticism of Mr Blair and helped Downing Street to mount its main defence - that the report showed that the Prime Minister was acting in good faith. (Italics mine)

So Downing Street officials lean on John Scarlett to change the Iraq dossier to say what they want, then they lean on the committee investigating that to say that nothing untoward happened.

Same old shit. A couple of British newspapers are pushing that Bush has decided that Iran is the next on his hitlist. The Times for yesterday reports; THE US will mount a concerted attempt to overturn the regime in Iran if President Bush is elected for a second term. It would work strenuously to foment a revolt against the ruling theocracy by Iran’s “hugely dissatisfied” population, a senior official has told The Times. The United States would not use military force, as in Iraq, but “if Bush is re-elected there will be much more intervention in the internal affairs of Iran”, declared the official, who is determined that there should be no let-up in the Administration’s War on Terror.

... [The White House official] hinted at a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, saying that there was a window of opportunity for destroying Iran’s main nuclear complex at Bushehr next year that would close if Russia delivered crucial fuel rods. To destroy Bushehr after the delivery would cause huge environmental damage. The rods would allow the Iranians to obtain enough plutonium for many dozens of nuclear weapons, he said.

...Iran is one of the three members of President Bush’s “axis of evil” and has further angered Washington with its covert interference in Iraq since the end of last year’s war to topple Saddam Hussein.

Is Bush ready to fight another Islamic country because they fiddled with his toys?

However, it gets even better. According to todays Telegraph the Big Lie that helped win the American public over to attacking Saddam is getting an encore. Yes! Iran gave free passage to up to 10 of the September 11 hijackers just months before the 2001 attacks and offered to co-operate with al-Qa'eda against the US, an American report will say this week.

The all-party report by the 9/11 Commission, set up by Congress in 2002, will state that Iran, not Iraq, fostered relations with the al-Qa'eda network in the years leading up to the world's most devastating terrorist attack.

The bipartisan commission has established that between eight and 10 of the September 11 hijackers, who had been based in Afghanistan, travelled through Iran between October 2000 and February 2001.

Presumerably it's absent-mindedness on the part of this pieces author not to mention how the hijackers went to iran via Iraq where they posed for photo's with Saddam Hussein and those stockpiles of WMD that Tony Blair used to insist must be there. Still, at least Bush has picked a country where there are members of Al Qaida this time.

Teheran said yesterday that it had arrested an unspecified number of Iranian al-Qa'eda supporters.

It reminds me of that Chris Morris remix of Bush's state of the union address. We now have to hope there is sanity in the US administration. "Relying on the sanity and restraint of the United States is not a strategy and it is not an option." Do you feel safer yet?

Blur fans will want to head over to Parkspliced where the gybo crowd have produced a twenty-eight double-CD of Blur rerubs and boots for your downloaded delectation. I've just finished getting it all and it's class. But if you download it without making a donation to one of the charities at the top of the page you're a very bad person.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Blogger gobbled up a news linkery related post I did earlier and I can't be bothered to find the constituent parts and do it again.

Went to see Spiderman 2 this afternoon and wasn't that impressed. I'm not a Tobey Maguire fan so any film which has him front and centre trying to emote rather than putting on the silly costume is not going to rate highly with me. The second film has so much thematically in common with the first it could sue for plagiarism. But Maguire isn't the only problem here, he, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco have to carry the film as the triangle of the younger cast and they just don't manage it. At no point does there seem to be any spark of interest between Mary-Jane and Peter, you would have thought that as M-J is supposed to be such a good actress she could at least pretend. But as one of the most interesting loose ends from the first film was the relationship between Harry Osborn and Peter while Harry wanted revenge for the 'murder' of his father the scene where Harry finally discovers Peter and Spiderman are one and the same is laughable in either tension or drama.

In acting stakes the film is rescued by it's older cast. Alfred Molina steps in to Willem Dafoe's shoes as 'crazy supercriminal that likes Peter while fighting Spidey'. Some effort is made to make him an interesting and three-dimensional character. We see more sides to him in his first scene where he meets Peter than we see Maguire performing in the rest of the movie. And despite having to dispense even more fortune cookie wisdom even Rosemary Harris as Aunt May manages to outshine the youngsters. The script is worse this time, presumerably to show Peter's angst Spiderman is almost silent in his fights, almost completely quip-free.

The first film seemed hampered because there was so much backstory it had to put into place, Peter getting his powers, his uncle dying, with great power blah blah blah. Sequels tend to blossom because they're largely freed from the necessity for world-building (look at X-Men and X2). S2 makes it look as if it was only those key origin scenes that actually held the first film together.

The main problem with Film two is that there are two stories going on which don't work together. There's the fairly standard 'Spidey versus Doc Ock' story but the second story is one of responsibility, why should Peter Parker put his life on the line for others when he's in danger of loosing his apartment, when he can't make it to class, when he can't even have a relationship for fear of what some villain might do if they found out. So we have the slightly farcical situation in the middle of the movie, when Spidey has rescued some kids from being run over, stopped some criminals, saved countless people from being destroyed by Doc Ock's malfunctioning machines and fought off Doc Ock and saved Aunt May that he decides that obviously there's no point or value to being Spiderman and throws his costume away, deciding just to be Peter and not Spidey.

He does have a physical problem, namely his powers sputtering in and out. It seems psychosomatic but connected to what it's not clear. It can't be stress as there can't be more moments in one's life as stressful as trying to be killed by a 16 stone bruiser with four powerful cybernetic tentacles while he's hanging your aunt off a building. No, it seems that the root cause of this malady is one of plot, when the script-writers need help to start Peter along the path of doubting himself his powers start to vanish, when it's time for the main event they come back again.

This same plot device that upsets Peter's powers also has a negative effect on Mary-Jane's hormones as, not get anywhere with Peter, she announces halfway through the film she's getting married to J. Jonah Jameson's astronaut son. Peter's overdeveloped ego stops him from trying to woo her himself, but of course she gets kidnapped by Ock, rescued by Spidey and discovers he's Peter. She then runs out on the wedding to be with him rather than the astronaut. What could have been a nice opportunity for M-J to be more than the faux liberated object of Peter's mystifying adoration, by actually pointing out that Peter has got her into danger twice while trying to protect her from super-villains and if he's going to risk his life to save others he's got to allow her to risk her life by being with him is wasted as presumerably too much effort. Aunt May presumerably also knows, a scene where she talks to Peter about how life is full of difficult choices and people need heroes lacks only her saying "Peter, go out and fight that nasty man, here, I've made you a new Spiderman costume out of bits of the curtain and carpet".

The money scenes do look quite nice though. The special effects people have worked hard to make Spidey and Ock as lithe as possible, giving them a fluidity that doesn't work on the comic page. However, the scene that everyone will have seen in the trailer is the one where Peter and M-J are in a cafe and Doc Ock throws a car through the window of the cafe at them. Now, he has no suspicion at this point that Peter is Spidey. Neither of them are looking in his direction and it's only Spidey-sense that saves the pair of them from being squished. So Ock is rather careless. However, as he seems to come round the corner in the next scene maybe that's just a lucky rebound of a car being thrown from further away. Quite how he's able to track down Parker isn't explained either, Ock can hardly travel secretly around town so he's exceptionally lucky to find Peter in a place not seen before in either of the two movies.

The train fight looks nice but the whole rigmarole of Spidey having to stop the train is daft. Is the best idea they can come up with for Spidey to stop a speeding train is to stand at the front and fire webs at passing buildings and hope his arms don't get ripped off? And the horrible bit when the passengers stand up to Doc Ock, "If you want Spiderman you'll have to go through us", recalling the "if you attack one of us you attack all of us" scene with the Green Goblin in the first movie, is treated with the contempt it deserves as he simply sweeps them aside.

The final fight scene at his obligatory abandoned pierside base seems strangely anti-climatic, as though the train fight was the last scene and this is just a coda to wrap things up, they fight briefly until Spidey short-circuits the arms, allowing good old Otto to regain control and sacrifice himself nobly to destroy his machine which is about to destroy the world.

All in all, though it looks pretty Spiderman 2 is a thematic mess with unengaging paper-thin characters. In the comics Harry Osborn is a noble character gone bad, it's a genuine shock when he turns evil. James Franco can only reach 'petulant' here and it's worrying if he's going to be the main threat next time, though there's another adult actor who may get involved, Doctor Curt Connors who, in the comics, becomes the savage Lizard. So we'll have to wait and see, but there's little cause for optimism.

I'm not sure, but a good working definition of 'irony' might be when the BNP threaten to use European Human Rights legislation against Barclays bank when they close six of the party's bank accounts. I suspect this is hot air on Nick Griffin's part, it's the bank's right to choose who they do and do not do business with, they can change their mind at any time and it's not a human right to have a bank account.

Friday, July 16, 2004

I've been watching the first night of The Proms on the BBC. It's a habit I only got into last year and it's not like it's on my 'must not miss' list, "Oh, no more heroin for me please Mr Reed, I have to go home and listen to The Proms!" but if I'm in and it's on I like to have a listen. Part of today's performance was of Holst's The Planets which I've had a deep affinity with for years. We've all heard Mars, The Bringer of War but I like all the pieces. It's ironic that, whereas so much music is about the emotional effect, Holst marries emotion and science, using the Roman names of the planets, the names that they have in science, but keeping all their roles, such as Mercury, the Winger Messenger.

And as a godless agnostic/atheist I always have the strongest reaction to the final piece in the suite, Neptune, The Mystic. If there were a Heaven then I would like to think that Neptune is the sound someone hears as they ascend, soft music, choirs on the edge of hearing, entering into the arena of something we cannot comprehend. The BBC kept flashing up pictures of the relvent planets through the performance but that was missing the point. This work isn't about the planets out there, or just about the planets out there, it's about the planets in the human head and heart. In us are contained universes, galaxies of planets. Holst has given us a map of a few of them.

I'm also looking forward to catching what I can of the performances of the work of Dmitry Shostakovich. I heard and loved his Leningrad symphony several years ago, written during the Second World War it was an overt attack on the fascism of Germany while covertly warning his countrymen of the similar danger they faced at home from Stalinism, so I'll do my best to be around to hear more of his work.

Apparently ignorance IS an excuse if you're the Prime Minister.
Tony Blair did not know a key piece of Iraq intelligence had been discredited when he gave evidence to last year's Hutton inquiry, Downing Street says. MI6's decision to withdraw the intelligence was made before August 2003's Hutton inquiry, according to Wednesday's Butler Report. But Mr Blair had not known this when he gave evidence to the inquiry, Downing Street said. The first he heard of it was "as a result of the Butler inquiry".
Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy said the latest revelations showed the need for a further inquiry into the political decisions that led to war.
...Dr [John] Reid rejected calls for further inquiries into the Iraq war as "hunting for someone to blame".
And? While I agree that the thought of going through this again isn't exactly at the top of my list of thrills, especially as it's up to Blair to decide who acquits him of all responsibility this time investigates the matter fully, the Butler report did not there were failures and shortcomings. That does rather suggest that there is someone who needs to be reprimanded or punished in some way.

I'm not saying that a film adaptation deviating from it's source text is automatically a bad thing, I think there's very few people that would argue that Blade Runner is bad just on the grounds it's not much like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but I've watched the trailer for I, Robot and other than the fact that it has robots and detectives in it and references the three laws of robotics it looks like it bares no relation to the original book by Isaac Asimov.
The Aint-it-Cool review.

"I write the gossip column for 'What's On in Stoke Newington'. It's a big piece of paper with "Fuck All" written on it." - Alexei Sayle, a very long time ago.
Went up to Stokey with M and S yesterday, a call had gone out through the Barbelith network so we headed to The Eye, miles away from anywhere down Stoke Newington High Street, mingling with community hipsters. We lasted for one band, which luckily had one of our friends, A, in. I've got no idea what their name was, especially as they seemed to give themselves different names between songs. They were fairly ramshackle but then A admitted afterwards they'd done practically no rehearsal or played much before. The middle of their songs were fairly good as they built up a fairly good wall of sound/drone thing, but they had no feeling for each others rhythms so some of them slipped out of time with one another. There's a place for charming amateurishness in music but you need to be experienced to do it well. The next band sounded like someone pitchshifting a Radiophonics Workshop CD trying to find the frequencies that make humans loose control of their digestive organs, we retreated to the other side of the club, then found we appreciated it more by leaving and walking up the street to another pub where we could no longer hear it. We stayed there for a while, then went to catch the night bus to Old Street, from whence we made our various ways home.

Hmmm, I log in this morning and Blogger seem to have managed to fuck themselves up again. Now I have to spend twice as long on any post that involves HTML because I can't just type in the old A HREF stuff any more, no, I have to type it in, then use the Edit HTML tag because Blogger has managed to fuck the code up. Then I come back to Compose and find that Blogger is showing the hotlink or type in bold, despite the fact I thought that was what the Preview button was for. Jesus guys, the last version was quite easy and quick to use, bring it back!

German Neo-Nazi plans to build Aryan baby farm.

Police in Yorkshire will consider what action to take today against members of the British National Party after a television documentary showed followers of the right-wing group admitting violence and racism towards Asians.

Blair lied, thousands died, and now we may have proof: Crucial doubts about Iraq's ability to produce chemical weapons were withheld from two inquiries which examined the Government's case for war. Lord Hutton's investigation into the death of David Kelly and Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, which monitors the intelligence services, were not told that information which helped Tony Blair claim that Saddam Hussein posed a "serious and current" threat had already been discredited and withdrawn by MI6.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Some Linkage:

[An American] church's plan for an old-fashioned book-burning has been thwarted by city and county fire codes.

I'm linking to this RA of Douglas Adams doing a talk on his adventures with wildlife which was done shortly before his untimely death mainly because if I don't I'll never remember it was BoingBoing I got it from.

Language infects us; its power derives not from its straightforward ability to communicate or persuade but rather from this infectious nature, this power of bits of language to graft itself onto other bits of language, spreading and reproducing, using human beings as hosts.

Who would have thought it? The British National Party turn out to be a bunch of evil-minded racist fuckheads who enjoy having fights and who support a policy of shipping people with differing skin colours to them to other countries. Coming up on the news tonight, the world is round and scientists release new report which states that heat is 'hot'.

There's another documentary on BBC1 about the general shitiness of the BNP, seeing as I think we've had two or three other documentaries in the last couple of years that show the truth behind the myth that leader Nick Griffin likes to promulgate that they have turned their back on all that, stuff these shows are either being watched by the wrong people (the ones who would never vote for the BNP no matter what) or the people that vote for the BNP aren't voting for them because they are just winning on a 'your Labour/Lib Dem/Tory councillor is a corrupt fucker, vote for me!' ticket but because they genuinely agree with the BNP's policies.

Griffin will be on Newsnight after the show to explain about how footage of him describing Islam as a filthy religion and saying the Koran explicitly tells Muslims to rape non-Muslim women has been 'taken out of context'.

Not presenting 'Celebrity Guantanemo Bay' for C4

Mark Thomas's show was very good last night. He started off by warning any Americans in the audience that he would be taking the mick out of Bush, but that as he would be doing the same or worse to Blair they should consider it friendly fire. The first half was largely a story of what activism type stuff he's been doing for the last couple of years, from being asked by a Channel 4 exec to be the presenter for a new show they were developing called 'Celebrity Guantanemo Bay' to how he wasn't surprised that the Butler report was another whitewash for the Government when they pick their judges, and suggesting that anyone done for speeding should demand their trial judge be Jeremy Clarkson. He talked about going up to Menwith Hill with the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases for the annual 4th July 'Independence From America' demonstration. He talked about the Campaign Against the Arms Trade actions against the Defences Systems & Equipment International arms fair in the Docklands last year, which led to his first ever arrest. He talked about phoning his Mum to tell her he'd been acquited to which she replied that his Dad would be disappointed as he'd been making 'Free the Docklands Four' campaign badges all morning...

The second half was a bit heavier as he went on to the Coca-Cola story. Their union-busting activities in Colombia where troublesome workers are routinely taken away and never seen again. He was careful to point out that even if you accept that Coke has nothing to do with the union-busting then they still take advantage of it, for a few days after the bottling plant union was destroyed they slashed wages across the board. Their activities in India where they take water that farmers used to sustain their fields to make Coke, a country where protests are having some effect.

There was also a raffle to win some of the pictures from the Coca-Cola Exhibition, proceeds going to take the exhibition on the road around the world, though they probably won't be visiting the U.S., where it's possible in some states to be done for libelling food and drink products. They've already taken it to Columbia where he talked to activists and went on Columbian Independent Radio to talk about during their last week of broadcasting before being shut down by the Government.

Mark's at the Tricycle Theatre until Saturday and there are still a few tickets going. If you can pop along, Mark's new comedy sidekick Sam is selling t-shirts and organising the raffle. Mark's set, including describing how his son got done at school for scuffling with a friend when he saw him eating a Nestle chocolate bar, will have you laughing too much to mind the theatre's uncomfortable seats.

The U.S. Senate votes against sanctioned bigotry and votes down a proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage. Someone, I think it was Santorum, was shown on the BBC News claiming in the debate that this threatened the safety of the American family and that this was the number one danger in the US today. So Senator Santorum believes the freedom for two people of the same sex to publically express their love for one another and to receive the same benefits, rights and responsibilities as heterosexual couples is a bigger danger to the United States than terrorism or the war on drugs. Unless the next lie of the administration is to insist that these Muslim extremists who live by a very strict interpretation of the Koran are all batty boys.

Man shoots himself in groin, jailed for five years.

Asked by the judge about the doctors’ predictions for Walker’s future, Mr Syed said it was still too early for them to be sure “in terms of his fertility and degree in which any sexual relationship he has subsequently will be affected”.

The above space is for the obligatory 'what would he need his cock for in prison?' joke which I leave you to fill in yourself.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Butler Report: No Alarms and No Surprises Please.

There were 'serious flaws' in the intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq but that wasn't anybody's fault. I half expected Lord Butler to add "and besides, all those Iraqis probably would have died anyway, so let's hear no more about it, all right?" The debate in the Commons afterwards (although in reality the term 'debate' is something of a misnomer as it was just people making speeches about whether they'd believed in the war with Blair saying "no" to practically everything except Angela Eagle, IIRC, one of those MPs who don't actually contribute anything useful except some piece of blatant crawling and sycophancy towards Blair in the form of a question.) was fun, especially as with the lack of Blair's blood on the floor of the chamber we at least got to see the boot being put into the Tories, with Blair reminding everyone several times that Michael Howard voted in favour the war and got a pre-dossier briefing on the intelligence with regards to Iraq. However, Blair was using this to distract from Howard's legitimate questions over the Prime Minister's credibility as he admitted that he'd been wrong over the issue of WMD in Iraq.

But the Hutton Report insisted that errors were made and three BBC employees resigned or were kicked out. The Butler Report insists that errors were made, yet because the Government acted 'in good faith' and is willing to learn from it's mistakes no-one is going to go. Double standards much?

Christian Exodus. is coordinating the move of thousands of Christians to South Carolina for the express purpose of re-establishing Godly, constitutional government. It is evident that the U.S. Constitution has been abandoned under our current federal system, and the efforts of Christian activism to restore our Godly republic have proven futile over the past three decades. The time has come for Christians to withdraw our consent from the current federal government and re-establish the sovereign nation of South Carolina upon the Christian principles once so predominant in America.

Well, the obvious response is "Can I help you pack?". The basis for this seems to be gay marriage and equality, they've really got a hate on for people being equal in the eyes of the law.

Things that led to this nonsense include:
Our schools continue to teach the discredited theory of Darwinian evolution
Discredited? Right, whereas we should of course believe that God created the world in six days a couple of thousand years ago and that he created it in such a way as to just make it look like it was slowly formed a few million years ago.
The 10 Commandments remain banned from public display
American readers might be able to correct me on this, but the only case I was aware of was that they had been banned from display in a public building (possibly a courthouse?) because they are not part of the laws of the United States.

Sadly it doesn't seem possible to find out how many of the initial 12000 members they've got yet.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Bad insomnia last night. Does anyone out there get it not every day but on a schedule, because I'm sure that I've been getting it every other Monday or Tuesday for two months now. And what's odd is that it wasn't hot last night, I hadn't had a big meal that I was trying to digest while going to bed, I wasn't dozing and then woken up by a loud noise, upstairs were behaving themselves for once.

And although yesterday was a stay at home day I wasn't exactly inactive, I went up the shops, did some housework, worked on some writing. Today I went for a walk around town as it was warm and hot. Started and finished at Tower Hill, a couple of mile circular walk around the financial area. There appear to be two Saint Dunstan-in-the-Easts which I didn't know. I'd heard of but not visited the Hawksmoor church which is supposedly tripping up with more magical power than it knows what to do with. The Saint Dunstan-in-the-East that I visited was designed by Wren and bombed out in the second world war. As you can see from the photo below the walls survive and are covered in ivy, while what would have been the interior is now an exterior park area, a nice and quiet place to sit.

Babes for Bush against Babes Against Bush. And no, I wasn't thinking 'mud-wrestling to decide winner'...

When it comes to Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9-11 it's hard to know who to trust. But it's nice to know that in the face of some vicious attacks on the film, he's putting up references for every fact in it. Why do I get the feeling this won't stop the arguments about whether Mike is lying or not?

Fahrenheit 9-11 breaks UK box office record for documentaries.

Hey, are you looking for a simple but baffling game? Then try Petals Around the Rose. You should be able to beat my ten minutes that it took to figure it out.

Monday, July 12, 2004


Suede are the '6 at 6' on The Amp today, Unfortunately, after two songs we are on to the less incendiary Coming Up era, more poptastic but less interesting, but it does mean I get to reacquaint myself with Sir Neil of Codling, Mmmmm, all worship the Lizard King.

Beautiful One!

Had a touch of deja vu last night, as the BBC's Panorama program was on the misuse of intelligence by the British Government to justify going to war in Iraq. We'd heard it all before, as most of the information had come out in the Hutton Inquiry and Panorama had done a few programs on it back in those heady days before Dame Hutton set his big tin o' whitewash on his desk and told us it was his report.

What was different this time was that they had a former Intelligence agent who, until last year worked in the upper echelons of MI6 where they would have dealt with the intelligence coming out from Iraq. He pretty much said what critics of the Government had said for ages, Tony Blair was wrong when he said there was evidence of WMD programs and that Saddam Hussein was ready and willing to use them for no reason at all. This official, Brian Jones, said the information that MI6 passed on said that if Hussein had weapons he'd only use them if attacked first, in the final report it came out as if he'd launch them with no provocation any day now. (I have to say, the fact that Hussein didn't launch any missiles is another proof for me that he didn't have WMD, he had a year or more of Bush and Blair saying they were coming to get him, he was crazy not stupid, and if that didn't make him feel threatened I don't know what would.)

And this didn't start with the War Against Terror. As far back as 1998 the Government were telling the Intelligence services to lie about Iraq.

Brian Jones writes in the Independent today. He says that there was no proof of WMDs in Iraq, just an assumption that there might be and that Blair said there'd been lots of information passing over his desk when Jones knew that if true none of it was from any intelligence source he knew of. He rewrites the final dossier from the JIC to be closer to what MI6 knew at the time to be the truth. Give it a read.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Nations Liberals Suffering From Outrage Fatigue. "With so many right-wing shams to choose from, it's simply too daunting for the average, left-leaning citizen to maintain a sense of anger,"

World health experts attack Bush's 'abstinence only' approach to dealing with sexual health and AIDS. The world AIDS crisis is deepening, thanks in part no doubt to the sterling work in this field that Bush and the Catholic Church are doing.

Meanwhile in the States, those working in the fields of sexuality and sexual health research claim unprecedented interference in their work by Conservatives.

Following my rather gloomy assessment of what the Butler Report was likely to mean, this might spice things up a bit. What did the Prime Minister know and when? The supposed proof that the Iraqi dictator was still trying, even in the run-up to war, to produce chemical and biological weapons became crucial to the Prime Minister's case for urgent military action rather than waiting for inspectors to finish their task... Yet the intelligence underpinning [the claim that Saddam Hussein's regime was still creating WMD in 2002] was subsequently withdrawn by MI6, which decided it could not be relied upon, according to the senior intelligence source interviewed by Panorama. Although it is not known exactly when MI6 changed its mind, the revelation will prompt calls for Blair to put the record straight publicly about what he knew, when.

Seeing as in the past Blair, Geoff Hoon and Jack Straw have all personally claimed ignorance of important facts relating to the question of whether Hussein really did have WMD any more I suspect that this will get filed in with that. "I didn't know"/"I was only following orders" is an unacceptable reply only when you're on the loosing side it seems.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

UN Inspectors today revealed they were unable to confirm that evil tyrant and sometime Presidential catamite Tony Blair had a letter of resignation ready to deploy in forty-five minutes.

A report released yesterday by the US national endowment for the arts says the number of adults who read no literature increased by more than 17 million between 1992 and 2002. It found that 47% of American adults read poems, plays or narrative fiction in 2002, a drop of seven percentage points from a decade earlier. Those reading any books at all in 2002 fell to 57%, from 61%.

No wonder the first third of Fahrenheit 9-11 copies the first chapters of Dude, Where's My Country, most of the audience Michael Moore intends to reach haven't read it. I wonder what the figures are like for this country...

You don’t support Democrats. Why should your ketchup? But just remember, French Mustard is the name of the producer, not the country it comes from...

Are American soldiers torturing Iraqi children in prisons too?

Bush in the clear after Senate investigation blames it all on the CIA and America's allies. However, there's been no investigation by this committee of the parallel intelligence unit set up by Donald Rumsfeld and his friends to produce the intelligence needed to justify going to war. Most of which came from sources which, like former favourite Ahmad Chalabi, have shown to be a load of rubbish.

Meanwhile there's bubbling sense of excitement about what the Butler report will have to say about the British side of things. Following the farrago that was the Hutton Inquiry ("My role in this inquiry, as I see it, is to decide whether the Government is innocent or whether the BBC is guilty") my hopes aren't high that another establishment figure will lay any blame at the Government's door. The Lib Dems and, IIRC, the Tories withdrew early on in the process. Now, it's a valid criticism to make that they saw that it was unlikely to attack the Government but it's most likely that the Butler report will say the same as it's US's equivelent, it's not Blair/Bush's fault if the information was incorrect. We shouldn't have expected them to demand that MI6/the CIA get information that was accurate and up-to-date, it's OK that Allied troops and thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed because Blair and Bush accepted information that they wanted to believe was right.

So we should all jolly well stop moaning like a bunch of pinko liberals and get back to what's really important. Deciding who's going to win Big Brother.

Friday, July 09, 2004

The Campaign to get Ronald Reagan Painted into 'American Gothic'.

I'm going to see Mark Thomas's new show at the Tricycle Theatre next Wednesday if anyone fancies coming along/meeting up for drinks beforehand.

Why not invite Tony Blair to see Fahrenheit 9-11?

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Hmmm, busy busy busy. We're way behind with our restocking of The Closed Library. The reopening date for that has been put back to the start of October due to various delays and cock-ups in terms of furnishing the place. And it seems that it's definite that we're having a caef put in, when my manager is already worrying about whether we've got the shelf space for the stock we're buying. We always used to have trolleys of books around waiting to be reshelved but that used to be because we were short of staff to do the shelving. Now in the new library we could be in the position of always having trolleys of books around because we lack the space to hold them.

We had a big old meeting today about the buying of books. We've mostly been using two suppliers Holt-Jackson, who everyone loves, and Cyphergroup which everyone loathes. Now the people doing the books buying are very IT literate and have the library nouse. Holt-Jackson's website is designed so that pretty much any fule can work it, while Cypher is a serious thing designed for librarians to use. Yet everyone prefers Holt-Jackson. Funny that. Sure, they both take a while to get used to, but Cypher is far less flexible and far more reliant on you accurately guessing how to find stock on their site. If I'm lucky I'll never have to use Cypher again once we've finished restocking The Closed Library.

And I've been given another £1000 to buy graphic novels, so I'll be off to Gosh again. So I'm a pretty happy bunny. I can't wait to get out of The Posh Library and back to The Closed. More people, more staff, more varied stuff to do (at the start of the year I'd been intending that I'd be finishing of rewriting my Chartership report by now, instead every free minute is spent wrestling with Cypher over British history books). The small libraries are just driving me NUTS!

As it is I've suddenly remembered I've got next week off, so am now hoping that the weather clears up so I'm not spending it all indoors. I'll be going to see Shrek 2 at some point and will be checking the whats on pages to see if there's anything interesting happening in the museums and libraries of London too. Spent the pre-Fahrenheit Sunday evening wandering around Soho with a friend and I haven't been for a proper walk in town for a few weeks now. I still have the second half of that LINKED walk to do.

Meanwhile, depending on what mood you are in, read this story of cigarette manufacturers Philip Morris claiming that you can be an ethical manufacturer even when your product kills people. Perhaps the arms industry should make biodegradable bullets, or make more conspicuous donations to Children in Need.

Al Qaeda targetting US in time for Presidential elections, but no-one knows where, when or how they'll strike. The BBC cutely refers to this as undermining the presidential election, quite how heightened fear and/or a terrorist attack could be anything but good news for Shrubya I don't understand.

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