Thursday, March 31, 2005

Tories don't want to be called Tories says prominent Tory, ory leader Michael Howard. But officials say that Tories can't rename themselves New Labour...

All right, I made the second sentence up.

Very Goth
You scored 68!
You're a Goth. Whether you admit it freely or not there is no denying it. You love the stuff and can't get enough. You decorate your living space in a way that is part morbid part chaotic.I'm sure your music is mostly Goth/Industrial/Darkwave. Wherever you go you're probably dressed mostly in black.Not only do you know who Switchblade Symphony is, you own every CD and EP they ever put out. Your dream profession is definatly something that benifits goths-Tattoo artist, goth DJ, freelance Gothic artist, Gothy comic creator ect.ect.ect...

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:

You scored higher than 58% on gothies
Link: The GOTH Test written by myriad_entity on Ok Cupid

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Death of Crazy Frog. At last!

Well, it seems like upstairs have finally got the idea about vacuuming at night after I knocked on their door to complain the weekend before last. Unfortunately to compensate for no longer having that waking me up I now seem to be sleeping extremely lightly, so if they sneeze upstairs that wakes me up, there also seems to be an especially strident starling that does his bit of the dawn chorus on the fence at the bottom of my garden right up until the point I'm actually awake, then he buggers off elsewhere. I'm going to try some earplugs tonight but it's as much that I do generally sleep quite soundly, so can wake up on my own with no outside help.

I don't normally work on wednesday, but I swapped some time with someone at work who needed today off. So I'm making a trek around five of the libraries in the group weeding their graphic novels, and then some time in the next month I'm going to get to go to Gosh! and replace them. This counts as a perk of work.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I went to see The Machinist last night. I would recommend that if you haven't seen it yet then you should find something more productive to do with your time, like watching paint dry perhaps. I also can't discuss it without giving away most of the film so if you insist on going to see it don't read any further.

Tyler Durden, whoops, my bad, Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) is the eponymous blue collar machinist at a workshop making... things (it's never established what they actually do, so it's not that important). He has occasional sex with tender-hearted tart Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) but spends most of his night time when not with her at a airport diner where he chats to waitress Marie (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón). He becomes unpopular at work when he's distracted which leads to a colleague loosing his arm in one of those big machines used for causing injury to actors in this type of film, especially when he's told the worker he blames for disctracting him, Ivan (John Sharian), doesn't exist. When he goes to a funfair with Marie and her son a ride on the Ghost Train proves strangely affecting, hinting to some suppressed trauma in his past. Is there a conspiracy amongst the people in his life against him or is he just nuts? Hands up right now who thinks it's option a? Anyone? Anyone at all?

There's a good idea for a story buried deeply in here, trying to get out. It's called Fight Club. It's also reminiscent of Jacob's Ladder or even Vanilla Sky, with the lead character's life getting steadily worse until he's willing to accept responsibility for his actions. The problem is that the average viewer will have reached the conclusion about halfway through the film and be waiting impatiently for Trev to catch up. Right near the start he helpfully explains to Stevie that he has suffered insomnia for a year, so right away we know something bad happened a year ago (and as the film opens with him trying to dump a roll of carpet with a body inside at sea we're immediately thinking that maybe he killed someone a year ago, right idea, wrong person) but also we're thinking "hang on, you can't go more than a few days without sleep, so either you're bullshitting or this is all some massive delusion" so when at the after-accident inquiry he's told that no-one called Ivan works there, he's wondering whether people at work are trying to mess with his head, we're all thinking "well he's imagined Ivan hasn't he?", especially as Ivan doesn't interact with his environment IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER. And he's worked for a year with heavy machinery and insomnia and not had any other accidents at all?

Screenwriter Scott Kosar tries to cheat us with script details but it doesn't work. In what I assume is an attempt to throw us off the scent he gives Ivan and Marie's son depth, Ivan has toes transplanted on to his hand after an accident, Marie's son has epilepsy, but they turn out to be imaginary and no reason is given for this. If Trevor had somehow blanked out suffering an injury and having his toes transplanted, or if he suffered from epilepsy that might make some sense. I don't mind Ivan looking different to Trevor, it's like Jack and Tyler Durden in FC, but it's a cheat to make him abnormal too and then never give a reason. But as it is they are just meaningless events to pad out scenes.

By two-thirds of the way through the film it all descends in to farce. Trevor walks in front of a car in order to complain to police of a hit-and-run in the hopes they'll check the number plate of Ivan's car for him (it does make a certain sense in the film). So he does this right in front of the police station. Yet none of the people walking around help him when he's hit by a car, the driver doesn't stop and no witnesses help him in to the police station and point out he's given the wrong details? When he receives the, not shocking to us, news that Ivan's car is one HE wrote off A YEAR AGO he then runs out of the police station, limping down the road he's still able to evade two policemen. All that's missing is the Benny Hill music.

The other laugh out loud moment is that mysterious post-it notes appear around his flat, trying to jog his memory on something. One of these is in the form of a hangman puzzle, _ I L _ E R. Now, by this point we're pretty certain he's done something bad. So he tries to finish the puzzle, with a L in the middle space. Then, with something like triumph he puts in an M at the start and breathes "Miller!", the name of an injured co-worker, in triumph. This had the cinema I saw it at in hysterics. When he gets it right later on, with a K instead, it's treated as though it's a major surprise.

Basically this is a fairly stupid movie that weighs itself down with always overcast skies and a green wash on the camera to leach the colour out of scenes and then mistakes this for depth. This really is one to avoid. The sad thing is how Christian Bale put his health in danger to starve himself so thin for this role. If he puts this much method into his parts, can we expect him to be dressing up as a nocturnal avian rodent and go around London by night beating up ne'er-do-wells in preparation for Batman Begins?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Ah, my first DW-related google search: why do you sound like you're from the north.

And I don't want to know why people are searching for Britney wears nappy. Ewwww.

After the first episode of the new Doctor Who on Saturday (quite a success, though considering the blanket promotion of it over the last month in all media it could hardly have failed to be), check Clive's website on this mysterious Doctor.

SEEN: Outside Fettes College, Edinburgh, 1972. He was telling some longhaired teenager not to worry about being nicknamed 'Cynthia', and that he should stick with the school drama group. The man you call the doctor seemed quite keen to stress that a career in politics would be a big mistake. At first, I thought that the doctor meant it would be a big mistake for the young man...but he went off muttering something about 'global implications'. It seemed such a strange conversation, that I couldn't help eavesdropping, and I've often pondered it over the years. The thing that struck me most about it was that 'Cynthia' had such a stupid grin.

This site was the idea of Clive. A loving father and husband. The dreams and hopes of one man in a shed, dedicated to uncovering the truth. We will not forget.
[via Diamond Geezer, and check out his Who's London entries too.]

Hope you're having a good bloke-up-a-stick-holiday experience. It can't be a fun time for Catholics, what with the real-life ongoing snuff film involving Pope John Paul, he has no voice, he looked like he was wheeled to the window, he has unpleasant opinions about some of the people he shares the world with, he is Davros isn't he? Meanwhile the Catholic Church in the U.K. has officially lost the abortion argument by invoking Godwin's.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

And if you wanted to make your own version of what I'm listening to right now...

Lots of Planets Have A North!

1. Disco Fudge - From the Spaced soundtrack.
2. Cannonball - Breeders. I'd forgotten I still had this single in the bottom of a drawer. Probably one of the oldest CDs I still have.
3. We Used to be Friends - Dandy Warhols. Pretty much the only decent tune on an album that's so much evil. There's a reason why Duran Duran stopped recording you know.
4. Horns - Flying Machine. Waves to Nelson, Andy, Charlie, Dave and Emily.
5. America- What Time is Love (Radio Edit) - KLF. It's actually legal to put the KLF on any mixtape/CD and not be required to give any explanation at all. So there.
6. Supervixen - Garbage. I listened to the first album for the first time in years yesterday and forgot how good and poppy it actually was. But I put this in for that stop-start guitar.
7. Seventeen - Ladytron. Something of a triumph of style (what style!) over substance (what substance?) thus far, but I've got a soft spot for this particular tune.
8. What is the Problem? - Grafiti. I hated Mike Skinner long before it was popular to do so but it's the same here as with the Ladytron track, the exception that proves the rule or something.
9. She's Lost Control (Spektrum remix) - Agent Provocateur feat. Siobhan Fahey. "You better hope and pray, that you can make your way-" Sorry. Sleazetastic stuff.
10. Freelove (Shattered Dreams Mix) - Depeche Mode. GYBO always helps when there's nothing in the regular charts that excites me. I don't think I heard the original version of this but this has a wonderful organic sound, it's the sound you should hear as you slip down the tunnel in Being John Malkovitch.
11. Daft Prince - Daft Punk vs. Prince. It may be 2005 but I still want to party like it's 1999. Especially as Shrubya hadn't started his war against anyone yet.
12. We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful - Universal Poplab. According to science when something meets it's exact opposite the two should annihilate each other in a huge explosion, so never play this joycore positron at the same time as the original version, it would probably create a black hole and that was a really bad Disney film.
13. Daddy Will Rock You - Aphex Twin vs. Forever Young. I mentioned this the other day, I can't stop grinning like a Richard D. James mask.
14. Tomorrow Never Knows - The Beatles. It is not dying.
15. Take me Out (Crash Berlin mix) - Franz Ferdinand. Mentioned this a few months back. One of the better FF mixes out there.
16. Two Timing Touch and Steppin' Stone - The Hives vs. The Monkees. Somewhere between a mix and a boot, they slip together so well.
17. Only When I Lose my Cowboys - Portishead vs. Depeche Mode. I want a new Portishead album. I really want a new Portishead album. Another GYBO-found boot.
18. Maps - Ada. Found this on one of the MP3 blogs Flux links to. I rarely like covers of songs I really like but this is different, it sounds like a quieter, less frenetic sister of the Chem's Private Psychedelic Reel, a sad song made joyous and redemptive that announces sunrise and the passing of all shadows.

I've got a touch of the prevarications this afternoon. I'm not actually feeling anxious but I can't concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes (this post is being written with each track, then I skip mayfly-attentionlike to something else). I wish I could settle down.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Phoenix Woman has, in recent days, written some interesting stuff on the Terri Schiavo case.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The great advantage of traps is that at least when you are in them you can look around yourself and say "Ha! I am trapped!"

Will this turn out to be the first major world event in years not involving George W. Bush in any way?

Citizens of America remember: You have always been at war with Eurasia. Only fundamentalists try to stifle debate and I suppose some of you still believed your country stood for freedom. If such a bill were somehow passed I hope someone would put through a bill allowing university staff to sue students who they believe are not respecting their beliefs. That way the academic year will be taken up with suing one another and counter-suits, no-one gets taught anything and the students get vital experience of that forum for all decisions in America: The court!

Yet again there are clamourings for Lord Goldsmith's advice on the legality of going to War in Iraq to be made public, and still the Government are refusing. I'm doing all I can not to think 'conspiracy!', that the Government are holding off on publishing it because tying up news cycles with this is a lot better than news cycles full of the latest insane Tory schemes to fuck the entire country up or how New Labour are doing this right now. The Government's reasons for not publishing are also nonsense, that legal issues should remain secret, they aren't supposed to release intelligence material into the public domain either but they did so because it suited their purpose in trying to get the country onside for war.

But we already know that Goldsmith changed his views on legality based on a personal assurance from Blair that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, we know from the former British ambassador to Washington that Blair and Bush agreed long before the dodgy dossier to invade Iraq, we know that Neocons helped Goldsmith come to his decision that the war was legal. We also know from the Hutton and Butler reports that the intelligence services were helped by Tony Blair's office, specifically Jonathan Powell and Alistair Campbell, to take their poor evidence and make it useful by taking out the equivocation.

So is there any point in publishing Goldsmith's legal opinion? By focusing on that, it seems to me that we're falling into the Government's trap. After all, Goldsmith's document isn't going to say "In my opinion going to war is both a bad idea and legally speaking a terrorist act with no legal backing" is it? So the Government will be happy for people clamouring to see a document which isn't going to do them any real harm. The findings of the Hutton Inquiry last year were mad but the discussion became 'the BBC is evil. Discuss', even when people then brought up the clear evidence that Downing Street manipulated things to suit themselves it was as though because Hutton had decided to ignore it no-one in authority had to talk about it any more. If Goldsmiths' views are published and there is no smoking gun, I'm worried that it would be falsely used against those who are against the war and would let Blair get away with it all yet again. The legal opinion might be more useful unpublished.

UPDATE: Well well well. Looks like they're spinning the process out a bit longer. Seeing as the Freedom of Information Act is designed so that officials don't have to give out any more information but can say to the public "But we have a Freedom of Information Act!" I'm not holding out for a ruling that the Government were wrong. Every other 'independent' organisation Blair has set up has been coincidentally controlled by New Labour, so I don't see why this one should be any different.

The Last Calvin and Hobbes strip?


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Oh... my... God. You HAVE to go to Mixomatosis's site and, above all else, download 'You Stranger', it's a boot of Portishead's 'Only You' and Madonna's 'Beautiful Stranger' and is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard. (And don't forget to check out the other people at Hearing Double too)

For giggles try Twinkleboi's Aphex Twin Versus Forever Young mash which had me laughing in a way unheard of since the Queen Mum's funeral.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

What if Blair invaded Zimbabwe? For God's sake, don't go putting ideas in his head.

Monday, March 21, 2005

When Jackie Mason appeared on Have I Got News For You he publicly criticised the other people appearing on the show for their interest in then minister Peter Mandelson, he thought they were being homophobic and making fun because Mandelson was gay, what he didn't realise was that the show was criticising the BBC self-censoring itself after someone had 'outed' Mandelson during a live TV show. It was an issue of pandering to the new Government.

So I'm watching Bremner, Bird and Fortune and wondering, are they being homophobic about Mandelson? Bremner's impression of him has turned through the years into Larry Grayson, ok, but he's not in the news at the moment and Bremner still brings him up and the sketches he appears in often involve sex, such as last night when footage of him was intercut into a fake advert for men troubled about sustaining an election (Do you see what they did there?). Doctor Mandelson runs a clinic for men worried about 'electile disfunction'. And a series or two ago I seem to recall a sketch about Mandelson going to Europe that suggested he would like his job because the European Parliament and it's environs was just like Old Compton Street but that he'd have to put his South American boyfriend in quarantine (like for animals) first.

So I wonder: Is it because Mandelson is unpopular? After all, I don't remember Bremner ever doing sketches about Chris Smith MP when he was a Minister, neither does he do Julian Clary or Graham Norton. I don't really believe anyone involved with BB&F to be openly homophobic, I just wonder whether, when they want to satirise an unpopular person who is gay they fall into the trap of homophobia.

I should also point out that I have never been able to watch an entire episode of either Curb Your Enthusiasm or The Anna-Nicole Show. There's something deeply uncomfortable about both of them, it's also why I can only watch a couple of episodes of something like Will & Grace or Frasier before I have to avoid watching them again for about a year. At some level it's being presented with a sympathetic character and then watching them make a humiliating arse of themselves, whether they're aware of it or not. So I made it about halfway through Fat Actress before I thought, 'escape! now!'.

Fat Actress is the new Kirstie Alley show, made in the same way as CYE, only instead of Larry we have Kirstie Alley and her struggles with trying to have a career in Hollywood when she's broken two of the most important rules in Hollywood, she's over forty and she's over-size. Because this is a comedy her weight is used as a stick to beat her, the show opens with her checking her weight, she starts shrieking and is in hysterics when her agent calls. She drives off to the local fast food joint to eat away her pain, only to come home to find John Travolta and a SWAT team surrounding the house because they thought she was being held hostage (It's John Travolta as John Travolta by the way). One of the SWAT guys says to John "That's not the chick from Cheers is it? Huh, belly up to the bar, porker." Does John berate him for his attitude? Of course not, this is Hollywood, so he just says about how she used to be athletic but put on weight when she stopped working out. Then she and her personal aides are discussing how she needs a man, white men are out as are white fat men, because 'fat sex is ass' and it's eventually decided she needs to get a black man because they like something to hold on to. And it's when they're sitting in the Soul Food restaurant that I had to give up.

Time, and probably someone else because I doubt I could watch any more, will tell you whether this show becomes something that suggests that American TV gets over the idea that all Americans are between twenty and forty and increasing their average dress size every year and that's not something to be ashamed of, but I've got a feeling that the first fifteen minutes of this show set the tone for what follows. Fat=bad! Over 40=bad! Wicked, glutinous Kirstie Alley! Back under your blanket! Save America from your corpulance!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

It seems charmless bigots Christian Voice have changed their website address to the now

I wonder if this is connected to their continued opposition to the Jerry Springer opera, which is now having difficulties finding theatres for it's regional tour.

Rent-a-German. For all your Teutonic needs.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

After this, Ex-Spy David Shayler to stand against Tony Blair in general election.

It's not up at his website yet but Johann Hari has interviewed all three party leaders about their queer credentials. The article reminds me that no matter how loathsome bLiar is on many other issues Labour have been good for the gay community, getting rid of some inequalities, although I wasn't aware that the ban on gays in the military had been lifted. Charles Kennedy is as you would expect but the big surprise is Michael Howard who comes very close to an apology for Section 28 although Johann's opinion piece and, presumably the magazine article this is all from, show he's still got some remaining prejudice about having to 'protect children' from 'pretend relationships'. Still, it's a start.

Detourned Tory election poster.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Amusing, but how long before Uncyclopedia is just a collection of unfunny racist and sexist jokes?

After a hard day...

You might have thought Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was a shoddy piece of crap that insulted Star Wars fans everywhere but I give you Star Wars: Clone Wars. Now I don't have a problem with the story, set between Episode Two: Send in the Clones and the soon-to-be-released Episode Three: Everything Goes to Shit. It's a simple tale of Count Dooku stirring up planets to rebel against the Empire and Chancellor Palpatine sending the Jedi to lead his clone army in to wipe them out. It's so simple it's established in the first five minute episode. The first ten parts follow the same pattern; an army squadron go in, kill a lot of rebels, the rebels bring out someone really nasty who kills a lot of clones, the Jedi comes in and fights the big bad and kills it. The episodes are all about five minutes long and the average dialogue per episode about thirty seconds.

So, they've been written to hold the attention of hummingbirds with ADD. Now this is OK, it's the tasty treat you can have between human rights abuses documentaries without ruining your appetite and there's lots of plotting with Jedi knights rolling and tumbling over places like the action scenes in AotC. Unfortunately it looks crap.

Lucasfilm might be a cutting edge studio which has pioneered the development of CGI but they've given the animation duties to a studio that makes Jamie and his Magic Torch look advanced. The website is misleading as to the quality of the artwork. They're going for that Batman/Justice League style of square jaws and tall thin shapes but it lacks conviction. They try to find some middle-ground between stylised and 'realistic' and miss both. There are also a few too many fights in dark rooms/in wide empty deserts/in the depths of featureless space for my liking, it seems only the batallion lead by General Kenobi thinks it might be an idea to try and capture the capital city of the rebels, all the other knights seem happy to fight them in the big desert or the middle of the ocean. I would have expected some sparkly CGI affair, something like Reboot even. I was thinking of battle scenes akin to those in the climax of AotC, as those were all CGI anyway. And this is an official storyline. This IS the Clone Wars! But if the films are a homage to those old saturday morning shows that Lucas loved as a child this cartoon is a homage to those cartoons we watched as children which had no purpose but to make us buy the toys.

Another smaller point is that dialogue is admittedly not what Star Wars is famed for, but as this is being made at the same time as the third film, was it really too much to ask the actors to take half an hour one day to do their dialogue? We have someone pretending to be Ewan McGregor (who of course is doing an impersonation of a young Alec Guinness), someone trying to be Christopher Lee, about the only 'real' voices are Yoda and R2D2.

Craig Murray standing against Jack Straw.

I experienced at first hand the abandonment of all principle by this government as it decided to use, routinely, information obtained under torture to further the "War on Terror"... Like many in the FCO I knew in advance that the so-called dossier on weapons of mass destruction was full of lies. 152 of its alleged "facts" are now known to be complete fabrication. Now they tell us the WMD were not the reason for war but rather it was to bring democracy to Iraq. Yet at the same time the West is giving financial and military support to the Karimov regime in Uzbekistan, one of the most brutal regimes in the World.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

An interesting essay on comics journalism an LJ friend pointed out to me.

Paul Boateng to stand down as MP. It can't be nice being a junior minister. They always seem to end up fagging for their Ministers. The senior minister lets themselves be wrapped up in whatever the media and common consensus decide is the crisis of the day, draft some wholly useless proposals to deal with it and then the junior minister has to justify it in interviews. Hazel Blears at the moment has to go on Newsnight to defend the indefensible in front of Jeremy Paxman or, and she must spend several hours a day praying for it, Gavin Estler. Last Friday, the Lords wanted a sunset clause on the Terrorism Lesgislation, eventually the Bill got passed when the Government put in a clause for new legislation to be decided next year and she was forced to argue with Paxman about how this wasn't the sunset clause and in fact the Government had got everything it's own way. This sort of a thing is an argument for why politicians should work in secret, it's like with the Home Office, take a fairly normal conservative Labour MP, tell them they're the Home Secretary and, faster than you can say "Begone, begone, oh form of man, and rise the demon Etrigan!" they're proposing forced work camps for immigrants and the tagging of gypsies.

And this is all a huge roundabout way of saying that a few years ago Boateng was one of those poor sods that regularly had to go on telly and defend the indefensible, I wonder whether the fact he's been very quiet for the last three years means he was never very good at it. He did always give the impression that a good dose of salt sprinkled over him would cause him to shrivel up and die.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Jack Fear: Today, my son, you are a man. God help you.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

And now, just for Patrick, after four years, Shrubya finally does something I can approve of, I repeat: George 'folks look at me walking and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called an achievement' Bush has finally done something right and banned Gerry Adams from the US. Now, it's a little bit sad that the reported reason for this is not due to the whole Robert McCartney thing and only tangentally the bank robbery, in that Bush feels personally betrayed over that, even if that were the case couldn't Bush at least pretend that he's moved by more than just petty adolescent concerns, but anything to add to the pressure against the IRA and Sinn Fein at this time has to be welcomed.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Michael Zulli takes us through the process of drawing his last portrait of The Sandman ever. [via Neil Gaiman]

Something strange is happening. I've lived in or around London since 1997 and never seen anyone famous outside of appearences, speeches, signings and so on. In the last month I've seen:
a) Kenneth Branagh, near Leicester Square tube station,
b) Jonathan Porrit, cycling up the road minutes later,
c) The short one (David Mitchell?) out of Peep Show in The Blue Posts last night,
and d) Kele Okereke of Bloc Party in Tottenham Court Road tube station, though I may have been having sugar hallucinations at that point. He was with some other people but I barely know Bloc Party exist so I'm even less sure of whether it was them he was with, though it seems unlikely.

At this rate by May I reckon I should find Ian McKellan selling Big Issues outside of Oxford Street tube.


Dear Friend

I am Mrs. SUHA ARAFAT, the wife of YASSER ARAFAT, the Palestinian leader who died recently in Paris. Since his death and even prior to the announcement,I have been thrown into a state of antagonism, confusion, humiliation, frustration and hopelessness by the present leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the new Prime Minister. I have even been subjected to physical and psychological torture.

As a widow that is so traumatized, I have lost confidence with everybody in the country at the moment. You view this website: You must have heard over the media reports and the Internet on the discovery of some fund in my husband secret bank account and companies and the allegations of some huge sums of money deposited by my husband in my name of which I have refuses to disclose or give up to the corrupt Palestine Government.

In fact the total sum allegedly discovered by the Government so faris in the tune of about $6.5 Billion Dollars. And they are not relenting on their effort to make me poor for life. As you know, the Moslem community has no regards for woman, more importantly when the woman is from a christian background, hence my desire for a foreign assistance.

I have deposited the sum of 21 million dollars with a Financial firm in Europe whose name is withheld for now until we open communication.I shall be grateful if you could receive this fund into your bank account for safe keeping and any Investment opportunity. This arrangement will be known to you and I alone and all our correspondence shouldbe strictly on email alone because our government has tapped all my lines and are monitoring all my moves.

In view of the above, if you are willing to assist for our mutual benefits,we will have to negotiate on your Percentage share of the $21,000,000 that will be kept in your position for a while and invested in your name for my trust pending when my Daughter, Zahwa, will come off age and take full responsibility of her Family Estate/ inheritance. Please note that this is a golden opportunity that comes once in life time and more so, if you are honest, I am going to entrust more funds in your care as this is one of the legacy we keep for our children.

In case you don't accept please do not let me out to the security and international media as I am giving you this information in total trust and confidence.

I will greatly appreciate if you accept my proposal in good faith.
Please expedite action.

Yours sincerely,
Suha Arafat

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Compare and contrast this lot with this shower of charmless bigots.

And check out videos one and two at Backing Blair. [all via Bloggerheads]

While the Lords have a big argument over the Anti-Freedom Terror Laws, a lone terrorist makes a futile attempt to breach the new defenses around the Houses of Parliament...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Actor Russell Crowe has revealed he was told he was being targeted by suspected al-Qaeda terrorists who wanted to kidnap him ahead of the 2001 Oscars.

Insert obligatory 'it just goes to show no-one is TOTALLY evil' joke here.

Results of that wiretapped conversation in full.
IRA: Just say the word, we'll shoot the bastards.
McCartney Family: No thanks.
IRA: Well, how about we kneecap them?
McCartney Family: No, we want them to be tried in court. We want justice.
IRA: Justice? Sorry, I don't understand that word. Here's my final offer, we give them two dead legs and a Chinese burn, alright?

Old Doctor Who fan in unsurprising 'it was so much better when [insert name of one of the previous actors] was the Doctor' comment.

Mild Spoilers for the new Doctor Who, the series four premiere of Enterprise and the last couple of episodes of series eight of SG-1 and series one of Stargate: Atlantis.

I've just finished watching the first episode of the new Doctor Who series that's been floating around BitTorrent sites all week to the annoyance of the BBC. I thought it was really pretty good, Christopher Eccleston is good as the Doctor (one of the best lines of the show, Rose: "If you're an alien, why do you sound like you're from the North?", Doctor: "Lots of planets have a North!"), but I'm not yet sure if he's going to be great. The first episode is introducing us to the Doctor Who world via Rose, his new companion, for the benefit of those that weren't even born the last time the show was on TV so his performance is one of touching all the various bases of his character (occasional grimness, sense of wonder, manic humour). I'm holding final judgement until I've seen another few episodes, I'm very disappointed that he's wearing jeans and a leather jacket, very dull. Billie Piper as Rose is much better than I (and I suspect most other people) thought she was going to be, think Bonnie Langford as Mel, only not shit. And the seemingly ubiquitous Mark Benton puts in an appearence too. The new TARDIS set is amazing.

It's not perfect. Some of the CGI is a bit dodgy, the finale is also clumsy but if you have any interest in the sci-fi genre or Doctor Who then you should enjoy this, when the BBC finally get round to airing it at the end of the month.

The moral of an enforced rest for the franchise is one that the Star Trek producers and the CRETINs trying to reverse Enterprise's cancelation should take note of. There was no creative reason that Doctor Who couldn't have continued after the last series but the decade break has given new heads a chance to try a new direction. Compare this to the Enterprise series four opener where, yet again, Star Trek strokes it's fascination with World War Two. A tiresome plot device means that aliens from the future have travelled back to WW2 and joined up with the Nazis (of course) who now are poised to beat the last resistance in Russia and, as we find, the good brave U.S. Why do 'creatives' still need to masterbate over their twin fantasies of absolute control and domination (i.e: the Nazis and their kinky uniforms) and the last time the United States could be said to be fighting a good fight (i.e: WW2)? Three or four years ago Voyager did a story with aliens in Nazi uniforms and although the window dressing is different that's what this plot reminds me of the most. The franchise is creatively bankrupt and a break can only do it good.

The last few episodes of the first series of Stargate: Atlantis have been interesting. It's biggest handicap is that Stargate: SG-1 is still going and, in it's last season has been guilty of some incredibly bad plotting (Anubis again?!, bringing O'Neill/Carter slash on to the screen, Jacob's sudden death, Teal'c's hair) and the running plot of the two different teams trying to contact one another, which nicely dovetail into the last episode of the first season of Atlantis. The mediocrity of it's older sibling sours what would have been an outstanding first season for Atlantis if it was going out on it's own.

The battle scenes in the last episode must rate as some of the most impressive CGI on telly ever, someone watched the 'Invasion of Zion' scenes from The Matrix Revolutions and worked out how to do them on the much lower budget of television shows. It went to the best tradition in SG-1 (which have been absent in the parent show recently) of intelligent scripting, rewarding fans for watching the whole series with numerous reference to earlier episodes. The cliffhanger is a bit stupid though, do we seriously think most of the cast are dead (what would be interesting is if they are)? And I must have missed the meeting about the Earth warships being something to celebrate, bad enough that a second spaceship has been built without anyone mentioning it but these ships are crap compared to those of the Go'uld, so as the Wraith are supposed to be more bad-ass (I initially typed bad-arse but that really does imply something different in this context) than them I'm not sure how this new ship turning up is going to tip the battle in the humans favour. I suppose we'll have to wait for the Autumn to find out.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

New Doctor Who episode leaked on to the Internet. And I haven't found it yet. Arse!

They may be unelected unrepresentative archaic remnants of an out-of-date class system that should have no right to govern this country but, on the plus side, they did humiliate the Government by voting against their plans for house arrest for anyone who looks at Charles Clarke the wrong way.

Shrubya and bLiar better not go to Turkey any time soon.

US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair deserve life sentences, with the possibility of parole after 25 years, for the war crimes and genocide in Iraq, according to a lawyers' panel.

Although of course, this is not a Government panel, heaven knows that Turkey is one of the last places to be talking about other countries human rights records.

Here's an odd article from the Independent: It is barely six weeks since the US President delivered his second inaugural address, a paean to liberty and democracy that espoused the goal of "ending tyranny in our world". Reactions around the world ranged from alarm to amused scorn... No one imagined that events would so soon cause the President's opponents around the world to question whether he had got it right.

Get to the middle of the article however and it's plain that the change in the middle-east that some would like to credit to Mr Bush, the chance that movement might finally be made on Israeli/Palestinian peace talks, some sort of elections in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the Syrian pullback from Beirut, is difficult to attribute to him, that it probably happened if someone else had been President.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Dear Friend; This message has been sent to you by a friend or a relative who has recently disappeared along with millions and millions of people around the world... This may come as a shock to you, but the one who sent you this has been taken up to heaven.

Hey, I'm hoping The Rapture is real. We get rid of so many arsehats that even the Antichrist walking among us doesn't seem so bad.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

I'm trying to remember if there was a time when I didn't think David Aaronovitch was an arse and an idiot. We should not ask whether the Iraq invasion was 'legal' - we should ask whether it was 'good'. We have to do this remember, because before the war Davey said the war was just because Saddam had WMD and if it turned out that Blair had lied on that Davey would be very disappointed. Well, now we know that Blair did lie and Davey has been rather floundering ever since to try and retcon some valid reason for going in and killing loads of people.

And while we're talking about killing loads of people, all the papers cover the news that Sir John Stevens, former Met police chief, has claimed there are two hundred Al Qaeda agents in the UK, waiting, always waiting, for their moment. What I can't find anywhere is his proof for this, or why he knows it's two hundred and not four or six. Two hundred agents seems rather excessive, considering that only a couple of dozen people were involved in the September 11th WTC attack, or the train bombs in Madrid. If he knows there are two hundred people it would rather suggest that they know who these two hundred are, so why aren't they in Belmarsh with the other detainees for whom there is no evidence made available to the public of their involvement in terrorism?

Sir John is in favour of allowing people to kill intruders in their houses, ID Cards and scanners to allow people to see under other people's clothes and was insisting in 2002 that the Met was no longer racist.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Complete Torrent of the Mark Steel radio shows.

Following on from this, UN declaration on women approved after US drops attempt to block abortion. What this means I'm not entirely sure, is this just a typical fudge so everyone can get on happily now, leaving such an issue for future diplomats to argue about?

Friday, March 04, 2005

Nuts, I automatically deleted last night's Culture Show after watching it. This all has a big IIRC about it. Tim Lott, complains there is too much literature these days, too many books, they aren't any good, when he was a kid he read genuine classics like Lord of the Flies, where is that standard of writing today, who's writing the literary equivelent of Donnie Darko, and in the end it's probably all Bloggers' fault. I think.

All I can say is, if a collection of Bloggers and writers of crap books means the world doesn't give Tim Lott the respect he thinks is his right, then good. He asks for classics but doesn't bother to ask anyone for classics, else they might say "Have you read Middlesex then Tim? Or any Philip Pullman? Surely you've read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell Timbo?" But of course, to know if these are real classics we're going to have to wait awhile.

The more people that write the more crap that will be produced and I'm doing what I can to help out there.

Now all I need is for someone to come along and tell me I completely misrepresented his argument.

Wow, that was easy. Google 'Charmless bigots'.

Stephen Green, head of (and I'm starting to suspect sole corporeal member of) charmless bigots Christian Voice, had a busy night last night, given platforms on the BBC from both Newsnight and the new satirical BBC4 show The Late Edition, to talk about how Jerry Springer - The Opera ruins his faith and how he has no regrets about forcing a cancer charity that looks after sick and dying people to refuse money from it, he's obviously from the Mother Theresa school of Christianity where it's all about the suffering and the agony.

Newsnight mentioned in passing that John Cryer had tabled an Early Day Motion about them, I found this and this.

The charmless bigots also, of course, don't like the queer community. I'm not hugely cheered by the news the government plans to make homophobic abuse a criminal offense. I am lucky, it's never been a huge problem for me and it's on that scale from annoying to life-threatening, but legislating against verbal offense seems dodgy to me, obviously, to use the religious offense angle, Nick Griffin isn't open to a reasoned debate on his views about Muslims, there is no-one that could persuade him to change his views, but he will quite happily go to court and be prosecuted when that law comes in. It's a law that allows the Government to pretend they are addressing the problem because it's a longer struggle and more effort to address the underlying social problems that lead to rascist or homophobic behaviour. This will do nothing to stop the jerk who stops me in the street.

In better news, Government puts off ID cards scheme until next Parliament. Lack of time plus big anti-ID Card Conservative majority in the Lords apparently. So the House of Lords is in favour of personal freedom unless you wish to express that by getting jiggy with someone of the same sex.

Now, what is Ken Livingstone doing, has someone been spiking his food with extra testosterone or something? Livingstone tries to defuse row with the Board of Deputies and other self-appointed moral guardians by renewing claims that Ariel Sharon is a 'war criminal' and the state of Israel engages in 'ethnic cleansing'. It's as though he is out to offend the Jewish community by whatever means necessary and after only the usual suspects like Melanie Phillips or Henry Grunwald rose to his bait last time he's raising the bar. What's next, throwing pigs out of a plane flying over Golders Green?

A whole can of 'what the fuck?!' has been opened in Pakistan. Boy gets sodomised. Sister gets charged with 'contempt' for not accepting how the village council deals with it and is sentenced to be gang-raped by six men. She manages to take them to court and they get sentenced to death. Now five of them go free on appeal. I'm not saying they should be executed but this is fucked up...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

I'm really not sure, watching the trailer for the new version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it looks like a bit of a ghastly mistake. C&tCF was one of Roald Dahl's least disturbing books too, so I'm not sure where Tim Burton can go with this, although the words 'Christopher Lee as Dr. Wilbur Wonka' should strike fear into the hearts of purists everywhere.

And, as we weren't talking about IMDB, can I just share with you the review of The Royal Tenenbaums by someone I want to hurt?

...The movie has some scenes that would be very serious in a normal film, but as a comedy, it's all taken very lightly. The characters are all miserable, one has a drug problem, and another is on the verge of suicide. But they get wacky jokes out of the tragedy that occurs, and Wes Anderson is the one who proves that it's possible to make sadness happy at the same time...

The UK Weather Flickr group, for if you want pretty pictures of cumulo nimbus and all that stuff.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

BBC Governors are latest victims of the Hutton Inquiry. Whilst the Governors in their current role probably are a bad idea, my blood runs cold at the notion of [A] new trust established to "speak up" for the licence fee payer. Who decides who sits on these? And as I've just been spending the afternoon listening to a radio 4 drama from a few weeks back about Mary Whitehouse trying to prosecute a theatre production in the early eighties for obscenity, I'm worried about the keys to the kingdom being given either to another Government quango (although the Governors were already Government appointed) or to an interest group like the National Viewers and Listeners Association.

Schoolgirl wins right to wear Muslim gown to school.

A spokesman for Denbigh High School, where 79% of pupils are Muslims, defended its uniform policy which he said took into account cultural and religious sensitivities... The case had been lost due to a "small, technical breach" of the Human Rights Act, the spokesman added.

That 'small, technical breach' being that the school was in the wrong.

Spiderman's greatest bible stories!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

US administration reaffirms commitment to values of bigotry, homophobia and restricting women's freedom.

The Bush administration was accused yesterday of... demanding that the UN publicly renounce abortion rights.

The UN's commission on the status of women had drafted a brief declaration reaffirming support for the Beijing declaration, and calling for further effort to implement its recommendations. Organisers had hoped that informal discussions last week would reach a consensus on the draft... But those hopes were crushed in a closed-door session late last week when Washington demanded the declaration reaffirm its support for the declarations made in Beijing 10 years ago only if "they do not include the right to abortion", says a copy of the US text obtained by the Guardian.

The chief of the US delegation, Sichan Siv, went on to tell his counterparts that Washington opposed the ratification of the international treaty on women's equality, as well as resolutions that would "place emphasis on 'rights' that not all member states accept, such as so-called 'sexual rights'."
(My emphasis)

It's them and the Vatican against the rest of the UN at the moment, it's the US and an organisation even more bureaucratic and unaccountable than the UN taking a stand on wanting to lead up back to the nineteenth century.

Two-thirds of the [UK] public want to have a say in how the country is run, but only 27% feel that they do have a say, [a survey] shows.

The Campaign to Restore Enterprise to Tv (I think they're Nuts) reports fundraising success. Enterprise series four starts here next week. I do tend to feel that even if it is all our Christmasses come at once, if it's some seventy episodes in before script-writers start giving most of the crew characters then the show deserves to die. And some of this production team have been at this since the mid-eighties, when Next Gen was first mooted. The franchise needs to pause, take a breath, then come back with something that doesn't suck.

US schools suck, apparently. And not just the ones that teach Christian theology in their biology classes. What little I know about the US system I learnt from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and skeptical books, but most of what is happening in US schools three years ago is happening in UK schools now. Beyond the extreme basics of reading and writing education for me was somewhere I went to every day and a nugget of information sometimes slipped in to my brain. Government minister Ruth Kelly insists we're going to keep the current system of GCSEs and A Levels, but I do wonder how useful any of these various tests, SATs, GCSEs, A Levels, are to you, other than as a way for another educational institution to decide whether it's worth them offering you a place. When I left school it was still offering GCSEs in Latin! As Eddie Izzard said, "At an airport you're not likely to be able to say 'Spechen zie Latin?'"

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