Thursday, 31 December 2009

Worst. Fanboyism. Evar.

Just checked out the Graun's 'verdict' on The End of Time. A reasonable enough piece, even if he hadn't been paying attention to why Wilf doesn't get all Masterised (the control thingummy's all shielded, the Doctor did say, you know) and doesn't think much of the Ood. But the comments, oh the comments.

Admittedly it's about 50-50, but check out some of this shit:


I mean, OK, 'Books of Saxon' not a great start. But worst ever? Let's run down a few excerpts from the list of Doctor Who Crimes Against Suspension of Disbelief shall we?

Exhibit A:
The King's Demons
The charges:
1) This serial did wilfully possess a plot as follows: the Master tries to delay the signing of Magna Carta. A bit.
2) This serial did knowingly and with malice aforethought introduce Kamelion, the single dullest character in the history of science fiction into the show, thus requiring the writers to have to try and find something to do with him in other stories.

Exhibit B:
Fear Her
The charges:
1) Awful. Just awful.
2) 'It's a symbol of love!' No it isn't. It's a stick on fire.

Exhibit C:
Arc of Infinity
The charges:
1) The serial fails to make it clear whther there is an actual plot, or whether the crew got to Amsterdam, went to a cafe and then just started filming whatever seemed kind of groovy at the time.
2) The robot chicken thing. What the fuck is that?
3) So this bloke you met in a youth hostel tells you he's got this great place to stay, leads you to an underground crypt where no one will find you and then tries to get in your sleeping bag. Is there not a point at which this should sound creepy to you?

Exhibit D:
The Shakespeare Code
The charges:
1) Unbearable smugness in the form of a running gag about Shakespeare lines. We get it - you take your kids round National Trust properties and regularly hold dinner parties. Well done. You're very cultured. Quentin Letts would approve.
2) The number thing. Just what was that all about?

Time Flight
The charges:
1) The Master spends most of episode one talking to himself in a borderline racist disguise for reasons never made clear.
2) Tegan.

Exhibit E:
Horns of Nimon
I don't really have to explain, do I? Still, just in case:


So, in conclusion, The End of Time was not the worst episode ever. In fact, it was quite good. And I thought the 'Master Race' gag was good. So there.

N.B. other DW crimes include: Myrka, the Leisure Hive scarf-murder, and of course Talons of Weng Chi'ang's somewhat suspect Chinaman. Feel free to add your own in the comments...

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Upcoming Events

Hi, sorry it's just another list of stuff that's happening. I'd say it's just being very busy with other things at the moment, which it partly is, but also I just don't seem to be on top of my game at the moment. Still, the Darwin meeting is one I'm doing, so I'll post my musings on that, whatever they're worth, afterwards. No, I really will this time.

Anyway, here's some upcoming stuff. Click for a bigger.*

*Is it just me or does that sound like the header for an email that your spam filter would automatically delete? Have my standards always been this low?

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Right to Work


Stop Climate Change - Demo in London and Copenhagen


Troops out of Afghanistan - Stop the War Meeting

“All the troops should come home. There are no grey areas here—this is black and white. The more coffins that come back the worse it gets.”


Should've put this up earlier, but I've had some tech problems recently I'm afraid, so there's going to be a few of these announcements all in one go. Sorry about that.

Joe Glenton
's mother, Sue Glenton, is confirmed as the headline speaker. Should be a large, successful meeting and I'd urge you to come along.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

It's symbolic of his struggle against reality...

Cannabis. A psychotropic substance whose widespread usage as a recreational drug and as pain relief with not a single recorded fatality has led to its being classified as a Class B substance. The ACMD's last advice to the government on the matter was famously to keep it downgraded to Class C.

From all the evidence we can conclude that if cannabis has to be criminalised at all, it should be on the lowest classification. But that's just the evidence from medical and social harm, and that's not as important as blind prejudice, is it?

A Home Office spokesman said: "The home secretary expressed surprise and disappointment over Professor Nutt's comments which damage efforts to give the public clear messages about the dangers of drugs."

Good point. For the sake of clarity: drug policy is not about how much harm it does to users or can be measured in terms of social harm. It's about how angry Epic Fail readers can get. Drug policy has nothing to do with good public policy.

For me, nothing epitomises New Labour's belief that actual facts should be trumped by middle England's brain-froth as much as its drug policy. They are dangerous ideologues, sure: prosecuting imperialist wars, forcing the free market into the public sector, defending to the hilt the capitalist class of the City. But with drugs, once again we have a simple case of: evidence says this, policy is the opposite solely in order, as far as I can work out, to appease the sentiments of a constituency that lives in Paul Dacre's head.

Twunts.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Bwahahahahahahahaaaaaaa*

*Like an ordinary Hahahahahaaa, but evilerer. Cos it's Hallowe'en!

Anyways for anyone not a regular Sadlynaut, check out this batshit insane anti-Hallowe'en rant. Anti-genius strikes again.

Free sample:

The word "occult" means "secret." The danger of Halloween is not in the scary things we see but in the secret, wicked, cruel activities that go on behind the scenes. These activities include:


· Sex with demons
· Orgies between animals and humans
· Animal and human sacrifices
· Sacrificing babies to shed innocent blood
· Rape and molestation of adults, children and babies
· Revel nights
· Conjuring of demons and casting of spells
· Release of "time-released" curses against the innocent and the ignorant.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Umm, Hi.

I wonder where that charming young man's got to, you've been thinking. Without those mots justes, my day is simply not complete.

Well, sorry for not calling. I've been out a lot recently you see.

Doing what? Well, I'll tell you.

Firstly I've been working a lot of hours, which has a funny way of leaving you knackered.
Secondly I've been going to quite a lot of meetings recently (see previous posts). Last week I went down onto a picket as well, which was a great experience. If you've never been before (none of my previous employers have been enthusiastic about the concept of unions), you definitely should. It's a great chance to see the strike from the striker's point of view, you can offer a bit of moral and, if you've been passing the bucket round at work maybe financial, support; and it reminds you that whatever the BBC says is largely false - particularly this stitch-up job right here. Instead of all that, go here, or here, or here (and particularly this). Or just talk to your postie. As one guy said to us on Friday, the bosses think the customers are the corporate clients, but for posties it's all about the average person in their houses and flats. So why not pass the time of day with them when you see 'em?

The only upside is that it turns out Amazon haven't permanently cancelled their RM contract, so one day we may be able to speak again. In the words of an animated moose in an altogether different context, "now our consciences are clear and the healing can begin." Except for the conscience bit of course.

Then there was some personal stuff, which need not delay us here, and a bloody awful cold to round it off nicely.

In the meantime, we've had a Nazi on telly, which at least thoroughly vindicated the case for no platform.*

We've had the frankly bizarre idea that a war criminal would be a good symbol of the EU. Not that member nations don't have their fair share of guilt in that regard of course, it's just unusual to use barbarity as your actual mascot. It's all a bit, you know, urgh. Thank the lords that's all over.

We've had the Tories unveil stupid and vicious policies clearly aimed at launching a major assault on the concept of public service itself. Nothing new there of course, but the scale of some plans is quite breathtaking. And they're going to be in power next year apparently.

Then the Mail had it's own Sachsgate, where widespread public outrage caused heads to roll at the highest level, sorry, I mean, the chair of the PCC's ethics committee, Paul Dacre, must have had to make some tough decisions over what action to take in the face of an unprecedented 25,000 complaints. Inaction was almost certainly the right ethical choice to make.

On the upside, there's been some good films out recently, I've got a talk coming up on Marx and Darwin that I hope should be reasonably interesting to anyone somewhat interested, and however debased and ridiculous our political discourse gets** at least there's always Americans.

Now I'm off to watch Generation Kill and listen to the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.

What?

------------------------------------
*My favourite piece of shameless dishonesty by the way was 'I have not got a conviction for holocaust denial.' Quite right Nick, your conviction is for incitement to racial hatred, which shows you in a much better light.

**I'm thinking particularly of the now legendary HYSer who apparently unironically compared Nick Griffin to Atticus Finch. If there is such a thing as anti-genius, this is surely it.

Friday, 16 October 2009

CWU, Royal Mail and Policy Exchange

I was at this meeting last night when the news that the Royal Mail's entirely unsurprising document of evil had become public came through (and well done the Mirror, btw).*

Now, the SW this week has 5 good reasons you should support the strike anyway, but apart from that, the speakers and posties who were there had plenty of tales to tell: full-timers being replaced with part-timers or just not at all; bullying management; complete lack of interest from the bosses in adhering to the code that they agreed to after the last round of industrial action; bosses scabbing above and beyond their own union's advice...

So anyway I used the mighty iPlayer to catch up on the Newsnight breaking of the story. Just a couple of things:
  • Did they really just show the Battle of Orgreave footage backwards AGAIN?
  • All things considered, Labour MP not as despicable as she could've been. Hard to tell if that's just because her constituency's got a sorting office and the fact that there's also clips of the Prince of Darkness making her look better by default, of course. Having said that, flannelling over what the word 'shareholder' might mean in a wholly government-owned business was a bit pathetic.
  • LET BILLY HAYES SPEAK, you twat. You didn't interrupt the bloke from Policy Exchange, did you? Which brings me neatly on to...
  • Policy Exchange android Neil O'Brien is a cunt. And is either astoundingly ignorant or brazenly disingenuous at that. Actually, if you'd bothered to speak to the CWU you'd have found out that the CWU want 'modernisation'. What they want is to be a part of the process of updating the service so that it can be brought forward as a public service, not some privatised husk. Repeat after me: competition will only undermine a public service if policy makers let it. The free market is not natural, it is ideological. Now fuck off.

Sorry, but I really am quite angry about this. Support the strikes next week, in any way you can. Remember, as SW put it: a victory for them is a victory for all of us.

*Sample text:

A new relationship with our people is non-negotiable and will happen anyway, with or without union agreement.


Nice.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Snide Post

In which your protagonist lowers himself to taking the piss out of dim work colleagues for no other reason than petty vindictiveness.

Think less of me if you want/it's possible, but it was all I could do not to laugh. And besides, no names, no pack drill.

In the middle of a tedious conflict escalation regarding something that may or may not have been said about one colleague by another:

'I wish I'd been there, I would've ripped her head off. Cos I hate it when people are nasty to each other.'

Look, you've got to take your chuckles where you can find 'em OK?

Alright, alright, I'm sorry. I won't do it again.

Not unless it's very funny, anyway.

Luke Haines! LUKE HAINES!!

Seems to be doing a bit of a tour at the mo. To anyone who's missed this and is actually Tyneside resident, don't get wrecked at home, Christ, come see the best artist and be starstruck. How could I be wrong?

[/coat]

He's at the Cluny anyway. Friday 6th November. Tickets £7.

He's also got a brand new double album coming out - I'm genuinely, seat-squirmingly excited.*

*But I have to write it like I'm being sarcastic so I don't ruin my dead-cool image. Phew, that was close.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Time to Boycott Amazon Then.

Bugger. They're so convenient, and cheap, too. Still, scabs.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Nazis on TV? Fuck Off!

Last week we found out that both the BBC and the government feel that it's perfectly acceptable to put Nazis on TV now. There's going to be a protest at the Beeb's Newcastle HQ on the 22nd and we're aiming to make it as big as possible. If you can get there, do. 5.30 Thursday the 22nd October.

And why not come along to this afterwards?

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Literary Parallels

Spotted at work:

Spotted in So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish:
'... the words that finally turned me into the hermit I have now become. It was quite sudden. I saw them, and I knew what I had to do.'
The sign said:
Hold stick near centre of its length. Moisten pointed end in mouth. Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum. Use gentle in-out motion.
'It seemed to me,' said Wonko the Sane, 'that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for use in a packet of toothpicks, was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane.'
Edit:
It occurs to me that I've been carrying this around in my wallet for many years now*, for very similar reasons to the above. Funny really, the way some things become so familiar you forget they're there. See what you think: harbinger of the apocalypse or proof of the Hitch Hiker theory about the meaning of the universe?

*since I liberated it from my keyboard when I worked selling mortgages at a certain well-known North East based bank whose long-term plans for profitability were not, it turns out, as thoroughly contemplated as their health and safety advice.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Come Back ITV, All is Forgiven

I take back everything I've ever said about ITV. This adaptation of Wuthering Heights is just awesome. I urge you to watch it.

Left Unity Planning Meeting


Thinky Thunk Mittens Need to be Compulsory

As I'm sure you know, everyone's favourite Stone Roses cover band split over the weekend. Just check out this story about it on the Beeb though. Christ.*
MattGriffin added: "This is the worst day ever."
Is it really though, Matt? Is it REALLY? Reeeeaaaaaaalllllllly? Reeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyy? Rrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? Is it? Are you sure? Are you sure it's the worst day ever? Are you? Have you really thought about it? Given it a good little ponder have you? Considered some alternatives? Sure?

No, OK, that's fine. Just checking.

Thinky. Thunk. Mittens.

*And my tolerance levels are quite high, given that I had to listen to Kings of Leon and their dimwitted singer last night. At one point he actually said 'I knew this gig was either going to be amazing, or, not amazing.' Idiot.

The Circle is Now Complete.


Murdoch


Skywalker

Reading the Graun's account of Murdoch's mind-bogglingly dumb speech just now (h/t: septicisle) I was reminded of someone else I once wrote about - everyone's favourite bonkers ethics committee chair, Paul 'can't understand why a broadcasting company employs more people than a newspaper' Dacre.

Of course, because of who he is, everyone now has to pretend that this
"Funded by a hypothecated tax, the BBC feels empowered to offer something for everyone, even in areas well served by the market. The scope of its activities and ambitions is chilling."
makes any kind of sense whatsoever. In the same way that during the 90s portions of the Labour Party tried to convince themselves that 'third way' and 'stakeholder society' had content. Presumably people in the Murdoch camp/empire/bunker will be trying to avoid thinking sentences like 'doesn't that just mean that because it's a public service it thinks it should serve the whole public?'

Actually James, let's have a look at the scope of the Beeb's ambitions for a moment, shall we?*

sustaining citizenship and civil society; promoting education and learning; stimulating creativity and cultural excellence; representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities; bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK' and helping to take a lead in the switchover to digital TV along with 'helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging technologies and services

Bloody hell, did it just get cold in here? It feels like a sharp north wind just cut through me. Brrr.

The similarity between Dacre and Murdoch's absurd rhetoric is of course exactly what you'd expect from capital, and especially powerful media capital in the run-up to an election. After all, the Beeb's got Doctor Who, and Sky One has... a Blake's 7 'reimagineering' coming up. You'll notice that he spends the other half of his speech slagging off Ofcom. Regulation and Competition's a bitch, isn't it Murdoch, you hypocritical bastard.

You know, I think my favourite gag in all this is the idea that the Murdoch family believes in free competition or any of the rest of that hackneyed capitalist rhetoric**.

Maybe I'm wrong though. Maybe there really wasn't anyone else capable of taking over the UK part of the empire other than the owner's son. Weird coincidences like that happen all the time. All the time. Look at Cuba for example. Or North Korea.

*This is something else that really annoys me. It isn't exactly difficult to find out what the BBC wants to do. As a public body, its mission statement can be found with a simple Google search. I have no delusions of journalistic competence, yet this bullshit doesn't exactly require Woodward and Bernstein to get, you know? Just how thick do these scumbags think we are?

**And the delicious irony that it's only being wheeled out in an attempt to castrate a successful competitor.

On the Benefits of Matey Bubble Bath



Leeds was nice, since you asked. Got quite lucky this year, as the bar I was working on was one of the ones in the main arena, so I got to see the headliners three nights in a row, with a good view and no one filling up a cup with piss next to me. And the way the shifts worked out I was off for both Bloc Party and Radiohead, who were both ace.

In a moment of reflection on the way that my life and opportunities don't quite match up to my childhood dreams, I realised that although Kelly from Bloc Party got to say 'cue Radiohead' to 10,000 fans, I'm probably never going to be in that position. The 'head were awesome though. Never seen them live before, so I was always jealous of my ex, who'd seen them do their Big Top tour years ago.

Anyway, Matey bubble bath. The staff showers were bloody awful this year you see, alternating between 'water hot, but coming out so slowly it might well evaporate before you can catch it' and 'water pressure fine, but temperature so cold it's like that scene from If...'.* So somewhere to fulfil the three vital functions of sitting down, getting clean and making little houses out of giant clouds of bubbles has been very welcome. Thank you Matey, you cheeky little plastic sailor you.

*No, not that one. The one where Malcom McDowell has to take a very cold shower. Actually, although there were lots of things that were well organised, there were enough gripes this year to make me feel almost as low down the food chain as the actual paying customers. Urgh.

That's Well Coincimental, Yeah?

Just been reading Tony Benn's diaries on the way back from Leeds, and since it ties in nicely with my amusingly mental YouTube commenter, I present this from 5th March 1996 without further comment.

I had a leaflet sent to me, published by the British National Party, denouncing the fact that Merton Council has approved planning permission for a mosque in Morden. On the back of it was written, 'Rat Benn - Here it is spelled out - you are part of a treason on your own race and people for the Jew Communists - one world mongrels.' Well the idea that Jewish Communists would be demanding mosques is a bit absurd; but the way in which the fascist movement does appear from time to time is interesting.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Brilliant Headlines, Vol 19

Just before I head off for a long weekend of cramp and sleeplessness, spotted this on the BBC website:

Actor Neeson becomes US citizen but is still a "proud Irishman"

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Traitor

Is it just me who's annoyed at xkcd giving away trade secrets? Now I'll no longer appear to pc-phobic fules as the almighty tech god I pretend to be.

Bastard.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

This isn't the piece on Marx and Religion, as I'm still putting the finishing touches to it. Not that it's a masterpiece you understand, just that I want to get it right and I've been a bit short of blogging time recently. I'll try and get it out tomorrow night but if not I'm off to Leeds so won't be able to post it until Mon or Tues. Try not to salivate too much in anticipation chaps, it'll be up here eventually.

In the mean time, last week was A Very Bad Week, on several levels (none of which, unfortunately, are bloggable). So I was quite down until I found that I have a personal troll, suitable for Speak You're bRanes levels of moronity. Cheered me right up. And on the off-chance that any of you could do with a chucklesome diversion, I reprint the episode in full.

It started on that bastion of intellectual standards, YouTube. A while back I put up a vid that gently mocked Peter Davies, the new mayor of Doncaster, with the vicious and underhand technique of 'using his own words, in context'. This made someone on YouTube irate, as they put it in the comments:

I know have the pleasure of Knowing Peter Davies, For gods sake don't fall for the propaganda about him, he is a decent guy, wants the best for Doncaster. Hell knows we need it!

Tell me, what do you actually know about him?


He also commented on my profile with:

Just a troll channel to fan the flames.......LOSER!

Which I thought was quite funny, but more stupid. So, from my mighty jet-propelled throne hovering far above the Earth (whence I usually solve mankind), I issued this missive:

Actually Toby's point was that Davies hadn't actually bothered checking on basic parts of his manifesto. Which made him look like an idiot.

He clearly isn't a decent guy if he's trying to cut democratic representation and translation services, by the way. That's the mark of an arse.

P.S. trolling an old vid then throwing a tantrum if you don't get an immediate reply makes you sound a bit dim. Losing control of caps lock just confirms it.

Now fuck off, there's a good chap.


There was quiet for a while after that. But last week, when it looked like my life was heading down the pan faster than a Curry Hell from the Curry Capital, Bigg Market, Newcastle upon Tyne, I received this via PM. It doesn't look like the same user, but who knows?

I know I'm just mocking the afflicted here, but it is, in its own way, a work of art. Look upon anonymous' work, ye mighty, and despair...

Idiot
You're the cretin. I bet you're eating your words after Peter Davies' interview with Jeremy Vine on Radio 2. You're a useless bunch of morons and your days are numbered and YOU KNOW IT. YOU POLITICALLY CORRECT MORONOCRACY ARE THE VERMIN OF THIS COUNTRY. Well; you're on your way out FAST. You have no place to hide. And when we gain power and bring back the Treason Act, people like you will PAY.

As for racists; the pc brigade are the biggest racists of all with your mealy mouthed, punitive. self serving, self appointed moral guardianship of minorities. Even the minorities hate you for singling them out and making them DIFFERENT.

But your heads are all too far up your own arses to see it.

Get over it, get real and understand NOBODY IS LISTENING TO YOU EXCEPT YOURSELVES!
Sublime.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Peter Mandelson: 'I'm just a pussycat.'

No, you're a cunt.

Friday, 7 August 2009

'He'll die in his bed on a summer's night with his hands on his adequate bride.'

I've been listening to Future of the Left's new album pretty well non-stop for the last three days now.

It's really good. There's a good interview with Falco here, although my favourite was in Art Rocker a while ago. Sample quote: 'I'm not the best Christian in the world. I'm not even a Christian.'

Anyway, this is just a plug for them really. Couldn't find anything on Last.fm unfortunately, but here's a poorly recorded version of album opener 'Arming Eritrea'



As you were.

Edit: oh, they're so old skool they have a MySpace! There's some music on there. Check out 'lapsed catholics' and 'drink nike' particularly, but it's all good.

Build Your Brand, Vol 1

I've had some temp work this week, and couldn't help notice the gargantuan cider ads near St James' Park.

In giant letters we are informed

BEHIND HERE, MEN EARN THEIR BOWTIME


Now, brand identity is important. Positioning yourself in the mind of the consumer is vital. Their aspirations must be your product, and it's vitally important that you get the right people to be doing the aspiring.

Strongbow: The drink of choice for those who earn their living sucking off tramps for pennies behind advertising hoardings.

I'm off for a pint or two right now. And then some Strongbow.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Comments

I'll get to the talk I did on Marxism and Religion in a moment/couple of days depending on when I get a moment. In the meantime, apparently I'm still having problems with people who want to leave comments.

Since I can't stand the thought of talking to myself depriving you of your input, I've made a couple of arbitrary changes in the hope that it'll solve whatever tizz Blogger's got itself into.

I'd appreciate someone doing a random comment on this post if they can and if there's a prob a quick line dropped to yonville.medic@gmail.com would be appreciated too. There may won't be a prize in it for you.

Cheers!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Woo Hoo! Finally, Power Without Responsibility, I Have Defeated You!

It's been a long time coming. First seen in a second-hand bookshop some years ago, I snatched it away from my closest friend, who had also seen it and was beginning to get the same look in his eye that Gollum would get in a branch of H. Samuel.

A big fan of Chomsky and Herman's Manufacturing Consent, I knew of the book's existence of course. And now I could have it, my precious!

So it lay on my reading pile for several years. Often started, always abandoned for some flirty little novel that would grab my attention with its characterisation, storyline, or sometimes just powerful collections of adjectives.

I'm very glad I've finally read it, because it is fascinating. Also dense, academic and lacking in explosions. What lessons can we draw from it? Well, Seaton and Curran have some specific prescriptions for how to fix the media, which I will have to have a bit of a think about before I decide what I agree with and what I don't, because it's complicated and my brane hertz.

The key takeaway so far is a point so obvious that I'd never seen it: the press, inevitably right wing because of the capital required to launch them and their primary function of delivering audiences to advertisers, have largely escaped any form of regulation apart from fig leaves like the PCC. In the world of broadcasting however we have a huge and tangled history of regulation: what we watch and hear is far more closely interfered with than what we read. Isn't that a curious thing?

Charlie Brooker, in one of his Newswipes a while back pointed out that newspapers emphasise comment and features more and more these days, as people use the internet* for their ackshul facts. Curran and Seaton point out that this was true long before the internet came along - people used TV and radio as the predominant source of news. Papers have been in a long-term decline for decades, as is well known. Interwebicals seems to have accelerated the process somewhat; and will probably supercede them in their few remaining functions quite shortly, seeing as how blogging can provide all the ill-informed, hastily written and unfair comentary you could possibly want at an infinitely small fraction of the cost.

And yet, as the pressures on the press force it to become ever more a vehicle for narratives ('news' cycles) based loosely on real life events** circulation of the press is still high - the Mail gets 2.2m, the Mirror 1.3m and the Star is the only national to actually show a year on year increase. And then there's the increasing web presence of these titles. I know, for example, that the Graun is a regular stop-off for me online.

The fact that the only watchdog of the press is the PCC is astonishing. Why doesn't Ofcom have anything to do with the press? Why is the head of the PCC's ethics committee Paul Dacre? Why, if there is at least one god, is their favourite song clearly Alanis Morissette's Ironic?

When I've had a chance to have a bit of a think about this, I think I'll try to come up with some actual answers. They will probably involve lots of quoting from Curran and Seaton. In the meantime, I'm going to start Rainer Ganahl's The Misery of Reading Karl Marx.

-------------------------------------------------------------------
*in fact, rather sweetly, the book is so old that they call it 'the Internet'. Remember when people used to capitalise it? Those were the days. There was a heatwave every summer and you could buy a quarter of humbugs and still have change from sixpence....

**you know the sort of thing.

Much Belated Vestas Post

Should've done this last week, but didn't seem to have a minute. And the weekend... well, least said soonest mended there.

So anyways, the Vestas occupation has had a fair bit of media coverage so you're probably aware that some workers from the UK's only sizeable wind turbine plant have occupied the factory in an attempt to save their jobs, amongst other things.

It's an issue that seems to resonate with a lot of people. The lunacy of exporting a wind turbine plant to the US just at the point when people have finally begun to be persuaded of the urgency of the climate problem seems so incredibly stark; the thuggish behaviour of the management (trying to starve out the workers); the unbelievable callousness of the way they tried to fire the workers in the first place:

We were given a piece of pizza, an apple and a can of drink tonight but then noticed there were letters there as well telling us we were being dismissed.
Then there's the longevity of the sit-in, over 2 weeks now, and the scale of demands of the workers - like nationalisation. There's even the -whisper it- feeling that it's possible to get some kind of victory out of this one*.

I did a paper sale/petition/come to a meeting thing in Northumberland St on Thursday with some comrades and we got a lot of support: lots of papers, lots of names on petition sheets. We had a meeting about it the next night and we were addressed by a couple of speakers, one a party comrade who has been helping the occupation directly. I know it's possible to get carried away in situations like this, but if you can't get excited when workers seize control of the means of production and start to scare the bosses like this, then what are you doing on the left? Eh? Eh? It's literally the least you can do.**

P.S. Check out this statement from the workers (teaser trailer below).

Now I’m not sure about you but we think it’s about time that if the government can spends billions bailing out the banks – and even nationalise them – then surely they can do the same at Vestas.

The people of Vestas matter, and the people of the island matter, but equally importantly the people of this planet matter. We will not be brushed under the carpet by a government which is claiming to help us.

We have occupied our factory and call on the government to step in and nationalise it. We and many others believe it is essential that we continue to keep our factory open for our families and livelihoods, but also for the future of the planet.


-----------------------------------------------------
*Please note, chances of winning may go down as well as up.

**And believe me, I am an expert on the absolute least you can do. Or rather I can do. Not on purpose, just through lack of organisation, sci-fi addiction and also some degree of laziness.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Sarah Sze - Tilting Planet

This is a sort of art review piece. Feel free to ignore it, and I'll not hold it against you. You won't make 'the list,' I promise. Probably. Hey, it's your choice.

If you're already familiar with Sarah Sze and her work, congratulations. If not, then you're like me before yesterday afternoon, when I stumbled on her Tilting Planet installation at BALTIC.*

I'd dropped in on my way home, as I'd been meaning to see A Duck for Mr Darwin for a while - an exhibition themed loosely around ideas of nature and evolution to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin . I wasn't terribly impressed by most of it though**, but then I stumbled on (in the sense of went upstairs to) Tilting Planet.***

How best to describe it? It's difficult. It's a huge, intricately constructed sculpture, or possibly interconnected set of sculptures/constructions built from everyday and 'found' objects. Dowelling, leaves, twine, matchboxes, drawing pins, Evian bottles, desk lamps and oddly large number of miniature water features amongst much else. Photography is verboten, natch, so I couldn't take this to help illustrate the description. You'll just have to rely on my magnificent prose.
As you can't see, it's a sprawling piece, and as you probably really can't see, it's demarcated by wool and trails of carefully placed small white boxes and blue pushpins. You wander around very much inside it, because the whole space effectively is the sculpture and there is no simple line between artwork and audience.

Frankly, it's far too intricate and large for any one photo to convey properly. So I've decided to comment on it by juxtaposing some of Robert Blackson's commentary in the complementary guide-type thing with my own reactions to it.

Blackson says

our path becomes integral to our experience. Initially, one might feel adrift in her doodles with consumables, however we are soon guided by Sze's spatial compositions that appear like the scaffolding of air currents


What is interesting is that my experience differed in several respects. Certainly when I entered the space I was a little disoriented, but I did not feel guided at all - rather I was acutely aware of being in an environment that possessed a kind of passive hostility.

Perhaps what I mean by this can be best illustrated by looking at another of Blackson's descriptions:

Sze is, in essence, cobbling a fragile ecosystem that is dependent on a balance between the ephemeral and relational.

One thing that this installation categorically is not, is an ecosystem. It is absolutely without dynamism, there are no actors in it. Everything is interconnected and finely balanced, but that results in an intensely complex yet fragile work: it has none of the dynamism and adaptability of an ecosystem. Ducking under lines of wool and stepping over bottles you are aware of just how easy it would be to destroy the entire work. And with any upset to the layout or position of components, the whole would be disturbed. You could argue that rearranging the elements produces a new work, but for me the experience of the artwork was defined by the complexity created by an intelligent designer, and disturbing that sense of order would destroy its value. This is unlike the biological world in every important respect.

There is an undeniable artfulness in the way everything is put together. Bigger pieces and smaller pieces alike turn out to have been constructed carefully, from the arrangement of the upturned pushpins that at first look almost casually spilt along the floor; to the upended desk fan whose rotation affects a miniature water feature in half an Evian bottle. It's why I disagree with Blackson again when he says

The kinship we share with these everyday objects dissolves the public experience into a series of private associations


- because I don't think there is a sense of kinship to these objects: they are clearly part of some other, greater whole and I didn't look at the pushpins and see notice boards, or the matchboxes and think of smoky pubs. It was the patterns they made in the space of the installation that struck me.

It may sound, to any cynical sods out there, like the most pretentious aspects of modern art, but I think it is saved by not having any pretentions. I don't think the work is supposed to be speaking to us, but rather simply to be marvellous.

And I do mean marvellous. Whilst I went in out of mild curiosity I soon found myself fascinated by the delicacy and complexity of construction. I also found myself gingerly negotiating it as I moved from piece to piece within the room. This is where the sense of passive hostility comes in: I was acutely aware of how easy it would be for me to - quite accidentally - destroy the work. A trip or simply not noticing some piece of dowelling amongst the jungle could irrevocably alter the setup and cascade disorder amongst the intricate structures.

It was hostile simply by being there and being what it was, and I found myself again and again marvelling at strange little expressions of this, such as the water feature hidden under a pile of blank lined paper, or the dozens of small rolled pieces of paper defying gravity under a dowelling construction. Delicate, fragile, so easily destroyed and yet somehow because of this, defiant.

I left with a huge grin on my face. Go see it, it's ... well ... marvellous.

-------------------------------------------------------------
*They insist on spelling it that way, for reasons best known for themselves. To me it just feels as though the whole gallery's a child in a huff SHOUTING to get ATTENTION, but it's their call I suppose.

**Actually it's a bit more complicated than that, as Dr Ben likes to say, but I'll get to that at another time.

***This entry is likely to be worryingly full of italics. Also blockquotes. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Updated for clarity and diction. Also to expand on some stuff a bit.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Trivial Aside on the PCC

Anton Vowl's got a very good post on the PCC. There's been a fair bit on the ol' blogosphere recently about the PCC, as a whole new generation has discovered how bloody useless it is.

I just thought it was worth noting that Anton's suspicions that

You have to wonder, if someone makes the same kind of mistake again and again, whether it's down to sheer incompetence or not giving a flying one about the consequences. Consequences which in the case of the Pathetically Craven Commission mean a very nasty finger-wagging if you do something like ruining someone's life or completely misrepresenting them; or even a much sterner tut-tutting if you drive someone to suicide or destroy a dead person's memory.


are more than justified. The organisation is, as you would suspect from a body whose members are senior figures in the very industry they are supposed to be regulating, designed to be as ineffective an instrument of restraint as possible.

As any regular readers may know, my current quotable text of choice is the 1997 blockbuster Power Without Responsibility: The Press and Broadcasting in Britain*, and having ploughed through nearly all of it now, I thought I would once again share Seaton and Curran's words of wisdom with you.

[The PCC was] established in 1989. It was investigated four years later and found wanting by Sir David Calcutt who concluded:

The Press Complaints Commission is not, in my view, an effective regulator of the press. It has not been set up in a way, and is not operating a code of conduct, which enables it to command not only press but also public confidence ... It is not the truly independent body that it should be.

Following this report, the [PCC] duly appointed a new chairman and promised significant improvements. Once again, the cycle of public scrutiny and condemnation, followed by contrition and the promise of reform, was resumed. However, nothing much changed.
So, this was a problem known about over 15 years ago, long before Anton rightly fingered it as a 'cargo cult construction.'**

It's enough to make you tut really, isn't it?

-------------------------------------------------
*'A riproaring, adrenaline fuelled ride' - Maxim
'A comedy of errors as sublime as it is fuelled with white-knuckle suspense and ultra violence' - Christian Science Monitor
'I loved the bit where they discussed the abolition on taxes on the press, before his mother turned out to be one of the aliens.' - Chris Moyles
'Quite long.' - Christie Malry

**A case of Paul Dacre, he come, if you will. You won't? Please yourself then.

Geekiest In-Joke Ever

I've been introducing my new flatmate to the delights of Galactica recently. We were watching an episode where President Roslyn is about to succumb to her terminal cancer, and Adama is with her.

I just couldn't resist a quick "It's too bad she won't live. But then again, who does?"

I'll get me coat.

Gaff


Adama


Update: Vulgar Marxism says he doesn't get this gag. Here's the punchline, since I'm such a nice guy (and since my enigmatic picture link has stopped working)...


To switch universes a moment and quote Trillian, 'anything you still can't deal with is therefore your own problem'.

My Awesome Life, Vol 2

Rather than update properly, with actual writing and that, here's some recent-ish pics of My Awesome Life TM.
Mmm, Saltwell Park in Gateshead. It's won awards you know. For extreme parkiness. I likes it.

Did the walk from Whitley Bay to Tynemouth a little while back. It's ver' nice.
Actually saw the Millennium Bridge open! It's always nice to have the theory tested in practice, I suppose.

The Gay Pride march from last weekend.

The Ouseburn music festival. The band were called Beaks. You don't see enough cornet players in bird masks playing rock these days do you?
Just disturbing. I mean, I'm not religious myself, but this seems like convenience culture taken a step too far. Not to labour the obvious, but isn't praying something you do in your head? Who can't think up words in their head, but still feels the need to ask a deity for some form of assistance via the miracle of SMS? Is God like the Orange Wednesday 2-for-1 cinema ticket service? Text 'pray' and receive a plenary indulgence to go with your salvation?

Friday, 17 July 2009

Alreet?

Yes, I know, you've missed me.

It has been about a week, crikey me. I've been moving house, since you asked. I am now in the terror incognita north of the river, a first for me (at least in dwelling terms. I have actually been to Newcastle before. More than once, as it happens).

The week finds me unemployed, signing on, and being rained on, copiously. But it's not all bad news. I'm doing a Party meeting on Marxism and religion in a few weeks, so that should be fun. I'll post the substance of it post hoc, as a juicy morsel for you and to make myself feel vaguely like I've achieved something.

In the meantime, I'm watching Trainspotting on VHS (a film I've never managed to see all the way through and yet one I'm willing to take a format hit for) and luxuriating in the new pad. Yay, me.

Anyways, I'll try and blog on something more substantial shortly. Enough gushing about my personal life. I'm doing some paper sale at the gay pride march tha morra, so maybe I'll have something worthwhile to say about that. First time for everything etc etc...

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Viz News

Ah, you've got to love Viz...

This is from this month's Top Tips:

Monday, 6 July 2009

Torchwood Liveblogging #1

Fuck you, it's my damn blog.

Right so:
9:00 - ooh, sly ref to Greatest Show in the Galaxy there.

9:01 - damn, it's Pob.

9:02 - Yay it's Peter Capaldi!
- hmm, downloading something? Cyber Village of the Damned?

9:04 - sod Village of the Dmaned, all the doctors are Kaiser Chiefs clones...

9:08 - what's Friar Tuck doing in that uniform? Damn, that's not him is it? But it's his voice... Ohh, it's him from Jonathan Creek!

9:12 - no Martha? But I WANT Martha!

9:17 - OK, still kids, shrieking. Nicely creepy, if incredibly annoying.

9:19 - Could Pob be any more gormless?

9:28 - Reds under the bed? Grew up in America did he?

9:30 - Ooh, he's saying "yes, sir" but he's thinking "I'm going to take that iPod away from you and shove it up your cock"

9:42 - it's defo a bit x-files this, in't it?

9:54 - dammit, it's good this.

UPDATE:
In case you were wondering what happened to parts 2-5, I got so involved in it that I just couldn't bring myself to take the piss. So there.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Hahahaahaaaaa

From this week's Mitchell and Webb look.



Yes, yes, ducks in a duck-shaped barrel, but still...

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Oliver Letwin's Spent 8 Hours Down t'Rothschild, Graftin'

I was reminded of Letwin's defence of his second job the other day whilst tucking into some more Power Without Responsibility this morning. In a chapter on the introduction of ITV, it is mentioned that commercial broadcasting was

not brought about by public pressure, but by a small group within the ruling Conservative Party. It was opposed by bishops, vice-chancellors, peers, trade unions, the Labour Party, and most national newspapers. Reith compared the introduction ... with that of dog racing, smallpox, and bubonic plague.
(Curran and Seaton 1997:161)


But who were this group?

they were supported by the immense power of the great entertainment industries ... although a member of the group declared in the House of Commons that 'Any suggestion that the Bill was fostered by commercial interests is a complete figment of the imagination of the Party opposite', the speaker at the time was a director of varioius electronics firms who expected to profit out of an increase in the market for televisions. 'At what point', H.H. Wilson asked, 'were the members speaking as MPs representing their constituencies, and when were they speaking as directors, managers or employees of advertising agencies, market research organizations or radio and television manufacturers?'
(ibid.: 162)


As succinct an argument against MPs having second jobs since Mark Thomas' wheelie bin protest, there. But of course for Letwin this misses the point.

“Yes, I work eight hours a week, at £145 an hour, and if you multiply that out it comes to about £60,000.

“This eight hours a week I work with Rothschild compares to about 70 hours I work a week for my Parliamentary constituency. I think that spending 10 per cent of my time outside of politics, in a real job, is something that is useful as a Parliamentarian.”

Now, part of me would love to live in a world where £145 an hour is a 'real job' and of course so, I suspect, would a lot of other people.

I suppose it's fascinating because it's a reminder that for Tories there probably isn't a conflict of interest between directorships of companies and their role as MPs Their interests, after all, align perfectly.

Which isn't to say that watching their contortions over second jobs isn't grimly amusing. Letwin used to be a director for Rothschild, you see, but was forced at political gunpoint into 'quitting' because some people thought it might not look very good. Although not Letwin, whose words on the matter were:

"I have been shadow chancellor for three weeks. During that time it has become clear to me that I cannot continue with my work in the City.

"My commitment to the Conservative Party will always come first. I have therefore decided to relinquish my links with the City and to concentrate on winning the next election."


You see? He does get it really. He's obviously trying to just make it sound as though he doesn't have a clue.

Just what do they teach them at Eton, I wonder? Presumably not the definition of the word 'relinquish'. So in the spirit of public service journalism that in my wildest fantasies I pursue, here's something for you, Oliver.

re⋅lin⋅quish [ri-ling-kwish]
–verb (used with object)
1. to renounce or surrender (a possession, right, etc.): to relinquish the throne.
2. to give up; put aside or desist from: to relinquish a plan.
3. to let go; release: to relinquish one's hold.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Brilliant Headlines, Vol 18

Swine flu parties 'a bad idea'


Gosh, really?*



*For further information, see 'measles'.

Update: Heh.

GPs said they may as well pack up and go home as everyone seems happy to be treated by the fucking Daily Express.

Brilliant Headlines, Vol 17


Murray surprised by roof decision


I'd be fucking shocked, frankly.

Last Words on Famous Death

I just found this - the Beeb's obit unit produces a sum-up of notable deaths every month. Here's a sample.

Flossie Lane was reputed to be Britain's oldest pub landlord and her Herefordshire hostelry was certainly one of the country's more unusual establishments. The Sun Inn at Leintwardine was one of Britain's last remaining parlour pubs where drink was served in what was effectively Flossie's own front room. Born in the pub in 1914 she took the licence over in the 1930s and remained in charge until her death. The licence only permitted her to sell beer, so no spirits were available, although she did agree to sell wine in her later years to reflect the changing taste of her clients. Jeremy Paxman once described the pub as his discovery of the year. "Flossie, the landlady, sits in the middle of the room, wearing a pair of surgical stockings. The only food is a pot of eggs, which Flossie pickled several moons ago." Flossie, who suffered from agoraphobia, was never known to have left the pub throughout her time there. She was also teetotal.

Among others who died in June were pop superstar and eternal child, Michael Jackson

This is the way obits should be done: I'd much rather read about the death of an agoraphobic pub landlady or a bloke off of the Navy Lark than Jacko who, it must be said, had kind of been quite well-known throughout his life and therefore whose obituary didn't really say much that anyone who was interested didn't already know.

Certainly not enough to merit an 8-page pull-out in the paper of record, anyways.

I'm slightly worried that what with the pull-outs, TV tributes, concerts, Newsnight specials and everything, that Jacko is not 9/11 but rather Pearl Harbor to Diana Spencer's Dunkirk. If we're not careful we could be witnessing the birth of a new Allied Power that declares all-out schmaltzkrieg on reality itself. If Jacko gets canonised I'm leaving this fucking continuum quicker than you can say 'Wesley Crusher'.

Monday, 29 June 2009

The Tragedy of Michael Jackson

is that it took until today's Charlie Brooker column before I found out that Swells is dead. Man, that sucks. He was the reason I used to buy NME - when he stopped writing for them, the magazine lost its last trace of interest.

I swear, if it wasn't for Jacko I might have spent the last few days actually paying attention to some news.

Bye Swells. You would have loathed me and everything I love, but you would've been witty about it.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Boring News Roundup

Unemployment seems to be having a dulling effect on my brainmeats. All the stuff that's grabbed my attention recently has been, on closer reflection, uninteresting.

Michael Jackson's dead? All the jokes about him are to do with child molestation and heart failure isn't a very funny way to go, so there's nothing to interest me here. (Well, actually, this is quite funny.)

Tories are right-wing, not terribly bright and extremely punchable? Already knew that, thanks. Yawn. (Although it is quite funny that they've realised they come across so badly that they've got the vid pulled from YouTube. Fuckknuckles.)

MPs are going to raise personal pension contributions for themselves rather than try to sort out the mess that is private sector pensions? Quelle surprise. Although it is amusing that someone on Radio Fourgeois this morning was quoted saying that they thought this might be the grand gesture that would win back the public trust. Yeah, I'd expect turnout to be 90%+ now...

Even Charlie lost his powers for me this week - I only got a couple of paragraphs in to his piece. I think I've spent more time on Time Splitters 3 than reading the news, and I finished that game about 2 years ago (did finally get gold on the subway challenge though).

Oh well, I'll do a paper sale tomorrow, see how that goes. Apparently there was a really successful solidarity picketing of a wildcat strike yesterday so activism's up in the area, which can only be a good thing. Tsk, SNAP OUT OF IT, CHRISTIE!

Still, Power Without Responsibility is very good, I'd recommend it. The political economy of the mass media since the 18th Century, explaining how it came to be the strange beast it is today.

P.S. In case you were wondering where my trenchant griping about Iran is, the answer is: I don't know enough about Iran to have a coherent, let alone accurate take on events there. Generally speaking I'm on the side of people who are being fired at, but for the time being I'm just trying to learn about the place before I go off on one. So it's dead pop stars and other trivia at the moment...

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

UAF Meeting Tonight

South Shields Assembly Rooms, 7 pm. Be there or ... I've not got any puns this early in the morning. Be there or ... don't I suppose. Still, the last meeting was very well attended and if this one is as well then it's good news for the momentum for organised resistance to fascism in Tyne & Wear. Plus, if you've got any ideas about organising events, or you have any incidents with the fash to report, why not let w' know all about it?

Monday, 22 June 2009

Warm Moving Bodies

A comrade recently sent me this, and it's great. Here ye gan.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

My Awesome Life


Also from Saturday's Graun, this:

I'm thinking of holding a new poll based on 'things I haven't done', as clearly this is public interest journalism*. You know, 'my year without doing handstands on the moon'; 'my month without a blood-soaked proletarian revolution'. Suggestions welcome.

And finally, Adam Curtis has got a new project coming out, which you have to catch upwith if at all possible. Adam Curtis. You know, Adam Curtis. You haven't seen The Power of Nightmares? Or The Trap? or Century of the Self? Go away and watch them. Now.

Right, now that you've done that, go and get Future of the Left's new album. It's OUT NOW.
Future of the Left. You know, Future of the Left. You weren't that into Mclusky? Godsdamnit, go here, listen to this, go get more.

*This has nothing to do with my own sex life of course. How dare you. How very dare you.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Upcoming Attractions

Don't know why I called this by that title, it's not like UK cinemas call it that. Bloody American cultural hegemony.

Anyways, I was at the 'where next for the left' meeting tonight and it was pretty successful. The mood was co-operative and although there was a sizeable SWP presence we were by no means the only ones there. Early days of course, but I'm keeping my mindfinger firmly pressing on the 'cautious optimism' button at the moment.*

Anyways (again), here's a couple of bits and bobs. First, I met someone from Keep Metro Public** and realised that I really haven't been terribly involved in this campaign at all. I will have to try and rectify this problem. As an opening salvo, here're some leaflets.


And in other news, here's some relevant Party business. 'Kayiloveyoubye!

*You know, the one they implanted in your brain at birth. It's right next to the 'freak out like a fucknuckle' one. Causes no end of trouble. No? Maybe it's just me then.

**Note to southerners and other aliens. Metro is a local system of rail-based public transport, some overground and some underground, which connects the constituent parts of the metropolitan area of Tyne and Wear together. I believe they have a similar system down in the Smoke, but I don't know what it's called. Locally, the Metro is sometimes affectionately known as the Metty, which may or may not be because it rhymes with 'nettie'.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Two Pieces of Good News

First off, more unions are making trouble for Labour - Unison this time. I wouldn't be surprised if they crawl back into the fold after being offered a few concessions, but on the other hand it is a sign that the unions either feel that there is not enough left in New Labour to be able to justify funding it; or that Labour are feeling insecure enough after their recent drubbing that the unions can stamp their feet and make them listen a bit.

As I wrote the other week, I'm very keen to see an electorally viable left coalition in time for the general election, so anything that suggests the possiblity of being able to pull union support away from the New Labour carcass has got to be welcome.

Secondly, the Campaign Group are threatening to launch an independent manifesto at the next election.

All in all, there's some hope to be had here. Now, this being the Labour Party and the trades union movement, there are a thousand ways it can all go tits up. But equally, there're a few ways it can all go right. Or rather left. You know what I mean. I'm hoping to bring this up at the public meeting on Wednesday, and I look forward to seeing what the comrades think. And equally importantly, what we can do from up here.

Anyway, barring a series of increasingly lethal medical complications, I can't see much other good news at the mo, so this'll have to do.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Is it a nerd? Is it a brane? No, it's Xtranormal Man!

You may already have seen Andy Smith's handy transcript of the hilarious Toby Foster interviewing Doncaster's new village idiot/mayor on Radio Sheffield yesterday.

Anyhow, if anything was crying out to be turned into a mildly sarcastic lego-type animation, surely it was this. Cheers Andy!

(It's in 2 parts 'cos that's what the software can handle, in case you were wondering, but it probably works better in small chunks anyways)



No, sure, that's fine. You go back to what you were doing then.

The Government has responded to a petition to ban arms sales to Israel.

Guess what? They've seen the error of their ways and will no longer be supplying weapons to the only democracy in the Middle East apart from Palestine apartheid state!

Just kidding!

Of course not. Arms sales to Israel are

assessed on a case-by-case basis and conduct in recent conflicts is always taken into account.


and besides

Britain is not a major arms exporter to Israel


and

the UK regularly turns down arms requests from Israel
Not forgetting that

We do not believe that the current situation in the Middle East would be improved by imposing an arms embargo on Israel. Israel has the right to defend itself and faces real security threats. However, we will not grant export licences where there is a clear risk that arms will be used for external aggression or internal repression.


So that's OK, and completely accurate then.

It's the kind of situation Mark Steel might have a go at: 'of course Israel shouldn't be pursuing an aggressive military campaign against civilians and occupying other people's land, but you don't stop that by not giving them weapons. In fact the best way to stop it is to sell them fighter aircraft.'

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Where Next for the Left?

Public meeting next Wednesday, 17th June, 7 pm, Gateshead Civic Centre.

Be there or be purchasing eggs. And then be there. Buying eggs doesn't take long, and Tescos is only just down the road, you lazy get. It's all right, they won't go off if you have to leave them out of the fridge for a couple of hours you know. And even if they did, you're only throwing them at fascists anyway. In fact, why don't you go to the meeting first, then go get the eggs? It's a 24 hour Tescos, and it would save you having to cart a load of eggs up to the Civic Centre and then all the way back down to the Interchange afterwards.

Gods, I have to think of everything for you, don't I?

Ahem. Anyways, come to the meeting. I can't think of anything more timely, personally.

UAF North East

A fantastic meeting tonight - big turnout (I'd guess at least 150, conservatively), lots of new faces, lots of contributions. I think there was broad agreement on the need to be active and calls for unity were warmly received. I think there's a real chance of pulling something progressive out of this disaster.

The SWP (my lot, in the interests of disclosure) have issued an 'open letter to the left' calling for unity, which at least tests the waters, and if enough people are serious about this it could be the start of something good. We could call it 'Episode 4(th International): A New Hope' or something.

Of course, it's not all good news. The left have currently decided to split over whether or not to pelt Nick Griffin with eggs. Forgive me if I don't see the downside on this one: the proud Fuhrer was going to have his nice'n'easy press conference being lobbed questions he could spout off about his vote and the need to 'control immigration' on from the lawn outside Parliament, so he could look like a proper politician or something. Instead, he ran away looking like this*:

I mean seriously, what's not to like?

*h/t Lenin