Thursday, 30 April 2009

Upcoming Events

I've been apprised of a couple of events (one thing about doing this course: you have no time to do anything remotely fun*) coming up in Toon shortly.

1) May Day march. Aiming for a big, noisy political crowd. Starts 10.30 at Centre for Life. Be there, or be like me and finishing a research essay on PowerPoints.

2) Public meeting next week: Wednesday May 6th, Royal Station Hotel. Capitalism in Crisis: The Case for Socialism. Should be good - Martin Smith (CC) and Michael Lavelette (Preston Council) are both really good public speakers, I've seen them both at Marxism and Party Conference and I've seen Martin on Venezuela at a public meeting a couple of years ago. Well worth a look, and if I can justify a couple of hours off from planning I'll defo be there.

*My definition of 'fun' may be slightly different from yours.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

*headdesk* *headdesk*

Torygraph's headline today:
'Gordon Brown Declares Class War'






It is the antithesis of class war, because it is a small act initiated by lackeys of the ruling-class aimed at stabilising a system that exists solely on the premise of continuing repression of the mass of people.

Who bears the majority of the tax burden? The poor. Who are disproportionately hit by flat taxes like VAT? The poor. Who rely more on social services, which are always the first to be cut in a recession? The poor. Whose wages have remained static in real terms for the last 25 years? The poor.

Who are always the first to be blamed by the government and the press as a drain on the system? Not the rich, who syphon off money made on the backs of the labour of others, no. The poor. The people who produce all the wealth, all the value in society, the workers. a 50% marginal tax rate on those earning £150,000 a year or more IS NOT CLASS WAR. It's not even Keynesian, since it's not aimed at stimulating aggregate demand but to off-set the massive public debt incurred by buying a load of bad credit (i.e. bad bets about the future). It means that those who caused the crisis may have to pay slightly more towards trying to clear it up. But I wouldn't worry, since this will only affect 2% of the population. The middle class will pay for lots of it, and the poorest the most. As usual.

In short: Fucking idiots if the Torygraph really thinks this, disingenuous fucknuts if not.


I've really got to stop looking at Penny Red's comments threads. It's gotten so full of the stupid I can feel it burning through my screen.

I only just stopped myself from weighing in on this debate, after some particularly burn-y comments from Free Marketeer Central.

It could be argued, I know, that these people need to be taken on, but frankly I've been there before. It's an entrenched ideological position that they're bunkered down in, and they often know (but don't want to see) that they're defending privilege over alleviation from misery. I just can't be having with another one of these pointless, go nowhere internet debates. I've had them enough times before, and at parties when someone makes the mistake of saying something like 'Thatcher was good for this country' within my earshot, and although I always come away feeling like I've not only held my own, but a consistently winning hand (I honestly have never felt outclassed by a right-winger), they rarely achieve anything. Sometimes I'm able to correct a few misconceptions and historical untruths, but I honestly can't say I've seen a Damascene conversion.

And nor do I expect to. As Ben Goldacre likes to say, 'I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.' I don't regard people as marionettes waiting to dance to an ideological tune, and I don't expect someone's political ideology to be fundamentally rational.* Obviously I think that I'm right, and obviously I'm convinced that I can explain my ideas better and that my ideas are fundamentally better ideas, built on the work of those who cared about everyone, not just the freedom of a privileged bourgeois class.

Sorry to state the bleeding obvious, but people's political ideas, like their religious ideas, do not arise in a vacuum. As Marx once wrote: men make their own history, but they do not do it under circumstances of their own choosing.

So I hate these 'debates' on the interweb. There's always a pompous tendency to arrive with your opinions carved into pearls, which you are casting before the swine of the thread. What does that achieve, other than to convince people you're a cast-iron bollock? Far better to knock it off and have a game of Mornington Crescent.

Of course, it may equally be down to my debating skills or lack thereof. Maybe I'm just not a persuasive enough speaker. But if so, then my original conclusion stands and I'll see you at Oxford Street playing by McQuinan's 3rd Omnibus Rules (Balham edition).

I freely admit I can be a bit humourless about this. But I think these things matter, I think that I, my party and fellow-travellers are fundamentally correct in our understandings and aims, and I don't expect the right to suddenly come over to the light side of the force. I do think these issues will be settled by a proletarian revolution or not at all.

PS as a public service I now present the comment I nearly made, which would have got me in precisely one of those tedious go-nowhere arguments I've just spent a whole post explaining should be avoided. I post it because I think it's quite funny.

Wow, with comments like Mark's, I can't work out if the retrograde political/economic debate in this country is spiralling back in time to the nineteenth century or has skewed off at some ghastly American tangent until all our political debate becomes as decapitated as theirs.

Astonishing. I only hope most of the more depressing commentators on here are making vague attempts at humour, because if this is seriously their level of political awareness it's just too depressing. I've got Year 8s who could see through this shite.

Here's a clue though, if you hand over to Milton Friedman for an opinion, you should regard it as similar to the Peter Griffin test: i.e. if it's something he would do, it's probably stupid.

What I'm saying is that Friedman is the economic equivalent of Gibsoning a thread.**

*And fundamentally, the left starts from a far more noble position than the right. The left is progressive, the right is reactionary. The left wants equality, the right privilege. The Marxist left has a good understanding of the political economy of capitalism, the right has only neo-classical theories that do not acknowledge the source of the value that makes their monetarist philosophies tick.
**And if you don't believe me, look at Chile during the Pinochet years or Britain during Thatcher. How many recessions did you say?

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Eat This, Terrorists

I did this a few days ago but belatedly decided to cash in on this popular interwebal memetical.

Via qwghlm, I found James Holden's rather neat little tool and here are the results. Why not make your own? That'll show 'em for Ian Tomlinson! Yeah!*
Incidentally, someone also sent me this boingboing that's got some rather funnier ones on it...

*Actually, since these are done by the 'Rail Cops' (BT Police) it'll get them back for stopping me under the Prevention of Terrorism Act that time when I was in Central Station in possession of a dangerously long hair and a lethally tepid Greggs pasty. Eat hot satires, The Filth.

Police, Violence, Obfuscation etc.

It's been interesting to read the coverage of the aftermath of the G20 demos in the 'blogosphere' over the last few days. The videos and pics of cops hitting people have been causing quite a sensation, especially in the mainstream press, but interestingly some of the blogs have been outraged in a way that implies some kind of loss of innocence. There have been some exceptions to this of course.

It is odd though, that a lot of people seem to be discovering police violence for the first time. It's not like history doesn't give us enough examples, after all. Pete Dale even had a song about polis covering up their ID years ago.

I have to ask, who was ever seriously in doubt about these things? Surely anyone who's ever been on a demo has seen the neanderthals*, the ones fingering their CS gas, truncheons or submachine guns a bit too readily?

I don't mean this in that ghastly Tory way where you start blaming the victims for not expecting to be beaten up, but rather that I'm very surprised at just how much news this has all been to such a large number of people, some of them quite unexpected. I know it seems ungrateful, seeing as how now there's some mobile phone footage of what's been going on for decades something might actually be done, but sadly, as I'm sure you're aware, this really isn't anything new.

*Mixed in with some thoroughly nice people I hasten to add. I've known some lovely policepersons over the years.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Procrastination List

Things you can do to put off writing a very boring essay:
  • Watch some Doctor Who
  • Convert your loose change into shopping
  • Tidy your room
  • Try and work out a way to shoehorn Trotsky into an essay on pedagogy
  • Start (and finish) Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
  • Try and improve your accuracy on Res Evil 4 to over 80%
  • Surf the Interwebs
  • Blog about stuff
  • Obsessively check FriendFace
  • Use the iPlayer to see if there're any interesting documentaries you might have missed, about ooh I don't know, motorways and their influence on late twentieth century guttering pipes. Just anything, really.
  • Buy music. Lots of music.
  • Start reading that book on Heidegger you've had lying around for ages
  • Drink a sufficient amount of tea that it would probably outweigh you if poured into some outlandishly sized scales
  • Tidy your room again
  • Re-organise your DVD collection. Should documentaries really go near the comedies?
  • Eat lots of Creme Eggs
  • Obsess over previous (failed) relationships and how everything was your fault. Should take up a couple of hours, easy.
  • Debate whether to start installing a new and complicated piece of software, confident in the knowledge that if you do, something will go wrong that it might take hours to fix.
  • Watch 3 whole series of The Wire, sequentially, with only toilet and tea breaks, until 'Down in the Hole' starts playing on a loop in your head over and over and over and over, and the obsessive need to grab someone and tell them how 'it's the best TV ever' takes near psychotic hold.
  • Idly fantasise about relationships you could have, then fuck up, and exactly how it would all go disastrously wrong, in minute detail.
  • Decide that, hey, maybe underpants do need ironing after all, and maybe socks do need pairing.
  • Prepare overly-elaborate sandwiches several times a day.
  • Tidy your room.
  • Seriously consider reading the magazines that NUT, NASUWT and ATL seem to send on a nearly daily basis.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Is this the least funny comments thread ever?

I've recently become something of a fan of Laurie Penny, but I honestly can't understand the comments thread from her last couple of posts. I think what's happened is that a bunch of wankers who think they're funny but actually come off like stoned sixth-formers have descended en masse, but I can't be sure.

I mean that, I genuinely can't be sure, because it's about one-tenth as coherent as Have Your Say. It could just be really rubbish sockpuppeting or a joke I'm too much of a newb to get. Can anyone with a spare minute pop over there, take a look, and give me a second opinion? Otherwise it's going to bug me for ages...

(Yes I know worrying about a comments thread on the prestigious interwebs is a complete hiding to nothing, but humour me, OK? It's bugging me for a reason, and the reason is this: Penny Red is a quite interesting, reasonably intellectual blog that has an apparent audience of - well, that's just it: I can't tell if they're Tory misogynists, well-meaning sense-of-humour-bypass victims or somewhere in the middle.

And it's unusual to find that on the left-wing blogs. At least, the ones I use. Generally speaking you get a mixture of people posting links to a petition to save the cheese workers of Guatemala; someone who wants to talk about NuLabour, regardless of whatever the actual topic was, and a few people earnestly stating the obvious. Except for Florence Durrant on Lenin's Tomb of course, she's in a league of her own. What I'm trying to say, is that it's usually a bit more sedate and less CiF/HYS)

Update: Gods, it's just descended to a new low. Honestly, how do these people walk about all day? Surely they must keep getting distracted when they see someone in a shiny surface who keeps copying everything they do?

Monday, 13 April 2009

Please Read This

No, not this, numbnuts, this. It's dead important: it's about the interwebs ((c) Iain Dale, pat. pending).

If you were already here I wouldn't need to tell you to read the thing in front of you would I? Your eyes are already being dragged unwillingly over the text, your reptilian brain trudging towards the end of the sentence with all the enthusiasm of a gulag worker who knows his next shift is with Alexandr Solzhenitsyn.

Anyway, I was characteristically behind on the greatest scandal of our blogging times, until I found out about it from Laurie Penny, but The Quail seems to be spot on, and very funny to boot. Go read it.

Serendipity? Synchronicity? The Gold Violin of Circumstance?

A few weeks back I mentioned one of my favourite posters in passing whilst getting all hagiographic about Penguin Boooks.

Turns out I'd completely missed a whole interwebal meme about it. Check out qwghlm on this - there's parodies, and posters and shops and articles and, well, everything. Goodness. I thought it was still a fairly rare thing, what with its point of origin in the modern consciousness being a relatively obscure second-hand bookshop in a small Northumberland town.

Apparently not. Anyway, I only mention it since I seemed by some fluke to have made use of it reasonably close to its becoming popular, despite being aware of its existence for several years now. Int the world a funny place sometimes?

Horns of Nimon Redux: A Couple of Things

This is the saddest thing in the world: a post pointing out plot inconsistencies in an episode of Doctor Who. Anyone with a life or aspirations of getting one should look away now.

Anyone however who saw Planet of the Dead on Saturday may have found any or all of the below mildly annoying:
  • Why didn't the bus driver stop when he saw the police were chasing him?
  • Why couldn't the cops overtake a red bus?
  • Why is a jewel thief toting around a shovel?
  • Why is the turn-off button for the security grid outside the grid?
  • Why does going round and round in circles make a hole in space-time?
  • What control is he using to make the bus go up and down?
  • So let me get this straight, they put this cup that's so valuable an armed guard stands around it with a laser grid all the time but they put it under a skylight and don't have a lid? A basic glass display case would've stopped her, is all I'm saying.
Any other quibbles, you sad bastard, leave them below. Just to pre-empt some quibbles, overall I liked the episode, despite my new fondness for the alternative title Horns of Nimon Redux. That's more about the basic plot than the infamy of the serial in question...

A Mailwatch of my Very Own

Well, not really, obviously. I don't have the time, connections or resources to do proper investigative journalism. It's just that Sadly, No! have noticed another blatant untruth in the Daily Mail, and rather brilliantly referred to the paper as 'a wingnut British fish-and-chips wrapper'.

Basically, it seems that the Mail have a fabricated story about Obama flying in a New York pizza chef JUST TO MAKE HIM A PIZZA!!111 and the truth is rather more prosaic.

It's intriguing to note that nutjob Americans monitor the Fail for any bullshit that'll help them out though.

Thursday, 2 April 2009


I knew they had jokes in that London, but this gem from Tory Troll is priceless...

Chair: Would you let Mr Stringer put his question

GS: …that there was poor coordination between boroughs

BJ: Complete tripe. Nonsense. Bollocks. Nonsense

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Please let this be some kind of April Fool's...

Got an email from Hope Not Hate last night, saying that the BNP are about to launch a What Would Jesus Do? poster campaign, implying that what Jesus really did, right, was hate people from foreign countries and had an ideological opposition to income tax. And of course, if he did, you should too.

No, really.

Since it was sent out last night I'm assuming Nick Lowles isn't having some kind of practical joke on his Hope Not Hate mailing list, so I present you the link to HNH's petition opposing this ludicrous bollocks and ask you to sign it.