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


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

What to do in a Recession

Official unemployment is at 7.1% and rising. As of 12th May, that's 2.22 million people out of work.

I myself am about to be unemployed, and therefore the concern is: what to do when there's no work to be had and no money to spend?

Well, did I mention that Newcastle's just opened it's brand spanking new library?

Gosh it's lovely. That's me sorted until the revolution then.


BNP Leader Pelted in Egg Protest.

Update: How can the Graun of all papers get the most bog-standard anti-Nazi chant there is, the wrong way round?

'I say, ruffian there, off our streets you Nazi scum!'

It's like they've never been involved in the anti-racist movement in their lives, or something.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Mark Kermode on Terminator 4

Sometimes it's nice to see grumping done by professionals. And this professional is at the top of his game.

... And Another Thing

Yes, I know, I'm sorry. I'm a stuck bloody record at the minute on this subject. I'm just so angry that a million of my fellow citizens are so unBritish and lacking in our basic values that they'd vote for a party dreamed up by a bunch of Germans in the '20s, who represent the very antithesis of all that is good about this country, that I can't seem to let it go.

Anyway, I've been reading Chris Harman's A People's History of the World for the last few days and I was struck by this passage from a chapter on the rise of the slave trade:

The prevalence of racism today leads people to think it has always existed, arising from an innate aversion of people from one ehtnic background for those from another. Slavery is then seen as a by-product of racism, rather than the other way round.

Yet in the ancient and medieval worlds, people did not regard skin colour as any more significant than, say, height, hair colour or eye colour. ... Many important figures in Roman history came from north Africa, including at least one emperor ... In Dutch paintints of the early 16th century, black and white people are shown as mixing freely ... Jordaen's painting 'Moses and Zipporah', ... shows Moses' wife as black.


the slave traders and owners always needed arguments to use with those white people, the great majority, who did not own slaves. In the colonies the smaller farmers were often resentful at the way the slave owners grabbed the best land and, by using slaves at low cost, undercut them. In ports like London escaped slaves often found refuge in the poor slum areas. The traders and owners needed a way of making people despise, mistrust and fear the slaves ... ideas that those of African descent were innately inferior to those of European descent fitted the needs of the traders and planters perfectly.


Racism developed from an apology for African slavery into a full-blown system of belief into which all the peoples of the Earth could be fitted[.]

(Harman 2008: 252-4)

And let's have a look at the BNPs 2005 General Election manifesto shall we? (Sorry, no link, not to them.)

when we speak of ‘British democracy’ we do so in an ethnic as well as a civic sense. We do not accept the absurd superstition – propagated for different though sometimes overlapping reasons by capitalists, liberals, Marxists and theologians - of human equality. Whether the now totally discredited feminist argument that men and women are innately the same, to the partly refuted egalitarian claim that everyone within a given population is born as a blank slate with the same innate potential, or to the still dominant Politically Correct denial of the existence of differences on average between members of different races – we reject all these irrational myths.

(BNP 2005:17)

'Absurd superstition', eh? Ho hum.

Number Two in an Indefinite Series...

BBC Invites Arseholes to Spout Bullshit

Anyone who follows spEak You're bRanes on a regular basis will know that the BBC's Have Your Say site is a refuge for the reality-challenged at the best of times.

The Beeb appear to have decided that it isn't mental enough however, and have posted this invitation beneath their coverage of the BNP's victory:

Did you vote for the BNP? Is this the first time you voted for them? What influenced your decision to vote for the BNP? Tell us your thoughts by filling in the form below.

Stand by to repel wankers, captain!

I can just see the BNP's hardcore voters now, staring at the magic screen in wonder that the Zionist BBC has let them free to bash TEH TROOF ABOUT JOOS N ISLAMS into one of the more prestigious intertubes, trembling with excitement as they hesitantly begin negotiating the seemingly tiny keys on their keyboards* with their fists.

Cheers, Aunty.

*probably made by Marksist gayz to keep out the poor downtrodden whites of this ONCE GRATE CONTRIE

Update: I appear to have been hoist by my own petard, as I've been uploading the vids I make to You Tube so they'll sit properly in the blog column and not spill over the sides like they do if I embed them straight from xtranormal. However, this means that for the first time I've come into contact with YouTube commenters, who if anything make HYS look normal. I can only assume that YouTube is largely comprised of not very bright teenage boys.

Hope Not Hate

...Have got a 'not in my name' petition up to protest against Griffin and Brons. Sign it here.

Oh Well, Cheer Up

Never mind though eh? Here's a song about a mouse.

Vacancy: New Party Needed

Given the disastrous victory for the Nazis last night, I think we can safely say that anti-fascist action wasn't enough.

Everywhere on the web in the run up to these elections we've seen anti-fascists win the arguments and humiliating the lying racist bastards. There's been fairly vigorous anti-fascist action on the streets too, especially in the NW where the fuhrer is setting up shop. But it wasn't enough.

I think it's pretty obvious that the fractured, fragmented left vote is responsible here. Low turnout and the lack of a single left alternative has made these elections the most right-wing I've ever seen in this country. I even found myself counting a victory for the Greens as somehow 'left' just to keep snatching at straws.

We have to do something. I suppose that the three main parties are centre-right themselves is something that it's almost easy to overlook, precisely because it is so prevalent, but when you take the victories of UKIP and Nazis into account it is clear that a right-wing narrative underpins most of the vote in the UK. The left have virtually no space left in public.

Wiser heads than mine will no doubt be providing a fuller analysis as the day goes on, but surely it shows just how desperately we on the left need to form a broad front electoral coalition that unites us.

The problem is that I genuinely can't see where the momentum for a new coalition can come from. My party has something of an image problem amongst parts of the left, although I've never really been sure why. Labour clearly can't tear itself away from The Project and most people I speak to have never even heard of John McDonnell. No2EU never really stood a chance at the Euro elections and nor did the SLP - polling made that pretty clear.

We are stuck. We can't tear down our existing organisations in favour of a new one - to take my party as an example, if we restricted ourselves to an electoral position we would destroy the very point of the party - so we need a coalition. I always thought RESPECT was perceived as too single-issue to make it very far as a permanent electoral entity, and the same with No2EU this time. We need to have a party which can put forward a genuine socialist alternative at the ballot box.

Of course, that gives us a hugely difficult problem in itself - agreeing on a programme. How far will the various groups go to compromise? I don't think any such programme should be overly calculated on concerns of 'electability' oddly enough. I think that left-wing ideas are perfectly electable, if they're put across with conviction and given the space to be explained - and besides, putting 'electability' ahead of ideology will only break apart any coalition worthy of the name before it gets started, or mean that it isn't a left-wing organisation if it does get somewhere.

But any such coalition needs resources as well as a programme. If we build one, we can expect significant party time will be taken away from other issues, like anti-fascist activity. And to get any media time at all it needs to be able to bring into it the union bureaucracy and as much of the Labour left as can be torn away from the party, which still, even now, seems like a Sysephean effort. And we'd need to be able to incorporate what electoral socialist organisations do exist into any coalition - which I can't imagine will be popular with the SLP or the SPGB.

Frankly I'm not in a great position to do anything about this myself. I'm just a humble party hack who gives up what time I can, when I can, to go to meetings and sell papers - and I've not always been terribly good at that. But something does need to be done to bring the left into some kind of unified electoral party that can make significant efforts to recapture the elected parts of our governmental machinery. Now that the fascists have got £2m to spend I think we can assume that they will become an ever greater threat, especially at a general election next year.

Update: Check out Anton Vowl - he's excellent today. But I'd avoid Socialist Unity, unless you want to be dragged into the very factionalism and infighting that got us into this mess in the first place.*

*Although it has also got some very handy background info on former NF leader and now MEP Andrew Brons.


Update: A productive/constructive discussion about the way to respond to this clusterfuck is currently ongoing over at Len's place. So if you've got tuppennyworth to add to this, why not go somewhere frequented by slightly more than 3 people? (Although I love you all, of course.)

Although of course, if you annoy Lenin he'll probably kick you out so you'll end up back here anyway...

Sunday, 7 June 2009

And I Guess, Here It Is

(in the words of 90s rockers Apes, Pigs and Spacemen).

So this is my vaguely useful effort. Taking a shamelessly obvious cue from the excellent Plato vid from the other day, here is Wittgenstein debating the problem of private sensation with himself. Enjoy.

(It's a verbatim reproduction of Sect. 258 of the first volume of Philosophical Investigations, in case you were wondering, but done as a formal dialogue. I originally wanted both characters to be played by the same avatar, but the software couldn't cope with demands like that, unfortunately.)


The ever-excellent Bristling Badger had some vids made using xtranormal, and I've made my own hamfisted efforts, presented here for the excellent reason that I needed to put them somewhere, and they won't eat more than a couple of minutes of your life.

I think I might be able to use this for work at some point, but in the meantime...

Friday, 5 June 2009

Best. Philosophy Video. Evar.

I've been compiling some resources for A Level Philosophy students this week, and I can't believe this is the first time I've seen this. It's stark raving genius, though I fear it may do for philosophy what Trapped in the Closet did for R&B.

Anyway, enjoy this take on Plato's allegory of the cave. I know I did.


This month's Viz is rather good, not least 'cos of the expenses scandal (you know, thinking about it, it must be serious, because no one's cheapened it with a '-gate' suffix, at least to my knowledge).

Everyone's got something to say it seems, from Mr T:

(N.B. click to enlarge, if you've not worked out
what that little hand thing means yet. Gods,
how long have you been using a computer now?
It's all just planets in the wires to you, isn't it?)

To Suicidal Syd:

And of course, Gilbert Ratchet's in on it...

Anyway, go buy it.*

*Although it might be best to give 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame's Got Talent' a miss.

How to Waste Your Vote

I voted Green yesterday. Thought it was the best move in the circumstances. But I was just over at Penny Red's and found out that they're anti-stem cell research:

The Green Party built its reputation on progressive social policies, but we were surprised by its anti-science stance. It told us that the party is proposing an EU-wide ban on research involving embryonic stem cells, citing the vague possibility of "unforeseen outcomes harmful both to individuals and to society".

I thought this lot were progressives, now I find out they're either hoodoo merchants or a bit dim. Great. What a bloody waste. Might as well have gone for the Liberals in the end after all.

Hope they don't do too well now, or it'll be a shitload of good science down the swanee, and I'll have helped it to happen. Bollocks.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Bonus Geekery

Meh. Google or Bing?


Call me old-fashioned but it's just a better search engine, nicer, more accurate, all that. With a touch of Web 1.0 nostalgia.

And I can say that completely impartially.

Cheap, Lazy Humour Predicated on Human Suffering

... is what I aim to deliver - and here's your latest sloppy ladleful!

Since I first heard about Project Natal, my curiousity has been piqued. Just what could it all be about? Well, for the one or two of you who are even further than me behind the curve of the scabbard which the bleeding edge of technology would never deign to be housed in, it's sort of Wii-mote crossed with the eye-toy and a furby: a motion- and voice-sensitive interface for the X-Box 360 released to some fanfare at this year's E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo, you Luddite).

So, that's yer context. Skynet will use it in a few scant years to make unstoppable killing machines with Austrian accents. But until that day, this detail in the Graun's coverage caught my eye:

Not a great deal is known about its origins, but is seems that the system relies on technology from two pioneering Israeli companies working on depth-sensitive cameras, 3DV Systems and Prime Sense. Those systems involve technology originally developed for use on ballistic missiles that has been reworked to make it more palatable for use in people's homes.

... and I thought the Israelis had no problem using this technology on people's homes already!

*bdm tsh*

Eyethangyewladeezangennelmen, I'm 'ere all week.

And to think, just the other day I heard a musical composition in which someone averred in response to a question on the utilisation of aspects of military action, that there were no beneficial results whatsoever!

(Yes, Raffles the Gentleman Thug is my favourite Viz character*. Would you care to raise this assertion as an issue to which some variance may be attached, and would you claim to be of requisite fortitude with which to back up your contrary aspect? You slag.)

That reminds me though - I've got a chance to repost this vid! Yay!

*Not actually true. Jack Black is my favourite Viz character. But the opportunity to use pointlessly flowery English arose and by the gods I wasn't going to neglect it!

More Anti-Fascist Stuff

Whatever the result of today's poll we'll know it by Tuesday, when Weyman Bennett will be speaking at the Royal Station Hotel.

Do You Love Music? Do You Hate Racism?

'Cos there's a Love Music Hate Racism gig happening at Monument on Saturday, so it could be right up your street if you answered 'yes' to both those questions.

More info at UAF NE's site.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Bloody Hell

Yes, it's more BNP related stuff, and I realise that anyone who reads this has almost certainly been to Complex System of Pipes already, but in case you've missed it, watch this vid: