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.



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


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.


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...

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!

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 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


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


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 would be appreciated too. There may won't be a prize in it for you.


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.