Thursday, 29 April 2010

Election Shitcast LIVE 1!one!!!

20:44 Highlights so far:
Tory leader complaining that there's not enough industry in this country.
Lib leader wishing that the three parties had more in common.
Brown's what-am-I-like gag fail.

BTW loved that workfare dig, DC. Nice to know that if I'm ever on the dole again I'll have to take whatever shit job they offer me, no matter how ill-suited it is. Cheers.

Oh, and that bit about how the boss of Marksies likes you. I'll definitely file that under relevant. And if I ever want advice on aggregate demand management I'll definitely ask a luxury food shop about it, rest assured.

20:47 GB got one in on the inheritance tax bit. Nice.

20:48 NC now getting GB for the same thing. Nice too, I suppose.

20:50 DC in favour of inheritance. What a shocker.

20:56 Sorry for being slow - they're deliberately doing tit for tat to keep NC out of the debate, aren't they?

20:58 NC 'by all means pay them lots of money but no bonuses'. I agree with the second bit, although the first should obviously read 'by all means have them shot'.

21:00 GB: bankers are massive fucking liars so it's important that we give them money.
DC: who gave our economy to the banks in the first place, eh? Eh?
Indeed, Dave. Who would have done that?

21:03 GB: DC wants to cut Corporation Tax.

DC: I don't understand the EU or the Euro, and I want to make that quite clear.

21:04 NC demanding the bank levy again. Good.

21:05 GB on the Tobin Tax. Also good. But which is best? There's only one way to find out...

... talk, it turns out.

DC: People with no history of debt have trouble getting loans.

Well no shit, Sherlock. Their credit rating will be low because they can't show they can handle debt well. It's called a fucking credit report. Jesus.

21:09 GB: I heart biotech in this region.

What about the NE Gordy? Where's the love? Where's that Centre for Life lovin'?

21:10 DC for some reason no one can fathom manufacturing seems to have been on the decline since the '80s.

If only someone in power had been able to stop them, 'eh? I'm really not sure this argument helps who he thinks it helps.

NC's point about sustainable development was pretty good.

21:12 NC: who'd have thought that bankers would turn out to be a bunch of selfish bastards?

GB: Universities yay *ahem*do not mention funding cuts to pay for Olympics*ahem*

DC: The government should buy things from my friends.

21:16 Question: if you have 9 energy ministers and 2 of them are the same person, how many energy ministers do you have?

21:18 Wow, what a great question from Joe McThicko there. Was there any point to that, other than to pre-empt Littlecock's next column? "Why do you love furrins and not work for us and do exactly what I want despite me not being able to articulate a coherent question, bitchez?"

21:21 Oh, immigration. Great. Because this NEVER comes up. Sweet Christ, why do we keep hearing from whining NIMBY fuckwads at the moment?

21:24 NC hates nasty people with crates of crime, apparently.

21:25 DC: NC can't get away from this 'amnesty' idea.

'Get away from' seems an odd way to phrase 'keeps saying he wants' but maybe that's just me.

DC and GB: the worst thing we can possibly do is behave in a humane fashion now. Because if we do that, we might have to behave well tomorrow, too.

NC: I am proposing an amnesty, but of course I will be treating people abused by the black economy as criminals, so settle down your Daily Fail aneurysm poppingness.

21:33 NC: I want 1-bed flats to house families.

21:35 Oh no, NC di'nt just mention Scotswood, I just KNOW he di'nt. Uh-uh.

21:41 I think I'm losing the will to live.

21:49 DC wants to give teachers a licence to touch kids. Fill in RC joke of your own choosing. Loving DC's 'heads need to be in charge' bollocks. Dear DC, heads are in charge. Ask any staff body whether the SLT have any problems enforcing diktat. What you mean is Gove's insane plan to start treating teachers as badly as the private sector treats its employees.

21:55 re DC and heads. 4,000 pages a year?!!!! eleventy!! How do those poor heads manage?

21:56 DC: I'm standing here for a simple reason - I'm too shit even to run my parents' multi-million pound empire. There will be difficult decisions, but hey, they'll never affect me or anyone I know. Change change change change change change change change change change change change.

21:58 NC: Boo! Just kidding. Change change change change change change change things can only get better it could be you.

21:59 GB: Thanks for coming to my show. We're all individual! Boo! No, really, boo. That's a Tory boo. A big scary boo. If we fuck you next year it's completely different from them fucking you now. *Psst* I don't like being the bad guy here, but those two are just rubbish. *rictus grin*.

22:01 David Dimbleby: *coffin-dry dust cough. Possibly some words. Hard to say.*

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Give Me Profits or Give Me Screaming Death

Airlines really are masters of publicity, aren't they? Fun as it was to watch Ryanair vow to break the law, seemingly because O'Leary seems to think that A Christmas Carol is a cautionary tale about the fiscal dangers of buying a goose, Willie Walsh has confirmed his place in the nation's heart as an anti-Stephen Fry: A National Cunt's Cunt.

Apart from running half-empty flights and his appalling record on industrial relations, for me his low point has to be when he decided that he should have been able to fly his planes wherever he jolly well pleased during the recent volcageddon.

I'm really not sure what he's doing in human society, let alone running an airline - he hates his staff, he hates his passengers and wants them to die, screaming. Wouldn't he be happier in a Carmelite monastery somewhere?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Final Sign of the Degeneration of Culture

And so it has come to this.

This is the symbol of people with a vague sense of how to deal with Tories, and probably the only thing that will happen this election at all.

This is an image that has achieved national prominence as a symbol of political engagement and ambition. Just stop to think about that for a second.

Sometimes I long for a more civilised age...

Friday, 16 April 2010

Too Long for Facebook...

... but at the moment it feels like a Mayfly Golden Age of Telly. Oh CRT-based goodness, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
1) Bestest Doctor Who evar.
2) Ashes to Ashes that doesn't make we want to punch myself in the eyes, ears and throat.
3) New series of Outnumbered.
4) World Championship Snooker.
5) Return of You Have Been Watching (funny despite being the most awkward panel show format before the invention of The Bubble)
6) Miranda Hart is currently on BBC2. OK, it's a fairly specific half-hour window, but you gots to take whats you can gets eh?

The only downside is that Mad Men has finished for the time being. And see last post re: dull men in suits.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Obligatory 'How Do I Vote' Handwringing Wangstfest

So, now the three suits have spoken, and a nation has shrugged, what have we learned? Three things really:

1) Whatever Nick Robinson says, this was about personalities and not policy. Because (a) there were very few substantial policy differences to discuss, and (b) this was a political beauty pageant, in which 3 men in suits were put up for 61 million people to gawk at, and then be asked what they thought about them (there was even a scrolling tickertape recording a live Ipsus Mori reaction to it, like the world's dullest lie detector test).

2) All three parties (a) hate public servants, and (b) hate them furrins.

3) The stare-eyed bloke who was sitting behind the BBC presenters discussing the real-time polling, looking like he's touching cloth, is probably already a YouTube hero.

Leaving us where exactly? I'm one of those who normally grits my teeth and votes Labour for fear of the other lot, but the MP in my constituency is such a massive cock that if I try to put the cross in the Labour box this time my own arm might rebel against me and punch me in the face for my presumption. Which leaves a choice of two, since TUSC aren't standing here.

CHOICE A: The Greens.
Not perfect but the best of a bad bunch by a long way, in that they have some policies I actively like, rather than am simply prepared to tolerate. Investment in public transport and raising taxation on the wealthy whilst lowering it for the poorest, for example, or abolishing PFI and decreasing class sizes. I'm prepared to ignore some equivocation in the preamble on immigration as the named policies are largely positive if limited, and a fluffily worded manifesto (cf Sarah Lucas' 'New Labour has its back to the wall in the far corner of the last chance saloon'). So inasmuch as anyone since RESPECT can meet this description, they're the ones I'd 'like' to vote for.

CHOICE B: Lib Dems.
Despite having only one policy that I actually like (and the Greens have that one too) - abolishing the ID card scheme - they're still not as bad as the other two in most respects. Their manifesto is quite annoying, lots of giving figures without references to projected receipts and borrowing, pointless pictures littering the document like a desperate financial pages editor, that sort of thing. Plus their policy on Royal Mail is clearly designed to privatise it, which is very shitty.

But here's the familiar old problem, the one faced by every voter with some kind of idea about the way they would like the world to be. Do you vote for the least of all evils or the least worst of the ones who might actually win?

Mark Steel summed this up neatly when commenting on Blair years ago:
'I know that there are those in the Party who still cling to the old-fashioned belief that we should at least aim to do something. Well let me say this: if you persist with this outdated rhetoric, you will lose us the election and we will never be given the opportunity to do nothing!'

If the Lib Dems do well, they won't do very much, but they might not be as bad as the other two will be.

On the other hand, there would be real change if there were a significant Green victory across the country (although there won't be). But, having been involved in fringe politics for a few years now, I know how important it is for the smaller parties for every increase in vote, because it helps when you're building your movement both to know that the support is there and to be able to show to those outside your base that the support is tangibly there.

In short, Meh.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Fixed That For Ya.

Saw a Tory poster today, but noticed an unaccountable printing error. Never mind, through the power of Microsoft Paint I've resolved the issue.

No need to thank me, I'm happy to help.

Monday, 12 April 2010

What Is Missing.

This is a picture of the Neasham Cross, a 13th century sculpture held in the vaults of Durham cathedral.
In the centre is Christ, but what I'm interested in is what is around him. At his feet is an eagle. On the right a winged bull, and on the left an angel. Above, you can see, the sculpture has been lost.
What's interesting is that we know what the image would have been at the top of the cross. In Christian iconography, each of the four gospel authors are represented. The eagle is John, the winged bull is Luke and the angel is Matthew.
We know then what is missing from the cross: a winged lion (Mark).

Seeing this caused me to reflect on the nature of 'what is missing' in cases like this. The item presented to us we know to be incomplete, because we know what a cross should look like. The detail about the image on the cross we can also guess, because we know what the other images signify. We can therefore make a very good guess about what the original sculpture was. There is no real doubt about this: everything we know about religious art tells us what is missing.

Yet, no one living can possibly have seen it. In this photograph, taken in the early 20th century, the top piece is missing.

So what is 'something missing'? You probably know the Neasham Cross even less than I do. Until you started reading this, you had no awareness that it was missing from your life, let alone that it too was missing something. More, it is unlikely that you knew what the iconography meant (I certainly didn't until I read the information accompanying the exhibit). So can you be said to be missing it? Yet it seems odd to say the cross itself is missing a piece, since the cross simply is, and has no perceptions of itself.

So what is it that is missing? Physically, a piece of shaped stone. To us, something more complex, which has to do with the way we weave meaning out of the world we are presented with. You don't have to view this as a theological question, as that is only the form of visual language that allows us to know what the image was, in the same way as you can guess the missing word at the end of this .

There is undoubtedly an emotive, intuitive aspect to this notion of missingness. If I lose my favourite pen, or a relative dies, I will feel, to differing degrees, their absence in my life, in a way that is hard to give shape to. In the case of a lost pen, I might miss the balance or the ease of flow of the ink, but ultimately it will not prevent me from writing*. If my daughter dies, I miss not only the person I had experience of but the anticipated future life with them: experiences I could not possibly know and yet can now feel sure would have happened even if I could not say what any of them are.** The emotive aspect of all this would come under the heading of 'grief' or 'loss' but this is merely to label a response to what has happened, and does not help us to understand the notion of missingness itself.

Wittgenstein thought that when we come up against philosophical problems like this it is a result of being 'bewitched' by language itself. All meaning is open, he thought, nothing is hidden. If this is the case, missingness is exactly what it appears to be: part of a language game of possession. The cross ought to be a certain shape and ought to have a particular image, yet it does not. I ought to be writing with my fountain pen but I am writing with a biro. I ought to be going to the park with my daughter but I am going to her funeral. This is an alluring concept - 'what is missing' is when we talk about things in such a way as to leave a definable hole, a gap between what is and what we think and feel to be its ontological imperatives.

Yet all of this leaves us back where we started. What is missing here is an understanding of how we come to have expectations about anything at all. It is possibly the most basic act of human cognition there is and yet it is utterly mysterious.

I feel that there's more to be said on this subject, so I'll probably return to it when I have had a chance to think it over some more. In the mean time, any contributions gratefully received.
*insert own joke here.
** I don't actually have a daughter, which adds another level of oddness to an already confusing situation.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Like Sarah Jane with a Shiny Sixpence*

I happened to catch Starsuckers on More 4 last night. I don't know how legendary it's got on the intertubes yet, but for those of you camped out at one of the more farflung webtaps, it's a doc that looks at how and why the celebrity industry is maintained and why it's a Bad Thing.

Chances are if you read this that you're already some kind of pinko commie type who is quite happy in your own mind about why celebrity 'n' circuses are a bad combination, but Starsuckers stood out as an entertaining and neat job, looking at how the cult of celebrity is nurtured in childhood, the extent to which public images are manufactured and the way it feeds into churnalism.

To top it all off, it's been the subject of complaints from Bob Geldof and Max Clifford, which has a pleasing symmetry to it (as well as reminding you that if these two are the alpha and omega of celebrity the alphabet must be somewhat adumbrated).

It also has this rather neat ad:

In short the only qualms I had involve the programme's suggestion that celebrity is linked to a biological imperatibe to seek the alpha male and female. I'm always suspicious of Evolutionary Psychology, and I don't think that celebrity is simply about finding an alpha to look up to and get close to. Celebrity is a fully grown cult, a bastard culture, the sum of its social parts - any biological imperative can only be a component of that. Where is the biological imperative for the Priory? Yet it is an essential part of many celebrities' public narratives, recorded by the wandering minstrels** of our times, the 3 am girls. *ahem.* If you see what I mean.

Nevertheless, a smart, funny and insightful documentary.


**Wandering Minstrels:

Friday, 2 April 2010

Wow, what a bunch of utter cunts

Thanks to Don't Panic, here's a bunch of utter bastards. This is what the Tories are really like, and we will all do well not to forget it.

Might be a good idea to bring this up the next time someone tells you the class war is over: seems like one side is still waging it, so why aren't we? TUSC FTW, I say.

Does anyone know what this is?

I'm just not entirely certain that this wouldn't have made more sense if it were in Mandarin.