Wednesday, April 26, 2006


A quote for today.
Books can only change the world if the world is capable of digesting them.
From Q by Luther Blissett, p409.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Darfur Campaign

A campaigning blog, Bloggers for Darfur, has been set up calling for action to stop genocide in Darfur, in Sudan.

I recommend you visit, read and sign up.

If you want more information on what's happening in Sudan there's an excellent blog, Sudan Watch that assiduously rounds up news from various sources.

Fascists and Iran

Last week, I know it was along time ago but I've been away, YaBass blogged on this story of German neoNazis planning to link themselves to Iran during the World Cup so they can spread anti-Semitic hatred.
A neo-Nazi group in Germany has announced plans to attach themselves to Iran during the World Cup to further its dissemination of anti-semitic propaganda. The NPD party, a right-wing extremist group, intends to march around the east German city of Leipzig on June 21, when Iran take on Angola in group D.
The Guardian goes on to report
The NPD [, a fascist group] admires the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has referred to the Holocaust as "a myth" and called for Israel to be "wiped of the map". Germany's interior minister Wolfgang Schäuble has however confirmed that German and Iranian diplomats are discussing the possibility of Ahmadinejad - who showed his support for the national team last month by turning up at a training camp in a tracksuit before their friendly against Costa Rica - coming to the World Cup.

Germany's Jewish Council pointed out that Ahmadinejad could be arrested under German law. "There is no doubt that the Iranian president's public utterances denying the Holocaust and calling for the destruction of Israel infringes paragraph 130 of Germany's statute book," said Stephan Kramer, the council's secretary general.
That would be good, having Ahmadinejad arrested in Germany. Perhaps he could start a prison penpal relationship with David Irving over in Austria.

Friday, April 21, 2006


What a splendid thing is serendipity. I met Rullsenberg serendipitiously by a jukebox.

And tonight I came home and chanced on this brilliant video about a dweeb called George in a galaxy far, far away.

Stay for the end when there's a great gag about the movie Michael Medved accused of promoting inter-species sex.

[ From Radley Balko, the Agitator, via Tim Worstall ]

Thursday, April 20, 2006

That chap Will

There I was, sat comfortably down with a cup of coffee, reading this fortnight's complimentary copy of the LRB thinking "here I am sat comfortably with a damn fine cup of coffee" when what do I see but a review of two books on coffee and coffee houses (unfortunately, to read on you will either need the paper copy or a subscription).

Contemporary painting of a coffee house

What are the odds of that?, I thought. Serendipidity, I thought. Rubbish I thought. Don't most people sup coffee as they read?

I read on,
if you wanted literary wit, John Dryden and his mates would be at Will's
What are the odds of that?, I thought. Serendipidity, I thought. Rubbish I thought.
Dryden, often considered the writer of the finest political satire in English, Absalom and Achitopel, at Will's? You jest?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Neal Lawson comments on the role of class in modern Britain. The concensus goes that international competitiveness needs bankers and consultants who will go where "they are paid most and taxed least". The desire to appease this new elite means discussions about inequality, conspicuous wealth and spiralling execitive pay are off the agenda.

Lawson concludes
Ultimately the challenge is political. Class is socially constructed. People have to want class to matter. Recognising the role of class opens up new possibilities for the left. The cash-rich but time-poor can only find "the good life" through a redistribution of resources with their cash-poor but time-rich alter egos. But forging this alliance requires brave political leadership.

New Labour was conceived just at the moment the new right was proclaiming "the end of history". The judgment of both looks premature. As Marx and Engels wrote at the start of the 1848 Communist Manifesto: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle." In its own way that struggle must continue today.
He makes many valid points. But is Lawson really using Marx to argue for a cross-class united front against "the rich"? Using Marx as a shield to allow the middle-classes to benefit from employing the working-classes? Using Marx to prop up a master servant relationship where the middle-classes are the master?
He opens well but spoils it by talk of the "cash-rich time-poor" and the "time-rich cash-poor" which is a lazy use of lifestyle journalism bollix.

His conclusion is good in its call for a renewal of class struggle.

Next time, Neal, drop the lifestyle journalism. We expect better from the chair of Compass, a "democratic left pressure group".


Intriguing as it may be to find out what happened to the Arch, this post isn't about that.

It's also not about how "trains were hauled to Euston from Chalk Farm by ropes, the locomotives not being brought nearer town lest they should frighten the horses".


It's saying I have gone and signed the Manifesto.

Here's why. I have signed because it's about supporting
the values of democracy, human rights, the continuing battle against unjustified privilege and power, solidarity with peoples fighting against tyranny and oppression — are what most enduringly define the shape of any Left worth belonging to.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Mingus and Freud

Skimming the LRB letters online I came across this letter on the connection between Charles Mingus and Sigmund Freud.
Some readers might like to be reminded of an earlier contribution to Mrs Freud studies. In 1960, Charlie Mingus, with Eric Dolphy on alto sax and others, recorded ‘All the Things You Could Be by Now if Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother’.

Madeleine St John
London W11
Now you know.

Fascists are Barking

Margaret Hodge is reported as saying white, working class voters in her constituency of Barking are considering voting BNP. She says the drive for this is fear of change, including large numbers of ethnic minority asylum seekers moving into the area and has nothing to with racism.

Um. Fear of ethnic minority asylum seekers has nothing to do with racism? So what does Margaret Hodge think racism is? The original piece was an interview with the Telegraph that Margaret Hodge later accused of "selective quoting". Her rebuttal statement goes on to say
Many families were, she said, angry at the lack of housing since immigrants began arriving in the area and also because asylum seekers had been housed there by inner London councils.

"They can't get a home for their children, they see black and ethnic minority communities moving in and they are angry. It is a fear of change," she said.
Isn't that just a textbook definition of racism or am I missing something?


I used to think that jet lag was, like lunch, "for wimps". Well, hello Mr Wimpy.

Emails to catch up on.

News to catch up on.

Reading the Euston Manifesto and asking is it a good thing.

Remembering to blog on this masterclass on how to write a newspaper column about absolutely nothing, and be paid. I thought the opening could be used about much comment in the blogosphere, but obviously not about stuff I write or link to.
As a dog returns to its vomit, so I return to my sock.

Except that in this house no dog returns to its vomit, for the excellent reason that it never leaves its vomit. Neglect your vomit for one second round here and the other dog snaffles the big bits. So let me change the simile.

Remembering reading, in a piece by Seymour Hersh that
All of the [I.A.E.A.] inspectors are angry at being misled by the Iranians, and some think the Iranian leadership are nutcases—one hundred per cent totally certified nuts,” the diplomat said. He added that ElBaradei’s overriding concern is that the Iranian leaders “want confrontation, just like the neocons on the other side”—in Washington. “At the end of the day, it will work only if the United States agrees to talk to the Iranians.”
Surely it will only work if the Iranians agree to talk to the United States as well?

And catch up on sleep .....gnhihihnl\knbldnbb

Sunday, April 02, 2006

International Antarctic Centre

If you get chance get down to the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch and freeze your ass off. It's well worth it. And you'll learn a lot about Antarctica and Gondwanaland.

Spent all of Sunday morning in A&E in Christchurch. My dad was rushed in because of some post-op comnplications. It was better than most UK A&E departments but there is still an air of hopelessness to most A&Es. Everything ok now and I have found an internet cafe. Hooray.