Archive for December, 2003

Badger note

LOTR: Badger Edition

This internet access area in Brixton Library is a bloody rip-off. See, this is what happens in Mr Blair’s Public-Private Partnership Britain – instead of having public computers, you have a private company given a monopoly in a public building that charges a quid for half an hour’s bloody net time and won’t let you download anything. I am not impressed with this chain since I went to another branch, hidden in an eyrie in the Trocadero, and after climbing the Straight Stair and the Winding Stair to get to it I found it was closed. Fuckers. Central London location probably costing a million pounds a minute to rent and they can’t be arsed opening it. And I’d arranged to meet my sister there and had to call her up to rearrange, at $0.99 a minute.

With this in mind I’m hitting “post” before it goes over the hour mark.

Yesterday, weblogs.com (I think) sent me a message when I posted more twice in less than half an hour and pinged them, telling me to get a life. For god’s sake, I’m doing my best.

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Plagiarised from myself

I’m stealing this from a conversation I had earlier, so at least one person will be terribly bored by it, but then I imagine he’s terribly bored by most of this blog anyway, and I don’t care because he’s supposed to be meeting me at this net caff – same one as yesterday – and he’s late, as usual.

Oh, hold on, it’s a post about differences between the US and the UK again, sort of, so everyone will be terribly bored.

I’m not sure how successful Master And Commander has been in the US because I’m too lazy to look the figures up and don’t care. However, there are a couple of things that I was surprised to find they didn’t change. As you may or may not know, it’s about Russell Crowe with blond shoulder-length hair being very manly and seacaptainish in a naval adventure against the dastardly Frenchies. (The film is based on a series of books which, I am informed, also include the protagonist fighting the Americans. I have a feeling that those particular stories may not be seen on the screen.) Crowe puts on an English accent which is probably about as good as he would be able to do, and will convince non-English people or enthusiastic, drunk or dribbling Brits, so I can’t really complain there. I’m not usually a fan of Napoleonic naval type stories but I quite enjoyed this one.

Anyway, there are two things that I didn’t see changed in the original’s conversion which would have made me hate it which halfwitted studio execs might have demanded:

  1. Russell Crowe at no point goes amongst his crew and tells them he feels their pain about losing their mates to cannonballs and splinters etc, or makes any effort to identify with them or hug them. He does not cry. Because this is not Saving Private Ryan and he is not Tom Hanks. In fact, he has one of them flogged for being cheeky. I am not sure how he can be the good guy whilst doing this since he is obviously not respecting their feelings and affirming them as individuals, but maybe historical accuracy is getting the better of.
  2. More seriously (since you can always get away with a bit of hard-nosed “they want leadership” machismo in a movie and I’m really just sneering at Tom Hanks with the first point) Crowe and the other officers spend much of their time pissed out of their brains. It seems that every evening they head straight for their dining room and proceed to drink themselves into a stupor while planning their next maneuvers and making appalling jokes about weevils. For God’s sake, Crowe is clearly drunk in several scenes. What sort of an example is that to set?

Nobody smokes, though. Well, there’s a brief cigar. That would just be going too far.

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Quincy

All I seem to have done since I’ve got back here is talk about how X is different in the States.

Person: “I went and bought some pants yesterday[1]…”
Fridge: “Yes, you know, pants are much cheaper in the US, and they call them shorts. Or briefs. But boxers are still called boxers. Isn’t that weird?”
Person: “Um, anyone fancy a cuppa?”
Fridge: “Oh, don’t get me started on tea in the States, you can’t get proper tea, well, you can get iced tea, but that’s not proper. And they sell Liptons in teabags, and that’s it! Liptons! Can you imagine? Of course, you can get fancy teabags in Starbucks, but they’re not really proper tea.”
Person: “Okay, well, I’m going to watch some telly now. See you later.”
Fridge: “NO I MUST TALK TO YOU ABOUT AMERICAN TEE VEE IT HAS BEEN MY ENTIRE LIFE FOR THE LAST YEAR WHERE ARE YOU GOING”

Basically I’ve been intensely dull. It’s like I have been some sort of undercover agent for the last year and am now delivering my platitudinous report, only the management has changed and nobody’s interested in that mission any more. Neither am I, really, but I don’t seem to have anything else to talk about. And I must talk. Oh yes. I don’t seem to have been able to shut up since I landed. Maybe it’s the novelty of actually having people to talk to (apart from any co-workers I can corner and, if necessary, taser, and telemarketers). I get a bit lonely, you know.

I may even have already written about doing this; if so, it’s the Lockets that are doing it to me.

[1] Mind you, anyone talking to me about having just bought some pants is just asking to have something equally boring said back to them.

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(still here)

Of course, I think that TIME is really too polite to actually slag anyone off anyway. They epitomise “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. They even had a relatively good word for Chirac, though of course since he decided he wanted a bit of the Iraq action he’s a bit more “relevant”.

Given that many US soldiers really do think they are fighting for freedom and democracy and the Iraqi people, it might be considered good manners not to sit there and shout “bastards” at them given that many aren’t – but then, in the world I live in, when people do bad things with the best of intentions, you don’t sit there and support them in what they’re doing, either. Similarly, if someone is unlucky enough to be unable to get out of doing something bad without getting a court martial, you don’t say “oh well, that’s all right then, go on and do it”. There is a difference between supporting a person and supporting what they’re doing… I hate it when I write that sort of thing because it’s so completely obvious, yet actually seems to need saying.

“Hi fridge, I’ve just set fire to my neighbour’s house because my mate told me he was going to kill a load of kids and kittens. I couldn’t let that happen! Pity about the rest of his family, but this guy was going to kill a whole school and a whole kittie sanctuary if I didn’t do it! And besides, his family wanted me to. That’s what my mate said.” “Oh, okay then. You may have done something entirely fuckwitted but you meant the best.” No, not really, doesn’t quite fit.

TVNewsLies.org has an alternative Person Of The Year, as you might expect.

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Snot cafe

Back from East Devon and sitting just off Charing Cross Road, carpeting this innocent pay net establishment with tissues in some sort of illegal way. David Blunkett will be in shortly I’m sure, to haul me and my WMD nose away. It’s all rather crap to be honest; I haven’t had a cold since, well, since last time I was in England. I go to one little club and have a couple of quiet drinks and get to sleep ever so slightly later than usual and the next day my brain turns into a mucus-producing gland.

I suspected that it might be down to my sneering at TIME Magazine naming “The American Soldier” as “Person Of The Year”, and I wrote an ever-so-slightly sarcastic recanting of all my views on the subject, promising to believe everything my betters tell me to from now on, but it’s all on my laptop and there’s not much chance of my retrieving it now until it’s way too late. In any case I’m re-recanting it all now because my cold hasn’t gone away. The main thing of educational value from the issue was that Donald Rumsfeld’s face looks very much like a fist with a toupee on.

Anyway, I went up to see my mother on Sunday, stood on a train for two hours, hung around a village dribbling from my proboscis, ate a load of goose, drank a load of wine, sneezed and so on and am now back in London wasting time.

Money saving tip: You may wish to read TIME at a newsstand or something if you want to get an equivalent cold yourself, but I suppose you could get the same effect by having a few Buds, putting on some soft rock then jerking off over a picture of a Marine (and in today’s enlightened times said Marine could be of either gender – war porn for every preference) while shouting “Freedom! Democracy! Ugh!” For best effect, put a small toupee on your hand first. I bet that turned you on, didn’t it?

I’m getting out of here before I go beyond the one pound mark, since I am a cheapskate and can’t think of anything more to write. I’ll get to the counter and they’ll tell me I’ve gone over, of course.

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Owned

Merry, or Happy, Christmas. Is it Merry Christmas? It’s “we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year”, I think. Hmm.

I’m currently staying in a place that looks like this:

Seaton coast with sign for Chine Cafe

Well, the actual bit that I’m staying in doesn’t look like that. I’m not camping by the sea or anything. It’s a small seaside town occupied by a lot of old people but mostly owned by seagulls, who in fact own the entire coast. Huge birds the size of spaniels but a million times as vicious, they strut up and down the beaches arguing with each other and pulling things apart. The ones here don’t seem to beg for food from humans, it’s beneath them, though I’m sure they would mug you for a sandwich. They don’t consider the fact that non-seagulls have put strange hard pink, blue and yellow things along their coast a challenge to them.

Apparently it is traditional to paint seaside houses pink, dating back to the Regency period, when they used ox blood.

I watched ITN News this morning, summing up The Most Important Story Of The Year (invading Iraq, obviously). They are frighteningly on-message. Tony must be proud – according to them, everything was exactly as Number Ten says it was. They even repeated the “tight” footage of the “crowd” “pulling down Saddam’s statue”, i.e. the footage where you can’t see that it’s a rather small crowd of Iraqis surrounded by tanks. And then they rounded it off by playing, as they have been doing for the last few days, Christmas messages from British soldiers in Iraq to their families, and filming their tearful families receiving them. Don’t worry luv, it’ll all be over by Christmas! Well, next Christmas I suppose. Also a bit of footage showing all the great work for the Iraqis they’re doing over there. How heart-warming!

It was like being back in the States. Thank god for Paxman. » Continue reading “Owned”

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Oh go on, just a quick one then

Well.

  • I thought that something was missing when I got out of Brixton tube, in that nobody was trying to sell me incense, tickets or the Socialist Worker, or get money out of me in any other way, but then I realised there were two coppers there. In general there seem to be more police wandering around near the station, which is not a bad thing.
  • GOLF SALE signs have changed to THE GOLF SALE signs, in both Oxford Street and Regents Street. This is wrong and bad.
  • Everything tastes unsweet, because not everything has corn syrup added to it. I am munching on chocolate biscuits absently as I sit here, unconsciously manipulating my processed sugar levels.
  • Everything is bloody expensive.
  • Beer really is uniformly better, I wasn’t just imagining it or being homesick.
  • It’s hard to get good photos of an evening when your camera wants to set the exposure time to one second and you’re surrounded by several hundred people with elbows all changing their minds about where they want to go every three seconds. However, I have a couple.
  • The Independent is still middle-ground liberal, the Guardian is still the Guardian and the Sun is still full of shit. (These are the three papers I have read so far.)
  • Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure is actually really good. I was a bit sceptical since I didn’t like his old sideburns, but he’s got rid of them. I won’t spoil any of it; it’s not stand-up, it’s a monologue thing, it has a story which is ruinable and I won’t.
  • The tube is still dirty and bits of it are broken, though I’ve mostly been on the Victoria line which is still one of the best.
  • I can use my phone here but it’s stupidly expensive. Phone technology and availability is still much better here than in the US, even though the latter has improved greatly recently. I mean, so much better.
  • Actually, nothing much has changed in London that I can see. I’ve only been away for a year. I had expected that they would have cleared away the “fridge has left” street party debris by now and indeed they have, though I saw the remnants of a banner saying “good riddance” tucked under a bench.

I’m off down to Devon on Tuesday, assuming I actually manage to get the train tickets from my sister.

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Cheers then

In around three and a half hours I will be leaving the country to go back to England for a bit. Well, obviously I’m going to be taking my iBook. You’re obviously new if you thought I wouldn’t. But I’m probably not going to be online all that much.

I can’t remember taking an evening flight before but it saves a lot of last minute preparation. I spent all day wandering around, having coffee, doing some laundry, packing, you know, stuff. Normally I just have to throw everything desperately into a bag in about half an hour and hope that it comes out okay at the other end. I’ve ironed things this time (pointless given that it’s all going to get hurled around in a hold and by throwers, but maybe they will be ever so slightly less creased.) I’ve also gone round and removed any possible penknife from my person.

I need to throw some rubbish out, then I’m going to have a shower and go. See you later.

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Hello? Am I the only one here?

BBC NEWS | Europe | Milosevic ‘as petulant as ever’

Blah blah, doesn’t really say much. But doesn’t anyone else think this…

In an unprecedented agreement between the court and the US, Washington will be allowed to review Mr Clark’s testimony before it is made public.

The US will have two days to apply for parts of the testimony to be removed from the public record if it considers them harmful to US national interests.

An edited recording is due to be made public on Friday.

…is a bit odd? Just, you know, a little? What exactly would Clark say that could be “harmful to US national interests”? (I’ve long given up saying things like “what gives them the right to do that anyway?” Nothing does. Arrogant bastards etc etc, move on.)

I actually posted about this a while back when it was first announced and I’ve still not been able to work it out. The fact is that there’s no interest in the Milosevic trial in the US anyway; I doubt most people know he’s on trial at all. Kosovo was That Great War Where We Beat The Evil Serbs and that’s it. Given the success of the whitewashing that’s gone on already despite the open availability of evidence, I can’t see how Clark saying things in a court that nobody in the US pays attention to anyway is going to make any difference. (I think it rather goes without saying that the USG doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. “Harmful to US national interests” means “harmful to the interests of the administration”.)

I can only assume that they thought that the testimony that Milosevic might have got out of Clark might be embarrassing to incumbents and be picked up by domestic political opponents, though given it took place during the Clinton administration… perhaps the decision was made with Clark being a potential President in mind. Or perhaps any hint of the US siding with Islamic terrorists – well, okay, up until 1998 the KLA were listed by the State Department as terrorists, but then they were moved to the Freedom Fighter list – would look bad overall. Perhaps the implications that the KLA were and are actually directly connected to al Qaeda that I’ve seen around have some truth to them. I don’t really know enough about the situation to make a decision on that.

Or maybe I’m wrong about it being motivated by purely domestic concerns and actually, Clark could reveal something that the US knows and other NATO countries don’t… I’m suspicious of this sort of reasoning though. Presuming that someone is hiding incredible secrets of an unknown nature seems to stray too far from Occam’s Razor, is a hallmark of a lot of paranoid conspiracy stuff (see Kelly case) and I reckon is a black mark against a theory.

Maybe it’s just a reflex reaction to an American being asked to testify before an international court. Maybe they don’t think there’s anything that he might say that’s damaging, but they want to set a precedent and make a statement that they can dictate terms.

Basically I haven’t a clue, none of the theories I can think of seem particularly plausible, and nobody seems to care or have noticed. It gets three short paragraphs on the BBC.

Incidentally, if you check this US Immigration page about KLA terrorist activities, you find that it lists as one of its sources:

Socialism Today. June 1999. Issue 39. “The KLA and the Struggle for Kosovar Self-determination” [Internet] <http://www.socialismtoday.org/39/kla39.html> [Accessed on 13 June 2000].

Damn communist infiltrators, hacking into uscis.gov!

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Twenty or less

mayfly project logo meish.org : mayfly project 2003

I haven’t entered yet. I’m going to have a think first.

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