Thursday, 27 March 2008

Is uk a Police State?

ThoughtCrime 2008:
Here's a piece about the British Police's seemingly concerted attempt to stop the public showing of anti-war protesters' film.

I must admit to have not seen the film and have only a brief understanding of the nature of the protest. It would seem protesters in Brighton have been campaining against EDO who are an arms company, to highlight this local firms role in the arms trade/war in Iraq. The films shows their struggle and also is reported to show the Police in a bad light.

My main concern is that the Police Officers have been spending their time trying to stop public screenings of the film, in art cinemas, pubs etc. They have been using the fact this little film hasn't got a BBFC certificate to bully landlords into not showing it.

Lets' get things straight: Censorship is wrong particularly if the Police are misusing their powers or personnel to curb free speech. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the case the fact the police are bothering to do this officallly, semi-offically or privately, points you in the direction of what's really going on.

Check out this site and decide for yourselves what to think rather than have some disgruntled bobby decide for you.
The film Trailer

Saturday, 22 March 2008

The Edgy of Reason

New series of TaggART

I’ve talked before about my dislike of graffiti, well here’s a classic example.
Next to New Cross station the NHS has spent £ 14 M on a new health Centre. It’s good that places like Deptford have money spent on them; it’s an interesting wood clad building. But before it’s even finished some gimp has tagged it. As usual with “graphs” it’s obscure to say the least, knowing Deptford it’s probably some protest about something.
But all it really achieves is to make everyone who sees it day, that bit worse. Also some poor under paid builder is going to have to clean it off, money that could be spent on therapies at the new centre.

But as we know tagging is cool. In which case the rail line into cannon street must absolute zero when it come to cool, as every inch of the brick work is covered in this crud.

But of course tagging is edgy that’s why the railways carriage cafĂ© (in general a good idea) on the high street had to have “to Deptford with love” graphed down the side. A railway carriage in the middle of the street wasn’t edgy enough it has to be sprayed to make it minty cool. Of course the new health centre will look great when the solvents used to clean the tag off denatures the wood and that panel weathers quicker than the rest and thus a small bit at the time our local areas get that little bit worse.
But amongst the spray paint and empty chicken boxes it will at least be “edgy”.

“Oh but some of it is so creative” how can something that results in making the world an even worse place be ever called be a creative act.

And no this isn’t subjective you look at all the places people really want to live and none of them are covered in graffiti and when I say people I mean the majority of society except the over grown children who go around tagging.

So in conclusion:

  • Graffiti is ugly visual sewage.
  • Taggers are boring tedious talentless time wasters.
  • The Arty types who promote/encourage taggers are if anything even worse.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Citizen Kirsty

Just a couple of short things:

I love how these frosted windows hide your inherit racism...

I was thinking about these property programmes mainly on Channel 4. You know the ones where a PR manager married to some nonspecific media person wants to exchange their hectic urban life for the peace of the country/rundown seaside town. He wants to squeeze his gut into a wets suits to go kite surfing, she's already pregnant.... Isn't it funny how what is basically white flight (white people leaving the inner cities to put "crime" and the "poor/non white people" behind them) is being given hours and hours of positive air time. You never hear Kevin or Kirsty actually saying "oh it is a wonderful view you can't see a Hoody or Somali woman for miles" .


The ex Lord Chancellor has done a review on citizenship (sorry should that be "Subjectship" oh no we still have a Queen). One idea is a passing out parade at schools so 16 years can be inducted into adult hood and into being a responsible citizen. They were talking about pledges of allegiance this morning but that's by the by.

My point is we should leave the kids alone and target the super rich and the sponging non-doms. If the former treasurer of the Tory party 9Lord Mac Alpine)can claim expenses in the House of Lords for living full time in Southern Italy (god knows where he pays his 2p of tax) why lecture some 16 year old future shop assistant whose going to be paying 20% of tax before she can even vote on doing there bit.

How about some lectures for the hedge fund managers in paying their share so that they pay more tax in percentage than the squaddie who job it is to protect them.

How about getting some more out of the rich non-doms who don't give toss for their own country and just swan round the world suckling at every financial teat they nuzzle up to before we brow beat kids. Kids who are smart enough to start asking about "why do MP's get away with fiddling their expenses" , "How come the Royal Family get loads of state money when they are already incredibly rich"

Oh and while we are at it let's see the over paid English sporting teams having some lessons in national pride etc and actually giving a toss when they play.

oh I'll swear allegiance to t'old Betty when she pledges allegiance to the mighty tykes who beat Chelsea 1-0 the other day.
Update: Lord Falconer called for a national day not linked to an "historical" event to celebrate the acheivements of ordinary people well 8th March the day Barnsley and Portsmouth knocked out Moan U and Chelsea out of The FA Cup, seems ideal!

Monday, 10 March 2008

We won.

FA hypocrisy
Barnsley 1 Chelsea 0

I know accusing the football authorities of hypocrisy isn’t new but here’s my case. Thinking that the game was over (how much extra time was played?) and having seen their team (widely called “little” “small” “homely” by the media) beat a bunch of over paid southern dandies, a few Barnsley fans ran on to the pitch. I won’t use the word “invade”, as when William of Normandy and his lads invaded Hastings he didn’t run on to the beach, find the first Saxon and kiss him, then do a dance and finally turn round to the nearest camera (tapestry weaver?) and gurn at them. This wasn’t an invasion it was a celebration. However fans running about on the pitch is seemingly the worst offence ever committed in football, much worse than £40 match tickets, £5 pound hotdogs, shoddy sweat shop made £60 pound replica shirts, clubs being bought by foreign owners burdened with huge debts and run into the ground, clubs being bought with money stolen from the Russia people or even Motty’s boring commentary. No a few fans celebrating is a terrible terrible thing. Barnsley will be fined for this celebration because rules are rules (well for small clubs anyway Moan United and Arsenal are treated differently).

But this is the same FA who has broken with tradition and is holding the semi finals at Wembley purely for monetary reasons. They are also the same FA who loves the fact that clubs like Barnsley have injected some passion, joy and drama back into the cup brining it back to the people who love it the most the fans. The FA PR team will love shots of fans dancing with players, the same fans who will shell out hopefully twice to go to Wembley to buy overpriced hotdogs etc and bring some passion etc to the cup which the FA can then show to corporate sponsors to get even more cash.

Anyway to reiterate the most important point is Barnsley beat Chelsea one nil by playing better football, they ran them off the park and made them look rubbish,

Barnsley are by far the greatest team the world as ever seen.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Uniform Nonsense

All these stories this week about RAF troops getting abuse in Peteborough, coupled with coverage of a medal presentation (when was last time you heard about one of those) and a "campaign" to put a WW11 RAF commander on the "plinth" in Trafalgar square; all seems a tad suspicious occurring in the week of a popular media favourite, an anniversary. In this case the anniversary of the start of the current Iraq war (did it really have an official start?).
I don't usually believe in conspiracies but I do believe in spin. Apart from the Peterborough story being largely unfounded this whole campaign by the Government to militarise Britain is deeply distasteful. I'm not saying we should abuse the arms forces (far from it I'm very grateful for the freedoms they have given us, this blog is a very small example of those freedoms).

But I just see the government's position is very cynical, they don't really give a toss for Armed forces personnel,otherwise they would equip the troops and look after the injured better. No ,New Labour are just trying to justify there woeful decision to enter into 2 badly planned ill thought out wars. By deflecting the public anger and unease at these wars by suggesting we shouldn't be nasty to service people is insulting.

Gordon Brown should be in front of the cameras explaining why after 5 years Iraq is still a dangerous unstable place where basic services still have not returned to pre invasion levels, where billions of pounds of Iraqi oil revenues have been squandered and stolen by American and other countries contractors, where religious intolerance boils away, where all this will gone for years to come and that's before we get to Afghanistan.

ps. On the subject of the "Plinth" I thought we had sorted this out it's great as a rolling platform for contemporary sculpture, all the Express readers who whinge on can just find another way to promote their half arses reactionary campaigns, we seem to have a growing set of memorials to various war and warriors in Whitehall and Hyde park corner why not stick another one there?

Friday, 7 March 2008

Split opinions

Going Nuclear?
I saw this article in the Technology bit of paper and it annoyed the hell out me so I wrote a blog post, which I decided to send to Charles Arthur the writer of the piece. He graciously replied to me, see below I don't think he answered all my points (he did reply very quickly though) and he seems to be pushing the council of despair which I never favour.

Here's my e-mail

Dear Charles,
I’m not surprised to see the Guardian supporting nuclear power as it has increasingly supported many of New Labour’s glibber policies. I’m more surprised you portray it as a broad brush one shop stop solution to our energy needs. You side step any attempt at energy saving or adapting our lifestyle to a future of finite energy resources.

Using the analogy of Northern Rock is very apt for this policy as throwing money after bad is was wrong to do with banks as it is with energy. If we don’t reduce our needs for energy first, we can never build sufficient power stations for our future needs. Building to meet supposed demand has never worked, if we had done the same with roads the M25 would be a 20 lane highway with every lane gridlocked by now.

Nuclear power is classic New Labour its the PFI of power supplies, a way of throwing large sums of money at problem so as to appear to be doing something, at the same time as side stepping difficult problems (waste, energy saving, the design and layout of cities, poor public transport) and ultimately leaving a large mess for our children to clean up.

Nuclear power much like carbon offsetting is just another way for rich people to maintain their lifestyles whilst passing on the negative effects to the poor: there’ll be no waste storage in pretty Cotswolds villages, no power stations in the middle of Georgian terraces in north London. The waste and danger will go to poor areas and countries who will gain little from the power.

Also the idea we will suddenly stop using oil the moment nuclear power increase is fanciful. We will use the nuclear power to find new quicker ways of turning oil into Co2 particularly if people feel they have “solved” global warming.

Also aren’t we swapping dependence on unstable countries for oil on to dependence on unstable countries for uranium, unless that is you’ve found a seam in Coventry that is. This problem will get worse when demand goes up we can’t all get our Uranium from Australia.

When did liberal progressive people become afraid of a challenge, fascism wasn’t defeated by broad brush strokes but by a lot of brave people taking the hard options and committing themselves to a long struggle, oh and partly (seeing as this is the technology section) by harnessing our ingenuity, talent skills to crack complicated problems.

Charle's Reply

Hi Chris..It's not a glib idea. You only have to look at our per capita energy consumption in Europe and compare it with China or India to see that asthey become more industralised, we'll be competing with them for oil and coal, which anyway we shouldn't be burning if we don't want to make global warming worse. Nuclear assures our energy strategy because we can reprocess it (we have abig plant in Cumbria doing just that) and reuse it.

And you're simply never going to persuade enough people to change their lifestyles to make reduction through less use happen. The only way thatscale of reduction - say in food consumption - happens is if you're at war.People aren't going to give up their nice lights, computers, big TVs, inorder to fight global warming. They think it's someone else's responsibility. That's why we have governments. Interesting that ours does want more nuclear power: today's FT.Fascism was defeated, but it took a lot of sacrifice. Absent a war, I don'tt hink people will make it. I'd rather not have a war. Ergo nuclear is as impler way forward.
Thanks for reading, and for writing.
best Charles Arthur, editor, Technology

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Booze Britannia

The moral panic continues

On the radio this morning there was the usual waffle about the extension of licensing laws. The BBC still insist on call it “24 hour drinking” which sounds scarier than “1 extra hour of supping” which is what happens in most cases. I was shocked by (I think) James Naughtie vehemence in questioning the minster defending the recent policy it was the sort of grilling that should be reserved for dirty hospitals or the war in Ira. The media seems to think that we all are against relaxing the drinking laws, the tidal boor of booze Britain stories is ongoing. We get the myth of continental drinking pushed all the time when in reality the French have high levels of liver cirrhosis and drink driving deaths and provincial Italian towns are just dull.

Happy Hours?
Also the extension of drinking times isn’t the problem it’s not the last shot people are having at 1 am that’s the problem it’s the fact that people had 8 shots before 8 pm that’s the problem. Also we have continental licensing laws but our town centre pubs are still grim packed drinking sheds. Aside from a general northern European love of getting smashed, if we had more pleasant pubs/bars we might just enjoy company over drink. But more seats will need table service; in order to talk sat down they need to turn the bloody music down, simple snacky local food would be good. We will also need a mix of good quality late night places and also spread them out. A few more late licences for smaller local pubs, if you spread people there is less confrontation people can walk home rather wait for cabs and night buses.

You can't give booze to baby
Also is there a way of lowering the age to ease kids into drinking (if they want to)? Provide more underage gigs and clubs. Kids want excitement like everyone else and sure they have to learn to occupy themselves but many kids feel forced to grow up too quickly so easing them into stuff with gigs etc could be a way forward. In America Christian rock is big for partly this reason in that they have huge fan base of kids up to 21 years old who can’t drink but want a good time and because the god botherers play sport halls etc that don’t have drink licences the kids can get in. Wouldn’t it be better that kids got to see and hear real rock, pop and dance.

The Media : Bitter hatred
Oh and as usual the picture used to illustrate the story on the BBC website is a pint bitter, it’s probably because Alco pops are drunk from branded bottles so can’t be shown for fear of accusing Smirnoff of pushing foul sickly violence inducing additive laced poison, wine can’t be shown because the editor of Today drinks wine so that’s aspirational so bitter get’s it in the neck although real drinkers account for tiny percentage of the alcohol infused crime.

Ps the Guardian in G2 has a long article on wine again this from a paper with at least 2 weekly wine columns and a food magazine that has 1-2 stories a month about grape juice, but rarely covers any of Britains 400 plus small beer makers, we really do have strange relationship with drink in Britain.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Media lexicon

Baronial Nonsense:
Words you only see in the press “Baron” as in Paul Raymond “porn Baron”. It’s glamorous title for someone who made a pile of cash out exploiting pimply gooseflesh, bored looking strippers and Soho property.

The brilliance of “Baron” is that the people so described aren’t going to complain too much as it sounds slightly romantic and buccaneering. What it really means is someone who has cornered a large part of market usualy by less then mainstream methods and then proceeds to do what they like. See also steel barons, railroad barons and the British royal family...

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Cry god for harry

Leashing the dog of war

One thing I've not seen in the coverage of Prince Harry's tour of duty in Afghanistan is that it was really just part of the rolling Royal programme to justify their existence. On the Channel 4 evening news on Thurs John Snow asked rhetorically why Harry couldn't become a banker rather than causing all these extra problems for the Army as well as causing the press to collude with the government. Well Snow is half right he could try to get another job but he couldn't be banker even though the Windsors are loaded they wouldn't want to be seen revelling in it. Although a city job would be right for Harry in some ways in that you can get positions on connections and being a good bloke alone.

Alternatively he couldn't be a professional because that would involve study and work and it's all a bit trade for the Royals. His uncle tried the arts and that didn't work out. So the army or "good" works (which will come later) are his only option.

The main reason Harry went to war is that Royals have to do something like this every so often to appear to keep their end up. Look at the Queen Mum she spent the war shopping, drinking gin and having her swimming pool bombed with the odd trip to Blitzed Poplar for PR. Those war time visits secured her a life time of the best health care, the best gin, the best race horses , 1 or 2 castles and dieing 2-3 million in debt. Not bad for a women who never said more than 2 words in public in 70 years.
So Harry's army thing is just a justification for keeping the Royals with the added bonus of some military pomp and circumstances.

It also has another bonus of sticking it to the political classes because as Mail readers will point out "say what you like about the Royals (god bless 'em) Tony Blair's son is never going to go to war"
So the fact that he was found out isn't a tragedy as his job's done over there it's time to come home for tea and medals with his gran!