Monday, December 31, 2007

the politics of privacy, the privacy of politics

one thing I think seems to have slipped by the britpopliticians in their mad rush to get all of our lives into government databases. we get all their lives too...

we know where you live, my brown, and the color of your cars, and your bank account details, and your tax return status, and... ... ...

surely you;d think that'd make them more afraid than us - after all,we know they have something to hide, whereas they can never be sure about us...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

a fairytale of New York - PC Madeness

So PC (as in political correctness not Police Constable) Madness temporarily reigned at the Beeb when some bozo of a censor decided that various words in the glorous Pogue's xmas song, a fairytale of new york, had to be bleeped out as they (e.g. strumpet, fagott) were offensive - as one fan said "isn't this just about christmas food:)

the song is fabulous because it is so resonant - even the fact that it appears to be a love song between a couple of drunken homeless crusties, whereas the singer Kirsty MacColl couldnt ever have really be described as anything other than glamorous (alas she passed away in a bizarre scuba diving accident), and Shane McGowan[1] is alarmingly still alive even though he is a drunken crusty m just adds depth to the duet (Shane sings
"Well, I could have bin someone", and Kirsty retorts "well, so could anyone" - perfect punk ethos, and delicious in that they are both someone, but both "someone of the people"

so the Beeb moron who decided to ban the offensive bits in the lyrics (despite them being a little bit Olde Worlde archaic uage, and not even words in contemporary slang) was obviously not aware that, and how ironic is this (shades of that oirish standup routine about Alannis Morisette's crap "how ironic" ditty) - the band, the Pogue's full name is the Irish phrase "pogue mahone" which means "kiss my arse". Shane must be laughing all the way to the next pint of martini.

Kirsty (RIP) was once known as the Electric Land Lady (after Jimi Hendrix ELectric Ladyland:), but also, according to many, including Billy Bragg (who's beautiful song St Swithin's day she also sang beautiflly), was an angel....she sure was.....

[1]Shane's punk credentials don't seem to be dented by the fact that he went to a very posh school (this is not hearsay - i was at the same school at the same time, Westminster, and vaguely new Shane there; of course, I certainly have no punk credentials at all, despite playing in a band called Intensive Care Unit:) Perhaps this was coz I was let go from a band run by Matthew Seligman (very good bass player)...)gratuitous, Little Feat style extraneous parenthesis....()

Monday, December 10, 2007

I was kindly given a copy of the history book, Thunderstruck (signed by the author, erik larson, thank you kindly, sir!), by Rex Hughes at a luncheon to celebrate his recent doctorate. In this book is a marvellously rich, deeply researched history of the twin tales of the mild murderer, Crippen, and the seminal entrepreneur, Marconi, and how their lives (like many later) were entwined by long distance wireless communication!

but more to the point, there is a description of london in the late 19th and early 20th century - around that time, italian and french anarchists were highly active (see Joseph Conrad's novel The Secret Agent (filmed by Alfred Hitchcock as Saboteaur) - apparently, half the houses on Charlotte Street (near UCL, in London) were under surveillance by the New Scotland Yard and the Surete (interesting that the victorian and edwardian british let the french secrete service operate within london) - there was of course a famouse bomb at new scotland yard, amongst others

so today's hysteria by UK (and other) goverment agencies saying there's a "new threat from terrorism" and we must reduce rights so that terrorosts can be tracked and caught, is yet again shown to be completely bogus- there was always such a threat, and, of course, we need eternal vigilance, but that doesn't mean there's a change such that we need to relax habeus corpus or other (inalienable?) rights

oh, the way the marconi wireless telegraphy (sometimes beatifully known as "space telegraphy - prescient of Vint Cerf's Interplanetary Internet:), was used to warn american police of Crippen's imminent arrival on a boat, is eerily reminiscent of the way that cell phones were used to track the 2nd lot of london bombers to....italy, where Guilgemo Marconi came from...

are all novelists high functioning autistics?

was thinking about this - one thing that very intellectually smart but empathically challenged folks on the autism spectrum do, is apparently, to run simulations of what other people might be feeling...rather than actually experiencing empathy - isn't this what novelists do?

Monday, December 03, 2007

mohammed bear

so the teacher in sudan who entertained a classroom of kids with a nice
engaging game of "lets pick a name for the bear" is set free - and "pardoned".
(see, for example bbc report on this, amongst zillions of others).

frankly that is not good enough. frankly, the people that accused her are unbelievable hypocrites, and should be comdemned - the religious teachers who should have told the kids in the school that perhaps naming an inanimate doll after the prophet was inappropriate, they are the ones who are guilty - the teacher who was clearly very good at her job, and popular, was a victim of prejudice, and the appropriate thing would be for a trial under sharia law of those who levelled false accusations against her out of jealousy and bigotry - they clearly lacked understanding, let alone compassion. As has been made obvious by the (majority) sane part of the muslim community, this was an unjust case in the first place. So who will be tried for hiring the "rent a mob" people who cried out for her to be whipped? You know, I'm not a christian, so I'd be happy to throw the first stone. What is the punishment for lying in Islam? For threatening jihad/violence without justification? The sudanese religious leaders need to think very hard about just what they stand for, and how much the rest of the world will stand for them talking this sort of gibberish.