30 Nov 2008

Cigars, Brandy and Gassing.

"I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes... it is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses; gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no permanent effects on most of those affected."

Winston Churchill, 1919.

Jesus Christ, he's really let himself go...

Ohhh free wine. Ouch.

27 Nov 2008


The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose

The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine

The poor and wretched don't escaoe
If they conspire the law to break
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law

The law locks up the man or the woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And gesse will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back

15th century poem against the enclosure movement, who fenced off common land and turned it into private property.


I've been to the vets/had a fight with a lawnmower/had a small dose of chemo/had a section of my head shaved by mistake/created some head art...*

*One of these is correct.

25 Nov 2008

The Strange Men Of The IOC

Here's someone reading Pierre de Coubertin's announcement of the restoration of the Olympic Games in 1900.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin is credited with the modern foundation of the Olympic Games. I had heard of his name before, but never really had that much of an interest. He was from an aristocratic family, but as this was France, that pretty much just means wealthy. His dad was a painter (I'm not sure whether this means 'painter-decorator' or swarthy French artisan), and according to the official story his Mum got the nice big Ch√Ęteau in Normandy.

A big influence was the public school system in England at the time, specifically Rugby, and this apparently gave him the idea that sport could be more than about just competing, and can have some sort of noble aim. He was a believer in the 'aesthetic' of sport and eurythmy. Some allege that part of the aim of de Coubertin's Olympic movement was to strengthen the colonial powers' grip over fledgling nations, although to me that's based on assumptions rather than fact. Robert J. McNamara (not the former US Secretary of State of the same name) reckons that his childhood experience of France getting its ass kicked in the Franco-Prussian war contributed to his desire to get everyone all sporty like. French education was intellectual, whereas English public school education had PE and rampant sexual abuse, which was far more noble.

So far, so good.

Our next weird man of the Olympics is Avery Brundage.

Now he really was a character.

His first major controversy was when he was President of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). In 1936, there was a campaign to boycott the 1936 games in Germany (in which, not surprisingly, Jews were excluded) and he rejected this boycott. He was important in getting rid of hostile opinion within USOC and was rewarded by a position on the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In the 1936 400m event, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller (the only 2 Jewish athletes in the US team) were replaced by the better remembered Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe. There was no evidence to directly say Brundage expelled them, but considering he later spoke in praise of Hitler, he probably had something to do with it. More about him here...

He became IOC President in 1952, and continued his shitty policies for quite some time (no professionals, no women): "I am fed up to the ears with women as track and field competitors... her charms sink to something less than zero. As swimmers and divers, girls are [as] beautiful and adroit as they are ineffective and unpleasing on the track."

Anyway, there's lots of stuff on him. Now we're onto Juan Antonio Samaranch.
Samaranch became President of the Spanish National Olympic Committee in 1967, and was a member of the IOC from 1966 onwards. You may recall that, until 1975, Spain had a political system that perhaps Avery Brundage might have approved of. He became IOC President in 1980, and set about making much of the changes that, for better or worse, we continue with today.

As the IOC was screwed for cash in the 1970's, Samaranch decided that sponsors for the games should be global, and not decided by each country. On the plus side, the IOC got a massive cash boost, but at the cost of the smaller companies that used to enjoy the exposure. Sponsorship from then onwards (like now) is provided by huge multinational and transnational corporations. He also made the competition professional (which it apparently wasn't before then).

Maybe the money went to his head. He asked to be referred to as 'Your Excellency', and according to the Irish Times, needed a limousine and a presidential suite wherever he went. Some of the worst corruption of the IOC (doping, vote-buying etc) also happened under his watch, but following inquiries, no action was taken against him.

None of this here is original research, but it may make you think about the IOC a bit differently. I must admit, for an apparently non-political organisation, the IOC seems to have helped form an international endorsement of some nasty authoritarian regimes. China anyone?

24 Nov 2008

Nothing like assumptions...

This article goes on way too long.

Typical New York... first comes Sex And The City, and then seemingly everyone is qualified to like, totally, write a journal with their answer to 'how things are in the dating world', as if everyone was simultaneously asking that question. Weirdly, although this annoyed me, I read it to the end.

But of course I would, as I'm an 'bitter SYM' who feels "that the entire culture is a you-go-girl cheering section". Hmm, men earn more and hold more positions of power - its been this way for a while, we're still winning. And if you're middle-class like me, double-winner.

The fight ain't over yet sisters.

I see the divide very differently to Hymowitz. There's one side that is 'people who just get on with things' and and on the other 'those that spend time navel-gazing about relationships'. I wonder if the unemployed 5.8% of NYC's population gives as much of a shit.

Maybe I am angry.

22 Nov 2008


I made some predictions a few weeks ago.

It turns out I was right...

Well on one of them at least.

21 Nov 2008

No fun allowed.

Over the years, my office has had all sorts stuck to the walls. Now I have to take it down as its apparently 'unprofessional' (despite the fact no one can see it except me). Here's some highlights.

This is a sketch of a proposed uniform by my colleague. It originally also had a ceremonial sword.

A picture of Bono - the artist is something Chapman, or something.

An interpretation of our computer people.

A dinosaur made out of sweet wrappers.

'Jazz Hands' (also sweet wrapper-constructed)

My motivational sign.

19 Nov 2008

Let's have a look inside now shall we?

My computer at work kinda sucks. Its a managed desktop, so I can't do much. It looks like this:

Ubuntu (an easy version of Linux) is also available as a live CD, so I didn't need to risk installing something (which could be a bit naughty). I got a bit scared when this happened...

But then, as if by magic, Ubuntu came alive and I've got a far more pleasant screen:

I had the urge to click 'install' but then, if I did that, it would get rid of managed Windows, and I would have no way of getting it back, except by befriending a sypathetic tech. I'll leave it for now.

18 Nov 2008

Fucked Up (at Corp and in arm)

I went to see Fucked Up at Corp and all I got were these blurry pictures. I was too caught up in the show to really get to grips with boring stuff like focussing. Below is Pink Eyes, stood on the bar in the little room:

He was onstage for about 3 minutes, and the rest with the crowd, and much sweat was shared with Tom and I. Tom got wrestled by this dude who thought he shouldn't be there. Tom said 'Do that again and I'll kick youir teeth out' and the dude went and stood the other side of the room.

I fell backwards over a guy on the floor and landed on my wrist. This is it today:

I was also pleased to contribute vocally to 'Crooked Head' and 'Crusades'. After, I informed Pink Eyes that his singing was pretty, and that he made Canada proud. Good times.

17 Nov 2008

Misheard Lyrics

Wow - a whole website dedicated to them. I was aware of 'Israeli Men' (its raining men) but I quite like 'Oh Canada, we stand on cars and freeze'.

Quite good fun.

14 Nov 2008

Party *updated*

I thought this flyer was quite funny. Nothing like a booze-free women-only club night with Henna tattooing to get you in the mood.

I thought it would be funny if this was happening next door...

Also, note the spelling of 'Women's Committee'...


My colleague contributed this drawing...

13 Nov 2008

Political deaths, bailouts and a poker face

Why can't issues just stay neatly together and not blur with other ones?

A lot of people would agree that Colombia (the country) is pretty dodgy to say the least. Its not so much coffee and chocolate as coke and rebels. The FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) follow the standard bolivarian guerilla tactics (stay in the woods, kidnap people) combined with a bit of nifty fundraising(cocaine) and some propaganda (schools for the kids). Whether they're successful is extremely debatable, as they've been fighting a war against the state for about 40 years.

President Uribe of Colombia declared zero tolerance (or at least an even tougher approach) of them when he took office, and used much of the same 'war on terror' language as most friends of Bush did a few years back. Trouble is, an awful lot of people have been caught in the crossfire.

Since 1985, around 2500 trade unionists have been killed by the state or militias linked to it, and there have been fewer than 100 cases that have lead to a convicition.

How does this relate to now? President Bush wanted to create a free trade agreement with the friendly government of Colombia, as at present, the US imports way more Colombian goods than Colombia receives US exports. Incoming goods from Colombia face far fewer restrictions that goods leaving the US. Surely workers in Colombia would welcome the opportunity to enrich themselves? Not really - most trades unions in Colombia are opposed to it (when the government that is trying to kill you makes deals for you, its not really that surprising).

Barack Obama declared in one of the debates prior to his election that he would not make a deal with Colombia until human rights are improved. Aw shucks, Dubya really wanted that deal. But he's a bit of a lame duck these days, so perhaps a bit of horse trading is in order?

Obama backs another big government bailout, this time for Detroit car manufacturers, no $700bn beauty, but a fair whack nonetheless. GM wanted this so much that they tried to convince the treasury that GMAC (the finace arm of the company) was a bank and so entitled to some of the jackpot that other banks got. Obama cares about this industry - they're blue collar, unionised and the grassroots of much Democratic support, plus if the industry went under, he'd be looking at around 350,000 unemployed right on his doorstep.

Poker Face

Colombia free trade is Bush's baby. Mr O cares about his backyard. It would be somewhat ideologically incorrect for Bush to skew the free market with an industry bailout at the same time that he's preaching free trade to Colombia. Obama probably has more of a soul, but no doubt some will throw the 'socialist' mud at him which might make him waver.

But then, even turbo-capitalists need some 'socialism' sometimes...

11 Nov 2008

"If we lie to the government, we go to jail. If they lie to us, we go to war"*

In all the coverage of the US Presidential elections, the other elections over there seemed to have been missed by our excitable hacks, presumably because they're pretty boring. (The elections? The hacks?)

Minnesota is a little different.

You may well recall that this chilly northern state elected Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, an ex-wrestler, for governor in 1999. This was a bold move (especially as Schwarzenegger's California take-over was still 4 years away). Ventura was either a breath of fresh air or incompentant depending on who you ask. That's the trouble with American 3rd parties - they're magnets for cranks.

Ventura was elected on a Reform Party ticket - the party of Ross Perot, the evil billionaire who thought he had a shot at the White House (for which he was duly defeated - massively). But unlike the crazy right wing libertarians of the Perot style, Ventura stayed pretty much off-message, supporting abortion rights, gay rights, medical marijuana and seemed to be pretty positive about improving public transport (which isn't a shocking position to take in most countries, but is in a big empty state where everyone drives).

But its 2008. And what's interesting this time is that the Democrat is satirist and comedian Al Franken. In the last few years, Franken has been involved with Air America radio, a progressive station set up to counter the sheer volume of tosh spewed out by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and that horrendous woman whose name escapes me. Hang on, Ann Coulter - thats the one. Air America also includes Chuck D amongst its presenters, which can't be a bad thing.

Franken also got to the top of the New York Times bestseller list with his hatchet job on Limbaugh 'Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot (and other observations).' I've not read it.

To make things more exciting, there is still no result from Minnesota as its too close to call, and made even more difficult by a third party candidate receiving around 15% of the vote. Its not the Reform Party anymore, its become the Minnesota Independence Party.

As they're on a manual recount, its going to take bloody ages, so we probably won't know for a few days. Come on Al!

*no, not from Al Franken but Jesse Ventura

There were some Inuit...

...and they were out fishing in the mighty mighty cold. The icy wind whistled in, the chilled brine splashed up the side of boat, and the two men felt the very life being sucked out of them, first in their hands and feet, but gradually seeping through to their very being.

One of them brought out another pair of fur layers for each of them, in an attempt to maintain what little warmth was left, but this was a small arrow in a field of cannons.

There remained much of river to ride before getting back to the camp, and so one of the Inuit thought that only a primary source of heat could keep them alive, and gathered some tinder from the side of water. From this, a small fire was constructed, and the two brave men huddled together. It was primal - this fire must keep burning.

Their community was an hour away now, and the fire was still going strong. So strong in fact, that they did not notice it scorching and burning through the bottom. By the time they noticed, everything was waterlogged and sinking.

You can't just have your kayak and heat it too.

9 Nov 2008

What happened prior?

Happy family life is guaranteed by the power of WATERMELON.

8 Nov 2008

I like news like this...

£6m house, 30 rooms, one careful anarchist collective: inside Britain's poshest squat

One of my favourite things is the misinterpretation of the restaurant owners opinion:

"It's rather bewildering. When you move into an address like this you don't expect to have squatters as neighbours,"

Which according to the reporting journalist translates as being "horrified". It sounds more like a statement of fact to me...

7 Nov 2008

Johnny Dreams Of Flight

At work I got an email from a a guy called Johnny. He wrote:


My name is Johnny, am an Orphan and I love aviation so deeply.

I am applying for 2009 but honestly do not have any means of paying for my study.

Please how best would help and advice me [sic].

Warm regards


It inspired me to draw this cartoon...


6 Nov 2008

Noam Chomsky - the Game


Science fiction has told us we should have had this ages ago...

California Company Building Flying Car | AHN | November 6, 2008

It sounds amazing, and at $3m, a snip.

5 Nov 2008

Potential Bets

Lets see how wrong I'll be...

-Hillary Clinton appointed to Obama's cabinet

-Sarah Palin becomes talkshow host (now I actually think she'd suit this, if not just to keep her away from politics)

-BBC reduces its use of hyperbole by November 2009 ("a new era" etc etc etc)

4 Nov 2008

George Orwell - Sheffield, 1936

"Had a very long and exhausting day (I am now continuing this March 4th) being shown every quarter of Sheffield on foot and by tram. I have now traversed almost the whole city. It seems to me, by daylight, one of the most appalling places I have ever seen. In whichever direction you look you see the same landscape of monstrous chimneys pouring forth smoke which is sometimes black and sometimes of a rosy tint said to be due to sulphur. You can smell the sulphur in the air all the while. All buildings are blackened within a year or two of being put up. Halting at one place I counted the factory chimneys I could see and there were 33. But is was very misty as well as smoky - there would have been many more visible on a clear day. I doubt whether there are any architecturally decent buildings in the town.

The town is very hilly (said to be built on seven hills, like Rome) and everywhere streets of mean little houses blackened by smoke run up at sharp angles, paved with cobbles which are purposely set unevenly to give horses etc, a grip. At night the hilliness creates fine effects because you look across from one hillside to the other and see the lamps twinkling like stars. Huge jets of flame shoot periodically out of the roofs of the foundries (many working night shifts at present) and show a splendid rosy colour through the smoke and steam. When you get a glimpse inside you see enormous fiery serpents of red-hot and white-hot (really lemon coloured) iron being rolled out into rails.

In the central slummy part of the town are the small workshops of the 'little bosses', i.e. smaller employers who are making chiefly cutlery. I don't think I ever in my life saw so many broken windows. Some of these workshops have hardly a pane of glass in their windows and you would not believe they were inhabitable if you did not see the employees, mostly girls, at work inside."

You can read more from this page. Thanks to a Mr Chris Hobbs for the research.

3 Nov 2008

I'm gonna stop rhyming now so you can rhyme about your gun...

The original Skillz...

Harry Shearer

I'm a big fan of Harry Shearer for a number of reasons.

His best known work is voicing characters for the Simpsons, but there are many different facets to the man as well. His career started as a child actor in the 50's, but in the 1960's he started making a name for himself as a comedian, satirist, journalist and seemingly every other noble career.

His academic background was in Political Science, including a spell as an intern in Sacramento. His journalism however, was not limited to the political, and he found time to interview rock bands such as Creedence (!).

His profile was massively raised when he co-wrote and co-starred in This Is Spinal Tap (as well as the other Christopher Guest movies: Waiting For Guffman, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind and more recently For Your Consideration). All of these films have a large emphasis on improvisation, and in the musical ones (Tap, Guffman, and A Mighty Wind) the cast wrote much of the musical content. I must admit, I'm a fan of Shearer's songs as well. Check out 'Wanderin' from A Mighty Wind, or indeed his recent satirical effort '935 Lies' (below):

I make time every week to listen to his podcast Le Show. Again, its gentle humour/humor that includes many "copywrited features" such as The Apologies of The Week (accompanied by a gentle backing track that sings 'Sorry' over and over again), News of the Warm (a global warming segment), The Trades (professional journals reviewed) and News Outside the Bubble (non-US reportage).

Shearer also seems to take a more in depth look at some issues that have not received great coverage in the US Press [surely that's everything?- ed] from the formaldehyde content in the trailers provided to victims of Hurricane Katrina('F is for FEMA') to the failure of the digital TV switchover. You can subscribe or listen to it from HERE.

No doubt Shearer is lambasted as one of Hollywood's 'liberal elite', but his humour and satire has a "quiet dignity" (For Your Consideration) that is seldom found in much broadcasting either side of the pond.

May it long continue.

2 Nov 2008


Here's what my parents' house is like...

Mousetraps and poison.

Dad's desk. The Dad from U.N.C.L.E.

A lonely train.

The attic is full of stuff like this. Perhaps it might be thrown out when it reaches a definitive level of obsoleteness. Maybe this is why I find chunky old technology comforting.

My Mum would always say we lived like 'cobblers children' - the skills and the know-how to fix things, but living in a state of disrepair because of everyone else's requests to fix things.

The Board Master 6500 - I presume some sort of cutting machine/drill. The name conjures up images of California and surfing, but the object is quite, quite dull.

This is a fluorescent light, but plugged into a mains socket. A 'temporary' fix within the kitchen.

The Triton T70. I remember using this shower for the last time in about 1994. It was disconnected because of my Dad's concern that water would leak round the tiles and cause damp problems in the kitchen. Good point, but it would have been nice to have a working shower.


"In the war of the flea, parliamentary cannonades wreak more havoc than artillery; headlines burst bigger than bombs; peace marches win battles where machine guns fail. Casualties are low because guerrillas, while fighting campaigns of attrition, shun the battles of attrition common to regular armies. Terrorism, conventionally viewed with pious horror as political murder (but how much more murderous than blockbusting a city or napalming a village?) is far more humane, being more selective, than most other types of warfare."

The War Of The Flea by Robert Taber, 1965.

The first edition of this book was bought up entirely by the US military.

1 Nov 2008

All the shirts I own

There's a story by each of em HERE: