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The Uses of Visual Literacy

50 years on, after the masses have become producers of imagery rather than mere consumers, it is surely time to re-examine Hoggart's fears of a consumerist conquest of individuality and culture.
With more people creating and using images, surely they will begin to learn to see through the lies being told them. They are now increasingly members of the Magic Circle, rather than members of the gullible audience. The printing press has been invented again only this time, everyone has one.
As even the most impoverished people in the world begin to access global communications, so their global presence will grow. And as they learn to tell their own stories in their own way, we will be less able to see them as mere flotsam, the collateral damage of capitalism, and more as real people like us.

photo collect


Fascists in the Oxford Union. So New?

No one is preventing either piece of political detritus from organising their own cult rallies, or from using Freedom of Speech to demand the end of it. But to have allowed the Oxford Union to conduct this political laboratory experiment unopposed would have been a great abstention from the Freedom of Speech. Which is the freedom to express your feelings in public. Hatemongers must learn to take the consequences if they are careless about their venues. In this case, the public felt that the creatures Irvine & Griffin should pay for their own propaganda.

We should all be proud of the right we allow fascists to organise and publish their poison. But also proud of the right we allow The People to express their disapproval that a bunch of effete attention seekers pay for racist poison to be aired, which is also their right. Those who are merely satisfied that the poison is being heard are merely thugs.

When Fascists have previously tried to spit directly in the faces of the British people, they have rightly been sent packing. Now they are faced with the same prospect in flannelled Oxford that they faced in Cable Street, New Cross, Brick Lane and the rest. Very heartening.

The lesson is quite clear, pay for your own propaganda on your own territory. Even Abu Hamza had the good sense and taste to confine his poison to his own patch and community. Let the fascists do the same, if they can find somewhere. Self-defence is no denial of the Freedom of Speech.

All reactionaries and their apologists always believe the worst about everything. It's their tragedy, but the kind of society they desire is not practicable. It died over 500 years ago and can never return. But because of their spiritual depression and resulting stupidity, the extreme right and their fellow travellers can never understand that, and are therefore doomed to chase their tails forever. Oh dear, how sad, never mind..


2012 Olympic Stadium Unveiled.

BBC report

In a decidedly understated, budget-conscious presentation this morning, London Olympic architects HOK Sport revealed the secrets of the convertible Straftord stadium, on its very own island, chock full of fun, and with the trick that dared not speak its name in the shape of an Exit Strategy. Specifically, the ability to be half-demolished to make it a sustainable venue for athletics, which not many people go to see.

Within minutes, it was being condemned as a glorified gasholder. I thought it looked like a glorious gasholder. And none the worse for that, the Victorian gasholder being a thing of natural, functional beauty, and part of the heritage of the site.

The plans for the area outside the castle walls were commonsensical too. Food and revelry being focused at 'pods' sited around the 'Stadium Island'. The design of these units would use 'creative low tech solutions - using laser-cutting.'... That I didn't understand.


Africans Are Stupid Say BNP

BNP Support Mad Geneticist and Blow Their Expensive PR Front.
By hailing disgraced boffin Jim Watson, who believes all Africans to be stupid, as the 'New Galileo' the BNP clearly believes that anyone black is of an inferior race. Their recent attempt to wear suits and stand upright like human beings has therefore failed. Like chimps in tuxedos, their crotches are hanging far too low, and their hairy toes just won't take to shoes.
At least Watson had the excuse of age and boffinitis for his folly. But the BNP just blew their entire PR budget for the last five years on him. Like putting your house on a horse because you like his name.
A month ago they were the responsible voice of overburdened local government. With black supporters, no less. And now this dive back into the breeders club. How long before they dig out the black shorts?
It seems the blatant racism was merely in mothballs too, and so wouldn't take much effort or expense to disinterr. Even smellier than when put away, but still wearable and not offensive to the wearer at all. It is quaint to see such a perfectly pickled specimen of Pre-Industrial Man. It's like seeing Bishop Berkeley or John Knox after centuries of immersion in a peat bog.
Black and squashed and dead and deformed, but still recognisably medieval.
The now shreds of the IQ argument so beloved by the racists and eugenicists of the BNP and other scumpolitik are finally on the floor revealing the true horror beneath.
Kyoto Research.
Tests can prove that apes are smarter than people. So those good at IQ tests are no more intelligent than other human beings than an ape is.


The Election Bubble.

This is one of the biggest media bubbles of recent times.
An election scare based on the polls, which went away with the polls. Which the media needed to fuel and believe in, which the people were then convinced by the media was imminent, which made the decision of whether to hold one a media decision, not a political one.
So when the desired election failed to materialise quick enough, the media were disappointed and told the people they had been swindled out of voting for Brown - on the strength of his chancellorship, not his leadership, and on his willingness to jump at the behest of the media. And the media would much prefer a tight election than another walkover.
David Cameron summed it up.
"I'll tell you why he's not called an election - because he might lose."
Well, I never. Is the political world really that cynical that your opponents refuse to call an election when it suits you? Blimey.
In six months this will be largely forgotten by those who decide elections, as will whatever electrifying policies the Tories announced in Blackpool. Taking a few quid from the obscenely-rich with stupid accountants to give to the bereaved very rich with crafty accountants - that was about the strength of it. That'll build a lot of schools.
The country will now have a chance to judge Brown on his premiership, not on his chancellorship.
That will be an informed choice, and all the more certain because of it. And better for the country.
The fact that the media felt cheated of a huge news event in their slowest time of year, and that the tories were quick enough to spin that frustration to their advantage only made any likely election less representative of the real views of the nation. Which would not have helped the tories at all. They are not as ready for an election as they claim. In a year, they will have more ammunition, and the country will know what it thinks of the government of its prime minister, not its ex-chancellor.


DON'T PANIC! Northern Rock solid as - well, a rock.

I hope the people urging calm found enough time to make a killing on cut-price Northern Rock shares. If they believed what they said, surely it would have been like finding money in the street.
£12 shares for a quid, with a takeover possible. If one'll buy you 12, 12 will buy you 144. Surely these people want a secure future for their loved ones?
A home in the country. Happy children playing on the manicured lawn. Beer flowing through the arboreal dell over your grandmother's paisley shawl...
And if people saw such an expression of faith in the future of Northern Rock, surely they wouldn't panic in the first place.


My First Manicure - Angela Kelly

Overdrawn on Monday. £35M in credit on Wednesday.

The life of anyone in that position is bound to be changed. But was it necessary for the media to fish quite so shamelessly for another juicy divorce case as they did through their questions about the absent Mr Kelly and his possible claims to this windfall? Questions which Angela fielded with amazing grace.

Was it necessary for them to test her identity quite so deviously with their questions about her charitable intentions and spending plans? Would she be sending her son to public school? Would she be buying a house in Italy? Which sounded a bit like the cry of 'Join Us, Join Us!' from the Undead - or the advertising departments of the newspapers which depend on the property industry for their existence, as they are sometimes known.

Did they have to try quite so hard to tease out some evidence of basic selfishness in order to feed the myth of universal selfishness and self-indulgence? Would she be paying pop stars to give private performances? Wouldn't it be great if everyone was that innately selfish?

Sadly, Angela Kelly looks set to disappoint the Lottery vultures. Good for her.


Bikeless Bungling Boris Blasts Brick Lane Barrowboys

Amid his tears, Boris Johnson, future mayor of London Town, naturally concluded that his stolen machine would end up being sold in Brick Lane.
So Brick Lane is crawling with fences and hook-nosed chancers peddling hookier gear, eh Boris?
Surely that betokens some kind of Operation Bumbleboris from a putative mayor. A vicous crackdown and cleanup all in one go. At the very least, the Voters of London should be made fully aware of the dangers of this den of cutthroats and pickpockets. And not just offered a tantalising hint in a petulant paddy about a lost bike, which was probably not chained up properly
in the first place.
What next? Boris offers a bacon sandwich to a Jewish reporter? You heard it here first.
Boris In Tears


Cameron a Dud and an Idiot says Kelvin McKenzie.

I watched Kelvin McKenzie's Anti-Cameron rant on 'This Week' tonight with some bemusement. Surely this can't the same Kelvin who, during the Tory leadership campaign urged them to "skip a generation and go for Cameron." And yet now Cameron is a 'dud' and an 'idiot' and whatsmore, McKenzie categorically denies ever supporting him.
Unless I'm getting him mixed up with Richard Littlejohn again (an easy mistake to make) McKenzie delivered his original Cameron eulogy on the very same Andrew Neill vehicle. And the old boy did suffer a flicker of memory and asked the spluttering Kelvin "Didn't you support Cameron?" To which there was a harrumphing hesitation and a telltale wave of the hand, and the words..'..the Sun may I didn't..'. which was totally out of character with the rest of McKenzie's bulldozing bluster. He was stopped in his tracks and put off his stroke and hadn't realised it was loaded.

Surely the correct response of an innocent McKenzie in front of a jury of his peers would have been 'On yer effin bike!'. But he no longer seemed himself, somehow. Neill had reminded him of an uncomfortable truth, maybe? What do I know?

Anybody able to confirm whether my memory is better than 'Macca's'? Or is it 'Kezza'? I can't do the babytalk.

Either way, the expression on Diane Abbott's face was that of a woman watching her adulterous husband disembowel himself with a broken bottle. Concerned but blissful. And Michael Portillo told him, in the best possible taste, to shut his big gob. So something was definitely up. Someone out there will know what, exactly. After all, we should be told whether a prominant political columnist on the highest selling British newspaper, which brags of its ability to distort the democratic process is able to remember from one year to the next who he believed would be the best candidate to lead Her Majesty's Opposition.

The man who said, on BBC's Any Questions on 06 January 2006.

But anyway on the question of Cameron, first of all I think Cameron against Brown, I think Cameron will wipe the floor with Brown.


Vote for Bonkers. Sound Chap Don't Y'Know? What? I Say!

What rankles Kenophobes the most is that he does in fact speak his mind in perfect plain English, rather than the incredible Twitspeak of Bonkers and the rest of the tory Junior Drones club. And totally unlike the featureless, sterile flat-pack jargon of the regulation emasculted prawn politicians in Westminster or your Town Hall. Look at any of his speeches or interviews.

The sneerers simply don't like what they hear, and prefer round vowels and the comfort of being patronised by the upper classes, no-matter what debased form they manifest themselves in. The idea that someone as common as Ken could actually be more capable and articulate than a toff drives them crazy. But you have to remember that they are at the end of the political spectrum which just loves obedience, to the point of masochism.


'Bonkers' Boris For London Mayor? - You're Having A Laugh...

When the Tory party has quite finished its little joke, will it please roll out its real candidate please? Unless, of course, they are serious, in which case, this is a serious insult to Londoners.
Now is surely time for Liberal Democrat MP Simon Highes to come to the rescue of the unshakeable tory voter. He would definitely give Livingstone a better run for his money than this famous buffoon. Much loved though he is.
But Hughes won't run, because he knows full well that Livingstone will win, and will do so because he is by far the most popular candidate, and is widely seen as having done an excellent job of putting London back on track as a world city after a generation of rudderless meandering, and of delivering a series of measures which ordinary people welcome, including the congestion charge and the bendy buses - which are hardly ever used by those who criticise them. He is never less than straightforward, and speaks a recognisable form of English, unlike most politicians.

Livingstone's popularity with ordinary Londoners is the best kept political secret around, no matter what the Daily Mail Rentamob say. And this is the main reason why there are no serious conservatives willing to face up to him. They know he would wipe the floor with them. If Livingstone was as unpopular as the usual suspects say, there would be a queue to put the boot in. Instead, we get this affable clown who will probably bottle out at the last minute and land poor old Stephen Norris with the job of clearing up the mess as usual.

Which, to the electorate of London, is what is known as a diabolical liberty. Boris doesn't care about London. He is looking for a bit of a laugh, and this is his idea of one. He is the Tory party's anti-Ken suicide bomber. Only he gets to write the book afterwards.

The other aspect to this is the glaring sympathy emerging between new prime minister Gordon Brown and Ken Livingstone. After wasted years of fighting the government, Londoners will not jeapordise this lucrative partnership no matter how many lorryloads of puppies the Tory PR machine throws at them.
Apart from looking like a puppy in a paint advert, people like Johnson because they think he's honest. His famous 'shambling' reeks of perpetual apology for something. And people like it when someone seems to apologise to them. Just as Australian teenage girls seek to charm through perpetually asking permission with the rising inflectives of every sentence?

But in reality, what is it that Boris is being honest about and apologising for? As a tory politician, what else can it be but for the bankruptcy of the Tory ideas account? Whatever boarding school experiences pummelled those mannerisms into him, he comes across as the walking embodiment of Tory obsolescence, and his toff credentials are the sporran on the bridegroom, the deerstalker on the laird, the Range Rover in the forecourt, the top hat on the Piccadilly Johnnie. He is perfect for the part, in spite of his less than lovely past.

The trouble is, that throughout a lengthy election campaign he will therefore be a continual advert for tory uselessness- for the fact that it has no reason to exist other than to perpetuate itself. Has David Cameron lost his senses? Would anyone vote for someone with that much tactical savoir faire?

It's only day one and the first Boris gaff has been sighted.
"18-metre long socialist frankfurter buses" should be abolished he says, referring to the new public transport system which replaced London's iconic 'Routemaster' buses. This will lose the vote of everyone now waiting one third of the time it used to take to get on a bus, and those shlepping prams, shopping, zimmer frames, even bikes and furniture. "Socialist", says Boris, as if people cared. According to him, they now like something socialist. Well done Boris.

Meanwhile, rabid London radio hitman Nick Ferarri has taken a lot of flak for withdrawing from the Tory candidature. This is very unfair to him. Not only is it wrong to expect the Fourth Estate to partake in government, but it is surely honest of Ferrarri not to stand for the Tories when his natural party would be the far-right British National Party. All right-thinking folk should applaud the miserable poisonous bullying piece of lowlife for this scrap of principle. If that's the reason for his decision.


The War On Britain's Jews by Richard Littlejohn

Broadcast channel 4. tuesday 9th July. 8-9pm.

This 'report' was a total and utter travesty of the truth, and merely a vehicle for Littlejohn's wild unsupported assumptions:
"It's an open season on Jews in this country"
that Anti-semitism is:
"the racism that dare not speak its name" (whatever that means)
"opposition to Israel is the cause of most antisemitism."
"You don't have to hate Israel to be anti-semitic - but it helps"..
that antisemitism is
"the new AIDS ribbon.."
and the conclusion that
"many have decided that my enemy's enemy is my friend."
And so many others my pencil broke under the bloated cliches. None with a shred of evidence.
 Where were the jewish organisations who had recieved hate mail from left wing organisations? Where was the comparison with the increases in other forms of racial attack, in particular against muslims?
 There was lots of evidence of antisemitism from the usual quarters, the outer reaches of religious belief and from the reactionary right, but none of any from the end of the political spectrum which Littlejohn needs to smear the most - people who will not support Western Imperialism and consumerism simply because Osama Bin Laden opposes it.
Since 9/11 it has been explained to dimwits like Littlejohn a hundred times that 'my enemy's enemy is not my friend' , and in spite of the total lack of evidence, they insist on hearing the opposite.
And then finally, he delivers his bonkers Smart-Alec Hypothesis Clincher:

"And what IF all british jews were 100% Zionist? That still wouldn't justify anti-semitic attacks."
No Richie, it wouldn't, but then any attacks would be more likely than ever to be anti-zionist in nature, rather than anti-semitic. And in this nationalist fantasy world, there would be no Jews in Britain to persecute, as they would all be in the Promised Land.
The only other shots in his locker were the old chestnut of the Finegold/Livingstone affair, which was never accepted as an attack on Jewish people, and definitely an attack on the antisemitic history of Associated Newspapers. And an amateurishly commissioned piece of graphics from micro-publication New Society. And 'slippage'. We heard a lot about how Anti-Zionism 'slips' into Anti-Semitism. But again with no evidence. There was some clipped video footage of the star of David being burnt, but as anyone who was there will testify, that was an isolated incedent, and very promptly dealt with by the marshalls. I saw it with my own eyes.
 Zionism is not Judaism. And the Jews are not Israel. Israel is a political, not a religious entity. The sooner Litteljohn learns that the better. But as he stands to make far more money from divisions than from solidarity and communication, you can understand why he needs to undermine any attempts at co-operation with the Islamic world (unlike the Washington government, which is now talking to Iran). Hence this unsupported tissue of lies about the peace movement pandering to Islamic fascism.
 The racial hysteria of the BNP and their counterparts in the Islamic world is a matter of record and action. Trying to find any evidence that progressive thought in Britain supports in any way any of the aims of these groups was obviously beyond Littlejohn. He tried to pull in Harold Pinter in his cause.. why didn't he talk to him, one wonders, instead of to third-rate lame-ducks like Nick Cohen, who backed the war in Iraq and lost and can never forgive those who knew better.
 As expected, this was a slimy little attempt to scupper understanding, and while wearing anti-racism, anti-mysogeny, and democracy on its sleeve, it supports a Zionist agenda which is intensely racist, sexist and authoritarian.
 As the orthodox Jews who marched in the hot sun from Stamford Hill last august said: "We are here for peace." The muslims who greeted them agreed. That was what the plight of the Lebanese people did. There is no reason why the plight of the Palestian people should not do the same thing. As long as creatures like Littlejohn crawl back under their stones and let civilised people get on with the job.

Pope Adolf Does It Again!

At a highly sensitive political time, the current Vatican big man puts his foot in it again by submitting to demands for the full latin Tridentine Mass to be restored.
This calls specifically for the Jews abandon their faith and hitch up to the new fangled Christianity like good little children.
Is this man in a hat totally out of his mind, or is that just his religion showing?
And how long before Catholics are urged, in the same spirit, to abandon hippy skippy Christianity and get real with the pragmatic, go-getting ideology of Islam?

Tridentine Mass


John Smeaton - 'So I Decked The Gentleman.' - Glasgow Terror Attack.30/6/07

After helping to subdue a berserk human torch which was attacking a policeman, airport worker John Smeaton gave an interview to the BBC:
"There was this gentleman, completely covered in flames head to toe, and he got up and attacked the policeman - who was coming to assist! And I thought that's no right. What are we doing lettin these guys get away wi' it - y'know? What's the score?"
The Admirable Smeaton went on to say how he and 'Mary' 'restrained the gentleman.' Thank you Jeeves. But we all know that in fact he Decked the gentleman, and decked him good. In an ideal world, nutted. Because 'that's no right'. Trying to destroy human lives is not right.
Describing the noise made by an adjacent blazing
deathtruck of gas canisters, he said with cool authority:
"Anyone who's thrown a lit can of deodorant on a bonfire will recognise the sound. Definitely gas."
That is why the terrorists are losers, because people like John Smeaton simply refuse to be terrified. And people like John Smeaton have thrown deodorant cans on bonfires for a laugh and totally against the rules. A surefire ASBO offence nowadays.
While he was giving his wonderful account of the day he got to fulfill a universal fantasy - to legitimately clout someone who badly deserved it - you could see his eyes lighting up with the words
"It's going to be a great night tonight!"
I really hope it was for him, because it appears that while there are people like John Smeaton, or even drunks to be picked up from nightclubs (the unsung hero of the Tiger Tiger near-miss on friday) then neither Indie-terrorism nor George Bush's bloodthirsty Profit Worship, nor Gordon Brown's neo-presbyterian indogenous growth theory can ever really win. In fact, maybe one day, they will get the kicking they deserve.

John Smeaton 1742 - 1792. The First Civil Engineer.


Deptford. Toffs & Junkies and...?

Eddystone House. Deptford.

So now we know. Another documentary telling us that Deptford is populated by heroin addicts, alcoholics and other dysfunctional derelicts; all rummaging in skips, getting into fights and looting local shops.
Needless to say, this is a complete travesty and an insult to the tens of thousands of decent hardworking people who live in the area and on Pepys Estate. Even the gallant Les Brooks, who fought a long battle with Lewisham council to stay in his home, was made to look like a crank. I mean, circus skills - what do you expect?
This orgy of gritty camerawork completely overwhelmed the serious issues of why, if this block is good enough for the rich, why it is not good enough for the people who have made their homes there for decades; and why was the money not available to maintain the estate for the local community when it is readily available to dislocate and divide the community; and how those buying apartments in the new 'Z block' for the view and to impress their business contacts will manage to get in and out of their barracks without being pelted with half-bricks.
As for the famous 'trickle down' effect promised by the developers, that will largely be felt in picturesque Greenwich, which is only 2 minutes by Porsche.
Aragon Tower may seem attractive as a lofty
pied a terre for the refined to sneer from, but there will be few if any families living in it. And without children, it will serve as just another dormitory for Canary Wharf, no doubt with its own gym, swimming pool and restaurant. And surrounded by razor wire to either keep the natives out or the inmates in.
We might get to find out which in the course of the rest of this series. But somehow I doubt it. The lure of lots of lovely squalor will be too much for the camerateam and director to resist.


There's Only One Shirley Bassey

Comparisons aren't fair. Nefarious even. Fun too, so here goes.
 It was a big week for women at Glastonbury. The lovely Lili Allen dinked delightfully, and was a triumph when helping out The Specials in their prophetic masterpiece 'Gangster'. The 2Tone revival is overdue. and necessary.
If Lili Allen follows, can Amy Winehouse, or as the BBC presenterine knows her, Lili Allen, be far behind? Growling out her current brand of retro Fats Domino and Berry Gordyness. The opening to 'Back To Black' is the first 8 bars of 'Baby Love', in case you were wondering, but without the snap.
And if Her Sleaziness wanders abroad in the mud, then leaping from tree to tree in the nearby magic forest must be her alter-diva, Bjork. And so it was. And she too was obviously aware of the competition, and yet strangely oblivious, as she always is, and stormed out her weirdness with her usual guts.
A veritable confluence of serious female talent, then. Anyone who is anyone 2007. Well almost. Because these young hopefuls had to sleep with the knowledge that a performance was due which would either anoint or exile them. Shirley Bassey was playing Glastonbury.
 The Bass is no singer-songwriter examining her complexes in public. She is the ultimate performer, and much despised as a result. Not that she cares. And she's old. So against the hottest young talent around, what chance does she stand? After all, this was the token Oldie slot at Glastonbury. The Sunday tea-time Antiques Roadshow, Songs of Praise, Last of the Summer Wine concession to faded legends available at reduced prices.
 Anyone who saw her show yesterday will know the answer to that one. The pride of Bute Town gave an object lesson in how to grab an audience by the throat. And also showed that youth and marketability are not everything, which must have been a consolation to the gathering of young pretenders left to gaze upon the magnificence of The Bass as she rode by. A revolution in pink organza.
There's only one Shirley Bassey. Youth and cheek will always be defeated by age and talent.


Sir Salman Rushdie.

Anti-Rushdie March London May 1989
Both staunch U.S. ally Pakistan, and bitter enemy and dark heart of the Axis of Evil - Iran have condemned the Rushdie Knighthood, announced today.
We could hope that at some time, The Satanic Verses 1989-2007 will be seen to bookend a relatively brief period of religious medievalism. That the Fatwah of 1989 merely represented the last gasp of a doomed ideology in the face of the explosion of global telecommunications.
Sadly the combined effects of information technology and a dwindling supply of oil will guarantee that religion is used as a battering ram for some time. And the potential liberation of thought and expression offered by the wider access to the means of production, distribution and exchange of information is instead threatened by C9th theological propaganda spread by the same media.
If this were only true of one religion, we might breathe a sigh of relief. As it is, the terrified reaction of religion under threat spreads from the Taliban of Afghanistan to the Scientologists of Los Angeles. And as a result, many people are suffering far more than Salman Rushdie.

I'll never forget Michael Ignatieff, from the safety of The Observer, calling for 'A Trade Union of Intellectuals' to confront the Fatwha. Inconveniently disregarding the principles of unity which underlie all unions.
If he meant business, he would have committed a correspondingly blasphemous act to match Rushdie's. And all his 'colleagues' would have joined in. Spartacus style. The entire liberal publishing industry from Mills & Boon to the OUP should have commissioned a pan-blasphemous logo or masthead, offensive to all religions and superstitions, and emblazoned it on all their publications.
But nobody was ever knocked off their feet by intellectuals storming into action.
The only trouble was that the gutter press were even bigger Quislings in the affair.


BNP Leader Accuses BBC of "Demonising Racism"

In the debate on Margaret Hodge's self-seeking inflammation of the immigration issue on tonight's edition of Newsnight, British National Party leader Nick Griffin accused the BBC of "Demonising racism". Bewildered presenter Gavin Estler couldn't help blurting out:

"What? There's a good side to racism?"
To which Griffin, aware of his Freudian slip, muttered something incoherent about the word 'racism' being a fiendish Trotskyite plot to do something or other. The BBC being naturally in league with Trotsky. As presumably have been Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, a number of U.S. presidents, more than one British prime minister, most of europe since the war, and the Pope. Rabid commies all.

So what did he mean? What is there not to demonise? If anything is fair game for demonisation, surely it is racism - cheating someone out of their rights because of a microscopic genetic variation, and all that has meant in history.

Presumably, Griffin would like to 'reclaim' the word from its devilish left-wing captors. Show the world the racism with a song in its heart, the racism he loves.. to steal from Mel Brooks, who knew a thing a two about racism.

The mask has slipped. This was not territory Griffin had wanted to stray into, and yet it had been so near the surface that the first red light on his monitor screen had thrown it into his mouth. Twitching visibly by the end of the ordeal, he spluttered about the destruction of the 'British Way Of Life' by Polish small businessmen. And that was that.

In the meantime, his adversary, the pathetic Keith Vaz, smiled beatifically in the background, knowing that all he had to do was repeat his challenge to Griffin for evidence of any of Hodge's claims. None was delivered.

When someone does decide to renew Britain's public housing stock and break the stranglehold of the market, creatures like Griffin will crawl back into whatever swamp spawned them. Until then, the British people will be regularly bombarded with this kind of hate campaign, as it has been since the emergence of the mass media and before. Their genuine concerns about the cost of housing should be directed at the people profiting from the shortage, not those who legitimately seek to put Norman tebbit's famous words into actions.


Virginia Tech Massacre - the N.R.A. Solution

If, as the nutters of the NRA would like, every student in Virginia Tech carried a gun, there would be far more nutters carrying guns, and they would be used more often. Killings would be a regular occurrence, and the college would close.
On the street, anyone would be fair game at the slightest provocation, the 'Precautionary Principle' would see to that, and the killer could always claim self-defence as the victim would also be carrying a gun. It would be a return to an even darker age of barbarism than the one America is now in. Which is the object of the exercise.
The Nutter Tendency reassures us that guns will only be issued to the 'decent and responsible'. Who are these 'law abiding citizens'? And how do you spot them?
What criminal tendencies did the Virginia suicide killer display?
The truth is that this insane fantasy that more guns means less killing has been disproved by the entire history of America. So what this boils down to is that if the patient nearly dies from the medicine, double the dose.
In fact it is nothing but an opportunist rabble-rousing designed to create even more fear and division in America than already exists - exactly the factors which create the deranged individuals who kill their fellow students without warning or apparent motive. Exactly the same factors which fuel Neo-Islamic suicide bombers - appropriately enough.
So if they have their way, the profiteers of the arms industry will create a society in which everyone is a potential murderer and no-one is to be trusted. A complete breakdown in the social fabric, with only fear holding together a basic level of functional barbarism.
The world of 1984, in other words.
So will the NRA appear next week in Blackburg to cash in on the slaughter and bring its brand of comfort to the bereaved, as it did in Columbine?


Astrology - Just A Bit Of Fascist Fun...

Most mysticism denies the possibility of progress through human action. Astrology for instance claims to be able to predict an inevitable future. If it's inevitable, there's no point in trying to make people's lives any better. Only The Great Cycle, or 'Gyre' can do that, and it will turn in its own good time. And so any real progress is impossible, and any attempt a futile vanity by a vainglorioius speck of insignificance calling itself Mankind - which is the core agenda of fascism, after all. The delusion that all virtue lies in a mythical past which shall be reborn in the hands of a great redeemer. A Superman in contact with the forces of history.

This cyclical world-view, in which things happen over and over again is embodied in the favourite reactionary slogan 'There's Nothing New under the Sun' and is routinely used to belittle all achievements which might make people's lives better while also reinforcing the idea that Man is a base animal who only responds to cruelty and force. This cyclical universe was most famously depicted in the Swastika, of course, and is in reality, nothing but political wish-fulfillment. A classic symptom of the poverty of reactionary thought. If it can be called thought.
Which is why there are always far more classified adverts for mystics in right-wing publications than in progressive ones (if any). And many more column inches devoted to this kind of mumbo jumbo.
And before anyone tries to put a fag paper between religion and Mysticim, ask The Endtimers if the future is predetermined or in the hands of mankind. They are Christian, Jewish and Muslim, after all.


The political power of mysticism lies in the fact that there has to be a secret code or lore to the understanding of The Cycle and predicting its stages. This secret is naturally too dangerous for anyone but a semi-devine sect with special 'gifts' and 'crafts' to have access to. They, in turn must be protected and nurtured and feared as befits their elite status. The member of the sect who succeeds in monopolising the lore becomes the natural leader, in constant touch with the very workings of time and space. The Divine Leader, repository of all justice and wisdom is created. All others are inferior by definition, but those nearest are less inferior, and most likely to survive and prosper, thereby promoting the myth of the lore even further. And so a rigid, exclusive hierarchy is encouraged, relying on inequality and fear to maintain itself. And there are publicly funded 'courses' in Tarot-Reading and Astrology in adult education establishements all across the country. You don't hear the Daily Mail complaining about that.

Every week, evening classes of the bewildered are solemnly instructed in the 'science' of knowing the future, based on the date of birth of the subject. Conveniently forgetting that life begins, and is susceptible to the 'Astral Forces', nine months previous to the birth, a fact the Bronze Age codifiers of Astrology were'nt sure about. This throws all their municipal calculations completely out of the window, but they never notice. Now while they may have had some excuse for this oversight 3,000 years ago, there is none now except the desperate desire to escape from the real world and trust in any nonsense, as long as it is delivered with authority.

I wonder why there is so little tabloid outrage at fascism being taught at the taxpayers expense and peddled everyday in print. After all, these harmless bits of fun are promoting a very Un-British, anti-democratic world-view. The evening classes by Madam Arcaty and the endless columns for the hopeless are, in their turnip-headed way, the Madrassars of Suburbia, and every day their assumptions are backed by the most popular newspapers and the richest men in the world.

Perhaps this is their idea of promoting a British Identity. A nation of gullible sheep, accepting every disaster and injustice as divine inevitability. But how different is that from the 'Inshallah' used to justify the actions of the suicide bomber?


update: 13/6/07
Melvyn Bragg. 'In Our Time. 'Renaissance Astrology'

While accepting that this was entitled 'Renaissance Astrology', I was nevertheless disappointed at the failure of the programme to examine the political uses of astrology throughout the ages, which would surely have answered the qustion of why it survives in spite of centuries of scientific refutation.

In his essay on WB Yeats and other places, Orwell (who else?) notices the correllation and sympathy between cyclical, closed exclusive systems of thought dependent on trusted custodians of the keys to supernatural knowledge - and reactionary thought in general. A world in 'there is nothing new under the sun' and which everything is predictable given knowledge of the secret code is not compatible with any notions of human progress. This, combined with a predictable nostagia for feudal trappings in general makes astrology and predestination highly attractive to fascism and other methods of political stagnation and reversion. As happened to Yeats, who abhorred the idea of progress, and also, in a more refined form, to Joyce in Finnegan's Wake with his infatuation with Vico (when Joyce 'went off his coconut' according to Orwell). Orwell mentions that fascist magazines of his day were always full of advertisements for clairvoyants.

It is true that astrology is a coherent system, and therefore attractive in a pseudo-aesthetical sense, and therefore marketable in the popular press, and therefore profitable. But how could it be anything else? It is essentially cyclical, and like the most succesful logos, possesses an ordered graphic symmetry which it seeks to impose on the world. Like a popular soap opera of the cosmos. Or the swastika.

Symmetry is comforting, but, as Orwell points out, the enemy of human self determination and struggle, and therefore anathema to political action. It's message, suitably enough, is Resistance is Useless. Or, put more cosily, Know Your Place. Or less cosily, Arbeit Macht Frei.

I thought when Reagan was mentioned that we might be getting somewhere, but then we lapsed back into the same cyclical acknowledgment of the continued existence of this superstition, while refusing to examine its modern appeal, which is a political question, the ignorance of which (in its literal sense) has led ultimately to the subsidy of this cyclical narcotic quasi-philosophy by the taxpayer in numerous sponsored community education classes across Britain. Which naturally gives further validity to the superstition, and reinforces the notion that people are ultimately unable to shape their own destinies. As Orwell says:

"...the theory that civilisation moves in recurring cycles is one way out for people who hate the concept of human equality. If it is true that 'all this', or something like it 'has happened before', then all science and the modern world are debunked at a stroke and progress becomes forever impossible. It does not much matter if the lower orders are getting above themselves, for, after all, we shall soon be returning to an age of tyranny."*
I was disappointed at the failure of the programme on astrology to examine its political uses throughout the ages, or to blow away the smokescreen that Kepler, Brahe and Galileo all seriously practiced astrology, and therefore endorsed it.

The fact is, of course, that they did it for the money. Their feudal patrons required cosmic endorsement of their actions, and used every means they thought available. There is no evidence that the predictions they were paid for were correct. It is no surprise that these pioneers and codifiers of post-Classical European science, the people who broke the bonds of superstition, actually grew up under it. Newton was still trying to make gold from manure until he died. He is often referred to as The Last of the Wizards. Darwin dithered for decades from revealing his discoveries because of his residual religious feelings and fear of the outrage which would greet his destruction of theological law.

This is an old and ridiculous drone of an argument. It assumes that the people who have new ideas have already completely rejected the ideas they are in the process of overturning. That they somehow knew the existing orthodoxies were absurd before they made the scientific discoveries which disproved them. Which is not only absurd and a hilariously gross misconception of how science works, but which also assumes that that Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton were not influenced by the societies they grew up in. Which is another ideological twinning with fascist thought.

* 'W.B. Yeats' Orwell's Collected Essays.


Petrolhead Pride - Letterbombs Not Clarkson's Fault

As the sole guardian of the rights of motorists, when will Top Gear do one of its hilarious films about the car which can demolish the most speed camera posts in a 0 - 60 dash?
That would be one in the eye for all the facist leftie councils raking in huge wads of cash from innocent motorists exercising their basic human rights to fund their totalitarian PC agendas. Good luck to you Jeremy and Co. The backlash against commie car-hating green fascists starts here.
What? What did I say?
After all, it's not as if anyone takes what Jeremy Clarkson or anyone says seriously. It's all just a bit of fun. Only the humourless embittered tofu eating, eco-fascists and their Blairite masters don't see the joke. It's not as if anyone was ever going to be influenced or feel justified by a constant stream of misinformation. Let alone misinformation dressed up as entertainment. How could that possibly happen?
I mean, Goebbells tried it, and look what happened to him.

Clarkson and Co and Quentin Wilson and all the other rodeo clowns of the car industry are beginning to look more sinister than usual after the events of the past few days.
The letterbombs will be blamed on 'Loners' as they always are, but nobody is a 'loner' today, unless they truly live in a cave on an island. The fact is that people are influenced and have their grievances vindicated by the likes of motoring propagandists, however many laughs they get.
In fact, I take offence at laughter being abused in this way to further such an agenda, and give impetus to actions such as the destruction of speed cameras and the letterbombing of businesses associated with making drivers obey the law of the land.
But then you have to admire Clarkson for some things.
Famously, his interview with Hugh Grant last sunday.
After Huge had finished painting the grahic picture of his naked anal probe experiences, Jeremy simply couldn't help himself from blurting out:

"I want to get on to your lap!"

I hope the millions of viewers will be more sympathetic and understanding of the complex Clarkson sexuality from now on.
There are regular calls for Clarkson to be removed from the BBC, as if he cared, but then who would sell the message that:

'You're Always Alive In A Car'?

That driving a powerful machine very fast is the most alive it is possible to be, and that everything else is basically the salad on the kebab. That Speed is for Winners.


British Identity Lessons...

'Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary wants schools to teach Britishness to 5-16 year olds. Is that what education should be about? And what should be on the curriculum?'
says the header on the BBCs Today forum. This is a futile and devisive project.The productive thing to do would be to get this generation of children to create a modern concept of Britishness, rather than stuffing them with the rules of some synthesised EnglandLand, palatable to the mobsters of Canary Wharf and Wapping.
To be valid, any modern British identity would have to engage with the facts of modern communication. So any examination of national identity in schools would have to involve a complete dialogue between as many regions and groups in the country as possible. This would be worthwhile in itself, overcoming the physical barriers to exchange which class, and the property market, and artificial hostility have raised.
The idea of a curriculum is not constructive. The aims and objectives should be to understand and unearth the different strands of British culture as seen through the eyes of its children. The method has to be the dialogue between them. As usual, the government have hold of the wrong end of the stick. British identity is like the ever growing family quilt, where each generation makes their contribution, no matter how tedious or brilliant or immoral or saintly.
Other cultures are more like a beautiful copper vase, polished and cared for by each generation, but essentially unchanging. Isolated tribal cultures, for instance. Beautiful and harmonious, but static. Or more disturbingly, like the visions of totalitarian dictators or religious despots, rigid and infallible.
The essence of British identity is change. The people best placed to monitor and report those changes are the people who will live with the consequences of change, namely the young. There is nothing 'British' about values like 'justice' and 'fair play', or even 'change'. They are the required values of any civilisation. But by whatever geo-cultural accident, Britain is definitely one of the countries most dependent on, driven by and addicted to change and novelty. It has never benefited from attempts to pickle its identity. And the attempts to do so are generally forgotten or ridiculed.


Africa Leapfrogs a Generation of Technology.

The fascinating Newsnight report ('Kenya's Mobile Revolution'), broadcast this week, shows how the arrival of modern communications technology can provide genuine hope for the future of Africa.
The arrival of internet access via the UN clockwork laptop could even show the way for a new kind of economic system, suited to Africa's hostile geography and climate. To allow farmers to bipass the normal outlets for their harvests and sell (or exchange) directly on the international markets, for instance. Information really does confer power.
It would also seem reasonable to expect that when different regions of the same post-colonial African state are in regular trade and dialogue, that the post-colonial version of tribalism will change, and that synthetic hostility between tribes will become more difficult.
The traditional power structures may also be subverted by the increased role of women. And with access to free online education of the highest quality, such as the M.I.T. project, the goal of a dynamic Africa, unburdened by debt, geography or history must be a big step nearer.
In short, the implications for Africa are enormous, as the Newsnight report on the effects of mobile telephones will show. But with the first UN laptops arriving in communities from July, not to mention the long-term effects of 'micro-banking', the western world can expect to be dealing with a very different Africa in the future. And by implication, a different world. The hopeful predictions are beginning to come true. What will the pessimists say now?
And what will the Man from Del Monte and Nescafe say when he arrives to find the harvest has already been sold?
More interesting, if possible, is the light this all sheds on the ways in which technology and social change are interwoven. That an inhumanly hot, almost un-navigable, harsh terrain need not be subjected to the devastation of C20th technologies, or economics, in order to become a viable, humane, prosperous nation, able to care for its people and free them from the dehumanising drudgeries which in Britain are now folk memories, or the grittier scenes in TV costume dramas.

Why Microsoft Tried to Kill the $100 laptop


Saddam Execution Disaster

seems the likeliest image for iconisation. Note the almost beatific expression. It is the face of a martyr by Raphael. The mobile phone footage vindicated extreme Sunni opinion, that the Shia dominated government is intent on their destruction. The still image visualises the morality for any self-martyrdom required in the cause of Sunni self-defence, as they see it. Along with the lynch-mob tone of the video itself, this image is as deadly as any Patriot missile - together they will kill at least as many people. The shouts of SADR! are the cherry on the cake. The inescapable message to the Sunni minority of the mobile phone footage is "Look Out, We're Coming To Get You".
The single line message of the still shot is 'If They DO Get You, You Can Die Like A Man.'
It seems now that the Iraqi government was aware of the potential for disaster but was unable to control its own security service.
In Washington, it is unlikely that some of the finest diplomatic minds on the planet didn't also understand the same danger, and not propose some serious PR advice to this immature and vulnerable dependant ally. It is almost inconceivable that Washington would not point out the risk of inflaming the Sunni militias by the mishandling of Saddam's execution.
Unless the US doesn't actually care that Iraq is in a state of constant civil war, that is. Then Washington's apparent indifference makes some sort of sense. But why they should want that is anyone's guess. Unless it is the case that a quarrelsome partnership is easier to bargain with than a sole trader. In this case for oil. Not forgetting the need to alienate Baghdad from Tehran for as long as possible.
Not forgetting the regular contracts which keep the Malls open and the burgers sizzlin'.

It's now generally agreed that this was an unmitigated disaster, one of many, and does have the clumsy thumbprints of the Washington PR department all over it.
Did the State Department or any other White House arm offered any PR advice to the puppet regime? You'd think it would be a top priority for them, seeing as American troops are likely to die at the hands of a Sunni minority made even more paranoid by the vision of the Sadr militias running the country, as seen in the execution footage.
If they did not offer any advice, why not? And if they did, why was it not taken?
The potential answers to these questions are very interesting.
If advice was not given, then America is either too stupid to call itself a superpower and should not even be put in charge of a lawnmower, let alone a cruise missile - OR - America is quite happy for war to continue indefinitely. War is good for business, no matter how many US troops are brought home secretly under flags.
If advice was given but rejected, America is being ignored by Iraq - The Puppet Bites Back - but in the form of the Shia doctrine America has been at war with since the fall of the Shah.

Killer Dogs

Another child killed by a pet dog. Last night, at her grandmother's house by her uncle's bull terrier.
Dogs are nature's genetic meccano set, they are one of the most malleable and flexible species associated with human civilisation. As a collection of genes, they can be organised to perform a vast range of specialist tasks.
Some breeds of dog have been bred to attack human beings, either on command, or merely on sight. A dog like this has been designed with as much care and attention as a Colt 45, and those characteristics cannot be simply wished away by calling it Poopsie and making it wear a collar. To expose a family to such a breed is as foolhardy as leaving a loaded shotgun leaning against the TV. It was designed as a weapon to defend property, and it is not capable of knowing which is the genuine threat and which the sleepy toddler blundering around in the darkness.
The dog is no more to blame than the shotgun. But why do we need shotguns or killer dogs in the first place?
The Argument pops up..
"As for pit bull terriers they are no more dangerous than their owners make them. I had one many years ago and he was a gentle beauty"
Not true.
The genes of a pit bull have been systematically manipulated over generations to produce an aggressive fighting machine. It is as perfectly designed for that purpose as a shark or a gun. It attacks according to a set of preconditioned reflex actions. It can be coddled and conditioned into accepting a child as a sibling, and its master as pack leader, but if the trigger is pulled it will attack.
This tragic case today may well be simply a case of mistaken identity. The dog mistook the child for an intruder. But any number of stimuli may trigger the attack reflex. And the more these genes are spread throughout the wider canine gene pool, the more likely are the resulting mongrels to be liable to unstable behaviour. even more dangerous because the resulting dog might not look like a fighting dog, but would carry some of its characteristics.
It would be a bren gun in a violin case.

Fat Is the New Famine

The government is proposing that the NHS should be able to carry out stomach surgery on obese children. Why is there so much obesity, and what is it for?
Before technology became as prolifically productive as it is now, one of the main weapons for ennervating the masses was shortage. Up to a certain point, a hungry workforce is a compliant workforce.
But hunger is no longer a viable tool in a world which is not only conspicuously capable of easily feeding everyone adequately, but also relies on consumption to preserve the economic structure. So instead, the masses are made too fat to walk, let alone man the barricades. Fat is the new famine.
So the answer is no, spending NHS money on patching up the casualties of this economic fact of life is pointless and a waste of resources. It cannot succeed and does not address the causes of the terrible disability of consumption.

The Politics of Diet and Obesity

The Real Meaning Of Xmas.

Christmas, or Xmas as it is properly known, has been under attack for over a hundred years from those seeking to make vast amounts of money from it.

It is under constant bombardment by the biggest guns of the advertising industry from the 1st of november every year until Boxing day, when it is thrown aside like an old knackered horse.

Xmas is the cash cow of the retail industry. Without the income it generates, many businesses would simple fade away, from theatres to mobile phone shacks.

And this is not new or untraditional, in fact. Even before the christians stuck their noses in, the midwinter was, in essence, the same as it is now in accountancy, the period when the first two quarters returns are in and the projections can be made on the next two. In the prehistoric, early argicultural context, that meant knowing roughly if the harvest gathered in september would last until the spring brought new sources of food.

Hence the celebrations and the feasting - if the projections were good.

London Tornado.

The house at the corner of Chamberlain Street in Kensal Rise had its entire gable end sucked off and dumped on a hapless Fiesta in the street, leaving the gas-guzzling people carrier behind it unscathed. Bloody typical. Bloody class system.

The bedroom revealed inside was really nice and tidy, as if prepared. Like the boy who really does put on a clean pair of underpants in case he gets knocked down by a bus. The painting was still on the wall. And the radiator left standing against the missing chimney breast.

Round the corner, the massive plane tree snapped of at the base like a toothpick.

Headphone Furore. Sennheiser's Syndrome.

3 weeks ago, a petition calling for a ban on loud music was handed to Transport for London.

A word in favour of in-head music.

One symptom of Sennheiser's Syndrome is a feeling of complete goodwill towards those around you. The effect of hearing a favourite piece of music seems to act in the same way as a movie soundtrack, enhancing the 'visuality' of what you see. And if what you see are rows of faces, they begin to gain humanity, the narrative of the music means you look at people in a different way. They acquire stories of their own, becoming individuals, as opposed to the usual anonymous stream of potentially hostile competitors you were once used to.

Street Kicks and Why

The report asserts that while financial gain is a common motive for many offenders, the proceeds often spent on "non-essential, status-enhancing" items, much wider forces were influential.
Co-author of the report Trevor Bennett says:
"The decision to commit street robbery can be explained in part by particular characteristics of the street culture...
"This finding is important, because British research has tended to explain robbery in terms of rational choice and to focus instead on the role of cost-reward calculations.
"Our research suggests that any explanation must primarily take into account cultural factors associated with life on the street."
University of Glamorgan's Centre for Criminology Report into Street Crime
On the BBC today, the father of Tom ap Rhys Pryce said he understood that some street robbers were seeking thrills. "We have to try and divert that desire for excitement or kicks or a buzz...into a different direction," stressing the need to "help people who are in a disadvantaged situation... to get educational facilities." saying this "could mean sport or music as well as ordinary academic help so that they can achieve their potential... rather than just wandering the streets".
He has set up a charity to do just that.

Also on the BBC, Camilla Batmanghelidjh, of Kids Company, said street crime was a "systemic problem", adding
"It would be really sad if this report got translated as a bunch of young people robbing for fun. It is not about that.
"It is for 'kicks', but you've have to understand what the 'kick' is. The 'kick' is people who are victims for prolonged periods of time developing a cycle of revenge so that they then get a high from victimising someone else."
The reaction of Tom ap Rhys Pryce is quite amazing, given the prevalent tide of opinion. It is more than mere charity, it is an act of deep understanding. His interpretation of the general conclusions of this report give us all direction.
We live in a vast commercialised bureacracy. It is failing, and the only solutions being offered are those which will merely add to the bureacracy and make it even more inefficient, while doing nothing about the commercial values it promotes. And it is the commercial society which creates the Street Culture which the report uncovers.
We also live in a culture of power and money. Which are essentially the same thing. Together or apart they are the measures of status, either in the boardroom or on the sreet, and once achieved, status tends to excuse the methods by which it was achieved. We don't care how most billionaires got rich, and neither does the culture we live in. All the law really says is: Don't Get Caught. It delivers no incentive to social responsibility whatsoever because a consumerist competitive economy is not a positive force, encouraging people to take pride in being part of a community, but a negative one, urging everyone to clamber over their fellow human beings in order to escape from any resemblance of community and live in encapsulated isolation surrounded by toys, chemicals and sex. Its property laws are therefore only there as a sanction against actions which disturb the commercial process.
Every millionaire alive got rich by winning that Rat race, and every teenager mugging 'for kicks' is simply doing the same thing for the same reasons. The ones who go on to become millionaires, and there will be some, will be forgiven in turn, while their mates, who lost the race, will be known as Losers. Nothing is worse than being branded A Loser. Either in the street or in the boardroom.

Calls for more education, more punishment, 'individual responsibility' and more parenting are, of course, futile. And worse, a distraction. Until people feel genuine community responsibility, the streets will be no safer. And before there can be community responsibility, there has to be a community to feel responsible towards. At the moment, very few people live in a community of any kind.

It is impossible to say how much time and thought and money it will take to create a viable society, in which people are law-abiding because they naturally sympathise with the victim, rather than through fear of punishment, but that is what must be created, and must be started sometime, and to ask how much it will cost is almost to cause it never to happen. The cost of not creating it will always be much higher.
The current approach of blaming anyone in reach is a road to hell, and a further reinforcement of the culture of division which has created the devaluation of human life and values which the report of Professor Trevor Bennett and and Dr Fiona Brookman has highlighted.