mr. zilla goes to town

Sunday, January 30, 2005

marked for death



When voters in Sunni districts have long been facing death threats for voting, who decided to put indelible marks on their fingers at the polling booth? Well and good in Britain or Basra, but damn, you think the IECI would be so grateful that actual Sunni voters were coming out to vote they wouldn't mind too much if some of them had a couple of goes at it.

bugz in the basement

Last night Ms Z and I got just what the doctor ordered in the basement of the Medicine Bar down in Shoreditch. Thanks to arriving on the dot of 8:59pm, for the princeley sum of zero pounds - yes, zero pounds, zero pence - we got a dose of the finest broken beats in the world, courtesy of Jazzanova's Roskow and Bugz in the Attic's Daz I Kue and Mikey General. Simply superb uptempo sonic syncopation. Try saying that with your teeth in. As much as I still love many other flavours of music, this stuff is mentally addictive. Addictively mental. Its like breakbeat without the scaffolding and elevator jazz with the cables cut. Can't wait for King Britt and Kyoto Jazz Massive coming through the same venue in the next month or so.


Saturday, January 29, 2005

friday oxblogging: queens lane

1843:

2005:


Queens College on the left, St Edmund Hall on the right, and St Peter in the East (now refurbished as Teddy Hall's library) down the lane. The first image is a calotype taken by Henry Fox Talbot, whose pioneering research in photographic methods was apparently driven by his inability to sketch in the company of his sisters and his new wife on the shores of Italy's Lake Como. As he explained in the introduction to the Pencil of Nature in 1844: "...I found that the faithless pencil had only left traces on the paper melancholy to behold."



I can relate. But fortunately, like Henry I've found a few things to occupy my time. In lieu of being able to figure out a new medium to capture light I've got a foot in the door up the road at Oxfam GB on a part time basis.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

straya die

Bloody bewdy bonza cobbers gdai gdai black stump, mate! Ahhh whatever. Hope you lucky buggers back home are just soaking up the summer and getting on with it, and sticking the national caricaturation where the sun don't shine. Which is here, damn it. The pangs of grief that strike at my heart upon contemplation of the distance to the land I love -- on this of all days -- threaten to cast me into a swoon: I'm missing ANOTHER Sinney big day out fer cryssakes. Anyway, Straya Die in Oxford means heading out shortly to watch the touring Australian Universities rugby team take on the Oxford Blues. And then, curiously, for after dinner drinks with the director of Jerry Springer - The Opera.

Pip bloody pip mate, smash the oiks!

Continued. Wow, what a game of two halves it turned out to be! In the first half, the Oxford Blues were strong in attack and piled on 4 unanswered tries. In the second half, it was the Oxford Blues turn to be strong in defence instead, often forcing turnovers in general play and bottling up the Australians for most of the second half. Two consolation tries to the Australians in the final five minutes, and an enthusiastically deliberate rucking of the testicles of a Blues player caught on the ground on the wrong side of a ruck in full view of the grandstand, made a rout look slightly respectable with a final score of 32-19.

Unfortunately Stuart Lee had a great deal of interesting things to say about Jerry Springer The Opera, and the controvery ensuing since its BBC broadcast, that he mentioned he didn't want to be put in the public domain. One item of interest though is that while this West End run ends in February, and a tour of the US is quite doubtful for a number of reasons*, an Australian production is definitely in the pipeline. Apparently the attraction of an Australian cast with their 'best in the world' facility with profanity is just too enticing. How's that for bonza cultural recognition ay? Happy Australia Day!

* one being the assumed death threats that would come in response to the opera's comparison of Jesus to a "slightly gay" nappy wearing coprophiliac. And that's even before we get to the chorus refrain at the entrance of the Virgin Mary, "raped by a angel, raped by an angel, raped by an angel, raped by God..." I hope this doesn't give you the sense that its a just blasphemous and titillating piece though, its actually a excellent and socially challenging piece of culture.

Monday, January 24, 2005

no low go

So there's this viral video advert going around of a suicide bomber using a VW Polo as his marque of choice, albeit unsuccessfully. VW and their advertising agencies have denied any involvement. While I believe them, Naomi Klein's commentary in part of No Logo comes to mind, about there being no counter-cultural activity or markers that couldn't eventually be co-opted by corporate capitalism, romanticised, bought up, and sold out, to turn a profit. Anything. Shit, it doesn't even take one-handed mulitnational boardroom cogitations, just any entrepreneurial whacker with a screenprinter and a chubby for Che. Hell even the bloody surviving Doors members finally gave up thirty years of keeping Jim's powder dry and licenced a Riders On The Storm remix featuring Snoop Dogg for a bollocks EA computer game.

Sometimes, only sometimes mind, the relentless tentacles of this remix culture give me the shits. I think its high time someone locked themselves away and invented for the world a better tuba. In the meantime for the rest of us (via CT) there's this:

America's Army Special Ops: Abu Ghraib
The United States Army (PC)

...this game is totally different. In this one you're plucked from a rural community in America, separated from your family, and flown to a foreign country. When you land you're given an assignment to guard a prison, and told to make it up as you go along. That's it—the rest is up to you. This is a really open-ended game and the story totally depends on the decisions you make. You and your teammates are given a group of "detainees" that you must discipline. The thing that makes this game different is that the detainees can't fight back, and they're in chains or locked in cells. At first it was a little confusing, and I killed a lot of detainees expecting them to fight back, but I got used to it and found it to be a refreshingly different approach from most RPGs. The choice of weapons is really interesting, too. You start out with a crate, a cattle prod, and a Bible...

Haha! SO to recap: Suicide beetle bombs: painful, unfunny. Torture parody for your PC: tweaking truth to power, now that is laughable. Bugger it all. I'll just keep messing about with this this Young MC acapella and the Santa Esmerelda track from the Kill Bill soundtrack. Yeeeees, I suppose that makes me part of the problem. Shut up.


oh. yeah. right. sorry.

From the WPost:

White House officials said yesterday that President Bush's soaring inaugural address, in which he declared the goal of ending tyranny around the world, represents no significant shift in U.S. foreign policy but instead was meant as a crystallization and clarification of policies he is pursuing in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and elsewhere.

Nor, they say, will it lead to any quick shift in strategy for dealing with countries such as Russia, China, Egypt and Pakistan, allies in the fight against terrorism whose records on human rights and democracy fall well short of the values Bush said would become the basis of relations with all countries.

In other words: you, our dictatorial buddies in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Russia, can rest assured that it's business as usual so long as you don't try to get in a sword fight with us in the men's room. Ho ho ho, of course we weren't talking about you!

"It is not a discontinuity. It is not a right turn," said a senior administration official, who spoke with reporters from newspapers but demanded anonymity because he wanted the focus to remain on the president's words and not his. "I think it is a bit of an acceleration, a raising of the priority, making explicit in a very public way to give impetus to this effort." He added that it was a "message we have been sending" for some time.
Emphasis added. What a disgrace that the WPost and the other reporters in the room swallow this crap. If the minder wanted the focus to remain on Bush's speech, all he had to do was stay at home and watch the football instead of coming on with this spin of the speech to reveal the true mind of the Dear Leader for us.


Sunday, January 23, 2005

worlds colliding

The view from planet Bin Laden, from Der Spiegel by way of Salon:

Now safely returned to the arms of his Parisian family, Malbrunot said that he and Chesnot slowly began to realize that they were "living on planet bin Laden." References to "Chief Osama" abounded, he said, and there was much talk of living by Muslim law. Resilient, tough-minded and good-looking, Malbrunot, 41, became an instant celebrity in France the minute that he and Chesnot, 38, disappeared. Now, a month after his release, he offered a curt assessment of where America's Iraq policy is headed: "Straight into a wall."

"These people will not surrender," he said. He was referring not only to the estimated 15,000-17,000 members of the Islamic Army in Iraq, which kidnapped him and Chesnot, but also to the dozens of other Islamic fundamentalist groups fighting in the country. "They have time, they have weapons, they have money," Malbrunot said. "And they are fighting at home. I am afraid it will only get worse and they will get more and more power. It frightens me."
The view from planet Bush, Norman Podhoretz in Commentary magazine (via A&LDaily):

Suppose, then (as I do), that in a year or so, a duly elected coalition government is in place in Baghdad; that it is guided by a constitution guaranteeing political freedom and minority rights; that the economy is improving; that Iraqi soldiers and policemen have taken over most of the responsibility for dealing with a severely weakened insurgency; that the number of American troops has been reduced to the size of a backup force; and that fewer and fewer Americans are being killed or wounded. What then? Will the realists and their liberal allies bow to this reality? Will they be mugged by reality?

Damn, that's a lot of suppositions, Norm. I suppose the upcoming election is going to work like some kind of magic pixie dust across the land that frightens away all the trolls? Just like the deaths of Saddam's sons did? Just like the capture of Saddam did? Just like the dissolution of the CPA did? Just like the destruction of Fallujah did? On the latter here's what General Muhammad Abdullah Shahwani, Iraq's intelligence chief, said to Chris Allbritton on 4 January:

Did the American military operations in Fallujah lead to a decrease in terrorist operations?
It became less only in Fallujah.

And in the rest of Iraq?
In gangs war which acted by the terrorism groups we can't get the results as we get in the organized army war, or the traditional war. The goal from Fallujah operation was to destroy the terrorism gangs or to capture their members but the results in Fallujah we could not capture the terrorists or kill their leaders, we did not see or hear about capturing or killing any big leader of terrorism, all the leaders of the terrorism have left Fallujah before the operations started already.

And they went working in other sites or hiding outside Fallujah in each fight there is a goal and the goal of Fallujah operation was to destroy the terrorist and their leadership but the goal was not done actually in spite of the full controlling of Fallujah.
I'll be honest, despite being aghast on a daily basis at all that this war has lead to (sometimes straight into my inbox, as I mentioned on Friday), part of me is prepared to suspend judgement for five years on the whole debacle; Rome wasn't rebuilt in a day. On the other hand, Today's Iraq is not Japan or Germany in the 1940s, today's Iraq is not Afghanistan in 2001, its probably closer to Afghanistan in 1981. And in the meantime there's a whole lot of lying, and a whole lot of dying, that senior members of the Bush administration should be held to accountable for.

But getting back to Podhoretz, I think The Poor Man Sounds summed up well this kind of view:

[After 9/11] a lot of people found certainty and security by making themselves believe that the universe had suddenly become a totally different place, where the President - yesterday, by everyone's admission, a man of no particular accomplishment or substance - had become this messianic figure, capable of resolving the world's most tortuous and least resolvable problems with one neat and decisive stroke. With such a figure, you don't have to worry about the corrupting influence of power, and a prudent doubt is not a virtue, but something close to heresy or sin. Naturally, such a great and good man requires great and diabolical enemies, and these enemies became anyone who doubted - liberals, Democrats, foreigners, reporters, academics, professionals, whoever. It makes you feel better. It's intoxicating. But it doesn't have much relation to reality. When reality conflicts with fantasy, you can either abandon the fantasy, and deal with the hangover that follows, or burrow deeper into fiction. And the harsher the reality, the nastier the hangover, and the deeper you need to go to avoid it.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

parody immunity

A genuine headline at CNN.com:

Poll: Nation split on Bush as uniter or divider

Spotted at The Architectural Dance Society. (And while I'm mentioning blogs I've been travelling through, go check out mp3 blog Teaching the Indie Kids to Dance Again and download McLusky's Dave, Stop Killing Prostitutes from the album The Difference Between You & Me is that I'm Not on Fire.)

Friday, January 21, 2005

scenes from the coronation

At Wonkette.
11:40AM: Trent Lott reminds us that Americans have been gathering for over 200 years to welcome their new presidents a "peaceful and dignified ceremonies." And then, he said, "there's this year, which is a $40 million obscenity of corporate whoredom."

11:42AM: God. He totally loves us.

11:49AM: Cheney getting sworn in. Fuck, this is really happening, isn't it? Wait, did you hear that? He swore to protect us from "all enemies foreign domestic and made up..." They're warning us this time!

11:51AM: Cheney to Bush: "Thank you Mr. President, now let's go back to blowing shit up."

11:52AM: Who let that coat past security? Did Chewbacca die?

11:58AM: Four more years, minus about a minute. Just keep the bourbon coming.

---

Republican guy in black overcoat: 4 More Years!
Anarchist: Fuck You!
R: What's that asshole?
A: [sticks up middle finger]
R: Do that again. [takes out camera]
A: [also takes out camera]
They then take pictures of each other and walk away.

Sigh... can you be homesick for a briefly adopted home town?

multimedia war

Back in December some friends of mine in DC collected a bunch of money to buy some goodies (an x-box and so on) to support the US troops over in Iraq, raise their morale at Xmas, that kind of thing. As a thank you, the artillery unit the stuff went to (the US Army's 1st Battalion 6th Field Artillery Centaurs) just sent back a video and stills of them conducting urban raid training in a range, and in action in Fallujah in November. It's mostly vanilla: unit photos, men and their machines photos, scowling photos. That is, until in the final 30 seconds, where -- accompanied by some totally rockin' Prodigy, dude -- the take from an overhead observer (UAV?) is matched up with images of the unit working their guns, and you see an artillery round hit two vehicles at a crossroad. The shrapnel from the burst and the exploding vehicles scythes down five people. Then a second round hits the same target area again.

I really wonder why you would include something like this in an otherwise blameless file. Simple pride in your work? Something to stir fond memories about your proficiency down the years? The desire not to sugar coat it for the people back home, ala the White House and the nightly news? Or just a war-torn and brutalized failure of perspective?

Fuck it, I don't care why. Abu Ghraib notwithstanding I thought the snuff films were just for the jihadis. Way to keep the fucking home fires burning.

Continued. I've been otherwise engaged elsewhere for the last few hours which has given me the time to think over whether to upload the damn thing. Despite personal distaste and reservations about hosting something that goremongers might get a cheap thrill out of I've decided to put it up so you can make your own judgement. Right click to download the video here. (35MB).

What pisses me off most is not that such images exist but this particular contextualisation. I could deal with such imagery better if the WMV was a training video of some sort; war is fubar but that doesn't mean its practicioners shouldn't use every tool to learn their job better and stay alive. And despite my attempts to be fair handed its clearly not some kind of crypto anti-war screed. No, this to me is very clearly the happy snaps memorial photo reel of the unit in question. And if they are mailing it to people in the US that says to me they're OK with it being in the public domain.

I'm not saying its some Seymour Hersh style revelation of atrocity unless you consider the whole fucked up business of this war an atrocity - which, by the way, you should. It's just episode 1,409 of the (deadly) horror, the (dehumanizing) horror.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

dawning realisation


Back in the 1980s, a film came out that was a masterpiece of Cold War propaganda. The film 'Red Dawn' depicted an invasion of the United States by a combined Soviet/Cuban force that came up through Central America and down from Alaska.

'Red Dawn' centered around the patriotic struggle of a bunch of kids from a small Colorado town, who armed themselves and took to the hills to fight the invaders. They were afraid and angry, and over the course of the movie most of them are killed. Each of the fallen is treated as a hero, their names etched upon a rock that eventually becomes a national monument once the war ends.

Now, of course, I am old enough to see the thing for what it was. But I am casting it now in a new context that throws the whole premise into a cocked hat. These Soviet/Cuban commie invaders kept the lights on, kept the stores open, and saw themselves bringing 'freedom' to a nation held in thrall by capitalist oppressors. Why, then, did those kids fight?

In other words, this film glorifies armed resistance by patriotic fighters bent on repelling invaders. Yet in Iraq today, the kids playing the role of the resistance are vilified as terrorists and thugs. Are they not doing what those all-American kids did, to great applause, in 'Red Dawn'? We're the 'liberators' this time around, trying to get the lights on, trying to hold some sort of election. Why do they fight us?

They fight, I think, because home is home, and because invading armies are never, ever welcome. All the neo-cons in the Bush administration who thought this wwas going to be a 'cakewalk' should have probably watched 'Red Dawn' before undertaking this farce.

(Image: Free Iraq. Text: Truthout)

Z-index

HTML? CSS? Z-index? It's all a bit Greek to me. But thanks to some comments by Rowen of Sailing Close to the Wind over at Mr Lefty, you can now enjoy the new, improved, untruncated background scenery that magisterially fills the page.

Update: D'oh. Apparently people viewing with Internet Explorer were treated to a completely text-free blog experience. And since the stats tracker says 80% of people coming here are IE users, its back to the drawing board. Curse the tyranny of the majority.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

X-citement

After the paperboard of ' Kitsune Midnight' (Man With Guitar, Blackstrobe, Freeform Five...) the freshest label of the French scene is back with blow on blow the 1st album of Hot Chip 'Coming One Strong' (magnet-funk-pop quintet petillant, January 17), some share between Prince, The Specials, the VRP and!!! and superb compilation ' Kitsune X' February at the beginning of with high level inedits between pop dancing electronics and house claquante signs Manhead, Joakim, the Volga Select, Captain Comatose vs Total Stereo, Simian and the new ones and mysterieux The Mogs, Post No Bills, Popular Computer and Dieter Schmidt.

Google translator, you couldn't have captured the incoherent, omnidirectional excitement in my pants better if you tried. A full CD of foxy fresh cuts from French label Kitsune -- whose website look like it was left to someone's dog to make as homework -- is due out in late February, called Kitsune X. If you head over to the website you can read more about the choice of a Galapagos Finch for the album cover, and more about the creator of the particular font used who was born as Darwin died, than you can about the music on the release itself. I guess I should be grateful that it's in English at least!

Monday, January 17, 2005

playtime & time again



Three grown men clinging to one another on a scooter. What could be a more playful scenario than that? Of course by “playful”, I mean, “really fucking creepy”. They’re not even wearing helmets, and that sends a bad message. By the look of them, they may be the type who wear helmets on a daily basis and were offered an extra helping of paste for behaving while sans helmet. There was a slap fight when they all wanted to be the driver, but that was solved with a crayon-eating contest. Now Jimmy is driver, Mikey is the meat in a retard sandwich, and Feepo is left with crayon breath.


Just one of Pork Tornado's excellent selection of worst ever album covers that are a good three minutes of time wasting amusement. (Thanks to Lisa for the link.)

Meanwhile something much more worthy of note is going on over at kiddierecords.com. Each week this year there's a different download available of a classic 1950s children's record. I've already picked up mp3s of Robin Hood and Tom Thumb and can't wait for this coming week's installment...





Sunday, January 16, 2005

fire Rummy. appoint River

Riverbend in Baghdad:

I hope Americans feel good about taking their war on terror to foreign soil. For bringing the terrorists to Iraq- Chalabi, Allawi, Zarqawi, the Hakeems… How is our current situation going to secure America? How is a complete generation that is growing up in fear and chaos going to view Americans ten years from now? Does anyone ask that? After September 11, because of what a few fanatics did, Americans decided to become infected with a collective case of xenophobia… Yet after all Iraqis have been through under the occupation, we're expected to be tolerant and grateful. Why? Because we get more wheat in our diets?

Terror isn't just worrying about a plane hitting a skyscraper…terrorism is being caught in traffic and hearing the crack of an AK-47 a few meters away because the National Guard want to let an American humvee or Iraqi official through. Terror is watching your house being raided and knowing that the silliest thing might get you dragged away to Abu Ghraib where soldiers can torture, beat and kill. Terror is that first moment after a series of machine-gun shots, when you lift your head frantically to make sure your loved ones are still in one piece. Terror is trying to pick the shards of glass resulting from a nearby explosion out of the living-room couch and trying not to imagine what would have happened if a person had been sitting there.

The weapons never existed. It's like having a loved one sentenced to death for a crime they didn't commit- having your country burned and bombed beyond recognition, almost. Then, after two years of grieving for the lost people, and mourning the lost sovereignty, we're told we were innocent of harboring those weapons. We were never a threat to America...

Congratulations Bush- we are a threat now.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

the songs of distant titan

Close your eyes and listen to the nitrogen/methane breezes on Titan -- and don't forget to rub your hands together against the -178C chill in the air.

Friday, January 14, 2005

hear no evil

From the FT:
One counterinsurgency expert said Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, had a "brutally accurate" picture of the situation and the potential dangers.

But a member of an influential neoconservative policy group said that such warnings "stop well short of the president".

He said Mr Rumsfeld, criticised for the conduct of the war, had an interest in hiding the true picture from the president.

According to Chas Freeman, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia and head of the independent Middle East Policy Council, Mr Bush recently asked Mr Powell for his view on the progress of the war. "We're losing," Mr Powell was quoted as saying. Mr Freeman said Mr Bush then asked the secretary of state to leave.


I shouldn't make the obvious disparaging and despairing remarks about the US President seeming to choose life a bubble. Let's recognise his intellect and wisdom for sending Powell from the room (and the Cabinet) for needlessly pointing out such an irrelevance:

After the Afghan War, despite the fact that many al-Qaeda personnel were in hiding, the jihad no longer had a clear address. That made it hard to plug new people into the network even though the popularity of jihadi ideology was, if anything, larger than ever. Now, thanks to the fighting in Iraq, people who want to sign up once again know where to go to get involved and gain practical experience in assymetrical warfare against the United States. Most of the people involved in the insurgency are native-born Iraqis with little to no interest in any broader struggle, but some come from elsewhere, and some Iraqis may well get interested in the larger war with the United States.

Right now, they're fighting us in Iraq, but in the future they'll be waging their struggle in Europe, the United States, elsewhere in the Middle East, or wherever else they can go. Importantly, this is bound to happen whether or not we in some sense "win" in Iraq. Either the jihadis will be driven out of the country, in which case they'll be fighting somewhere else; or else we'll be driven out, in which case some of them will go somewhere else to fight.

friday oxblogging



"Here in Oxford, exposed eternally and inexorably to wind and frost, to the four winds that lash them and the rains that wear them away, they are expiating, in effigy, the abominations of their pride and cruelty and lust. Who were lechers, they are without bodies; who were tyrants, they are crowned never but with crowns of snow; who made themselves even with the gods, they are by American visitors frequently mistaken for the Twelve Apostles."



Thursday, January 13, 2005

Blackened Flagback

Henry Rollins and Black Flag were one of the baddest hardcore/punk acts around, back in the day, and not to be trucked with. But don't think that just cos he's post-40 Henry has lost his straight edge. 21st century digital Henry-boy will leave you some kinda scathing feedback on eBay if you cross him.

(via stereogum.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

fired for blogging

A story is beginning to hit its straps here about Edinburgh blogger Joe Gordon who has been fired from his job in a bookstore for making comments about his boss at work - in particular, some leave arrangements in January - although without naming the company or the supervisor in question.

The kind of jobs I've been there has always necessarily been 40 foot high Chinese Wall between the personal and the professional and so I've never remotely considered discussing the dayjob here. (Which no doubt is why you're constantly being inflicted with me rabbiting on about the noctural employment pursuits as some kind of compensation). But I'll be honest, even if that weren't the case I still wouldn't think it appropriate to be blowing off steam about your boss on your blog. Blogs are not private conversations; unless you have genuine whistleblower issues to clean house on it's simply unprofessional. That's what husbands, girlfriends, parents, the neighbours' dog or even the mates down the pub are for. Preferably an quiet corner of the pub.

I think the casual ease of writing on a blog, much like email, gives people the mistaken impression of its impermanence. And like corporations and sexual harassers throughout the 1990s discovering just how permanent and subpoenable their email archives were, technology like the Googlecache makes every tossed off word on your blog retrievable for years to come. And it doesn't really matter if your blog is anonymous today. Seems to me that sooner or later - even years later - someone is going to be able to join the dots and see what you were thinking all along.

I'm don't believe that this is necessarily a bad thing. If anything I think it behooves bloggers to be even more honest and true to themselves and their personal beliefs in their writing. The transparence of blogging (and other internet fora) certainly have their advantages when the neo-Nazi worms of the world prattle on when they think they're lurking under a rock but have in fact been exposed to the sunlight. Go see Darp's ongoing revelations about the 'Patriotic Youth League' in Sydney for an example.

Nonetheless it seems to me that Mr Gordon's employer, Waterstones, was far too heavy handed in dealing with the situation and overreacted. At the very least, for an employee in good standing of eleven years, if they considered the matter improper they should have privately counselled him. Particularly when the likes of Neil Gaiman consider him to be "...smart, well-informed, opinionated-but-in-a-good-way and always really professional... [and] the only reason I've always done a Waterstones signing when in Edinburgh."

Clooney vs O'Reilly

People are coming up to me and asking if it's true that the telethon was a fraud. That means the next time we try to raise money, like when the CD from the telethon comes out this month, fewer people will participate. Because of your unsubstantiated, untrue statements about the September 11 Fund, You, Mr. O'Reilly will be taking money away from people who need it....and all because it's the first week of sweeps.

I will say this; you were right about one thing. You accused all of the performers of lying. You named them one by one and read each of their excuses for not responding to you.

Tom Cruise, "Too busy".
Brad Pitt, "Too busy to respond".
Tom Hanks.....you get the idea.

You're right, Mr. O'Reilly, we lied...all of us. Of course we weren't too busy. And if you were Peter Jennings, or Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Charlie Rose, The Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times, or pretty much anybody else, we would have dropped everything and explained what we know. You see Bill, these are journalists. So, yes we lied when we said we were too busy to do your "entertainment show". We were just trying to not hurt your feelings.

That was round one in 2001. Now coming out of the corner for in response to round two, gentleman George Clooney gives a second shut-the-f**k-uppercut to blabbering right-wing fox-twit Bill O'Reilly.

Makes you wish the exchange could have taken place on live television ala Jon Stewart's influential destruction of CNN Crossfire.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

textureDJs -- Present Intension

Enough of those chipper christmas choons or we'll all turn into happy tree friends. Its time to get it on with some house in the house.

Stuck at work and need a beat stream NOW? Present Intension is currently being featured over at Traktion Digitale , and also online through the regular textureDJs streamer for your instant gratification.

Need something for the iPod, or want to burn to CD? Right click to download the premium grade 192kbps mp3 right here.


Rather than post a tracklist for a change, I thought I'd describe it a little more qualitatively. This particular 75 minute microconcerto breaks down into 15 minute movements something like this:

1) the canonical. its all good.
2) the cynanical. stuff you ain't gonna hear nowhere else.
3) ahh nujazz, the halftime oranges of the 21st century. siddown and stroke your chin.
4) get up. get your dub on!
5) summery sax appeal and a sub-equatorial send off.

enjoy!

Iraqify or bust

Two articles today caught my eye. The first from James Dobbins, former US Special Envoy to Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, Somalia and Afghanistan, writing in the very staid Foreign Affairs magazine.

The beginning of wisdom is to recognize that the ongoing war in Iraq is not one that the United States can win. As a result of its initial miscalculations, misdirected planning, and inadequate preparation, Washington has lost the Iraqi people's confidence and consent, and it is unlikely to win them back. Every day that Americans shell Iraqi cities they lose further ground on the central front of Iraqi opinion.

The war can still be won -- but only by moderate Iraqis and only if they concentrate their efforts on gaining the cooperation of neighboring states, securing the support of the broader international community, and quickly reducing their dependence on the United States. Achieving such wide consensus will require turning the U.S.-led occupation into an Iraqi-led, regionally backed, and internationally supported endeavor to attain peace and stability based on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The second in a similar vein, from Robert Malley and Peter Harling of the International Crisis Group in the International Herald Tribune:
In Iraq, the United States is engaged in a war it already has lost while losing sight of a struggle in which it still may prevail. Original objectives - a secular, free-market, democratic government close to the United States and a model for the region - are no longer achievable. Worse, their pursuit has become an obstacle to realization of the most important goal: A stable government viewed by its people as a credible embodiment of national interests and able to preserve the country's territorial integrity.

America's image has suffered too much, the insurgency spread too far and the credibility of the transition process sunk too low for its current approach to succeed. Washington's missteps are now largely viewed as intentional, its statements as hypocritical, and its perceived undeclared agenda - of long-term domination of Iraq - as responsible for the armed opposition's violence.


Is this new meme to spiral outwards from such establishment commentators - that the US effort in Iraq is not just going extremely badly but the beginning of recognition that on the terms it set for itself, the US has actually already lost the war? We'll have to wait and see; there's reason to be skeptical with news last Friday that at least one US government department was engaged in a covert cash for comment arrangement with a right-wing pundit.

Monday, January 10, 2005

a war to be happy about?

I'll most likely be disappointed with the end product, but right now just the idea that Steven Spielberg directing a new movie about the very godfather of all alien invasion stories is pretty cool.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

the horror, the horror (episode 1,743)

Via the dailykos diaries and NZ blog no right turn, I read that US magazine Newsweek has learned that

...the Pentagon’s latest approach [in Iraq] is being called "the Salvador option"—and the fact that it is being discussed at all is a measure of just how worried Donald Rumsfeld really is. "What everyone agrees is that we can’t just go on as we are," one senior military officer told NEWSWEEK. "We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing." Last November’s operation in Fallujah, most analysts agree, succeeded less in breaking "the back" of the insurgency—as Marine Gen. John Sattler optimistically declared at the time—than in spreading it out.

Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers...

Most Iraqi people do not actively support the insurgents or provide them with material or logistical help, but at the same time they won’t turn them in. One military source involved in the Pentagon debate agrees that this is the crux of the problem, and he suggests that new offensive operations are needed that would create a fear of aiding the insurgency. "The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists," he said. "From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation."


Last September, UNICEF reported that malnutrition among Iraqi children had doubled under the occupation. Infant mortality is now at the level of Burundi, higher than in Haiti and Uganda. There is crippling poverty and a chronic shortage of medicines.

Meanwhile, via inebriantia I read that in the Carribean resort town of Guantanamo Bay:

The Bush administration is preparing plans for possible lifetime detention of suspected terrorists, including hundreds whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

Citing intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials, the newspaper said the Pentagon and the CIA had asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for those it would not set free or turn over to courts at home or abroad.


The short-sighted instrumentality of the strategic thinking that leads to conclusion that these are viable courses of action and in the US national interest beggars belief.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

tsunami tsunami



Wolfson College fundraiseer pulled 1400 pounds in 4 hours (that's about $3500 in the old money) - for HEART in Sri Lanka.

The WC bar committee were pulling 50p per drink to the fund, although they did report instances of people handing over 20 quid for three beers and refusing change. I wonder how much of the public's donations of 100 million pounds has been collected in pubs? Anyway I kept the punters dancing (ie thirsty) too well and at the end of the night half an hour after the scheduled close, the one crusty old facilities guy actually pulled the plug on the decks on me so the crowd would leave...


Friday, January 07, 2005

highs and 'los

Just a quick shout out to say hello and thanks to old friends from Canberra (and readers here) Rob and Kat who dropped in for dinner on Wednesday night on their way from a year in Toronto back to Sydney. (Sure they were having a holiday in Scotland too but who's to quibble over details?) I'm jealous of the sunshine and warmth you'll be back to in a couple of weeks... but just you wait till August when its only getting up to a chilly eighteen degrees in Sydney and up to an average maximum here of... twenty one... oh... never mind.

Actually as much as I whinge about the grey days here, honestly the temperatures are quite mild. It's rarely below freezing it seems, and nowhere near as cold as DC was last winter. We're past the solstice and now the wan light on the horizon lingers till at least a few minutes after five in the afternoon. So with no snow or ice on the ground to contend with it means I might get out for some pick-up social football with the Teddy Hall MCR crew on Sunday too. On the damp fields it could be a bit curly without studs though: it's been just on six weeks since I arrived but no doubt due to the volume of Xmas mail the box including my football boots hasn't appeared yet.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

think you had a big new years?

This is a quite outrageously cool story from member 'boysteve' on the Traktor Studio general discussion board. First, posting on 30 Dec 04:

My first date with my fiancee was to see Digweed on NYE at Giant two years ago. Our first kiss was at midnight. A year later Digweed was playing Giant on NYE again, so we went & I proposed at midnight. This year we're going to Giant Village in downtown L.A. to see Digweed -- & we're getting married at exactly midnight.


... and then he follows up with all the details on 2 Jan 05:

Well, we did it and I had the night of my life. The guy who performed the ceremony was a Cheyenne medicine man. I had gotten hold of him through (believe this?) craigslist with an ad asking if anyone wanted to marry us at midngiht at Giant Village. He did it in exchange for tickets, and he was a great guy with the unbelievable name of Eagle Bear Lightning.

Eagle Bear emailed Digweed to tell him what was going on -- and Digweed called him up and said, This is too cool; I'm gonna have Giant call you to work something out.

So Giant gave us a little space beside the stage, and we exchanged vows and kissed at midnight when the fireworks went off. People kept congratulatingus all night long; new of it spread all over the place. And one of the flat-out nicest crowds I've ever been in the middle of, wedding or no.

They shut Digweed down at 4:30 and he asked my wife (a word I find I use surprisingly easily) and I to come backstage for some pix & such. He was drunk off his ass and sweet as can be. He signed our marriage license and gave us a copy of his new CD. Should get the pix in a few days.

So in one sense our wedding had 14,000 guests, and was DJ'd by John Digweed. Heh! It was, honestly, one of the best nights I've ever had. Hello, 2005!

vote [3] mister z!

You may be aware that the 2004 Australian Blog award votes are up and running over here.

It's a complex process, an opt-in optional preferential Robson rotation non-bifurcated virtual butterfly ballot, but I urge you to cast your [3] vote in the overseas category for mister zilla goes to washington/town! I promise a pot in every chicken; a beginning to the heeling in Iraq; I'll even have a go at your tax return for you.

This time... unlike those other times in 2004... vote like your whole world depended on it*.


* actual results may vary

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

international rescue

On Friday night I'm going to be DJing a 4 hour set at a tsunami benefit up the street at Wolfson College. All proceeds (including all the bar staff's pay and the 50 quid for the DJ) are going to to the Hikkaduwa Economic Area Redevelopment Trust (HEART), a charity located on the Southwest coast of Sri Lanka. The immediate goals of HEART are to ensure that sanitation, food, clean water, shelter, and clothing are provided. Longer term efforts will focus on the needs of local businesses and fishermen needing assistance to rebuild boats and buy equipment.

Norwegian blogger Anders Jacobsen is going to donate US$1 to the British Red Cross for every blog who links to him and posts the following links, so here goes (and please donate to one of the below if you haven't already):

International aid organizations:
UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund)
United Nations' World Food Programme
Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors without Borders (donate!)
CARE International
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

UK/Europe:
Disasters Emergency Comittee (DEC) - comprises a raft of aid agencies, including the below and others
British Red Cross
Oxfam
Save the Children UK

North America:
American Red Cross
Canadian Red Cross
Save The Children
Oxfam America

Anders Jacobsen: Webloggers: Give to tsunami victims and I'll give too!


I hate to be churlish about the deep goodwill of people around the world, but there are a couple of stories popping up that I find slightly frustrating. One in particular was a BBC News report of doctors from the UK individually and independently loading up a few boxes of medical supplies and jumping on a plane for Thailand or Indonesia, rather than coordinating through an aid agency such as MSF. The selfless sentiment of these highly skilful people is great. But to be honest just rocking into a disaster zone without your own logistical support is going to place a burden on some other organisation to support you. This is one of the reasons why military forces are so useful in situations such as these; they have the procedures, the communication infrastructure, and the hardware to be self-sustaining as well as mobile and therefore get a lot done where it needs to be done. I hope these doctors can attach themselves to groups in the afflicted area who can place them where they are needed the most.

Mungbeans the world over who seem to be taking the opportunity to blame the victims, the UN, or "the Left" for the disaster score mister z's twats of the week awards. The wingnut syncophants at Tim Blair's are in such a state they should just naff off together to Baghdad and see if they can kick-start their own caulifate.

While I wouldn't lump him in with Blair's geese as a rule, one example is the comment over at MrLefty from Aussie blogger Mike Jericho:

Tim Blair has the issue well and truly covered.

It doesn't look like lack of aid is the problem. The UN lying and claiming credit for things being done by the US and Australian armies looks like the problem.

That and the fact that, after this tragedy, the UN has done next to nothing aside from fly officials around to look grave.


We must set aside images like these of UN World Food Programme delivering a planeload of aid to Sri Lanka back before the year was out, because they are clearly pieces of sham propaganda worthy of Leni Reifenstahl and not to be believed. Unlike other images that have washed over the airwaves recently of rations being tossed from the window of a US helicopter or the first RAF planeload of aid to arrive in the area in early January.

If we want to talk about the role the UN is and should be playing, rather than carry on with such petty pissing contests I think we have to remember to ask, how many aircraft/helicopter carriers does the UN possess? At last count, I think it was zero. How many dozen C130J or IL76 heavy lifters does the UN possess in its hangers on the Island of Unitednationsia? I think it could be zero. How many battalions of rapid-response construction engineers? It's a small number. guess.

I am sure that right-wingers are not going to be lobbying for the creation of a permanent duplicate supra-national pseudo-military crisis response force -- lets call it 'International Rescue' -- with airlift and troop capabilities on par with the top notch US and Australian hardware to deal with such events. Since many on the right are against paying even the current level of UN dues no doubt they would be aghast at the idea of the resources needed to staff, train and materially support such an entity. Perhaps it could be staffed by marionettes?

Linda Polman's We Did Nothing published in the mid 1990s and translated to English in 2003 provided an excellent in-the-weeds picture of the flaws and imperfections of UN operations but also slams home the oft conveniently ignored fact that such flaws of the UN are those caused by the nation-states who comprise it.

The point is that (some) individual nation states have strengths at their disposal that are a blessing to have in the days immediately following a crisis of this magnitude. International organisations that are at their guts about persuasion and coordination have other strengths. I imagine that the wingnutters who sleep soundly because they are still playing the tape recordings of Dick Cheney under their pillow at night (telling them the war in Iraq is going wonderfully and that the WMDs are just around the corner) would probably have difficultly understanding these latter concepts.

On the other hand, I just heard Tony Blair in an interview on the Beeb also talking some sense about the need to not lose sight of other imperatives such as AIDS and malaria - which kill in the order of three million people a year each.

the twelve days

By the twelfth day after Christmas, the Royal Mail brought to me:

Twelve Minties leaping
Eleven potatoes baking
Ten pounds of wrapping
Nine baubles breaking
Eighty minutes international calling
Seven pints a-drinking
Six economists arguing,
Five dozen gold macadamiaaaaas!
Four gingerbreads,
Three days in Cornwall,
Two woolly scarves,
and a truckload of vegemiiiiiiite!



Especially in relation to the last of these, joy has been unconstrained. Happy new year everyone, lets hope or pray (as is your choice) that 2005 isn't the annus horribilis that 2004 was on so many fronts. New year's here wasn't anything special; by the time we'd made it back to Oxford on our last legs around 9pm on NYE the thought of a pricey London all-nighter was fairly unappealing. We hit a local house party, had a few merry drinks, and came home to fall asleep with the lights on before 2am.

Looking ahead, I've got a job interview this Friday, plus a postgrad application to sort out and more job applications to write. I'd much prefer to be around town here rather than taking on a 3-hour-a-day round trip commute down to London so at this stage despite five glorious weeks of unemployment I'm holding out for that.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

mr zilla goes to tor



Ms Z and I spent the last three days of 2004 traipsing about the southwest of the country, primarily down in Cornwall. We hit a trifecta of cheesy english seaside locales, namely Newquay, Penzance and Land's End. Newquay was first stop because it held the cheapest accommodation to be found on the internet; it also holds some spectacularly naff seaside clubs which I'm sure must be quite barmy come the 'summer' here. We also had something like a supernatural experience at a barrow on the edge of town but I'll get to that later. Land's End I think was one of those obligatory visits, simply because, well, you can go and look at where it isn't. Having said that, peering westward into the gloom just before sunset as the sea heaved onto the rocks below us gave some appreciation of just what nutters the Vikings must have been to go sailing off into it in the 11th century or thereabouts. Penzance, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, was a quick stop between the two for a fantastic dinner at the Turk's Head.

More importantly though, we topped and tailed the alleged life of one of the greatest heroes in the British pantheon besides the man who invented the after hours lock-in, King Arthur.



On the northern coast of Cornwall lie the clifftop ruins of Tintagel Castle. First mentioned by 12th century historian Geoffrey of Monmouth, it is reputed to be either the place of conception, or birth, of the actual historical 'Arthur' of the 6th century upon whom the later mythology accreted. With more spanish amphorae of this period discovered at Tintagel than the rest of England combined, there's no doubt that in the 6th century it was a site of a powerful and wealthy court, although until the spam tins are uncovered I'm going to have to hold my expert opinion in check on whether it resembled Camelot. There's been evidence uncovered as recently as 1998 that a bloke named Artognov had something to do with the place but on sighting the evidence I'm not so sure the Art in question wasn't the local plumber.

I often wonder why some people indulge themselves purely in the fantasy of the romantic mythology when delving into the history of how and why these myths come about is so intriguing. For instance, the current ruins on the site of Tintagel date from the 12th century, not the 6th:

Earl Reginald of Cornwall began work on the Norman castle at Tintagel in the middle of the 12th century AD. Reginald was the brother of Robert Earl of Gloucester, whose patronage enabled Geoffrey of Monmouth to write his History of the British Kings. Perhaps it was for propaganda that Earl Reginald chose Tintagel as the site for his castle; by building on the ruins of mythic Camelot, the Norman lord may have hoped to lend his rule Arthur's legendary power.

Tailing off the trip we diverted to Glastonbury to climb the Tor and wander through the ruins of medieval Abbey. Once again it seems quite possible that the 'discovery' of the remains of Arthur and Gwenivere in the Abbey grounds in 1191 was political project boost the locale's prestige. Perhaps as a result, the Glastonbury Abbey certainly didn't lack for wealth in the following centuries, for by the time Henry VIII dissolved the monastaries in the 16th century...

Henry VIII sent auditors to assess the huge wealth of Glastonbury Abbey, whose estates in the 16th century were second only to Westminster's. The auditors reported that of an astonishing annual revenue of about £3,000, the Abbey gave only £140 in charity. In the year before the Dissolution, Glastonbury's 54 monks feasted on over 600 lambs and 250 suckling pigs.



But Henry failed to find firm evidence of corruption; Abbot Richard Whiting refused to surrender the abbey's estates. Henry had the abbot arrested and the abbey searched. His soldiers uncovered as much embezzled treasure 'as would have sufficed for a new abbey'. In a short trial, the abbot and two monk treasurers were condemned to death. On the Tor, they were hanged and dismembered. The abbot's head was stuck over the gateway to his monastery, which was quickly wrecked and looted. Within just a few weeks the abbey was used as a local quarry for building stone.