Monday, April 30, 2007
Here's a response to Jack's latest effort, and its pretty goddamn impressive (the response, not his insult to our collective intelligence).
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Saturday, April 28, 2007
I'm a member of the Green Party but I often get frustrated that they come across as a 1 issue party. They should keep all the good policy but rebrand themelves as something less tree-hugging to get the attention of the Daily Mail and Sun readers out there.
Wow. Really scary. I bet 'W' is really glad to have those SS boys around to protect him from being bullied by little girls.
Friday, April 27, 2007
"Every patrol we went on we were either shot at or blown up by roadside bombs. It was crazy. . . . . . . .We have overstayed our welcome now. We should speed up the withdrawal. It's a lost battle. We should pull out and call it quits."
Did you get that Tony? If you are, in fact, human and not a lying machine as you appear so convincingly to be, would you now consider bringing these poorly paid, under equipped, unfortunates home?
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Addition - (more than two years later):
It seems the BBC seem to be repeating this series of lectures under a different title. Here's a link to the Reith Lectures. Snigger.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Oops! I just noticed an anglocentricism in there. My apologies to all the haggis-, sheep- and potato-fuckers out there. I really don't consider myself to be a strawberry-fucker. I am, in fact, a citizen of The United Kingdom (until I can emigrate- thanks Tony!).
With reflection, I can easily see a British person vomiting the above phrase. That's what the Sun and The Daily Mail have done for the country.
New Labour New Britain: How they changed our nation
A decade ago, Labour swept to power pledging to rebuild the trust between the state and its citizens. So why are our basic freedoms under assault as never before? In the first of a series of articles to mark the 10th anniversary of Tony Blair's historic landslide, Deborah Orr argues that we have lost far more than we realise
Published: 23 April 2007
We can't say we weren't warned, again and again. We were warned with such regularity that some of the names of some of the mavens passed into the language. Kafka warned us. Orwell warned us. Foucault warned us, and while he was warning us, he took the opportunity to point out just how long the writing had been on the wall. Here is the late French philosopher, writing in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, in 1975.
"Inspection functions ceaselessly. The gaze is alert everywhere: 'A considerable body of militia, commanded by good officers and men of substance', guards at the gates, at the town hall and in every quarter to ensure the prompt obedience of the people and the most absolute authority of the magistrates, 'as also to observe all disorder, theft and extortion'. At each of the town gates there will be an observation post; at the end of each street sentinels."
Could Foucault be talking about his future vision of Middlesbrough, the town which has adopted talking CCTV cameras in its town centre, presided over by council apparatchiks who bellow to citizens from their screen-filled observation posts that they are to pick up the fag end they just dropped, or risk arrest? Or is he talking about the whole of Britain, a nation so in love with the CCTV camera that it boasts one for every 14 citizens, and has spent, in the last 10 years, more than three-quarters of its Home Office crime prevention budget on this technology of record? Foucault goes on.
"This surveillance is based on a system of permanent registration: reports from the syndics to the intendants, from the intendants to the magistrates or mayor." What can this be? Identity cards? Passports-by-interview? London Transport travel passes? Customer information, shared for a price? Or maybe it's all a bit less subtle than that. Foucault continues.
"At the beginning of the 'lock up', the role of each of the inhabitants present in the town is laid down, one by one; this document bears 'the name, age, sex of everyone, notwithstanding his condition': a copy is sent to the intendant of the quarter, another to the office of the town hall, another to enable the syndic to make his daily roll call."
What's this then? Arrest under the Terrorism Act? Youth curfews? Anti-Social Behaviour Orders? Or a description of the process by which you inform the authorities that your neighbour on Jobseekers' has been seen entering a house where baby-sitting is dealt in, or your neighbour who diligently pays his water rates - by direct debit, of course - has used his hose during a ban? Possibly.
Or this: "The registration of the pathological must be constantly centralised. The relation of each individual to his disease and to his death passes through the representatives of power, the registration they make of it, the decisions they take on it."
And this? Is it the Government's planned central database for the NHS. Or is it merely their craved-after system, under the new Mental Health Act, for incarcerating people who may in the future become a psychotic threat to others? Of course it isn't. Instead, It's an order, somehow dug up from the 7th century, that warned French towns of what procedure they ought to follow when the plague hit. Foucault used it in 1975 to illustrate his theories about panopticism, the mechanism for "dissociating the see/being-seen dyad" whose architectural manifestation he identified as prison reformer Jeremy Bentham's spoked and centralised prison layout. So which is it, then? Are we all in a benignly watchful prison, or are we all under mortal threat of plague, and catalogued so obsessively for our own protection?
Poor old Labour. It's so easy to marshall its inept and bureaucratic attempts at social engineering into something that sounds portentous, conspiratorial and authoritarian. Too easy, maybe. Critics of the Government, from the television documentary-maker, Adam Curtis (whose recent three-parter The Trap was just part of a larger body of work offering a critique of the controlling madnesses of British "late capitalism"), to the print journalist Henry Porter, who has been flagging up the erosion of our civil liberties under Labour almost since the off, are all too often dismissed as exaggerating fusspots whose fears are really just a sort of Luddite technophobia.
Ordinary people, policy-makers tartly reply to their critics, are far more relaxed about this sort of thing. Ordinary people like CCTV because it makes them safe, and support Asbos because they provide a mechanism for moving on trouble-makers. Ordinary people don't mind giving up their privacy at all, because they have nothing to hide. In fact they are only too happy to blog and to Facebook, to vie to get on reality TV and to make a lucrative career out of appearing on confessional chat shows.
As for all that anti-terror legislation - well, the man in the street supports the war on terror, and despises the Londonstani tendencies of the old days, whereby dangerous fundamentalists were able to sign on in Britain, and preach hate under the protection of a human rights lawyer who milked the legal aid system to make fools of the people who supplied it with cash.
There is, indeed, some force in such arguments. David Brin, the US writer and academic, argued in his 1999 book, The Transparent Society, that the unsurpassed opportunities for surveillance that technology offered us could be entirely benign.
He suggested, like Bentham before him, that there was nothing intrinsically wrong in encouraging people to give up their privacy if it was for their own good. In an ideal community, everyone would be watched and everyone would be accountable. This, he posited, could even be seen as a return to a tranquil and pre-lapsarian sort of life. The idea of anonymity, he pointed out, is "an illusion". In the village life of pre-industrial society, everyone knew everyone else's business, and this intimate surveillance offered a level of personal accountability that only technology could now return us to. All this, to critics of Labour's controlling and centralising tendencies, sounds impossibly idealistic. Interestingly, though, Brin would be the first to agree that this was the case.
He argues that, unless stalwartly resisted, "the biggest threat to our freedom is that surveillance technology will be used by too few people, not too many." He warns that a surveillance society run by bureaucratic edict will be too open to corruption. A truly transparent society trains its cameras, real and philosophical, on the people who are doing the surveillance just as mercilessly as it does on those who are being surveyed. In formulating his argument, he trawls back even further than Foucault managed, to assert that the essential question that needs to be asked was first put by the Roman poet Juvenal at the turn of the 1st century AD, in one of his most quoted maxims: "Who will watch the watchers?"
Needless to say, it might be expected that an answer to this fairly crucial question might have drifted into view during the intervening couple of millennia. Alas, despite the generous period of philosophical run-in humans have had to prepare for the age of surveillance technology, the really worrying developments of the last 10 years have been characterised by a massive ramping up of accountability directed at the electorate, and a relentless dismantling of the accountability of those who demand such scrupulous transparency for everybody else.
The recent attempts to curb the Data Protection Act are only the tip of the iceberg - although the Act itself is a sad reminder that Labour was a great deal more aware of the importance of transparency a decade ago that it is now. There are plenty of other examples of the Government's ever-waning enthusiasm for democratic accountability mounting up still.
No one has yet seen the chunky document that the police has finally handed over to the CPS with regard to the "cash for peerages" scandal, and it may well be some time before we do. But whatever it contains, it has become obvious that the party that so assiduously tackled the reform of the House of Lords 10 years ago is content now to let the matter drift idly on for as long as it can.
Likewise, there is no longer much doubt in the mind of any person who takes an interest in such matters that, for whatever reason, the Government was responsible for shocking manipulation of legal advice and intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war and of tremendous obfuscation in avoiding any mechanisms that might have got to the bottom of how that manipulation occurred. Anyone hoping to take consolation in the idea that lessons may nevertheless have been learned, can take no solace at all in the fact that a number of other successful attempts to avoid parliamentary or legal scrutiny have been achieved since then.
For Henry Porter, it is Parliament's own woeful record of ignorance here that adds insult to injury. Writing in The Observer at the end of last year, in a moment of optimism, he had this to say: "At the beginning of the year, I was astonished how little MPs understood about so many measures passed by their own House. Knowledge of the Inquiries Act or the Civil Contingencies Act, both of which reduce parliamentary scrutiny, was hard to come by. No more than one in 10 MPs could have told you how, using the Courts Act together with the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act, the Government swept away a 400-year-old common law which guaranteed that an Englishman's home was his castle and that no bailiff could break in to collect civil debts.
"That kind of ignorance among legislators is not nearly so common now. Labour MPs are beginning to see that many of the laws passed in the last nine years persecute those who are least able to defend themselves, the very people that Labour has traditionally championed."
I'm not entirely sure where Porter's hopeful vision comes from. But what I do know is that "the very people that Labour has traditionally championed" are being shot from both sides as the population becomes more greatly observed and documented, and the Government becomes less so. Whether it is crack-addicted prostitutes being driven into ever more dangerous locations by the advance of CCTV, or the extreme exclusion that is promoted when the poorest find themselves locked out of a society that demands that you need to give your bank details to get a job, while simultaneously decreeing that you can't have a bank account if you're "too poor", all the signs are that those for whom transparency is impossible, or for whom database-friendly statistics are not available, are marginalised by one prong of the assault on individual liberty, and then punished for their marginalisation by another. This tendency, again, has been rigorously explored, not least by David Lyon, another US theorist who builds on Foucault's observations on the panopticon, to argue that reliance on databases may lead, among other things, to "automated discrimination".
Of course, it would hardly be new for democratic society to barrel on with systems that clearly excluded a disliked or distrusted minority, safe in the jealously-guarded and comforting assumption than they'd brought it on themselves. Pointing out that transparent societies are likely further to marginalise those who do not conform, for plenty of people, almost sounds like a sales pitch.
Maybe such difficulties are part of the reason why the most vociferous critics of the erosion of privacy tend to concentrate their arguments not on the consequences of intrusive technologies for their own sake, but on what happens when they go wrong. Even if one is incandescent with outrage because one is tracked by a camera so often in everyday life - and I'm not personally terribly bothered by it - it is hard to say exactly why this is such a dreadful thing, unless you are up to no good.
So arguments tend to be robustly practical rather than airily sociological. CCTV can be disabled. Identity cards can be forged. Medical records can be stolen and sold in the global media market. Oyster card route information can be hacked into, so that a burglar knows when everyone is out of the house. And so on.
But maybe the transparent society really is sinister, for reasons that are spiritual rather than practical. Maybe it is unhealthy for a society to behave itself not because it is underpinned by morality and watched by its caring family or neighbour, but because it knows it'll get caught and punished if it doesn't toe the line.
Maybe we need our privacy not because we want to hide particular things, but because we need a place where we can retreat psychologically, whenever we want, and to be alone and unobserved. Wise parents understand that their children need their privacy to be respected, even if, in their privacy, they do nothing unusual, remarkable, or wrong.
And maybe, our watchers, with the power to watch us, and the inclination not to be watched themselves, are inevitably corrupted by something inherent in the process of believing that there is nothing they can't see."
The sheer cheek of it! Don't these Luddites know that we have an Empire to protect?
Mark Thomas has an opinion. And more to say on the matter here, such as:
According to Jane's, the defence bible, BAE withdrew from the company in 1992 when the post-Gulf war British government discovered that ABD was helping Saddam Hussein with his Scud missile programme.
More important, though, is ABD's development and marketing of its anti-tank guided missile, called the Swingfire. It appears that BAE provided the technology for the Swingfire, which was developed under British licence. In 1983, the Financial Times noted that Swingfire missiles were supposedly heading to Sudan and Iraq. Jane's has subsequently confirmed Saddam Hussein's possession of the weapons. So BAE helped Saddam with his anti-tank missiles as well as his Scuds. Incredibly, no laws were broken as no parts, equipment or components were exported.
Then, in December 2001, a Daily Telegraph report appeared listing some of the items found at a "cleared" al-Qaeda centre in Afghanistan. Among the items were a "glossy brochure for Arab British Dynamics extolling the benefits of the company's Swingfire guided missile" and an operating manual for the system. Thus, it is possible that al-Qaeda could have Swingfire missiles, thanks to BAE. The government's Export Control Act does not cover the issue of licensed production of arms; so as long as nothing actually leaves the UK, British companies can export their technology and create foreign-based companies to avoid any UK or EU rules governing arms exports.
They can arm the dictators, who will oppress the people, whose liberation will serve as the excuse to send "our boys" to face the missiles they sold and try to bomb the civilians to freedom. You can be sure of one thing: other than family and friends, anyone who shouts "support our boys" is either a fool or a callous cynic of the worst kind."
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
The guy's a dirty little nazi. Ignorant little white supremacist fuckwit, he must have an even smaller penis than me!
Thursday, April 19, 2007
to pursue economic growth as a primary objective of policy, or to
consider it as the key indicator of economic performance. Economic
growth does not, in itself, make people’s lives any better."
Monday, April 16, 2007
"The eruption of civil war in Iraq would have many implications for the West. It would likely:
Invite Syrian and Iranian participation, hastening the possibility of an American confrontation with those two states, with which tensions are already high.
Terminate the dream of Iraq serving as a model for other Middle Eastern countries, thus delaying the push toward elections. This will have the effect of keeping Islamists from being legitimated by the popular vote, as Hamas was just a month ago.
Reduce coalition casualties in Iraq. As noted by the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Rather than killing American soldiers, the insurgents and foreign fighters are more focused on creating civil strife that could destabilize Iraq's political process and possibly lead to outright ethnic and religious war."
Reduce Western casualties outside Iraq. A professor at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Vali Nasr, notes: "Just when it looked as if Muslims across the region were putting aside their differences to unite in protest against the Danish cartoons, the attack showed that Islamic sectarianism remains the greatest challenge to peace." Put differently, when Sunni terrorists target Shiites and vice-versa, non-Muslims are less likely to be hurt.
Civil war in Iraq, in short, would be a humanitarian tragedy but not a strategic one."So agitating ethnic tensions and civil war is ok because, even though the utterly groundless and illegal US invasion caused it, it would have positive strategic implications for the US at the regional level.
I swear I will do everything within my power to prevent my country unleashing another genocide against innocents. FOR FUCKS SAKE i SWEAR I WILL RESIST THIS!
It seems I am not alone:
"The time for laughter and luxury of irony is passing. We are dealing with a desparately serious situation, where we may all have to take stock and consider taking appropriate measures in the event of us launching a war against Iran. To coin a phrase, when/if the attack begins, we should take nothing off the table in our attempt to stop the war."
This is taken from some of the comments to John Pilger's latest article in the New Statesman. I want the UK government to be aware that there are people in this country who will not sit by and be complicit in any further acts of genocide. I am going to write to my MP and spell my terms out very, very clearly.
Rageh Omar's article is similarly astute and insightful.
The canvasser had moved straight onto my neighbours property without stopping to talk, even though I asked his receding back if he would like to discuss the issue. (Ironically enough, I am supportive of the development of new nuclear power stations as there is no other way to meet our obligations to reduce CO2 emissions. Its the lesser of two evils.). This offensive little toad then continued to mutter an offensive commentary under his breath whilst he moved to my neighbour's door which, unfortunately for him, brought him right back to my face as the two doors are right next to each other, thereby providing me with an opportunity to return the offense.
"Yeah, well done on the 650,000 dead Iraqis!"
I think I came out on top in that one.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
I hate fatties and I espeically hate people who decry such "fattism" because its not the fault of the poor little wobblers. Bollocks, it isn't! I'll admit some people are actually ill and others might have some sort of genetic predisposition to sequester subcutaneous flab but there is a solution to this: Don't eat so much, you bloated tub of lard!
Friday, April 13, 2007
Am I profund or wot?
OH shit yeah!
This totally kicks arse . . . . .
"The Hammurabi Code (1792-1750 BC) - the most important legal compendium of the ancient Near East, drafted earlier than the Biblical laws - found its sources in these essays. The text, which occupies most of the stele, constitutes the raison d'être of the monument. The principal scene depicted shows the king receiving his investiture from Shamash. Remarkable for its legal content, this work is also an exceptional source of information about the society, religion, economy, and history of this period."
The stele is now in the Louvre and I saw it there a couple of weeks ago. The origins of human justice- cool stuff.
Apart form the fact that that would take me, like, A WEEK MORE!
I cannot complain because my 2S (2nd supervisor) is doing it for (amazingly!) completely altrusitic reasons- she wants me to learn how to construct a research argument before I come to my thesis. I am totally in agreement with her but IT SUCKS that I have to format the two documents from scratch I spent all last week doing it and I am sick of both the fuckers. (although it does now look quite pro-style.
Tha drunken 1
This is pervasive throughout Western culture. How do we address this paradox in political representation?
And then I read it again . . . .
"To a degree all political leaders over-estimate the efficacy of action. They invariably feel that taking any action--however ill considered--is better than doing nothing. In this they are heavily influenced by the media, who require action--the more ill considered the better. No action, no mess, no story. Yet when Bobby Kennedy suggested in 1963 that the U.S. do nothing about Vietnam and let the Vietnamese sort out their own destiny, his idea, in hindsight, was simply brilliant.
The United States has, for fifty years, made a career of telling other countries who should lead them, and how; and every single one of these efforts has ultimately blown up in our face. We would not be hated all over Latin America today if we hadn't saddled so many of them for decades with right wing military dictators, repressing every popular movement.
But it isn't just the need to meddle and tinker--it's the ego-maniacal belief that our interventions in the internal affairs of other countries will automatically be good for them, because we're so superior. And our interventions are made even more toxic by the conviction of most American foreign policy makers that the only way to "help" a country is to do violence to it in some way. To bomb it, invade it, assassinate its leaders, orchestrate a military coup, or blockade it. This is characteristic macho thinking, and one of the reasons why "macho" has become a synonym for "stupid"."
Dude! The profundity of this made me sit down and have another drag of my cigarette!
"Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon" (but with twenty times the population)
"Land boundries: border countries: Ireland 360 km" (because France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway - they don't have "borders" (because the US doesn't recognise the United Nations International Convention on The Law of The Sea - I covered it in my Ocean Science minor but can't be arsed to dig my lecture notes out to inform you lazy buggers further, look it up yourself if you are that interested)
"Land use : arable land: 23.23%
permanent crops: 0.2%
other: 76.57% (2005)"
(they forgot to mention weed production: 2%
renewable generation: 0.000000000000000000000000001%
U.S. military bases: 5%
Northern Ireland: 8%)
"Natural hazards: winter windstorms; floods" (they forgot chavs, the English 2003 World Cup squad & Tony)
... . . . and on and on 0- its Friday night and I'm druink so I'm going to hang out with me beaches what are staying with me 2nite.
Ciao, roughneck posse.
Actually, I think Tony and George should personally fund these people's relocation costs and be responsible for their wellbeing.
Accountability. That's the word I'm looking for here. We need some.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
I'm inclined to agree, the BBC is very vulnerable to reports in the less principled media of accusations of left-wing bias. This is because much of that media is controleld by right-wing oligarchs keen to push their own conservative agenda. It could reasonably be argued that if the BBC spent all its time fighting unwarranted accusations of liberal bias then it wouldn't have a lot of time left to report the news and make programs.
The problem is that this argument negates the BBC's own reason for existing. Yes, they are there to make TV and radio programs to entertain but the BBC was created to report news objectively. The stated mission of the BBC is "to inform, educate and entertain".
Read the article, see what you think. I'm with Johann on this one.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Yeah, bollocks to Blair and bollocks to The Daily Mail and The Sun.
I suppose this is Paul Wolfowitz's next "feather" in his cap after being partially responsible for fucking Iraq sideways.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Forgive me for misrepresenting the millions of people who find living in squalor and filth acceptable. I find it quite offensive to categorise migrants as being "of net benefit to the economy". This may be the case but if it results from fifteen Indian or Chinese migrants sharing a single room and toilet, working for a fraction of the minmum wage, then I am not convinced of the ethics of such a policy. I am not sure whether this represents more than a fraction of those currently squatting in various camps, centres, hostels and bedsits across Europe, however unresponsible I am for their wellbeing. It can be argued that they are actually going to be better off if they stay in their own country and we provide them with well-managed and distributed development aid than if they try and enter the EU illegally and end up in some cash-in-hand job, being paid a pittance and living in a skip.
Stay at home! Build yourself a better life there, rather than trying it here. We have too many fucking people in the UK already. That doesn't mean I support Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara's fascist anti-immigration methods: Far from it! But we need to engage with the EU to prevent the economic migrants getting into the continent, let alone my own country. Let the falling birth rates of the native population work their blessed magic so that I can finally afford a house.
I found this website and was impressed.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Oh well, its not like I've got anything else that urgently needs to get done . . . . . . . well, not more than a couple of things . . . . . . . . . or maybe four . . . . . . . . ten? . . . . . . . . . OK! So I've actually got fuckloads else that I should be doing but bollocks. This was meant to be in on Monday and my 1st supervisor is going away again on wednesday so its got to be wrapped up by 1600 tomorrow.
more of this: