:: Friday, October 29, 2004 ::

Man and Mini-Man

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Eton or the zoo? Desmond Morris' article on the implications of the discovery of a new species of human is worth reading.

In theory, the existence of Mini-Man should destroy religion, but I can already hear the fanatics claiming that he has been put on earth by the Devil simply to test our faith.

And can we stop calling them hobbits please? Hobbits made up, mini-men real. Although Homo floresiensis is a bit of a mouthful and spelling nightmare.

And from the Guardian more on this incredible discovery.

Russell Ciochon, a paleoanthropologist from the University of Iowa, says: "I suspect that creationists will act very negatively toward this discovery.

"It shows that humans were not alone. There may be other dwarfed species lurking in the caves of other isolated islands. Each new discovery will subtract some essence from the uniqueness of humans. I wonder if this discovery might even be discussed in our current political campaign? It is no secret that Bush is anti-evolution. If he is smart, he will not touch this one."


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Throwing stones at the pillar of evil

Salaam Pax the Baghdad blogger goes to Washington and tries to avoid becoming the Guantanamo blogger. Extracts courtesy the Guardian.

I am handed a piece of paper to fill out. I am relieved it does not ask me to list my sins on this earth. Meanwhile, more non-whiteys are arriving and filling out forms. I feel a bit more relaxed among my fellow exiles from the ranks of normal people. We are special: we are all from Muslim countries...

And gets to watch the last US Presidential debate and the Redsox game that we are all supposed to be interested in (we're not, dear US friends, if you don't like the World Cup why should we like your silly rounders game? Even if Cuba is good at it).

And that is another thing that seemed to be incomprehensible to one of my new Washington friends: when we were talking about the popularity of the clerical militia chief Moqtada al-Sadr I was asked how anyone could be fooled by someone who so obviously used religion to boost his own popularity and went for the lowest common denominator for popular appeal? I was saved by another guest who asked if we were talking about Bush or Sadr here.

Salaam also underlines a point most of us are only too aware of. If Kerry wins, don't expect the troops to be coming home any time soon. In fact, don't expect the planned slaughter in Fallujah to be postponed or any other military changes in Iraq. Expect only a more consensual approach to dividing the spoils with Europe.

The real question will be whether or not the neo-con momentum can be stalled within the American establishment.


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:: Thursday, October 28, 2004 ::

Briefly

Whatever the outcome of the US Presidential elections there are two things certain.

1. A Bush defeat means bad news for Tony Blair.

2. Blogger will crash or be very slow all that day. It's already slowing to a crawl when the US wakes up.


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:: Tuesday, October 26, 2004 ::

John Peel


John Peel, originally uploaded by alister.

John Peel lives on. Here are just a few of my festive 50 tapes from over the years. Some of them played endlessly.


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John Peel

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Legendary radio DJ John Peel dies

I am genuinely shocked. Dig out your copy of 'Teenage Kicks' and give it a play. A unique influence on British music.


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From Oxgangs to hollywood

prats

I love this story. Edinburgh punk band The Prats have made it big 25 years after they split up. The band were formed at St. Augustine's high school in Edinburgh by a group of Oxgangs kids aged 12-15 in 1977. They put out some lo-fi singles, toured and recorded a couple of John Peel sessions. They split up in 1981 when they left school. Now I think from this description you can see that this band were the essence of everything that was good about punk. They even had a song called "Inverness, what a mess".

Now hollywood director Jonathan Demme has picked their song "General Davis" to play over the opening scenes of his remake of the Manchurian Candidate. Now, Edinburgh has never had a surplus of good bands. The Fire Engines (see the scottish patient yesterday) and the Shop Assistants spring to mind. But I must admit I had never heard of the Prats. I have now.


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:: Monday, October 25, 2004 ::

Flip Your Wig

OMG! OMG! Hüskers re-unite for a benefit in Minneapolis.

The set everyone was most happy to see, of course, was the Mould and Grant performance, which had not been announced. They did two songs together from their old band's catalog: "Hardly Getting Over It" and "Never Talking to You Again," both seething numbers that fit the tone of their tumultuous relationship over the years.

Hart and Mould have talked since the Hüsker Dü breakup, but they have never played together and clearly still aren't best buds.

"If me and Bob can get together, that means we can all get together and put [President] Bush out of office, right?" Hart quipped as he took the stage.

After their quick reunion, Hart said in an interview, "We've been offered whatever you can imagine to do [a reunion], but we did this for free."


Read Bob Mould's low key reaction over at his blog modulate.


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:: Friday, October 22, 2004 ::

Rumours on the internets

Bush shows his tremendous grasp of technology (MOV file)


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Tintin in the land of the soundbites

The BBC had this story about a row over critical remarks made by a right-wing Belgian minister visiting the DR Congo.

The Congolese government accused Karel de Gucht of acting like Tintin - a colonial-era Belgian cartoon character...

The comments border on "racism and nostalgia for colonialism", the minister said.

"It's Tintin in the Congo all over again."


tintin in the congo

The politics of Tintin is an interesting topic. Remi Georges (who took the pen name Hergé - from the French pronounciation of the letters RG) first produced Tintin for Le Petit Vingtième which was a children's version of the right-wing and anti-semitic Belgian paper XXe Siècle (Twentieth Century). His first work was an anti-Soviet piece 'Tintin in the Land of the Soviets'. Crude by the standard of later Tintin's, it was nonetheless a massive hit. He followed up with visits to the Belgian colony in the Congo. An unsophisticated affair, it reflected Hergé's lack of real knowledge and colonial prejudices. Africans are stereotyped and Tintin carries out some environmental atrocities such as blowing up a rhino with dynamite!

Hergé's work improves, with a masterful 'clear line' style developing. His richly imaginative storytelling also improves. Politically several works satirise the nazi's and Italian fascists such as King Ottokar's Sceptre.

Under the nazi occupation, Hergé continues to work producing Tintin for Soir Jeunesse. As a consequence he is blacklisted for collaboration after the war. He is 'saved' by a resistance hero Raymond Leblanc, who employs him on less than favourable terms for Hergé.

Hergé went on to produce his best work. He also matured politically with a strong personal affinity for China and for native Americans. The racism of early Tintin had gone.


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:: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 ::

Welcome to the Occupation

As British troops prepare to go into Northern Iraq (surely agreed by Blair some time ago) minds will be concentrated on our occupation of that land once again. The British troops are there to free up US troops for a massive post-election assault on centres of resistance. Bush is waiting till after the November Presidential elections, for obvious reasons. More talk about "terrists" and less dead GI's on screen whilst voters are contemplating where to put their cross.

Iraq Occupation Focus is a campaign that is worth checking out. It is also a valuable news source and I can recommend its email newsletter.

A sample from the current issue:

US soldiers refuse orders, while others grow disillusioned

The New York Times reports (October 16): Some 18 members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company were detained at gunpoint for nearly two days after disobeying orders to drive trucks to Taji, about 15 miles north of Baghdad. Jackie Butler, wife of Staff Sgt. Michael Butler, said an officer from Iraq told her “that my husband was being detained for disobeying a direct order ... and he went on to tell me that it was a bogus charge that they got against him and some of those soldiers over there, because what they was doing was sending them into a suicide mission, and they refused to go.” It is unclear if this is the first time a group of soldiers in Iraq has refused to carry out orders, and the military is playing down the incident as an isolated event.

Patricia McCook told the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger that her husband, a staff sergeant, “understands the severity of disobeying orders but he did not feel comfortable taking his soldiers on another trip. ‘He told me that three of the vehicles they were to use were ... not safe to go in a hotbed like that.’ A mother of another soldier in the unit said her daughter told her: ‘They knew there was a 99 percent chance they were going to get ambushed or fired at’. Kathy Harris, mother of Aaron Gordon, who was among those detained, said conditions for the platoon have been difficult of late. Her son e-mailed her earlier this week to ask what the penalty would be if he became physical with a commanding officer, she said.”


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:: Tuesday, October 19, 2004 ::

Wrapped up in (comic) books

Apparently: "Image Comics are currently in talks with Scottish pop group Belle & Sebastian and with British songwriter Stephen Duffy to create graphic novel anthologies, transforming their songs into comic book stories."

And you can get a wee anti-sweatshop comic over at No Sweat (PDF file).


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:: Saturday, October 16, 2004 ::

How to upset your boss

BBC NEWS | Politics | 'Sorry' Johnson sent to Liverpool

Floppy fringe overgrown public schoolboy Boris Johnson has, via the editorial columns of the Spectator, insulted the people of Liverpool. He said they were wallowing in the Ken Bigley hostage crisis and made remarks about Hillsborough. You don't make remarks about Hillsborough in Liverpool. The Sun has still not won back the readers it lost after it's disgraceful lies about Liverpool fans at the Hillsborough disaster. Unfortunately for Boris, his boss Michael Howard is a serious Liverpool fan...and now he's in trouble. He has to go there in person and say sorry. Well done Michael, now what about all the other things the Tory party needs to apologise to the people of Liverpool for, and Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle, Dundee...


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:: Friday, October 15, 2004 ::

Where's the burds?


a heron, recently

Check out this massive heron that was flying around the neighbourhood. Edinburgh's got tons of these in the water of leith. Nice weather here as you can see.


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ESF Begins

For the first time I won't be at the European Social Forum this year, being held in the exotic location of London.

The liberal-imperialist blogging fraternity are dead set against the ESF, for the sole reason that the SWP support it. Actually the ESF is a massive event. Up to 60,000 attended it in Florence. London organisers expect a minimum of 20,000. There is a bewildering plethora of debates and discussions taking place and it has the backing of a wide section of the trade union movement. If you get a chance nip down there. Tommy Sheridan and Rosie Kane will both be addressing meetings and the Scottish Socialist Youth will no doubt be undertaking a sterling intervention into the workshops and bars.

Mind you be careful in the queue for registration. Check out this video at Indymedia UK (video/mpeg Object) I like the video bloke asking the poor Irish CWI'ers why they didn't steam into the met, what about you mate? Scared to damage your video camera?


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:: Thursday, October 14, 2004 ::

retroplayer

Sick of the clean sounds of mp3's? Miss the warm tones, hisses and crackles of vinyl? Well now Mac users can download Retroplayer here.
Drop the needle on the vinyl wherever you want and adjust the crackles to taste. Yes it's in japanese, but you'll work it out.


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Kirk Alert

Rejoice world, there is a new William Shatner album. With a cover of Pulp's common people and a duet with Henry Rollins. No, really.

WILLIAM SHATNER HAS BEEN


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:: Tuesday, October 12, 2004 ::

shut up you fat whiner!

How come I never realised that "world's most famous blogger" Salam Pax had a new blog. Well he does shut up you fat whiner!


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:: Sunday, October 10, 2004 ::

Mair Pics

The Scottish Patient also has some coverage of yesterday's Calton Hill demo. Not as good as mine like, but the captions are wittier.

EDIT

And there are more at the SSP Website here.

Ian Bell (another great Scottish journalist) had a terrific article in the Sunday Herald in which he praised the event and poured scorn on those bowing and scraping to the monarch.

"Republicanism is a thread that has run through Scottish political life for a very long time. It is more than just a puerile nationalism opposed to a puerile unionism. You could side with the novelist Iain Banks, a supporter of the declaration, who believes that attending anything involving the Windsors “just encourages the blighters”. You could also agree with Alasdair Gray, as I do, that anti-Englishness, the standard insult you hear when these matters come up, has nothing whatever to do with the desire to be free of “that union of military, financial and monarchic establishments calling itself Great Britain”."

He also reveals that he is a relative of James Connolly, the Edinburgh born socialist and hero of the Easter Rising.


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:: Saturday, October 09, 2004 ::

Looking for a New Scotland, and a New World.


new scots
Originally uploaded by alister.

A crowd I would put at around 1000 (maybe more, I was always useless at estimating crowd sizes) gathered at Calton Hill today. They were attending an alternative to the opening of the Scottish Parliament by Queen Liz. Taking up national and democratic questions should be central for the left. The emphasis was on an independent Scottish Republic of the future that would throw open its doors to the poor and oppressed of the world.



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Citizens Not Subjects


Sign On
Originally uploaded by alister.

Citizens Not Subjects reads the note on the hand. Those gathered round are signing their support for the Declaration of Calton Hill.



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Gord bless you Ma'am.


Her Royal Travesty
Originally uploaded by alister.

Orf with her head! It's Her Majesty the Dean (alias Tam Dean Burn). Putting the panto back into politics.



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Remember Charles 1st?


HPIM2842.JPG
Originally uploaded by alister.

Actually Charlie 1 (loser of the civil war) was born in my home town of Dunfermline. Not that it did him much good. You can read the declaration of Calton Hill on the SSP Website



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:: Friday, October 08, 2004 ::

Big Brother will get back to you

D-Notice issued to prevent Rose Gentle talking.

Your son is killed whilst serving in Iraq with the British army. You speak out against the war and expose the lack of preparedness of the army to protect its troops. You point out that the army has failed in its 'duty of care'. The government issues a 'd-notice' telling papers not to report your story.

Elsewhere...

FBI seize US/UK Indymedia servers

Brother of Iraq hostage raided by UK/Dutch intelligence services


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Daily Reckless

File under strange. Online humourists the Daily Reckless have put together an EP of songs based on the Scottish Parliament sketches by Robert McNeil. One of them is about Scottish Socialist MSP Carolyn Leckie. Its title? 'Her Lips Were Made to Kiss Megaphones.'


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:: Thursday, October 07, 2004 ::

Keeping America Scared

Terrists Terrists Terrists (MOV file)


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:: Wednesday, October 06, 2004 ::

Command Line Economy

Chavez Announces that Venezuelan State Will Switch to “Free Software”

Chavez added that the decision follows the principle of “national scientific independence, so that we do not depend on privately owned software. If knowledge does not have owners, then intellectual property is a trap set by neo-liberalism.”

Right on Hugo.


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You all saw him, he had a gun.

Those facts in full

There was no link between al-Qaeda and Iraq.

But there is now. Thanks George, thanks Tony.

Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.

...but they were gonna!

"The group hunting for banned weapons inside post-war Iraq is preparing to report that it has found no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

But the Iraq Survey Group will assert that Saddam Hussein had plans to start producing weapons in defiance of UN sanctions, US officials say."


Now what does that remind me of?

We're like the bullies of the world, you know. We're like Jack Palance in the movie Shane...Throwing the pistol at the sheep herder's feet: "Pick it up." "I don't wanna pick it up mister, you'll shoot me." "Pick up the gun". "Mister, I don't want no trouble huh. I just came down town here to get some hard rock candy for my kids, some gingham for my wife. I don't even know what gingham is, but she goes through about 10 rolls a week of that stuff. I ain't looking for no trouble mister." "Pick up the gun." Boom, boom. "You all saw him. He had a gun."
William Melvin Hicks (1961-1994)


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:: Monday, October 04, 2004 ::

Do You Remember?

poster

Holy shit, Bob Mould has a blog.

Who? Only the dude from Hüsker Dü. Well one of the dudes. The other being Grant Hart.

the dicks!I learned of all this from a new music blog Something I Learned Today (yeah that's a Hüskers track name). SILT also has some nice stuff from the likes of Eat, the Dicks (texas communist punks, fact fans) and Reagan Youth. Old Tyme Hardcore.

See also Kill From the Heart for an overview of the scene.


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Land of the Free

The Sunday Herald is by far the best read amongst the Sunday papers. They have great investigational journalism and their coverage of politics is insightful, never more so than when Iain Macwhirter is the writer. This week he was getting to grips with the real America. The millions of have-nots, the poor and illegal immigrants. Most of them don't or can't vote so the politicians don't give a damn about them.

If you ever wonder whether the NHS is worth it, go to America. If you think welfare is a burden, go to America. If you think America is an economic powerhouse, go to America.

The average American works harder and longer than Europeans for less money. According to Larry Brown of Brandeis University, the average wage is lower than it was 30 years ago and the middle classes are working weeks longer each year than they did in 1979. We’re taught to think that Germany is an economic basket case, but it exports far more high-quality goods.

America’s economy is running to stand still. The US Federal Reserve is sitting on a precarious $5 trillion dollar deficit financed by Asian banks. America’s economy has no visible means of support.

It’s bizarre; America is the most powerful military and economic force on the planet, but everywhere I went I found insecurity. Wine growers in California, professors in Arizona, taxi drivers in Boston, they are all nervous, on edge, hyper. Yes, of course, America has always been an edgy place. But right now there is a state of high anxiety. Code red.


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:: Friday, October 01, 2004 ::

In a Lather

Commercial Closet is by all accounts an entertaining site featuring images of gay and lesbian people in advertising. I say by all accounts because I can't see it. It has been subject to a denial of service attack by a horrendous group of bigots called the American Family Association. They are currently involved in boycotting Proctor and Gamble products because of a supposed "homosexual agenda", the proof? According to the AFA:

Remember, this is the company that said they "will not tolerate discrimination [against homosexuals] in any form, against anyone, for any reason." To keep homosexuals from being legally married is discrimination [for good reason] that P&G says they will not tolerate.

Yes I know it is barely literate, like much of the rest of the site. These people issue forth bile and corrosive hatred. They should get back to the nineteenth century.



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