Happy New Year!
Here's what I'll be drinking.
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:: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 ::
A Russian former diplomat and academic is causing some anxiety in the US with his prediction that the republic will fall apart in 2010 (no nothing to do with the Scottish independence referendum.) The Wall Street Journal report that Igor Panarin's predictions are beginning to be taken seriously by Russian state media.
"California will form the nucleus of what he calls "The Californian Republic," and will be part of China or under Chinese influence. Texas will be the heart of "The Texas Republic," a cluster of states that will go to Mexico or fall under Mexican influence. Washington, D.C., and New York will be part of an "Atlantic America" that may join the European Union. Canada will grab a group of Northern states Prof. Panarin calls "The Central North American Republic." Hawaii, he suggests, will be a protectorate of Japan or China, and Alaska will be subsumed into Russia.
"It would be reasonable for Russia to lay claim to Alaska; it was part of the Russian Empire for a long time." A framed satellite image of the Bering Strait that separates Alaska from Russia like a thread hangs from his office wall. "It's not there for no reason," he says with a sly grin."
Personally it sounds like the basis of a great novel or possibly HBO mini-series although Sarah Palin might not like to watch it.
It is also not unlike the plot to Brian Wood's terrific DMZ.
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:: Monday, December 22, 2008 ::
We've all asked this one.
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:: Sunday, December 21, 2008 ::
Last minute gift ideas
If only you could still get this...perfect for M*A*S*H fans or just Korean War enthusiasts. Play at being Hawkeye and the gang in the series that actually lasted longer than the Korean War itself. Glorious People's Liberation Army troops from North Korea and China also available.
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:: Friday, December 19, 2008 ::
Getting dirty in the garden.
Plants are a bit filthy aren't they? This one at the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens was giving me the eye.
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:: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 ::
Come Play With Gedge
As promised. My clip of the Wedding Present from 12th December 2008 at the Edinburgh Liquid Rooms. They play 'Come Play With Me'.
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:: Monday, December 15, 2008 ::
Links or Sliced?
All the christmas tunes you will ever need, well the good ones anyway, over at Big Rock Candy Mountain.
A much longer clip of the Charlie Stross talk, from someone else.
Then depress yourself further with the Left Banker's look at the economy.
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:: Sunday, December 14, 2008 ::
Here Comes the Bride
The Wedding Present
Edinburgh Liquid Rooms 12th December 2008
When the Wedding Present come on stage and immediately launch into Kennedy you know all is right with the world. They don't do requests, they don't do encores. But they do deliver an hour and a half of top quality indie noise. I must confess that despite being a Wedding Present fan since 1986 I still forget the song titles, usually because they are called things like "you'll not get the benefit". The Weddoes were absolutely spot-on and even though I was hungover and tired and not drinking it picked me up straight away. Musically tight and very passionate, go and see the Wedding Present if you get the chance. There will be a youtube clip to follow once I sort it out.
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:: Friday, December 12, 2008 ::
"There is more than one world"
The writer Charles Stross gave a reading last night in Edinburgh Waterstones. The Edinburgh author was launching the latest book in his 'Merchant Princes' series - the Clan Corporate - which is an epic fantasy (or sociological sci-fi if you prefer) dealing with alternate realities and diverging timelines. One of the things I like about listening to Charlie or reading his blog is that he always has an informed and incisive point of view and he is amusing with it. Last night was no different and we were treated not only to a reading but also to some great Stross insights. Here is a wee clip where Charlie outlines the inspirations for his current series.
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:: Thursday, December 11, 2008 ::
Check out these credit crunch corporate logos.
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:: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 ::
Merry Christmas War is Over?
Sheridan Calls for Truce
"TOMMY Sheridan yesterday called on Scotland's warring socialist parties to call a truce and work together at the next General Election. The former MSP claimed the ongoing feud between his Solidarity party and the Scottish Socialist Party was "irresponsible". And he called for a pact to stop left-wing parties in Scotland - including Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party - from standing against each other at the next election. Sheridan was a founder member of the SSP but quit to set up Solidarity two years ago, after his defamation case against a Sunday paper caused a bitter split in his old party. The rift has been blamed for both parties' poor showing at the last Holyrood election, when neither won a seat after fighting each other at the polls."
They do say that there is nothing so divisive as a call for unity. The Scottish left is certainly in urgent need of unity but it is hard to see a scenario in which Mr Sheridan will play any kind of role. The bitterness caused when he split the SSP has unfortunately not gone away. There is a case for the left to come together around a unifying candidate perhaps at the European elections, but this initiative seems more designed to keep Tommy as a central figure in that. The sad fact is that he is the obstacle to unity and would better serve the cause by taking a step back and allowing the rest to move forward.
(note: edited slightly for a glaring typo)
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:: Monday, December 08, 2008 ::
Liking this Philosophy Football effort.
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The Right to Die?
Margo MacDonald is one of Scotland's most popular public figures - a firebrand, independent politician and forthright media commentator.
She also has the degenerative brain condition Parkinson's disease and has spoken openly of her desire to choose the moment of her death.
Now, in a deeply personal Panorama film, she uncovers the truth about assisted dying, meeting people with illnesses like hers who are desperate to choose the time and place of their death, and exploring whether British law should be changed to allow them to do just that.
Margo MacDonald is a politician I have a lot of time for. She is fair and personable and just a decent individual. It's no mistake that she is so popular and has been re-elected twice as an independent MSP in the Lothians. I also remember how terribly she was treated by the Scottish National Party who leaked details of her illness to the media when she fell out with the party.
I have my doubts about her bill however. There is evidence from the Netherlands that vulnerable elderly people have found their lives ended prematurely when the decision has been more with their relatives rather than themselves. However it is a crucial debate and I'm interested in how it progresses.
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:: Sunday, December 07, 2008 ::
Continuing the theme of short films about socialism here is some trotsky-fantasia via boingboing.
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:: Saturday, December 06, 2008 ::
Jeffrey Lewis' History of Communism
When I was searching for Jeffrey Lewis links I discovered the following genius clip which gives you an idea of his schtick.
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Jarvis Cocker on stage at the Picture House Edinburgh, Friday 28th November. The former pulp frontman and survivor of the ill-named 'brit rock cool britannia' era was the headlining act on the Rough Trade records 30th anniversary tour.
I was excited to see Jeffrey Lewis in support. Lewis does a kind of lo-fi Dylan bit and I first discovered him through his excellent cover album of Crass songs. His version of 'Big A Little A' (find it on his myspace) was my soundtrack this week as I waited for news of downsizing at work. The Dylan comparison was emphasized with his cartoon telling of the history of Rough Trade.
Jarvis is a great lyricist and performer. He had the looks, the moves and the slideshow. We were treated to a hilarious guide to the venue through the ages along with random things spotted on the way to the gig.
This was my first visit to the Picture House in its current incarnation. In a previous life it was the Caley Palais and the scene of the first 'proper' gig I ever attended - an acoustic era Everything But the Girl back in '85 if you must know. I hope they can continue to attract big names and stay afloat in these tough times.
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