Friday, December 31, 2004

Microsoft's Passport fails to travel far as Web strategy

The Seattle Times



"Microsoft is abandoning one of its most controversial attempts to dominate the Internet after rival companies banded together to oppose it and consumers failed to embrace it."



Hooray.

Zoz

Money would be good

DEC - Tsunami Earthquake (UK)
http://www.aah-usa.org/ (USA)
More links

If you have any spare spondooliks, bung them to the charities.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Israel stops Palestinians voting in East Jerusalem

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports



"Israel was accused yesterday of undermining the election of a Palestinian Authority president by allowing only a few thousand Palestinians to vote in East Jerusalem. More than 100,000 will have to [...] undertake long journeys around the separation wall in order to vote."



They came, they saw, they conquered, they disenfranchised.

Zoz

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Undercover investigators expose "Agriprocessors" torture

Peta



"AgriProcessor workers ignore the suffering of cows who are still sensible to pain after having their throats slit by the ritual slaughterer. The animals stagger and slip in blood while their tracheas dangle from their necks."



The video is very hard to bear. Depressing and infuriating. The listed statements are interesting. Good work by Peta. (Via Zudfunck)



Zoz

Friday, December 24, 2004

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Squeegees on Mars

LONDON (Reuters)

"An unexplained phenomenon akin to a space-borne car wash has boosted the performance of one of the two U.S. rovers probing the surface of Mars, New Scientist magazine says...It said something -- or someone -- had regularly cleaned layers of dust from the solar panels of the Mars Opportunity vehicle while it was closed down during the Martian night."

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Original fiction

Guardian Unlimited



There's a great lot of stories online here. Full marks to the Guardian for supporting the short story genre. I think I'll read the new Colm Tóibín one, A Song. There are other new ones by Helen Simpson, William Boyd, Hanif Kureshi, Jeannette Winterson and Yann Martel.

Ossian

Friday, December 17, 2004

Local boy made good

The redoubtable Ossian Lennon has now moved on to greater things. Under Red Woodward's tutelage he became the Willesden Herald's most prolific photographer. Before he left he showed the ropes to our latest star, Onion Mbeke.

War should be by assassination of leaders

There's far too much in the way of war and not enough in the way of assassination. If Hitler had been shot... If Saddam had been shot... If Joseph Kony could be shot... The world would be a better place. The United Nations should declare that any country formerly with a legal right to wage war, in future will only be allowed to assassinate its enemies' leaders. In effect war will be redefined as a battle to the death between leaders. Any leader who tried to launch an old-fashioned war would be eliminated. It's a safe bet there wouldn't be any wars if the leaders had to put themselves in the firing line. It's only our lives they don't value.

Law lords epitaph for Blunkett

Finacial Times

"Yesterday's ruling by an eight-to-one majority of law lords that detaining foreign terrorist suspects without trial breached human rights laws provides an appropriate epitaph for David Blunkett's record as home secretary. Indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial was anathema in any country that observed the rule of law, said one of the law lords."

What are the odds Blunkett had fore-knowledge of this ruling and chose a strategic retreat rather than a complete rout?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Atomic tomatoes are not the only fruit

2004 Bad science awards

"But the winner [Least plausible cosmetics claim] was a hair-straightening treatment by Bioionic, called Ionic Hair Retexturizing: 'Water molecules are broken down to a fraction of their previous size ... diminutive enough to penetrate through the cuticle, and eventually into the core of each hair'. Shrinking molecules caused some concern among the physicists at the ceremony, since IHR was available just 200 yards away, and the only other groups who have managed to create superdense quark-gluon plasma used a relativistic heavy ion collider. The prospect of such equipment being used by hairdressers was deemed worthy of further investigation."

Everything in this article makes perfect sense from the Herald's point-of-view. They must mean "bad" in the jive-talk sense of "good."

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Oops, Caligula's horse refuses at the last

Blunkett resigns

He's not a minister nannymore.

Labour MP compares Blair to Caligula

The Independent Online

Prime Minister Tony Blair has "behaved like the Roman Emperor Caligula by pre-judging its findings [the Budd inquiry] and saying Mr Blunkett will be cleared... It is the Caligula principle really. Caligula made his horse a senator. He did it not because he thought his horse would be a good senator but because he wanted to demonstrate he could do what he wanted to do. Unfortunately that is becoming apparent with this Government." (Bob Marshall-Andrews)

All those against say Neigh.

Monday, December 13, 2004

This week's Blunkett / Gobdaw award

Sky News

"Warwick Strong was reportedly denied citizenship because he spent too much time abroad with the Army."

He spent more than 90 days out of the country - fighting for the army. Stupid Home Office jobsworth imbeciles strike again.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

More laughs

Guantánamo torture and humiliation still going on, says shackled Briton

"The Foreign Office had originally refused to give Mr Mubanga's family details of his claims of ill-treatment, blaming the data protection act."

The Data Protection (r)Ac(ke)t - cynically exploited by the police and establishment as both an excuse and a provocation. When they do this they are having a laugh, saying 'This is how we use your rights-protecting laws, suckers.'

Friday, December 10, 2004

Armed cavalry rampages in the countryside

Man cleared in Scottish hunting case

"The sheriff accepted Mr Adams's argument that the hounds had only been used to flush the foxes from cover and drive them towards people with guns, who would shoot them, as permitted under Scottish law."

Instead of just silly people on horses chasing foxes over fields, we now have an armed cavalry of riflemen charging around.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Ceremony of simultaneous disarmament to break N.I. deadlock

Film a joint disarmament ceremony, where representatives from paramilitaries on both sides place weapons into a central dump to be concreted there and then. Any remaining items to be decommissioned in front of witnesses agreed by both sides, but without pictures.



Zoz

Sunday, December 05, 2004

MSN bloggers try to foul up censorship tool

CNET News.com



"Unlike rival services such as Blogger, MSN Spaces forces new users to grant Microsoft permission to 'use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, modify, translate and reformat' their blog postings."



I hope MSN falls flat on its face over this. MSN from day one has been misconceived and out-of-tune with the spirit of the Internet. It's past time for them to go away and leave it to people with something other than exploitation, monopolisation, appropriation, and coercion at heart.

Zoz

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Voters to challenge US election

Guardian Unlimited | US elections 2004



"Exit polls on election day suggested that the election could be heading towards a Kerry victory, deepening the despair in Democratic ranks at the Bush win. The anomaly was blamed on the exit polls, but Mr Arnebeck argued that it was evidence of malpractice."



As somebody pointed out, the Republicans probably think the exit polls were rigged. Maybe they were. Not.

Zoz

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Screensaver strikes back at spammers

Scotsman.com News:



"A way of turning the tables on internet spammers was announced today.



"New software allows recipients of spam to band together to target known websites behind the messages."



Zoz

Monday, November 29, 2004

Star Letter - "Millegnium bugworry"

You would of thonk cunputer progranggers would of leerned sumpin from their ordures at the end of the second millegnium but not a bit of it. We still allow but four charactears for the year!! What will happen after 31st of December 9999? Does agnybody care? No.

A Prograngger


Israel shocked by image of soldiers forcing violinist to play at roadblock

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports



"The incident was not as shocking as the recording of an Israeli officer pumping the body of a 13-year-old girl full of bullets and then saying he would have shot her even if she had been three years old.



"Nor was it as nauseating as the pictures in an Israeli newspaper of ultra-orthodox soldiers mocking Palestinian corpses by impaling a man's head on a pole and sticking a cigarette in his mouth."



Read this Sharon and Bush!

Zoz

Friday, November 26, 2004

Don't outsource the computing for a whelk stall to them

Why killing 80,000 desktops is worse than careless - ZDNet UK

"It comes back to the nature of these contracts -? EDS are sitting there at some kind of central control centre and the idea is that its much more efficient to that [sic] they have trimmed it all down to have someone sit their [sic] and do everything remotely. They have pressed a button to try and update a few machines but have made a mistake a [sic] sent out this patch to sixty thousand out of eighty thousand -? they have all received the patch, the patch has killed the machines and there has been no easy way back to revive them."

This is the drain all of your hard-earned money is poured down, while you sweat with debts you can't afford to pay. Why does the government pay billions of pounds to companies like EDS and Fujitsu for systems that don't work reliably, or in some cases are not even delivered?

Simon Moribund

Blind prejudice

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | 4x4s 'should carry health warning'



"'They're really Satan's little run-around,' NEF's policy director Andrew Simms told BBC News."



This is just blind prejudice. Look at cars by Mercedes, Jaguar and look closely at buses and lorries if you want to control pollution.



While the biggest 4x4s are ridiculous and unreasonable, modest ones like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV, Suzuki and others are not out-of-keeping with other family cars, and are comparatively fuel-efficient.

Zoz

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

"Confirming the kill"

karmalised: "...even if it's a three-year-old."



It's so frustrating and infuriating to read these reports and to be unable to do anything whatsoever about them. The selfish actions of people who don't give a damn about anyone only themselves, will be the death of all of us. And the worst thing about it is, it's not really worth living in this world anyway. This is Hell we're in. To walk out of Hell is to enter Heaven.



Zoz

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

No reporters no sporters

Reuters



"WINDHOEK (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's government has turned down applications by British media organisations to cover England's cricket tour, an England team spokesman says."



Whatever happened to solidarity? If Zimbabwe won't allow British sports journalists in, it would seem asinine for the national cricket team to go.

Zoz

Detailed account of the shooting in the mosque

Kevin Sites Blog (via Yellowslip)



"It's time you to have the facts from me, in my own words, about what I saw -- without imposing on that Marine -- guilt or innocence or anything in between. I want you to read my account and make up your own minds about whether you think what I did was right or wrong. All the other armchair analysts don't mean a damn to me."



Kevin Sites is the cameraman who filmed the incident. It's not quite as simple as it would seem from a short report on the 10 o'clock news. It's both better and worse than that. There were people left to die in the room, other people who might just have been "re-shot" and others more of a threat than the one who was killed in cold blood.



I don't buy Sites' agonising about how they are trying to be "the good guys." It reminds me of the attitude of the invaders in the film Mars Attacks. I understand that he is anguished about the possible backlash arising from his principled dedication to journalism. Other lives might be jeopardised. But the guilt is not rightly located in Sites' conscience, it should fly from there to somewhere in the White House - if it can find a conscience to land on there.



Zoz

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Send in the Tommywagons

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Britain: a nation 'in grip of drink crisis'



"The American 'super-cop' brought in by the Home Office to cut Britain's crime rate warned last night that the nation's binge drinking culture was spiralling out of control and fuelling an epidemic of violence outside pubs and clubs that threatened to overwhelm the police.



"In his first major interview the former Boston police chief, Paul Evans, described scenes he had witnessed in the early hours of the morning in city centres across Britain as chaos. 'I'm not sure it can get much worse,' he said, in response to police fears that new licensing laws allowing 24-hour drinking would lead to increased violence."

Zoz

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Apologies for electing Bush for the first time

Sorry Everybody

A hundred thousand apologies from the Herald too, just in case we ever did anything wrong, though I'm not aware of ever having made a mistake. Ed

Hypocrisy

Scotsman.com News - Latest News - Israeli Army in Bid to Rescue Gaza Weapons Smugglers



"Israeli military sources said the tunnel collapsed while an unknown number of Palestinians were digging toward an Israeli army outpost near Rafah. Officials said the army would help in rescue efforts."



Since when do they give a damn about the lives of Palestinians, let alone weapons smugglers? They don't, it's nothing but hypocrisy and pretence. If they thought the world wasn't watching, they'd leave them to die.

Zoz

Central Stupidity Agency

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | CIA memo urging spies to support Bush provokes furore



"The new US director of central intelligence, Porter Goss, told CIA staff this week their job was 'to support the Bush administration and its policies in our work', stirring a new controversy over the future of the agency."



Too stupid to know the difference between upholding the law and the constitution of his country, but placed in charge of the Central "Intelligence" Agency. This is a sign that the regime of dolts who have control over us, is installing its own paragons of stupidity into more positions of power, or that they are not stupid but wilfully perverse, reckless and dishonest.

Zoz

Give people their titles

Reuters: "Hassan's body may have been found"



Why are defendants in criminal trials accorded their titles, Mr Huntley and Ms Carr, for example, while somebody like Margaret Hassan is referred to as "Hassan"? Surely we can speak a little more respectfully of her, as Mrs Hassan or Margaret Hassan. It sounds terrible and hard-hearted the way reporters talk about her.

Zoz

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

They want to control you

Guardian Unlimited Politics Special Reports Blunkett seeks to calm ID card fears



This is all about politicians and their paper wielding militia, the bureaucrats, seeking to get control over the general public. First they want to tag you, and then it's only a question of which slaughterhouse they will send you to, or which rights they accord or withdraw. The biggest laugh they will have is when they force us to pay for them. To hell with their cards and controls. We should tag them and monitor their voting, meetings, moonlight jobs, business deals etc. Start from the principle that every citizen is free, within the law. Stop treating us like livestock, and instead concentrate on eliminating the bureaucracy with well-designed professional systems for the 21st century. It's a matter of efficiency, but also of goodwill - and the present British junta shows little sign of either, unless you count mealy-mouthed hypocrisy and parroting of focus-group drivel.



Zoz

New Bible translation returns to Hebrew roots

Reuters: The Five Books of Moses, Robert Alter



[...]

"A professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Alter says since he has never found a biblical translation that he liked or could recommend to his comparative literature students, he decided to do his own, starting with the story of Genesis and ending with the death of Moses."



[...]

"Alter said his task was to find the English equivalents of the Hebrew. 'Hebrew is filled with concrete images. For example, the King James translates the famous lines of Ecclesiastes as 'vanity of vanities ... all is vanity' but the closest word in English to the Hebrew is 'vapor, vapor, all is mere vapor.'



[...]

"Alter said he was especially pleased with restoring all the "ands" back in a passage where Abraham's servant is sent on a mission to find a wife for Isaac and encounters Rebekah:



"And she came down to the spring and filled her jug and came back up. And the servant ran toward her and said, 'Pray, let me sip a bit of water from your jug.' And she said, 'Drink, my lord,' and she hurried and tipped down her jug on one hand and let him drink. And she let him drink his fill and said, 'For your camels, too, I shall draw water until they drink their fill.' And she hurried and emptied her jug into the trough, and she ran again to the well to draw water and drew water for all his camels."



Ossian

A curse on the kidnappers

May the loathsome kidnappers who murderered Margaret Hassan go to the hell they believe in. If there was some way I could send them there right now, I'd do it without hesitation.



Zoz

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Bernard Cornwell in Willesden



The bestselling author gave us the lowdown on how to succeed in writing. Just take a template and change the names in it, and Bob's your uncle.

I think I wrung a few nervous laughs out of the audience with my portrayal reading of Cloco the Clown.

Ossian


Spin doctors eventually persuaded Michael Howard to tone down his conference speech.*

*Merciful hour! Is this politically correct? Ed.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Herald will get the Olympics for London 2012

diamond geezer: "London loves the world. We're a multicultural global city, where people from all nations gather together to take on underpaid overnight cleaning jobs in high rise offices. You can travel here by air, by boat, by rail, or in a secret compartment in the back of a container lorry. And we're knee-high in tourists already so a few more foreign athletes should fit in perfectly."

Diamond Geezer is on top form there. With this kind of help and the backing of the mighty Willesden Herald, the decision is in the bag. It will be the 'sden wot' done it again, in the words of our crap catch phrase.

Go for it, plebs. As Diamond Geezer points out, they need this sort of thing to make them redevelop the East End. Or at least to concrete it over.*

*Is this a good thing? Ed

When we left for Fallujah town

After Thomas Hardy

When we left for Fallujah town,
    A thousand miles abroad,
    The dust was on the road,
And flarelight lit the desert round
When we left for Fallujah town
    A thousand miles abroad.

What we would bring Fallujah town
    While we should soldier there
    No mullah could declare,
Nor did the commandant write down
What we would bring Fallujah town
    While we should soldier there.

When we drove from Fallujah town
    With murder in our eyes,
    All marked with mute surmise
Each frozen stare and somber frown,
When we drove from Fallujah town
    With murder in our eyes.

Ganache

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Double exposure*



All of Fallujah is under control, and the election is in the bag. "It's a turkey shoot."

*1. Eight-year-old Ismail Jamal is looked after by his brother at a hospital in Fallujah, Iraq (via Karmalised)
2. At the same time that chemical weapons are being fired into Fallujah (phosphorous, which acts like napalm) Tony Blair dines at the White House.

(One of the main justifications always given for the war was the use by Saddam Hussein of chemical weapons against Iraqis.)

Zoz

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Chemical weapons used on Fallujah

U.S. drives into heart of Fallujah



"Some artillery guns fired white phosphorous rounds that create a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water. Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorous burns." (via Follow Me Here)



Zoz

Friday, November 12, 2004

Time to revive the roadmap



Shimon Peres: "With the passing of their father, the Palestinians have a chance to emerge"

Shimon Peres on Yassir Arafat

Times Online - Comment



"Arafat enjoyed the love and respect of his people. This love was dear to him. He lived a modest life and wanted little for himself. He lived for his people."



I think this a touching and balanced article, it shows understanding and goodwill. It's only a pity Peres is not leading Israel today.



Zoz

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Ha bloody ha.

Guardian Unlimited Books Extracts Book extract: The Men Who Stare At Goats by Jon Ronson: "discordant sounds and apparently random music played to him during all-day interrogation sessions"



I can't understand the semi-amused, matter of fact tone that's evoked in response to the outrages perpetrated in our name by the military.



Why have we accepted these depravities with so little anger? Is it because we're so utterly impotent - slaves to the slaves of Bush? If the sight of hooding and abuse of prisoners makes people like me very angry, imagine the reaction on the victims' side. But you know who will have to pay. Yes, you and me - and the poor bloody infantry.*



*Does "infantry" mean army of children? It might as well. (I mean they are all somebody's children.)



Zoz

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Last bear shot

Hunters kill last brown bear: "Hunters have shot dead the last female brown bear native to the Pyrenees, condemning the species to extinction and causing an 'environmental catastrophe' for France, the government said."

Zoz

Time off for drunk killer from Mrs Injustice Hallett

Amy Gonzales was killed on her way home from church on Christmas Day: "Allowing Smith's appeal, Mrs Justice [sic] Hallett concluded: 'We do not wish to add in any way to the pain and grief of Amy's family. We have borne very much in mind the devastating impact on them.'"



What a depressing judgment, and crass expression.



Zoz

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Frustration and despair

Telegraph News Charity 'distressed' for hostage aid worker: "A newly released video of Margaret Hassan, the aid worker kidnapped in Iraq, has prompted Care International to say that it is 'profoundly distressed' by her condition."



It is so frustrating that one cannot do anything to help this woman. It makes me feel both homicidal and suicidal. I want to kill the kidnappers with my own hands. At the same time I am depressed to be a member of the same species. How can any man treat a woman in this way, regardless of religion, politics, or anything else? Those are not men.



What a day. More Bush and therefore more Blair and therefore more torture and violence for all of us. Those smirking, rapacious, negligent, conniving, lying shysters.



Zoz

Monday, November 01, 2004

"Eradicate amateur poets and post-moderns"

Guardian Unlimited Books | News | Pinter's poetry? Anyone can do it: "[Don Paterson] ... calls for total eradication of amateur poets and of 'postmoderns'.

Paterson accuses the former of 'infantilising' the art of poetry. 'Many people feel that, armed with a beermat, a pencil, and a recent mildly traumatic experience, they are entitled to send 100 pages of handwritten drivel into Faber or Cape.'"

Ossian

Chronicles: Volume 1 by Bob Dylan

Guardian Unlimited Books | The digested read: "Lou Levy, top man at Leeds Music Publishing, took me up in a taxi to West 70th Street. Outside the wind was blowing.

'Columbia have high hopes for you,' he said.

I'd met John Hammond at Columbia the previous week.

'Howdya get to town?' he asked.

'Jumped a freight train.'

It was pure hokum. But who wants truth, when you can buy the dream? "

Ossian

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Halloween



This is the view from Willesden on Halloween, taken in the last few minutes.

Oni

Saturday, October 30, 2004

"What planet is The Guardian on?" - Skynews

"It's hard to know sometimes what planet the Guardian is on" says Skynews, commenting on today's Guardian's front page. That's rich from Murdoch's sputnik.

Friday, October 29, 2004

15,000 or 100,000 or 1

Guardian Unlimited Special reports 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead, says study: "The researchers criticise the failure of the coalition authorities to attempt to assess for themselves the scale of the civilian casualties."



Jack Straw is sceptical about the figure of 100,000. "Harumph, only 15,000 old boy." He splutters his chardonnay. Only 15,000. What does it matter if it's 15,000 or 100,000 when 1 would've been 1 too many?



Isn't it a pity a few governmental figures couldn't have been sacrificed instead. Thousands of ordinary people would still be with us, and we'd be free of the sharks that are feeding on us. Make these cosy shysters get out and do individual battle to settle their "issues of principal." Blair and Tariq Aziz in a mudwrestling ring. Bush and Saddam in a lancing joust.



To hell with them all, and the arms exporters too.



Zoz

The little people

Flores man special

Zoz

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Fatal logic

What the Israeli retaliation raids say is this, "The attacks on us were completely without justification, but after our disproportionate devastations and killing sprees, they have now been justified post facto." The impression is conveyed is that their revenge is a source of pleasure and smugness to them. In this way they are inviting escalation, and challenging the ingenuity of their enemies to come up with even more disproportionate attacks, and all the time they are thinking, "We have nuclear weapons." If they can't see where this leads them, they need to have their eyes tested, if they have any left. The actions of the IDF are not in keeping with the plausible sounding denials of their politicians. The febrile antics in the Knesset comprise a pantomime to obfuscate the land grabbing and ethnic cleansing that the state of Israel continues to perpetrate in reality. They are only fooling themselves. People can justify any actions to themselves, and they should know that, and that is what they are doing.



Zoz

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Say goodbye to Euro asshole

Headline news from Sky News - Witness the event: "Robert Kilroy-Silk has resigned from the UK Independence Party over his failed campaign to oust the leader."

"It was the Herald wot Willes-done it."

"When will the Black Watch roll? When is the election?"

It looks like Zozimus was right.

Extortion charge zone / Livingstone is a reptile

Congestion Charge website down

I am trying to pay for my wife who is about to drive through Livingstone's Extortion Charge zone, and their fucking website is down. Rotten bastards. How am I supposed to pay their extortion? I can't afford to fall foul of the protection racket they run, when they bump the charge up to £80 if it's not paid in advance. They double it after that. Fuckers. Absolute fuckers. Livingstone is a reptile.

Ed.

Update

I've just spent half an hour of my life slaving for the Bureaucracy in order to get through their hoops and pay £5 by credit card to their protection racket, so that my wife can travel on the public highway to where she needs to get to today.

When you add up all these half hours of yours they waste, and all the half days queuing for Vehicle Duty discs, and all the days filling in tons of self-punishment tax forms, across the population (the serfs) it adds up to many lifetimes per year. This is the equivalent of mass murder, and the whole establishment should be rounded up and exiled to Rockall or Hell, and let us get on with our lives.

Let us post playbills. Yay! Let us park wherever we like. Yay! Let bureaucrats work in productive employment. Yay! I am happy to contribute for the NHS, Education, Housing and benefits, but not for systems of persecution and exploitation of the public. Don't even start me on the "Community Charge" - the rates. The Liberal Democrats are right, there should be a local income tax, and it doesn't need any additional bureaucracy to operate it. A simple calculation programmed into one computer and run once per year will apportion the levy across the local councils. If they can't do it, they should resign and get real workers to install it for them. Bastards.

How can they sink billions of pounds into black holes in companies like Fujitsu, for computer systems that never work, are never fully delivered or completed, and then scrap projects and start over. I could program and organise those systems MYSELF, and I wouldn't need billions of pounds to do it. We are being robbed blind.

Now open Willesden, Neasden and Prague



This travesty of womanhood and dance dominates the road up to Neasden from Willesden. Would it be a bigger crime to rip it down, or to leave it there?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

When will the Black Watch roll? When is the election?*

Cannon to the right of them

Cannon to the left of them

...

Into the triangle of death

Rode the six hundred eight hundred and fifty



*The election is in "weeks rather than months" (less than 2 weeks.) Of the same calendar order as the length of the mission. The other election is in "months rather than weeks"; it's nothing to do with that one.



Zoz

This is where all Bush's praying has led

soliloquist: War Crimes



(Salon 15 July 2004) - Hersh: Children sodomized at Abu Ghraib, on tape: "Debating about it, ummm ... Some of the worst things that happened you don't know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib ... The women were passing messages out saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened' and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It's going to come out."



If only a fraction of this were true, Bush and his cronies should not just be defeated in the upcoming election, they should be facing life sentences in prison for crimes against humanity.

Zoz

Glimmer of Hope : Go Johnny Go!

Sky News



John Kerry has moved ahead of George Bush in opinion polls, just a week before the US election.



The latest tracking poll from Rasmussen Reports gives Mr Kerry 48.4% of the vote, compared to 46.4% for Mr Bush.



Meanwhile, the authoritative ABC News poll gives Mr Kerry 49% to Mr Bush's 48%.




He's not perfect, but he's far better than the alternative.

Zoz

Public rejects Blair's casino plans

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports: "The finding follows Tony Blair's uncompromising defence yesterday of the government's proposed gambling bill, insisting that it is '90% about better regulation, better protection for children' and the removal of existing slot machines from 6,000 high street premises where youngsters now play them."



10% is not about better regulation or better protection for children then. That's Blair's 10%, I presume.

Zoz

Monday, October 25, 2004

World press photograph of the year

soliloquist: The War on Terror?: "Iraqi man comforts his son at a holding centre for prisoners of war, Al Najaf, Iraq. Jean-Marc Bouju."

Zoz

Bush's gift to Al Qaeda

VIENNA (Reuters)



"Nearly 380 tons of explosives are missing from a site near Baghdad that was part of Saddam Hussein's dismantled atom bomb programme but was never secured by the U.S. military, the United Nations says.



"The head of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, will immediately report the matter to the U.N. Security Council, a spokeswoman for the agency said on Monday."

Zoz

It's not possible to impose our will on Iraq

I hate the people who massacred the 50 Iraqi recruits, and they will probably get what they deserve in return. But none of this leaves us any further forward.



I wish we could do something to make Iraq a liberal democracy (for what it's worth) but I don't think it's possible and I don't believe wars of invasion are winnable in a country of any significant size. My own native country, Ireland, is a country of about 5 million people and I doubt any invader could conquer it, for all practical purposes. Iraq's population is over 20 million and it's a much bigger country, with more resources and a proud history.



Patience, diplomacy and some of the billions wasted on the war could have been used to support dissidents to get rid of Saddam, and could have saved the lives of thousands, as well as the infrastructure of Iraq. All we can do now is eject the lousy leaders we have from office and encourage the incoming ones to turn away from war. There's no point in despairing, but unless we get rid of Bush and Blair we're in for more of the same - and worse.



Zoz

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Your Fears / Four Years

The New York Times: Bush Keeps Focus on Preparedness for Terrorism; Kerry Shifts to a Theme of Hope

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Support your local bookshops



If you're in northwest London, don't waste your money on Amazon delivery charges. Just pop in to the Willesden Bookshop, Kilburn Books or Queens Park Books and get yourself a copy of The London Silence while there are still a few in stock. Alternatively, I'm sure your local bookshop would be happy to order it for you.

Ossian

A penny for Saddam*



Children outside Willesden Green station this evening, with an effigy of Saddam Hussein instead of Guy Fawkes.

*The sign says "Penny 4 the Guy / Execution 5th November" (bonfire night.)

Who would you vote for, dull or stupid?

Bush cries wolf

"As the campaign approaches its last full week, Mr Kerry is focusing his efforts on south-western states today, and will make a speech tomorrow on faith in an attempt to attract undecided religious voters.

"The president, meanwhile, has surprised some of his supporters by deciding to take a rest, withdrawing to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, for the weekend."

All work and no play makes John a dull boy. All play and no work makes George a stupid boy.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Release Margaret Hassan

Sky News: "Kidnapped care worker Margaret Hassan has made an emotional plea for British troops to be withdrawn from Iraq in a new video aired by an Arabic TV station."



If those rotten sewer rats don't release Margaret safe and sound, I swear I'll sign-up to blast the fuck out of them myself.



Zoz

Chequers mate

The Prime Minister has claimed £43,000 of public money on a constituency home bought for just £30,000 according to the Daily Mail.



Zoz

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Iraq: January election - "weeks rather than months"?

More hoons: "An armored battlegroup of 850 soldiers from the First Battalion Black Watch complete with medics, signalers and engineers will be redeployed for a 'limited and specific period of time, lasting weeks rather than months' to relieve U.S. troops, Hoon said."

It's October. Before the Iraqi elections in January, we will have to traverse the months of November and December. Months, not weeks.

However the US Presidential election is in weeks not months.

You don't have to be Professor Kronk to work this one out. They have refused previous requests for troops, but in the run-up to the US Presidential election, they have accepted this request. What a pack of hooners.

Fear and Loathing in 2004

RollingStone.com: "Did you see Bush on TV, trying to debate? Jesus, he talked like a donkey with no brains at all. The tide turned early, in Coral Gables, when Bush went belly up less than halfway through his first bout with Kerry, who hammered poor George into jelly. It was pitiful. . . . I almost felt sorry for him, until I heard someone call him 'Mister President,' and then I felt ashamed." (Hunter S. Thompson)

Zoz

Science for the Confused - an occasional series

No.1: Space and Time

Did you know that space and time are really the same thing? To have space is to have time, and to have time is to have space. You can't have one without the other. Without space there is nowhere to have time, and without time there is no time to have space. We can't see timespace fully because we are functions of it. It is behind us, in a way that we can't turn around to see. We are part of a marbled edifice growing, not moving. We do not move from place to place, but grow from one place to another, but we can only see the surface, the growing tip, and not the marbled trails. We are not bodies but body-shaped tendrils trailing through the years.

It is not time travel that we need, in order to see the past, it's an additional sense. Whether it is possible to generate such an additional sense using only the ones we have to start with is a difficult question. A superior being would carry on its existence not only at the "flat" three-dimensional tip (think of two-dimensional analogy) where we exist, but simultaneously in more than one spacetime location. Therefore such a being would not need to travel in time, it would be in or span many places in time at once. Evolution doesn't look like it will ever get us there, and devices travelling at any speed couldn't get us there, because they are only trying to move from one location to another. What we need is a device that will enable us to be in more than one location simultaneously.*

Some experiments with photons and particles, e.g. sending them different ways through polarising filters and detecting where they end up, produce results indicating that a particle has gone both ways simultaneously. Also one half of a particle spins one way, the other the opposite way, no matter how far apart you separate them, when you change the spin on one of the particles the other changes too. This defies the theory of relativity, because it shows action / influence travelling faster than the speed of light, yet nothing can travel faster than the speed of light according to Relativity. But can something be in two places at once?

Next >>

Professor Kronk

*The Herald would like to offer a million pound prize for the first person to build such a device. Richard Branson would you please contact us to arrange sponsorship. I think I will call this the Padre Pio project. Ed

Postscript to "More non-US casualties needed"

What if a number of British soldiers are killed in the week before the US Presidential election, which is only two weeks away? It is possible that on the day before the election a Land Rover might be hit by an RPG somewhere in the American zone, for example (God forbid). Picture George Dubya Bush's cheesy salesmanship of this appalling event. Then imagine that the Democratic candidate loses the election, and the neo-Con wins. The Prime Minister's position would be untenable. It is already.

Constructive genocide

All the disingenuous chaos of the Knesset is just so much sleight-of-hand to distract the world's eye from systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.



Sharon: "Oh I'm so under pressure, I have to do these things. (Psst - shout louder!) Oh no, against my better judgement they're forcing me to build walls, raze olive groves and demolish houses. (Louder! Louder!) Listen to what I have to deal with... What's this, a rocket has been fired. Oh no, I have to demolish another 1,000 houses and kill 100 Palestinians, all against my will. This is terrible. (Don't forget to demolish their police stations, playgrounds and zoo too.) I bet they'll fire another rocket soon. (Have they fired one yet?)"



Zoz

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

"The boys will be home before Christmas"

"...the Black Watch will be home before Christmas" - Tony Blair, Prime Minister's Questions today.

Hurray! The Herald's campaign is taking effect. Everything is going to be fine. Hurray! Boys and girls of Willesden will return home safe and sound. None of them will be shot for Bush's re-election.

(But wait, Christmas is after that... Hmm, should we still worry? Oh well, at least some of them will be home before Christmas, one way or another. )

This is the good old spirit that millions gave their young lives for in the abattoir of the Somme. It's still with us. At the going down of the thingummy, and the coming up of the whatsit, we will tumpty tumpty thingamajig.

The gombee's in the crombies

Dublin may trade roots of its history for a modern view: "an avenue of ancient trees lining Dublin's central boulevard, whose bullet holes and shell scars are a source of national pride, are facing the axe in what some call an act of official philistinism."

What need you, being come to sense
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the ha'pence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer until
You've chilled the marrow from the bone
...
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.
(Yeats)


Zoz

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Forget the Laughing Policeman

"Has Been"

"Common People" by William Shatner (featuring Joe Jackson) has to be the funniest record of all time, a brilliant, brilliant and strangely touching production. It has everything. I swear it's Shatner's masterpiece. If this isn't number 1 next week, eat your hats.*

*I've got it on iTunes. Ed

It's time for a Pointless Gesture

"There are a lot of crossed fingers in Westminster" (Andrew Marr, BBC News at One)



What does that mean? People are to be sent to their deaths, and the government are "crossing their fingers"?



"Okay, 100 of you, you're sons are going to be shot. It's time for a Pointless Gesture. Got to be done. Sorry old chaps. Duty to allies. Ours not to reason why and all that rot."

Zoz

Base Details

IF I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath,
    I’d live with scarlet Majors at the Base,
And speed glum heroes up the line to death.
    You’d see me with my puffy petulant face,
Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel,
    Reading the Roll of Honour. ‘Poor young chap,
’I’d say—‘I used to know his father well;
    Yes, we’ve lost heavily in this last scrap.’
And when the war is done and youth stone dead,
I’d toddle safely home and die—in bed.

Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967)
Counter-Attack and Other Poems. 1918.

More non-US casualties needed?

MPs must have a vote (Guardian)

90% bad, 80% good.

Bush's answer to Kerry's criticisms: increase British casualties. Bush wants reports of British soldiers being killed in the run-up to polling day, so he can turn around and accuse Kerry of "demeaning the allies" and exaggerating the isolation of the US position.

We've had more hoons today about weighing up the advice. It's all crap - they've decided already. The man whose name is synonymous with lies, Geoff Hoon, was stupid enough to give the game away in an answer in parliament, when he said it was Britain's duty as an ally to agree to the US request for secondment of troops to their command.

He's been caught out telling hoons again. Either he is so stupid he doesn't know that most people can see through him, or he is reckless, inconsiderate and bloody-minded, happy to survive on the gullibility of a constituency of idiots. Or is he just completely and numbly incompetent? When answering difficult questions, he has the look of a cow watching a train go by.

How the hell do these people in government sleep at night?

Hoon, Blair - they love playing war with the soldiers

They are not proper men, they're like half-popped corn - boymen, but the nightmare is that we have given them control over us. These half-men are conspiring with zombie hordes of their ilk in parliament and the media to play war with real soldiers. Peter Snow will be stomping around in his computer generated battlefield with his toy tanks. The fierce, bald, short of breath ex-major generals will be wheeled on to add colour to the fantasy. But when all these unpeople shout their playground orders, real men, women and children are blown to bits. This would never happen under Charles Kennedy, would it? It wouldn't, it just wouldn't. That's why I'm voting Liberal Democrat. I've always been a liberal at heart.



Zoz

Monday, October 18, 2004

More hoons from the quislings

Refusal of US troop request would be a failure

"There will be no penalty, but we will have failed in our duty as an ally and as a country"



This is the latest hoon from the government, which is trying for a Guinness Book of World Records entry for "Most Tangled Web Woven after First Practicing to Deceive". When will they stop telling hoons, and admit that they are blairholes?



Zoz

Bush's hotline to God is faulty

Rhetorical Device Fact Checking: "Bush claimed in the debate last night that 'God loves freedom,' but this turns out not to be the case. We have examined God's record on freedom, wherein we have found the following disturbing statements..." (via Brokentype)



Zoz

The "blood price" for a peerage or a directorship

Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive. (Walter Scott)


All for the mangled dead we weave
Are shrouds, and loot them as we leave.

Ganache

What goes around, comes around

Police raze war veterans' farms as fresh land evictions rock Zimbabwe: "No official explanation was given for the evictions, but the suspicion was that senior figures in the ruling Zanu-PF party wanted to claim the farms, which had names such as Little England, for themselves."

Zoz

"When we came back they had destroyed all the houses"

Guardian Unlimited Special reports: "The Israeli general who commanded the destruction of the only Jewish settlement in the Sinai before it was returned to Egypt recently offered Ariel Sharon advice on how to carry out his pledge to remove settlers from the Gaza strip. 'Evicting someone from the home they've lived in for 20 years isn't a simple matter,' wrote Brigadier General Obed Tira. 'To remove a family from its home is embarrassing and difficult, and that is why the removal needs to be done with a lot of love and a lot of wisdom.'"



A lot of love and wisdom goes into demolishing people's houses. Did you know that? Takes your breath away, the kindness. I'm all choked-up.



Zoz

US Republicans are rabidly anti-English

Guardian Unlimited US elections 2004 Reaction from the US to the Guardian's Clark County project: "If you want to have a meaningful election in your crappy little island full of shitty food and yellow teeth, then maybe you should try not to sell your sovereignty out to Brussels and Berlin, dipshit. Oh, yeah - and brush your goddamned teeth, you filthy animals. "

Why should Willesden boys and girls give their lives to support people who hate them? The New Labour government, with the support of the Conservatives, has turned Britain into America's whore, abused and treated with contempt.*

*I wouldn't treat a working girl like that, no matter if her name was Britannia, Hibernia, Caledonia, Mesopotamia or Lily French. Ed

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Golf / mathematics of putting / topology of greens

Golfers fondly imagine that every putt can be holed if they apply the correct force and direction to the golf ball, but is this really the case? Given greens with more than one slope, even with perfect smoothness, would it always be possible to make a successful putt? This is an interesting problem for applied mathematics, which could have commercial applications; if golfers knew that a certain putt was impossible to hole, they would adjust their tactics accordingly.

In practice, long putts are often treated as highly unlikely to go into the hole. Golfers realise that the force needed to hole the putt would result in the ball going too far past the hole if it missed. In effect they are worrying about their ability to "hit the target" from a long way off. Tiny variations in direction and proclivity of slopes on the way combine to make the targetting very difficult. But do they make it impossible?

I couldn't find an answer on Google, so this could be a good thesis for somebody. There, it's no longer a googlewhacker.

Updated 22/6/2017:
I'm thinking about a device that could scan a green from the position of the ball and calculate the best shot. I think I've mentioned this before. It could go in the shaft of a putter; might be disallowed, but okay for training. It's a kind of "Dragons' Den" idea, really. [Ed.]

Conspiring with a foreign power (again)

Reuters LONDON: "Prime Minister Tony Blair has secretly agreed to allow Washington to station U.S. missiles on British soil as part of President George W. Bush's missile defence programme, [according to] the Independent on Sunday "

Zoz

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Bush blows the gaff

Reuters: "'After standing on the stage, after the debates, I made it very plain: We will not have an all-volunteer army,' Bush told a rally in Daytona Beach. "



He only opens his mouth to change feet. He retracted soon after and went back to the pre-prepared lie. Oops, I mean the pre-prepared line.

Zoz

"Give us your troops"

Up to 650 troops could be involved in the move to cover for U.S. units battling insurgents in the rebel-held city of Falluja and elsewhere, according to various newspaper reports. (Reuters)



Isn't it transparently obvious with the US Presidential election just a month away, and a possible bloodbath in Fallujah even worse than the present bombardment, that the Americans just want to "blood" the Brits in this part of Iraq. They want to pretend they don't need US reinforcements, and at the same time use the Brits as a shock absorbers for whatever new ignominy they have planned.



Is it possible that they are deliberately stirring up more war in the region to pass as a poison chalice to Kerry if he should win next month? They are capable of anything.



It's essential that the conservatives are defeated in the Presidential election, and the liberal Democratic candidate is installed. Why isn't Blair helping Kerry's campaign? He could do something, a nod and a wink. Because he's a Tory, simple as that. If not, let him say something in favour of Kerry.



Here is a challenge to Blair. If he is not a Tory let him say something to help Kerry. It would be easy and the media would pick it up with alacrity. If he wants to save his own skin, and start to try and make amends for outrageous misjudgements and wrong-headedness, now is his chance.



Zoz

Friday, October 15, 2004

"Draft the Brits"

The U.S. government has asked for British troops to "stand-in" for American troops south of Baghdad, so that more troops can be sent to Fallujah. Translation: "Cannon fodder needed to promote re-election of George Bush and Co." Is Blair capable of saying "No" to his puppet-master? Hardly. But why should Brits pay the price for U.S. violence, avarice and incompetence? Where do they get off? I'm not a Brit, but I would be very surprised if the British people stood for this.



The Brits are in the South, around Basra, and regardless of how they got there, it's clear they have been better at occupation than their big brothers in "the coalition." Had the Americans been in the south instead, they would've been bombing Basra on account of the presence of 200 or so militia men, and by now would have turned the entire population against them.The US has made its own bed in the north of Iraq and let them now lie on it.



It's clear President Bush doesn't want to send reinforcements before next month's election, and so he thinks he can throw some Brits into the fray. I hope the move by eleven MP's led by Plaid Cymru's Adam Price to impeach the Prime Minister, for conspiring with a foreign power against the national interest, succeeds. For Blair to agree to the latest order from Bush / Cheney would be a repeat and compounding of his original crime.



Zoz

Stupid barrister

Angry letter costs son inheritance

Zoz

I'd like to box the apes who keep these orang-utans

The world is full of cruel and stupid fuckers.

Zoz

So, I went to see this man about a donkey ...

Terry Eagleton goes arse over tit in Sligo. Now see this is the kind of story that revives journalism. Why doesn't the Willesden Herald have this sort of thing? Because they're a pack of eejits, that's why.

Zoz

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

What can you do

...Things were just so easy teaching & studying & being a Lone Parent & totally penniless that I even got to write poetry... (Heaven)



Ossian

A Portrait of the Artist as a Conman

"He hid under the bible. His minister said:

--O, Tony will apologize.

Charlie said:

--O, if not, the eagles will come and pull out his eyes.--

Pull out his eyes,
Apologize,
Apologize,
Pull out his eyes.
Apologize,
Pull out his eyes,
Pull out his eyes,
Apologize. "

(After James Joyce)

From Rouse Magazine

On Finding a Muse a review of Josh Davis's The Muse and the Mechanism

Ossian

BBC ghost channels busted

Poor value for money (Reuters)

This reminds us of Malachy Dunhill's definitions in his recent Herald article:

Television

BBC3 - Things that should be on ITV, mostly about how much money pop stars earn

BBC4 - Things that should be on BBC2

CBBC - Things that should be on BBC1 in the afternoon, instead of whining Australian soaps

CBeebies - Things that should be on BBC1 in the morning, instead of whining British soaps

BBC News24 - Half an hour of news, repeated forty-eight times

BBC Parliament - Closed Circuit TV from an institute for the clinically pompous

Radio

Five Live - Things that should be on Radio 2

Sports Xtra - Things that shouldn't be on at all

6 Music - Things that should be on BBC Radio 1

BBC 7 - Old things that should never have been on in the first place

Asian Network - Auntie talking very slowly and distinctly about things that should be on the BBC World Service

GLR / Local Radio - The broadcasting equivalent of make-work

(And next time you hear this, 'Please switch to BBC1 / 2 / Radio 5 Live, where the tennis / snooker / rugby continues' ask yourself this: Where is the BBC Sports channel?)

Monday, October 11, 2004

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld

Recent works by the Secretary of Defense



Unknown knowns.



Ossian

Nobel prize for Literature, 2004

Elfriede Jelinek: "for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power" (via Metamorphosism)



Ossian

Get all the latest before it even happens

If you ever thought about investing in a free newsreader program, Feedreader takes about 2 minutes to download and install, and works simply and wonderfully well.

To add the Herald to your list of sites, simply click on New Feed and paste the link listed under Tickertape in the left column. It will tell you when there are new messages and show you the headlines. Then you can click to read the complete article here.

Simon Moribund

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Evan Williams, co-founder of Blogger leaves Google

evhead: Next?: "It's been almost six years now since I started working on what became the company I sold to the company we started talking to two years ago because of the product we launched five years ago."

Simon Moribund

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Have you seen this country? - picture*

"Wales has completely disappeared off the face of the earth, according to an official EU map." (Skynews)

*Does this mean I will have to cancel my car ferry trip from Holyhead to Dublin? It appears that the Irish Sea now comes in as far as England, and all of Wales has joined Atlantis under the waves. What about the people? Dear God! Urgent: Feargal, can you check that booking with Irish Ferries for me, please. Ed

Sowing the wind*

Guardian Unlimited Special reports 50,000 trapped by Israeli assault on Gaza: "Over the past three years the army has levelled 60% of Beit Hanoun's agricultural land, destroying its wealth and the main source of citrus fruit and olives in the Gaza Strip."

*This is not very funny. Delete it Feargal. Ed

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Great Escape - amazing dog exploits

Secret cameras set up to find out who was raiding the supply room nightly, caught Red the lurcher letting himself out of his kennel and then unbolting the cages of other dogs to join him for a midnight beanfeast, in the Battersea Dogs and Cats home: Pictures. (Skynews)

Skynews update: Hundreds of offers of homes. Red pictured, back in pokey.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

King Blear

A Long Goodbye (Independent): "However 'liberated' Mr Blair may feel by Thursday's cathartic announcement, he could quickly become a prisoner of political circumstance."

Blear: "We have divided
In three our kingdom, while we
Unburdened crawl toward death
Or a pension fit for a tyrant, say."

Beckett: "Tis the infirmity of his age, yet he hath
Ever but slenderly known himself."

Blear: "Dost thou call me fool, boy?"

Brown: "All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with.
Bambi, Stalin, Mummy's boy..."

Blear: "I am a man more sinned against than sinning.
And I do have the scars upon my back for proof."

Harman: "Alack, 'tis he. Why, he was met even now
As mad as the vexed sea, singing aloud
Scaramouche, Scaramouche will you do the fandango!"

Blear: "You unnatural hags,
I will have such revenges on you both
Excoriate in memoirs your misdeeds"

Paxman: "Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air
Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy successors
While from the bloody field you would abscond"

Blear: "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have an ungrateful media."

This is the excellent foppery of the world, that,
when we are sick in fortune,--often the surfeit
of our own behavior,--we make guilty of our
disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as
if we were villains by necessity; fools by
heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and
treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards,
liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of
planetary influence; and all that we are evil in,
by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion
of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish
disposition to the charge of a star!

(King Lear quotes)

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Election fever

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | The anger and hurt of Brown: "Tory warnings that No 10 may now try to stage a snap election in November found some echo among Labour MPs anxious that the Lib Dems will use the available time to nibble away at targeted marginal seats. Most MPs still expect a May or June election."

You heard it first in the Herald, several times, including in this article from February of this year.

The Widening Web of Digital Lit

The New York Times > Books > Sunday Book Review > Essay: The Widening Web of Digital Lit: "...the Web is home to hundreds of sites that talk about, pick on, poke at and generally mull over books, writers and writing. It would be impossible to list, much less describe, all of these destinations, but the following guide should provide you with an introduction to literary life on the Web..."



Pity they never heard about us.

Ossian

Brief encounters

"Anton Chekhov reinvented the short story: a century on, the form is enjoying another renaissance. William Boyd explores its attraction for writers - and proposes a new system of classification." (Guardian Online)

Ossian

Friday, October 01, 2004

Before the Fall



The river Brent at Wembley today.

Oni Mbeke

The Dressmaker's Child

The New Yorker: Fiction



A humdinger of a new story from William Trevor. It combines a number of elements to produce a tense account of the how an instantaneous lapse can develop in ways that affect whole lives.

Ossian

How's a person supposed to get any golf in?

Newsday.com - Jimmy Breslin: "George Bush reiterated time and again last night that it was hard work to run this government. It was hard work to lead a country out of tyranny and into democracy. It was hard work to read casualty reports. The war was hard work. And he made it plain that talking with somebody about his record as president was the grueling, hardest work you could want."

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Electric Acorn

Issue 16 is now online.



"You'll find simply excellent short fiction and poetry by clicking on the link - We include work by fine Irish poets such as Nigel McLoughlin, Fred Johnston, Patricia Anne Moore and Mary Guckian and wonderful stories by Jack Portland, Stephen Moran and others. We also include work by internationally renowned writers such as Moshe Bennaroch, Maria Jacketti, MTC Cronin and Terese Coe." (Nessa O'Mahony, Editor, Electric Acorn)

Ossian

Monday, September 27, 2004

Saving of comments / new system

I regret to say I'm going to have to get rid of Squawkbox from here and go over to the new Blogger comments system. It's mainly to avoid the Squawkbox renewal price (£14), but it's also advantageous to go with the flow of the new free Blogger system. If commenters want to preserve any of the old comments, I will leave the links for a while so you can copy them. There is also a Squawkbox backup in XML format, which I can save / forward.



Ossian

Adventures in publishing

Preethi Nair is famous for a publishing coup with her first book. She told us all about it at a reading in Willesden Library Centre last week.



She had been working in the city and writing in spare time on her way to work every day. When she finished the last chapter of Gypsy Masala she couldn't wait to get away from her boring job so she told her boss she was quitting to be a writer. She couldn't tell her family because they were an old-fashioned Indian family who had all sorts of plans for her, so she put on a suit and went out every day as if going to work.



She sent copies of her manuscript out to publishers and as they bounced back or were ignored it dawned on her that she was in trouble. She decided to invest ten thousand pounds and self-publish the book, planning a complete publicity campaign, printing and launch.



She invented a publishing company, Ninefish, and started phoning newspapers as "Pru", a pushy publicist, canvassing interviews for Preethi Nair whose book "they were going to publish." Then she would talk to them in her own voice as Preethi Nair. It worked. Interest was stirred.



Preethi went to a printer and arranged for 3,000 copies to be printed and available as of a certain date. She was able to arrange a TV interview for the week of the launch. Somebody phoned from her hometown to tell her the books had been delivered. So she rushed home from London to a room full of books. When she opened the first one she found (yes, to her horror) that page 179 was blank, completely blank - and it wasn't supposed to be.



The printer said it was his fault but it would take 2 months till he would be able to reprint the books. So she told him to print three thousand copies of page 179 and send them to her right away, and she sat and glued the missing page into every one of the books.



TV interview. Great. All about the book. It was only when the interviewer asked her where viewers could obtain copies of her book that she realised she had completely overlooked the issue of distribution. She had thought that by telling distribution companies her book was available, it would find its way somehow into shops . It doesn't work like that.



You gotta love this writer. She set out to visit every bookshop in London. Every day she went out with a suitcase full of books, saying 'I'm Preethi Nair, will you take a few.' 200 bookshops. It had been over two years since she'd finished writing the book.



One day she went back to a bookshop in Finchley Road to find Gypsy Masala was on the second shelf in a top ten display, above Booker nominees etc. She thought it was some mistake, or because her book was the right size to fit there or something, but no, she had a local hit.



It was about this time that the story of her fake publishing company got out, and it was featured on page three of the London Evening Standard. "Pru" had been shortlisted for the PPC Publicist of the Year Award, but her cover was blown -- it was Preethi all along. The publicity turned a local hit into one that sold 3,000 copies each from about 40 more bookshops, which is a lot of books (as she said.)



There was a contretemps at this point. The fuel protest blockades started here, and trucks couldn't pick up her books from the printers and distribute them. The moment was lost. As she told us, once the story goes cold like that you're old news and nobody wants to know anymore.



Preethi doesn't write every day nine to five or anything like that. Somebody lent her a cottage in the country and she went away to write a new novel. By this time she had an agent who gave her helpful feedback chapter by chapter and encouragement. Preethi completed the novel in six weeks, expressing all the pent-up feelings and stories from the past two and a half years in a fictionalised version of her own publishing adventure, Beyond Indigo.



After a bidding war, the novel was sold to Harper Collins and they gave her a deal. Part of the deal was for her to rework Gypsy Masala and the result was 100 Shades of White. I have a signed copy here. There are echoes in it of Arundhati Roy's novel The God of Small Things. For one thing they both originate from Kerala in Southern India. More good news for the author, the BBC is going to make a mini-series from it.



Ossian

Poll puts Labour third

Labour are now more unpopular than at any time since Michael Foot was leader. (Skynews)

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Letters

You're all so knowledgeable

Did we hear right, that Michael Howard is promising to abolish Death if he gets in? We might consider voting for him, in that case. Or is it just opposition for opposition's sake, because Blair is trying to abolish Life? We don't know which would be better.

Mr & Mrs T. P. Munnelly

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Four years for attempted murder

Headline news from Sky News - Witness the event: "The earliest he can be considered for parole is four years."

What? What sort of "life sentence" is that? This guy stabbed a woman teacher in the stomach, when she was out jogging in the park. She would've died had a doctor not been nearby.

He stabbed another youth in the chest, and they failed to even convict him on that of wounding with intent to cause GBH.

A quick search on Google UK, shows you can get four years for music piracy or possession of cannabis resin, for example.

Camera fade-in...

Life and War with Mikey 'Fatboy' Delgado

Ossian

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Buddhist wisdom

Thich Nhat Hanh, from The Shambala Sun*:



My right hand has written all the poems that I have composed. My left hand has not written a single poem. But my right hand does not think, 'Left Hand, you are good for nothing.' My right hand does not have a superiority complex. That is why it is very happy. My left hand does not have any complex at all. In my two hands there is the kind of wisdom called the wisdom of nondiscrimination.



One day I was hammering a nail and my right hand was not very accurate and instead of pounding on the nail it pounded on my finger. It put the hammer down and took care of the left hand in a very tender way, as if it were taking care of itself. It did not say, "Left Hand, you have to remember that I have taken good care of you and you have to pay me back in the future." There was no such thinking. And my left hand did not say, "Right Hand, you have done me a lot of harm—give me that hammer, I want justice." My two hands know that they are members of one body; they are in each other.
(More)



*Via DeadDrunkDublin

Ossian

"Drenched"

The latest WriteThis, along with some interesting new writing, has this interview with Jonathan Safran Foer by Timothy Schaffrick. Other contributors to one of the biggest ever issues of this punkish magazine: Wayne Bowman, Craig Kirchner, Aryan Kaganof, Yvonne Chism-Peace, Josh Davis, Kabuki Concarne, Darnell Thomas, Michael Internicola and Dan Schneider.

Ossian

Saturday, September 11, 2004

A previously unpublished short story by Truman Capote

In a letter dated May 15, 1950, Capote, who was 25 and had already published his first novel, ''Other Voices, Other Rooms,'' wrote that he had just finished a new story -- The Bargain.'' The story disappeared from view, however, and was apparently lost. It was discovered earlier this year in the archives of the New York Public Library, where it had been filed along with the rest of the personal papers found after his death in 1984. It appears here for the first time -- as far as anyone knows, the last unpublished story by Truman Capote. (NYTimes.com) Here it is: The Bargain

Ossian

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Ah the hell with it

I've listened to all your appeal and made a decision. I have me pride. Muzzy 'Poorboy' Pirbhai tried to gazunder me down to 50p, so I told him to stuff it. Right you lot, teabreak over - back on your heads! Get them bogies rolling, as they say.

Ol' red eyes is back.

Red Woodward

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Google: Japanese women for sale on eBay

I was searching for a poetry site to repair a dead link on my website. The site was called "Japanese Women Poets". When I searched for it on Google, I got the following, listed alongside the results:

Discount Japanese Women
New & used selection. Japanese Women for sale.

Women For Sale
Low Priced Women. Big Selection!

Japanese Women Need Love
We want Nice guy to Love and go for date together.

Here, try it for yourself and let me know if they're any good.*

*Well they've gone and fixed it, but not before I got this screenshot.

Ossian

Monday, September 06, 2004

Charleston, Charleston made in, uh, East Sussex

I'm off to the Small Wonder short story festival at Charleston (a stately home near Firle, in East Sussex) this weekend to hear William Trevor and a few others. Tickets are still available for all events at the time of writing.

Ossian

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Sitefeed

I've turned on the sitefeed setting, to let people with newsreader programs pick up the first couple of lines of posts here and links to read the rest. It's Atom-compatible, whatever that is. The link is down the sidebar there somewhere and this is it here too: sitefeed. Anyone know what the best newsreader program to get is?



Ossian

It's big and it's good

Big Bridge

Ossian

It's been fun

Goodnight Willesden

I'm sorry for the reporters and photographers who have stuck their arses out to make this newspaper what it is. We'll never see their likes again. The dear knows we've been through thin together. It is with a middle to light-heavy weight heart that I have finally accepted Muzzy Pirbhai's offer to incorporate the Herald into the Brent Cross Bugle. For a nominal price of £1, Muzzy will take over our debts, and turn Herald House into a community pigeon loft.

Cheerio!

Ed Woodward

Friday, September 03, 2004

Letters*

Is Bush anally fixated?

I was trying to figure out what all that weird grimacing was about during George Bush's address to the Republican convention, or where I'd seen it before. Then it struck me. Those were the facial expressions of a tot learning to use a potty. When he was trying to read a paragraph from the autocue he was straining over it. The corners of the mouth would go down. He looked like he might be about to cry. Then when he got to the end of a paragraph he would sway back and crack an infantile smile that said "What a good boy I am." He is small-minded and infantile, and the crowd he was addressing looked like a load of dumbells too.

Prof. Kronk

*Correspondents' views do not necessarily coincide with the opinions of the Marketing Dept. Ed.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

"If the eye be sound the fish is sweet"

SoundEye has an interesting collaborative poetry writing project called "Offsets". People post poems linked to other poems and a tree grows of linked poems, sprouting other poems, which sprout others and so on ad infinitem.

Ossian

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Star Letter*

Greg Dyke to stand against Blair?

How many would vote for Greg Dyke against Tony Blair if the other parties gave him a clear run as an Independent, like Martin Bell?

Mrs A. Dock
Huntingdon

*A fiver goes to the writer of this week's star letter. Ed.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Sunset this evening



In the west there was a deep claret stripe in the clouds above a skylake of pure gold where the sun was setting. Later the northern horizon turned to orange, shading to peach and, just before dark, this.

Mooney / Onion

Switch to BBC1, switch to BBC2, switch back-

Why is there no BBC Sport channel?

Scrap the popstarearningswatch BBC3, the BBC2-sapping BBC4 and replace both of them with BBC Sport. Please forward consultancy fees, total £60,000 a.s.a.p.

Dept. of the Blindingly Obvious

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Bob Dylan to publish memoirs (Guardian)

Both icon and iconoclast, Dylan once said, "The easiest way to do something is just don't ask anybody's opinion. I mean, if you really believe in what you're doing. I've asked people's opinion and it's been a great mistake ..." (Read)

Ossian
Letters



Support flyposters - they improve the scene


Why don't we have them for books as well, not just music? I don't know why councils like Westminster and others think that derelict shops and hoardings look better in unadorned squalor than they do bedecked with colourful and interesting posters. I would like to put some up around town for my book, The London Silence. Maybe "What is the London Silence?" would be apt, now that we no longer see "Who is Christian Goldman?" very much.

Stephen Moran

Monday, August 23, 2004

Heraldtorial

Nobody should be under any pressure to run a marathon, or to complete a marathon, no matter when or where, least of all in the heat of Athens. There should be no question of criticism for any runner who stops when he or she feels unable to continue. If there is, it's a sign that the essence of sport has been lost. Paula Radcliffe has nothing to prove, and she has not let anyone down. To hell with the armchair critics and cynics who couldn't get their arses into gear to save their lives.

Ed.
Tories against human rights

"...shadow home secretary David Davies...said billions of pounds that could be spent on hospitals and schools were being wasted on compensation claims." (Read)
Borat turns over stones

On Ali G's American TV show last night, he visited a place in Texas where they have wild animals for you to shoot. The walls of the office is bedecked with heads of animals including a giraffe. In the character of Borat, Ali G asked the owner what was "the most expensive" animal they had shot there. The answer, "Last year with shot a Pere David deer...which is extinct."

Later on the owner, prompted by "Borat", admitted that he'd like to offer Jews for shooting, but while it was okay with him, other people might object. It's amazing how non-existent people's resistance is to Sacha Baron Cohen's suggestions. Last week he had a barroom full of country and western afficionados singing along with a chorus of "Throw the jew down the well." (You can see it online here.)

More about Ali G, and more clips here.
Many a mickle smacks a muckle

In Newsnight Review from the Edinburgh Festival last Friday, Kirsty Wark described how somebody really believed in a production, because he had "invested a lot of his own fear in it."

Sunday, August 22, 2004

"Things I never knew about my father" by Hanif Kureishi

When my father was 50, I was 20 and left home. At 50, Father was still trying to create the life he imagined was ahead of him, if he got the words in the right order. I'd like to talk to him about it, and have often tried to write a story about a man who goes into a pub on his 50th birthday and runs into his father, who is also 50. The two would talk as equals for the first time, the son seeing the father as a man like him. The son would be gay, a theatrical producer, and the father going to meet a lover. I haven't been able to write a word of their dialogue I can, though, see them walking away from one another at the end." (Read)



Kureishi has since written the story described, including dialogue. It appeared in the New Yorker of March 8th this year and was called "Long Ago Yesterday." It begins:



One evening just after my fiftieth birthday, I pushed against the door of a pub not far from my childhood home. My father, on the way back from his office in London, was inside, standing at the bar. He didn’t recognize me, but I was delighted, almost ecstatic, to see the old man again, particularly as he’d been dead for ten years, and my mother for five.



“Good evening,” I said, standing next to him. “Nice to see you.”



“Good evening,” he replied.
(Read)



Ossian

Sunday, August 15, 2004

More food for Sharon

Palestinians in Israeli Jails Start Hunger Strike: "RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails began a hunger strike for better conditions Sunday, but Israel's security minister said he didn't care if they starved to death. "

Saturday, August 14, 2004

All aboard the Daily Express

Guardian daily comment | Women and children first: "Deportations of asylum seekers have taken a vicious new turn "

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Somebody they ate disagreed with them

"Wedding guests have dined on a fellow guest who had been killed because he groped the bride's bottom.

Benjie Ganay was stabbed to death and then cooked by a disgruntled cousin and three relatives after he fell over and touched the cousin's daughter's behind - she had just got married.

He was thrown on a fire made up of coconut leaves and then served up to unsuspecting guests." (Seconds)

Monday, August 09, 2004

Holloway cadres lead the way in productivity

The Guardian | Five suicide attempts a day at Holloway: "Officers at Holloway prison are cutting down five women a day from nooses, the Guardian has learned, and recently saved one inmate six times in a single night. "

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Remember to drink eight glasses of water per day

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Stay calm everyone, there's Prozac in the drinking water: "It should make us happy, but environmentalists are deeply alarmed: Prozac, the anti-depression drug, is being taken in such large quantities that it can now be found in Britain's drinking water."

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Exclusive

Highway to Heaven discovered in Atlantis




I was on assignment in Atlantis (as we must now call Ireland), covering the DeadDrunkDublin festival for the Herald, when I was approached by a woman in purple robes. She promised to show me something amazing, if I agreed to be taken to a secret location. I asked our cameraman, Onion Mbeke, to accompany us. We were blindfolded and driven for half an hour from Dublin airport. When the blindfolds were removed we saw the Highway to Heaven. Our guide refused to answer questions, but declared that she would address the world at a time of her choosing.

Reporter: Noël Knowall. Photographer: Onion Mbeke

Thursday, August 05, 2004

After the night before

Here is Terri Carrion, rightly described as "a brilliant, ironic and soulful poet from Miami" reading at the DeadDrunkDublin Festival.



That's the only photo I got. I was too busy with the Guinness and lounging. Oh yes, and scandalising the bourgeoisie with my stories.

Ossian

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

More about the DeadDrunkDublin festival

If you click here and scroll to the bottom of the page, you can click another link to listen to an interview with poet Michael Rothenberg, on RTÉ "Rattlebag". In it he talks about the connections he sees between Joyce, Yeats and the Beats. He also reads one of his own poems.



Ossian

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Worth a look

Fragment Magazine: "a quarterly PDF journal (free and downloadable) and an intermittently updated webzine, devoted to critiquing outstanding work in the independent presses and providing a showcase for new music and fiction. Fragment aims to remain positive in focus and encourage creativity."



Ossian

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

HM Department of Vague Paranoia - Press Release

How to cope with a Zombie attack etc.

"In an effort to worry the public and convince them to vote for us again next year, and because George Bush asked us to, this website includes the common sense advice found in the Preparing for Emergencies booklet, and information on what the government is doing to protect the country as a whole. (Hint: we're praying really, really hard.) National editions of the booklet will be available here when we can be arsed to get translators to put them into your crazy moon languages."

Ferdinand Crabbe