Saturday, July 30, 2005

Muslims? They're gagging for it

I’ve decided to delay writing the next part of what is turning into a bit of a thesis to post up something a little snappier and more, um, immediate.

I’ve been reading blogs written by British Asians over the last few days and am a little disappointed by the quality of the racism in some of the comments people are leaving anonymously. Admitedly, the comments are abusive enough and frequently ignorant enough but they are conspicuously lacking in originality.

There’s far too much emphasis on the fact that all Muslims are fundamentalist scum who, even when they’re not actively supporting terrorism, condone terrorism by harbouring homocidal psychopaths in their communities. Occasionally, some commentators also remember to throw in the fact that most Muslims are foreigners who smell, but even that observation is getting a bit tired.

Come on guys! There are loads more reasons to hate Muslims than that.

Just to get the ball rolling, I’ve decided to put together a quick list, in the time it takes my Saturday evening potatoes to roast, of fun alternative reasons to hate Muslims . Here goes, just pick the nearest demographic that best describes you and fire away …

LiberalsWhy not try despising Muslims for believing in God, maintaining traditional gender roles and their disapproval of homosexuality? After all, we should all be inclusive, except when dealing with people whose beliefs we disagree with.

CapitalistsWhy not dislike Muslims for their faith-based concerns over consumerism and Western style business practices? For Christ’s sake, they even think charging excessive interest to be sinful. Where would we all be without the freedom to max out on our credit cards, buying shoddy goods manufactured by child labour that leave us feeling all empty inside five seconds after we’ve bought them? What would happen to tranquiliser sales? Besides, now that the Commies have gone, who else are we going to drop all those expensive bombs on? There’s always the Chinese I suppose, maybe we’ll get round to them later.

ChristiansThese guys killed Baby Jesus and they’ve got to pay. Hang on, it was the other lot wasn’t it? No matter, Muslims would have done it if they were around at the time

JewsCome on, after 2,000 years of persecution don’t you guys deserve a break?

Zionistser, Palestine…

Aryan NationalistsFor a rereshing change from Blacks, Jews and Catholics, why not try blaming Muslims for eroding your own culture and simultaneously stealing your welfare money and your jobs? Much more fun than concentrating on those whiter, richer people who are really selling you out isn't it? Ah, the fine art of misdirection. The old ways are the best ways after all.


OK, that homicidal terrorism is some serious shit, but those Muslims have got to work out a lot more issues than just that before we can think about inviting them round for a barbecue and a brew. The sooner they embrace our ways and become fully Westernised, atheistic, pill-popping, debt junkies who’d sell their own grandmothers, or heritage, for a Big Mac the better.

In the meantime, fuck 'em.

Let's party like it's 1948 (part three)

Someone commented on a previous post and anticipated that I would draw the same old parallels between the Bush (or Blair) administration and 1984.

And I’m going to. But only kind of.

Bush and Blair and their administrations have only been in power for a relatively short time, certainly not long enough to shape our world to the extent that it has been shaped. They have accelerated change but they didn’t start the process. Before the War on Terror there was the Cold War. Before Osama we had Saddam, though Saddam was far too mortal to be a patch on Osama. Osama has supernatural powers and really kicks arse. Osama has to kick arse to justify a trillion dollar a year spend on the military.

No, it’s not exclusively Tony and George’s fault. It’s an old story. What is so striking to me right now is just how perfectly Orwellian our leaders’ words and behaviour have become recently. It’s getting to the point where they are more or less quoting 1984 verbatim; the promise of perpetual, unwinnable war, the shadowy, omnipotent mastermind, the doublethink. It’s all there and it’s freaky to behold;

I would personally find it much easier to cope with all of this if 1984 was written after 9/11 and its fallout rather than before.

And one question is uppermost in my mind.

Is all the Orwellian behaviour on display the result of deliberate plotting, as internet conspiracy theorists would have us believe, or is it a form of behaviour that societies unconsciously gravitate to? Is it just human nature?

Of course, most people would flat-out disagree that we’re living in an Orwellian world and would maintain that nothing particularly dark is going on and certainly nothing that matches a pattern mapped out by an TB-ridden, lapsed socialist scribbling in a shepherd’s shack in Scotland sixty years ago. Maybe 1984 is the literary equivalent of a psychic ‘cold reading’. It contains no real insight. All I am doing is interpreting the words of the book to match my own preconceptions.

But my response could be, ‘well, you would say that wouldn’t you and the book explains why’

To me, the most interesting and chilling aspect of 1984, and what's going on outside right now, is not the surveillance, the use of fear or the application naked force, it's the manipulation of thought. 1984 ends with the hero totally broken, believing that 2+2=5 and loving Big Brother. And if a political system can really do that to its people, secret police, security cameras and all the rest of that stuff are merely accessories.

I’m going to toss this around some more tomorrow and try to explain why I believe Orwell is a much better guide to what’s going on in the World and, specifically, in London right now than any of our politicians or newspapers...

Let's party like it's 1948 (part two)

(warning, this is one of my looooooonger posts)

So, why am I thinking about George Orwell?

Well, earlier on this week I read this story

Osama bin Laden tried to buy a massive amount of cocaine, spike it with poison and sell it in the United States hoping to kill thousands, according to reports. The plot failed when Colombian drug lords decided it would be bad for business if they got involved in the deal. An investigation by the US Drug Enforcement Administration has examined how advanced the plot became when it was hatched a year after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

What struck me, as with most Bin Laden stories, is the completely uncritical reception it received. Every news organisation covered it; not one of them treated it as anything less than primo material.

The story is a patent fantasy but no one in the mainstream media could bring themselves to raise a single critical observation, comment or criticism.

And you’ve got to ask yourself why not?

Or rather you don’t.

Everyone knows OBL is the ultimate foe and capable of anything – he’s fanatical, ruthless, well funded, intelligent and supported by a huge, virtually undetectable, cell-based network of death crazy followers dedicated to overthrowing our way of life.

Osama Bin Laden is our Emmanuel Goldstein.

The parallels are nigh perfect, right down to the smallest detail. As with Goldstein, OBL was once on 'our' side, his face is iconic and he periodically issues videos outlining his insane philosophy. The videos are shown on our increasingly homogenous, state-compliant news networks, so that we can sit there in front of our screens fearing and hating him.

It’s the same fucking guy.

Orwell is deliberately unclear in 1984 if Goldstein and his network still exist in 1984, or ever existed at all, and makes the point that it doesn’t really matter. If Goldstein didn't exist the ruling party would have had to invent someone just like him anyway.

Sounds familiar?

1984 is an essentially factual work. Orwell was trying to communicate a warning about the nature of totalitarian states and the methods they employ. So, if there are parallels between Emmanuel Goldstein and The Brotherhood and Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda it doesn’t mean Orwell was spookily prophetic or that some shadowy conspiracy is actively mimicking his book. What it means is that Orwell may have identified a basic truth – one that is as relevant to 1448 as 1948, or 2005…

I’m not trying to write a belated book review here. What I want to express is my belief that Orwell did identify some basic truths that are totally relevant today. And not in some abstract, intellectual way. These truths have been shockingly manifest on the streets of London over the last few weeks and they are relevant to how we live, who we choose to believe and how we treat our neighbours.

And when I refer to truths, I’m not just talking about similiarities between Osama Bin Laden and some character in an old book. I’m talking about everything in that old book. Every day I see and hear things that resonate with 1984...

The concept of a war that cannot be won, its only purpose to destroy the produce of human labour and life.

Every major official from the Prime Minister to the London Mayor has declared that we are now engaged in a struggle that will ‘last for decades’. Of course it’s going to last for decades. We’re fighting Terror. How are we ever going to defeat Terror? And look at the daft way we’re fighing it.

The UK and US are spending more now on ‘Defence’ than at the height of the Cold War. And that money is being used in the most irrational way. We keep hearing about how future wars will be insurgency conflicts, centred in civilian areas and in situations where combatants and non-combatants will be hard to distinguish. So, what are we spending our money on? Nuclear powered aircraft carriers, stealth bombers and seventy ton battle tanks.

A typical cruise missile costs $1.3m and the US military happily lobs them at mud huts. A single B2 bomber costs $2,100,000,000. A Virginia class attack sub costs $2,500,000,000. That's just silly money. Right now, multimillion-dollar Abrams tanks and Apache gunships are being taken out in Iraq by RPG rounds costing a few dollars apiece. It’s insanely wasteful and truly does not make military or economic sense. But in an Orwellian world it makes supreme sense. Fuck it. If the Arabs weren’t blowing them up we’d just dump them in the sea and replace them with new ones every six months.

I could make a similar point about the colossal amounts of money being spent on homeland security in the US or UK, or point out that we live in a time of unparalleled technical productivity, yet people in the West are facing increasing job insecurity, record levels of personal debt and the prospect of having to work till they die.

And how many times have you heard someone say, or said yourself, ‘Yeah, you might have a point with all this stuff but I haven’t got time to worry about things like that. I’ve got bills to pay’?

That’s the plan Stan…

Doublethink - the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

There are plenty of examples of Doublethink knocking around but, for brevity’s sake, I’ll restrict myself to some of the more popular themes at the moment

  • Per Tony Blair, "Al Qaeda is not an organization. Al Qaeda is a way of working ... but this has the hallmark of that approach.", only sometimes Al Qaeda IS an organisation, when it suits Tony and Co.
  • When the terrorists do something clever it’s because they’re intelligent and organised. When they apparently drop a bollock it’s because they’re mad. Yes, fiendishly clever and insanely stupid, all at the same time. That makes sense
  • 'We mustn’t let terrorism change our way of life' and “You Will Fail”. Well, except for all those new laws, machine pistol toting police, increased homeland security, vastly increased inter-racial tension and all those naughty things we’re doing overseas in the name of our security
  • ‘We are not afraid’ but, actually, ‘we are terrified’.

BTW that We are not Afraid campaign really pissed-off a small, but significant, number of people in London and the rest of the UK. Most of those pissed-off people weren’t using the expression ‘Doublethink’ – words like ‘propagandist’ and ‘bullshit’ seemed to be more popular choices. No matter, they’re essentially the same thing.

Newspeak – the use of greatly reduced and simplified vocabulary and grammar with the aim of making subversive thought (thoughtcrime) and speech impossible.

You could write a whole dictionary of contemporary Newspeak. From new vogue military and security terminology such as ‘collateral damage’ or ‘shoot to kill to protect’ through to the abuse of language by government and corporations that has thoroughly infected all aspects of daily life. Spending becomes Investment. Excellence becomes anything but excellent, and meaningless. A normal service becomes a good service. And fail becomes a ‘deferred pass’.

That ‘deferred pass’ concept currently being bandied around in some British schools really is 100% Newspeak. Here’s a quote straight out of 1984

’Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well... If you have a word like 'good', what need is there for a word like 'bad'? 'Ungood' will do just as well... Or again, if you want a stronger version of 'good', what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like 'excellent' and 'splendid' and all the rest of them? 'Plusgood' covers the meaning, or 'doubleplusgood' if you want something stronger still.... In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words; in reality, only one word.’

Friday, July 29, 2005

Let's party like it's 1948 (part one)


Bear with me for moment here. I’m going to suggest something that might seem totally outrageous at first but just think about it for a minute.

Can it be merely a coincidence that London’s public transport system was attacked the very same week that the congestion charge for driving private cars through London rose from five to eight pounds a day? Is it too outrageous to suggest that the Mayor of London and (Al) Capita Ltd, the company collecting the congestion charge, conspired to bomb people off the trains and buses and into their cars?

Actually, yes. The answer is yes. There is absolutely no evidence of a causal link between the two events. And, even though I occasionally flirt with the concept of non-causal, synchronistic connections between events, synchronicity doesn’t apply here, because a) these two events don’t have synchronistic qualities and b) I want to appear rational and sane for the sake of the rest of this post

And my point?

The point is that, given the right state of mind, you can stitch virtually any events or observations together into a narrative, whether they are really meaningfully connected or not. Obvious enough, I just wanted to demonstrate that I’m aware of that before I suggest something that might seem totally outrageous at first. Please, bear with me.

It’s all George Orwell’s fault.

I first read 1984 when I was about fifteen. I hated it. It read like crap sci-fi, centring on a love story between two drab, lonely people. This says a lot about encouraging teenagers to read books written about themes that pass way over their heads. I pity any fifteen year old capable of comprehending 1984. If such a teenager exists they’ve got real problems.

Anyway, I reread the book for a second time some years later and got the point that time, sort of. But the curious thing is I haven’t really comprehended the book until quite recently. Very recently actually.

If you're a hardcore 1984 buff the next few lines aren't going to contain any surprises for you, sorry.

Contrary to popular belief 1984 isn’t sci-fi. It wasn’t a prediction. It was written in 1948 and the mirroring of the numbers wasn't coincidental. The bulk of 1984 wasn’t fiction either. Basing his book on the recent history of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, Orwell was writing about the threat of totalitarian regimes in the here and now. 1984 was written as warning but in a perverse way it also reads like a manual, quite a good one actually.

The popular conception of 1984 is that it is all about a future where everyone is under constant surveillance by Big Brother and, to most people, that’s what the book is all about.

But it’s about a lot more. 1984 is about controlling entire populations. And you cannot total control entire populations using surveillance alone. Even the most totalitarian regime imaginable doesn’t have the resources to watch everyone constantly. The surveillance is just there to identify the occasional dissenting individual in need of appropriate 'treatment'. The bulk of the population is controlled by keeping it in fear, keeping it poor, and manipulating peoples' very thought processes. Their thoughts are controlled through propaganda and through restriction of language, through the very words they use to think with.

Here are a few key 1984 concepts:

Doublethink - the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. Per Orwell…

‘To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies.

‘Through doublethink, the Party was able to not only bomb its own people and tell its citizens that the bombs were sent by the enemy, but all Party members - even the ones that launched the rockets themselves - were able to believe that the bombs were launched from outside.’

Newspeak - is closely based on English but has a greatly reduced and simplified vocabulary and grammar. This suited the ruling party, whose aim was to make subversive thought ("thoughtcrime") and speech impossible. The underlying theory of Newspeak is that if something can't be said, then it can't be thought.

Emmanuel Goldstein – the leader of ‘The Brotherhood’, dedicated to overthrowing the Party. Each member of The Brotherhood is said to have 3 or 4 contacts at one time which are replaced as people disappear, so that if a member is captured, he can only give up 3 or 4 others. Goldstein is always the subject of the "Two Minutes Hate," a daily, 2-minute period beginning at 11.00am at which some image of Goldstein is shown on the single channel telescreen.

1984 never makes clear whether Goldstein or the Brotherhood really exist or not, because it doesn’t really matter.

Perpetual War – The world of 1984 is engaged in a perpetual war that cannot be won, and its only purpose is to destroy the produce of human labour and life, and so keep the totalitarian society intact.


You can see where I’m going with this can’t you? And I'm certainly not the first person to start thinking along these lines but, please, indulge me and my next couple of posts…

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Feeling Guilty


I’ve only just posted it and I already feel guilty about slapping up a 900 word dissection of Mark Urban’s latest piece on the London Bombings on Newsnight.

But what am I to do? I spent most of the night serenaded by the sound of dozens of police cars attending the latest round of anti-terror raids down the road. There’s a surveillance helicopter flying above my head right now. So what am I going to blog?

For breakfast today I ate … muesli.

No, no I didn’t. I didn’t eat breakfast today because I overslept after being kept awake by the sound of the massed security forces hunting down the sucide bombers who are, in all probability, hiding somewhere near here.

See what I mean?

I tried watching television as a distraction. What was on? Rambo III. You know, the sequel set in Afghanistan where the ferocious, yet noble and friendly, Islamic freedom fighters fight the evil Russian oppressors with Rambo’s help.

My, how fucking times change.


Anyway, what zany and amusing links do I have on hand to post up in compensation for that last post, focused as it is on distressing things like terror bombings?

How about…

The announcement of the introduction of caffeinated beer to the UK. Yeah, and I could do with a drink or two after all those bomb scares

The apparently unrelated story that balding, tubby men are to be used in drinks ads (yay!) to make the products less appealing to women. Maybe we should just ban alcohol altogether and see if those Muslim psychos will stop bombing us

Listen to a mp3 recording of a retro-tastic album entitled ‘Picking Up Girls Made Easy’. Obviously, you’d have to stone them to death afterwards, the Jezebels, to avoid anyone laying a fatwah on your arse.

Look at a photo of a weird cloud formation in Nebraska, which kind of looks like the building in the foreground has just been bombed.

Play the can you guess how much my collection of Tesco’s Value Range groceries cost game. I did pretty well at that as I’ve just restocked the house in case the transport infrastructure is paralysed by terrorist attacks

And finally, picking out shapes of animals in the London Undergound map. Most of which predate the closure of the Piccadilly Line and sundry stations due to the recent bombings

An audience with Mark Urban

Being a news junkie I generally catch BBC2’s Newsnight most nights when I’m at home.

Newsnight sees itself as the flagship BBC current affairs programme and likes to give its viewers a little more in-depth coverage of what it sees as the most important current news stories. And, since the bombings on 7th July, it has established a curious little routine at the start of every show.

Every night, Newsnight’s diplomatic editor, Mark Urban, sits with that evening’s presenter for about five minutes and brings us all up to date with the latest news on the London Bombings. I’m not too sure about Urban’s full background. He was in the army for a bit. He also smells like a spook. He’s not a stupid man. He currently spends his days chatting with unnamed contacts in the government and the security forces then providing us all with a little precis of what he has learned at 10.30pm

Mark’s five-minute slots are curious wee affairs. He usually comes up with some new ‘news’ and also is one of the few journalists who has even remotely suggested that there are any inconsistencies in officially–sourced stories, but then he rationalises those inconsistencies away, right away; usually very badly.

Listening to someone acknowledge issues and concerns then blow them off unconvincingly in the next sentence can really do your head in.

Urban and his five minutes of clarity are clearly building up a devoted fan base.

Tonight’s Mark Urban slot was the most blatant for a long time. I just tried to download tonight’s episode off the Newsnight website to replay it but was greeted with this message…

Owing to rights issues we are unable to make Wednesday's edition of Newsnight available on the web.

No matter, it’s all still quite vivid. Urban was basically doing a recap of the early days of the bombing investigation with an underlying theme of the twists and turns such a huge investigation has to follow. What he ended up doing was listing some of the major outstanding issues to date:

Urban: Early on, many of the investigators had doubts that the four bombers were suicide bombers. The suggestion was that they were duped into carrying the bombs … The bombers bought return tickets. They left no suicide notes or explanation for their actions … but eventually investigators decided that they were indeed suicide bombers. The three train bombs were detonated between platforms to maximise casualties and that could not have been achieved with timers. Also, the police have recovered no traces of timing mechanisms.

  • No timers? So how did the blokes know how to set off the bombs simultaneously? Telepathy? Watches presumably. Watches are ‘timing mechanisms’.
  • Come to think of it, isn’t it coincidental that the trains were all in tunnels at the same time? Think about it for a second, if they did blow up at the same time, as we’ve been told, the fact that all three were in tunnels must be coincidental
  • Explosions between platforms to maximise casualties? Says who? Wouldn’t a bomb exploding on a rush hour platform cause plenty of casualties? Besides, the attempted bomb attack at Shepherd’s Bush last week took place when the train was above ground.
  • BTW Why has no one explained the initial official story that the explosions were the result of power surges?
  • BTW Where is the CCTV footage from the stations?

Urban: Police initially indicated that commercial explosives were used on 7th July … they subsequently discovered extensive quantities of home made explosives in a house in Leeds and in a car in Luton station car park. So it would appear that the explosives used in the London bombings were home made. The car was hired by one of the London bombers and contained 18 bombs, which they presumably intended to use later or were left for someone else to collect.

  • Hmmmmmm, just because homemade explosives were found in a house in Leeds does not mean they were used to blow up London. I don’t recall the police coming out and saying that homemade explosives were used in the first London attack. In fact, they’ve been quite coy about the whole subject.
  • Suicide bombers leaving bombs to use later? Have you ever hired a car in the UK a received more than one set of keys? Or was the second terrorist team planning to break into a car laden with 18 unstable bombs in a public place? Fuck off Mark…

Urban: Police originally thought that the bombs used on 7th and 21st were the product of one mastermind but now that they have found two separate bomb factories in Leeds and in North London that seems less likely

  • What also seems now less likely is that the five bombs which failed to detonate failed because they were out of date stock supplied by the 7th July bombers. So, what’s the explanation now for four out of four bombs detonating on 7th and five out of five not detonating on 21st?
  • While we’re at it, why did the guys on the 21st set off their devices outside of rush hour and why is it every picture I see of them they’re standing alone on empty fucking buses?

At the end of tonight’s piece Mark nonchalantly mentioned that the story about both bombing teams going on a rafting holiday in Wales together just before the attacks was, unsurprisingly, bollocks. Don’t hold your breath waiting to see extensive coverage of the death of that puppy in tomorrow’s media.


What makes the daily Newsnight experience all the more surreal is Mark Urban’s body language. He works exclusively in one of two modes

  1. Totally blank-faced, almost robotic, with cold dead eyes, when he’s reciting the latest ‘factual’ information he’s picked up.
  2. A really smug, knowing smirk, but curiously with the same cold dead eyes, when explaining why any apparent inconsistencies are nothing to worry about. At times he looks like he’s about to burst into laughter but, being a consummate professional, he never does

It’s really bloody obvious. Watch the first five minutes of Newsnight, and watch Urban's face in particular, c.10.32pm every weekday BBC2. It really is the most peculiar experience. Peculiar yet strangely compelling.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Notting Hill

Just got the above jpg in my inbox from a fellow blogger. I haven’t the faintest idea who took it or how many other people have already seen it. It was new to me though …

Newspapers - dont you love 'em

There is some good news though – it’s sounds like the police may have apprehended the either the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Muktar or one of his accomplices in Birmingham, with the aid of a stun gun no less


I reckon the Metropolian Police might want to think about buying a few for themselves

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I'm sorry I couldn't help myself

It won’t have escaped the attention of anyone running into this blog over the last few weeks that I’m more than a little preoccupied with the recent terror attacks in London. Frankly, I’ve turned into a bore.

But how could I not be? I live slap bang in the middle of it, the media covers little else and there are police everywhere. On top of all of that, I have time on my hands and have developed this annoying habit of thinking about things.

And I’m not happy about what’s going down.

To me, it’s patently obvious that we’re being misled wholesale about the whys and the wherefores of what has happened, and is still happening. I also appreciate that it’s equally obvious to the majority of people out there that my concerns are misplaced. I’ll return to the whole subject of what constitutes obvious another time.

I’ve deliberately kept my concerns in check though and haven’t gone so far as to advocate any alternative theories to explain the bombings or their consequences.

The ‘alternative media’ can’t help itself though and the conspiracy theories are proliferating. Sadly, as soon as more than one alternative theory is formulated the result is that the majority of alternative explanations must logically be incorrect. Even if one of those alternative explanations is bang on the money, it will inevitably be lost in static and bullshit. It’s a bit like organised religion. At the very most, only one of them can be ‘right’.

And let’s think about this a little bit. If there are shadowy forces at work out there, it would make sense that they would spend their lunch breaks posting their own lunatic conspiracy theories onto the web just to confuse the situation even further. If Dixons or Dell have thought about paying underutilised staff in call centres to post up fake customer satisfaction ratings onto the Internet I’m sure the CIA, Mossad and MI6 have cottoned on to the idea too.

My attitude to conspiracy theorists is the same as I have to peace or anti-poverty campaigners. I share their sentiments and believe they have a point but their methodology is so deluded and ineffective I'm left shaking my head at the lameness of it all.

Ladies and Gentlemen in the left hand corner I give you a bunch of underfunded, poorly organised idealists who couldn't agree on what day of the week it is. And in the right hand corner I give you the combined forces of global capitalism, richer than God and ruthlessly united by their single-mindedness of purpose. Seconds out, Round-a One ...

Another habit conspiracy theorists have, aside from coming up with conflicting conspiracy theories, is their fondness for making shapes out of clouds. They will spend hundreds of hours poring over clips of vague shapes hitting the Pentagon or pictures of the Moon landings looking for that one killer clue which will bring the entire rotten edifice down.

As it happens, I too spend enormous amounts of time staring at digitised photos. Usually because I buggered the exposure up when taking them, not because I’m looking to reveal any global conspiracies. And one thing I have learned is that all digital pictures look pretty fucking dodgy when enlarged 500%.

Predictably, several conspiracy sites and blogs on the Internet have been scrutinising those few images that have been issued by the police after the London bombings. In particular, the single frame of the four supposed bombers walking into Luton station on 7th July. One site has managed to find over a dozen tell tale errors in that single image.

And I have to agree, the picture doesn’t feel right. But the problem is the level of ‘not rightness’ is well within the bounds of what could conceivably happen to a frame from a CCTV camera processed and resized for web use.

One quirky aspect of the picture does stand out from the others though. Here’s a crop from the central part of the Luton picture. If you open it up and have a look at the guy in the middle at the back, something odd seems to be going on with that metal bar that appears to be passing across the front of his stomach.


Of course, the effect could be ‘one of those things’. And besides, why would anyone doctoring the image be stupid enough to leave such a howler in it? Unless, cue the dramatic music, someone is secretly trying to tell us something?

Fuck knows what's going on.

One thing that would sort this out would be a second frame from the video or, even better, the entire clip. While we’re at it, how about the CCTV clips from Kings Cross on 7th July and also the attacks last week? After all, the police keep telling us they want our help in tracking those four dangerous bombers down. So, why are they not releasing the material that would enable us to recognize them? To me, that’s a much more interesting question that whether someone pissed about with the Luton image.

At the press conference yesterday the police spokespeople spent roughly five minutes describing a particular type of plastic food container they wanted more information on. That was roughly five minutes longer than they spent describing the bombing suspects they’re supposedly frantically looking for across London.

Or doesn’t anyone else think it strange that they haven’t issued descriptions or artist’s impressions to supplement those laughable pixellated images?


Update - Case solved

The second unidentified bomber is, of course, Craig David - thanks Rahid

No, wait. Oh shag, maybe it's Robert De Niro ...

Link Roundup


In between my busy schedule of cowering in fear and writing obsessively about the bombings in London I have managed to find time to enjoy the following fine links:

Pictures of Dustin Hoffman sporting a rather impressive pair of latex breasts

Admiring a gallery of photographs posted by buildingcrusher – an interesting individual who enjoys sitting on laundry baskets and fantasising that he’s crushing buildings

Reading about a recently discovered 28,000 year old phallus that served a dual role as a fertility symbol and a hammer. That’s nothing special in my household but I still found the story moderately interesting

Pogoing along to ‘Flip out like a Ninja’ by Joel Veitch, creator of the fabulous Viking Kittens – a must for all cat lovers

Fabricating a truly fearsome bow of death from the contents of my stationery drawer – I think the razor-tipped arrows really cap it off nicely


Hmmmmm, could it be that I’ve written a post for the first time in 3 weeks that makes no reference to the bombings in London?

two terrorists driving down a bumpy road towards Luton railway station. One says to the other: "be careful you might set the bomb off." The other says don't worry if it does, there's a spare on the boot."

Bugger, and I was doing so well…

Oh, and I've just noticed that I mentioned the bombings in the very first two lines of this post as well - what a loser

The true London spirit


Here’s a site that captures the true spirit of London in July 2005...


A simple method of re-establishing true Britishness would involve selecting people who don't understand why this is funny and somehow removing them from the meme pool. We'd return to being the Number One global superpower in less than a generation


I also came across this, but sadly far too late to join in – I’m gutted …

To commemorate the victims of the bombings, and as a statement of our own defiance in the face of terrorism, the triforce will unanimously be doing what it does best: drinking alcohol. Specifically, on Saturday July 23, we will be conducting a pub crawl against terrorism, retracing my steps after the incident, from Aldgate to St. Paul’s via Liverpool Street, stopping off at any pubs along the way in an attempt to take the edge off a horrible memory by turning it into a good one. And we’d like you to join us.

The guy who organised that particular crawl has posted his own account of what happened to him on 7/7 here. He seems like a decent bloke

Quality material like this almost restores my pride in being British and a Londoner. Yes, there is still hope and a tear is welling in my eye right now.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Return to the Valley of the Lettuce Crunchers


A few days ago I received an email from a researcher who had found some of my pictures of protest marches through a web search …

… I am currently working on a programme, about the history of modern day protest. We're looking at protest and demonstrations that have taken place over the 20-30 years. I'm looking for people who have taken part in demonstrations from any perspective, be that, observer, peaceful demonstrator or maybe taking part in direct action. I'm also looking at how the process of protest has changed, from a more organic word of mouth situation to being more technology driven. Would you be interested in having a chat? …

I replied today indicating that I’m probably not the best person to speak with about such things. I’m quite cynical about the effectiveness of anti war marches and the lettuce crunchers who attend them.

Coincidentally, round about the same time I found out about this

Following the death of Jean Charles de Menezes on Friday 22nd July Lambeth Stop the War Coalition have called a Peace and Solidarity Vigil at Stockwell tube station at 6pm on Monday 25th July. George Galloway will be speaking.

All sections of the community are invited and strongly encouraged to attend. Please find a leaflet for the vigil attached.

John Rees, Stop the War Coalition, said: "However horrific the bombings in London on 7th July and however important it is to secure the safety of the public, there can be no excuse for the police adopting a shoot-to-kill policy which guns down innocent people in cold blood. This is precisely the crime for which we hold the terrorists responsible. The police in a democratic society have a duty to act with higher standards. They should be trying to diminish the climate of fear, not add to it."

So, I strolled over the see what was going down.

Not much as it happens. During the time I could be bothered to stick around, the total number of people never exceeded something like 150, roughly broken down into

  • 10% Uniformed Police
  • 5% Plain clothed police (sticking out like sore thumbs)
  • 15% Amateur street photographers
  • 5% Press Photographers
  • 10% TV Crews
  • 25% Apparently at wrong demonstration
  • 29% Genuine demonstrators
  • 1% George Galloway

A few of the ‘hordes’ of people at the vigil were holding up hand written placards with slogans like

‘The Metropolitan police are the new Gestapo’

‘The police are racist killers’

Tossers. I don't believe our police are Nazis. I'm not even sure that poor man was killed by actual London policemen. I do have my suspicions that the police are being misused and misdirected by politicians, and maybe even their own bosses, but I would never go so far as to describe them collectively as racist killers. Seeing crap like that meant I couldn’t stand with the the protestors as I originally intended, the stupid fucks.

Some other people in the crowd held up a banner demanding a four day working week. What the fuck were they doing there?

I watched from the opposite side of the road seething with scorn and contempt.

Oooooooh, I bet the Military Industrial Complex was quaking in its collective boots


I got home from that celebration of lameness just in time to catch the news that the bloke who was shot...

  • May have been here on an expired student visa

  • Was actually shot eight, not five, times

The media seems to be working on the suggestion that the expired visa was the reason why the guy apparently was running from the police.

Oh, that’s alright then

Well, if we’re going to start putting eight bullets into every Latin American here on a dodgy visa we’re going to have to set up belt-fed Gatling guns with interlocking lines of fire on every street corner in South London.

I remember a cleaner in my old office once telling me that 50,000 people just from Colombia alone were working full time in the UK on student visas. London is full of hundreds of thousands of overseas nationals here illegally, doing dodgy deals or wary of the police for all sorts of other reasons. We’ve been packing them in like there’s no tomorrow. I’ve been unhappy about the change in the nature of London for years now but I’d never stoop so low as to connect a dodgy visa with a potentially unlawful killing.

Clowns to the left of me. Jokers to the right. Here I am stuck in the middle with you. And I’m wondering what it is I should do…


Another new contender for the most ludicrous London Bomber story has popped onto the radar today.

Yes, one of the '77' bombers used to play on-line flight simulator games, so he just has to be fucking terrorist doesn’t he…

"Jermaine Lindsay" joined the group in December 2003. He listed his nearest major airport as London Heathrow, and clocked up nearly 30 hours honing his skills over the next two months.

Presumably, if the police had found porn on his PC the story would suggest that he was planning to masturbate people to death.

If the security services really think that playing 30 hours of Microsoft Flight Simulator is all you need to hijack a 747 I have a few jars of penis enlargement cream I’d like to sell them.


On the subject of people who keep massive amounts of porn on their computers, fans of operating system command line interfaces may enjoy this witty spoof of the War on Terror written entirely in UNIX.

My favourite line is...

$ cd ..
$ rm -r bin/laden
bin/laden: No such file or directory

haha, good one

We are all Brazilian now


Oval station on a busy Sunday afternoon

I travelled on the underground yesterday for the first time since the ‘attacks’ on Thursday and the shooting on Friday.

That was a little weird

…and quiet

Even though it was chucking down with rain I decided not to wear a ‘thick, heavy coat’. I also toyed with the idea of leaving my photographic backpack at home but we were going to a family barbecue and I wanted to take pictures.

My camera backpack is quite chunky and black.

It looks the part.

Then I had to decide whether to bring my mp3 player along. Did I want to run the risk of being seen with ‘wires running out of my top’? In the end I decide ‘fuck it’ and did take it.

There wasn’t much I could have done about my complexion or the fact that I’ve caught a little sun over the last few weeks.

I suppose I could have shaved though.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Oval station so quiet during the daytime. Somewhat childishly I walked down the full length of the platform crying out ‘Echo! Echo!’

The train itself was pretty empty too. It filled up a little in the very centre of town but emptied again quite quickly after a couple of stops.

I have to stay people’s ‘spacing’ along the carriage was immaculate. I had a small bank of empty seats all to myself. I’m guessing the rucksack helped. People were casting the occasional furtive, admiring glance in its direction

Well, it’s a proven fact isn’t it? Suicide bombs can only be fitted into backpacks.

Personally, I was suspicious of that dark skinned couple who came onto the train with a cake box. I could swear I smelled marzipan. Semtex smells like marzipan. Fucking suicide cake bombers – where is someone to empty an automatic into their heads when you need them?

Avoid any brown people on board – ranging from holiday tan thru to full-on Nubian? TICK

Avoid anyone wearing a 'thick, heavy coat' (the Brazilian guy was wearing a denim jacket actually but what the fuck)? TICK

Avoid anyone carrying a backpack? TICK

Spend entire journey looking uptight and glancing at other people’s luggage TICK

And so the journey carried on. It was shit and giggles all round. People scoping each other out, the occasional person tugging on an asthma inhaler. A right old train load of joy.

It’s so easy to imagine though isn’t it? At one point I sat there and fantasised about a slow mo detonation to the right of me – the outline of the cake wielding couple dissolving into a shower of white sparks, the thumping impact on the side of my head, the broken glass whirring around the carriage.

Yeah, really easy

It’s just a damned shame I hadn’t the forethought to print up a few ‘We are not afraid T shirts’. I probably wouldn’t have sold any but I would of have a bit of a laugh trying to.

We cadged a lift home off my uncle at the end of the day. There is such a thing as too much fun after all


Throughout the journey I kept thinking to myself how my greatest concern before getting on the train was not the risk of a terror attack it was the thought of just how easy it would be for someone to shoot me and claim necessity as a justification afterwards. How about this blinding quote

Britain's most senior policeman, Ian Blair, defended the shoot-to-kill policy for dealing with suspected suicide bombers and said police were in a race against time to find those behind last Thursday's attempted bombings of three underground trains and a bus, the second attack on the capital in two weeks.

"This is a terrifying set of circumstances for individuals to make decisions," Blair told Sky News television. "Somebody else could be shot."

That would be the Head of the Met telling everyone quite unambiguously to be shit scared and, as a consequence, be cool with the idea that innocent people can be held face down and executed like cattle in public if the police feel like it.

I’ve also noticed that the police and politicians have started to use the phrase ‘shoot-to-kill in order to protect’ today. ‘Shoot-to-kill’ just sounds so, umm, scary.

That’s soooooo Tony Blair/ New Labour – same bullets, same shattered face covered in flecks of bone and grey matter, same vomiting on the floor after witnessing it – totally different PR profile.

and we tolerate word-twisting crap like that, some of us even lap it up

Play London Suicide Bomber Clue-doh!

Was it the Colombian carpenter with the rucksack on the bus?

No wait, could it have been the Peruvian plumber with the baseball boots on the airliner?

I know, it was the Brazilian electrician with the ‘thick heavy coat’ on the train…

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

and one more for luck



Add the CCTV footage from Stockwell station on Friday to the growing list of tapes many of us would like to see when the authorities get round to it...

At this rate they'll have enough for a full length feature film. Maybe that's why they're holding them back.


Fans of the ‘it was a fair call’ school of thought concerning the shooting in Stockwell on Friday might like to help me out in fitting the following snippet from a press release from the RMT, the underground train drivers’ union, into the official account of what happened

"Our members and all LUL staff have shown immense courage and commitment through the awful events of the last two weeks, but their concerns at the way yesterday’s alert was handled are serious and there are many other issues that remain to be resolved.

"Their concerns will have been fuelled by the revelation that an innocent Tube driver today found himself with a police gun at his head during the incident in Stockwell station in which a suspect was shot dead.

"No apology could ever be enough ever take away the trauma that that driver has suffered and there should be a full inquiry into the handling of the incident"

Like the train driver in question, I'm still trying to get my head round that one.


Sadly, the weekend brought no further updates to the story that one of the suspected '77' bombers had phoned a bloke in Pakistan on the morning of the bombings.

The story went that police had retrieved the bomber's mobile phone, checked its memory and established that the bomber had phoned someone called Haroon Rashid Aswad who was subsequently arrested in Pakistan carrying £8,000, a British passport and a suicide bomb belt. Somehow the Pakistanis had managed to arrest him without shooting him five times in the face.

That was absolutely the funniest fucking story planted in the newspapers so far and I'm quite sad to see it slip into the memory hole. Ten out of ten for whoever came up with that one. Priceless ...

But, fear not, a new contender for most ludicrous story so far is looming on the horizon.

Apparently, evidence found in one of the rucksacks used last week connects last week's bombers with the 7th July bombers via a white water rafting trip in Wales on 4th June. The suggestion being that both teams of bombers attended the rafting trip as some kind of planning meeting or, possibly, a team building exercise.

Hmmmmm, maybe jihadists have taken to planning their suicide missions on rafts rather than through the Internet, maybe lone suicide bombers do need to feel part of a big, huggy group as much as the rest of us.

or maybe this story is yet another load of old crap.

Whatever, the story about the bloke sitting there with the mobile phone, British passport, wads of cash and bomb belt waiting to be arrested is still funnier.

What's Hot or Not in London this Summer pt2




My rucksack
(note the masses of unafraid passengers)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Shoot all Bombers

...and all expatriate Brazilian electricians?


This is the front page of yesterday's
Daily Express.

A few months ago when I blogged my concerns about the current rate of migration into the UK, particularly London, a few people patronised me and suggested that I read the
Daily Express too much and shouldn't believe everything it said.

As it happens I don't read the Daily Express or The Guardian or any of that crap. Left or Right wing it's all the bloody same; consumed by people who are either too lazy to form their own opinion about things or just like reading drivel that coincides with a premanufactured world view they adopted at some point in their past.

Anyway, back to courageous Daily Express haters ...

Where are all the people on the 'Left' of British politics at the moment? I can't hear them.

Where are you bitches?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Trust me I know what I'm talking about

Sir Ian 'Coco' Blair (taken from CCTV footage, honest!)

Head of the Metropolitan Police Sir Ian Blair yesterday


‘I know that several rumours (about the bombings) have been sweeping across London and I just want to say this. Listen to the facts as they come out. Judge the situation by the facts’

Head of of the Met Sir Ian Blair, also yesterday

the man (shot at Stockwell) was directly linked to Thursday’s attacks

Metropolitan Police spokesperson today

We are now satisfied that he (the man shot at Stockwell) was not connected with the incidents of Thursday 21st July 2005. For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets.

(The little Internet Goblins are already busily working away to remove the word ‘satisfied’ from this quote on all the news pages)


While you’re here check out what Matthew Parris, that bastion of demented conspiratorial thinking, had to say about Al Qaeda and the London Bombings in The Times today (how on Earth did it get through?). He’s so deranged and paranoid he ought to be locked up. The pesky scamp. God bless him - I've always said he was a good bloke.

Fair Call?

So, the bloke shot in Stockwell tube station wasn’t anything to do with the London Bombings …

"We are now satisfied that he was not connected with the incidents of Thursday 21st July 2005," police said on Saturday. "For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets."

That’s a pretty ironic use of the word satisfied if you ask me.

So, it doesn’t look like the shooting was a ‘fair call’ or a conspiracy. Just a fuck up.

I guess quite a few newspapers and conspiracy-based web sites are feverishly rewriting the copy they had planned for tomorrow.

I burst out laughing when I saw the CCTV stills of the four suspects released yesterday. It was a very bleak kind of laughter. The thought of armed police combing London in search of people of every shade of brown under the sun who were behaving suspiciously in baggy clothing was just so ridiculous.

There’s only something like a quarter of a million people here who fit that description.

Have you seen this man…

For fuck’s sake.

Somebody, somewhere is taking the piss out of all of us big time. And when I say us, I’m including your ordinary, everyday policeman.

And I keep asking myself the question …

Surely those four men who carried out the attacks on Thursday must have expected to be caught. What were they thinking?


I’ve said this before, the Nazis had total a free reign over the countries they controlled. They had army on the streets, security checks, secret police, ID cards, torture and death camps. It didn’t stop 'terrorism'. We’ve been hearing a lot lately about how British police have been taking instruction from Israeli security specialists on how to deal with the threat of domestic terror; including the 'tactic' of shooting prone suspects repeatedly in the head. Fantastic, what an absolutely fucking top notch idea. Those guys have really got the suicide bomber threat under control haven’t they. Let's put a fifteen foot high concrete wall around Brick Lane and demolish a few houses in Leeds whilst we're at it. Yeah, let’s copy them...



During a press conference yesterday, Sir Ian Blair head of the Metropolitan Police said something like

‘I know that several rumours (about the bombings) have been sweeping across London and I just want to say this. Listen to the facts as they come out. Judge the situation by the facts’

Given the shocking quality and inconsistency of the ‘facts’ that have come out so far and the fact that Blair is so concerned about these rumours he’s telling people to discount them, I would just love to know what these rumours are. They may have swept across London but they haven’t reached me yet. I’ve heard plenty of speculation but few, if any, full blown rumours.

Can anyone help? I really want to hear them

The Mayor of London’s blog isn’t any help or fun at all and it currently includes a huge list of ‘conspiracy theories’ that will not be permitted on the site. It makes interesting reading, particularly as whoever compiled the list is so sure that the items are so self-evidently nonsense they don’t need refuting.

It’s also curious to see what does and doesn’t get classed as a conspiracy theory these days. The notion of Al Qaeda as a James Bond style global terror network, complete with underground bases and shadowy masterminds is conspicuously absent from the list.

It’s a shame Charles Gray is dead. He would have made an excellent, if somewhat camp and chubby, Osama Bin Laden.


It’s so difficult to find out what normal people really think about the attacks on London. It’s easy enough to pick up on people’s mood but their thoughts are not so clear. Suppression of open discussion about the events of the last few weeks is strong. Be it in the mainstream media or elsewhere.

A small example …

I hang around several photograph rating and critique sites on Flickr. Yesterday someone posted a Photoshopped picture of a London Underground sign with the London Eye in the background. The name of the station had been replaced with the words ‘You Will Fail’. I took exception to the banal message, the notion that the London Eye somehow represents Londoners and the fact that it was a rubbish picture anyway. Given that it was posted to a photo critique site, I felt entitled to leave a comment to that effect. This was followed up by a much more strongly worded comment from a Flickr buddy, David …

I think all this "we are not afraid" "you will fail" is just total complacent bullshit. We should be fuckin' afraid. What if "we" are wrong? What if "our way" of doing things ain't cool? What if bombing the living shit out of a country for profit and dominance, keeping countries tied up in slavery so we can sweat shop 'em, keeping whole continents in debt, lending them money to buy last years model back from us at massively high interest rates and generating more wealth and growth for ourselves is just bad, bad form?

I saw "Downfall". What struck me most about it was that in their minds, the Nazi's were the good guys.

When that paradigm starts to shift, then what?

When people get angry, really, really angry, we should be scared of what the comeback might be.

I'm not too headstrong to admit that I am scared, and that's what they want me to be, and so they haven't failed.

No rating. I'll tell you what I think though, I think that images like this are truly propagandist.

Right. I'm off to pack for my flight from Stansted tomorrow morning. I'll be travelling to Stansted with my family on a train. Then I'll be flying to Dinard. Fingers crossed.

I have to confess, I agreed with David 100%. The guy who posted the original picture clearly didn’t, as he erased our comments, preferring to retain the purity of the ‘Yay, right on’ crap that previous commentators had left. No thoughtful discussion or debate there.

If you'd like to see the quality of the ‘You Will Not Fail’, ‘We are not afraid’ stuff currently being produced, check out the schmaltz being slapped up here

It sure is reassuring to know that people in Valparaiso, Knoxville and Auckland who know how to use the 'Text' option in MS Paint are unafraid of bombs on the London Underground system.

as someone commented on Xymphora’s blog – ‘I can see (this stuff) selling like hotcakes on Oxford Street next to postcards of Lady Di and the Queen on a horse’

And no, I am not being mean spirited and denigrating people who are trying to do what little they can to deal with the situation. As with the anti poverty bracelets this year or those ludicrous anti bullying bracelets last year, this nonsense serves as a distraction from the real issues. It’s five year old stuff and I am not fucking five years old. It also represents tacit support for the policies of a government I fear and despise.

My single biggest problem with all this photoshopping is that, in all conscience and after much thought, I’m not even sure that these messages are being addressed to the right people. Sure, they are deliberately ambivalent but everyone ‘knows’ who they are aimed at.

I’ll let you into a secret. People ARE afraid and pretending that they’re not is pure bullshit. Our trains and buses are exploding. Police are holding people down and blowing their faces off in public. You’d have to have a screw loose not to be a little concerned by stuff like that.

That’s not to say anyone’s going to give in. Aside from the fact that I’m not sure how we would – what? run up a white flag over the Houses of Parliament – the fact is that we’re just as angry as we are afraid.

It’s OK to be angry. It’s also OK to contemplate shooting people in the head or joining a mob that beats people to death with clubs. The tricky part is making sure you’re thinking about beating the right people to death. Personally, I’m not taking any pointers from Tony Blair or Rupert Murdoch. They have a strong vested interest in pointing in the wrong direction.

And who are people kidding when they say ‘You will fail’. The terrorists have succeeded already. The politicians and people in the ‘security’ industry are already planning where to buy their holiday homes based on the loot they’ll be making. My part of the South Bank of the Thames is looking more like the West Bank of the Jordan every day.

I particularly enjoyed listening to Tony Blair deny any connection between the London Bombings and the attack on Iraq this week. Not only did they have no connection but Tony went on to brilliantly point out that ‘we can’t withdraw from Iraq as that would demonstrate that we allow terrorism to affect our foreign policy’. Sheer genius. I thought terrorism was the reason why we attacked the fucking country in the first place.

You will fail, my arse.

In some respects, they’ve already won.