Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Middle Class Guilt

Sitting on the tube last night, a couple of posters for Oxfam’s current ‘I’m in’ campaign caught my eye

They also caught the back of my throat and left me with a wanting to vomit all over myself kind of feeling

‘It really hits home when you hear that poverty will kill 50,000 people today. my £10 will help change that.’

No, no it won’t.

I haven’t felt quite so nauseated by a charity fund raising poster since the Bono-sponsored ‘Red’ campaign a few months back

Red still wins hands down but Oxfam’s current effort is still pretty special.

I haven’t seen posters that seek to nurture and exploit white middle-class guilt quite so effectively for a long time...

Just £10

And you don’t even have to get off your arse to pay it.

Just send a text message

Surely your pampered cosy white boy conscience is worth a mere £10?

… brought to you by the same kind of people who told you last year that getting pissed and sitting in a park listening to bands would save the World.

… the kind of people who lecture us about what to do with our money whilst merrily dodging tax, investing in Forbes magazine and spending $1,700 to fly their favourite hat first class.

Vom-tastic

The usual response to people like me heaving their guts up over this kind of nonsense runs along the lines of

‘It’s better than nothing’

plus

‘What’s the harm of using sophisticated advertising and PR techniques if the results serve a higher purpose?’

Personally I’ve never been a big fan of the Noble Lie concept. If you practice that kind of tomfoolery you end up forgetting what the Truth is pdq.

And the Truth is yes, a regular contribution of just £10 a month and the occasional purchase of some crappy sweatshop-produced bracelet that you can nonce round with in public to show how fucking great you are will help save the (Corporate) World.

As well as easing that nagging sense of personal guilt at modest cost, your contribution will enable campaigning groups to

  • Support debt relief tied to ‘economic reforms’ dictated by the World Bank; including abolition of employment rights and sale of infrastructure to privately owned multinational companies
  • Ensure that drug companies continue to receive shit loads of money for toxic drugs needed to treat a disease that might not even exist

Remember, global poverty and suffering is the fault of every individual in the Western World, especially you Middle Class types. All those fluffy multinational corporations, politicians, has-been rock stars and NGOs are just trying to clean up after you and they need your money and support to do it. But even more important than the money, they wan't to liberate you from the tiresome burden of thinking things through and reaching your own conclusions about why the World is fucked up.

Just send the text message and don't worry about it.


This week's new offence

One of the trickiest aspects of living under a New Labour government is keeping up to speed with all the exciting new criminal offences that come out every week. In that respect, I'm looking forward to the day when corporate control of our country finally becomes absolute. At least companies, unlike governments, issue Personnel Handbooks to all their employees and circulate updates every few months. I always used to find taking out the old pages and clipping in the new ones therapeutic in a curious kind of way.

Anyway, whist reading about today's new crime I started thinking to myself 'well, at least there's one new offence I'm unlikely to commit inadvertently - this really isn't my 'bag' at all...'

Looking at pictures of rape and sexual torture will become a criminal offence for the first time, it has been confirmed. People caught with so-called "violent and extreme pornography" could be jailed for up to three years. It follows a campaign by the mother of Brighton schoolteacher Jane Longhurst, 31, who was killed in 2003.

Violent internet porn was implicated in the trial of her alleged killer.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said: "This sort of material is not just offensive,

it contains images of sexual acts and sexual violence that are already illegal to publish or distribute in the UK.

"Such material has no place in our society, but the advent of the internet has meant that this material is more easily available and means existing controls are being by-passed."

And then, I realised that I have occasionally looked at sick twisted shit like that on the Internet

Hmmm, 'no place in our society'


I couldn't agree more

I'm a rapeist

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Audiovisual treats for the terminally conspiratorial

Well, one thing’s for sure, this month’s terror alerts have served as a nice preamble for the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 next month. Which leaves plenty of scope for journalists and politicians to come up with lines like…

five years on and the threat of terrorism is as strong as ever’

guff like that

The chances of any of them going further and concluding…

So, all those invasions, changes in legislation and arrests over the last five years haven’t made us any safer so maybe we should think about getting rid of a few of the fuckwits behind all of that and trying something else instead

are, however, slim.

It’s not all bad news though. Two members of the 9/11 Commission and Popular Mechanics magazine have recently published books about 9/11, tastefully timed to coincide with the anniversary – purely as a public service I’m sure and not as a shameless cash-in or anything tawdry like that. The PR campaigns for the two books have resulted in some amusing viewing and listening for hardcore aficianados of 9/11 scepticism.

First up, the Popular Mechanics book ‘Debunking 9/11 Myths’ which supposedly demolishes all the key 9/11 conspiracy theories with the aid of hard facts and science.

I’m working on a theory that the Forces of Darkness were a bit short-handed over the Summer Holiday period and had to field members of their graduate trainee program to fill in the gaps over August. What other rational explanation can there be for this woeful performance by the guy responsible for ‘fact checking’ the book on a Arizona talk radio station?

The Charles Goyette Show, Wed Aug 2

– A recommended listen for fans of ‘insane 9/11 conspiracy theories’ everywhere

And then there’s the book written by two 9/11 co-chairmen. That famous conspiracy-loving, pinko lunatic Lou Dobbs had a few amusing things to say about that…


Maybe in another four or five years some people with a voice in the mainstream media on this side of the pond will get their heads out of their arses and start thinking, and talking, about all the bullshit surrounding 7/7 in a similiar way

Maybe

But before that we would, of course, actually have to have an official inquiry into 7/7 so that our politicians and security chiefs are actually obliged to say something on the record and support that something with some actual evidence, rather than making do with leaking insane anonymous crap to the Daily Express and The Sun.

Dream on

In the meantime, the folks at 7/7 Truth have set up an on-line petition calling for an official inquiry into 7/7 which takes about 2 seconds to sign onto.

Release the Evidence!

I can vouch for the speed of the process from direct personal experience as I only got round to signing myself about 10 minutes ago.

It didn’t hurt

\ world’s greatest procrastinator


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006

A nice 1930s retro-vibe going on at The Sun

Occasionally, just occasionally, I think to myself that maybe I’m over-reacting just a little bit when I start comparing what’s happening in the UK and US today with what happened in Germany, Italy and Russia in the 1930s.

And then I come across articles like this in The Sun and any self-doubts rapidly disappear…


Typical Muslim child complete with bomber jacket


Hunt on for baby bombers

By JOHN KAY

Chief Reporter

and SIMON HUGHES

HATE-filled mums willing to sacrifice themselves and their BABIES are being hunted in the war on terror. Security sources confirmed last night that alleged "baby bombers" were among those arrested over the plot to massacre thousands by downing transatlantic flights. Those being quizzed included a husband and wife with a six-month-old infant.

The discovery prompted fears that there were fanatical mothers in secret al-Qaeda cells in Britain ready to become suicide bombers — and to die with their tots in their arms. And it emerged as the reason why women at airports were ordered to drink from their babies’ bottles before being allowed to board flights during last week’s massive alert.

One senior Government security adviser warned of a race against time to identify individuals who might pose a threat. The adviser said: "It may be beyond belief, but we are convinced that there are now women in Britain who are prepared to die with their babies for their twisted cause. They are ruthless, single-minded and totally committed."

The nightmare is that mums carrying tiny tots would provide "very good cover" and not raise suspicions among even the most alert security guards. The threat was identified along with an additional warning that as many as two dozen terror cells may still be active in Britain.

The source added: "We believe all the known players involved in last week’s plot have been detained. Our biggest concern now is all the unknown players who may be out there. "And that includes mothers who are ready and willing to see their little ones die. It is a race against time." Women around the world have carried out suicide attacks in the past.

Two female Chechen terrorists blew themselves up on separate flights in Russia two years ago.

An intelligence source said: "Al-Qaeda specialises in attempting the unexpected. What could be more unexpected in Western eyes than women willing to die with their babies?"

MI5 chiefs are jubilant over cracking the plan to disguise bombs as soft drinks or baby bottles — but warned that other forms of transport are massively at risk from suicide attacks. The Government source said: "There are dozens of other outrages being plotted on all forms of transport because they offer the highest potential body count."


another typical Muslim child in a bomber jacket
- best kept off the plane


Connoisseurs of the 1930s may have started to notice that The Sun is reading more and more like Der Sturmer every day -

Der Stürmer ("The Attacker") was a weekly Nazi newspaper published by Julius Streicher from 1923 to the end of World War II in 1945, with a brief suspension in circulation during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It was a significant part of the Nazi propaganda machinery and was vehemently anti-Semitic. Unlike the Völkischer Beobachter, the official party paper which gave itself an outwardly serious appearance, the tabloid-style Der Stürmer often ran obscene materials such as pornography, ran anti-Catholic and anti-"reactionary" material, mixed with extremely anti-Semitic caricatures and open, undisguised hate propaganda like accusations of blood libel.

Of course, to really understand the similarities between the two newspapers you have to perform a challenging feat of mental gymnastics and swop out Semitic for Islamic. I say challenging because a lot of people seem unable, or unwilling, to do it.

I always thought that the expression 'Never again' was supposed to be a universal one.

There is a tendency on the part of the chattering classes to dismiss the kind of foaming hate-filled insanity printed in The Sun as being of not much significance.

as I’ve said before Cognitive Dissonance is a very wonderful thing

The stark truth is that The Sun is -

  • The most popular newspaper in the country, with all the influence that goes with that
  • Owned by a man who’s probably going to give our Prime Minister a job once we’re finally rid of him
  • Owned by the same man who owns lots of other of our newspapers and quite a lot of our television as well

In all meaningful respects, the demented racist shit printed in The Sun is not really any different to the demented racist shit promoted by plenty of other outlets, including our government. The only real, and relatively minor, difference is that The Sun is more honest about it.

OK, maybe I’m being a little over the top with the comparison with Der Sturmer thing. The Sun and Der Sturmer aren’t exactly the same

Der Sturmer only came out weekly.


Away with the Fairies

I’ve spent a fair chunk of the last couple of months in the company of very sick old people. And when you’re a very sick old person who’s consuming some seriously potent medication, occasional bouts of delusional confusion come pretty much as standard.

Or, as a nurse said to me, when referring to my sick relative a few weeks ago, ‘I think he’s away with the fairies’.

For some reason that expression has lodged in my brain ever since and I’ve found myself using it two or three times a day.

There’s been no lack of opportunity.

Which gets me onto to the subject of our beloved and revered Head of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Ian Blair.

He’s definitely off on a weekend break with our dainty, winged friends.


Commissioner Sir Ian Blair - helping to keep Fairyland
safe from crime


According to an interview he gave recently

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair has said parts of London are returning to an era of neighbourliness and low crime. He said residents in Haringey, north London, are now happy to leave their front doors open and unlocked. Sir Ian said community-based Safer Neighbourhood Teams were making people feel as safe as they did 25 years ago. He also likened neighbourhood police team leaders to "the sheriff" who dealt with matters in their area

Is there no end to this comedy prank monkey’s versatility?

The face of modern policing in North London 2006

I particularly like the way this interview dovetails nicely with my last couple of posts about insane police edicts in Haringey and people still having a residual faith in the integrity of the people who run our police that harks back to gentler times.

Maybe Sir Ian and I have some kind of psychic bond.

\ scared now


But just to keep you from danger I am the Law

It’s a few days on from my last post and there does seem to be widespread acknowledgement that a large number of ordinary people really are quite sceptical about the latest terror scare.

So much so that the paranoid in me is getting a little twitchy.

Maybe ‘They’ want us to be sceptical this time around.

But I’m consciously trying to shelve that idea.

Thinking like that could send you round the twist.

Besides, there are still plenty of people out there backing the government position 100%. Most of their on-line responses fall into a handful of categories…

  • Anybody who is sceptical about the current security flap is a conspiracy theorist
  • If the threat has been deliberately exaggerated thousands of police and public servants would know about it. Someone would have said something by now
  • If the police didn’t act on intelligence everyone would blame them if a bomb went off. The police are damned if they do and damned if they don’t
  • Public safety is paramount. You wouldn’t be so worried about civil liberties if it was you or someone you cared for in a shattered 747 plummeting towards the Atlantic
  • You just love terrorists don’t you

Plus, most recently in the context of the botched Forest Gate raid, I've also heard versions of that tired old chestnut - "Everyone in the area knows those two blokes are into something dodgy. The police wouldn’t have arrested them if they didn’t have something on them". Oh yes, the Spirit of Tacit Approval for Police ‘Fit Ups’ is still alive and kicking. How very 1970s.

None of these arguments against domestic War on Terror scepticism are the slam-dunk intellectual tour de force some of the people parroting them seem to think they are. There are reasonable responses to all of them. And, without claiming that all Muslims are angels or denying that they are murderously potty people out there, including some Muslims, I’m still baffled by the level of trust shown by some people in our government and security forces.

It’s not as if the likes of Tony Blair or Ian Blair are without ‘form’ when it comes to taking a few liberties with the Truth is it?

So why isn’t everybody at least a little bit sceptical about what’s going on in our airports?


The classic scene from ‘Carry On Luggage’ where Jimmy Logan hand searches
Barbara Windsor's gel bra for explosives before the pair take off


Part of the explanation lies, I think, with plain racism and concerns about high level of migration into the UK. I too have issues with the way migration has been handled over the last ten years and I can understand why some people feel insecure and afraid. But singling out Muslims as being some kind of Judas Goat when it comes to cultural insecurity and conflating those worries with terrorism is straight bollocks.

A more significant possible explanation why more people aren’t up in arms about the Liquid Terror nonsense may be something to do with trust.

British people are accustomed to trusting authority.

And the thought that some of the people in charge of our security forces aren’t acting in our best interest doesn’t bear thinking about.

So we don’t.

Easy peasy.

Cognitive dissonance is a very wonderful thing.

The problem is that our public services, and public servants, have been corporatised, privatised and politicised like never before in living memory. And people who refuse to face up to that are living in the past.

A very cosy past.

Fear is now a business and it conveys profit and power to those who promote it.

A nice little example occurred on first day of the current outbreak of insanity when Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Paul Stephenson said the alleged plotters had intended "mass murder on an unimaginable scale".

Unimaginable?

Really?

That wasn’t a policeman talking. That was a politician in a policeman's uniform at work and it was disgraceful, and unforgivable.

There’s a fine balance that needs to be struck when spouting this kind of manure and scaring the bejesus out of the people you’re supposed to protecting. On one hand you’ve got to serve up helping after helping of delicious Fear Pie. But, on the other hand, you don’t want to make the situation sound so bad that people start to doubt your competence to deal with the alleged threat.

... Scary but not too scary

Hence lines like this from our Home Secretary, John Reid

"While I am confident that the security services and police will deliver 100% effort and 100% dedication, they cannot guarantee 100% success."

Well, I'm convinced.

There was a blinding piece by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC last week where he presented a top 10 list of occasions, including last week’s Liquid Terror nonsense, that the Bush Administration has gained political benefits around the same time that the public's fear of terrorism was at a peak. Sadly, no one has produced a British/ Blair equivalent though the material is there and the conclusions would be the same. As Olbermann said at the end of his report…

”If merely a reasonable case could be made that any of these juxtapositions of events are more than just coincidences, especially the one last week in which terror policy was again injected directly into a political race, it underscores the need for questions to be asked in this country, questions about what is prudence and what is fear-mongering.”


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

You know I am no stranger I know rules are a bore...


Thanks to a special anonymous correspondent (anonymous because he has over-active eyebrows and is kind of swarthy looking) I have been enjoying this extract from a Neighbourhood Watch circular, written by a middle-ranking police officer, sent to people in Haringey, North London, shortly after we all discovered that not all liquids are our friends (my choice of bold/ links)…

These people are not part of cohesive communities. They are criminals and terrorists bent on mass murder, they have no part to play in any communities in Haringey. There have been over 20 arrests made, but no addresses in Haringey have been involved in the raids that occurred.

If you have any information, no matter how small or insignificant you may think it is, please do not hesitate to contact police on 0800 028 2390.

Below is a briefing from the Assistant Commissioner that may be of interest to you and your community:

The following document contains some details about the counter terrorist operation, which took place overnight. It is suitable for verbal dissemination amongst your Community Policing Teams, trusted partners and Local Members of Parliament. It is focused purely on the criminal investigation. As always, there is a need for restraint in the reporting of events so far as they relate to those who have been arrested. We must all, please, be careful to say or do nothing that might prejudice the right of any individual to a fair trial.

  • The investigation has focused on intelligence, which suggested that a plot was in existence to blow up transatlantic passenger aircraft, in flight. The intelligence suggested that this was to be achieved by means of concealed explosive devices smuggled onto the aircraft in hand baggage. The intelligence suggested that the devices were to be constructed in the United Kingdom, and taken through British airports. The number, destination and timing of the flights that might be attacked remain the subject of investigation.
  • This has been, and continues to be, a fast moving investigation.
  • Today marks the culmination of one phase of what is a major operation that has already lasted several months, and will undoubtedly last long into the future.
  • During the investigation an unprecedented level of surveillance has been undertaken and our objective is to gather intelligence and evidence in support of the investigation. We have been looking at meetings, movements, travel, spending and the aspirations of a large group of people. This has involved close co-operation, not only between agencies and police forces in the United Kingdom, but
  • also internationally. As is so often the case in these investigations, the alleged plot has global dimensions.
  • The investigation reached a critical point last night when the decision was made to take urgent action in order to disrupt what we believe was being planned. As always in these cases, the safety of the public was our overriding concern.
  • Throughout the night a significant number of arrests were made. All the arrests were made on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of Acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000.
  • The people arrested remain in custody in London where officers will pursue the investigation from the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorist branch.
  • Searches are also underway at a number of business and residential premises in London and elsewhere. We anticipate that these will take some time to complete.

You will realise that this is a very early stage in what will be a meticulous, painstaking criminal investigation. We will now be embarking on the next stage of the investigation, an investigation that will take us wherever the evidence leads. As and when I am able to do so we will give out information on the progress of the investigation. But please be aware that we will only release specific information when we are sure it is correct. At this point we must focus on the criminal investigation and any subsequent legal process, and refrain from speculation.


There's a special mystery prize to anyone who can logically reconcile the line 'These people are not part of cohesive communities. They are criminals and terrorists bent on mass murder' with 'We must all, please, be careful to say or do nothing that might prejudice the right of any individual to a fair trial' without reverting to sarcasm.

Even if you tried really, really hard you couldn't make it up. You really fucking couldn't.

Special mystery prize, as found clearing through some of my nan's
old stuff the other day - essential for those long flights.


Worse than a brain dead action movie - much worse


A few days ago I wrote a post despairing over the thought of so many ordinary people offering little or no resistance to the more extreme aspects of the War on Terror.

What a difference a few days make.

One truly positive aspect of this whole Liquid Terror business has been the fact that more people than ever before have decided enough is enough. The Internet, and even the peripheries of the mainstream media, have been ringing with cries of ‘Bullshit!’ for days now.

That is truly heartening news.

And some of the establishment responses to the cries of ‘Bullshit!’ have been a little more subtle than usual. Sure, there have been the usual lazy accusations of ‘tinfoil hat conspiracy theories’ but those vacuous insults are looking lamer and lamer with each ballsed up, high profile terror raid. However, I’ve also seen some more reasoned responses to War on Terrorism cynicism than usual. It’s possible, just possible, that an increasing number of people, whether they are pro or anti War on Terror, are beginning to realise where this is all going and want to discuss the issue like grown ups.

Which would be a nice idea.

Matthew Parris is as articulate, as always, on the subject of the latest terrorism flap. Unsurprisingly perhaps, Craig Murray’s bullshit detector is also working overtime.

Even though I class myself as a War on Terror cynic I try not to be dogmatic about my beliefs. And I’m open to see what comes out of the latest round of arrests. Maybe we’ll finally see some evidence that the specific threat portrayed by our government is real.

I’m not talking about evidence that bombs have gone off and that people have died or that more bombs will go off and more people will die. I think everyone can agree that this is a ‘given’. I’m talking about the other stuff – the identity of the perpetrators, their motivations, their objectives, their capabilities and, off the back of all that, the best way of dealing with them.

I want to see evidence of all those minor details before I can listen to John Reid spout manure like this

"We may have to modify some of our freedoms in the short-term in order to prevent their misuse and abuse by those who oppose our fundamental values and would destroy our freedoms and values in the long-term"

… and not think that he and all his mates are the real psychopaths who threaten my way of life

What the sponsors of the War of Terror have conspicuously failed to do is prove that there is an awesomely scary global terrorist conspiracy being waged against ordinary citizens of the Western World because the global terrorists 'hate us for our freedoms'. This is the fruitiest conspiracy theory of all and like some bizarre cross between an old James Bond novel (secret bases / global criminal networks) and a brain-dead Simpson and Bruckheimer-style action movie (Arab nutcases).

No, on second thoughts it’s worse than that. The people behind brain dead action movies at least give their Muslim fanatics tangible motives; the release of prisoners, revenge for American aggression, whatever. Not even the dumbest beer-sodden fuck watching the dumbest fucking movie would be expected to swallow something as stupid as ‘they hate us for our freedoms’ as a credible motivation for 120 minutes of on-screen fantasy mayhem.

Politicians, unlike Hollywood producers, have no such inhibitions when it comes to assessing the gullibility of their target audience.

Nor have the War on Terror advocates made a credible case for the actions they are taking to counter the threat of this supposed global Islamic conspiracy. Quite the opposite. Virtually everything our governments have done is guaranteed to increase the numbers of people with a grudge against us. And the longer our governments continue to behave this way the more likely those actions will help make the Phantom Menace a reality.

Given that blowing Middle Eastern countries away and identifying entire communities of being responsible, either by action or omission of action, for terrorism are so patently counter-productive, I personally have absolutely no doubt that The War on Terror is, and is meant to be by some people at least, a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Stark bollock naked - it's the only way to travel

An idea whose time has come ...



... book next year's vacation early to avoid disappointment

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Just when you thought British investigative journalism was dead...


(shamelessly lifted from Bloggerheads because I'm way too tight to buy my own copy of today's Sport)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Life in New Britain - like one very long very bad movie


Plot Summary for Live Wire (1992), possibly one of Pierce Brosnan's worst films - scoring 5.3/10 on the IMDB, which is bad for a film but actually very good in a General or Presidential Election...

Danny O'Neill is a bomb disposal expert assigned to a case where terrorists have developed an "invisible" liquid explosive which is activated within the human body. The target of the terrorists are US senators, one of which is having an affair with Danny's wife.

and remember

"Your body is 93% water. No one is safe"

You’ve got to shake it to wake it


One of my favourite pet rants in recent years has been the post-9/11 enhanced security at airport thing.

It just hasn’t made any sense.

And it certainly wasn’t going to stop any serious terrorists with martyrdom on their minds.

My own personal record low point when it came to exasperation at the sheer stupidity of it all coincided roughly with the moment when a security officer at Atlanta airport demanded that I take my boots off for scanning after I had picked up my hold luggage and was trying to make my way out of the airport after just flying in from the UK. At which point I’d say my chances of me blowing up my flight over the Atlantic were roughly, um, zero. However, she did have a gun. Under those circumstances, she could have told me to put a paper bag on my head and stand on my hands as part of a security check and I would have obliged.

All over the World forgetful airline travellers have been stripped of such fearsome weapons of mass death as nail clippers and small penknives whilst being allowed to carry much more potentially provocative items onboard unmolested.

Cigarette lighters are the classic example. Even after Richard Reid’s Marx Brothers style comedy routine trying to detonate his baseball boots with a succession of book matches, you could still take butane lighters onto aircraft. After all, there are so many legitimate things you could be doing in flight with a cigarette lighter

Another, less obvious, example of a potentially naughty thing people have been allowed to take onboard aircraft is duty free booze.

And, for reasons that will now be more widely understood, I personally developed a morbid fixation on Sheridan’s Coffee Licquer. It was something about that two bottles joined as one thing that really sparked my imagination.

It may look like an anally intrusive sex toy but it's actually a
premium brand licquer - or is it?


From a budding terrorist’s point of view, liquid binary explosives have a lot going for them

  • They aren’t all that difficult to produce
  • They look innocuous
  • They are stable until mixed
  • They are hard to detect
  • You can hide them in Sheridan’s bottles

Further technical information about the fluffy and exciting benefits of binary explosives can be found on this commercial site here. I particularly enjoyed these two bits…

… can be transported around the world by any method, including commercial passenger aircraft. This makes our product rapidly available to those Customers who require safe, secure, single-purpose, demolition explosives throughout the world

And

… the explosive self-neutralizes after a period of time, becoming a non-explosive. This unique characteristic of our product is very important to those Customers concerned with the proliferation of explosives-based terrorist devices

Actually, if you root around the site a little bit you discover that the ‘self-neutralised’ explosive can magically become de-neutralised simply by shaking it, Orangina-style.

Unfortunately, unlike the imaginary explosive chemical vests our police went chasing off after in Forest Gate a couple of months ago or the ricin made from old cherry pips a couple of years before that this stuff is serious and can kill people.

And even though binary explosives have been around for fifty years the media has done a stand-up job of making them sound awfully exotic and mysterious. Because, as we all know, the most mysterious threats are the scariest threats. Why be scared of boring old Semtex when you can be really scared of ‘special liquids’?

These 'special liquids' have always been a credible threat and their existence hardly a big secret to anyone who has seen Die Hard 3. So, my question is why have all the security staff in airports been ordered to fuck around confiscating manicure sets for the last five years rather than focusing on stuff that can really kill people. What was that all about?

It’s the same old question time and time again. Are the people yanking our chains simply stupid or are they wicked?

-

A top Orangina anecdote from Wikipedia that seems vaguely appropriate…

In France, Orangina is also famous for its advertisements: they almost always show people dressed into Orangina bottle costumes. The most famous one was the Orangina Rouge costume person, who was depicted as a mad chainsaw-wielding killer, attacking a family in a car who travelled through the forest. This was the origin of the popular French catchphrase: "Mais pourquoi est-il si méchant?" spoken by a child ("But why is he so evil?") to which the Orangina Rouge character replies with his equally famous catchphrase: "PARCE QUE! Ahahaha!" ("BECAUSE! Ahahaha!")


Give Me the Child Until He Is Seven and I Will Show You the Man


And whilst on the subject of Israeli kids scribbling on artillery shells, with or without the promise of a big bag of sweeties afterwards from the nice AFP photographyman, I couldn’t help remembering the classic on-line gallery of a series of pictures drawn by Korean primary school children on the theme ‘
Fuck Japan

Koreans, of course, love poo almost as much as they hate the Japanese so several of the pictures cleverly manage to combine both poo and Japan. Marvellous.



Now that’s what I call hatred.

And if anyone thinks that writing off an entire nation as being obsessed with scat is too much of a generalisation, try visiting here, and here, and here, and definitely here



Boong-Ga Boong-Ga


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Foreground Interest

If you’re one of those people who take your photography seriously there will inevitably be times when you find yourself wanting something to complement an otherwise so-so landscape shot by sticking something interesting in the foreground. Some travel photographers have been known to carry around small rucksacks filled with colourful scarves that they stick onto someone before shoving them into the frame. I occasionally travel with a bright yellow rubber duckie or girlfriend that can both be used in the same way.

And for those people who haven’t got the forethought to travel with their own portable foreground interest many of the great tourist traps of the world feature professional models who will indulge virtually any whim for a modest fee; blokes dressed as Crazy Horse sitting on a pony in Monument Valley, a veritable legion of legionnaires at the Colosseum, whatever.

The quest for perfect foreground interest can be especially tricky for working photojournalists.

Photojournalists earn their living capturing images of wholesale destruction, often with a wide-angle lens plonked on the front of their camera so that they can pack in as much wholesale destruction as is humanly possible. Under these circumstances, sticking someone in the foreground of the frame to convey a sense of scale, context and heart-wringing ‘human interest’ is an absolute must.

I raise the subject of foreground interest because someone emailed me (thanks Simon) with a link to a story about a woman in Beirut who keeps popping up in the foreground of pictures of buildings flattened by the Israelis.

She certainly looks the part but I reckon she’s just a little too ‘hammy’ for Western tastes

Some commentators in the blog post that talks about this woman have jumped in and claimed that this is proof that all coverage of what is happening in Lebanon is manipulated with an anti-Israeli bias.

Ditto for the now infamous picture of Beirut, processed with the ‘Add shit loads more smoke tool’ available in the latest beta version of Photoshop.

There is, as they say, a war on for our minds.

The truth, as with all disputes, is that we’re undoubtedly on the receiving end of half-truths and embellishments from both sides of the conflict in Lebanon. I don’t doubt for a second that some of the material coming out of Beirut is jizzed up to make it more dramatic and saleable. On the other hand those apartment blocks have clearly been flattened by someone, with or without the addition of the almost mandatory wailing woman in black dress in the foreground.

Or how about that photograph of Israeli children scribbling messages on artillery shells destined for the Lebanon...

Were these kids, as I have read in a few places, put up to it by photojournalists looking for marketable photographs?

Who knows?

The ludicrous part of the entire business of manipulated news and photographs and careful selection of what stories do or don’t get airtime is the way that people, particularly Internet people, will bleat and moan about how biased the media is, except for those times when they see a story that agrees with their world view. At which point they will swallow the story wholesale and without criticism. It doesn’t matter if you’re pro or anti Israel, Left Wing or Right Wing – everyone, and I'm not excluding myself, falls for it.

That is, of course, how The Game is played.

The only real and sustained bias displayed by our media is a pro-corporate agenda. Everything else is just put there to distract us and keep us at each other’s throats.

And it’s working a treat.

The latest in London-based virtual mayhem

Thanks to a tip off from the Londonist blog I have just thoroughly enjoyed watching the trailer for Gangs of London – a new game for the Sony PSP due out soon.

It’s looks like it’s going to feature some seriously stomach-churning content

But there again, crap Mockney accents always have that effect on me.

Bob Hoskins, Suffolk born and bred - Lord of the Mockneys

Sadly, the game designers haven’t included very much of South London at all, which is criminal, and they appear to have a peculiar take on which ethnic groups hold sway over particular parts of town. I’m still having trouble getting my head round the notion that the area including and around the Bank of England is controlled by a Yardie gang called the EC2 Crew. I’ve heard some conspiracy theories in my time but that one’s something special.

The game does, however, appear to allow players to enter Tube stations and shoot people in the face repeatedly so it’s faultlessly accurate in that respect and solves that tricky problem of knowing what to buy the SO19 Officers in your life for Christmas.

The chances of me ever actually playing the full retail version of Gangs of London are somewhat reduced by me not owning a Sony PSP and not planning on getting one either. Fortunately, there’s a considerably cheaper alternative on offer in the form of the Goggles – the Google Earth Flight simulator.

Here’s me fantasising about reducing my next Council Tax bill by knocking City Hall out of action...

I Missed ... bollocks

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both

John Reid - yet another New Labour c^nt wanting to be Prime Minister


Some blinding sound bites from the Home Secretary John Reid today -

"There is no room for complacency. We are probably in the most sustained period of severe threat since the end of the Second World War"

"We may have to modify some of our freedoms in the short-term in order to prevent their misuse and abuse by those who oppose our fundamental values and would destroy our freedoms and values in the long-term"

It would be nice if John had quantified exactly what he meant by "some" of our freedoms or how long "the short-term" will turn out to be. Presumably until there aren’t any Muslims out there fucked off with the way the West treats them. By next Monday or Tuesday maybe?

So much for the Cold War then. It would appear that, in hindsight, the entire massed weaponry of the Red Army was but nothing in comparison with a handful of mental cases scattered in dingy bedsits across the country.

Nowhere near as big a threat to our Way of Life as that Muslim bloke
who works in
your local fish and chip shop

What baffles me, what really baffles me, is how our politicians can get away with fascist crap like this, time and time again. Admittedly 80%+ of the people are more occupied with their mortgage payments or choosing their next cellphone but of the minority of people who do follow things and do give a damn how can any of them not see what is going on?

and what c^nts like Reid and Blair refuse to acknowledge is that terrorist bombs, however big and scary, cannot change the nature of our society. Bombs cannot take our freedoms away from us, they just kill people. Our own politicians, however, particularly traitorous ones, can do both.

Reid and Blair and all the rest are either too stupid to realise this. In which case they are unfit to govern. Or they do realise this and they are wicked and deserve to be strung up.

Our government is currently playing one of the oldest tricks in the book and it seems to be getting away with it.

There was a time in this country when no politician would have dreamed of coming out with junk like Reid came out with today. They would have been torn apart.

I, and I suspect a few others out there, are getting quite accustomed to a sense of loss, and shame, at what is being done to a country I once took some pride in being born in.

And the longer this goes on, with little or no opposition, the more I’m inclined to think that people really do deserve what is going to happen to them.