Wednesday, 31 December 2008

i saw about 26 first-runs (or new enough, in the sense that maybe they dated from 2006 or 2007 when not actually of this year - often the case for Anglophones seeing non-English language films) at cinemas this year, and the following is a list of my ten best.

(i will probably say something in the new year about near misses to this list, and about repertory in 2008.)

10. Lars and the real girl
9. Persepolis
8. Gone, baby, gone
7. Trouble the water
6. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
5. In Bruges
4. Wall-E
3. No country for old men
2. There will be blood
1. 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days

happy new year!

[ETA: lists, lists, lists. dear me. 9. and 7. probably under-counted anyway lbr]
list link

i was at the pad of my oldest friend recently and saw a copy of the Uncut end of year booklet: a handsome little insert in the magazine.
i've not touched Uncut for years, although - for Kulkarni on Stevie Wonder some time ago, which i mentioned here once, and SR on the 'oceans of sound' in reggae, to name two - i remain fond of it.
the cinema and genre categories were particularly enjoyable.

so, without further ado, there follows.

The Ex, Mississippi Records, snd and beautiful on Bangles: it's Jon, here, with 25 exquisite capsules.
(writes, on Lionel Marchetti: "Because he was the only person I would reach for when I needed to scratch that musique concrete itch. There’s an itch associated with that, right?")

Jane's typically epic singles run-down has gone from 40 to 2 now, and i'll plug in specifically here, with 30 to 21.

it could have been anywhere, but, really
Couldn’t "Urban Paisley" be a whole new musical style (not in evidence here)? Couldn’t "Paisley Urban" be a good name for a character on Gossip Girl?

Fact are rolling out across everywhere: 100 best tracks, 20 best mixes, etc.
i'm going to roll on to the re-issues list, because it's such archaeology.

the best gig i saw this year was the Sparrow Quartet in Vancouver: a formidable group.

at the theatre, a bracing reading of After the Fall by Our American Theater Co. in Seattle (an Arthur Miller i had not even heard of prior, must admit).


football performance attended had to be Barcelona's demolition of Valencia earlier this month. (though being among La Barra Brava toward the end of a DC United game was fun.)

pizza a toss up between a buffalo mozzarella in Milan or a slice of cheese from some Manhattan hole in the wall.

street food (i would blog about all sorts of meals but i deleted my grub blog) a toss up between a Montreal poppyseed (preferred to New York), or one of two cheesesteaks from one of two titchy Philadelphia walk-ups (one with onions).

my own sandwich: salami and leaves on rolls (meat from the Cheshire Smokehouse near Wilmslow).

food, probably carrot.

bowl food a goulash and white beer in Brooklyn.

best chowder in Galway, actually.

best Mexican outlets visited in Britain and Ireland: Mannamexico, Cambridge and Boojum, Belfast.
(though i did always like Thomasina when she was on 'Masterchef'.)

beer would be Daleside Porter from the Harrogate micro, a very good version, recently sampled on two pints at the Guy Fawkes Tavern (an old contender for urban pub of the year: gas lamps, rickety wood, tallow splats on uneven tables, dark solid stone) in York.
i was inducted into the charms of the Cardinal - hail Sam Smith's bargains in London - in Victoria, and have to note.
loveliest English cities Norwich and Cambridge.

the best pint of Guinness i had was probably in Sligo or Derry (i drank a lot of Guinness this spring in Ireland), and the most impressive American craft brewing situation was certainly in Portland.
Antwerp remains the best overall beer city visited this year.

going back to the incredible Dissensus, getting turned on to new writers (American election night was the date, and i now have theory in my head; Roberto Bolaño - thanks to Philip Mind; and history - thanks to Ollie, to mention some) and acquiring a taste for grappa (i'd had it before, but rarely) are other personal faves.

film experience probably popping my Ikiru cherry on the big screen. amazing.
(more movies later.)

an ambition next year will be to have Luka make me a coffee. the best coffee i was given this year was from a Stuttgart-bred man in Seattle who discussed dour Austrian tactics.


Tuesday, 30 December 2008

I speak Thai. I know what they're saying

I remember a story. Two fools are waiting for their kidney transplants but only one kidney is available.
The two guys thus play a game.
They each put a playing card into the other's pocket.
Whoever guesses the card in his own pocket wins.

You know I can see your card.

I think so too.

(Infernal Affairs, Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, 2002.)

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

this seems fair (including the responses of the author to commenter commonsguy).
News from Guinea and Friends of Guinea

Saturday, 20 December 2008

If I saw Mr Haughey buried at midnight at a crossroads, with a stake driven through his heart - politically speaking - I should continue to wear a clove of garlic round my neck, just in case.

It is thought the victim, who has not been named, may also have been stabbed before his body was found in Coldharbour Lane, Camberwell.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Friday, 12 December 2008

it was always going to be obsessive, unhealthy love-at-first-encounter for me and the DAF debut (and so it proved with its re-issue nearly nine years ago now), and look at this!
the fine folk at Discogs have this pretty image cap, including the Biba Kopf words on the back.

happy as a gambolling lamb.

all here

Friday, 28 November 2008

i have had a massive crush on Sandra Jordan for a very long time

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Saturday, 8 November 2008

i like what the wonderful hakmao has to say here about Toby Young, 'lecturing the rest of us on non-existent pseudo-scientific categories'.

and you know what?

Toby Young is not someone i come across often, but i have this nagging doubt at the back of my mind he was mentioned somewhere else online once, in a very clear-eyed, magisterial, politically literate and morally wealthy article by some Guardian journalist.

trouble is, i can't remember the piece in question.

oh yes.

"Hungry for controversy, a sizeable portion of London's intelligentsia lined up to support Living Marxism. They rallied round those who had named me and others as liars in the name of free speech - so why not name them too, the great, the good and the up-and-coming? Fay Weldon, Doris Lessing, Harold Evans, Toby Young, and even a handful of contributors to this newspaper. A diverse coterie, eager to sip Living Marxism's apparently excellent claret at the ICA, to eat their canapés and run alongside the rotten bandwagon of revisionism."

somedisco blog election results round-up special

USA: good, especially as libertarians - appallingly - wanting no income tax in Mass got told to do one, although less good in California on gay marriage of course

Canadian: bad, although the NDP got their first in Quebec

New Zealand: bad

Glenrothes: good

Palua: Toribiong innit

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

more garbage from Simon Jenkins

i'm not quite sure what it is with Jenkins and this tough-minded pose of his, throwing out his little hard jewels of insight.

he reads a bit like the National Review's David Freddoso in Grant Park last night (though that is unfair on Freddoso)
if Obsolete isn't on your blog roll i feel i must link to their take on something disgraceful Ed Balls has come out with: who, after all, needs a living wage in London?

Labour isn't working, indeed
ticket dot ntdtv dot com / fsc / index_eng dot html

Sunday, 2 November 2008

David T: 'This Government Cannot Be Trusted On Islamism'

i'm particularly glad he calls out Peter Bergen. i remember reading the article in question in the print version with mounting unease as Bergen heaped undeserved cream and candy on Lambert


Shannyn Sossamon



Saturday, 1 November 2008

Inhofe, R, OK

Inhofe believes that 9/11 was divine retribution. He believes that our Middle East policy should be based on the text of the Bible. He denies the science behind global warming. Doesn't like students. Doesn't care for poor people. Hates government. Like Jesse Helms, without the charm. We made a mistake on our "10 Worst" list: Inhofe stands alone as the worst member of Congress.

Esquire tells the time

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

then again, what do i know?

if one takes pride in their work, perhaps a slow-down would annoy.

then again, what do i know?

Friday, 17 October 2008

Shiraz Socialist, rightly angry, flags up this Ghaith Abdul-Ahad piece cataloguing the appalling miseries and exploitation on which Dubai has grown disgracefully awful.

elsewhere, in their latest piece in a series they call Immigrant vs. Immigrant, the NYT also has a desperately sad article reporting from Grand Island, Nebraska, about divisions between different immigrant communities, available here.

(a little like a recent long NYT piece about food policy challenges for the next POTUSA which mentioned in the politest passing breath fundamentally unfair trade policies being driven by the wealthy world at the deliberate expense of developing economies - and should have been far more explicit on that point - there is, kindly, nobody making the point in the above report that if production was shut down for awhile for various reasons then it is, let's be frank, not the workers that are going to be particularly upset on the whole, just management. you know. if i were a gambling man, like..)
Press TV (and, therefore, the Iranian regime) seem to think that taking the piss out of organised religion (an often amusing pose, although of course discounting humourless zealots like Dawkins) is as bad as advancing the filthy lies of Holocaust denial.

of course it is
Shuggy on Alex Salmond

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Friday, 10 October 2008

The policeman went off in the direction of the Rua da Alfândega, reflecting on the madness of certain people who appeared in the middle of the night.
Whatever possessed this man to think he could enjoy a view of the river in such weather, if he were obliged like me to patrol the docks night after night he would soon find it tiresome.

The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, Saramago.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Let's make no mistake, that is what the word 'totalitarianism' should describe and that is why a loose use of the term is dangerous. I am not going to do a full dissection of his post, instead I just want to make three main points.

Peter Ryley debates
area man, 53, controversially calls implement for digging 'implement for digging'

Monday, 29 September 2008

Hitch on the rancid Kissinger and his fan-club network in D.C.

Hitch also has a piece in the current Vanity Fair, about their photographs. it's Hitch to a 'T' - like Paul Morley doing his Sunday Telegraph magazine gig reviews, i guess [i would say that, and have to Ollie and SR].
it's here.
as with the above piece, the closing paragraph is worth checking.

elsewhere, Eric Margolis had a column today in the Toronto Sun. it was shabby, especially the closing paragraph, which was offensive in its disingenuousness.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

'It's no longer for any struggle, apart from their own selfish motivations..It's for money. They kidnap children now.'

Styvn Obodoekwe, Port Harcourt.

"The city is already half-dead..Something has to be done, otherwise the city is completely dead."

Per Stafsen.

Police come at any time and arrest anybody. They pass by and harass my customers. If I say, 'Officer, you are disturbing my business,' they say, 'Don't talk or we'll arrest you.' People are afraid of the police. They don't come and eat.

Moabel Nwosu.

The federal government contributes 150 million naira to the military every month. So now someone who was sleeping in the military quarters is suddenly in a duplex with free food, people at his beck and call, and you want him to accept peace in the creeks? No, he will create more conflict.

Professor Elias Courson, Niger Delta University.
We have no hope now and I think this is the end of Mogadishu
"There's no doubt that we have our work cut out for us when it comes to the haredim," said Avraham Kroizer, one of her strategic consultants.

"Their media are never going to change the no-photograph policy, so it comes down to arranging face time for her with leading haredi figures who can spread the word."

google image results for Tzipi Livni
The A-30 road cuts through open grasslands lined with coconut palms and peacocks.

Stewart Bell in Mahdu, Sri Lanka

Monday, 22 September 2008

Mick Hartley: Our Bastard

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

oh no it's the bloody Jews

[it's not been up long but at time of writing there's already a few half-baked comments, although i suppose that is about as predictable as Manchester City's continual status as vaguely comedic telenovela]

Monday, 1 September 2008

Sunday, 31 August 2008

more of the same from spiked-online

- perhaps they are one giant satire site?

Saturday, 30 August 2008

in Rittenhouse Square, in Philadelphia's Center City the other lunchtime, i saw a bunch of young boys playing football, play-roughing each other up and such.

they were supervised by a couple of Y guys.
good stuff.
it was wonderful.

a church group building on the edge of Rittenhouse Square flies a large black banner over its doorway. the message on the banner reads (something like) TORTURE IS WRONG.


what he said

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


'As any competent antifascist would know David Duke is an ex-grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, had a love of dressing up like a Nazi and disseminates racist filth from his web site.'
I still got friends and relatives that deal with the everyday economy. I have clothing lines and businesses that felt the pinch. But I'm maintaining. I do that very well...It's like people don't think that you think things or you're that articulate...Things go on every day in our I speak on it.

Young Jeezy

["He does have a philanthropic flair that could get overlooked, considering. He let four Hurricane Katrina victims stay in his home in 2005. Last Christmas, he hosted a toy drive. This month, he rented a bowling alley and gave 350 kids school supplies."]

Sunday, 24 August 2008

The things I saw beggar description...I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first hand evidence of these things, if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to propaganda.

Dwight D Eisenhower, April 12, 1945.
Ohrdruf camp.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

We will not turn a blind eye to issues of a serious nature

Richard Scudamore, English Premier League chief executive, discusses Thaksin Shinawatra going on the lam


except you already turned two blind eyes the first time around

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Branches banged and broke beneath the tires and you could feel them spring up like busted bones or spikes and scrape beneath your bare feet on the floor.

Peter Carey

Sunday, 3 August 2008

"The message then warned that those who continued their businesses after the 15-day deadline expired would be dealt with sternly.

Acid: The second paragraph said that within five days of the receipt of the letter, every woman not wearing Hijab would be disfigured with acid. "

what the Taliban Pakistan threaten in the town of Kot Addu

(hat-tip: Mick H.)


Claire Spencer replies to Amir Taheri

Saturday, 2 August 2008

emcee XXXX from Stepney Green


(over pulled steel, guyed, long lines, stretching, way out; no, further back, go as far back as you think you can throw it, and then go further back again)

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Airport food is often dire, but it achieves great heights at Diego-Suarez Antsiranana, on the northern tip of Madagascar. Local folk arrive in fleets of yellow Renault 4 taxis to crowd the tiny cafeteria and greet the daily plane. My flight was two hours late, a blow softened by many plates of perfectly crisp, deep-fried frogs' legs served with sauce made from a chilli called "Five men can't eat one".

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

"Longing is a somewhat strange film, and perhaps rather slight, but it is none the less perfect in its own way, like a fragment of stubborn poetry that one cannot easily forget."

Jenny McCartney

Monday, 28 July 2008

His dreams kept returning to the moment when he was walking down the stairs and met the spy coming the other way, doffing his hat to him. He saw himself sliding down a smooth ramp of stone. He took no more pleasure in women, his duties bored him, he didn't get on with his comrades, the Colonel was dull. The town was dull, and life was even worse. There wasn't a word for it in Taittinger's vocabulary.
He slipped and sank even lower. He felt himself doing it. He would have liked to talk to someone about it, perhaps to Mizzi Schinagl who also appeared in his dreams. But he felt too torpid and too dumbstruck to be able to say anything honest and truthful. So he didn't talk. And he drank.

The String of Pearls, Joseph Roth.

Friday, 25 July 2008

what's that? what's that, you say?

it's a Friday?


true enough.

well, in that case, it must be about time for Baroness Tonge to chat some more shit

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

I was informed by our colleagues in Belgrade about the successful operation which resulted in the arrest of Radovan Karadžić. On behalf of the Office of the Prosecutor, I would like to congratulate the Serbian authorities, especially the National Security Council, Serbia’s Action Team in charge of tracking fugitives and the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor, on achieving this milestone in cooperation with the ICTY.

This is a very important day for the victims who have waited for this arrest for over a decade. It is also an important day for international justice because it clearly demonstrates that nobody is beyond the reach of the law and that sooner or later all fugitives will be brought to justice.


Friday, 18 July 2008

BOWLED 'IM WARNER!! (was '..she gives me a biscuit...')

"Take Liberty's recent appointment of the fashion consultant Yasmin Sewell. One of fashion's most stylish players, Sewell was head of buying at the influential Brown's boutique until last year. She is now transforming Liberty's muddled fashion floors into something sharper and more glamorous."

i did not know this [source: London Telegraph, Money section, 13/07/2008].

good on ya Sewell
why do mod boys tend to wear their collared shirts with the top button done up?

don't get me wrong, i like it, you get me.

a good style, very good.

i will try and find a few things out about butter soon, and also about the manufacture of the plastic cartons or tubs that margarine comes in. i may then post the results here

(yes hold your seats for that one)


a lot of kids going up to Cumbria (that's in northwest England) for some festival i see


i got DVDs of Vertigo and The Long Good Friday and a paperback copy of Madame Bovary in your UK high-street store sale for GBP £10 £2 today! [ETA: the DVDs were woefully defective, despite brand-new wrapped-up status; but hey! Flaubert for two coins..]
and the kids in England break up from school for the summer. (dunno about Northern Ireland or Wales i must admit. in Scotland they have already broken up. plead ignorance on every other country on earth, to be precise about it. i'm not having a joke about being parochial here, more write what you know.)

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

a take down (again, and rightly so) from Obsolete about the front-cover of today's Express, which - as with many of their fronts - suffers somewhat from being quite appallingly bone-headed.

interestingly, today's Express carries a worried piece from Anna Pukas (certainly one of their finer writers; she has often been quite large-hearted for them in various corners of the world *) going on about that New Yorker cover.
clearly, she needn't look as far as Manhattan for printed material that may - intentionally or not - give comfort to unsavoury characters.

for the record, their environment editor, John Ingham, can sometimes be decent, and their television reviewer is actually good (his politics are nothing like the leaders of his employers: he is even-handed and humane and, gosh darn, sounds rather socially liberal). they also have some fine sports writers.
people like these are admittedly balanced out by politics editor Macer Hall (he's done some unbelievably bad pieces), the almost-beyond-parody Leo McKinstry (a common theme of my tabloid laments is how a man who can write decent books about English football can churn out some awful guff in the press, though i know that's a naïve lament, given the age-old recollections of Heffer actually being able to write full-length books in between spewing out his bile in the dailies) and the witless Patrick O'Flynn (the comment editor and chief politics writer IIRC).

check this out for yourself but pick up the Express and go to the cartoons section where Calvin and Hobbes is about. (so too Dilbert.) every day when the cartoon appears American English references are doctored by the Express to British English ones. the most obvious has Calvin saying "mum" instead of "mom".
i don't know why they do that (well, one could hazard a few simplistic, unsatisfying guesses), but - on a small and far more benign level than some of their other handiwork - for me, this speaks volumes about the mostly crap Daily Express..
"Fine lot these government chaps – are they not?" he went on, speaking English with great precision and considerable bitterness.

"It is funny what some people will do for a few francs a-month. I wonder what becomes of that kind when it goes up country?"

I said to him I expected to see that soon.

"So-o-o!" he exclaimed. He shuffled athwart, keeping one eye ahead vigilantly.
"Don’t be too sure," he continued.
"The other day I took up a man who hanged himself on the road. He was a Swede, too."

"Hanged himself! Why, in God’s name?" I cried.

He kept on looking out watchfully.

"Who knows? The sun too much for him, or the country perhaps."

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Milne's description of the "increasingly extreme" Ed Husain is an utter disgrace.

i thought Milne was on the left?
Seumas Milne's piece on IslamExpo is truly poor.

Monday, 14 July 2008

"Talking to Kim Jong Il"

the WSJ Asia has a piece about the death of Park Wang-ja, and attempts to tease out a few wider strands from this individual tragedy and crime.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Park Wang-ja, a housewife vacationing at the North Korean resort of Mount Kumgang, are unclear. The 53-year-old was reportedly walking on a beach when a soldier shot her twice: in the chest and in the buttock...
The murder of its citizen by the military of a foreign power creates a diplomatic challenge for any government...
[Lee Myung-bak] immediate reaction upon hearing of the killing Friday was to go ahead with a parliamentary speech calling for the resumption of "full dialogue between the two Koreas." Yesterday his Grand National Party called for direct talks with the North to smooth things over.

Pyongyang responded to the Lee government's low-key reaction with its usual subtlety. The President's proposal was "deceitful," it said, and the GNP's call for talks was "an intolerable insult."...
Rather, the North is demanding an apology from the South for suspending tourist traffic to Mount Kumgang in the wake of the killing.
Owen, formidable as usual, with some very convincing reasons to oppose the Skylon-come-again

incidentally, among all the heart-stopping Gothic, Baroque (and neo-Baroque), and more recent treasures in Antwerpen, the 1970's municipal theatre, the Stadsschouwburg, bosses the game for me.
the white poles that hold up a hangar-style roof in the plaza out the front are a remarkable usage of space and air, whether the square is deserted, or full of gobby market traders or daredevil bicyclists weaving in and out.

at night-time - even before a few bollekes - giant bird legs or a marina in the middle distance are two of the more immediate analogies..

Sunday, 13 July 2008

a very good point from Norman Geras here (with an excellent, brief, final sentence). oh and another good point from the same person here

Thursday, 10 July 2008

was Franco Frattini mistranslated?

The European Parliament has come up with some sensible proposals re. the plight of the marginalised in his country, at the same time as giving Italy a dressing-down.

disgustingly, Frattini claims that this appropriate slap in the face is "politically motivated and based on prejudices".

obviously, a discussion about the Italian govt and her Roma community certainly needs to include the word prejudice.
factionalism roils the junta?

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

i don't know what to make of this but give them links anyway, and self-evidently, the way Hari frames his debate about Davis and Berlin and liberties here makes it clear where your sympathies should lie, but on the other hand this (far shorter) piece from The Sharpener offers a slightly contrary take.

in other news, i have only just found out via SR (cheers Simon!) about the return of skykicking. blow me!

big up all the Aussie crew

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Blackadder: Never mind, never mind, just saddle the Prince's horse.

Baldrick: That'll be difficult, he wrapped it round that gas lamp in the
Strand last night.

Well saddle my horse then.

What d'you think you've been eating for the last two months?

Well go out into the street and hire me a horse.

Hire you a horse? For ninepence? On Jewish New Year in the rain? A
bare fortnight after the dreaded horse plague of old London Town? With
the blacksmith's strike in its fifteenth week and the Dorset horse
fetishists fair tomorrow?

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Saturday, 28 June 2008


[yes, i am listening to the Nas debut album]

Brownie is magnificent in this Harry's Place thread (warning: thick fools lurk, and indeed comment, there)

Friday, 27 June 2008

[off the record, you understand]

as part of his incredibly enjoyable 'is shrill' series, Brad DeLong links to a Joe Klein piece at TIME re Lieberman, the Commentary crew, Bush and Cheney & Co.

without getting into very reasonable sharp words for Max Boot (there's an Andrew Sullivan piece up too) and urgently needed words of condemnation for no bid contracts, can we agree to call Joe Klein on 'divided loyalties'?

also, the description of the venerable country of Iraq as an extremely complicated, devout and ancient culture is indeed lovely and true, but with regards to what Klein is discussing, perhaps adding 'a giant Baath torture house' might have been equally helpful and illuminating..

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Muslims and gays

Nazir-Ali not attending the Lambeth Conference.

well there's a surprise. we didn't see that coming, eh?

yes sticking up for his beliefs and within the framework of what he believes he is, of course, in the right, technically *. but come on, you cannot deny me this. Nazir-Ali chats out of his backside about Islam with both fierce stupidity and awful cunning, and now, this, is, well, not a shock.. remember, David Goodhart, in a recent Prospect with the Mai 68'ers feature, rightly excoriated Christopher Hitchens for his intellectual absolutism and lack of interest in progressive incrementalism that makes a genuine difference to people (there again, of course when not writing good science, the function of Dawkins clearly is to write bad atheism, and that's not going to change anytime soon, so Hitch's failings can be balanced against his pugnacious prose which at least remains enjoyable - which is more than can be said for David Goodhart's immigration essay)

* or is he? he could always go, argue his corner, and yes a very blatant point this, but it must be one he's thought of and discounted, his 'red line', which incidentally, is a concept (a term devalued by frequent usage from the likes of Tony Blair or, oh i don't know, Ben Bradshaw, as, say, Robin Carmody might remind us) that has been missing - in some commentary - from certain of the entirely accurate accounts about some of David Davis' regrettable views, no?
also socially liberal people of faith that know about theology, i am sure, could debate with Nazir-Ali until the cows come home and ferociously be able to impress upon him that they are in the right and his views are in fact wrong. though what i know about Christian theology is nothing.
but the fact remains that for all the above window-dressing, Nazir-Ali, in siding with the other conservatives, is getting a theological fig-leaf for bigotry (or, at the very least, opposition to progress), and what makes him so different from the folk across the pond who are also in his church and did go against him with their bold moves.
so give over Nazir-Ali, and your mate in the Telegraph, that bloke whose name escapes me who sometimes writes the most shabby, insulting, witless guff about Islam in some Sunday editions. (though i have not seen one of his bylines for a long time, well over a year IIRC.)

speaking of Hitch, the lovely J-Clo had a little piece up recently on Hitch's far-from-world-beating, tossed-off (Morley writing in the London Telegraph his short gig reviews, as one would say to SR) Slate article about wine in a restaurant. and whilst there are very amusing points put forth (and usage of "margrave") in the piece here, i remain at a loss. (there again, jane is busy engaging with SFJ at a high level, and the merit of sugarhigh! is always everything isn't it, the essays and the asides, all of it.)

simply put, if the cod-psychology (or whatever i should call it) is meant unironically and plainly and, just so as at face-value, then, well..

Saturday, 21 June 2008

the utterly superb Obsolete (who i have only recently discovered, thanks to the equally utterly superb The gaping silence, they being a mate of Pearsall AFAIK, Pears? anyway) writes a sane antidote to tabloid hysteria over the Abu Qatada case here.

Obsolete has also recently written on the govt's former respect chief Louise Casey, which nails what to me seem banged-on points, as whenever you saw Casey back in the day, there was an air of inflexibility about her, it always seemed.
it must be said as we all know that Manchester city council (when not dreaming up tinpot schemes regarding a 'Thaitown' on her northside, similar to her centrally located - small but perfectly formed - Chinatown, or failing to get big screens for sporting events working, or going after office smokers with commendable zeal) hands out ASBOs a bit like Dunkin Donuts selling you a hazelnut coffee and morning bagel

cheaply and frequently (albeit not usually in Spanish)

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

really enjoyed Mentasms on the Irish vote - "Joe-Higgins’ dogged workerism"

Derek feeling - includes, brilliantly, Ninjaman

very happy to read Geeta - Bubble.. (bubble bubble bubble under and over always and over and always)

Monday, 16 June 2008

(see also this .pdf, this, and here.)
A simple but fundamental principle is at stake here: the principle that a policy of mass terror against a civilian population should not be rewarded.

Noel Malcolm, from the preface to the second edition of his short history of Kosovo

Friday, 13 June 2008

RIP Tim Russert

Thursday, 12 June 2008

as i write today, this is from the previous edition of The Zimbabwean (last week to yesterday), but, another instalment of their heroes and villains

1. Shepherd Jani - MDC Senatorial candidate for Murehwa - abducted and murdered
2. Taurai Matanda - shot dead by soldiers at Murambinda growth point, Manicaland
3. 78 year old grandmother, 13 year old brother, plus mother and other relatives of MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa. Savagely beaten for 2 hours by armed soldiers in Gutu
4. Mabel Penisara - wife of election campaign manager for MDC MP Ian Kay. Abducted and tortured, left for dead by a roadside.

1. Mashava - ZPF Murehwa district Vice chairperson - threatened to kill children of MDC officials
2. Colonel Chineta - alleged to have been involved in the murder of Jani
3. Matemachani - war vet - known for his violence, he is now attacking people in Triangle again
4. Sidney Somai - CIO Marondera - jumped out of vehicle and attacked MDC district chairman Potifa Bakaaiman with a rifle butt and then abducted him
5. Colonel Morgan Mzilikazi - led attack on Murambinda growth point, to 'flush out' MDC supporters - leaving one dead, 31 hospitalised
6. Major General Engelbert Rugejo - responsible for the attack on Nelson Chamisa's family
7. Ignatius Chombo - local government minister who has illegally appointed commissions to run towns, ignoring the council elections, predominantly won by the MDC
8. Grace Mugabe - for saying that Mugabe will never step down for Tsvangirai, even if he loses the election.


Robin writes to Auntie
the cricket.

the rugby.


watching boxing in a pub.



stabbing at things.
like foreheads, and leaving a long scar that runs from your right-hand ear - more or less - across the plate of your forehead, all the way to the other side.

arguments about silly things in the backs of cabs that are soon forgotten.

both away and for sport.

some long-distance running. and some middle-distance.

and lots of people 'fun' running, to raise capital for good causes. this is how it goes.

lying to the police. (but our conscience is clear. i think. let me chew it over.)

refusing to help that woman out with loose change.

two boys in prison and another, not. but two were. asking for it, really.

stretched out. alone. shudder to a halt, eventually.

buy some cigarettes and a paper.
leaf through the paper in a frazzled, hormonal hurry.

dicing up food. nutrients.

returning to the same place because their food is just so.

thinking the angles when you are the person the approach is made to. before wanting to get on a train, or a bus, or a coach. and leaving. but not for good. although for a very long time, in all likelihood.
a very long time.
maybe not wanting. but needing. never the less. nonetheless.

ecclesiastical history that was unknown.

a pint.
oh, just a pint.

go on, then. stay for more.
but that has to be it.
(and is, perhaps surprisingly.)

doing the rounds.
and making farewells.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Damning evidence indeed – most of Christian Europe was probably 'Islamist' by this standard.

MAH book review (this is a .pdf link)

Friday, 23 May 2008

monstrous, monstrous Rainbow Nation, bleeding colours everywhere

RSA xenophobic mobs and murders (at least 42 killings thus far): 'Why the police blew it'.

meanwhile, here's a claim.

"We don't know the exact number of shops looted and burnt, but it's a lot," said Billy Jones, senior superintendent with the Western Cape provincial police.
He added that a Somali died but it was unclear whether this was linked to the attacks...Authorities said a Malawian man was shot in Durban overnight and three other foreigners were stabbed in North West Province.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

"DEMOCRACY AT ITS PEAK IN EQUATORIAL GUINEA"- just as it is natural in politics, the big leaders depend on other factors besides establishment and popularity, such as obedience, charisma and efficiency.

Monday, 19 May 2008

RIP Pauline Campbell

Friday, 16 May 2008

i've been whistling Lex's 'Fourteen Days' and the sax line from 'Show em whatcha got' all morning- have only discovered today that in the latter tune PE are sampling 'Darkest Light' by Long Island outfit the Lafayette Afro Rock Band, who - although it seems there is a fair amount of information from informed types about - i had, no, never heard of.
oh dear.

they gigged a lot in Paris, apparently, in the Barbès area.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

bravo to the California Supreme Court!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Monday, 12 May 2008

from The Zimbabwean paper, vol. 4, no.18, dated last Thursday, 8th-14th May, is the following piece, Heroes and villains - let's name them, where SW Radio Africa has started a list of Zim heroes and villains

1. MDC Councillor Rusere for Sadza, Wedza - died from injuries sustained in the rural violence. She had fled to MDC offices Harare but was one of those arrested in the raid on the offices and detained. Police ignored the court order to provide access to medical treatment.
2. Tabitha Marume, Rusape - Marume was part of a group of MDC activists who went to a torture camp at Manonga School, demanding the release of colleagues who had been abducted by soldiers. She was shot and killed.
3. 10,000 villagers in Makoni West who attended Marume's funeral in defiance of the ZPF violence. They sang songs of defiance, declaring violence will not stop them supporting MDC.
1. Jabulani Sibanda - allegedly axed an MDC supporter in the head.
2. Emmerson Mnangagwa - in charge of the Joint Operations Committee (JOC) that oversees the violence campaign.
3. Gideon Gono - economic advisor to JOC. It costs money to beat and murder people.
4. Sithembiso Nyoni, Minister of Small to Medium Scale Enterprises - watched as 3 ZPF men with her seriously assault Zachariah Isaac Ncube at Gababi in Ward 1 in Nkayi North.
5. Former CIO director and cabinet minister Shadreck Chipanga - led war vets in attack on headmaster at Chakumba Primary School Makoni South. Headmaster battling for life with serious injuries.
6. Daniel Romeo Mutsunguma, CIO agent employed at Zim embassy Washington, USA - MDC allege he murdered Tabitha Marume.
7. Thabo Mbeki - as chair of the UN Security Council he blocked UN action over the Zimbabwe crisis - along with help from China, Russia and Vietnam.

Friday, 9 May 2008

1. cruel, illogical, stupid: a catch-22 type for 55 south Asian medical workers in Saudi, currently unable to return home and with no income.

"This week, despite the risk of arrest, they protested at a local police station because they have run out of money to buy food."
(my italics)

2. Spanish journalists weren't allowed in to cover the election in Equatorial Guinea but everybody knows about this appallingly bone-headed manoeuvre- does Obiang's niece think tree bark can combat the AIDS virus?

the official govt site is pretty.
look at how those images change at the top!

3. Ciara Leeming on dealing w' Travellers in Stockport

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Monday, 5 May 2008

'my negritude riddles with holes
the dense affliction of its worthy patience'

Saturday, 3 May 2008

it speaks clear-eyed volumes about the Manchester Evening News (the main newspaper of that city) that it is expending far more energy on opposing Thaksin Shinawatra's (incredibly stupid) decision to force out Sven-Goran Eriksson from the City football club where he is manager, than it did in ever opposing Shinawatra's takeover of the club; Shinawatra and his family are owners.

when Shinawatra and his children were sniffing around City last year the only people who appeared to be showing any hostility to the deal were a small minority of seeming anoraks: rights groups, writers with the fanzines of both City and United publications (my favourite City 'zine is the irreverent King of the Kippax; my favourite United 'zine is United We Stand, which often boasts superb cover art and internal design), and the odd pro journalist (most notably, David Conn, himself a City supporter).

now the MEN are all over Shinawatra, a bit like a dogged tax investigator.

it is worth noting that the MEN is part of the Guardian Media Group: a sister newspaper to the Guardian (née the Manchester Guardian).

ETA: a good friend of mine pointed out to me the other day that Dr Thaksin hasn't said anything explicit about Sven: media smoke and mirrors is playing its usual game of speculation re certain clues/suggestions/hints etc.
e.g. there are journos that understand Sven has been told he will be sacked but there's nothing in the public domain. nothing yet, anyway.. maybe the Swedish lothario will remain at City into the next season. (but don't bank on it.)

full and respectful somedisco apologies to Thaksin Shinawatra and his team on this one.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

couple good number crunching in the current Eye, reproduced below

£82m value of Stagecoach shares transferred by founders Brian Souter and Ann Gloag to family trusts to beat changes in capital gains tax
£61m Approximate cost of four new Pendolino trains which Virgin Trains (half owned by Stagecoach) isn't buying for crowded west-coast mainline services
£3m start-up subsidy Souter demanded for a hovercraft shuttle across the Forth, now on hold until taxpayers cough up
£500,000 Souter's pre-election donation to the SNP, which suddenly dropped its policy of regulating Stagecoach and other bus services *


5,000 jobs lost in manufacturing in three months last year, which CBI described as "very welcome revival"

10,000 jobs predicted to be lost in financial sector in next three months, which CBI describes as "very serious crisis"

* if it's good enough for the lovely Taylor Parkes in an edition of When Saturday Comes, then it's good enough for me, which is to make the obligatory observation re Souter's past opposition to repealing Section 28

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Drink-soaked Trots on Somerset business-man Mike Dolan: shafts his workers and then, quite disgracefully, tries to blame their union

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

UK politics: why is Geoff Hoon a Chief Whip? that's a reward.

to paraphrase C Hitchens, someone like Hoon should be out in the street selling pencils from a paper cup, hollering

you can say he's a member of a progressive (now, i know that could provoke debate..) party in an established, plural, peaceful democracy, which is all well and good, but when he was at the MoD alone, that should have been enough to send him to Coventry.

meanwhile, the Guardian has a list of the 39 members of parliament rightly signed up to Frank Field's rebellion.

big up

Monday, 21 April 2008

and rank, miserable, tragic news - as the UN food envoy makes compelling claims - twenty people drown off the Bahamas (nineteen of them Haitian nationals, the other victim being Honduran)
fingers crossed - some potentially encouraging news here

Friday, 18 April 2008

RIP Gwyneth Dunwoody

Thursday, 17 April 2008

RIP Pete McKinless
Jeff Weintraub has a very good post up responding to recent remarks on American immigration reform made by an aspirant to the Senate from Colorado.
you can read it here

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Philip S on the Beta Lounge

Derek: new build music

jane on MJ and Dubai

Han Bing walks the cabbage

Matt Y with some Turkish rap

S/FJ brings the wonderful Erykah

i currently rinse this YouTube {not having an American Express: Red} [it's The Way I Are; i was dancing to it in Dublin last week and got nostalgic, i guess]
(and this- Wayne launches a new feature and Arsene and Jose Clash..)

concrete, Simon Fraser (from here)

FACT's Sinden on Rye Rye


Tim on Hungarian stereotypes
[sorta related- the Economist with their own theory on the Hungarian language]

pigs in Bath

Owen, immense, on the functionally fantastic in Hertfordshire, and portals

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

President Sarkozy has come and gone, and Ibni is still missing

Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch

Monday, 3 March 2008

as this is clearly fair

And that the nightmare scenario didn’t play out is, it seems to me, beside the point: the embargo enabled its potential, and that’s what matters here, as far as the right-call-or-not question is concerned.

mea culpa for all the inconsequential, masturbatory pissing-in-the-wind..

...ANYWAY, more importantly, Please be vivid
this, on the other hand, is not (or, rather: it doesn't seem it to me).

i am rather late in learning this, eh..
did i say broadly wrong?


i meant wrong.

(ETA: the author has a more rounded comment to their own piece up at same link now, to be reasonable. my initial objections were it all seemed rather missing-the-point. as usual, i preen my feathers on this blog and throw a bit of mud, fairly or not.)

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

He feuded bitterly with the writer Gore Vidal, and in a live appearance on ABC television at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Vidal called Buckley a "crypto-Nazi."

Buckley answered: "Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I'll sock you in the goddamn face."
gracias Chavez
the village voice talks to Chinua Achebe

Monday, 25 February 2008

whilst, for something slightly different- the Spectator criticised both Darling and Osborne on the subject of non-doms last week

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Nick Cohen on fighting German tax evasion
'In Putin's Russia, there's only room for one party'

"It may sound sacrilegious, but I would propose to suspend all this election business for the time being, at least for managerial positions."
[...]Today, authority flows from the Kremlin to a regional governor appointed by Putin, who abolished the election of governors in Russia in 2004.
[...]"If you don't vote for United Russia, it will be very bad," a worker named Aleksandr recalled, characterizing the pressure on the rank and file.

(that second sentence from the report i quote brought to mind a certain piece in the Independent from last spring)

Saturday, 23 February 2008

RIP Janez Drnovsek

Friday, 22 February 2008

on Tuesday Gérard Prunier was, as usual, worth reading

there's some choice links to other articles there, too

The fighting occurred just as the African Union (AU) was meeting in Addis-Ababa and the AU was unanimous in condemning the attack. For once there was no split along Francophone / Anglophone lines as is often the case with the African organisation; and chairman Jakaya Kikwete said that if the rebels took power in Ndjamena, they would be "excommunicated"..
Sudanese defence minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein was so upset that on 6 February he broke down and cried in public during a government function. The Americans remained completely silent; there are reports that off the record Condoleezza Rice said that the matter should be left to the French "who know how to handle this kind of thing".
In fact Washington was probably relieved not to have to face the contradictions of its Sudanese policy..
Idriss Déby is hanging to power by the skin of his teeth but he is likely to hang on only as long as Paris and Brussels continue to support him under some kind of a pseudo-humanitarian face-saving dispensation. But saving face might be a bit difficult because as soon as the rebels attacked, Idriss Déby reverted to his usual dictatorial behaviour and had all the key civilian opponents (Lol Mahamat Choua, Ibn Oumar Mahamat Saleh, Abd-el-Kader Kamougué, Ngarjely Yorongar) arrested and detained incognito in military jails. Their lives are definitely in danger at the time of writing.


thank you Moqtada al-Sadr.
thank you.

(sincere cease-fire thanks do not equate with general endorsement.)

Roth was to have presented the report at a press conference in Moscow. However, the Foreign Ministry, aware of the plans, cited a changing array of technical reasons to refuse him a visa.

"It's clear this was politically motivated. We are observing a change in the political regime in Russia from authoritarianism to totalitarianism. What happened here is one example among many," Maxim Reznik, leader of St Petersburg's opposition Yabloko party told the Guardian.

He added: "This hasn't got anything to do with fire risk. The university was carrying out important work in connection with election monitoring. Now it's being punished for it."


We would be very surprised if [the evidence] did not shock the nation.
Some alleged survivors of the gun battle near the southern Iraqi town of Majar al-Kabir also claim corpses were mutilated by UK military personnel.

"For example, quite how so many of the Iraqis sustained single gunshots to the head and from seemingly at close quarter, how did two of them end with their eyes gouged out, how did one have his penis cut off [and] some have torture wounds?"

Mr Shiner acknowledged that the bulk of the evidence relied on the five men's interpretation of what they heard while blindfolded and that no post-mortem examinations had been carried out on the bodies of the 20 dead.
But he said he believed his clients were telling the truth.
"It may be that none of this happened," he said. "We need a public inquiry to establish the facts."

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Chadian Interior Minister Mahamat Ahmat Bachir: terrifying
toward the end of that there HRW report - everything compressed into just the one sentence - there is a familiar, old echo:

The French authorities have so far maintained almost absolute silence on human rights abuses and possible war crimes being committed by the CAR military
so, with this news
A Sudanese deputy provincial governor told the BBC the fighters were heading towards the Central African Republic.

He said the activity may be linked to the split in LRA ranks following the death of deputy leader Vincent Otti.

you have - maybe - LRA militants heading toward the CAR; the deputy is Joseph Ngere Patuko, for Western Equatoria. [HRW put out a report last September, available here. they prefaced This 108-page report is based on three weeks of on-the-ground research. It documents the human rights abuses and breaches of the laws of war committed in northern CAR by both rebel groups and the government forces, and also documents attacks by banditry groups in the northwest known as zaraguinas, who often kidnap children for ransom.]

Reuters quote that
A spokesman for the LRA, which gained notoriety for mutilating victims and abducting children, dismissed the report as government propaganda.
"Those are stories cooked up by those who are against peace returning to northern Uganda, we urge them to stop such damaging talk," said LRA chief negotiator David Matsanga-Nyekorach.

we'll see. it isn't just Sudanese officials fingering the LRA.

meanwhile, an impossible situation is made brutally (and predictably) worse by a possibly hands-full and sadly impatient govt, although the govt may indeed by facing this.

what this means in the context of Françafrique i don't know.
(Bockel wanting to bury it and all; from the previous link, there is When asked earlier about the fate of three opposition members arrested in the wake of the rebel attack, Bachir said the government had only heard about this on the radio and was conducting its own judicial enquiry on Tuesday.
France, which has strongly backed Deby's government, called on Tuesday for immediate clarification of their whereabouts.

a EUFOR/TCHAD RCA page is here.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Amnesty International have a report about forced evictions in Cambodia.

the news item is here, report at bottom.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

N'DJAMENA, Feb 9 (Reuters) - European Union troops heading to eastern Chad will keep their distance from French forces and avoid taking sides in the country's rebellion, but will attack anyone endangering civilians, the EU force commander said.

Wigand picks up the phone and dials.


They've finished lunch. Wallace and Hewitt are turned to
talk to Sam Cohn and an older writer as suddenly Lowell's
cell phone rings.


WIGAND'S VOICE (OVER) fucked me!

Who is this?


...protect your sources...! You screwed
me! You sold me out!


What are you talking about? Where are


Fuck you, too!

And he slams down the phone.


Lowell, holding the dead phone in his hand...

Thursday, 7 February 2008

MSF on their recent activities in Kenya

part quote
"From January 25 to 27, the towns of Nakuru and Naivasha experienced violent clashes. Hospitals in both towns were faced with an influx of wounded people needing care, with roadblocks and insecurity preventing many Ministry of Health (MoH) staff from accessing the hospital and some essential supplies running low. In Nakuru, MSF teams responded by reinforcing the hospital where 157 people needed surgical care over the course of two days and flew in essential surgical supplies by helicopter."

Monday, 4 February 2008

Owen on Eltham Expressionism
another late one: Gregory Warner wrote about Afghanistan's (sadly cash-strapped) National Solidarity Program, a Very Good Thing, here
Fayrouz returns to Damascus

(this NYT article also mentions the most recent arrest of Riad Seif, which took place on January 28th; according to Seif's lawyer, Mohanad al-Hassani, Five plain-clothed security officers came to Mr. Seif's house at 7 p.m. and took him away. They identified themselves as members of the state security intelligence division)
bit tardy: out for a few weeks or so, the first edition of Pathways: A Magazine on Poverty, Inequality, and Social Policy, from Stanford, is proving a top read.

of headline-grabbing interest is a fine piece from U of Mich's Rebecca Blank about the anti-poverty credentials - policy proposals and ideas &c - of the folk contesting the nominations.

it's a .pdf file here.

the three main Dems get the best reviews; each talks a good game in certain areas (it's been easy to see since last spring how the recently departed Edwards has energised this agenda, and a lot of recent sensible comment has flagged this).
not surprisingly, McCain gets the most praise from GOP candidates.

it's also good to see Blank (very politely) dismiss Ron Paul's incredibly stupid, dangerously libertarian views.

[via Lane Kenworthy's Consider the Evidence]

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Somphong, a boyhood classmate of Thaksin's, is slated to become justice minister while Suraphong, a stalwart aide of the former prime minister, will probably take the finance portfolio. The two ministries are crucial in the legal cases against Thaksin and his family.

I told him we must have a sporting spirit—defeat, victory and forgiveness—and that’s all

- General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin


what prescience in Ndjamena sounds like on a Friday night:
"We cannot rule out anything; the rebels are well armed and equipped."

Sunday, 27 January 2008