Archive for May, 2009

Diverse, multicultural Britain has got talent, unlike the BNP

May 31, 2009
Best of British

Best of British

I must concur with Chris Paul’s post on the Britain’s Got Talent result and the BNP.

The victorious dance group Diversity would indeed have a hard time under a BNP government. The BNP wants an all white Britain and is against “racial integration”. BNPers are full of hate for this country, but one of the numerous things that gets them really annoygravated is the concept of diversity.

We can only imagine the Nutzis’ incredulity and disgust at a dance troupe composed of different ethnicities being able to perform so spectacularly and then win the popular vote with nearly a million viewers phoning in to support them.

The fact that many of Diversity’s members hail from Dagenham, which has unfortunately been polluted by a sizeable BNP presence in recent years, must have made their victory even more painful for any BNPers watching the show.

Ok, so Britain’s Got Talent is at heart just a big money spinner for Simon Cowell and encourages the cynical cult of celebrity, but given a choice I prefer his exploitation of collective national pride over the BNP’s. At least Britain’s Got Talent does not insist upon a weird and ultra-restrictive definition of ‘British’ (i.e. white, heterosexual, right-wing, preferably Christian and male), promotes empathy with contestants even if they have very different backgrounds from our own, and is generally positive and upbeat.

A BNP-controlled Britain’s Got Talent would be an exercise in miserabilism and ideological barminess. Contestants could show off what low levels of melanin they have. Others would demonstrate abilities to trace their indigenous British ancestry back to the fifth century BC. There would be the godawful racist sock puppets from the BNP’s Youth Officer, the unintentionally hilarious musical offerings from Great White Records (the BNP’s genuine musical division! Naturally, top ten hits have only been denied them by Jewish dominance of the entertainment industry), and party members making jokes about the Holocaust as recorded in numerous undercover documentaries.

In short, there wouldn’t be a huge amount of talent on offer, and ITV would not have a ratings winner on their hands.  But it is important to remember that although fascist scum despise people of talent who are also people of colour they are not opposed to talent-requiring activities such as dancing per se…

Franz Liebkind:You know, not many people know zis, but der Fuhrer was a terrific dancer. 

Max Bialystock: Really? Gee, we didn’t know that, did we, Leo?

Lee Bloom: No, we sure didn’t.

Franz Liebkind: THAT’S BECAUSE YOU WERE TAKEN IN BY THE BBC! Filthy British lies! But did they ever say a bad word about Winston Churchill? CHURCHILL! With his cigars, and his brandy, and his ROTTEN paintings! ROTTEN! Hitler, there was a painter! He could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon! Two coats!

 


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Get well soon Morrissey

May 29, 2009

In addition to telling him that to “stop being so bloody miserable”, Morrissey’s doctor has also informed him that he’s not well enough to sing. Therefore the Mozfather’s gig at Brixton Academy tonight, to which Captain Jako had tickets, is no longer going to be taking place.

Preferred babysitter

Preferred babysitter

This is the second time in my life that a concert I’ve been due to attend has been cancelled at the last minute. The other artist was Michael Jackson. Both men are quite weird, although if I had to let one of them look after a child of mine I know which one it would be.

Morrissey’s political beliefs are hard to pin down. He does seem to have a fascination with pretty skinhead boys and remarks made in numerous interviews suggest he subscribes to fairly traditional views of Britishness and nation-hood. But at the same time I don’t accept the ‘Morrissey is a racist’ line put about by people who don’t like his music. 

From a t-shirt design Morrissey wore in 2008

From a t-shirt design Morrissey wore in 2008

Yes, the man can obviously be a bit of an arse, but some might say that such is the price of supreme talent.

David McCaineron

May 28, 2009

Some blogging comrades draw attention to David Cameron’s apparent confusion as to how many properties he owns.

“I own a house in North Kensington and…in the constituency in Oxfordshire and that is, as far as I know, all I have…Do not make me sound a prat for not knowing how many houses I’ve got.”

This is all strangely reminiscent of Cameron’s favoured candidate for the 2008 US Presidential election, John McCain, famously forgetting how many houses he had in his collection.  

Asked how many houses he owned John McCain replied “I think – I’ll have to get my staff back to you.”

David Cameron of course welcomed John McCain to Tory party conference and presented him as the “next President of the USA”. Which tells you something about his judgement.

Direct Facebook action

May 28, 2009
Facebook not fashbook!

Facebook not fashbook!

 A post over at Harry’s Place a few days ago about BNP idiocy and Facebook reminded me of my anti-fascist efforts on the social networking site.

It all took place about two years ago. I recall being extremely irritated by the proliferation of pro-BNP groups on Facebook. The spread of their bad speling, their CAPS LOCKED RANTING, and of course their nasty political views was enough to make this patriotic Brit’s blood boil.

I wanted to engage with the people joining such groups. Obviously some of them were ideological fascists who couldn’t be reasoned with. I remember that, for example, the American white supremacist Preston Wiginton frequently left comments on the walls of the BNP groups (isn’t it disgusting how these foreigners come over here and get involved in our far-Right movements – send ’em all back, says I!).

But I also know that many of those who are drawn to the BNP, especially young people on Facebook, don’t really know what they’re getting involved with. The BNP is not a party that proudly informs its supporters of its own history. After all, being established by a lunatic with a passion for wearing Nazi uniforms does not make a great founding myth. So I am of the view that it is possible for some BNPers to one day ‘see the light’, as it were. Indeed, the experiences of people such as Chris Brennan, Maureen Stowe, Corinne Tovey-Jones and Matthew Collins suggest there is always hope. 

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The days when the Prime Minister shopped at the Co-op and was expected to attend E.C meetings

May 24, 2009
My name is Ramsay MacDonald and I shop at the Co-op because they are good with food

"My name is Ramsay MacDonald and I shop at the Co-op because they are good with food"

Due to exams and suchlike rudely getting in the way, it is taking me quite a while to get through Marquand’s biography of Ramsay MacDonald. Regular readers may recall my Valentine’s Day special post about how the first Labour Prime Minister hooked up with his missus. Well, I’ve just got to 1924 and MacDonald is the new occupant of Number 10 Downing Street. 

His salary was £5000, which the Measuring Worth website indicates was a very reasonable amount. However, the expenses system seems to have been much stricter back then. He had to pay out of his own pocket for such items as linen and china to use in Number 10 (no flat screen TVs back in those days for politicians to splash out on, and MacDonald does not appear to have wanted to keep ducks well-housed in the Downing Street garden).

Even though he was the Prime Minister and so presumably would have to hold political summits, play host to important foreign dignitaries, and things like that, he did not receive an entertainment allowance. It was clear that the political system had not adjusted to workers’ representatives reaching such positions of power – occupants of Number 10 were expected to be wealthy men who could support themselves. Remember that MPs had only been paid an official salary since 1911 and that MacDonald was the first Prime Minister from a working class background.

MacDonald was therefore very keen to economise. He had always shopped at the Co-op and saw no need to change just because he was now PM. Groceries were delivered to Downing Street in a Co-op van. To save coal MacDonald and his family always ate their meals in the official banqueting rooms which were centrally heated rather than in their private quarters. Such frugality should be an example to us all.

They dont make political posters like they used to

They don't make political posters like they used to

It was probably unfamiliarity with civil servants rather than a desire to keep costs to a minimal that led the new Prime Minister to insist that all letters arriving for him should be sent unopenened for his personal attention. This arrangement didn’t last very long. Presumably MacDonald soon realised there were more important things for him to do rather than spend all day reading letters from cranks complaining about there being too many of those damned automobile contraptions on the roads or whinging that the British Empire shouldn’t be marked on maps with the colour pink as it was too sissy.

MacDonald’s Constituency Labour Party in Aberavon were also finding it hard to adjust to the fact that their MP was running the country. MacDonald’s secretary in Downing Street was sent a letter from his constituency agent setting out the arrangements he had made for MacDonald’s next visit: “Monday afternoon two meetings on at the same time…In the evening attend the annual meeting of the divisional Labour Party…I know every district will be asking for him at the E.C meeting”.

MacDonald’s secretary had to politely inform the agent that unfortunately the Prime Minister would not be able to attend as those dates clashed with budget day. This led to an ongoing exchange of letters, with the agent forwarding angry resolutions from local branches of the Labour Party who were demanding that the Prime Minister attend their 1924 versions of pub quizzes and trips to the curry house and MacDonald’s secretary having to patiently explain why it was more important that the Prime Minister be in Parliament for the announcement of Labour’s first national budget.

And here endeth today’s Labour history lesson.

Fantasy cabinet

May 23, 2009

Several members of the Paintbrush collective (well, VoteRedGoGreen at least) spent their childhoods playing ‘fantasy cabinet’. Whilst the cool kids were playing and talking about football, VRGG would fantasise about a dream Cabinet and scare girls.

In honour of VRGG’s geeky formative years, and the upcoming Championship play-off final at Wembley (which the author is attending), I am going to make a comparison between some of Sheffield United’s fine footballers and GB’s winning (really? Ed.) Whitehall team.

Paddy Kenny : Jack Strawjack strawPaddy Kenny

30 years of munching pies has made Paddy Kenny the Blades’ porkiest goalkeeper since the legendary William ‘Fatty’ Foulke. He’s also bloody good (when he’s not stuffing his face in Greggs). His shot-stopping prowess suggests a parallel with Jack ‘The Demon Headmaster’ Straw. Straw is the ultimate survivor who’s parried away any shit that’s been thrown at him.

Kyle Naughton : Andy BurnhamAndy BurnhamKyle Naughton

Coming through the youth ranks, Kyle Naughton has been brilliant this season – solid at the back and good going forward. Pretty boy Andy Burnham is a talented young Cabinet minister who can put in a good tackle (remember Shami Chakrabarti?) and can create good chances going forward (his proposals on football club redistribution, for example).

Chris Morgan : Nick BrownNick BrownChris Morgan

Ugly, loyal and ever-so-slightly thuggish.

Greg Halford : Alistair DarlingAli DarlingGreg Halford

Greg Halford is Mr Versatile – a Phil Jagielka for the 21st Century, if you will. Whilst Jags could have been the equivalent of John Reid, our Greg gets to be Alistair ‘The Silver Fox’ Darling, a minister who’s fulfilled a number of roles over the years and is now producing the best form of his career.


Brian Howard : Peter MandelsonMandelsonBrian Howard

The midfield is an area of the team that the Blades have never really prioritised: why sign decent midfielders when you’re just going to boot the ball over their heads from the back? However, in an attempt to inject some spark into the team, Kevin Blackwell signed Brian Howard from Barnsley. The loss of their only good player made the Tykes more bitter than a pint of John Smith’s and their only remaining season-ticket holder left to spend more time with his whippets.

Anyway, Howard has finally shown why the Blades bought him with excellent performances in the play-off semis. Similarly, Lord Mandelson’s return has had some impact and hopefully his magic powers will help us in the next election.

Stephen Quinn : Hazel BlearshazelStephen Quinn

Short, ginger and energetic.


Craig Beattie : Harriet HarmanHarriet HarmanCraig Beattie

What these two have in common is an ability to a) get into good positions; and b) make a complete pig’s ear of any decent chances they get. Unfortunately, whilst Beattie is on loan, we’re stuck with Harriet.

and the managers….

Kevin Blackwell : Gordon Browngordon brownkevin blackwell

Kevin Blackwell spent years serving under Neil ‘Prince Over The Water’ Warnock, a Sheffield United legend. Getting a bit moody, he buggered off to Leeds for a bit before taking over the Blades leadership, for which he was the only candidate. He started well, achieved good results and became popular with the fans. However, he has since had some ups and downs. Likes to play a physical game, lacking the finesse of many of his rivals and he finds communicating a bit difficult: in particular, he is fond of making daft excuses for poor performances.

So no similarities there then.

The things I do for democracy

May 23, 2009

Today, I took a bold step in the name of democracy: I surrendered my vote.

How so?

I burned it.

Why?

First, some background.

I am registered to vote at two different addresses, in two different regions.

I should point out to non-election law geeks (apart from the fact that you’ve taken a serious wrong turn somewhere in the web-o-blag) that this is entirely legal.

In fact, it’s even legal to vote twice in some sets of elections, but only if you don’t vote twice for the same democratic body. Hence, whilst if you’re registered in both West Bumfluffshire District Council and Pimple-with-Acne District Councils, you can vote in the council elections of each – even if the elections are held at the same time, on the same day.

You couldn’t so so for a general election – because both votes are for representatives to the same Parliament – nor could you in a council election if both of your addresses were in West Bumfluffshire.

Usually, the question doesn’t arise, because my registered addresses are so far apart – my main residence is now in Saaaarf London, and my other registered address (that of my parents, and a slight hang-over from when I was a student, and was resident at each of my addresses for roughly half of the year) was somewhere distant and provincial. I couldn’t physically vote in each, and I was only a registered postal voter in one.

This year, however, I forgot about my old postal vote (registered at the address of Momma and Poppa VoteRedGoGreen), and also registered for a postal in a South London Borough.

Interestingly, both arrived at my South London flat on the same day.

What’s a politically engaged comrade to do? In practice, although illegal, nobody would ever know if I filled in both ballot papers and sent them to two different Returning Officers. And two votes for Labour is always better than one vote for Labour, especially in these European Elections.

However, if you will permit me a short pompous and moral outburst, there are principles at stake here. Comrades past fought for each man and woman to be enfranchized equally. If I believe in that cause, it stands to reason that I shouldn’t play the system, even if the opportunity arises.

So I took one of the ballots – the non-London one, if you must know. I tore it into little pieces. Then I took it into the garden, and set the small bundle of democracy aflame. I even took a picture.

The flame of democracy lives still

The flame of democracy lives still

My flatmate and fellow paintbrush comrade Durbinite (the blogging comrade formerly known as ElectionsProduceErections, who appears to be cleaning up his act somewhat) chastized me for “dicking about” and “making a mess in the garden”.

He was right, of course, and I still need to clean it up. But it’s a mess in the name of principle and democracy, and as such is a beautiful thing.

Something else which has amused me

May 22, 2009

I used to wonder: “what would Communist lolcats be like?”

Now I know.

Translation: The men I’ve sent to death weigh heavily on my mind; but this burden is but a fist of straw compared to the strain of the republic.

Translation: "The men I’ve sent to death weigh heavily on my mind; but this burden is but a fist of straw compared to the strain of the republic."

Hattip: www.rolcats.com

Reviewing the new Star Trek film

May 21, 2009

*Spoiler alert! Spoiler spotted off  the starboard bow. Take evasive action if necessary. Shields up. Set phasers to stun, etc, etc*

Further to my earlier Star Trek post, I hope my Paintbrush comrades will allow some further nerdery on my part. I went to see the new Star Trek film the other night and feel the need to pass on my thoughts.

I had written that I was feeling pessimistic about it. This was primarily because I am a wee bit of a film snob (though not as much as another blogger here who finds it hard to appreciate a film if it’s not black-and-white et en francais). I prefer dialogue and steady character development to big explosions and things moving too fast. Reading that director JJ Abrams was determined to make an action blockbuster out of t’ Trek made me worried that it would be too populist for my high-brow tastes.

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The wonders of the Inter-fiche

May 21, 2009

I’ve just been having a play with Wolfram|Alpha, the new “computational knowledge engine” that is – apparently – going to be setting the intertubes on fire.

Rather than showing you all of the possible websites that might contain the words that you searched for (a la Google, Yahoo, and all other search engines to date), Wolfram|Alpha interrogates the data, interprets it for you, and brings together relevant information in its result for you.

So, if you type in “UK inflation”, rather than giving you a list of documents on the web that might (or might not) be useful to you, it seeks out the data for you and presents you with a series of datasets related to your search (garnered from any number of sources of structured data).

By far the coolest thing, though, is that it is well up on its answers to some of the biggest questions of the day:

"How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?"

"How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?"