Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Happy Birthday Google

Happy Birthday Google. In Spetember 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin opened their doors to Google. Seven years later it is the most popular search engine on the globe. We now have Google Mail, a Google browser on the way and the blog you're reading is part of the Google world. Many happy returns.

No more ideas from the Pros

The pro-War pundits have run out of ideas. The facts on the ground look bad for those who supported the Anglo-US War on Iraq. Unless, like Norman Mailer, you like seeing the White Guy beat the Brown Guy in a boxing metaphor that goes beyond parody. The war-mongers look stupefied and listless. So what do they do? They trolley out the old memes about ‘stoppers’ because, if you support a war, never deny yourself the right to a bit of chest-thumping (Fuck Yeah!!):

  • Bunch of Guardian readers. Thanks to the blogosphere, haven’t had to since 2003. And then only by filtered-RSS.
  • Bunch of UN supporters. Perhaps, but anyone who has lived and worked in the 3rd World for longer than 5 minutes knows that the UNDP are no fools.
  • They are rabidly anti-Bush and anti-American-Government. No more than the average American given the aftermath of two recent hurricanes.

The pro-war posse is now reduced to character assassination and today's victim is George Galloway. Wow, tough target, man. Its a good thing he's a walking straw man because Palast pulled the rug from under that ‘hero’ before the war-mongers had a chance. It says a lot about the bankruptcy of a valid Invasion-Occupation argument when all you’re left with is a critique of a man’s tan. Is it real or not? You know that 20 minutes into a scorched-earth campaign, your usual over-weight pro-war troll would turn a few shades pinker.

And whilst they continue to masturbate in this manner, here’s Juan Cole and the Commotions with some more of those facts on the ground that the pro-war people can’t bring themselves to countenance, mainly because none of it is complementary to their cause. Here, Mr Cole can be seen in a very interesting interview running off a stream of conciousness on Iraq, its people and the state of the War, without having to look up Google.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Tiffinbox Update

Note to listeners of Radio.Tiffinbox

Updated the playlist today. Expect to hear amongst other things, a funky mix of West Coast experimental jazz from the 70s, lots of Madlib as the Beatmaster and Lord Quas and beautifully crafted electronica from the likes of London-based Benge.

"Hello my name is Benjamin D Edwards. This is my ninth album I have recorded on my own. I like synthesisers and sports cars. There are nine tracks on my new album, and each one is named after a different sports car from a book my parents gave me when I was 9. They run a school which i could play in all the time when I was little. My favourite room was the music room. I recorded some of the instuments on this album in there like glockenspiels, piano, cymbals and drums and my favorite, the synthesiser. I can make any sound I like on synthesisers and my favorite kind are modular ones because you have to build the sound up from nothing using wires and make a sound nobody has ever heard before. Some of the music I recorded when I was on holiday in France, because I can use a portable synthesiser and computer. I hope you like the music, my favorite track is track 4 and I called it ‘Facel 3’ because that is my favorite car in the book."

Ben is 36 and you will be able to hear Facel 3 on Radio.Tiffinbox

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Faith no more

I pong to this post on Opposing Faith Schools from Harry's Place. I don't know much about the entrails of this issue which qualifies me as an ideal candidate to comment. The point made is that Faith schools should be stopped on the basis that they will reinforce values which are propagated on old (South Asian) sectarian baggage. And that if they are allowed to continue, the State pays for this sectarianism on curricula in schools. Whilst I agree with this conclusion in parts, I don't exactly know which parts. The issue is further clouded when you consider that:

1. Religion and racism, which Nick Cohen calls "the two most toxic causes of strife on the planet", are not going to get airbrushed away by stopping faith schools. They're toxic alright, but the same causes are well propagated by secular schools too. How many BNP members went to secular schools masqerading as madrasas? And if it is posited that BNP members don't learn their racism from schools, then it ought to be asked - why will Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus do so?

2. How far away are we from Saudi Arabian style legislation which bans all schools in the Kingdom if they're not preaching a particualr type of home-grown Nejdi Sunni Islam, which we know and love as Wahhabi-ism. Seems abhorrent, but isn't this the other side of this selective secular fundamentalism?

3. Weren't Cambridge and Oxford Universities essentially founded on the principles of faith schools? Its OK I guess if the elites of the UK continue to benefit from faith schools as long they're certain faiths only? I doubt there is a leader of a Commonwealth Country today who did not benefit from schools created by Christian missionaries.

Will Christian and Jewish schools also be stopped? Whats really behind this push to stop faith schools?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Lenin's Tomb

I am yet to see a blog called Hitler's Bunker or Gandhi's Loincloth or Reagan's colostamy bag that is as well written and well considered as Lenin's Tomb.

To dismiss Lenny's Tomb is the kind of reflexive anti-Leftist reaction favoured by those ex-Lefties who seem so ashamed of their collective pasts as a bunch of middle class Socialist Worker readers that they've decied to drop the pretence and be what they really always have been: piss-soaked middle-class reactionary cretins for war. Excluding that Spirit of 1976 fellow, who's quite sound actually.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The talented Mr Hitchens

"[...] On another point, and for extra effect, Hitchens just made something up: just simply lied. He said that the father of the leader of the Lebanese Communist Party was "murdered by Syria." And Hitchens has a trick he uses with great regularity and effect in the US: he always (rightly) assumes that his interlocutor knows less about the Middle East than he does, so he throws specific names of people, places, and political parties. That leaves the other person either unable to reply, or subject to more specific facts that may overwhelm her/him. "
As'ad Abukhalil (The Angry Arab)

"[...] I guarantee you Hitchens did not know Sistani existed in February, 2003. As for Mr. Bremer, Hitchens's hero, his response to Sistani's fatwa was to ask, "can't we get a fatwa from some other mulla?""
Juan Cole

'nuff said.

Cartman on The Aristocrats

"'The Aristocrats' is a joke that has been with comedians since Vaudeville. 'The Aristocrats' is a joke that is never told in public."
Here's a video (WMV) link to Cartman from South Park telling the Aristocrats joke. Do not click the link if you're offended by references to incest, paedophilia and jokes about 9/11.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Hitchens and Galloway: A pox on both houses

Finally got to see the the Hitchens-Galloway debate which has generated a tsunami of blogoshpere buzz.

The video is streamed from here.
A transcript is found here.
The Angry Arab analysis makes superb reading.

It was a bitchslapping contest par excellence. The debate felt stretched over 2 hours, but there was plenty of personal insult traded across both sides to keep it entertaining.

I was shocked to see just how much of an unconditional Bush cheerleader Hitchens has become, yet his sincerest arguments (something that was short in supply from these guys) for pro-Iraq War were socialist: The Trade Union movement which was brutalised during Saddam's rule will be greatly enhanced and the condition of the women will be vastly improved. As if we are expected to believe that when they were planning the war in the Pentagon, these were foremost in the minds of Bush's strategists.

Finally, the debate was rolled up by Hitchens who made probably the only point that both he and Galloway, as they went off to their respective book signings, were in perfect agreement on:
"From now on if you want to talk to me, you'll need a receipt and I'll be sitting selling books because this is after all, America."
Thanks to Popinjay, Spirit of 76, for this link: If you really want to see Hitchens dismantled, this video link, from the Daily Show is revealing. Hitchens comes to whore up his new book but gets tied up in knots by presenter, Jon Stewart.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Death is my butter

Quote of the Day:
"They wanted in Hollywood to make the definitive spy picture. And they came to me to supervise the project, you know, because I think that, if you know me at all, you know that death is my bread and danger my butter - oh, no, danger's my bread, and death is my butter. No, no, wait. Danger's my bread, death - no, death is - no, I'm sorry. Death is my - death and danger are my various breads and various butters."

-Woody Allen - What's up Tiger Lily
Sampled brilliantly by Daedelus on Cloak and Dagger - A Gent Agent. 2004. [Laboratory Instinct]

Currently on the Radio.TiffinBox playlist.

Sister Kate's habit

Front page on the Sun (odious British gutter rag that does adequately as toilet paper alternative) today: Kate Moss has a £200 per day cocaine habit.

Is this supposed to scandalise or titilate the great unwashed?

For most of the chavs who read it, its simply aspirational.

For the editors who produced this story, its simply jealousy, since most of them are insipid weasels who also aspire to but simply cannot match Kate's appetite.

As for me, well, she's gone up in my estimation tenfold. Go girl!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Conspiracy-soaked Popinjay

I recently read the following comments-box exchange on Popinjays for War (a well known, reactionary and rabidly pro-war blog), between a commentator (named Callum) and Eric the Unread, one of its contributors:

Callum: I suppose listing the long history of Christian Imperialism would just be an exercise in pointing out the obvious?

Eric the Unread: No, an exercise in pointlessness. They are not currently trying to create a Christian empire by blowing up Saudi public transport.

By 'they', Eric means Islamic extremists, becuse that's what the thread is about.

So my reading of that sentence is that he is directly implying that, converse to Callum's Christian Imperialists, 'They' the Islamic Imperialists are currently trying to create a Muslim empire by blowing up London Transport.

Double Take. Sorry, what?

Even as I write that sentence, I can see that it reads entirely like a cheesy conspiracy theory. Here we go again: Revolutionary Islamists in our midst, blowing up bombs in an organised manner to create an Anarchist/AntiChrist Islamist Empire in the UK. Cue images of hordes of beturbaned and bearded Mujahideen storming through the streets of London, wielding rocket launchers.

Or can it really be that the Unread one actually believes the Underground bombers are part of a plot to bomb Britain into Islamic Empire-hood. Goes a long way to explain why the Popinjay contributors sound like a bunch of shrill, panicky and ethically constipated losers most of the time.

And as if to magically corroborate my point, here's Eric the Undead making a typically derivative point at the expense of a Guardianista article that he has misconstrued, as usual. Nothing new here, just snarky ennui.

Is he is hip, clever and controversial? Hardly, his readers know him to be callow, stupid and boring.

Homeland Insecurity in Bangladesh

The Home Ministry in Bangladesh recently offered rewards for the capture of two terrorists who are accused of masterminding the recent bomb attacks. Some 475 small bombs exploded in 30 minutes across the country last month, killing two people and injuring more than 100.

Photofits of the two men accused, have been issued.

The description given to this correspondent, on the strength of witnesses who have seen the photofit was:

"Tall short man, pudgy, bald, but with a cowlic, green topi, beard, goatee, possibly dyed with henna, either has no forehead or no neck, depends on the disguise."

If anyone has seen either of these two men, please get in touch with the Bangladesh chapter of Homeland Security.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Preserve us from "Advisers" to Tony Blair

Last week so called 'Advisers' from the Muslim Council of Britain advised Tony Blair to scrap Holocaust Memorial Day because it regarded it as offensive to Muslims, as detailed here.

I don’t know about you, but I would really like to know who these unelected "Advisers" are and which Muslims they think they are representing? I don’t think its wrong to say that to suggest that Muslims find the Jewish Memorial Day offensive because it is not inclusive is a complete fallacy. Who dreams this BS up?

There’s something rotten in the State of Islamophobia that is formulating this kind of excrement. All it it is doing is trying to portray the entire Muslim community as anti-Semites who do nothing but bay for Jewish blood. This is awful, wrong and should be resisted by Muslims all the way.

In a similar example of another unelected Muslim Adviser to Tony Blair giving Islamophobes a field day: Ahmad Thomson denies the Holocaust and suggested that Freemasons forced Tony Blair to joining up with the Iraq War. The government should not be taking advice, formally or informally from this man. And if it does, it should be made clear that he does not speak on behalf of the Muslim community, and his hateful views are unacceptable and totally ungrounded in reality.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Good News for Canadian Muslims

Premier Dalton McGuinty has banned all religions arbitrations in Ontario. The province will not become the first Western jurisdiction to allow Shariah Law to settle Muslim family disputes. All religious arbitrations will be banned, including those of Catholics, Jews, Canadian Aboriginals and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Given that an implementation of the Shariah would only have served to alienate the Muslim community even further and added more unwanted gryst for the mill to be exploited by Islamophobes (and you know who you are), this universal ban means that Ontarian Muslims have thankfully avoided getting sucked into a social and PR nightmare. The Muslim Canadian Congress who played an important role in this decision were clearly pleased with this result and mature in their response:
Tarek Fatah, head of the Muslim Canadian Congress, which has called for reforms within Canada's more traditional Muslim organizations, called McGuinty's surprise announcement "a great victory for all Canadians, but particularly Muslims in Canada, and a defeat for Islamic fundamentalists and those who are preaching it in Canada."
This is excellent news for Muslims in Ontario. However, before we cue the MP3 for Everyone's a Winner Baby, the article reports that the Jewish community were not so happy at losing the right to hold arbitrations in Jewish Law:
A representative from Ontario's Jewish community expressed disappointment and shock over McGuinty's decision.

"We're stunned," said Joel Richler, Ontario region chairman of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

"At the very least, we would have thought the government would have consulted with us before taking away what we've had for so many years."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Boy, you gotta carry that weight

Christopher Hitchens coined the term Islamofacism. One day in 2001, he decided that the Right Wing would be the vantage from where he would take on Islamic Fundamentalism (as opposed to other Right Wing fundamentalisms that we could mention) with his rapier wit, brilliant command of historical and current facts and a panache that can only be described as downright sexy.

But Juan Cole explains in Salon, why Hitchens backed the wrong horse and why his resolve to defend the actions of GWBush and the legacy of a disastrously illegal war has run out of steam, intellectually and morally.

And if you're stuck for reasons to doubt Hitchens' intentions, there's this blog 'dedicated to exposing the lies of the New Right's favourite ex-Marxist'.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Gandhi, Mandela and al-Zarqawi

"When I look back on it all now the amazing thing is that all the so called terrorists, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, ended up having tea with the queen as heads of ­Commonwealth countries."

The above quote, from an article by Tony Benn, got me thinking about the nature of how public enemies are slowly rehabilitated by the authorities they spent a career fighting. The question is, is it likely that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi will ever get invited for tea and voul au vents at Buckingham Palace by King Charles in the future, after the glorious success of democracy and the wholesale acceptance of Western-style capitalism in Iraq? Sounds far-fetched but it could be argued that is almost what happened exactly in the case of India.

At some point Gandhi, Mandela and al-Zarqawi have been or are regarded as dangerous revolutionaries. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela instilled the same fear and hatred in their day amongst British ruliong classes as al-Zarqawi does in the US Administration. There is absolutely no difference in their ends - which was this: The expulsion of a foreign aggressor from their countries who were maintaining rule without the consent of the majority of the indigenous people of their respective countries. In other words, to instigate a revolution to resist the a colonialist aggressor.

As for their means, they are identical insofar as all at some point used violence. Gandhi only rejected violence as an option after he met with other intellectuals in India. He was not averse to the use of violence in South Africa, only because the nature of the 'enemy' was different (see below). But lets be clear:

1) The British handed India back to Indians when it became apparent that it was no longer possible to rule a country that was not industrialised. The monetary cost to bring India to that level was too much for Britain to bear. So they dropped India and walked away, sucked dry of resources.
2) Gandhi did not have to use force because Britain was not resorting to carpet bombing and cluster bombs to break the country's resolve like the USA did in Iraq. India had already got into bed, culturally and institutionally with the "King of England" 200 years before Gandhi came along.
3) Apartheid in South Africa fell apart for the same reasons the British Raj collapsed in India. It was financial rather than ideological. In other words, the bottom fell out of South African economy. Also, Mandela was still holed up in Robin Island when power was handed to the ANC.

The insurgents, or al-Zarqawi if you want a name and a face to hate and throw darts at, has to fight on just as Gandhi and Mandela did. Whether they are directly related to USA leaving Iraq is immaterial, he will be regarded as the man who took on the USA in Iraq.

We live in Baghdad baby

So as the desperate attempts to prop up this disastrous war continue unabated in Tal Affar, US deserters speak out, disillusioned with the motives behind the illegal war in Iraq.

"All these insurgents, as they call them -- they're not. They're people who have nothing left. There was this guy who was mad at us because we had killed his family. Wife, children; everybody but him had been killed. He was seeking some kind of retribution. That is not an insurgent -- that's a desperate man"
Ivan Borek, 19

Those are the words of a real soldier on the ground. As opposed to the view taken by pro-war commenters who would like us to believe that the Iraq War is valid because of the need to fight the presence of insurgents. A new goalpost move which adds another pretext to the list of Reasons on Why We Went to War. Readers will remember that this list included

  • WMDs (the reason that never was)
  • To protect poor Iraqis from Saddam (the Humanitarian argument which disproved iteself after the shameful treatment of Iraqis in Abu Ghraib)
  • To give them Democracy, Freedom and the American Way (New Orleans knows all about that now)
  • And all new - There's Insurgents out there don't you know new

Which is great if you're a RightWing Straussian War supporter happily ensconced in some leafy suburb of London/New York. But not so great if you live in Baghdad, where after two and a half years, the Americans and their Iraq-Rebuilding contractors have yet to supply basic amenities.

Photo: Jerome Daily

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Aid to US

The US has accepted aid in the wake of the Katrina disaster from the following countries [AP].

Iran, once drubbed one part of the 'Axis of Evil', has donated 20m barrels of crude oil to the US. Readers will recall that after the Bam earthquake, the US offered $5M in USAID on condition that Iran turn over any Al-Qaeda members. Iran's offer is conditional on the lifting of US sanctions.

Some of the discrepancies in the donations offered to the USA by countries are startling. Bangladesh, a poverty stricken Muslim country (and from whence this blog's author originates) has donated $1M in cash. Whereas Italy, America's only 'old Europe' ally on the Continent and fearless friend (yeah, right) in the Iraq War has donated "300 cots, 300 blankets, 600 sheets, a water pump, six life rafts, 11,200 chlorine tablets, first-aid kits; baby food"! That must be whats refered to as Christain Kindness?

India has offered $5M in cash but Israel, recipient of USA's heftiest foreign aid package yearly, is "Sending medical team". Yes, well, lets dispel that pregnant silence straightaway and get the Jewish jokes out of the way right now.

The Arabs are, as expected and on cue, dishing out the dinars. Qatar (home of al-Jazeera) donates $100M while Saudi Arabia, generous to a fault as only a US puppet regime can be, has opened the Big Oil valves yet wider, gushing forth to an undisclosed amount.