There's nobody here but us chickens.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The deft use of words make me smiley good

Patriotism, n. A willingness to sacrifice everything for one's country and what it stands for, including one's country and what it stands for.

Freedom, n. Ammunition for use in the Global War on Terror, which is being fought over it, cannot be fought without it, and will therefore come to an end at the precise moment that it is entirely exhausted.

Rapture, n. The process by which the most fervent proponents of Christianity are to be abruptly transported to another place. While some expect the RAPTURE will take place before the imposition of Hell on Earth, the better authorities have the two occurring simultaneously, an arrangement that would forestall unseemly rejoicing among the damned.

Islamofascism, n. An amalgam of religion and meaningless expletive, bound together with the "o" from "veg-o-matic". Originally coined by Communists in their struggle to explain the indifference of Muslims to the self-evident charms of Communism, this word tends to evoke hysteria in the listener, whether as an insult to Islam, as an insult to the English language, or as a humiliating reminder of things that are foreign and hard to pronounce.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Don't give me credit

We treat our bank managers like we treat our doctors. They say, 'Ah, you'll need to buy some insurance with that, sir.' And we believe them. But in fact we're just being sold things. And this is an industry that's self-regulating."
The state of the credit industry.

At a direct-mail conference, a new item in the arsenal, the post-it note:
The letter has all the technical details. You throw the letter away and keep the Post-It Note!" So the devil is in the detail, you chuck the devil in the bin, and all you're left with is a friendly, brightly coloured Post-It Note with a number to call. It seems that whenever new regulations are forced on the banking industry, someone springs into action and devises a clever new idea that might legally avoid them.
And on meeting the man who made the original case for democratising credit to all:
It becomes obvious during my conversation with Lord Griffiths that he has come to believe that he inadvertently unleashed some kind of monster. He says he never could have predicted "the dynamism" with which the lenders would pursue his ideas. "The dynamism," he says. "The innovation." I've never heard these words uttered with such sadness.
The casualties.
I remember an old Bob Dylan song - Who Killed Davy Moore? - in which a boxer dies in the ring. In the song, the crowd say it wasn't their fault ("It's too bad he died that night, but we just like to see a fight"). The gambler says it wasn't his fault ("I didn't commit no ugly sin, anyway, I put money on him to win"). The opponent says it wasn't his fault ("I hit him, yes, it's true, but that's what I am paid to do"). In the song, nobody killed Davy Moore and everybody did.

What I want to know - in the metaphorical sense - is, who killed Richard Cullen?

A moving, and frightening story, here.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

More explosions

I'm fine, but would appreciate people letting me know they are.

UPDATE: Minor, only one injury reported (and that apparently a bomber). Move down to canary yellow alert.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

One word, one vision


(Tip o' the hat to Cleek at Obsidian Wings.)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Face of subversion?

John, during your spell in the states, are you sure you didn't pop over to Washington ?

37484153861, originally uploaded by jakedobkin.

Actually, Borf's been arrested. Read the article: he's my kind of kid. Yes, I know his reasoning is garbled, and his stances inconsistent. But that's part of the point of being a teenager - to launch yourself into things that matter, get a point of view - let the coming years take the edge off him, by all means, but my god we need more 18-year olds like him rather than like him (actually, that's unfair, he has some sensible things to say, and he's not 18 any more...actually hang on he's banging on about evolutionary psych and the crypto-racists at genexp again - I take back my retraction!)

Here's the reason I have a soft spot for him:
He said he was an activist long before he got into graffiti. The first protest he attended was against capitalism in September 2002. It's possible he would have been arrested if he'd gotten there on time, he said, but the protest was "too early."
Quite right too.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Superdick expose

You always had this sneaking suspicion. The preppy coiff, the supercilious attitude, the sneer lurking just beneath his lips. Superman has got to be a dick. But his immense popularity and admitted feats of derring-do make you swallow your accusations and doubt your thoughts.

Doubt no more. (But you can still swallow.) Thanks to an extensively researched investigation into his actions over the last 60 years or so, I have obtained access to all the proof needed that Superman is not just a dick, he's a superdick. My personal faves:

petty graft
enabler of non-consensual zoophilia
enemy of the family
Or how about committing your friends to maintain your privacy?
Then again, maybe that particular friend deserves it...

Post your favorites in comments.

UPDATE: this might take the cake...

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Out of town

Off to the Cardiff Science Festival today; Tom and I are doing one of the events, a science cafe where we're the house boffins. Today's program is here; if you're that side of the sticks do come along (it's free) to ask some awkward questions.

Friday, July 08, 2005

London today, yesterday and before.

Livingstone remarked upon what he thought was a keystone of the successful London bid: that 300 languages are spoken by people of origins from across the world, who live together side by side. He continued:
This city typifies the future of the human race....I would like to congratulate Londoners - no panic - an incredible response of stoicism....I myself will use the UG to go to work on Monday as normal, and that is the advice I give to every Londoner....I wish to thank Londoners for their solidarity - there are some places where such an incident would unleash internal strife and physical violence, but Londoners have stood firm....If you go back a couple 100 years...there was a saying ``city air makes you free'' - and the people who come to London...have come for that...this is a city where you are free to be yourself, as long as you don't harm anybody else...a city where you can seek your potential. And that is our strength....that's what they seek to snuff out. But they will fail.
A pensioner on the streets following the explosions yesterday:
Nil desperandum.
Here's another blitz quote, from H.V. Morton's London, February 1941.
I do not know how many tons of high explosives have been tipped out upon the gigantic target of London since the Battle of London began on August 24th, 1940. The result is a grim city, a shabby city, except round and about Guildhall, where several famous streets have been burned to the ground.
The people of London, having developed a technique of living in the face of repeated danger, now accept the preposterous, and what was until so recently the incredible, as the normal background of existence. I often think that the ability to reduce the preposterous and the incredible to the level of commonplace is a singularly English gift.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

In the face of adversity

Pont%202, originally uploaded by Alex Fradera.

by Pont

London 1941

Half masonry, half pain; her head
From which the plaster breaks away
Like flesh from the rough bone, is turned
Upon a neck of stones; her eyes
Are lid-less windows of smashed glass,
Each star-shaped pupil
Giving upon a vault so vast
How can the head contain it?

The raw smoke
Is inter-wreathing through the jaggedness
Of her sky-broken panes, and mirror'd
Fires dance like madmen on the splinters.

All else is stillness save the dancing splinters
And the slow inter-wreathing of the smoke.

Her breasts are crumbling brick where the black ivy
Had clung like a fantastic child for succour
And now hangs draggled with long peels of paper,
Fire-crisp, fire-faded awnings of limp paper
Repeating still their ghosted leaf and lily.

Grass for her cold skin's hair, the grass of cities
Wilted and swaying on her plaster brow
From winds that stream along the street of cities:

Across a world of sudden fear and firelight
She towers erect, the great stones at her throat,
Her rusted ribs like railings round her heart;
A figure of dry wounds - of winter wounds -
O mother of wounds; half masonry, half pain.

Mervyn Peake, Shapes & Sounds 1941

Taken from Michael Moorcock's Mother London

Series of explosions - almost certainly terrorist attacks

Nothing you'll get here you couldn't get from google or the BBC.

I'm posting this to reassure that I'm fine, as is Disa, and from the numerous reports I have from friends and family, my sphere has been spared from the traumas occurring round the city. Three Two of the explosions were within ten minutes of my house, and one across the road from where I work. I may post some updates as the day progresses, and if anyone wants to use comments to declare their situation then do so.

UPDATE: The death toll is rising; I've been outside to meet with some friends and it seems people are pretty unflustered - this is on Lambs Conduit Street, just metres from Russell square - although police cordons are carving up this part of the city at present.

CORRECTION: The Russell Square and Kings Cross explosions were in fact one explosion in between the two stations. Likewise for Aldgate and Liverpool street.

UPDATE: Typing as I hear it: "They're trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, to frighten us from doing the things we want to do.... they should not and must not succeed. When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated. When they seek to change our country or our way of life by these methods, we will not be changed.... We will show by our spirit and dignity, and the quiet and true strength there is in the British people, that our way will outlast theirs....This is a very sad day for the British people, but we will hold true to the British way of life." - Tony Blair, 17:30 approx GMT