Aug 31, 2004 · 4 minute read
And here we are again.
After a weekend when it seemed that common sense had broken out in the White House, it seems the War on Nouns can in fact be won. At least that's what Bush is saying today (warning: links to Rush Limbaugh and shady logic). Oh, and hurrah for saving companies some money!. Who likes birds anyway?
I'm starting later tonight, because yesterday was rather boring until 9pm.
Elizabeth Dole! YOU SENT ME LEAFLETS! Oh, an attack on Clinton. How original. Really. "Hi! I'm Bob Dole! I attack decorated Veterans for fun and games!"
"What we believe has never wavered." 3/5ths of a natural person! You know it makes sense. Ah, now gay marriage, abortion, and religion. All the hot buttons. I'm impressed. Is this live on the networks, or are they not coming on until Arnie turns up? "ACTIVIST JUDGES ARE KILLING BABIES AND SPITTING ON THE FLAG!". And I think you'll find that we split the atom first, ma'am.
Oh, George Soros was not pleased with Mr. Hastert's drug claims (especially since he's going around the convention repeating them to all who ask), so he's written a letter asking the Speaker to substantiate his claims or shut the hell up.
And now George P. Bush. It is scary just how much the Bush clan is beginning to become the GOP's answer to the Kennedys. Apart from public speaking. Hmm, I wonder what the Ally McBeal episode is tonight? "I will not stand to be disparaged!"
Okay, back. And there's been some singing. Miss America 2003! Bigging up Faith-based initiatives!
And yet more singing.
It's 9pm, and the thing begins to start in earnest, I expect. Sen. Bill Frist. I'm going to guess and say tort reform. Oh, no, prescription drugs. Once again, it's really quiet. I suppose Madison Square Garden is much bigger than the Fleet Center in Boston. Now, it sounds like a wonderful idea — having an account where you can save money tax-free to pay for healthcare. But no-one expects to get sick. And you can't know what you're going to become sick with. So it doesn't seem like a good idea to me. But then I live in a country with universal healthcare, so what do I know?
TORT REFORM! Oh yes, I rule. Okay, it was obvious, but hey, I take victory where I can. Bonus points if he can work in John Edwards into the tirade. 50 BONUS POINTS! And stem cell research to finish. Er, isn't Mr. Bush going to the UN to request the banning of therapeutic cloning? Oh, yes, I think he is. "This President will not use your tax dollars to destroy human life…[fill in your own punchline]".
I'm going to have to stop listening to the music bits. I know that they have as much right as anybody else to use them, but it's just SO WRONG.
whoooooooosh....Barack Obama joke flies, and dies horribly on the rafters. We really need Al Sharpton here. And now! For a run through of John Kerry's voting record, including the Defence of Marriage Act.
And now! A surfer sings!
ARNIE! "Don't misunderstand me, I love Austria…but…" and his love of Nixon. Well, hurrah. Dude, you became a Republican on the back of Nixon? That's harsh. HAHAHAHA "It doesn't make any difference who your parents are." Tell that to legacy students, hmm? Oh, and the Soviet thing is interesting - I mean, given that they'd just spent the past eight or so years under Nazi rule and propaganda, well – Oh I really despair. "Econominc girly-men." Is that the best that the Governor of California can do? One America! Three jobs to earn a living! Stand behind your decisions, even if they're revealed to be completely wrong later on! Never apologise! Never show weakness! Stand fast!
"We fight AIDS in Africa." Yes. While lining the pockets of drug companies — WTF? WTF? WTF? "When that lone man stood in front of the tank in Tianaman Square, America stood with him" So, I wonder. How's that guy doing right now? Yes, that's why they're hosting the next Olympics. It's not as if their human rights record has improved. And your use if Nelson Mandela would have been so much better if the Vice-President hadn't been a tacit supporter of apartheid.
Oh God. The Bush twins. Just. No. It's a comedy routine from Hell itself. And I think I'll skip Laura Bush. Although the hamster gag was okay. Hey! John Kerry namechecked "Hey Ya" first, bandwagon-jumpers!
Aug 30, 2004 · 6 minute read
So, yeah, bub. The lion is lying down with the lamb, chalk and cheese have been seen holding each other's hands, and the Republicans are having a convention in New York. People are not amused.
Meanwhile the Republican Party is calling respectable financiers fronts for drug cartels, and giving the opening invocation to somebody who compares the fight against gay marriage to the struggle against Hitler. Classy.
I have a sick fantasy for tonight. John McCain will get half-way through his address, then undergo a Damascus conversion, yelling "No, I'm sorry. With all my conscience, I cannot recommend George W. Bush for the Presidency. Kerry/Edwards 2004!" before being bundled off the stage by the Enforcers.
But that won't happen. McCain is a party man like all the others. He owes to continued career to the Party rallying around his when he was implicated in the S&L scandals during the 1980s. He is not as moderate as he appears. He just seems that way. Tonight, he will pledge loyalty to the Bush family, not withstanding all the smears, the disagreements, and the lies. For McCain believes in the Elephant, That's why Kerry/McCain was nothing but a flight of fancy.
OutKast are singing up a storm at the VMAs. Sorry, MTV UK doesn't show the VMAs until a day afterwards, so they can edit out all the bad language, even if it's ten minutes to midnight. "For the millionth time, Hey Ya!" Still great. (the tenuous connection? the set is laid out like a convention, and now balloons are falling from the ceiling), Although it should have been held in New York. Pop v. Politics! It would be like West Side Story, but with only one side dancing. I can't be the only one who wants to see Andre 3000, Big Boi and P. Diddy face off against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove, can I?
Oh, perhaps I can.
My BitTorrent source for The Daily Show has disappeared, so I'm devoid of my snark this week. Bah. As you can imagine, there's not much of interest right now; BBC Parliament is showing people calling into PBS. Awesome.
From the platform document!
Abstinence from sexual activity is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including sexually transmitted HIV/AIDS. Therefore, we support doubling abstinence education funding. We oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for contraception and abortion.
BAG OF HAMMERS.
Dear God. Playing Let's Stay Together. That's almost criminal. Still, I think they've finally understood that Born in the USA is not the best song to play at a convention. And the songs going over the speakers will probably be the best music of the convention. I mean, even Bruce Willis decided to hang out with P. Diddy rather than turn in. Man, that's harsh.
Hurrah! Now, I'm not normally one to be a Luddite, but you don't get this problem with pencil and paper, you know…
Okay, so I watched Justice League, and when I came back, there's some scary singing group doing a 'thing'. Oh, it's an introduction to New York. Dear me. It's bad. BUT NOT AS BAD AS THE SNL SPOOF. MY EYES.
Is it just me, or does the sound have a great deal of echo? And Dennis Hastert is pretty awful as a speaker. Which is unfortunate for a Speaker of the House. Aha, out first flip-flop mention of the evening. Oh, and he's gone. Perhaps I shouldn't have been watching Ally McBeal (first season - obviously).
Hey hey! it's Dick Cheney! "Dick Cheney's daughter couldn't be with us tonight, because most of your will be afraid of catching gay cooties" (of course, I don't know what she looks like, so she might actually be there, I suppose) AND WILL THEY STOP WITH THE MOTOWN CRIBBING? I do not want to associate the sublime You're All I Need To Get By with Lynne and Dick Cheney.
Pat Buchanan is laying the smackdown on the neo-conservatives! Although it speaks to how twisted the world is these days that he's starting to make sense.
ON THE FLOOR! THEY'RE BRINGING THE ROCK TO THE CONVENTION! HARDCORE! VAN HALEN! JUMP! GEORGE BUSH SR! Imagine the chessiest promo, and square it. They just did the Dallas triple screen effect. BUSH READING A BOOK IN A COMFY SWEATER! BUT HE JUMPS OUT OF PLANES TOO! Bah, they're just looping the riff. THE GOP IS HOLDING BACK THE ROCK! LET IT FLY! Or just stop. Bah.
It's Ron Silver! Oooh, "You guys got Toby Ziegler, but we've got Bruno!" "Who?" "You know, the guy who was in the West Wing for a while before they dropped him down the lift shaft on top of Mandy and Ainsley." And he talks about how the President is doing the right thing by going after the people who destroyed the World Trade Center. Quite where Iraq comes into that, he doesn't say, but you know…
"This party isn't about the past" Which is why you've spent the past ten minutes interviewing Veterans. Riiight.
erm. erm. okay, it's only me who finds this army/navy/air force promo tacky. At least they're not including real war footage I suppose.
Hmm. The first day of the DNC was more interesting. By now, Gore had come out swinging. I'M WAITING FOR THEM TO GET THE PARTY STARTED.
Yes, the oh-so-brave President that didn't bother to show up in New York UNTIL THREE DAYS AFTERWARDS. So brave.
Can't be bothered to rebut the PATRIOT Act defence, except laugh at the "critics say that we can snoop at library records. Well, only terrorists use the library anyway" gist.
No one is speaking for long tonight. It's all five minutes and out - ANGIE HARMON! THE GRAVEL VOICE HERSELF!
And now, a little country breakdown. OR PERHAPS? YES? COULD IT BE? A HOE-DOWN?
Meanwhile, rumours abound that the delegates are wearing Purple Heart band-aids to mock Kerry (classy), and that the Secret Service is preventing reporters from interviewing Michael Moore (that's from NPR). Which sounds ridiculous.
CHIC? BOOK ME A TICKET, I"M GONNA FLY OVER AND KICK THEIR ASSES. DON'T YOU KNOW WHAT THESE PEOPLE DID? THE NIGHTS IN CLUB 54? Mind you, it is a soulless version, and the two cowboys line dancing are funny.
Here comes McCain. Woo. Although he might get more than five minutes.And for the first time tonight, the crowd sounds like it's actually there. And begins by quoting FDR. Yeah, I know what I said earlier. But actually seeing him doing it is another thing. To be fair, at the moment, he's going out of his way to not criticise the Democrats. But still. OH, FOR ***************** STAND UP MICHAEL. STAND UP. That was a cheap shot of the lowest order.
I'm sorry. Have to stop, before I punch something. I can guess what Rudy is going to say, and I…a party man to the bitter end.
Aug 29, 2004 · 1 minute read
Use Gmail as your filesystem!
Aug 29, 2004 · 1 minute read
They’ve taken over our garden! NOWHERE IS SAFE!
Aug 27, 2004 · 3 minute read
One day, some mad soul is going to write a complete history of Factory Records (and no, it probably won't be me — I know just enough about the catalogue to realise that anybody to tries to do such a thing will go insane. At which point, they'll be the perfect candidate to work on the history of ZTT Records), and they will discover all sorts of wonderful bands that weren't New Order or Joy Division. Forgotten names such as Section 25, Minny Pops, Stockholm Monsters, and Crispy Ambulance (yes, really). And hopefully, the author will have a soft spot for FAC 12.
As ever, a Peter Saville cover is a hallmark of quality. FAC 12: The Distractions / Time Goes By So Slow may be the greatest 7" single ever released by Factory (Blue Monday was 12" only, remember, and the 7" of Temptation is a pale shadow of the glory of the full-length version). The Distractions were rather out of place in late-70s Manchester; bands borrowing from decades of pop weren't all that welcome in a post-punk world. Joy Division, however, loved them, and The Distractions often found themselves playing support for Factory's biggest band. They provided a contrast to JD's intensity; although their lyrics were no less melancholy, the OMD-like synths and perky guitar gave their songs an upbeat new-wave feel.
Time Goes By So Slow is a tale of lost love touring around the centre of Manchester. And it contains one of the greatest lines in Factory Pop: "But Albert just won't do / I don't need him but you" (referring to Manchester's Albert Square). Plus! It's not often a song discusses petrification! Oh, and how the guitars drop out at 2:00, leaving the song wallowing in lonely synths and the saddest drumbeat you've ever heard, right before the final repeat of the chorus. It's just fantastic.
"I wonder why you had to go / and time goes by so slow"
Doubtless, you'll now be itching to hear this song (unless you're Tom, who heard it last week), so I'll list all the outlets where you can currently purchase a copy:
Factory were never all that reliable about keeping their catalogue in print, and the failure of the company compounded matters somewhat. This song made the jump to CD in 1990 on a compilation called Palatine: The Factory Story/1979-1990, but again, that has been out-of-print for many years now. So, short of tracking down the original 7" and a record player, you can't hear this wonderful record. Unless you know where to look.
Aug 27, 2004 · 2 minute read
I Am, I Feel
Released: August 1996
Highest UK Chart Position: 14
Available on: Alisha Rules The World
As Pop as Spice, as Punk as The Sex Pistols, as Britpop as Sleeper, as English as scones, as Germaine as Greer, as Sisterly as a convent.
Alisha's Attic were the missing link between Bananarama and The Spice Girls, if you were looking for such a thing, with self-penned songs to appeal to the indie set. After spending several years attempting to get a record deal, the two Poole sisters (Shelly and Karen. No, not Alisha) somehow came onto Dave Stewart's radar. Now, to be fair, Mr. Stewart, once half of the Eurythmics, is probably a perfectly respectable gentleman, but he comes across as someone you wouldn't leave in the company of two young women. I'm just saying. My other completely fabricated rumour involves Liam Gallagher and a five-foot plunger, in case you're interested…
Anyway, I Am, I Feel was Alisha's Attic's debut single. In common with many records of the 1995 era, it sounds very Pop, yet is devoid of the heavy production associated with, say, Bananarama or The Spice Girls. Electronic whistles, harpsichords, and a simple drumbeat dominate the song, with the ubiquitous-in-this-era guitar coming along for the ride. Pleasant and inoffensive. I suppose that you could try and tie this song in with Scarlet, but here the character singing the song seems less secure; while she talks a good game: Like, I wanna smash his face in / Yeah, that’d be fun, the chorus suggests that she'd stay with this slug of a man if he showed even a little compassion. It's not as self-assured as Ginger Spice, or even Kylie's Stock, Aitken, and Waterman phase; the character retreats into fairy-tale imagery (I click my heels together three times / They sparked a little but nothing happened) even as she uses violent fantasies to try and escape from the man's label of 'angel'. It's a little confused. But possibly more realistic, in that both sides of her are conflicting.
It may surprise you to know that Alisha’s Attic recorded three albums before Mercury dropped them. It certainly surprised me. I assumed that after the initial success of their first few singles, they faded away into obscurity. But no. Three albums on Mercury, plus a self-published fourth album sold to their committed fans. Shelley is now pursuing a solo career, while Karen has written songs for Blue, Dannii Minogue, Holly Valance, and Amy Studt.
Aug 26, 2004 · 2 minute read
In helpful visual form; the bigger the text, the more popular the word (I strip out the 50 most popular English words):
Aug 25, 2004 · 2 minute read
After reading about how Warner Music recently sent out a track to various MP3 blogs
, which seems to imply some grudging approval of the format, I sent an email to the BPI, asking if they knew that one of their members was supplying blogs with songs. I also asked if there was a way for me to continue operating, considering that nobody else seems to have received one of these notices.
I present the response from Matt Phillips:
I can't really offer you any legal advice on this matter as I don't know
Basically it's about using music with permission.
Generally speaking - if you're making copyrighted music (anything
released by a label) available to share with other people without the
permission of the copyright owner you're infringing copyright law and
come on to the radar of our anti-piracy unit.
My advice would be, if in doubt, don't do it.
If you have any further queries, please contact our legal department.
Hurrah for substance-filled replies. I understand he was probably making the general case, but labels do release public domain songs, and any song is protected by copyright, not just those released by labels. Plus, the label would also have to be a member of the BPI to come onto their radar, I assume?
Aug 24, 2004 · 3 minute read
The latest ad from the Swift Boat Veterans
What really gets me annoyed about this advert is the implication that John Kerry failed his fellow soldiers by giving his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It glosses over the fact that he was right. Or are supposed to believe that this, or this, or this, or this did not happen? It did, and Kerry was only telling the Committee what other veterans had told him. America committed war crimes in Vietnam. But some people refuse to accept this fact.
There's a worrying development in some parts of America, a belief that it has done no wrong, ever. Admittedly, at the moment it seems confined to crazed right-wing authors, but they're not bearded militiamen writing screeds in linseed oil inbetween preparing for the End Times; they're successful media figures. Aside from the Swift Veterans, last year saw the release of Ann Coulter's Treason, which attempted to rehabilitate Senator Joe McCarthy (yes, she's insane. But many people think she's wonderful. I despair), and Michelle Markin's In Defense of Internment has just been released, doing well in the Amazon rankings.
I just can't wrap my head around it. What next? Why Dred Scott Is Misunderstood and Reasons Why The Confederacy Should Have Prevailed? Markin's book is particularly offensive; I've been around the Smithsonian exhibit, I've read about the issue, and there is just…no excuse for rounding people up on the basis of their race and putting them in concentration camps. Malkin bases her argument on the theory that FDR had secret information that no-one else knew (the MAGIC decrypts of Japanese communications); the problem is that these messages have been known about for years, and the closest they come to calling into question the loyalty of the Japanese immigrants is a commnique to an embassy that says it might be a good idea to set up a spy ring (and specifically mentions that using non-Japanese agents would be preferable). The Japanese did not know that the Allies had broken MAGIC, so if such a ring did exist, you would expect information about it to flow across channels. None does. Plus, the people who pushed hardest for the camps did not have access to MAGIC. Even Supreme Court Justice Scalia thinks that the Supreme Court decision that upheld the detention ranks alongside Dred Scott as one of the Court's biggest mistakes. But don't just take my word for it — Eric Muller, a UNC Law School professor is currently discussing Malkin's book and shredding her arguments one by one. But he isn't in the Top 100 Amazon bestseller list, so his voice isn't going to be heard as much as a media figure who makes regular appearances on Fox News and MSNBC.
It worries me — a nation that believes it can do nothing wrong can be easily led by its leaders that its actions are right simply because they're doing it. No country is perfect; they're all done horrible things in the past (for an Empire nation, Britain probably comes off better than Spain or Portugal, say, but we still invented concentration camps, we firebombed Dresden into ashes, we carved up Africa with the rest of Europe, and we made a mess of Ireland). Patriotism should never be blind.