The More Things Change

The argument was familiar. I had even made it myself, here and there, but I was beginning to sense something very depressing about it. How many more of these goddamned elections are we going to to have to write off as lame but ‘regrettably necessary’ holding actions? And how many more of these stinking, double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me and the at least 20 million I tend to agree with a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between two evils?

— Hunter S. Thompson, January, 1972

currently playing: Belle & Sebastian — If She Wants Me

It's Cold Out But Why Should We Care

The ultimate evolution of the British shoegazing and jangly pop genres of the 1980s. Disco Inferno’s work was so far ahead of its time that it ripped a vortex in the space-time continuum, sucking the band out of our time-line and propelling them to the far reaches of the 21st century. They wait for us there, composing compressed pop master pieces for our arrival. Their abrupt removal from our history has left us with the briefest echoes of what was and what could have been, of adventurous pop backed with MIDI triggers and sonic collage, of complex lyrics and the tune of an engaged phone, of life and hope itself. From their final album, Technicolour, this is “I’m Still In Love”, possibly the only love song in history to be sung to the backing of fireworks.

Disco InfernoI'm Still In Love

(If you like the track, and want to hear more, let me know. Technicolour is stuffed full of quality items, and everybody on the planet needs to hear the Summer's Last Sound/Love's Stepping Out 12")

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney — The Hot Rock

That's The Price of Links

Sleater-Kinney now have a website. Featuring bios, news, music and video downloads and pictures of reader’s pets. What more could you possibly ask for?

The current tracking data for next week's New Hampshire Primary.

"I am not a number!"

Hmm, aerogel.

Order from cd-wow while it's worth it…

Who knew that trainspotting was such a flashpoint issue, eh readers?

currently playing: New Order — True Faith

The State Is Healthy (Obviously)

But first, a little pre-game show.

Could somebody explain why the media has decided that Dean is insane? I've seen the footage of his supposed crazy-talking speech after the results came in last night, and I can't see it. Sure, he's animated, and yes, he's trying to work his crowd of supporters, who probably need a little pep talk after coming third, but I can't quite see the insane part. Hell, John Major has given livelier speeches.

So, as last year's entry was such a success, I'm watching the State of The Union address again. Apparently, the President is going to show that he's above they fray of partisan politics tonight, before he goes on a $200m spending spree to crush all opposition.

Ah? I'm sure it was on at 8pm last year. This could mean that I can turn Fox News off. It's the only news channel that is a direct feed from the US, but it makes me want to hurl heavy, blunt objects at the screen. "Hi! I'm Trent Lott! Vote Strom!" So I think I'll switch over to the BBC. No, I'm sorry, Lott has just criticised Edwards for not having enough qualifications for the Presidency, "especially in foreign policy decisions". I'm willing to bet that he's left the country once or twice, which I don't the current President did before he entered office…

Go Georgie! We're gonna party like it's your birthday (I'm so, so sorry)!

Dick! Dick Cheney! Not a fake! Not a hoax! Out from his secret location for One Night Only! Call 555-DIXXX for further details!

That was scary shot. Why does Donald Rumsfeld always look evil? He seems to have this look about him - that he'd prefer to be off somewhere firing missiles at something.

It's the smirk. More than anything, the smirk has to go.

We'll start with a bit of Army back-slapping then. Okay, fair enough. "Hi, I'm Tom Ridge!"

Interesting statistic: 88% of Americans will save less than $100 thanks to the 2006 tax cuts.

Um, when did anybody think that terrorists weren't plotting against America? Did you guys not read the memo that the previous Administration?

1st mention of September 11th. There should be a drinking game to go along with this.

Rah! The PATRIOT is cool! Really! Judges can't turn down our search warrants! The law-enforcement agencies are already abusing it! Hurrah.

Okay, that was funny. "Key provisions of the Act are set to expire next year" — Clapping from the Democrat side of the house, stopping him in his tracks...

2nd mention!

Ah, "could supply them with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons" — so is there a burden of proof required?

Look! Women have rights in Afghanistan! We won't talk about what the Iraqi National Council is doing to women's rights, will we?

They may not have running water, but the people of Iraq are free. Successes in Iraq follow. Fair enough, I suppose.

That's not true. Iraq had laws. Saddam was sovereign, yes, but there were plenty of laws to go around. Ms. Rice looks very annoyed for some reason.

Oh, now that was classy. Bringing the head of the INC over. Nice. (no sarcasm here, either. A good gesture)

"Do as we say or we'll kick your ass!"

But, we'll tread carefully with North Korea, as they can actually do some damage.

3rd mention! (obliquely, anyway)

Oooh. Let's talk about why we're never going to give the people in Cuba a fair trial, shall we?

So, we're actually using the Kay Report, are we? Lots of Democrat shaking heads now. Yes, it's great that Saddam is gone. Most of us will not argue the point that the world is better off without him in power. THAT WAS NEVER THE POINT. AND NAMING A FEW COUNTRIES THAT HAVE JOINED IN DOESN'T DEFLECT THAT YOU BYPASSED THE UN.

Please. Please vote him out. Or at least make him get onto the domestic front.

A good point made, though, that the Middle East can operate with democracy. Although people might point out that the last time the Arabic countries did so, America and Russia used their influence to install dictatorships, but that's probably a little harsh…

The economy rocks! Umm, that's a bit of an exaggeration, I think. And now we're reeling off some good things about the economy. As you'd expect, really.

America's economy is a changing one. No Child Left Behind! Except that most of the funding has to come from the States, which are close to bankruptcy at the moment. I also note that he didn't give any specifics there.

GENIUS! The camera settles on a Senator, who's clapping. He suddenly realises he's on-screen, and jumps up.

1,000 new jobs in December!

Another "expire" clapping round. Is it my imagination, or have the Democrats decided to wake up this year?

Hear that SCO? He's talking about YOU.

There now follows some gibberish about Social Security.

We can cut the deficit in half over the next five years! Of course, it'll still be greater than we you entered, but I suppose a start is better than nothing.

"Don't ask, don't tell" comes to immigration!

Once again, why don't you guys have a universal health system?

That guy's asleep!

The War On Drugs! Forgive me if I'm skeptical. Having finished The Corner, I really don't think this War can ever be won.

*bashes head on table* Abstinence programmes don't work. Oh God, he's not really going to do it, is he? Well, he never said "yes, I will go for an amendment", but he's made it clear he wants one. Grrr.

The post-prison plan sounds interesting and useful. I'm not sure how far $300m will go, but it's better than nothing (actually, it's less than $10 per released prisoner).

Cheapskate didn't send her letter! Couldn't be bothered to find a stamp to send the little girl's message to the troops. I'm shocked 8-).

winding up now. In a move that's sure to please some of you, I think I'll head off to bed now; if you made it this far, I salute you.

currently playing: Club 8 — Between Waking and Sleeping


Papers, articles, quotes, and speeches

Still a long way to go

currently playing: The Primitives — Out of Reach

Ghost World

For numerous reasons, I’m not much for talking at the moment. But I have got hold of the iLife update, and I’ve been tinkering around with iMovie. It appears this version is usable, which make some progress from earlier incarnations.

I'm hampered by the lack of a DV camera, but here's a little clip show I made of photos from the UNITAS retreat from last year (this weekend, if you go back and check the archives).

(Yes, I know there's a certain lack of...well, life in these pictures. This is mainly due to me forgetting I had a camera during the marathon drinking sessions, and not wishing to be cruel and taking pictures of people when they're asleep :-))

currently playing: Don McLean — American Pie

Winky Linky

Okay, who wants to own a record label?

The latest UK CD sales report came out yesterday. Sales are up! Record amounts of CDs sold! Is the BPI happy? Obviously not, as they've started raising the possibility of lawsuits. And, just in case we decide to look outside the country and get music cheaper elsewhere, they are helpfully monitoring the situation. For our own sake, naturally.

"I believe the line is 'Stay away from her. you bitch'"

"Let's go to the moon! Oh, you mean that somebody has to pay for it? Never mind, then. I'm sure everybody will have forgotten come next year, anyway…"

Proof that Pure Evil exists in this world.

currently playing: Kenickie — And That’s Why

Duck Season! Rabbit Season! Primary Season!

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the secrecy of terror arrests must be a comforting thought to the Bush Administration. If Paul O’Neill continues on his terror campaign, don’t be surprised if he undergoes a sudden relocation to Cuba (it’s also nice to see that the White House has decided to take a tough line on people leaking top secret information. As long as they’re not blowing the cover of CIA operatives — that was just an accident, ho ho ho).

It was a bit out of the blue, really, hasn't? I mean, O'Neill left in 2002; why did he wait so long before sticking the knife in? Ah, but we're in the realm of the Book Deal now, and there's nothing that puts an end to loyalty than first week sales. All authors would gladly sell their grandmother for a position in the New York Times' Bestseller lists, and there's no publicity like 60 Minutes, the 24 hour news channels, and the paper of record. It helps that O'Neill is a crafty man; by throwing these revelations out now, he gets great press, but the story will have been forgotten come November. For the next week, the media will scrutinise O'Neill's claims, the White House will continue to insist that he's as mad as six industrial vats of frogs (and yet that didn't stop him from being fifth in the line of succession for two years), and then Michael Jackson will appear in court, and that will be that.

Meanwhile, the Democrat Party has decided that this is the ideal time to be struck with a large case of The Stupid. In the past week, we've had Clark declaring to turn himself into Superman when elected, Hillary Clinton making an unwise joke, Dean attempting to reorder the books of the Bible, and Mr. Lieberman giving us all a laugh. It has been one of those dirty, soul-destroying weeks in politics, where you look desperately for a candidate that has any chance of avoiding four more years Under Bush, and come up worryingly empty.

The first Democrat Primary takes place today, in Washington DC. Except that it's non-binding, and most of the candidates aren't on the ballot. It's more of a PR exercise for the city than a real contest; Washington is something of an oddity in America, as it does not belong to a state, and as such has no representation in Congress, despite that its inhabitants pay federal taxes just like everybody else in the Union (residents couldn't even vote for President until 1964). Everybody on the ballot (Dean, Shaprton, Kucinich, and Braun) is for giving the city a voice in Government, while the other main Democrat candidates have followed a DNC edict telling them to stay away from the contest. Meanwhile, up in New Hampshire, Dean appears to be running away with the lead, currently at 35% with 89% of that saying they'll vote for him or no-one. Barring any fistfights with voters, I think that NH is looking fairly secure for the Dean campaign (Iowa, on the other hand, is looking like more of a contest)…

currently playing: New Order — Ecstasy

An Invasion of Martians

Okay, it’s just one:

Apparently, I'm obscuring his view of Venus.

Time for a joke (wiggle over the grey box for reveal-o-answer):

What is a pirate's favourite type of film?

Anything that's "Arrr!"-rated!

(BLAMMM! Sorry readers. It won't happen again —Ed.)

currently playing: Primal Scream — Shoot Speed/Kill Light

The Modern World, Part II

In honour of the final voyage of the Travelling Post Office today:

Night Mail

This is the Night Mail crossing the border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner and the girl next door.
Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
The gradient's against her, but she's on time.
Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,
Snorting noisily as she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.

Birds turn their heads as she approaches,
Stare from the bushes at her blank-faced coaches.
Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course;
They slumber on with paws across.
In the farm she passes no one wakes,
But a jug in the bedroom gently shakes.

Dawn freshens, the climb is done.
Down towards Glasgow she descends
Towards the steam tugs yelping down the glade of cranes,
Towards the fields of apparatus, the furnaces
Set on the dark plain like gigantic chessmen.
All Scotland waits for her:
In the dark glens, beside the pale-green sea lochs
Men long for news.

Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from the girl and the boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or visit relations,
And applications for situations
And timid lovers' declarations
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,
Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled in the margin,
Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
Notes from overseas to Hebrides
Written on paper of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
The chatty, the catty, the boring, adoring,
The cold and official and the heart's outpouring,
Clever, stupid, short and long,
The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong.

Thousands are still asleep
Dreaming of terrifying monsters,
Or of friendly tea beside the band at Cranston's or Crawford's:
Asleep in working Glasgow, asleep in well-set Edinburgh,
Asleep in granite Aberdeen,
They continue their dreams,
And shall wake soon and long for letters,
And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart,
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

— W.H. Auden, 1936

currently playing: Mint Royale — Dancehall Places