One of These Is Not Like The Others

Currently, the Page You Made™ on Amazon is recommending that I buy these items:
  • New Nokia phone
  • Wait Until Dark DVD
  • FLCL Vol. 2 DVD
  • The Lone Wolf and Cub Series
  • Ted Conover's Coyotes, and...
  • the Anna Kournikova sports bra.
Hmm. Amazon knows something that I don't, apparently...

currently playing: UNKLE (featuring Badly Drawn Boy) - Nursery Rhyme

Sorry About Dresden

More from the "if we keep making up crazy stories, they'll stop complaining" department:
"There is an understandable tendency to look back on America's experience in postwar Germany and see only the successes," Ms. Rice said, noting that the Allied-occupied nation was neither stable nor prosperous between 1945 and 1947. "SS officers, called Werewolves, engaged in sabotage and attacked both coalition forces and those locals cooperating with them, much like today's Baathist and Fedayeen remnants.

Donald Rumseld added a helpful example in his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention last week:

One group of those dead-enders was known as “werewolves.” They and other Nazi regime remnants targeted allied soldiers and they targeted Germans who cooperated with the allied forces. Mayors were assassinated including the American appointed Mayor of Achen, the first major German city to be liberated.

On the surface, this seems like a fairly reasonable comparison, although it could be pointed out that the situation in Germany was vastly different to Iraq (Iraq never had an equivalent of Dresden, for example, and the US domination of the Coalition meant that there was no squabbling over how to split Iraq up, unlike the convoluted plans partitioning Germany).

Unfortunately, as this article at Slate points out, this latest damage-control exercise is grounded more in fiction and the dreams of Goebbels than what actually happened. Yes, the mayor of Aachen was assassinated. However, the event happened over a month before the Germans surrendered, so it's not quite the same as what's been happening in Iraq. It also appears to be the apogee of the Werwolf's guerilla tactics. In fact, the Germans were happy to cooperate with the incoming Allied forces (according to a RAND report referenced in the article - it's in the "Lessons Learned" section at the end of the file), with very few reports of resistance or sabotage.

It's hard for an administration to admit it made had made a slight misjudgement. To be fair, they didn't promise a cakewalk, but they gave hints that the people of Iraq would celebrate the removal of Saddam Hussein, and welcome us with open arms. Many anti-war protestors pointed out that it probably wouldn't be that simple. Unfortunately, it seems that the protestors may have been right, no matter how the US and UK try to tell us otherwise.

currently playing: Belle & Sebastian - Roy Walker


You might have noticed that the Google adverts have gone. I received an email yesterday informing me that Google was cancelling the account, due to 'invalid clicks'. They weren't prepared to go into any further detail, but what I think happened is that due to my family all accessing the Internet through a single gateway, all their clicks appeared to be coming from the same source. Hence the banning. Oh well.

My sister was watching the MTV VMAs tonight (MTV UK decided to show it two days after it originally aired, thus ruining any surprise). I caught snatches whilst writing. To borrow a phrase from my American friends, wasn't the sight of Snoop Dogg dragging women around on leashes a little...well, sketchy? And I think that Sheryl Crow deserves one of Coldplay's awards, considering that "The Scientist" a blatant steal from "No One Said It Would Be Easy"…

currently playing: Hole - Violet

News From Iraq

Another blog from Iraq was brought to my attention today: Baghdad Burning. Go read.

In other Iraq news, Salam Pax's house was searched yesterday; the army left after liberating a bottle of Johnny Walker. Nice.

currently playing: David Bowie - Young Americans

I Love The Internet

A few weeks ago, I sent an email to the Saturday Looks Good To Me website, enquiring whether I could get hold of the CD that they were selling on their latest tour, as I'm currently a bit far away to turn up to a concert.

Today, I got an email from band leader Fred Thomas, thanking me for the request, and giving me the details as to how I could get my hands on a copy of the tour CD. The Internet rules :-).

Perhaps we shouldn't have had all those news reports that said the NY blackout couldn't happen here….

currently playing: Blur - She's So High

Welcome To The Cheap Links

An interesting article from Wired discussing the new advances in artificial diamond production. Includes this wonderful quote from a De Beers representative:
If people really love each other, then they give each other the real stone.
Yes, because nothing says love than a hunk of carbon, rare only by virtue of the huge De Beers cartel, extracted from the earth by poorly paid and often ill-treated African workers, does it?

I know it makes me a bad person, but I love this film..

Research for an idea I'm working on

Anybody in Chapel Hill/Carrboro with nothing better to do tonight; The New Pornographers are playing the Cat's Cradle. I highly recommend them.

currently playing: Saint Etienne - Only Love Can Break Your Heart

Chained To The Mirror And The Razorblade

Or, thoughts on last night's Britpop documentary on BBC2.

I'm still not sure how I feel about those halcyon days. On the one hand, the Britpop era marks the time when I became interested in music again, when I would listen to the radio all the time, when I would brave below-freezing temperatures just to get a single on a Monday morning, when I finally felt connected to the world around me. Yet, looking back, I can see the harm that Britpop did to the British music industry; killing off independent labels, causing the downfall of the NME/Melody Maker, and, in the end, marginalising the indie/alternative scene even further.

The documentary was a fairly conventional look at the origins and life of the era, tracing the origins to The Stone Roses and a reaction against American grunge. Fairly typical stuff, but at least this film mentioned the important 1993 Select issue featuring Brett Anderson from Suede superimposed on a Union Jack. Instead of trying to cover everything, it focused on a few key events (Spike Island, 'Parklife', Blur v. Oasis, Knebworth, Noel Gallagher meeting Tony Blair, etc.), and only interviewed the main players such as Noel and Liam Gallagher, Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker, plus a few music journalists. And the editor of Loaded. Don't worry, I've got a complete paragraph of bile saved up for him.

None of the interviews were particularly revealing, although Damon Albarn's strange answer to the Blur/Oasis rivalry does seem to give credence to the Liam - Lisa Moorish - Damon love triangle theory of why the two bands didn't get on. I've warmed to Blur in the post-Britpop years; I now only really hate 'Country House' and 'Parklife', but in this film, Damon came across as a bit of a pompous twit, to be honest. Noel, on the other hand, seemed to be quite honest and amusing (although he has a little chip on his shoulder about his background). Liam was his usual charming self; the segment where he pretended not to know what androgynous means was funny, and the end bit where he outed himeself as a fan of S Club Juniors was enjoyable (as was Noel's Old Man act with the dance moves). Jarvis Cocker was as intelligent and sad as ever. Louise Wener had a book to promote. (Incidentally, why does everybody hate her so much? Yes, Sleeper were never going to set the world on fire, but were they any worse than, say, Northern Uproar or Dodgy?)

There aren't many people on this planet who I really hate, but James Brown, ex-head of Loaded is definitely on the list. I don't think we really needed to hear how people at the ironic-porn-mag-for-people-embarrassed-to-buy-porn had arguments about who was going to get the champagne that morning, or the feature deals he made in the toilets whilst doing coke. Or stupid, vacuous statements like "Americans don't have any talent." Useless, cretinous moron.

The film made a valiant attempt to tie the rise in Britpop with the ascent of New Labour, showing Tony Blair's cringeworthy "Three Lions" speech, and talking to Peter Mandelson about how he tried to reposition the party to take advantage of the new optimism that was supposedly sweeping the nation. Some of the analysis didn't work; Jon Savage suggested that Oasis' first number one, Some Might Say, was a celebration of the Tories defeat in the local Council elections, but then the title card revealed that the single was released a month before the elections took place. It was also interesting to see how Albarn and Wener viewed Noel's visit to Downing Street as a sign that he had been captured by the system, while Noel himself gave the impression that he only went to see what Number 10 was like.

Obviously, a 90-minute film wasn't going to be able to cover the whole era in any depth, but there a few omissions that I felt should have been examined. Firstly, there was very little mention of how, well, conservative Britpop was, both musically and culturally. Almost everybody was white, and a lot of groups mined the musical heritage of the sixties for their songs (The Beatles, The Faces, The Kinks, etc.). In many ways, it was a retrograde step from the days of Acid House and Shoegazing. There's a short interview with 3D from Massive Attack in the film which touches on these issues briefly, but I felt that they could have (and should have) done more. Radio 1 wasn't mentioned at all, which was weird, as the Bannister regime was (to me, anyway) an important part of the era; it was a station that was looking to redefine itself, and so became a major backer of the Britpop bands (going as far as having a week in 1996 where all the daytime records were from UK artists). The fall of Britpop left Radio 1 directionless again, and it's still struggling to redefine itself (an interesting discussion about this is progressing on Usenet, if you're interested). Finally, the film concentrated solely on the major players of the scene: Blur, Oasis, and Pulp. It would have been nice to see some of the myriad of bands that sprung up at the same time, about the Camden Town bands, and how the end of the era left most of these signed to a major label that demanded success (and hence, nowadays, most of these bands are not on major labels). There's only so much you can cover in 90 minutes, however, and as a primer on Britpop, the film does quite well.

I'm still conflicted about that time. It's responsible for a lot of the problems that British music has had for the last decade, but when I see that shot of the Wonderwall video where the lights are reflected in his Lennon sunglasses, I remember what it was like when I thought Oasis were the coolest band in the world…

currently playing: Suede - Trash

The New Eternal September (well...August)

Couldn't they have waited until next week? (This message brought to you by the former elitist users of Usenet).

currently playing: Yo La Tengo - Last Days of Disco


Yay for unrestrained capitalism! The Google AdWord account passed $100 yesterday, so I should be getting my first cheque from them soon. Thank you, one and all, for clicking on the links. I shall spend the money wisely, honest (*runs off to Amazon*).


After reading this post on BoingBoing the other day, I fully endorse Warren Ellis' idea of breaking Cory's hands. Writing a 21,000 word novella in a week is bad enough, but re-writing two novels, critiquing over twenty pieces and still having the time to read several books? The man needs to be stopped.

Proof that complaining does get results: I received my first SoBig email this afternoon. Okay, so it's not the deluge that everybody else is experiencing, but at least it proves I'm on somebody's addressbook. Not that I think about these things. Not often, anyway.

Everybody else on the Internet is probably linking to this today, but hey, it's big news: BBC to open archives.. Admittedly, the announcement has little in the way of details, so we might end up watching the archive in 100x100 Realplayer windows, but this could be huge, considering that the corporation is sitting on over seventy years of television and radio programmes. If nothing else, it might stop the Doctor Who fanatics from writing into Ceefax and the Radio Times.

Any UNC people who might be reading - I will be sleeping while you are all cavorting at the FallFest, but have a good time, and don't get too drunk…

currently playing: Bob Dylan - Sara

A Balancing Act

Exciting legal updates! Fox's rather insane lawsuit against Al Franken was thrown out of court on Friday, with the judge describing it as "wholly without merit, both factually and legally." He also disputed the validity of Fox's trademark, so we can be fair and balanced without threat of Mr. Murdoch's lawyers. Hurrah!

(Incidentally, the book in question has already gone back to the presses for a second printing, the high demand brought about by…the publicity that Fox has given the book whilst trying to get it taken off the shelves. Genius.)

currently playing: Kate Rusby - Polly