tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-144224352015-01-27T07:59:12.773+00:00ObsoleteSomehow still going leftism from who knows where. || "We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind - mass-merchandizing, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the pre-empting of any original response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer's task is to invent the reality." -- JG Ballard.septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.comBlogger3689125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-34835908443715373322015-01-26T21:47:00.001+00:002015-01-26T22:22:02.861+00:00TV review (of sorts): Bitter Lake.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">It's perhaps something of an exaggeration to say <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/dan-hancox/adam-curtis-in-emperor%27s-new-clothes">there's been a critical backlash against Adam Curtis of late</a>, but no longer have his films been almost universally applauded by those vaguely on the left.&nbsp; Certainly, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOY4Ka-GBus">his five-minute slot in Charlie Brooker's 2014 Wipe</a> was met by just as much befuddlement as it was adulation by those who see Curtis as something of a prophet, just as Chris Morris once was.&nbsp; Morris of course responded to this unwanted status with Nathan Barley, co-written with Brooker, with it being difficult not to see the character Dan Ashcroft, a writer admired by idiots who declares he's not a "preacher man" as partly formed by Morris's own anxieties.<br /><br />In truth, much of this backlash has been due to the decline in quality of Curtis's work.&nbsp; He without doubt peaked with <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Century_of_the_Self">Century of the Self</a>, which as an introduction into how the work of Freud, Jung and Laing among others was appropriated by business and politics is hard to beat.&nbsp; Power of Nightmares, despite the brickbats thrown <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2012/03/reappraisal-of-power-of-nightmares.html">at it continues to stand up</a>, but with The Trap, despite remaining a work of the kind you simply don't get on TV, the rot set in.&nbsp; All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace followed, and while by no means bad, it just didn't hold up against what had came before.<br /><br />The main criticisms of Curtis's style of documentary, that he covers up a lack of original ideas and content with <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1bX3F7uTrg">inspired music choices and use of stock footage</a> unlikely to have been seen before has been somewhat answered by his <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis">irregularly updated blog</a>.&nbsp; While the questions remain over his answers or lack of them, what can't be complained about is the way he draws you in through his prose, without there being any need to watch the clips accompanying the text.&nbsp; With the apparent full BBC archive at his disposal, with all the oddities and forgotten shows contained within, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/posts/the_terrifying_gangs_of_englan">one post resurrects a</a> <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/posts/the_hells_angels_take_a_mini-b">70s documentary on the Hells Angels</a> while the next <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/entries/a2094c9d-9864-348e-a241-7aa93adf0c09">might be about vegetables</a>.&nbsp; Yes, really.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/entries/ae14be85-3104-3c74-a9da-85807434a38e">The announcement that Bitter Lake</a> would only be <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p02gyz6b/adam-curtis-bitter-lake">available on the iPlayer then</a>, and would clock in at just over 2 hours 15 minutes, allowing Curtis to create something not "restrained by the rigid formats and schedules of network television" set alarm bells ringing.&nbsp; Curtis's past work hasn't shown any indication of being restrained by exactly those forces, which is precisely why so many of us boring gits loved them: long-form documentaries, set to ambient/electronic music, dealing with ideas rarely so much as broached on mainstream television, let alone in depth or with the allowed space to make up your own mind.&nbsp; One word instantly came to mind: indulgence.&nbsp; Much as we might delight in TV that plays out a story over 6 or 10 weeks, there's also nothing quite like a 90 minute nuts and bolts film that does the job and then gets its coat.&nbsp; Editors are often there for a very good reason (ahem).<br /><br />Sadly, those suspicions were very much confirmed by Bitter Lake.&nbsp; This isn't to say that in spots it's very, very good: it draws heavily <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20140210222846/http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2012/06/how_to_kill_a_rational_peasant.html">on a number of posts Curtis</a> <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/tags/afghanistan">has made on his blog on Afghanistan</a>, and coming the week the Saudi king finally did the decent thing, <a href="http://flyingrodent.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/the-homage-that-vice-pays-to-virtue.html">prompting our freedom loving leaders to go</a> and pay their respects, the emphasis on how the kingdom has spread the Wahhabist doctrine which so underpins jihadism is very welcome.&nbsp; Curtis makes extensive use of the footage shot by BBC cameramen in Afghanistan that has never previously been seen, the rushes normally consigned to the cutting room floor.&nbsp; If nothing else, this does a service to the men and and women behind the equipment who rarely get any credit, something that is now rectified when they journey alongside the TV hacks into warzones at least.&nbsp; As you'll no doubt expect from a Curtis film, some of this footage is extremely banal while other clips are little short of breath-taking: we see Afghan soldiers dancing to a lone, virtuoso trumpeter; a British soldier coaxes a tame pigeon, probably an escaped pet, first off his gun onto his hand, stroking its breast, before it jumps onto his helmeted head, to the absolute wonder and delight of the infantryman; American and British troops whoop up airstrikes on the enemy; and the attempted assassination of Hamid Karzai is witnessed by a cameraman just feet away from the former president, his security team all but abandoning him as he lays on the seat of his SUV.<br /><br />The problem is this footage takes up far more of the running time than would ever be allowed on TV for good reason.&nbsp; As beguiling as it often is, it doesn't add anything to the narrative, which is extremely sparse for the first 90 minutes.&nbsp; The question then is whether it adds anything to a documentary you have to make an active choice to watch, and even on that score much of it doesn't.&nbsp; For every one piece that does push it forward, such as the remarkable archive of a British student teaching a class of Afghans about Duchamp's urinal, something that came about as part of the post-invasion this is wot Western education is about like initiative, to their bewilderment and the student's own realisation she's wasting her time, the assumptions of all being challenged and judged, there's 5 clips that just drag.&nbsp; It all feels disjointed, and seeing as Curtis's thesis is that Western politicians responded to the crises of the 70s, caused in part by the empowerment of Saudi Arabia, with a simplification of everything down to good and evil, often his narration of how this came to be is guilty of precisely the same thing.<br /><br />It's especially a shame as within the running time there's a couple of hour-long documentaries that ought to be made.&nbsp; The first on how the West's relationship with Saudi Arabia has and continues to shape policy; and the second on how the British presence in Afghanistan descended into such ignominy, with the army gamed into attacking anyone they were told were the Taliban, such was the incompetence of those in charge.<br /><br />Bitter Lake does nonetheless succeed in showing the way history has repeated in Afghanistan.&nbsp; The Afghan king first sought out American help to develop his country, before then playing off the Americans and Russians against each other.&nbsp; As drop-out Westerners journeyed to the country in the 70s in search of something different, Afghans educated in the West brought left-wing radicalism back with them.&nbsp; Neither their idea of what freedom was, nor that of the Russians when they intervened or ourselves has taken root.&nbsp; Western ideals of human rights and equality rubbed up against the fundamentalism of the madrasas funded by the Saudis, regardless of whether the West supported the mujahideen in the 80s, or opposed its spawn in the 2000s.<br /><br />This doesn't however prove Curtis's point: regardless of the failures in Afghanistan and Iraq, the mere dropping of demanding <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jan/25/us-syrian-regime-change-isis-priority">the immediate removal of President Assad from power in Syria</a> doesn't mean this dilution of everything into absolutes has been abandoned.&nbsp; Policy on Syria continues to make not the slightest bit of sense when the "good" rebels are set to be trained to fight the "bad" ones.&nbsp; Indeed, the only possible outcome would appear to be that which befell Kabul in the 90s: the destruction of everything with the eventual victors likely to be the most ruthless of all.&nbsp; We continue to oppose the enemies of the Saudis whether it's in our interests or not, for which see the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2014/nov/09/us-iran-russia-oil-prices-shale">way the oil price is being used against Iran</a> as we're trying desperately to reach a deal over their nuclear programme.&nbsp; Whether this makes either Iran or Russia more belligerent or more inclined to reach a compromise we don't and can't possibly know.<br /><br />In the meantime, we'll go on telling ourselves we're on the side of the good regardless of our actions, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malala_Yousafzai">we'll make idols out of schoolgirls</a> to make ourselves feel better, and we'll do as little as possible to examine the mistakes we've made.&nbsp; For all the criticisms of Curtis and the failings of Bitter Lake, his work continues to take viewers places others fear to go, and few pose the questions he does to such a wide audience.&nbsp; His answers and conclusions may be faulty, but whose aren't?</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-45022671795957278302015-01-23T13:31:00.000+00:002015-01-23T13:31:58.571+00:00Patchwork.<center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/SnRlrN9_zFU" width="480"></iframe><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/c1HIGRy4IVg" width="480"></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-69429539839636482892015-01-22T19:57:00.000+00:002015-01-22T19:57:03.976+00:00What the Dickens?<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/22/leon-brittan-former-home-secretary-dies?guni=Network%20front:network-front%20main-3%20Main%20trailblock:Network%20front%20-%20main%20trailblock:Position1">The death of former home secretary Leon Brittan</a> has been met with dismay by campaigners for a full inquiry into historic allegations of child sexual abuse.<br /><br />"Firstly, I’d like to offer my condolences to Sir Leon’s family for their personal loss," said Simon Danczuk, MP for North Salem and Lower Pendle.&nbsp; "I do however believe his death is just the latest example of the horrifying lengths to which the establishment is going to cover-up its role in the sickening abuse of children.&nbsp; It's no coincidence so many of those allegedly involved in the depravity and murders at Elm Guest House are now dead, as they would rather be in their graves than face justice or questions on what they knew and when they knew it.&nbsp; Brittan's death from "cancer" needs to be confirmed by post-mortem if abuse survivors are to be convinced this isn't just another convenient get-out by someone with a case to answer."<br /><br />Asked if Brittan might have been able to give evidence prior to his death if the first two appointees to head the <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/11/there-isnt-whitewash-at-home-office.html">overarching inquiry hadn't been forced to step down</a> over their own establishment status and links to the former home secretary, Danczuk was indignant.&nbsp; "The only person responsible for the hold up is Theresa May.&nbsp; Her complete incompetence, not to mention arrogance in failing to put forward a truly independent chair, someone such as myself for instance, as well as refusing to give the inquiry statutory powers demonstrates how only survivors' groups can be relied upon to get at the truth."<br /><br />Any sceptics who find it strange no one saw fit to file a copy of Geoffrey Dickens' dossier on establishment paedophiles, whether it be Dickens himself, his allies or the newspapers that reported on the allegations are clearly in league with those involved in the cover-up, and will probably die of "cancer" like Brittan before they can be held accountable.<br /></span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-16365580316036581862015-01-21T21:23:00.000+00:002015-01-22T21:08:12.943+00:00And we're back in the room.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">A scary thought: we're closing in on the 12th anniversary of the start of the 2nd Iraq war.&nbsp; A mundane reality: we're currently involved in the 3rd Iraq war, albeit against the self-proclaimed Islamic State rather than the Iraqi one.<br /><br />Those wars are of course inextricably linked, just as they are to the first Gulf war, the one which arguably set the tone for the conflicts we've seen post-Cold War.&nbsp; Good ol' Saddam miscalculated in the belief that no one <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_Kuwait">would mind if he gobbled up Kuwait</a>; after all, didn't he fight the good fight against the Iranians for us?&nbsp; Sadly for him, the last thing the Saudis were going to stand for was a rival to their regional hegemony, and so in came the Americans, with ourselves alongside naturally.&nbsp; <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highway_of_Death">Plenty of cringing Iraqi conscripts</a> <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4528745.stm">were incinerated</a> in the name of freedom, Saddam was redesignated <a href="http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19901101&amp;slug=1101632">as worse than Hitler</a>, and Iraq became the country of choice for lobbing cruise missiles at whenever there was a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Iraq_(1998)">need for a distraction from domestic politics</a>.<br /><br />Until 9/11, when it was decided evil dictators could no longer be contained lest they provide sanctuary for evil terrorists.&nbsp; Unfortunately, about the worst terrorist in residence in Iraq other than, err, Saddam himself was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Nidal">Abu Nidal</a>, and even someone as bloodthirsty as he palled compared to al-Qaida.&nbsp; Instead the debate focused around weapons of mass destruction, for what even at the time was <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downing_Street_memo">described as "policy reasons"</a>.&nbsp; Fact was, Saddam had to go.&nbsp; Less thought was put into the post-war planning, something we're still living with the consequences of today.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/21/chilcott-summoned-parliament-iraq-war-report-delays">Oh, and there's also been an inquiry looking into all this</a>.&nbsp; Frankly, I'd forgotten.&nbsp; Not because the Chilcot report won't be important, because it will.&nbsp; It just won't tell us anything we don't know already, or at least shouldn't know.&nbsp; A true acknowledgement of the unmitigated disaster of the Iraq war simply isn't possible, as it would mean almost every single politician and almost every single establishment figure and institution admitting they either got it wrong then or have learned precisely nothing since.&nbsp; Besides, the Chilcot inquiry was not established to do any such thing: it was meant, as state approved inquiries into complete and utter fuck-ups are, to look at everything that happened and then make a few recommendations that can be safely ignored or overruled on the grounds of government every so often needing to let off steam by chucking high explosives into foreign shitholes.<br /><br />The reaction to the news the report will not be published until after the election is <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/21/sexual-revolution-page-3-feminist-the-sun-gender-roles">highly similar to that of the</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/20/sun-scrapping-page-3-topless-victory-women">Sun dropping page 3 girls</a>.&nbsp; You'd think in an era when you can within a couple of clicks see a woman in exchange for meagre payment perform some of the most degrading sexual acts imaginable that a newspaper deciding not to show naked breasts <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/20/guardian-view-end-of-page-3-modest-victory">wouldn't exactly be classed as a feminist triumph</a> (the more reflective might also wonder if the diminishing market for softcore modelling might in the long run lead to more women having to go down the hardcore route), but then nothing really surprises any more.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2015/jan/21/chilcot-report-into-iraq-war-delayed-reaction-politics-live-blog?guni=Keyword:alternate-grid%20main-3%20Top%20stories:Pickable%20with%20editable%20override:Position1#block-54bf7e5be4b0c8783254e74f">It's a conspiracy!</a>&nbsp; It must be published now, regardless of how that would be against the very law governing such inquiries!&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2015/jan/21/chilcot-report-into-iraq-war-delayed-reaction-politics-live-blog?guni=Keyword:alternate-grid%20main-3%20Top%20stories:Pickable%20with%20editable%20override:Position1#block-54bf92f8e4b00fa971b6e5cd">It's going to be a whitewash!</a>&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/21/tony-blair-chilcot-report-delay-publication-david-cameron">It's all Tony Blair's fault!</a>&nbsp; It's all Labour's fault!<br /><br />And so depressingly on.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30920121">The focus on Blair</a> just proves what this has been about from the beginning.&nbsp; It's not about seeing Iraq for what it was, a culmination of mistakes by every arm of government, not to forget the role of the media or the public for that matter, let alone an examination of how there came to be a consensus on foreign policy which is bomb first, bomb often and only then wonder if there might be consequences down the line, it's about trying to nail custard to the wall.&nbsp; Even if the report says Blair took Britain to a war on a lie, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30913894">which it won't</a>, his excellency will say he did what he thought was right.&nbsp; He doesn't just still believe in the war, <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-dangerous-melanie-phillips.html">he's partial to more on the same model</a>.&nbsp; Nothing is going to change the mind of a true believer.<br /><br />The reason for the delay is staring everyone in the face too.&nbsp; It wasn't Blair or the others involved in the "Maxwellisation" process holding it up, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/21/chilcott-summoned-parliament-iraq-war-report-delays">it was the Cabinet Office, the securocrats and the Americans</a>.&nbsp; The public can't possibly know what a former president and a former prime minister said to each other 12 years on, no way, however fundamental it may or may not be to how the decision to go to war came to be made.&nbsp; The metadata of everyone's online activity must be accessible by the state in order to protect us, but when it comes to transparency over the act that has done more than anything to increase that danger, you can whistle for it.<br /><br />Whatever the conclusions the inquiry reaches, minds were made up long ago, mine included.&nbsp; This isn't going to be <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2010/06/bloody-sunday-and-never-wanting-to.html">a Bloody Sunday</a> or <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2012/09/bitter-vindication.html">a Hillsborough</a>, where the sheer force of evidence alters perceptions, despite it already having been there had you looked for it.&nbsp; While I seriously doubt the report would change anyone's vote, there is still a minority that regard Iraq as Labour's ultimate betrayal, holding it against the party despite nearly all those involved either having left parliament or exiting this year.&nbsp; You only have to see the Lib Dems, SNP and UKIP jockeying for the slightest advantage to realise just the one party has something to lose.&nbsp; We've waited this long to be disappointed, let down, have our prejudices confirmed; being deprived a few more weeks, months, years isn't going to make the slightest difference now.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-46419139697411789632015-01-20T22:48:00.000+00:002015-01-22T21:53:59.044+00:00Spare us the mental health evangelism.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Of all things you'd wager there aren't a lot of votes in, mental health would surely rank near the top.&nbsp; It's a fairly nebulous subject at the best of times: for all the attempts to try and break its taboo status, <a href="http://metro.co.uk/2013/09/26/alastair-campbell-asdas-mental-patient-outfit-proves-how-far-we-have-to-go-in-changing-attitudes-towards-mental-health-in-this-country-4118121/">some of which have been extremely misguided</a>, it's never going to focus concerns in the same way as cancer does for precisely that reason.&nbsp; When the biggest "innovations" of late have been the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-30534749">new age bullshit of mindfulness</a>, and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/04/depression-allergic-reaction-inflammation-immune-system">the ludicrous claim forms of mental illness</a> might in fact be an allergic reaction, some might add that's a good thing.<br /><br />Nonetheless, both Nicholas Clegg and Edward Miliband (it just occurred to me that all of our leading politicians prefer to known by the shortenings of their first name, something else we have Our Tone to thank for) yesterday set out how they would attempt to improve <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/18/lib-dems-zero-suicides-nhs-blue-monday-labour-children-mental-health">how the NHS treats patients with mental health problems</a>.&nbsp; Clegg's were particularly eye catching <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30857546">for proposing a "zero" target for suicides</a>, because if there's one the NHS needs more of, other than, you know, funding, it's targets.&nbsp; Apparently Detroit, <a href="http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1882089,00.html">that by-word for decline and urban decay</a> managed to get its shockingly high rate down to that point, although whether such comparisons are to be trusted is dubious.&nbsp; If you so much as bother to look at the link provided in the Graun's article for instance, you'll find it <a href="http://www.henryford.com/body.cfm?id=46335&amp;action=detail&amp;ref=1104">refers only to those treated by the Henry Ford health care organisation</a> rather it being an across the board statistic.&nbsp; Oh, and it's in an press release from the err, Henry Ford health care organisation.<br /><br />There's another obvious problem with just such a target, beyond its very impossibility.&nbsp;&nbsp; Why should every suicide be deemed a failure, as Clegg apparently thinks?&nbsp; If limited to those receiving in and outpatient treatment, then perhaps yes, there is something to be said for trying to get the rate down to zero.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2014/10/16/poor-ward-environments-bed-shortages-blighting-mental-health-services-finds-cqc/">The lack of psychiatric beds available ought</a> to be a scandal on its own, although considering the pressure across the NHS with so-called "bed blockers" it's not a new or surprising one, and Labour is right to suggest it's child mental health care that most needs an increase in spending.<br /><br />Without a doubt, all those involved in <a href="http://www.sane.org.uk/">the various campaigns</a> <a href="http://www.mind.org.uk/">on mental health</a> <a href="https://www.thecalmzone.net/">awareness have the very best of intentions</a>.&nbsp; It just strikes me they're going about it arse backwards, and often in a <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/20/zero-suicides-change-tackle-depression">hectoring, spectacularly unhelpful way</a>.&nbsp; The great barriers to getting help are first, classically, admitting you have a problem, and second finding the strength to share that fact with someone.&nbsp; I would suggest that contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of people, whether family, friends or work colleagues will listen and not judge someone who approaches them in such a way.&nbsp; The real issue then is getting the sufferer to do that in the first place, which is much harder.&nbsp; Coverage that continues to imply most are still prejudiced or uncaring, all but suggesting it's their problem rather than the individual's, not only puts backs up, it's liable to further inhibit someone who already feels like they'll be burdening others with their problems.<br /><br />I've been incredibly fortunate in that once I recognised I was depressed, I've always been able to somewhat articulate how I feel.&nbsp; In my experience, it's also been those you'd normally be most anxious not to share your problems with whom have been the most receptive, forgiving and patient.&nbsp; Apart from the embarrassment, and the belief someone might think less of you, the other big problem is that very being able to explain what you're going through.&nbsp; I've often thought of those less blessed (or less cursed, alternatively) in putting pen to paper, and how devastating, desolating it must be to not only feel alone, as you do, but also not even be able to begin to pinpoint or tell someone why that is.&nbsp; Presumably this is the idea behind training those who come into contact with the public to look for warning signs in everyday conversation, except this both has the potential to mistake sadness or moderate depression for something more serious, not to mention how it seems to again be doing everything other than trying to empower the depressed person to act themselves.<br /><br />What aggravates me the most is the almost evangelical tone some take.&nbsp; Understandable as it is to want to prevent suicide entirely, it seems to ignore something even more unspeakable: <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/08/in-america-they-really-do-mythologise.html">that life can be so bad</a>, or become so desperate that wanting to die is entirely rational.&nbsp; You could argue that's not to do with being depressed, instead a world view, and those with depression can never make the decision as to end their lives, but that doesn't make it any less true.&nbsp; Again, I'm sure Calm, or the Campaign Against Living Miserably has its heart in the right place, it's just that for some not living miserably is an impossibility because their lives <i>are</i> miserable.&nbsp; Talking to someone about it won't change that.&nbsp; Moreover, I'd go so far as to say that without feeling the way I do I wouldn't be the same person.&nbsp; I'm not a victim, I'm not a survivor or any of these other self-aggrandising labels some apply to themselves; I'm me.&nbsp; The only way I can see my life ending is by my own hand, whenever that happens to be.&nbsp; Perhaps something might come along that changes my mind about that; perhaps it won't.<br /><br />We come then finally to the most ridiculous of Clegg's statements.&nbsp; Apparently while aiming for a zero suicide rate, no one should be blamed for the existing rate, or it would follow the failure to achieve such a rate.&nbsp; Not only does this obviously let the coalition off the hook for the way mental health has been one of the first areas to suffer due to the spending constraints put on the NHS, it also means it can't get some of the blame for the deaths of those <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/11/publication-secret-review-benefits-cut-tim-salter">connected to being declared fit for work or denied benefits under the sanctioning regime</a>.&nbsp; It also suggests we can't say the very nature of life in Britain, with everything it can entail, can be the overarching reason behind someone's decision to end it all.&nbsp; This is just as absurd as declaring suicide the coward's way out, or not feeling any sympathy for someone who takes the "selfish" decision to kill themselves.&nbsp; Blaming something is not the same as holding it responsible, it must be stressed: suicide is almost never down to one sole factor.&nbsp; It does at least bring into focus the Lib Dem plan as a whole: it just isn't serious.&nbsp; The same can't be said for the campaigns, regardless of what you think of them.<br /></span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-85594996964874512752015-01-19T22:13:00.003+00:002015-01-19T22:13:46.988+00:00Pickled politics.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">There's a simple reason as to why the Pickles letter to mosques has received the reaction it has: it's not so much <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30877447">due to the content, questionable as it is</a>, as to how it's <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/396312/160115_Final_Draft_Letter_to_Mosques_PDF.pdf">astonishingly badly written</a> (PDF).&nbsp; It appears to have been composed by someone who has the basics of English down, only without knowing what the words they're using mean.&nbsp; Supposedly meant as reassurance, it comes across instead as sterile in its sentiments while demanding in what it asks.&nbsp; We must show our young people this, this and this; you have an important responsibility in explaining and demonstrating how faith in Islam can be a part of British identity; we have an opportunity to demonstrate the true nature of British Islam today, and what being a British Muslim means today.&nbsp; British values are Muslim values.<br /><br />In so many ways, it's an example of how government thinking doesn't change.&nbsp; It clearly wasn't meant to suggest imams aren't doing enough to emphasise how you can be a Muslim and thoroughly British; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/19/uk-muslim-council-objections-eric-pickles-letter">it just comes across that way</a> because there's nothing Eric Pickles likes more than talking at people rather than talking with them.&nbsp; It also shows how engrained communalism is, government reaching out solely to religious leaders still considered the equivalent of communicating with an entire minority.&nbsp; Those already radicalised or most vulnerable to extremism are far more likely to listen to their parents than leaders at the mosque they may well have already clashed with, but of course they are the ones who must do this and must do that.&nbsp; To be patronising, tone deaf and worse than useless at the same time takes particular skill though, for which much credit must go to the communities department.<br /><br />After all, where do you even begin with the melange of Britishisms Pickles throws at the wall in the hope of some of them sticking?&nbsp; What is British identity?&nbsp; What is a British Islam, a British Muslim?&nbsp; What are British values, and how can they be Muslim values at the same time?&nbsp; I don't have the first idea, because almost every single person will respond in a different way, which if you were being charitable you could say would be very British.&nbsp; The government itself doesn't know either, as we saw when <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/06/our-true-shared-values.html">they demanded schools teach British values</a> <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/06/michael-gove-proves-his-worth-yet-again.html">in the aftermath of the Trojan Horse panic</a>; err, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27853591">it's the rule of law, democracy, free speech, that sort of thing</a>.&nbsp; Except we're more than happy to waive all three of those core values if necessary, especially <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/dec/15/saudiarabia.armstrade">if it means continuing to ally with the country more responsible</a> than any other for the spread of extremist Islam, say.&nbsp; Of those three values, only democracy is truly embedded in British society and generally respected, with the other two often deemed surplus to requirements, the rule of law especially if it gets in the way.&nbsp; And free speech only goes so far, as we've gone over enough recently.<br /><br />If you wanted to be additionally glib, you could say asking how faith in Islam can be a part of British identity is very much unBritish in itself.&nbsp; We just get on with it, and considering the potential there has been for unrest over identity and integration, for the most part we've done pretty well so far.&nbsp; Not for us the neuroses of the French, with the rise of the far-right and warnings about <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/23/french-intifada-arab-banlieues-fighting-french-state-extract">the simmering radicalism of the banlieues</a>, although for all the mocking of the idea of Birmingham being an outpost of the caliphate it would be absurd to ignore completely how in some areas a very conservative interpretation of Islam is the norm, with all <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/19/muslim-womens-network-chair-lot-of-women-suffering-silence?guni=Network%20front:network-front%20main-4%20Pixies:Pixies:Position1">that entails both for women</a> and rebellious youth.<br /><br />It was all so very different at <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/18/theresa-may-pledges-extra-police-patrols-counter-antisemitism-threat">yesterday's Countering Anti-Semitism event in London</a>.&nbsp; No opaque statements about demonstrating how faith in Judaism can be a part of British identity, despite the&nbsp; government acknowledging acts of extremism are not representative of Judaism, probably because it was Theresa May on duty rather than Pickles.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30870537">May instead courted votes</a>, saying how she never thought she would see the day when members of the Jewish community would express fears about staying here.&nbsp; Rather than perhaps allay those fears by pointing out how there is no specific threat at the moment to anyone, May went on to quote the French prime minister who spoke of how <a href="http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4613798,00.html">if 100,000 Jews left France the French republic would be judged a failure</a>, pointed remarks that alluded directly back to the Vichy regime.&nbsp; Repeating that same message except with France replaced with Britain doesn't then really work, and May then blunted it further by saying without all the other religious minorities Britain also wouldn't be Britain.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30570248">Nor would it without foreign students then, right</a>?&nbsp; As for whether Britain <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jan/19/has-the-sun-axed-page-3-topless-pictures">will still be Britain without page 3 girls</a>, who knows?<br /><br />The idea <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/19/antisemitic-britain-jewish-experience-1930s">that perhaps this fearmongering over the perceived threat to Jews</a> might be precisely what the extremists want doesn't seem to occur.&nbsp; It also further highlights how specific targets can have a more dramatic impact than indiscriminate attacks, giving ideas to so-called "lone wolves".&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/16/uk-police-patrols-jewish-areas-heightened-concern">The additional patrols being introduced</a>, while in some cases a sensible precaution if used temporarily, can also lead to the exact opposite of the intended effect, or indeed, perhaps that response is exactly what is intended.<br /><br />Certainly when last night's 10 O'Clock news <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04xm50j/bbc-weekend-news-18012015">dedicated almost 15 minutes to varying reports</a> either directly on or connected to Islamic extremism, including a mother complaining about how she had received no help from the government on "deradicalising" her son after he returned from Syria, it's not difficult to see why some believe an attack is inevitable.&nbsp; The challenges of radicalisation cannot be dealt with from Whitehall alone, wrote Pickles, in stating the bleeding obvious mode.&nbsp; Perhaps Whitehall could at least try and deal with the root causes of the current anxiety though, which sadly involves reiterating once again just how counter-productive <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/09/perpetually-stuck-in-sepia-film.html">our policy on first Iraq and now Syria has been</a>.&nbsp; The blame however rests only with "these men of hate [who] have no place in our mosques or any place of worship" (Pickles again).&nbsp; Good to know that you don't need to so much as be a Muslim to declare takfir, and I look forward to our Eric deciding in the future just who can and who can't be admitted to a Sikh temple also.&nbsp; Clearly, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/19/david-cameron-backs-eric-pickles-letter-muslim-leaders">as David Cameron declared</a>, it's me rather than Pickles with the problem.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-17960622042377922112015-01-16T13:47:00.002+00:002015-01-16T13:47:50.084+00:00Through.<center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/amOE1rwYyvY" width="480"></iframe><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/EbA3NO5GYF4" width="480"></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-43040013736309657202015-01-15T21:42:00.003+00:002015-01-15T21:42:26.750+00:00Tout est pardonné.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">One wonders if prior to the last week quite so many people have previously tried to make their minds up over political cartoons where the punchlines are delivered in a language they don't speak and the topics are often directly related to events in that foreign country.&nbsp; I don't speak French, my only real knowledge about Charlie Hebdo prior to last Wednesday was it's a satirical weekly that had published caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, and so I laid off reaching a definite conclusion on that basis.<br /><br />Thankfully, some <a href="http://www.understandingcharliehebdo.com/">helpful people have translated the most widely circulated</a> examples of Charlie Hebdo's content, and put them in their proper context.&nbsp; Accordingly, <a href="http://www.understandingcharliehebdo.com/#boko-haram">the cartoon of Boko Haram's pregnant sex slaves demanding welfare</a>, much pointed towards as an example of just how shockingly racist the paper was, is in fact mocking the standard right-wing obsession with immigrants/refugees claiming benefits.&nbsp; We see alleged comedian Dieudonné, arrested this <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/14/dieudonne-arrest-facebook-post-charlie-coulibaly-paris-gunman">week over his comments about being "Charlie Coulibably"</a>, to understandable consternation over his right to offend not being protected, <a href="http://www.understandingcharliehebdo.com/#quenelle">told where he can stick his quenelle gesture</a>.&nbsp; And for anyone repeating the claim the paper targeted Islam and Muslims above and beyond other faiths, a front page from 2011 is shown, <a href="http://www.understandingcharliehebdo.com/#aux-chiottes">which advocates flushing the Bible, Qu'ran and Talmud down the toilet</a>, itself a response to a <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/18/us-france-art-idUSTRE73H4JR20110418">print of the Piss Christ artwork</a> being vandalised in Avignon.<br /><br />Instead of accept <a href="http://www.leninology.co.uk/2015/01/western-values.html">he might have got it wrong this time</a>, lenin/Ricfahard Seymour has instead doubled down.&nbsp; It doesn't matter that <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2015/01/charlie-sets-example.html">you can detest the way the French state has appropriated the murders</a>, be disgusted at how foreign leaders who care nothing for freedom of speech and have much blood on their hands were at the front of Sunday's march, and be concerned about whether the attacks will see a further ratcheting up of <a href="http://www.leninology.co.uk/2015/01/those-who-arent-charlie.html">tension and discrimination against Muslims</a>, and still also defend freedom of expression and pledge solidarity with those targeted.&nbsp; But no, apparently <a href="http://www.leninology.co.uk/2015/01/satire.html#disqus_thread">Charlie Hebdo's scrawls were not satire but childish scribblings</a>, and if you find them funny, witty or apposite you too are a child, or a moron.&nbsp; How could anyone find a cartoon which draws on the <a href="http://posthypnotic.randomstatic.net/charliehebdo/Charlie_Hebdo_article%2011_files/image006.jpg">"Muhammad was a paedo" school </a>of Muslim-baiting satisfying?<br /><br />Unless of course that self-same cartoon is again ripping the piss out of those idiots, which is the only conclusion that can be reached <a href="http://www.leninology.co.uk/2015/01/charlie-hebdo-not-racist-if-you-say-so.html">by seeing just the translation</a>, let alone any further context.&nbsp; Yes, you could say "pot kettle black" on that front and criticise the cartoonist for daring to think his work is above that of the "anti-jihadists" who really do just hate Muslims, but aren't we getting just a little bit haughty ourselves here?&nbsp; Is "high-brow" satire the only satire it's OK to like, which itself is often <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brass_Eye">based around imagery just as much</a> as showing politicians and celebrities up as thoughtless idiots who believed what they wanted to?&nbsp; Does it really need the Pope to step in and say <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30835625">please don't be beastly about religion as it hurts people's feelers</a> for it become apparent that if freedom of speech means anything it's to say and depict things others don't want to hear or see, regardless of their position in society?<br /><br />Tout est pardonné regardless.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-46929856036643190962015-01-14T22:30:00.001+00:002015-01-14T22:30:40.333+00:00Mass debating the debates.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Is there anything more thrilling, more guaranteed to get the pulses racing <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30808252">than a debate about having debates</a>?&nbsp; Does parliament get any more electrifying than when the back and forth is effectively the equivalent of <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30815419">two eight-year-olds saying I know you are but what am I</a>?&nbsp; Could the public, supposedly completely engaged and at one with the leaders demanding the debates take place, in fact be any less interested by this cavalcade of nonsense, from both the political parties and the broadcasters?&nbsp; Is that enough rhetorical questions for an opening paragraph?&nbsp; (Yes. Ed.)<br /><br />Christ alive.&nbsp; If anything, what I find most perplexing about this entire farrago is the insistence, best expressed by Roger Mosey, that "<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/14/tv-debates-broadcasters-david-cameron-empty-chair-treatment">In a short time, television debates have become a vital part of our democracy"</a>.&nbsp; To which I say: bollocks.&nbsp; What they most certainly have become is very lucrative indeed for the broadcasters, especially when budgets have been slashed for news gathering in general.&nbsp; Why bother to follow the party leaders around the country on the campaign trail when you can let a skeleton crew do that and instead concentrate on those heavyweight clashes between the big three, or indeed four, or even five?&nbsp; David Cameron is of course prevaricating over the inclusion of the Greens when he just doesn't want to take part as there is no possible way he could gain from the debates unless Farage shoots Clegg and Miliband dead while a bodyguard takes the bullet intended for him, but all he's really doing is reverting back to practice before 2010.<br /><br />What's more, there's a decent case to be made for having no debates at all, or just the one between Cameron and Miliband.&nbsp; Everything about our political system makes the presidentialising (or infantilising, if you prefer) of party leaders problematic.&nbsp; Just look at the outcome in 2010: "Cleggmania" led to the Lib Dems increasing their share of the vote, only for the way those ballots were spread across the country to <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_general_election,_2010">mean the party in fact lost seats</a>.&nbsp; However you try to dress it up, come May we'll be casting votes not for a party leader, but a party's local candidate.&nbsp; Only those lucky enough to live in Witney, Doncaster North or Sheffield Hallam will have the chance to personally support one of the big three.&nbsp;<br /><br />For all the uncertainties over the election outcome, there's also no doubt the prime minister will either be from the Conservatives or Labour.&nbsp; Unlike in presidential systems, our party leaders also do regularly go up against one another, although the quality of their tete a tete's are not always as high as they could be.&nbsp; True, they rarely face questions direct from the public, but it's also not as if they won't have answered the ones set to be posed dozens of times before.&nbsp; There's something to be said for taking a leader out of their comfort zone and seeing if they get agitated or crumble under studio lights, and they clearly serve a purpose for all those smart enough not to follow politics or the news in any great depth, but otherwise they are supremely overrated and over analysed events.<br /><br />Whether they suck the life out of the campaign as a whole though, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/oct/13/tv-election-debates-conservative-format">as Cameron is felt to believe the debates did in 2010</a> is more open to question.&nbsp; Also different this year is the campaigns have already effectively started; most people won't be taking any notice till around the start of April, it's true, but can anyone really say they're looking forward to Cameron then repeating for the umpteenth time it's a choice between competence or chaos?<br /><br />Besides, this isn't for once a mess of the big three's making.&nbsp; The broadcasters must have known the second <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/oct/13/nigel-farage-2015-leaders-debates-bbc-itv-sky-news">they started making plans for Nigel every other smaller party</a> would demand they get a hearing too.&nbsp; Invite him and you surely have to invite the Greens; invite the Greens and you may as well get the SNP and Plaid Cymru in too, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30817372">as otherwise they'll start whinging despite</a> not standing candidates outside of Scotland or Wales.&nbsp; As to whether this makes the entire thing even more ridiculous, or impossible to contain to 90 minutes, let's worry about that nearer the date.&nbsp; Oh, except this provided Cameron with his excuse to back out.<br /><br />Only now comes the call <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/12/debates-go-ahead-without-cameron-roger-mosey-ex-bbc-executive">for the broadcasters to go ahead without Cameron</a> should he continue to refuse to attend.&nbsp; Really?&nbsp; This isn't HIGNFY where <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kmys4LH9jTE">Roy Hattersley can be replaced by a tub of lard with hilarious consequences</a>, it would render the entire spectacle completely pointless, a bit like those wonderful debates between Clegg and Farage last year that no one watched.&nbsp; If the incumbent doesn't go along with it, it snookers the entire process,&nbsp; and would surely also be unfair to Clegg, who'll be left having to defend the coalition at the same time as he'd like to be distancing himself from it.&nbsp; For all the half serious half snide remarks about how without Natalie Bennett the debate would be one between four men on the centre-right, it would also result in Clegg and Miliband ganging up on Farage, which if they sat back and thought it through is unlikely to help them much either.<br /><br />Surely the best solution <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/14/guardian-view-televised-election-debates-shine-light">is as the Graun suggests</a>, for ITV to call Cameron's bluff and invite Bennett regardless of what Ofcom's final decision is.&nbsp; If they won't, and the wider media really is sincere about this being what the public expect now and the very essence of democracy and so on, they should step into the breach themselves.&nbsp; Otherwise, is it really unimaginable for there to be a campaign which doesn't revolve around the leaders and instead is about, horror of horrors, policy?&nbsp; Would it be possible for the manifestos to be somewhat gone over and compared with each other, for instance, or even a series of films on what the issues are in different constituencies across the four nations?&nbsp; Are we back asking rhetorical questions again?&nbsp; (Yes. Ed.)</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-42650931624108845642015-01-13T23:59:00.000+00:002015-01-14T18:31:20.861+00:00Comedy, satire and subjectivity. Oh, and Charlie Hebdo.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Watching <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBt3fr5viAE">Emily Maitlis interview Dapper Laughs</a>, aka Daniel O'Reilly last year in the immediate aftermath of his ITV2 show being cancelled after everyone realised his act was fairly repugnant, I was left incredulous at how O'Reilly refused to defend himself.&nbsp;&nbsp; Perhaps we should have been tipped off by his wearing of the black turtleneck of regretfulness, but nonetheless.&nbsp; Maitlis, reasonably enough, clearly felt nothing but utter contempt for Mr Laughs' brand of humour, and so went in for the kill.&nbsp; His response to Maitlis using his own gags against him was to visibly shrink, mutter the odd apology and then explain he was killing off Herr Laughs with immediate effect.<br /><br />The obvious retort to Maitlis and everyone else was, you might not like my act, but who are you to say what is and isn't comedy, as you seem to be?&nbsp; One of the very qualities that make us human is our ability to make a joke out of anything and everything, whether it be murder, rape, the Holocaust, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbe7qb6uzvg">or indeed toasters</a>.&nbsp; Criticising stand-ups is very different to saying an entire subject cannot be joked about; just as it ought to have been apparent Senor Laughs' shtick wasn't worthy of a TV series on quality grounds, that's quite separate to demanding his tour be pulled also.<br /><br />Most of us will have experienced being the only person in a group not laughing at some grand cultural soiree we've attended.&nbsp; It happened to me when I by chance saw <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunt_and_the_Gang">Kunt and the Gang</a> in a local pub, whose act revolves around much use of naughty words in songs about sex.&nbsp; His best known is <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppKJ6bI8MNQ">"I have a little wank and I have a little cry"</a>, Mr Kunt's lyrics accompanied by little more than Bontempi keyboard.&nbsp; I'm as easily amused by a stream of filth as the next man, but I was left entirely stony-faced by it all, baffled as to the uproarious response he was getting.&nbsp; It might be that I like my crude humour to be delivered along with something approaching pathos, the exact thing Viz has been doing now for nigh-on 30 years.&nbsp; Not so much from the titular (boom boom) Fat Slags, but definitely from <a href="http://viz.co.uk/category/8-ace/">8 Ace</a> or the <a href="http://viz.co.uk/category/drunken-bakers/">Drunken Bakers</a>.&nbsp; Without that subtext, a song about giving in to demands for anal sex remains just that.<br /><br />I was reminded of this on reading the Graun's panel verdict on Charlie Hebdo's front cover.&nbsp; To Myriam Francois-Cerrah the very depiction of a brown man in a turban is racist, without so much as going in to how the caricature is meant to be Muhammad.&nbsp; Her kind of satire is "the type that punches up".&nbsp; Leaving aside how the vast majority of us are relying on differing accounts of Charlie Hebdo, <a href="http://www.leninology.co.uk/2015/01/charlie-hebdo-not-racist-if-you-say-so.html">with a former writer claiming it to have become racist</a>, <a href="http://blogs.mediapart.fr/blog/olivier-tonneau/110115/charlie-hebdo-letter-my-british-friends">while others disagree</a>, the best satirists aim their barbs at everything that is deserving of being laughed at.&nbsp; If that's politicians, then great.&nbsp; If it's religion, regardless of how that might also involve "mocking the faith of the descendants of immigrants largely locked out of power and experiencing acute levels of prejudice", then so be it.<br /><br />As for Nabila Ramdani, to her the cover is "dated, tired ... and vaguely insults one of the most revered figures in Islam".&nbsp; She doesn't explain how it vaguely insults Muhammad, probably because for the life of me I cannot see how it can be taken as such unless the very depiction of Muhammad is deemed insulting.&nbsp; Or is it that Muhammad holding the "Je suis Charlie" banner is insulting when he would never have ascribed to the paper's values?&nbsp; If it's the former, complaining about the style of the caricature is a bit like saying Private Eye's jokes are the same every fortnight; well, duh, that's rather the point.&nbsp; It's also "a hugely provocative reminder of how muddled the debate ... has become".&nbsp; It rather depends on just how outraged you want to be: there's nothing there to say it's Muhammad except that was the artist's intention.&nbsp; The very fact it's drawn in the same way as the previous caricatures of Muhammad, which all had a satirical message targeting extremists, along with the text all is forgiven ought to make clear the intention is to be both defiant while not blaming anyone other than the killers themselves, and even their actions are not to be held against them.<br /><br />There is naturally an argument to be had over whether the wider media would reproduce caricatures scatologically mocking other religions say, especially in the United States.&nbsp; It seems odd however that even here the likes of the Graun <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jan/13/charlie-hebdo-cover-magazine-prophet-muhammad">feel the need to carry a warning that some may find a mere thumbnail</a> of Charlie Hebdo's cover offensive.&nbsp; If they do, isn't that rather their problem?&nbsp; Is there not something completely irrational about taking offence at what is just a drawing of a man in a turban, nothing more, nothing less?&nbsp; To Joseph Harker this is "trumpeting your rights by trampling over others' sensitivities".&nbsp; That view might hold more weight if this was being done for the sake of it but the artist, Renald Luzier's, explanation of how it came about <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jan/13/charlie-hebdo-3m-copies-languages-french-magazine">surely demonstrates that wasn't the case at all</a>.&nbsp; Charlie Hebdo's cartoons have always been about something, rather than meant to just provoke, as say the <a href="http://www.jesusandmo.net/">Jesus and Mo strips are</a>.&nbsp; Hebdo's cause was never taken up by <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/01/why-im-speaking-up-for-myself-against.html">the same dullards and self-promoters</a> as Jesus and Mo was, further bringing home this is something different.<br /><br />The more anally retentive have spent the last few days pointing out how there is no such thing as a complete right to freedom of speech, nor should there be.&nbsp; There are laws against incitement and hatred for good reason.&nbsp; Is it too much to suggest we have perhaps moved too far against a presumption in favour of free speech though, such has been the wish not to offend, to respect sensitivities, without those good intentions being the same thing as political correctness?&nbsp; The vast majority of people in this country seem to have no problem with <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2012/10/sticks-and-stones-may-break-my-bones.html">the prosecution of Matthew Woods say</a>, who didn't get the celebrity backing afforded to Paul Chambers, while others <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2011/03/tiresome-complicity.html">got very agitated over idiots burning poppies</a>.&nbsp; Should it come as a surprise others reject notions of freedom of expression when our approach itself comes across so frequently as contradictory or hypocritical?<br /><br />In the same way as comedy is always subjective, so too is satire.&nbsp; If you don't like it, you don't have to watch, read or look at it.&nbsp; How utterly absurd it seems that obvious sentiment has to be repeated even now.&nbsp; At times, it really does seem like we <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2015/01/it-was-alright-in-2010s.html">haven't made a lot of progress in the last 40 odds years</a>, only now it's the left rather than the right which seems more comfortable with censorship. </span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-54873534501115094712015-01-12T23:03:00.001+00:002015-01-14T18:07:07.351+00:00Charlie sets the example.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">It's always reassuring to see just how quickly <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/11/paris-unity-rally-for-fraternity-and-freedom">unity and resistance can be appropriated by the very people</a> who want nothing of the sort.&nbsp; Call me a negative Nancy, but it's one thing for people to spontaneously <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2015/01/je-suis-charlie.html">come together in silent protest and remembrance</a>, as they did on Wednesday night, and something remarkably different when the state itself then urges everyone to do so.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cartoon/2015/jan/11/martin-rowson-charlie-hebdo-anti-terror-rally-cartoon?guni=Blog:alternate-grid%20main-3%20pickable%20top:Pickable%20with%20editable%20override:Position1:anchor%20image">Martin Rowson's cartoon in the Graun</a> points out how the <a href="http://www.juancole.com/2015/01/parading-caricatures-hypocritical.html">murdered Charlie Hebdo journalists would have seen the irony in politicians</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/11/paris-rally-charlie-hebdo-free-press-reports-without-borders">who refuse to endorse freedom of speech being invited to march alongside</a> their fellow leaders, and when it comes to Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas joining the parade, who can't talk to each other but will take part in any opportunity for self-promotion, the bad taste left in the mouth has lingered ever since.<br /><br />Admittedly, Netanyahu hardly couldn't go considering the racist targeting by Amédy Coulibaly of a kosher supermarket, yet it still didn't feel quite right how the Israel/Palestine conflict, regardless of your personal views on it, without doubt exacerbates tensions in a way little else does.&nbsp; And let's not pretend Israeli politicians of any stripe have recently attempted to calm such feelings: we only have to recall Netanahyu's response to the murders of three Israeli teenagers, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/07/a-price-to-be-paid.html">when he called for "God to avenge their blood"</a>, to realise it's not just non-state actors that invoke religion when they want to.&nbsp; There have been criticisms of some of the language used by politicians in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, with questioning even of describing the attacks as "barbaric" considering the word's origins, but European leaders have been moderate in the extreme compared to the rhetoric casually thrown back and forth elsewhere.&nbsp; The cynical response of the Israeli government to those murders led <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/07/israel-snatches-defeat-from-jaws-of.html">directly to last summer's Gaza conflict</a>, which in turn sparked <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/europes-alarming-new-anti-semitism-1412270003">the horrified news reports about the rise of anti-semitism</a> in Europe.&nbsp; Nothing of course justifies racism in any form, but when the Israeli government ostensibly collapsed on the very issue of legislation <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/11263787/Israeli-coalition-close-to-collapse-as-Benjamin-Netanyahu-threatens-elections.html">that would have defined Israel as a Jewish state</a>, those same politicians know the game they are playing.<br /><br />This said, it would be difficult not to be moved by the size of the crowds on the streets of France yesterday.&nbsp; One wonders however if this was precisely because all real semblance of meaning had already been stripped from "Je suis Charlie", the marches being little more than a indication that life would carry on as before, as though it wouldn't have done anyway.&nbsp; You could also if you wanted characterise it as a very French reaction to an attack on France rather than one on "freedom of speech" or "universal values"; demonstrating, marching is in the French national character, going all the way back to 1789, passing 1968 right up to the present day.&nbsp; It just doesn't seem like something that would ever be repeated here, perhaps you can snidely comment because there isn't any such thing as a British national character, and even if there were it certainly wouldn't involve taking to the streets.<br /><br />Moreover, for all the angry responses to the Charlie Hebdo attack, including from myself, justified as they were, it should once again bring home just how weak those who have set themselves against the West are.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/12/-sp-charlie-hebdo-attackers-kids-france-radicalised-paris">We can agonise over the alienation, and the sense of dispossession</a> some in marginalised communities feel against the countries they were often born in or which gave them sanctuary, and yet it ought to bring home just how small in the number those who feel this way really are.&nbsp; Compared to those previously attracted to fascism or communism, neither of which are really comparable to jihadism beyond the utopian, or in practice dystopian ideals at their ideological core, it's indicative of just how easy it is to overhype the threat.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/12/-sp-boko-haram-attacks-nigeria-baga-ignored-media">To those in Nigeria</a>, let alone in Syria or Iraq, the last few days seen from the outside must have seemed the epitome of Western solipsism.<br /><br />As I wrote <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/11/the-real-face-of-21st-century-insecurity.html">following the release of the ISC report into the murder of Lee Rigby</a>, we've apparently moved past the point where the threat is spectacular mass casualty bomb attacks to one where it's one or two armed men against the full weight of the state.&nbsp; One armed man carrying out a spree killing in a heavily populated area is almost impossible to prevent.&nbsp; In France on Friday we're told 80,000 police officers were mobilised, and Coulibaly still managed to launch his deadly assault on somewhere which made for an obvious target.&nbsp; All three men were also known to the authorities, as were Rigby's killers.&nbsp; Rather than this being a failure, as much as it is, it also shows how total security is an impossibility.&nbsp; If someone is motivated enough, they will act, and they can't always be stopped.<br /><br />This doesn't though stop the authorities from saying if only they had this power, if they only could do this, we'd all be that much safer.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30734290">Andrew Parker's speech on Thursday was coincidental</a> rather than taking advantage, but it was no doubt further weaponised after Wednesday's events.&nbsp; The cynics amongst us might note how it was the head of GCHQ who first denounced internet companies as effectively being hand in glove with terrorists, with his theme fully approved by the ISC in their Rigby report afterwards, no doubt completely unconnected events.&nbsp; Now in the aftermath of Parker's sermonising, the same old faces and <a href="http://zelo-street.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/france-sun-goes-chicken-hypocrite.html">newer ones with their eyes on a greater prize solemnly agree on how essential</a> it is the intelligence agencies <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/12/uk-spy-agencies-need-more-powers-says-cameron-paris-attacks">get the ability to do whatever the hell they like</a>, which is without hyperbole what they're demanding.<br /><br />It doesn't seem to occur that it's the very openness of our society that makes us stronger, not as some would have it, more susceptible.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/12/paris-attacks-france-guard-vulnerable-locations-hayat-boumeddienne">The sight of military personnel outside Jewish schools</a>, while understandable and probably justified as those connected with the killers are sought, is exactly the sort of change those behind the attack seek.&nbsp; Something meant to reassure nearly always has the exact opposite effect.&nbsp; It's a small thing also, but it felt distinctly odd on Friday hearing journalists talk about the killing of the three behind the separate attacks being the "best possible outcome"; surely the best outcome would have been to deny them the martyrdom they sought and to bring them before a court, although that was probably impossible in the case of the Kouachi brothers coming out shooting.&nbsp; Charlie Hebdo itself provides the example we ought to follow: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/12/charlie-hebdo-cover-je-suis-charlie_n_6458876.html">that of continuing as before while remembering</a>.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-24026012836245805822015-01-09T12:08:00.001+00:002015-01-09T12:08:44.876+00:005 years.<center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/vxLtJYn_GzQ" width="480"></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-3654468977901643482015-01-08T22:46:00.000+00:002015-01-12T20:25:23.650+00:00Solidarity is meaningless unless we embrace freedom.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Trust Matt in the Telegraph to come up with one of the saddest, most poignant cartoon tributes to his slain French colleagues.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/matt/?cartoon=11331739&amp;cc=11326897">"Be careful, they might have pens."</a>&nbsp; With its echoes of a cartoon from Charlie Hebdo which featured a crying Muhammad, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/07/charlie-hebdo-cartoons-paris-french-newspaper-shooting_n_6429552.html">distraught at being followed by murderous idiots</a>, it ought to make the minority still criticising <a href="http://www.leninology.co.uk/2015/01/western-values.html">the paper and its use of bad taste humour think again</a>.&nbsp; It didn't care who it offended, and increasingly that seems a quality to be prized rather than critiqued, however much it will be abused by the witless and those seeking controversy for its own sake.<br /><br />As was predictable, many are falling into the trap set if not by the murderers themselves, who are unlikely to have given any wider thought to how their actions would be reacted to, then by the ideologues who inspire such attacks.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-the-papers-30721416">Yesterday's massacre was not an act of war</a>, but it was meant to give that exact impression.&nbsp; Jihadists know they cannot possibly win in a a straight fight against nearly any even semi-developed state: Islamic State, for its triumphs, is no nearer controlling either Syria or Iraq than it was prior to Western intervention.&nbsp; Their main aim is to engender the exact response we saw to 9/11 in Afghanistan and Iraq: draw the West in, wear them down, kill as many soldiers and military contractors as possible, while creating such insecurity that beleaguered communities look to them for protection.<br /><br />The same principle lies behind symbolic attacks like yesterday's, although none previously have been so professional, so merciless.&nbsp; We look at the obscene irony of extremists killing people for criticising extremists for killing people, and the first conclusion, a more than reasonable one, is to declare it a war on freedom.&nbsp; The reality is "they" don't hate us for our freedoms, not least because without those exact freedoms they could not operate as they do, they hate what is against them.&nbsp; The very nature of takfiri jihadism, as epitomised by Islamic State, is that ideology is secondary to doing whatever they like because they can, as all those who believe power comes directly from the barrel of a gun do.&nbsp; You'll search in vain for even the most opaque justification for <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-30573385">enslaving women in the same way as IS has in </a>the Qu'ran or the hadiths, and <a href="http://www.jihadica.com/the-caliphate%E2%80%99s-scholar-in-arms/">IS itself has only about one real Islamic scholar</a> providing justification for their actions, with the other leading jihadist clerics, as shown by their <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/news/2014/dec/18/-sp-the-race-to-save-peter-kassig">attempts to save the life of Peter Kassig</a>, continuing to oppose what they helped to spawn.<br /><br />Just as when the predecessor to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_al-Askari_Mosque_bombing">Islamic State twice attacked the Samarra mosque in Iraq</a>, knowing full well it would intensify the conflict between Sunni and Shia, the ultimate aim of such assaults as well as instilling fear is to tear communities apart, emphasise the differences, to make everyone retreat back into what they know.&nbsp; Unfortunately for them, the reality is French and British society are both far stronger than the far-right and the extremists believe, as demonstrated by how beyond the outpouring of grief over the murder of Lee Rigby, which saw war memorials across the country festooned with messages and tributes, there was no rise in support for the EDL despite their best efforts, with the result <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2013/10/meet-new-boss.html">being the all but collapse of the movement</a>.&nbsp; There will always be knuckledraggers who respond to such attacks <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/08/muslims-fear-backlash-charlie-hebdo-grenades-islamic-france">by defacing mosques or worst</a>, as there have been in France, yet the true spirit of the nation was shown by the impromptu vigils of last night.&nbsp; The same goes for the likes of Nigel Farage, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30726491">with his comments on multiculturalism</a>, as though despite the problems of integration this can all be linked back to "fifth columns" of enemies within, rather than a variant of totalitarian ideology we've fought against before.<br /><br />Describing jihadism in such terms is undoubtedly to give it a dignity it doesn't deserve.&nbsp; <a href="http://quotes.dictionary.com/the_pope_how_many_divisions_has_he_got">Stalin joked about how many divisions the Pope had</a>, and you could ask the same of the self-proclaimed caliph.&nbsp; <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2015/01/je-suis-charlie.html">The threat I wrote about yesterday</a> doesn't come from such weaklings, from such a pitiful belief system, but from how we so easily forget democracy as we know it is such a recent development.&nbsp; Universal suffrage is not even two centuries old, and despite Fukuyama declaring the End of History so pompously, the West's values having triumphed, the harsher reality is <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30483762">the nation soon to be the world's biggest economy</a> gives no indication of moving towards one person one vote as we recognise it.&nbsp; Russia under Putin is a democracy in name only, popular support for the president aside, and whereas free speech in the United States is protected by the constitution, in Europe about the best guarantor of liberty is the European Convention on Human Rights, the same one so loathed by the Tories and UKIP.<br /><br />Combined with how there is no real love for true freedom of speech in this country, having just experienced an entire year that seemed to be nothing other than people taking offence both for the sake of it and to push their own agendas, where making extremely bad jokes on social media <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/police-investigating-drivers-hit-and-run-tweet-9961367.html">can see you fired within hours</a>, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2012/10/sticks-and-stones-may-break-my-bones.html">or indeed imprisoned</a>, and the picture is not quite as rosy as we'd like to believe.&nbsp; Solidarity with Charlie Hebdo will not mean anything if <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jan/08/charlie-hebdo-muhammad-cartoons-independent-amol-rajan">we continue to self-censor</a>, as we have, if we go on hounding those who go beyond what we deem "acceptable" rather than just criticising them, if we don't protect our freedoms in the face not of an Islamist assault but of that from securocrats and politicians who say they can deliver safety.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30734290">Already tonight MI5 is whinging about its capabilities</a>, losing no time in taking advantage before the initial shock wears off.<br /><br />A repeat of yesterday's massacre is unlikely.&nbsp; The mistakes of the past and the now most certainly will be.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-30247038503411204522015-01-07T21:25:00.000+00:002015-01-07T21:25:33.916+00:00Je suis Charlie.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Cowardly is one of the words universally reached for to describe terrorist outrages.&nbsp; In many instances, its use doesn't properly convey how while the use of violence against the defenceless can never be justified, someone willing to sacrifice their life for their cause, regardless of how vile that cause may be, can not truly be described as cowardly.&nbsp; Stupid and self-defeating yes, cowardly no, in the same way there's often an extremely fine line between bravery and being foolhardy.<br /><br />What is without a doubt cowardly is <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/05/sigh.html">running someone over and then attempting to decapitate</a> them as they lie unconscious.&nbsp; What is not is then running at armed police with the intention of being killed, the police to their credit in that instance not giving them their lusted after "martyrdom".&nbsp;<br /><br />The absolute definition of cowardly, by comparison, were the actions carried out <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/07/charlie-hebdo-shooting-paris-magazine-target-raid">today in Paris against the journalists of Charlie Hebdo</a>.&nbsp; With apparent knowledge of when the satirical paper's editorial meeting was being held, 2 men armed with assault rifles massacred 10 people whose only weapons were words, drawings, and ideas.&nbsp; They were targeted in offices from where there was no easy escape, desks and furniture offering the merest protection.&nbsp; Then, just to emphasise their brutality, their lack of pity, one of the masked individuals <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30712022">executed an apparently unarmed, already stricken</a> police officer before the group made their getaway.<br /><br />Everything about the attack suggests this was the work of men with a certain amount of military training, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/11/the-real-face-of-21st-century-insecurity.html">not the "lone wolves" or "self-starters" much warned</a> about.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/07/gunmen-charlie-hebdo-training-al-qaida">From the weapons used</a>, the way they were determined to make their escape rather than die in the process, to how the assault was planned somewhat and probably even rehearsed, it points towards funding or at the very least tenuous backing from a foreign jihadist group.&nbsp; While thoughts immediately turned to Islamic State, or men possibly having returned from Syria, the claim from a witness<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11330636/Terrorists-shouted-they-were-from-al-Qaeda-in-the-Yemen-before-Charlie-Hebdo-attack.html"> that one of the attackers said they were from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula</a> makes just as much sense.&nbsp; All of AQAP's previous attempts to attack the West have involved bombs, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/03/al-qaida-bombmaker">and all have either failed or been foiled</a>.&nbsp; By switching to a guerilla style assault, and against the softest of targets, the chances of another failure were drastically reduced.<br /><br />The only question then remaining is why specifically go after Charlie Hebdo, "insulting" of the prophet aside, rather than a Mumbai-style attack or a reprise of something like <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-30491435">the Taliban attack on the school in Peshawar</a>.&nbsp; One explanation is Islamic State's brutality and takfirism has succeeded in revolting the Muslim world in a way al-Qaida itself never managed.&nbsp; Many Sunnis may see the Syrian conflict mainly through the prism of sectarianism, but few look to Islamic State as the best alternative to Assad, even while supporting groups whose ideology is much the same.&nbsp; Killing those who dared to satirise Muhammad is more defensible than an indiscriminate attack, and it also reannounces AQAP as the only real challenger to IS as the standbearer of the banner of global jihad.<br /><br />One thing the attackers and their backers will have barely thought about is the consequences.&nbsp; They have no interest in freedom of thought, of speech, how the only possible response is an outpouring of rage, sadness and defiance at how in the 21st century people are still being targeted, killed for criticising and mocking organised religion.&nbsp; They care nothing for how their actions only underline the sheer poverty of their unquestionable doctrine, how unutterably weak their prophet and God must be if they can't take being caricatured.&nbsp; The most powerful entity in all creation, who gave us the power of free will, and yet neither he nor his messenger are to be depicted as anything other than benevolent, peace be upon them.&nbsp; If they considered it at all, they probably counted on it resulting <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2015/jan/07/charlie-hebdo-attack-vigils-in-pictures">in the exact soldiarity that has occurred</a>, which will see the cartoons they killed over republished and spread wider than before.<br /><br />Much will be wrote and already has been written about what the reaction should be, and then those all too familiar axes will be ground, about how all Muslims should condemn the attack without reservation, at how we have much the same extremists in our midst.&nbsp; It comes at the precise moment <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/06/germany-pegida-protests-dresden-immigration">when the far-right is on the march, literally in Germany</a>, and as the National Front polls higher than ever in France itself.&nbsp; The murderers of course have no concern for their co-religionists and the wave of hostility that always follows such outrages, at the same time as they justify their actions in the name of defending the honour of the Ummah.&nbsp; One reaction that probably won't be noted but deserves to be is how those nations that have done to so much to spread extremist interpretations of Islam <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/07/charlie-hebdo-killings-arab-states-jihadi-extremist-sympathisers-isis">will condemn the attack</a>, then carry on just as before, <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-executes-19-during-half-of-august-in-disturbing-surge-of-beheadings-9686063.html">executing "sorcerers"</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21635070-pakistans-blasphemy-laws-legitimise-intolerance-bad-mouthing">enforcing blasphemy laws</a> and funding "moderate" armed groups of their choosing.<br /><br />Regular readers will know I'm not one for jumping on bandwagons, for echoing hashtag sentiments.&nbsp;&nbsp; Tonight though I too am Charlie.&nbsp; The aphorism that the pen is mightier than the sword is not always true, but what history suggests is the pen triumphs in the end.&nbsp; The challenge today is to ensure that carries on.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-88862590514662199452015-01-06T21:47:00.000+00:002015-01-07T21:36:06.498+00:00It was alright in the 2010s.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Tempting as it is to just deride <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30693079">Mark Pritchard's call for the law on anonymity concerning sexual assault</a> to be reviewed, to be falsely accused of anything is, as he says, an awful thing.<br /><br />Pritchard wasn't really put through what you'd call the wringer, though, let's be clear: he was never charged so he didn't face trial, and&nbsp; we only learned of his arrest due to the quirk of the arrest of MPs being required to be reported on that day's order papers.&nbsp; The naming of those arrested but not charged is rare, usually happening only when there is wider media interest, or when someone provides a tip-off.&nbsp; No, it isn't pleasant to face the uncertainty of not knowing if you'll be charged with something you haven't done, but there are extremely good reasons why those charged should be named, for which see the events of the past couple of years, while the complainant should never be, for which, err, see the events of the past couple of years.<br /><br />Which brings us, extremely tenuously, to Christmas TV.&nbsp; It's in part a perennial whinge and a sign I'm getting older, but the fare on offer apart from the terrestrial TV film premieres seemed more dismal than ever.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jan/02/tv-ratings-miranda-mrs-browns-boys-bbc">When the most watched show features</a> a man dressed as a woman falling over and swearing, and the second featured a woman falling over and not swearing while breaking the fourth wall, it's a sign there was some fairly weak sauce being served up.&nbsp; And indeed, if you didn't get enough of the woman falling over, you could <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jan/02/tv-ratings-mrs-browns-boys-dethrones-queen">see her falling over also in Call the Midwife</a>, the utterly bizarre drama that sort of does and sort of doesn't sentimentalise the grinding poverty of the East End in the post-war period, and is sort of sick-making and sort of isn't in the same way.<br /><br />I don't watch a lot of TV, and it's something I credit for my sanity almost remaining in tact. Certainly, if I had nothing better to do than watch dreck <a href="http://www.channel4.com/programmes/it-was-alright-in-the-1970s/episode-guide">like Channel 4's It Was Alright in the 1970s</a>, which I had the misfortune to see a repeat of while flipping through channels one night, and which is, dear reader, the extremely tenuously link to the above, I'd probably be chewing the carpet more than I do already.&nbsp; Once, we had <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Days_Like_These">Days Like These</a> (a UK remake of the US hit That 70s Show), which Lee and Herring were pointing out back in 1999 was comedy at its laziest and most banal, laughing at how things were different in the past, because lol, people styled their hair differently and wore different clothes and did different things.&nbsp; Then we had I Love the 70s and so on, with celebrity talking heads telling us how great it was to be a kid back then, just as for most people it's great to be a kid regardless, except for those for whom it isn't.<br /><br />Clearly the format was due a reboot, only with new faces responding with sometimes real and sometimes faked shock and anger</span><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"> to cherry-picked examples of sexism, racism, dirty old men being perverts, and barely above the age of consent young women, if that, portrayed as gagging for it.&nbsp; To be fair to the programme makers for a second, it would be foolish to deny there are examples of 70s television retrograde even for the time, or which were obviously misjudged.&nbsp; <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curry_and_Chips">Curry and Chips for instance</a>, regardless of Spike Milligan and Johnny Speight's intentions, or the skin crawling example shown of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casanova_%2773">Casanova starring Leslie Phillips</a>, with his fictional niece begging the lothario relative to teach her in the ways of love.<br /><br />This was then presented though as being part of the explanation for why only now we're discovering the dark side of the period, complete with plentiful backslapping for how much more enlightened we are these days.&nbsp; Except this line of thought doesn't follow: yes, perhaps TV suggested predatory behaviour was normal, but if that was the case wouldn't there have been a response far sooner?&nbsp; After all, the rise of alternative comedy at the turn of the decade was as much a response to the overt racism and attitudes of the era's stand-ups as it was politics in general.<br /><br />Moreover, the slightest evidence of alleged perversion was seized upon, including a conversation lifted from the Likely Lads of the characters discussing being attracted to schoolgirls in uniform, with talk of gymslips and all the rest.&nbsp; You don't have to be Pamela Stephenson to realise this fetish, if you can even call it that, springs just as much as from young people becoming sexually aware while wearing those same clothes as it does from still being attracted to post-pubescent but underage girls once an adult.&nbsp; An awful lot of men, and yes women too, are attracted to sexually mature but on the cusp of adulthood young people, it's just something we'd rather not talk about, only acting surprised and outraged when teachers of both sexes are exposed as having had relationships with their pupils.<br /><br />In general that seemed to be the message the programme was pushing.&nbsp; It's better not to approach difficult subjects at all than it is to see them broached in comedy: also deemed outrageous was an elderly man complimenting his granddaughter on her looks and talking about sex in general, as old people can't be sexual beings once they reach a certain age.&nbsp; Old men making comments about or becoming aroused when washed by their young carers or nurses is an everyday occurrence, but that's too icky and embarrassing to so much as think about.&nbsp; Also picked on was Windy Miller of all things, as in one episode of Camberwick Green <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d27hPy38EyI">he gets drunk on his strong cider</a>; you can object on the grounds he just falls asleep rather than gets in a terrible mess due to his drinking, but really, can kids before a certain age not comprehend or deal with characters in programmes specifically for them imbibing?&nbsp; Did it result in the children of the time heading straight for the corner shop for a bottle of White Ace, any more than the current generation does?<br /><br />Besides, are things all that much better today?&nbsp; Another section of the programme looked at the game shows of the time draping women over the prizes, because that doesn't happen now does it, and we don't have beer <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_DKk7w1od4">advertised by bros playing beach volleyball</a> with sexy ladies in bikinis, or deodorant shown as being so irresistible to the opposite sex that even angels will come down from heaven to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D59BxfzCFJ8">bang the bloke on the moped who uses it</a>.&nbsp; Nor do we have alleged comedians making gags about <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/patricksmith/everything-you-need-to-know-about-dapper-laughs">violently threatening women into showing their breasts</a> mistakenly being given their own TV series.&nbsp; Yes, TV's so much better now we don't make fun of people on their basis of their skin colour or creed, especially when you can film both the underclass and the stupidly rich to serve the same purpose and describe the former as telling <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/oct/26/channel-4-ralph-lee-benefits-street-immigration">"the stories of the most distressed parts of society"</a>, decrying criticism as being an attempt to censor.&nbsp; As for sexual abuse, <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/08/victims-today-undesirables-tomorrow.html">that's all in the past too</a>.<br /><br />Perhaps I took it too seriously, and it was all meant to be a bit of fun to see how TV used to be.&nbsp; I don't suppose the intention was to treat the viewer as a complete moron, to patronise them, to ram home quite how superior we are now that we're all far more sensitive and considered in our dealings with each other.&nbsp; That's why Matt Lucas was the narrator.&nbsp; You know, the comedian who satirised the national character so effectively in Little Britain.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/dec/28/come-fly-with-me">And who blacked up</a>, but in an ironic way.&nbsp; Forgive me, but I get the impression a commissioner in Horseferry Road is laughing even now.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-56880722569361701132015-01-05T23:59:00.000+00:002015-01-06T17:38:35.892+00:002015: like 2014 never ended.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Ah, the new year.&nbsp; A time for renewal, for doing things differently, for approaching your problems from a different angle, for every single fucking thing remaining exactly the fucking same.&nbsp; Because dates, while obviously not insignificant, are incredibly arbitrary and events are not constrained by the mere fact it's now January rather than December.&nbsp; Yeah, at heart I really am a true romantic.<br /><br />We may as well then once again go over well trodden ground, not that this will mean anything to precisely anyone.&nbsp; If I wasn't such a social disaster area, I'd probably have said at least something along the lines of err, hello first.&nbsp; Or, alternatively, done the other intelligent thing and just acknowledged them and kept walking.&nbsp; If I was too blunt, or it came across as rude, or exasperated, as it probably did, it wasn't my intention, although when you say "Is there any point in my trying to talk to you?" as your conversation opener it does rather invite the response I got.&nbsp; It was my anxiety at work more anything.&nbsp; Most likely it's all I would have got whatever I'd said.&nbsp; It's only later, as always, that you think of what you should have said, how you should have responded, but taking no for an answer when it was always likely to be the answer is something, isn't it?&nbsp; No, I'm not convinced by myself either.<br /><br />Onto that there politics then, right?&nbsp; How can anyone not rejoice knowing we have just the nigh on 5 exact months until <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/05/george-osborne-questioned-attacks-labour-spending-plans">we get the choice of either chaos or competence</a>?&nbsp; Stop sniggering at the back, Methuselah.&nbsp; And please Cassandra, don't slash your wrists in front of the rest of the class.&nbsp; Didn't you miss the whole one party's spiel <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/05/labour-tory-dodgy-dossier-spending-commitments">being slightly less bullshitty than t'others</a> over the winterval break?&nbsp; No?&nbsp; Shame it's all we're going to get for the best part of the year then.&nbsp; On second thoughts, can you pass your knife to the front of the class please, Cass?<br /><br />Nor is there any relief from the dominating story of 2014, the seemingly constant flow of sexual assault claims made against those in the public eye, both living and dead, bookended by the Met declaring the allegations made by a man that he witnessed the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/dec/18/london-police-vip-child-sex-abuse-murder">murder of boys at the hands of VIPs and politicians "credible and true"</a>.&nbsp; Accepting a person's account is not of course the same thing as what they described having occurred, nor is it clear whether anyone is still alive that could be held accountable or brought to trial, which always makes declaring such things a little bit easier.&nbsp; We can but wait for Theresa May to get round to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/01/child-abuse-inquiry-independent-institute-john-mann">finally sorting out exactly what kind of overarching inquiry we need</a>, but little things like appearing next to her fellow Tory leadership rivals are clearly more pressing on her.<br /><br />If there's one thing to say about <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/04/prince-andrew-denies-underage-sex-claims-buckingham-palace">the allegations made against Prince Andrew</a>, and frankly it wouldn't have surprised me if someone had come along and said he'd caught Andrew frotting his dog, it's whether or not the media will treat them with more scepticism than previously due to the whole, err, royal angle.&nbsp; Thankfully for them, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jan/04/court-papers-robert-maxwell-daughter-sex-slave-claims-prince-andrew">it also involves a Maxwell</a>, and just like with Savile, the media's lamentable failure to catch a crook while they're alive inevitably results in trying to make up for it afterwards.&nbsp; That Ghislaine Maxwell has also decamped to America and become a socialite just makes it even better, and so there's no doubt: the bouncing Czech's daughter clearly procured underage girls for the rich and famous.&nbsp; Palace crisis!&nbsp; Sex slavery!&nbsp; Photograph of all three grinning while Andrew has his arm round Jane Doe #3's waist!&nbsp; It's disgusting, prurient, no one has any idea whether the allegations are true or not, and it sells newspapers like billy-o.<br /><br />And so, finally, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/30678251">we must sadly move on to Chedwyn Evans</a>.&nbsp; Not a single thing has altered since Sheffield United decided they couldn't in the face of a furore employ him as though nothing had happened.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/11/ched-evans-is-unashamed-rapist-that.html">I disagreed with that decision</a>, but more than respected those who argued with force it sent a terrible message about how the victims of rape and sexual assault can be treated while the perpetrator can walk back into a high profile role apparently waiting for them.&nbsp; With the returning to his old club angle gone, it seems to now be more about making an example of this particular person and this particular case rather the merits or demerits of those in the public eye convicted of serious crimes being able to resume their lives once they've served their sentence.<br /><br />Not that Evans has fully served that sentence, and usually the rule is those convicted of serious offences who continue to maintain their innocence aren't eligible for early release.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2015/jan/05/ched-evans-victim-website">David Conn in the Guardian</a> also brings attention to some of the more objectionable parts of the <a href="http://chedevans.com/">Evans is innocent campaign's website</a>, including CCTV footage of the woman, her face blurred, entering the hotel where she was raped, asking viewers to decide for themselves if she's too drunk to consent or not based wholly on that.&nbsp; It also in the <a href="http://chedevans.com/key-and-undisputed-facts">"Key and Undisputed Facts" section</a> says Evans's fellow accused and acquitted friend Clayton McDonald texted Evans once he was with the victim saying "I am with a girl" or words to that effect.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWCA/Crim/2012/2559.html&amp;query=Chedwyn+and+Evans&amp;method=boolean">The appeal court's ruling</a> says this text in fact read "got a bird", which is a fairly major difference.&nbsp; It also quotes out of any context tweets made by the victim where she talks about "winning big", where it is not in the slightest clear she is referring to, as the site implies, compensation.&nbsp; The victim, repeatedly identified on social media by supporters of Evans, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/dec/28/ched-evans-rape-victim-change-name-move-house-father">has moved house and changed her name</a> 5 times in the intervening period.<br /><br />There is little more to be said about <a href="http://www.anorak.co.uk/412801/news/ched-evans-the-things-you-should-be-thinking-about.html/">the arguments both for and against Evans</a>.&nbsp; It seems strange to me the simple act of playing football, not even at Premier League level, hardly to be considered a position of real authority, is enough to make someone a role model and therefore to be celebrated more highly and by the same token judged more harshly and punished more severely if they offend against society.&nbsp; Such however is the idol we have made of a game, a secular opiate of the people if there ever was one.<br /><br />Evans' being a footballer doesn't enter into the case itself in any shape or form: he was just a footballer who committed a rape.&nbsp; If there's any one reason to object to Evans returning to play, it's perhaps down to how there will be no respite for his victim until he retires: the simple act of looking at a paper, news site or watching TV will carry the potential for her to be reminded of the crime.&nbsp; Should Oldham Athletic choose to sign Evans, the very least he could do, as he can't express remorse while maintaining his innocence, is to get those highly objectionable parts of the campaign website taken down and to issue an appeal to those who have supported him to stop hounding the woman he denies raping.&nbsp; Considering his rabbit in the headlights <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/video/2014/oct/22/ched-evans-releases-statement-rape-video">past appearance in front of a camera</a>, as little as that is likely to be too much to ask.<br /><br />2015's shaping up just swell, isn't it?</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-22084147828731565312015-01-02T21:32:00.001+00:002015-01-02T21:32:49.094+00:00From a scream to a whisper.<center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/j5qIZw0FImo" width="480"></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-88850532592644415072015-01-01T13:40:00.004+00:002015-01-05T20:10:43.153+00:00That David Cameron new year message in full.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://news.sky.com/story/1400456/pms-stark-new-year-warning-for-voters">It's a new year, and there's a lot that's new in our country today.</a><br /><br />Not for me though, as once again I'm standing in a nondescript factory somewhere to underline how, despite not having worked with my hands for a single day in my entire life, there's nothing I'm more in favour of than a hard day's toil.<br /><br />The world is looking at Britain in a new way too.&nbsp; They're wondering exactly what kind of hocus pocus we're using to make it look as though the economy's booming.<br /><br />It's quite simple.&nbsp; We have a long term economic plan with common sense values at its heart.&nbsp; If you put it in, you get it out, like you'll have the chance to with our EU referendum.&nbsp; If you want to work, and let's face it, you have to, as we've made it impossible for those who genuinely can't find a job to not get sanctioned, there are a whole myriad of zero-hours contracts or self-employed part-time placements for you to choose from.&nbsp; And if you're willing to save, with the mountain of cash you'll have left over at the end of the month thanks to our raising of the income tax threshold, you can buy a rabbit hutch of your very own.&nbsp; Finally, when you feel it's time to consider dying, you'll have the dignity and security a NHS coming apart at the seams offers us all.<br /><br />Our long term plan is working.&nbsp; George, remind me, what is our long term plan?&nbsp; Blame Labour for everything and leave all the difficult stuff until after the election, that's the one.<br /><br />Britain this year has a choice.&nbsp; Between the competence that has gotten us this far, or the chaos of giving it up, going backwards and taking huge risks.&nbsp; The competence that led us to stall the economic recovery for two years before we realised it was time to loosen the austerity we imposed.&nbsp; The competence of a top-down reorganisation of the NHS we expressly said wasn't necessary, and we already recognise as our biggest mistake.&nbsp; The competence of chasing after UKIP, becoming ever more hardline on immigration and seeing UKIP's support keep increasing as a result.&nbsp; Or the setting of an immigration target in the first place, that was also outstandingly competent.&nbsp; And if it's chaos you're after, you can't do much better than the countrywide riots we saw and we desperately hope everyone's forgotten about, what with the police facing some of the most eye-watering spending cuts of all.<br /><br />This should be our resolution.&nbsp; There is such a thing as society, but if you vote for us in May we intend to ensure there's no such thing as the state.<br /><br />Finally, look at my bulbous face and be reassured that Thomas the Tank Engine is your prime minister.&nbsp; Oh, and happy new year to you and yours.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-70423244608387131532014-12-31T00:01:00.000+00:002014-12-31T00:32:13.136+00:00The best music of 2014 part 2 / 15 best albums.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Honourable mentions, no order:<br /><br /><a href="https://play.spotify.com/album/5dGVPajtOUlKtEiVMFhePF?play=true&amp;utm_source=open.spotify.com&amp;utm_medium=open">Fucked Up - Glass Boys</a><br /><a href="https://open.spotify.com/album/2zFpmXJsyl4HnMY1hZcfIe">Iceage - Plowing Into the Field of Love</a><br /><a href="http://boomkat.com/downloads/1160506-andy-stott-faith-in-strangers">Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers</a><br /><a href="http://www.google.co.uk/aclk?sa=l&amp;ai=C1u6JduegVMDQJOrPiwaD7IAolo2TwwWmsreNtgHV49vZoAMIChABKAJgu4aAgNAKoAGw9rTEA8gBAaoEKU_QV9CQD9M7fnv3uSYikI9lgTric1O3AtD_1DiYMEnDwPU_XhxEdGP2gAeW3fssiAcBkAcCqAemvhs&amp;sig=AOD64_3LH1aPKdd-oaV42b992gg1YkGyug&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;ved=0CP4CEN4dMDQ&amp;adurl=http://open.spotify.com/album/4PishS8bjccWUr4CVrosmb%3Fca_source%3Dgaw%26ca_ace%3D%26ca_nw%3Dg%26ca_dev%3Dc%26ca_pl%3D%26ca_pos%3D1o1%26ca_cid%3D111857299925%26ca_agid%3D17009385806%26ca_caid%3D212261966%26ca_adid%3D48791380166%26ca_mt%3Db%26ca_kwt%3D_aa%2520_m_0zsqp6v%2520dead%2520subscribe%26ca_chid%3D2001883%26utm_source%3Dgoogle%26utm_medium%3Dgrowth_paid%26utm_campaign%3DCommercialActionsAlbum_GB">Young Fathers - Dead</a><br /><a href="https://open.spotify.com/user/12124157651/playlist/7fYEAxeaAUBoDSwGvmm4Fc">Lee Gamble - Koch</a><br /><a href="https://open.spotify.com/artist/18H0sAptzdwid08XGg1Lcj">Death from Above 1979 - The Physical World</a><br /><a href="http://www.google.co.uk/aclk?sa=l&amp;ai=CpoOp4-egVOffOqORjAaXioHoAZaNk8MF9uW1jbYBlofqysgCCAoQASgCYLuGgIDQCqABsPa0xAPIAQGqBClP0IAwIj-UT_ZzRAzypbJpRMcVrHG6Ex6CKRRUqnpHe-yuGfbrUHFNEIAHlt37LIgHAZAHAqgHpr4b&amp;sig=AOD64_0FgC1NH15iOBiIGE5VSpAkuaIyRg&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;ved=0COwCEN4dMDQ&amp;adurl=http://open.spotify.com/album/5iLwH8imGCQvvGQuAvp0vr%3Fca_source%3Dgaw%26ca_ace%3D%26ca_nw%3Dg%26ca_dev%3Dc%26ca_pl%3D%26ca_pos%3D1o1%26ca_cid%3D88203756438%26ca_agid%3D17009359646%26ca_caid%3D212261966%26ca_adid%3D48791354006%26ca_mt%3Db%26ca_kwt%3D_aa%2520subscribe%2520in%2520paradise%2520trouble%2520_m_010mpztr%26ca_chid%3D2001883%26utm_source%3Dgoogle%26utm_medium%3Dgrowth_paid%26utm_campaign%3DCommercialActionsAlbum_GB">La Roux - Trouble in Paradise</a><br /><a href="https://play.spotify.com/album/5SzhltQSSi1HUMi5cveZIZ">Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots</a><br /><a href="https://bleep.com/release/50160-millie-andrea-drop-the-vowels">Millie and Andrea - Drop the Vowels</a><br /><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD__4meqfCc">Eagulls - Eagulls</a><br /><a href="http://www.google.co.uk/aclk?sa=l&amp;ai=ClIIma-igVM-WPKeKjAbBmYKwC5aNk8MFxra2jbYB0PKBrokCCAoQAigDYLuGgIDQCqABsPa0xAPIAQGqBClP0Dgd5d8uC5XBQLMU9D5m1pAIOjI_IX2fEVMkEoBK5stDhVCw7Ntet4AHlt37LIgHAZAHAqgHpr4b&amp;sig=AOD64_0WUCbA2vXoshv93Ad0MOhInDCZDw&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;ved=0CIYDEN4dMDQ&amp;adurl=http://open.spotify.com/album/7lAYJiypiPbCDvjKOBX1TV%3Fca_source%3Dgaw%26ca_ace%3D%26ca_nw%3Dg%26ca_dev%3Dc%26ca_pl%3D%26ca_pos%3D1o2%26ca_cid%3D71231895888%26ca_agid%3D17009369966%26ca_caid%3D212261966%26ca_adid%3D48791364326%26ca_mt%3Db%26ca_kwt%3D_aa%2520_m_0_d_2wc%2520atlas%2520subscribe%26ca_chid%3D2001883%26utm_source%3Dgoogle%26utm_medium%3Dgrowth_paid%26utm_campaign%3DCommercialActionsAlbum_GB">Real Estate - Atlas</a><br /><a href="https://open.spotify.com/album/3aAvMKQtLLxIHGsW2qsTRA">Actress - Ghettoville</a><br /><br />15. <a href="https://open.spotify.com/album/12jvcjKhojRTR5OUJevLb6">Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything</a><br /><br />Is releasing an album at the beginning of the year a disadvantage when it comes to it getting the recognition it deserves come the end of it?&nbsp; It's worth pondering when you consider Run the Jewels 2, which tops a whole host of end of year lists came out very recently, although saying that one of the other albums challenging Run the Jewels was released at the back end of February.&nbsp; Fuck Off... was released a month earlier, and seems to have been neglected despite it easily being Mt Zion's finest work since 2005's Horses in the Sky.&nbsp; Efrim Menuck's singing is his best yet, in that he's in tune, the "orchestra" sound tighter than ever, and any album that opens with a child saying "We live on an island named Montreal, and we make a lot of noise because we love each other" instantly wins me over.<br /><br />14. <a href="https://open.spotify.com/album/415oSeCPGqObwNN3rMmyCd">Hookworms - The Hum</a><br /><br />Naming your second album after the background noise some claim to be tormented by might strike a few people as sort of asking for it, and Hookworms are undoubtedly a band you could find yourself laughing at.&nbsp; Everything about them is conducted in a haze, whether it be much of their music, how they are known only by initials, and the fact their lyrics are all but indecipherable.&nbsp; Thankfully this doesn't matter when the combination of psychedelia, shoegaze and post-punk melds together this well, and while they might not thank me for it, there's more than an occasional hint of Wish You Were Here-era Pink Floyd about proceedings, which as albums to take inspiration from go isn't a bad choice.<br /><br />13. <a href="https://open.spotify.com/album/7JbUvdIr1yepIxZy9rt3un">This Will Destroy You - Another Language</a><br /><br />I am it must be admitted, a sucker for instrumental rock and frankly instrumental music in general.&nbsp; "Better without the vocals" was a sentence always crossing my lips when discussing music a good few years ago, and so it continues.&nbsp; Another Language is as post-rock as it comes, at least without involving strings, and the band's name, as with stablemates Explosions in the Sky tells you much of what they're about.&nbsp; It's not always clever, it often is quiet quiet loud, but as with the best post-rock bands the by the numbers stuff doesn't matter when the beauty and texture of the music is as compelling as it is here.<br /><br />12. <a href="https://bleep.com/release/53551-slackk-palm-tree-fire">Slackk - Palm Tree Fire</a><br /><br />While grime went off in a multitude of directions over the year, Palm Tree Fire was the purest concentration of what the genre does best: cutely sampled melodies, sparse beats and enough space to let it all breathe.&nbsp; Previously instrumental grime has never made proper use of the album format: for three separate and brilliant records to come out the same 12 months is hopefully just a sign of things to come.<br /><br />11. <a href="https://play.spotify.com/album/6paRAqzaI1O3rozRiVmyhS">Wild Beasts - Present Tense</a><br /><br />Wild Beasts have always stood apart from the crowd, Hayden Thorpe's falsetto scaring off anyone who might have mistaken them for a landfill indie group.&nbsp; Present Tense sees them just as chippy as ever: opener Wanderlust asking "in your mother tongue, what's the verb to suck?", a barb directed at some of their more America-embracing contemporaries, while Nature Boy takes aim firmly at one of those encouraged by the internet fetishes, the willing cuckold.&nbsp; Wild Beasts' approach to sex is still as ambiguous, mature as before, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nm8leHA_QdQ">album closer Palace</a> touchingly honest in its detailing of a relationship while temptation abounds.&nbsp; "You remind me of the person I wanted to be / Before I forgot" Thorpe sings, a line that expresses both the regrets of the past while being content with the present.&nbsp; Few groups can pull off such sensitivity both in music and lyrics without becoming twee or dull, and it remains their abiding trademark.<br /><br />10. <a href="https://open.spotify.com/album/29luvT98TnqHjVDYSRbbrj">Flying Lotus - You're Dead!</a><br /><br />I'll freely admit Flying Lotus previously was someone I just didn't get it, so it's perhaps typical that once Steven Ellison went in for an almost concept album on passing away it suddenly began to make sense.&nbsp; Not that you need to approach You're Dead! as anything other than a virtuoso 40 minutes of alternating beats, free jazz motifs and occasionally inspired guest appearances, including Herbie Hancock and Captain Murphy.&nbsp; For an album concerned with death it's endlessly playful, and the short nature of the tracks, some little more than vignettes, reminds more of Zomby than the jazz contemporaries Ellison gets lumped in with almost as often as IDM/hip hop producers.<br /><br />9. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFv5nHtbWeU">Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else</a><br /><br />Cloud Nothings' first three albums managed to pass me by entirely, so Here and Nowhere Else came as pleasant a surprise as a distortion heavy balls out garage rock record can.&nbsp; Those looking for subtlety or nuance can go elsewhere, as Dylan Baldi's ensemble do the exact opposite.&nbsp; Despite the pained, growled vocals and accompanying bleak lyrics, it's the riffs and the drums that draw you in, and clocking in at just slightly longer than half an hour Cloud Nothings do what they have to and go.<br /><br />8. <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/may/26/parquet-courts-sunbathing-animals-album-stream">Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal</a><br /><br />One thing we've lacked in recent years is a properly spiky, angular indie band, such have been the diminishing returns from the surfeit we had in the mid 2000s.&nbsp; Parquet Courts don't quite fit the bill, as they only fully let rip on occasion, as on Ducking and Dodging.&nbsp; Truth is that's clearly not the sort of band they want to be: while their workrate which has <a href="http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/20005-parkay-quarts-content-nausea/">already seen the release of a follow-up</a> can't be doubted, they're just as at home on the elongated slowjam of Instant Disassembly with its knowing references as they are going all out as on the title track.&nbsp; If the members don't get bored first, you get the impression even better is yet to come.<br /><br />7. <a href="http://boomkat.com/downloads/979298-sd-laika-that-s-harakiri">SD Laika - That's Harikiri</a><br /><br />Describing That's Harikiri as grime is stretching the genre's template to absolute breaking point.&nbsp; Certainly SD Laika's likely only album draws upon grime's percussion and melody as a base, but beyond that it reminds at times of the sonic experimentation of These New Puritans' Hidden, at others of the sound a crashing computer makes as it tries desperately to continue playing music.&nbsp; If that isn't enticing, then the brutalism of some of the tracks contrast with the synths of others to harmonious effect.&nbsp; Just when you think a tune has turned fully industrial, SD Laika introduces lush pads that bring you back in, only to then go back to distortion.&nbsp; One of the year's most challenging listens, it rewards in equal measure.<br /><br />6. <a href="https://open.spotify.com/album/6367ozfDDDUzoYqICDKmT3">Lewis - L'Amour</a><br /><br />Difficult to know how to properly classify this one.&nbsp; Technically it's a reissue, but seeing as it was barely heard until this year and frankly it's this special the rules are there to be bent.&nbsp; You probably know the story by now: record collector finds a copy of L'Amour at a flea market (how "lost" the album really was is open to question, as songs from it have been on YouTube since 2010), the label Lights in the Attic reissues it and fails to track the artist down despite their best efforts.&nbsp; Since discovered have been a further "lost" record and songs recorded as recently as last decade, as has been Lewis himself.&nbsp; Is it any good then?&nbsp; Well yes: you could almost describe it as a minimalist counterbalance to FKA Twigs' debut, just thirty years previous.&nbsp; The same themes are present, as are the often barely perceptible vocals.&nbsp; Whatever Lewis's intentions at the time, for it still to be as affecting now is testament to how everything and everyone deserves a second chance.<br /><br />5. <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/aclk?sa=l&amp;ai=CdDb1TOWgVIHaF4jKiwblhYGwC5aNk8MFhpK0jbYB1qTrysgCCAoQAigDYLuGgIDQCqABsPa0xAPIAQGqBClP0H88F5Bpj5MoWVrB4Ukdx0KuxopEyDs7vQWrgev-rSiiPa0dKa350oAHlt37LIgHAZAHAqgHpr4b&amp;sig=AOD64_09jbSdA5rCvxrx8cD8FvLzY0nkdQ&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;ved=0CPYCEN4dMDQ&amp;adurl=http://open.spotify.com/album/4in34qwyUghNc9ykmH2BTO%3Fca_source%3Dgaw%26ca_ace%3D%26ca_nw%3Dg%26ca_dev%3Dc%26ca_pl%3D%26ca_pos%3D1o2%26ca_cid%3D88203776598%26ca_agid%3D17009332526%26ca_caid%3D212261966%26ca_adid%3D48791326886%26ca_mt%3Db%26ca_kwt%3D_aa%2520_m_0112tk1t%2520lp1%2520subscribe%26ca_chid%3D2001883%26utm_source%3Dgoogle%26utm_medium%3Dgrowth_paid%26utm_campaign%3DCommercialActionsAlbum_GB">FKA Twigs - LP1</a><br /><br />At times it proves impossible to resist the hype.&nbsp; LP1 is the year's most successful crossover critical success, and for good reason: it's produced to within an inch of its life, the instrumentation could be Rustie's, only slightly toned down for a wider audience, and Tahliah Barnett's vocals are hushed, confessional and gorgeous.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yDP9MKVhZc">Two Weeks has the requisite swearing and video</a>, Numbers asks of a lover whether she's just another notch on the bedpost, and the pace mostly keeps up right to the end.&nbsp; If I sound cynical it's because while I can't fault the record on a practical level, I wonder about its longevity: what sounds of the moment now soon dates.&nbsp; Then again, something so in debt to Aaliyah and other 90s R&amp;B might stand the test of time just as much as those songs have.<br /><br />4. <a href="http://benfrost.bandcamp.com/album/a-u-r-o-r-a">Ben Frost - A U R O R A</a><br /><br />Aurora is one of those extremely rare albums that manages to combine moments of sheer terror, such is the noise that suddenly erupts on Diphenyl Oxalate and elsewhere, with the tenderest, most touching soundscapes the next.&nbsp; The most obvious comparison is Fuck Buttons, but whereas their music tends to build and build and build, Frost's structures are far more idiosyncratic, playful, often lulling you into a false sense of security for when the next blast of power electronics hits.&nbsp; A perfect complement to last year's Virgins by Tim Hecker.<br /><br />3. <a href="https://play.spotify.com/album/1lGeS8ejAXYtPzgnSv25ZY?play=true&amp;utm_source=google&amp;utm_medium=growth_paid&amp;ca_source=gaw&amp;ca_ace=&amp;ca_nw=g&amp;ca_dev=c&amp;ca_pl=&amp;ca_pos=1o2&amp;ca_cid=83092680776&amp;ca_agid=17009281166&amp;ca_caid=212261966&amp;ca_adid=48791275526&amp;ca_mt=b&amp;ca_kwt=_aa+_m_010j7y4j+futurology+subscribe&amp;ca_chid=2001883&amp;utm_campaign=CommercialActionsAlbum_GB&amp;gclid=Cj0KEQiA8f6kBRCGhMPFtev8p58BEiQAaMLmqf3bzJwvbgAE9k_VjnKaR5G5ebipModpwMLkeqmzspwaAnL38P8HAQ">Manic Street Preachers - Futurology </a><br /><br />When the Manics return to using the Holy Bible typeface with its backwards Rs, it's their way of telling everyone they mean business.&nbsp; Futurology is quite possibly even better than 2009's Journal for Plague Lovers, when the band felt the need to go back and use the lyrics Richey Edwards left before he disappeared.&nbsp; Walk Me to the Bridge also seems to have been deliberately written by Nicky Wire to both concern Edwards' likely end while also being about something else entirely.&nbsp; It proves once again you should never believe any artist when they say what their work's about, the lines "I re-imagine the steps you took / still blinded by your intellect" having very little in the way of alternative interpretation than Wire putting himself in Edwards' shoes.&nbsp; For a song dealing with such a difficult subject for the band, it's another example of Wire never wanting closure while still saying goodbye.&nbsp; That it encapsulates the band at their strongest, and comes between the punch of the title track and Let's Go to War gets the album off to a breakneck start, and it doesn't trail off as so many other records do.&nbsp; Unusually for the latter day Manics, the material that didn't make the album is just as strong if not better than some of the album tracks, with both Sound of Detachment and Caldey from the <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/walk-me-to-the-bridge-ep/id890017828">Walk Me to the Bridge EP</a> deserving of the same playlist rotation.<br /><br />2. <a href="http://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/22743/1/stream-mr-mitch-emo-grime-epic?utm_source=dlvr.it&amp;utm_medium=twitter&amp;utm_campaign=RSSFeed&amp;utm_term=stream-mr-mitch-emo-grime-epic">Mr. Mitch - Parallel Memories</a><br /><br />Released by Planet Mu, an indication of an artist having been recognised for doing something different within a genre's confines, Parallel Memories is grime for the night bus as opposed to the club.&nbsp; Burial comparisons are often erroneous or not justified, but while it lies just beneath the surface of some of Parallel Memories tracks, it comes to the fore properly on Denial, the vocal samples just too evocative of Will Bevan's work.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.factmag.com/2014/12/09/the-50-best-albums-of-2014/50/">Fact Mag identified the sense of desolation</a> Wandering Glaciers suggests, yet desolation is nearly always synonymous with contemplation and the revealing of previously unidentified beauty, something Parallel Memories has throughout.<br /><br />1. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcmfZvAnksA">St. Vincent - St. Vincent</a><br /><br />Hands up.&nbsp; St Vincent's last album Strange Mercy <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2011/12/best-music-of-2011-part-2-15-best.html">ranked far too low on my 2011 list</a> (which was perhaps a smidgen too dubstep heavy), barely making it in at 15.&nbsp; The question is whether Annie Clark's err, self-titled fourth album is better than Strange Mercy, and despite my declaring it the best album of this year I'm not certain it is.&nbsp; St. Vincent is exceptional, that's for certain: almost every review noted the opening couplet of Birth in Reverse, because it's so effortless in its capturing of the numbness of modern life.&nbsp; "Oh just an ordinary day / Take out the garbage, masturbate".&nbsp; It's a theme that runs throughout, with Digital Witness's all too vivid summing up of a world lived through others through a screen the sadder for its acuity.&nbsp; Just as wonderful are Prince Johnny and I Prefer Your Love, the latter with Clark declaring she'd rather have the devotion of a partner to that of Jesus in heartbreakingly lush fashion.&nbsp; Pared back somewhat is the experimentation in sound of Strange Mercy, but that only allows Clark's song-writing to come to the fore all the more powerfully.&nbsp; Whichever is ultimately determined the stronger, Annie Clark has produced two of the finest albums of this decade.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-47579868279745791272014-12-30T00:01:00.000+00:002014-12-31T00:26:02.449+00:00The best music of 2014 part 1.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Best Track(s)<br /><a href="http://www.hyperdub.net/releases/view/268/hdb081">Flowdan - Serious Business EP</a><br /><br />While album of the year lists <a href="http://www.albumoftheyear.org/list/summary/2014/">tend to reach a certain amount of consensus</a>, with usually four or five albums dominating, the same is never the case of track of the year lists.&nbsp; With 2014 being a year where I'd challenge anyone to say there was without question one song that dominated, I thought I'd choose something from relatively out of leftfield just to emphasise that.<br /><br />We must do something approaching a round-up of the best nevertheless, and we may as well start with Mala's sort-of sequel to 2009's <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jdU6H-6fng">Level 9</a>, which is certainly my favourite of his under his own moniker rather than Digital Mystikz.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjPiVKRRMEw">Level 10 (Expected)</a> isn't quite up to its predecessor's standards, but in a year when dubstep seemed in hibernation it wasn't difficult to be among the finest tracks.&nbsp; Also outstanding was <a href="https://soundcloud.com/rinsefm/proxima-trapped">Proxima's Trapped</a>, and while not yet released, the Nomine tune Youngsta has been hammering for what already seems like months <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q_gSQKg0Z4">that samples Zatoichi also slays</a>.<br /><br />Grime by contrast hasn't been in better health since the middle of the last decade, and very few grime tunes reflect the best of old and new as well as <a href="https://soundcloud.com/oil-gang/jt-the-goon-twin-warriors-ep">JT the Goon's Twin Warriors</a>.&nbsp; 2014 production chops are combined with a flute sample that if not for how clean it is could have come from one of those foundational grime tracks, probably because it err, originated from <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOkLRb2Qd4Q">Jammer's Chinaman</a>.&nbsp; Other sites have <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b9-eflxM-4">Mumdance's Take Time</a> ranking near the top of their lists and while certainly good, I prefer the cleanness of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtFUlqRvl7g">It's Peak</a>, which edges nearer that Night Slugs sound than it does grime.&nbsp; Mr Mitch's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxtc8JawP2g">Don't Leave</a> and Denial are grime at its most beguiling and beautiful, while Darq E Freaker went all trap with the unfortunately named <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrjWBuAGOeg">Minger</a>.&nbsp; Just about fitting in here is <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK04gmsIgJg">Rustie's Up Down featuring D Double E</a> (worth mentioning is Pitchfork chose the disappointing Green Language's <a href="http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/9555-the-100-best-tracks-of-2014/3/">worst track for inclusion on their list</a>, saying everything about their appalling as usual taste), with grime's best MC bar perhaps one doing his usual thing over some of Rustie's harking back to hardcore beats.<br /><br />On the drum and bass side of things <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X57bQyTUCfw">Fracture's entire Loving Touch EP</a> was peerless, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSk_JaPlJYg">Tessela's Rough 2</a> was aptly named and as we ought not to entirely ignore the not digital, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVAxUMuhz98">St Vincent's Digital Witness</a> (oh the irony) and the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmsgQvj0fDQ">Manics' Dreaming a City (Hughesovka)</a> were also difficult to beat.<br /><br />If you were to take Flowdan's Serious Business EP as four separate tracks rather than as a whole, it probably wouldn't come out as top.&nbsp; All four are by different producers, and while <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NckJXr398s">Coki's work on F About</a> is as excellent as always, you can guess what Flowdan, err, flows about from the title.&nbsp; Combined with <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn3VRbz4XYg&amp;list=PLFR4zokiL_LmLrgtPfge0LLiToBAPaAyf">People Power</a> and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jxgo13_khAE&amp;index=6&amp;list=PLFR4zokiL_LmLrgtPfge0LLiToBAPaAyf">No Gyal Tune</a> though, the former of which is an ostensible grime track (produced by The Bug) about social justice in general, something as rare as a funny Jack Whitehall joke, and the intensity of the latter, it becomes more than the sum of its parts.&nbsp; Flowdan might not always have the best rhymes, but no one else can touch his delivery.<br /><br />Best Remix / Bootleg<br /><a href="http://boomkat.com/vinyl/1077985-peverelist-roll-with-the-punches-kowton-linear-mix-kowton-dub-mix">Peverelist - Roll With the Punches (Kowton Linear Mix)</a><br /><br />This year finally saw a release for <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz7P-R83Ku8">Kromestar's inspired retooling of Joker's Tron</a>, one of those deceptively simple remixes which does little more than slightly reamp the melody while adding a synth and yet it improves on the original immeasurably.&nbsp; On the bootleg front <a href="https://soundcloud.com/glacial-sound/kelly-rowland-dirty-laundry">Rabit took Kelly Rowland's Dirty Laundry</a> home and applied his sparse production techniques, complimenting the vocal perfectly, while <a href="https://soundcloud.com/herrecords/cyphr-dddiamondsss-edit">Cyphr polished Rihanna's dull Diamonds</a> until they finally shone as they should.&nbsp; It probably came out last year, but I didn't hear it until this so I'm also including Special Request's standardly effective junglist improvement of <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0TwsSY9Peo">London Grammar's Nightcall</a>.&nbsp; Plastician was good enough to hand over a shedload of his old dubs to producers new and established to rework, the best efforts coming from <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtU3iHpt0hM">AWE on Safari</a>, <a href="https://soundcloud.com/terrorhythm/plastician-white-gloves-mr">Mr. Mitch on White Gloves</a>, with <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1DgcYC3mHc">Kahn and Neek on The Search</a> and <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yqlfd9g-KCk">Wen on Shallow Grave</a> bringing up the rear.<br /><br />Not content with turning in a superb remix of <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGfQU0HmGdU">Paul Woolford's Erotic Discourse</a>, the criminally undervalued Kowton, given access to Pev's minor classic <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE9lNKoQ_c8">turned it into a straight up dubstep banger</a>, the original's melody attached to toughened drums and more bass than Pev thought it could handle first time round.<br /><br />Best Reissue<br /><a href="https://open.spotify.com/user/independentfilms/playlist/4KMPovu0KQ1eTik8AMa51d">Nana Love - Disco Documentary</a><br /><br />The obvious thing to do would be to just write <a href="http://www.manicstreetpreachers.com/news/manic-street-preachers-announce-release-holy-bible-20-1">The Holy Bible 20 here</a> and leave it at that.&nbsp; Just this once let's not be obvious and instead run down some of the myriad other reissues this year.&nbsp; Original hardcore / jungle label Suburban Base's entire back catalogue was put out digitally and also released <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHMNqJcLD0U">was a 3cd comp of its glory years</a>; Led Zeppelin's albums were remastered, if the extras were a little dull; Mogwai's Come on Die Young <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/aclk?sa=l&amp;ai=CWv34-7qgVNizCOPPiwbJzYLQBpaNk8MF3p21jbYB-Pa02ZYCCAoQAigCYLuGgIDQCqABsPa0xAPIAQGqBClP0NmeErBQfA5Cc0pdCKmC2EuWl7hBgikyTZN7TV7VHUdr0HtLYOOrDoAHlt37LIgHAZAHAqgHpr4b&amp;sig=AOD64_2235eIN_5cGDy2nyPJjXiUbEw3Zg&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;ved=0CPkCEN4dMDQ&amp;adurl=http://open.spotify.com/album/5TcwvxSuB5zntncsdQmtEU%3Fca_source%3Dgaw%26ca_ace%3D%26ca_nw%3Dg%26ca_dev%3Dc%26ca_pl%3D%26ca_pos%3D1o2%26ca_cid%3D74812570488%26ca_agid%3D17009350406%26ca_caid%3D212261966%26ca_adid%3D48791344766%26ca_mt%3Db%26ca_kwt%3D_aa%2520on%2520young%2520die%2520subscribe%2520come%2520_m_01jnztr%26ca_chid%3D2001883%26utm_source%3Dgoogle%26utm_medium%3Dgrowth_paid%26utm_campaign%3DCommercialActionsAlbum_GB">got the 15th anniversary treatment</a>; and Sleater-Kinney's discography up to now also came out again, although seeing as my local HMV decided not to bother getting them in and I can't really justify the expense in any case I'm yet to hear them.&nbsp; Sob.&nbsp; Also of note is Soul Jazz's Punk 45 series, with two discs given over to <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Yourself-American-Destroys-Underground-1973-1980/dp/B00FKVUDYM">underground punk from both America</a> <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/PUNK-45-Society-Underground-Post-Punk/dp/B00H92ATAI/ref=pd_sim_m_h__1?ie=UTF8&amp;refRID=145TWH0167EF7DY5D9NW">and here</a>, with a third dedicated to what <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Punk-45-Revolution-Proto-Punk-1969-77/dp/B00JATX9FK/ref=pd_bxgy_m_h__text_z">came before between 70-77</a>.<br /><br />In a year of barely known about gems resurfacing, BBE put out Nana Love's lost 1978 album Disco Documentary - Full of Funk, the kind of record that despite being precisely of its time still sounds incredible today.&nbsp; Nana Love's voice is unique, and while she was never going to give Gloria Gaynor or Donna Summer much of a challenge it just adds to an album that should never have been overlooked first time round.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-6765169833115288292014-12-29T09:00:00.000+00:002015-01-06T23:37:06.039+00:00The worst music of 2014.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/12/the-worst-music-of-2013.html">This time last year I suggested</a> we might be facing a couple of years where musical innovation (in the "underground" scenes at least) would take a back seat to general consolidation, such had been the breakneck pace of change of the period between 2003-2011.&nbsp; Now, it could be I haven't listened to as much on Rinse this past 12 months as I have previously, but it really does seem as though we're in the middle of said fallow period.&nbsp; Coupled with the continuing decline in physical sales, with it becoming ever less clear exactly how musicians are going to be remunerated for their work when streaming services are now the first port of call for so many, with the pittance they offer in royalties, it's often felt this year as though the safest bets have been celebrated and pushed more than ever.<br /><br />First though, can we have a moment of silence for dubstep, which passed away this year?&nbsp; Or perhaps some cavernous sub-bass would be more appropriate.&nbsp; Whole genres of course don't die, and without doubt repetitive beats around the 140bpm mark will come back, as every genre does at some point.&nbsp; <a href="http://rinse.fm/artists/youngsta/">This said, when Youngsta now dedicates</a> almost the entire first hour of his show to that not exactly post-dubstep not exactly tech-house not exactly techno sound others have moved on to, you know dubstep is going through a period of creative crisis.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">This is all the more sad when you consider just a few short years ago the possibilities of the genre seemed endless: "dubstep" was always an elastic signifier, able to encompass Burial at one end of the spectrum and completely deranged tearout by say, Borgore at the other.&nbsp; Without being confined in the same way as drum and bass is, the likes of Scuba and Joy Orbison could happily sit alongside Coki and 16 Bit.&nbsp; And now, almost certainly <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2012/12/worst-music-of-2012.html">because the bastardised version of dubstep got so popular</a> so quickly among a certain demographic, the genre as a whole has collapsed in on itself.<br /><br />In what is hopefully a sign of how dubstep can make a resurgence, its sister genre grime has continued its own instrumental revival this year.&nbsp; Where perhaps the Butterz duo of Elijah and Skilliam can be principally thanked for starting things off, a whole bunch of new labels and producers have emerged this year to drive things further on.&nbsp; Artists like <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCMQFjAA&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Fslackk&amp;ei=4OSeVJuKJsa1Ucv1gagL&amp;usg=AFQjCNGrLGlImiGCgN7B-K7-f3cifNpaMg&amp;sig2=BY46AJtvadBOErae4tB-sg">Slackk</a>, <a href="https://soundcloud.com/visionist">Visionist</a>, <a href="https://soundcloud.com/djmurlo">Murlo</a>, <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=3&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CC4QFjAC&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.grimeforum.com%2Fartists%2Fkid-d&amp;ei=ouWeVPSPJcb8UonPgKgP&amp;usg=AFQjCNFBEsnhbNG9_iVU8e6xOvpFCyjUVQ&amp;sig2=577Sx46-va9lB3DqdmmoEg">Kid D</a>, <a href="https://soundcloud.com/inkke">Inkke</a>, and <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=2&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCkQFjAB&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Ftri_angle_records%2Fsd-laika-idiot-thug&amp;ei=wuWeVKG5MIO2UdndgLAL&amp;usg=AFQjCNHgzmciO9jbGmiRY-c92ZftKbVFmA&amp;sig2=xcSFN8B25K-s-4CdUtdoog">SD Laika</a> have all emerged, while more established people like <a href="https://soundcloud.com/mrmitchmusic">Mr. Mitch</a> and <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=2&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCkQFjAB&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Fjaytee1980&amp;ei=8-WeVOWXMIurU9v6gLAL&amp;usg=AFQjCNGT-YqjrclgdSTH0y1Gvyu-H80f1w&amp;sig2=6OmzvciDgILnUdUZOfg0gw">JT the Goon</a> have pushed on too.&nbsp; There's also been the revelation of outliers like those mentioned above who had a tenuous connection to dubstep, such as <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCUQFjAA&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Ftherabit&amp;ei=DuaeVLySMMeuUY-Ig4AJ&amp;usg=AFQjCNE_hu_XcUf791VhS7WrHS1GzcrzQw&amp;sig2=SXYnUAxT76ULaHzZctcBtg">Rabit</a> and <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCMQFjAA&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Fyamaneko&amp;ei=L-aeVK6KAsLyUuSAg6gL&amp;usg=AFQjCNF5BOTnnamawv7zIYGjzJ2jgSAH-w&amp;sig2=jhNq3kYEeW6P8wTJKNkJHg">Yamaenko</a>, who are sort of making grime, just not the sort you're likely to hear in a club being spat over by an MC.<br /><br />With 2014 having often felt like a year in a state of flux, not sure whether it wanted to go down as the year when the internet completely took over everything, music in general has often seemed to be mirroring that air of uncertainty.&nbsp; There hasn't been anything completely irredeemable, just as there hasn't been anything on the scale of say, Get Lucky, conquering all before it.&nbsp; The closest has been <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM">Happy</a>, which in fact came out at the tail end of last year.&nbsp; To make up for this clearly unacceptable situation, the levels of hype and bullshit surrounding mediocre but successful artists have escalated yet further.&nbsp; Every female artist on the planet was seemingly asked if they were a feminist, and even if they didn't agree they were lauded as one anyway.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=5&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CDAQFjAE&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fbitchmagazine.org%2Farticle%2Fall-hail-the-queen-beyonce-feminism&amp;ei=uOaeVI2yNcSuU62VgagL&amp;usg=AFQjCNFD0mGuUvNZLXC4VDpCmWu8Sk4Rtg&amp;sig2=YatMftDD8rJw0a2qCU4jUw">Perhaps Beyonce is a feminist</a>, if getting married to someone who once declared <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEHSRgwvbcI">he had 99 problems but a bitch wasn't one</a> can be defined as such, but when Queen B's status as living god has been affirmed over and over no one could possibly demur anyway.<br /><br />We must then move on to Taylor Swift.&nbsp; Forget just for a moment the <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCMQFjAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fmusic%2F2014%2Fnov%2F04%2Ftaylor-swift-spotify-streaming-album-sales-snub&amp;ei=7-aeVOyBMoW7UaWCgaAL&amp;usg=AFQjCNGJIr_oZfRKBFXH797VuNfildh-kA&amp;sig2=G9URyGQj-IKgosGyyJbvwQ">whole removing her music from Spotify thing</a>, the kind of act in 2014 that defines you as a revolutionary, such is the way the industry has gone, and try to remember the music itself.&nbsp; Can you?&nbsp; I don't mean the videos, the ones <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/11/is-it-possible-to-parody-something-so.html">that prompt supposed political commentators</a> to write articles on them, such is their power, but the actual music that goes with them.&nbsp;&nbsp; I sure as hell can't.&nbsp; There is literally nothing there, and yet such has been the ephemera of the recent past Swift's music is held up as a kind of triumph.&nbsp; I'd like to think all those clickbait pieces on Swift and her ilk are written by people no longer ashamed to admit they have horrible taste in music, yet most are clearly just doing what they're told.<br /><br />Much the same can be said for that other winner against the odds of 2014, Ed Sheeran.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCMQFjAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.telegraph.co.uk%2Fculture%2Fmusic%2Fmusic-news%2F11267409%2FEd-Sheeran-reinvigorates-album-sales.html&amp;ei=P-eeVI-DDsSrUcPYgqAL&amp;usg=AFQjCNESTk5-T8hPLUeEhRNusC6nqDoi_w&amp;sig2=marvpb1m_O6h0ETcV4XXFQ">His second album has sold over a million copies</a>, which just proves how massive the market for insipid sort of guitar sort of vaguely urban at times music is.&nbsp; Sheeran is without question his own man, having gone round the toilet circuit before making it big, but still he seems like the next logical step for the tweenager who's outgrown One Direction or 5 Seconds of Summer.&nbsp; He's supremely unthreatening but has a sleeve tattoo therefore rebellion, sings a few soppy songs but others have a slightly harsher edge, and if he hadn't arrived fully formed some record company exec would have created him.&nbsp; That he reminds me and probably only me of <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=6&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CEIQFjAF&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.liverpoolecho.co.uk%2Fwhats-on%2Fmusic-nightlife-news%2Fcape-wear-cape-fly-liverpool-7686265&amp;ei=Y-eeVN6VCYHBUtfng_AK&amp;usg=AFQjCNESZ24_Xnlukr00CxRzKwAKxkwmbA&amp;sig2=i8acFyB3KRS-BQr6VAw7rQ">Sam Duckworth's Get Cape Wear Cape Fly</a>, except Sheeran is even wetter, fairly sums him up.<br /><br />Sheeran is at least preferable to the other "big" artists thrust down our throats this year in the shape of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCkpzqqog4k">Sam Smith</a> and George Ezra, with their faux-soul faux-everything except their voices sound.&nbsp; James Blake was unfairly described a couple of years back as coffee table dubstep, but that's as nothing to what Smith and Ezra are: they're background noise makers, whether it be to provide a soundtrack to scenes in the Queen Vic or Rovers Return, or to your own dinner party.&nbsp; To do a couple of obvious jokes, yes, Ezra, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHrLPs3_1Fs">you are a Budapest</a>, and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED7_y4jETo0">will someone please pass me the fucking asparagus</a>.<br /><br />It also wouldn't be a worst music of the year post if we didn't have a moan about mediocrities getting praise for merely being mediocre, if that hasn't been what the past four paragraphs have been getting at already.&nbsp; No, this year has seen something far more pernicious: the review that sort of says this album is total cack and then gives it a midrange score regardless.&nbsp; Chief example being <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/may/01/lily-allen-sheezus-review">Alexis Petridis' review of Lily Allen's god-awful Sheezus</a>.&nbsp; Lily Allen has been getting away with releasing sort-of OK pop for years, rewarded at one point with a Novello award no less, only to come rather unstuck following the whole I'm not going to lower myself by shaking my arse in my videos when I've <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/13/lily-allen-hard-out-here-racism">paid a whole load of black women</a> to do it for me controversy.&nbsp; When the best can be said is that a couple of songs have a couple of decent lines, <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=6&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CDkQFjAF&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.azlyrics.com%2Flyrics%2Flilyallen%2Furlbadman.html&amp;ei=1uieVMBggbRSx_OD6Ao&amp;usg=AFQjCNFOZMFHfyya03WEsS26F5CuB7hADA&amp;sig2=2fo1xc_uVedE3qQhDVu3Eg">Petridis quoting the one from URL Badman</a>, just not the "I don't like girls much, they're kinda silly / Unless of course they wanna play with my willy" couplet which rather lets the side down, then giving it three stars is stretching it.&nbsp; The same goes for Pitchfork's review of <a href="http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/20058-nicki-minaj-the-pinkprint/">Nicki Minaj's opus the Pinkprint</a>, which admits from the outset Minaj is "exhausted", only to then give it a 7.5.&nbsp; On the Richter scale, presumably.<br /><br />Ah yes, Ms Minaj.&nbsp; <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDZX4ooRsWs">Anaconda</a> was apparently intended as a novelty, which rather poses the question of whether almost her entire body of previous work should be regarded as such also.&nbsp; "My anaconda don't want none unless you got buns, hun" is the kind of line you could go to your grave trying to decipher.&nbsp; Is Minaj deliberately using a double negative to satirise the whole debate over her butt implants?&nbsp; Despite everyone assuming that anaconda is a euphemism for penis, is she actually warning everyone of a snake targeting only those with large posteriors?&nbsp; Or is it merely a terrible line written to justify a video where Minaj "plays" another woman's buttocks like the bongos?&nbsp; Then we also had Meghan Trainor, informing the world <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PCkvCPvDXk">it's all about that bass, no treble</a>.&nbsp; All this discussing in song form of bigger than your average back bottoms meant this was soon taken up as a rallying cry for "loving what you got", which is a fine sentiment.&nbsp; It just rather ignored the whole "Fuck the skinny bitches in the club" bit at the end of Anaconda.<br /><br />Finally, and most mystifying of all, is just how many deeply underwhelming albums have been praised to the skies.&nbsp; <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=5&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CDoQFjAE&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fplay.spotify.com%2Falbum%2F14xxjLlbGy8ACm4MorBjD5&amp;ei=DeqeVMGyBoHbUsnng-AO&amp;usg=AFQjCNGQsmro_U1YjMqB9pReW9lzbp-GRw&amp;sig2=hB8fJiISFLt1UCCzZHkywA">The War on Drugs' Lost in the Dream</a> is making a lot of top tens, to which you can only ask: how?&nbsp; I'm not averse to a bit of Bruce Springsteen, but Bruce Springsteen mixed with David Gray with the other worst bits of 80s rock thrown in?&nbsp; The 80s is the decade music wants to forget for good reason, with the only comfort coming from the emergence of house, techno and hardcore in both musical senses.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=2&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CC0QFjAB&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwarp.net%2Frecords%2Freleases%2Faphex-twin%2Fsyro&amp;ei=J-qeVMCeNYbuUI6zgbgL&amp;usg=AFQjCNH2jkOdATqfcDhobQTzzJt7eRTVbA&amp;sig2=s4Z6FbqqCKd4vROc0PMU6g#">Aphex Twin's comeback Syro</a> also does absolutely nothing for me, the praise it's getting more about Richard D James's past contributions than his latest it seems, <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=9&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CFMQtwIwCA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D7yKCxerJklU&amp;ei=SeqeVJ_OJsr1UtKXg7AL&amp;usg=AFQjCNG1hAneGpIs2mwxzfep7H1aX6Kzbw&amp;sig2=EvfBMhrNahKVYtaj26ZO8w#">Swans' To Be Kind</a> similarly washes over whereas The Seer captivated, and <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCMQFjAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.4ad.com%2Freleases%2F22344&amp;ei=i-qeVOn-Ocr1ULOogbAL&amp;usg=AFQjCNHPNvcGNvqJVl2YSgdlAPbql2vk1w&amp;sig2=FY0l3lyjxhn34v74rcIZxA">Scott Walker's team-up with Sunn 0)))</a> is memorable only for the "Choo choo mama" chorus of Fetish, which for those like me who come from the internet thought was going to end in a different m word altogether.&nbsp; Choo choo then, motherfuckers.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-41504871001343662132014-12-24T14:16:00.000+00:002014-12-24T14:20:17.070+00:00In block 5 we worship malaria.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">And so another thoroughly miserable year is drawing to a close, with the promise of a 5 month general election campaign awaiting us the other side of New Year's Eve.&nbsp; Thanks to all those still reading, and as per I shall return in a few days with the only truly definitive (read: my entirely subjective and almost certainly stupid in the face) guide to the year's best and worst music.<br /><br />To get us in the mood, here's a song of festive cheer:<br /></span><br /><center><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/TVDTyHlmh1M" width="480"></iframe></span></center><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><br />Oh. It seems to be about the Holocaust instead.&nbsp; Ah well.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-56621829366570037962014-12-23T21:35:00.001+00:002014-12-23T21:35:59.680+00:00The ghosts of Tory Christmas future.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">There is one, and one comfort only to be taken if worst comes to worst and the Conservatives win a majority next May: David Cameron will continue to lead the party.<br /><br />This isn't out of grudging respect for David Cameron's achievements as prime minister.&nbsp; Having never understood the appeal of a man who seems to emanate insincerity, who is easily discombobulated and angered (see PMQs most weeks), and <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/10/the-tory-cult-of-insincerity.html">who can also express faux anger if the need takes him</a>, about the only positive to be taken from his time as head of the coalition is he will have guided it through the past five years without it collapsing.&nbsp; This of course has much less to do with Cameron himself and more with the Liberal Democrats staring into the electoral abyss, the Tories also unconvinced they could win a majority in the event of it breaking apart, but slight achievement it is nevertheless.<br /><br />Cameron is however a titan, a veritable Alexander the Great as compared to those whom aspire to be Tory leader should he fall under a bus or that majority continue to be unobtainable.&nbsp; Fighting like a <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2882937/Theresa-warned-toxic-feud-Number-Ten-damaging-chance-succeeding-Cameron.html">sackful of rats and tomcats are George Osborne and Theresa May</a>, <a href="http://news.google.com/news/url?sr=1&amp;sa=t&amp;ct2=uk%2F0_0_s_3_0_t&amp;usg=AFQjCNHgddvUqn47I6msKTnr5PIBEDbKiA&amp;did=14464c3b4c32bdc8&amp;sig2=JYCqrZigjUI-tnlqEZlKHA&amp;cid=52778686981924&amp;ei=79uZVLiZKefJigaPlYA4&amp;rt=STORY&amp;vm=STANDARD&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fpolitics%2F2014%2Fdec%2F21%2Ftheresa-may-grant-shapps-ken-clarke-advisers">with the latest skirmish resulting in Theresa May's special advisers</a> being denied the safe parliamentary seats they believed they were entitled to, supposedly for refusing to do their bit in the Rochester by-election.&nbsp; Their demotion was, according to the Mail, approved by Cameron, who for reasons known only to himself appears to favour his chancellor moving next door when the time comes.<br /><br />As mysterious as the charms of Cameron are, those of Theresa May remain as hidden or indeed as illusory as the lost city of Atlantis, and just as cold.&nbsp; May's rise seems to stem purely from how she's managed to last the full term as home secretary, which as with Cameron speaks much of just how many powers the Home Office has farmed out as it does about her competence.&nbsp; If nothing else she's managed to stare down problems which destroyed past holders of the office: <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2011/11/it-never-ends-or-some-pun-involving.html">like the little difficulty with Bodie Clark</a>, or more recently the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/26/theresa-may-accused-delaying-immigration-reports">various immigration reports she delayed publishing</a>, not to mention how while it's unfortunate to lose one head of a child abuse inquiry, to have two resign <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/dec/22/theresa-may-uk-most-senior-female-judge-lead-child-abuse-inquiry">isn't so much carelessness as sustained buffoonery</a>.&nbsp; Not having the right-wing press tearing lumps out of you merely for being a Labour home secretary also helps matters.<br /><br />Dear old Georgie by contrast remains in the race if only due to his <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2791776/ephraim-hardcastle-s-no-limit-ambition-george-osborne-s-busy-young-prot-g-matthew-hancock-say-colleagues.html">superpower of placing sycophants in various government departments</a>.&nbsp; Not content with having once smashed his party's ratings with the omnishambles budget, his autumn statement with its promise of "colossal" cuts <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/dec/20/labour-takes-seven-point-lead-farage-opinium-poll">seems to have seen resulted in blowback once again</a>.&nbsp; Admittedly, <a href="http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/9102">only some polls are showing a lengthening of Labour's slight lead</a>, but considering how in the immediate aftermath the spin was about how Osborne had once again made a silk purse out of Ed Balls's scrotum, it's enough to suggest his great shrinking the state gambit isn't working out.<br /><br />And then we have Boris Johnson.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Just-Boris-Ambition-Biography-Johnson/dp/1845137167"> Anyone who's read Just Boris</a> will be all too aware of quite how unprincipled, hungry for power and determined to get it at any cost the London mayor is.&nbsp; Hidden beneath the artistry veneer of being upper class twit of the year is a venal liar without scruples, and a libido that would embarrass Russell Brand.&nbsp; All things considered, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/dec/22/david-cameron-tory-succession-tactics-stay-behind-prime-minister-for-now?guni=Article:manual-trailblock%20package:Position2">he's probably the least worst potential candidate</a>.<br /><br />Whether Cameron can hang on in the event of his party again emerging with the most seats but without a majority depends on whether the backbenches could be convinced to back a two-time loser for a third time.&nbsp; Would Cameron really be capable of getting the fabled majority in a snap election following the collapse of a minority administration?&nbsp; Would the alternatives be any better?&nbsp; Can you imagine George Osborne helming the campaign for Britain to stay in the EU?&nbsp; Theresa May being softened by the usual advisers in an attempt to make her likable?&nbsp; Boris Johnson doing anything other than his Macavity act, one that would put <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/1572499/Parallels-between-Gordon-Brown-and-Macavity.html">Gordon Brown's in the utmost perspective</a>?&nbsp; Trust me, the horror could be only just beginning.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-79660235763135499842014-12-22T23:59:00.000+00:002014-12-23T00:07:47.149+00:00Sony Pictures! Fuck yeah!<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">There's something for absolutely everyone in <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_Pictures_Entertainment_hack">the on-going Sony Pictures hacking saga</a>.&nbsp; Everyone really meaning everyone, as anyone with even the tiniest bit invested in the entire clusterfuck, with the possible exception of President Obama, has ended up looking the worst kind of self-absorbed hypocritical tool.<br /><br />Congratulations must go first and foremost to Sony Pictures themselves, for oh so many reasons.&nbsp; We can start with commissioning <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2788710/?ref_=nv_sr_1">The Interview</a> to begin with, merely the latest attempt by Seth Rogen to convince the entire world he's even less talented than James Corden.&nbsp; Many people have pointed out that Kim Jong-un is just about the only real life national leader a Hollywood studio could get away with depicting the assassination of, as they certainly wouldn't dare to do the same to Xi Jingping of China, not least when it's an emerging market and any criticism of the country is most certainly now off limits, and when it comes to say, Iran, they have to be <a href="http://www.juancole.com/2013/02/orientalism-upsets-iranians.html">slightly more subtle about it</a>, <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/10/12/argo_true_story_the_facts_and_fiction_behind_the_ben_affleck_movie.html">as we saw with Argo</a>.&nbsp; Not so subtle that when it came to handing the Oscar over, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/02/the-great-giving-and-taking-offence.html">it was Michelle Obama doing it mind</a>.<br /><br />Up next has to be Sony's lamentable security in general.&nbsp; <a href="http://gizmodo.com/why-sony-keeps-getting-hacked-1667259233">This isn't the first time it's been found wanting</a>: LulzSec first gained access to personal data from <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-31021_3-20068414-260/hackers-steal-more-customer-info-from-sony-servers">Sony Pictures via a SQL injection attack back in 2011</a>, only a couple of months after the Playstation Network <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation_Network_outage">had been taken offline for a month</a> following the stealing of data from the near 77 million accounts made on there.&nbsp; Quite how the "Guardians of Peace" gained access to so much of <a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/12/08/kaspersky_deets_on_sony_malware/">Sony Pictures' data isn't yet clear</a>, <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2014/11/25/7281097/sony-pictures-hackers-say-they-want-equality-worked-with-staff-to-break-in">although suspicion is they were given help</a> from within.&nbsp; Whatever the case, you certainly wouldn't bet against Sony falling victim again.<br /><br />Then we have the withdrawal of the film itself.&nbsp; There are some caveats here: <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/dec/22/north-korea-claims-clear-evidence-us-administration-deeply-involved-in-making-the-interview">despite the chains now claiming they merely wanted</a> the release delayed until it became clear how serious the threat from GoP was, it would only have taken one idiot to do something vaguely menacing at a screening for the lawsuits to start flying.&nbsp; Delaying the release indefinitely would also have sparked the same hyperbolic reaction as we've seen, as though not immediately <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkJA1rb8Nxo">releasing a turkey of a comedy</a> <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/rob-lowe-says-sony-cancelling-the-interview-is-like-europe-giving-in-to-hitler-9932310.html">is somehow akin to 30s appeasement</a>.&nbsp; This said, and even bearing in mind how the past year has been one long episode of people saying things and then hastily withdrawing them and/or apologising <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/life/culturebox/2014/12/the_year_of_outrage_2014_everything_you_were_angry_about_on_social_media.html#article_header">after others have declared themselves offended</a>, Sony must have known there was no realistic threat.&nbsp; North Korea being one and the same as the Guardians of Peace or otherwise, neither is about to fly a hijacked airliner into a cinema showing the film.&nbsp; I'm not one to start crying about censorship or giving in to dictators or "cyberterrorism" over a Seth Rogen vehicle, but plenty will, and indeed have.<br /><br />Which brings us to the luvvies themselves.&nbsp; If like me you'd prefer celebrities to be seen and not heard, or for that matter not seen either, nothing is more likely to get them spouting forth than first their extremely private emails to studio executives getting leaked, followed by their unreleased films (for which <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/dec/21/madonna-album-hack-living-state-terror">also see Madonna</a>) and then finally a studio withholding a film mocking the easiest target in the entire world.&nbsp; Still, if the likes of <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/dec/16/brad-pitt-seth-rogen-media-sony-hacks">Rogen, Brad Pitt</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2014/dec/15/aaron-sorkin-sony-hack-news-outlets">and Aaron Sorkin</a> hadn't spoken up there wouldn't have been the delightful sight of celebs condemning a free press for reporting on information in the public domain, something that just slightly undermines the whole horrified reaction to Sony then withdrawing the film.&nbsp; Not that reporting on the information dumped by GoP doesn't raise ethical issues: after all, the very same organisations that professed themselves shocked and outraged anyone would so much as look at the images and video <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/09/of-walking-abortion.html">leaked during the "fappening"</a> (while telling everyone precisely where to find them, natch) didn't have the slightest qualms about spreading the news of <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/14/sony-pictures-email-hack-greed-racism-sexism">Angelina Jolie being described as a spoilt brat</a> and Sony executives telling hilarious racially flavoured gags about President Obama's favourite movies.&nbsp; That North Korea could be ultimately responsible for the leaks seized upon just adds to the amusement.<br /><br />Finally, there is the "cyberterrorism" aspect.&nbsp; Cyberwarfare ranks only slightly behind <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-biggest-scam-of-modern-era.html">anti-terrorism itself in the bullshit stakes</a>.&nbsp; Cyberespionage is a problem, yes, as proved by just how many designs the Chinese have ripped off in recent times, yet when it comes to actual direct threat to lives there simply isn't one.&nbsp; As every single domestic appliance starts connecting to the internet for God knows what reason there might be, but those times aren't here quite yet.&nbsp; This hasn't though stopped the usual suspects from shrieking <a href="http://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=775b17e9-4020-4093-959f-5057b58aa737">about the Sony hack being an act of war</a>, before even the slightest evidence has been produced to prove <a href="http://marcrogers.org/2014/12/21/why-i-still-dont-think-its-likely-that-north-korea-hacked-sony/">this really is the work of North Korea rather than</a> just those with a certain amount of sympathy for the hermit kingdom.&nbsp; Real state sponsored hacks in the past have been to steal things worth having, or to send a message directly to a country, if we take the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_cyberattacks_on_Estonia">Estonia attack for example</a> as being the work of the Russian state, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuxnet">or say the Stuxnet worm</a>.&nbsp; As embarrassing as this whole incident has been for Sony, not to mention costly, no one could have seriously expected them to decide to pull the film entirely.&nbsp; Credit must go to Obama for describing the attack as cybervandalism rather than jumping on the bandwagon, even if discussions are taking place about putting North Korea back on the state sponsors of terrorism list.<br /><br />North Korea then.&nbsp; Villain of choice for Hollywood film-makers who don't want to make their antagonists just generic terrorists, for which see Die Another Day, the remake of <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1234719/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Red Dawn</a> (the invaders were meant to be Chinese only for the studio to decide to make them North Korean in post-production) and <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2302755/?ref_=nv_sr_1">Olympus Has Fallen</a>.&nbsp; Strangely, the latter two make the country seem threatening when it most assuredly isn't, at least to the wider world, as both South Korea and Japan have legitimate reasons to worry about the stability and sanity of those in charge.&nbsp; The reason the country has made such an issue out of The Interview and didn't about say <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0372588/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Team America</a> is fairly obvious: <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21591581-kim-jong-un-has-managed-improbable-feat-making-north-korea-even-scarier-crying-uncle">Kim Jong-un is still consolidating his power</a> and ranting about this outrageous American insult, or even doing something about it makes clear he is not to be crossed or underestimated.&nbsp; It certainly isn't, as some have ludicrously suggested, that such a film could through the power of mocking alone help conjure up opposition to his rule.&nbsp; If that was the concern, Team America would have received more of a response, although frankly <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEaKX9YYHiQ">Kim Jong-il's being "so ronery"</a> is the best part of the entire, very flawed thing.<br /><br />Directly responsible or not, Jong-un's point has been made.&nbsp; As for the rest, they've responded in the only way they know how: by making it about themselves.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-40262140519400827962014-12-19T13:33:00.000+00:002014-12-19T13:33:15.192+00:00What lies beyond.<center><iframe width="480" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/eOD7OToDqoM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><iframe width="480" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/GRuNvU4w6Zo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0