tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-144224352014-09-18T07:04:52.488+01:00ObsoleteIncreasingly fragile leftist fashion blogging from someone somewhere. || “The Labour party has never been a socialist party, although there have always been socialists in it – a bit like Christians in the Church of England.” -- Tony Benn || The newspaper gown she wore is always on fire.septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.comBlogger3600125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-84187919455062041262014-09-12T13:46:00.002+01:002014-09-12T13:46:52.509+01:00You exist within her shadow.<center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/vVRaJRfOTjA" width="480"></iframe><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/6vjZUUPKC6s" width="480"></iframe></center><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Somewhat typically, I'm not here next week. I might well pop in next Friday and indulge in a bit of schadenfreude, but otherwise that's your lot for 7 days.<br /><br />And I'm sorry I'm such an utter gimp, despite my words having lost all meaning and power long ago.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-70910640404774310282014-09-11T21:30:00.000+01:002014-09-11T22:12:32.229+01:00The new strategy is there is no strategy.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">One thing is abundantly clear after President Obama set out <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/11/barack-obama-tv-speech-on-isis-full-text">his new strategy on "degrading and destroying" Islamic State</a>: our politicians have been getting <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29043667">themselves in a tizzy for nothing</a>.&nbsp; Just as policy on Syria <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/02/syria-abyss-and-least-worst-option.html">has long been to contain, if not actively prolong the civil war</a> in the country, with the result being the rise not of moderates but the likes of the al-Nusra Front and IS, so now this will be extended into Iraq despite the containment strategy having singularly failed.&nbsp; Got that?<br /><br />There certainly isn't any other conclusion you can possibly <a href="http://www.juancole.com/2014/09/defensive-rhetoric-offense.html">reach after Obama's televised address</a>.&nbsp; The strategy he sets out is the same one his administration has long favoured, using drones and special forces while trying to empower the jihadists' foes on the ground.&nbsp; This has "worked" in Somalia and Yemen, in the sense neither al-Shabaab or al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula have launched attacks on the west, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/07/condemned-to-repeat.html">despite the latter having made a number of attempts</a>.&nbsp; As for whether our allies in either country have been empowered, it's very much a secondary concern.&nbsp; So long as the high-ups in the groups are thinned out every so often, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/05/al-shabaab-leader-godane-killed-us-airstrike-somalia">as has just happened with al-Shabaab</a>, it goes down as a success.<br /><br />Why then all the rhetoric about destroying IS, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/20/obama-urges-action-halt-isis-cancer-uk-steps-up-fight-jihadis">it being a cancer needing to be cut out etc</a>, when it's obviously a long-term aim?&nbsp; Well, it's what he needed to do after he said previously <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-echochambers-28977365">there was no strategy</a>, when he meant there was no new strategy.&nbsp; There still isn't, it's just you can make it look as though he's proposing something different by ratcheting up the language, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29166372">sending John Kerry round all the "friendly" American-allied despots</a> and getting them to say they're going to do something when there's little evidence they will based on how some of them <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/iraq-crisis-how-saudi-arabia-helped-isis-take-over-the-north-of-the-country-9602312.html">are just as much responsible for the rise of IS</a> as the Ba'ath in Syria and the Americans themselves have been.<br /><br />If this was the intention all along, it's not clear if the message got through to dear old Dave.&nbsp; There he was declaring <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/09/a-greater-and-deeper-threat-just-not-to.html">IS poses the greatest threat to the country</a> since William the Bastard, with JTAC declaring it to once again be severe, and now it's not even apparent if the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/11/uk-rules-out-air-strikes-isis-syria">US wants us to help out by firing the odd Hellfire missile</a> at a rag-tag bunch of wannabe headloppers.&nbsp; Despite the media leaping at Obama saying he "will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria", that doesn't mean he's going to be authorising air strikes there any time soon.&nbsp; Apart from the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/11/assad-moscow-tehran-condemn-obama-isis-air-strike-plan">Russians making clear their displeasure</a>, any sustained campaign against IS will only benefit Assad in the short-term.&nbsp; If there really are "moderate" Syrian rebels currently being trained by the US, <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-and-iraq-us-policy-is-fraught-with-danger-9722276.html">with Patrick Cockburn suggesting they amount to the last remnants</a> of what was the Free Syrian Army, which was never an army in the first place, only now fully under the auspices of the CIA, the idea they can fight both IS and Assad at the same time is as ridiculous as it is amusing.&nbsp; The US can't possibly imagine they'll make the difference either; the hope presumably is the Saudis, Qataris, Kuwatis etc will come round to the US approach and start funding their controlled rebels instead of <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/12/syria-fsa-islamic-front-geneva-ii-jarba.html">the likes of the Islamic Front or IS itself</a>.&nbsp; This in turn will risk the non-IS jihadists going over to IS, but that apparently doesn't worry anyone.<br /><br />The Syrian rebels are themselves <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/11/syria-opposition-welcomes-us-air-strikes-isis-militants">still fixated on overthrowing Assad</a>, not surprisingly considering that's err, why they rose up in the first place.&nbsp; Sadly for them the mission's changed: once it was about getting rid of the Ba'ath, only the west soon realised the rebels weren't going to be any better than Assad, in fact probably worse.&nbsp; Rather than admit we got all our predictions about <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/feb/05/syria-assad-regime-doomed-says-hague">the Syrian regime being doomed wrong</a>, <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/06/bashar-al-assad-re-elected-syrian-president-20146419457810751.html">Assad "re-elected" and going nowhere</a>, we settled on support for the rebels knowing full well neither they nor the government could strike a killer blow.&nbsp; Only we didn't count on the apparently defeated and broken Islamic State of Iraq morphing into not just IS but also al-Nusra, or the Sunni Arab states using them in their proxy battle against Iran.&nbsp; Or at least on IS becoming so powerful so quickly.<br /><br />As for Iraq, the US is perfectly happy to send a few more units to the country, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/11084533/British-arms-for-Kurdish-fighters-battling-Isil.html">for allies to arm the Kurds and Iraqi government</a>, and for neither to move all that quickly against the towns and cities IS controls.&nbsp; Unlike the panic-mongers over here, Obama spelled out how IS currently <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/10/jeh-johnson-dhs-chief-no-information-isis-attack-us-homeland">doesn't have the intention of attacking the west</a>, being far too busy in both countries.&nbsp; No reason then to risk further unbalancing the fragility in Iraq; with the Yazidis mostly safe and other minorities having fled, the US is counting on IS once again outstaying its welcome amongst the Sunni tribes, <a href="http://world.time.com/2014/01/16/iraqs-tribes-will-rise-again-says-u-s-general/">just as it did back in 2007</a>.<br /><br />Moreover, Obama's reheated strategy is almost certainly the right one, despite its failure in Syria.&nbsp; If the intention was to really deal with IS and right now it would mean temporarily allying with Assad, something we simply aren't prepared to do, both out of the sheer embarrassment it would involve and of course down to how he's a chemical weapon using tyrant.&nbsp; Having morals is nice, but not losing face is far more important.<br /><br />It would be great though if for once, just once, our leaders could admit how badly they've got things wrong.&nbsp; We hold our hands up: we're just as responsible for the rise of IS as either Assad or the sectarian Iraqi government.&nbsp; Now it's turned out this way, we're going to make it <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/08/wasted-your-life-in-black-and-white.html">right by not making the same mistakes as we did before</a>.&nbsp; The Americans, against the odds and to their credit, have reacted in a far calmer manner than our politicians have, regardless of Cameron's rhetoric not matching the legislation proposed so far.&nbsp; With the parties currently far more exercised by the little matter of Scotland potentially leaving the union, by the time parliament returns (assuming there is a no vote) the initial something-must-be-done stage might have passed.&nbsp; Just don't count on it.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-19105715657512506882014-09-10T23:59:00.000+01:002014-09-11T01:33:30.334+01:00In this post somewhere is a point struggling to get out.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">My idea of love comes from / A childhood glimpse of pornography<br /><br />One song on <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/09/a-triumph-of-art-over-logic.html">The Holy Bible</a> <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/09/a-triumph-of-art-over-logic.html">I didn't mention on Monday</a> is <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYNwr58V1Pg">She is Suffering</a>.&nbsp; Not because it's a bad track by any means.&nbsp; I<a href="http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/manicstreetpreachers/sheissuffering.html">ts lyrics are some of the deepest on the album</a>, the images Edwards paints among his most powerful, with only Die in the Summertime and <a href="http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/manicstreetpreachers/smallblackflowersthatgrowinthesky.html">Small Black Flowers</a> from <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19N9H1JXvko">Everything Must Go</a> eclipsing them.&nbsp; It's that on this occasion Bradfield and Moore didn't quite capture the strength of the lyrics with their music.&nbsp; Apart from the solo, it's just a bit too dank, and an odd choice for what turned out to be the last single from the album, albeit apart from Faster/PCP and Revol there weren't many other natural choices.&nbsp; Ifwhiteamerica or Of Walking Abortion would probably have been better, but both are equally open to misinterpretation.<br /><br />Which is also in part what's happened to She is Suffering.&nbsp; She isn't a person, rather the personification of desire.&nbsp; <a href="http://articles.richeyedwards.net/holybible.html">Edwards wrote</a> "[I]n other Bibles and Holy Books no truth is possible until you empty yourself of desire.&nbsp; All commitment otherwise is fake/lies/economic convenience."&nbsp; Emptying yourself of desire is, of course, impossible, and it's that very impossibility Edwards is playing with, the suffering inevitably following the very attempt, as well as the pain that comes from desire.&nbsp; The linking of desire with sin goes all the way back to the Christian creation myth (much farther in truth, but let's not get too bogged down), of Eve being tempted by the serpent, committing the original sin, of both going against God and daring to want to have the same knowledge as He.&nbsp; Religions whether eastern or western have often insisted on the purity of those preaching, either through not taking wives or abstaining entirely, and the results have been all too predictable.<br /><br />Edwards himself claimed to take little joy from sex, with the line "nature's lukewarm pleasure" thought to be his personal view.&nbsp; He could do without it, quite happy to take fans who idolised him back to his hotel room even if he had no <a href="http://backstagerider.com/2010/02/01/night-richey-edwards-manic-street-preachers/">apparent intention of having sex with them</a>.&nbsp; For someone with such strong views on prostitution and the abuse of women, at least in song, <a href="http://articles.richeyedwards.net/28may94nme.html">he also visited a sex worker while in Thailand</a>, although he "only" paid for a hand-job.&nbsp; Asked why, he said maybe he was making a point about his sexuality.&nbsp; "Perhaps, just that I don't regard paying for sex as being that different to sleeping with a groupie. It's all done on the same functional level."<br /><br />Is this leading anywhere you're probably asking by this point, apart from Edwards being a terrible hypocrite and bit of a prick.&nbsp; Shaming as it is to admit, I've been rather sucked in by a certain image board since I went back there, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/09/of-walking-abortion.html">purely for research purposes</a>, natch.&nbsp; Despite it no longer being the modless place it once was, there's still something of the early internet about it, everyone anonymous, all of human life there in uncensored, disreputable glory.&nbsp; It's all but impossible to know whether a post which on the surface looks serious is serious, or indeed whether one intended to be will be replied to in the same spirit.&nbsp; One thread where the original poster asks for help from some of the least predictable individuals on the net might be met, no doubt to the incredulity of those whom regard the place as a cathedral of misogyny or worse, with tender, informed and compassionate responses, alongside the others telling the OP to kill himself at least, while another might just consist solely of the latter.&nbsp; Evident amid the gore, lolicon and general porn threads is a sense of community not many forums can now boast of.&nbsp; Even if that assessment ought to get me into Pseud's Corner.<br /><br />It's led to me ruminating on what exactly desire now is when every perversion you can think of is but a click away.&nbsp; The answer is probably much the same as it ever was, albeit with technology having supercharged the ability to both focus on the individual and to seek out ever greater amounts of what it is you think you want.&nbsp; There are just as many threads on this image board devoted to Facebook friends and crushes as there are to people they don't personally know, social networking having made it so much easier to lust after and by the same measure, so much harder to forget about those we feel affection for.&nbsp; It's there as a constant temptation, knowing with a few taps of the keyboard we can either reward or punish ourselves with their latest updates.<br /><br />The hacking of the iClouds of celebrities just underlined what's going on below the surface of everyday lives: the sharing of photographs taken as part of a relationship, sometimes not even by jilted lovers but to show their partner off to the world.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/05/nude-selfies-cosmo-survey_n_5765696.html">A survey found 88% of young women</a> had taken pictures of themselves naked, not always to share with anyone, but to simply record.&nbsp; Nice as it would be to think the rise of the "amateur" or the "real" is a response to the fictional world of porn, whether it be the glossy or the <a href="http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Gonzo&amp;defid=1412931">gonzo variety</a>, it's as much due to the spread first of digital cameras then smartphones as it is distaste for what an industry dictates turns us on.<br /><br />Beauty she is scarred into man's soul.&nbsp; I know all about the male gaze, how ludicrous it is that anyone could think of themselves as a victim purely down to how they can't turn away, as if the problem isn't theirs and theirs alone.&nbsp; When I give in though, as I always end up doing, the only thought which occurs is, despite everything, this, she, is beyond compare.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.bartleby.com/108/21/1.html">All is vanity</a>.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-83576138226359031592014-09-09T23:59:00.000+01:002014-09-10T18:08:49.587+01:00Cometh the hour, cometh Brownman.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Every so often a political crisis comes along that just can't be solved by the usual, ordinary methods.&nbsp; In such times, there is but one man you can turn to.&nbsp; He can't be reached by phone, his real identity is known only to a select few, and there's no guarantee then he will help out, liable as he is to years of sulking and plotting.&nbsp; Your best bet of attracting his attention is to ask Commissioner <s>Gordon</s> Hogan-Howe to illuminate the brown signal.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/08/fgordon-brown-leads-scottish-labour-drive-rescue-no-campaign">For he is, and will always be, The Brownman</a>.<br /><br />Yes, now recuperated from the exertion of saving the world from financial meltdown in 2008, Brownman is back to smash the Salmon(d)'s nefarious plot to break Scotland away from the United Kingdom!&nbsp; Could Brownman this time have left it too late however?&nbsp; Should he rather than the Boy Darling have led the battle against the Salmon(d)?&nbsp; And what of the swirling rumours Brownman is only intervening due to the machinations of Two-Face Cameron and Poison Crosby?<br /><br /><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-29113547">Describing the actions of Better Together</a> over the past couple of days as panic doesn't just do a disservice to those who suffer from anxiety attacks, oh no.&nbsp; We're talking full on, head-just-been-cut-off, running around the farmyard with blood spraying everywhere type attacks of fear-induced mania.&nbsp; It speaks volumes of the confidence of the no campaign that a single, solitary, within the margin of error, with don't knows stripped out poll <a href="http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/8957">giving Yes its first ever lead causes</a> a quite staggering outbreak of oh my god what are we going to do we must do something anything and right now-itis.&nbsp; These, remember, are politicians meant to be calm, collected and resolute in the face of any threat.&nbsp; Menaced by the divisions of YouGov they've turned tail and ran straight for the high road.<br /><br />Leaving it till now, both to use a figure who might make a better emotional case than Alistair Darling and to set out exactly what a no will mean in the form of further devolved powers is baffling, except when you know <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/04/scottish-independence-and-forces-of.html">what a basket case the no campaign has long been</a>.&nbsp; They believed they could just go on saying no to everything Yes said they could do, and that would be enough.&nbsp; No currency union, no EU membership, no deals, no friendship, no help, no chance of Scotland becoming Norway.&nbsp; In fairness, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/08/if-simon-cowell-wants-us-to-stay.html">the polls suggested this approach worked</a>, except until the vote got so close you could start to feel it, more people began paying attention and Salmond played the <a href="http://www.yesscotland.net/sites/default/files/resources/documents/goodbye_tories_1.pdf">if-you-hate-the-Tories-even-if-you-don't-know-why-vote-Yes card</a> (PDF).<br /><br />I've tried not to pay too much attention to the Scottish independence campaign for the reason that both sides equally depress, or rather infuriate me.&nbsp; Generally in politics and as I've often tried to argue here, all involved are ghastly but there's usually one slightly better than the rest, even if the differences between them are almost imperceptible.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/11/promising-too-much-too-soon.html">Yes peddles a fantasy vision of a Scotland freed</a> from the perfidious English establishment, a country where the sun will always shine, the oil will perpetually flow and the welfare system will forever be more generous and fairer than its south-of-Berwick equivalent.&nbsp; Sure, every so often either Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon will say they're not claiming <a href="http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/u/sturgeon-momentum-is-with-the-yes-campaign.1410178228">independence will be a panacea</a> or transform the nation overnight, but it usually comes after a very particular flight of fancy.&nbsp; No by contrast paints a picture of a <a href="http://wingsoverscotland.com/tag/wee-poor-stupid/">nation too wee, too poor, too stupid to go it alone</a>, one where London knows best and to prove exactly that point will block any proposal, however modest, to give the Scottish people more say.&nbsp; This is without getting into the petty grievances of both sides, the dead horses beaten daily, the phony differences played up by those who really, really ought to know better, the we're more Scottish than you attitudes on display by all concerned.<br /><br />Just as sad is how <a href="http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/monbiots-idiotic-arguments-for-scottish-independence/">otherwise intelligent people have been sucked</a> <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/ebook-42-reasons-to-support-scottish-independence">in by this cavalcade of bullshit</a>.&nbsp; Some of those on <a href="http://radicalindependence.org/">the left backing independence</a> really seem to believe this is the first step on the road to socialism in one country.&nbsp; Never mind that the SNP is about as radical as those people wooing and cheering as Apple launches yet another slightly better iPhone than the last one, a party that as Shuggy says has not <a href="http://modies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/yes-scotlands-biggest-lie.html">during its 7 years in power instituted a single redistributive policy</a>, that Salmond is more than happy to pal up with <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-17859580">those pinkos Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch</a>, as once the independence deal is done and dusted they can elect someone better.&nbsp; Like whom?&nbsp; The Greens?&nbsp; A reinvigorated Scottish Labour party, suddenly receptive and open to policies they weren't when tied to the English party?&nbsp; Or do they seriously think the tax cutting yet still somehow able to spend more SNP will turn from yellow to red?&nbsp; The notion Scotland is more left-wing than the rest of the country doesn't stand up to any kind of real scrutiny; hating Thatcher and not voting for the Tories in the same proportion as us southerners have certainly doesn't equal the same thing.<br /><br />Yet it's also impossible not to see the attraction.&nbsp; Forget the chest-beating nationalisms for a second, and why wouldn't you want to take a chance on independence when the alternative is more years of austerity, whether delivered either by a Tory-led or a Labour-led coalition?&nbsp; No one seems to have connected <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/09/a-greater-and-deeper-threat-just-not-to.html">the spectre of another war on the horizon</a> with the leap in support for Yes, despite independence suggesting a break from the overseas adventurism of the recent past.&nbsp; Listening to David Cameron speaking last weekend from the NATO conference was to<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29074408"> hear a man suffering from the most extreme delusions of grandeur</a>, imagining the nation he leads is still a world power, able to project itself around the world as it builds a second aircraft carrier and ensures defence spending remains at high percentage of GDP.&nbsp; Who wouldn't want the insufferable, jumped-up arse to be forced to go to the Queen and tell her in the space of four years he's managed to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-29136149">oversee the dismantling of the union</a>?&nbsp; The idea he could stay as prime minister in such circumstances is laughable, as is the one the general election would go ahead next year as planned.&nbsp; Besides, do you really want to align yourself with the gimps in power at Westminster, complacent with the apathy they usually encounter, until at last they realise the situation is far more serious than first thought?<br /><br />The problem with this is both that it's a strange independence movement that wants to break up the United Kingdom yet keep the pound, if necessary without a currency union, all while staying in the European Union, and that even if we accept at face value most of the claims about the true potential of the Scottish economy, <a href="http://flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/are-we-really-about-to-split-up-our-country/">it still leaves the country facing an incredibly tough initial decade</a>, such are the levels of debt the newly independent state would take on.&nbsp; This is if everything goes smoothly in the negotiations between Scotland and rUK, of which there is absolutely no guarantee, with Mark Carney explicit today about the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/sep/09/currency-union-independent-scotland-unworkable-bank-governor">incompatibility of sovereignty and a currency union</a> the SNP insists will happen.&nbsp; It could just be my natural pessimism talking, but I'd like to think it's in fact realism.<br /><br />All three main party leaders are then off north tomorrow in their bid to lovebomb Scotland into submission.&nbsp; It's a pretty pass we've come to when unleashing Brownman is the more rational, more likely to have an impact stunt of the week.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-65594814023650409922014-09-08T23:59:00.000+01:002014-09-10T01:17:40.649+01:00A triumph of art over logic.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-JjKinfYRAm8/VA5GdNWMPgI/AAAAAAAAAXo/XF3jF1ukfw8/s1600/index.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-JjKinfYRAm8/VA5GdNWMPgI/AAAAAAAAAXo/XF3jF1ukfw8/s1600/index.jpg" /></a></span></div><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><br />What's the greatest album of all time?&nbsp; General consensus, at least among critics, <a href="http://beckchris.wordpress.com/music-lists/225-2/">usually offers up either Revolver, Pet Sounds or Sgt. Pepper</a>.&nbsp; For good reason: all three were released within a year, all during <i>that</i> point in the Sixties, 4 years after Philip Larkin was later to <a href="http://www.wussu.com/poems/plam.htm">declare sexual intercourse began</a>, and before the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Manson#Tate_murders">murder of Sharon Tate</a>, Woodstock and then <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altamont_Free_Concert">Altamont</a> brought the decade to a close.&nbsp; The advances in production techniques; willingness to experiment with those techniques; outside, at the time exotic influences; drugs; they all combined, and it's no coincidence so many of what are now deemed to the finest collections of music you can buy all came out within a 3 or 4 year time period.&nbsp; Hendrix, Dylan, Velvet Underground, Van Morrison, Led Zeppelin at a stretch, all operating at more or less the same time, all delivering magnum opuses, all inspired by each other, sometimes directly competing against each other.<br /><br />Why then go against this consensus and instead say the greatest album of all time came out 28 years later, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holy_Bible_%28Album%29">with the 20th anniversary of its release having just passed</a>?&nbsp; Simple, really: The Holy Bible by Manic Street Preachers is a singular achievement, an album out of its time, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/music/2004/nov/21/popandrock">a triumph of art over logic</a>, as Keith Cameron has described it.&nbsp; It's the greatest precisely because of its imperfections, as opposed to the perfection of Pet Sounds.&nbsp; In its original mix it sounds muddy, flat, and it's difficult as ever to decipher exactly what it is James Dean Bradfield is singing.&nbsp; It sounds that way because it's how the band wanted it to sound, although they later preferred the mix prepared for the never released US version by Tom Lord Alge.&nbsp; It doesn't matter because the music and lyrics are visceral in their intensity, the sound of a band playing for their lives, rejecting their previous mistakes and operating at a peak.<br /><br />There's no getting away from what The Holy Bible has come to signify above all else, which is the disappearance and almost certain suicide of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richey_Edwards">Richey James Edwards</a>.&nbsp; Some of the comment and search for meaning in his lyrics, with Edwards writing almost the entirety of the words to Bradfield and Sean Moore's music, where previously he had collaborated with Nicky Wire on the band's two previous albums, misses the mark as the album was finished before he was admitted to a mental health ward in Cardiff, later receiving treatment at the Priory.&nbsp; Nonetheless, it's difficult to read the lyrics to Yes, Faster and Die in the Summertime and not visualise a mind in tumult, the culmination of what Edwards had been trying to say previously with Wire and hadn't quite achieved.<br /><br />The Manics were after all treated as a bit of joke by some critics, at least to begin with.&nbsp; Understandably, considering Wire's boasts of releasing a double album as their debut, it selling sixteen million copies, and then splitting up.&nbsp; Motown Junk contains the line <a href="http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/manicstreetpreachers/motownjunk.html">"I laughed when Lennon got shot"</a>, and some missed the intentional ridiculousness of <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hEmVm21TQY">You Love Us</a>.&nbsp; At the same time as rave was crossing over, the Manics were wearing eye make-up, reviving punk and quoting every revolutionary and cultural icon they could lay their hands on.&nbsp; Generation Terrorists is <a href="http://drownedinsound.com/in_depth/4145695-manics-monday--rain-down-alienation-generation-terrorists%E2%80%99-key-tracks">a flawed, brilliant record</a>, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gavcjNniIvk">Motorcycle Emptiness</a> not requiring any explanation, while <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM3N54avEQc">Little Baby Nothing</a>, Edwards' first song about the abuse, commodification and exploitation of women, both features <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traci_Lords">Traci Lords</a> and has the <a href="http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/manicstreetpreachers/littlebabynothingwithtracilords.html">"culture, alienation, boredom and despair"</a> line that so epitomises everything the early Manics stood for.&nbsp; Famously, in response to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/friday_review/story/0,3605,374432,00.html">interview questions from Steve Lamacq about their authenticity</a>, Edwards invited the NME hack backstage, where he proceeded to carve "4 REAL" into his arm.&nbsp; Most versions of the story then omit how the next day, after getting stitched up, Edwards rang Lamacq to apologise.<br /><br />Edwards' mental health problems had begun in earnest at university, where by his own admission <a href="http://articles.richeyedwards.net/may95select.html">he drank to get to sleep</a>, cut his arm with a compass and at one point weighed just 6 stone.&nbsp; Twice during his time with the band he went to a health farm in an attempt to recover from the worst of what he did to himself, with any improvement being short-lived.&nbsp; His behaviour was treated by both some fans and <a href="http://articles.richeyedwards.net/4dec93kerrang2.html">sections of the press as a bit of laugh</a>, or even to be emulated; the worries of his closest friends and bandmates were downplayed, although others <a href="http://www.richeyedwards.net/anna.html">saw the path of destruction he was on for what it was</a>.&nbsp; He both hated and fed off the attention of those who idolised him; given a set of knives by a fan in Thailand, <a href="http://articles.richeyedwards.net/28may94nme.html">he refused to cut himself on stage as she wanted</a>, instead slicing his chest horizontally beforehand, coming on topless with the blood trickling down his body.&nbsp; There's a shot of Edwards in the 10th anniversary edition of the album, emaciated, looking heavenwards, the scars on his upper body lurid red, appearing for all the world like Christ down from the cross.<br /><br />Wherever Edwards' mind was he as wrote the album's lyrics, they feel like, are his gospel.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rl2Jv4dzFqg">Faster</a> is his song, his response to critics both real and imagined.&nbsp; "I am an architect, they call me a butcher," it opens.&nbsp; <a href="http://articles.richeyedwards.net/holybible.html">"Self-abuse is anti-social, aggression still natural,"</a> he later commented.&nbsp; How Bradfield and Moore wrote music to some of the lyrics defies explanation in itself, Bradfield commenting how he called Edwards "a crazy fucker ... expecting me to write music to this" but he managed it.&nbsp; Imbibing post-punk after Gold Against the Soul had gone glam to indifferent results, the scuzz at times practically drips from the speakers, only relenting for <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ig3KadGVVcs">This is Yesterday</a>, the album's most straightforward and by the same token least interesting song, if you can describe a song that attacks the comforts of childhood as false in such terms.<br /><br />Viewed from 2014, the idea of a song criticising political correctness making the top 40 and getting played on the radio is laughable, let alone from a band known for its left-wing sympathies.&nbsp; As a double A-side with Faster, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YN5AxvjTJhQ">PCP</a> reached <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faster/P.C.P.">number 16 in 1994</a>.&nbsp; Equally out of place and out of time was <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DC-9GA6RBMc">Archives of Pain</a>, Edwards taking <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discipline_and_Punish">Foucault's work on discipline and punishment</a> and tongue-in-cheek using it as a justification for the death penalty, as well as being a reaction against the cult of the serial killer.&nbsp; Ifwhiteamerica... is a more standard piece of anti-American, anti-imperialist agitprop, on which Wire did the most work of any song on the album, with the lines <a href="http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/manicstreetpreachers/ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart.html">"Zapruder the first to masturbate / the world's first taste of crucified grace"</a> staying in the mind.&nbsp; Just to slam the message of brutality further home, there's not one but two songs addressing the Holocaust and man's inhumanity to man, both written after the band had visited Dachau and Belsen, as well as the museum at Hiroshima.&nbsp; If <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf4zsRbiHY4">Mausoleum</a> is one of the album's weaker tracks, for all its <a href="http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/manicstreetpreachers/mausoleum.html">bleak, beautiful imagery</a>, then <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbITPljzybE">Intense Humming of Evil</a> is among the best, <a href="http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/manicstreetpreachers/theintensehummingofevil.html">haunting, respectful, necessary</a>.&nbsp; "6 million screaming souls / maybe misery - maybe nothing at all / lives that wouldn't have changed a thing / never counted - never mattered - never be".<br /><br />As absurd as Faster and PCP getting radio play seems 20 years on, it was only Edwards' disappearance that prevented <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gd3C9aAupQI">Yes</a> from being released as a single.&nbsp; Used as we all are now to cussing in tracks being masked for radio edits, quite how a song <a href="http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/manicstreetpreachers/yes.html">about prostitution and the commodification of everything</a> written in the most unflinching terms would have gone down can only be imagined.&nbsp; Opening with the line "For sale? Dumb cunts same dumb questions" and with the chorus featuring "He's a boy, you want a girl so tear off his cock / Tie his hair in bunches, fuck him, call him Rita if you want", it's just as much about Edwards himself as it is the other topics it addresses.&nbsp; "Can't shout, can't scream, I hurt myself to get pain out" is almost <a href="http://articles.richeyedwards.net/28may94nme.html">the exact reasoning he gave when asked why he self-harmed</a>.<br /><br />Most important of all is <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy2ebaAGMU0">4st 7lbs</a>, without a doubt Edwards' and also Bradfield's true masterpiece.&nbsp; <a href="http://manicsdiscog.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/t64-4st-7lb/">Told from the perspective of a young female anorexic</a>, it nails the vanity of wanting to be <a href="http://www.removables.co.uk/03_holy_album/07_4st7lb.htm">"so skinny that I rot from view"</a>, while not for a moment either judging or glamourising that desire.&nbsp; Two-thirds of the way through the track changes completely, slowing gradually to a crawl, mirroring the way life is ebbing from our narrator as she approaches 4st 7lb, the weight below which death becomes medically certain.&nbsp; "Yeh 4st 7, an epilogue of youth / such beautiful dignity in self-abuse / I've finally come to understand life / through staring blankly at my navel".<br /><br />It's still not properly known what triggered Edwards' admittance to hospital in August 1994.&nbsp; Some have suggested it was a culmination of his self-harm, alcoholism and anorexia, while reports, denied at the time, of a suicide attempt could well be nearer the mark.&nbsp; Certainly, if he really had wanted to <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wcITpnwzyY">Die in the Summertime</a>, then he didn't have the weakness, the strength to succeed.&nbsp; While Edwards claimed the lyrics were written from the perspective of a pensioner remembering his childhood, dying with the thoughts of his happiest time, it's not every OAP who would think <a href="http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/manicstreetpreachers/dieinthesummertime.html">"scratch my leg with a rusty nail / sadly, it heals"</a> or "a tiny animal turned into a quarter circle".&nbsp; Easy as it is to interpret it straight to Edwards' own thoughts knowing how events would turn out, in this instance it could well be the correct one.<br /><br /><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&amp;v=cW7F8nH2L8g#t=870">Speaking a couple of years ago</a>, Wire said had Edwards lived he expected he would have been "writing books ... an amazing artist ... I like to think still writing amazing lyrics with myself".&nbsp; The "like" is key: both the rest of the band and Edwards without saying as much almost certainly realised things couldn't go on as they had.&nbsp; The hospital admission had proved that.&nbsp; The day before they were due to go to America in their first real attempt to make it there, Edwards disappeared.&nbsp; His car was found at Severn View, formerly Aust services, near to the Severn crossing.&nbsp; Apart from a few almost certainly wishful sightings, no trace of Edwards has been found since.&nbsp; Although his sister continues to hope he will either be found or one day return, he was declared presumed dead in 2008.<br /><br />Genius is a word thrown about far too liberally.&nbsp; That it often goes hand in hand with "tortured" is almost always a cliché too far.&nbsp; Depression, mental illness, they strike without discrimination; we just don't hear about <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/04/suicide-kills-every-40-seconds-who">the millions who kill themselves who aren't renowned</a>.&nbsp; The fascination with the famous or celebrities with personal deficiencies is part wanting to rationalise why it is they reached where they did, part wanting to think they aren't "better" than us and part not wanting their success due to its ill effects.&nbsp; Edwards wasn't a genius in the true sense, nor was he anything other than a terribly flawed human being.&nbsp; What he did have was a blinding intellect, a lyrical gift that blazed all too briefly.&nbsp; The Holy Bible is his epitaph, like it or not.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-71824809139090043812014-09-05T13:44:00.002+01:002014-09-05T13:44:57.746+01:00Re-imagined.<center><iframe width="480" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/HNnNurKx_1w" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><iframe width="480" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/mz7P-R83Ku8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-45954404901487392942014-09-04T22:31:00.002+01:002014-09-04T22:31:54.282+01:00Desperate business.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">It's a strange old world.&nbsp; You might have thought for instance that regardless of how the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SITE_Intelligence_Group">SITE Intelligence Group</a>, formerly <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SITE_Institute">the SITE Institute</a>, is a self-started organisation that presents itself as an adjunct of the security services but in fact operates as the middle man between jihadis and the media and therefore needs to get more exposure, <a href="http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/09/02/article-2740998-20FF5FDA00000578-117_634x409.jpg">it wouldn't have plastered its logo</a> all over the Islamic State's <a href="http://metro.co.uk/2014/09/03/a-second-message-to-america-transcript-of-islamic-state-video-showing-execution-of-steven-sotloff-4855097/">"Second Message to America"</a> video.&nbsp; It might not, as was the case in the previous video, actually show the beheading of Stephen Sotloff, but it most certainly does have the terrified, close to tears Sotloff reading out the statement demanded of him, before then cutting to an image of Sotloff's prostrate body, his severed, bloodied head placed on his back.&nbsp; On the opposite side of the image to SITE's logo is the Islamic State's billowing black flag.&nbsp; Still, it's good for business, right?<br /><br />Equally odd is the idea a media blackout helps when it comes to those abducted in Syria or elsewhere.&nbsp; Until Tuesday night when our new friend Jihadi John, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/11071553/A-Briton-will-be-next-warns-Jihadi-John-as-second-hostage-Steven-Sotloff-beheaded.html">as we apparently have to refer to him</a>, was seen holding the scruff of David Haines's neck, we didn't have any idea there were Brits held by IS or any of the other groups.&nbsp; The government and media did; they just felt it was better for all concerned if we were left in the dark.&nbsp; Even yesterday, despite the rest of the world's media being understandably exercised by another westerner threatened with an especially grisly, brutal end, our own finest <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-the-papers-29040682">were pussyfooting around naming him</a>.<br /><br />As unlike our European counterparts we refuse to pay ransoms, failing a successful rescue operation David Haines faces the same fate as both James Foley and Sotloff.&nbsp; It's true this might not have been the case until recently, as we don't know whether Foley, Sotloff or Haines were abducted by groups or rebel battalions other than IS and then sold onto them, and there might have been negotiations going on with them about possible deals not involving money, but if not IS has likely held these men with the intention of using them as pawns in a potential battle of wills with the west.&nbsp; Media publicity before now might have made some sort of a difference, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidnapping_of_Alan_Johnston">as it clearly did when Alan Johnston was abducted in Gaza</a>, for instance.&nbsp; It's certainly difficult to think of further harm it could have caused, unless the coalition is haunted by the memory of <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1476558/Tony-Blair-faces-his-accusers-at-Ken-Bigleys-memorial-service.html">Ken Bigley and the pressure put on Tony Blair</a> at the time over it.<br /><br />Ah.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-16736259897575818572014-09-03T23:07:00.003+01:002014-09-04T02:25:34.113+01:00Of walking abortion.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">(Excuse the lack of source links in this post, for apparent reasons.&nbsp; You without a doubt know the sites I'm talking about anyway.)<br /><br />Loser / liar / fake or phoney, no one cares / everyone is guilty / fucked up, dunno why, you poor little boy<br /><br />Do you really need me to point out the almost myriad hypocrisies, ironies and contradictions involved in <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/29008876">the new and old media coverage of the leaked celebrity pictures</a>, or "the fappening", as it was quickly christened (please don't ask me to explain what fapping is, as if you either don't know or can't guess we'll all be better off in the long run)?&nbsp; Probably not.&nbsp; The most obvious, as this blog is nothing if not obvious, was running articles about how so much as <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/09/yall-are-breaking-first-two-rules-of.html">looking at the pictures is to perpetuate the abuse</a>, a position in itself which has been examined and argued over, addressed in horror films, pornography and often come up found wanting, while at the same time hosting news stories explaining precisely where it was you needed to go if you wanted to find them.&nbsp; If indeed, dear reader, you had not already sought them out, had them posted in your social media timeline or found out about them on a forum or elsewhere.&nbsp; The BBC's report last night even included a picture of the front page of the site in question, for crying out loud.<br /><br />Instead, let's start off with some of the basic inaccuracies which are still appearing in many of the articles on the leak.&nbsp; Some give the impression <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/03/celebrity-icloud-hacking-turns-into-child-abuse-case-over-maroney-pictures">that stolen images of around 100 celebrities</a> have been posted.&nbsp; They have not, or haven't been as yet.&nbsp; Rather, a list of the names of around 100 celebrities/famous women was posted alongside the images, with the implication being that if images/videos of them hadn't been released, they would be shortly, or could be as on some forums the poster was asking for bitcoins to be paid to their account, whereafter they would then release more images.&nbsp; Instead, images of around 25 celebrities have been released, not all of which are explicit, and in some cases there have only been one or two pictures of the celebrity posted.&nbsp; By far the largest caches were of files stolen/hacked from either the iClouds or phones of Ali Michael and Kate Upton, or to be precise in Upton's case, from <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/justin-verlander-addresses-online-photo-hacking-25221016">her partner Justin Verlander's account</a>.&nbsp; Contrary to some of the reports, there have been no images posted of Rhianna, Kim Kardashian or Scarlett Johansson to name but three, despite their appearing on the list.&nbsp; Simply down to how their names are among the most recognisable, they seem to have been included.&nbsp; All three have also had explicit images and or videos leaked in the past, which might have added to the confusion.<br /><br />The main problem has been that as of yet we still don't definitively know how the images were acquired, what method was used or whether there was a "gang" in the real sense involved or rather just a few individuals who then swapped files with each other.&nbsp; <a href="http://i.imgur.com/vnd0H9J.jpg">The most compelling explanation for how the leak happened so far</a> is there was a group of people who individually had gained access to the cloud accounts of celebrities, who then started exchanging their finds with others who had also managed to "rip" the accounts of famous women.&nbsp; To gain access to more of the cache you had to provide new material, or "wins".<br /><br />Whether one of these individuals then went rogue, or gave the files to a friend, on Sunday afternoon a thread was posted on a well known image board that contained most of the pictures since available everywhere.&nbsp; Others were posted later on Sunday, with a couple of new images shared on Monday, but there's been nothing since.&nbsp; This could mean there's nothing else to release, the list of names was a masturbatory fabrication, and that screengrabs of folders containing censored thumbnails of as yet unreleased further images/videos posted were also fake, or that in time they will also be leaked.&nbsp; What we do know is that on other boards prior to last Sunday there had been people saying they could rip iCloud accounts in exchange for either other images or bitcoins, and also talk of specific celebrities, of whom images were then leaked.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29039294">Whether as Apple claims an exploit wasn't used</a>, and <a href="https://github.com/hackappcom/ibrute">this was "hacking" of the old, brute force method</a>, with an element of "social engineering" (which in the context of phone hacking we called blagging), also isn't as yet fully clear.<br /><br />If there wasn't then enough dissonance around how it happened, there's much, more more about the ethics of all concerned.&nbsp; It would be easier to just say we're all guilty, and we are, but that doesn't begin to cover it.&nbsp; Obviously, the hacking itself is reprehensible; the images and videos leaked are the personal, intensely private and intimate record of the celebrities' lives.&nbsp; At the same time however, that doesn't make the crime any worse than ripping the accounts of ordinary people in the search for explicit images, or a bitter, jealous ex-boyfriend or girlfriend posting the images shared with them in confidence, as part of a relationship, as "revenge".&nbsp; The FBI have got involved entirely down to whom the victims are; if they were to do so in every case of "revenge porn" <a href="https://news.vice.com/article/the-line-between-fbi-stings-and-entrapment-has-not-blurred-its-gone">they wouldn't have time to keep entrapping American Muslims</a>.<br /><br />As we have to accept, once something is online it's incredibly difficult to get it removed. The European Court of Justice ruling on the "right to be forgotten", as welcome in principle as it is, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/aug/06/wikipedia-censorship-right-to-be-forgotten-ruling">will be and has already been abused by the rich and famous</a>.&nbsp; The argument is often made in the case of child abuse images, to so much as seek them out is to abuse that child and to encourage the people who produced that image to abuse others.&nbsp; This is questionable when child pornography is not made to order; it is not marketed or produced by an industry; it is made by abusers for abusers yes, but once out in the wild it does not as porn does, make stars out of those depicted in it; quite the contrary in fact.&nbsp; The more people who view it, the more likely it is the child will be rescued or the perpetrators will be caught.&nbsp; This is why, unlike with ordinary porn, images that have existed for decades are still exchanged far more often than newly produced material is.&nbsp; Vintage porn is a niche for those who get nostalgic for the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Age_of_Porn">so-called "golden age"</a>, in fact a time when despite the higher production values, the women were treated abysmally and the industry was riddled with criminals and chancers.&nbsp; There are still instances of both today, but nowhere near to the same extent.<br /><br />When explicit images of the already famous or the almost famous are leaked, it can go one of two ways.&nbsp; It can make the person even more famous, such as in the case of the aforementioned Kim Kardashian, or it can ruin them, destroying their career, resilience and confidence.&nbsp; Despite the initially supportive reaction when an explicit video of Tulisa Contostavlos was posted online, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/07/complicit-in-lies-of-serial-offender.html">she was then targeted by Mazher Mahmood</a>, in a despicable instance of someone already down on their luck being abused to sell newspapers.&nbsp; By the same token, the newspapers and news sites pretending to be disgusted and outraged by this most base invasion of privacy fall over themselves to buy long-lens shots of celebrities either in bikinis or topless on holiday, and <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=side+boob&amp;num=50&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;hs=fDK&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&amp;channel=sb&amp;source=univ&amp;tbm=nws&amp;tbo=u&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=oIwHVMDyM-qJ7AaZ3YHIBQ&amp;ved=0CEYQqAI&amp;biw=1280&amp;bih=806">fill their columns with instances of "side-boob"</a> or "wardrobe malfunctions", when that is the paparazzi aren't sticking their cameras right up the skirts of starlets.&nbsp; They ridicule their fashion sense, or alternatively praise them when they get it "right".&nbsp; Not so long ago Emma Watson tweeted a <a href="https://twitter.com/MTV/status/449014764875042816/photo/1">photo of her make-up bag</a>, filled with all the beauty products <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/01/emma-watson-makeup-tweets-commodification-female-beauty">she uses to get the "perfect" look demanded of her</a>, the kind of quiet act of rebellion that ought to shame those invested at every level of <a href="http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/beauty-hair/celebrity-hair-makeup/a26000/emma-watson-makeup-bag-contents/">the fame game and surrounding culture</a>, but doesn't.<br /><br />There is something additionally transgressive in seeing the famous as they want their partners to see them, rather than the public, just as some of it also as much about the modern need to record everything.&nbsp; Taking naked self-shots has become entirely ordinary; when Jennifer Lawrence also does, an actress who doesn't so much as have a Twitter account, the urge to see behind the facade is easy to understand.&nbsp; The vast majority of the stars also have nothing to be embarrassed about, beyond how they will undoubtedly blame themselves for not realising their photos were in the cloud, or their passwords weren't secure enough, regardless of how it's not their fault.&nbsp; The more explicit images of Lawrence circulating are not her; the ones that are simply show a beautiful young woman, confident in her sexuality.&nbsp; Only those she trusted should have seen them; it would be a further abuse if this was to shatter that confidence.<br /><br />The hope has to be none of those caught up in the leak suffer a similar fate to Contostavlos, victory over Mahmood in court notwithstanding, although frankly it's difficult not to fear for Jessica Brown Findlay, something best left at that.&nbsp; Looking at or for the outré, the unusual, is normal; it's when it goes beyond that into the unhealthy, the obsessional, the genuinely degrading and abusive that we have to worry and make judgements. </span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-27708743790749668182014-09-02T22:11:00.001+01:002014-09-02T22:11:18.213+01:00A greater and deeper threat. Just not to us.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">In a world so overflowing with bullshit, one where it's difficult to keep your head above the surface in the septic tank of life, it takes a statement the equivalent of an Olympic-sized swimming pool of cow dung to give anyone the strength to make the effort to say simply, and boldly, you're talking crap.&nbsp; According to our prime minister last Friday, the threat from the Islamic State, or ISIL, as he insisted on referring to the group for some bizarre reason, despite how we haven't described the greater area of Syria as "the Levant" for a very long time (those in the region refer to IS as Daash, the acronym for <span class="st"><a href="http://mordechaikedarinenglish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/the-new-kid-on-block-in-syria-daash.html">Dulat al-Islam fi al-Iraq wal-Sham</a>, i.e. ISIS) is <a href="http://www.itv.com/news/update/2014-08-29/cameron-says-uk-must-confront-is-ideology/">"greater and deeper than ... we have known before."</a></span><br /><span class="st"><br /></span><span class="st">It's never been clear when politicians talk about threats and security just how far is it we're meant to go back in looking for a comparable situation to the one we're facing now.&nbsp; Are we talking black death style threat, Spanish Armada type threat, the civil war, Waterloo, Crimea, the Boers, the Kaiser, the Nazis, the Soviet Union, the IRA, Saddam Hussein, al-Qaida? &nbsp;Obviously enough, the new threat is always greater and deeper than we've known before, and we're all meant to have absolutely no knowledge of history at all, or indeed a memory span beyond that of last month. &nbsp;Tony Blair claimed on a number of occasions the threat from al-Qaida was beyond comparison, just as every dictator we've faced off against since Hitler is, err, worse than Hitler.&nbsp; Mao might carry the distinction of (arguably) killing more of his own people than any other 20th century leader, but it's always to good ol' Adolf the glib and shameless turn.<br /><br />David Cameron's press conference came after JTAC concluded <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/29/trust-terror-threat-rating-intelligence-agencies">the overall threat is now once again severe</a>, despite the lack of any specific information suggesting an attack is being planned or is any more likely than it was the previous day. &nbsp;This is especially curious as only a few months back <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/07/condemned-to-repeat.html">new checks were put in place at airports</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/03/al-qaida-bombmaker">after specific intelligence suggested bombs</a> could be concealed in iPhones or Samsung Galaxy devices. &nbsp;That didn't necessitate any wider action, and yet here we are with a hypothetical threat from Islamic State requiring <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/aug/05/july7.uksecurity5">a "rules of the game are changing"</a> style intervention, urgent legislation and the general public told to be more vigilant, reporting any concerns they have to the local cop shop.</span><br /><br />Except Cameron's <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/sep/01/new-anti-terror-package-shaped-concerns-legal-challenges">rhetoric hasn't matched the measures announced</a>. &nbsp;With the removing of citizenship from those born here not possible without breaching international treaties, the government instead proposed temporarily excluding those who've gone to fight in Syria or Iraq from the UK, without explaining where they would be expected to stay or just how long such an order would remain in place. &nbsp;The police might be given the power to confiscate passports from those looking to travel, while TPIMs, the coalition's replacement for control orders, could be tightened by reintroducing the relocation element. &nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29024903">No one relocated under a control order absconded</a>, so correlation must equal causation, right? &nbsp;Even during the debate Cameron was emphasising how it "sticks in the craw that someone can go from this country to Syria, declare jihad ... and then contemplate returning to Britain having declared their allegiance to another state". &nbsp;Apart from buying into Islamic State's own sense of self-importance, he knows full well those who do return can be prosecuted under the alarmingly widely drawn powers in the Terrorism Act, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27491066">as Mashudur Choudary was</a>, despite not having fought in Syria at all. &nbsp;It raises the question of why if around half of the 500 estimated to have travelled to Syria to fight have come back more haven't been prosecuted, unless that is the threat posed by these Brit mujahideen has been over-egged.<br /><br />Why then such a disjunct between the message and the action? &nbsp;It's not down to the concerns of the Liberal Democrats, as Labour have made it perfectly clear they're prepared <a href="http://www.itv.com/news/update/2014-08-31/cooper-reintroduce-control-orders-to-combat-extremism/">to bring control orders back</a>, and so are hardly likely to defeat the coalition, at least on this issue, for the sake of it.&nbsp; Nor does breaking international treaties bother a party set to propose <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/07/all-you-need-is-gove.html">leaving the European Convention on Human Rights</a> in its election manifesto.&nbsp; Instead the reasoning behind it seems a strange mix of playing up the threat for all it's worth, just in case the Americans decide they would like our help in Iraq and/or taking the fight against IS into Syria, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/09/syria-coalition-is-officially-butthurt.html">preventing a repeat of last year's fiasco</a>, while at the same time knowing full well that for the moment at least the threat posed by IS to the <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/08/the-security-industrial-continues-to.html">country directly is fairly negligible</a>.&nbsp; Getting further involved would make the threat worse, just as our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq did, but that irony seems lost on most involved.<br /><br />With IS having followed <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/02/isis-video-steven-sotloff-beheading">through on its threat to kill Steven Sotolof</a>, with the promise a hostage described as British, David Cawthorne Haines, will be murdered next, there's little reason to imagine the thinking behind all this to fail in its aim.&nbsp; Despite there being no indication either ourselves or the Americans have the first idea of what to do about IS in Syria, as any suggestion of temporarily allying with Assad has been rejected, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/22/isis-gains-syria-pressure-west-robust">with the idea of training and arming "moderate" rebels to go after IS still being mooted</a>, it looks as though we're heading towards another intervention without having either a plan or an idea of what the end game will be.&nbsp; Destroying IS in principle is a laudatory aim; when however they have already <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29026491">turned to ethnic cleansing</a>, what's the most likely outcome should they find themselves having to flee their current safe havens?&nbsp; There is a great, deep threat to those trapped between IS, Assad and the other Islamist rebel forces, and we might just be about to make it even worse.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-26797785199789849532014-09-01T21:55:00.002+01:002014-09-01T21:55:32.095+01:00Y'all are breaking the first two rules of Fight Club.<span style="font-family: georgia;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><u><i><b>EXCLUSIVE TO ALL NEWSPAPERS AND NEWS SITES</b></i></u></span><br /><br /></span><br /><ul><span style="font-family: georgia;"><li><u><i><b><span style="font-size: x-large;">IF YOU DOWNLOAD THE LEAKED CELEBRITY PICTURES YOU'RE JUST AS BAD AS THE EVIL, VILE PERVERT WHO RELEASED THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE, PERPETUATING THE ABUSE </span></b></i></u></li><li><span style="font-size: x-large;"><u><i><b>A COMPLETE HISTORY OF EBAUM'S WORLD, THE WEBSITE WHERE YOU CAN FIND THE LEAKED CELEBRITY PICTURES</b></i></u></span></li></span></ul><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><br />In related news:<br /></span><br /><ul><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><li>Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, Hadley Freeman and Jess Cartner-Morley on how to take a better naked selfie - "get the lighting right and the rest will follow"</li><li>Kate Upton joins Arsenal on season-long loan in defensive midfielder role</li><li>Seth MacFarlane Oscar routine suddenly even creepier in retrospect</li><li>David Cameron attacks Magna Carta, media uninterested after finding she hasn't had risqué self-shots leaked</li><li>Jessica Brown Findlay, in all seriousness, we're really, really sorry</li></span></ul><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"></span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-57639819726889431852014-08-29T11:47:00.000+01:002014-08-29T11:47:13.167+01:00Black rose.<center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/-irjIr2jBlM" width="480"></iframe><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/sZTqpYDW9hM" width="480"></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-15506300670238803972014-08-28T23:01:00.000+01:002014-08-28T23:04:41.286+01:00It's about Farage, not Carswell.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/28/douglas-carswell-defection-ukip-realignment-british-politics">Quirky is one way</a> <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-28967101">of describing Douglas Carswell</a>.&nbsp; Giving a bad name to all the perfectly respectable <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/shortcuts/2013/may/22/how-to-spot-swivel-eyed-loon">swivel-eyed loons out there</a> is another, rather more accurate one.&nbsp; He was certainly far closer to Dan Hannan than Boris Johnson on the libertarian scale of just how out there you can be and still stay in the Tories, and duly, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-28967904">despite a "few sleepless nights"</a>, he's off to join the good ship UKIP.<br /><br />The first obvious criticism to make when that rare thing, an MP resigning only to stand again in the subsequent by-election on a different platform or principle happens, is self-indulgence.&nbsp; This was thrown at <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2008/06/davis-deserves-and-needs-support.html">David Davis when he stood down over 42 days detention</a>, and clearly annoyed the Tory leadership despite Cameron just about managing to swallow his pride and campaign for the man he challenged for the leadership.&nbsp; To give Carswell some credit, he has long campaigned for political reform and the public recall of MPs, a perfectly reasonable measure but one I've always felt could be triggered too easily by single issue campaigners under the system proposed by those pushing for it.<br /><br />All the same, to stand down and trigger a by-election now, when we are only about 8 months away from the general election doesn't exactly speak of concern for the public purse.&nbsp; Had he wanted to, Carswell could still have defected and hung on in his seat until the general election, then stand for UKIP.&nbsp; Indeed, it would probably give him the best possible chance of remaining the MP, seeing as he will now face two votes within the space of 8 months.&nbsp; He could easily win the by-election, only to lose his Clacton seat next year once the Tories have had time to build their candidate up in the constituency.<br /><br />This isn't about Carswell though, it's about UKIP, Farage and keeping the party in the headlines right up until the election.&nbsp; Give the party's adviser Patrick O'Flynn his due, <a href="http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/peteroborne/100221069/patrick-oflynn-a-catch-that-ukip-can-boast-about/">the former Express hack knows</a> both how to time their announcements and how to keep the illusion of pressure up on the Tories.&nbsp; If making it the same day <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28964323">as the latest immigration figures were published</a> wasn't coincidence, the rise of net migration to 243,000, just the 143,000 above the Tories' target, it couldn't have put their raison d'etre back on the agenda better.&nbsp; With the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28947603">media still more than happy to fluff Farage</a>, despite his anointment as candidate for South Thanet guaranteed weeks ago, you can't help but wonder whether the Liberal Democrats are going to be left struggling with the Greens for attention, at least until everyone remembers at best UKIP might, emphasis on the might, pick up 1 or 2 seats next May.<br /><br />Nor should Carswell get re-elected will he be the first UKIP MP, considering Bob Spink's defection to the party in 2008.&nbsp; More important is proving Farage <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/aug/27/nigel-farage-ukip-send-mps-westminster-general-election-2015">right in his prediction the party will pick up seats</a>, or can win at least once, not having managed to do so in all the previous by-elections.&nbsp; The party must be fairly confident he can take his support with him, as losing would be a humiliation; recoverable from certainly, but the kind of setback Farage has previously said could <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article4087023.ece">"puncture their bubble".</a><br /><br />The other motive presumably is to put the same idea in the heads of other Eurosceptic Tory MPs, suggesting they too could defect and still keep their seats, being as right-wing as in their dreams, supporting their former party on a case-by-case basis.&nbsp; It's why the Tories will throw as much at the campaign as they can, hoping they can make the best of a bad situation.&nbsp; As for Labour, it's a dream: the Tories tearing themselves apart over an issue the public are only exercised about by proxy.&nbsp; It will also split the vote in Clacton: unlikely as it is they could pick the seat up as a result, it will put under scrutiny <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/16/ukip-divided-left-right-cut-labour-support">the claim from both academics</a> <a href="http://www.theweek.co.uk/politics/60125/farage-stands-in-thanet-south-and-targets-8-more-tory-seats">and UKIP alike that they pose</a> as much of a threat to Labour.&nbsp; Interesting times, at least for us politics nerds, are ahead.<br /><br />(P.S. There's a simple reason I'm not on Twitter, or Facebook for that matter.&nbsp; They're not for me.&nbsp; I really appreciate the kind words about yesterday's post nonetheless.)</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-38693188935409186842014-08-27T22:07:00.001+01:002014-08-29T16:11:01.921+01:00Victims today, undesirables tomorrow.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">For the past few weeks I've been working my way steadily through a box set of The Wire, it having sat on my floor for at least four years, ever since I bought it shortly after the BBC had shown all 5 series back to back (I expect to get round to seeing what all the fuss is about Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones some time around 2018).&nbsp; I'm up to the final season, where McNulty, back on the booze and women and pissed off at the decision to shut down the operation against Marlo, "creates" a serial killer with the intention of getting the money taps turned back on by City Hall.&nbsp; Only until advised by Lester he can't even do that right, with neither the chiefs nor the media interested in his fictional slayer of homeless men.<br /><br />Something highly similar went on with the reporting of <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/aug/26/rotherham-sexual-abuse-children">the Asian sex gangs prosecuted over the last few years</a>.&nbsp; Let's cut all the nonsense now and say the real reason why it was so many young, not even always teenage girls, predominately in care or vulnerable, were able to be exploited and abused for so long with so little done about it.&nbsp; It happened because almost no one, with the exception of a few of those in the system and the abusers themselves gave a damn about them.&nbsp; Whether they really <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2735211/I-called-liar-racist-exposing-horror-SUE-REID.html#ixzz3BZl9Ld9q%20">were regarded as "white trash" by those abusers</a>, when the closest <a href="http://www.rotherham.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/1407/independent_inquiry_cse_in_rotherham">the independent report by Alexis Jay (PDF)</a> comes to describing any such direct insult from the men is one calling a 13-year-old a "white bitch" (pg. 140), is irrelevant when regardless of skin colour, these girls were treated as trash by everyone.&nbsp; They weren't important, and only are now as a grindstone for whichever political axe it is you want to sharpen.<br /><br />Andrew Norfolk only got his story <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-28934963">onto the front page of the Times in the first place</a> by playing up (or rather,&nbsp; by his editors focussing on) <a href="http://flyingrodent.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/concern-trolling-how-to.html">the whole "political correctness" angle</a>.&nbsp; Asian girls, black girls, white girls being abused by white men, black men, Asian men, who cares unless there's a celebrity or political figure among the latter or a good middle class kid gone off the rails among the former.&nbsp; Start saying nothing is being done though because everyone's too scared to admit it's predominantly Asian men abusing white girls, a problem within the Asian, if you want to be even more discriminatory the Muslim, community, and you've suddenly got a story the right-wing press is going to love.<br /><br />And boy, do they.&nbsp; It doesn't matter either the report is for the most part just restating what we already knew.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.anorak.co.uk/405226/news/the-problem-with-rotherham-1400-abused-girls-makes-for-a-good-headline.html/">Both the Sun and the Mail scream this morning</a> of the betrayals by the PC cowards/brigade.&nbsp; All but needless to say, the report itself doesn't so much as mention political correctness.&nbsp; What Alexis Jay does conclude comes in the six-page "Issues of Ethnicity" section of the report (pg. 91).&nbsp; She finds, predictably, that actual decision making was not affected by any fears of racism, with the "inquiry team confident ethnic issues did not influence professional decision-making in individual cases".&nbsp; There were however concerns expressed by some frontline staff as to whether their work could be interpreted as racist, and also awareness of, or a feeling of pressure from on high to play down the fact it was predominantly Asian men abusing white girls.<br /><br /><a href="http://annaraccoon.com/2014/08/27/rotherham-bothers-em/">As Anna Raccoon writes</a>, Rotherham isn't worse than any other instance of organised child sexual exploitation because the colour of the penises in this instance were brown rather than white.&nbsp; Jay goes on to comment on the research done by the UK Muslim Women's Network, which examined 35 cases and details almost exactly the same pattern of grooming and abuse as carried out in Rotherham, only in all these instances the victims were also Asian.&nbsp; The Home Affairs Select Committee heard evidence suggesting Asian victims were even less likely to come forward as they risked being ostracised by their own families and the whole community.&nbsp; As well as going against cultural norms, those in the community also feared the same retribution as visited or threatened against the victims if they went public with their concerns.&nbsp; With hindsight, Jay concludes, "it is clear that women and girls in the Pakistani community in Rotherham should have been encouraged and empowered by the authorities to speak out about perpetrators and their own experiences as victims of sexual exploitation, so often hidden from sight."&nbsp; Child abusers don't tend to select on the basis of skin colour; they do on the basis of how likely it is they are to get caught.<br /><br />The problem wasn't with the council and culture at the most senior level being politically correct, rather that it was "bullying and macho" (pg. 101).&nbsp; As far back as 1998 the chief executive of the council said women officers weren't "readily accepted" by officers or members.&nbsp; One former senior officer described it as a "very grubby environment in which to work", while another said she was asked if she "wore a mask while having sex" (pg. 114).&nbsp; As late as October 2009 a senior officer not working in safeguarding is quoted as saying the town had "too many looked after children" and this accounted for a "significant part of the overspend".&nbsp; When the issue was raised by councillors, it was through mosques, while one senior office suggested some influential Pakistanti-heritage councillors had acted "as barriers" (pg. 93).&nbsp; "Traditional" channels of communication were used, and some councillors even demanded that social workers reveal where Pakistani-heritage women fleeing domestic violence were staying.&nbsp; The police meanwhile, whom the report describes as now having a "clear focus on prevention, protection, investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators" are described as in the early 2000s regarding the victims rather than the abusers as "undesirables" (pg. 69).<br /><br />If there is a section of the report on shakier foundations, it's in the estimate of a potential 1,400 victims, the figure staring out from today's front pages.&nbsp; This isn't an estimate, rather an outright guess.&nbsp; Figures on caseloads were not collected, so the inquiry instead looked at case files, and lists of those known to children's social care (pg. 29).&nbsp; The inquiry read only 66 case files in total; it's unclear why it didn't read all those available to it, instead going for a random sample and drawing conclusions from that.&nbsp; As the section on victims also makes clear, not all of these are necessarily victims of grooming gangs; at least three of the cases are suggestive of abuse by individuals or within the family rather than groups of men working in concert (pgs. 41 and 42).<br /><br />Undesirables.&nbsp; There in a single word is the case summed up and why for all the talk of "never again" it will happen again, as no doubt it's happening tonight.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-28947707">Demanding the sacking of the now police and crime commissioner</a> for South Yorkshire isn't going to achieve anything, except leaving the taxpayer with the bill for a <a href="http://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-news/2014/08/22/labours-david-jamieson-named-new-west-midlands-police-and-crime-commissioner/">by-election where only around 10% will turn out</a>.&nbsp; The right will play the political correctness angle for all it's worth, point fingers at Labour and its rotten boroughs in the north, make subtler noises about the failings of multiculturalism, while the left and those like me will say it's about social breakdown and an underclass ignored by everyone until something terrible on a grand scale happens or there's another outbreak of rioting.&nbsp; They're fit only for gawping at on Jeremy Kyle and Benefits Street, for being a reason to pare back the welfare state, and the occasional short-lived passing frenzy.&nbsp; Social workers will go on struggling <a href="https://twitter.com/itsmotherswork/status/504325880110653440">with a risk assessment culture that can't be applied to such hard cases</a>, underfunded and overworked.&nbsp; Undesirables will become victims, then undesirables once more.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-73570838242470032572014-08-26T21:43:00.000+01:002014-08-30T13:19:33.621+01:00A damp rag.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">There are some days when you look down the headlines, by-lines and photographs on any news site and you can't help thinking, I detest every single one of these fucking people and their fucking miserable, petty, ridiculous and contemptible obsessions and actions.&nbsp; Well, OK, <i>you</i> probably don't.&nbsp; I'm just projecting myself into you.&nbsp; Which is pretty much as far as my anything goes into anyone.&nbsp; Today there isn't even a comment piece by either Holly Baxter or Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett.&nbsp; Clearly nothing on their <a href="http://vagendamagazine.com/">vagenda</a>.<br /><br />We do however have <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/series/jessica-valenti-column">Jessica Valenti</a>.&nbsp; Every day, a new horror, or alternatively, a new breakthrough.&nbsp; Although I don't mean to pick on Valenti, more writers whom are hired or worse, expound constantly for nothing on a single, deadening topic.&nbsp; Last week women were no longer <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/19/virgin-research-generation-women">expected to be virginal</a>, which is a wonderful triumph, something I imagined was fairly self-evident considering it's long been far more shameful to be a virgin rather than not, and the culture of the moment seems to dictate <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDZX4ooRsWs">the more bare flesh you display</a> the more successful you are, but there you go.&nbsp; The next day, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/21/campus-rape-problem-sexual-assault">"sexual assault [is] infecting our every institution and town"</a>, which is a scourge.&nbsp; I also don't mean to pick on feminism, more those where the record is always the same, the topic never changed, a problem never solved or even close to getting somewhere positive, but always requiring more action.&nbsp; I don't doubt Valenti has a lovely, well-rounded personality; surely though this monetary monomania requires that you can't switch off, or at least not fully or for more than a few hours.<br /><br />Yes, I realise I bang on about much the same topics here, and have been for way too long.&nbsp; You could say they're all interconnected and interdependent, so they're pretty much the same one too.&nbsp; You might even have a point.&nbsp; I've never claimed to be anything other than a colossal hypocrite.&nbsp; You can't have clean hands when you're all in the same plague pit, whether you try to be holier than thou and claim to be above all the other keyboard batterers out there or not.&nbsp; My point, if I still have one, is that as much as you might think about something, and I think about everything and certain things in particular way too much, to actually write it all down is something different.&nbsp; Some people it might help, I don't know.<br /><br />As well as being a direct reference to <a href="http://horrorstoriesvault.blogspot.com/2009/07/chuck-palahniuk-obsolete.html">a Chuck Palahniuk short story</a>, I originally named this blog Obsolete both in reference to how my politics seemed to be and still are, but also down to how I've felt like my whole approach to life and who I am is redundant in this age.&nbsp; I despise the falsity of everything, something epitomised by the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/aug/26/another-10-celebrity-ice-bucket-challenges-you-may-have-missed">apparent harmlessness of the ice bucket challenge</a>.&nbsp; It's not just that once you've seen one person drench themselves in cold water you've seen them all, requiring even less creativity than the fucking Harlem Shake craze did, it's that charity can no longer be a quiet thing you do for all the right reasons, rather one that requires the attention of the entire world and has to be passed on.&nbsp; If it was more unpleasant than just cooled liquid it would help too, but celebrities only ever eat rats' cocks if they're the ones being paid or they really will do anything for the attention.&nbsp; It's also just self-promotion in disguise, being a good sport, rather than a damp rag.&nbsp; I've always rather liked damp rags.<br /><br />I don't then give a shit about social media in any shape or form, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/26/twitter-fave-social-media-passive-aggressive">just as Twitter doesn't about you, or your asymmetrical haircut</a>. I don't care <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/26/lena-dunham-memoir-childhood-not-that-kind-of-girl">about Lena Dunham or any of these other anointed chroniclers of now</a>, a now I don't recognise, a now which of course puts poor little rich people centre stage.&nbsp; I can only laugh when the police urge the public to call them <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/aug/26/met-police-ask-public-help-identify-aspiring-terrorists">if they're worried about an "aspiring" terrorist</a>, both words utterly perverted and corrupted by politics, conjuring up an image of jihadis who want more from life, like buying their own home to cook hydrogen peroxide up in.&nbsp; I just sigh as we hear the same tunes from all concerned on this "new" threat, a media which has to reduce everything to a cartoon, moving on from the "white widow" to <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2733228/The-descent-Jihadi-John-Shocking-Facebook-photos-transformation-rapper-streets-Maida-Vale-prime-suspect-brutal-beheading-journalist.html">"jihadi John"</a>, alongside the demands for <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/aug/26/david-cameron-dismisses-boris-johnson-presumption-of-guilt-terror-plan">the entire justice system to be inverted</a>.&nbsp; I wonder about the point of it all when Israel and the Palestinians reach much the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28939350">same agreement as they did three years previous</a>, nothing changed except for the extinguishing of thousands of lives.&nbsp; Anyone would think both sides need each other more than they do their supporters.&nbsp; I'd like to snicker at Hopi Sen reaching for<a href="http://hopisen.com/2014/the-stop-the-world-coalition/"> the "Stop the World coalition" moniker</a> in his latest hand-wringing demand for bombing somewhere, setting out oh so rationally why doing nothing isn't the answer, even when doing nothing is the opposite of what we've done, but this particular joke isn't funny any more, especially <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/26/isis-apocalyptic-cult-carving-place-in-modern-world">when John Gray is also resorting to it</a>.<br /><br />There are a mess of contradictions at work here.&nbsp; I prize anonymity while pining for the same attention I denounce others for wanting.&nbsp; This very piece couldn't exist if it wasn't for all the above.&nbsp; I need it as much as I loathe it, guilty of the same thing I criticise Jessica Valenti and the single issue campaigners for.&nbsp; The other day I was <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/08/in-america-they-really-do-mythologise.html">attacking Russell Brand and others for writing</a> about themselves by proxy.&nbsp; Something I would never do.&nbsp; Obviously.<br /></span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com4tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-85514280975644236882014-08-22T13:28:00.001+01:002014-08-22T13:28:31.840+01:00I should have lied like everyone else.<center><iframe width="480" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/CnzFLSMBis4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><iframe width="480" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/YbeQYDsZy28" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-62830962265619029602014-08-21T22:44:00.003+01:002014-08-21T22:45:00.100+01:00The security-industrial complex triumphs yet again.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Is there a better job going currently than being an "expert", either in security or radicalisation?&nbsp; Your words are treated as gospel, regardless for instance of <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/06/the-biggest-scam-of-modern-era.html">how many times we've been warned the sky is about to fall by these people</a>, whether it be due to the <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/07/condemned-to-repeat.html">ever more ingenious bombs created by the fanatics</a> or by <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6613963.stm">the sheer number of said fanatics</a> just waiting to get their hands on those ingenious bombs.<br /><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/ShirazMaher">Take Shiraz Maher for example</a>, the <a href="http://icsr.info/about-us-2/staff/shiraz-maher-senior-research-fellow/">now go to guy at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence</a>, which smartly drops the PV bit on the end and just goes by ICSR for short.&nbsp; You might remember him (although probably not) for the work he did on Islamic extremism for Policy Exchange, the think-tank <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2007/12/policy-exchange-rumbled-by-newsnight.html">behind the report exposed by Newsnight as being based on forged evidence</a>.&nbsp; Maher's studying and researching <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Shiraz+Maher&amp;num=50&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;hs=Evv&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&amp;channel=sb&amp;source=lnms&amp;tbm=nws&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=v132U8q7K6b14QTDgIHACw&amp;ved=0CAkQ_AUoAg&amp;biw=1280&amp;bih=806">pretty much amounts to following those jihadists with either no shame</a> or no brains on Twitter, Skyping with those he's managed to persuade to talk to him about their own personal holy war, and then talking to journalists about the threat posed and horrors committed by these otherwise fine and upstanding gentlemen.&nbsp; He probably has links to the more discrete jihadis who still use forums too, although the switch to Twitter and Facebook by so many has made the whole monitoring process easier for all concerned.<br /><br />In short, Maher and his ilk are essentially spooks, only not as useful.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/21/west-no-avoiding-isis-british-jihadis"> His numerous interviews with those out in Syria</a> and now Iraq don't tell us anything we didn't already know, or rather tell those who have gone through <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2730372/Why-British-jihadis-fighting-Syria-Iraq-vicious-SHIRAZ-MAHER.html">Maher to get their own interviews</a> exactly what they want to hear.&nbsp; According to Maher the first wave of fighters going to Syria went with the best humanitarian intentions, only becoming further radicalised once they got there.&nbsp; This ties in precisely with the bogus idea of the armed uprising at the beginning being dominated by moderates <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/02/syria-abyss-and-least-worst-option.html">pushed by the violence of the Assad regime into embracing jihadism</a> (for an especially putrid example of how this argument is still being made, you can hardly do better <a href="http://leftfootforward.org/2014/08/with-the-threat-of-is-are-we-chamberlain-or-churchill/">than this Left Foot Forward piece</a>, a blog transformed by James Bloodworth into one pretty much advocating war all the time, all of the time).&nbsp; This isn't to say some British fighters weren't at the start somewhat naive about what they were getting themselves into, considering the reporting which often reflected that narrative, only for it to later flip 180 degrees into the equally absurd, all these people <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/02/exaggeration-and-british-jihadis-in.html">are going to come back and continue the war here</a> territory.<br /><br />Maher nonetheless pours scorn on the idea any of the British fighters could be compared to those who joined the International Brigades in the 1930s.&nbsp; The "modern state simply cannot allow itself to become a launch pad for every foreign conflict" he writes, except presumably when those conflicts are ones we approve of, or indeed take part in ourselves.&nbsp; It's also deeply odd how so many of the 500 or more fighters have managed to leave the country, with only the waifs and strays <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28778232">and clingers-on prosecuted</a>.&nbsp; What purpose for instance was <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/06/the-biggest-scam-of-modern-era.html">served by jailing Mashudur Choudary</a>, who came back here precisely because he realised he wasn't cut out for the jihad game?&nbsp; If letting them go is the plan, and it's not necessarily a bad one, shouldn't that be made clear, or are we playing a game of double bluff?&nbsp; Maher even repeats the ridiculous claim that the Islamic State is too extreme for al-Qaida, when the split <a href="http://pando.com/2014/06/16/the-war-nerd-heres-everything-you-need-to-know-about-too-extreme-for-al-qaeda-i-s-i-s/">between IS and AQ was about personalities and just which was the "real" al-Qaida affiliate</a> in Syria rather than tactics, despite AQ central's concern in the past over al-Zarqawi's igniting of a sectarian war.&nbsp; Syria is nothing if not a sectarian war after all.<br /><br />The belligerence of foreign fighters as described by Maher is predictable.&nbsp; It also hides a weakness, just as the murder of James Foley was the action of a weak actor against a stronger one.&nbsp; As yet IS hasn't faced an enemy worthy of the name in Iraq, although it will once the peshmerga proper gets involved.&nbsp; Its ambition could also be its undoing: fighting on two fronts is liable to spread its best fighters too thinly.&nbsp; Foreign fighters can threaten attacks against the west, but it doesn't make the prospect any more realistic, although the likes of Maher and the hacks following his every pronouncement will make the most they can out of them. Having successfully got the attention of America and the world, there's only way this is going to end for IS and its pitiful "caliphate".<br /><br />2 months back the spooks and securocrats were convinced the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/03/al-qaida-bombmaker">threat was not from IS but al-Nusra</a>, with all electronic devices in air travellers' baggage needing to be charged to show they weren't the latest AQAP-designed fiendish device.&nbsp; How quickly things change.&nbsp; What doesn't is the spiel, the certainty this latest danger is real, will endure, and requires immediate action.&nbsp; And so the security-industrial complex will continue to triumph.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-6906656568753858632014-08-20T23:59:00.000+01:002014-08-21T17:58:17.352+01:00Wasted your life in black and white.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Hi Time magazine hi Pulitzer prize / Tribal scars in Technicolor / Bang bang club AK47 hour</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">The reaction to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28867627">the murder of James Foley by the Islamic State</a>, documented in their now favoured fashion of showing the beginning of the execution before fading the image out, with the victim's head then pictured atop their prone, lifeless body, has been both all too predictable and all too revealing.&nbsp; Strangely, while even IS deems the release of an unedited decapitation with a small knife in high definition too stomach turning, too brutal, too liable to make even the most bloodthirsty armchair jihadis blanch and wonder about the merits of such base, pure propaganda, few bat an eyelid as <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/20/obama-urges-action-halt-isis-cancer-uk-steps-up-fight-jihadis">our politicians, commentators and media respond as though such a heinous act</a> has never been committed before.&nbsp; David Cameron stayed on holiday as Gaza burned, the Yazidis took to Mount Sinjar to escape IS and dozens of celebrities took the ice bucket challenge, but the filmed killing of a white, western journalist?&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28873051">He had to return when</a> such <a href="http://live.wsj.com/video/obama-foley-murder-shocks-the-conscience/1F947134-53AD-45D9-A62E-ED08D3A17164.html">"an act of violence shocks the conscience of the entire world.</a>"<br /><br />Foley's murder is of course straight out of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Berg">old al-Zarqawi</a> <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Bigley">bequeathed playbook</a>.&nbsp; The words, both from Foley and the butcher tasked with the killing would with minor adjustment be the exact same as those we heard 10 years ago, when if we're to believe the Americans it was Zarqawi himself wielding the blade.&nbsp; Things have undoubtedly changed since then: Zarqawi made demands that were never going to be accepted, but it gave the illusion of possible escape both to the prisoner and their relatives; up till yesterday some were <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/130503/james-foley-american-journalist-held-syrian-government">still insisting Foley was being held by Assad's forces</a>, not a group like IS.&nbsp; Killing Foley without any such public warning or ultimatum as "revenge" for the US strikes <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/08/there-is-light-and-it-never-goes-out.html">is of a piece with their other filmed atrocities</a>.&nbsp; Straight brutality designed to invoke fear and rage in equal measure is the default position.<br /><br />It's deeper than just a terrorist group being a terrorist group though.&nbsp; The propaganda of the Red Army Faction for instance, at least during the initial Baader-Meinhof period was exactly what you'd expect from the pen of a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulrike_Meinhof">political journalist</a> <a href="http://www.germanguerilla.com/red-army-faction/documents/71_04.html">turned wannabe guerilla</a>.&nbsp; IS by contrast, while working by the model put down by jihadi groups past doesn't have the same ideological or intellectual back-up, <a href="http://www.jihadica.com/the-caliphate%e2%80%99s-scholar-in-arms/">with the vast majority of scholars whom backed al-Qaida denouncing IS</a> and its declaring of a new caliphate.&nbsp; IS can point to even less theological justification for its actions than al-Qaida, which really is saying something.&nbsp; All the same, for all its amateurism, its massacre first and ask questions later mentality, it knows both how to play the media and politicians at the same time.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-28870368">For PJ Crowley to say the video isn't then aimed at the United States</a> is completely specious.&nbsp; It couldn't be more aimed at the US.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/20/islamic-state-isis-rise-militants-al-qaida-somalia-arab">As Jason Burke writes</a>, IS might not believe in <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_of_the_deed">"propaganda by deed"</a> to the same extent as bin Laden did, understandably considering how the Ummah failed to rise against their infidel rulers despite such prompting, but it is about trying to once again get the US to involve itself fully in Iraq/Syria.&nbsp; The invasion and occupation of Iraq resulted in the creation of IS in the first place, for goodness sake.&nbsp; Those with an old school jihadi outlook will continue to look down on the chaos and mayhem IS has caused, until that is the US widens its <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/18/us-sanctions-isis-members-mosul-dam-strikes">current strategy and starts bombing more widely than just "threatening"</a> vehicles.&nbsp; Then any such concerns will quickly be forgotten, and another wave of fighters will start flocking towards IS's black flag.&nbsp; It works both ways: threaten attacks anywhere, regardless of how unlikely an IS attack outside the Middle East is, and threaten the lives of the few Americans IS can get to.&nbsp; Both demand a response from the war addicts at the Pentagon and in Congress.<br /><br />Then we come to how it was <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/20/isis-militant-islamic-state-james-foley-guards-british">apparently a "multicultural London English" man</a> who speaks and then kills Foley.&nbsp; The Islamic State is smart enough to realise both how the foreign fighter angle has been overplayed, the importance of communication, and the intended horror at how a westerner could be killing another westerner in a country far away from home.&nbsp; No one knows just how many young British men (and women, for that matter) have gone to join the jihadists in Syria/Iraq, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27947343">but plenty are willing to guess</a> and draw the most alarmist, scaremongering conclusions, especially if it means more government money for the anti-radicalisation industry (<a href="http://leftfootforward.org/2014/08/1-in-800-young-british-sunni-men-are-fighting-in-syriairaq-this-should-concern-us-all-2/">1 in 800 young Sunni Muslim men, shrieks James Brandon</a>, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/07/condemned-to-repeat.html">formerly of Quilliam</a>).&nbsp; We saw with the entire Trojan Horse affair just how deeply the government has <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/06/michael-gove-proves-his-worth-yet-again.html">bought into the at risk of extremism narrative</a>, regardless of the lack of evidence of any actual radicalisation, simple intolerance and vile sectarianism not being enough.&nbsp; Nicky Morgan has since given a speech making clear <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11020356/Toddlers-at-risk-of-extremism-warns-Education-Secretary.html">how nurseries and pre-schools will also be monitored</a> lest they start churning out 5-year-old jihadis, in what has to be one of the most absurd government policies since oh, David Cameron promised to make <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/aug/18/david-cameron-family-policy-500000-troubled-families">all of them family friendly</a>.<br /><br /><a href="http://pando.com/2014/03/28/the-war-nerd-who-exactly-are-the-jihadis-and-why-arent-there-more-of-them/">As the War Nerd wrote a few months back</a>, the bigger question is why relatively so few go and join the jihadis.&nbsp; Perhaps one of the reasons those few have is connected to our continued, blatant double standards.&nbsp; You might remember the <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48369#.U_UtdGNTPeo">UN used very similar language to Obama in condemning the shelling</a> of their schools in Gaza, language of the sort our politicians would never use to condemn a fellow democracy, regardless of its actions.&nbsp; The same media commentators who wonder just <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/08/19/missouri-lt-gov-we-need-anglo-american-justice-in-ferguson-not-racial-protests/">why it is people in Ferguson are prepared to riot</a> over the shooting dead of a black teenager regard the murder of Foley as terrorist attack that demands a response.&nbsp; The slaughter of dozens if not hundreds of Shia men at the hands of IS gets perfunctory coverage, if that, with the images and video shared on social media freely.&nbsp; A white westerner killed in the most brutal fashion necessitates a crackdown, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/11045212/Twitter-to-remove-photos-of-deceased-on-families-request.html">the closing of Twitter accounts</a>, another of those <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-28866426">Twitter "campaigns" masquerading as being about</a> not helping IS propaganda spread when really it's about people not wanting to see something happening to "us", rather than it happening to "them".&nbsp; <a href="http://rt.com/uk/181596-celebrities-twitter-foley-beheading/">So much as watching the video</a> could be enough to get a knock on the door from the police, presumably once they're done with harassing <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28778232">the wives and friends of fighters</a>.<br /><br />The only realistic endgame to all of this involves, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/20/guardian-view-murder-james-foley">as the Graun is brave enough to point out</a>, a settlement in Syria as well as reconciliation in Iraq.&nbsp; The difficulty is in trying to push for that reconciliation at the same time as Iraq looks destined to break apart.&nbsp; If we take the side of the Kurds over the weak Iraq military, <a href="http://www.alghad.com/articles/820466-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%B4%D9%84-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D9%83%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%AA?s=ed44d10c03942d93c648dbb345691590">unable to take back Tikrit</a>, the risk is it only holds things together in the short rather than the long term.&nbsp; It also likely means coming to some sort of accommodation or at the very least a short term pact with the Assad government, regardless of how anathema such a deal will be.&nbsp; It additionally requires the making clear to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar that <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/08/our-clear-as-mud-iraq-strategy.html">even if they haven't directly funded IS or the other jihadist groups</a> in Syria, their encouragement and indirect funding of an almost region wide proxy war must end now.&nbsp; The same message must also go to Iran and Hezbollah, but their involvement was more in response to the actions of the above than out of any real love for Assad.&nbsp; This is not the time for a recital of all the old noises about a war on terror, a generational battle or why-oh-whying about British Muslims and the other failings of the past.&nbsp; It's time we learned from them.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-36580451727954665202014-08-19T20:15:00.000+01:002014-08-20T00:09:43.849+01:00Those 10 funniest Edinburgh festival jokes in full.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/aug/19/10-funniest-jokes-edinburgh-festival-fringe-2014?guni=Article:in%20body%20link">1. "I ate some sausages laced with nitroglycerin other day. Boy did they go off with a bang!"</a><br /><br />2. "I was going to put some jokes about badgers in my set. Then I remembered the Tories had them all shot!"<br /><br />3. "Always leave them wanting more, my uncle used to say.&nbsp; Which is why he loved working in the kitchens at Dachau."<br /><br />4. "Scotland had oil, but it's running out because you're all such fat, greedy bastards!"<br /><br />5. "I wanted to make the most obvious gags about being a feminist and married, and my husband couldn't persuade me not to."<br /><br />6. "There was Ms Costello, Mr Brockett, Ms Wardman and Mr Johnson.&nbsp; And that was just the teachers. Ahhh."<br /><br />7. "Did you threaten to overrule him?"<br /><br />8. "The yes campaign will make up the difference between now and September 18th."<br /><br />(That's enough unfunny jokes about unfunny jokes. Ed.)</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-54629829905437926722014-08-18T22:29:00.000+01:002014-08-18T22:29:18.451+01:00Our clear as mud Iraq strategy.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Living life like a comatose / Ego loaded and swallow, swallow, swallow<br /><br />At times, everything seems to descend into parody.&nbsp; <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdLvp630plc">This, for instance</a>, has to be a piss-take, an anonymous record producer making fun of a relatively new genre, a track made with a smile, the creator certain everyone will get the joke.&nbsp; It gets <a href="http://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/17023-sophie-hard/">best new music on Pitchfork</a>, Boomkat describes it as <a href="http://boomkat.com/downloads/1065302-sophie-lemonade-hard">"exquisite ear candy ... visionary pop architecture"</a> and <a href="http://www.residentadvisor.net/review-view.aspx?id=15445&amp;comments=3">even Resident Advisor approves</a>.&nbsp; If this turn of events discombobulated the producer (whom last year put out <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byyQsLaCAdk">this pleasing slice of house</a>) then he seems to have just gone with it.&nbsp; After all, why not?<br /><br />By the same token, David Cameron surely didn't think he'd get away <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/11038121/David-Cameron-Isil-poses-a-direct-and-deadly-threat-to-Britain.html">with his article for the Sunday Telegraph</a>.&nbsp; He (or whichever adviser/hanger-on wrote it) writes we can't let ourselves be imprisoned by the events of 10 years ago, and he has a point.&nbsp; Just because we've had a major hand in Iraq being in the mess it now is <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/08/stop-me.html">doesn't mean we shouldn't return and help Johnny Kurd</a> push back the ethnic cleansers of the Islamic State.&nbsp; Besides,<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28831248"> we're not going to put "boots on the ground"</a>, just as we didn't in Libya.&nbsp; If we so choose to bomb a few Islamic State positions, or more accurately described, vehicles, as they seem to be the main targets <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/18/us-sanctions-isis-members-mosul-dam-strikes">the Americans have chosen to obliterate thus far</a>, we should know that doing so is all the more likely to prevent the Islamic State from becoming a threat here.&nbsp; Just think what might happen if we sat this one out.&nbsp; A positively medieval caliphate stretching across the Middle East, on the shores of the Mediterranean, bordering a NATO country!&nbsp; A NATO country!&nbsp; What could be more terrifying, more ignominious, more unacceptable?<br /><br /><a href="http://flyingrodent.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/your-dick-in-your-hand.html">Like the estimable Flying Rodent</a>, I'm more than a little tired of the this-time-it-really-is-as-bad-as-we're-saying-it-is intervention argument.&nbsp; Ten years ago every politician told us we were facing a generational battle against Islamic extremism, <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/">a long war</a>, a war we might even not realise was still going on or in fact had ended.&nbsp; Yesterday David Cameron said we will be fighting this "poisonous and extremist ideology" for the rest of his "political lifetime".&nbsp; His political lifetime could extend all the way up till next May, but put that happy thought to one side for a moment.&nbsp; Outside of the anti-jihadist monomaniacs, around the time of the Arab spring with bin Laden dead and al-Qaida central having been reduced to Ayman al-Zahawiri occasionally holding forth in his eternally pompous fashion, all those predictions seemed to have come to naught.&nbsp; Why then are all the old favourites being reheated like the fried chicken in the local kebab shop?<br /><br />Cameron, naturally, has the answer.&nbsp; According to him what we're seeing isn't Sunni against Shia, but rather "a battle between Islam on the one hand and extremists who want to abuse Islam on the other".&nbsp; This is, as Kim Howells had it on the Turner prize entrants however many years ago, cold mechanical bullshit.&nbsp; The Islamic State of Iraq 5 years ago had been routed, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-10677623">thanks to the Awakening groups</a>, i.e. Sunnis who had turned against ISI's brutality.&nbsp; Only our friend Nouri al-Maliki didn't keep his promises to the Awakening groups, with many complaining the payments <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sons_of_Iraq">they were due were either paid late or didn't arrive at all</a>.&nbsp; Then came the uprising in Syria, which quickly descended into a sectarian proxy war.&nbsp; Some of the remnants of <a href="http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140273/william-mccants/how-zawahiri-lost-al-qaeda">ISI formed the al-Nusra Front</a>, and seeing this brought funding <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/iraq-crisis-how-saudi-arabia-helped-isis-take-over-the-north-of-the-country-9602312.html">from the rich Wahhabi takfirists in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait</a> and so on, possibly including <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ab1b61c4-1cb6-11e4-b4c7-00144feabdc0.html?ftcamp=crm/email/201488/nbe/MiddleEast/product&amp;siteedition=uk#axzz39nHL9yna">direct from the Saudi authorities</a>, ISI proper joined the fray.&nbsp; Along with the proceeds from the oil fields they captured, ISI was suddenly swimming in wealth and gathering in a lot more fighters too.&nbsp; With the Sunni Arabs in the north of Iraq once again prepared to join up with or acquiesce to the jihadis, <a href="http://pando.com/2014/06/16/the-war-nerd-heres-everything-you-need-to-know-about-too-extreme-for-al-qaeda-i-s-i-s/">first Fallujah fell, then Mosul did</a>.<br /><br />When Cameron then says we must work with the likes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey you can't help but wonder if he isn't doing this deliberately.&nbsp; Those three nations have done more to help the Islamic State and its jihadi brethren than the rest of the world combined.&nbsp; Saudi policy towards Syria only altered at the beginning of this year, while it's difficult to know whether Qatar's has at all.&nbsp; Turkey's main role has been to keep the border open, helping refugees escape yes, but also to allow money and fighters to flow through unimpeded.&nbsp; Cameron even mentions the spectre of the Islamic State taking Aleppo, which prompts the obvious question of whether we might just have backed the wrong dog in this fight.&nbsp; Assad's a murderous, barbarous chemical weapon using dictator yes, but compared to the Islamic State he's a sweetheart.<br /><br />What then is the plan now that the Yazidis have been helped off the mountain and the imminent threat of genocide seems to be receding?&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/14/uk-britain-arms-supply-kurdish-forces-iraq-isis">We're going to arm the Kurds</a>, although it's not clear which Kurds, or whether by "arm" we mean provide them with equipment rather than ammunition for their ageing Soviet-era weapons, but are we expecting the peshmerga to liberate all of the territory taken by the Islamic State, albeit with ourselves or just the Americans providing air support, or just Mosul?&nbsp; If it's the former, are the Kurds then just going to hand all this Sunni dominated territory over to the Shia dominated Iraqi army once Baghdad has sorted itself out, or are they going to keep some of it in hope of a greater Kurdistan becoming inexorable at some point?&nbsp; This major favour to the west isn't going to come free, that's for sure, and if anyone with the exception of the Palestinians deserves a state, it's the Kurds.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.uk.krg.org/articles/detail.aspx?lngnr=12&amp;anr=36984">It certainly won't please either Turkey or the Iranians</a>, though.<br /><br />See, what starts out as a thoroughly decent operation to <a href="http://pando.com/2014/06/23/the-war-nerd-like-it-or-not-whats-happening-in-iraq-right-now-is-part-of-a-rational-process/">prevent abused and persecuted minorities from being slaughtered</a> has the potential to quickly become the kind of conflict we did our best previously to prevent igniting.&nbsp; Trying to justify it all by resorting to the ever more exhausted national security reasoning is contemptible.&nbsp; When the best they can point to is <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/07/flag-isis-jihadi-islamic-state-flown-poplar-east-london">hot-heads in east London flying an IS flag</a> or <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/11038871/British-jihadist-at-the-heart-of-terrorist-network-terror-in-Syria-and-Iraq.html">ex-drug dealers joining a different type of war</a> without the slightest evidence they have any intention of bringing the fight here they really have to change the record.&nbsp; Indeed, getting further involved would almost certainly increase rather than decrease the threat, exactly <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-10693001">as MI5 warned prior to 2003</a>.&nbsp; Yet here we are once again, with Michael Fallon warning our role is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/08/18/britains-iraq-mission_n_5686869.html">likely to take months rather than weeks</a>.&nbsp; Irony, as ever, is smothering everything.<br /></span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-27122052548716867332014-08-15T13:39:00.001+01:002014-08-15T13:39:42.888+01:00And not this mess of a man.<center><iframe width="480" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/070TRo8V2nw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><iframe width="480" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Vb1mqVDoTu4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-66576976602636423872014-08-14T17:54:00.000+01:002014-08-14T17:54:03.525+01:00CLIFF RICHARD SENSATION.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">POP SINGER'S HOME RAIDED AFTER POLICE RECEIVED TIP OFF OVER "CRYING, WALKING, SLEEPING, TALKING LIVING DOLL" LOCKED IN TRUNK.<br /><br />RICHARD DENIES ALL KNOWLEDGE, CLAIMS NOT TO BE WIRED FOR SOUND.<br /><br />TOM WATSON OFFERS CONGRATULATIONS AND (CONT. p94)<br /><br />In other news:<br /><br /><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/aug/13/luis-suarez-premier-league-richard-scudamore">Sexist money-grubbing bully says good riddance to biting racist</a><br />Fighting in entire Middle East, north Africa, section of Eurasia continues<br /><a href="http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/08/12/egypt-rab-killings-likely-crimes-against-humanity">Egypt massacre worse than Tiananmen</a>, Tony Blair still peace envoy</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-51963627412985259922014-08-13T22:54:00.003+01:002014-08-13T22:54:50.174+01:00"In America they really do mythologise people when they die."<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">The unexpected death of a celebrity always seems to bring out the absolute worst in the media, and it has to be said, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/28773734">the "new" media especially</a>.&nbsp; The beyond dispute facts when it comes to Robin Williams <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-28765693">are that he took his own life</a>, and had by his own admission <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/sep/20/robin-williams-worlds-greatest-dad-alcohol-drugs">long battled addiction and depression</a>.&nbsp; Everything else is conjecture and guesswork, completely unnecessary cruel and invasive guesswork at that.<br /><br />There's a cycle that works in these cases somewhat like this.&nbsp; First, the shock of the news.&nbsp; Second, the reports from where fans have gathered and/or left tributes.&nbsp; Third, the tributes from those who actually knew the deceased.&nbsp; Fourth, the tributes from those who might have met the deceased once or maybe even twice, but nonetheless have been commissioned to write however many words on the person "they knew".&nbsp; Fifth comes the standard revisionism from the critics, most of whom a week back were probably slaughtering the deceased's last project, urged by their editors to look back and find something they can praise and so make clear what a genius the sadly departed was.&nbsp; Sixth, the tabloids start looking for why someone with seemingly everything to live for could do such a thing, and then in turn, the new media and people like me start responding to that.<br /><br />And so on.&nbsp; It's not exactly what's happened since the news broke late on Monday night, but it's fairly close.&nbsp; Knowing Williams had reached the point where he no longer wanted to go on living, it makes it especially crass when those affecting to have been moved or inspired by him are even now still far more concerned <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/12/russell-brand-robin-williams-divine-madness-broken-world">with everything being about them</a>.&nbsp; Who knows, perhaps Russell Brand had been thinking about Williams, although it seems highly unlikely considering the only person Russell Brand seems capable of thinking about is Russell Brand, as his ejaculation in the pages of the Graun amply demonstrates.&nbsp; Brand's prose is so overwrought, so self-referential, so solipsistic, only the Guardian could have ever thought it was worthy of being spunked over the front page.&nbsp; Brand's shtick is to appear to be aware of his own contradictions when in fact he's completely oblivious to them, vacuous to the very end.&nbsp; Yes, people with "masks less interesting than the one Robin Williams wore" are suffering, but please spare us the thought Williams' suicide tells us anything about their individual woes, or that being more vigilant, aware, grateful, "mindful" will help them.<br /><br />The same goes for this specious notion genius, especially comic genius, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-28753326">goes hand in hand with a hidden internal sadness</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/12/robin-williams-sadness-clown-addiction-mental-illness">or heightened personal problems</a>.&nbsp; Being extraordinary means there has to be something lurking beneath, making them just as human as the rest of us, right?&nbsp; Turn that idea around and it makes far more sense: that they're just like us, and just as susceptible to depressive illness and all the rest of it.&nbsp; Those who have it the worst are the ones who can't articulate the way they feel, not those of us blessed/cursed with being able to express ourselves either through speech or the written word, the ones who can't understand why it is they think the way they do.<br /><br />This is why it comes across as patronising in the extreme when those with personal experience of mental illness speak as though they are fully representative of some imaginary community of the afflicted.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/12/robin-williams-tragedy-understand-depression">Alastair Campbell doesn't do this</a> in his sensitive piece, but his suitability for the role of <a href="http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/news/alastair-campbell-mind-champion-year">"mental health ambassador"</a> has always been dubious.&nbsp; <a href="http://maryhamilton.co.uk/2014/08/reporting-suicide-kill-readers/">Far more objectionable is</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/13/robin-williams-suicide-how-not-to-kill-readers-front-pages">Mary Hamilton's insistence that the</a> <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28772923">amount of detail included</a> in most media reporting on Williams' death is dangerous.&nbsp; I've written in the past <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2008/02/reporting-suicide-compassionately.html">about some genuinely thoughtless</a> <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2011/03/reporting-on-suicides.html">or worse journalism on suicide</a>, and to compare that with this week's coverage is a nonsense.&nbsp; Treating the suicidally depressed as though they are too stupid to know how to hang themselves or cut their wrists is laughable; yes, Hamilton says, people can Google and get far more detailed instructions, but that interaction acts as check.&nbsp; Presumably going to actually get a belt, rope or knife wouldn't play the exact same role then.<br /><br />Hamilton also implies suicide is not rational, and there are also never any good reasons to kill yourself.&nbsp; The suicidally depressed may not be thinking rationally, but to infer it is never rational, or it is never the least worst option is just as stigmatising as the people who say suicide is selfish or express opinions similar to those Campbell quotes Jeremy Hunt as doing.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/aug/13/two-thirds-britons-not-treated-depression">The NHS doesn't have the best record when it comes to mental health</a>, hardly surprising when funding for treatment is always going to come second to the newest cancer drug proven to extend life by a few weeks, and the real terms cut isn't going to help matters, but provision is arguably better than it has ever been, as is understanding and sympathy, although it can still only get better.&nbsp; Claiming hyperbolically there is an acute crisis helps no one, especially those needing support who may well be put off even trying to get it.&nbsp; <a href="http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/03/18/im-triggered-by-your-triggers">Just as trigger warnings are infantile</a>, so is the idea newspaper front pages alone can make illness worse.&nbsp; Media taken as a whole, old and new, is something else.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-4457311079251902202014-08-12T23:12:00.001+01:002014-08-13T18:20:51.666+01:00The personal is more political than ever.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Don't tell me, a liberal American Jew in London, what to think about Israel, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/08/dont-tell-me-what-think-about-israel">pleads Hadley Freeman</a>.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/12/gaza-palestinians-world-israel-collective-punishment">We are all Palestinians, writes Karma Nabulsi</a>.&nbsp; We broke Iraq, therefore we have a responsibility to do whatever it takes to save its people from themselves, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/12/families-iraq-terror-isis-killers-kurdish-minorities-military-action">insists Tom Watson</a>.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/aug/11/tory-foreign-office-minister-quits-intolerable-expenses-rules">Feel my pain, demands Tory MP</a> earning an amount the vast majority of us can only dream of receiving at the end of the month.&nbsp; No, feel our anguish, <a href="http://thisworld.us/2014/08/05/elie-wiesel-accuses-hamas-of-child-sacrifice/">says group of utterly deranged Israel supporters</a>, at how those we will defend to the death are <a href="http://i2.wp.com/thisworld.us/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/article.jpg">forced, literally forced by Hamas</a>, to kill Palestinian children.<br /><br />The personal is political, as feminists prior to the <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/08/11/jessica_valenti_says_tampons_should_be_free_people_freak_out.html">current generation of Twitter using crybabies</a> had it.&nbsp; Back then it meant something, and perhaps it still does.&nbsp; Politics is always personal, of course.&nbsp; For some, <a href="http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/peteroborne/100126347/it%E2%80%99s-modernisation-not-morality-that-is-the-dirty-word-of-politics/">it's a crusade or it is nothing</a>.&nbsp; It's hard not to think though we've reached a peak for this, despite what it seems I'm writing about, I am in fact writing about myself style of political commentary.<br /><br />Hadley Freeman doesn't really care about Israel or Gaza then, nor does she care <a href="http://liberalconspiracy.org/2014/08/10/two-more-responses-to-nick-cohen-over-tricycle-theatre/">about the Tricycle theatre asking the Jewish Film Festival</a> to reconsider accepting money from the Israeli embassy, rather she's affronted that anyone would dare think she, a good liberal American cosmopolitan Jew might care to express her opinion about something serious for a change.&nbsp; In her entire piece we don't learn what she does think, although to judge by her quoting of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/opinion/sunday/roger-cohen-why-americans-see-israel-the-way-they-do.html">Roger Cohen's claim</a> that to not hold a negative view of Israel in Britain is to be considered without a conscience, and her end summation that media coverage in America and Europe is equally skewed, just in opposite directions, we can guess.&nbsp; Nor does she present any evidence anyone has told her or any other Jews what to think about Israel, but that's to be expected.<br /><br />Europe's roots are showing, nonetheless.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/aug/07/antisemitism-rise-europe-worst-since-nazis">Reports of antisemitic attacks and vandalism have spiked</a>, as they usually do when Israel brings out the Hellfire missiles.&nbsp; Racism is always racism, and it is without question protests against Israel attract <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/aug/07/antisemitism-rise-europe-worst-since-nazis">their fair share of Islamists, kooks, conspiracy theorists and outright loons</a>.&nbsp; Nor is enough done by others on the marches to denounce them, or make clear they are most definitely not welcome.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/11398567.Synagogue_is_sprayed_with_pro_Gaza_graffiti/">Smearing "FREE GAZA" on the walls of a synagogue</a> is as just as much an act of stupid hate as painting "EDL" or something similar on a mosque would be.&nbsp; It is strange though that, unlike when hate crimes against Muslims peaked after the murder of Lee Rigby, we haven't had left-wingers claiming such reports of antisemitism have been exaggerated, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10093568/The-truth-about-the-wave-of-attacks-on-Muslims-after-Woolwich-murder.html">as we did with the attacks on Tell Mama by the Telegraph</a> and Mail on Sunday.&nbsp; Also peculiar is the number of articles which popped up one after the other about <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/07/gaza-coverage-rise-antisemitic-attacks-europe">Europe's continuing problem with antisemitism</a>, or as it could be more accurately termed, Europe's continuing problem with racism.<br /><br />Other than crying antisemitism, the other perennial is victimhood, again because of its roots in reality.&nbsp; Once, <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/664790-we-can-forgive-the-arabs-for-killing-our-children-we">the Golda Meir quote about forgiving Arabs for killing their children</a> but not forgiving them for making Israel kill their children was poignant and reflected how Israel was surrounded by enemies. Now it can be wrongly interpreted all too easily, precisely because Palestinian life is regarded as cheap and the standard defence of every Israeli attack is they have no choice.&nbsp; The advert paid for by <a href="http://thisworld.us/">This World</a>, co-written by Elie Wiesel, takes the "human shield" argument, whatever its extremely limited merits and debases it completely.&nbsp; We are the ones who are really suffering by having to kill children is its message. The Palestinians are responsible if they don't change their leaders; they must find "true Muslims", to represent them, Muslims acceptable to Likudniks.&nbsp; Even the main suspect in the murder of the Palestinian teenager Abu Khdeir, an act committed in revenge for the kidnap and slaughter of three Israeli teens, <a href="http://angryarab.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/we-burned-this-boy-alive-and-then-we.html">claims to have immediately felt remorse for his crime</a>.&nbsp; Feel our pain, not theirs.<br /><br />Not that we are all Palestinians has any true resonance beyond the demonstrations either.&nbsp; We are not Gazans, nor would we want to be.&nbsp; It's not enough to want justice for the Palestinians, the lifting of the Gaza blockade, the establishment of a viable Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, we have to be them, not just express our most earnest solidarity.&nbsp; So too we must save Iraqis, at least once it's decided <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/11/british-protesting-gaza-iraq-israel-oppression-palestinians">whom it is we should be demonstrating in favour of today</a>.&nbsp; We either have to do so because this could have been prevented had we armed the rebels in Syria, although it's not made clear which rebels we were meant to have given heavy weaponry to, or because of our involvement in the Iraq war, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/12/britain-moral-duty-arm-kurds-islamic-state-isis">or because of Sykes-Picot</a>, or because of whatever other justification can be dredged up.&nbsp; Then again, according to the Sun, <a href="http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/76882000/jpg/_76882596_sun12.jpg">we can't do anything</a>, although it isn't exactly clear what we're supposed to do about Australian jihadists taking their kids to Syria.&nbsp; Perhaps we were meant to provide him with a toy AK-47 which in turn would have prevented the Islamic State from taking over the north of Iraq?<br /><br />For a nation supposedly turned isolationist by the vote on Syria, our other representatives in the media are as quick as ever to want the bombers sent in, without explaining what it would achieve, whether there is any sort of plan, or if attacking IS from the air will push them back.&nbsp; One has to wonder if this isn't about us rather than them.&nbsp; It shouldn't therefore surprise <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/12/90000-not-enough-expenses-mark-simmonds-tories-ministers-wages?guni=Network%20front:network-front%20main-4%20Pixies:Pixies:Position2">when an MP tries the same tactic</a>, attempting to garner sympathy as he can't afford to house his family in Westminster under the new expenses regime.&nbsp; He wasn't prepared to have them live anywhere else in London, the public transport system in the capital being notoriously unreliable, and so would rather step down instead.&nbsp; As one of the few people who wouldn't begrudge MPs a second home in London with the tab picked up by the taxpayer, at least within reason, Mark Simmonds hasn't really helped out his colleagues.&nbsp; His wish to spend more time with his family could also have something to do with his missing the Syria vote last year, not hearing the division bell <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/aug/30/david-cameron-ministers-syria-vote">as he was discussing Rwanda with Justine Greening</a>.<br /><br />It could be in this age of Buzzfeed writers believe the only way to get readers interested is by making it personal.&nbsp; It could be the cult of the self continues to grow.&nbsp; It could be the only way to get anything worth doing done is to spell out why it matters to us, charity beginning at home, altruism no longer enough.&nbsp; It could be we can only talk about things when they happen to celebrities, even if then <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-28753326">most reach immediately for contemptibly puerile clichés</a>.&nbsp; At least it's talking, right?&nbsp; It's that it's also limiting, closes down debate, encourages personal abuse, which in turn leads to further articles about how terrible it is to be called names in the comment section and on social networks.&nbsp; What was it the original piece was about again?</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-30453582576225298962014-08-11T21:51:00.003+01:002014-08-11T21:51:41.273+01:00227 Lears and I can't remember the first line.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://www.last.fm/user/Kirei-">100,000 plays</a>.&nbsp; In just over 10 years.&nbsp; 11,047 artists.&nbsp; 1,849 plays of Bloc Party.<br /><br />I'm not sure what any of this means.&nbsp; Or if it means anything.&nbsp; Other than I've listened to an average of 27 songs a day.<br /><br />This urge to document the most mundane things about our lives is quite something though, isn't it?</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-48202412951849573692014-08-11T21:40:00.003+01:002014-08-11T21:40:25.550+01:00Stop me...<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Stop me if you think you've heard this one before.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/08/kurds-islamic-state_n_5663211.html">An armed force is approaching a major city</a>.&nbsp; <a href="http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/07/19/iraq-security-christians-idINKBN0FO0V920140719">Already hundreds of thousands of people have fled in their wake</a>.&nbsp; There is a <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/world-affairs/2014/08/iraq-s-yazidis-are-brink-genocide-who-will-save-them">very real threat of genocide being committed</a>.&nbsp; Those on the ground <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/06/opinion/ghitis-yazidi-islamic-state-genocide-iraq/">are pleading for help from the outside world</a>.&nbsp; Doing nothing isn't an option.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/11/iraq-crisis-david-cameron-pressure-recall-parliament">Parliament has to be recalled</a>.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2011/03/giant-leap-into-dark.html">It's all too wearily familiar, isn't it</a>?&nbsp; In fact, if you were the cynical sort, you could say that seems to be the point.&nbsp; The difference is that unlike in Libya a few years back, there really is a genuine possibility of an entire community being slaughtered, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/10/kurdish-rebels-yazidi-iraq-isis">the Yazidis of Iraq threatened in a way they never were during</a> the reign of the Ba'ath party by the self-proclaimed "Islamic State".&nbsp; It's difficult therefore to object at all to the steps taken by the Americans <a href="http://www.juancole.com/2014/08/nightmare-in-iraq.html">since the flight by up to 40,000 Yazidis to Mount Sinjar</a>, of whom up to 20,000 are now thought to have managed to escape into Iraqi Kurdistan.&nbsp; How much help the airstrikes and drops of aid have been is open to question - there are suggestions the food and water parachuted <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-28740801">down hasn't survived the impact with the ground</a>, while in the past <a href="http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/isis-us-saves-iraq-yet-again">the aid itself has proven deadly</a> - but if it has allowed the peshmerga the breathing room to evacuate some of the refugees, all pessimism should be tempered.&nbsp; The danger is not just directly from the jihadists, but also the fearsome Iraqi summer: without shelter or water, <a href="https://twitter.com/sheeraf/statuses/498897800596176896">heat exhaustion can affect the young</a> and the elderly very quickly.<br /><br />This said, these strikes are not anything close to altruism.&nbsp; Over the weekend <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/world/middleeast/iraq.html?ref=todayspaper&amp;_r=0">US media reported on the "thousands" (later "hundreds")</a> of Americans in Erbil, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/25/diaspora-returns-to-build-iraqi-kurdistan">the Kurdish city that has become a mini-Dubai</a>, except far more liberal and tolerant than the emirate beloved by the corpulent Western elite.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/oil-erbil">As Steve Coll reports in the New Yorker</a>, the vast majority of however many Americans there really are in Erbil are there because of the oil, with a far smaller number of military operatives also in residence.&nbsp; Erbil probably wasn't at imminent risk of being overrun by IS, as the peshmerga would most likely have regrouped and been quickly reinforced, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/11/us-arm-peshmerga-iraq-kurdistan-isis">as indeed they now have</a>.&nbsp; Still, it never hurts to be absolutely certain, and the plight of the Yazidis and other minorities provided an opportunity to bomb a few Islamic State vehicles in the bargain.<br /><br />Quite what the US plan now is doesn't immediately present itself.&nbsp; If the idea is a rerun of Libya, with the US carrying out attacks on IS targets which get too close to areas they've decided to protect while the Kurds and hopefully also the central government properly get their shit together, this could take a while.&nbsp; It's clearly not a coincidence that in Baghdad today <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28739975">there's been a coup against Nouri al-Maliki</a>, after the reports <a href="http://www.juancole.com/2014/08/maliki-preparing-coup.html">Maliki himself was preparing a coup</a>.&nbsp; The appointment of Haider al-Abadi <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/11/haider-al-abadi-profile-iraqs-next-prime-minister">as the new prime minister, instantly welcomed by the US</a>, hardly suggests the turmoil and torpor in the Iraqi capital is going to be over any time soon.&nbsp; Nor is replacing one Shia Islamist from the Dawa party with another Shia Islamist from err, the Dawa party likely to win over the disenchanted Sunnis whom have either worked with the Islamic State or done little to oppose their takeover of much of the north of Iraq.<br /><br />Exactly why it is then <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article4172446.ece">some MPs are now chomping at the bit</a> to get ourselves involved is a bit of a mystery.&nbsp; Or rather, isn't.&nbsp; Ever since the Syria vote there's been <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/01/its-all-multiculturalisms-fault-again.html">continued murmurings from those convinced the only way we can stand tall on the world</a> stage is to support America in absolutely everything she does.&nbsp; When parliament voted against intervening in Syria at that time, something David Cameron took as ruling it out for all time, it was only a matter of days before government ministers were complaining this meant <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/08/what-syria-vote-does-and-doesnt-signify.html">the royal prerogative had gone out the window</a>, and we would no longer be regarded as a reliable ally, much less a "full spectrum" one.&nbsp; It doesn't seem to matter the US hasn't made any suggestion as yet it could do with more help, and besides, we've already taken it upon ourselves to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/aug/11/raf-abandons-aid-drop-northern-iraq-yazidi-mount-sinjar">carry out further humanitarian drops of aid</a>.&nbsp; They've even gone so far as to suggest parliament could discuss Gaza at the same time, just to make sure it appeals to those on the opposite side, devious buggers that they are.<br /><br />The real difficulty is knowing how much blame to put on each state actor for the current desperate situation.&nbsp; Amazing as it is, at the weekend both Hillary Clinton and <a href="http://sotu.blogs.cnn.com/2014/08/10/mccain-dismisses-claim-that-he-has-it-in-for-obama/">John McCain were insisting if only we'd armed the Syrian rebels</a> earlier we wouldn't now be in this mess.&nbsp; The fiction that there is or was a Syrian moderate faction ready to be trained and empowered <a href="http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n16/patrick-cockburn/isis-consolidates">before the Islamic State and al-Nusra established themselves as the big two</a> continues to go unchallenged.&nbsp; A more than healthy dollop of blame must obviously be put on Bashar al-Assad for his murderous reaction to the original, peaceful protests which demanded reform, not revolution.&nbsp; After the switch to armed struggle, the funding of the most extreme factions by <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/iraq-crisis-how-saudi-arabia-helped-isis-take-over-the-north-of-the-country-9602312.html">Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, some of it through private donors, some of it direct</a>, is how IS managed to reach the point where it was able to hold not only a large area of Syria, but also launch an operation to control much of northern Iraq, having previously been reduced to a mockery of its former self.&nbsp; The west either turned a blind eye to this, or in some cases, facilitated it and encouraged it with little concern for the potential consequences.&nbsp; Only last year did the west suddenly realise the monster it had helped create, and even then useful idiots and apologists for the other rebels <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-winning-its-war-on-two-fronts-militants-conquered-sunni-regions-of-iraq-and-are-now-consolidating-hold-on-northeast-syria-9641167.html">kept pushing the nonsense there was some sort of deal between Assad and IS</a> where they didn't attack each other.&nbsp; Finally, al-Maliki and his Iranian/American backers bear a grave responsibility also for his antagonising and marginalising of the Sunni population to the point where so many were prepared to align themselves with the Islamic State.<br /><br />Whether if given the same shock and awe treatment as Iraq was back in 2003 IS would quickly disintegrate doesn't enter into the equation.&nbsp; Even with quite possibly the most violent and potentially dangerous jihadist force the world has yet seen dismantling <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sykes-Picot">the Sykes-Picot agreement</a>, the Americans aren't interested in getting involved to such a point again, entirely reasonably.&nbsp; At the same time, by carrying out attacks on IS from the air they seem ready to step into the role of ostensible Iraqi air force, with all that entails for possible civilian casualties and potential further disenchantment of the Sunni population should IS eventually be pushed back.<br /><br />Call me crazy, but I think it might just be best if we sat this one out.&nbsp; Don't count on it though.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0