October 29, 2007
One step at a time?
I think Peter Tatchell might have been asking a *little* much here.
"But I am disappointed that she did not make Dumbledore's sexuality explicit in the Harry Potter book. Making it obvious would have sent a much more powerful message of understanding and acceptance."
December 07, 2005
From yesterday's Snowmail:
Lord Steyn declares that American's definition of torture is ridiculously tight (requiring as it does the death or organ failure of the tortured person before it is defined as such)
Jesus, and Cheney won't even forbid *that*...
December 02, 2005
Listening to the debate on nuclear power on tonight's Any Questions on Radio 4, I was struck by the shortsightedness of the arguments being used.
You can't use nuclear power, because it's hugely consuming of subsidy from our pockets. Better to use oil, gas and coal. Plus some efficiency savings in the home and to top it up with some renewable sources.
It's late, and I've had a tiring week, so I can't be botherd to go into nuance, but I'd say: yes, nuclear is dirty, yes the waste hangs around for thousands of years, yes it may take lots of subsidy, but dammit:
Energy should be expensive
That way the effiency savings in the home and industry will look after themselves.
And there's a bit of me that can imagine my grandchildren one day asking me "Grandad, what was it like when there were still petrochemicals?"
May 14, 2005
I can't be alone...
Can we have Menzies Cambell (or at a push Gordon Brown) as Prime Minister, and Ken Clarke as Chancellor please?
You know, people who talk sense, to the point where their nominal party seems academic...
November 04, 2004
One of Bush's environmental advisers laid into the whole idea of global warming, kyoto, and the US's CO2 policy being an issue. When cornered, he said that only the US had independent scientists, that our Chief Scientist David King wasn't qualified to talk about climate change, and that Kyoto is just a way for businesses from countries that aren't as efficient as US ones to try and stifle the US.
This from a man who has only worked in politics and economics, and now runs a thinktank funded by ExxonMobil.
October 19, 2004
Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong
So apparently lemon-sucking donkey-faced defence secretary Geoff Hoon has said that we have to send Our Boys into help in the north of Iraq because "We have a duty to the US".
Er, no, we don't.
Geoff, as a politician, you may feel you have, but we the public don't, and neither do the army.
We sent them in there, if you include all the possible excuses, to either keep Britain and their forces in Cyprus safe, or to create a new democratic Iraq, or to stop those international terrorists.
So the army have a duty to either the British people or to the Iraqi people. They certainly don't to the US government.
Please come back when you've thought it through properly.
May 17, 2004
[god knows if that is a word, but pressing on...]
As I left Oxford Circus this morning I saw a tourist in their early twenties with his girlfriend. To be honest I only notice him because he had Matt Jones' hair. But he was wearing a dark blue t-shirt that made me think. Printed, in faux urban, faux stencil, faux poor, faux distressed, lettering was the large message in block capitals
That's a nice piece of design, I thought. And then thought again.
What if it actually *was* the property of Guess Jeans?
CDs seem to be slowly turning into the physical embodiment of a software licence - a token that grants you the right to listen to the music. (Under certain, rapidly diminishing, conditions)
Perhaps this piece of clothing was actually the same - the right to wear their logo, to parade their intellectual property as part of your life? If it can be done with one medium with huge financial turnover and vested (sorry) interests, why not another?
So the lesson is simple - keep reading the text surrounding the washing instructions carefully, and any item of clothing posh enough to have one of those dangly booklets attached to the sleeve - beware!
May 07, 2004
Some of you may remember the infuriatingly smug, biased (and ill-informed) clip about the BBC and Gilligan from Fox News' John Gibson.
April 27, 2004
Top Quality Ranting
Click on the link on C-Span and wind to 55 minutes in.
Some lovely gems:
Politics is a subset of marketing where you have to get more than 50% market share.
Every company's homepage is Google.
February 27, 2004
About this spying business...
One of the things I'm finding odd is that everyone's pointing the finger at MI5/6 and saying 'oooooooh bad people' as a result of Clare Short's interview yesterday.
The wierd thing is, when she was interviewed on Channel 4 news, she seemed to be deliberately holding back from saying that it was British intelligence that had prepared the report. The report had been obtained, and she saw it, if I remember correctly.
Anyway, it's fascinating stuff, and it's currently available to watch online.
(Jon Snow does a great job of not saying 'coo really blimey gosh'.)
February 05, 2004
Words of mass distortion, weapons of mass destruction, it's all getting very foggy down here. Some of it penetrated today by the House of Commons Defence Committee which probed the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon who, in a new spirit of post-Hutton survival, has come back out to play in public life.
We are hopeful that he may appear on Channel 4 News tonight to discuss further the strange matter of how he knew that the 45-minute reference in Tony Blair's preamble to the Iraq war dossier only related to battlefield weapons whilst the Prime Minister was clearly of the impression that it referred to long-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting Britain.
This seems quite a big disparity, particularly as shells and mortars historically have never been regarded as weapons of mass destruction. Whoever conjured the phrase "the fog of war" and I have no doubt that many of you will tell me, they were not wrong.
From Jon Snow's Snowmail newsletter
January 28, 2004
Is it just me, or...
Okay, so the Hutton report's parameters were strictly set to cover purely the death of David Kelly. It wasn't to be about why we went to war.
So, I find it slightly worrying that Blair and Co now seem to be spinning the results of Hutton to justify the country going to war, and confine criticism of it.
Slippery, as the saying goes, shits.
(Baby stuff will resume shortly. Sleep deprivation etc need to stabilise.)
December 11, 2003
I Guess It Could Be Worse
Check out the sobering comments at the bottom of this article on graduate starting salaries.
December 04, 2003
Plus Ca Change
Any reasonably intelligent person would first look at which aspects of last years ice rink were successful and which aspects weren't. Then draw up a plan that incorporated the bits that were and replaced the bits that wern't with new and challenging ideas. Oh no, not our council. Last year they didn't advertise it very well and they haven't this year. Last year they stuck it out of the way in a nearby park, this year they have put it in the same place.
December 02, 2003
A good time to bury bad pages.
Just been looking through Stand for some info on EUCD, and got caught up in ID cards, as one does.
The 17th Nov 03 entry contains a link through to the Home Office page on entitlement cards. Which has since mysteriously moved in their redesign. And it certainly isn't clear from their new navigation where it should be. What a coincidence. How long before the 'search' box goes down for software work too... :-)
November 06, 2003
That Nice Mr Howard
As Environment Secretary, Howard allowed power generators to keep their pollution levels secret (Nov 1992)
n 1995 he was accused by Private Eye and the New Statesman of misleading Parliament over the privatisation of the Home Office computer network (link)
Howard was the Minister in Charge of bringing in the Poll Tax in 1988. Even after Thatcher had gone, and after the poll tax riots, he insisted he still believed in the policy (July 1991)
Howard was the Minister who brought in Clause 28 of the Local Government Act banning the "promotion" of homosexuality (March 1988)
Howard voted in favour of anti-abortion campaigner David Alton's Bill to reduce access to abortion (January 1988)
As Employment Secretary, Howard tried to stop attempts at EU level to introduce a 48 hour working week and to give working women statutory maternity rights (June 1991)
It's also worth reading on to the comments at the bottom. Some interestingly irrelevant carping there.
November 02, 2003
While I was at MTV, I was under constant pressure to come up with light, fluffy, non-UK-centric entertainment ideas. And yet the things I seemed to find most inspiring were to do with British politics.
Cut to three months later.
Here I am, trying to think of a compelling project to submit for MySociety (the last having been slightly 'adopted' by some ex-UMSers grumble grumble) and instead I've managed to come up with a brilliant format for an utterly silly international collaborative nostalgia site.
October 31, 2003
It's Time...For A Change
Why don't you turn off your monitor and go off and do something less boring instead?
Like, for example, going on a nice long walk in the fresh air and coming up with a scalable, low-cost way of improving the world using online media that business can't see money in, and is too small or politically sensitive for government to do.
Then come back into your darkened, airless room and send it to the fab folks at mySociety who are looking to fund just that sort of thing.
Get yer thinking caps on, people!
October 30, 2003
You can now buy friends who have everything a Future Forests tree for Christmas.
(Though from the blurb, I'm not sure if the tree planted is merely enough to soak up the CO2 produced by the gift's production, or if the planet makes on the deal long-term. I'd assume the latter, otherwise what's the point...?)
October 17, 2003
Is Bush Scared?
There's a very interesting thing about the picture of When Bush met Arnie (popup, just for a change) that everyone is using.
It's not obvious at first, but I think it's relevant.
Whenever George Bush meets *anyone* in public for a shot like this, he's on the right of the photograph. This is so that when the two people shake hands, his full body is in shot and open, whereas the other person is side-on and has their arm across them.
This is, I suspect, to make him look more open and inviting. Basically being the dominant person in the photograph.
He's so keen on it that there have even been some very awkward scenes on the white house lawn where he's found himself on the wrong side of his guest. Putin and Schroeder have both had their hands refused while he walks round to the other side of them and offers his.
So when *Arnie* gets to stand on the right of Bush, whereas others with nuclear weapons don't, something's up.
- Is it a deliberate concession to look inclusive?
- Was there just no way round Arnie in the space available?
- Did they have a box for Bush to stand on which it would be more embarrassing to move?
- Or could Dubya just not bring himself to stand up to all that aryan muscle?
I guess we'll see...
(And while I'm at it, I can't find George Bush's height online. Curious.)
"I don’t want … to be misconstrued. I don’t want to come across as a right-wing radical."
Well, is he [bin Laden] the enemy? Next slide. Or is this man [Saddam] the enemy? The enemy is none of these people I have showed you here. The enemy is a spiritual enemy. He's called the principality of darkness. The enemy is a guy called Satan.
Via Oblomovka linklog
October 12, 2003
Belated Brain Dump
Had a great, great night with Euan and the missus hearing Douglas Rushkoff in a Demos-sponsored talk at the ICA about 'Open Source Democracy'. There's also a PDF of a book of the same name you can download.
My memory of reading Rushkoff's 'Cyberia' all those years ago is of being frustrated, as I felt that he'd started really well and then, in the final chapters, got swept along with a whole bunch of, admittedly charismatic, SF-style gurus talking utter bollocks.
This night reminded me that I should have remembered how good the first 90% of the book was, and stopped being such a smug cynical old whinger.
Rushkoff was a witty and charming speaker, who was courteous to some rather confrontational tangential questioning, yet still thinking on his feet to produce something of use from any situation. In fact, he seemed to think that the being of use was far more important that looking impressive, a welcome trait at these sorts of gatherings.
Pat Kane (of Hue and Cry all those years ago) was also fascinating - a strange combination of high-art and earthy leftiness. Was very wise in a lot of areas. He and Rushkoff bounced off eachother really well.
Sadly Martin Jacques, an incredibly intelligent bloke who was one of the founders of Demos, had the same infuriating interviewing style as Ned Sherrin. My memory is that he rarely asked a question without answering it himself, at length, leaving the interviewers with nowhere to go. And on the one occasion he did, talked over their answer to introduce a new question. Grrrr.
Here are my scribblings. Make of them what you will.
- R: Challenge of today is to push through own cynicism into a new naivete
Have to find optimism against all the odds.
Is Arnie a deliberate rebellion?
- Pat: howard dean – low charisma, dry policy maker. (T:Like many adopters of new media for power? V Carolyn Marvin)
- O’Hagan LRB essay : watchers culture. Pat says ‘crap nostalgia’
- Democracy and tech relationship, replaced by agency and tech relationship.
- What will Bono do with politics when he becomes a US citizen?
- Rushkoff hardly looks at the audience. (T: In hindsight this wasn't true. He was just thinking hard at the start)
- Dotcom failure thing:
When there was only TV, we tended to just believe it.
Govt cast itself as enemy to cyberspace.
So public killed govt influence on the net, thereby stopping govt keeping check on commercial use of online.
- Net has shaken off the virus of commerce. Having shrunk off defence before. (T: Is it rejecting the web? Are we slowly reverting to Usenet?)
- BBC creative archive empowering memory?
- Internet innovation of any note driven by essentially a gift economy.- progress frozen since commerce involved.
- Has the web frozen community. (Can't remember if this was said or me thinking to myself)
- What is going on is not the net, but the net’s impact on other media. (T hindsight: this is a really interesting strand to mix into my rule-of-thumb toolkit. Look at net things and work out if I'm stading in Trafalgar Sq trying to find London. Ugh a pratchett quote. Tho it could be gaiman.)
- Most of our society is software, not hardware.
- The net alerts us to the fact that decisions are being made. When you see the frame round the picture, you realise the picture was drawn, rather than always in existence.
- Addicted to aristotelean arguments. Like it with Beginning Middle and End. Philosophically urged to postpone this moment in the hope of a better later. How to extend the now.( THE WIDE NOW?)
- Is society fo fabric crumbling because of increased individualism? Rushk – not based on expression. Commerce drives: The more we despise eachother, the less we will trust and borrow, so the more stuff we will need?
- People aren’t afraid of the net and what it’s going to do, they’re afraid of being in the drivers seat.
- A lonely sad person buys more stuff. TV helped that.
- Net is remedial help for ability to socialise.
- Lego mindostorms: Only 8% of kids want to reprogram their own toys.
- No such thing as society, only culture, networds and agency.
- Never hbave so many people felt freedom on this planet – (BUT HAS INTEGRAL UNDER CURVE CHANGED?)
- Creation of christian fundamentalist cities, where people recoil from power and return to an externally prescriptive society. Compare to that post on Euan’s blog the other night.
- ‘Revolution is obsolete’ – he doesn’t believe it. (this was re change not being obsolete, but the social structure of a revolutionary movement perhaps no longer being the most efficient and effective way of bringing about change)
- T: Captialst narrative as consensual game theory example. (WTF am I talking about here?)
- Religion is great and fabulously useful, but why on earth do you go to the follish move of believing it?
- Truths don’t stand still. “This week I am Buddha. That was fun, what truth will I try on *this* week”
- Flash-mobs: replaced by smartmobs and dumbmobs.. (IT’S A NEW MEDIUM?) Ravers didn’t understand what was underneath what they were doing. Similarly flash mob.
- By becoming a labelled movement you become a nice easy target.
- Does a movement absolve you of responsibility and identity. (Was this said or me getting ready for my later question about blame?)
- “People thinking of joining things that look like movments”
- The 'will you go with your mates for a Mcdonalds after the demo?' story: Small instances of Being courageous in the moment will effect cumulatively huge change.
- The shift from hieroglyphs to alphabets was a mass-consumerisation fo literacy. Suddenly you didn’t have to be a priest. Only 26 symbols as opposed to thousands.
- Emergence of public-access interenet in UK, as opposed to US where it was a status symbol.
- When you put things online people devalue things. Reritualise voting. Have a totemic bone in a secret room.
October 09, 2003
Friday nights all right for being no-wing...
Anyone else off to the ICA to see Douglas Rushkoff in conversation tomorrow night?
October 03, 2003
While I'm Not One To Condemn
Any move to improve the forestation of the world feels like it ought to be a good thing, but it was fascinating to look at the diversity of the 'spin' behind the individual band pages on the Future Forests 'celeb forest' page.
Some are just a band press release with a 'oh and there's this forest thing' stuck on the end - purely about the album.
Others are more sincere and less self-serving. Coldplay are obviously rather earnest about it, but Mel C is trying to have enough trees planted to cancel out the CO2 involved production of her own albums. (Though there are some rather obvious jokes about canceling out methane, and after her latest album about it being more of a coppice than a forest) Simply Red are also doing the same, but manage to make it feel a lot more cynical and grubby.
Oh, and then there's the rather hilarious Atomic Kitten forest, which ends up feeling like something off the back of a cereal packet:
Your package includes:
- number of trees of your choice dedicate to your recipient in Atomic Kitten's forest
- certificate with a personal dedication if you wish
- colour map and information about the forest
- presented in cream folder, tied with ribbon
October 01, 2003
Greed <> Global
In a move that may knock the wind from the sentimental side of anti-globalisation, Sir Martin Sorrell (CE of WPP) has said that assumptions about global marketing have gone too far.
"A client I won't name, a packaged-goods company, has moved strongly to global brands, and a local manager said: '30% of my profits come from a brand that may be jettisoned.' What's happened is that companies are trying to run things in black-and-white ways, where one size fits all. And there's a very simple message: One size doesn't fit all," Sir Martin told [WSJ]. [sub may be required, sorry]
I worry whether some of the anti-globalisation support stems from a nostalgic feeling that Snickers should still be Marathon and suchlike.
I can only assume that they've found a way to carry on globalising without these issues mattering - probably because technology has reduced the cost of reversioning.
He also made several references to Islam, which both inspire and puzzle in equal measure...
Sir Martin argues that ... no one in the West has spent enough time thinking about what makes Muslims unique.
Because, well, obviously, they are aren't they. Unique. Like any group of hundreds of millions of people.
September 29, 2003
Depressing when all seen at once
The PDF of the deck is unbelievably compelling reading. I'm not sure if it's 100% accurate on all fronts, as there could be a certain amount of selective reporting here. But then, even if only 50% of this is true, it's 200% terrifying.
September 26, 2003
Making a difference
Ever since I was a kid, I've wondered if I'd have the guts to diss the English in a 1775 coffee shop. How would I have conducted myself in mid-thirties Germany or later, in occupied France? Would I have stood up and attacked McCarthy when he was the Ashcroft of the fifties? Those were all opportunities to say something unpopular at the risk of persecution and ridicule. Leave aside whether I'd have dumped tea in the harbor or hidden Anne Frank. I have simply hoped I'd have the courage to take a stand surrounded by neighbors telling me to sit down and shut up.
It also contains a link to John Walker's Digital Imprimatur, which I'm going to make the time to read properly.
Sometimes I'm an early adopter, sometimes I'm stubbornly late. But often I find myself just ahead of the tipping point. I think this could be just one of those moment. Where the users of the internet turn round and say 'no, *ours*'.
Via The Obvious.