Friday, September 30, 2005
  More genius from Channel 4
...well, in truth VH1, but I'm too busy praying for the rehabilitation of C4 (last Friday they showed such an old episode of the Simpsons in the 9:00 slot, which was originally for new episodes, then for newish ones, and now apparently just another chance to rub our faces in the shit for not getting Satellite or Digital).
Tonight C4 are showing Rock School. The concept is naggingly familiar, but it would be cynical to claim they are borrowing ideas in copious amounts from any famous films. So, tonight I shall watch with an open mind, as Jack Bla- I mean Gene Simmons of Kiss*, tries to form a rock group out of some straight-laced little kids.
This is great news for those who want tro get rich quickly, and I myself am currently negotiating with C4 to give them access to my giant offshore cloned-Dinosaur compoud, which I think would make a good safari park. We could include celebreties (at feeding time, anyway) and each week we could evict/set free a random Dinosaur. There would be such hilarious antics!!!!!! Such toomfoolery and hijinks. We could call it: The Park of Jurassic Dinosaurs.

* obviously if I really meant it as a mistake, I would have erased it, instead of leaving half a name there, like a dirty great comedy fingerprint. In fact I'm very cynical, and I'd like to ask Gene Simmons if he has any shame. Since he's been in Kiss I guess he doesn't need to answer that one
Thursday, September 29, 2005
  Fall asleep in England. Wake up in Singapore.
For three men yesterday, two incidents at England's Labour Party conference must have felt somewhat like the British Airways commercial. Not so much to do with the new Club Class soft beds than the political-police atmosphere. One amateur photographer was taking pictures of the queues while another made an attempt to heckle (a common sight in such conferences in the past I believe) during the conference, accusing Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of lying over Iraq. In both cases, security prompty and efficiently went Singapore on their asses.

BBC News: "Mr Mitchell, a keen amateur photographer, was taking photographs of the queues when stewards demanded to know what he was doing.
He said: "The police were called over and asked if they could look at my pictures. I said of course they could but I did not want the pictures deleted.
"I kept repeating that I did not want the shots deleted and the police officer said it was alright because he didn't know how to use the camera.
"After he handed it back to me I found he had deleted every picture. This is security gone mad. And what's the point."

"The latest incident came on the day serious complaints were made over the heavy-handed way an elderly heckler was bundled out of the conference hall after accusing Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of lying over Iraq.
Walter Wolfgang, who is in his 80s, was grabbed by two security officers and removed from the main hall.
Another man who then attempted to complain about the treatment was also lifted from his feet and ejected.
"They claim it is all about security, but it is really to cover up the chaos and shambles the security is causing," said Mr Mitchell.
The security officers' behaviour was condemned as "very heavy-handed" by Labour MP Linda Riordan, whose own attempt to have Iraq debated was blocked by conference organisers."

Well, it's better than falling asleep England and waking up Germany 1941 anyway.
  Petition for free speech
"We are an open, multiracial and cosmopolitan society. We enjoy a good reputation in the world... Our people should feel free to express diverse views, pursue unconventional ideas, or simply to be different." - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 2004

Singapore film-maker Martyn See, director of Singapore Rebel, is currently under police investigation regarding his short documentary produced earlier this year. His film was classified a political party film and threatened with a 2-year jail sentence before getting the chance to screen it at a local film festival. The film has since been indirectly distributed on websites such as Singabloodypore (also found on the sidebar here), as well as having been screened in foreign film festivals including Malaysia.

The 20-odd minute documentary measures up nowhere close to the depth of a Michael Moore film in almost every regard but yet this film has been deemed a "threat" by the local Films Act. Some even consider it illogical to mention both in the same breath. But oh the hipocrisy once again that the current ruling party (PAP) is able to screen their own party political films on daytime mass media television.

Despite Martyn having withdrawn his film from the festival, police are continuingly harassing him for interviews and asking for the surrender of certain personal items such as his camera and mobile phone, which has eventually led to nonsensical calls by the police to people in his mobile phone's address book who had nothing to do with the making of the film (read more at Singapore Rebel). This is an event unfolding before the eyes of Singaporeans that reveals once again what a sham of democracy the PAP supposedly claim they are. In the wake of this, Amnesty International and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) have simultaneously filed appeals to the government to cease all investigation of an innocent man who has not even been charged with anything in particular to this day. In addition, Steve McDermott, author of Singabloodypore, has created an online petition in support of Martyn See. Please sign regardless of your race or nationality if you support the freedom of expression.

Thank you.

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty for a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -Benjamin Franklin
Thursday, September 22, 2005
  I REALLY can't stand Melanie Phillips
The worst thing one can do is legitimise the wild and illogical ravings of this crazy woman by addressing them. Well, all the blood has rushed to my head upon reading the latest outpouring of her garbage which she has written in her internet "diary" (dear diary, today I wrote another column on The War on Terror. One of these days I will actually read a history book or learn some of the basic laws of international relations and logic, but why rush when I can just parrot what my schitzo-neo-con friends across the pond say?)

I've detailed before how she repeatedly uses phrases like "self-hating" (to describe anybody who opposes the lunatic policies of Bush and Blair), "Israel-hater" (referring to those who think there is a slight chance that the Palestinian people are not being made totally at home, or that Israel shouldn't have nuclear weapons or invade and occupy neighbours), "jihadist" (that would be the BBC, or the "Biassed Broadcasting Corporation") and "appeasenik" (to slime those who don't understand the arguement that bombing people will save them and bring democracy to the Middle East). Now she tells us that the Church of England are "on their knees before terror" because, in an article featured in The Times they assert that we should apologise for the Iraq "war" (I have elected to put the word "war" in those "ironic" little quotation marks because the first war crimes committed were not done in a state of war, but in a sadistic bombing campaign which killed many people. How many we will never know).

I happen to think so too, and I think it's pretty obvious why. I am even more extreme because I happen to think that reparations in order. The country, and the lives of most of its inhabitants are a wreck and she has the temerity to dribble out: "apologise -- for what, precisely?"

She's stuck on that question, although I suspect that the answer was given in the very article that sent her into this frenzy, but still she wants to make other clever enquiries, like: "And apologise to whom exactly?" If the answer to this is just a little too obvious, you can rely on the witch to conjure up her own distorted answer: "To the Ba’athists, perhaps, who subjected the rest of the population to a regime of unmitigated horror and towards whom the church – by this logic – feels badly that they have been deprived of power?" I suspect she may be taking things a t-i-n-y bit out of context here, but then, who I am I to judge. I opposed the war too. All hail mighty Saddam!

Her worst distortion happens right before the reader's eyes, when from this part of the Times article:

‘The bishops cite as precedents the official statements by the Vatican expressing sorrow for the Christian persecution of the Jewish people throughout the ages, the repentance by the Anglican Church in Japan for its complicity in Japanese aggression during the Second World War and the regret expressed by leaders of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa for their theological and political backing of apartheid.’ (The Times)

She gets this:

"In other words they are comparing the removal of Saddam Hussein with the persecution of the Jews, the axis against democracy in World War Two and South African apartheid. But it was Saddam Hussein, the butcher of his own people and sponsor of terrorist murder against Israel and America who was the brother in blood to the tyrants of history. To compare these evils with the attempt to remove a similar modern evil is a straightforward inversion of good and evil. One associates such anti-reasoning with moral imbeciles – but the church?" (Melanie Phillips)

Sorry for the patronosing brackets, but we are dealing with children here, I think. "In other words"?? Whose words? Who is "comparing" anything here? By "other words" I assume she means her own straw-man argument, where she changes all the words so that she may refute it more easily. Yes, it's really easy to outwit someone when you change their entire sentence and view, though I suggest that if you want somebody to eat their words, you serve them back to them as you found them. Never one to shy away from playing the "anti-semite" card, Melanie Phillips probably sat at her computer, selectively cutting and pasting, while cackling at the mighty achievement of outwitting an imaginary neo-Nazi. Even a true moral imbecile like her can pull that off. That's when she isn't comparing BBC newsreaders with Osama bin Laden. The woman is a logician's nightmare. She cannot make even the most basic deductions.

All the way through she repeatedly slams the bishops for overlooking the threat of Jihad. I think she means events like 9/11 and the Madrid train bombings, but just in case I'm taking her out of context I'll include Newsnight, the Evening News and Working Lunch. Yet, of course, Saddam Hussein was not involved in any of these things. Melanie, unlike those with a working mind and a fairly up to date knowledge of current affairs, still believes that Saddam was linked to Al Qaeda and friends. She still thinks Stephen Hayes' glorified Tom Clancy novel The Connection is proof, despite it being long refuted by experts, including Dick Cheney, who audaciously denied that he had ever claimed there was such a link in the debate with John Edwards last year (and got away with it). I don't think Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and Iran at the behest of Al Qaeda (who, of course, overwhelmingly opposed the former) and I don't see what the ruler of Iraq had to gain by any attempt "to restore the medieval caliphate." Still, obfuscation and a disregard for the intelligence of her audience comes naturally to her. That does bother me. When she isn't typing in her "diary" (dear diary, I've been writing about terror for two whole years now, and still nobody listens to me. Is it just me, or am I going crazy?) she is popping up in The Daily Mail, which regrettably some people very close to me choose to read at least twice a week. They are not her target audience. They're not bigots, warmongers or uptight schoolmaster types. What they do seek is an understanding of what is going on, and they will never get that from her evil, illogical and insulting discharges.

A real logician, Ludwig Wittgenstein, famously ended his treatise by stating that his work was like a ladder, which had to be climbed, then kicked away once the reader was at the summit. In a similar vein, Melanie Phillips demands to be read, refuted, exposed and ultimately disregarded. After one has cut through her contradictory positions and half truths, they are left with little than childish tantrums on paper, that need not be considered because they desparately scream at the reader as if from an era rapidly passing into irrelevance. Her nutcase defences of the Israeli government, no matter how much they defy international law, her desire to indiscriminately sweep away those threatening her position of privilege, even if it means killing hundreds of innocents in the process. The twisted facts and logic that grow from these core values, like stinking weeds, are easily cleared away, and even the most obsessive types (regretably that means me) know that is time to get down to business and make the world a better place (anti-war demo on Saturday) rather than wasting too many resources on such feeble distractions. At least until she next surfaces. Now, I must get on, lest anybody accuse me of "comparing" Melanie Phillips with Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
  North Korea. Plus "what the Iraq war was all about, part:654782564"
In a deal which was initially celebrated as a big success, North Korea's Stalinist government have claimed that they will end their nuclear weapons programme, rejoin the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and permit monitoring by the IAEA. In return, the US will "normalize" relations with them, granting economic aid and the guarantee that the US will not attack.

Though it seems a bit premature to take a guy like Kim Jong-Il at his word, a North Korea without nuclear weapons is something to celebrate. But as with all great power foreign policy, there need to be some serious reservations about this affair, and some serious scrutiny. In my opinion this is just one more sign that Iraq would have been attacked under any pretext.

In some ways, cooler relations between that "tyrant" Kim Jong-Il (quoting the Bush administration) and that "half-baked man" Bush (North Korea's words) are a good thing, but not as much as one might initially think. I never wanted to see North Korea get attacked, but then again, the moment it announced that it had nuclear weapons, attacking it ceased to be an option. The losses would have been too great and therefore it was better to topple a flimsier regime. Iraq. The fact that the place had long been coveted by this administration as a source of energy cemented it as the place to bomb and occupy, but that's a different issue for now. The key point here is that Iraq's weakness in military terms ensured that the Bush administration saw an easy win. The country was practically spreading it's legs for entry. North Korea had nothing to fear in this vein. In the first election debate between Bush and Kerry last year, the two discussed how they would negotiate with Kim, not whether they would. Even the more aggressive zealots advising the government had no stomach for a pre-emptive strike. In their appalling school-essay-style tract An End to Evil, the infamously bellicose Richard Perle and David Frum advocated a mere blockade of the country. A good way of killing Koreans without dropping any bombs. Bound to appeal to all the sadists with a love for cutting costs, but not to those who dreamed that Kim would somehow be booted out.

The rationale for the masculine entry into Iraq has been well-documented. WMDs and terrorist links. If the two combined then we would be looking at what Condoleezza Rice ominously described as a mushroom cloud over New York. scary. In this period it was hard to watch the news without some pesky old crustie with a suit blathering on about weapons of mass destruction. It was a very annoying and repetetive phrase.

The argument had worn out its welcome before the invasion, when the likes of former UN inspector Scott Ritter asserted that Saddam had no such weapons. After the invasion it was conceeded, even by many of the hardline fanatics, that there were no such weapons, but that omething far more magical had taken place. The wonder of Democracy. Those same subservient commentators who practically punctuated their sentences with talk of WMDs suddenly rushed to tell us that the Iraqis now had "freedom" (a word that has long since lost much of its meaning in my eyes due to the sheer abuse of it) and "democracy". Various other undemocratic regimes (Belarus, Burma, Cuba, Syria, Zimbabwe) were condensed into the phrase "outposts of tyranny" to maintain the theme. It was the last compelling arguement for the invasion and it stinks as much today as it did then due to what was happening at the same time in other parts of the world.

At the end of 2003 one such example was given of the contradictions that Bush and Blair's governments had talked themselves into. Colonel Gaddafi announced that he no longer wanted nuclear weapons. He didn't have them, and wasn't particularly close to developing them, but it was announced as a success of the War on Terror because it showed that other governments could be deterred from trying to get their hands on WMDs. In exchange for this, Gaddafi got what he actually had wanted all along: a welcome back into the global community and economic ties withe the US and EU, who, as usual, were salivating at the oppurtunity to flog some weapons to any government they could find (the undemocratic and aggressive China springs to mind. And as the gay Chinese man hitting on me yesterday at work gleefully reminded me: "in our country, we hang our criminals"- true story. Nothing happened) Gaddafi needed weapons for the same reasons he always has: to prop up his dictatorship. Aww, no "freedom" for the people of Libya. That's just too bad. Gaddafi can continue to be a small, yet persistant thug, safe in the knowledge that he is in from the cold.

And now it seems the same is true with North Korea. The Bush administration doesn't want to export democracy to that wretched, far-away place. They just want it to pipe down and stop being a nuisance. By apparently helping to get it to back down on nuclear weapons they have restored their relationship to what it was when Bush came to power. It was his bully boy rhetoric that contributed most to the crisis, and having undone his bad work he should not feel too pleased with himself.

This is a country rife with severe hunger and malnutrition. A country which keeps firing squads and hangman's nooses handy in case anybody is foolish enough to question what is going on around them. Like I said, I don't want it bombed, but I do want to know why there was no mention of human rights in the discussion. I want to know what is the actual link that binds the "outposts of tyranny". They all abuse their populations (to VERY varying degrees), but so do Kuwait, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Nigeria, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Colombia. So, Cuba is sanctioned for it's barely visible human rights abuses while Israel and Pakistan can commit great big ones while also brandishing nuclear weapons and threatening to attack their neighbours. Libya can give up their weapons and carry on with abuses while Zimbabwe, who has never produced any, continues to harass its population as outcasts. Since breaking out of the USSR, the dictatorship of Belarus has enjoyed its scarce natural resources in international isolation while the former Soviet tyrannies of Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan have got on like a house on fire withe the west, respectively offering their natural gas and airbases to the US. Why are some welcomed by the Bush and Blair axis, while others are called to account? Could it be a prejudice against those not towing the line? Could the Iraq war have been about oil resources? It all seems so painfully obvious now. The pompous neo-con grandstanding, in which it was claimed America would set the captive populations of the world free, was simply a way of legitimising the crimes committed in self-interest. It will always be an Iraq that gets "liberated" rather than a Burma, because some countries have a part to play. They have stratefic value or plentiful resources.

There is a scene in The Simpsons where Bart takes up smoking, gives it up straight away and gets a reward and a pat on the back from Homer, who tells him "giving up smoking is one of the hardest things you can do". The Homer Simpson of the world has allowed the same thing to happen wioth North Korea and Libya. The moral of the story is: get nuclear weapons. Nobody will attack you and when you choose to give them up you will get the rewards and acceptance necessary to kick start your return to the international stage.
Monday, September 19, 2005
  God's name is a copyright
Last week I received a forwarded email from a Christian friend. Below are excerpts from the email:

The Lord warned, "I will strike . . . with chastening." To chasten is to make chaste or to purify. Thus, it is significant in my mind that the name, Katrina, means "purity" or "cleansing." My faith tells me that this hurricane, as devastating and terrible as it has been, will ultimately produce some measure of spiritual cleansing in our land. Right now, there is much heartache and suffering -- and even defiance in the gay community as they seek to still hold their "Southern Decadence" celebration. However, ultimately our nation will be genuinely closer to the Lord. Still, let us pray that no further wounds are necessary to achieve national repentance. - Francis Frangipane in the widely-circulated article "A Cleansing Has Begun"

I somewhat guessed that sooner or later, an islamic terrorist would make a connection between the Katrina disaster and "Allah's will". But I guess the Christians beat them to it... When I first received this, I admit being slightly pissed off that someone would come up with this bullshit, which only reflects on Francis Frangipane's homophobia and paints him (or her?) as a narrow-minded prude. While I understand Christianity's values, it is often dangerous to extrapolate home-made hypotheses and conclusions in associating God with modern day disasters.

It would be easy for any objective Christian to completely ignore these irrational statements, but alas I fear that one too many will actually start believing this nonsense. Because propagation of things like these lead to false representation of religion and even the loss of faith when one believes God is responsible for such loss of life. So I decided to acknowledge this as a hyopthesis and use this as the basis of my response to my dear Christian friend.

"Many Christians have attempted to show specific reasons why New Orleans, rather than other cities, was apparently targeted for divine displeasure. I must confess that I am tempted to agree with them. The reports I've read from believers who travel each year to proclaim the gospel during the New Orleans Mardi Gras are sickening."

I see the reasons for God choosing "New Orleans rather than other cities" being somewhat irrational. Whilst celebrations like Mardi Gras and those of the gay community are deemed sinful by our faith, it is important for Christians to know that these events occur annually and consist on the most part, visitors from many other States in America and even from other parts of the world. On the other hand, New Orleans is home to its indigent people, 2-thirds of whom are African American and half of which are below the poverty line. And it is no surprise that most able-bodied middle-class people was able to leave the area before the disaster (apart from some oblivious tourists), leaving behind mostly what are the poor, weak and those who have no where else to run to. We must understand that these people, if indeed Hurricane Katrina was an act of God, are the REAL victims of his punishment as they are left to suffer even more than the poverty they are already in, if being homeless was not already bad enough. For some, I'm sure their homes was everything they had. Remember, that there are plenty of other places in this world of sin. Is gambling not a sin? Why not strike Las Vegas with it's 24-hr casinos open to willing sinners? Or Hollywood with its celebrity industry that seems motivated only by money and lust on the most part.

"Perhaps you've heard that since 1972, New Orleans has been the host city of the annual "Southern Decadence Day," which would have been held this very weekend, as it has every Labor Day weekend for the past thirty-three years. It is touted as "one of the gay world's major parties," and a "gay Mardi Gras" when tens of thousands of gay men and lesbians descend on the French Quarter for unrestrained public lewdness and drunkenness. In 2003 it pumped $95 million into the local economy, which is why city leaders refused to shut it down in spite of protests by more decent people."

A double-whammy sin in the eyes of some Christians I suppose. But again, Mardi Gras and the Southern Decadence Day are only held annually, leaving only the innocent residents there to live the remaining 360+ days. Furthermore, Mardi Gras and 'gay celebrations' alike do not exclusively take place in New Orleans.

"New Orleans has also seen an incredible amount of looting, arson, rape, murders, gang violence and general lawlessness after Katrina, something that was not seen in the countries hit by last December's tsunami."

You have to be extremely carefully when placing judgment on a society by what you simply see on TV. I believe this was a topic of racial disscussion in the Katrina aftermath. It is amazing at how much mainstream news and media can place a distorted perception on the mass audience. Some people do 'loot' out of neccessity. When a white man for example breaks into a shop, he is said to be hunting and gathering food to feed his hungry family. When a black man does it, he's looting. They don't say it. But it's implied. And media tricks have obviously affected the person who made the above comment. 'Murders, gang violence, rape and arson' are very speculative remarks. They seem slightly exaggerated and out of context. The fires for example were more probably caused by gas leaks than arsonists who felt like burning already destroyed houses. I don't DOUBT there is proper criminal looting going on. But we cannot judge an entire society by a few bad apples that we see on TV or "hear from a friend" just because we don't see the good ones. But in no way do we have the right to compare them with the Indonesians of the Tsunami aftermath. For one, the death toll in Indonesia was MUCH higher for an affected population much smaller than New Orleans. In otherwords, more of the Aceh population was wiped out and even more so to the villages and towns. We did not see as many survivors huddling under bridges, highways or in arenas as we did New Orleans. New Orleans was flooded, broken and uninhabitable. Affected Aceh was completely leveled with little survivors. In a sense, sad as it may seem, there was nothing TO loot. Nor were there many healthy people capable of looting. But I can only think someone who believes crimes of opportunity only reside in New Orleans as being naive.

"Finally, will the pastors, preachers and prophets in America rise to the occasion to courageously proclaim the truth? Or will they actually work against Christ and assist Satan in what he specializes in - spreading lies about himself and God? "

Nevermind pastors, preachers and prophets. Bush has already done a good job at lying and deceiving the American people and sustaining an illegal occupation of Iraq for his ambition to secure their oil. And the cost is? The precious children of American parents. Furthermore, President Bush seems to have implied the war was God-willing.

It is eerily similar when Christians start throwing God's name into disasters such as Katrina as when an islamic academic from Saudi Arabia started ranting that the Tsunami was "Allah-willing" as well. I cannot possibly believe that God created the disaster that killed thousands of innocent, conservative Aceh muslim citizens to justify punishing a few hundred tourists hundreds of miles away in Thailand. Does it suddenly sound eerily like Osama bin Laden's justification of his attack on innocent victims of the 9/11 attacks for the "greater good" of islam and his use of Allah's name to justify it? Or what about Bush's sacrifice of over a thousand soldiers' lives for the "greater good of freedom and humanity" in God's name? It's hard these days to tell who's doing God's bidding and who's doing Satan's. But then again, when did God ever give us the copyright to his name?

Other recommended reading: Feverish minds cook up the wrath of God (Yawning Bread)
Thursday, September 15, 2005
  An alternative view of the Death of Celebrity: Roll on the funeral
When the talented Austrian architect, Adolf Loos, died in 1933, he did so knowing that if his Christian name would probably forever be associated with a terrible human being, at least his surname was safe.

Fast-forward 70 years and unfortuantely his whole name looks like a disaster because a new monster has monopolized it, in no small part thanks to the drooling tabloids of Britain, that presumably drop any item running the risk of resembling actual news. Many are not going to know who Adolf Loos is, and thanks to Rebecca/Hitler [good name] they will automatically file him under Slut/Monster [great job, if you can get it].

I'm not sure if this bothers me even a little bit, and I suspect it doesn't trouble Piers Morgan at all either. Unlike my colleague Clyde, I was not overly impressed with his effort, which had potential, but stopped far too short of the great purge I would have wanted. The first problem was the title: The Death of Celebrity. Well, wouldn't that be tragic? Piers Morgan seemed upset not just that various pieces of human excrement were getting attention, but that other celebrities, worthy ones in his book, were not.

And who are such celebrities? Piers doesn't seem to know, as the various strata of talent on display in today's world were all dovetailed into one hideous concoction. At the start he bemoaned that in the old days it took someone like Frank Sinatra to get the media excited. Later he showcases Martine McCutcheon, who these days is a theatre actress apparently. A spot is given to the Kaiser Chiefs, interspersed with him cackling along with Michael Winner and Anne Robinson. Are these the worthy celebrities? In my view this stinks.

Michael Winner and Anne Robinson are so obviously unfit to be in a position to see their achievements celebrated [basically Piers' definition] that they don't deserve much more mention. I suspect Piers doesn't have them in mind as bona fide celebrities, but he is content to sanctimoniously sneer with them at the pond life in our newspapers without ever questioning what makes them so special.

Martine McCutcheon may well be a great theatre actress. Her award apparently says so. Yet she has been content to do what Piers should also be decrying - cashing in on her original fame [as a bit-part player in Eastenders] to release insipid music records. Not that genuine bands are much better. The Kaiser Chiefs have barely been around. Is now the time to learn their names? Are they truly talented? Surely it's best to let them create a substantial body of work before lionizing them too much. If fame is what Piers wants them to have, then shouldn't they work for it first? And of course, while rock elitists look at the Pop Idol squits with justified disdain, some of the methods of attention-seeking employed by them are equally cringe worthy in their desperation.

As for Frank Sinatra, well, he is supposed to be a proper icon, someone worthy of his fame. I remember the curmudgeonly old git as the guy who wanted to rein in Elvis and all the great music that came after, that never wrote an actual song [and didn't have to, they all sounded the same, damn it] and consequently spent his life peddling weak toxic sludge. He had a good voice, but that is a gift more so than a talent. He was born with it and never set it to work on anything more challenging than a bit of witless crooning. Things have come full circle; his heirs are on Pop Idol every week. It is still considered sacrilegious to assail Frank, which makes me wonder what really has gone wrong. If the smug elitists like Piers Morgan sanction Sinatra's entitlement to such fame [and of course the money that comes with it] then it seems that lurking behind our tabloid/slut-happy-notalentrequired-filth society is an equally wretched bunch who yearn for good-old-days that never really were there and praise those with a glowing reputation without critically thinking about how they got it.

Piers' tolerance for Pop Idol types, who flog their existing gifts instead of developing talent, is seen at the end, when he invites a bunch of Z-listers to prove that they can do something special. This entirely missed the point. When he quite rightly approached that ridiculous Big-Brother pair and asked them if it bothers them that they have no talent, the silly woman who snapped back that she was an actress must have known full well that she is in the public eye for no such reason. When he later tries to test Big Brother contestants and Page 3 girls on their abilities to sing and act the same point applies. That’s not why they are famous. Becoming famous for no reason and then unveiling your skill is precisely the reverse of how things should work. Celebrity is not a title to be earned and retained, but a recognition that you can do something well, people notice you, and that in today’s world of mass media the attention feat gets will be multiplied. Nowhere in this formula should any allowance made for the celebrity's private life, likes and dislikes or opinions. They shouldn’t matter any more than the next man's. Frank Sinatra didn’t earn that status or that money, in fact it’s so out of balance with his actual input that he should been in a permanent state of embarrassment.

This applies even more to today's sportsmen, another group let of the hook by Piers. When David Beckham showed up in the list of the most pointless celebrities, people on the programme rallied to his defence. This legitimacy masks the point that David Beckham the talented, yet limited footballer has this hideous extension off the pitch that we should never ever need to care about because it really doesn’t come with his job. His job, incidentally, entails an easy life, extortionate pay, instant fame and the fact that he is doing what he enjoys, a lopsided combination when you consider all the little underlings being paid peanuts to allow him to continue to do so. Beckham and his ilk are in a different category from Jordan and Abi Titmus, but still cannot claim to deserve the riches they get.

The real message this show should have sent out was that a decent society can reward and respect all kinds of talent, sometimes the ones we take for granted. Why are some talents more worthy of media attention than others [i.e. the useful ones].There are all kinds of contradictions about fame and it’s hard to put them in order. Talent should surely be developed to allow you to achieve your goals, but fame should not be seen as a means to get it noticed, or as an end in itself. The people closest to you will see your talent, and they know you best, so surely their opinion of you should matter more than that of some sap reading The Sun. Plato [and he was talented, if a bit fascist] noted the human desire for recognition that exists within us. It has prompted some terrible atrocities [war, power struggles, Will Young] but on a small scale it is a wonderful motivator. Others may take notice and that’s great. If Sonic Youth were any more obscure I would never have the pleasure of hearing them, after all. But when the desire to maintain fame, as if it were some entitlement, like a Lifetime Achievement reward, comes into the equation it breeds a homogenous and unadventurous output and turns the celebrity into a caricature. The dumb star will do anything and everything to stay afloat until the fateful day comes when they get a negative repsonse to the plaintive: "Do you know who I am?

If you assume celebrity needs to be saved then I would instead recommend that it needs to be revised. But if you want to really get things right in my book, the best idea is to sidestep the issue and acknowledge that it wouldn't matter if it was Janet Jackson, Rebecca Loos' or Hypaatia's breast on show at the Superbowl, there really are more important things going on in the world right now, and it is there that the press should be.

Monday, September 12, 2005
  "Excuse me - does it bother you that you have no talent?"
The question is posed to a vaguely familiar "celebrity" not worth remembering at an awards show equally not worth remembering. Neither was his answer.

Death of Celebrity, hosted by Piers Morgan, is a 1-hr documentary on the decline of celebrity status and was aired on Channe4 at 9pm last night. It brilliantly spotlighted some of the most pointless celebrities including David Beckham (#4), along with his wife Posh Becks (#1), Abi Titmus (who has thought herself worthy of an autobiography), and ALL Big Brother participants. Surely there are plenty more non-English contenders for the #1 position, but bear in mind it's an English programme.

Ex-Page 3 model Jordan also easily makes her way into the list of pointless celebs. Recently married to british pop singer Andre somebody (forgive my bad memory for bad singers), the local news picked up their story. Down the street apparently was a Royal wedding taking place where famous faces such as Prince Charles and sons were attending. Can you guess who's was more popular? Despite the Royal wedding, the whore and the annoyingly bad (or is it badly annoying?) singer still eventually gained the most public attention with one parent describing it as "every girl's dream". Yes, of course every English girl wants to grow up, become a slut and marry somebody famous/rich. At least a small handful of celebs were sensible enough to decline their invitation, with one even saying,"I'd rather stay at home and defrost my freezer."

The point of it all, as I so gleefully agree with, is the dilution of celebrity-hood with the countless numbers of pointless people that plague the face of every tabloid and many a tv programme. England's Worst Celebrity Drivers spotlighted a list of "celebs" that must have been sub-Z list because the only person I recognised was Erik Estrada, and he's not even British! One day we will reflect on celebrities that defined their century. We will see Mozart, Beethoven, DaVinci, and then we will see the 21st century and go "uhhmm..."

At the end of the day, we also send out the wrong message to our current and future youth generations. That to be famous, you don't need any talent. Just simply being married to someone famous or having an ex-partner who was a soap actor (as was the pathetic excuse of one filmed "celeb"). And of course since this is "every girl's dream", that probably explains why our streets are filled with Britney Spears clones (fat or thin) and other [insert pop idol here]. Sad to say I also see a lot of 50cents and R. Kellys too. Imitations of already cheap imitations.

"Abi Titmus' CV reads - 'nurse', 'got tits out', 'dodgy video'." - Interviewee on Death of Celebrity.

Other recommended time-wasters: Bremner, Bird & Fortune (8pm Sundays Ch4)
Thursday, September 08, 2005
  Of mice and men
I'm truly sorry man's dominion,
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth born companion,
An' fellow mortal!

In the midst of moving house, and very near deadlines, I felt somewhat compelled to write something of the disaster Katrina, even though the lack of time and internet at home has left me with only the knowledge of what I've gained from glimpses at evening tv news.

Mulch highlights:
"I remember the somberness of 9/11. I remember people putting aside differences. I remember the National Gard arriving in New York the day of the attacks. That has all changed now. While I admit that racism surely played a part in the inaction our federal government used to murder those by apathy, I think it is more indicative of class and poverty. The World Trade towers were the rich and powerful. Those left to suffer the aftermath of Katerina were not. They were those too poor or too weak to flee. They were those who had nothing else but what they had there in their homes, most without vehicles to flee with."

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's win's ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Fact: It took 2 days for Tsunami relief efforts to arrive in Indonesia. It took FIVE for any sign of help to arrive in New Orleans.

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

Fact: Stupid people say stupid things. Welcome to the Britney Spears club, Barbara Bush.
"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this... this is working very well for them."

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld.

An indecisive woman governor offers only her tears on national tv while 20-year old Jabbar has nicked a school bus and ferried as many people as those wheels would carry out of disaster.

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

- Robert Burns (To a Mouse)

A helpless President offers congratulations to other people who have also offered comforting words. So this post I suppose is for the unsung heroes who had some sort of clue as to what to do.

"In the chaos that was Causeway Boulevard, this group of refugees stood out: a 6-year-old boy walking down the road, holding a 5-month-old, surrounded by five toddlers who followed him around as if he were their leader. They were holding hands. Three of the children were about 2 years old, and one was wearing only diapers. A 3-year-old girl, who wore colorful barrettes on the ends of her braids, had her 14-month-old brother in tow. The 6-year-old spoke for all of them, and he told rescuers his name was Deamonte Love."

  Ian Wright: Twat
I suppose non-football fans will be put off by this entry, but then again, since he retired from his soccer career it has been hard to figure out what Ian Wright has to do with the game. And I'm not going to allow anything to get in the way of giving the loudmouth a good slagging off. Especially after watching him throw his toys out of the pram yesterday. The poor thing had just seen his beloved England side trip over against Northern Ireland, and in his moment to explain to the viewer what went wrong, (thus earning his enormous paycheck) he decided to curl up in a ball and start ranting about how unfair it all was.
Ian Wright was employed by the BBC as a football pundit, presumably because A. He has played the game, and B. He's a bit of a "character." Unfortunately these reasons give Mr Wright a chance to have some on-screen therapy, while the rest of us contort in pain at his useless prescence and his determination to show just how ignorant he really is.
It seems that being an ex-player is certainly no guarantee that you can speak knowledgeably about a football match. You can empathise with the men on the pitch a little bit, but unless you keep abrest of current events in the football world you just end up looking like a prat. Last year when Greece won Euro 2004 it was considered a shock, partially because they were outsiders, but also because none of the pundits knew who the damn players were. Jeez, you get paid to watch sport and talk about it, at least learn about the teams taking part. Otherwise there is no point broadcasting a half-hour of tacked-on "analysis" that someone's mum could have written. The worst offender was of course Ian Wright, who simply referred to them as "him", "that guy", "the number 9" and all kinds of other cretinous labels. There are many small countries that football fans don't learn about in school, and here the men on TV surely need to know more, not less about them. The viewer is looking to be informed in these moments, and Ian Wright can't cut it.
As for being a character, well, he has quite a range. Insufferably patriotic windbag, ignorant xenophobe, spoilt brat, tactless loudmouth chewing on sock. He's truly like a one-man Shakespere production. When England win you have to put up with his triumphalist gloating, when they lose he whines so much that someone in the same studio surely feels compelled to go up to the referee and say: "go on, give England five more goals, if not for me, then for Ian's sake." Whatever character he chooses, he never ceases to not be entertaining.

As if to stake his own claim for a role as TV pundit, David Beckham also made an ass out of himself in the post-match interview, another silly ritual that needs to be stopped, since it demonstrates what I said above: playing the game does not guarantee you will have anything smart to say about it. Beckham was asked a number of questions in a three minute interview, but somehow the answers all came back to one theme:

"...tonight has been a bit of an embarrasement for the lads but, um, you know, we stick together, this is what this team is all about, we've always done that, even when we've been criticised we stick together."

" know, as I've said, we stick together"

"...together now as a team we stick together, we're gonna get the criticism of course, each player will, but at the end of the day, you know, we stick together"

"...everyone is disappointed, but you know what, we stick together"

hmm, maybe if the team wasn't so stuck together they might not have lost so sluggishly. There is a lot of debate among the current crop of football analysts, scientists, psychologists, whatever the hell they think they are, about what Beckham's "position" in the team should be. Well, I'm no expert, and perhaps tactics have yet to evolve this far, but I recommend him being in a headlock for ninety minutes while being kicked in the balls by fans who are smart enough to realise that they don't get good value for money at football matches these days. That would be entertaining.

Monday, September 05, 2005
  TV Idiots
It's painfully annoying that I am reminded constantly of the number of ignorant people that I come across everyday. Whether it's in real life, TV or the internet. The past few days has seen my new home devoid of any entertainment; no TV, no internet, nothing but the awkward silence that fills the living room when a conversation runs dry amongst my new housemates and I. But suddenly a God-sent 38" is delivered unto our living room (courtesy of the Landlord) to my delight. Hitting the "On" button sends a stream of television crap radiating at me whilst I bask in its glow.

[On an environmental programme, the host shows a woman (whom we shall call dumbass #1) how much trash her household churns out every week.]

Presenter: "So where do you think all this rubbish goes?"
TV dumbass #1: "*stares at heap of garbage* Oh wow, I don't know. I always thought they were shipped off to other countries, or buried under cement or something."

Yes of course, why not. We are so bloody rich why not ship off our problems to some third-world country that's willing to wipe our asses for us. Dumbass #2 exercises his talent at stating the obvious and needs almost no introduction at all.

[On hurricane Katrina...]
TV dumbass #2: "Obviously there are a lot of people dead... People need to stop buying gasoline when they don't need to... (more advice ramblings)"

Maybe I missed out on some of that speech when I flipped to that channel. Maybe it was poor editing by the somewhat biased BBC News. There is nothing really wrong with those words...if it were from a regular civilian.

Maybe I should just switch the damn TV off and bask in the glory of a 38" dark, empty screen.

UPDATE: I had to see this with my own eyes to believe. The BBC (or ITV) is airing their latest reality tv trash "No Sex Please, I'm a Teenager". Put a bunch of British teens together and they can't even keep their legs closed for one bloody second, which is enough to warrant the tv networks an excuse to make a tv show out of. I wonder what the prize is at the end of the show. Pack of condoms?
"Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere." - George W. Bush (March 24, 2004)

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