Friday, 24 December 2010
Let us all join with Richard Dawkins at this festive time of year as he highlights the inherent violence of the Christian message. We are all stained with sin therefore god must send his son down to brutally sacrifice himself in order to forgive us. Yay. Humbug!
Image shamelessly lifted from B3ta.
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
The Vince Cable affair raises some interesting issues both in terms of the way today’s revelations emerged and more broadly the substance of the News Corp-BSkyB takeover deal, as well as Vince Cable’s place in government over the past few months. The Telegraph had clearly got no intention of publishing the complete record of Cables' comments with its' reporters, given its antipathy towards the afore mentioned deal, and so it therefore fell on the BBCs' Robert Peston, aided by a whistleblower, to swing the metaphorical axe. I imagine the BBC may live to regret this given the now near certainty of the deal being finalised. But, then again, maybe this is not all that surprising given recent comments by the BBC director general Mark Thompson, saying that Britain needs a channel like Fox News! And likewise, this stinks to high-heaven of Peston, a former Sunday Telegraph editor, 'getting one over' his old bosses. Whilst I'm certainly not in favour of secrecy in general I'd be very much inclined to side with the current Telegraph editors on this one. Given the moral outrage we've seen from the Murdoch Media Empire directed towards Wikileaks and Julian Assange in the past few weeks, it would certainly be difficult to have much if any sympathy if the Telegraph had manage to cover the story up. However, there is more to this story. Although Cable has survived with his job for the time being, the consensus is that this is unlikely to last much into the new year, with friend of the Tories, David Laws slated for a return. One can clearly see in the comments that Cable made to the Telegraph's reporters - whom he thought were constituency members - a clear moral unease and insecurity in the role he has played in the coalition. It has been no secret that Cable has never been the most trenchant supporter of government policy within the Cabinet, and he sought to justify his continued position there to the journalists, talking about 'picking his fights' and saying 'all we can do in opposition is protest'. He likewise talked about Cameron's secret plans to abolish winter fuel allowance, insinuating that he was fighting a valuable rearguard action behind enemy lines. Whilst this may have been the case to an extent one can't help but wonder whether any of this was really necessary in the first place for Mr Cable. He could have stopped this coalition government before it ever got off the ground, and that was definitely the opportune moment... before the juggernaut had started rolling. When he finally loses his job to the neo-liberal Laws, Cable, I imagine, will ask himself whether it was really worth compromising his principles in the first place (surely they're only good as long as they are adhered to, no?) Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end for the coalition, and he'll end up leading a backbench rebellion of Lib Dem MPs, but I think Cable may well have overestimated the influence he actually has. His own influence in government seems to have been increasingly marginalised, and its questionable whether he is really willing to lead a Lib Dem revolt, or even whether the Lib Dem backbenches have any stomach for the fight. Government patronage, with the prospect of a place on the front benches may be too much for many of them. As for the takeover deal itself I find it particularly galling how the European Commission can be so hostile towards Google yet see nothing wrong with Murdoch's dominance of news media in the UK. I think many people on the Left will likely echo my own position that its difficult to have a whole lot of sympathy with the position Cable has put himself in, having kept schtum during the past few months. Whilst I'd relish a 'war' on Murdoch this clearly isn't going to happen any time soon, and although I'd like some positive spin-off from this whole saga, unfortunately the position of the government seems like it may well have been strengthened here. We all know what a government united in its neo-liberal fervour and backed by a strengthened Murdoch Media Empire is likely to entail for the rest of us.
Monday, 20 December 2010
Writing for the New Yorker, Jane Mayer has written a fascinating article describing how funding by Charles and David Koch has been used to promote the Tea Party movement, and deny climate change whilst obstructing pollution control and public health measures in the United States. Mayer points out the irony of Tea Party rhetoric that is directed against 'special interests' in Washington whilst in reality being directed by the mother of all corporate 'special interest' lobbying/financing campaigns (read 'corruption'). Koch industries, controlled by two of the richest men in America, the Koch brothers Charles and David (they kicked their other brothers Freddie and William off the board), has funded numerous think tanks and foundations supposedly offering neutral and impartial policy advice. Rather conflicts of interest have been their modus of operandi writ large, advancing their companies' profit margins above all else. Koch industries has been prosecuted and fined for numerous pollution offences and the robbery of Indian oil - after which they set their private investigators on members of a Congressional Committee - whilst perhaps most worryingly of all, their money seems to have had a very real effect in undermining public confidence in climate change science. Thus, there should be no doubt in any persons' mind as to who is really behind and benefitting from the undermining of serious attention to problems of climate change and conservation; the rich and powerful! I struggle to understand how anyone can care so little about the natural environment of this planet, and its amazing diversity of life. No amount of money could ever make me not give a shit about this planet. It also gets me that the only proposal our planet has for tackling climate change is 'carbon trading' with the creation of another bullshit market. WTF?
Friday, 17 December 2010
N.B: For anyone interested further in the Berlusconi phenomenon, here's a recording of an interesting lecture by Stephen Gundle called, 'Berlusconi in Historical Perspective'.
Monday, 29 November 2010
N.B: Its also interesting to note how the whole Iran issue has been spun already. The Iranians themselves have latched onto this, accusing the US government of being behind the wikileaks releases, and trying to downplay them. Whilst I think this is a bit far fetched, the anti-Iranian consensus revealed by the leaked documents has certainly been leapt upon by Western media, and strengthens the hand of the American right and Israel, in their unending clamour for war.
Saturday, 27 November 2010
Thursday, 25 November 2010
This is pure genius! The description from the creators website:
“1-Bit Symphony is an electronic composition in five movements on a single microchip. Though housed in a CD jewel case like his first circuit album (1-Bit Music 2004-05), 1-Bit Symphony is not a recording in the traditional sense; it literally "performs" its music live when turned on. A complete electronic circuit—programmed by the artist and assembled by hand—plays the music through a headphone jack mounted into the case itself”.
N.B: Also consider the fact that the day before the shelling of Yeonpyeong South Korea said it would consider allowing the deployment of US tactical nuclear weapons on its soil. A practice that ended almost twenty years ago. Something about fuel and fire...
Sunday, 21 November 2010
N.B: Another interesting aside to this story, as mentioned by Hecker, and ignored by everyone else, is Pakistan's involvement in the (recent) history of North Korean nuclear development. Pakistan seems to be pretty much the biggest exporter of nuclear technology around violating just about every treaty going whilst the US does and says nothing...funny how that works...
Friday, 5 November 2010
I agree with John Pilger's sentiment that our political system has become subservient to corporate greed in its entirety.
"This is not to say parliamentary politics is meaningless. It has one meaning now: the replacement of democracy with a business plan for every human activity, every dream, every decency, every hope, every child born".
Says it all really.
N.B: The only thing our politicians' corporate paymasters understand is their balance sheet...hit them in the pocket where it hurts. Its what they're doing to us. This is ultimately a battle of ideas as much as anything else though, and capital has done its work well. I don't see much changing anytime soon. Our economic ways will likely only change when that change is forced in the aftermath of the looming ecological catastrophe that ceaseless consumption will thrust upon this planet.
Thursday, 28 October 2010
The most erudite account I've come across of why the neoliberal austerity agenda is so fundamentally flawed. The American Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz writing for the Guardian highlights the historical successes of Keynesian theory vis a vis economic recovery. Time and time again increased public expenditure has provided the escape from recovery, whilst austerity has resulted in increased unemployment, a shortage of demand for goods and services, lower tax revenues and decaying infrastructure. Con/Lib policy in the UK is being driven by the same mistaken ideology of rolling back the state that got us in such a mess in the first place.
Thompson's classic article on Ralph Steadman's website. Entertaining read.
'Confounding Fathers: The Tea Party's Cold War Roots', Sean Wilentz
The New Yorker's Sean Wilentz charts the historical continuity between extremism in the Republican Party and organisations such as the John Birch Society during the '50s and '60s with the likes of Glenn Beck today. Especially interesting is the role played by Beck in pushing to the top of the Amazon bestsellers list a book by Willard Cleon Skousen, a man who was thought too extreme for even the craziest of crazys during the Cold War. Wilentz worryingly concludes that even during the volatile atmosphere of the Cold War there were always members of the Republican Party prepared to stand up against the extremist currents in their party, something which is lacking today.