Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What if we shut down the 750 U.S. overseas bases?

"What if the US just packed up and left Iraq and Afghanistan, and brought the troops all home, shut down the 750-odd overseas bases we operate around the globe, and slashed our military budget by 75 percent? That would be an instant savings of roughly $365 billion per year."

read more | digg story

That's No Moon...

But it's SO FUN to quote movies all the time... (XKCD comic).

read more | digg story

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Google's Knol experiment to rival Wikipedia?

"I would compare Knol to Blogger, and eventually, I think it will have Digg-like elements. Knol is like Blogger because it's a personal publishing platform. It's all about giving authors a platform for writing. It's just a like a blog, but much more structured. If you like a Knoller, you'll likely want to read more written by that person, or even subscribe to his work."

read more | digg story

Santa arressted

"An Imperial Stormtrooper commando broke into Santa's Factory in the North Pole yesterday evening, killing an undetermined number of elves, arresting the owner and confiscating his sled."


Cheneys Shares up 3281%

An analysis released by a Democratic senator found that Vice President Dick Cheney's Halliburton stock options have risen 3,281 percent in the last year. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) asserts that Cheney's options -- worth $241,498 a year ago -- are now valued at more than $8 million..

read more | digg story

Word Bank: US No Longer Top Donor

Yesterday, the World Bank reported that the US has lost its status as the largest donor to the Bank’s main fund for poor countries, as Britain secured a record amount of aid with a pledge of increased funding.

read more | digg story

Monday, December 03, 2007

Lewis Hamilton vs The Stig - Who Won?

the Stig's best lap time is challenged by the F1 rookie phenom Lewis Hamilton.

read more | digg story

Monday, November 19, 2007

Letter in NYT about Embedded Anthros

"Its authors note that, far more and far less than “etiquette lessons,” as you put it, are being sought from anthropologists. The Human Terrain Teams are to provide military commanders “a culturally oriented counterpart to tactical intelligence systems.” The teams integrate anthropologists with security clearances with tactical intelligence officers and aim to “fill the cultural knowledge void by gathering ethnographic, economic, and cultural data pertaining to the battlefield” (p.12). The article explicitly likens the Human Terrain Teams to the CORDS (Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support) program from the Vietnam War. This should send a chill down the spine of anyone from your generation, since it is well known that the CORDS teams were linked, under Project Phoenix, to the targeted assassination of thousands of Vietnamese. Anthropological research was used in Vietnam to help select victims for assassination, and we fear that this misuse of anthropological research may be repeated in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite whatever humanitarian intentions the anthropologists and other cultural experts may have for participating. Further evidence of both kinetic and non-kinetic Pentagon goals for the anthropological knowledge sought can be found in a number of places, including one high-ranking Pentagon briefing posted on the Network of Concerned Anthropologists’ website; this briefing says of Human Terrain Mapping that it “enables the entire kill chain.”

more here

Thursday, November 15, 2007

9 Words That Don't Mean What You Think

NonplussedPeople think it means: Unperturbed, not worried.Actually means: Utterly perplexed or confused. It comes from the Latin non plus (a state in which nothing more can be done).The misunderstanding would seem to stem from people making semi-educated guesses as to the word's meaning, which kind of sounds like it means "unruffled" or something like that. "

read more | digg story

Surfer Stuns Physicists With Theory of Everything

"Although he cultivates a bit of a surfer-guy image its clear he has put enormous effort and time into working the complexities of this structure out over several years," Prof Smolin tells The Telegraph."Some incredibly beautiful stuff falls out of Lisi's theory," adds David Ritz Finkelstein at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. "This must be more than coincidence and he really is touching on something profound."

read more | digg story

Thursday, November 08, 2007

overweight have lower death rate

"Linking, for the first time, causes of death to specific weights, they report that overweight people have a lower death rate because they are much less likely to die from a grab bag of diseases that includes Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, infections and lung disease. And that lower risk is not counteracted by increased risks of dying from any other disease, including cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

As a consequence, the group from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute reports, there were more than 100,000 fewer deaths among the overweight in 2004, the most recent year for which data were available, than would have expected if those people had been of normal weight."

savage minds

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Arsene Wenger

"success in life is a happy turn of events that you make with your own attitude"


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Marijuana User Gets Arrested Every 38 Seconds in America

PhD research at its best.

and check this cool gizmo thingy

"Enforcing marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers between $10 billion and $12 billion annually and has led to the arrest of nearly 20 million Americans. Nevertheless, some 94 million Americans acknowledge having used marijuana during their lives. It makes no sense to continue to treat nearly half of all Americans as criminals for their use of a substance that poses no greater - and arguably far fewer - health risks than alcohol or tobacco. A better and more sensible solution would be to tax and regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco."

read more

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Amazing bottle makes any dirty water drinkable

The creator hopes that the bottle could be a life-saver for refugees in disaster regions where access to clean drinking water is vital. The bottles can distill either 4,000 litres or 6,000 litres without changing the filter. Mr Pritchard's bottle can clean up any water - including faecal matter - using a special filter.

read more | digg story

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Walter Benjamin

"I feel profoundly identified with Roger's intense personal involvement with Benjamin's story -- who indeed can feel that they "get" Benjamin, or are even beginning to get a glimmer, without finding themselves becoming addicted to both the thought and the man? (As Benjamin said (roughly quoting here from memory), "thought can be as intoxicating as any narcotic, not to mention that drug we take in solitude, ourselves."

Some good conversations about Walter Benjamin's death and place in cultural studies canon

Naomi Klein talks shock therapy

"Public school teachers, meanwhile, were calling Friedman's plan "an educational land grab". I call these orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities, "disaster capitalism".

Privatising the school system of a mid-size American city may seem a modest preoccupation for the man hailed as the most influential economist of the past half century. Yet his determination to exploit the crisis in New Orleans to advance a fundamentalist version of capitalism was also an oddly fitting farewell. For more than three decades, Friedman and his powerful followers had been perfecting this very strategy: waiting for a major crisis, then selling off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock.

In one of his most influential essays, Friedman articulated contemporary capitalism's core tactical nostrum, what I have come to understand as "the shock doctrine".


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Rafa launches scattergun attack on Premier League

You tell em Rafa!!!

Staff and agencies
Wednesday August 22, 2007

Guardian Unlimited

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has launched an astonishing attack on the Premier League, in a tirade which covers subject matter as varied as the Gabriel Heinze transfer saga, early kick-off times, the Carlos Tevez affair, and favouritism towards Manchester United
Benitez is angry that United defender Heinze has had his attempts to join Liverpool blocked by a Premier League hearing that sided with United over who they could sell the player to once their £6.8m valuation had been met.

But not only has Benitez attacked the Premier League decision, which could leave Heinze's career in limbo until his contract ends, he has also directed his fury at the Old Trafford hierarchy.

In a Liverpool Echo interview, Benitez claims decisions are being taken which favour Liverpool's old rivals with yesterday's dismissal of Heinze's bid to move to Anfield the latest setback.

Benitez said: "I would like to ask the Premier League a number of questions. How can a player with a signed agreement be treated like this?

"He has a document which is clear, but the Premier League prefers to believe the word of someone else who made a mistake. I know there were accusations made against Liverpool in the hearing which were unbelievable. How can this be allowed?"

And broadening his attack from the Heinze issue, Benitez said: "Then I would like to ask the Premier League why is it that Liverpool always plays the most fixtures away from home in an early kick-off, following an international break?

"We had more than the top clubs last season and we have four already to prepare for this season.

"Then I want to ask the Premier League why it was so difficult for Liverpool to sign Javier Mascherano, when we had to wait a long time for the paperwork, but it was so easy for Carlos Tevez to join Manchester United?"

Mascherano joined Liverpool from West Ham in the January transfer window and the deal took weeks to clear as the row over third party ownership of players at Upton Park raged on.

The Tevez move to Old Trafford took less time to approve, with the Argentina star's representatives paying West Ham £2m to release his registration in time to beat the transfer deadline.

Benitez added: "It's going to be very difficult for us to win the Premier League because the other teams are so strong, but I want our supporters to know that despite the disadvantages we have, we will fight all the way.

"We will fight to cope with our more difficult kick-off times and all the other decisions which are going against us."

But it is the Heinze decision, stopping Liverpool buying the defender who believed he had a letter clearing his exit for a set sum, that has upset Benitez most.

He now must consider contingency plans knowing that any appeal by Heinze may not be concluded by the time the transfer window shuts at the end of August. An appeal panel on the Premier League's decision will include a PFA representative and a high ranking member of the legal profession.

Heinze remains optimistic an appeal will be accepted and is in no mood to give up on his hopes of moving to Liverpool.

His solicitor, Richard Green said: "We are extremely disappointed with the result and we will be appealing."

It is being suggested that United would be happy for Heinze to be loaned out to a mid-table Premier League side or agree to a transfer overseas, with Lyon at the front of the queue while Real Madrid have also been linked with a move for the Argentinian.

The Premier League are disappointed by Benitez's comments.

A spokesman said: "The Premier League tried to make sure that our dealings with all our member clubs, including the scheduling of fixtures, are as fair as possible.

"We are disappointed to read Rafael Benitez's comments in the press, especially when channels exist for every member club to raise any issues directly with the league."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The closure of CCA7

Press release

“The arts are a fundamental part of a confident and cultured society. They challenge and inspire us. They bring beauty, excitement and enjoyment into our lives. They help us express our identity as individuals, as members of communities, and as a nation.”

—Scottish Arts Council, Action Plan 2004-2009

Caribbean Contemporary Arts (CCA) is now obliged to face the stark reality that has been haunting us for the past years, and we have taken decisive action. As a collective, we have worked to the best of our ability towards developing both a sense of philanthropy and policies to increase the value placed on culture and identity.

Despite increased international funding for our core endeavours, we continue to lack operational funding or much in the way of communal national support. We can no longer afford to keep the organisation running, and therefore we feel that we have no option but to close down our current location on the Fernandes Industrial Estate, and to cease the running of all programmes, effective August 31st 2007.

We will continue, however, as an NGO under the name CCA, but strictly as an information base and to provide continuity for our archive, and also to maintain the possibility of future endeavors.

As from September the 17th CCA will be based at:

233 Belmont Circular Road, Belmont
Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies
P: +1 868 625 1889
F: +1 868 621 3837

Our e-mail contacts will remain as: mail@cca7.org and jleeloy@cca7.org

Our emotions are mixed: we are deeply saddened by the realisation that, even with financial support from our foreign partners, we continue to live in a country that lacks governmental and private sector support for culture and the arts. Since our inception ten years ago, we have attempted to tackle the formidable task of increasing awareness of and appreciation for visual art in our country, and the larger Caribbean region.

We have provided crucial training to arts and culture administrators, who now work in the field locally, regionally, and internationally. CCA has worked to create opportunities for local artists abroad, including exhibitions and workshop participation. As a result of our efforts, Trinidad is now considered a major centre for contemporary art in the Anglophone Caribbean.

We have put on over 70 exhibitions and have hosted Kairi, the Trinidad & Tobago International Film Festival. We have had 84 artists in residence, and 6 regional workshops with 118 local, regional, and international participants.

CCA’s plight is not unique to our organisation, but seems to be the on-going difficulty of all NGOs working in the field of Trinidad and Tobago. We can but hope that one day organisations such as ours will be able to reap from the same ground they tirelessly and optimistically continue to fertilise.

This is also a time of acknowledgement and appreciation. We are proud of our achievements, and hope that much has been learned from all the opportunities and experiences we have shared since 1997. We are confident that the spirit of CCA7 will live on through the work of the artists we have supported.We would like to extend our warm appreciation to all of our friends, affiliates, sponsors, and staff who have supported us over the years. Without your kindness and dedication, we could not have made it at all."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A computer programme that turns DNA into music

"In his famous Two Cultures lecture, CP Snow lamented the deep divide that separates the arts and humanities in modern culture. But recent work published in Genome Biology by researchers Rie Takahashi and Jeffrey H Miller at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), might be a step towards healing the rift. The scientists designed a computer programme that turns genes into music. The resulting tunes are surprisingly melodic and have a curious resonance with the roots of both western music and science 26 centuries ago."


Monday, July 30, 2007

Football and Iraq

"It is the greatest gift since the fall of Saddam Hussein, and shows how Iraqis from all walks of life can work together to achieve success," said Hozam Mahmoud, a Kurdish policeman, who had abandoned his traffic duties to join noisy celebrations close to the foot of the ancient citadel in the Kurdish regional capital, Irbil.

He added: "Football alone may not be able to heal the nation's deep wounds, but for the moment it has induced a sense of cohesion, and we can all build on that if we try."

One reason for the team's popularity is that its players are drawn from all sections and all parts of Iraqi society.

On the pitch yesterday were Kurds, Sunnis, Shias and Turkomans. The players had overcome kidnap threats, the murder of loved ones, and disruptions to their training schedules."


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Voting machines

"State-sanctioned teams of computer hackers were able to break through the security of virtually every model of California's voting machines and change results or take control of some of the systems' electronic functions, according to a University of California study released Friday."


Universal healthcare for all pls

countries with universal healthcare

Friday, July 27, 2007

Dont reclassify

"Prof Murray said: "Individuals who - perhaps with some mild predisposition - would not otherwise have developed schizophrenia will do so because of taking cannabis. It's a bit like how people with only a minimal predisposition to diabetes will develop it if they eat too much."

Dr Iddon, the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on drugs misuse, said the study did not convince him it was time to return cannabis to class B.

"I don't think the causal link has been proved. I think cannabis might - possibly for genetic reasons - trigger psychosis at an earlier age."

The MP, who is also a member of the science and technology select committee, said there was a danger of criminalising "hundreds of thousands of young people" if the status of the drug was changed.

If Gordon Brown changes the class of the drug, it won't be evidence-based but for political reasons," he said.

"Since we reduced the classification of cannabis from B to C the usage is going down, so what's the point of muddying the debate again by this yo-yo political policy?"


AK-47s, Arab Jails & Animal Smugglers: Interview with Conflict Photographer

My buddy Alex Smailes. A very cool cat, amazing photographer and, well, read for yourself...

"We faxed it to friends at Cambridge just to check what it was. They called right away and said, “Where did you find this? Don’t go anywhere near it! Your balls would drop off!” We told the editor of the newspaper we were working for a regional newspaper. He basically came back and said, “Leave that alone.” The actual owner of the newspaper was a member of the royal family! So we put it in an envelope and dropped it off to the American Embassy. That was the last we thought of it until I started getting phone calls in the middle of the night saying Mr. Smailes can you come and meet me at the Sheraton Hotel I hear you are causing a big problem."

read more | digg story

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Terror by symbols

"What a telling snapshot of the war between the West and those who would ‘destroy our way of life’. Yesterday Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, released a crackly audio recording in which he denounced the Queen of England and Tony Blair for honouring Salman Rushdie with a knighthood. So, here we have a terrorist who’s stuck in a dugout criticising a Queen who has long since ceased to have any real power for awarding a writer who made a perceived insult against Islam 18 years ago with an order of chivalry for his contributions to an Empire that does not exist.

This is not so much a clash of civilisations as a load of symbolics. It’s a war of gestures between a mythical British Empire and a YouTube terrorist with a chip on his shoulder."


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

modern living

the other side - make money

"Guns do not produce value. Guns cannot force people to produce wealth. Unaware of this fact, the government holds the threat of force against the greatest form of human interaction, the corporation. Few would heed to the government's rules or regulations if it were not for the final card that can be played—holding a gun to the individual's head and demanding compliance. Not many people desire to think of extreme cases, or the true source of power. It takes but a few “whys” to reach the answer.

Why do I pay my taxes? If I don't, I will be audited. Why do I comply with an audit? If I don't, the tax collectors will attempt to seize my estate. Why do I relinquish the estate? If I don't a police officer will put handcuffs on me and escort me to prison. Why do I allow another man to shackle my hands with steel? If I don't, a government agent will draw his gun and aim it at my chest. The power of the government is derived from the sanctioned use of force—the muzzle of a gun."


Sunday, July 08, 2007


“She’s playing hard to get,” Murray said. “He’s trying too hard,” Jankovic said. “But we’re having a lot of fun. It’s a great game we’re playing.” Yesterday, in the evening sunlight, they were 4-1 up in the third set. Some devastating service returns from Jankovic gave them break points, but Murray kept returning into the net. “I was telling him, ‘Jamie, let’s go. This return, hit a good one because you are going to get many kisses’,” Jankovic said. Finally he did, and she served out the match."


Saturday, July 07, 2007

FTC Abandons Net Neutrality

Bad News

"The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided to abandon net neutrality and allow telecoms companies to charge websites for access.The FTC said in a report that, despite popular support for net neutrality, it was minded to let the market sort out the issue.This means that the organisation will not stand in the way of companies using differential pricing to make sure that some websites can be viewed more quickly than others. The report also counsels against net neutrality legislation".

read more | digg story

Thursday, June 28, 2007



How many people ever lived...

Number of people who have ever been born: 106,456,367,669
World population in mid-2002: 6,215,000,000
Percent of those ever born who are living in 2002: 5.8

so much for the argument that 75 percent of the people who had ever been born are alive at the moment...


Wednesday, June 27, 2007


"Tomorrow is the so-called “Day of Silence.” Thousands of US webradio broadcasters will get together to turn their radio streams off for a day to protest the newly-introduced higher rates that SoundExchange intends to charge them."

from the comments

26 June, 22:32

Last.fm board meeting:

“Chairman: So, this new law is going to dramatically increase the price of running a radio station on the internet. Many small stations will suffocate and die with the increased costs of operation.

Board members, in unison: WICKED!

Chairman: Yeah, totally. We’re getting sweet deals with the labels, so this will barely touch us. We just have to share some marketing numbers with them and help with promtions. Maybe a little payola, just like the radio stations.

Board member: But what about this day of protest they’re talking about?

Chairman: Whatev. We’ll throw up a blog post about how we’re already paying the rates, and we’re putting up a massive struggle but we’re surviving. Make the whole thing look like a bunch of rubbish.

Board members: Hear hear!

Chairman: [cackles maniacally]”

More and more

Monday, June 25, 2007

Where is middle-earth...

"Created by Tolkien somewhere in the 1930s, the map shows the ‘mortal lands’ of Middle-earth, which according to Tolkien himself is part of our own Earth, but in a previous, mythical era. At the time of the events described in ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’, Middle-earth is moving towards the end of its Third Age, about 6.000 years ago.

Tolkien didn’t create Middle-earth ex nihilo: ancient Germanic myths divide the Universe in nine worlds, inhabited by elves, dwarves, giants, etc. The world of men is the one in the middle, called Midgard, Middenheim or Middle-earth. That term doesn’t thus describe the entirety of the world Tolkien thought up. The correct term for the total world is Arda – probably derived from German Erde (’Earth’) and only first mentioned posthumously in the Silmarillion (1977); and Eä (for the whole Universe)."


Sunday, June 24, 2007


Saw this over on Caribbean Free Radio - seems a Telegraph journalist got caught red handed plagerising (typos and all)...her excuse wasnt the smartest either...AND the telegraph editors seem uninterested by the whole thing...

Friday, June 22, 2007


Cape Town, South Africa, June 19 2007: Grant Baker from South Africa surfs a wave at an offshore reef known as the 'Dungeon' off Cape Town. Local and international big wave surfers were practicing for the annual Big Wave Africa competition.
Photograph: Nic Bothma/EPA

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hamilton wins!

"The son of a former British Rail worker, Hamilton is mixed-race - his father's family originates from the Caribbean island of Grenada - and he is the first driver of Afro-Caribbean origin to race in F1."

read more

Simon Barnes today...

"I have seen this serenity, this extraordinary sense of composure, very, very rarely. Perhaps in Tiger Woods, certainly in Roger Federer, when he is not playing Rafael Nadal on clay. I saw it in Brian Lara, in that extraordinary period of his life when he scored at least a single century every time he went out to bat. I have seen it in patches with Zinédine Zidane and Johan Cruyff."

A night with althusser

"But everyone in the audience knows how Althusser’s evening at home with his wife in November 1980 will end. How could they not? And even if you know the story, it is still horrifying to read Althusser’s own account of it. In a memoir that appeared posthumously, he recalls coming out of a groggy state the next morning, and finding himself massaging Hélène’s neck, just as he had countless times in the course of their long marriage.

“Suddenly, I was terror-struck,” he wrote. “Her eyes stared interminably, and I noticed the tip of her tongue was showing between her teeth and lips, strange and still.” He ran to the École, screaming, “I’ve strangled Hélène!”


Monday, June 04, 2007


Im always thinking that the reason the world is such a mess is not because of capitalism per se but rather that we spent so much out of every dollar on war when it should be invested in education, development, social justice and health.

The "National Priorities Project analyzes and clarifies federal data so that people can understand and influence how their tax dollars are spent" - they've got a website and you can put in any state. 40 cents in every dollar goes to the military

Friday, June 01, 2007


"Some 450 million years ago, sharks and humans shared a common ancestor, making sharks our distant cousins.

And according to recent research, this kinship is evident in our DNA, as at least one shark species possesses several genes that are nearly identical to those in humans."


top ten liverpool goals 06/07

From BC Pires today via sheldon

“My pardner Gregors pointed out the West Indies strategy for dealing with Monty Panesar: Make sure the whole side is out before the ball is old enough to take spin. These aren't Tests; they are Trials & Tribulations. West Indies suffered their worst defeat ever - until the third Test starts next Thursday, that is. West Indies players clearly have no sense of history, even as they make it.”

Thursday, May 31, 2007

last fan is the best


"one of the main reasons it’s so hard to quit smoking is because all the benefits of quitting and all the dangers of continuing seem very far away. Well, here’s a little timeline about some of the more immediate effects of quitting smoking and how that will affect your body RIGHT NOW.

* In 20 minutes your blood pressure will drop back down to normal.
* In 8 hours the carbon monoxide (a toxic gas) levels in your blood stream will drop by half, and oxygen levels will return to normal.
* In 48 hours your chance of having a heart attack will have decreased. All nicotine will have left your body. Your sense of taste and smell will return to a normal level.
* In 72 hours your bronchial tubes will relax, and your energy levels will increase.
* In 2 weeks your circulation will increase, and it will continue to improve for the next 10 weeks.
* In three to nine months coughs, wheezing and breathing problems will dissipate as your lung capacity improves by 10%.
* In 1 year your risk of having a heart attack will have dropped by half.
* In 5 years your risk of having a stroke returns to that of a non-smoker.
* In 10 years your risk of lung cancer will have returned to that of a non-smoker.
* In 15 years your risk of heart attack will have returned to that of a non-smoker.

So, you have more immediate things to look forward to if you quit now besides just freaking out about not being able to smoke."

Monday, May 28, 2007

"a bloated bureaucratic federal Octopus protruding its lawless tentacles into local government and policing"

"Records obtained from the immigration courts under the Freedom of Information Act show that only 0.0015 percent of the total number of cases filed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were terrorism related, despite the fact that the Bush administration has repeatedly asserted that it is the primary focus of the DHS.

A report issued Sunday by independent research group The Transactional Records Action Clearinghouse (TRAC) found that in the last three years there have only been 12 charges of terrorism out of 814,073 cases.

This once again highlights that the terrorist threat to America is vastly over hyped and is being used by a criminally controlled government as an excuse to police the world and foment a domestic police state to crush any dissent amongst the American people."


Friday, May 25, 2007

magnetise the baby

car wars

"Walk to School Week in Brighton & Hove England took things over the edge as the road outside their Rudyard Kipling Primary School was closed to traffic and covered with plants, flowers and artificial grass so kids could walk on the roadway as though it were a path. The project itself just may be the first of its kind on the planet to be quite honest. I mean really, who ever heard of covering the road with fake grass just to prove a point about walking to school and sustainability? And from the looks of things it really had an impact on kids, the most important part of any project to get their attention about sustainability no matter how wacky it seems at first glance. How wacky was it? Well, not only was the road covered with fake grass and plants, but the kids were met with strange characters to greet them like singing cowboys and a fish on a bicycle too. So how did teachers and students feel about the whole crazy idea? Well, as Headteacher Barbara Shackell pointed out: “It was absolutely fantastic! There was a carnival atmosphere. The children were incredibly excited. They rounded the corner to come face to face with lots of weird characters and the road all turfed over and covered with magnificent plants. They loved it.”

read more | digg story

Thursday, May 24, 2007

30 Most Memorable 'Star Wars' Quotes

“When I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master.”

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the premiere of the original 'Star Wars' – 30 of the film's most memorable quotations

read more | digg story

Sunday, May 20, 2007


"I know what you're thinking, I know what you're going to say. And so what? Yes, Michael Moore has an agenda. No, he isn't among the giants of documentary film-making. No, he isn't an ordinary journalist. He is, as he says, the op-ed variety, the kind who is constantly angry. He has issues with the way of the world and wants to set records straight. His goal is simply to put universal healthcare back at the centre of the American debate. And while Moore's main objective is to reach his fellow Americans, his film should also make Europeans ponder on the system they too often take for granted. George Orwell would hate it. But forget about him for a minute. There may sometimes be such a thing as good propaganda."


a rotating skyscraper

"In skyscraper-crazy Dubai, tall isn't enough. In a design to be unveiled today in the oil-rich emirate, David Fisher, an Italian-Israeli architect, has dreamed up a 68-story combination hotel, apartment and office tower where the floors would rotate 360 degrees. Each floor would rotate independently, creating a constantly changing architectural form.

Each story of the tower would be shaped like a doughnut and be attached to a center core housing elevators, emergency stairs and other utilities. Wind turbines placed in gaps between the doughnuts would generate electricity.

The doughnuts won't rotate fast enough to give guests upset stomachs. A single rotation would take around 90 minutes. "It's quite slow," says Mr. Fisher."

Turtles in T&T

"This is set to be a record year for nesting leatherback turtles on the coast of northern and eastern Trinidad with as many as 7,000 females expected to come ashore.

On just one beach, Grande Riviere, conservationists counted 388 nesting on one night earlier this month and now expect this to surpass the previously unthinkable total of 500 laying females.

"This is an amazing year. The biggest nesting season on record. The turtles are big and robust and we are thrilled to see so many on the beaches," said Scott Eckert, a conservation biologist."


Friday, May 18, 2007

Mary Douglas

"Students who came to several of the regular material culture seminars last year at the Department of Anthropology UCL were probably somewhat amazed that there, in the audience, was a slight woman, evidently in her eighties, who listened and questioned, and was still clearly an active participant, despite having become one of the world’s most renowned anthropologists long before they were born. After one of these seminars she came out with the rest of us to have a drink with the speaker. During which she beckoned me over. The conversation started in typical Mary Douglas style:-. `Aren’t you the person who is responsible for all this nonsense about materiality?’ We then had an entirely amicable conversation based on finding an academic whose influence we could both agree to heartily dislike, in this case, the psychoanalyst John Bowlby."



"In what is believed to be the largest collection of coins ever excavated from a historical shipwreck, Odyssey Marine Exploration recently recovered over 500,000 silver coins weighing more than 17 tons, hundreds of gold coins, worked gold, and other artifacts from the wreck of a Colonial period shipwreck code-named "Black Swan", located in an undisclosed location in the Atlantic Ocean."


same old, same old

"Labour's decade in power has failed to reverse the surge in inequality under Margaret Thatcher and Gordon Brown's policies to support the less well-off are failing to prevent the gap between rich and poor widening again, official figures showed yesterday.

The snapshot of the impact of taxes and benefits on households showed that the trend for those on the highest incomes to receive the biggest pay rises was outweighing the impact of tax credits, the minimum wage and extra spending on schools, hospitals and welfare benefits."


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sensual phones

"Students from the College of Art, Science and Engineering's product design course at the University of Dundee have created six phones to support "intimacy and sensuality".

They include the Aware, which sends a tingle down your back if a friend is nearby and the Boom Tube, which allows people to make music together."


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Opps, is this true?

Supposedly THC kills aging cells and keeps them from becoming cancerous...

"The largest study of its kind has unexpectedly concluded that smoking marijuana, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer.

The new findings "were against our expectations," said Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles, a pulmonologist who has studied marijuana for 30 years.

"We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use," he said. "What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect."

from Washington Post

From urbandictionary.com


A person who wears a bluetooth wireless earpiece everywhere they go to seem trendy and important. Places to spot bluetools include movie theaters, malls, restaurants, gyms, grocery stores and cars.

Bluetool: Heyyy, how are you?

Megan: I'm great, and yourself?

Bluetool: Oh, sorry Megan. I wasn't talking to you, I'm on a call. Bluetooth.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

That would be an F

His professor sent him an e-mail the following day:

Dear Michael,

Every year I attempt to boost my students' final grades by giving them this relatively simple exam consisting of 100 True/False questions from only 3 chapters of material. For the past 20 years that I have taught Intro Communications 101 at this institution I have never once seen someone score below a 65 on this exam. Consequently, your score of a zero is the first in history and ultimately brought the entire class average down a whole 8 points.

There were two possible answer choices: A (True) and B (False). You chose C for all 100 questions in an obvious attempt to get lucky with a least a quarter of the answers. It's as if you didn't look at a single question. Unfortunately, this brings your final grade in this class to failing. See you next year!

May God have mercy on your soul.

Professor William Turner

P.S. If all else fails, go with B from now on. B is the new C

cool photo

by workerant

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Liverpool 2 Chelsea 0 January 20

"Liverpool knew our defence was going to be fragile so they used two big guys up front and we couldn't cope with it," said Mourinho. "Rafa is not stupid and I'm not a magician."


great goal by mr. grumpy

Always get high on your own supply

Friday, May 04, 2007

Desmond Tutu

This fatal complacency

Climate change is already destroying millions of lives in the poor world. But it will not stop there

Desmond Tutu
Saturday May 5, 2007
The Guardian

What if dealing with climate change meant more than a flick of a switch? Would our friends in the industrialised world think differently if the effects of climate change were worse than extended summer months and the arrival of exotic species? Cushioned and cosseted, they have had the luxury of closing their minds to the real impact of what is happening in the fragile and precious atmosphere that surrounds the planet we live on. Where climate change has occurred in the industrialised world, the effects have so far been relatively benign. With the exception of events such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the inhabitants of North America and Europe have felt just a gentle caress from the winds of change.

I wonder how much more anxious they might be if they depended on the cycle of mother nature to feed their families. How much greater would their concerns be if they lived in slums and townships, in mud houses, or shelters made of plastic bags? In large parts of sub-Saharan Africa, this is a reality. The poor, the vulnerable and the hungry are exposed to the harsh edge of climate change every day of their lives.

The melting of the snows on the peak of Kilimanjaro is a warning of the changes taking place in Africa. Across this beautiful but vulnerable continent, people are already feeling the change in the weather. But rain or drought, the result is the same: more hunger and more misery for millions of people living on the margins of global society. Even in places such as Darfur, climate change has played a role. In the semi-arid zones of the world, there is fierce competition for access to grazing lands and watering holes. Where water is scarce and populations are growing, conflict will never be far behind.

In so many of the countries where the poorest live, governments are ill-equipped to cope. Katrina was a challenge for the US, so why should we be surprised that the annual cyclone season off the east coast of Africa continues to stretch the governments of Mozambique and Madagascar to their limits? Where governments are weak, the reliance on humanitarian agencies is greater.

People who work for bodies such as the UN World Food Programme are finding their work is a humanitarian "growth industry". Indeed, the numbers of people who know what it's like to go hungry stands at more than 850 million, and they are still growing by almost 4 million a year. The increasing frequency of natural disasters makes the fight against hunger even more challenging. The World Bank estimates that the number of natural disasters has quadrupled from 100 a year in 1975 to 400 in 2005.

In the past 10 years, 2.6 billion people have suffered from natural disasters. That is more than a third of the global population - most of them in the developing world. The human impact is obvious, but what is not so apparent is the extent to which climatic events can undo the developmental gains put in place over decades. Droughts and floods destroy lives, but they also destroy schools, economies and opportunity.

Every child will remember the story of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf. In the world we live in, the bad wolf of climate change has already ransacked the straw house and the house made of sticks, and the inhabitants of both are knocking on the door of the brick house where the people of the developed world live. Our friends there should think about this the next time they reach for the thermostat switch. They should realize that while the problems of the Mozambican farmer might seem far away, it may not be long before their troubles wash up on their shores.

· Desmond Tutu is a former archbishop of Cape Town and a Nobel peace laureate

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Ever met one? I can think of one in particular

Word of the Day for Wednesday, May 2, 2007

termagant \TUR-muh-guhnt\, noun:

1. A scolding, nagging, bad-tempered woman; a shrew.
2. Overbearing; shrewish; scolding.

Termagant comes from Middle English Termagaunt, alteration of Tervagant, from Old French. Termagant was an imaginary Muslim deity represented in medieval morality plays as extremely violent and turbulent. By the sixteenth century, termagant was used for a boisterous, brawling, turbulent person of either sex, but eventually it came to refer only to women.

Its all about Liverpool in Athens on May 23rd

pics from here

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Take nothing but time

my pal nikolai has some awesome photos on his photo blog

Sign at Paria Bay, north coast, Trinidad

Paria Bay, north coast, Trinidad

Monday, April 30, 2007

Drugs dont work...

Maybe they should legalise it and let the consumers decide what strength they want...

"In recent years, the average THC content of marijuana sold in Britain has doubled to 12 percent from around 6 percent, while in the Netherlands it is about 18 percent, Murray said.

Most users of cannabis still do not have a problem with the drug but a minority, possibly because of genetic factors, are vulnerable to long-term damage from modern skunk -- which Murray says is to old-fashioned dope what whisky is to lager.

The rise in THC content is linked with a decline in another active ingredient called cannabidiol (CBD), since the two products compete biochemically inside the cannabis plant.

CBD, which reduces anxiety but does not produce the euphoric high of THC, may help offset some of the paranoid feelings.

Markus Leweke of Cologne University said a clinical trial involving 42 patients showed CBD was as effective as the established medicine amisulpride, sold as Solian by Sanofi-Aventis, in treating patients with psychosis.

"It seems there are good guys and bad guys within cannabis," Leweke said."


Sunday, April 29, 2007


Sunderland and their three trinis gonna be playin in the premeirship next season

good article on manager Roy Keane here

Friday, April 27, 2007


"At the very end, a man who throughout his career had done so much to mask the deficiencies of his team had been undone by the foible of a team-mate. It was sad, but it was apt."

The Observer's Will Buckley on Brian Lara's final innings in Barbados

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Naomi Klein and the 10 steps to facism

"Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have."


Friday, April 20, 2007

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech

Poet and professor Nikki Giovanni was at today’s memorial service

“We are Virginia Tech. We are sad today and we will be sad for quite awhile. WE are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning. We are Virginia Tech. We are strong enough to know when to cry and sad enough to know we must laugh again. We are Virginia Tech. We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did not deserve it but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, but neither do the invisible children walking the night to avoid being captured by a rogue army. Neither does the baby elephant watching his community be devastated for ivory; neither does the Appalachian infant in the killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy. We are Virginia Tech. The Hokier Nation embraces our own with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong and brave and innocent and unafraid. We are better than we think, not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imagination and the possibility we will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears, through all this sadness. We are the Hokies. We will prevail, we will prevail. We are Virginia Tech. "

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sea Turtles rock!

"Scientists today fired the starting gun on a Great Turtle Race between 11 leatherback turtles making their way from Costa Rica's Pacific Coast to the Galapagos Islands.

The female turtles, which have just laid eggs on Costa Rica's Playa Grande beach, have been fitted with satellite tracking devices and their progress will be charted on a website, where visitors can select a favourite to support.

The two-week race is designed to raise awareness of the plight of the leatherback, which has seen its numbers dwindle due to egg poaching, the destruction of nesting beaches, fishing hazards and ocean pollution."


Sunday, April 15, 2007

"Let Us Live and Let Them Die"

A WHO staff member's parting salvo to the international health agency and its neoliberal approach to health:

Social scientist, Alison Katz has left the World Health Organisation
(WHO) after 17 years of devoted service, condemning its "Let us live and let them die" attitude, which sums up the neglect of millions of people over the past three decades, suffering and dying from diseases of poverty, including notably HIV/AIDS [1]. She is the second AIDS researcher to leave within the past 12 months.

"For over twenty years now, the international AIDS community has
persisted in a reductionist obsession with individual behaviour and an implicit acceptance of a deeply flawed and essentially racist theory." Katz writes. She believes that the narrow and totalitarian approach to AIDS by the WHO not only has had negligible effect, but also has betrayed public health principles and perversely forbidden exploration of any alternative perspectives. Like many others, Katz questions the exclusion of a plethora of co-factors known to increase biological susceptibility to infection by all disease agents, including HIV, among which are under-nutrition, poverty, powerlessness, and the basic necessities for a healthy and dignified life.

She believes that the WHO has fallen victim to neoliberal globalisation, and by default, to the economic interests of powerful nations and the transnational corporations. In an open letter dated January 2007 addressed to Dr. Margaret Chan, the incoming Director-General of WHO, Katz set out seven key points to steer her focus back to serving the public, including the critical importance of addressing the commercialisation of science, and the close relationship between industry and academia as highlighted in ISIS' Discussion Paper Towards a Convention on Knowledge.

The neoliberal approach to health

There is a strong tendency in the neoliberal approach to health - and particularly in relation to HIV/AIDS, to blame victims, Katz says, for their faulty or irresponsible behaviour. Demeaning stereotypes, coupled with flawed analysis, and ineffectual policies do not appear to have contributed to any significant decrease in infection rates in the worst affected regions such as the continent of Africa. Furthermore, the world's first global sex survey published in The Lancet in 2006 found that multiple sex partners were more common in industrialized countries where disease incidence is relatively low. According to Katz, the dominant neoliberal perspective reinforces the structures of hegemony that create poverty and powerlessness which are themselves the root causes of avoidable disease and death. (Poverty eradication must be central to change and the narrow focus to the problem is being challenged by women in Africa.

Eileen Stillwaggon, an associate Professor of Economics at Gettysburg College USA, says that the ecology of poverty must be understood, as populations that lack access to medical care and are already coping with parasitic and multiple other infections, are more vulnerable to other diseases, regardless of how they are transmitted. In this respect, HIV/AIDS is no exception. The public health principle, neatly summarized by Pasteur as "the bacteria is nothing; the terrain is all", applies to all the diseases of poverty. The focus on individual sexual behaviour is itself highly stigmatising - in addition to being unscientific. On an optimistic note, Stillwaggon observes that solutions to the problems caused by almost all the co-factors exist, and institutions, like the WHO are well placed to advocate for them among vulnerable populations. ISIS has proposed many affordable and patent-free alternative treatments
to the disease and its' co-factors in Unraveling AIDS.

In order to neutralise the entrenched neoliberal bias within
international agencies Katz believes that the WHO must return to its
founding principles and advocate for attention to root causes - the
social and economic determinants of health and disease. In today's
world, this implies denouncing unfair rules of trade and commerce, the exploitation of national resources, and ruthless liberalization foisted on developing countries, all of which have been shown to have devastating effects on the health of populations. Furthermore, the WHO must take the lead in providing scientific research with independent scientists free of vested interests. To achieve its mandate of "Health For All", the WHO must support serious science based on sound evidence. Millions of people's lives are at stake.

Political prejudice within the WHO

Katz worked for 12 years in the division of WHO dealing with family,
community, sexual and reproductive health, and 8 years in the HIV/AIDS department. In 1999 she responded to an Internet discussion posting from the perspective of biological vulnerability to HIV infection and racist assumptions underlying current policies and strategies. Her supervisor, on instructions from the executive director, immediately censored her by sending an email instructing that she must not debate this issue. At the same time she received a request from the editor of the African Journal of Aids Research to write up her ideas in an article. Shortly after that, she was isolated from all technical work within her department for 18 months.

Following her isolation, Katz's contract was not renewed, so she
submitted an internal legal appeal against the WHO for reinstatement and for a proper contract after serving 11 years on 37 temporary contracts. She won the appeal on condition that she leave the HIV/AIDS department. As a working mum supporting three children, she had no choice but to accept the Director General's offer.

Efforts on Katz's part to discuss alternative approaches with the WHO HIV/AIDS programme director and the UNAIDS executive director have consistently been declined, even after the publication of the Lancet series, mentioned above, which supports the perspective she is advocating.

Independence of international civil servants to fulfil WHO's mandate

Katz's concerns expanded to the question of independence of international civil servants, which is seriously undermined by neoliberal influence exerted through powerful member states, private
sources and extra-budgetary funding. Pressures at this level have
resulted in a repressive, authoritarian and hierarchical management
style, which discourages free debate. Katz joined the staff association to fight for proper contracts for all long term "temporary staff" - some 55 percent of the workforce. The success of this action was limited. A very small proportion of "false temps" were regularized into proper contracts and then through a major, costly "restructuring" exercise, many of these long serving staff then lost their jobs, often to inappropriately qualified appointees with better connections.

These struggles took place against what she describes as a background of nepotism, cronyism, corruption, harassment, financial mismanagement and chaotic, highly discretionary, human resources management. Furthermore there is an under representation of Africans, Asians, Latin Americans, or Eastern Europeans within staff departments. The predominant influence of the UK, USA and Canada, as well as Australia, and New Zealand; whose representatives are invariably white, male, Anglo-Saxon Protestants linked by powerful networks prevails.

WHO's first strike and out

Together with a small group in the staff association, Katz organized a one hour work stoppage, the first industrial action in WHO's history, in which 700 staff participated. Her post was abolished three weeks after the work stoppage and three weeks before the normal renewal of her 2-year contract. Swiss unions and staff association lawyers qualify this as interference in the right of association; the WHO administration qualifies it as a "coincidence".

Katz believes that the WHO must respect international labour standards, including negotiation status for the staff association, in line with ILO (International Labour Organisation) covenants; to provide workers with formal power, adequate funding, and strong links to a bona fide UN umbrella union. WHO staff should be held accountable to WHO's 1978 constitutional mandate, to the Alma Ata principles underlying Health for All, and to the UN Charter and should fully understand the duties and responsibilities of public service.

WHO's challenge to achieve Health for All

Katz calls for a return to a basic needs and rights-based approach to health in order to provide a sustainable and meaningful response to AIDS that is simultaneously a response to all the diseases of poverty. An alternative political strategy for AIDS and its co-factors would embrace macroeconomic reforms for a fair, rational and sustainable international economic order so that democratically elected governments may reasonably meet people's basic needs, including health, without external interference.

In her open letter, Katz urges WHO's newly elected Director General,
Dr Chan, to address the following major issues in order to fulfil her vision. A focus on inequality rather than poverty; holding meetings and consulting with the poor rather then the rich; a solid, equitable tax base, nationally and internationally, rather than public-private partnerships; knowledge for the public good rather than corporate "science"; respect for ethical values and an appropriate balance between loyalty to WHO's constitutional mandate and loyalty to current governments of powerful member states and current office holders.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cricket in 3D

This is crazy. If you cant see it on TV you can watch the cricket world cup in computer animation. Check it

The coverage is delayed by between 3 and 12 balls

Friday, April 13, 2007


"You have a person you can identify as someone who is creating racial harm and that's a legitimate reaction," Hutchinson said. "But I do believe that over time if that's the only thing that gets this intense reaction, then we're reinforcing this notion that that's all that racism is."

"We never get at ... broader inequality like poverty. Why is poverty racialized? Why are people of color in schools that are underfunded? We never tackle those bigger issues."


Sheldon in T&T Express


It is quite appropriate that the Government has decided to pave the nation’s roads to the tune of $600 million in this election year, given that the roads of T&T perhaps best represent the manner in which we govern ourselves. If we initially ignore the coincidence that this age old ‘mamaguy’ election practice follows the announcement of public consultations regarding the scourge of crime in this 2007 electoral year, the resurfacing of the roads is great news. The roads of T&T need urgent attention. The transport of the nation needs urgent attention. But, will the approach of this resurfacing differ to any of the previous paving regimes that were blatant vote garnering ploys?

How do the roads represent the governance and the society? Firstly, consider the resources available, a never ending pitch lake much like the natural and human resources T&T is blessed with, the envy of many a nation but yet it cannot be managed properly to produce a desirable end product--- in this case a semi-perfect road. Secondly, consider that while the normal (and logical) practice is to remove the old layer of asphalt first, we take the approach that we just heap the new pitch upon the old. Not only is this a great metaphor of adding layers on top of the old problems but the side effects results in much more than a road with a humped profile that leaves the actual road higher than the pavement. Consider the flooding woes caused by this practice of which no self respecting engineer would be proud, or how this affects the drivers/cyclists that use those outer sloping lanes. This tradition further creates problems where previously none existed and the attempt to rectify it reeks of the attitude that brings no positive outcome for the vital aspects of society. An example of this? A simple ‘man-hole’ cover is turned into a perfect pothole by layers of asphalt and the answer is to paint a white circle around it in the hope that the driving public will avoid it. The symbolism of this procedure can be used across many segments of our society where the bare minimum is done to address self-created problems and the hope is that it can somehow be evaded.

Even the labour process of resurfacing offers representation of archaic practices that require a novel approach. In a nation 10 degrees from the equator and with a massive traffic problem, resurfacing is carried out during the working hours of the day? Minimise the disruption caused to already frustrated commuters by carrying out the work at night and also gain greater productivity from workers plying their trade of working with hot materials in cooler conditions. This some would say, is 2020 thinking. I will not go into the question of less work being carried out at night by workers, which is down to the deadlines set by the Ministry when planning such projects. (We do set deadlines, no?)

Finally, though the similes can go on and on, the resurfacing over age old roads signify the need to use public funds to gloss over the inadequacy that lies underneath. New roads are a much needed requirement, but it has to be done properly. Engineers point to the heat of T&T and the type of pitch that we use as a disadvantage to building perfect roads, but if sprawling, flawless highways can be built amongst deserts of the Middle East why can the art not be perfected for our roads?

Given his eagerness to respond to letters in the press (a practice to be partially commended as it at least displays his willingness to read the public’s view), Mr. Imbert will not be thrilled with the comments above nor the government with the metaphorical exercise, but it would be refreshing to know that an innovative approach was taken with this $600 million. Is that old bane of many, the old road going to be removed prior to resurfacing? It is so simple in helping perfect the roads that it baffles one as to why it is not done. Have other institutions such as WASA been consulted in this latest wave of road works to ensure that they do not dig up the new roads shortly after they are built, when in fact they can use the opportunity to carry out their own works with the minimum of disruption to the public? A sort of killing-two-birds-with-one-stone tactic (apologies to the bird lovers). Has there been any consideration to conducting the work at off-peak times? Where roads are being resurfaced in flood prone areas, is the road works going to include attention to the surrounding environs that cause the flooding?

Just a few questions to consider ensuring that this valid and much needed resurfacing represents forward thinking in keeping with the Vision 2020 concept and that it is not an archaic election gimmick that is being thrust upon voters as an insult to their intelligence. After all, we would not want the roads of our nation to continue to exist as a metaphor for the country through a $600 million trick, would we?

Sheldon Waithe

Thursday, April 12, 2007

John Pilger

We cannot look from the sides as we are led towards crisis over Iran

Bush and Blair have spent four years preparing an onslaught that is about oil, rather than non-existent nuclear weapons

John Pilger
Friday April 13, 2007
The Guardian

The Israeli journalist Amira Hass describes the moment her mother, Hannah, was marched from a cattle train to the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen. "They were sick and some were dying," she said. "Then my mother saw these German women looking at the prisoners. This image became very formative in my upbringing, this despicable 'looking from the side'."

It is time we in Britain stopped looking from the side. We are being led towards perhaps the most serious crisis in modern history as the Bush/Cheney/Blair "long war" edges closer to Iran for no reason other than that nation's independence from rapacious America. The safe delivery of the 15 British sailors into the hands of Rupert Murdoch and his rivals (until their masters got the wind up) is both farce and distraction. The Bush administration, in secret connivance with Blair, has spent four years preparing for "Operation Iranian Freedom". Forty-five cruise missiles are primed to strike. According to General Leonid Ivashov, Russia's leading strategic thinker: "Nuclear facilities will be secondary targets, and there are 20 such facilities. Combat nuclear weapons may be used, and this will result in the radioactive contamination of all the Iranian territory, and beyond."

And yet there is a surreal silence in Britain, except for the noise of "news" in which powerful broadcasters gesture cryptically at the obvious, but dare not make sense of it lest the one-way moral screen erected between us and the consequences of an imperial foreign policy collapses, and the truth is revealed.

"The days of Britain having to apologise for the British empire are over," declared Gordon Brown to the Daily Mail. "We should celebrate!" In Late Victorian Holocausts, the historian Mike Davis documents that as many as 21 million Indians died unnecessarily in famines criminally imposed by British policies. And since the formal demise of that glorious imperium, declassified official files make clear that British governments have borne "significant responsibility" for the direct or indirect deaths of between 8.6 million and 13.5 million people throughout the world - from imperial military interventions and at the hands of regimes strongly supported by Britain. The historian Mark Curtis calls these victims "unpeople". "Rejoice!" said Thatcher. "Celebrate!" says the paymaster of Blair's bloodbath. Spot the difference.

We need to look behind the one-way moral screen, urgently. Last October, the Lancet published research led by Johns Hopkins University in the US that calculated the deaths of 655,000 Iraqis as a direct result of the Anglo-American invasion. Downing Street acolytes derided the study as "flawed". They were lying. They knew that the chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence, Sir Roy Anderson, had backed the survey, describing its methods as "robust" and "close to best practice", and that other government officials had secretly approved the "tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones". The figure of Iraqi deaths is now estimated at close to a million.

"This Labour government, which includes Gordon Brown as much as it does Tony Blair," wrote Richard Horton, the editor of the Lancet, "is party to a war crime of monstrous proportions. Yet our political consensus prevents any judicial or civil society response. Britain is paralysed by its own indifference." Such is the scale of the crime and of our "looking from the side".

As hysteria is again fabricated, for Iraq, read Iran. According to the former US treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, the Bush cabal decided to attack Iraq on "day one" of Bush's administration, long before 9/11 - and it beggars belief that Blair did not know that. The main reason was oil. O'Neill was shown a Pentagon document entitled Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts, which outlined the carve-up of Iraq's oilfields among the major Anglo-American companies. Under a law written by American and British officials, the Iraqi puppet regime is about to hand over the extraction of the largest concentration of oil on earth to Anglo-American companies.

Nothing like this piracy has happened before in the modern Middle East. Across the Shatt al-Arab waterway the other prize: Iran's vast oilfields. Just as non-existent weapons of mass destruction or facile concerns for democracy had nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq, so non-existent nuclear weapons have nothing to do with an American onslaught on Iran. Unlike Israel and the United States, Iran has abided by the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has never cited Iran for diverting its civilian programme to military use. For the past three years IAEA inspectors have said that they have been allowed to "go anywhere". The recent security council sanctions against Iran are the result of Washington's bribery.

Until recently the British were unaware that their government was one of the world's most consistent abusers of human rights and backers of state terrorism. Few knew that British intelligence set out systematically to destroy secular Arab nationalism and in the 1980s recruited and trained young Muslims as part of a $4bn Anglo-American-backed jihad against the Soviet Union. The fuse of the bombs that killed 52 Londoners was lit by "us".

In my experience, most people do not contort their morality and intellect to comply with the double standards of rampant power and the media's notion of approved evil - of worthy and unworthy victims. They would, if they knew, grieve for all the lives, families, careers, hopes and dreams destroyed by Blair and Bush. The sure evidence is the British public's wholehearted response to the 2004 tsunami, shaming that of the government. Certainly, they would agree with Robert Jackson, the chief counsel of the United States at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders. "Crimes are crimes," he said, "whether we do them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."

Like Henry Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld, who dare not travel to certain countries for fear of being prosecuted as war criminals, Blair as a private citizen may no longer be untouchable. On March 20 Baltasar Garzon, the tenacious Spanish judge who pursued General Pinochet, called for indictments against those responsible for "one of the most sordid and unjustifiable episodes in recent human history" - Iraq. Five days later, the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court, to which Britain is a signatory, said that Blair could one day face war-crimes charges.

These are critical changes in the way the sane world thinks - again, thanks to the reich of Blair/Bush. However, we also live in the most dangerous of times. On April 6 Blair accused "elements of the Iranian regime" of "financing, arming and supporting terrorism in Iraq". He offered no evidence, and the MoD has none. This is the same Goebbels-like refrain with which he and his coterie, Brown included, brought an epic bloodletting to Iraq. How long will the rest of us continue looking from the side?"

· This is an edited version of an article in the current New Statesman; John Pilger's new film, The War on Democracy, will be previewed at the National Film Theatre in London on May 11 www.johnpilger.com

Fuzzy Marx

This is a discussion on Long Sunday about the same odd (it was from a MOD report) political economy post of a few days ago.

I liked this:

"There is Marx. Then there is fuzzy Marx. Fuzzy Marx is not a completely illegitimate way to think. It is distant from the full range of Marxists arguments. But it still employs important insights from Marx's work. So first let's take Marx. Why, according to him, is the proletariat the revolutionary class? It is not because workers are oppressed a lot. Lots of classes in history have been oppressed and had revolutions but have not produced all round liberation of humanity. Workers are the revolutionary class because the revolution they lead is not on behalf of a specific class interest. In Marx's account, the workers have been ground down almost to the level of the lumpenproletariat, and when they have a revolution it is not in order to promote a new, competing economic and political system but to destroy the class system root and branch, along with the state. The bit quoted above does not describe the middle class as propertyless. The report itself points out that the middle class has class interests. Thus any revolution a transnational middle class might take would not be the kind of action that Marx had in mind. But what if we think in a fuzzy Marx way? If we abstract from the mechanics of revolution that Marx predicted, we can still be interested in his overall claim that capitalism is ultimately headed for economic reefs. The question is, whether or not capitalism will finally produce a profound sociological split between the haves and the have-nots. But that split in itself is not enough. It must also be translated into a political force. This is a problem that Marx confronts: earlier class revolutions had been much more tactical and strategic precisely because the classes who led them had specific class interests they wanted to promote. To the extent that the workers had a class interest in 20th-century Europe it was reformist. To the extent that they didn't have a specific class interest to promote they were politically formless. The traditional Marxist picture of the middle class is of a group that flirts both with revolution and with reaction depending on what they are most afraid of at the moment -- workers who challenged private property or a dictatorial state that interfered in private life and the economy. But what might happen to the political thinking of a middle class confronted by globalization but not particularly worried about a workers movement? We don't know."

More here


The troubled mindset of Tony

"Tony Blair yesterday claimed the spate of knife and gun murders in London was not being caused by poverty, but a distinctive black culture. His remarks angered community leaders, who accused him of ignorance and failing to provide support for black-led efforts to tackle the problem.

One accused him of misunderstanding the advice he had been given on the issue at a Downing Street summit.

Black community leaders reacted after Mr Blair said the recent violence should not be treated as part of a general crime wave, but as specific to black youth. He said people had to drop their political correctness and recognise that the violence would not be stopped "by pretending it is not young black kids doing it".

Guardian article

full text of speech

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Google Earth and the genocide in Darfur

"Google Earth has added a Global Awareness layer to its maps program that lets you learn about the crisis in Darfur. By selecting the Global Awareness layer (in the lower left-hand corner of Google Earth) you can fly over enhanced satellite images of the war-torn region. Sprinkled over the map are icons that link to photographs, data, videos, and narratives of eyewitnesses to the genocide."


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Political economy

"The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx," says the report. The thesis is based on a growing gap between the middle classes and the super-rich on one hand and an urban under-class threatening social order: "The world's middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest". Marxism could also be revived, it says, because of global inequality. An increased trend towards moral relativism and pragmatic values will encourage people to seek the "sanctuary provided by more rigid belief systems, including religious orthodoxy and doctrinaire political ideologies, such as popularism and Marxism".


Thursday, April 05, 2007

AU students try to arrest Karl Rove

"WASHINGTON (AP) - More than a dozen protesters confronted White House adviser Karl Rove as he tried to leave a speaking engagement at American University, blocking his car and throwing things, officials said."

story first picked up by FOX and twisted somewhat. the papers arent telling the whole story.

I'll wait for a more accurate version of events and post that

UPDATE: from my friend megan who has a cool group blog, directing readers to the AU newspaper version


i just got my joost invite. The future of TV, as long as you got super high speed broadband, just got a whole lot more fancy. I thought i was on star trek or something. I can't believe i just lost an hour to this stuff. Its great. The picture is like real TV, you get all the good channels, and its all on your PC when you want it. its a bit like tivo, but for the laptop.

me likes

you should sign up.

A true great

Dennis Bergkamp, the first goal says it all

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Imperial hangover

What would happen if the UK decided to spend less on arms and imperial misconceptions? Could the money, the trillions, not be used to support education, health, sustainable energy? Surely with all the other big players in the world the US, China, Russia - Britain would do well to stand out of the way, our power is ineffectual and mostly for appearances.

JT gets us thinking about our Imperial Hangover, the shadow that moves the nation and its political leaders like fools.

jeremy taylor: Imperial hangover

"In fact, Britain has long been a second-rank player. It has no business retaining independent nuclear weapons (to use against who?) or renewing its Trident nuclear submarines; it has no business occupying a permanent Security Council seat when countries like Germany, Japan, India and Brazil don't have one; its remaining colonies like the Falkland Islands (and several Caribbean countries — the Caymans, Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat) should long ago have been divested and set up on their own two feet. Britain should be wholly engaged in Europe and the EU, not pretending to be an equal "ally" (i.e. field slave) of the United States.

And the irony is that the "New Labour" government of Tony Blair has been just as gung-ho about this neo-imperialism as Anthony Eden and Margaret Thatcher put together. And even more deceitful."

Friday, March 30, 2007

Grand Theft Auto

interesting article about the boys behind grand theft auto and the billion dollar computer game industry

"That’s where Donovan and the Housers came in. The Londoners had attitude, style, and what Dan Houser later called a “culturally relevant, detail-obsessed approach” to game-making. They moved their core team to New York and assumed the name Rockstar Games. (The group of coders and designers in Scotland was eventually acquired by Take-Two and renamed Rockstar North.) The name hinted at their ambitions. “We admired record labels, obviously, and clothing companies, which were obsessed with details and with an integrity between design, product, and marketing,” Dan told the Design Museum of London in 2003. Rockstar wouldn’t just sell games — it would sell a lifestyle."


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Amazing finale

"Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga became the first bowler to take four wickets in four balls in international cricket but it was all in vain as South Africa won.

Jacques Kallis's 86 saw South Africa to a last-gasp one-wicket win in the Super 8 match at the Cricket World Cup."


Absolute class

man skies down escalator on London underground.

The authorities want to charge him.

What will the charge be?

update: skier makes the guardian

"Arild is a legend in Norway's free ski subculture, a "crazy half-communist" who pursues thrills over fame or money, according to Spelmann. "He works four months a year then spends the rest of his time skiing. He really is an excellent skier and he's done this stuff many times. He's happy. He just does it."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The owl of minerva

"Philosophy never was the owl of Minerva that takes flight after history has been realized in order to celebrate its happy ending. Hegel was quite clear on the point in the Philosophy of Right:

"Only one word more concerning the desire to teach the world what it ought to be. For such a purpose philosophy at least always comes too late. Philosophy, as the thought of the world, does not appear until reality has completed its formative process, and made itself ready. History thus corroborates the teaching of the conception that only in the maturity of reality does the ideal appear as counterpart to the real, apprehends the real world in its substance, and shapes it into an intellectual kingdom. When philosophy paints its grey in grey, one form of life has become old, and by means of grey it cannot be rejuvenated, but only known. The owl of Minerva, takes its flight only when the shades of night are gathering."

The ideal is within the real in a mature form of life. Philosophy reflects on a form of life grown old and it does so as a mode of historical knowing.

The shades of night are falling on modernity and philosophy reflects on the movement of the ideal and the real in this form to understand the world forming.That new world is what Hardt and Negri call Empire."

more here