Sunday, 22 April 2007

Nazi silliness

Bryan Ferry has brought trouble on himself by commenting on the presentation skills of the Nazis.

"My God, the Nazis knew how to put themselves in the limelight and present themselves," he gushed to the German magazine Welt am Sonntag. "I'm talking about Leni Riefenstahl's movies and Albert Speer's buildings and the mass parades and the flags - just amazing. Really beautiful."

Predictable that the press jumped all over him, with various people calling for an end to the deal he has with M&S to promote their 'Signature' range of clothes.


As far as I know, he didn't praise the Nazi's actions or their philiosophy. He simply said that they were good at presenting themselves. I totally agree with him. They had superb iconography - their swastika (borrowed from hindu and other cultures), the death's head logo of the SS, the Nuremburg rallies, their marching music, Hitler's 'Eagle's Nest' villa in the mountains, all great examples of powerful and enduring icons, desired by military and art collectors worldwide.

That doesn't mean that Bryan Ferry or I are political supporters of the Nazis, however it seems that if you even mention the word Nazi (apart from unconditionally and absolutely condemning them) then you are accused of being one yourself, that you must be an anti-semite. No, it doesn't mean that at all. All intelligent people, and I presumptiously include myself in that, unhesitatingly acknowledge that their utilitarian philosophy was odious and their actions criminal.

However, we must acknowledge the appeal they had for the German people, if only so that we can recognise current and future politicians using the same tactics to appeal to their peoples.

They did have some appeal, otherwise the vast majority of Germans wouldn't have supported them, and I believe presentation had at least something to do with it. I'm also a fan of intellectual honesty. If their uniforms, architecture, flags, rallies, etc, were artistically done, then it must be ok to admit that.

Having said that, Bryan Ferry has been in the public eye for a couple of generations now, and he should know how the press operate. I think he has been silly, but not necessarily evil.

(By the way, just in case you have a sneaking suspicion that I have Nazi sympathies, I must let you know that I am a veteran of the ANL (Anti-Nazi League) marches in the late 70s/early 80s. One of my small claims to fame is that I have personally kicked Martin Webster (the ex-leader of the National Front) at a march-turned-disturbance in Leeds. Beat that!)

Thursday, 19 April 2007

In summer WE have the right to bare arms...

…whereas in the U.S, they have the right to bear arms (ho ho).

(Seriously though, this is a subject close to my heart, having been a witness to the fatal shooting of a schoolfriend)

After the Virgina Tech incident, I posted a few comments on my fave blogs about the contrast between the gun situation over here and in America. Even on the liberal blogs I was shouted down by some, who insist that the answer is for MORE people to carry guns, the logic being that the students could have shot their attacker.

Given the choice between everyone having guns, and no one having them, which would you choose? In the UK I don’t know anyone who thinks the gun prohibition is the work of an evil Government restricting the liberty of its citizens. This is a voluntary arrangement, almost universally agreed to because it makes so much sense. OK, the bad guys can get guns if they really want to, but even they don’t use them (mostly) because no one is shooting at them.

As ever, wiser men than me have spoken on the subject. I’ll leave the last and best lines to my comedy-God, the late great Bill Hicks:

Like, I was over in England. You ever been to England, anyone, been to England? No one has handguns in England, not even the cops. True or false? True.

Now-in England last year, they had fourteen deaths from handguns. FFFFFourteen. Now-the United States, and I think you know how we feel about handguns-woooo, I'm getting a warm tingly feeling just saying the fucking word, to be honest with you. I swear to you, I am hard. Twenty-three thousand deaths from handguns.

Now let's go through those numbers again, because they're a little baffling at first glance. England, where no one has guns, fffffffourteen deaths. United States, and I think you know how we feel about guns-woooo, I'm getting a stiffy-twenty-three thousand deaths from handguns.

But there's no connection, and you'd be a fool and a Communist to make one. There's no connection between having a gun and shooting someone with it, and not having a gun and not shooting someone.

You can read the whole transcript here

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Word of the day

I have decided that rehashing opinions and ideas, or putting a very thin spin on them, is too much effort for little reward. So, just for a while I'm going to sum up the whole day's news, opinions and ideas in a single word - or even just a sound.

And the word for the 18th March 2007 is:


Friday, 13 April 2007

Peanut butter follow-up

A new must-watch version of the peanut butter video:

Kurt Vonnegut, RIP

Good old Kurt, he taught me and my generation a lot about life, and now he's gone.

This sums him up, two quotes from his wikiquote entry

(talking about when he tells his wife he's going out to buy an envelope) Oh, she says well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore.


The only difference between [George W.] Bush and [Adolf] Hitler is that Hitler was elected.

Monday, 9 April 2007

This is the Iran o'clock News from the BBC

MoD ban on troops selling stories

Iran 'enters new nuclear phase'

EU to seek new Iran nuclear talks

Iran, Iran, Ahmadinejad, Iran, Iran, Nuclear weapons, Iran, Iran, British sailors, Iran, Iran, uranium enrichment, Iran, Iran, Iran.....

OK, hands up who knows what's going on in the DRC? Hands up who even knows what DRC stands for? (Democratic Republic of Congo). Is anyone aware of the hundreds of thousands of deaths per year and the massive social damage being caused by the pursuit of Tantalum? No-one?

No, but we're all up to our ears in Iran. We even know how to pronounce Ahmadinejad. We're told that Iran's production of uranium is the worst evil facing the world today. What about all of the other stories around the world that aren't being covered? What about the fact that central Africa is being ravaged by factions fighting over mineral rights just so that we can have cheap mobile phones? Also, what's happening in Tibet? Indonesia? Somalia?

My point is that the newspapers and the oh-so-impartial BBC get you to focus on what THEY think you should be focussed on. THEY determine the agenda. Everyone is talking to their hairdresser and their taxi driver about Iran because the neo-cons in America WANT it to be the lead issue, and the mainstream media go along with it. This focus on whoever is nominated as the new 'bad guy' helps the U.S. and the U.K. to achieve their narrow and unjust objectives.

Did you read that passage in 1984 when the crowds in Trafalgar Square are told over loudspeakers who the new enemy is, and the crowds immediately start chanting new hate slogans? When I read that, I thought it was very unrealistic, but now I'm not so sure.

All it takes is a few words from Bush or Blair and all of a sudden, the sheep know what to bleat about. We don't hear about the 'Tantalum wars' in the DRC because that wouldn't be good for British and American business. That's never going to get on the front page until maybe 10 or 20 years time when the new Bob Geldorf equivalent is raising money for the poor black children of the Congo.

I think a good starting point would be for everyone to recognise that this is the way the media works. It doesn't lie to us exactly, but setting the agenda amounts to pretty much the same thing. Once we are savvy, we can push back on our leaders, ask them why such-and-such is the important issue, ask the uncomfortable questions, stop following them and stop thinking what we are told to think.

I'm not saying that the DRC is what we should be thinking about; I'm just using it as ONE example of many many stories that we never get to hear, that are equally, or perhaps even more important, than the supposed lead story of the day.

My advice: Don't watch the BBC News, don't read the Times or the Daily Mail. In fact, why not throw your newspaper on the compost heap, turn off your TV, and start thinking for yourself? You only have one life, one brain, one conciousness. Do you really want your one and only conciousness to be used as a conduit for other people's thoughts?

Thursday, 5 April 2007

I have achieved immortality

Well, at least one of me has...

here comes the science

Perhaps I've just achieved immorality (that sounds about right)

Monday, 2 April 2007