Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The death of debate

In a week where the mainstream parties have been given their wake-up call, Labour's response is this.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Misty meme

Via the ever excellent and not-mad-at-all Nanny Ogg collaborator Misty, a meme.

On my birthday, three interesting facts, two births and one death:

The Tate Modern opens in London
The Stones release Exile On Main Street

Tony Hancock & Burt Bacharach (woo! there were loads of cool ones, most pleased with that)

John Dryden, poet


.... from Flight 93 on September 11th here.

Chilling stuff.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

KLF is gonna rock you

On Saturday, at HMV in Bond St, while shopping with my beloved, an eighteen month search finally came to an end; I finally got hold of a copy of the mighty KLF's White Room.

For the uninitiated, it is probably fair to say that the KLF were one of the most influential bands of the last thirty years. Their unbridled musical genius was matched only by their sheer swivel-eyed madness. They mixed Gary Glitter with Doctor Who to get a smash hit summer number one, and then wrote a manual so anyone else who wanted to could do the same, guaranteeing them success in three months flat (download it here.) They got sued by Abba, wrote songs about ice cream vans, burned a million pounds on a Scottish island, had an unhealthy obsession with sheep, and announced their departure from the music business at the Brit Awards by firing blanks from a machine gun and lobbing buckets of fake blood at the front row. When they broke up they deleted their back catalogue (hence my lengthy search) in order to *encourage* their fans to copy their material. In the thoroughly dull world of late eighties pop they were utterly incendiary. Pop music is unlikely to see the same combination of situationist anarchy, wonderful music and sheer vitality for a long time.

Popjustice pay tribute here, and you can find out more here, here and here.

Blogroll updated.

Making it more interesting

I have been following the Italian elections. You may well wonder why, as I live in London.

Well, for a start, it is great TV. Berlusconi is utterly barmy and prone to saying some very odd things. Secondly, their psephology is head-damagingly complex - a mix of FPPTP and PR, where getting 0.1% majority by vote gets you two more seats, further complicated by the presence of so many parties in fragile coalitions.

But, best of all, there is the Italian presenters. We have Kirsty Wark and Andrew 'Brillo Pad' Neill, they get this. Genius.

Oh, and just to contribute my tiny little bit to the best of Googlebomb of all, Charles Clarke sweaty baboon, Charles Clarke sweaty baboon.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Write like you mean it

Recent visitors to the Lighthouse (all three of you) will have noticed a certain monomania creeping in. Frankly, even thinking about ID cards and the LARRB is giving me headaches, so from now, I propose to write about anything *but* the sort of topics that are, in any case, better covered elsewhere (Devil's Kitchen, Dead Men Left, Bloggerheads, ChickYog etc.) I am not as funny as these three men and cannot write like these three women. So, I am going to follow the old maxim, and write about what I know. And, more importantly, what makes me happy.

What does make me happy? Well, the scent of my girlfriend's hair. Old cars. Wales actually winning something. Good veggie curry. But, to start, music.

One of the most significant moments in my life came one boring Sunday afternoon when I was eleven. My mother, as she so often is, was ironing. I was looking through my mother's LP collection. I came across one album that had great cover art; an airbrush picture of a man with hair like a halo and huge, melancholy eyes. I wondered what he sounded like. I carefully removed the record from the sleeve, blew off the dust, and placed it on the turntable.

A second or three after the needle landed on the record, the opening notes of Hey Joe rang out, and two minutes later I had started a lifelong affair with music via the sublime Jimi Hendrix. It was a total awakening. Since then, I have spent hundreds on obscure CDs, followed bands, been in bands, and worn some awful t-shirts, and it all dates back to that moment.

If there was more to do in Wales on a Sunday afternoon in the early nineties, I'd never have found that album that day.

Hoorah for boredom.

Monday, April 10, 2006

UKIP campaigning

Now that's what I call aggressive campaigning. Where the f*ck did they get an armoured car from? And, is it safe to give people like this an armoured car?

The UKIP bloke shows how in touch with normal, modern Britain he is when says that 'Mr Cameron had let Tory voters down "like a cheap pair of braces"'. Does anyone know anyone who still wears braces, outside of the City?

Join UKIP and get free top hat and pair of spats!

How are genuine, concerned, non-loony Eurosceptics supposed to vote?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Bank holidays

The campaign to make St George's Day a bank holiday

In the spirit of British brotherhood (Welsh I am, but certainly not a swivel-eyed nationalist), I am saying 'yes'.

Plus, I want an extra day off.

The Italians have sixteen bank holidays per year - eight more days off a year than us - twice what we get! We have the second lowest number of bank holidays in the EU. I'm all for Euro-harmonization on this point of policy....

Who would object? Well, CEOs who need to keep the lumpenproletariat at the grindstone 24/7. And, you may say, well, they don't have that many votes do they? They are the only ones who would object, but do not make their feelings known through voting. They make their feelings known about policy through party donations. What MP will propose this motion when he knows funding could well dry up if he doesn't keep this sort of odious plutocrat happy?

An extra bank holiday would be a wonderful thing for worker-friendly party to do. Which is why New Labour won't do it.

Help, I'm on the Piccadilly Line

Believe it or not, it is actually possible for a London Underground driver to get lost....
I wonder how often this happens? Never happened to me in three years of daily Tube use.

Tune of the day: History Repeating by the Propellerheads and Shirley Bassey.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Anyone looking for a Parliamentary researcher job in Westminster?

Just don't ever rummage around in his briefcase.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I fought the law, and the law won, under new anti-terrorism legislation

Great story in today's free recycled Evening Standard rag, Metro.

An Asian bloke got a cab to an airport, and, en route, played some music from his MP3 player for the cabbie, who expressed an interest. The tunes played included 'London Calling' and 'White Riot' by The Clash and 'Immigrant Song' by Led Zep.

The cabbie thought it was all a hidden message, rang the police after he got out, and the Asian guy got stopped and searched at the airport under anti-terrorism legislation. ....

I have most of the Clash and Led Zep canon on my MP3 player (which is not an iPod). If they find out I am also carrying Machine Head ('let freedom ring with a shotgun blast'), the Manics ('Repeat after me/F*ck Queen and country') Johnny Cash ('I shot a man in Reno/ Just to watch him die'), a lot of Asian trance, and Leftfield ('Burn Hollywood, burn') I'm going to end up in Belmarsh.

I hereby charge you with possession of loud music, with intent to rock!

It says a lot about modern Britain that a cabbie thought an Asian guy listening to The Clash on his way to an airport was a terrorist.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

You'll have one whether you bloody well like it or not

From The Register:

The new UK Identity and Passport Service, spawned out of the Passport Service after the ID Cards Act became law on Saturday, has celebrated its birth by trying to stop people renewing their passports whenever they want to, whether or not the passport is about to expire. The change in terms and conditions has been slipped into the website without announcement, and is quite clearly ID card related...

Read all of it here.

And so the fist tightens around your throat....

Abolition Of Parliament Bill

From the same shower of b*stards that brought you ninety day detention, ID cards (see below) and the ban on peaceful protest outside parliament, the Legislative & Regulatory Refom Bill. A lovely bit of branding, that; they have made it sound crushingly dull when it is actually the means by which any minister who so chooses can bypass parliamentray debate and introduce any law he sees fit.

Read all about it here. Then weep for the death throes of democracy, then, finally, rage for the contempt New Labour obviously has for its electorate.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Important message

Via Arthur's Seat:

No ID here

By round robin email to Seat Towers comes a missive from Frances Stonor Saunders, the author of the Cultural Cold War. It is an impassioned argument against ID cards and deserves publication in full:

You may have heard that legislation creating compulsory ID Cards passed a crucial stage in the House of Commons. You may feel that ID cards are not something to worry about, since we already have Photo ID for our Passport and Driving License and an ID card will be no different to that. What you have not been told is the full scope of this proposed ID Card, and what it will mean to you personally.

The proposed ID Card will be different from any card you now hold. It will be connected to a database called the NIR, (National Identity Register), where all of your personal details will be stored. This will include the unique number that will be issued to you, your fingerprints, a scan of the back of your eye, and your photograph. Your name, address and date of birth will also obviously be stored there.

There will be spaces on this database for your religion, residence status, and many other private and personal facts about you. There is unlimited space for every other details of your life on the NIR database, which can be expanded by the Government with or without further Acts of Parliament.

By itself, you might think that this register is harmless, but you would be wrong to come to this conclusion. This new card will be used to check your identity against your entry in the register in real time, whenever you present it to 'prove who you are'.

Every place that sells alcohol or cigarettes, every post office, every pharmacy, and every Bank will have an NIR Card Terminal, (very much like the Chip and Pin Readers that are everywhere now) into which your card can be 'swiped' to check your identity. Each time this happens, a record is made at the NIR of the time and place that the Card was presented. This means for example, that there will be a government record of every time you withdraw more than £99 at your branch of NatWest, who now demand ID for these transactions. Every time you have to prove that you are over 18, your card will be swiped, and a record made at the NIR. Restaurants and off licenses will demand that your card is swiped so that each receipt shows that they sold alcohol to someone over 18, and that this was proved by the access to the NIR, indemnifying them from prosecution.

Private businesses are going to be given access to the NIR Database. If you want to apply for a job, you will have to present your card for a swipe. If you want to apply for a London Underground Oyster Card, or a supermarket loyalty card, or a driving license you will have to present your ID Card for a swipe. The same goes for getting a telephone line or a mobile phone or an internet account.

Oyster, DVLA, BT and Nectar (for example) all run very detailed databases of their own. They will be allowed access to the NIR, just as every other business will be. This means that each of these entities will be able to store your unique number in their database, and place all your travel, phone records, driving activities and detailed shopping habits under your unique NIR number. These databases, which can easily fit on a storage device the size of your hand, will be sold to third parties either legally or illegally. It will then be possible for a non-governmental entity to create a detailed dossier of all your activities. Certainly, the government will have clandestine access to all of them, meaning that they will have a complete record of all your movements, from how much and when you withdraw from your bank account to what medications you are taking, down to the level of what sort of bread you eat - all accessible via a single unique number in a central database.

This is quite a significant leap from a simple ID Card that shows your name and face.

Most people do not know that this is the true character and scope of the proposed ID Card. Whenever the details of how it will work are explained to them, they quickly change from being ambivalent towards it.

The Government is going to COMPEL you to enter your details into the NIR and to carry this card. If you and your children want to obtain or renew your passports; you will be forced to have your fingerprints taken and your eyes scanned for the NIR, and an ID Card will be issued to you whether you want one or not. If you refuse to be fingerprinted and eye scanned, you will not be able to get a passport. Your ID Card will, just like your passport, not be your property. The Home Secretary will have the right to revoke or suspend your ID at any time, meaning that you will not be able to withdraw money from your Bank Account, for example, or do anything that requires you to present your government issued ID Card.

The arguments that have been put forwarded in favour of ID Cards can be easily disproved. ID Cards WILL NOT stop terrorists; every Spaniard has a compulsory ID Card as did the Madrid Bombers. ID Cards will not 'eliminate benefit fraud', which in comparison, is small compared to the astronomical cost of this proposal, which will be measured in billions according to the LSE (London School of Economics). This scheme exists solely to exert total surveillance and control over the ordinary free British Citizen, and it will line the pockets of the companies that will create the computer systems at the expense of your freedom, privacy and money.

If you did not know the full scope of the proposed ID Card Scheme before and you are as unsettled as I am at what it really means to you, to this country and its way of life, I urge you to email or photocopy this and give it to your friends and colleagues and everyone else you think should know and who cares. The Bill has proceeded to this stage due to the lack of accurate and complete information on this proposal being made public.

Together & hand in hand, we can inform the entire nation if everyone who receives this passes it on.


Britain has the most "aggressive, dismissive and intrusive" media in the developed world, Geoff Hoon has said.

And thank f*ck for that, because otherwise we wouldn't know about this, this, this, and - best of all - this. And they make life very difficult for you, don't they Geoff?