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Wednesday, March 31, 2010


there i was leafing through an old issue of wired magazine (i would like to say i had read it when i first bought it, but hey we are all friends here so why should i lie) when i noticed an article about digital comics.
back in the day when i was in gainful employment, before post employment kicked in, one of the ongoing debates i had with a prominent retailer was about the move to digital publication of comics by the main publishers. he said it was inevitable, i didn’t think so. naturally the article piqued my interest (especially now that i have nothing whatsoever to do with comics).
in the end the article was short and didn’t really say much.
buried in it was this lovely quote
“...when content companies don’t give fans what they want in the format they want it, fans make it available themselves.”
“most piracy doesn’t spring from the desire to get free content. it comes from a desire to get it in a specific way.” (mark mcclusky – wired may 2006)
do you know i almost believed him there.
skip forward several pages in the same issue of wired and you find that matthew honan is praising the success of itunes which had just sold its billionth tune in just around three years of business. itunes it could be argued being a perfect example of the content companies giving the fans just what they want, in a form that they want it in. you don’t want to buy the whole album? just a track? well here you go. you want to play it on your mp3 player and home computer – well now you can.
fine and dandy.
except hohan goes on to point out that the billion or so tracks that itunes have sold pales into insignificance against the billion or so tracks that are shared each month via peer to peer sites (or p2p to be hip).
somewhat of an editorial own goal there.
ironically i saw this about the time there is a lot of activity over the digital economy bill. as i understand it part of the digital economy bill is aimed at preventing persistent and heavy downloaders of copyrighted material. one of the potential punishments for being caught is to be disconnected from the internet.
to some activists such a move is an infringement of the individual’s human rights and will impact heavily on their quality of life.
some of the copyfighters have even argued that without the free movement of materials via the internet culture might grind to a halt (hell yeah – how else would i have found out about shakespeare, dickens, van gough, mahler, pynchon, zappa, beefheart, hendrix, lichenstein and many others). (true without the internet i would never have known about ‘he came on my face’ ‘anal debauchery’ ‘lesbian mentors’ (which i think is a workplace human resources movie), ‘monster meat’ (i suspect it is a pro-veggie movie) or ‘ginormous juggs’.)
no one denies that the internet has become an essential and integral tool to the way we live our lives both in terms of leisure and work. it is a phenomenal tool for change and for creativity. at the same time that doesn’t mean that it gets a pass when it comes to illegal practices. dress it up anyway you like but sharing copyrighted material is pretty much theft. i am not getting on a moral high horse here as i have been known to download a track or two. i just don’t dress it up as something it is not.
the open rights group say “the minimum value for a repeat infringer’s activity is thus the value of 50 copyright items. music tracks on emusic now retail at 35p. the retail value of the offences of a repeat infringer could therefore be as little as £18” (of course it could also be £500 if you were to download 50 new dvds – using’s average price for a new dvd. let’s not dwell on that too much though as it makes it look a little more serious).
even sticking with the £18 figure, i am pretty sure that sainsbury’s, tescos or my local newsagent are not going to be too keen on me going in and taking £18 in goods. in fact i would even hazard a guess that if i were to take £18 off the various members of the open rights group they might be a little pissed at me.
where the open rights group is right is that the digital economy bill is something that needs debate and not only from politicians but from the content providers and the internet service providers. as fergal sharkey (yes that fergal ) has pointed out when an isp is advertising their service by the claim that you can download 900 lps a month you know that the they are fully aware of what is going on, but they do not want to be seen as the bad guys in this. the same is true of the content providers who may whinge and moan about sharing (or piracy) but still manage to overprice their goods considerably.
a debate is needed – but like many things that need to be debated it can’t be done when the various sides of the debate are just engaged in hyperbole.
now excuse me i need to look for a copy of ‘milf encounters of a close kind 69’, it is both educational and cultural – honest.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


just a quick note to david cameron: it is time you ditched the use of dithering.
you have beaten it to death. no one cares. it just makes you sound like the dull schoolyard bully who doesn't have any clever or funny friends to give you new material.

if it is the best you can come up with after a few years then you really are not fit to lead the country.

oh and forty days and forty nights? get over yourself man.

new conservatives? same old arseholes.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


suddenly there is a lot of surprise that there is a high level of sickness among nhs staff. you don't get such levels in the private sector. oh no in the private sector people are dedicated and only take sick leave when their legs are dropping off and they have sneezed their right lung out.
of course office workers have it really hard dealing with spreadsheets, filing, those constant emails to answer. those poor nhs workers just wiling away their time doing as little possible in-between bouts illnesses.
of course it has nothing to do with the fact that nhs workers are dealing with sick people and come into contact with diseases that are contagious.
just a thought.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


i have to confess that i have paid little attention to the british airways strike.
i have guffawed at the posturing of the unite union as they describe the cabin staff as being the vanguard of the workers revolution. the idea of tony woodley storming the barricades is an impressive one. both marx and lenin would be perplexed, not quite the cadre of comrades they had in mind, but hey any port in a storm.
the media has been quick to point out the links between new labour and the unite union. quite why there is a surprise that there is a link between a union and a political party that, ostensibly, promotes itself as a party for the working man (whispered with pride) is beyond me. still when it is considered to be a surprise that there are a few eton boys in the tory party it comes as no shock.
the problem with the strike action is that no matter how it is presented most people just think that the british airway cabin staff are just plane (geddit) greedy. (oh ok i stole that from the plane stupid campaign). from what i can make out the cabin staff have the best pay and conditions in the industry and they are not keen on losing them. (no shit!)
there is an ancillary problem for the cabin staff: the style of the union. pitching themselves somewhere between arthur scargill and bob crow (rail, maritime and transport union leader and oddly born not far from me, that will be my brush with fame them) full of bluster, full of rhetoric and lots of talk of battles, struggles and war. this is compounded with the lack of clarity of their argument. in essence it comes down to “british airways management are just nasty”.
so even when they talk about how the union had proposed approximately £60 million in permanent savings it all just falls on deaf ears.
but just as i get to that point when i am fed with the union telling us all how proud the cabin staff are to be british airways cabin staff, up pops an expert.
along comes the expert and pontificate about the industrial relation crisis that is british airways. one of the things they always say is that the ba cabin staff are the best in the world, they provide the best service. that the strike will hurt the ba brand and that people will go elsewhere to fly, even though the service is not as good. so, continues the expert, ba needs to make cuts, ba has been losing money; it needs to break the union. oh yes the ever-present digby jones while on the one hand praising the ba cabin staff to the mile high club had to point out that they were also guilty spanish practices and that their union was letting them down.
hold on a minute.
think about what those experts have said?
they have said that the ba cabin staff are the best. that they provide the best service. so perhaps the best deserve to be paid the best? not paid the industry standard. or does the reward culture only work if they are bankers or ceo’s of large companies? of course it does. if you happen to be a worker you shouldn’t expect to be paid good money, that would be outrageous. nope you should sweat, bow and scrape and be very happy that sir digby and his ilk smile at you while you count you meets national minimum wage pay pack.
though i am sure if they could do it then the digby’s of this world would also like a tug of the forelock with a bow and curtsey every time a worker came near them.
experts like that are a reminder why unions are important. just a shame that they don’t work on their presentation skills as much as they work on their class war rhetoric.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


there was a time when i could happily sing - here i sit broken hearted, paid the penny and only farted.
couldn't be saying that today.

it was a day of wandering around the city. got to a point where my bladder was ready to pop. in a panic i adjusted my trajectory towards euston station. have not been inside the station for quite awhile. some changes have taken place. look over there a nice new ticket hall. check out that: starbucks has been turned into a pret.

at the least the toilets are still where they used to be.
i waddle as fast to them as i can.
how much?
that is daylight robbery. thirty pence to piss? outrageous. out-fucking-rageous.

no choice. have no option. i can feel the flood approach.
no change given. cunting hell, don't make it easy you thieving whores. fish around in my pockets. there is a 10 pence piece. third of the way there. three 5 pence pieces. oh you total wankers you don’t take 5ps – it is the fucking coin of the realm you sweaty nutsacks, why are you not taking it? shit! shit! shit! ah bless the back pocket there it is a magical lovely twenty pence piece.

come on! come on! get in the slot. i need to pee. no don’t reject the coin you bastarding piece of shit machine, don’t you fucking dare. one coin in, success. second coin in, success.
push on through the barricade.
where are the urinals? where are they, don’t hide them.
panic over.
there they are.
come on! come on! shit fumbled the zip. phew pecker out before the torrent starts. i am an adult.
aaaaaah. bliss. aaaaaaah bliss. aaaaaaaaaaah.
empty. shake. shake.
wash hands. leave. curse the douche bag that made the lav thirty pence. though at the same time i can’t help but think it was the best 30p i have spent today.
get back to the planned journey.
walk by the british library. berate myself for forgetting it was there. i could have pissed for free.

fuckity fuck fuck. that took the shine off the day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


i treated myself to a coffee in my favourite coffee shop today. some of you may think i do that every day, but i don't. it just seems i am there all the time.
so there are two young hip trendy types discussing clothes, sorry i mean couture. prada this, dior that, lagerfield the other. my how they prattled. quite how they get so excited about fashion is beyond me, though i suspect they would be less than impressed with my discussions of the relative powers of superman and thor with my pal paul.
no matter how you dress it up (oh i am so funny) (sorry that should have been i am sooooo funny) clothes are clothes, it is all schmutter when it comes right down to it.
at some point in their, loud, conversation one of them exclaimed "it was sooooo good".
when did 'so good' cease to be enough.
at what point is something good enough to warrant moving from so to sooooo? is there ever a time when it moves from being just sooooo good to being sooooo gooooood? when does it become ‘fucking excellent’?
perhaps the answer is obvious to those who shop in abercrombie & fitch, stella mccartney or vivienne westwood, but when you shop at peacocks and the best brand you can afford is george at asda then it is lost in the semiotics of the fashion world.
doesn’t look like i am destined for a job in the rag trade any time soon.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


the current financial crisis is one that has several people commenting on how we all have to share the pain. we have to pull together, make sacrifices and in doing so we will come through it.
the confederation of british industry is quick to say that the raising of national insurance rate is a tax on jobs, and will stop employers taking on new workers and so unemployment will not come down. they are keen to see the government provide details of how to reduce the amount that has been borrowed (in order to bail out the banks). don’t worry folks the cbi have a solution to the problem – cut public spending. this they say can be done by efficiencies such as councils combining their back office functions (they are keen to say that none of what they are suggesting will affect frontline services). such efficiencies will get rid of duplication, save money, cut the deficit.
oh and put a lot of people out of work.
yup that helps the unemployment figures.
the tories are singing from a similar hymn sheet. cut public spending, quickly, in order to reduce the deficit. oh hold on george osborne is saying that the 50p top tax rate is something they see as a temporary measure.
mmm perhaps we are not all going to share the pain. just the less well off.
i don’t even know why i am surprised, still at least with the cbi’s plan there will be frontline staff around to help those who get swept away.


on the quiet my pal paul (mpp) is a bit of a genius. every so often he will throw out an idea that not only taps into the cultural zeitgeist but radically moves it on. just the other day he suggested that celebrities get together, co-ordinate their stories/antics and work to keep the election out of the news. if he had suggested the idea to max clifford, rather than me, it would have been in full flowing operation as we speak. (just think what would happen if celebs got together and declared themselves a political party? no chance of a hung parliament there).
titter ye not.
just look at the red tops, see how much news there is on the front covers, and see how much is celebrity gossip.
there i was in my local coffee shop (little surprise there) and i chanced across a copy of the daily mirror, their tagline: real news...real entertainment.
the front page was dominated with ‘news’ about the failure of mark owens marriage (i care so much), a small piece about jermain defoe signing on as a columnist (i care sooo much) finally there is a picture of nadine, a girl aloud, and the question ‘what’s up with nad?’ (i care sooooo much).
ironically inside there is a little news, less than you would expect, and some of it actually has relevance to the current political situation. a piece about a conservative being slapped down for misuse of nhs statistics, a piece about a comment from a conservative mp concerning ‘our way of life’ and a bit about how george osborne is under pressure for his job. in an election run in they are gold. though you would hardly know it from the daily mirror.
give the sun credit it doesn’t stop its attacks on new labour. reading the sun you would be forgiven for thinking that the outbreak of the first world war was due to gordon brown, that herod’s murder of first born was an outcome of gordon brown’s nhs policy.
just recently they had a story demonstrating david cameron’s ‘broken britain’ was all down to gordon brown. lisa lovatt is the example, she is their proof. she is an unmarried mum of 35 who has had 5 children with two men. the sun say she “epitomises the slide into state-funded family chaos under 13 years of labour”. her eldest is 18. lisa says when she was sacked from her job 17 years ago she gave up looking for work and concentrated on having kids.
as described lisa is prime jeremy kyle material, but let’s have a quick look at those dates.
there are many reasons for the ‘broken britain’ that cameron and company go on about. some of the problems are real, some of them are imagined. sadly for the conservatives some of the reasons for the situation were created back when they were last in power.
just using the sun’s one example you can see that ms lovatt had decided her course under the previous conservative government. her first child and beginning of her permanent unemployment both began under the tories.
the ‘feral children’ of tory nightmares are, in the main, children of those that grew up under the conservatives where the seeds of lack of respect, lack of social mores, lack of work aspirations were planted. we are reaping what was sewn then.
this isn’t to absolve new labour for not addressing the issues, it is just a reminder that the tories may promise the moon on a stick, but they don’t mean it for you and i, it is just for the already well off.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


there is no doubt that the british national party is an odious little political party. the important word here being ‘little’, in political terms the bnp are no more than an irritant. while their electoral chances are slim that isn’t to say that the bnp do not give voice to some nasty views (and it can’t be denied they also air some legitimate concerns).
in recent european and local elections the attitude toward the bnp had been to attempt to deny them a voice while demonising them. all the while allowing that the bnp is a legal political party and as such have a right to campaign, if as far from the public glare as possible.
the political class had neither the courage to openly debate with the british national party nor to outlaw them. preferring a curious halfway house position that gave the bnp an amazing amount of publicity and cast them as victims.
where the politicians feared to tread the equality and human rights commission (ehrc) was happy to yomp. at first the ehrc insisted that the bnp removed the ‘whites only’ membership policy as it contravened race relations law. even with this done robin allen, who was representing the ehrc against the bnp, said that asking potential members to support the "unity and integrity of the indigenous british" was highly suspect and ‘unquestionably racist’ as it would in ethic bar some people from joining. now i confess i am not a lawyer – but surely the clue is in the bnp’s name? it is a nationalist party and all that entails.
now the bnp are just ‘indirectly discriminatory’
given the bnp’s track record you can’t help but wonder, which ethnic minorities are banging at the doors, to be let in. though as a bnp spokesman, gwynn price rowlands, said the bnp has “several jewish members” recalling the classic ‘some of my best friends are…’ line.
it is not that i agree with the bnp, far from it. the way to ‘defeat’ them isn’t to make it impossible to hear them, but to argue against them and prove that their viewpoint is wrong, that their reasoning is flawed. there seems to be a fear of doing this because the questions of immigration, multiculturalism and diversity are now such a minefield that it appears almost impossible to have a rational debate over the issues.
the simple solution seems to be to find ways of banning the bnp. that won’t make the issues go away, it will just lead to further disenfranchisement on the part of certain parts of the electorate.
i remember years ago mick hulme (then of the revolutionary communist party) say that they were against banning the bnp because that was the thin end of the wedge. once it was done what was to stop the banning of far left political parties?
there are no moves to ban to socialist workers party, a party who talk about armed revolution and smashing the state, and i guess the main reason is that sensible heads realise that the swp and the various offshoots, such as respect, are only ever going to be minority interest parties who hold little sway over the electorate. the same is true of the bnp.
legislating the bnp out of existence or banning them is not going to change people’s views. debating the issues and winning the arguments will do.
oddly that is what democracy is all about and it is democracy that is the best tool to defeat the bnp and what it stands for.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


democracy is a funny old thing. we take it for granted.
it has to be said that on any list of least liked people there would be estate agents, richard littlejohn, simon cowell and members of the british parliament.
there are various reasons why people no longer respect members of parliament the most recent, and the most damming; reason has been the expenses scandal.
this has led to a lot of hand wringing and self-flagellation on the part of the political class. this has led to suggestions that politics needs to be cheaper, and one of the ways offered to achieve this has been to cut the number of members of parliament.
unsurprisingly david cameron and the conservative party like this idea, they have even said they would reduce the numbers of mps by 10%. another example of the conservatives desire for a smaller government, and cutting is their default response to anything. (the liberal democrats have also argued that a cut in the number of members of parliament should take place.)
jack straw, the justice secretary, has described this as being undemocratic, and i agree with him. he also claims that the other reason the tories are interested in reducing mps is a cynical attempt to make sure they have more seats in parliament. i don’t know if that is the case, but they are tories so let’s just agree that jack is right.
the outrage over the expenses wasn’t because politics was expensive; it was because people who were earning a decent wage were supplementing it by claiming all kinds of things as legitimate and necessary expenses when really all they were doing was to line their own pockets. it wasn’t the cost of having members of parliament that got people annoyed it was that many of the ones we had were cheating.
if anything there should be more mps. we elect them to represent us. the fewer of them there are, the larger the number of people they have to represent. the larger the number of constituents that they have the less chance there is that they can know the issues that are important to their area.
with more mps they would have to work harder to ensure that they got re-elected as they would be relying on a much smaller number of people, who would be able to see if they were doing a good job at the local level. it would also mean that there would be easier access to your local mp because they were dealing with a smaller catchment area.
we want mps to be accountable to us the people, rather than to be accounted on by bean counters.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


i have often wondered why eurosceptic members of the european parliament bother to go to brussels.
the most sensible reason would be that they are there to campaign on behalf of the uk, to make sure that those devious johnny foreigners do nothing that might upset blighty.
then there is the slightly less noble reason of being there to kick up a stink, to be a fly in the ointment. maybe like nigel farage the leader of united kingdom independence party’s (ukip) european parliamentarians. recently nigel gave a rabble-rousing speech, oh sorry that should have been: he gave a boorish and deliberately insulting speech.
our nige described the new president the european council herman van rompuy as having "the charisma of a damp rag" and that "nobody in europe had ever heard". unlike mr. farage who we all know very well and would recognize in an instant if we saw him in the street.
the boys at the european parliament haven’t taken kindly to this and they have punished mr. farage.
now mr. farage sees himself as a legitimate ‘voice of opposition’ to eu policies. hurrah to that man. i can’t claim to know how true this is, and i am sure mr. farage works tirelessly for the good cause of removing the united kingdom from the clutches of the eu. i can say that a quick look over his speeches shows that mr. farage hasn’t quite gotten over the cold war and he sees communists everywhere (i am sure he would ban santa for being a big old red) and when he is not complaining about the infiltration of communists he is just insulting people.
but he is aware of the fact that whatever the eu does, somewhere along the lines the british taxpayer is stumping up for it, and he doesn’t like that. another hurrah for that man.

how have johnny foreigner decided to punish the brave mr. farage?
they are fining him ten days allowance – three thousand euros. that is 300 euros a day.
according to the ukip website mr. farage has said, "free speech is an expensive business in the european parliament." it also seems that the allowance for an mep is pretty generous as well. still as mr. farage employs his wife i am sure they will be able to make ends meet.
there are 13 ukip meps, which adds up to a fair chunk of euros. money which will come from the british taxpayer. perhaps ukip could look to help cut the british contribution to european parliament by not being there?

maybe that is the other reason why eurosceptic politicians take their seats in the european parliament: it pays well.

Monday, March 01, 2010


new month.
year is flashing by.
still as quick as it is going it is nice to know that some things never change - that we love celebrity news and misery.
as i sat drinking coffee today - the shop had a copy of the sun on the table. the headline was all about how cheryl was scared, how she was terrified of leaving ashley.
i was left thinking whatever happened to grrl power?

still while cheryl wrings her hands - sun readers would be hard pressed to know that there was a natural disaster and chile and that cameron was making a bid to drape the flag over his shoulders in an attempt to rally old school tories to his new school (but very much just like the old school) tory army.

i guess that as fast as the rest of the year goes by - celebrity drivel will be with us all the way.