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Attila the Pun
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
 
OMG - th1s is the hax0r!

I am not sure you could get a more specific audience that this would appeal to, but if you happen to play Real Time Strategy computer games online *and* you are a fan of WWII history, then I recommend you check out this.

Its the chat room traffic if WWII had been a RTS, starring Hitler[AoE], Eisenhower, paTTon, Churchill, benny-tow, T0J0 etc. Very clever in places.

Thursday, July 21, 2005
 
Reds over their heads

Via the House of Blair, comes this wonderful tidbit:

Green Left Weekly is facing a serious financial crisis. Last year we finished
with a $35,000 deficit and so far this year are almost $65,000 down — that’s a
combined shortfall of $100,000! We have borrowed to keep going, but if this
trend continues we can’t go on. It’s as simple as that.


I am sure this will upset the rest of you as it did me. Apart from signalling the continuing slow death of plain speaking alternative media in this country, it did raise two other interesting points:

1. Who is lending these monkeys the money? Surely any self respecting bank would laugh itself silly if these clowns came in looking for an overdraft facility?

2. Doesn't their impending doom suggest that the capitalist system is working a treat, and that therfore their entire basis for existence is wrong? Look at the facts - you publish a crap newspaper (i.e. your product) that hardly anybody reads (i.e. the market isn't interested in it) and therefore you don't make enough money to survive (i.e. you are non-sustainable). Survival of the fittest my friends, creative destruction, red in tooth and claw etc etc.

The Age should take note.


Thursday, July 14, 2005
 
On the other side

With such blind hatred of Bush and Howard, is it possible for Richard Ackland to write an even slightly balanced opinion piece?

THE war on terrorism doesn't seem to be going so well. The rhetoric from world leaders, and the Prime Minister, John Howard, keeps being cranked up, but the sound is dreadfully hollow.
Four days after the London bombings, the US President, George Bush, was making vacuous noises to a gathering of FBI trainees at Quantico, Virginia.


After introducing the Attorney-General, Alberto Gonzales, as "General" and referring to the Drug Enforcement Administration as the "Drug Administration", Bush got down to some well-worn tub-thumping.

Hold it right there. Unlike SMH readers, we have the benefit of the transcript. Here is what Bush said:

I appreciate our Attorney General, Al Gonzales, who has joined us today. General, thank you for being here. I want to thank Ambassador John Negroponte, the Director of the National Intelligence. Thanks for coming, Mr. Director. I appreciate Director Bob Mueller, of the FBI -- doing a fantastic job. Thank you, Bob, for coming. Director Porter Goss of the CIA; Administrator Karen Tandy of the Drug Administration -- the Drug Enforcement Administration -- (Laughter.) Thank you, Karen.

Which shows that Bush introduced him as "Attorney General", then made a verbal slip up - which he corrected - regarding the DEA. We will assume that Ackland has never misspoken in any form of public speaking before. Of course, without the transcript, you would never had known this, and the Bush McChimpHitler bandwagon rolls on.

To the graduating trainees: "America is counting on you to stop them [the terrorists]."

Maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that, as Mark Twain said of Wagner's music, "it's not as bad as it sounds".

Is it only me that doesn't see anything wrong with Bush telling a group of FBI agents that their country is relying on them to stop terrorist attacks? I know Ackland must be extremely intelligent (he quotes Twain after all), so am I just too stupid to see the problem?

Bush reiterated that airport and seaport security was being strengthened, better visa screening procedures were happening, cross-border movement of terrorists was being checked, and critical infrastructure was being protected.

Thats a surprisingly accurate summary of what Bush said.

You'd have to go back to his speech on the deck of USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003, to find something even more delusional.

No one would argue that security arrangements in the US are perfect, but is Ackland suggesting that it is "delusional" to say that security has been beefed up since September 11? Is he blind?

There, the commander-in-chief proclaimed that the toppling of Saddam Hussein was "a victory in a war on terror".

So now suggesting that toppling Hussein (who supported and harboured terrorists) was a victory in the war on terro is even more delusional than suggesting that security has been increased? Oh jeez.

Now all the billions of dollars, the airport security, the round-the-clock watch on infrastructure, the new-fangled anti-terrorist laws, the entire apparatus seems incredibly misdirected in the face of a home-grown terrorist who is knocking up bombs in the bathtub in Leeds, who crosses no borders, who does not need a visa and whose training kit is on the internet.

Except that Leeds isn't in the United States Richard.

Still Bush insists Iraq is a "central front" in the war on terrorism. Howard thinks the same. "I want to make it very plain that this kind of attack [in London] will not alter the attitude of the Government of Australia towards terrorism and towards the commitments we have with our American, British and other friends to Iraq and Afghanistan." We will not be bullied. We will not be intimidated. Rah, rah, rah.

Sorry Richard, does rhetoric against terrorists bore you? Would you rather a more "nuanced" position be taken - where our leaders say that they understand the terrorists concerns and will seek to address the "root causes"? Depressingly, I think he would like a much more concilliatory tone.

But to be told by political leaders that we are winning the war and that this brutality cannot intimidate people, or that somehow the war in Iraq is stopping terrorism, is tripe.

Pop quiz - since the invasion of Iraq, how many terrorist attacks have occured on US soil? I will make it easier for you - how many have occured since September 11, and the increased security resulting from it? Give up? Answer - none.

What has been fascinating, though, is the way Blair has responded to this attack. Unlike Bush, Blair has not immediately looked to invade someone. Instead, he has talked about the need to address the hatred that is being taught to, and absorbed by, some Muslim youths.

I will say this slowly for him - The attackers on September 11 were from the middle east, trained and supported by Al Qeada, who in turn was supported by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Bush didn't immediately invade anyone, but when the US did retaliate, it was against a country that harboured the people behind the 9/11 attacks. The people who bombed London were from Britain. Therefore Blair is looking to address that source. Whilst talk of invading Leeds might make some happy, the approach Blair took is appropriate, as was Bush's.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005
 
Phil stinks up the place

Who would have ever thought that Phillip Adams would jump on the "London deserved to be bombed" bandwagon?

Actually, I don't even need to paraphrase his position - the headline of his vile article is "Britain had this coming" Hear that Susan Levy? Phillip Adams thinks you deserved to die.

I struggle to express how angry this makes me. That someone could write this filfth at all is pretty disturbing, but to think that it appears in a national broadsheet, and that we pay him to host a weekly radio show, is even worse.

He attempts to justify this by suggesting that around 60 people will die in Iraq today, around 20 will be kidnapped, and then ludicrously claims that such events in Baghdad won't be reported in the Australian media. Have you opened a newspaper or listened to your ABC in the last couple of years Phil?

Then we get the "yes, but" approach:

Yes, what happened last week in London was appalling. But it happens every day in Iraq.

Not content with downplaying the outrage in London, he then seeks to *defend* Saddam's regime:

Things were crook before but have been far worse since.

Gassing Kurds was "crook"? Any by what measure are they worse?

Pinned down by sanctions, inspections and fly-overs, still licking his wounds from the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein's greatest crimes were long behind him.

Well that's okay then. Forgive and forget I say.

The mass graves were history.

And you would prefer them consigned to the dustbin of history too wouldn't you Phil?

Unlike those humdrum bombings in Baghdad, the slaughter in London was big news. And let's be clear about it: the people who died in the subway tunnels and on the bus were victims of the Iraq war. They died because of Blair's London Bridge, the one he built from the Thames to the Euphrates.

No Phillip - lets be clear about it. Those people died because an unknown number of people detonated 4 explosive devices on three trains and a bus.

Had he not misled his nation into that murderous folly of an invasion, the people would have walked off the trains instead of being carried off on stretchers. Or had their body parts collected in bags.

Amazing that he knows the minds of the murderers so well. He knows that if it weren't for Iraq, this never would have happened. He knows that these scum wouldn't have just picked a different grievance - like Afghanistan or support for Israel. Amazing.

Blair's response? The same rhetoric, the same mock-heroics, a renewed commitment to the political and strategic idiocy of George W. Bush. You can hear his spin doctors thinking: "If we play this right, we'll improve in the polls."

Whereas we don't need to be mindreaders to hear Phillip use it to score political points - he has written it down for us.

And everyone, most of all Howard and Alexander Downer, knows this is twaddle. The selection of targets is largely based on involvement in, and enthusiasm for, Bush's new world order.

Only largely based? Weren't you just telling us that if it weren't for Iraq, and Iraq only, then the London bombings would never have happened?

The great divide between those who supported the invasion of Iraq and those of us who opposed it is as wide as ever. We seem to live in different universes, with both sides using the London bombings to support their positions.

Here, finally, he admits that he is "using" the murder of 50 people to support his position against the Iraq war. Don't accuse me of the same thing as you Phillip. Don't even dare.

UPDATE

Christopher Hitchens provides a list of reasons why Britain had it coming:

The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way.

And even has words for Phil and his ilk:

I know perfectly well there are people thinking, and even saying, that Tony Blair brought this upon us by his alliance with George Bush.

A word of advice to them: try and keep it down, will you? Or wait at least until the funerals are over. And beware of the non-sequitur: you can be as opposed to the Iraq operation as much as you like, but you can't get from that "grievance" to the detonating of explosives at rush hour on London buses and tubes.

Don't even try to connect the two. By George Galloway's logic, British squaddies in Iraq are the root cause of dead bodies at home. How can anyone bear to be so wicked and stupid? How can anyone bear to act as a megaphone for psychotic killers?

Good question - do you have any answer Phillip?

Monday, July 11, 2005
 
Brainbusters

Here is a wonderful collection of idiocy. It appears that the canadian "anti-globalisation media organisation" Adbusters, has gotten into the sneaker business.

Their logic is hilarious. Apparently Converse were okay with the kids, because, like Kurt Cobain totally wore them. But then Converse got bought by Nike (boo-hiss) so when your Converse got worn out, you couldn't buy new ones in good conscience anymore.

The solution? Adbusters will totally rip off Converse's intellectual property and make fake Chuck Taylor All Stars. Its okay though - they will use "organic hemp and biodegradable rubber" (don't leave your new sneakers in the sun kids!) as well as "ethical labour".

Amusingly for an "anti-globalisation" organisation, the search for an "ethical factory" took them to China, North Korea (supporting communist dictators - well done!) and Indonesia, before settling on Portugal. Sounds a bit globalised to me...

Apparently setting up a brand isn't setting up a brand though - by ripping off someone else's intellectual property you are making an "anti-brand"

Designed by John Fluevog, the "unswoosher" encourages you to "rethink the Cool". It has white handpainted circles, resembling a smudged-out swoosh - the Nike tick insignia - on the side, a black spot stamped on the sole and a small red dot on each toe, symbolising kicking Phil Knight's backside. "We are not just selling sneakers, but we are somehow slagging (Nike's) swoosh, letting millions of people around the world know that Nike is not cool any more," says Mr Lasn.

Wow, thanks for letting me know that Mr Lasn. Aren't you supposed to be opposed to corporations telling kids what to think?

And please tell me that this paragraph doesn't sound like it comes from an Adbusters press release?:

Adbusters has been criticising consumer culture and companies such as Nike, McDonald's and Philip Morris for more than 15 years through its eponymous bi-monthly magazine, which turns the tactics of glossy advertising against itself. It has been successful in encouraging people all over the world to participate in Buy Nothing Day and TV Turnoff Week, and launched Unbrand America campaigns.

Of course helping out alleged sweatshop workers isn't what its all about:

The organisation has pushed the anti-sweatshop line to promote the Blackspot sneaker, but Mr Lasn admits it wasn't his main motivation.

What he really opposes is the pseudo culture and empowerment that Nike, typical of many companies, delivers with its products. It "is ramming it down the throats of teenagers who don't know any better, by basically buying off celebrities to create (its) bogus cool," Mr Lasn says.

That wasn't put in quotes - the journalist is saying that Nike (and many other companies) deliver pseudo culture and empowerment. Was he pulling bongs with Mr Lasn before he wrote this?

But the real fun starts when you run the idea past other members of the loony left:

But not everyone is excited about Adbusters' new commercial project. Luther Blisset, a Melbourne-based writer for activist media website Indymedia, is sceptical about any long-term benefits of the Blackspot sneaker because it bears too many contradictions.

Not to mention no appeal or design skill outside ripping off a recognised classic.

"Corporations exist to make money," he says. "They can be as ethical as they want to up to a certain point where the actual profitability or viability of the project becomes a problem. These social relations that capitalism produces, you can't escape them just by adding an ethical tag to your product. They have to continually expand if they can survive, so they have to conform to the capitalist logic."

Well done to Luther for realising the purpose of corporations, too bad he seems to consider it automatically a bad thing. After all, who would want Adbusters to sell more shoes, thus providing more income for hemp producers, biodegradable rubber manufacturers and Portugese shoe makers? Companies are bad don'tcha know?

Simon Wood, editor of Melbourne-based biannual magazine Sneaker Freaker, owns more than 100 pairs of sneakers, mostly Nike. He likes the idea of Blackspot and the way its been marketed, but not the design. "If you ask anyone that likes shoes, they find that ultimately the product is really boring. It's not a good product," he says. "It's a shame they didn't think up their own design. They haven't spent any money on researching or anything."

Ignoring the credibility of a man who owns 100 pairs of shoes, he makes an excellent point - the shoes are an ugly rip off. Some people may have the money to buy these to make a statement, but most people will buy the original, or if they are looking for ugly rip-offs, buy a pair for $20 at the local market.

Mr Lasn considers himself a pioneer of a new, more effective phase of anti-globalisation activism. "A lot of activists and lefties agree with us, that we have to start being more effective and thinking outside the lefty box," he says. "Instead of whining about other peoples brands, why don't we launch our own anti-logo and demolish other brands, and instead of talking forever about killing capitalism, which isn't going to happen any time soon - it may never happen - why not create a more grassroots kind of capitalism that will improve people's lives?"

Instead of whining about brands, they are going to launch an "anti-logo" - isn't that pretty much a brand? Isn't selling it as an alternative to Nike, and stressing its ethical credentials what those of us in the real world like to call product differentiation or even *gasp* marketing?

Adbusters is now seeking to apply its grassroots capitalism model to other industries, namely hospitality and music.

I am looking forward to them breaking down the globalised model of music distribution that has led to bongo and tambourine music being controlled by a select few "suits".

"When you walk into McDonalds, your french fries may have come from 200 miles away," Mr Lasn says. "When you walk into a Blackspot restaurant, you know that every morsel of food that you put into your mouth comes from within 50 miles of where you are.

bwhahahaahah - where to start? Okay, by the same token, shouldn't my sneakers also come from 50 miles away, rather then Portugal? And music - does it have to be recorded by someone in my neighbourhood.

This is the childish contradiction that I have always struggled with in relation to "anti-globalisation" "activists". What the hell is globalisation? Is the internet not the most powerful engine of globalisation ever developed? Are they not massive users, and even advocates of its ability to connect people across geographical and cultural boundaries?

When they wanted to make some knock-off sneakers, they went to a foreign country to take advantage of its cheaper labour. When they wanted to sell them, they use a network of people around the globe to do so. But when they want a hamburger and fries, they want it to have been grown locally.

A bit of internal logic (and more frequent showers) is all I ask people.

 
More stiff upper lip goodness

Further to my post below, here is a longer list of UK quotes after the bombing (thanks to Laura for the heads up).

It must be said that it easy to sound cocky when a) you haven't just been horribly injured or b) you are in Australia, but the combination of the stiff upper lip and the dry humour is a winner for me. Especially when it leads to stuff like this:

God I love the British...Nobody does pissed off disdain like 'em...

----------

When the news reporter said "Shopkeepers are opening their doors bringing out blankets and cups of tea" I just smiled. It's like yes. That's Britain for you. Tea solves everything.
You're a bit cold? Tea.
Your boyfriend has just left you? Tea.
You've just been told you've got cancer? Tea.
Coordinated terrorist attack on the transport network bringing the city to a grinding halt? TEA DAMMIT!
And if it's really serious, they may bring out the coffee.

----------

To quote an old Londoner who lived through the blitz and got caught up in the Canary Wharf explosion: "I've been blown up by a better class of bastard than this!"

----------

"We took on the Romans, the Saxons, the Danes, the French, William Wallace, the Black Plague, the Roundheads, the Great Fire, Napoleon, the Nazis, and the Blitz, and we're still here. You terrorists are bloody amateurs."

----------

"I'm vague on Muslim theology but the asshats responsible need to go to a "special paradise" where the virgins won't put out."

Friday, July 08, 2005
 
Movie review

Saw War of the Worlds the other day. Very well made movie, but I have just two comments/questions (mild spoiler alert):

1. If the aliens wish to invade a country where every person has seen how to destroy an AT-AT in the Empire Strikes Back, then they deserve everything they get.

2. Why was that guy's camcorder still working?!?

 
Stiff upper lip

The picture coming out of London regarding the bombings is still pretty confused, and there are a myriad of sources available for up to date information, so I won't try and duplicate those. All I will do is quote something which summed up what I love about the British character:

I have a prediction to make, that tomorrow we’ll find out whether Britons are, still, in fact, Britons. Many years ago I was working in The City and there were two events that made travel into work almost impossible.

The first was a series of storms that brought down power lines, blocked train routes and so on. Not surprisingly, the place was empty the next day. Why bother to struggle through?

The other event was an IRA bomb which caused massive damage and loss of life. Trains were disrupted, travel to work the next day was horribly difficult and yet there were more people at work than on a normal day. There was no co-ordination to this, no instructions went out, but it appeared that people were crawling off their sick beds in order to be there at work the next day, thrusting their mewling and pewling infants into the arms of anyone at all so that they could be there.

Yes, we’ll take an excuse for a day off, throw a sickie. But you threaten us, try to kill us? Kill and injure some of us?

Fuck you, sunshine.

We’ll not be having that.

No grand demonstrations, few warlike chants, a desire for revenge, of course, but the reaction of the average man and woman in the street? Yes, you’ve tried it now bugger off. We’re not scared, no, you won’t change us. Even if we are scared, you can still bugger off.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005
 
Jobs for mates

Remember that strange column in the Age regarding the threats to the existence of the BBC? The one which raised suggestions of the new editor giving jobs to his mates?

It was written by Alan Taylor, and did not mention the ABC, or display any relevance to Australia whatsoever.

Well he's back, and it appears he is here to stay. Yesterday brought another article by Taylor, under the byline of "Eye on Britain". The topic was the possible introduction of ID cards into Britain. No reference to Australia, or suggestion of how trends in UK may be a forerunner of what we can expect here.

I guess Jaspan would just respond that the type of Age reader he is trying to attract is perfectly able to make any such connections themselves, and doesn't need his overseas mates to spell it out for them.

Or he could just be flinging plum jobs to his mates - you decide.

Friday, July 01, 2005
 
no dah

An interesting interview with US President Bush by the Times' Gerard Baker contains this gem:

In person Mr Bush is so far removed from the caricature of the dim, war-mongering Texas cowboy of global popular repute that it shakes one’s faith in the reliability of the modern media.

Bush also drops a few jokes:

Mr Bush added a bust of President Eisenhower. It sits to the left of his desk, made from the timbers of HMS Resolute, a Victorian transport ship, another gift from the British. You’re probably the only people in here for whom I don’t need to explain what ‘HMS’ means,” he says. “My Texas friends have no idea what I’m talking about when I tell them.”

As expansive as he is, Mr Bush can’t help betraying a faint irritation at the intrusiveness of the modern media, with a reference to a famous brief medical emergency from a couple of years ago.

He points out the door in the well of the presidential desk, placed there by President Roosevelt to hide the fact that he spent his presidency in a wheelchair. “FDR was in a wheelchair and nobody knows. I choke on a pretzel and the whole world gets to hear about it.”


and Iran?:

Perhaps most revealing is his response to a question about Iran. His words are polite but the President’s body language is eloquent. As I read him a quote from the latest rantings of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, and remind him that the Iranian President was a leader of the students who took Americans hostage in Tehran in 1979, he is visibly agitated. He glances at his advisers with a look of disgust that suggests that the chances of a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis are remoter than ever.

The edited interview transcript is also interesting. On September 11:

So as long as I’m sitting here in this Oval Office, I will never forget the lessons of September 11, and that is that we are in a global war against cold-blooded killers.

Others have forgotten that, or choose to ignore it. On democracy in the Middle East:

Frankly, I rejected the intellectual elitism of some around the world who say, “Well, maybe certain people can’t be free”. I don’t believe that. Of course I was labelled a, you know, blatant idealist.

But I am. Because I do believe people want to be free, regardless of their religion or where they are from. I do believe women should be empowered in the Middle East. I don’t believe we ought to accept forms of government that ultimately create a hopelessness that then can be translated into jihadist violence. And I believe strongly that the ultimate way you defeat an ideology is with a better ideology. And history has proven that. Anyway, you got me going. Starting to give the whole speech again.

The whole interview is quite neutral, albeit with softball questions, and you end up with a much more positive impression of Bush than the vast majority of what you read in the media.

Of course, people will say that the Times is owned by Murdoch, so *of course* they want you to think that....


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