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Friday, March 16, 2007

 

Red Nosed blogging - a press release

"100 bloggers have published a book to raise funds of the BBC's Comic Relief appeal on Friday 16th March.

'Shaggy Blog Stories' features hilarious contributions from Richard Herring of 'Fist of Fun' fame, BBC 6Music presenter Andrew Collins, comedian Emma Kennedy, and James Henry, scriptwriter from Channel Four's 'The Green Wing'.

Authors Abby Lee, David Belbin, Catherine Sanderson and The Guardian's Anna Pickard have also contributed pieces to the book.

The vast majority of contributions, however, are the work of many of the lesser known and unfamiliar heroes of British blogging; going under pen names such as Diamond Geezer, Scaryduck, Pandemian and Unreliable Witness.

The book is the idea of blogger Mike Atkinson who writes the 'Troubled Diva' weblog. 'Shaggy Blog Stories' features comic writing from not only the cream of British blogging, but also the best up-and-coming and undiscovered writers publishing their work on their own websites.

Giving himself a "ridiculously short" seven days from idea to finished product, Atkinson admitted that he was overwhelmed with the response, which gleaned over 300 submissions for publication.

With a pool of talented writers, and the latest publishing-on-demand technology, Shaggy Blog Stories bypasses the usual snail-paced publishing industry, and offers a mail order service to customers who will receive their finished copy within days of placing their order, and only a couple of weeks after the original idea.

"Blogging creates complex, worldwide networks of friendship and contacts on the internet", says journalist Alistair Coleman, one of Shaggy Blog Stories' contributors. "By creating a buzz about this book, we can reach out to hundreds, thousands of readers who'd be willing to part with a few quid for this very good cause. Mike's got some excellent writers on board here whose work deserves a wider audience. Everybody wins."

For details of how to order the book, visit www.shaggyblogstories.co.uk.

For the background story on the creation of Shaggy Blog Stories, take a look at www.troubled-diva.com."

Yes, I has bought one. Since I haven't done a great deal of Red Nose anything in recent years I thought it was about time I did, even it just involved plugging my card details into a website. Ah, the memories of school days raising tuppence everytime you drew a red nose man on the back of someone's hand in biro. Those were the days.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

 

The path to Hell

Via Crooked Timber (http://crookedtimber.org), I find this, from a discussion on the validity (or not) of the second Lancet study of civilian deaths and why (whether) it was mostly ignored by the media, and, in fact, almost everyone:

"I think the problem with the Lancet study is that it rams up against a fundamental presupposition of current ‘Western’ discourse (i.e. among intellectuals) and therefore it can’t really be sensibly discussed. I’ve noticed a hierarchy of ‘acceptable’ ‘sins of the West’.

1: Most acceptable of all are horrors of the past during which ‘we’ did not ‘intervene’. (key example here: Rwanda). This can therefore be spun: ‘we are good, but sometimes we don’t do enough’.

2: Secondly are horrors of the past in which ‘we’ did do terrible things, but it was all a long time ago. Therefore this is spun: ‘Vietnam/the slave trade/the Empire was indeed a terrible thing but it was all a long time ago, and the fact that we disapprove of it now only goes to prove how good we are now.’ (or else, the Christopher Hitchens line: the fact that ‘we’ caused such bad things in the past only goes to prove that ‘we’ have to set them right now).

3: Verging into unacceptable territory (but still, as it were, alludable to) is ‘our’ current collusion with various dictators many of whom practice torture, murder, genocide etc. It is just barely permissable to mention our collusion with the Saudis, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Pakistan (etc. etc. etc.) but only if this is spun: ‘they are bad people and they have corrupted us! It is terrible that we are forced to deal with such people, but this is the way of the world.’

4: Completely and absolutely unmentionable (indeed, unthinkable) is a situation where ‘we’ are purely and simply the bad guys. The Lancet study is not so much argued against as ignored (or treated with bug eyed disbelief) because it threatens this taboo. For example, as Mahmood Mandani points out, why do ‘we’ not refer to what is currently going on in Iraq as genocide? It is not obviously much better than what is currently going on in Sudan. The reason, surely, is that then we would have to face the idea that ‘we’ set in motion a chain of events that led to genocide, and that, therefore, ‘we’ are the bad guys."

And I think to a certain extent it is true. Because "we" have good intentions, "we" therefore are not and do not do "evil". Trouble is, pretty much everyone thinks they are doing the right thing. Hell, the men who flew planes into the World Trade Centre thought they were doing the right thing. At the risk of breaching Godwin's Law, bloody Hitler thought he was doing the right thing. There really are very few people out there rubbing their hands, laughing maniacally and setting out to do evil. The road to Hell is indeed paved with good intentions.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

 

They'll never take our freedom!

Well now, this is just fascinating! According to The Heritage Foundation, the UK is the 5th or 6th (it draws with NZ) most economically free country in the world:

http://www.heritage.org/research/features/index/countries.cfm

We are, officially, free. And this despite all those regulations/rules/red tape that various blogs and commentators continue to tell us is gagging business and dragging us down down down. It's amazing what some facts (rather than rhetoric) can show you, huh?

You live and learn.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

 

Brainy writing

I like good books. I buy far more books than I have time to read, and I read a lot. The only upside to commuting into London for work is the semi-enforced reading time. And I like good, clever books that teach you something new and expand your mind. But there can be a downside to brainy writing, and I've never quite been able to articulate it. So instead I shall steal the much-better-and-sort-of-relevant-words of another, the inestimable Neil Gaiman:

"There are two kinds of clever writer. The ones that point out how clever they are, and the ones who see no need to point out how clever they are."

Absolutely. I have in the past, for example, been incredibly impressed by the writings of Umberto Eco, and yet always came away from reading one of his hefty tomes feeling a bit dumber, rather than a bit cleverer. He is indeed a man of enormous brain, but, to steal the words of yet another, my goodness don't he know it.

Mr Gaiman is talking about a particular author:

"Gene Wolfe is of the second kind, and the intelligence is less important than the tale. He is not smart to make you feel stupid. He is smart to make you smart as well"

Damn, like I needed yet another author to get into.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

 

Enough

Many many months ago I wrote about my quest to start with a blank sheet, politically speaking. I wanted to start anew, without preconceptions. To read the views of the right and the left and try to learn afresh. And I have. I haved read and read and commented and commented and (occasionally) posted. I have seen, I think, the best and worst that British political blogging has to offer.

But I have to tell you this - I am tired of the whole fucking thing. It has been nigh on impossible to find openmindedness and honesty. God forbid that I should wish to tease out some non-dogmatic explanations for things. Harder than blood from a stone. And any respect? Forget that! People seem to be pathologically incapable of seeing past their own oh-so-certain convictions and prejudices, and utterly unable to see anything from any other view point than their own myopic tunnel vision. And I've had enough enough enough enough.

I've had enough of lefties calling conservatives evil, when I have known good and decent conservatives. I've had enough of righties calling socialists stupid, when I have known intelligence socialists. I've had enough of the whole macho, dick-swinging, name-calling charade that calls itself "political debate" in the blogosphere.

The final straw on this particular camel's back was the minor storm in a tea cup that was an accidental announcement of the death of Margaret Thatcher on a blog-that-shall-not-be-named. Naturally, it turned out to be a windup and the pathetic excuse for a fallout that has followed has been more excuse than I ever needed to stop sullying my eyes and minds with this crud. From the right wing shouts of glee at catching a leftie in a silly (though honest) mistake, to the left wing widespread dancing on the (not yet filled) grave of Maggie - the whole thing has left me feeling... grubby.

Some pearls of my oh-so-humble-wisdom:

- it's really not that big a deal if someone gets something wrong on a blog. Spinning this into a left wing conspiracy/indication of the stupidity of the left is grasping at some seriously small straws. It's petulent and ugly. It's pettiness of the worse kind. And really, if this is the thing that gets you excited the most, then you have a tiny tiny mind;

- talk of dance floors and urinals over the grave of another human being is just nasty. You're sounding like the people that hang around outside US prisons cheering when someone's just been executed, and I really don't think you want to be in the same club as those drooling, bloodthirsty lunatics.

This whole sad, sordid episode has just crystallised everything I've been thinking and feeling. So well done guys - you wanted to be the alternative to the MSM, but unfortunately you've just turned out to be a watered-down, typo strewn version of the same thing. You're not revolutionary any more, you've just been sucked into the same quagmire.

I saw it written somewhere once that we get the politicians we deserve, and you lot have got exactly that. It's a positive feedback of crap, endlessly feeding itself with its own excrement. And I have better things to do than wallow in the filth.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

 

Drunken Consent

There was a rape trial recently wherein a judge, in his wisdom, said the immortal words "drunken consent is still consent". This is one of the most heinous pieces of rubbish I have ever heard. By that reason, I supposed "forced consent is still consent". I am being facetious of course, but the point stands - consent sometimes is not consent, as that concept is legally recognised; it depends very much on the circumstances.

This has been debated elsewhere on various blogs, most recently in a piece in the Telegraph that was then debated here: http://timworstall.typepad.com/timworstall/2007/01/drunkeness_and_.html#comments.

I find it difficult to express how much I disapprove of the analogy drawn there between a woman who, whilst drunk, "consents" to sex and a women who, whilst drunk, gets into a car and drives or commits an assault. The two things, as I believe some of the comments make clear, are entirely different. And the very fact that comparisons are being made between the active commission of a wrongful act and the passive commission of a non-wrongful act just makes me realise how far down the barrel some of these barrel scrapers are scraping.

I tried to draw what was, in my opinion, a more accurate analogy that was, I thought gender neutral, so as to try to get these (male) commenters into the shoes of the hypothetical drunk woman. The analogy I drew was as follows:

"Here's an alternative scenario to all the "doing bad things when drunk" comparisons - if a person who was drunk went to a doctor and said "doctor, perform this operation on me please", and the doctor did so - would that request be considered to be adeqaute consent to prevent the doctor from being done for assault? What about if the doctor went up to the drunk person and said "may I perform this operation on you please?" and the drunk person said yes, would that be considered consent?"

This was immediately (and, I believe, disingenously) misinterpreted as referring to the stitching of a wound after a drunken accident or emergency surgery carried out on an unconscious person. Again alas, I draw a heavy sigh and attempt to correct what I thought was a perfectly obvious comparison. No, I was not referring to anything necessary or medically beneficial and to think that I was is either a wilful or stupid misinterpretation.

So let me say again, how would you, dear (imaginary) reader feel if you woke up and discovered that a doctor had performed an entirely unnecessary and invasive operation upon you that you couldn't remember. Imagine further if the doctor told you that you had, in your drunkenness, enthusiastically endorsed such an operation, nay, had begged for it. Imagine even further then that you were told by the law and society that you were entirely responsible for your own misfortune and the doctor was entirely blameless. And were then told that your were scurrilously attempting to smear the doctor and should be ashamed of yourself.

Does that sound just and fair?


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

 

View on the EU

There has been some comment recently on a few of the political blogs I read on the subject of the EU. My view, succintly, as I comment on http://voting.taktix.org (nope, still haven't worked out how to embed hyperlinks) is that we are currently in the longest period of peace that (Western) Europe has ever known. I’m much rather we be scrapping verbally about trade rules than scrapping physically about, well, anything else.

So there.

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