" Madam Miaow Says: July 2009

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Police Support the Troops badges: bring them home or support the war?


With the news that Metropolitan police are to be allowed to wear Union flag badges supporting British troops currently on action in Afghanistan, I was surprised to hear Eddie Mair on yesterday's BBC Radio 4's PM programme taking a hostile stance towards Stop The War's spokesperson, Chris Nineham.

Chris did a stolid job if a bit spluttery and tiresomely "Um" laden (brother of Bin) when taken by surprise by Mair's interview which consisted of "Who says!", cutting off his sentences, and ignoring his points of logic. I was baffled by the utter denial that "Support The Troops" is read by most people to mean support for the war.

Indeed, what does happen when police wear their opposing politics on their lapels at anti-war demonstration, perhaps in place of their ID numbers which some of them are so fond of leaving off? Wearing these "Support The Troops" badges, according to the police spokesman in terms reminiscent of something out of Kipling, does not compromise their independence, neither do previous badges supporting RUC widows and orphans, or the union flag itself which is "the symbol of our country". Some might question exactly who in this country the Union Jack represents: the policeman seemed to think it meant Her Majesty and all who sail in her.

Wrong-footed by Mair, I wish Chris had stuck to his strongest point which he only seemed to stumble across in the course of the interview: Fine, if the key issue is support for the troops and not the war, then will police on duty be allowed to support the troops by wearing Troops Out badges calling for our boys and girls to be brought back home to safety?

Police Support the Troops badges: bring them home or support the war?


With the news that Metropolitan police are to be allowed to wear Union flag badges supporting British troops currently on action in Afghanistan, I was surprised to hear Eddie Mair on yesterday's BBC Radio 4's PM programme taking a hostile stance towards Stop The War's spokesperson, Chris Nineham.

Chris did a stolid job if a bit spluttery and tiresomely "Um" laden (brother of Bin) when taken by surprise by Mair's interview which consisted of "Who says!", cutting off his sentences, and ignoring his points of logic. I was baffled by the utter denial that "Support The Troops" is read by most people to mean support for the war.

Indeed, what does happen when police wear their opposing politics on their lapels at anti-war demonstration, perhaps in place of their ID numbers which some of them are so fond of leaving off? Wearing these "Support The Troops" badges, according to the police spokesman in terms reminiscent of something out of Kipling, does not compromise their independence, neither do previous badges supporting RUC widows and orphans, or the union flag itself which is "the symbol of our country". Some might question exactly who in this country the Union Jack represents: the policeman seemed to think it meant Her Majesty and all who sail in her.

Wrong-footed by Mair, I wish Chris had stuck to his strongest point which he only seemed to stumble across in the course of the interview: Fine, if the key issue is support for the troops and not the war, then will police on duty be allowed to support the troops by wearing Troops Out badges calling for our boys and girls to be brought back home to safety?

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Shat does Sarah Palin's farewell speech


William Shatner recites Governor Sarah Palin's farewell speech as she retires from politics to much wailing and gnashing of teeth by a distraught electorate. She wishes.

Lurve that Shat.

UPDATE: Killjoy Universal has had all YouTube videos of Shatner impalin' Palin taken down, and the one remaining — presumably its own — has had its embedding disabled. So you have to watch it here.

The Shat does Sarah Palin's farewell speech


William Shatner recites Governor Sarah Palin's farewell speech as she retires from politics to much wailing and gnashing of teeth by a distraught electorate. She wishes.

Lurve that Shat.

UPDATE: Killjoy Universal has had all YouTube videos of Shatner impalin' Palin taken down, and the one remaining — presumably its own — has had its embedding disabled. So you have to watch it here.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Obama wouldn't hurt a fly ... heh, heh!



Aw! And he didn't even use chopsticks.

Obama wouldn't hurt a fly ... heh, heh!



Aw! And he didn't even use chopsticks.

Trevor Phillips race watchdog a waste of space, shock, horror


Fancy that! The pressure is on for Trevor Phillips to get the heave-ho as head of the new Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

When he was in charge of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) I never heard of him doing squat for the UK Chinese community, although I'm sure he liked the food.

But even before his appointment in 2003, when we were the subject of an anti-Chinese campaign in the national media blaming the Chinese for the Foot & Mouth Disease outbreak in 2000 which was so royally screwed up by the government, the CRE was the chocolate teapot. Chinese were scapegoated, attacked and vilified, some physically, their businesses trashed and yet the public body did nothing. It failed miserably in its goal, "To use its legal powers to help eradicate racial discrimination and harassment."

We had to run a sharp press operation to counter the misinformation and outright lies with no help whatsoever from the public body that was charged with protecting minorities. If the Chinese community hadn't come together so spectacularly in the campaign to challenge the attacks, the outcome might have been a whole lot worse.

Since then there have been numerous cases when the Chinese have had to do it for themselves, not that that's a bad thing. It was, after all, individuals such as Suresh Grover, Imran Khan and their Monitoring Group, and the Lawrences themselves who made groundbreaking gains in the Stephen Lawrence case. But a bit of support from the state-funded bodies in the face of overwhelming odds wouldn't have gone amiss.

For many of us involved in anti-racism, New Labour appointee Phillips has been a highly paid waste of space and the public organisations that gave him a lucrative career not much better either. I see from the current list of EHRC commissioners that, while some of them have principles, others may differ.

And now Clever Trevor has been found handing over public dosh to his friends in TV. Knock me dahn wiv a fevva! Can I ask, who'd'a thunk it? I mean, like, WHO?

Status, career, opportunism, hypocrisy and public funds — the pearls and twinset of political life. Am I stating the bleedin' obvious when I say that being part of an ethnic minority does not automatically guarantee you're on the right side?

Trevor Phillips race watchdog a waste of space, shock, horror


Fancy that! The pressure is on for Trevor Phillips to get the heave-ho as head of the new Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

When he was in charge of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) I never heard of him doing squat for the UK Chinese community, although I'm sure he liked the food.

But even before his appointment in 2003, when we were the subject of an anti-Chinese campaign in the national media blaming the Chinese for the Foot & Mouth Disease outbreak in 2000 which was so royally screwed up by the government, the CRE was the chocolate teapot. Chinese were scapegoated, attacked and vilified, some physically, their businesses trashed and yet the public body did nothing. It failed miserably in its goal, "To use its legal powers to help eradicate racial discrimination and harassment."

We had to run a sharp press operation to counter the misinformation and outright lies with no help whatsoever from the public body that was charged with protecting minorities. If the Chinese community hadn't come together so spectacularly in the campaign to challenge the attacks, the outcome might have been a whole lot worse.

Since then there have been numerous cases when the Chinese have had to do it for themselves, not that that's a bad thing. It was, after all, individuals such as Suresh Grover, Imran Khan and their Monitoring Group, and the Lawrences themselves who made groundbreaking gains in the Stephen Lawrence case. But a bit of support from the state-funded bodies in the face of overwhelming odds wouldn't have gone amiss.

For many of us involved in anti-racism, New Labour appointee Phillips has been a highly paid waste of space and the public organisations that gave him a lucrative career not much better either. I see from the current list of EHRC commissioners that, while some of them have principles, others may differ.

And now Clever Trevor has been found handing over public dosh to his friends in TV. Knock me dahn wiv a fevva! Can I ask, who'd'a thunk it? I mean, like, WHO?

Status, career, opportunism, hypocrisy and public funds — the pearls and twinset of political life. Am I stating the bleedin' obvious when I say that being part of an ethnic minority does not automatically guarantee you're on the right side?

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Anna May Wong Must Die! website now live


After much joy, tears and heartache, you can now visit the Anna May Wong Must Die! website here.

It has all the info about my latest one-woman show, a multimedia-illustrated journey through the life and crimes of Anna May Wong, Hollywood's first Chinese movie star. Anna May challenged prejudice and the racism enshrined in American law to become the most famous Chinese woman in the world in the 1920s and 30s. She wasn't allowed to kiss a leading man if he was white, even if he was in yellowface and playing a Chinese character, and she lost plum roles to white actors who the studios claimed could portray the inner humanity of the Chinese better than the Chinese themselves. She died in 1961 aged only 56, falling into obscurity for nearly half a century.

Now, if that's not asking for a satirical look at where we are in terms of the Chinese diaspora, I don't know what is. I hope the show goes some way towards reclaiming Anna May Wong for all of us through comedy, music and some pertinent observations.

You'll be able to find dates, news, press, pictures, music, videos and articles on the show. As it's early days yet, some of the pages still don't have their content, but this'll change soon.

I've also knocked up the poster above which I hope everyone finds eye-catching and effective.

And, yes, it IS a lampshade. Why do you ask?

Anna May Wong Must Die! website now live


After much joy, tears and heartache, you can now visit the Anna May Wong Must Die! website here.

It has all the info about my latest one-woman show, a multimedia-illustrated journey through the life and crimes of Anna May Wong, Hollywood's first Chinese movie star. Anna May challenged prejudice and the racism enshrined in American law to become the most famous Chinese woman in the world in the 1920s and 30s. She wasn't allowed to kiss a leading man if he was white, even if he was in yellowface and playing a Chinese character, and she lost plum roles to white actors who the studios claimed could portray the inner humanity of the Chinese better than the Chinese themselves. She died in 1961 aged only 56, falling into obscurity for nearly half a century.

Now, if that's not asking for a satirical look at where we are in terms of the Chinese diaspora, I don't know what is. I hope the show goes some way towards reclaiming Anna May Wong for all of us through comedy, music and some pertinent observations.

You'll be able to find dates, news, press, pictures, music, videos and articles on the show. As it's early days yet, some of the pages still don't have their content, but this'll change soon.

I've also knocked up the poster above which I hope everyone finds eye-catching and effective.

And, yes, it IS a lampshade. Why do you ask?

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Anna Chen on Raiders FM tonight 8pm

Just a quickie to let my readers know that, should you be so inclined, you can listen to me tonight on Jan Kooper's Raiders FM show 8-9pm.

Click on "Live On Air" and then "Musical Reactions" if you want to join in.

I'm Jan's guest tonight for what might turn out to be an anti-war-themed show, along with Claire Mansfield who'll be joining us later. Claire was one of their star DJs 20 years ago and is now my very good friend.

Jan may be playing some of my music tracks — you have been warned!

Claire Mansfeild, former Raiders FM DJ

Anna Chen on Raiders FM tonight 8pm

Just a quickie to let my readers know that, should you be so inclined, you can listen to me tonight on Jan Kooper's Raiders FM show 8-9pm.

Click on "Live On Air" and then "Musical Reactions" if you want to join in.

I'm Jan's guest tonight for what might turn out to be an anti-war-themed show, along with Claire Mansfield who'll be joining us later. Claire was one of their star DJs 20 years ago and is now my very good friend.

Jan may be playing some of my music tracks — you have been warned!

Claire Mansfeild, former Raiders FM DJ

Days out in London for free: South Bank larks


A free day in London can mean varied entertainment and practically no dosh required. This is how I spent yesterday.

We take the bus into town, intending to head straight for the Tate Modern a little way up from the stop at Waterloo Bridge. But London transport being the roulette game it is, we're all turfed off early in Trafalgar Square.

No great problem, though, as it allows us to have a look at the Fourth Plinth activity (artist Anthony Gormley's idea that more than 2,000 people will spend an hour each on the vacant plinth until October). This consists of a bored looking guy reading a newspaper. The safety net ruins the exciting possibilities of the unexpected so we move on past the National Gallery (free entry), down Villiers Street past Charing Cross Station, and over the beautiful pedestrian Hungerford Bridge with some of the most spectacular views of London, to the South Bank.

Here are London plane trees wrapped in red fabric with white polka-dots, giving the impression that they've caught lurgy — a precursor to the Swine Flu pandemic expected this year.

We'd normally pause at the National Film Theatre where you could once relax with a pint or a coffee on one of the democratic benches overlooking the bookstalls and river, and maybe chat to your neighbours, mostly film buffs. But some bureaucrat bean-counter had them all dug up earlier this year and replaced with chi-chi tables and chairs, surrounded by a barrier of topiary and clear messages that the hoi-polloi can frakk off! This is now for the haute bourgeoisie with spending power, not skint movie fans.

So on to the National Theatre where I bump into a friend, actor Stephen Hoo looking very fit, exercising with playwright Rikki Beadle-Blair and a bunch of mates. We exchange air-kisses and leave them to their exertions while we settle at a table on the almost deserted first floor of the NT. When the weather's nice, I sometimes pick up a box of sushi from the Embankment station Wasabi for a few quid and picnic outside on the balcony. Today it's grey and showery so we eat our Tesco's sandwiches in the warm.

We walk to the Tate Modern, running past the boarded up length of pathway where they're building a new entrance for Blackfriars station and which stinks of chemicals. It's like sniffing glue and I feel quite light-headed by the time we reach the gallery. We head straight for the Members Room (membership allows you and a guest free access to the exhibitions meaning you can save hundreds in a year if you're a regular visitor to the Tates) with its great views across the river to St Pauls and beyond. The Dunkertons perry cider is the best — a scrumpy-like earthyness, lovely flavour, and it's 7.5%! It costs £4 per 500ml bottle but definitely worth it as a treat. [Note: in the Members Room it's £4.05, in the other restaurants it's £4.50.]

A bit squiffy, we catch a bit of the art including animee films (Anna Lee) and some arty nude footage which look like parody but turn out to be the genuine item from the 1960s. Sorry we guffawed like the drunken philistines we were, but they made us do it!! I did haul at Delightful Chum's arm when he pointed at the Free Willy and chortled. Thus distracted, we're too late for the Futurism exhibition which we'll have to see next time.

Outside, the RSPB have set up telescopes trained on the top of the Tate Mod tower where a female peregrine and her mate have taken to hanging out for the past five years, feasting on the feral pigeons who don't seem the least bit bothered. She's sitting peacefully with nuthin' but the breeze ruffling her feathers — a good state to be in.

We intended to take the boat to the Tate Britain (a fiver) but it's nearly six and everything's closing so we note that you can get a day roaming pass for £12 which gets you to all stops between Westminster Pier and the O2 Centre downriver, and resolve to do this next time.

We cross the Millennium Bridge, now disappointingly stable since its opening week as the Wobbly Bridge. Halfway across, we meet a guy with a juvenile Asian python. For £2 he'll let you take pictures with it which we did. As you can see above.

St Pauls Cathedral is closed — tough if you're in a crisis and in need of something numinous. Thankfully, we're not, so we take the bus home having spent under a tenner each.

Days out in London for free: South Bank larks


A free day in London can mean varied entertainment and practically no dosh required. This is how I spent yesterday.

We take the bus into town, intending to head straight for the Tate Modern a little way up from the stop at Waterloo Bridge. But London transport being the roulette game it is, we're all turfed off early in Trafalgar Square.

No great problem, though, as it allows us to have a look at the Fourth Plinth activity (artist Anthony Gormley's idea that more than 2,000 people will spend an hour each on the vacant plinth until October). This consists of a bored looking guy reading a newspaper. The safety net ruins the exciting possibilities of the unexpected so we move on past the National Gallery (free entry), down Villiers Street past Charing Cross Station, and over the beautiful pedestrian Hungerford Bridge with some of the most spectacular views of London, to the South Bank.

Here are London plane trees wrapped in red fabric with white polka-dots, giving the impression that they've caught lurgy — a precursor to the Swine Flu pandemic expected this year.

We'd normally pause at the National Film Theatre where you could once relax with a pint or a coffee on one of the democratic benches overlooking the bookstalls and river, and maybe chat to your neighbours, mostly film buffs. But some bureaucrat bean-counter had them all dug up earlier this year and replaced with chi-chi tables and chairs, surrounded by a barrier of topiary and clear messages that the hoi-polloi can frakk off! This is now for the haute bourgeoisie with spending power, not skint movie fans.

So on to the National Theatre where I bump into a friend, actor Stephen Hoo looking very fit, exercising with playwright Rikki Beadle-Blair and a bunch of mates. We exchange air-kisses and leave them to their exertions while we settle at a table on the almost deserted first floor of the NT. When the weather's nice, I sometimes pick up a box of sushi from the Embankment station Wasabi for a few quid and picnic outside on the balcony. Today it's grey and showery so we eat our Tesco's sandwiches in the warm.

We walk to the Tate Modern, running past the boarded up length of pathway where they're building a new entrance for Blackfriars station and which stinks of chemicals. It's like sniffing glue and I feel quite light-headed by the time we reach the gallery. We head straight for the Members Room (membership allows you and a guest free access to the exhibitions meaning you can save hundreds in a year if you're a regular visitor to the Tates) with its great views across the river to St Pauls and beyond. The Dunkertons perry cider is the best — a scrumpy-like earthyness, lovely flavour, and it's 7.5%! It costs £4 per 500ml bottle but definitely worth it as a treat. [Note: in the Members Room it's £4.05, in the other restaurants it's £4.50.]

A bit squiffy, we catch a bit of the art including animee films (Anna Lee) and some arty nude footage which look like parody but turn out to be the genuine item from the 1960s. Sorry we guffawed like the drunken philistines we were, but they made us do it!! I did haul at Delightful Chum's arm when he pointed at the Free Willy and chortled. Thus distracted, we're too late for the Futurism exhibition which we'll have to see next time.

Outside, the RSPB have set up telescopes trained on the top of the Tate Mod tower where a female peregrine and her mate have taken to hanging out for the past five years, feasting on the feral pigeons who don't seem the least bit bothered. She's sitting peacefully with nuthin' but the breeze ruffling her feathers — a good state to be in.

We intended to take the boat to the Tate Britain (a fiver) but it's nearly six and everything's closing so we note that you can get a day roaming pass for £12 which gets you to all stops between Westminster Pier and the O2 Centre downriver, and resolve to do this next time.

We cross the Millennium Bridge, now disappointingly stable since its opening week as the Wobbly Bridge. Halfway across, we meet a guy with a juvenile Asian python. For £2 he'll let you take pictures with it which we did. As you can see above.

St Pauls Cathedral is closed — tough if you're in a crisis and in need of something numinous. Thankfully, we're not, so we take the bus home having spent under a tenner each.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Airbrushing life: HSBC cormorant fishing advertisement



Just a small thing that's been bugging me. That HSBC ad with the old Chinese guy and his cormorant fishing aid.

Note the bird. Its instincts are to dive for fish ... and eat the catch. The ingenious Chinese, when harnessing its fishing skills, realised that you need to find a way to stop it eating the fruits of its own labours. Know how they do it? They sensibly tie a tether around its neck to stop it swallowing.

I know this because I, and every other tourist to Guilin, have marveled at this co-operation between human and nature and observed the nifty neckwear.

And yet, in the ads, the glossed up avian star sports a bare throat. Some smart cutting going on?

HSBC, formerly the Midland. "We brought you opium. Now we bring you respect."

More on animals. Watching scientists dissecting a giraffe on TV and wondering why they're wearing bright orange gitmo suits.

Airbrushing life: HSBC cormorant fishing advertisement



Just a small thing that's been bugging me. That HSBC ad with the old Chinese guy and his cormorant fishing aid.

Note the bird. Its instincts are to dive for fish ... and eat the catch. The ingenious Chinese, when harnessing its fishing skills, realised that you need to find a way to stop it eating the fruits of its own labours. Know how they do it? They sensibly tie a tether around its neck to stop it swallowing.

I know this because I, and every other tourist to Guilin, have marveled at this co-operation between human and nature and observed the nifty neckwear.

And yet, in the ads, the glossed up avian star sports a bare throat. Some smart cutting going on?

HSBC, formerly the Midland. "We brought you opium. Now we bring you respect."

More on animals. Watching scientists dissecting a giraffe on TV and wondering why they're wearing bright orange gitmo suits.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Brits take Swine Flu to China


OK, I'm taking childish pleasure in this, but am I the only person to think it's funny that, reversing all the Yellow Peril scares about dastardly Chinese and their Avian Flu, SARS and even Foot & Mouth Disease (exposed as a flat out lie by a government department in 2000), British kids have now taken Swine Flu into China?

The students say that, although their once-in-a-lifetime school trip has been scuppered and they're confined to the hotel, they're still having a nice time with top medical care and "very good" food.

This reminds me of my own disrupted grand tour of China, accompanying my parents during the Mao era, when I contracted dysentery in a Karachi stopover to Beijing. Well, my mother did warn me not to eat any meat for the two days we were there, drink bottled water and wash the fruit. So who knows what madness made me think it was a good idea, out of range of my parents, to buy a burger off a street-stall that I wouldn't have touched had it been parked outside a London tourist trap.

I spent ten days in a Beijing hospital, quarantined in a spotlessly clean tiled room, listening to the cicadas chirruping while my guts exploded in slomo. I was given a mixture of Chinese medicine and Western pills by masked nurses and doctors who were incredibly kind and caring. And the food was lovely — steamed rice with small tasty portions of meat and veg.

In another personal note, I see some of the invalids were from Central Foundation School in Clerkenwell, the brother school of my own Central Foundation Girls School formerly of Spitalfields. Small world, large gin.

Get well soon, guys.

Also picked up by Splinty

Brits take Swine Flu to China


OK, I'm taking childish pleasure in this, but am I the only person to think it's funny that, reversing all the Yellow Peril scares about dastardly Chinese and their Avian Flu, SARS and even Foot & Mouth Disease (exposed as a flat out lie by a government department in 2000), British kids have now taken Swine Flu into China?

The students say that, although their once-in-a-lifetime school trip has been scuppered and they're confined to the hotel, they're still having a nice time with top medical care and "very good" food.

This reminds me of my own disrupted grand tour of China, accompanying my parents during the Mao era, when I contracted dysentery in a Karachi stopover to Beijing. Well, my mother did warn me not to eat any meat for the two days we were there, drink bottled water and wash the fruit. So who knows what madness made me think it was a good idea, out of range of my parents, to buy a burger off a street-stall that I wouldn't have touched had it been parked outside a London tourist trap.

I spent ten days in a Beijing hospital, quarantined in a spotlessly clean tiled room, listening to the cicadas chirruping while my guts exploded in slomo. I was given a mixture of Chinese medicine and Western pills by masked nurses and doctors who were incredibly kind and caring. And the food was lovely — steamed rice with small tasty portions of meat and veg.

In another personal note, I see some of the invalids were from Central Foundation School in Clerkenwell, the brother school of my own Central Foundation Girls School formerly of Spitalfields. Small world, large gin.

Get well soon, guys.

Also picked up by Splinty

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Tony Blair: King of the World

Pic: "I want THIS much!"

Now Neil and Glynis Kinnock join in the cheerleading for Tony Blair to be made President of Europe. What, only Europe, Tone?

How corrupt do you have to be to continue rewarding the man who took Britain into an illegal war with Iraq which pillaged that country's resources, murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians, and has turned it into a basket case. It's not like he hasn't already been paid for services rendered, with JP Morgan shoving millions at him, the US lecture circuit syphoning dosh into his coffers, and Kuwait and Israel giving him vast sums.

And where was our peace envoy while this was happening? (Hat tip Socialist Unity)

Do they want the rest of the world to hate us?

Tony Blair: King of the World

Pic: "I want THIS much!"

Now Neil and Glynis Kinnock join in the cheerleading for Tony Blair to be made President of Europe. What, only Europe, Tone?

How corrupt do you have to be to continue rewarding the man who took Britain into an illegal war with Iraq which pillaged that country's resources, murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians, and has turned it into a basket case. It's not like he hasn't already been paid for services rendered, with JP Morgan shoving millions at him, the US lecture circuit syphoning dosh into his coffers, and Kuwait and Israel giving him vast sums.

And where was our peace envoy while this was happening? (Hat tip Socialist Unity)

Do they want the rest of the world to hate us?

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Mother Nature's Alien Headfrakk: How Parasitic Wasps Have Babies



Holy ker-rist! Just watched footage of the first stages in the life-cycle of the parasitic wasp on More 4 (waiting for The Great Sperm Race).

A caterpillar is stung by a parasitic wasp and implanted with eggs. Over time the larvae grow inside until they take up a third of its by now obese body. In order to keep the host alive, the larvae only consume the blood and stay away from the organs.

So far, so gruesome. Now for the Alien stage.

The wasp larvae need to get out and, in order to cut through the caterpillar's tough skin, they've grown little saw-like teeth. When it smiles, it does indeed look like what Bette Midler termed, having seen Ridley Scott's classic sci-fi horror, "a penis on a skateboard". The caterpillar — let's call it "John Hurt" writhes in agony but only for a short while, for in an added twist, the larvae secrete paralysing chemicals, although what John's supposed to do with a third of its body mass exploding out of itself is anyone's guess.

In the delightful video above, the babies (Aw, they have their mother's eyes) BURST out. To protect themselves from other parasitic wasps, they start to spin cocoons around themselves.

Now, here's the headfrakk ... John Hurt doesn't die but comes to. You'd think, consdidering what it's just been though, it would mash the little fukkas. But, instead, something in the chemicals secreted by the larvae makes it spin a covering, not to protect itself, but to protect the wasp pupae! Gasp!

Not only that but it then hangs around to guard the silken mass from predators ... UNTIL IT STARVES TO DEATH!!!

I know people like this.

Hmm. Sperm. The human equivalent of fifteen miles in two seconds, huh?

Mother Nature's Alien Headfrakk: How Parasitic Wasps Have Babies



Holy ker-rist! Just watched footage of the first stages in the life-cycle of the parasitic wasp on More 4 (waiting for The Great Sperm Race).

A caterpillar is stung by a parasitic wasp and implanted with eggs. Over time the larvae grow inside until they take up a third of its by now obese body. In order to keep the host alive, the larvae only consume the blood and stay away from the organs.

So far, so gruesome. Now for the Alien stage.

The wasp larvae need to get out and, in order to cut through the caterpillar's tough skin, they've grown little saw-like teeth. When it smiles, it does indeed look like what Bette Midler termed, having seen Ridley Scott's classic sci-fi horror, "a penis on a skateboard". The caterpillar — let's call it "John Hurt" writhes in agony but only for a short while, for in an added twist, the larvae secrete paralysing chemicals, although what John's supposed to do with a third of its body mass exploding out of itself is anyone's guess.

In the delightful video above, the babies (Aw, they have their mother's eyes) BURST out. To protect themselves from other parasitic wasps, they start to spin cocoons around themselves.

Now, here's the headfrakk ... John Hurt doesn't die but comes to. You'd think, consdidering what it's just been though, it would mash the little fukkas. But, instead, something in the chemicals secreted by the larvae makes it spin a covering, not to protect itself, but to protect the wasp pupae! Gasp!

Not only that but it then hangs around to guard the silken mass from predators ... UNTIL IT STARVES TO DEATH!!!

I know people like this.

Hmm. Sperm. The human equivalent of fifteen miles in two seconds, huh?

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Anna May Wong Must Die! show highlights video



I finally got an extract of Anna May Wong Must Die! on YouTube. Recorded Tuesday 26th May 2009 at the Roxy Bar & Screen, South London.

Still writing and putting the finishing touches to it. And, alas, no remote control of the Powerpoint/Keynote presentation due to my Mac iBook having no infra-red receiver, something I only found out the other month.

Anna May Wong Must Die! show highlights video



I finally got an extract of Anna May Wong Must Die! on YouTube. Recorded Tuesday 26th May 2009 at the Roxy Bar & Screen, South London.

Still writing and putting the finishing touches to it. And, alas, no remote control of the Powerpoint/Keynote presentation due to my Mac iBook having no infra-red receiver, something I only found out the other month.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

China Uighur uprising put down


Having no special insight into Sunday’s unrest in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, I’m as dependent on media coverage as everyone else, but I’ll try untangling the emerging information.

It appears that what started off as a lynching of two Uighurs in a Guangdong toy factory following false accusations of a gang-rape by a disgruntled worker, has erupted into full-scale riots possibly exeeding those in Tibet. YouTube clips show 3,000 angry protesters confronting an army armed with watercannon and guns. About 160 people have died, with 800 injured and 1,400 arrested.

The Uighurs say they were holding a peaceful demonstration when the army piled in, while Chinese sources say the protesters went on the rampage attacking and killing ethnic Hans.

These events lead to a range of questions: why now? Bush has courted Muslim Uighur insurgents (while locking up others in Gitmo). Is Obama doing the same? With China about to become the world’s number one superpower, is this (cold) war by another means, whereby western proxies fracture the state?

Or has this been brewing a long time? Complaints similar to those we hear from Tibet are of the indigenous Uighurs being overwhelmed and dominated by an influx of Hans who make up the majority of China’s population. Times Online says: “Uighurs feel that Han immigrants to Xinjiang are depriving them of jobs and diluting their unique culture.” They come over ‘ere …

In a debate on the Harmony Central Political Party forum, Elvira G says:
Uyghur is a Central Asian language which has nothing in common with Chinese languages. No one is prevented from speaking it socially but only Standard Mandarin is acceptable in education and business. Mandarin is the language of instruction in all schools throughout China and local languages are only taught as minor subjects.

The introduction of standardised Mandarin and the Simplified Chinese character system in 1954 enabled rapid mass literacy and easy communication throughout China. Standard Mandarin has been so successful that not only was it responsible for an increase of literacy within China of over 30% in a single generation but it has also been willingly adopted by almost all Chinese speakers outside the mainland simply because it is an excellent system.

Islam is recognised as an official religion and subsidised by the state but religious leaders are not permitted use their position to express political opinions.


Elsewhere, Blood & Treasure says that this time the Chinese are allowing the press more leeway in their coverage but the high body count indicates the army has lost it big time. Again. Also, there’s evidence emerging of anti-Han lynchings.

There’s another news round-up here.

Tania Branigan’s video and report for the Guardian say that now the Hans are tooling up in response to attacks. Great. All we need is a spiralling cycle of violence. Like the poet said, Man hands on misery to Man, it deepens like a coastal shelf. This one could run and run.

So is this another clash of civilisations with religion fuelling a Muslim versus Chinese conflict? Or is it about economic imperatives and discrimination? The Chinese government is accused of creaming off the wealth of the region. Not only that but some of these outlying areas (Gansu province) have been subjected to nuclear trials, much the same as Nevada in the US.

China used to be the world’s doormat — drained, pillaged, turned into a nation of junkies when Britain forced it to take opium. Sliced into dim sum by colonialist powers, China has done well to build up its industry and feed its people. But at what cost? I’d like to see it remain whole and invulnerable to further imperialist predations. But now the cracks are showing and the contradictions are there in radioactive neon. Capitalist economic progress comes at a price. Anyone with a basic baby knowledge of Marx knows that.

There is a chauvinist streak in Chinese society that may make it easier to dominate those perceived as inferior due to culture and race. This diminished during the brief communist period when the spirit of internationalism was drummed into everyone. It’s now resurfaced even bigger and weirder than it was before.

There was an alarming episode in BBC’s recent series, The Incredible Human Journey, which showed a Chinese scientist whose idee fixe is to persuade the world that the Chinese evolved from a completely different line of humanity [Peking Man] he claimed diverged over 100,000 years ago, from Homo Erectus, (heh, heh! He said erect …) and not Sapiens. This mad notion has taken hold to the extent that it is taught in some schools and there is even a theme park dedicated to the promotion of the theory.

Luckily, we now have genetics at our disposal. Another Chinese scientist, geneticisit Jin Li, conducted widespread tests and concluded that, no, we are all from the same Homo Sapiens strand that left Africa through the Yemen 70-80,000 years ago. And thank frakk for that. If you saw the sloping forehead and monobrow statues illustrating your supposedly illustrious ancestry, you too would be feeling mightily relieved that the Gallagher brothers are their only known descendents.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Jeff Beck at the Royal Albert Hall last night with David Gilmour: music review



Saw Jeff Beck at the Royal Albert Hall in London last night, an idyllic way to spend a glorious summer evening before the predicted storms over the next few days. We even caught an old-fashioned Number 9 Routemaster bus complete with a proper conductor for the last leg of the journey, something that turns us passengers into ten-year olds, drawing smiles and getting us talking to each other. No mean feat for hard-bitten Londoners.

The Hall is huge and we had good seats in the banked stalls facing the stage but these were up the far end so the performers were tiny. Luckily, I had the foresight to bring my posh opera glasses, a fan for the muggy atmosphere, and a bottle of water so, except for sitting behind the biggest man in the world with a head and neck built like a bullock, I was happy.

After a great support act by progabilly singer Imelda May (Hmm, a name from two of my shows — I, Imelda and Anna May Wong Must Die!), Jeff appeared. Lithe, lean and tanned in his all-white with a little red bandana (were those pixie boots?) he looked dead cute and more like Nigel Tufnel every day, even though he turned 65 last week. This being the sedate Kensington Gore and the audience being mostly over fifty, the volume does not go up to eleven but is loud enough to give maximum pleasure, Jeff being the ribbed condom of the rock world, without shredding your eardrums.

Lovely Companion Charles Shaar Murray said, "Most instrumental rock guitarists can bore me to tears. Jeff Beck can move me to tears."

Apart from his awesome playing where the meister of the bent string and tremolo arm makes his white Stratocaster sing and wail, I love Jeff for the way he treats women musicians. Although I missed the presence of Beck regular — the marvelous (and statuesque) Imogen Heap — and wished she was there singing Rollin' and Tumblin', Imelda May (shorter by a foot) filled the Heap-shaped gap with a powerful voice and percussive backing band featuring jazz trumpet and Celtic drumming. (Am I the only person who loves drum solos?)

Jeff's been using the same bass player for years, the amazing prodigy Tal Wilkenfeld (now only 21 years old), including her in his legendary Ronnie Scotts series of gigs which you can get on DVD or get a glimpse of here. A light sensitive touch and digital dexterity does the trick. She holds her own providing a solid foundation for Jeff to do his thang and countering with imaginative bass fills. The highlight of their partnering last night was a duet on bass where Tal played the complex melodic stuff up the high end and Jeff at her shoulder plucked at the low strings.

Vinnie Colaiuta is simply brilliant on drums — did I mention I love drum solos? Part of the pleasure is counting his complex timing which never ever falls apart but always looks so damned easy.

I couldn't hear Jason Rebello's keyboards that clearly but then again you don't want synths cluttering up the scenery and competing with the man we came to hear.

For the encore, Jeff was joined by surprise guest performer David Gilmour (the tiny speck in black in the pic below) for a rousing rendition of Jerusalem, a real crowd-pleaser. Someone with a good seat has already posted the video (above).

For the second encore, they went from the sublime to the ridiculous with Hi Ho Silver Lining, a song Jeff once said was like having a fackin' pink toilet seat slung around your neck for life. David Gilmour sang so look out for the video on YouTube and one here. This effectively bookended the night with his first and biggest hit as he'd opened with Bolero, the B side to his greatest pop choon (1967).

Bad sound in the choir seats behind the PA led to our friends walking out before the encore and I'd urge promoters not to sell these seats without a warning and at knockdown prices. But otherwise a great show and a sold out venue. Promoter Harvey Goldsmith must be very happy with his new managerial conquest.

Pic: David Gilmour joins Jeff Beck onstage for the encore

UPDATE: Because so many visitors from outside the UK are reading this review, I'll quickly add what I can remember about the actual set-list. Mostly it it was the same as the Ronnie Scott's gig. A Day In The Life was gorgeous. Nitin Sawnhey's Nadia, and Stevie Wonder's Cause We've Ended As Lovers with a bass solo from Tal, were beautiful. Also enjoyed the stomping Big Block, and Goodbye Pork Pie Hat/Brush With The Blues. Peter Gunn was a new one — who doesn't love that heavy spy guitar riff? Aside from joining in the encore, Imelda May changed out of her rockabilly tight top and mini skirt and into a glamorous green velvet and net evening gown to sing the Eartha Kitt classic, "Lilac Wine", slow and sultry with Jeff's band. And the very last encore was Jeff and Jason on the haunting Where Were You?

Jeff Beck at the Royal Albert Hall last night with David Gilmour: music review



Saw Jeff Beck at the Royal Albert Hall in London last night, an idyllic way to spend a glorious summer evening before the predicted storms over the next few days. We even caught an old-fashioned Number 9 Routemaster bus complete with a proper conductor for the last leg of the journey, something that turns us passengers into ten-year olds, drawing smiles and getting us talking to each other. No mean feat for hard-bitten Londoners.

The Hall is huge and we had good seats in the banked stalls facing the stage but these were up the far end so the performers were tiny. Luckily, I had the foresight to bring my posh opera glasses, a fan for the muggy atmosphere, and a bottle of water so, except for sitting behind the biggest man in the world with a head and neck built like a bullock, I was happy.

After a great support act by progabilly singer Imelda May (Hmm, a name from two of my shows — I, Imelda and Anna May Wong Must Die!), Jeff appeared. Lithe, lean and tanned in his all-white with a little red bandana (were those pixie boots?) he looked dead cute and more like Nigel Tufnel every day, even though he turned 65 last week. This being the sedate Kensington Gore and the audience being mostly over fifty, the volume does not go up to eleven but is loud enough to give maximum pleasure, Jeff being the ribbed condom of the rock world, without shredding your eardrums.

Lovely Companion Charles Shaar Murray said, "Most instrumental rock guitarists can bore me to tears. Jeff Beck can move me to tears."

Apart from his awesome playing where the meister of the bent string and tremolo arm makes his white Stratocaster sing and wail, I love Jeff for the way he treats women musicians. Although I missed the presence of Beck regular — the marvelous (and statuesque) Imogen Heap — and wished she was there singing Rollin' and Tumblin', Imelda May (shorter by a foot) filled the Heap-shaped gap with a powerful voice and percussive backing band featuring jazz trumpet and Celtic drumming. (Am I the only person who loves drum solos?)

Jeff's been using the same bass player for years, the amazing prodigy Tal Wilkenfeld (now only 21 years old), including her in his legendary Ronnie Scotts series of gigs which you can get on DVD or get a glimpse of here. A light sensitive touch and digital dexterity does the trick. She holds her own providing a solid foundation for Jeff to do his thang and countering with imaginative bass fills. The highlight of their partnering last night was a duet on bass where Tal played the complex melodic stuff up the high end and Jeff at her shoulder plucked at the low strings.

Vinnie Colaiuta is simply brilliant on drums — did I mention I love drum solos? Part of the pleasure is counting his complex timing which never ever falls apart but always looks so damned easy.

I couldn't hear Jason Rebello's keyboards that clearly but then again you don't want synths cluttering up the scenery and competing with the man we came to hear.

For the encore, Jeff was joined by surprise guest performer David Gilmour (the tiny speck in black in the pic below) for a rousing rendition of Jerusalem, a real crowd-pleaser. Someone with a good seat has already posted the video (above).

For the second encore, they went from the sublime to the ridiculous with Hi Ho Silver Lining, a song Jeff once said was like having a fackin' pink toilet seat slung around your neck for life. David Gilmour sang so look out for the video on YouTube and one here. This effectively bookended the night with his first and biggest hit as he'd opened with Bolero, the B side to his greatest pop choon (1967).

Bad sound in the choir seats behind the PA led to our friends walking out before the encore and I'd urge promoters not to sell these seats without a warning and at knockdown prices. But otherwise a great show and a sold out venue. Promoter Harvey Goldsmith must be very happy with his new managerial conquest.

Pic: David Gilmour joins Jeff Beck onstage for the encore

UPDATE: Because so many visitors from outside the UK are reading this review, I'll quickly add what I can remember about the actual set-list. Mostly it it was the same as the Ronnie Scott's gig. A Day In The Life was gorgeous. Nitin Sawnhey's Nadia, and Stevie Wonder's Cause We've Ended As Lovers with a bass solo from Tal, were beautiful. Also enjoyed the stomping Big Block, and Goodbye Pork Pie Hat/Brush With The Blues. Peter Gunn was a new one — who doesn't love that heavy spy guitar riff? Aside from joining in the encore, Imelda May changed out of her rockabilly tight top and mini skirt and into a glamorous green velvet and net evening gown to sing the Eartha Kitt classic, "Lilac Wine", slow and sultry with Jeff's band. And the very last encore was Jeff and Jason on the haunting Where Were You?

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Six New Personality Disorders Caused by the Internet


"Hey, someone's got something wrong on the net! I have to put them right."

One for my lefty buddies, especially some of the weirdos scumming up the otherwise useful Socialist Unity website. I particularly like the prolier-than-thou bullies yelling at working class people how to be properly working class who turn out to be public school educated nitwits. I never knew you could type in Mockney!

Ever wondered why no-one seems to be able to have a normal conversation on internet forums? Puzzled why you spend so long on dickheads you'd walk away from if you ever met them in a pub? Wondering why you give them the time of day when a spraycan of mace would do the trick so much better?

Jonathan Kimak at cracked.com nails psycho behaviour on the net in a great online guide.

The Internet makes people crazy. We all know this. The guy on the message board who just called you a shitclown for owning a different video game console than him probably would have been perfectly polite had you met in real life.

In fact, we're thinking it's time they updated the psychological diagnostic manuals with this list of new disorders that only seem to kick in once the person opens a web browser.

And, yes, we've all seen the "Internet Asperger's Syndrome" trolls: "Soon the thing you're communicating with isn't a person, they're just a bunch of words on a screen. A bunch of words that the little bastard didn't even bother to spellcheck."

See also David Wong's Five Ways To Stop Trolls Killing the Internet

Thank you for your good sense, JK. Hat tip Popbitch

No dicks allowed

UPDATE: Renegade Eye has found another illuminating article on the subject of Flamers. Note Number 12, "Denying/projecting: We cannot see reality honestly, but must constantly manipulate it by erasing some parts and distorting others."

Six New Personality Disorders Caused by the Internet


"Hey, someone's got something wrong on the net! I have to put them right."

One for my lefty buddies, especially some of the weirdos scumming up the otherwise useful Socialist Unity website. I particularly like the prolier-than-thou bullies yelling at working class people how to be properly working class who turn out to be public school educated nitwits. I never knew you could type in Mockney!

Ever wondered why no-one seems to be able to have a normal conversation on internet forums? Puzzled why you spend so long on dickheads you'd walk away from if you ever met them in a pub? Wondering why you give them the time of day when a spraycan of mace would do the trick so much better?

Jonathan Kimak at cracked.com nails psycho behaviour on the net in a great online guide.

The Internet makes people crazy. We all know this. The guy on the message board who just called you a shitclown for owning a different video game console than him probably would have been perfectly polite had you met in real life.

In fact, we're thinking it's time they updated the psychological diagnostic manuals with this list of new disorders that only seem to kick in once the person opens a web browser.

And, yes, we've all seen the "Internet Asperger's Syndrome" trolls: "Soon the thing you're communicating with isn't a person, they're just a bunch of words on a screen. A bunch of words that the little bastard didn't even bother to spellcheck."

See also David Wong's Five Ways To Stop Trolls Killing the Internet

Thank you for your good sense, JK. Hat tip Popbitch

No dicks allowed

UPDATE: Renegade Eye has found another illuminating article on the subject of Flamers. Note Number 12, "Denying/projecting: We cannot see reality honestly, but must constantly manipulate it by erasing some parts and distorting others."

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