Tuesday 30 August 2011

Need ... more ... cat ... videos

Here's another good cute cat video to cheer us all up. Not just great puddy footage but some awesome music editing. You may recognise Alien.

Monday 29 August 2011

WTF Kitty: I want one!

It's no good. Boyfriends just don't cut the moutarde any more. What I really need is one of these.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Crosstown Lightnin' at Abbey Mills Blues Festival: punk jacket

First the important stuff. Last night, I finally gave my ancient punk jacket an outing after an absence of nearly 20 years.

Oh, and by the way, the grand occasion was Crosstown Lightnin's gig at the Colour House Theatre for the Abbey Mills Blues Festival.

Charles Shaar Murray, Buffalo Bill Smith, Marc Jefferies and special guest Dick Jude on drums (the Great Pete Miles is gigging in Poland) entertained us until the witching hour.

Here's Crosstown Lightnin' playing Muddy Waters' Can't Be Satisfied.

How I was reunited with my punk jacket here.

Friday 26 August 2011

Lost 'n' found punk leather jacket brings joy to these trying times

Ring those bells, break out the cheap fizz, for I have been reunited with my original punk leather jacket which I thought I'd lost in various house-moves.

Clearing out the Vault Of Horror that is the hall cupboard, I finally mustered the courage to trawl through the crud and found a bag containing said item. It weighs a ton. Partially customised by Vivienne Westwood back in the days of Sex when kids could walk in and ask and receive individual styling tips from the Grande Dame of Punk Couture, she looped yards of heavy chain through the epaulettes and made me feel a million dollars, even though we were rejecting that sort of materialism back then. Or so I was told. I was young. I was wet behind the ears. My brain hadn't fully growed.

Emboldened by watching the Master do her thing, I then went to town and finished the job.

Here's a pic of Keith Moon wearing the early version before The Who's gig at Celtic FC. (Note photographer Chalkie Davies in suburban knitwear.)

First outing for the punk jacket since being reunited with it here

First Chinese British punk?

Pix (c) Anna Chen

Never mind Tiger Mom, I want a buffalo minder

A pride of not so proud lions and crocodiles seen off by a herd of horny-headed critters when a baby buffalo finds itself on the menu.

For more cute furry animals being decidedly uncute, try this. Aaargh!

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Vincent Chin and Simon San: two murders, same indifference

Vincent Chin and Simon San were born and murdered decades apart on two different continents, but the common factor is the callousness and indifference with which their cases have been dealt with by the investigating police and prosecutors.

Justice is off the menu when it comes to these Chinese deaths. While the police finally admit that an acknowledgment of the racist dimension of Simon's murder by a white mob outside the family-run takeaway in Edinburgh in Scotland would have resulted in stiff sentences, the men have been given 24 months, 26 months and five years for the thug who landed the killer blow that smashed Simon's head against the pavement. As we all know by now, they will walk after serving only a third of that minus remand time. Only one year more than the sentence imposed on the laptop rioters who posted their encouragement of the unrest on Facebook. What is this telling us about values in Britain today?

This insulting sentence echoes the $3,000 fine and three years probation imposed on the white Detroit car-workers, Richard Ebens and Michael Nitz, who beat Vincent Chin to death with a baseball bat in front of witnesses one summer evening in 1982. Out on a bachelor party, Vincent was hunted down before finally being cornered in a McDonalds where he was held by Nitz while Ebens pulped his skull with the bat.

Both killings were preceded by racist epithets. The Wikipedia account says:
Ronald Ebens was arrested and taken into custody at the scene of the murder by two off-duty police officers who had witnessed the beating. Ebens and Nitz were convicted in a county court for manslaughter by Wayne County Circuit Judge Charles Kaufman, after a plea bargain brought the charges down from second-degree murder. They served no jail time, were given three years probation, fined $3,000 and ordered to pay $780 in court costs. In a response letter to protests from American Citizens for Justice, Kaufman said, "These weren't the kind of men you send to jail... You don't make the punishment fit the crime; you make the punishment fit the criminal."

After an appeal and a retrial, Ebens was cleared of all charges despite witnesses including two off-duty cops. The lenient sentences for Ebens and Nitz led to a galvanisation of US Asian Americans who then formed the pan-ethnic Asian American movement that's given the community some clout since Chin's murder. I wonder if San's case will prompt an equivalent marshalling of Asian community forces in Britain.

On Monday 12th September, Amnesty International is screening a film about the case by Curtis Chin: “Vincent Who?”, a documentary on Asian American political empowerment. He'll be part of a Q&A session afterwards, with Paul Hyu (Chinese Elvis) and Col. Brian Kay OBE TD DL, Chairman of Islington Chinese Association.

Asian Pacific Americans for Progress & Islington Chinese Association presents
"Vincent Who?"
Monday, Sept. 12, 2011
7-9 pm
Amnesty International – The Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New Inn Yard
London EC2A 3EA
Free Admission
Ticket reservations here

The Leith police dismisseth us, but the Lothian community pay their respects in this tribute.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Martin Rowson on the UK riots sentencing: cartoon

Martin Rowson does it beautifully.

And John Harris sums up the hypocrisy of MPs lining up to condemn looters for stealing items such as water worth £3.50 and accepting a pair of shorts someone else had nicked (six months and five months in prison). Who could not feel distinctly ill as Labour MP Hazel Bears — who felt compelled to return £13,332 to the public purse for capital gains tax she shouldn't have had — called for harsh sentencing for looters?

Or how about this paragon of virtue?
The then shadow education secretary, Michael Gove, lately heard bemoaning an "absence of discipline in the home and in the school", agreed to pay back £7,000, spent on furniture and fittings for his house in north Kensington. They included a £331 Chinon armchair, a Manchu cabinet for £493 and a pair of "elephant lamps" worth £134.50. Also: a £750 Loire table, a Camargue chair worth £432 and a birdcage coffee table that cost £238.50.

Mmm, good taste, Michael.

Even the Prime Minster David Cameron had to return £680 for home repairs he should have paid himself. Sense of entitlement? Culture of greed? How can we possibly compete with our political class?

The real damage to this country is the erosion of our democracy, its values, and its replacement by Thatcherville.

Photoshoplooters most epic pix, Part Deux

A little something to cheer us up after the misery of the England riots. Some of these pix are utterly inspired.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

David Cameron: Common People video

This is hilarious. And how true ...

Thanks to Harry Paterson and David Harwood on Facebook.

My name in chalk: Total Politics Blog Awards opens for voting

Apropos of nothing much, really, the Total Politics Blog Awards 2011 has opened for voting. Hey, look, there's a "Left Wing" category.


Saturday 13 August 2011

What makes you want to riot?

What is it that makes you want to riot?

Could it be this?

The bizarre case of the pregnant woman sentenced to three years in prison for reporting a violent rape certainly hit a button when I read about it this morning. Police treated her as guilty despite her injuries: gashed knee and back of head, black eye, bleeding vagina. Vital evidence either not collected or destroyed, such as the male public hair lost in the lab. I mean, THREE YEARS?! Sure, that'll encourage us to report sex crime. Stick us in a burqa and tell us to shut up, why don'tcha.

Or could it be the woman about to be evicted from her Conservative-led Wandsworth council flat because her son was charged — and not convicted — in the riots? I've heard of soldiers wiping out a whole village because some of them were insurgents, or all the men of a town being shot because a soldier had been killed, but since when did that warped justice take hold here, a world bastion of decency and democracy? Punishing the innocent due to a mere association with the accused is the mark of an authoritarian regime serving the few, not the many.

I've read that David Cameron is consulting the Chinese government about shutting down the internet social networks. Now that is a riot.

We're going back to a time when children were hanged for stealing a loaf of bread. Remember the opening scene in Pirates Of The Caribbean III where the pirates are being hanged en masse? Including the little boy? We didn't cheer the hangings: they were disturbing. The knowledge that this disproportionate mass punishment was barbaric, from our enlightened modern western perspective, is under attack. People in power now, as then, have as little sense of themselves as the rioters do — how else would you fail to see the damaged humanity in these lost youths? If you can't feel yourself as human, you can't see others as such, and the only thing dividing you from the "scum" is that you have social power and they don't.

Not all these rioters are hardened criminals who killed and torched. Five months prison for accepting a pair of nicked knickers is not setting a good example.

Brecht asked: Who is the bigger criminal? The person who robs a bank? Or the person who founds one. We can now ask who has done the most damage: the RBS, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs bankers who started the recession and are continuing to damage society? Or the spiritually and materially impoverished rioters?

Madam Miaow on Looting & the UK riots: as above, so below.

Madam Miaow's mash-up video to The Bermondsey Joyriders' "Society Is Rapidly Changing".

Rap responds to the riots.

Friday 12 August 2011

Looters move into Downing Street: Cameron returns

So, wappnin' today?

Firstly, people accused of rioting have been rushed through the magistrates' courts which have been sitting all night to process them like sausage-meat.

How easily we're slipping into martial law with nary a by your leave.

Six months jail for electrical student Nicholas Robinson — no previous record — for stealing bottled water worth £3.50 when he was caught up in the heat of the moment. An 11-year old girl in foster care given a nine-month referral order for breaking a window. Sixteen weeks for one guy who cheeked a copper with, "I'd smash you if you took your uniform off". Not nice but I hear worse in my latex maid's outfit. Almost all of the accused kept on remand without bail. Some of the accused might have been scooped up and convicted merely because they were in the vicinity. We'll never know because ordinary standards of justice have gone to the wall as everyone's losing their heads.

These aren't the nasty hardened criminals who burnt, beat and maimed — and who will have to learn that destructive anti-social actions have consequences. These are angry children (73% of the rioters were aged between 18 and 24).

Considering the youth of Haringey have each lost an average of £75 of spending with the ending of EMA, youth clubs and outreach workers before the cuts have even begun to bite, I'd say we owe them.

No cause and effect, no understanding, just "crush, kill, destroy" bellowed by the same politicians who claimed thousands, tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands in "expenses" off the tax-payer.

And the bankers who kicked off this cycle of misery? Laughing like a drain on the economy all the way to their bonuses, I dare say.

OK, where'd I put my flaming torch and pitchfork ...? "Off with their heads ... to Wembley stadium ... we shall take them on the beaches ... stringing up's too good for them ... use the Plastic Ono bullets ... "

Um, which mob am I with, again?

Madam Miaow on Looting & the UK riots: as above, so below.

Madam Miaow's mash-up video to The Bermondsey Joyriders' "Society Is Rapidly Changing".

Peter Oborne making good sense.

David Harvey: feral capitalism hits the hight streets.

Nick Clegg — cactus killer by Harpy Marx.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Looting and the UK riots: as above, so below

Video montage by Anna Chen to The Bermondsey Joyriders "Society Is Rapidly Changing"

Who could forget the big crisps heist of the summer of 2011? With Poundland in front of us and our comrades behind us, we held the world in the palm of our hands, along with a bottle of Pantene medicated shampoo and a pack of genuine Cussons Imperial Leather soaps. Luxury! That was all we could carry for, in the spirit of solidarity, we had to share our booty fairly with the bredren and we were mindful of such things. I cast my eyes across the cornucopia of Stuff I could only dream of and wept that my pockets were already crammed with Haribo gelatine sweetmeats. So with a giant Toblerone or two clenched between my ample thighs, I hurried out into the night knowing I would eat this day and have shiny hair also.

We felt like kings.

Welcome to Thatcher's children: the logical conclusion of the dictum that "there is no such thing as society", that we are all as atomised as a handful of special-offer broken biscuits. Rampant consumerism, celebrity and bling. Knowing the price of everything (even if you can't afford it) and the value of nothing. How cheaply these kids have been bought and then sold on to the lowest purveyors of crap.

I'd wondered idly before in this blog what it would take to knock Murdoch and the rest of The Sopranos who've been running this country off the front pages. It's as if once the mask was ripped off the Dark Lord's face (and replaced with a foam pie), a maelstrom of malevolent forces was unleashed: a right-wing nutter massacre in Norway, Somalia, the bullet-train crash in China, the end of the US space age that had represented such hope, the deaths of two majorly talented women (RIP Amy and Fran), and now the UK riots.

There may not be a political objective in this insurrection, but the situation has its roots in politics. Triggered by the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan last week, the anger fuelling the riots had been building for a long time.

In this topsy-turvey world, the unelected Tories, backed up by the LibDems (cursed be they unto the last Ramsay McClegg) forced the poor to recapitalise the bankers following their crisis and recession, while the rich remain untouched. Cuts to public services will see this country on its knees while directors and bankers pay themselves Croesus-sized wedge — the bankers in particular are now paying themselves more in bonuses than they are lending, despite benefiting from a public bail-out. Emboldened by the flabbiness of the Labour opposition, the government is even considering cutting the 50p rate of tax for the top one percent.

VAT is the most unfair tax going, and raising it to 20 per cent has halted the slow climb out of the doldrums that was underway. The poor pay the highest proportion of their income as tax and still the party of the rich keep on squeezing.

The media taunt us with images and tales of the super-rich as if they are a good thing. Bernie Ecclestone buys his daughter Regan — or is it Goneril? — a £56 million house in London while her property portfolio includes a £60 million mansion in L.A. The new aristocracy tell us in their demeaning X-Factorish product that you only create "art" in order to gain Stuff, fame and all the baubles that we'd once rejected as meaningless tat. No inner life, no self-respect, no introspection. Just feral impulses encouraged by a feral elite.

What did we think would happen? There have been voices telling us that we have to listen to the people who've been stripped of hope, with nothing to look forward to but a future of Victorian levels of poverty. How much did the EMA cost us? That measly £30 a week to encourage kids to continue their education, to grow inside, feel self-worth and make themselves employable. At £560 million per year for an entire generation, it was cheap in comparison with the estimated £100 million plus that the riots will have cost. And how do you put a price on the damage done to the national psyche? To race relations? To trust?

The outreach workers who were connecting with these kids now have no jobs thanks to the cuts. Libraries are closing. Wonderful solid old Victorian brick schools are being sold off as luxury flats while rubbish boxes are built to replace them. Oh, I'm sorry, even that's not happening, thanks to Education Secretary Michael Gove.

People were burnt out of their homes and at least one man has died. The nation has welcomed martial law into our country.

The damage runs deep. The looted items stand for far more than just the acquisition of Stuff.

Two fictional references come to mind: Pottersville, the corrupt town which sprang up where there was once a community in It's A Wonderful Life. And the episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer where our eponymous heroine has never been born. Beloved Characters are now vicious murdering vampires once denied Buffy's positive influence — the finale where lovers and friends kill each other is one of the saddest moments I've seen in a TV show. You look at the kids rioting and it's hard not to imagine each and every one of them as fully-developed, kind, intelligent, self-reflective individuals able to participate in society as productive human beings — if only they had been born in a different time-line.

Instead, we have mere shadows of people. Yes, criminal elements have to be punished. The young people who did this have to learn that there are consequences for destructive anti-social behaviour against their own bredren, innocent people. But so should the grand theft looters at the top who have set the agenda and the example. As above, so below.

Meanwhile, Murdoch and his friends carry on like it's bidness as usual.

Musical commentary by The Bermondsey Joyriders with "Society Is Rapidly Changing". Video by me.

Nice review of the video here.

Brilliant Photoshoplooter pix

Sympathy and condolences to the friends and family of the three who died last night in Birmingham.