May 29, 2008

Five hundred and fifty five years to the day...

Constaninople never should have fucking tested.

May 28, 2008

Richard Barnbrook's blog

It seems a little bit of controversy has been sparked in the blogosphere by the discovery of the BNP Cllr and London Assembly member Richard Barnbrook's blog, which is hosted on the Torygraph's site.

I personally am of divided opinion. I've never had any truck with the foolish No Platform policy...I've always felt the batshit insane and hilarious things the BNP wants to do should be publicized far and wide. Some people think that is me having too much faith in the political system and people's ability to think critically, but if its in the open, then its up for debate, and in a Web 2.0 world, its very easy to create a debate. I'm also what some Guardian columnists might call a "free speech cultist" but fuck them. Having principles, as twisted and few though they are was never meant to be easy.

Furthermore, the blogging service is offered to everyone. Unlike say, The Guardian or London Times' websites, where signing up entails a profile that allows you comment, but not add your own articles (relying on invitation for the non-journalists to be given a stage) signing up to the Torygraph service is like signing up to Blogger, in that its not restricted to anyone so long as the Terms of Service are not broken.

On the other hand, I think people have a point when they say that the Torygraph is not like Blogger. It after all, purports to be a news site, and in having an doors open policy (ironically, something the BNP frequently complains this country's immigration policy amounts to), it could easily be abused, while also lending legitimacy to people like Barnbrook, who want to court the Torygraph readers while gaining a degree of respectability for having their logo in the top left corner of the screen. Blogger, unlike the Torygraph, does not have an editorial line, nor does it purport to be a news site, only a blogging service.

Over the past few months especially, I've been reading David Neiwert's excellent blog, Orcinus, and it has helped me clarify some of my own thoughts on fascism in the current context, and especially on the relationship between fascist movments, infiltration of the respectable right and the role of media in all this. His analysis is of course rooted in a US context, but I believe it is still nonetheless useful.

His comments (PDF file, 640 KB) on transmission between the far right and conservatives are interesting

Ideas and agendas began floating from one sector to the other in increasing volume around 1994. I noticed it first in the amazing amount of crossover between between militia types and the anti-Clinton vitriol out of D.C. that eventually built into the impeachment fiasco....This crossover is facilitated by figures I call “transmitters” — ostensibly mainstream conservatives who seem to cull ideas that often have their origins on the far right, strip them of any obviously pernicious content, and present them as “conservative” arguments.

Obviously the most prominent media personalities responsible for such behaviour in the UK would be the likes of Melanie Phillips and Richard Littlejohn, whose rants often hit upon the codewords and phrases of the far right, their fears of an alien outsider plotting to take over the country (whether its the EU or Muslims) and the descent of the country into anarchy because of civil liberties, secularism and liberalism in general and how we are all "going to hell in a handcart" because of it.

And of course, transmissions by their very nature go both ways. The reasons for the likes of the above to do such things are obvious - it widens their audience and gets them a certain about of talked about noteriety. I don't believe such people are fascists - only that they pander to it to increase their reading figures and to appear outrageous without stepping over any definitive lines.

The problem is then, that such ideas get normalized within right-wing discourse and become acceptable - making the mainstream right more radicalized and ripe for infiltration by extremist elements. The memes become talking points which filter back into perception and eventually policy. And that is the role Richard Barnbrook and his "fellow travellers" on the Telegraph will also be taking. While they are not de jure supported by the Telegraph in any way, de facto, their presence on the site will be taken that way by their supporters and, as we have seen already in some of the blogosphere reactions, their detractors too.

You can expect many more thinly veiled rants about the evils of liberalism and immigrants and darkies and homosexuals to come from Richard Barnbrook, and supported by his on-site sycophants (who have already made their presence felt, despite Barnbrook himself only having 3 articles up). The question is, of course, will the Torygraph readers let this slide, or will they actively try to debate and undermine Barnbrook? That is where the focus should be, I believe. I'm still not comfortable with him having a place on the site, for the above reasons, but I'm not against it simply because of the above reasons either. I still believe that his pathetic political views should be combatted by debate, and not censorship, but that doesn't mean I don't think the previously stated worries are not valid, only that I hope they do not turn out to be the case.

And, because I couldn't pass up the chance to showcase some of Barnbrook's frothing at the mouth articles, a few quotes from the good Cllr:

I have no time for these liberals. I despise them.....not for their person, but for their values....for everything that they believe in, although I am not so sure that they even believe it. I am talking about all these dirty politicians and journalists who sit in their homes smoking their drugs and telling themselves they have made Britain better. Well its not. Its a cess-pit and its the young people who have to swim in its filth. Only the dead make the news but there are hundred who are stabbed but only just live. Their lives are wrecked though in many cases. This is liberalism......these are the great values of the left.........they smoke drugs and your children get slaughtered in the streets. It makes me sick. It drags me down into tombstone politics when I would rather be building a better society. It has become so normalised that people think they have to accept it. Well I am going to change it....I am going to clean up the streets, because our society has had enough of their dirty values, their dirty ideas, and their dirty politics.


I have had enough of political correctness. I have had enough of people being afraid to actually say what they really want to say. Yes....It is the immigrants. Labour closed down free speech and criminalised people for telling the truth. Well Labour are in a state of total collapse.

Soon they will be finished and not a moment too soon. Nobody needs to listen to them anymore. The Police chiefs should simply ignore them and not follow orders to boost statistics by criminalising motorists. The real crime is on the streets, and it is the young people who are being attacked every day now by knives and guns.

Well let me tell you that times are changing. This is our city and we are going to take it back. We are going to take all the weapons of the streets even if that means sending in the Army to do it.

The do-gooder liberal human rights lawyers can scream all they want. Human Rights to me, means people being safe to walk down the street. Liberalism to me, means being free from knife and gun attacks. A free society is one where the police can do their job the way they want to do it.

And to think....this moron actually got a lot of votes. *Sigh*...

John McCain's "League of Democracies"

Following on from this...

From Suu.

May 26, 2008

Technorati is seriously borked.

Seriously, wtf? I ping my blog and it takes you hours (if not days) to update, you remove and add where other people have linked to me, seemingly at random and now you've gone and lost all my favourites list.

And that's just when you get get the blasted site to load at all.

Seriously, I wouldn't really be stating this if it was just a one off, because you've normally been good, but this has been going on for weeks now. Sort it out.

May 25, 2008

"Academic freedom? A likely story...."

From the Guardian.

A masters student researching terrorist tactics who was arrested and detained for six days after his university informed police about al-Qaida-related material he downloaded has spoken of the "psychological torture" he endured in custody.

Despite his Nottingham University supervisors insisting the materials were directly relevant to his research, Rizwaan Sabir, 22, was held for nearly a week under the Terrorism Act, accused of downloading the materials for illegal use. The student had obtained a copy of the al-Qaida training manual from a US government website for his research into terrorist tactics.

The case highlights what lecturers are claiming is a direct assault on academic freedom led by the government which, in its attempt to establish a "prevent agenda" against terrorist activity, is putting pressure on academics to become police informers.

As you can expect, I find such news pretty worrying, even though I somehow have managed to avoid arrest so far. I also think the point about turning academics into informants is dead on. Never mind that will cripple real investigation into terrorism, oh no. We've got to be seen to be "tough", even if we end up shooting ourselves in the fucking foot while doing so.

This country is retarded.

And in much more humorous news...

Cultists in Nigeria are clashing and have killed at least five people...after a cat allegedly turned into a middle age woman.

I wish I were making this up.

WHAT could be described as a fairy tale turned real on Wednesday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, as a cat allegedly turned into a middle-aged woman after being hit by a commercial motorcycle (Okada) on Aba/Port Harcourt Expressway.

Nigerian Tribune learnt that three cats were crossing the busy road when the okada ran over one of them which immediately turned into a woman. This strange occurrence quickly attracted people around who descended on the animals. One of them, it was learnt, was able to escape while the third one was beaten to death, still as a cat though.

According to a source who witnessed what happened, the cat-woman said she and the two other cat-fellows had travelled from Abuja to Port Harcourt to kill three people. “The woman said they came to Port Harcourt from Abuja and that they came to kill three people. She said they had succeeded in killing two people, but the third person, whom I guess might be a pastor, was difficult for them and that they were preparing to go back to Abuja,” said the source.

More at the link.

Lets be honest, Nigeria is pretty awesome. Jenkem, an economy based on spam emails and now cat-women riots!

Some rather morbid news....

Via Yahoo

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Another severed human foot has been discovered washed ashore on Canada's Pacific coast, but police are no closer to solving the gruesome mystery.

The foot, still wearing a shoe, was discovered on Thursday on a small uninhabited island south of Vancouver in the Strait of Georgia, and is the fourth discovered in the region in the past 10 months.

The previous cases all involved right feet still in sneakers, and each was found on a different island

Boing Boing also posted about one of the earlier found severed feet back in Feburary. According to forensic experts, it seems the first 3 feet were seperated via decomposition and not forcibly...which lends some credence to the theory that they belong to passengers who were in a plane that crashed in the waters off Quadra Island three years ago. It seems unknown if the latest foot was also a result of decomposition.

Still, having severed feet wash up on shore... not especially nice.

May 24, 2008

I always find BNP wingnuts loltastic

It's a bad habit really. Whenever I am bored, or need a laugh, I start surfing around the BNP supporting blogosphere, to find something out of touch with reality, nutty, or just plain hilarious to laugh at.

And it works every time. My faith in the batshit insanity of certain sectors of the British public is restored, I realize I'm actually a fairly good writer when I want to be (current postings are evidence to the contrary, I admit, but I have been busy with finals) and I get a laugh in with the deal.

It's a bad past time, really. Habit forming, almost. But now and again I hit the jackpot, like with Sarah Maid of Albion. Talking of course about my favourite subject....terrorism. In particular, the case of Nicky Reilly, the allegedly failed suicide bomber (I say allegedly for the legal reasons, of course). And its a slow Saturday night, and I have nothing planned, so why not?

Ever since the identity of the man accused of attempting to set off a bomb in an Exeter restaurant was revealed, certain sections of the press have been announcing breathlessly that the suspect, Nicky Reilly, is a white convert to Islam.

Certain sections of the press? Come on, name names! If you've got the goods, don't play coy. As it happens, I did a search on this and found out which media outlets she meant: the BBC, Guardian, Independent and Mirror.

Oh dear gosh, its lining up to be a fiendish left wing conspiracy already. Only, not really. Going by the BBC report, they were reporting a description of Reilly given by the police, which was repeated in the Independent. The Guardian bought up his race in the terms of wider counter-terrorism issues (like Al-Qaeda recruiting white converts to Islam in order to avoid racial profiling measures) and the Mirror didn't even mention it themselves - instead publishing a quote by a member of the public saying he standed out at meetings with a suspicious group of people on a street corner due to his colour.

I hardly think this counts as announcing breathlessly - especially since almost all comments on his race or appearance are well down the pages on all the media outlets that I found reporting it.

The media always get overexcited when they can pretend that white Europeans are as likely to be terrorists as Asians, even if they have to bend the truth into impossible contortions to do so.

So presumably Baader-Meinhof, the Provisional IRA, ETA, Nivelles gang, OAS, Action Directe, National Front for the Liberation of Corsica, The June 2nd Movement, November 17th, Antikratiki Dikaiosini, Hawks of Thrace, Revolutionary Struggle, October 22 Group, the Red Brigades, Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari, Aginter Press, the (admittedly laughable) Canary Islands Independence Movement, the Ordine Nuovo (founded by the odious Stefano Delle Chiaie), Meibion Glyndŵ, the Irish National Liberation Army, Loyalist Volunteer Force, Ulster Defence Association, Ulster Volunteer Force, White Aryan Resistance, Continuity IRA and many other groups I can't be bothered to name had or have no white members whatsoever. You know, despite many of them being neo-fascist in orientation, or else ethno-nationalist and thus "real" Europeans.

And if we include ethnically European Americans into the mix...well, where to start? We could go all the way back to the Klan, or right up to the modern day 'Patriot Movement' members, who intermingle with militia organizations such as the Montana Freemen, but who also had links to individuals like Timothy McVeigh, Army of God, Aryan Nations, The Order and other fun loving neo-fascist/Christian groups, many of whom have very clear ideas on what race it is best to be.

But that was unfair of me, using history like that against you. On the other hand, we could always be thankful I didn't decide to start digging into the Russian anarchist terrorists...that stuff goes on forever. We still count Russians as white Europeans, don't we? Don't we? But yes, terribly unfair using history like that, it's a shame we don't have some examples of more modern terrorism carried out by 'white Europeans'.

Readers may recall how hard they tried to present Andrew Ibrahim, the young terror suspect arrested in Bristol in April as “white”, even after it was revealed that his father wa an Asian doctor called Nassif.

I hate to break this to you, but he look's white. I'll link to a picture, and feel free to dispute it, I know you will anyway, but he doesn't really look very foreign, does he? Or is this one of those things where he'd have to be one-sixteenth "Muslim foreigner" to fifteen-sixteenth's "white European" to count?

Whatever the truth may be in this instance, I don't really know why the press get so excited on the rare occasion that a white convert gets involved in attempted atrocities, it proves nothing other than that radical Islam is a dangerously infectious condition.

Well, apart from the fact no-one was getting excited over the fact that he was a white convert, GREAT POINT! The Guardian mentioned MI5 were considering if this was a change in tactics and recruiting by Al-Qaeda, which some might consider to be a legitimate concern. You know, if you want to catch terrorists and all that. I think you'll find more people were worried that someone attempted to partake in a suicide bomb attack, full stop, to note his colour and go "OH MY GOD, AND HE WAS WHITE TOO!" Just because BNP members have this funny fascination with race does not mean everyone else does. Stop projecting.

Dengue fever does not cease to be a tropical disease if an Englishman catches it, and and neither does the fact that a few vulnerable or weak minded individuals have been seduced into embracing its deadly doctrine make Islam a European faith.

Uh-huh. So what makes, for example, Christianity 'European'? Or Judaism (feel free to ask Nick Griffin if Jews are a European faith or not) for that matter. Or indeed anything that is not laughable NeoPagan Reconstructionism. Are they 'European' by virtue of ethnicity of genesis, geographical location, or practice? Because Jesus sure as hell wasn't white, or located in Europe (depending on whether one considers the Levant Europe, of course. I do, but many do not). Can we expect to see the BNP picketing Christmas celebrations soon? They too, have spread like a virus, after all.

The few small Muslim enclaves in the Balkans and Chechnya are the residue left from earlier attempts by Islam to colonise Europe, not to any European tradition.

Oh? And what European traditions are these? When I last checked, Islamic and Christian thought were both heavily based on Greek Classical thinking - especially the works of Plato and Aristotle, though a few Roman's slipped the barrier too. Given the Greco-Roman culture is the bedrock of modern Western civilization, I would find the exclusion of Islam...intellectually dishonest, shall we say? And of course, St Thomas Aquinas and (arguably) René Descartes owe an influence to Islamic philosophers such as Al-Ghazali. There was a lot of intellectual traffic flowing along Asia Minor back then, let me tell you.

Or this the European tradition of being a white European? I just want to cover all my bases here, you understand.

Islam is an alien philosophy, with its origins in a set of beliefs so different to those at the root of our own culture that most can either not comprehend it or refuse to acknowledge it.

OK, I'll take that as an "I'm an idiot with little or no knowledge of the history of philosophy".

There is no European tradition within Islam, it is a force from outside, which we have let in and the fact that it has captured or beguiled some of our children does not make it native to our land.

It's kinda like the Mysterons, when you think about it...those strange, alien, outside forces....

Like all infectious conditions, some will fall victim to it, as Nicky Reilly appears to have done, but all that tells us is that we need to take preventative measures before more succumb.

Unfortunately, the spread of idiocy will go on unchecked...

Now Clinton herself is recklessly spreading the Obama assassination meme

Via Associated Press.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton quickly apologized Friday after citing the June 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy as a reason to remain in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination despite increasingly long odds.

“I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever,” the former first lady said.

The episode occurred as Clinton campaigned in advance of the June 3 South Dakota primary.

Responding to a question from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader editorial board about calls for her to drop out of the race, she said: “My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know I just, I don’t understand it,” she said, dismissing the idea of abandoning the race.

Emphasis mine. Unashamedly spreading the idea that Obama is uniquely open to assassination attempts - all her.

I've already dealt in some detail with the Obama Assassination Meme before, but just to make it absolutely clear to everyone:

Creating a political climate and discourse where the potential asssassination of a major Presidential candidate is constantly referenced and referred to as a possibility, well out of proportion to the risk posed (a risk that is shared by all candidates) will only help create a situation in which potential assassins believe his death is inevitable and will seek to hasten it.

Damn, its not hard.

: Keith Olbermann has a special comment on this.

May 23, 2008

Brain experiments

Rev. Burns from the PrincipiaDiscordia forums has decided to undertake a blog detailing his experiences of the exercises from Dr Hyatt's Undoing Yourself (and possibly Prometheus Rising, if I recall right).

You can read his ongoing musings on these here.

Giant flesh-eating mice!

Words cannot express how happy this story makes me.

What is horrifying ornithologists is that the British house mouse has somehow evolved, growing to up to three times the size of ordinary domestic house mice, and instead of surviving on a diet of insects and seeds, has adapted itself to become a carnivore, eating albatross, petrel and shearwater chicks alive in their nests. They are now believed to be the largest mice in the world.


May 21, 2008

Scientology IS a cult

I know I'm not telling you anything new here, I'm just taking advantage of my US hosting and First Ammendment rights to tell you, Scientology is a cult.

For those of you slow on the uptake:


Right, glad we cleared that up.

Because apparently, you can now be arrested for calling the Scifags a cult.

From the BBC

A 15-year-old is facing possible prosecution for holding up a placard which branded Scientology a "cult".

The teenager held up a sign which read, "Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult" in May, outside its headquarters in the City of London.

Its outrageous that the Co$ has pressed for the kid to be charged. A fucking disgrace. I know I haven't really talked about the Scientology vs Anonymous deal for a while now, mainly because its gotten so big and is so well documented elsewhere that I suspect I'm not really needed, but I still support Anonymous in their efforts. And this sort of paranoid overreaction and heavy handed response reminds us precisely of why the Church of Scientology needs to be dealt with. Apart from being the biggest lolcows on the planet, that is.

May 20, 2008

Christian Fundamentalism exposed in the UK

Both the Torygraph and Channel 4 have done some excellent reporting here, and it is well worth drawing your attention to.

I didn't watch the Dispatches documentary last, unfortunately. However, I did manage to see almost all of it on YouTube today, and what I saw was pretty incredible.

I should point out I'm not exactly a newbie to fundamentalism of any sort. I've read Sayyid Qutb, I've more than a few times taken part in Discordian trickery or O:MF against American religious fundamentalists, and I've studied the problems of religious and political extremism with some very talented forensic psychiatrists and political thinkers. So I'm fairly well grounded when it comes to extremism.

I'm just shocked when I see it in the UK.

I know we've had Muslim extremists and fascist extremists in the past, and they're all subjects I've kept an eye on, if I haven't commented too often. But in the UK, Christianity, insofar as it exists, is generally seen by most people here and abroad as a benign affair - especially when you consider the two major contrasts are American evangelical preachers and people like Abu Hamza.

Despite the occasional crazy statement from the Christian Lawyer's Association, or the inane campaign from Nadine Dorries (of which we will see the possible results tonight, when the House of Commons votes on whether to restrict abortions to 20 weeks down from 24), we've always seen these people as mostly nutty individuals.

So this was quite enlightening, showing the networks that are allowing for fundamentalist Christianity to spread through the country. How American groups have infiltrated in part the faith schools - a legacy of Tony Blair's - and the potential, in terms of legal ability, size and influence these groups could have. I was most unhappy to see such people conferring with Norman Tebbit for example (mainly because I hoped the old bastard was dead, to be fair).

While I'm too unmotivated at the moment to go digging any deeper into the topic than this, I may in the coming weeks look more into the personalities and structures of these groups - where they get their funding from, who runs them and precisely how much influence they have. Between them and the Muslim fanatics, they do seem intent on staging a Clash of the Civilizations in the UK - and their rhetoric feeds indirectly into BNP political support, even if on other issues they may disagree.

So yes, these people are a concern and although they may be small in numbers and have little say in the mainstream Conservative Party, especially under Cameron, the harsh light of publicity will do them, and me, the world of good.

New Discordian site

Never seen this blog before: The Fnord Foundation.

Feel free to check it out.

Making a killing on world hunger?

Truthout has more on how certain multinationals are getting record profits, despite the start of a worldwide food shortage.

Link via Manuscripts Don't Burn.

May 17, 2008

Who will rid me of this troublesome politician?

Here is an interesting clip of Mike Huckabee, ex-Presidential nominee for the Republican Party, 'joking' in front of the staunchly right-wing NRA crowd about the possibility of an Obama assassination.

Now, I should first of all point out, for any readers, that I am not especially against gun ownership per se, in the UK or America. Yes, I know I have a reputation as a subversive left wing liberal who hates freedom and loves terrorism etc etc but to a degree, I side more with the right-wing/libertarian view when it comes to firearms. Not to mention I did spend part of my misspent youth in the countryside and have been a member of my University rifle club and so actually enjoy shooting too.

But anyway, that's not the point, so I wanted to dismiss the strawman straight away. The point is noting the spread and even acceptance of the "Obama assassination meme" within mainstream political discourse, especially in circles like the above, where Obama is not seen in an especially friendly light.

Now I know you'll be saying "Oh Huckabee is just joking, I thought you Discordians knew about larking about", but to be honest, that's kind of the point. I'm very used to using humour to mask a point, to say something I wish to be known in an indirect and subtle manner. That's often the function of humour in politics, it gives a veneer of deniability to a statement.

Its also one that has been used to death by the American right, such as Ann "lets assassinate a US Judge, teehee I'm only joking" Coulter, Rush "lets not kill all the liberals, just most of them" Limbaugh and other such 'wits' of American politics, like Michael Savage.

So you'll excuse me a certain degree of scepticism when I see the tactic repeated by others.

We all believe Obama is probably the most likely candidate to be targeted, followed closely by McCain (the Middle Eastern groups tend to not operate much outside their own territory, but when they do they are usually very good at it). It's hardly news. He's a charismatic, black man who appeals to a wide constituency of people, comes from a cosmopolitian, is opposed to favourite ventures of the nutjob-right and has a good chance of becoming the next US President. And we know people like the Aryan Nations are still out there, still exist and have people motivated and trained well enough to attempt something like this.

But repititions of the idea that Obama will inevitably face an assassination attempt seem to be aimed more at the idea of spreading this idea of inevitability far and wide, hoping some far-right nut will decide to take one for the Aryan cause and have a go at killing him. Its one step off encouraging it, when repeated like this.

The entire point of modern day, non-state/terrorist assassination is this - that it takes place within an enabling environment and narrative, and is done in a public place to validate the killer themselves. Making continued references to this happening only increases the chances of someone trying to have a go.

Equally bad is the downplaying of the chances of someone killing him. All three US candidates are at risk, its the nature of the game of politics. Killing the potential next President has long been a route to fame for no-hoper's around the world. Suggesting that Obama is perfectly safe and has nothing to worry about, in the same poisonous media climate which is also telling us he is likely to be killed, as it makes an attempt on him look easy and invites more attempts.

Here are just a few examples of the meme spreading from extremist to more mainstream circles

(Just as an aside, I think people on the left who continually raise the prospect of his assassination are just as guilty of perpetuating the meme as everyone else, though I suspect their motivation is more benign. Unless they are Hillary Clinton supporters).

  • Sean Hannity of Fox News pops up again, this time with some interesting use of language...

"I just feel that with the more we learn about the racial implications in his past, the more likely it is for sure he will be killed."

He all but left out the *Hint hint, nudge nudge, wink wink* from that statement. We all know the implication is that he is a black supremacist is being spread by the right, which is like a lightning rod to any racists out there.

  • Jonah "liberals once called me a fascist, so I call them it back now" Goldberg engages in more than just a bit of projection here when he suggests if Obama loses certain people will become unhinged. Maybe they will, but for the moment, it seems more likely a win will unhinge other 'certain people', as the above comments and Greenwald's own article are showing.

  • The hilariously named White Civil Rights website also engages in a degree of projection, when they fantasize about Mossad killing Obama. Because thats no way an excuse to talk freely about an assassination attempt at all, is it?

  • Even the bloody Torygraph tries to pooh-pooh the chances of an assassination emanating from the right, instead blaming the idea on a mix of conspiracy theory, wish for martyrdom (nice touch, by the way, the Muslim implication there) and generalized paranoia. Obviously Tony Harden doesn't pay much attention to the lunatic fringe, or he'd know how pumped up on this idea many of them are. While no doubt many of the left wing comments implicating the likes of Blackwater or Clinton are nonsense, there is a real radical threat.

  • Again, Vanguard News Network, another far-right US site, is spreading the Obama assassination meme under the cover of "tEh Jo0s DiD iT! (oR aT lEaSt wIlL dO!)".

And on and on it goes. I didn't even bother to go to some of the crazier, less well known sites. I thought this should cover it fairly nicely.

As a commentator at the Seattle PI points out, the best thing the media could do in order to play down these fears is not talk about it all the time. Yes, I do realize that makes me guilty to a degree as well, but I'm trying to introduce a phage here, to undercut the meme. By constantly finding ways to bring up the idea, either in terms of denying it having any possibility at all (all US Presidential candidates are potential targets, get over it) or prophesying it as a certainty, is only doing more damage and poisoning the civil discourse.

May 16, 2008

Government climbdown on 42 day detentions?

The Guardian seems to think so, and while I certainly hope so, relying on hope alone is a bad idea, and I can see a negotiated climbdown still involving the government seizing powers I'd rather it did not have.

Time, as always, shall tell.

May 15, 2008

More on the Crewe by-election

As is hard to miss, I was pretty pissed off by the Labour party Crewe by-election leaflet, more or less pandering to the xenophobic masses afraid of immigrants coming over here to steal their jobs and wimminz.

Fortunately, it seems like the Guardian has caught up on this story too (which was abley covered by the more Tory-friendly press and blogs, it has to be said) and John Harris has an article up on Comment is Free, where he puts this into the context of a government desperate to remain in power by appealing to "chauvinistic and backward-looking parts of British society" to quote Charles Clarke (who is still an authoritarian thug, in my opinion, but at least gains a smidgeon of respectability with this statement).

Harris pulls few punches showing the increasing role of nationalist rhetoric now the Brown government is up against the wall:

the essential Labour strategy is clear enough: not to concentrate on anything progressive or inspiring but to run instead on a mixture of the Dunwoody bloodline, utterly witless class warfare, and the politics of fear. One wonders what the more shrill aspects of the party's campaign will do for Crewe's community relations - but there again, it's doubtful that such thoughts are troubling many Labour high-ups. Misanthropic nastiness, after all, seems to be a central plank of the government's fightback.

This stuff has a pedigree dating back well into the Blair years but seems to be turning ever more ugly. Among the first announcements in the wake of May 1 was a loud Home Office pledge to try to realise Brown's drive for "British jobs for British workers", by forcing employers to prove no Briton can fill a vacancy before offering it to anyone from outside the EU. Soon after, there came Jacqui Smith's bizarre plans to "harass" badly behaved youths using video cameras and a technique hyped as "frame and shame". Going back a few months, one thinks also of James Purnell's proposed clampdown on the long-term jobless, Caroline Flint's priceless proposal that the workshy should be threatened with homelessness, and the government's increasingly baffling drive on "Britishness", in which fine words about inclusion are often overshadowed by the sense of dog-whistles being desperately sounded.


While seizing on fears about immigration, Brown has still made no headway on the issue of agency workers, which underlies so many modern tensions. At the same time as maligning many of the nation's youth as yobs, Labour also wrings its hands about their "unlocked talent". Apparatchiks are encouraged to wage class war for the cameras, but the government refuses to talk about compelling the ultra-wealthy to pay their way, or to make any move on, say, the totemic issue of charitable status for private schools. The impression is of politics at its most dried-up and disingenuous. The result: activists and once-loyal supporters decide to leave the party well alone, and floating voters decide that Cameroonian confidence and optimism is much the better option.

...As Labour lays waste to what remains of its progressive credentials, one thinks immediately of that handful of young(ish) Brownites - Ed Miliband, Douglas Alexander, Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper - who usually go out of their way to talk up the party's supposed soul, and the parts of the government's record that reflect it. Where are they, and why won't they speak up?

Even if what they had to say was couched in the obligatory political code, we'd know it when we heard it. Behind the scenes, they must surely alert Brown to a simple choice: cut this stuff out and rediscover that moral compass - or bequeath them a political husk so robbed of its essential identity that it will take at least a generation to even begin to revive it. David Cameron's recent pronouncements are not nearly as surreal as they sound: right now, the Tories really are sounding more progressive than Labour, and that way lies not just electoral defeat, but the prospect of complete wipe-out.

As Labour's popularity continues to go the way of the sub-prime loan industry, I can only see this sort of shrill and nasty rhetoric increasing.

Leaderless Jihad

I didn't know this, but Marc Sageman apparently has a new book on Al-Qaeda out, called Leaderless Jihad.

For those of you who don't know who Sageman is, shame on you. He's a former CIA Case Officer and psychiatrist with experience in Pakistan and Afghanistan who has undertaken some very interesting studies on Al-Qaeda.

His previous book, Understanding Terror Networks, is a classic of terrorism literature and has been highly recommended by pretty much every terrorism lecturer and researcher up at the St Andrews. Its a wide-reaching investigation into the background, motivating beliefs and (most importantly) social networks that comprise the nebulous organization called Al-Qaeda. Notes based on this research of 400 Al-Qaeda members can be found here.

These social bonds are the most important factor in recruiting and getting someone into terrorism, which is why I think Sageman's book is so important. If we rely on arguments from religion, personal psychopathy, brainwashing or hatred of 'Western' values, many of which are unproven caricatures as Sageman shows, then we wont be able to carry out the necessary counterterrorism policies - which should be aimed at severing the existing terrorists from a pool of possible recruits, while taking in their current members and working towards a political solution of the underlying factors that led to the emergence of terrorists in the first place.

His new book seemed more focused on what is called the New Wave of Al-Qaeda terrorists. Essentially, these are lone wolf or self-forming cells, who instead of being intensely religious and well educated (the profile of a previous Al-Qaeda member) are younger, probably had more run-ins with the police or a criminal record, and are "bored and looking for thrills".

This seems to be a real possibility. I remember more than a few classes I took with John Horgan where he said the process of radicalization often took place after one made contact with the terrorist group in question. If these "thrillseekers" are looking for jihadist videos, tracts and forums for thrills, sooner or later they are going to be talking with people sympathetic to a jihadist worldview. This taints or affects their thinking into a downward spiral based on the violent and paranoid worldview which could ultimately result in terrorist related activities.

Of course, that's a highly simplified way of putting it, and no doubt the actual processes are much more discrete and subtle. But I think as a simplified and limited explanation, it can work. These people get caught up in a discourse of warriorship, fanatical Islam and martyrdom. "We have always been warriors, we have always fought and been victorious, and now we are weak and persecuted". Its the common theme of too many terrorist group's rhetoric to be just a coincidence.

According to a talk Sageman gave at the New America Foundation "It's more about hero worship than about religion," The vast majority of Sageman's sample did not attended radical madrassas, coould speak Arabic and have not read the Koran. Nearly all joined the movement because they knew/are related to someone who's already in it. The age of these terrorists is decreasing too: In Sageman's 2003 sample, the average age was 26; among those arrested after 2006, it was down to about 20. Its more accurate to describe these people as supermepowered, transnational gang members than terrorists.

All of this has very interesting, and worrying implications for policy and society in general. Especially the latter, since media culture and rhetoric has not caught up with Sageman's studies or knowledge. They'd much rather listen to media heads or politicians than soldiers and academics who study terrorism closely, and to be honest, that's a real shame. Because if we don't understand how Al-Qaeda is morphing and evolving, we're going to be throwing around very dangerous charges and allegations at people who may have had little or nothing to do with such attacks, and be concentrating on totally useless avenues of investigation and prevention.

May 14, 2008

When internet memes meet philosophy....#2

I may seriously need help.

UFO files released

This might interest some of you, I don't know. Via the BBC

Secret files on UFO sightings have been made available for the first time by the Ministry of Defence.

The documents, which can be downloaded from the National Archives website, cover the period from 1978 to 1987.

They include accounts of strange lights in the sky and unexplained objects being spotted by the public, armed forces and police officers.

I've recently been reading Jacques Vallée's Passport to Magonia, so the subject sort of interests me, but not from the usual point of view.

I am, of course, highly sceptical of much of the UFO subculture, barring our fine Subgenius friends, naturally. Its rife with disinformation specialists, con-men, cultists, the true lunatic fringe of New Age believers, the mentally disturbed, professional paranoids and, very occasionally, a stable but curious individual, such as I believe Jacques Vallée is. And while this makes it a hell of an amusing scene to fall into or lurk around, its not very good for the truth.

But I think Vallée is onto something, when he describes the similarity between folklore and UFO contactee tales. Especially the early ones, coming out of the 50s, are more reminiscent of tales about the faerie folk and their mischevious, odd ways than anything else. And the contactees who are allegedly approached by benevolent, peaceful beings concerned about developments on the planet seem rather similar to angels of past periods. Meanwhile the modern sci-fi monsters, the gray's and reptilians, are reminiscient of ancient demons more than anything else, with their terrifying appearances and disturbing habits. It all seems just a little too...perfect, the way these tales segue from a pre-technological, superstitous and rural society, to an urban, technologically adept one, while retaining so many core characteristics of the story.

Thats not to say either of the above two explanations are true. I certainly don't see a reason why I should accept either presented answer as the 'real' explanation. Only that the similarity between them, when examined closely, is quite astonishing, and suggests another element to the story, a psychological and social component that is worth exploring, perhaps especially in the context of mythology.

Either way, these are only half-formed thoughts, and I don't want the crazies from the UFO crowd to descend on me, demanding explanations for every little thing they think disproves my musings. The archives are yours to peruse at your pleasure, and if nothing else, could make for interesting reading.

May 13, 2008

Another reason, as if one was needed, to hate Labour

Oh no, not those vicious foreign nationals.

Fuck you Labour, fuck you in the ass. If you didn't know, this is what Labour were trying to use in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election. Yeah, trying to appeal to the xenophobic blockhead vote.

As I'm sure some of you are aware, while I reside in the UK I am not a UK citizen. Yeah, I'm a dirty immigrant, draining your economy and stealing jobs (lolwut?), when I'm not planning to establish a Caliphate, driving drunk and eating swans. And I'm pretty sick and tired of being treated like some scum who should be grateful to this government which has decided, in its infinite wisdom, to let me reside here (especially since I was here just after the fall of the Thatcher government).

And I can safely say that the first person who attempts to enforce me having an ID card on my person will very quickly find out how painful a biometric ID card is, when shoved where the sun doesn't shine, with alarming swiftness.

This is the sort of xenophobic, Daily Mail-esque triangulation bullshit that makes me want to puke every time I see another Parliamentary initiative unveiled, and pretty much guarantees I will only vote Labour again in the most dire of circumstances. Assuming I even bother to hang around long enough to have the chance to vote again, which is looking increasingly unlikely. There seems to be a foul smell in the body politic, and I for one have no intention of seeing it play itself out.

Kallisticon 2008

From a secure location beneath New Alamut,
Left Coast, Turtle Island, Earth
Fool's Day 2008

Discordians, Dysnomians, Erisians, and others of much ilk...

Get up! (Get on up!)

KallistiCon 2008 is coming - June 20-22!

Every year this millennium, we've gotten together in the Bay Area in California. We're not just rehashing gags from the Principia - we're moving forward, practicing chaos in the world.

For the last seven years, we've eaten and drank together, we've made friends with strangers in traffic, we've had rituals and blessings, we've been weird in public, and we've been human with each other. We’ve found the freaks who thought they were the only ones, and taught them - and ourselves - what tribe is supposed to mean.

Some of you will say: "But Discordians are supposed to be disorganized."

Didn't you know that's just a put-on?

Some of you will say we’re doing it wrong, and only you know the right way to follow Eris.

That's OK. Just quit talking about it and start doing it.

Some will no doubt repeat the tired cliche: "We Discordians tend to stick apart."

Of course we do, but sticking apart is more fun when we do it together.

Throw out your old memes. Greg and Kerry are gone, Bob Wilson is gone, Camden Benares and the other old-timers are gone. Let's honor and respect them. Let's learn from their lives and their teachings. But let's stop trying to be them.

The Principia is your grandma's Discordia. Being an inside joke on the net is your daddy's. What's yours? And who are you doing it with?

gabba gabba
we accept you
we accept you
one of us
June 20-22, 2008
Redwood City, California
RSVP by June 15!
Contact: email

May 10, 2008

Cain's "Pentagon" Law of Stupid Policies

Any effectively large enough institution, given an infinite black budget and enough time, will try out every idea in the world, no matter how stupid, implausible, reckless, historically proven to be bad or flying in the face of all known scienctific principles that idea is.

Its like the monkeys with typewriters, only you have to fund and release all the pages of gibberish they write, too. Which is why a good deal of the time you have to put up with people like this coming up with your strategic doctrine.

May 8, 2008

You know...

I actually had plans to do some more interesting, longer articles, now that all my lectures have officially finished.

But instead, I'm having to do paperwork. PAPERWORK.


I'll try and do something interesting for tomorrow.

May 3, 2008

Roll right!

So, it looks like the Götterdämmerung of Labour will soon be upon us.

With a startling victory in local council elections (where the Tories trounced Labour by 20% and broke their hold on several previous safe councils) and the election of Boris Johnson as the Mayor of London, I think it is safe to say that Labour's days are numbered, as I had suggested back in December. Hardly a feat of precognition, I know, but it still feels nice to be vindicated.

I know I have made it extensively clear that I am no fan of Labour, under Brown or Blair. But this is almost a phyrric victory for the UK electorate in many ways. Because, despite the Conservative rhetoric coming from the media, of a libertarian and (hilariously) even progressive bent, they are still the Neo-Thatcherite party who will gut public services and programs, and promote the wellbeing of the rich and business inclined over everyone else.

And that's the problem.

Many right-wing inclined publications have lately taken this pseudo-libertarian tack to complain about the very real authoritarian nature of New Labour. But lets be honest, they have to be insane to think the Tories will be any better. Oh, sure, maybe in the first year or two, while they are riding high on popular support in the press and electorate generally. But then they'll realize they have a mandate and it will all go downhill from there.

And I'd bet everything in my bank account (ie; my mountain of debt) that the Daily Mail/Express/Sun reading the public, the ones who leave comments on stories bewailing Labour's autocratic tendencies on nearly every story, will be the same ones cheering on illiberal policies passed by a Tory government - especially if they were aimed at immigrants, Muslims or criminals. Every intelligent person know's they don't give a shit about freedom - they care about their own hides and are more than willing to cheer on a police state so long as they think the government is on their side and will only use it against other people.

Tribal politics, in other words.

I have no doubt that David Cameron will be the next Prime Minister. And I have no doubt when that happens, certain yahoos and morons will treat this as their moment in the sun, and proceed to swing a wrecking ball through what remains of freedom in this country.

On the other hand, at least I wont have any minor twinges of guilt about doing everything in my power to fuck up such a government.

May 1, 2008

ATTN British Media

Amazing as it may seem to you, there actually people who live outside London. *Gasp* shock horror, yes, I know. Many people are taken aback when they first learn this. And even more incredibly, they rarely give a shit about things that affect Londoners alone. Like, say, for example, the London Mayoral Election.

Therefore, when I pick up a supposedly national newspaper and have to wade through 20,000 pages of hissy fits between Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone supporters to find out anything else that may be interesting or important, I get a little...peeved. Especially when everyone is taking this OH SO SERIOUSLY yet we all know both of them are joke figures fighting over a meaningless title that do nothing except wind up the opposition's supporters.


Very important petition!

Guillermo del Toro

We the undersigned would like to see champion actor Vin Diesel be cast for the role of "Bilbo Baggins" in the upcoming adventure/fantasy movies "The Hobbit Parts 1+2".

We beg Director Guillermo del Toro to look beyond common sense and make the boldest casting move of ALL time, with a view to creating cinematic magic.

Please cast Vin Diesel has the hobbit. He's awesome.


Link to sign petition