Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Sweet Victory.... ish.

'Marx popular amid credit crunch'

So. Well well well. Not to be one to say 'We told you so...'

Karl Marx is back in fashion, says one German publisher, who attributes his new popularity to the economic crisis.
That's great, except isn't saying that Marx is 'back in fashion' demonstrating, first and foremost, a fundamental lack of appreciation for his concept of commodity fetishism?

"It's definitely in vogue right now," said the publisher's director Joern Schuetrumpf.

"The financial crisis brought us a huge bump."
Apparently so. The kids this season won't be caught dead without a hardback, gold-leafed copy of Das Kapital in their Gucci rucksacks and their diamond-studded, Arctic fox fur Cossack hats.

Unfettered capitalism is sooo 2007.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

STOP IT stop it stop it stop it

The BBC, especially. But everyone, PLEASE, stop asking for listeners'/readers'/viewers' opinions on things. We know shit, absolutely nada, and cannot be trusted. Haven't you worked that out already?

'Call in, write in, email us with your views' should never, ever, be heard on the airwaves again. If I want to whiff the ignorant, ill-informed, lienteric stools of the great incontinent masses, I'll hit the blogosphere, thanks a heap. :-)

When I listen to the BBC -- the BBfuckingC, fer Christ's sake! -- I want insight. Analysis. People with letters after their names. Respected leaders, movers and shakers, nattering on, explaining things. Even if they themselves are full of shit, I want to hear them spew that shit themselves. (Line up government ministers, bankers, regulators... the lot.) I don't really want to hear, nor particularly trust, Nick Robinson or other self-important reporters, but they, for now, are inevitable. What I certainly don't want is 'You, the Viewer.'

It's not that I'm elitist. It's not that I think I know more than everyone else. I don't call/write in to these things because I know that I know nothing, and I don't want to take up the very limited airwaves with my own uninformed drivel. That's why God invented the Internet and the blogosphere -- a public lavatory for ideas. And it's not like I believe everything I'm told by experts and specialists -- on the contrary, I don't believe most of it. But I want the chance to hear what I don't believe at least from someone who has some illusory pretext for having said opinion, who has thought about it for more than the minute of that particular news story. Especially when we're talking about this financial crisis. I don't get it all and, as I've argued elsewhere, I'm not sure that the banker-boys get it either, but I have no doubt whatsoever that 'Jon from Hackney' and 'Sue from Gateshead' know absolutely squat.

Ok. I think I've done all this before, and, like, within the last two or three months. Which shows I've either run out of things to say, or that this is one of things that especially pisses me off. If I don't write here ever again, you'll know why.

And here are Mitchell and Webb on the same issue. See? Experts do things much better. I'll keep my amateurish bile in cyber-space, so long as the pros do this good a job...

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Quick Question

Ok. Who voted for this guy? Show of hands, please.


Seriously. I would really like one of the hand-up-their-ass animated socks who bestowed their sacred privilege to vote on this clown to write in and tell me what, in the name of something I can't fathom, made them do it. I don't care what else you say; insult my mother, threaten my pets, tell me where to stick it, what to eat. Whatever. Just tell me why.

My fault, really, for being so smug a couple of weeks ago. I watched the (English language) debate, and was actually quite pleased. Seriously, hold your chuckles. I heard a lot of shit, yeah, and a lot of lying and posturing (why did every leader start their discussion of arts funding with a catalogue of which instruments are played by various distant relatives?!? 'I can't read music, but my wife plays harpsichord... [no pun intended, unless someone can come up with a good one]'), but I realised that the level of debate in Canada isn't half bad. Well, compared with the UK consensus politics, where three parties are fighting over the same minuscule plot of land -- you know the one, that bit with an expectant hole and marked by a granite rock engraved with the word 'Thatcher'. And when compared of course with the Mickey-Minnie routine happening south of the border -- which to be fair is more interesting this year than it has been in the past.

What I saw in that debate were four leaders with some decent ideas, representing the centre-left (more centre but we're getting there) and one monkey who kept bashing his head against the button that said 'No comment', which apparently to 37.63% of Canadians sounds like Henry V. And so that 37.63% of you voted for the monkey. Muppets.

Maybe I need some perspective. It was only 37.63%. Scary, but could be worse. If the centre-left got itself organised, they would be a small, small opposition party. So there's hope, BUT only if...

If we are going to have real, serious debate in Canada, we need to get rid of this 'vote for a King' first-past-the-post system and organise a proper system of proportional representation. It really saddened me that the NDP seems to have abandoned that policy this time around (is Jack getting as delusional as the rest? Say it ain't so, Jack!), leaving Green leader Elizabeth May to make the argument on her own (and gaining some moral high ground, if not some seats, in the process).

PR will make our government representative, and make government work. Let's get on it and make it all matter for a change. (It might even do something to help that record low turnout pundits will wring their hearts about for a few days.)

But do I blame Harper? the smug, vacuous asshole blowing a foul wind across the Prairies? No. Anyone (just about) can run for public office in Canada. So, a big Medieval Torture Tour of Canada for another two or three years. The fruits of Canadian land and labour to be thrown at all of those who voted Conservative yesterday, a sentence to last until your next opportunity to get it right, i.e. when Harper reckons he might get another majority. (If you want to avoid that, by the way, insist that Canadian federal elections be run on a system of proportional represention? Please?)

What do we throw at these straw-brained democrats? In the interest of regional diversity, and to have fun with stereotypes, let's make the punishment provincially-specific. Logs up the asses of right-wing British Columbians. Wheat blighted by plague for Saskatchewan (50%+ of you voted Conservative! you've come a long way from the CCF, and it's not good!) Stinking cow-flesh at Albertans -- who are for me only saved from being chucked out of the federation by the Good Folks of Edmonton-Strathcona. Southern Ontario breaks my heart, and it's boring old fruit for you, I'm afraid. I wish we could do something special for the 905, like making you go away. Maybe the best thing would be for Toronto, finally, to secede, to leave you to stew in your own vacuity. (Though more NDP would have been nice, Toronto. Look down the road. Hamilton can help, yes.) Rotting cod for the Newfoundlanders... oh wait. They didn't elect a single Conservative to Parliament. That should put an end to 'Newfie jokes'... let's just hope they don't realise how stupid the rest of us are.

'Have you heard the one about the 37.63% of Mainlanders? They voted for Harper! Those idiots!'

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Yes, I laugh, too.

Excretera is feeling too mired in the shit lately, the bad kind, wading through the unremitting stench of American elections, the downfall of capitalism, etc. etc., AND now, to cap it all, I've finally been struck down by the Freshers' Flu. (What a dirty little bunch of snotty germ-bags first years are. Best avoided. Ew.)

So into this mucky-yucky haze of unreality I found myself Sunday night convalescing in front of the TV watching a repeat of a Graham Norton show (when else would you watch a Graham Norton show?), with special guests Harry Shearer -- yup, him off The Simpsons -- and Eddie Izzard. And you know, I forgot just how incredibly funny Eddie Izzard can be.

Proof, if it were needed, in the clip below, which I've played more than two dozen times from YouTube since Graham used it in his show. Apparently, you've all already seen it already -- 5 million of you have viewed this, though it might only be the same dozen or so over and over and over again (like the counter on this blog... it's just me logging in from different computers, really. I know it). But, for those of you who might have missed it, here it is.

It's a Lego dramatisation of an Eddie Izzard stand-up routine on Star Wars. I would love to add my own insightful commentary, on how it is a remarkable imposition of our mundane, bureaucratic reality into a world of fairy tale and omnipotent fantasy ('I can kill catering with a thought!'), but since that is Izzard's point already I'll shut up and just let him do it.

'Jeff Vader'. Oh! That reminds me. An update is called for on my 'Star-Wars-instead-of-Sunday-School' lessons for my boys. Watch this space...

Saturday, 4 October 2008

United Socialist State Republic of America


This from the pile of 'want to read' newspapers beside my bed, finally being recycled after a long and busy week.

It's not a remarkably original article, but Monbiot very neatly reminds us that the US is not a free market, that it only 'works' -- such as it does -- because of vast amounts of corporate welfare. That public money, taxes primarily from the poorest, is always used in the US (and Europe, too) to support and bail out and subsidise the richest and the largest companies.

I love way so many of the American free-marketeers are falling into Cold-War relapse over this.
According to Senator Jim Bunning, the proposal to purchase $700bn of dodgy debt by the US government was "financial socialism, it is un-American". The economics professor Nouriel Roubini called George Bush, Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke "a troika of Bolsheviks who turned the USA into the United Socialist State Republic of America". Bill Perkins, the venture capitalist who took out an ad in the New York Times attacking the plan, called it "trickle-down communism".
A lovely collection of images, no? I mean, totally mad, obviously. But... [and here's the second paragraph]:
They are wrong. Any subsidies eventually given to the monster banks of Wall Street will be as American as apple pie and obesity. The sums demanded may be unprecedented, but there is nothing new about the principle: corporate welfare is a consistent feature of advanced capitalism. Only one thing has changed: Congress has been forced to confront its contradictions.
What follows is a pretty thorough picking over of the evidence to back all this up. Very Chomsky-like, which is high-praise by any standard. So I heartily recommend the rest of the article, notwithstanding some legitimate criticisms of Monbiot on the Anarchist Writers blog: they made him their Muppet of the Week for his misunderstanding of what 'anarchism' really means (though surely anarchists need to target Greater Evils that that? well, I guess that's the difference between a 'muppet' and an 'asshole'); to which I say, yes, he should know better, so go do some homework and get that right but otherwise, good effort.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Dumb Dumber Dumberest

Could it be that, finally, Americans are starting to tire of the suffocation of debate and dampening of expectations that has led to idle-brained idiots like George Bush Jr. and (maybe) Sarah Palin getting within a sniff of the White House?

Bush claimed victory after debates only because he remembered to turn up, not fall over anything, memorise a handful of 60 second, meaningless anecdotes and... well, that was about it, wasn't it? As long as he didn't fuck up in some way so obvious that even Fox News couldn't re-spin it as an valid interpretation of the facts (e.g. he knew that Iraq is somewhere in the Mid-East, Idaho is in the Mid-West, Canada's up there that way and Mexico down there somewhere), he could claim a victory.

And I've never really bought the whole Obama=change thing -- do even Democrats? does anyone? does anyone really care how Obama sells himself, as long as he wins that election? -- but I'd be really curious to discover how McCain and Palin sell themselves on that same empty mantra of 'change'. Enlighten me, please, someone. Becasuse it seems that right now in the White House we've already got a pro-War, anti-abortion, oil-mad, root-tootin'-shootin', planet-hating, evolution-denying fundamentalist -- yes! why do Islamic religious nuts get called 'fundamentalist' and Christian religious nuts (most of whom believe in the same shit anyway) get called 'evangelical'? Let's call a spade a fuckin' shovel from now on -- folksy-charmer with an aversion to foreign travel and 'details'... I'm sorry. So the difference is where, again, exactly?

Sarah Palin is less of a pig in lipstick than she is Bush Jr. in a dress. And I know which one I'd rather kiss.

Sorry. Another stating the bleedin' obvious blog entry. I seem to specialise in that lately. There are better blogs out there with real news about what's happening in America. Go read those. I need to do this everyone once and a while. For my health, you understand. I need to let it out.

Erumpo, ergo sum.