Don't you just hate weekend bloggers? They never look in the rear view mirror for a start. They suddenly turn right while signalling left or left when signalling right. Then they'll suddenly do a U-turn. And they're so slow. They blog along, looking out of the window as if the rest of us haven't got somewhere to go. And if something catches their eye in the real world, they just stop in mid-blog and wander off, sometimes for days at a time. I dunno...
I've taken Norm's advice. I've just turned my watch back now and am going to use the extra hour to do something I rarely do: post something overtly political (goats notwithstanding).
It strikes me that recently – and who knows, maybe it was always like that – large sections of the self-identifying left have been soft on third world fascism and soft in the head on the causes of third world fascism.
Here are four issues that need addressing. None of the points below is new or original and some of them have been well rehearsed in the blogosphere. But they bear repeating:
1. A conflation of the fascist rulers and citizens forced to live under them. Hence an attack on the rulers of (Democratic Republic of) Unitania becomes an attack on Unitania. A war on the fascist government of Unitania becomes a war on Unitania or, worse, a war on the people of Unitania. Why this conflation? If a bunch of fascists somehow fought their way to power in Iceland, would a war to get rid of them be considered a war against the people of Iceland?
2. Sovereignty. Part of the above stems from a widely accepted belief that countries shouldn't 'interfere in the internal affairs of other sovereign states'. That assumption itself seems questionable without some set of accepted ground rules (e.g., UN Covenants) and has always been applied selectively in any case. If gross mistreatment by a particular regime of its own citizens or a section of its own citizenry is wrong, then why this arbitrary limit on opposing it? Even if one accepts the principle of non-interference, why should a regime that achieved power illegitimately be recognised as sovereign?
3. "We created them". There seems to be a view that because a particularly odious regime may have been supported, if not installed, by 'us', 'we' have no moral case for interfering to get rid of it. This is lame-brained. It requires a view of third world political actors, even odious ones, as being glove puppets. Let's assume for the sake of argument that a particular regime was installed by 'us'. Many have already pointed out that if 'we' broke something, 'we' have more of an obligation to help fix it, not less. Otherwise, it's like:
We've brought you a present. Oh, you don't like it? Well take it back then. The shop's 6,000 miles away and you'll have to find your own transport.
4. 'There are lots of other bad regimes.' So what? The logic of this position is, if you can't do something about all of them, you shouldn't do anything about any of them. The range of options for dealing with bad regimes will always depend on the specific circumstances. But as a guiding principle, I'd say if people don't want to live under a bad regime, they shouldn't have to and if they don't have an available mechanism for getting rid of that regime (e.g.; reasonably free and fair elections), then if they want help from outside, they should get it....unless of course some one can point me in the direction of a citizenry that is happy to live under a fascist regime?
Here endeth the lesson. Now back to the usual stuff.
Ford Kenya MPs in western province yesterday skipped a funds-drive in Lugari Constituency presided over by National Security minister Chris Murungaru.
Area Ford Kenya MP Enoch Kibunguchy had invited the minister to lead a harambee for Likuyani Health Centre. Murungaru was accompanied by five NAK MPs from Central and one from Coast province.
The NAK MPs took the chance to hit out at their rivals in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), whom Murungaru equated to a goat that keeps on bleating when its mouth was full with fine fodder.
"The complainants are like a goat which never stops bleating even if you give it the best vine grass. The Government will not be bothered by the noise of those who are never satisfied," said Murungaru.
2) And this, from Hunter S. Thompson in a characteristically over-the-top piece for Rolling Stone:
I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, but I will not make that mistake again. The joke is over for Nader. He was funny once, but now he belongs to the dead. There is nothing funny about helping George Bush win Florida again. Nader is a fool, and so is anybody who votes for him in November -- with the obvious exception of professional Republicans who have paid big money to turn poor Ralph into a world-famous Judas Goat.
"Why haven't (journalists) done their job for the last four years?" Moore asked a crowd of about 750. "What if they had asked the hard questions and demanded the answers?"
Then like a scene from one of his own films, Moore refused media interviews and arrived and left surrounded by security guards. Also, fans' cameras were confiscated at the door by the local police, who said Moore's production company was filming the event and wanted exclusive footage.
Judy Hammond brought her goat Blinx (who appeared with Howard Dean during the primary) wearing a coat dotted with Kerry stickers. She wasn't impressed with the tight security yesterday, including when a friend was told she couldn't bring her camera in. That wasn't the Michael Moore Hammond expected to see.
"It looks like he's leaning toward the kind of thing he's against," she said, equally upset that Blinx was turned away. Blinx finally made it in the back door for a brief appearance...
It is fairly well documented that in 1946 Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein had a bit of a spat that, at the very least, involved the threat of physical violence. (A book, Wittgenstein's Poker apparently addressses this incident in detail, though, I hasten to add, I haven't read it.)
The assumption is that the dispute was provoked by a disagreement over the defintion of philosophical problems. However, a little research on the web reveals a key difference between the two men that I feel has been overlooked.
After exhausting philosophical work, Wittgenstein would often relax by watching an American western or reading detective stories. These tastes are in stark contrast to his preferences in music, where he rejected anything after Brahms as a symptom of the decay of society.
Popper, when I was very young, he often chided me for playing too much tennis or for not attending sufficiently to my work, and he chided me very much for reading too much literature. ...Popper also has no hobbies and his whole private life at home was geared towards his work.
(The speaker is Peter Munz, Emeritus Professor of History at the Victoria University of Wellington, and at one time a pupil of Popper's at Canterbury College, Christchurch, New Zealand.)
Could it be that Popper regarded Wittgenstein's interests as frivolous and that this got Wittgenstein's goat? Did Wittgenstein taunt Popper with continual references to John Wayne (real name: Marion Morrison) and the Ringo Kid? Did Wittgenstein's patience finally snap when Popper made one too many disparaging references to Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe?
First, from Amos Oz, in a little booklet of essays called 'Help us to divorce':
The word compromise has a terrible reputation in Europe. Especially among young idealists, who always regard compromise as opportunism, as something dishonest, as something sneaky and shady, as a mark of a lack of integrity. Not in my vocabulary. For me the word compromise means life. And the opposite of compromise is not idealism, not devotion; the opposite of compromise is fanaticism and death. We need a compromise. Compromise, not capitulation....but right at the outset I should tell you that this compromise will be very painful......It is a route paved with shattered dreams and broken illusions and injured hopes and blown-up slogans from the past on both sides.
There'd been a clashing of spirits at times, but nothing that turned into a bitter or complicated struggle. In the end, there always has to be some compromise of personal interests and there was, but the record satisfied my purposes and his. I can't say if it's the record either of us wanted. Human dynamics plays too big a part, and getting what you want isn't always the most important thing in life anyway.
I'd say that Oh Mercy is not Dylan's best album, but it's far from his worst.
Those who've been hunting high and low for a clip of Leonard Cohen's live version of Tennessee Waltz (the bonus track on his new album) – and those who haven't – can now rest easy. Go here, scroll down and click.
Arriving back in the UK yesterday after a couple of weeks absence, I bought the Guardian, wherein I found a piece of supposed satire by Terry (used to be quite funny) Jones, headlined 'George, this is God'. It purports to be a dialogue between you know who and you know who.
Here is an extract:
"I want you to stop this Iraq thing, George."
"But you told me to do it, God!"
"No, I didn't, George. Do you really think I want you to unleash this bloodshed on other human beings?"
"But they're Muslims! They don't believe in You, God!"
"But George, they do. Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same Me! Didn't you do comparative theology at school, George?"
"No, of course not! You think I'm some sort of dope-headed, liberal faggot-lover?"
and so on and so on. With all the subtlety of a Steve Bell cartoon, this painful exercise lumbers to its inevitable conclusion. If you really want to read the rest, it's here. God knows there's plenty to satirise about George Bush (after all, he created him). Countless American columnists satirise him every day, but for satire to work, the target has to be recognisable. It seems like Terry Jones, lacking other raw materials, set about building a giant straw man for bonfire night and got carried away.
I spent much of my youth having to listen to the Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation and reading the Rhodesia Herald – one reason why I retain an affection for short-wave radios – and I can tell the difference between satire and putrescent garbage. I knew satire. Satire was a friend of mine. And this is no satire. Nul points.
Good news for Norm…Today’s Wall Street Journal, which I found outside my hotel door this morning, has an article entitled, ‘Beyond Velveeta: U.S. Cheese Finally Gets Some Respect’ by staff reporter Katy Mclaughlin. There I learn:
The nation that brought the world cheese in an aerosol can and neon-orange Velveeta is becoming famous for something else: world-class, gourmet cheese .
In a turnabout comparable to the one U.S. wines have made during the past 20 years, domestic cheeses are finally achieving the quality, respect and marketability once reserved for European varieties. While the U.S. has been best known for supermarket-variety Cheddar or jack, there has been an influx of artisanal or specialty cheeses -- higher-quality varieties made in small quantities using traditional methods.
Last month, U.S. cheese makers took home an unprecedented 44 medals at one of the world's most influential cheese contests, the World Cheese Awards in London, England, compared with only 13 medals in 2001.
The rest is available at wsj.com (Registration required, I think)
When Suggs of Madness appeared on Desert Island Discs on 19 May 2002, the first song he chose was the jazz standard, 'Cry Me a River', performed by Julie London, whose second husband, Bobby Troup, was the composer of the classic 'Route 66'.
Cry Me a River was written by Arthur Hamilton, an old schoolfriend of Julie's, and was his only significant hit, though he also wrote much of the music for a 1955 movie called Pete Kelly's Blues, starring Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald amongst others.
Today, Hamilton sits on the Board of Directors of the ASCAP Foundation, a body 'dedicated to nurturing the music talent of tomorrow'. Earlier this year, he was elected vice president of the Academy Awards organisation (Kathy Bates was elected Treasurer).
Covers of Cry Me a River that I am familiar with: Chantal Chamberland (see previous post), Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Krall, John Martyn, Nina Simone. Of these, the weirdest is John Martyn's.
(Anyone who can come up with:
You told me love was too plebeian
Told me you were through with me and