Archive for October, 2006


Mona Lisa descending a staircase

Found this truly devastating short film directed by Joan C. Gratz, in which images of the human face are subtly morphed to communicate the graphic style and emotional content of key 20th century artworks. It won the 1992 Academy Award for best animated short film. The soundtrack is pretty amazing too.

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I have a friend who has recently found it difficult to write. Since he writes well — and always with sincerity — I don’t believe he has a problem.

I, on the other hand, do.

You see, the difference between my friend and I is that he longs to write for profit (no, I’ll re-phrase that: he would dearly love to make a living from writing). I think he could. Also, I am of the opinion that it would destroy his integrity as a writer.

My problem is that I find it impossible not to write. Even when I have nothing to say or when I’m too drunk or depressed or both to produce anything worthwhile, I find it absolutely necessary.

Why? Because it’s what I do for a living.

It gets me into trouble.

Burroughs once said that writing is a most dangerous profession: the writer always and forever remains responsible for what she has written.

Thing is, I have to write a lot of “opinionated” shemozzle that I don’t actually believe and, because, like my friend, I write well, my readers think I’m expressing myself, that I’m being sincere, when the reality is that I’m just “writing” — staining paper for so many shekels a page. That makes me a professional and calculated liar.

I guess it’s a cross I’ll have to bear.

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America’s Lost Highway

LIKE GEORGE W’S

WAR ON TERROR

A MOEBIUS STRIP

IS A TWO

DIMENSIONAL SURFACE

WITH ONLY ONE  FACE.

A MOEBIUS STRIP REPRESENTS INFINITY.

WHEN YOU CUT A MOEBIUS  STRIP (Afghanistan) IN HALF LENGTHWAYS 

YOU GET A DOUBLE MOEBIUS STRIP (Afghanistan + Iraq).

IF YOU CUT IT AGAIN YOU GET A TRIPLE STRIP (Afghanistan + Iraq + Iran) AND SO ON INTO INFINITY.

WHEN YOU RIDE A MOEBIUS STRIP IT’S LIKE GOING BACK TO THE BEGINNING (Vietnam) IN SPACE ON A ONE-DIMENSIONAL SURFACE: YOU MUST CONTINUE AND CONTINUE AND YOU WILL NEVER CROSS YOUR STARTING POINT AGAIN.

LIKE LIFE ITSELF IT IS A PERPETUAL RESTART, NEVER FROM THE SAME POINT.

(click on image to enlarge)

The Tet offensive by the Viet Cong and the NVA in january 1968 was the flip-over point of US involvement in the Vietnam conflict, exposing the hollowness of Pentagon claims that America was in control of the war and precipitating American withdrawal seven years later.

When ABC’s George Stephanopolous asked George Bush to comment on Tom Friedman’s column comparing the dreadful events of the past week in Iraq with those in South-East Asia 38 years ago, the Commander in Chief replied: “He may be right…” before moving on quickly to firmer ground concerning al-Qaeda’s determination to see the coalition quit.

There are indeed similarities. Both conflicts, for example, are characterised by a huge civilian death toll and a deepening public sense that America is trapped in an unwinnable situation. There are, however, huge differences, as the BBC’s Matt Frei points out.

“At this stage in the Vietnam war, America had lost about 20,000 men. Iraq has cost the US 2,772 troops at the last count. But no war, including this one, can be measured solely by the number of casualties. The key equation is the sacrifice of casualties measured against the perceived benefits of the conflict. Is it worth it?”

He concludes that public opnion will not force an exit strategy any time soon, pointing out that whilst the war is patently unpopular levels of protest are nowhere near those precipitated by the Tet offensive.

“This is the world post 9/11. We are fighting a “global war on terror”. Polls show that most Americans believe the stakes of abandoning Iraq are too high, that the US has a responsibility to try to fix the problem -“we broke it, we own it!” – and that abandoning it could fuel a regional war with even more dire consequences. So the pain threshold in Iraq is surprisingly high, especially if it’s not your child getting killed”.

Number Of Iraqi Civilians Slaughtered In America’s War? As Many As 655,000

Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America’s War? 2785

Cost of America’s War in Iraq? $335,445,839,575

Americans ask me…

… why I hate America.

I tell them: “I don’t, I think it’s one of the best countries we ever stole.”

(Image courtesy of Violator of the Regime

homesec3.jpg

Yesterday (October 18) the session judge in the case of Mirza Tahir Hussain issued a fresh warrant for the Leeds man’s execution. According to Adiala jail authorities Mirza’s family were informed that he would hang at 06:30 am November 1st, a date which would have coincided with a visit to Pakistan by a member of the British royal family.

Today, in response to a plea for clemency by Prince Charles, the man has been granted a further stay of execution (his fourth). He will not now be executed before 31 December.

His brother Amjad, speaking to the BBC, expressed his anger at the decision: “Pakistan has no due regard for the representations that have been made. It’s like saying to my brother ‘Live to die another day’. It’s murder by a thousand cuts.

“They’re not going to execute my brother while Mr Musharraf takes his Royal Highness to dinner, but after that he will execute him, maybe a month or two months later… It is a continuation of the torture and the agony. It is not a solution.”

Under article 45 of Pakistan’s constitution the President has the power to pardon mirza but has refused to do this, in spite of his self confessed doubts regarding the safety of the conviction.

By not bringing the matter to a positive conclusion at this time, Musharraf throws away a timely opportunity to show the world that Islamic governments are capable of compassion and justice. Simply delaying the execution one more time is an act of terrible cruelty both to Mirza and his family.

Liberal Democrat Mep Liz Lynne said on 10 October at the World Day Against the Death Penalty that Musharraf had “heard the collective voice of Europe during his recent visits to Brussels and London”. When she met with him privately she told him “in no uncertain terms, that the carrying out of this execution would cast a shadow over the reputation of Pakistan within the EU, as it would clearly represent a rare combination of excessive cruelty and profound injustice.”

It seems the “terms” were not “certain” enough. I wonder how much more certain they would be if the man suffering the injustice was a white European. 

Correction

My attention has recently been drawn to a typo in a piece I posted back in June about former underworld figure and author Paul Ferris.

I would like to make it clear that, to my knowledge, Paul has never been an informer and the piece should have read: ruthless enforcer.

I apologise for the error.

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