Tag Archive: culture

Steve Mason, formerly of the beta band, has a new album out: Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time

Here be the first single off it. Fight Them Back.

Be sure to check out the interview with him in the march issue of The Skinny where he accuses David Cameron of trying to turn Britain into some kind of wasteland.


It’s true!

The New Working Class


The word “proletariat” refers to a member of the working class of a capitalist society. Combining the word with “precarious,” economist Guy Standing coined the term “precariat” to try to describe the reality of low wage workers in our modern, global economy.

In the ten-minute segment below, sent in by Jordan G., an interview with Standing is complimented by interviews with workers and activists in Britain. He explains that new international labor markets have weakened the power of labor and strengthened that of employers. The result is more jobs that are part time, with unpredictable hours, low wages, and few benefits. This has been good for employers in that the risk inherent in capitalist enterprises has been transferred to the workers. For example, if the hotel isn’t full, then the managers simply bring in fewer housekeepers. This is hard on housekeepers, but easy on hotels. Workers’ lives, then, are increasingly precarious, thus the term “precariat.”

via The “Precariat,” the New Working Class » Sociological Images.

With thanks to Merryn.

A new report by our political correspondent Piers Fletcher-Dervish:

Image Source
There has been much to-do over the last few days in the media regarding the well-known Hollywood personality Charlie Sheen taking part in an interview on the controversial radio show hosted by Alex Jones; America’s loudest and angriest political commentator.

Of course if you run ‘Charlie Sheen Alex Jones’ through popular search engines you won’t find much that isn’t utterly derogatory of both men, since Google decided to alter the codes for its engine to display those sites which have donated money above small operations which operate without large financial backing.

As part and parcel of the Hollywood machine, all this is seen by those larger media operations as ‘entertainment’ rather than valid political debate.  Many articles covering the interview made an issue of Mr. Sheen’s struggle with addiction, and he even spoke about this himself pretty openly during the discussion claiming to be 100% clean and working out every day.  And good for him, I say – addiction is an enormous problem in our world and can seem like an impossible barrier to those facing ‘going clean,’ let alone trying to kick a habit under the media spotlights.

Mr. Sheen was speaking on Alex Jones’ show as a follow-up to a letter and a video message comprising 20 questions over the 9/11 incident he’d addressed to Barack Obama, representing ‘the families of the victims of September 11th and millions of…fellow Americans.’  After a great deal of time Mr. Obama did in fact grant Mr. Sheen an audience to ask his questions.  Charlie Sheen presented the President with substantial evidence that the story Obama has put forward not only differs from the majority of the 9/11 investigatory commission but is wildly inaccurate and in places simply untrue.

Mr. Sheen issued the President with this rebuttal over the air:

“How much faith can I possibly have in you to run this entire country when 20 questions from a high-school dropout sitcom actor appear to be too much to handle for you and your staff?  Sorry, but you, sir, are obviously a coward in a cheap suit…as if it’s rocket science – this is not.  Quit hiding, it’s embarrassing, dude.”

This may seem like a hasty and somewhat angry comment to make to the president of the USA – often referred to as the most powerful man in the world – but if we read through the minutes of their meeting on the 8th September, 2009, we see that not a single comment or question put to the president was answered sufficiently and they have remained unanswered in the two years since then.  And let’s be fair, Mr. Obama did have a letter in advance, and if he didn’t have time to read through that he could have tuned in to the video message.  Even his small-talk was disparate and self-contradictory:

Charlie Sheen – Sir, in the very near future we will be experiencing our first 9/11 anniversary with you as Commander in Chief.

Barack Obama – Yes. A very solemn day for our Nation. A day of reflection and yet a day of historical consciousness as well.

But a few moments after saying the words “historical consciousness” Barack said:

“…we as a people and as a country need to move forward. It is obviously in our best interest as a democratic society to focus our efforts and our resources on the future of this great nation…we must move forward…”

He went on to refer to the sinking of the Lusitania, the First World War and the Gulf of Tonkin incident as “ancient history” – which they aren’t.  The word ‘ancient’ refers to the period of history before the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD.  The First World War is well within the realms of 20th century history.

Mr. Obama was also unwilling to reply to the remark:

“You promised to abolish the Patriot Act and then voted to re-authorize it. You pledged to end warrantless wire tapping against the American people and now energetically defend it. You decried the practice of rendition and now continue it. You promised over and over again on the campaign trail, that you would end the practice of indefinite detention and instead, you have expanded it to permanent detention of “detainees” without trial. This far exceeds the outrages of the former administration.”

Faced with these points Obama squirmed and said:

“…my staff and I authorized this interview based on your request to discuss 9/11 and deliver some additional information you’re convinced I’d not previously reviewed. Call me crazy, but it appears as though you’ve blindly wandered off topic.”

Sheen ignored the split infinitive and reminded him that these examples “are a direct result of 9/11.” to which the reply came:

“And I’m telling you that we must move forward, we must endure through these dangerous and politically challenging years ahead.”

And after such a lively exchange Charlie cut to the chase and asked his questions:

“Okay, first; On the FBI’s most wanted list Osama Bin Laden is not charged with the crimes of 9/11. When I called the FBI to ask them why this was the case, they replied: “There’s not enough evidence to link Bin Laden to the crime scene,” I later discovered he had never even been indicted by the Department of Justice.

Number 2; FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, was dismissed and gagged by the Department of Justice after she revealed that the government had foreknowledge of plans to attack American cities using planes as bombs as early as April 2001. In July of ‘09, Mrs. Edmonds broke the Federal gag order and went public to reveal that Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the Taliban were all working for and with the C.I.A. up until the day of 9/11.

Number 3; The following is a quote from Mayor Giuliani during an interview on 9/11 with Peter Jennings for ABC News. “I went down to the scene and we set up headquarters at 75 Barkley Street, which was right there with the Police Commissioner, the Fire Commissioner, the Head of Emergency Management, and we were operating out of there when we were told that the World Trade Center was going to collapse. And it did collapse before we could actually get out of the building, so we were trapped in the building for 10, 15 minutes, and finally found an exit and got out, walked north, and took a lot of people with us.”

WHO TOLD HIM THIS??? To this day, the answer to this question remains unanswered, completely ignored and emphatically DENIED by Mayor Giuliani on several public occasions.

Number 4; In April 2004, USA Today reported, “In the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defence Command conducted exercises simulating what the White House says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties.” One of the targets was the World Trade Center.

Number 5; On September 12th 2007, CNN’s ‘Anderson Cooper 360, reported that the mysterious “white plane” spotted and videotaped by multiple media outlets, flying in restricted airspace over the White House shortly before 10am on the morning of 9/11, was in fact the Air Force’s E-4B, a specially modified Boeing 747 with a communications pod behind the cockpit; otherwise known as “The Doomsday Plane”?

Though fully aware of the event, the 9/11 Commission did not deem the appearance of the military plane to be of any interest and did not include it in the final 9/11 Commission report.

Number 6; Three F-16s assigned to Andrews Air Force Base, ten miles from Washington, DC, are conducting training exercises in North Carolina 207 miles away as the first plane crashes into the World Trade Center.  Even at significantly less than their top speed of 1500 mph, they could still have defended the skies over Washington well before 9am, more than 37 minutes before Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon, however, they did not return until after 9:55am.

Andrews AFB had no armed fighters on alert and ready to take off on the morning of 9/11.

Number 7; WTC Building 7. Watch the video of its collapse.

Number 8; Flight 93 is fourth plane to crash on 9/11 at 10:03am. V.P. Cheney only gives shoot down order at 10:10-10:20am and this is not communicated to NORAD until 28 minutes after Flight 93 has crashed.

Fuelling further suspicion on this front is the fact that three months before the attacks of 9/11, Dick Cheney usurped control of NORAD, and therefore he, and no one else on planet Earth, had the power to call for military sorties on the hijacked airliners on 9/11. He did not exercise that power. Three months after 9/11, he relinquished command of NORAD and returned it to military operation.

Number 9; Scores of main stream news outlets reported that the F.B.I. conducted an investigation of at least FIVE of the 9/11 hijackers being trained at U.S. military flight schools. Those investigations are now sealed and need to be declassified.

Number 10; In 2004, New York fire-fighters Mike Bellone and Nicholas DeMasi went public to say they had found the black boxes at the World Trade Center, but were told to keep their mouths shut by FBI agents. Nicholas DeMasi said that he escorted federal agents on an all-terrain vehicle in October 2001 and helped them locate the devices, a story backed up by rescue volunteer Mike Bellone.

As the Philadelphia Daily News reported at the time, “Their story raises the question of whether there was some type of cover-up at Ground Zero.”

Number 11 – Hundreds of eye witnesses including first responders, fire captains, news reporters, and police, all described multiple explosions in both towers before and during the collapse.

Number 12; An astounding video uncovered from the archives shows BBC News correspondent Jane Standley reporting on the collapse of WTC Building 7 over twenty minutes before it fell at 5:20pm on the afternoon of 9/11. Tapes from earlier BBC broadcasts show news anchors discussing the collapse of WTC 7 a full 26 minutes in advance. The BBC at first claimed that their tapes from 9/11 had been “lost” before admitting that they made the “error” of reporting the collapse of WTC 7 before it happened without adequately explaining how they could have obtained advance knowledge of the event.

In addition, over an hour before the collapse of WTC 7, at 4:10pm, CNN’s Aaron Brown reported that the building “has either collapsed, or is collapsing.”

Number 13; Solicitor General Ted Olson’s claim that his wife Barbara Olsen called him twice from Flight 77, describing hijackers with box cutters, was a central plank of the official 9/11 story.

However, the credibility of the story was completely undermined after Olsen kept changing his story about whether his wife used her cell phone or the airplane phone. The technology to enable cell phone calls from high-altitude airline flights was not created until 2004. American Airlines confirmed that Flight 77 was a Boeing 757 and that this plane did not have airplane phones on board.

According to the FBI, Barbara Olsen attempted to call her husband only once and the call failed to connect, therefore Olsen must have been lying when he claimed he had spoken to his wife from Flight 77.

Number 14; The size of a Boeing 757 is approximately 125ft in width and yet images of the impact zone at the Pentagon supposedly caused by the crash merely show a hole no more than 16ft in diameter. The engines of the 757 would have punctured a hole bigger than this, never mind the whole plane. Images before the partial collapse of the impact zone show little real impact damage and a sparse debris field completely inconsistent with the crash of a large jetliner, especially when contrasted with other images showing airplane crashes into buildings.

Number 15; What is the meaning behind the following quote attributed to Dick Cheney which came to light during the 9/11 Commission hearings? The passage is taken from testimony given by then Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta.

During the time that the airplane was coming in to the Pentagon, there was a young man who would come in and say to the Vice President, “The plane is 50 miles out.” “The plane is 30 miles out.” And when it got down to “the plane is 10 miles out,” the young man also said to the Vice President, “Do the orders still stand?” And the Vice President turned and whipped his neck around and said, “Of course the orders still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?”

As the plane was not shot down, in addition to the fact that armed fighter jets were nowhere near the plane and the Pentagon defensive system was not activated, are we to take it that the orders were to let the plane find its target?

Number 16; In May 2003, the Miami Herald reported how the Bush administration was refusing to release a 900-page congressional report on 9/11 because it wanted to “avoid enshrining embarrassing details in the report,” particularly regarding pre-9/11 warnings as well as the fact that the hijackers were trained at U.S. flight schools.

Number 17; Top Pentagon officials cancelled their scheduled flights for September 11th on September 10th. San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, following a security warning, cancelled a flight into New York that was scheduled for the morning of 9/11.

Number 18; The technology to enable cell phone calls from high-altitude airline flights was not created until 2004, and even by that point it was only in the trial phase. Calls from cell phones which formed an integral part of the official government version of events were technologically impossible at the time.

Number 19: On April 29, 2004, President Bush and V.P. Cheney would only meet with the commission under specific clandestine conditions. They insisted on testifying together and not under oath. They also demanded that their testimony be treated as a matter of “state secret.” To date, nothing they spoke of that day exists in the public domain.

And finally Mr. President – Number 20; A few days after the attack, several newspapers as well as the FBI reported that a paper passport had been found in the ruins of the WTC. In August 2004, CNN reported that 9/11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah’s visa was found in the remains of Flight 93 which went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

At least a third of the WTC victim’s bodies were vaporized and many of the victims of the Pentagon incident were burned beyond recognition. And yet visas and paper passports which identify the perpetrators and back up the official version of events miraculously survive explosions and fires that we are told melted steel buildings.

(The senior aide appears again beside the President whispering in his ear. He then quickly moves off).

President Barack Obama – Well Charlie I can’t say this hasn’t been interesting. As I said earlier you’ve showed up today focused and organized. Regardless how I feel about the material you’ve presented, I must commend your dedication and zeal. However, our time here is up.”

So each and every question asked – and they’re some enormous questions – went totally and utterly unanswered.

Are we to believe that they were such insane questions that they didn’t deserve an answer, or that the president simply didn’t know, or that he didn’t want to answer on the grounds that his testimony may serve to incriminate him, or perhaps that he didn’t hear the questions?

Or are we to draw the conclusion that President Barack Obama was on the same team as Bush Jr. and his removed cousin Dick Cheney?

At one point Charlie Sheen mentioned the Project for a New American Century, he begins:

“To quote from the document sir…”

But the president interrupted him with a word-for-word, precise quote:

“Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbour.”

Obama left the room saying:

“I am on the right side of history.”

But history will be looking for the answers to these questions.

As a matter of basic, human manners: to refuse to answer questions put to you in person, face-to-face, is quite rude.  I know if I ask somebody a question I expect either an answer or a damn good reason for not giving that answer.

I do not like politicians who squirm.  When Rhodri Morgan of the Welsh Assembly Government was asked about his opinions on the second Iraq war he replied that he couldn’t comment as he was not in office at the time – I see that as showing great disrespect to the people of Iraq, and as tantamount to condoning the invasion which cost thousands of lives, thousands upon thousands of pounds of our money and saw Tony Blair (and others) rack up a list of war-crimes including the use of illegal weapons on civilian populations (to add to his already copious portfolio of crimes against humanity which he acquired previous to invading Iraq – remember Yugoslavia?  Serbia?  1999?)  When Obama squirms on 9/11 I can’t help but see him as just another heartless, suited beaurocrat.

I also don’t like the smell of nepotism, and what’s worst of all – the cherry on top – is that it seems, from his response to these well reasoned and heavily evidenced questions, that he was at the very least complicit in the manufacturing of a false Pearl Harbour event on September 11th 2001.  An event which has been used as justification for war, torture and the deletion of human rights and personal freedoms for innocent people all over the world.

There is even a scheme being rolled out in the USA, soon to be coming to an event near you, called Future Attribute Screening Technology; which can detect via remote measurements of your skin, eyes and brainwave patterns any ‘hostile or violent intent.’  The exact details of the triggers used by this machine to detect such intent are not in the public domain; however, Wegner’s Ironic Process Theory states that if a person is asked not to think of a thing, that one thing will become fixated involuntarily in the subject’s mind.  Not to mention what may happen if that person is being told not to think aggressive thoughts under the threat of violence.

Charlie Sheen’s had problems, granted.  But then, who hasn’t?  He put some questions to his President, and got no answers.  Why?  Could it possibly be that Barack Obama, America’s wonder-boy, is just as corrupt and self-serving as Blair, Bush and his removed cousin Cheney?

This high-school dropout sitcom actor has put everything on the line to ask some rational, reasonable questions of his elected officials.  If you ask me that shows a very high degree of testicular fortitude.  If the people in charge of our world are, indeed, mass-murdering liars they wouldn’t be averse to having Mr. Sheen ‘disappeared,’ and he knows that very well.

And if the leaders of our planet aren’t hostile, mass-murdering, lying, self-serving, nepotistic, heartless criminals then he has nothing to fear – they will respectfully answer all his questions in full and without hesitation…

Go, Charlie Sheen, go.

While you still can – before they come to shut you up.

–          Piers Fletcher-Dervish, political correspondent.  27th February, 2011.

J. K. Rowling getting sued again

Everybody wants a piece of you when your a best-selling millionaire.  Me? I can’t even be bothered to read the Harry Potter books.

There’s a good analysis of the whole debacle at the link.

Rowling’s being sued for plagiarism again

A Damn fine piece on the Cohen Brothers’ oveure that comes at them from the jewish angle, covering all of their films, their cross-polinating approaches to genre conventions, and coming away with some mighty good insight and analysis. Plus, if you read it you’ll learn cool yiddish words like shlimazels and shiksa. It’s a biggun, so dig your heels in a put on a fresh pot of coffeee.

You know, I’ve always had this strange compulsion to learn yiddish. Maybe someday I will.


Despite their roots in a centuries-old tradition of Jewish humorists (and their surname), there is a surprising lack of explicit Jewishness in the Coens’ films. They do, however, still treat their characters with as much cynicism and anxious distance as more obviously Jewish comic filmmakers like Woody Allen do, which has led many critics — sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly — to call them condescending. It’s easy — too easy — to imagine these two Jewish brothers scoffing at the idiotic Gentiles that populate their films, smugly robbing stylistic techniques from the more profound storytellers they studied in film school, and dismiss them as crass, sadistic snobs.

It’s telling that all three Coen non-comedies involve convoluted plots where everyone either winds up dead or hopeless, making them, essentially, non-comic screwball comedies — screwball tragedies, perhaps. The Coens have shown a greater affinity for the screwball comedy than any other genre, and specifically the Gentile-dominated strain popularized by Preston Sturges. The Coens never indulge in the uniquely Jewish screwball anarchy of the Marx brothers, and they also have a strange compulsion to hybridize the screwball with other typically Gentile genres. Raising Arizona, their first and still best screwball, is a western with an even more twisted plot than No Country for Old Men, but it works better comedically as a parody of the western genre than it does as an actual heir to the 1930s and ’40s screwball.

It’s all in the name of Galgenhumor, the German word for “gallows humor” used by Ashkenazim to describe their comic response to death. I use the term to distinguish it from American gallows humor, which is rooted more in schadenfreude than suffering. This is perhaps the single most important attribute of Jewish humor, the ability to greet horror with irony, and it turns up in everything from Yiddish folk tales to Sholem Aleichem’s short stories to Mel Brooks’ musical numbers. As countless writers have already said, one of the reasons the Jews survive so well, even under oppression disproportionate to other ethnic groups of similar size, is their indomitable comic spirit. Laughter is protest, mourning, and catharsis all in one.
The particular strand of Galgenhumor the Coens specialize in has usually been directed at Gentiles, and it often seems that they simply create characters for the sole purpose of laughing at their pain. A Serious Man highlights the empathy between the brothers and their characters that was always there in the first place: set in a Jewish Minnesota neighborhood like the one they grew up in, there’s no doubt that the Coens are the characters in the film. When Larry Gopnik’s life begins to fall apart, the Coens aren’t laughing at their marionette getting pelted with tomatoes — they’re masochistically enacting their own pains and sorrows. Their Gentile characters often cloud this connection, but gallows humor is rarely all that funny when it’s directed at others. That’s just sadism, and the Coens do occasionally indulge in it (e.g., the brutish hitman in Intolerable Cruelty accidentally committing suicide). The core of true Galgenhumor is the intense empathy between sufferer and viewer, and this is what makes all good Coen comedies tick.

Bright Lights Film Journal :: The Coen Brothers’ Emergence as Jewish Humorists.

The last speaker of an ancient language in India’s Andaman Islands has died at the age of about 85, a leading linguist has told the BBC.

Professor Anvita Abbi said that the death of Boa Sr was highly significant because one of the world’s oldest languages – Bo – had come to an end.

She said that India had lost an irreplaceable part of its heritage.

Languages in the Andamans are thought to originate from Africa. Some may be 70,000 years old.

The islands are often called an “anthropologist’s dream” and are one of the most linguistically diverse areas of the world.


Professor Abbi – who runs the Vanishing Voices of the Great Andamanese (Voga) website – explained: “After the death of her parents, Boa was the last Bo speaker for 30 to 40 years.


“She was often very lonely and had to learn an Andamanese version of Hindi in order to communicate with people.

“But throughout her life she had a very good sense of humour and her smile and full-throated laughter were infectious.”

She said that Boa Sr’s death was a loss for intellectuals wanting to study more about the origins of ancient languages, because they had lost “a vital piece of the jigsaw”.


“It is generally believed that all Andamanese languages might be the last representatives of those languages which go back to pre-Neolithic times,” Professor Abbi said.

“The Andamanese are believed to be among our earliest ancestors.”

Boa Sr’s case has also been highlighted by the Survival International (SI) campaign group.

“The extinction of the Bo language means that a unique part of human society is now just a memory,” SI Director Stephen Corry said.

BBC News – Last speaker of ancient language of Bo dies in India.
via Arthur Magazine blog

“When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed … gray. It was like my whole life, everything I’ve done and worked for, lost its meaning,” Hill wrote on the forum. “It just seems so … meaningless. I still don’t really see any reason to keep … doing things at all. I live in a dying world.”

You really gotta read the whole article. Could this be anymore cyberpunk? It’s all over people, it’s all over.

Audiences experience ‘Avatar’ blues – CNN.com.

The Simpsons – Salon.com

What a difference 20 years makes! On Dec. 17, 1989, the still-infant Fox Broadcasting Co. aired the first episode of “The Simpsons,” the animated show about a dysfunctional family from Springfield that has since become the longest-running prime-time series in American history. It’s hard to overstate the show’s impact. It has spawned a merchandising empire “Simpsons” air freshener, anyone?, been at the center of a culture war Barbara Bush called it “the dumbest thing I’d ever seen” and inspired a hit movie not to mention comedy writers’ rooms everywhere. Plus, “d’oh!” is now in the dictionary.Thursday marks the show’s two-decade anniversary – an event that serves as a reminder not only of the show’s extraordinary staying power, but also the extent to which it’s disappeared from the cultural conversation. While “The Family Guy” and “South Park” have kicked up controversy – tackling subjects like Scientology and abortion – “The Simpsons” seems to have aged from envelope-pushing misfit to grandfatherly institution. But as John Ortved argues in “The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History,” an oral history of the show’s tumultuous rise and creative demise, the “Simpsons’” legacy continues to be felt everywhere from “Wall-E” to Barack Obama’s speechwriting.Salon spoke to Ortved over the phone about the show’s effect on television comedy, Marge’s recent Playboy cover, and whether it’s finally time to pull the plug.

via The Simpsons – Salon.com.

Cat Hepburn

scriptwriter | spoken word artist | educator


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