Attack ad of the week

April 15, 2007 at 10:10 pm (voltairespriest)

Whatever your views on the US Presidential Primaries, you have to acknowledge a classy attack ad when you see one.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Style from Mars

April 14, 2007 at 6:50 pm (Jim D)

‘Life on Mars’ promised to be fascinating TV, and I kept meaning to watch it. One way and another, I never did. And no-one I know has done, either. I was at home last Tuesday, when the final episode was shown and I begged my partner to let me tune in, but I was overruled: some Jane Austen crap was on another channel.

I don’t think I have ever read such unanimously positive reviews for a mainstream TV series: Rachel Cooke, in the New Statesman, for instance:

I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed a television series so much as Life on Mars. Tyler, a cop, has an accident. When he wakes up, it’s 1973. Is he in a coma? Or is he mad? At first, time-travelling seemed to be a vehicle, albeit a very slick vehicle, for a bit of nostalgia…”. 

Cook goes on: “As a caper, it was always funny, but you did wonder if the effect would pall in time. It didn’t; it got darker, more sinewy. The final episode (although I’m in mourning, I’m glad the show stopped at two perfect series) brought into the open an implicit theme of Life on Mars: the idea that 21st-century life, while undeniably nicer, kinder and more equal than its 1973 equivalent, is also very lonely…

“Can Life on Mars be faulted? Not by me. It worked as a drama, a fiendish crime solved every week; and it worked as a comedy, too, even if te jokes were aimed at those of a certain age…”.

Well, all I can do is to tell you how heartened I was – from the trailers and the billboards- to see that the series has brought back real style: bronze Mark 4 Cortinas, kipper ties, camel hair coats, light-grey loafers… this was the gear in the mid-to-late 1970’s, and I’m very encouraged to find that it’s coming back into style…and I’m even more encouraged to hear that a follow-up series (‘Ashes to Ashes’) will be set in the early 1980’s…now that was my cool sartorial high-point: I really must watch it. And dig out my old clothes.

Permalink 18 Comments

See ya in a bit

April 14, 2007 at 10:55 am (voltairespriest)

That’s enough blogging for me for today. I’m off to the pub.

Permalink 1 Comment

Some new friends for you to meet

April 14, 2007 at 8:49 am (blogging, blogosphere, Civil liberties, cyberspace, Feminism, socialism, Socialist Party, voltairespriest)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThought I’d just flag up a few of the newest additions to the Shiraz blogroll. Firstly, my mates Paul and Housey have started Militant blog with a couple of their Socialist Party comrades, including long-standing pal of the blog Phil the sociologist. It’s pretty much a matter of them putting forward their organisation’s line for debate at present, but they’re straight up about it. And their willingness to simply and straightforwardly duke it out over political stances, rather than seeking to abjure debate with hysterical denunciation like certain members of other organisations, represents a refreshing change of pace as far as I’m concerned.

On a lighter note, check out Red Squirrel’s Lair, a new blog from two lads whose precise politics I have yet to work out, but for sure they’re both intelligent and damn funny. Their first post, a fantasy vision of a future Sheridan-led Scottish government, made me chuckle muchly. Definitely some promise there. Their later posts also show a serious side with some interesting analysis of various issues – go have a debate with them.

Finally, the prize for best name goes to Bastard Logic, and the prize for best blogging nickname goes to Matttbastard. This blog is slickly presented, witty and as cutting as it is intelligent. Matt, Isabel and Boomgate use their platform to come at issues from a different, fresh angle, and let’s face it: that’s what blogs are supposed to be about. Further, anyone who can kick off a post with the phrase “Markos Moulitsas has a very tiny, shriveled, disease-ridden penis” just has to be worth a read!

Three very different blogs, all worthwhile, all there in our blogroll for your enjoyment. And all part of a blogosphere whose freedom of speech and diversity is its greatest strength.

Permalink 8 Comments


April 13, 2007 at 6:40 am (voltairespriest, whiskey, whisky, wild man)

We, the undersigned, demand:

That Comrade Jim Denham attends the Socialist Bloggers’ Piss-Up set for tomorrow, April 14th. It is crucial that this event takes forward to socialist blogging movement, which we now know to be at the vanguard of that new front in the class struggle which takes the form of arguing on the internet. We therefore feel that the event would become meaningless without his attendance, and that therefore if Denham is absent we will have no choice but to mete out proletarian justice in accordance with the history and traditions of our movement.

Signed…. (sign in the comments) 

Permalink 8 Comments

So it goes (Kurt Vonnegut, 1922-2007)

April 12, 2007 at 8:01 pm (Jim D)


A German soldier with a flashlight went down into the darkness, was gone a long time. When he finally came back, he told a superior on the rim of the hole that there were dozens of bodies down there. They were sitting on benches. They were unmarked.

So it goes.

The superior said that the opening in the membrane should be enlarged, and that a ladder should be put in the hole, so that the bodies could be carried out. Thus began the first corpse mine in Dresden.

There were hundreds of corpse mines operating by and by. They didn’t smell bad at first, were wax museums. But then the bodies rotted and liquified, and the stink was like roses and mustard gas.

So it goes.

The Maori Billy had worked with died of the dry heaves, after having been ordered to go down in that stink and work. He tore himself to pieces, throwing up and throwing up.

So it goes.

So a new technique was devised. Bodies weren’t brought up any more. They were cremated by soldiers with flame-throwers right where they were. The soldiers stood outside the shelters, simply sent the fire in.

Somewhere in there the poor old high school teacher, Edgar Derby, was caught with a teapot he had taken from the catacombs. He was arrested for plundering. He was tried and shot.

So it goes.

 Your man from Brockley  has some thoughts on Vonnegut. This is worth reading, as well.

Permalink 2 Comments

Bishop pricks

April 11, 2007 at 8:41 pm (Christianity, Iran, Jim D, religion)

You may have noticed that neither I, nor anyone else on this here blog, has yet commented upon the ‘Brit 15’ business. Speaking for myself, this is because whilst I have no brief for the British military, I laboured under the (evident) misapprehension that signing up for the services means not spilling your guts and grovelling to a fascist enemy, even when faced with such diabolical oriental sadism as being forced to sleep without a pillow and being taunted as “Mr Bean”.

Anyway, until the release of the 15, it was as least debateable as to which side – the British government or the Iranian regime – had won the propaganda war. Now there can be no doubt: Ahmadinejad and the Iranian clerical fascists have won hands down. The hapless Defence minister Des Browne has succeeded in turning an embarrassment into a farce, and he must surely go. Actually, the real blame lies at the top, with Blair, who has personally reduced British public life to the level of ‘Celebrity Big Brother’, ever since his nauseating performance after the death of  that parasite Princess Diana. Who can blame Faye Turney and Arthur ‘Mr Bean’ Batchelor for seizing the opportunity of 15 minutes of fame, plus a “six figure” (in the case of Ms Turney) payout for their stories of fiendish pillow-deprivation and dastardly Mr Bean-humiliation?

Ahmadinejad played his hand skilfully, and even I cannot help a certain, grudging admiration for that. But he surely cannot have anticipated the sheer incompetence and ineptitude of the MoD and the British Government in the aftermath of the release of the hostages.

Ahmadinejad’s triumph has been further driven home by his gloating announcement of “industrial-scale” production of enriched uranium, in defiance of the UN.

But much as one might admire, grudgingly,  Ahmadinejad and his clerical-fascist regime’s outmanoeuvring of the British government, the idea that his motivation had anything to do with religiously-inspired “mercy”, a “moral and spritual tradition” or ecumenical enthusiasm for Easter, is well…simply stupid.

So stupid, in fact, that only a British C of E, or RC,  bishop, could believe it: and sure enough, up pop two bishops to talk complete bollocks about the entire business. First up, the Rt Rev Tom Burns (RC Bishop to the Services):

Their” (The Iranian regime’s – JD) “faith” is “exemplified by their good deeds. They are offering to release the sailors and Marines not just as a result of diplomacy but also as an act of mercy, in accordance with their religion”

Next to the stand,  Bishop Nazir-Ali, Anglican Bishop of Rochester:

The Iranian regime, he says, acted “within the moral and spiritual tradition of their country”, and contrasted this with Britain’s “free-floating values” and the governments failure to say anything “anchored in a spiritual and moral tradition”.

I have commented before upon how the British churches, notably the  C of E, are looking towards militant, self-confident Islam to give them a boost: here’s an example. The moral degenerate bishops of the C of E and the Roman Catholic churches in Britain express admiration for the Iranian Islamo-fascist regime: that’s what they’d have here, given half a chance, and they’d readily join up with Muslim fanatics to get it. All the more reason to get rid of all religious influence in British  politics.

Permalink 10 Comments

If you’re at a loose end on April 21st

April 9, 2007 at 6:15 pm (AWL, Feminism, left, voltairespriest)

This could be interesting; ’twas emailed to me by the AWL. I can certainly vouch for the Iraqi group’s socials – from what I can remember of the last one I went to, it were a right laff.

Presumably it’s of particular interest if you’re a woman, although I understand men are welcome to go as well.

“The case for socialist feminism”: a dayschool on class, capitalism and
women’s liberation.
Organised by Workers’ Liberty; 10.30am-5pm, Saturday 21 April 2007, University of East London Docklands Campus

Immediately next to Cyprus DLR or ten minutes walk from Stratford tube and
Waged £5, unwaged £2.50, including a pack of materials on socialist
feminist ideas. There will be a creche provided.
Discussions will include:
– Socialism and feminism – an unhappy marriage? What is the relationship
between class, gender and other oppressions?
– The women’s movement of the 1970s and 80s: what we can learn
– Does “wages for housework” make any sense? A debate between Selma James
(Global Women’s Strike) and Workers’ Liberty
– The case of Iran: feminist attitudes to religious oppression, feminist
attitudes to war and imperialism, with an Iranian socialist speaker
– How can we fight for sexual freedom while opposing objectification,
exploitation and oppression?
– How can we get the labour movement to fight for women’s rights?

For more information ring Sofie on 07815 490 837 or email

Followed by an fundraising social for the Organisation of Women’s Freedom
in Iraq: 6pm-late, the Ivy House, Southampton Row, Holborn (near Holborn
tube); £3 unwaged, £5 waged.

Permalink 2 Comments

Humph: the end of an era

April 7, 2007 at 12:14 am (jazz, Jim D)

This coming Monday will be, for me,  yet another intimation of mortality: no more Humphrey Lyttelton on (BBC) Radio 2.  The great man himself says: “I say at once that this is solely my own decision. I’ve presented The Best Of Jazz for almost 40 years continously, at a rate of around 50 a year, choosing and scripting some 20,000 items and I now want to have a bit more time for other things, my own still active and flourishing band, high among them”.

As a callow schoolboy in the mid-1960’s, in love with jazz, but knowing little about it, or its practitioners, Humph’s radio programme was my lodestar, introducing me to such neglected giants as Vic Dickenson, Joe Thomas, Buddy Tate, Dave Tough and Joe Bushkin (just a random selection of the musicians I can remember Humph ‘featuring’ on his programme).

His was a  radio show that educated you, in the most entertaining and un-didactic way imaginable.

Apparently, Humph’s Monday night slot will be taken by Jools Holland (with Humph putting in an appearance every quarter): with all due respect to Mr Holland, this is clearly an example of the BBC “dumbing down”. Jools Holland is an affable guy and a reasonable boogie-woogie piano-player: but he doesn’t come even close to Humph’s encyclopedic knowledge of jazz in all its styles, forms and periods.

Humph’s last regular programme (April 2nd) was made up of classic fare: post-war Basie (Whirly-Bird); a Fats solo (Zonkie); a relatively recent discovery (Stacey Kent); an almost painfully delicate Pee Wee Russell/Jess Stacy collaboration (Take Me To The Land of Jazz); Louis and Teagarden at the New York Town Hall (Sunny Side); an Earl Hines Solo, and Mezzrow getting in the way of Bechet on Ol’ Miss.

When life gets me down, that is the stuff that keeps me going; I thank Humph for educating me on it. From now on life will never be the same – especially on Monday evenings. Below is Humph playing James P. Johnson’s “One Hour Tonight”: just what I’ll be missing this Monday. 

Permalink 3 Comments

Sometimes you just know…

April 6, 2007 at 12:33 am (Anti-Racism, Human rights, Obama, voltairespriest)

…who’s going to be the next President of the USA.

Permalink 10 Comments

« Previous page · Next page »