31 October 2011

Shaun P Downey Portfolio

I have also launched a second new blog Shaun P Downey Portfolio which will reflect the current state of my photographic portfolio.

The portfolio mainly consists of my favourite photos from my collaborations with my nephew Tim Manning and Li Winter this year. It also includes a number of photos taken in Paris last month and a small selection of photos taken between 2007 and 2010

I hope you find it interesting. Once again the link can be found in the Artists and Writers section of in the right hand bar


In A+E (ER to Americans). No more posts for a day or two
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone


Prince Charles and his political power

I have never had much regard for Prince Charles but on reading this Guardian article I had no idea that the worthless fucker had so much power.

Ministers are been required to seek permission from Prince Charles to pass government bills where legislation might impact his private intetests.

Since 2005, ministers from six departments have sought the Prince of Wales' consent to draft bills on everything from road safety to gambling and the London Olympics, in an arrangement described by constitutional lawyers as a royal "nuclear deterrent" over public policy.

Unlike royal assent to bills, which is exercised by the Queen as a matter of constitutional law, the prince's power applies when a new bill might affect his own interests, in particular the Duchy of Cornwall, a private £700m property empire that last year provided him with an £18m income.

Neither the government nor Clarence House will reveal what, if any, alterations to legislation Charles has requested, or exactly why he was asked to grant consent to such a wide range of laws.

Correspondence seen by the Guardian reveals that one minister wrote to the prince's office requesting his consent to a new bill about planning reform because it was "capable of applying to ... [the] Prince of Wales' private interests".

In the last two parliamentary sessions Charles has been asked to consent to draft bills on wreck removals and co-operative societies, a freedom of information request to the House of Commons has revealed. Between 2007-09 he was consulted on bills relating to coroners, economic development and construction, marine and coastal access, housing and regeneration, energy and planning.

MPs and peers called for the immediate publication of details about the application of the prince's powers which have fuelled concern over his alleged meddling in British politics. "If princes and paupers are to live as equals in a modern Britain, anyone who enjoys exceptional influence or veto should exercise it with complete transparency," said Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives in Cornwall. "The duchy asserts that it is merely a private estate. Most people will be astonished to learn that it appears to have effective powers of veto over the government."

"We should know why he is being asked and the government should publish the answers," said Lord Berkeley, who was last month told to seek Charles' consent on a marine navigation bill. "If he is given these powers purely because he owns land in Cornwall it is pretty stupid. What about the other landowners who must also be affected by changes to legislation?"

Revelations about Charles' power of consent come amid continued concern that the heir to the throne may be overstepping his constitutional role by lobbying ministers directly and through his charities on pet concerns such as traditional architecture and the environment.

A spokesman for the Prince of Wales would not comment on whether the prince has ever withheld consent or demanded changes to legislation under the consent system. "Communications between the prince or his household and the government are confidential under a long-standing convention that protects the heir to the throne's right to be instructed in the business of government in preparation for his future role as monarch," he said. Daniel Greenberg, a former parliamentary counsel and now parliamentary lawyer at Berwin Leighton Paisner, said: "It is something of a nuclear-button option that everybody knows he is not likely to push. But like the nuclear deterrent, the fact that it is there, influences negotiations."

Graham Smith, director of Republic, the campaign for an elected head of state, said it was "an affront to democratic values" that citizens had no right to know whether Charles was insisting on changes to bills. "We know Charles has been lobbying ministers, but this is evidence he has the power to instruct them to alter their plans and that gives him leverage," he said.

I can't see any reason why the Prince of Wales should have power if veto over government legislation whether it affects his interests or not. Don't like the arrogant wanker, never have.. I like him even less now

30 October 2011

Why good grammar is important

As nicked from here

E-readers get heavier with each book

E-readers are meant to let bookworms carry their entire libraries with them without any additional weight. But according to the Telegraph the devices actually get heavier every time a new text is downloaded.

Prof John Kubiatowicz a computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, explained that storing new data involves holding electrons in a fixed place in the device's memory.

Although the electrons were already present, keeping them still rather than allowing them to float around takes up extra energy – about a billionth of a microjoule per bit of data.

Using Einstein's E=mc² formula, which states that energy and mass are directly related, Prof Kubiatowicz calculated that filling a 4GB Kindle to its storage limit would increase its weight by a billionth of a billionth of a gram, or 0.000000000000000001g.

This is roughly equivalent to the weight of a small virus, while the equivalent number of books – about 3,500 – would weigh approximately two tons.

Well at least nobody will get a rupture carrying a full ebook as opposed to an empty one!

28 October 2011

When will my time come?

By Michael D Higgins.

When will my time come for scenery
And will it be too late?
After all
Decades ago I was never able
To get excited
About filling the lungs with ozone
On Salthill Prom.

And when the strangers
To whom I gave a lift
Spoke to me of the extraordinary
Light in the Western sky;
I often missed its changes.
And, later, when words were required
To intervene at the opening of Art Exhibitions,
It was not the same.

What is this tyranny of head that stifles
The eyes, the senses,
All play on the strings of the heart.

And, if there is a healing,
It is in the depth of a silence,
Whose plumbed depths require
A journey through realms of pain
That must be faced alone.
The hero, setting out,
Will meet an ally at a crucial moment.
But the journey home
Is mostly alone.

When my time comes
I will have made my journey
And through all my senses will explode
The evidence of light
And air and water, fire and earth.

I live for that moment.

Well for Michael D Higgins, his time, well as the 9th President of Ireland, is now!

Another look at Rhodochiton Atrosanguineum

More Bebe

Flintstones as tobacco shills

Fred died of Lung cancer in 1979, Barney of COPD in 1982

Rhodochiton Atrosanguineum

Purple Bell vine, a Mexican climber that Shirley grew from seed and planted outdoors. It has only just come into bloom at the end of October. Somehow I doubt it will survive the winter.

27 October 2011

The Revolution Starts Now

Well maybe not but if the groundswell of anger increases...

Jesus versus Rev Peter Mullen


And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Source Matthew, chapter 21, verses 12 and 13.

The Reverend Peter Mullen,  Rector St Michael, Cornhill, St Sephulcre-Without-Newgate and Anglican chaplain to the London Stock Exchange

The Bishop of London has said that it is time for the protesters outside St Paul’s to move on. He is surely right to demand this. The presence of this rabble is losing that famous capitalist enterprise, the cathedral, £22,500 each day in income because its closure means it cannot charge each visitor £14.50 apiece entrance fee. 

No entrepreneurial enterprise such as St Paul’s can afford to lose money at that rate for very long. And rich capitalists in the City and beyond are reconsidering their willingness to continue to contribute financially to a cathedral governed so badly.

A capitalist enterprise, such as St Paul’s, which depends so profoundly on the support of capitalist entrepreneurs, can hardly afford to alienate these, its best friends.

A Famous capitalist enterprise? Well sadly so. St Paul's Cathedral receives a stack of money from the city and most of its board of trustees are businessmen. Even so I find Mullen's take quite revolting. It sounds like the proles should bend their heads in prayer and shut the fuck up when the rich screw them further....

Then again this is the same caring christian who a few years ago "jokingly" suggested that all gays should be tattooed with warnings, Clearly the man is a bigoted piece of shit

Justice! Alfredo Astiz sentenced to life in prison

Good news! The Buenos Aries Herald reprts that Alfredo Astiz “the Angel of Death’’ and 11 other former Argentine military and police officers to life in prison Wednesday for crimes against humanity committed during the 1976-83 military dictatorship.

Alfredo Astiz, a 59-year-old ex-navy captain, became notorious for his infiltration and betrayal of activists and was viewed by many Argentines as the symbol of the junta’s crimes. He was accused of participating in the kidnapping, torture and murder of two French nuns, a journalist and three founders of a human rights group.

The crimes alleged against all the defendants included 86 cases of kidnapping, torture and murder of leftist dissidents committed at the Navy Mechanics School, one of the military junta’s principal torture centers used to crush the threat of armed revolution. About 5,000 detainees passed through the school. Fewer than half survived.

The verdicts were applauded by human rights activists and families of the victims who watched the verdict on a big screen television.

The Navy Mechanics School, a leafy former military campus, is now home to a museum dedicated to preserving evidence of crimes against humanity. The grounds also used to house a maternity ward where pregnant detainees were held until they gave birth and then were made to “disappear.’’ A separate trial alleging that systematic baby thefts were part of the junta’s anti-subversion strategy is under way in another courtroom.

Survivors and relatives of victims from the nation’s “dirty war’’ against leftist guerrillas and political opponents called it a “historic day.’’

Astiz was charged in the disappearances of French nuns Alice Domon and Leonie Duquet as well Azucena Villaflor, a founder of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, a group that campaigned to find people “disappeared’’ by the junta. The three were among detainees who were tortured at the mechanics school and then thrown into the sea from navy aircraft.

The former spy also was convicted in the kidnapping and disappearing of writer Rodolfo Walsh, who along with Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Maquez founded the Prensa Latina news agency after the Cuban revolution. Walsh also created the Clandestine News Agency during Argentina’s dictatorship to get around official censors.

In neighboring Uruguay, lawmakers planned to vote Wednesday to revoke an amnesty law that protected dozens of former officials who served in that country’s 1973-1985 dictatorship from human rights prosecutions.

This is excellent news, I hope also that the family of Dagmar Hagelin can get a little rest in the knowledge that the man that shot and kidnapped her is now in prison.

I hope he spends every milisecond of his wortless life in prison

25 October 2011

Sedmikrásky (Daisies)

Millions of Iranians are criminals...

According to Persian Letters this appears to be the view of Iranian Telecommunications Minister Reza Taghipour, who says the use of antifiltering tools and virtual private networks (VPN) is a crime.

Many Iranians use such tools and proxies on a daily basis to bypass the country's Internet censorship, which is among the world's toughest. Iran blocks millions of websites and blogs deemed immoral or against the country's national interests or that offer uncensored news and information.

One of the blocked websites is Facebook, which is used by 17 million Iranians, according to statistics from a Basij militia official.

In recent years, officials in Iran have increased their warnings over the use of the Internet, an empowering tool for political activists and human rights advocates who use it to spread news about state repression.

Taghipour, speaking to Iran's semiofficial ISNA news agency, said antifiltering tools were part of what Iranian officials describe as the "soft war" being waged by Western countries against the Islamic republic.

Earlier this month, Iranian web users reported difficulties accessing their VPN accounts. State news agencies reported that officials had ordered the disabling of VPN connections.

"We have to and will take any necessary measure to confront this soft war," Taghipour told ISNA.

He also said measures had been taken to intercept banking data operations that are being conducted in Iran through VPNs.

But it seems that the Iranian government and the Revolutionary Guards are also criminals... well not really but there is a hge element of "Do as I say not as I do!" Iranian journalist Hadi Nili says most Iranian government agencies use VPNs to ensure safe Internet connections. He says companies owned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) sell VPN accounts.

Nili added the government has been targeting "safe VPN" connections that citizens are accessing through nonstate companies. "The IRGC and the government cannot monitor those VPNs. Therefore, they want to disrupt them and limit their use. Technically it is difficult. There will always be new ways to bypass measures by the government," says Nili, who was forced to leave Iran about a year ago amid the ongoing postelection crackdown.

A 42-year-old engineer in the Iranian capital who uses a VPN to access banned websites tells "Persian Letters" he will continue browsing the web through anticensoring tools.

"We would have to stop living if we were to listen to [the Iranian authorities]. Everything is banned, according to them. The Internet is like fresh air for me. So is my satellite dish," he said.

Iranian authorities have also banned on satellite dishes, which allow access to Western television channels. The ban has so far failed to stop Iranians from using them.

I know this is not exactly hot news but but I hope that the people of Iran continue to work out how to circumvent the regime's idiocy. One again here's hoping that they will not have to suffer the regime for much longer.

The tentacles of capitalism

The last issue of the New Scientist(issue 2835) has a fascinating article which seem to confirm what many of us fear regarding the corporate control of the world's wealth.

 An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

The study's assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.

The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York's Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere. But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world's transnational corporations (TNCs).

Previous studies have found that a few TNCs own large chunks of the world's economy, but they included only a limited number of companies and omitted indirect ownerships, so could not say how this affected the global economy - whether it made it more or less stable, for instance.

The Zurich team can. From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, they pulled out all 43,060 TNCs and the share ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company's operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.

The work, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships. Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What's more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world's large blue chip and manufacturing firms - the "real" economy - representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a "super-entity" of 147 even more tightly knit companies - all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity - that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. "In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network," says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

John Driffill of the University of London, a macroeconomics expert, says the value of the analysis is not just to see if a small number of people controls the global economy, but rather its insights into economic stability.

Concentration of power is not good or bad in itself, says the Zurich team, but the core's tight interconnections could be. As the world learned in 2008, such networks are unstable. "If one [company] suffers distress," says Glattfelder, "this propagates."

Yaneer Bar-Yam, head of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), warns that the analysis assumes ownership equates to control, which is not always true. Most company shares are held by fund managers who may or may not control what the companies they part-own actually do. The impact of this on the system's behaviour, he says, requires more analysis.

Crucially, by identifying the architecture of global economic power, the analysis could help make it more stable. By finding the vulnerable aspects of the system, economists can suggest measures to prevent future collapses spreading through the entire economy. Glattfelder says we may need global anti-trust rules, which now exist only at national level, to limit over-connection among TNCs. Sugihara says the analysis suggests one possible solution: firms should be taxed for excess interconnectivity to discourage this risk.

One thing won't chime with some of the protesters' claims: the super-entity is unlikely to be the intentional result of a conspiracy to rule the world. "Such structures are common in nature," says Sugihara.

Newcomers to any network connect preferentially to highly connected members. TNCs buy shares in each other for business reasons, not for world domination. If connectedness clusters, so does wealth, says Dan Braha of NECSI: in similar models, money flows towards the most highly connected members. The Zurich study, says Sugihara, "is strong evidence that simple rules governing TNCs give rise spontaneously to highly connected groups". Or as Braha puts it: "The Occupy Wall Street claim that 1 per cent of people have most of the wealth reflects a logical phase of the self-organising economy."

So, the super-entity may not result from conspiracy. The real question, says the Zurich team, is whether it can exert concerted political power. Driffill feels 147 is too many to sustain collusion. Braha suspects they will compete in the market but act together on common interests. Resisting changes to the network structure may be one such common interest.

The top 50 of the 147 superconnected companies
1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc
3. FMR Corporation
4. AXA
5. State Street Corporation
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
7. Legal & General Group plc
8. Vanguard Group Inc
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
11. Wellington Management Co LLP
12. Deutsche Bank AG
13. Franklin Resources Inc
14. Credit Suisse Group
15. Walton Enterprises LLC
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
17. Natixis
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc
20. Legg Mason Inc
21. Morgan Stanley
22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc
23. Northern Trust Corporation
24. Société Générale
25. Bank of America Corporation
26. Lloyds TSB Group plc
27. Invesco plc
28. Allianz SE 29. TIAA
30. Old Mutual Public Limited Company
31. Aviva plc
32. Schroders plc
33. Dodge & Cox
34. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc*
35. Sun Life Financial Inc
36. Standard Life plc
37. CNCE
38. Nomura Holdings Inc
39. The Depository Trust Company
40. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
41. ING Groep NV
42. Brandes Investment Partners LP
43. Unicredito Italiano SPA
44. Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan
45. Vereniging Aegon
46. BNP Paribas
47. Affiliated Managers Group Inc
48. Resona Holdings Inc
49. Capital Group International Inc
50. China Petrochemical Group Company

* Lehman still existed in the 2007 dataset used

I am no conspiracy theorist but this dies make disturbing reading even if it does not surprise. Ach there is a lot that one could say about it. I think I will come back on that later.

24 October 2011

1984 - BBC's version from 1954

Embedding has been disabled but it is well worth going here
to see the BBC's 1954 dramatisation of 1984. It stars Peter Cushing as Winston Smith and Donald Pleasance as Syme. The adaptation is by Nigel Kneale, best known for giving the world Quatermass

The House is Black

This is a shot film made by Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad in a leper colony in Iran.

I love my mum

Tim loves his not so old mum


My older sister.


Tim and my sister with my parents


Taken on Saturday at my parents' home

23 October 2011

No Longer Unwanted

In shedding names like some girls chose to name themselves after Bollywood stars like "Aishwarya" or Hindu goddesses like "Savitri." Some just wanted traditional names with happier meanings, such as "Vaishali" or "prosperous, beautiful and good."

"Now in school, my classmates and friends will be calling me this new name, and that makes me very happy," said a 15-year-old girl who had been named Nakusa by a grandfather disappointed by her birth. She chose the new name "Ashmita," which means "very tough" or "rock hard" in Hindi.

 You go girls!
By the Danube. by Jozsef Attila

1. As I sat on the bottom step of the wharf,
A melon-rind flowed by with the current;
Wrapped in my fate I hardly heard the chatter
Of the surface, while the deep was silent.
As if my own heart had opened its gate:
The Danube was turbulent, wise and great.

Like a man's muscles when hard at his toil,
Hammering, digging, leaning on the spade,
So bulged and relaxed and contracted again
Each single movement, each and every wave.
It rocked me like my mother for a time
And washed and washed the city's filth and grime.

And the rain began to fall but then it stopped
Just as if it couldn't have mattered less,
And like one watching the long rain from a cave,
I gazed away into the nothingness.
Like grey, endless rain from the skies overcast,
So fell drably all that was bright: the past.

But the Danube flowed on. And the sprightly waves
In playful gaiety laughed at me again,
Like a child on his prolific mother's knee,
While other thoughts were racing through her brain.
They trembled in Time's flow and in its wake,
Like in a graveyard tottering tomb-stones shake.

2. I am he who for a hundred thousand year
Has gazed on what he now sees the first time.
One brief moment and, fulfilled, all time appears
In a hundred thousand forbears' eyes and mine.

I see what they could not for their daily toil,
Killing, kissing as duty dictated,
And they, who have descended into matter,
See what I do not, if truth be stated.

We know of each other like sorrow and joy,
Theirs is the present and mine is the past;
We write a poem, they're holding my pencil
And I feel them and recall them at last.

3. My mother was Cumanian, my father
Half-Szekler, half-Rumanian or whole.
From my mother's lips sweet was every morsel,
And from my father's lips the truth was gold.
When I stir, they are embracing each other;
It makes me sad. This is mortality.
This, too, I am made of. And I hear their words:
"Just wait till we are gone..." they speak to me.

So their words speak to me for now they am I,
Despite my weaknesses this makes me strong.
For I am more than most, back to the first cell
To every ancestor I still belong.
I am the Forbear who split and multiplied,
Shaped my father and mother into whole,
My father and mother then in turn divide
And so I have become one single soul.

I am the world, all that is past exists:
Men are fighting men with renewed anguish.
Dead conquerors ride to victory with me
And I feel the torment of the vanquished.
Arpad and Zal�n, Werbeczy and Dozsa,
Turks, and Tartars, Slovaks, Rumanians
Fill my heart which owes this past a calm future
As our great debt, today's Hungarians.

I want to work. For it is battle enough
Having a past such as this to confess.
In the Danube's waves past, present and future
Are all-embracing in a soft caress.
The great battle which our ancestors once fought
Resolves into peace through the memories,
And to settle at last our communal affairs
Remains our task and none too small it is.

Translated by John Szekely

THe Hungarian Government wants to return Kossuth Square in Budapest to how it looked in 1944. The Atttila statue and the one of Karolyi, Hungary's first leader after WWI will be removed. This is a disgrace.

In memory of the 1956 Uprising

A Sentence about Tyranny by Gyula Illyés

Where tyranny exists
that tyranny exists
not only in the barrel of the gun
not only in the cells of a prison

not just in the interrogation block
or the small hours of the clock
the guard's bark and his fists
the tyranny exists

not just in the billowing black fetor
of the closing speech of the prosecutor,
in the "justified use of force"
the prisoners' dull morse

not merely in the cool postscript
of the expected verdict
there's tyranny
not just in the crisp military

order to "Stand!" and the numb
instruction "Fire!", the roll of the drum,
in the last twitch
of the corpse in the ditch

not just in the door half open
and the fearful omen,
the whispered tremor
of the secret rumour

the hand that grips,
the finger before the lips,
tyranny is in place
in the iron mask of the face

in the clench of the jaw
the wordless O
of pain and its echo
and the tears

of silence-breeding fears,
in the surprise
of starting eyes

tyranny supplies
the standing ovation, the loud
hurrahs and chanting of the crowd
at the conference, the songs

of tyranny, the breasts
that tyranny infests,
the loud unflagging
noise of rhythmic clapping,

at the opera, in trumpet cry,
in the uproarious lie
of grandiose statues, of colours,
in galleries,

in the frame and the wash,
in the very brush,
not just in the neat snarl
of the midnight car

as it waits
outside the gates

tyranny permeates
all manners and all states,
its omnipresent eyes more steady
than those of old Nobodaddy,

there's tyranny
in the nursery
in father's advice, in his guile,
in your mother's smile

in the child's answer
to the perfect stranger;

not just in wires with barbs and hooks
not just in rows of books,
but, worse than a barbed wire fence
the slogans devoid of sense

whose tyranny supplies
the long goodbyes;
the words of parting,
the will-you-be-home-soon-darling?

in the street manners, the meetings
and half-hearted greetings,
the handshakes and the alarm
of the weak hand in your palm,

he's there when your loved one's face
turns suddenly to ice
he accompanies you
to tryst or rendezvous

not just in the grilling
but in the cooing and the billing,
in your words of love he'll appear
like a dead fly in your beer

because even in dreams you're not free
of his eternal company,
in the nuptial bed, in your lust
he covers you like dust

because nothing may be caressed
but that which he first blessed,
it is him you cuddle up to
and raise your loving cup to

in your plate, in your glass he flows
in your mouth and through your nose
in frost, fog, out or in
he creeps under your skin

like an open vent through which
you breathe the foul air of the ditch
and it lingers like drains
or a gas leak at the mains

it's tyranny that dogs
your inner monologues,
nothing is your own
once your dreams are known

all is changed or lost,
each star a border post
light-strafed and mined; the stars
are spies at window bars,

the vast tent's every lamp
lights a labour camp,
come fever, come the bell
it's tyranny sounds the knell,

confessor is confession,
he preaches, reads the lesson
he's Church, House and Theatre
the Inquisition;

you blink your eyes, you stare
you see him everywhere;
like sickness or memory
he keeps you company;

trains rattling down the rail
the clatter of the jail;
in the mountains, by the coast
you are his breathing host;

lightning: the sudden noise
of thunder, it's his voice
in the bright electric dart,
the skipping of the heart
in moments of calm,
chains of tedium,
in rain that falls an age,
the star-high prison-cage

in snow that rises and waits
like a cell, and isolates;
your own dog's faithful eyes
wear his look for disguise,

his is the truth, the way
so each succeeding day
is his, each move you make
you do it for his sake;

like water, you both follow
the course set and the hollow
ring is closed; that phiz
you see in the mirror is his

escape is doomed to failure,
you're both prisoner and gaoler;
he has soaked, corroded in,
he's deep beneath your skin

in your kidney, in your fag,
he's in your every rag,
you think: his agile patter
rules both mind and matter

you look, but what you see
is his, illusory,
one match is all it takes
and fire consumes the brake

you having failed to snuff
the head as it broke off;
his watchfulness extends
to factories, fields and friends

and you no longer know or feel
what it is to live, eat meat or bread
to desire or love or spread
your arms wide in appeal;

it is the chain slaves wear
that they themselves prepare;
you eat but it's tyranny
grows fat, his are your progeny

in tyranny's domain
you are the link in the chain,
you stink of him through and through,
the tyranny IS you;

like moles in sunlight we crawl
in pitch darkness, sprawl
and fidget in the closet
as if it were a desert,

because where tyranny obtains
everything is vain,
the song itself though fine
is false in every line,

for he stands over you
at your grave, and tells you who
you were, your every molecule
his to dispose and rule.

From Hungarian Quarterly

Translated by George Szirtes

21 October 2011

Photo Hunt - High

The theme for this week's photo hunt is high. I am being lazy and posting a  similar photo to last week. Not only is is public but any light beam from the top of the Eiffel Tower will be high!

A reminder of Robyn as a kitten

Robyn in 1994. He was never a titch but we never realised how big he would grow. That said he has lost a fair bit of weight over the last couple of years.

The perils of the modern alchemist

The Irish Independent reports that a man in Northern Ireland man who tried to turn his own faeces into gold by putting it on an electric heater has been jailed for three months.

The bizarre experiment, carried out by Paul Moran, 30, caused around £3,000 worth of damage to his Housing Executive home in a block of flats at Derrin Park in Enniskillen in July.

Moran admitted arson and endangering the lives of others. His Honour Judge McFarland told him: “Rather bizarrely you were attempting to make gold from human faeces and waste products. It was an interesting experiment to fulfil the alchemist’s dream, but wasn’t going to succeed.”

While outlining the circumstances of the case at Enniskillen Magistrates Court, prosecuting counsel Robin Steer, told those present that at 7.12pm on July 24 last year the Fire Brigade was called to Moran’s flat at Derrin Park in Cornagrade, Enniskillen.

A police officer who was at the scene overheard Moran tell someone he had put “fertiliser” on a heater.

Moran’s barrister, Des Fahy, agreed that the general circumstances of the case were bizarre. He said Moran was a man of considerable intellectual ability but there was a clear problem over the years relating to drug abuse.
The judge noted that Moran was now on anti-psychotic medication and agreed with the findings of a pre-sentence report, which said he did not pose “a significant risk of serious harm

If only he had become a City rogue trader then he could have turned gold into shit

20 October 2011

Lest we forget....

Is this the face of Gaddafi?

has publised a photo that purports to show Gaddafi at the time of his capture.

While Libyan Tv is reporting his death, an NTC spokesman is being rather more cagey. once again we will know soon enough what has happened to Gaddafi.

Or has he been killed

Al Jazeera has been reporting that Gaddafi is dead. Again we will know sooner or later if this is true..

Gaddafi captured?

The world's press is buzzing with the rumour that Colonel Gaddafi was captured earlier today as he was trying to flee Sirte. It is said that he was wounded in both legs.

Truth or scuttlebutt? I daresay we will know soon enough

19 October 2011

When pavements are out of bounds.

Today's Guardian has an article by Naomi Wolf describing the circumstances behind her arrest in New York last night under what were pretty ridiculous circumstances.

"Last night I was arrested in my home town, outside an event to which I had been invited, for standing lawfully on the sidewalk in an evening gown.

Let me explain; my partner and I were attending an event for the Huffington Post... in a venue space on Hudson Street. As we entered the space, we saw that about 200 Occupy Wall Street protesters were peacefully assembled and were chanting. They wanted to address Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was going to be arriving at the event. They were using a technique that has become known as "the human mic" – by which the crowd laboriously repeats every word the speaker says – since they had been told that using real megaphones was illegal...

...Then my partner suggested that I ask the group for their list of demands. Since we would be inside, we thought it would be helpful to take their list into the event and if I had a chance to talk with the governor I could pass the list on...

...We went inside but needed to leave before the governor had arrived. I decided I would present their list to his office in the morning and write about the response. On our exit, I saw that the protesters had been cordoned off by a now-massive phalanx of NYPD cops and pinned against the far side of the street – far away from the event they sought to address.

I went up and asked them why. They replied that they had been informed that the Huffington Post event had a permit that forbade them to use the sidewalk... I asked the police for clarification – no response.

I went over to the sidewalk at issue and identified myself as a NYC citizen and a reporter, and asked to see the permit in question or to locate the source on the police or event side that claimed it forbade citizen access to a public sidewalk. Finally a tall man, who seemed to be with the event, confessed that while it did have a permit, the permit did allow for protest so long as we did not block pedestrian passage.

I thanked him, returned to the protesters, and said: "The permit allows us to walk on the other side of the street if we don't block access. I am now going to walk on the public sidewalk and not block it. It is legal to do so. Please join me if you wish." My partner and I then returned to the event-side sidewalk and began to walk peacefully arm in arm, while about 30 or 40 people walked with us in single file, not blocking access.

Then a phalanx of perhaps 40 white-shirted senior offices descended out of seemingly nowhere and, with a megaphone (which was supposedly illegal for citizens to use), one said: "You are unlawfully creating a disruption. You are ordered to disperse." I approached him peacefully, slowly, gently and respectfully and said: "I am confused. I was told that the permit in question allows us to walk if we don't block pedestrian access and as you see we are complying with the permit."

He gave me a look of pure hate. "Are you going to back down?" he shouted. I stood, immobilised, for a moment. "Are you getting out of my way?" I did not even make a conscious decision not to "fall back" – I simply couldn't even will myself to do so, because I knew that he was not giving a lawful order and that if I stepped aside it would be not because of the law, which I was following, but as a capitulation to sheer force. In that moment's hesitation, he said, "OK," gestured, and my partner and I were surrounded by about 20 officers who pulled our hands behind our backs and cuffed us with plastic handcuffs.

We were taken in a van to the seventh precinct – the scary part about that is that the protesters and lawyers marched to the first precinct, which handles Hudson Street, but in the van the police got the message to avoid them by rerouting me. I understood later that the protesters were lied to about our whereabouts, which seemed to me to be a trickle-down of the Bush-era detention practice of unaccountable detentions.

The officers who had us in custody were very courteous, and several expressed sympathy for the movements' aims. Nonetheless, my partner and I had our possessions taken from us, our ID copied, and we were placed in separate cells for about half an hour. It was clear that by then the police knew there was scrutiny of this arrest so they handled us with great courtesy, but my phone was taken and for half an hour I was in a faeces- or blood-smeared cell, thinking at that moment the only thing that separates civil societies from barbaric states is the rule of law – that finds the prisoner, and holds the arresting officers and courts accountable...

...The police are now telling my supporters that the permit in question gave the event managers "control of the sidewalks". I have asked to see the permit but still haven't been provided with it – if such a category now exists, I have never heard of it; that, too, is a serious blow to an open civil society. What did I take away? Just that, unfortunately, my partner and I became exhibit A in a process that I have been warning Americans about since 2007: first they come for the "other" – the "terrorist", the brown person, the Muslim, the outsider; then they come for you – while you are standing on a sidewalk in evening dress, obeying the law.

This is just ridiculous. If there is an organisation that is out of control it's the NYPD by looks of it

Talentless tosser Ricky Gervais

Exceptionally unfunny "comedian" Ricky Gervais has been criticised by disability groups for repeated use of the word "mong" on his Twitter feed in such hilarious ways (see my sides split) as "Good monging everyone", "Night night monglets" and "Two mongs don't make a right".

Mencap said using it could reinforce prejudice but Gervais insists the word has changed meaning and that he never meant to refer to people with Down's.

The Office star criticised "the humourless PC brigade" on his Twitter feed and said the term is now commonly used to refer to someone who is very stupid or idiotic. On Sunday, he tweeted: "Well done everyone who pointed out that Mong USED to be a derogatory term for DS [Down's Syndrome], Gay USED to mean happy. Words change. Get over it."

However, disability charity Mencap called Gervais's tweets "very disappointing". Campaigns and policy officer Mark Gale said: "When people in the public eye use words of this type [it] can be offensive to people with a disability and their families.

"We want people to know that such language can perpetuate discriminatory attitudes towards disabled people."

Down Syndrome Education International also said it was concerned and claimed many people would find it just as bad as offensive language related to race or sexual orientation.

Ricky Gervais is 50 years old and knows full well what the word mong meant and still means. Then again Gervais was, is and always will be a talentless arse.

Extreme Protesting!

18 October 2011

Desert Isand Discs Part II

4. London Calling - The Clash

3. Host of Seraphim - Dead Can Dance

2. In'Nin Alu -- Ofra Haza

1, Airscape - Robyn Hitchcock

Perhaps m favourite song

The bok? An anthology of the Aubre-Maturin novels, all twenty of them!

THe Luxury? Hmm Perhaps just an active imagination!

Desert Island Discs

Desert Island Discs is a long running radio show where celevbrities are interviewed about their life and choose eight pices of music. At the end of the show they are asked to choose their favourite piece of music, a book and a luxury to take with them to the island.

I've not participated in a meme in a long time, let alone started one )although I suspect it has been done many times before) but here goes and in no particular order:

8: Madonna of the Wasps - Robyn Hitchcock

As I have stated in previous posts, this is the clostest that Shirl and I come to an "our song".

7: All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix

The greatest guitarist performs a song by one of the greatest songwriters

6 I had too much to dream last night - Electric Prunes

5 Drive in Saturday - David Bowie

More to follow
Over seven years ago I happened on a left wing chat room on Yahoo. While many of the regulars, both on the left and right, were jerks I made a couple of friendships that endure to this day. An anarchist leaning Argentinian-American

17 October 2011

Court upholds Jafar Panahi's appalling prison sentence

AFP reports that a Tehran appeals court has upheld a six-year jail sentence and 20-year filmmaking and travel ban against international award-winning Iranian director Jafar Panahi.

The government-run newspaper Iran confirmed the ruling in its Saturday edition, saying: "The charges he was sentenced for are acting against national security and propaganda against the regime."

Panahi was convicted in December last year over a documentary he tried to make about the unrest that followed the disputed 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

A six-year jail sentence against another Iranian who co-directed that film, Mohammad Rasoulof, 38, was reduced to one year in the same appeal.

Panahi, 51, has won a slew of foreign awards for his films. But many are banned in Iran where authorities are unhappy with his satirical portrayal of everyday life in the Islamic republic.

One of Panahi's latest productions was a documentary entitled "This is not a Film," depicting a day in his life as he waited to hear the verdict from the appeal. It was screened at the Cannes film festival in May.

Panahi's upheld sentence orders him to six years behind bars, plus a 20-year ban on directing or writing for movies, a 20-year ban on giving interviews, and a 20-year ban on travel except for the Hajj holy pilgrimage to Mecca or for medical treatment.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, in January said punishment such as that meted out to Panahi was "not compatible with the human rights commitments that Iran herself has subscribed to in several international conventions."

Repression of Iran's domestic film production has intensified since Ahmadinejad's 2009 re-election. More than a dozen directors or actors have been arrested and sometimes severely sentenced since the middle of this year for "propaganda" against the regime, including several documentary makers accused of giving a "black image" of Iran.

Early this month, Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr was sentenced to a year in jail and 90 lashes for her role in Australian-produced film "My Tehran for Sale," about the limits imposed on artists in the Islamic republic.

This sentence is an absolute disgrace that underlines the bankrupt nature of the Iranian regime.

Financial Times supports aims of Occupy Walls Street

The Occupy Wall Street protests has received support from a rather surprising source in the form of the Financial Times. An editorial today came out in general support for the aims of the protest.

A month ago the disparate band of protesters who set up camp in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to decry the excesses of capitalism were seen as little more than idealistic youth, doing what youth tend to do. Today only the foolhardy would dismiss a movement reflecting the anger and frustration of ordinary citizens from all walks of life across the world.

So far the protests in the US have been largely peaceful. They may be diffuse and inchoate. But the fundamental call for a fairer distribution of wealth cannot be ignored. What is at stake is the future of the American dream. The bargain has always been that all who work hard should have an opportunity for prosperity. That dream has been shattered by a crisis brought about by financial excess and political cynicism. The consequence has been growing in­equality, rising poverty and sacrifice by those least able to bear it – all of which are failing to deliver economic growth.

The frustration of protesters railing against the global financial system, and of the 54 per cent of Americans who polls suggest support their calls, is legitimate. The wonder is why it has taken so long for citizens to come out in popular protest across political boundaries. For the last three years, the country has been paralysed by a political gridlock that has put its future on the line. Both Republicans and Democrats are to blame – the Grand Old Party for its callous obstruction of all Democratic initiatives and President Barack Obama for his naïve neglect of the need for muscular leadership.

Politicians in both camps have failed to spot and channel the righteous anger of those who have seen government spend billions on bailing out banks, while bickering over how to create jobs or educate children. One opportunity after another has been squandered – most recently in the failure promptly to pass a proper jobs bill.

For a brief period in 2010, when the economy looked set for recovery, there was hope that the American dream would prevail. But the return of gloomy economic prospects has reinforced the impression that the political class is irrelevant or, worse, in hock to vested financial interests to the detriment of its service to the public. Re­forms to election campaign financing could be a first step to repairing this perception.

Whether or not the protests evolve into a more coherent set of demands, or even become a more lasting political force, remains to be seen. But the cry for change is one that must be heeded.

15 October 2011

Hassan i sabha

Bloody excellent version of this

Opium pour le peuple

The Pledge

Vice Squad featuring Lia (who replaced Beki Bondage) on vocals

Photo Hunt - public

The theme for this week's photo hunt is public. Here is another photo of the lighthouse-like beam at the top of the Eiffel Tower as it sweeps over Notre Dame Cathedral. Taken from the Cite Internationale des Arts . You can't get less private than that!

14 October 2011


Ted: before he was evil

Ted used to love the clothes horse. Best climbing frame ever, but oh was he a strange looking kitten!

Oh and FUCK you too Seal

Also attending Kadyrov's obscene birthday party was singer Seal who sang two songs for the Tyrant

Hilary Swank, having been found out, has apologised profusely. Seal, on the other hand, has remained defiant.

Apparently he has used Twitter to address remarks suggesting he should apologise for performing at the party. "By going there, I played Music for the Chechenyan (sic) people. I'm a MusicIAN and would appreciate if you leave me out of your politics."

What he meant of course was:  h"By going there, I played Music for a fucking huge wedge of cash for the Chechnyan tyrant, more than you sad, pathetic cunts will ever make . I'm a Musician without a social conscience or scruples so fuck right off while I count my huge wedge of cash"

So Seal is another amoral fucker who is off the artistic register. I hope he chokes on his sleazy cash so FUCK YOU SEAL!

12 October 2011

Covered the last

Fuck Hilary Swank, JCVD and Vanessa Mae and the tyrant they rode in on

The Independent reports that Hilary Swank, Jean Claude van Damme and Vanessa Mae have joined Sting, Beyonce, 50 Cent and a host of other so called stars who will suck the metaphorical dick of any tyrant who will hand them a huge pile of cash.

On 26 September, Jason Weinberg, a rep or whatever for a load of hing profile Hollywood lowlife, received an awkward inquiry from the Human Rights Foundation. Was it true, they asked, that another of his clients, Hilary Swank, had accepted a large appearance fee to attend the 35th birthday party of Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed despot in charge of Chechnya?

Absolutely not, he replied, in a dismissive email which suggested it was impertinent to even wonder if an Oscar-winning Hollywood liberal of Ms Swank's stature would consider such a vulgar and unethical career opportunity. "Hilary has no current plans to attend the party," it read.

As a week is a long time in politics so nine days is plenty enough time to change your mind about earning a pile of sleazy money. Dressed to the nines, and watched by the Independent’s own Moscow correspondent, Swank sauntered up Mr Kadyrov's red carpet, before delivering a charming speech about how much she had already enjoyed her stay in Grozny. "I could feel the spirit of the people, and I could see that everyone was so happy," she said. "Happy birthday, Mr President!"

Joining her was another vintage star: Jean-Claude Van Damme. Who got warm applause for finishing his speech with the pronouncement: "I love you Mr Kadyrov!" Then, after hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth of fireworks had been fired into the night sky, the violinist Vanessa Mae, performed a brief set. She was paid a rumoured $500,000 (£324,000). It is thought that Van Damme, whose A list status is long past and who now gives hand jobs to crack addicts, was paid $10 and all the food he can put in his underwear.

So far, neither Swank, nor Van Damme, nor Mae, have commented on their shilling; their representatives presumably hoping that if they say silent, the whole awkward affair will go away.r.

It is very easy for celebs to earn some extra pocket money. For decades, the international A-list have been able to add to their wealth by agreeing to attend (or perform at) social occasions to which they have no obvious connection. But traditionally, their more shameless exploits in this field have remained happily below the radar. The onward march of technology puts paid to that, though.

Footage of Beyonce, 50 Cent, and Mariah Carey performing at parties hosted by the Gaddafi family caused an almighty row earlier this year. With headline movie salaries already well down, and continuing to fall from their historic high in the mid 2000s, the likes of Van Damme and Swank may face tough decisions about how to finance their Hollywood lifestyles.

Do they give up the heroin enemas and the designer cock rings or do they abandon the lucrative world of celebrity appearances altogether? Or do they ask a sleazy shitrag like Weinberg to vet incoming bookings more thoroughly? Or do they just say fuck you all I want the fucking money?

Swank, VD, Mae joined the likes of Beyonce, Sting and many others who have taken the fucking money. They are off the artistic register. As the late, great Bill Hicks would have put it, it doesn’t matter if they shit Picassos for the rest of their lives, they are whores.

On a brighter note Shakira was offered the Grozny gig but turned it down. Good for her. At least she showed good sense.

Britannia Hospital

Starting with If, Britannia Hospital is the last in the Mick Travis trilogy. I will see if I can find a complete O Lucky Man (the middle Film). Lindsay Anderson's filmography is sadly quite short but al of his major films are very watchable, be it This Sporting Life, this trilogy or his last feature film the Wahes of August, which brought Bette Davis, Lilian Gish and Vincent Price together. Perhaps it is better to overlook his documentary about Wham! in China though....

If, continued

After Themroc here's If

Fuchsia berries

Yew berry II

Every part of the Yew tree Taxus Baccata is deadly poisonous except for the berry (although the seed is pretty poisonous too if you crunch into it). This is a wise move given that the Yew depends on birds to disperse its seeds. It would be pretty foolish if the berry killed its seed transporter. The seed passes thought the birds GI tract undamaged and is deposited in a nice little bit of fertiliser.

This year's dead echinops photo

The last Weigela flowers

A garden in decline

11 October 2011

And some Jewish Kitsch

Meet Ketzel the Cat Menorah. So it is not just christians who are fans of a bit of kitsch!

On the ther hand a St Sebastian pin cushion is just funny!

I've posted this before, years ago but I still think it's funny!

Is it me or are these pervy?

These wonderful hand-painted resin statues are the perfect gift for every young Catholic athlete, illustrating the active participation of Jesus in the lives of children as they play various sports. Sixe 6"


Mongo the Megavirus

According to the BBC scientists have discovered the largest ever virus in ocean water pulled up off the coast of Chile.

Called Megavirus chilensis, it is 10 to 20 times wider than the average virus.
It just beats the previous record holder, Mimivirus, which was found in a water cooling tower in the UK in 1992.  The particle measures about 0.7 micrometres (thousandths of a millimetre) in diameter... which believe me, is big by virus standards!

"It is bigger than some bacteria," explained Prof Jean-Michel Claverie, from Aix-Marseille University, Marseille, France. "You don't need an electron microscope to see it; you can see it with an ordinary light microscope,"

Viruses cannot copy themselves; they need to invade a host cell if they want to replicate. Like Mimivirus, Megavirus has hair-like structures, or fibrils, on the exterior of its shell, or capsid, that probably attract unsuspecting amoebas looking to prey on bacteria displaying similar features.

A study of the giant virus's DNA shows it to have more than a thousand genes, the biochemical instructions it uses to build the systems it requires to replicate once inside its host.

Megavirus was found off the coast of Las Cruces, central Chile. It was recovered as part of a general trawl in the ocean for biology of interest.
"Previously, we only discovered viruses because they caused disease in
humans, or animals and plants," said Prof Claverie "But now we are initiating what might be called environmental virology and we are looking for viruses everywhere. You just go to lakes, seas and oceans and pick up the water, and then you filter it, and try to rescue the virus by co-cultivating it with some potential host."

Prof Claverie said the megavirus would not be hazardous to humans.

I like the idea of humungous viruses... well humungous by virus standards anyway. I daresay a much larger cousin will be found in due course

More Themroc. Definitely NSFW!


"One day, Themroc just blew up. He chucked his job, destroyed his flat, made it with his sister, dined on a cop and turned on the whole neighborhood."  With that sort of tagline you know that this will NOT be a light comedy of socialmanners......... Well it is of sorts

Themroc is a bizarre French comedy from the early 70s about a man who loses it and reaches out to his inner caveman. Sadly it is not available on DVD.