Friday, November 30, 2007

today : Yeah, but I prefferred the one you've never heard of.

So there I was watching Silence of The Lambs the other night. It is fantastic. Discussing it with a friend a couple of days later (this person is incidentally clearly deluded, being a fan of Hannibal - even thinking it's a better film that SOTL), it got me thinking.

I remember when 'Lambs' took over the culture for a while, bagging all those Oscars and being the must see movie of 1991. More than that, it's iconography slipped into the culture. The first example of this I can remember is int he Rosanne show, when DJ went trick or treating on Halloween 1992 and was wheeled around on a trolley with a muzzle on. When the film went ballistic there appeared a category of people who sniffed and declared that it wasn't as good as Manhunter. Hopkins's pantomimic Lecter was nothing like the book. Brian Cox did it much better.

I believe that, at the time, I may have said a few things like that myself. But what I actually doing was just following the lead of snobby broadsheet critics and self-declared cool people who used the Manhunter/Silence of the Lambs comparison as a way to nominate themselves as cooler/cleverer/better read/just better than the public. The same thing happened when Heat came out. People started raving about the TV movie version that Michael Mann made back in the eighties.

I've written before about my displeasure at the cult of 'edgy' and the cultural (actually the snobby media's) obsession with what is 'cool'. The fact remains that some things become popular because they are simply better than other things. There is no real formula to this (or if there is, I am not telling you before I've sold it to Hollywood and the record industry): certain songs, films, TV shows and consumer goods simply strike a chord with masses of the public. And that's that. Toy Story is a good example. It was a global phenomenon - and really really good by anyone's measure.

Which makes the 'cool' crowd uncomfortable. Their raison d'etre is to be different/better from the rest of the mundane world, and it makes them uncomfortable. So what they have to do is create new paradigms of cool and decry their previous pronouncements. Most often this is done by denouncing the creators of the once cool but now necessarily uncool thing.

There was a moment back there when James Blunt singing You're Beautiful was quite cool. I personally don't either love nor hate it, but let's face it, it's a pretty good pop song all in all. It has that wonderfully catchy hook and a simple sentiment that is put over well. Blunt was an interesting character with an unusual back-story. Had the song not taken over the world it would have been fine. But since it hit the top of the charts worldwide and became ubiquitous, it became risible, when really it is just annoying like any overplayed song. Blunt likewise is a laughing stock. His crime? To be successful and rich and apparently having it off with a succession of famous beauties.

In fact music is a great place to look at how cool works. Every music fan can remember being into a band before anyone else and knows the feeling of slight disappointment or even mild betrayal when suddenly they become popular and every bandwagon jumper becomes a fan.

This is most often how critics behave, like bratty adolescents who have had their secret cult taken away from them. But critics are always in the position where they discover things early because they get to see hear and read pretty much everything before the rest of us. That's why the most vitriol is reserved for cultural phenomena that seem to spring up out of nowhere; stuff the public adores without the championing of the critics.

The worst crime a cultural commentator can commit is to not be in the know about what is hot or cool en ce moment.

today : A teacher's lot

Anyone who has spent any time as a teacher witll recognise the plight of Gillian Gibbons. A complete lack of training for new staff in issues that might affect them, a keenness amongst more established staff to pick fault with the new teacher, certain staff members who hurl complaints about their fellow teachers around like confetti, the desire of the management to avoid defending their colleague at all costs and the total willingness of people outside the school to believe that the teacher is not an altruistic professional but somehow an individual whose motivation is pernicious and nasty.

It sounds like pretty much every school I have ever set foot in.

Terrorists Strike The San Fernando Valley (again...yawn)

Perhaps the Hollywood writers' strike is a good thing. For a start off I read that filming of the 2008 season of 24 has been put on hold indefinitely because it hasn't actually been written yet. Maybe the writers and producers of the show can take the opportunity to have rejig, because the 2007 season struggled and wheezed its way, in an attempt to fulfil the whole 24 hour format.

Now I'm not really in the camp that says that 24 is a PR exercise for torture. That's because, unlike the many special interest groups that jump on TV shows and attack their ideology, I know the difference between fiction and the real world. Also, torture has been a staple of spy thrillers since spy thrillers were invented, Felix Leiter being fed to the sharks, Bond strapped to a table with a laser heading for his cojones - torturing spies, and spies torturing others, is a familiar thing, The problem with 24 is that everyone gets tortured, and in increasingly nasty ways. People die from it, or are killed just for the hell of it as Jack and co exercise the demons that drove them to be insomniac action spies in the first place.

It becomes repetitive, and ultimately boring.

The other thing that jumps out more and more is that, with the world teetering on the edge of destruction and Presidents and governments under peril from double agents and power-hungry corruption, all the action takes place within about 20 miles of downtown LA. At least Alias tried to pretend that Sidney and co were zipping around, rendered to all corners of the map to fight their bloodless fights. To have one major world-threatening crisis focused on Los Angeles is okay. Two is just about acceptable. But six in a row is just unbelievable. There is no real reason why much of CTU's work couldn't be done from anywhere, given that it is all based on computer screens. Chloe and Co could easily operate from a cheap site in an industrial estate in Slough and not suffer a dip in performance (and to be honest, if they can only avert a crisis with the help of one maverick agent who only gets anything done if he goes dark, you'd think someone would question their efficiency and done some outsourcing by now). They also seem to get attacked about once a season. If your top anti-terrorist HQ was so vulnerable in real life then you might do something about it - perhaps bulldoze it for the downtown LA real-estate value and build a new one underneath a mountain in Utah.

The problem is that it's just not credible that in trying to take over the world/bring down America/set off nukes, terrorists would repeatedly focus their attack on Los Angeles, a place most people wouldn't notice if it was nuked and a place much of middle America would secretly quite like to be blown to smithereens. In the world of 24 Washington, New York City and any other large city or military installation is ignored.

Yes I know it's budget constraints. The same ones that used to set every cowboy movie in the dry parts of California (and some backlot in Studio City) when the real prairies are green and rather lush, But after so long it gets samey. Spies and anti-terrorist people are different from the rest of us, who restrict our movements between home, work and the shops and inscribe tight geographical circles.

The bottom line is that 24 needs a rethink before the the law of diminishing returns claims it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

today : for whom the 'ding' tolls

I have only just completed watching the final episodes of the Sopranos, given that the show is exclusively a DVD event for me and it was only released here last week. They were imperious, hitting an effortless groove in the way that the first part of season 6 didn't quite attain.

And like everyone (and despite the spoilers that so many media journalist gleefully, stupidly and arrogantly threw around) I was surely surprised by the ending. I think it's great fun that the final diner scene has begun such a huge ongoing discussion. However, I was confounded and unhappy with one element of the final section. I thought that Melfi's conversion and rejection of Tony was too hurried. Those two have such a history that it seemed rushed that Eliot would tell her about a scholarly article, plant a discussion at a dinner party and then bam! she dumps Tony just like that. It didn't really feel natural. But that's a small shrug in the carpet.

So did Tony get capped? My thought is that he didn't. The black screen leaves us, of course to make our own judgements. But the Sopranos is one show that has earned the right to leave loose ends (as opposed to those shows that exist to contrive 'cults').

My preferred thought is that things just carry on. The black screen reminds me of another great unresolved ending in American fiction. i.e. "And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

today : It REALLY IS all Bush's fault.

Last weeks headline was that each American family has spent 20,000 dollars on the war - totalling 2 trillion dollars. But in actual fact that total is closer to 40,000, given that fuel prices in the US have risen at an insane rate. Less trumpeted than the tax figures was the fact that the major oil companies have increased their profits by 2 trillion. Effectively another tax on Americans, and easily trashing the Bush tax cuts from his first term. No wonder the housing market has started to collapse. People are spending all their cash on getting to work and the supermarket.

I still believe that the Bush presidency was based entirely on one simple principle: to help big oil leach the country for as much cash as they could. It is a very clever strategy.The war in Iraq is nothing but a big political funnel, designed to pour cash into the coffers of Bush cronies for years to come. And the oil companies don't even have to speculate to accumulate like other business. It's a no risk deal because not only will the government underwrite the whole project, they will use ordinary tax-payers money to finance it all. The 30 billion of contracts awarded to Halliburton and the like in Iraq were just an apertif. The real cash has and will come in having oil at 100 dollars a barrel. And you can explain it all away by playing the peak oil game - telling the public that this blatant price-gouging is nothing to do with foreign policy and cronyism, but the fact that oil is running out.

It's misdirection worthy of Derren Brown. The government maintains its base by scaring decent conservative people into believing their opponents will legislate to force all All-American sons to turn gay and get married to Queens, insist that every woman should have mandatory abortions and ban prayer, not just in schools, but in the whole country. It is the equivalent of shouting 'look at that!' (in a Barry Davies voice) in order to take a sneaky bite of someone's sandwich.

It is now very clear that the Bush administration has been up there in terms of the worst of all time. The fact is that they have deliberately let down everyone. Including the type of conservative middle Americans that they purport to represent. And the misery is gradually catching up with us over here. The Northern Rock crisis can be directly traced back to the cavalier attitude the Republicans have had to spending and running up deficits. The knock on effect will probably be a house price slowdown in the British economy, interest rate cuts and and bump in inflation. Which kind of undoes all the relatively decent work that Gordon Brown did in flattening the economic cycle and avoiding recession over ten years. How ironic that, now he is PM, Brown is likely to face the most testing economic climate for a decade.

The key thing he had in his favour at the start in 1997 was Clinton's and his balanced budget. Bill was probably the most economically reliable President of recent times. Brown was able to ride the wave of stability for several years before the Republicans' endless spending spree started to kick in.

Monday, November 19, 2007

today : not quite so Spooky

That is the last time you punch me in the face

I want to be a spy. Obviously I possess almost none of the qualities required.For instance I am habitually indiscreet, not especially brave or devious and terminally bad at office politics. I also didn't go to the correct university.

But the reason I want to be a spy is because it's cool. Or was.

Because watching the recent season of Spooks, there seems to be something missing.

Of course Spooks has been on a downhill slope ever since the high point of Lisa Faulkner having her head fried in boiling chip fat. And that was in Season One episode 2.

But over time, enough characters have been killed off that somehow the show has lost its balance. In the first two seasons Zoe and Danny gave the show some heart. When they went the heart was provided by insecure mother hen Ruth and by Adam and Fiona's juggling of marriage and the amorality of an espionage career. But now that has gone.

As far as I understand, David Wolstencraft envisioned it as a behind the scenes drama, exploring the difficulty of being a spy and also a real person. And for much of the first four seasons it managed this. Whether it was Tom putting that woman out of the BT ads into peril or the dangers of his pillow talk with a CIA woman, Danny having to assassinate someone for the first time whilst pining over Zoe, Zoe herself juggling photographer boyfriend, infatuated flatmate and Mata Hari work duties, or Harry and Ruth doing a kind of remains of the day thing, it kind of worked. The missions were always counterbalanced by the personal.

But gradually the spy stuff has taken over and the plots pared down and made more brutal. The heart has gradually drained away. The final drops evaporated with Ruth's bizarre banishing to Venzuela. The female spooks are now the underused cipher Jo (who only seems to exist these days to get punched in the face) and the ice cold Ros, who brings a positive lack of heart to the team. And now Zaf has been 'kidnapped' there is yet another hole in the team, which means pretty much everything focuses on Adam, who has mysteriously got over the death of his wife and his dalliance with the nanny and moved on to more dangerous territory.

Other quite radical changes have happened in the latest season. The entire thing has a continuing storyline, which features much more LeCarre style intrigue and high level politicking than before. I can see what the producers are trying to do. There are only so many race against time scenarios that can be played out until it gets overly repetitious. But it hasn't really worked. Spooks only grips when the pace is quick and the new long-form construction is too slow. Also, they changed the music. There used to be two or three different pieces that signified preparation action and emotion. But they've gone too, contributing to the loss of Spooksness in the new season.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

today : dreamers of the dream

I've never been interested in dream analysis. Mostly it is nonsense on a par with astrology and the like. The endless dictionaries that provide a guide to the symbolism of your average night-time reverie are as pointless as lists of personality traits according to whether you were born with Saturn rising in the Plough, or whatever. I don't think you can interpret a dream where your teeth are falling out in simplistic terms, if at all. Even Freud seems rather flawed. I kind of think that he was on to something conceptually, but The Interpretation of Dreams seems to me, like the other bits and bobs of his original writings that I've read, as much an exercise in building a watertight theory, even if the pieces have to be jammed together to make them fit. Perhaps it was the style of the time to declare yourself right about everything.
(I also wonder if, if dreams are wish fulfilments, then do you have less dreams the happier you are, given that you have less unfulfilled wishes?)

There are people who endlessly write down their dreams in order to analyse them. I must say, I've done it once or twice in the past. It can be fun to connect remembered fragments of dreams to waking experience, emotional quandaries and such. But I don't really hold by the idea that there is much credence in this. It's like cold reading. If you are looking for a connection you will find it. The recurring dream in which I have tender and intensely vivid sexual encounters with ****** ********, a girl I fancied rather strongly 20 years ago, signify nothing other than a possible measure of regret that I only adored her from afar and, although I did once share a bed with her, did not actually have a waking sexual encounter with her. I seem to remember it involved industrial quantities of alcohol. There is a little mystery in that I only started remembering the dream about 3 or 4 years ago and what happened in the intervening 11 years, I don't know. Maybe there is some sound or fragrance in my house that triggers it, or something.

In some ways I wish it had stayed unremembered.

What got me really thinking about this was an especially vivid dream that I was awoken from by the milkman's pick-up truck having a broken exhaust silencer. The milk-man delivers about 3-30 am each morning to the cafes and restaurants close by to where I live. My street is the closest to get access to the back of these places, and there is a useful alleyway for them to use. Mostly, the sound of the truck and the clink and rattle of crates of milk bottles doesn't wake me. But one morning a few months ago the truck obviously was having problems. It roared along the street like a stock car, and in a second I was stone awake, propelled right out of a dream. I couldn't move for half a second and then remembered that I'd been dreaming. The fact that I awoke so quickly must have short circuited the dream into my memory, and it didn't evaporate. The details are fairly mundane, and did not feature ****** ******** whatsoever. In fact the main detail was the feeling I had at the moment I woke up. In my interrupted dream I had walked into a room, knowing, as I walked along the long corridor towards the door, that I'd visited it many years before. It was utterly familiar. I'd apparently experienced deja vu inside my dream.

I have no scientific knowledge of the nature of dreams. In many ways the tantalising wispiness of a half remembered dream is the best thing about them. The fact that it gets away from you and doesn't seem to inhabit accessible memory is where the intrigue lies. The fantasy that I constructed on the the back of my dream deja vu experience is that it was not deja vu, but that I was actually visiting a room I'd been into years earlier. That inside my dreams there is a narrative that spans over years and decades. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was an entirely parallel life that is lived whilst asleep?. I'm not talking about real Schrodinger's Cat kind of parallel universes or anything that can be described as spiritual. (I pretty much think that people who see ghosts, experience alien abduction, have out of body experiences or visit the gates of heaven are just mistaking their dreams for reality).
What I do like is the notion that maybe the life inside our dreams is not random or schizophrenic, but ongoing and interconnected, perhaps in the shape of an unfolding modernist novel.

It would be nice to know that in this alternative unconscious universe, without having laid eyes on or spoken to her in waking life for almost 20 years, actually I'd been ****** ********'s lover for at least 11 years.

Monday, November 12, 2007

today : some more on how it is

The thing about writing about depression is that it isn't a pleasant read. I looked at my last entry, which was an honest attempt to portray my feelings on the subject, and felt a shudder of revulsion. This was because my words look like pathetic self-pitying whingeing. Which, of course, is exactly what they are. That's what it's about.

And to admit the utter meaningless of life - or even get close to it, is taboo. It's the dilemma faced in discussion of any taboo. How can you discuss the power of using the 'n' word when use of the 'n' word is taboo? You can't, without facing sounding racist or ridiculous. Cultural rules don't allow us to be comfortable with such topics.

The thing is, you're supposed to have perspective on these things. Descriptions of despair can only be in two categories: the reassuring scientific diagnosis or the equally reassuring haven of poetry and art. Simply talking about it outside the boundaries of psychology or art is not allowed. Normalising total negativity isn't something we do, despite it being many peoples' normal experience.

Even to use the word nihilism to describe my feelings about myself and the world gives them a theoretical, political aspect that isn't really there. Depression is nihilistic but you don't come to a considered conclusion to reject belief. It's just how it is, how it feels. It even happens against your better judgement, so to speak. But that's because you don't have functioning better judgement.

Writing about suicide is even more taboo. There is nothing more ridiculous and ironic than suicide being a crime. Because by definition a crime is something not only transgresses society's agreed norms, but can be punished. If you're at the point where you will take your own life, then I doubt anything can act as a deterrent.

I used to, like pretty much everyone, see suicides in two categories: cowards and attention seekers. There may be some truth in those stereotypes. But I can also see that there is a point at which giving up is so much easier than 'soldiering' on (even the phrase carries some stern moralistic overtones that define those that don't as the opposite of soldiers i.e. cowards). Cowardice (whatever that actually is - it's one of the most relative concepts) has nothing to do with it. Only last week Britain was kind of shocked and disbelieving about Jehovah's Witness - a young mother - whom, having given birth refused a blood transfusion and promptly died. Who, amongst the population wouldn't take the blood transfusion to make them better? Who wouldn't give up an arm or a leg if it was gangrenous? Who would face an operation without morphine? So if the world is totally unbearable and the absolute perception is that there is no way to make that feeling better, then who would refuse the pain relief? It's just logical. At least suicides have some control and some esteem in their actions. If a light is giving you a blinding headache who wouldn't get up and switch it off?

Yet the immorality of self elimination is so deeply dyed into our cultural genes that we just don't want to talk about it (also, it's a type of death, and we avoid discussion of death entirely). Again it is simplified for consumption. The coward or the attention seeker. Reducing people to these simple and easily rejectable categories is almost as if we are saying these people deserved to die. They don't fit in with the rest of us. They were worthless.

What's difficult to grasp is that self-eliminators are on the most part not the Jehovah's Witnesses who make a choice and take their chances with God's will. Suicides are people who either have, or conclude they have, no choices. When the pain is this total in nature, then the painkiller has to match it.

today : this is how it is

Depression is such a difficult thing to describe. It's like love in some ways, in that the literature of love is composed entirely of metaphorical attempts to basically sum up in words that which can only really be wordless, or beyond. Pretty much all emotion is the same.

Swimming through molasses, fighting through a fog, weighed down with lead. The fact is that the very essence of depression is its wholly prosaic nature. There is nothing poetic about it for me. Its mundanity is its curse. If Morrisey had been truly depressed then writing lyrics would have been beyond him. Forming a band would have been an unreachable dream.

When love is described as a series of processes, it becomes pornography. When depression is described as a series of processes it becomes diagnosis or melodrama.

For me depression is characterised by inability. The inability to face and perform the most basic, normal,. fundamental tasks of living that otherwise are the bits of life that we don't even think about. Those undramatic gluey bits of everyday life that soap operas cut out, if you like.

Going out of the door becomes a task that engenders the same level and intensity of fear as crawling through a flooded cave or jumping from a tall cliff into water (both of which I have done). The nervousness that might afflict a lone traveller at night in a strange city, afflicts me when walking round the supermarket or out on the street.

Sometimes in life there are things that aren't pleasant. I'm not talking about major surgery or identifying a body. I'm talking about things that simply hold little or no pleasure.Chores. Balancing a cheque book, paying the gas bill, hoovering. These kind of activities - jobs if you like - loom as massively as running a marathon or facing the results of a biopsy.

The littlest of setbacks, sometimes not even setbacks, just incidents with the potential for negativity, can send my mind running and racing like an over-revving old car with the choke left out. The paths of thought speed on down the road not taken all the way to the edge of a cliff. Visualising what might happen in any given situation leads inexorably to doomsday scenarios. The paths of optimism are simply blocked off and my mind is forced to follow the low road.

Here is a scenario. A minor problem arises. Maybe a utility company informing me that my bills are going to rise. A standard letter sent to all customers. The idea of paying more when I have less and less starts me off. Almost immediately I see a situation where I can't make the new payments and end up defaulting and facing the utility cut off. Even worse is having to borrow to pay the extra, thereby admitting that I couldn't keep up the payments or even worse, provide enough for myself to survive. Driving in the car the doomsday scenario looms. Defaulting will dent my credit record and make it even more difficult for me to have the normal balanced middle class life I aspire to. I already have almost nothing and acquiring it will take a step nearer impossible. Oh, given that I'm disabled I'll never earn enough to afford a mortgage. I'm disabled. Perhaps I could afford a mortgage if I had a partner. But I'm disabled. Who wants to marry a cripple? A depressed cripple. There was so and so and then so and so. Would've liked to marry them. But they rejected me because I wasn't good enough, most often not physically what they aspire to. I am a reject. A depressed crippled reject. A bitter depressed crippled reject. And I'm not young any more. And I'm only going to get more disabled. And financially I'm not even in a position to own my own house. And the car is now making a strange noise and needs fixing.

And the panic attack starts. Light-headed, tightening chest, headaches, shame. Shame because I used to be able to handle everything with relative ease and now a letter from the utility company has crushed me and funnelled me into having a panic attack. I'm freaking out. I can't concentrate on anything long enough to work it out. I can only think how I'm a pathetic bitter, crippled reject who can't face the simplest of everyday incidents without spiralling out of control.

It almost looks ludicrous when it's written down. But this is how it is.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

today : The Martial Plan

It's the same old story. You get yourself in power by, what some people would call, foul means, you do a pretty average to poor job (and possibly corrupt) of running your country, almost completely funded by debt and loans and the support of some rather dodgy allies. Then, as your popularity crumbles away, in order to retain power, you start to take away citizens' rights under the guise of fighting extremism and terrorists, and sack any judges that have disagreeing political opinions to yours.

It seems that from not even knowing Musharraf's name in 1999, Bush is now friendly enough with the General to email him a copy of Rove's playbook.

Monday, November 05, 2007

today : TV reviewlets

The Sarah Silverman Program

Just got this on the Comedy Channel and it's basically a low rent pointless rip off of Larry David Whichever self-absorbed fool is behind this stuff they didn't even get the point. At least 'Larry's' comedy was based on him trying to do the right thing and being hapless. The 'Sarah' character just behaves like an awful wanker and someone needs to kick her in the shins. Anyone can write toe-curling; the hard thing is writing jokes. Even harder is pulling off the trick where the audience just don't want the characters to die immediately because they are so annoying.


Don't understand this. Is it someones idea of a fantasy of cynical cool, a satire of cynical cool or just made by people who think they are so cynically cool that they haven't noticed that they are inhabiting the inside of their own backsides? either way it's a comedy drama that has no drama and even less comedy, peopled by appalling shallow characters you would punch if you met them.

Ugly Betty

So, it turns out that fashion people are stupid pathetic shallow backstabbing vermin. Thanks for the enlightenment. See also, America's Next Top Model where the contestants are photographed as murder victims and then congratulated : "Wow! you actually look dead!"


As entertaining as doing a jigsaw puzzle with no picture on it, or a crossword made up entirely of consonants. Showing the endless drink driving trials would be more fun.

Thursdays are funny on BBC2 they aren't. Jennifer Saunders satirises TV. Her character is wholly vile, and ...wait for it...her name is Vivian Vyle!. Genius. Peter Serafinowicz seems like a nice chap, unfortunately the scripts are a compilation of all those sketches that magazine writers who harbour the mistaken belief that they are great undiscovered comedy writing talents and that the lame drunken jokes they made with their mates at the weekend or in the sixth form, are worth writing down and turning into comedy sketches, write in their magazines when they haven't got enough actual writing to fill the magazine. Also stuff that was found on the floor in the abandoned Hale and Pace writers room. And by the way I've simply had enough of Graham Norton giggling about bottoms.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

today : I kill a conversation

The other day I got into a political discussion with someone I didn't want to discuss politics with. I just wasn't in the mood and I knew this person enjoys testing himself against me each time we meet. Sometimes I enjoy it but generally it gets a bit macho and rather pointless. Although we occupy different parts of the political spectrum, I don't violently disagree with him in quite a few areas, but as I said, I wasn't in the mood.

Out of politeness, this time I went along with it for a bit. The topic quickly strayed towards immigration, and I shouldn't have worried about how to let the guy have his debate fun and then move along before I got bored. When I declared that immigration was the political topic that I was least bothered about and that the only reason it is shoved it the top of the political agenda is that it is yet another false enemy that deflects people away from noticing and worrying about the manipulation of power by international corporate interests, the conversation ground to a halt. I didn't even get to the bit where I point out the irony that a globalised economy needs freeflow of migrants in the same way it needs a free flow of goods and capital, yet they were playing on peoples' racist and xenophobic tendencies in order to scare people into chasing invisible ghosts.

The fact is that my adversary simply refused to believe that on a list of important issues from 1 to 10, immigration, on my list would be a firm number 10. It simply did not compute. The responses moved from 'How can you say that?' to 'I don't believe you believe that.' almost instantly. He could not accept that I am not worried about foreigners invading our nation, about people coming over here and using our health service, jobs and housing or any of the other issues that mindless knee-jerk racist xenophobes (...sorry, reasonable anti-immigration people) parrot out as their objection to immigrants. The conversation ended.

He didn't walk away sighing and shaking his head from side to side, but he may as well have done. Instead he looked up and addressed the room. His exit strategy was quintessentially British.
"Anyone for a drink?" he asked.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

today : I challenge conventional wisdom

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.
Show me in the poem where it says that Humpty Dumpty is an egg. Go on!