Why bother to read the book . . .

November 27th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

. . . when you can wait to trash the movie? This is the film that some Catholic organizations don’t want you to see. Interesting that the book has been on the shelves since 1995, but only now are the soi disant moral guardians waking up to its perfidy. Maybe they are riled by the fact that the villainess ~ played by that other well-known skinny blonde, Nicole Kidman ~ is named Coulter?


Rumour hath it that the movie has been bowdlerized by the producers, who removed much of author Philip Pullman’s anti-clerical sentiment. Even so, I can hardly wait to see the film, which looks amazing, but I know that it will be no match for the book, which is the first in the “His Dark Materials” trilogy. While any books that get Bill Donohue’s panties in a bunch have got to be worth reading, these books are among the best I have ever read. And my son and step-daughters loved them too, which probably means they are damned to eternal flames! Comparisons to the Harry Potter series abound, but they can seriously only be made by those who have not read any of the Pullman books.

Philip Pullman has also written a series of books set in Victorian times, about the adventures of Sally Lockhart, who sets out to find the truth behind her father’s death. Nothing at all like HDM, but still beautifully written yarns that any adolescent will love. They are being adapted by the Beeb, with Billie Piper (hated her in Dr Who!) playing Sally.

Unsubscribe me

November 22nd, 2007 § 1 comment § permalink


This is a truly disturbing video, part of a new Amnesty campaign, called Unsubscribe Me, to stop US-sanctioned torture.

Thanks to Boing Boing for spreading the word.

Rudy Giuliani – torture or taradiddles?

November 15th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink


An article from In These Times wonders, “Rudy Giuliani, Criminal or Liar?”

It’s not hard to imagine Rudy waterboarding someone, but he’s more likely to be lying, which is something he’s had a lot of practice doing, as a serial philanderer. Although I seriously have to wonder what any woman sees in him.

Horrifying story from Serbia

November 15th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink


This is one of those days when I’m ashamed to be a member of the human race. I look at my cat, living in the lap of luxury, lying around all day by the fire when she’s not eating her face off. And then I read something heart scalding like this story in the international papers, about the inhuman treatment of mentally ill children in Serbia.

Spoke too soon

November 10th, 2007 § 1 comment § permalink

Found another complaint choir, and it’s a Canadian one. Still not as tuneful as the Helsinki Complaints Choir, but still pretty nifty. I believe it was recorded at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, for the As It Happens radio program.

How to complain in style ~ and in tune

November 10th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

I came across the Helsinki Complaint Choir on YouTube recently, and then discovered that there is a whole raft of so-called complaint choirs, including ones from Birmingham in the UK, and from Hamburg and St Petersburg, and maybe some other places I haven’t heard about. Of the ones I’ve seen, the Helsinki “complaint” is the most tuneful, just a delight all round.

Flavour of the month, biofuels

November 8th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

The media get the bit between their teeth on some bugaboo or other, and they’re off to the races, with the politicians in hot pursuit. Benjamin Disraeli, reputed to be Queen Victoria’s favourite prime minister, once said, “I must follow the people, for am I not their leader?” Today, it’s the media that must be followed by our so-called leaders, and the pet project of the media these days is biofuel. Let’s all recycle our cooking oil, or turn surplus corn crops into diesel, and there’ll be no more fuel crisis. Right, and while we’re doing that, let the other half of humanity starve.

“Need more land? Clear cut some forest. Is there a word beyond irony to describe a plan to mitigate climate change that relies on cutting down the very trees that naturally remove carbon from the atmosphere? Stupidity, perhaps? The logic is like harvesting a sick patient’s lungs to save her heart. Huge tracks of Amazon rainforest are being raised to the biofuels alter like a sacrificial lamb, and the UN suggests that 98 percent of Indonesia’s rainforest will disappear by 2022, where heavy biofuel production is underway.”

Hey, so long as it keeps the SUV on the road, who cares?

The opposite of Newspeak

November 1st, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

For the novel 1984, George Orwell came up with the concept of Newspeak, closely based on English, but with a greatly reduced and simplified vocabulary and grammar. During the Vietnam War, the American military chose a diametrically opposite path, using convoluted terminology to gloss over the real purpose of war, which is to kill people. Instead of civilian casualties, there was collateral damage; troops were eliminating a target, rather than killing enemies. In the current so-called War on Terror, the in term is coercive interrogation, rather than plain old torture.

Here’s a very disturbing example of another military euphemism, waterboarding. It sounds like something you would enjoy while visiting the beach. It’s not. It’s torture.

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