Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Books read 2005: An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro & The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain De Botton

13.An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro (1986)

Very spare use of language. Unassuming, understated novel about a Japanese artist’s guilt at his involvement in WW2. Really gets going after the first 70 pages or so. A Must read.

14.The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain De Botton (2000)

Philosophy for beginners. Shows us how it relates to our lives and how it can console us. User friendly. Especially for those of us lacking mental acumen who have trouble keeping awake reading it, and who think life is to short to get too involved with it.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Books read 2005: L!ve TV by Chris Horrie & Adam Nathan & 1968 by Mark Kulansky

11.L!ve TV by Chris Horrie & Adam Nathan (1999)

The funniest book I’ve ever read. A hilarious look back at the farce that was Live TV! A good history of the satellite and cable television industry fits in around the humour. My copy now resides in a porno book shop in Australia, as the person I lent it to decided not to bring it back, thanks.

Virtually impossible to obtain it's Sister book charting the Sun newspaper in the 80’s, unless you want to pay 50 quid for a tatty second hand copy.

12.1968 by Mark Kulansky (2005)

Review of the eventful year that was1968, focusing on the big events: Martin Luther King, Prague Spring, Olympics, Vietnam, Bobby Kennedy, French student riots, US riots, lots of riots. Lots of fun.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Books read 2005: Common Sense by Thomas Paine & The State We’re In by Will Hutton

9.Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776)

The argument for American Independence. Not much fun to be had here.

10.The State We’re In by Will Hutton (1994)

Unless you like and understand Economics, this is very hard going, and dull. A real chore to read.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Books read 2005: Plan of attack by Bob Woodward & The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton by Joe Klein

7.Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward (2004)

What should have been a fascinating read is badly written and the narrative is dull. Should have been gripping, it was pedestrian. Lots of insights into the build up to the Iraq war though, from the horse’s mouths.

8.The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton by Joe Klein

Excellent little biography on Bill Clinton and his two eventful terms in office. Very well written and engaging. One to be read again, and better than Clinton's autobiography.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Books read 2005: The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama & One of Us by Hugo Young

5.The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama (1992)

Proposes that we have reached the “end of history”, the end of ideological differences. The winner, Liberal democracy and capitalism. Interesting, controversial, and bit of a difficult read, but worth persevering with.

6.One of Us by Hugo Young (1991)

The best biography of Thatcher. Well written and balanced, not a hatchet job nor a hagiography. On a second reading it is quite sympathetic to a lot she did, while also pointing out the costs of her “revolution”.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Books read 2005: The Wind up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami & Amsterdam by Ian McEwan

3.The Wind up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (1994)

Brilliant, mystical and elliptical novel. Bizarre and very engrossing. Murakami must be one the best novelists in the world today. I recommend reading this while listening to “Leftism” by Leftfield. It makes sense. Good reading music. Music with too many vocals is a distraction whilst reading is it not?

4.Amsterdam by Ian McEwan(1998)

Booker prizewinner. Very clever, well written and readable, like most McEwans work.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Books read 2005: "Money" & "Blair in his own words"

1.Money by Martin Amis (1986)

Amis’s finest novel. 80’s excess in all its vulgar glory. New York and London are well rendered, and the parodies of faded Hollywood stars are very funny.

After reading Amis most other books writing styles seem a bit dour and pedestrian. Regardless of criticisms concerning the lack of plot, style over substance debates etc, no one can deny his ability to write very well.

2.Tony Blair in his own words edited by Paul Richards (2004)

A collection of Blair’s speeches and articles, largely avoiding the ones written for him that go to The Sun and other newspapers. A good reference to chart how his views and beliefs have progressed since entering parliament. The early work is the most interesting. The Murdoch lecture in Australia is a fascinating look at the ills of the Labour party circa 1982, and what needed to change. Perhaps the seed of New Labour was planted here. A book for political trainspotters. I don't think I am one though, I'm not that bad.

Monday, January 23, 2006

7/7 challenge thing

I don't normally do these things (I lie) so here it goes, wither the soul, wither it goes. Always wanted to write that, no idea why:

7 things to do before I die:

1. Jump out of a plane, with a parachute.
2. Visit lots of Eastern European, former communist cities and See Lenin’s Tomb. And have a laugh at a bad idea badly executed, Communism - not the tomb, that's quite a good idea - while still thinking it might be fun to live under it for a few days.
3. Find some purpose. And motivation. And ambition.
4. Be more attractive to the opposite sex, without plastic surgery.
5. Write three novels, and win the Booker prize three times, then get a job on a building site.
6. To never take politics too seriously and become a pompous bore.
7. To read Ulysses for a laugh, or in order to impress some dullard who might think I am clever, wrong.

7 things I cannot do:

1. Eat cheese that is uncooked, it is wrong, so severely so.
2. Like Marcus Bentley’s voice (Narrator of Big Brother)
3. Like Madonna.
4. Mathematics, even basic level stuff.
5. Read the Daily Mail without throwing it on the fire after 3 pages.
6. Not laugh at people who like Celine Dion/Westlife etc.
7. Play Badminton. The cockleshutt or whatever it's called is not right, sports need balls not odd looking plastic things, yeah.

7 things that attract me to London:

1. I don't have to live there.
2. It's not the centre of the UK.
3. It has an airport that allows me to leave the country more cheaply, than say Birmingham airport.
4. If the M25 is quiet, you can leave it fairly quickly.
5. The charming unfriendliness of its inhabitants.
6. The Science and Natural history museum.
7. Downing street. I am convinced that when first visiting in 1988 at the age of 8, I saw Maggie going past in a car. Not that it indicates any type of approval for her, I was only 8.

7 things I often say:

1. Fucks sake
2. Like
3. Bollocks
4. Pehaps
5. For goodness sake (not sure why it's not "Gods sake", I'm not religious, but maybe I'm hedging my bets)
6. Tosser (I have a way with words, not a good way, but a way never the less)
7. Fair enough

7 books that I love:

Love is perhaps too strong a word for some of these, and this is off the top of my head.

1. 1984 by George Orwell
2. Money by Martin Amis
3. Live TV! The story of Tabloid TV by Chris Horrie & Adam Nathan
4. Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
5. Lenin's Tomb by David Remnick
6. The Wind up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
7. Servants of the People by Andrew Rawnsley

7 movies I watch over and over again:

1. Zulu. When I was 8 or 9, I used to watch this at my Nan’s al the time.
2. Masters of the Universe. 11 Years old or so.
3. La Haine. Watched this a fair few times, the DJ scene is the best.
4. Warriors. Used to watch this loads before going out with my mates when we were 15/16 (we didn't think we were them or anything sad like that).
5. South Park. At university.
6. I don't watch hardly any films anymore
7. They are too long.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Today I brought a Tabloid

Today I brought the Daily Star, I feel shame. The Daily Mail or Sun bad enough, but the Star? Well it had a free football DVD which promised the greatest goals of all time, but was in fact a sort of history of the World Cup 1966-86.

The front cover story was "BB Preston dumped" not sure if that really is a front page story, regardless of how good Big Brother has been this year, but these tabloids have there own order and priorities. I will leave them to it from now on.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Plane Beauty

Taken somewhere over Finland, or the sea near Finland. Someone in the Guardian said that Air travel was unglamorous these days, that may be so, but you can't take photos like this from Earth.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

More Big Brother, yes, you know it makes sense

Excellent piece on Big Brother here: "I'm no Expert"

Along the same lines as my post about bullying in the house earlier on in the week, but a lot more incisive. And better written, and with more style and verve. And more cleverness than I could muster. Plus it has a very clever photoshop picture montage thing, yeah. Top dollar.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Sven-Göran Eriksson: Greedy and Stupid

Simon Barnes in The Times:

AT THE HEART OF EVERY con trick lies one important truth: you can’t con an innocent person. The sucker must be hooked by means of his own greed, by the deal that’s just slightly too good to be true, by the glorious heady feeling that he’s getting something for nothing.
And that is the core truth of the News of the World’s entrapment of Sven-Göran Eriksson. You can make whatever judgment you like of the newspaper’s tactics; the fact is, they wouldn’t have worked if Eriksson was not (a) greedy and (b) stupid. Without those two inextricably linked character flaws, the famous fake sheikh of tabloid journalism would have had nowhere to put the lever.

How very ouch, but how very true.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Big Brother, again: Liberal snobbishness

I was going to write something on the subject of the media and their disdain for Big Brother today. I'd already written a brief comment on this subject on Aaronovitch's blog. Further comment is now unnecessary as Nick Cohen has written pretty much what I was going to, but with more verve and less grammatical errors. My annoyance was that Galloway could spout things such as the Iraqi people not hating Saddam, Praise Saddam, endorse other dictators etc. That is acceptable, but God Forbid he go on a television show as tawdry as Big Brother. Anyway, here is the link to Cohens article in today's Observer:

'Galloway can no longer count on the indulgence of polite society'
"George Galloway and his backers in the Socialist Workers Party are finished now. The alliance they organised between the Trotskyist far left and the Islamic far right, which produced the most disgraceful protest movement since the Thirties, can no longer count on the indulgence of polite society.

Was it Galloway's support for every anti-American tyrant on the planet that did for him? Not at all. He could salute the 'courage, strength and indefatigability' of Saddam Hussein, Tariq Aziz and Bashar al-Assad with impunity. How about his apologetics for the 'martyrs' of al-Qaeda and the Baath Party who represent everything the liberal-left has been against since the Enlightenment? No, not at all, that was fine, too. Or perhaps his sickening attacks on 'quisling' Iraqi trade unionists when they were being murdered by those same al-Qaeda and Baathist terrorists?

Once again, polite society found no reason to take offence. Indeed, it cheered itself hoarse when Galloway dodged pertinent questions from US senators about how many starving Iraqi children had seen the profits from the option to buy 23 million barrels of oil Saddam gave his charity.

The liberal media have turned on Galloway because of a far more heinous crime: his appearance on Celebrity Big Brother."
"There is obviously an element of bourgeois snobbery about prole-TV at work here."
The snobbishness doesn't stop them analysing every aspect of it, and therefore watching it as much as everyone else though, does it?

"Still, aren't they weird? The liberals who think it is worse to appear on a TV show than in the court of a fascist tyrant"

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Galloway Cat video

Galloway is a firebrand cat, meow.

From, and created by The Daily Ablution

Friday, January 13, 2006

Big Brother 2: Galloway: The epitome of dignity

People of Bethnal & Bow, your member of parliament, George Galloway.

Interesting few days for gorgeous George. Recently for the science task he became Big brothers lab assistant, where he had to make sure the others in the house were following Big Brothers orders while he got to swan around in a white lab coat smoking a cigar like a pseudo Castro. Not that I'm suggesting he enjoyed leading the people and barking commands at, them such as imploring Faria "I had to sell my story" Alam to keep the spinach cart at her side at all times, please!, or that he was enjoying in any way playing dictator or Big Brothers lackey.

Big Brother took its title and concept from Orwell'’s book that attacked totalitarian states, the USSR being the obvious target. George has professed that the end of that Big Brother state in 1991 was "the biggest catastrophe of my life", well at least he's found another Big Brother to take its place, although this time a TV show. From the USSR to Channel 4. (Didn't rhyme did it? Oh well, close)

And now he's pretending to be a cat. One of the oddest moments in TV perhaps. Sticking his tongue out, the faces, the noises, it was just weird.

Big Brother: Bullying and hypocrisy

It's been quite uncomfortable viewing watching Jodie Marsh being bullied in the Big Brother house. Regardless of her faults as a person, it's been thoroughly unpleasant and at times bizarre, with the repellent Pete Burns and pathetic Michael Barrymore, of all people, criticising her and suggesting she listen to their advice. She has been unable to answer back, have an opinion (regardless how stupid) or talk, without being subject to more hostile abuse, and has the indignity of being labelled a "wicked" person by George Galloway, a man who it could be argued has often been a cheerleader for wicked leaders.

In today’s Guardian Germaine Greer stands up for Jodie; "Lay off poor Jodie, you big bullies"

The housemates have identified her as vulnerable and have piled on, baying and snapping like hyenas. Like the little ape, she is watchful, tearful, ingratiating, manipulative, outfoxed and outnumbered. Nothing she says or does can prevent the fangs tearing into her flesh.
The males, meanwhile, scream and chatter at her, unmindful that what is pouring from their mouths is vicious nonsense. She tries to defend herself, by uselessly reiterating her point of view. Even Michael Barrymore keeps telling her to shut up and listen to his mumbled drivel. The adult females behave exactly as simian females would: they leave her to the tender mercies of the males. The worst bully - so vain that he doesn't suspect how savagely he is being cut down to size by Big Brother - is George Galloway, who is actually blaming Jodie for the fact that Barrymore keeps collapsing in fits of blubbering. Anyone who can remember what a thoroughly supercilious and nasty performer Barrymore always was, must watch unmoved as he dissolves in snot and tears. For Galloway to blame Barrymore's pathetic condition on Jodie Marsh is outrageous.
And she has a pop at Pete Burns too, and echoes my sentiments:

Pete Burns, tottering about bent-kneed in his high heels, displaying his chimp arse through his semi-transparent tights, and demanding the right to spend an hour each day in one of only two toilets for 11 people, some of whom are now being forced to vomit repeatedly, is not like anyone I know. He is not even like himself. He is a hideous chimera, and he knows it. His hatred of Jodie stems from his recognition of a kindred spirit. But Jodie is only half as fake as he is, and nowhere near as badly scarred. One day soon Jodie will wash her face and get a life.

I hope she does, for her own sake.

I'd like to see "monkey suited" Pete Burns get the boot tonight, tosser. Galloway can stay in, to diminish further any "Respect" anyone had for him in the first place. Meow.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

David Aaronovitch Blog

The Blog

At last a blog from one of the sanest political journalists.

Not sure about the list of resources; Google, Multi Map, BBC News etc, not very useful considering the ubiquity of these sites, as good as they are. The second hand bookshop links look useful though, and just as websites for second hand book shops should look, odd HTML, second hand looking.

Linking to my site is useful as well don't you know? Good to have someone from a former Polytechnic on your blog roll.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Books I done read:2005

Copying Jah Jah Dub, I have decided to look back at all the many books (about 30) I have read over the year that was 2005. Though I doubt my reviews, overviews or whatever will be as well written or intelligent as I went to a former Poly, not Oxford. So will get going with this venture soon, the anticipation. I may look at albums and things on TV as well, yeah, keep the content flowing.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Pictures of my holiday to Finland. Bad food and expense aside, good place, especially for those melon collie types, there is no daylight really. Don't go in you have SAD. And please don't go there on your infantile package holidays in your matching ski suits (courtesy of the tour operator), whilst standing around doing nothing but from moan about the cold. What did you expect you dumbass Daily Mail readers? There was the worst of England on display, it has to be said.

Looks a bit like the front cover of "The wind up Bird Chronicle, don't you think? I never think.

Person on a plastic tray.

A slope that people go down on plastic things.

A Reindeer, they are partial to this animal in Finland.

Crap picture

The moon, I think.

A wig wam

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Tom Wolfe and the Bonfire of the exclamation mark

120 in the first 8 pages, yes i counted them all, and i would say only about 3 or 4 were neccessary, I couldn't cope with it, gave up after the first chapter. Shall i stick with it though? Got a good mind to cut out all the unneccessary ! marks and put them on a bonfire, bonfire of the exclamation mark. Maybe it's some clever Literary device that I dont understand. More is less, after 8 pages i never wanted to see another one again.


There all 120


Finished the big bastard off. It wasn't as great as I had been led to believe and the ending isn't satisfying, and seems out of keeping with what came before. If you read this kind of plot driven book you want a conclusive finish, where things are not left up in the air.

The quality of the writing isn't too great either, and the descriptions and similies arn't particulary brilliant. Wolfe is said to have got New York in the 80's and all it's characteristics spot on, that may be, but Amis does the dark underbelly of 80's London far better in "London Fields" even though they are stylistically Oceans apart.

For all the acclaim I finished the the last page sitting in a desolate Helsinki Airport on Xmas Eve thinking probably not worth the effort. I like sitting in empty Airports, it's a hobby.

Oh, and relentless exclamation marks. After a couple of chapters they no longer bothered me, I just blocked them out.

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