.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

...a sweatshop of moxie

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Birthday Poll

What Should Victoria Do on Her Birthday?
Relax. Stay Home. Read "The Truth About Hillary" and Laugh.
Go out with Friends & Family
Suggestion in Comments Section

Free polls from Pollhost.com
Vote on this Poll until Wednesday week.

Come on, just pretend it's 2 November 2004 all over again, and that your vote counts!

Saturday, July 30, 2005


When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

1 Corinthians 13:11

Like many Gen-X'ers -- of which I am a late edition --, I have trouble growing up, and that point was honed rather sharply to me on Thursday, when my mother handed me a button I had once bought, which she had just found stuck inside a drawer. The button pin had black lettering on a white background with the words...

I Refuse To Grow Up

...written on them.

We both laughed. We both understood, because it's a bit of an inside joke really.

There can be no other outcome for me, an only child, sent away to boarding school at age 8, with a traditional and cossetting family to mollycoddle me until I marry and leave my father's home, than for me to be a bit of an eternal child.

I am, after all, the product not only of my own personality, but of my upbringing. Some children rebel against their parents' strictures and reject the hothouse atmosphere of dependence.

But I embraced it.

So since Thursday, I've been in rather a nostalgic mood, as I approach a landmark birthday this coming month.

If I didn't wax nostalgic, I think I would be a little more apprehensive, a little more scared of what comes next.

Nostalgia is a defence mechanism. A defence mechanism for the unknown. For the future.

I have moved so many times, that sadly, I have few childhood photo albums left. They have been either lost, mildewed, or frayed by the unsentimental waywardness of time.

And maybe it is this unavailability of seeing myself grow up, in the constant photo-taking that seems to be the lot of every modern child, that makes me remember things even more acutely than might be the case.

Memories have to be forced to the surface, like a sailboat during bathtime, which won't stay down.

And these are the three memories that bubble to the surface today:

- I had a maternal great-grandfather, a rather taciturn but loving Austrian gentleman, who was a wizard with his hands.

He was one of those instinctively creative people you hear so much about, but never meet too often in this life. The kind of person who invents whole worlds out of nothingness, through the sheer power of their imagination. CS Lewis, AA Milne, JRR Tolkien and now JK Rowling.

People with enchantment in their hearts.

But this great-grandfather didn't spin tales, so much as fashion them with his hands. Maybe, like Ingmar Bergman's memories in Fanny och Alexander, he was remembering his own youth indirectly for me, as he adored creating magic lanterns, puppet theatres, and wood toys just for me.

The relics of a simpler world. A Victorian world.

He had a fully-kitted out carpenter's room in his cavernous Viennese home, where he would disappear for days as I waited outside, wondering what treat he would produce shyly in due time a few days later.

Then he would bade me to go to a special room, rather like a real theatre, probably used for family plays, tableaux vivants and the like, with a proper red curtain and heavy gold chairs strewn about.

The curtain rolled back, and there was my very own puppet theatre, not Punch and Judy so much as stringed puppets, marionettes, which I need not mention, he had made too.

Wooden they were but not this painted

And he would enact funny little plays, but always couching the stories along the lines I wanted to hear.

"What do you want to see today? Where do you want to go?"

And invariably, I wanted to go and "meet" historical characters, like Eleanor of Aquitaine, William the Conqueror, St. Louis, and especially, Henry V.

For instead of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brüdern Grimm, my great-grandmother, his wife, would read to me Shakespearean plays at night, just before bedtime. I think it is then that my twin loves of reading and writing were born. In fact, I'm sure of it.

He died when I was 7.

I wonder whatever happened to my puppet theatre. I like to think it survived the unsentimental waywardness of time.

- I am at Hamleys in Regent Street. I am around 5 or 6, and it's a Sunday, the only day I have my parents to myself.

My father works 16-hour days at hospital. When he arrives home, I am asleep. When I awake, he's gone. But Sunday is our day. Our family day.

Fifth floor, please

I enter holding my mother's hand, and we have a pact. Every weekend, I can buy one toy.

It can be any toy I want, but before I ask for it, I have to "convince" my parents to buy it by presenting an argument of why it's worthy to be bought.

I am roaming around each of the floors.

What shall I buy? Another Barbie? No. I already have 3. Three different "models", but that's all they had back then, and I have run out of arguments about buying a repeat Barbie.

I wander to the boys floor, quite unwittingly. And why not -- I love toy soldiers too.

But I pass the toy soldiers, as little boys stare at me for invading their turf. How sexist children are, on both sides.

And then I see it. It's a Howzat set.

I have always wanted to have one, and so I screw up the courage to ask for it, as I bring my father up to the sales counter, and the sales assistant leans over, puzzlingly. I squeeze my father's hand and point.

"Howzat? I used to play that for hours. Right. Why do you think you should have this toy?", he says, using our special weekend phrase.

I know immediately why I had always wanted it. "Because if I buy it, you will play with me more."

We leave Hamleys with my Howzat firmly in hand.

- Honey was an old bay mare who had taught generations of Hyde Park children to ride. It is a weekday, and I am having my riding lesson. I am around 10 years old, and it's summer.

Summers in London tended to be always drizzly in my memory, but that day was an ethereally sunny day. Somewhere beyond there are children, and I am sure I will have a go at playing pirates later on, near the swings.

"Pay attention! Ease gently with the reins. Bring in your hands. Easy!"

I don't recall the riding instructor's name, and I actually don't remember much about the riding lessons, save that I loved them. Children always love what they do well.

I am riding in a circle, trying to get a rhythm of the trot down. Trot. Trot. Trot. Gentle. Smooth. The horse receives its cue from your hands, it senses your nervousness or haughty command, and behaves accordingly.

When I get too dizzy or she goes too fast, I grab hold of her mane instinctively. Oh dear. She knows I'm scared of her and the speed of the trot now. I won't be able to control her, willing her to my commands again.

But I needn't have worried.

Honey is a forgiving horse. The best horses always are.

Rotten Row - midmorning

Those are my three memories of my childhood, the snaps I have retained in my memory in lieu of actual Polaroids.

But I am pensive now.

Could it be - maybe - maybe only the truly happy, have trouble leaving their childhoods behind?

When I was child, I was around adults, I thought as an adult, wanted to be an adult, but when I grew up, I wanted to remain a child forever.

UPDATE: Try this site if you want to play an online version of Owzthat. H/T: Kullrad.

Friday, July 29, 2005

When I'm Down - Part Three

I just have to look at this picture...

Where my Crystal at, bitch!

...and I'm a little less down.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Top 15 Brazilians of All Time

This topic started on a soccer forum where I asked Brazilian posters, would Pelé be the Top Brazilian of all time?

The impetus was a list of Top French, Germans, and Canadians as voted in recent television polls by the populace of said countries.

The results often have that overweeningly populist, Top of the Pops quality to them, but are fun nonetheless, don't you think? It's always interesting to see just how people rank saints, sinners, pols, molls, and nerds.

Below is my Brazil list, which neatly reunites two common sayings in Portuguese:

Lists are "coisa de Americano" and "Brasileiro não tem memória".

Well, that's as may be, but I'm neither American nor Brazilian. I am just anal, and love history -- so there.

Top 15 Brazilians of All Time

1- Edson Arantes do Nascimento dit Pelé
2- Dom Pedro II
3- Getúlio Vargas
4- Carlos Drummond de Andrade
5- Machado de Assis
6- Rui Barbosa
7- Heitor Villa-Lobos
8- Oscar Niemeyer
9- Carmen Miranda
10- Dr. Carlos Chagas
11- Visconde de Mauá
12- Juscelino Kubitschek
13- Antonio Carlos Jobim dit Tom Jobim
14- Alberto Santos-Dumont
15- Candido Portinari

Reason #1: The choice of Pelé as Top Brazilian of all time would seem like a no-brainer. In terms of sheer impact on the world stage by a Brazilian, no one can touch him. He IS the face and embodiment of most things Brazilian (elegant, talented, and black). Such was my surprise though, when I asked my dad, that Brazilianist par excellence, who furthermore worships the ground Pelé walks on, about putting Pelé so high. He was aghast. "Put him somewhere in the middle". 'Are you serious?', I thought. No way. Pelé is Number 1.

Reason #2: Because Brazil has a checkered past politically (not so much non-important, as problematic), you won't find lots of statesmen in many Top Brazilians lists. But Dom Pedro II, that singularly enlightened, cultured monarch of the 19th century, practically dragged Brazil into the modern-age himself -- when he wasn't travelling to World Fairs, that is. He founded the modern University and educational systems, he opened Brazil's huge continent-like landmass by building bridges, railroads, and general infrastructure, trying to industralise it, all the while begging the General Assembly to abolish slavery, which his daughter, Regent Princesa Isabel, finally did in 1888. Only in a country like Brazil, though, would their Abe Lincoln be asked to leave it.

Reason #3:
If you were to take Franklin D. Roosevelt, Juan Peron, and Henry Ford, mix them all up by cloning, you might just get a prototype for Getúlio Vargas. This was the quintessential Brazilian politician, bluff, enterprising, conniving, and a hyper-nationalist, that Brazilians of all political stripes recognise as extraordinary. His death by suicide has long been rumoured to have been an expedient murder by his rivals. To Brazilians he's known, simply, as Getúlio.

Reason #4: Brazil is known for three things -- its soccer, its coffee, and its culture, and if there is a Pelé of literature, it is Drummond de Andrade. This poet and man of letters captured the essential spark of what Brazil is, and what Brazilians feel. His "E agora, José?" and "No meio do caminho" are my personal favourites. It is a cultural crime that neither he nor #5, ever received the Nobel Prize, although he must've been short-listed many times...

Reason #5: You can call his book, Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas, the beginning of the Brazilian cultural experience -- the first non-derivative, post-colonial ushering of the Realism movement led in Europe by Flaubert, Zola, and Balzac. Check out his Don Casmurro and see if you can't hear every Brazilian artistic "voice" that followed, in it.

Reason #6: This jurist and diplomat was the first non-European to serve in the World Court at the Hague, being first appointed in 1899, later ruling on the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. Not only did he help to write one of the most long-lasting Brazilian Constitutions, but he also ran for President in 1910, 1914, albeit unsuccessfully. Some people are just too intelligent to make good politicians, you know.

Reason #7: This textured composer of Brazilian music belonged to School of Franz Liszt, Georges Enescu, or Jan Sibelius -- each of whom drew from their countries' folkloric traditions, often derided as peasantlike or too unrefined as compared to the more classical strains of music. Before Villa-Lobos, many Europeans didn't give Brazil much credit artistically. After his Bachianas Brasileiras, Brazil was a force in world culture -- that's how important he was.

Reason #8: Next to Frank Lloyd-Wright, the most original of 20th century architects, for his futurist vision of boundless possibilities. It's not often many architects get handed to them carte blanche to create an entire CITY out of nothing, but he (alongside Lúcio Costa) was. The result was "the city of the future", Brasília. Damn difficult to walk it, though, since I suppose he had bargained on jet-packs being the normal transport of the future.

Reason #9: Oh hush. Don't any Brazilian complain that this lady doesn't belong so high/at all in this list. Or that she was born in Portugal. As the Duke of Wellington once tartly observed about having been born in Ireland, "being born in a stable does not make someone a horse". Quite. Carmen Miranda put Brazil on the world map in the 20th century. Everyone who followed, owes her a tremendous debt of gratitude for giving it a winning, happy face at that.

Reason #10: I reckon when you have a disease named after you discovered it (Chagas Disease or American trypanosomiasis), you done good.

Reason #11: His buddy, Dom Pedro II, counted on him to (1) build Brazil's first railroad (2) lend the State money when it was a tad low on funds (3) be a diplomat, politician, industrialist, and general Brazilian factotum. If you could combine Andrew Carnegie, Count Sergei Witte and Thomas Alva Edison in one person, you could get a Visconde de Mauá.

Reason #12: JK ('zhotah kah'), as he is known in Brazil, ranks so high because he transformed Brazil from almost an entirely coastal country, into one which could finally tap into its enormous possibilities as a nation. What did he do? Well, he just pulled up stakes from Rio de Janeiro, and moved his country's capital to Brasília, is all. Happens every day. Tragically, he died in a car crash under questionable circumstances. If you're a Brazilian statesman, you'd better be prepared to be exiled, die mysteriously, or be laughed out of office. Sometimes all three.

Reason #13: This is Tom Jobim. This is Tom Jobim writing 'The Girl from Ipanema'. Any questions?

Reason #14: Okay, here's a fun exercise if you ever meet a Brazilian. Ask him or her, who invented the modern aeroplane? The answer you will get isn't Orville or indeed, Wilbur Wright, but Santos-Dumont. And they could have a point. See, the Wright Bros. used external assistance to take off from the ground at Kitty Hawk. Santos-Dumont took off by sheer force of the plane's engine, AND he did it in Paris, AND he was half-French. Case closed.

Reason #15: I like the sound of his name, plus he died of lead poisoning. Oh yeah, and Picasso said he was one of the greatest painters ever. 'Nuff said.

...whew, these then are my choices with reasons attached. Who knew there were so many important Mineiros out there.

Now, it's your turn. What is your Top 15, of any nation you want?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Hollywood Hypocrites

Do you hear that?

Listen closely -- it's the sound of the Hollywood establishment's jubilant reaction to the killer of Theo van Gogh, documentary filmmaker, being sentenced to life imprisonment.

The only problem with this, is that there hasn't been any reaction.

Not then, not now.

Not immediately after the killing. Not during the days following it. Not during the trial, or Tuesday after the verdict.

Not even during the small Oscars ceremony tribute remembering all of the international film community who passed away the year before.


Van Gogh, whose great-great uncle's paintings would spark a Cabbage Patch auction house free-for-all between Barbra Streisand and Steven Spielberg, was killed last 2 November by an extremist punk, sending shock waves of dismay and disgust throughout all of Europe's most liberal country.

Here's a parallel example for you.

Imagine Claude Renoir, grandson of the famed painter, and nephew of one of my favourite directors, Jean Renoir, -- whose psychedelic cinematography in Barbarella allowed Jane Fonda's career to take off --, had been killed by a person later revealed to be a right-wing nutjob.

Motive? Retaliation for Renoir's perceived anti-American views, which he attached on paper to the corpse with a knife, after slitting the throat.

What do you think would be the reaction of the most outspoken Hollywood stars?

How do you think this news would be received by, say, Susan Sarandon, fellow documentarist Michael Moore, Sean "Full Page Ad in the New York Times" Penn, even the self-same Jane Fonda? How about Tim Robbins, who wrote a sneering play about journalists serving alongside the US Military in Iraq, called "Embedded"?

My dears, we would never hear the last of it.

Not with that well-oiled media structure, poised to kick into high-gear whenever Hollywood beckons them with that 'come-hither-or-we'll-blackball-you' look.

There would be wall-to-wall coverage on E! Television, Extra, 60 Minutes, Charlie Rose, Larry King Live, the Daily Show, and Dominick Dunne would fly in for the trial and never miss a single day of testimony.

-- Afterwards, he would regale us with insider gossip about who wore what, and sat next to whom, in a dazzlingly bitchy Vanity Fair article, just so he can rub it in our faces that he cheek-kissed Catherine Deneuve three times, à la Parisienne. --

Because that's what happens whenever any cause celebre, dear to the heart of the Hollywood political apparatchiki, reaches their ears.

They rail against America, they excoriate any point of view not in line with their own, they use the media as their favourite bully pulpit -- cynically positioning themselves as "open", "caring" and "involved" in world affairs.

How false and odious that is.

In fact, to my bemused surprise, I found that there was one lone published Hollywood "power player" who protested the Van Gogh murder back in November 2004.

I did a double take when I read his name:

Pat Sajak.

"What! Pat Sajak, you say?! Like of Vanna White fame??".

Erm, yes, him.

(The British equivalent would be Bamber Gascoigne or Anne Robinson getting their hackles up about this matter, and frankly, a sedate Anne Robinson is already quite a scary thought)

His words in an essay about this fanatical murder describes the frustration regarding duplicitousness I, and countless others, feel about Hollywood's continued EN MASSE non-reaction -- whenever it suits them.

There’s another possibility; one that seems crazy on the surface, but does provide an explanation for the silence, and is also in keeping with the political climate in Hollywood. Is it just possible that there are those who are reluctant to criticize an act of terror because that might somehow align them with President Bush, who stubbornly clings to the notion that these are evil people who need to be defeated? Could the level of hatred for this President be so great that some people are against anything he is for, and for anything he is against?

As nutty as it sounds, how else can you explain such a muted reaction to an act that so directly impacts creative people everywhere? Can you conceive of a filmmaker being assassinated because of any other subject matter without seeing a resulting explosion of reaction from his fellow artists in America and around the world?

No. I can't.

Suggested Followup Reading

AWOL Artistes
Van Gogh Killer Sentenced -- Updated
Theo Van Gogh Entry -- Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Phone for the fish wives, Norman!

(Blimey. Plaidgate has been Wiki'ed. Snopes.com will go out of business at this rate!)

I was intrigued to read that our old British bugbear, class, has raised its ugly head again, as people wonder if certain politicians can be, "Too Posh To Win?".

That was the question posed by the readers of the Political Betting site, and picked up by a few bloggers on Monday.

Since the actual topic of which man would be the more "backable" candidate for the Tory leadership is of narrow interest to me on this blog, I am going to give it an American twist, and a topical one at that.

During the mad rush to get information on the current nominee to the US Supreme Court, Judge John G. Roberts, Jr., many people were in a tizzy of excitement that he had attended an all-male boarding school as a lad called, La Lumiere School.

John Roberts at La Lumiere School, circa 1972. Is this the wardrobe of a gay guy? You're damn right it is

The actual reasons as to why certain people were excited, have some fuzzy logic attached about his possible sexuality -- the inference being that a man who was surrounded by all boys in his formative sexual years, grappling with them during Graeco-Roman bouts in the school gym, or participating in school plays called "Peppermint Patty", can only be guessed at.

This is all the more amusing when you consider that gung-ho Neo-Con hawkmeister Donald Rumsfeld was good enough for the US Olympic team in Graeco-Roman wrestling, or that several Kennedy males went through Harvard club initiation rites which featured having to dress as women.

In fact, a favourite Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. photo of mine was of this brawny, brawling Irish-American man shown with peeping chest hair in his ample cleavage, powdering his pouting face, as he applied lipstick in full drag, off to a merry Hasty Pudding soirée.

Damn if I can't find that photo online, though.

One wonders if that wonderfully courageous, but misguided Naval air mission that took his life had not gotten him first, that if this photo would've precluded him from running as President later in life?

And the answer is no, obviously not.

Just ask Rudy Giuliani, future Republican Party nominee for President in 2008.

I don't know about you, but I think it's high time Americans had a bewigged panto dame as President.

(And no, Thomas Jefferson doesn't count -- boom tish!)

So what could be the reason for this hormonal interest in poor Dudley Do-Right's orientation? Could it be because he's a Republican?

Well, no, as I have just shown with Rudy G.

And obviously, everyone is aware that George W. Bush attended toney Phillips Andover academy, then all-male too, where he majored in horseplay and minored in keg parties...as Pep Squad cheerleader.

Let's not forget that he married über-tardy, after mutual friends of his and Laura hooked both these two thirtysomethings up, since they were the "last two unmarried people" in their social circle.

But you don't hear gay patriots claiming him as secretly one of their own, now do you? No.

In fact, his opposing factor in the November 2004 elections, Senator John Foster Kerry, attended a few all-male prep schools, including one in Switzerland.

I mean, it doesn't get more metrosexual than that, right? Right.

Here is a rundown of the last US Presidents and where they studied

  • Bush 43 [R] - Phillips Andover, all-male boarding school
  • Clinton [D] - Hot Springs High School, co-ed but very active in Boys Nation
  • Bush 41 [R] - Phillips Andover, all-male boarding school
  • Reagan [R] - Dixon High School, co-ed public school
  • Carter [D] - Plains High School, co-ed public school but attended then all-male US Naval Academy at Annapolis
  • Ford [R] - South High School, co-ed public school
  • Nixon [R] - Fullerton High School and Whittier High School, co-ed public high schools
  • Johnson [D] - Johnson City High School, co-ed public high school
  • Kennedy [D] - Choate Academy, all-male boarding school
  • Eisenhower [R] - Abilene High School, co-ed public school, but attended then all-male US Military Academy at West Point
  • Truman [D] - Independence High School, public school, status unknown in 1901
  • Roosevelt [D] - Choate Academy, all-male boarding school

  • That's 4 out of the last 12 US Presidents with all-male boarding school educations -- 2 Democrats, and 2 Republicans.

    It's fairly certain that each of these future Commanders-in-Chief showered in the vicinity of naked, nubile boys, grappled with them during football drills, gave each other the ole wet towel treatment just before bedtime.

    So you're telling me that none of these future Presidents played Hide the Salami in one of their classmates' lockboxes?

    Choate, before it went co-ed as Choate-Rosemary, was even infamous in its day for the rather cryptic saying, "If you can't get a girl, get a Choatie".


    But, I thought to myself as I listed these educational backgrounds for each President, could it be that Americans are a little unused to a more elite schooling background, and lack of familiarity is breeding speculation? Is it a question of class, and not sexuality, which throws these gossipmongers for a loop?

    But here's another wrinkle -- what if it's John Roberts' undoubted middle-classness which makes him more accessible for these half-winks than the crown princes of politics like Bush père et fils, Kennedy or Roosevelt?

    I mean, what do most Americans know from Choate or Andover? They're as unfathomable and alien as Arianna Huffington.

    Actually, it might just have to do with Judge Roberts himself.

    He's very vanilla, easy-does-it, with his altar boy good looks, and too tasteful pastel family. And frankly, people are bored in summer.

    We need to stir things up, because you can only amuse yourself looking at Giuliani as Dame Edna Everage so long.

    But I bet you a fair bit of brass, that if he had attended a red-blooded, co-ed public school rather than the prissy-sounding, La Lumiere School (a name more swallowable as Kerry's Swiss school, than one in freaking INDIANA), we might just still be blogging about how Karl Rove sent Matt Cooper mind-control rays.

    In closing, here is the opening stanza of John Betjeman's famed "Non-U" mocking poem called, How to Get On in Society:

    Phone for the fish knives, Norman
    As cook is a little unnerved;
    You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes
    And I must have things daintily served.

    That's just it, you see.

    John Roberts is a dish too dainty to serve up, but just thank Christ he isn't British and doesn't sound posh, or else the blog comadres would plotz.

    Voluntary Disclosure: The authoress of this blog is a graduate of an all-female boarding school, in England yet, who slept and showered with 35 other girls, and furthermore, she played Romeo in the school play, Romeo & Juliet. Her parents are very proud.

    Monday, July 25, 2005

    When is Our Protest March, London?

    (Welcome Tim Worstall and Clive Davis readers!)

    5,000 courageous and sickened Egyptians and foreigners marched to protest the recent terrorist attacks in the posh resort of Sharm-el-Sheik on Saturday.

    A lady protester chimed in to say, "terrorists have no eyes, who kill innocent civilians everywhere."


    Exactly like the awful Madrid underground bombings of March 11th, this protest march took place the very next day. The very next day, mind you.

    So London, where is our protest march against terrorism in our country?

    Where are the thousands and thousands of protesters who marched against the Iraq War now? Why is it that in the land which spawned Speaker's Corner and the Oxford Union, we had a 2 minute silence, and...that's it? Silence. How telling.

    (Oh, that's right, the Queen went to visit the injured in hospital. Oh well done!)

    Please don't tell me it's not our style. Please don't tell me we're too phlegmatic, and it's business as usual for us. We survived the Blitz, the spirit of Dunkirk, stiff upper-lip, yadda yadda blather.

    This photo below is of the towering Prince of Asturias leading the march, front and centre, alongisde his then Prime Minister and his eldest sister, Infanta Doña Elena.

    Remember it?

    His statement is a bold one, because try as I might, I could never imagine my future king, the Prince of Wales, in a similar show of concern and solidarity for his country. The Palace would probably say it's not correct for royalty to be so partisan and vocal. Someone alert the Royal Institute of British Architects!

    It is more important for the Royal Family to be apolitical, than to ever embroil themselves in public marches against the slaughter of their own subjects. This is why King Juan Carlos and his family are relevant, respected and deeply bound to their country, and our Royal Family are a bunch of sad wet irrelevant noodles.

    And therein lies our true national tragedy.

    It is more important to keep up appearances and stay "above things" than to draw a line across the sand against terrorism.

    The question is begged -- who are we afraid we will insult? Terrorists?

    Is this why the BBC refused to call the 7/7 cell members "terrorists" and instead insisted on using "bombers" only?


    Shame, shame on a conquered nation.

    Sunday, July 24, 2005

    Some Handy Tips for Brazilians

    If you're in a country illegally, try not to do these all at once when said country is in the grip of terrorist attacks the day before:

  • Don't wear a long, woolly coat in the height of summer

  • Don't run out of your council flat in a panic -- it may be under surveillance

  • Try to learn the word "stop!" even after 3 years of living in London

  • Realise there's no "immigration police" that will nab you or ask you for "legal" papers

  • Don't jump the turnstiles in the Tube because that's theft and a crime

  • When you're being chased by 20 police officers, obey their commands

    1. This way you may escape being shot to death in a notorious manhunt for escaped terrorists which even someone who doesn't speak English, can realise is happening.

      Of course, the monumentally simple action of just "try not to be in a country illegally" is not possible for some.

      Merda happens. RIP.

      Saturday, July 23, 2005

      In the Beginning, there was The World

      As everyone knows, we in South Florida are going through a real estate bubble, perhaps unmatched in American history for ridiculously hyper-inflated prices for middle-class homes.

      Even so, sometimes whenever I hear the pricetags for residences around me, I gasp in disbelief.

      I just came from a having my favourite espresso tipple around the corner from where I live, where new condos spring up so fast, you have to re-programme your GPS system to compensate for new cul-de-sacs, and valet parking grids.

      Next to me, were two sets of couples, one young and one old.

      Their conversation, loud enough to pierce the muggy night air, soon revealed the younger set were newlyweds, and the older, estate agents, going through a portfolio of what I presume were sites they had visited earlier in the day.

      Once in a while, you could hear condo building names, some of whom are infamous before they're even opened. "Murano", "Portofino", "Grand Bay", "Bellagio".

      There's even a 24-hour cable channel available only to South Beach residents, which is all real estate, all the time -- except at night when it briefly becomes Nightlife TV.

      As I sipped the caffè latte, I heard the deal close. They had settled on the Portofino. I think I heard "3.2 mill".

      3.2 million dollars. US.

      For probably just a 3/2 and a half facing the ocean! Madness. You can buy a ski châlet in Vicenza, Italy for under 1 million dollars, for pity's sake.

      I know where my money would go, should I ever receive my inheritance. And it wouldn't be on a nouveau riche set of flats in some beach town. Not even in the real Portofino.

      Or would it?

      That's when I remembered that I had heard of a real estate project so fantastic, as to evoke visions of utopias, leviathans and cities of God in my mind.

      It seems the world is not enough for some -- they want to duplicate it, and sell it to the highest bidder.

      The Crown Prince of Dubai, General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, is not content just being UAE Minister of Defence. Oh no.

      He also moonlights as a real estate developer, and his firm, Al Nakheel Properties, is developing an archipelago of 223 artificial islands made in the shape of...The World.


      • Island Capacity - 223, but could go to 300
        • Distance from Capital - 4 km from Port Rashid
          • Island Sizes - 23 226m² to 83 613m² each
            • Estimated Price - 25 million U$ each
      The only mode of transport will be via boat or helicopter, and those aren't included, so you Tube-taking yobbos are not even in it, so don't even send away for a brochure... and that's a shame, because I really wanted a brochure too. If I can't have Britain, nobody will!

      This of course, brings us to another ticklish topic.

      Right, put away your philosophical questions as to what kind of person would actually be so bold as to buy, say, France. Other than Saddam Hussein, I mean.

      Psychologically, you are being given the chance, for mere money, of buying a slice of the world, and calling it your own.

      This is the spiritual homeland of every frustrated RISK player, ever.

      ...where the weather is always a balmy 39C; where Antarctica has no snow and the penguins frolic in sand; and where landlocked Switzerland can languish with the relaxed airs of a Caribbean getaway.

      Don't like the US government? Buy New York and start over! Be your own George Washington, or if you're more of the Emma Goldman type, do away with government altogether! Kick the Queen out! And the corgis!

      No laws, no rules, no visas, no quotas, no nitchevo nietsky.

      So why is it that I can only envisage this kind of real estate project as coming from a Middle Eastern mind?

      Or do you think that the Japanese never had the money and werewithal to do something so derivative and hokey -- they of that museum which proposed to have copies of all the Western World's artistic masterpieces, so they didn't have to traipse to Paris every time they wanted to see the fugly features of Mona Lisa? They, themselves, an island nation?

      Come on.

      Of course this comes from the Middle East, where they have new money, and lots of problems, and this is the utlimate utopia scenario. Just start over, in the quintessential deus ex machina move.

      In case you are antsy already to visit the islands, they won't be completed until 2008, although the project is very much on schedule.

      In fact, the islands are already being purchased, but just in case you were salivating for Australia, forget it, mate. It's sold.

      See, I heard "Australia" had the best views of Dubai's harbour, and if you cast a gander at the .jpg above, well, you can see another interesting psychological scenario being played out, can't you?

      The equator separates the world between the ones who are more haves, than have nots, but to get the best views of Dubai, the only God-made landmass around, being in North America, or Europe isn't a plus.

      It's very much a minus.

      It IS the World. On its head.

      Friday, July 22, 2005

      Doris and Don and Andrea

      In searching for a video clip of the now infamous Andrea Mitchell incident in Darfur, where President al-Bashir's security guards manhandled the NBC senior diplomatic correspondent (and wife of Fed boss, Alan Greenspan), I came away empty-handed, albeit I will keep trying to find a standalone clip Friday.

      I'm not the biggest fan of Andrea Mitchell, but darn it, keep your paws off of her, you corrupt genocidal mooks!

      That goes double, if not triple, for Condi.

      But fortunately, my readers need not be frustrated as well, as I have found another giggle-inducing viddie clip -- this time of Doris Kearns Goodwin on the Don Imus show early Thursday.

      Far from someone behaving badly towards her, it was the noted FDR/JFK/LBJ historian and accused plagiariser, who walked all over the shock jock and his audience...for a change.

      Copy-Paste this unto your WMP or this unto your Quicktime viewers.

      It's not often you hear Don Imus taken aback, but Doris' 7 AM Goldwater "c-bomb" did it.

      The MSNBC bleep technician never stood a chance.

      Thursday, July 21, 2005

      Kopy Kats

      H/T: http://www.werenotafraid.com/Since 9/11, the attempts at terror by Al-Qaeda in the West have gone from Hollywoodesque to Ealing Studios.

      I think it's because when you don't have the main gang handling the job, you're going to get Richard Reids trying to (unsuccessfully) get a hot foot.

      A chum of mine wondered a fortnight ago, tongue-in-sheik, "I can imagine the statues in the totalitarian Islamic society now", and I fashioned today what these awards would look like.

      9/11 Saddam-like crossed swords over the M1 in Afghanistan
      4/11 A tasteful mural of Aznar's buttplugs
      7/7 Coat-of-Arms with lions rampant over a No. 30 bus
      7/21 "100% Attendance in Terrorist Camp" Award

      When I was growing up in London, we were always told not to touch unattended bags in the Tube. But they never told us to keep an eye out for incompetent terrorists.

      Londoners will survive.

      Wednesday, July 20, 2005

      Sidebar Updated

      Slowly getting back into my blogging groove. Check out the Night Table and Cinémathèque sections and pray I get stuck inside with a cold for a week, again.

      UPDATE: Hmm. I have a new image host service, since FreePhotoServer.com went kaputt. But I notice sometimes when I refresh the thumbnails, I get the dread "x". Just keep refreshing.


      Advertise on blogs
      British Expat Blog Directory.