What You Can Get Away With
'Do not adjust your mind. It is reality that is malfunctioning.'
Thoughts and links on life, politics, books, music, cricket and all the rest.

April 1, 2003  

I've found an interesting site about Scottish politics. It's clearly run by an SNP supporter, which most of the comment and opinion makes clear, but there's an interesting collation of Scottish opinion poll data, including this page which gives details of polls for the Scottish Parliament elections coming up next month, with polls going back to the last Scottish election in May 1999.

The interesting part comes in the recent polling data that shows a very interesting trend of support for both the Scottish Socialist Party and Scottish Green Party growing (mostly at the expense of Labour and the Conservatives - the Scottish Nationalists seem to be holding about the same amount and there's a slight increase in the Liberal Democrat vote). But, if the election comes out close to this (though what effects the war might have on voting haven't yet been seen in any polls) there would be the prospect of a wholly new 'rainbow' coalition for Scotland's government - SNP, Lib Dem, SSP and Green MSPs combined makes for an overall majority in the Parliament. That's going to make for some interesting politics. However, I'm not sure how likely it is as many Scottish Liberal Democrats are more (small 'c') conservative than the rest of the party and the thought of going into a coalition with the SNP and SSP might not appeal to them. However, that might be outweighed by the prospect of putting Labour out of power in Scotland.

Nick got away with this at 4:49 AM | link |

Invest in people

After just a couple of days of playing Blogshares, I've already managed to double my 'money' and now have a net 'worth' of over $1000. Mostly, that's because I spotted that The Agonist was going cheap, and have made a quite nice profit on it. However, I'd like to thank Green Fairy and Ryan for believing in the potential of What You Can Get Away With and investing in me.

And, for those of you playing the game, my hot stock recommendation is The Rittenhouse Review. Firstly, it's undervalued on the market, and secondly, it's one that could be picking up a lot of links in the coming moves. Jim Cappozola, who writes Rittenhouse is being touted by several bloggers as a potential candidate for the United States Senate next year. If he decides to go for it, then he'll get a lot of attention, which will mean a lot more links and a giant boost in the 'market'. And, even if he doesn't, it's got some of the best writing on a blog, and is likely to pick up more links anyway.

You know, if this was for real money, I could make a living as a financial adviser. (Full disclosure: Yes, I've followed my own advice and bought some shares for myself)

Nick got away with this at 2:51 AM | link |

Some more on groupthink

I've had a couple of comments on the post I made about groupthink yesterday, that have sparked off a couple more thoughts. (Thanks to Anthony and Harry for their remarks). I certainly think I need to get hold of a copy of Janis' original book and learn some more about the subject.

In response to Harry's post, and I said this in the comments there, if there is groupthink then I may have actually listed quotes illustrating two separate (but linked) instances - one in the Bush administration and one within the British Cabinet. Blair is a link between the two groups, and they're coming to similar conclusions (in fact, as I write this, I'm considering the notion that that the Cabinet is acting as a kind of subordinate group that's using the process to come to the same conclusions as the 'superior' group - again, more reading necessary)

Anthony's comment (and he's obviously read Janis, or does a very good impression of someone who has) does mention that Janis states that groupthink doesn't inherently lead to bad decisions (and of course, the converse that bad decisions are not necessarily an indication that groupthink is occuring). Yes, it's a bad process for making decisions, but bad processes can still come out with good decisions. Obviously, though, I'm in the group that thinks they're making bad decisions. Anthony does go on to question whether it's the nature of the US Presidency to encourage groupthink, given Janis' analysis of the Bay of Pigs and the hostage rescue crisis, or if it's just because he is/was American that prompts him to use American examples. I'd think it's more likely the second reason, but added to that the fact that Janis was probably writing for an American audience so wanted examples that were easily understandable to his audience. For instance, the actions of the British and French governments during Suez could be examples, and I wouldn't be surprised to find many instances in the history of the Soviet Union, especially during the Stalin era.

Anthony has also provided a good fictional example of groupthink, in his 'Gordon Banks' timeline for soc.history.what-if. It's in Part 20, but to really understand it you'll have to read the whole thing. Which you should have done already, after my previous plugs for it.

Nick got away with this at 12:24 AM | link |

March 31, 2003  

Not got any plans for the weekend?

The Virtual Stoa has discovered the excellent London Riot Re-enactment Society. It looks a hell of a lot more fun than the Sealed Knot.

Nick got away with this at 10:18 PM | link |

Forgetting your own fallibility

"The enemy we're fighting is a bit different than the one we war-gamed against."

That quote by Lt Gen William Wallace has been featured in most of the 'that was the week of war that was' round ups in the papers this weekend. However, as this article makes clear, that has a lot to do with the fact that the war games didn't actually allow the 'enemy' to fight like that, and when they tried to they were told that they were breaking the rules. The Army Times article it references is quite interesting as well.

This connects to another issue that I've seen mentioned a few times recently - the phenomenon of groupthink. While it sounds like a concept from Nineteen Eighty-Four, it's actually a concept from psychology referring to situations where 'do not consider all alternatives and they desire unanimity at the expense of quality decisions'. Now, I'm not a psychologist, but do any of these symptoms of groupthink (in bold) remind you of certain people's actions?

Having an illusion of invulnerability

Richard Perle: "Because it was basically over before anybody touched Iraqi soil, as a result of the air campaign. And our abilities today are by orders of magnitude better than they were then. We were primitive in 1991 by comparison to what we can do today." (interview with Josh Marshall)

Rationalizing poor decisions

An article in The New Yorker magazine also claims that Rumsfeld rejected advice that more troops would be needed to fight a war in Iraq. The magazine says Rumsfeld insisted at least six times that the proposed number of ground troops be reduced.

Rumsfeld denied those charges and defended the war plan, which he said was developed not by him, but by Gen. Tommy Franks. "It's a good one and it's working. I think the people who are talking about it really are people who haven't seen it." (CBS News)

Believing in the group's morality

George Bush: "In all these days of promise and days of reckoning, we can be confident. In a whirlwind of change and hope and peril, our faith is sure, our resolve is firm, and our union is strong." (State of the Union address)

Sharing stereotypes which guide the decision

Kenneth Adelman, Defense Policy Board member and personal friend of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, has repeatedly declared that the coming war will be a "cakewalk." Richard Perle, Defense Policy Board Chairman, expresses no less confidence as he promises that Iraq will serve as the bridgehead for democracy across the Middle East. Curiously, the need for a war is so urgent because Iraq poses such an enormous threat, while at the same time the risks posed by going to war are so few because the Iraqi military is so weak. (from The War In Context)

Exercising direct pressure on others

As a Nato member, (Turkey) has been under intense pressure from Washington to allow US troops to use its bases as a platform to attack Iraq. (from BBC News)

Not expressing your true feelings

Claire Short: "I have decided to support the government in the vote today. Given my remarks last week, I believe I should explain my reasons. I know I will be heavily criticised for my decision and many people will feel I have let them down. (quote from BBC News)

Maintaining an illusion of unanimity

George Bush: "Every nation in this coalition has chosen to bear the duty and share the honour of serving in our common defence." (TV speech announcing the start of the war)

Using mindguards to protect the group from negative information

David Blunkett: "We have to back our troops....we have to back those who are in conflict in bringing down Saddam Hussein and we have to ask everyone to answer the question: 'who do you wish to win?'" (comments on Robin Cook, Breakfast With Frost)

And I found all those quotes in about half an hour of lazy searching with BBC News and Google. There's going to be a lot of source material for a psychological historian sometime down the line.

Nick got away with this at 12:03 AM | link |

March 30, 2003  

Gwyneth Jones has written an interesting piece about being on the first (February 15th) anti-war demo in London. It's a great representation of the various thoughts that pass through your head while shuffling for several hours through London - though she got to hear some of the speeches, so she must have been well ahead of us.

Nick got away with this at 10:54 PM | link |

Like Celebdaq meets Daypop

Another way to waste your time in a vaguely blog-related way: Blogshares. Yes, where you can buy and sell 'shares' in all your favourite blogs and then watch as your investments go up and down depending on how popular you are. This blog has a current value of $72.48 which is about $72 more than I thought it would be worth. Anyone can play and get a virtual $500 to speculate with and I'm just wondering - given that there's an online market for game-related Everquest stuff (I use the technical term 'stuff' because I have no idea what it is), how long before people really are selling links from their blogs?

Nick got away with this at 5:30 AM | link |

You never know, it might work...

If anyone reading this happens to fall into one of these categories:

1. Members of the Swedish Academy and of other academies, institutions and societies which are similar to it in construction and purpose;
2. Professors of literature and of linguistics at universities and university colleges;
3. Previous Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature;
4. Presidents of those societies of authors that are representative of the literary production in their respective countries.

Would you mind nominating Kurt Vonnegut for the Nobel Prize for Literature?

Nick got away with this at 3:53 AM | link |

March 29, 2003  

You see? I do get some things right!

A while ago, I wrote about the 'Nigerian' 419 scam in a couple of entries and said: 'I can certainly envision an Iraqi variant offering the recipient to share in Saddam Hussein's millions in the aftermath of any war in the Gulf.' It's not exactly what I predicted, but Chris Brooke has received what may be the first Iraq war-related version of it.

Nick got away with this at 10:51 PM | link |

Wasn't he meant to be quiet on the backbenches?

Robin Cook has called for British troops to be called back from Iraq. It's an article for the Sunday Mirror, apparently, but their website is still carrying last week's stories - I'll update when/if the article is available online.

Update: The full article is available here. I particularly like the line: Personally I would like to volunteer Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz to be "embedded" alongside the journalists with the forward units.

Nick got away with this at 10:37 PM | link |

Thoughts inspired by an Adventuress

Finally, I've finished reading Lawrence Miles' The Adventuress of Henrietta Street which I started a couple of weeks ago. No, it's not a slog to get through, just that I haven't had time to do much fictional reading recently, so after starting it, it sat around in a bag for a couple of weeks and then I finally got around to reading it yesterday and today while lazing around doing nothing much in particular. Anyway, it's prompted me off into a few thoughts on SF TV and where it's all going wrong. Even as I write those words, I'm aware that I'm straying into the territory that leads to either becoming Comic Book Guy or joining the Eltingville Club...

Quick capsule review: Excellent, and I really wish he'd try writing something other than Doctor Who (and now Faction Paradox) stuff. Not that there's anything wrong with them, just that it's a shame that a writer of his talent is only publishing stuff that's going to get a few thousand readers maximum. Or has he forced into doing it by some nefarious quota system that limits the number of active British SF writers whose surnames begin with M? Ken Macleod, China Mieville, Michael Marshall Smith (unless he avoids the quotas by being an S) - I could be on to something here. Or just on something. Your choice.

Or, what would be fun (and thus has almost no chance of happening) would be for the BBC to hire Miles as the main writer should they ever decide to bring Doctor Who back to TV. In this interview, he makes some interesting points about why the BBC will mess up any revival they try to bring about and in my opinion, it's a pretty accurate analysis. However, I'd add to it by saying that the BBC doesn't really know what it wants to do with Doctor Who, besides just treating it as a useful cash cow for BBC Worldwide. As long as it keeps selling books and videos, they're not inclined to tamper with it and are quite happy to let it trundle along for the next however many years until the remaining fan base is either completely saturated or dies off when it'll just disappear into obscurity.

Yes, they did attempt the Paul McGann revival in the 90s (though that was principally an American work) and I guess we ought to be glad they did that rather than go for one of the ideas described here. However, despite the atrociousness of those ideas, I believe that if they're ever going to bring it back, it needs to be a complete restart, wiping the slate clean of all that has gone before. Why? Because it'll piss off the fanboys (and girls).

One of the curses of the internet is that it's allowed people who would otherwise have done nothing much with their lives to set themselves up as little gods of a particular field. One of those areas has been what's known as 'fandom', where people with no real creative ability can set themselves up as 'continuity experts' - monitoring every episode of a particular TV series and then writing long detailed Usenet posts about how Character X's actions in an episode contradict some minor line of dialogue from four years ago and thus the writer of that episode is a talentless hack who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near �their� series again. In short, the problem has become that fans now see themselves as the 'owners' of a series, rather than just the consumers. All very noble and democratic of course, but great art is never made by a committee, and the problem comes when the writers and producers start listening to 'the fans' and giving them what they want, which leads to every little bit of mystery being explained, every continuity 'error' being rectified and a series that eventually disappears up its own backside. Or, you just get Enterprise which starts up there and just keeps digging further in.

The problem stems from the fact that 'the fans' are only a small number of the people who actually watch the show. Even if there are 10,000 of them, that's still less than 1% of the several million people who watch the show and that 99% plus don't really care about continuity. Yes, they care about the 'big picture' continuity and would get pretty annoyed (or more likely, would just stop watching) if, say, Buffy started defeating vampires by using interpretive dance rather than wooden stakes, but they don't care about the little things the 'fans' get obsessed with because they don't recall it, and if they do, they don't care, because it's just a story.

Which brings me back to Doctor Who revivals - what the 'fans' forget, and Lawrence Miles seems to understand, is that outside of their little group, no one can remember the details of individual stories and plotlines. The reason any Who revival needs to go back to square one (I'd say Year One, but dates are always relative when you're talking about Time Lords) is because if it tries to carry on from where it left off, it's instantly saddling itself with forty years of continuity that no one outside of a small group knows or cares about. Various parts of Doctor Who have become iconic parts of modern British culture - people remember the Doctor, the TARDIS, the Daleks and a smattering of other enemies and companions (the exact details depend on their age, of course) but they don't remember much beyond that. More to the point, they don't remember or care that such-and-such an episode revealed an important fact about Time Lords or the internal politics of the Daleks, and if they're expected to remember that to watch and enjoy a new series they won't bother and will just turn to Footballer's Wives instead.

Iconic characters don't need to stay in a fixed continuity. Consider Superman as an example - the Christopher Reeve films are not continuations of the 50s TV series, Lois and Clark doesn't pick up the story from the end of the film and Smallville is yet another take on the same character. If audiences as a whole cared about continuity, then they wouldn't watch any of the 'new' series, as it conflicts with the 'original' story, yet people still watch them which shows that as long as the basic character of Superman/Clark Kent stays the same, the continuity isn't important.

So, it's time for the BBC to tell the fanboys to go away, give the keys of the universe to Lawrence Miles, tell him to start it all over from scratch and then sit back and enjoy the show.

And if, after this long post, you want something fun and related to read, this rather long interview with Lawrence Miles has some very good (and potentially libellous) stuff.

Nick got away with this at 2:03 AM | link |

Random late-night webspotting

This week's b3ta challenge is to come up with images of what Britain would be like under Nazi rule. Not something you'd expect to be a great source of humour, but they manage it. Richard Littlejohn's column under the Nazis is particularly amusing.

By the way, am I the last person to discover that b3ta is actually pronounced 'beta'?

Nick got away with this at 1:14 AM | link |

Turn on, tune in, geek out

Well, thanks to the lovely RSSify utility at Voidstar.com, I've now got myself an RSS feed for this blog. It's that lovely XML button in the 'me' section of the links to the right.

OK, now can someone tell me what I can do with it now I've got one - I've registered for the UK Blogs Aggregator - but what else? Still, it's inspired me to put titles on my posts.

Nick got away with this at 12:55 AM | link |

March 28, 2003  

Hart on the left - and on the web

A couple of weeks ago, Tom Watson may have become the first British MP with a blog (unless Edward Davey got there first) and now, on the other side of the Atlantic, they've got the first potential Presidential candidate with one - Gary Hart. Yes, that Gary Hart, the one who could have been the Democrats' candidate in 1988 except for a weekend on a boat called Monkey Business. (More info on him here) And, just to prove he's serious about being a blog of the left, he's got the obligatory link to Atrios' Eschaton.

Nick got away with this at 10:37 PM | link |

You know, I'm starting to wonder if we've all crossed over into a parallel universe that's been written by the staff of The Onion. Or maybe just Onion rejects, as I'm not laughing that much. As an example, how about this?

Summary: Dixie Chicks requested to apologize for unpatriotic comments and perform free concert for the military of this state

Even after Strom Thurmond retires, South Carolina continues to amaze the world.

Nick got away with this at 6:14 PM | link |

March 27, 2003  

via Hesiod: Thousands of people in Toronto advised to quarantine themselves to prevent an outbreak of SARS. "This is an incident of unprecedented scope and magnitude."

If anyone is starting to have dreams about a dark man and an old woman, feel free not to tell me. Or, "Men come and go, but earth abides."

But on the lighter side, there's a rather nice discussion about the best way to make tea on Dustbinman. Good to see that the important issues aren't being forgotten.

Nick got away with this at 12:23 PM | link |

As you all know, I'm against the war, but the Stop The War Coalition look like they're about to start seriously annoying me. Harry pointed me to this page, which includes the following about upcoming demonstrations:

This Saturday we are asking local coalitions to organise demonstrations focusing where possible on pro war MPs... In Brixton they are targeting Kate Hoey.

Maybe she's changed her mind in the past week, but according to Hansard, Kate Hoey voted against the war.

And then there's:

In Manchester and London, demonstrations will be targeting the BBC.

Excuse me for a moment - IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT'S SANE, WHY? WHY? WHY? - thankyou. What the hell does a demonstration against the BBC hope to achieve, and aren't there slightly more important things to be demonstrating about at the moment? Like the war itself, just to pluck an example at random. Has STWC been infiltrated by pro-war activists trying to make it look stupid? Either that, or someone's completely taken leave of their senses.

Related: this excellent piece by British Spin on media 'bias'.

Nick got away with this at 11:53 AM | link |

March 26, 2003  

This is one of the signs of the Apocalypse, I think - David Baddiel actually told a funny and relevant joke on Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned: 'What if we actually capture Saddam Hussein and he claims to be one of his lookalikes?'

Nick got away with this at 10:56 PM | link |

Via Hesiod, here's an interesting interview with Muammar Qaddafi from Le Figaro last week. Qaddafi might not be the most reliable source, but the interview is interesting as it does show some of his distaste for Arab leaders (which was part of the reason for his decision to effectively give up on the Arab League and concentrate his efforts on the African Union instead) and his reading of the Bin Laden situation:

Everything that�s going on now serves the interest of Osama bin Laden. He sets himself up as a savior against a dominating, hegemonic America. In many Arab countries, Bin Laden is seen as a resistance hero.

I think it's something that a lot of people forget about Qaddafi and Libya - because of the vision of Libya as an Arabic 'rogue nation', there's a tendency to forget that it's also one of the most secular Arab and North African states (part of the reason behind the disgust at the Arab League, I believe) and thus fears any sudden rising of Islamic fundamentalism, especially as it borders Egypt and Algeria.

Nick got away with this at 6:12 PM | link |

I had a rather sleepless night a few days ago as I thought of the potential worst case scenario fallout from Operation Piss Off The Planet. And this afternoon, I check out BBC News and find this, which reminds me of the whole thing just a little too much. I'm still debating whether to write the whole thing down and post it here, but I think putting my fears into writing might make them even scarier.

And I'm guessing that this will be moving forward sometime in the next few weeks.

Nick got away with this at 3:20 PM | link |

I've now met three people on my 'Blogs etc' list to the right - one of them helped me get a job, I got drunk with one in Las Vegas and another just gave me two Ken Macleod books. The books came from Random and Irrelevant Sam - I'll let you work out who the other two are.

Anyway, here comes the germ of an idea - anyone interested in having some kind of UK bloggers meet up? Nothing major, just a bunch of people meeting in a pub and saying 'I really like that piece you wrote about such-and-such or 'so that's what you look like'. If you are, leave a message here and spread the word. If enough people are up for something then we can actually think about organising something.

Nick got away with this at 2:56 PM | link |

I'm not sure which is the most disturbing - that someone came here on a search for 'delusions of omnipotence' or that I'm the number 2 on Google for 'Nick war blog'.

Nick got away with this at 8:44 AM | link |

March 25, 2003  

Remember the 'If you cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq' email that did the rounds a while ago? Well, someone's gone and made a rather amusing flash animation of it. (via Barney Gumble)

Nick got away with this at 9:35 PM | link |

If, like me, you've spent far too much time in your life delivering leaflets for various causes, then you'll appreciate Iain's Rules of Letterboxes.

Nick got away with this at 9:01 PM | link |

OK, probably way behind everyone else who's reported this, but there's now a limited English version of Al-Jazeera's website available. I suspect it's getting a lot of hits from all over the world right now which probably accounts for why it's quite hard to access at the moment, but it does have some interesting news and an interesting take if you want to get all sides of the story.

Related random thought: There have to be people out there who think that Fox News is too far to the left.

Also related: an interesting BBC News analysis about why we haven't seen the dancing and cheering crowds welcoming the troops into Iraq.

Nick got away with this at 6:43 PM | link |

I've noticed a couple of blogs (Green Fairy and Beatnik Salad - that sounds like something from a cannibal's recipe book, doesn't it? But I digress...) mention this morning's Guardian/ICM poll about the war and note, with sadness, that support for the war appears to have surged. As Ryan says: 'Who are these fickle turncoats!? If it was wrong before the bombing started, how is it right now that the killing has begun?'

(I'm sure there are also those on the pro-war side pointing to them with a smug 'see, I told you so' attitude, but I really can't be botherered to track them down.)

Anyway, rather than leave effectively the same message in the comments on two blogs, I'll do it here instead. I don't think the poll is necessarily as bad news as it first appears. The important thing to note is that the question asked is 'Do you approve or disapprove of the military attack on Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein?' Looking at the full results of the poll (it's a PDF file, so you'll need Acrobat to view it), it's also effectively the only question that is asked. However, even that reveals something - as was shown on Yes, Prime Minister (and also in the real world) many years ago, the phrasing of a question affects the results you get.

So, that means what is asked is important. The question does not ask if people believe military action is 'justified', despite the line in the story that '61% (of men) now believe that military action is justified' it asks if they 'approve or disapprove'. Also, the question asks it in relation to 'the military attack on Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein' without actually using the word 'war'. However, it does mention 'remove Saddam Hussein', and as we all know from the last few weeks of propaganda, Saddam Hussein is a bad man and one of the 'evildoers' (note to those people who like to wilfully misunderstand what I'm saying - I am not defending Saddam Hussein or his regime at all). Plus, this poll was taken over the weekend when the news and papers were full of stories of troops rolling across the desert and 'support our boys' messages. And even then, they could only get 54% to say 'yes'.

What, I wonder, might have been the response to the question 'Do you believe the invasion of Iraq is justified?' to pluck another question out of the air. This question was just about the best they could ask to boost the pro-war results without straying into the territory of 'push polling' - another question would likely have got a very different result.

Nick got away with this at 4:01 PM | link |

Just a quick few links to some interesting comment pieces in today's Guardian. Matthew Engel identifies a possible reason for why the current wave of anti-French propaganda is not being applied to Germany:

The reason is harder to get at. The one thing we do know is that the change came at the very end of February, immediately after a visit to Washington by Angela Merkel, the German opposition leader, who was granted an A-list schedule, seeing just about everyone who matters except the president himself. Her public statements were strongly pro-American; privately, it is thought, she told Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice to back off, because the more they attacked the chancellor, Gerhard Schr�der, the more they strengthened him politically. There are no comparable political divisions in France.

Also, George Monbiot has a good article on the Geneva Convention and the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and Zoe Williams has a fun time trying to resign from the Labour Party. I hadn't even known she was a member of the Labour Party, but now I think I like her even more. Did I ever mention I had an email from her a few weeks ago?

Nick got away with this at 2:19 PM | link |

Having been to University in Wales and having a brother who plays rugby, I'm well aware that rugby players are not quite the same as the rest of us. But, even by their standards, standing in a small room in Poland with the temperature reduced to -110 degrees Celsius is just ever-so-slightly insane. So, if any of the English or Irish players shatter after a big tackle in the big Six Nations match this weekend, you'll know why - someone forgot to get fully defrosted after their cryotherapy.

Nick got away with this at 2:10 PM | link |

I had a visitor to my blog earlier today looking for 'Jack Straw's resignation speech'. Oh, I wish...

Nick got away with this at 12:11 AM | link |

March 24, 2003  

(Borrowed from here)

Eve of Destruction (Barry McGuire)

The Eastern world, it is explodin',
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'.
You're old enough to kill, but not for votin',
You don't believe in war -- but what's that gun you're totin'?
An' even the Jordan river has bodies floatin'.
But you tell me, over and over and over again, my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.
Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say,
An' can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?
If the button is pushed, there's no runnin' away,
There'll be no one to save, will the world in a grave.
Take a look around you, boy, it's bound to scare you, boy.
An' you tell me, over and over and over again, my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Yeak, my blood's so mad feels like coagulatin',
I'm sittin' here just contemplatin'.
I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
Handful of senators don't pass legislation,
An' marches alone can't bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin',
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'.
An' you tell me, over and over and over again, my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China,
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama.
Ah, you may leave here for four days in space,
But when you return it's the same ol' place,
The poundin' of the drums, the pride an' disgrace.
You can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace.
Hate your next-door neighbor, but don't forget to say grace,
An' tell me, over and over and over again, my friend,
You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction,
No, no, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Nick got away with this at 10:53 AM | link |

March 23, 2003  

Lisa at Burnt Toast has found a good description for Operation This Is A Lot Harder Than Rumsfeld Said It Would Be.

Nick got away with this at 11:50 PM | link |

Interesting article in the Observer's business section on the Carlyle Group, and a new book about the 'ex-Presidents club'.

But Briody's account of how an upstart venture capi tal firm went from nothing to managing funds of nearly $14 billion in just 15 years, earning investors returns of around 36 per cent, is likely to reinforce the controversial image of the Carlyle Group and raise concerns about its influence in Washington and beyond.

Sometimes called the Ex-Presidents Club, Carlyle has a glittering array of ex-politicians and big league bankers on its board. Former secretary of state James Baker is managing director while ex-secretary of defence Frank Carlucci is chairman. George Bush senior is an adviser. John Major heads up its European operations. To give the conspiracy theorists plenty of ammunition, US newspapers have also highlighted the fact that current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was a wrestling partner of Carlucci's at Princeton and the two have remained close friends ever since.

Nick got away with this at 4:57 PM | link |

As you may well have noticed, I'm not a big fan of David Aaronovitch. I think it's mainly because he has the attitude of disdain towards anyone who disagrees with him that's common to ex-NUS Presidents (including Jack Straw and Charles Clarke) but there was one interesting line in his Observer article today:

But the sight of White House adviser Richard Perle masturbating over what he hoped was the grave of the United Nations, was a reminder of where some of the kaleidoscope's pieces are floating.

As I've mentioned before, I participate in the soc.history.what-if (SHWI) Usenet group. A commonly used word on the group is 'wank' - usually in a negative connotation about a post where someone writes a 'what if' whose conclusions all justify their own political beliefs, without necessarily being based in reality. Thus, a hardcore Republican is wanking when he writes a WI where the whole world bows down before Saint Reagan, or a hardcore Democrat is doing the same where Reagan ends up villified and on trial by the whole world. There's also the subgroup of the 'weapons wank', usually in an ongoing timeline, where a post is merely a Clancy-esque description of some battle or other.

Now, while using the word in that way is understandable to most people, I've not really seen it used in that context outside of SHWI, and it's interesting to see Aaronovitch using 'masturbating' in a similar context indicating that the usage may be spreading into the wider world. One for the OED to watch out for, I guess.

(On a related SHWI note, the 'What If Gordon Banks had played' timeline has now finished. Damn.)

Nick got away with this at 4:35 PM | link |

At last! There's a new TV Go Home (thanks to Dan for noticing this first) - hopefully, it won't be a five month wait for the next issue.

Nick got away with this at 12:06 PM | link |

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