Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Just to catch up

Bilbao: shut on Mondays, no nightlife , boring football ground , great galleries.

Since I got back : Laura Cantrell , Pere Ubu , The Aristocrats , Anna Kashfi , Auto Test Pilot 10.

And Alty: 1 for, 17 against.

Friday, September 16, 2005

More Jon Langford Paintings

Up at Yard Dog Gallery here.

He's in the Mekons, don't you know.

"Gob On You"

was the title of a punk parody by the incredibly shite team at Not the Nine O'Clock News. That parody is but a dog turd on the heel of my shoe when compared to the songs here. Regardless of their clear fraudulence, I winced a couple of times at their acuity: Anyone who went to a Chumbawamba gig in the late 90s will recognize the obnoxious self-righteousness - not from the band, I hasten to add, but some of the audience.

Very funny stuff.

hat tip: Nina.

Why Irony Doesn't Work in America

My apologies to our U.S. readers. I realize the problems you have to face when even trying to be ironic is subverted by reality.

Prepared for What, Exactly?

The phrase that comes to mind includes the words "Horse," "Bolted," and "Stable Door."

Who said Americans don't do irony?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Funny Joke in Reader's Digest Shock

From the September issue, by William Tolar:

Why We Trail So Many Countries in Math

"I was sitting in a cafeteria recently, next to a woman who was engrossed in her newspaper. One of the headlines blared: “12 Brazilian Soldiers Killed.” She shook her head at the sad news. Then, turning to me, asked, “How many is a Brazilian?”"

Love Thy Neighbor . . . In the Open Air

Both the Christian Century magazine and Bethel Presbyterian Church carry sermons entitled "Dogging Jesus," indicating that we remain two nations separated by a common tongue.

For our American readers, dogging is the much-frowned-upon activity of sex with strangers in public places, such as supermarket car parks, telephone kiosks, and the cosmetics counter at Boots.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Coded Message from Sky News

Spotted by Jose via Snopes:

Things must be getting bad when even Murdoch won't stand by him.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Cats Cause Schizophrenia

But it still doesn't explain why cat-lovers are such fucking nutters.

"I Needed Another Vacation, Anyway."

But Did He Go Down Readily?

Unfortunate metaphor of the weekend from RTE commentator:

"And Scholes picks himself up off the deck rather gingerly."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Our Sophisticated Readership

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Possible Update Required

Southern Living magazine has a special section on great-value breaks in New Orleans.

At the Ritz-Carlton, we are told:

"Even taking a summertime morning jog can be a cool experience. Doorman James Fiest will hand you a bottle of water and a towel--just one of many services offered at the hotel."

Might come in handy.

What About the Horse He Rode In On?

Cool video shows Cheney being told to go fuck himself.

Noel Cantwell R.I.P.

Guardian obit here.

Birmingham Made Me

And I'm proud of it. Something to be less proud of here.

Can't Imagine Why

Despite George Foreman's best efforts to populate the world with namesakes, the name George is becoming increasingly unpopular as a choice for boys, reports the Wilson Quarterly. According to the Social Security Administration, in 2004, George was the 148th most popular name, one place behind Omar.

The report doesn't say where Osama is, but then, does anybody know?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Fantastic Sitges

If you happen to be in Barcelona in a month’s time, you might want to get to the nearby Sitges, visit the town and watch a film premiere from the Festival Internacional de Cinema de Catalunya, better known as Sitges 05.
The event usually attracts many fans from the times when it was a festival specialized in horror and fantasy films. Actually, it still features an official Fantasy section and many horror and sci-fi films (especially Asian), but you can find any kind of genre now.
While we wait for a complete list of films, they already announced that Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence, among others, will be shown at the festival.

A Place to Hack

The jet set's social networking web site, aSmallWorld, described in last month's Wired as

“an online hangout where princesses and barons mingle with socialites like Frederic Fekkai and Conrad de Kwiatkowski, where names such as Cartier and Versace waft around like expensive scents, where business luminaries like Charles Muirhead and Lili Zanuck prowl about.”

Oh, for the days of Class War and "Behold Your Future Executioners."

Many Worlds Theory

The catalog of New York artist Ingo Günther's "Worldprocessor" series of works.

Plenty of pause for thought.

On the Ground in New Orleans

Via my mate Bill:

"The following was sent by Tobias Wolff to his father, Robert Paul Wolff, professor in the Afro-American Studies Department at UMass Amherst, and contains an eyewitness account of two paramedic friends of Tobias who were trapped in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina."

Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2005 11:07 PM
Subject: Saramago's Blindness Revisited -- an eyewitness account from New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina-Our Experiences

Larry Bradshaw, Lorrie Beth Slonsky

"Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreen's store at the corner of Royal and Iberville streets remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through the widows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water, plumbing. The milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat. The owners and managers had locked up the food, water, pampers, and prescriptions and fled the City. Outside Walgreen's windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry.

The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized and the windows at Walgreen's gave way to the looters. There was an alternative. The cops could have broken one small window and distributed the nuts, fruit juices, and bottle water in an organized and systematic manner. But they did not. Instead they spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing away the looters.

We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and arrived home yesterday (Saturday). We have yet to see any of the TV coverage or look at a newspaper. We are willing to guess that there were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the Walgreen's in the French Quarter.

We also suspect the media will have been inundated with "hero" images of the National Guard, the troops and the police struggling to help the "victims" of the Hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed,were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans. The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers, who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, "stealing" boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hot-wire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the City. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded.

Most of these workers had lost their homes, and had not heard from members of their families, yet they stayed and provided the only infrastructure for the 20% of New Orleans that was not under water.

On Day 2, there were approximately 500 of us left in the hotels in the French Quarter. We were a mix of foreign tourists, conference attendees like ourselves, and locals who had checked into hotels for safety and shelter from Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact with family and friends outside of New Orleans. We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources including the National Guard and scores of buses were pouring in to the City. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible because none of us had seen them.

We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the City. Those who did not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food, and clothes we had. We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly and new born babies. We waited late into the night for the "imminent" arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute the arrived to the City limits, they were commandeered by the military.

By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that the "officials" told us to report to the
convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the City, we finally encountered the National Guard. The Guards told us we would not be allowed into the Superdome as the City's primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole.

The guards further told us that the City's only other shelter, the Convention Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, "If we can't go to the only 2 shelters in the City, what was our alternative?" The guards told us that that was our problem, and no they did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law enforcement".

We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the City officials. The police told us that we could not stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the City.

The crowed cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, "I swear to you that the buses are there."

We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated freeway and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet to be seen buses.

All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the City on foot.

Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be hotwired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery New Orleans had become.

Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let's hear it for looting! A mile or so down the freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in shopping carts.

Now secure with the two necessities, food and water; cooperation, community, and creativity flowered. We organized a clean up and hung garbage bags from the rebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. We designated a storm drain as the bathroom and the kids built an elaborate enclosure for privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas, and other scraps. We even organized a food recycling system where individuals could swap out parts of C-rations (applesauce for babies and candies for kids!).

This was a process we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of Katrina. When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking out for yourself only. You had to do whatever it took to find water for your kids or food for your parents. When these basic needs were met, people began to look out for each other, working together and constructing a community.

If the relief organizations had saturated the City with food and water in the first 2 or 3 days, the desperation, the frustration and the ugliness would not have set in.

Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water to passing families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.

From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the City. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. "Taking care of us" had an ominous tone to it.

Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the fucking freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of "victims" they saw "mob" or "riot". We felt safety in numbers. Our "we must stay together" was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.

In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements but equally and definitely, we were
hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.

The next days, our group of 8 walked most of the day, made contact with New Orleans Fire Department and were eventually airlifted out by an urban search and rescue team. We were dropped off near the airport and managed to catch a ride with the National Guard. The two young guardsmen apologized for the limited response of the Louisiana guards. They explained that a large section of their unit was in Iraq and that meant they were shorthanded and were unable to complete all the tasks they were assigned.

We arrived at the airport on the day a massive airlift had begun. The airport had become another Superdome. We 8 were caught in a press of humanity as flights were delayed for several hours while George Bush landed briefly at the airport for a photo op. After being evacuated on a coast guard cargo plane, we arrived in San Antonio, Texas.

There the humiliation and dehumanization of the official relief effort continued. We were placed on buses and driven to a large field where we were forced to sit for hours and hours. Some of the buses did not have air-conditioners. In the dark, hundreds if us were forced to share two filthy overflowing porta-potties. Those who managed to make it out with any possessions (often a few belongings in tattered plastic bags) we were subjected to two different dog-sniffing searches.

Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rations had been confiscated at the airport because the rations set off the metal detectors. Yet, no food had been provided to the men, women, children, elderly, disabled as they sat for hours waiting to be "medically screened" to make sure we were not carrying any communicable diseases.

This official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm, heart-felt reception given to us by the ordinary Texans. We saw one airline worker give her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers on the street offered us money and toiletries with words of welcome. Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist. There was more suffering than need be. Lives were lost that did not need to be lost."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Why Philosophy is Shite


Hat tip: Nina

At Home with the Intelligentsia. No. 24: Sigmund Freud

(Full image shows Freud "dropping the shoulder" to release malodorous wind that he would later blame on his dog.)

A New Alibi the Next Time I'm Found Asleep in a Ditch

I wasn't asleep, I was looking for the €70,000 stolen in an armed robbery from the Post Office in Bettystown yesterday.

The Gards managed to catch the boyos involved in Julianstown, a mile or two up the road, but they didn't have the cash on them. Must have chucked it into a hedgerow somewhere along the way.

And here's me sat like an eejit at home in front of the computer.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Brinton Review

Via Anarkismo, an extended review of the collection of Maurice Brinton's collected writings, For Workers' Power.

Even Meaner Streets

From the New Ross Standard:

Playhut is burnt

Some children in the Morriseysland area will have to find another 'hut' to play in after theirs was burnt on Saturday last. It was set alight at mid-day on Saturday.

New Ross Fire Brigade attended the scene and quickly put out the small fire.

Meaner Streets

From the Fingal Independent:

‘Blood will be spilled’ if cinema project fails

By Donncha Mac Raghnaill

BLOOD will be spilled on the streets of Balbriggan if the proposed cinema does not go ahead, a local councillor has stated, as a new push to get an operator is made.

Cllr Heidi Bedell (Green Party) was one of the councillors who met representatives working for McEneaney Construction, who have built the cinema structure as part of the town centre Gallen’s Mills development.

She said that an offer to give the Town Council a part of the space in lieu of the cinema was rejected by councillors present.

‘The people of Balbriggan would be very, very disappointed and that is putting it mildly, if it is not a cinema,’ Ms Bedell said.

‘There would be blood over the streets and rightly so,’ she said. ‘They must sell it to the highest bidder – if they make a loss then that’s tough, it’s business and they made a profit on the other parts, after all it was a total package.’

Mean Streets

From the Carlow People:

Figures show one violent death recorded in Carlow

An analysis of annual crime reports in Ireland has placed Carlow in the middle of a violent death league table.

Limerick is top of the table, which shows the rate of death by violence per head of population in the period 2001 to 2005. There has been one such death in Co. Carlow in that period, placing the county at number 21 nationally. Carlow is behind neighbouring County Wicklow which occupies tenth position, with six murders.

Kilkenny was placed in eleventh position with four murders.

'Overall, taking everything into consideration, there has been a reduction in crime in County Carlow,' said Superintendent Thady Muldoon of Carlow Garda Station.

He added that the crime rate for the county is 'down ten per cent.'

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Life of Sn

Just wishing John & Maria a happy 10th (Tin) wedding anniversary. The beans are in the post.