Sunday, December 24, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Im back in Fwwance. For Christmas. Heathrow was a nightmare. Packed with people jetting off and the usual jobsworth BAA staff trying to make everyones lives twice as difficult. And that was before the fog set in.
Landed in Fwance. I checked. No sense of impending doom. Or encroaching Eurabia. Just the usual. Nicely decorated streets with seasonal red carpets out for shoppers. Hundreds of frosted trees. Cafes still quite full with locals still sitting outside (its quite chilly). Old ladies in big fur coats (its not that chilly!). Jewish families out celebrating with hanukkah lights in the square last night. They didnt look remotely like they were about to be set upon by the small contingent of local french arab youth walking by - who couldnt have given a toss. They were more interested in joining in the break dancing 'act' on the cobbled street. (The French will never be cool). The little jewish boy was cycling around and cutting through them with flashing hannukah lights attached to the back of his bike. Each street is decorated differently for Christmas. Chandelier style lights in one road and flashing strobe effects in another. The cake shops all look enticing as usual. Beautiful glistening works of art in every window. There are queues for cakes at this time of year and the variety increases. Photo required i think.
We took a trip out to the supermarket - giant hypermarche - on the outskirts of the city - to buy some food to make for a starter on Christmas day at friends. With so much fresh food to choose from it is hard to know where to start. The fish section is washed down regularly as new batches of fish are thrown into the pool bays and lobsters, oysters, mussels and unrecognisable assorted scary alien looking things are piled high. There is one ice display with crab and lobster claws sticking out in perfect rows. They look sort of comical. We took time out to have lunch in the one of the cafe arrangements in the centre of the supermarket. The food is amazing and all the locals will sit and take the time to lunch properly. With a glass of red wine. As did all of us. Actually we got quite pissed which made choosing the starter easier. Somehow we came back with a tube of creme de frozen mashed up snail.
Watching the world go by in a coffee/bread shop today my dad (who had surgery recently c/o that fab french nhs) told me how the woman who runs it had come to be known as Madame Cleavage (by my parents). The story was funnier when in one of those mobile phone conversations my father had to raise his voice to give directions to my mother..."Yes the cafe opposite the Spar...yes you do know...yes you do....Madame Cleavage!" with his hands cupped around the phone as best he could. Hopefully she doesnt speak English. She was modestly dressed today. She must be about 40 and wears an incredible amount of makeup. She looks a bit like a painted doll. She is very polite and helpful. And shriiillllll. Each 'Bonjouuuuuurrrrr!!!!' could shatter glass. Today she was wearing a polo neck and dress over the top. Her hair is bright bright red. Eventually she tottered round to check on a customer et voila...a skirt the size of a belt. But. Possibly because she is French she somehow manages to carry this off. I think if she had opened her mouth in England she would have sounded awful - like a bird from Croydon. But her happy shriiiiiill French accent seem to make all the difference. She is an anomale though. Most French women appear to have a permanent bad smell under their noses. Nothing fills me with more fear than entering a boutique. It all looks pretty. Beautifully laid out. But the second you enter the shop the snooty female assistant NEEDS to help you. You cant sift through bits at leisure. You have to be helped, jostled around, frowned at. Which makes me feel all English and apologetic. However. If you find a cadeau for Christmas, the moment is transformed. Your purchase is beautifully wrapped. Bowed. And presented back to you as a gift. All for free. They will turn any little purchase into a ceremony.
On Friday there are Christmas drinks with a variety of people all of whom im going to politely interrogate about Europe's impending demise. Finnish, Dutch, French, Italian and a Persian French woman who prefers to be thought of as Persian French, not Iranian. My mums French teacher who by rights should be an ardent socialist agreed with my mother today that 'la greve' (strikes) are a waste of time, irritate a large number of French people generally and that France needs a Maggie Thatcher. Not a Segelene Royal. Sarkozy has announced he will rid France of beggars in three years. They arent inundated but they add to the riff raff he dislikes. And in other news a previously unsolved mystery in Monaco was finally solved (please say solv-ed with a Clouseau accent to add to the occasion): 68-year-old former lawyer, Jean-Maurice Agnelet, has been acquitted of the murder of missing hotel heiress Agnes Le Roux. The 29-year-old woman vanished in 1977 during a casino war in Nice. In exchange for a payment of £300,000, Agnès Le Roux betrayed her mother at a business meeting, thereby removing her control of the casino and forcing her to sell it to her rival. Mr Fratoni paid the money into a joint bank account in Switzerland in the names of Ms Le Roux and her lover, Mr Agnelet. Four months later Agnès Le Roux disappeared and her body has never been found. Suspicion quickly fell upon Mr Agnelet, who had transferred the £300,000 into an account in his name alone. His wife provided an alibi. He was back in the dock after he divorced his wife for his mistress. Unfortunately for him she retracted her statement. I wonder why! lol. 'Beware the fury' and all that. The Telegraph wrote: "The case relates to the events of 1977 and bears all the hallmarks of a James Bond plot – passion, money, betrayal, a glamorous heroine and playboy protagonist".
Finally in another cafe musing - we were wondering why 'war' is feminine and 'paradise' is masculine in French. 'La guerre' and 'le paradis'. DAFT.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
FreeBornJohn the organiser of 2005's Free Speech rally has picked up on the issue with Channel 4 and writes:-
"Who needs to self-censor when the channels into living rooms are dominated by an unrepresentative, illiberal elite of fascist sympathisers?"
"...there's nothing liberal about supporting fascists. This past March, I organised a rally in Trafalgar square in support of freedom of expression, in direct response to the Danish cartoons controversy. Maybe 600 people attended. The best turnout elsewhere in the world for a similar rally was, so far as I know, 180, so this was good. It wasn't the thousands the fascists get, though. Not many people really support freedom of expression, and to some people at least, I don't either. This is because I asked people not to bring the cartoons to the rally. I did this because I was trying to make the event as friendly to supportive Muslims as possible, and I did manage to make the British National Party disappear, attracting instead a mixture of democrats from the left to the right, but excluding the violent fascistic elements of all camps. I'm very glad of that, and I stand by what I did.
We have very little censorship today, but increasingly, we have self-censorship, mainly out of fear of violent Muslim extremism. And then we have Channel 4. Who needs to self-censor when the channels into living rooms are dominated by an unrepresentative, illiberal elite of fascist sympathisers? We don't need the advocacy of free expression, we need the expression itself. And we need channels through which this can reach more than just the converted who seek out blogs.
So that's what I have been working on for the past six months. That's how it comes to be that tomorrow I am going to film an alternative, alternative Christmas Message. I hope to be able to join with Muslims in Egypt, Saudi, Iraq and every other part of the world - democrats who hate the extremism that is crippling their beloved countries. I hope to be able to join with democrats in Africa, Europe, America, Australia. I hope they will take this project over and make it their own. Perhaps they won't. But it would be wrong not to try.
And I have already joined with a group of UK based bloggers and activists who embrace this idea. The mainstream media has tried to colonise the blogosphere. Now, my friends, we're going to return the compliment...
Keep an eye out for updates.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
I love this song.
And this scene ...in this film (and yes ...Billy Crudup). Spoke to my sister this week who is having a miserable time over in LA at the moment . I really feel for her and miss her like mad. Especially at this time of year. I kind of imagine her feeling about as miserable as Bill in this scene! But I HOPE NOT. Hope this cheers her up.
Elton John songs remind me of horsing about with her around about the time my dad was busy with fantastic pieces of hi fi, switching up the volume full whack for as long as possible to listen to the incredicle bassline in the various tracks from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. A trick we loved - particularly my sis - who is now something of an expert on the decks.
Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band...Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you'll marry a music man...Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand....And now she's in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand...Jesus freaks out in the street...Handing tickets out for God ...Turning back she just laughs...The boulevard is not that bad...Piano man he makes his stand..In the auditorium...Looking on she sings the songs...The words she knows, the tune she hums...But oh how it feels so real...Lying here with no one near...Only you and you can't hear me...When I say softly, slowly...Hold me closer tiny dancer..Count the headlights on the highway...Lay me down in sheets of linen..you had a busy day today...Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band...Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you'll marry a music man...Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand.. And now she's in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand..
Poetry. And check out Elton on Top of the Pops singing this superb track waaaay back in 1971 below. LOL.
Friday, December 15, 2006
A hero soldier who died saving seven comrades from Taleban gunfire has been awarded the prestigious Victoria Cross. Corporal Bryan Budd, 29, was killed when he single-handedly stormed a Taleban position. Amazingly the BBC in reporting this story has some footage that generally seems to honour our soldiers.
Corporal Bryan Budd, 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment, was killed in Afghanistan on 20 August 2006 . He was leading his section when a planned element of surprise was lost.
"In order to regain the initiative, Corporal Budd decided to assault the enemy and ordered his men to follow him. As they moved forward the section came under a withering fire that incapacitated three of his men. The continued enemy fire and these losses forced the section to take cover. But, Corporal Budd continued the assault on his own, knowing full well the likely consequences of doing so without the close support of his remaining men. He was wounded but continued to move forward, attacking and killing the enemy as he rushed their position. Inspired by Corporal Budd's example, the rest of the platoon reorganised and pushed forward their attack, eliminating more of the enemy and eventually forcing their withdrawal. Corporal Budd subsequently died of his wounds, and when his body was later recovered it was found surrounded by three dead Taliban.
The Ministry of Defence has announced another 132 awards, covering operations all round the world by all three services, for the period 1 April to 30 September 2006. It includes the Military Cross awarded to Private Michelle Norris who without pausing for a second to consider her own safety, jumped on to the turret of a Warrior to aid the badly-injured vehicle commander as a sniper fired at her.
Heroes every one.
For the full list of awards, you can click here.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
they were women, weren't they?
Prostitute is a noun and a useful descriptive term, but is it the right word to use in a headline reporting the death of a woman? “Another prostitute murdered” — yes, she was murdered and she was a prostitute, but she was a woman first, a woman of whom you could have said so many things if you had known her, only one of which was that she worked as a prostitute....We ignore our common humanity when in the very naming of a person we launch straight into a descriptive term drawing attention to difference and inviting shame.
Well said. Good man
Someone else who feels the same....
"I am having a real problem with the media at the moment....The fact that the victims are prostitutes has to be reported, but it is not the main story. The main story is that there is a serial killer on the loose. The continual emphasis on the life style of the victims is demeaning but, more worryingly, is seen by some as mitigating the offence"
Friday, December 08, 2006
I admit it. Bono from U2 has in the past got right up my nose. So reading this today came as a bit of a surprise. I always felt so hacked off at the whole 'Troubles' business to feel anything other than a deep rooted hatred for the terrorists who spent so much of their time wiping people out - that the idea of any 'noble cause' was utterly lost on me as a kid.
I freely admit that I didnt know he had said this, no matter how 'infamous' it apparently is. I ignored much of anything spoken about the lot. I once ventured to mention the word Irish and IRA to an American Irish woman standing outside the catholic church i attended as a kid. She brushed me off quite hastily with 'dont you start talking to me about the IRA, I support them'. I was 14 and remained baffled about that comment ever since - we were discussing abortion at the time. 'Hate abortion' but support indiscriminate killing of civilians ...was what i took away from that encounter.
I have in the past year met some Irish Americans via various blogs who dont think that way about the IRA at all, of course. So there you go. The whole blogging business is a learning experience.
This is Bono's infamous, anti-IRA ‘fuck the revolution’ speech, coming as it did a day after the Enniskillen atrocity:
“Let me tell you somethin'. I've had enough of Irish Americans who haven't been back to their country in twenty or thirty years come up to me and talk about the resistance, the revolution back home…and the glory of the revolution…and the glory of dying for the revolution. Fuck the revolution! They don't talk about the glory of killing for the revolution. What's the glory in taking a man from his bed and gunning him down in front of his wife and his children? Where's the glory in that? Where's the glory in bombing a Remembrance Day parade of old age pensioners, their medals taken out and polished up for the day. Where's the glory in that? To leave them dying or crippled for life or dead under the rubble of the revolution, that the majority of the people in my country don't want. Sing no more!"
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Iranian Women Demonstrate
Thanks to Azamehr's blog and c/o youtube.com,
"...some interesting video clips have been posted which demonstrate the struggle of women against the religious apartheid in Iran. Ajust and worthy cause which never really got the support of the active feminist groups in the West. I suppose it was not anti-American enough for them to deserve any solidarity actions! The clip below is from the early post-revolution days. Thousands of Iranian women demonstrate against the compulsory veil. Lots of interesting points in the clip. For example, the support shown by some women who themselves are observing the Islamic veil but at the same time, demand freedom of choice on what to wear by women. The solidarity shown by the nurses as the demonstrators pass a hospital. The Iranian men who supported the women and joined their demo. The young school girls, unaware of what is coming their way in the near future, and statements by Leftist intellectuals who were still under a delusion that they could achieve equal rights by taking part in an Islamic revolution which brought the fundamentalists to power. Most of the clip
is self explanatory, shame about the biased partisan commentary and another clip
of their struggle, 27 years later (which is in the post below- A)
How does platforming a fundamentalist extremist opinion at Channel 4 on Christmas Day serve these women who suffer abuse in this country? And when so many women suffer under the veil world wide how can liberals use 'freedom of expression' without the true challenge of debate when so much controversy exists on this garb elsewhere? Ever since i was 17 and read 'Saudi Princess', then read and watched Not without my Daughter I have been opposed to this bullshit mysoginist rubbish shroud. Now there is no escaping it. Some women marry child molesters on death row in the United States. It doesnt make them right! Christ, you can't bury it. Its even a publicity drive for Christmas bloody viewing on Channel Fucking 4.
I have seen appallingly beaten Muslim women forced into the niqab (here on the UK) to keep their wounds hidden......
The young women in niqab who claim they have made the decision without coercion understand nothing about the sacred Islamic texts, struggles for gender equality, history or the unpleasantly sexual symbolism of what they claim is just one more lifestyle choice. ‘Oh I won’t have that green coat, think it is the black shroud for me, suits me better don’t you think?’ Britons who support them are clueless about the silent march of Wahabism. I have been uncomfortable for years about the rapid spread of the hijab too because for Islamicist puritans it is the first staging post on a road map that leads to the burkha, where even the eyes are gauzed over. Some young hijabis say they feel wanton and must go ‘higher’ to theniqab.. So when does this country decide that it does not want citizens using their freedoms to build a satellite Saudi Arabia ....
The Iranian revolution turned that into a cause and the modern re-covering of women voluntary and imposed, took off. In Iran educated women who fail stringent veil tests are imprisoned by their theocratic oppressors. They are branded whores and beaten. It is happening in Iraq, Palestine and Algeria too. Taliban are back in Afghanistan, pushing girls and women back into the home and full burkha. Instead of expressing solidarity with these females, sanctimonious British niqabis are siding with their foes here?
Jonz at Drunken Blogging has received a reply from Channel 4 in relation to his excellent Furious post and the questions he directly asked them which they neatly sidestepped. I had at a go today over at ATW fwiw. I admit I initially thought it was best buried and dismissed - but since they are already getting the publicity they craved from both the MSM and well, the blogosphere, well done him for putting awkward questions to them. They now need to be challenged directly on this.
Cross post it if you can.
Look forward to hearing from them.
Thank you for contacting Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries. We felt it fitting that the Alternative Christmas Message should be from a British Muslim woman in a year in which issues of religious and racial identity and freedom of expression have dominated the news agenda.
If you require further information, feel free to email me back or visit http://help.channel4.com/tv.Max WhitmanChannel 4 Viewer Enquiries
"How noble! Freedom of expression! Here's my reply for what it's worth"
With respect, please answer the questions.
Most of the British public think it is far from "fitting". This brush off really is quite outrageous. Channel 4 did not publish the Mohammed Cartoons or Theo Van Gogh's Submission film. These have been far more prominent on the news and the "freedomof expression" agenda. It's easy pickings to offend non-Muslims. If you really want to talk about freedom of speech you should be giving a voice to moderate muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq who are being slaughtered by religious fascists whilst walking to school, or those women in Iran who get beaten by religious authorities for demonstrating for equal rights. Or perhaps all those British Muslims who have come out in opposition to the burqa and the niqab in Britian, and those normal Muslims who don’t go and pray in the mosque every week, and sometimes even, mix with strangers of the opposite sex. Channel 4 seems to be consistently presenting the case for literalist and extremist Islam.
When will Channel 4 embrace the real moderates? It seems Channel 4 is trying to becontroversial. It has certainly achieved that, but it has consistently played the safe bet of offending non-Muslims only.
I await your answers with anticipation.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
What were they like
Historians in Poland have discovered the wreckage of a World War II RAF Halifax bomber along with the remains of its British and Canadian crew. The bomber was shot down while dropping supplies and ammunition to the Polish underground during the Warsaw uprising.
Project manager Piotr Sliwowski, who heads the museum's history departmentMr Sliwowski said: "These were boys aged 28 or 30. Their remains were for decades in the ground, now they will be able to return to their homelands."
Documents, notes and maps and personal items belonging to the crew, like a folding knife and a well-preserved aviator's badge, were also discovered.
"It takes you back 62 years and you start thinking, 'What were they like? What did they look like? Did they have girlfriends?'" Mr Sliwowski said....
Thats exactly what I was wondering as I read the article. I also considered how young, how brave they were and what they sacrificed.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Reasons to Not be Cheerful 1-10
Can the West defeat the Islamist threat? ten reasons why not
1) Western Incoherence: The first is the extent of political division in the non-Muslim world about what is afoot. Some reject outright that there is a war at all; others agree with the assertion by the US President that “the war we fight is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century”.
2) Underestimating the Threat: The second reason why, as things stand, Islam will not be defeated is that the strengths of the world community of Muslims are being underestimated, and the nature of Islam misunderstood. It is neither a “religion of peace” nor a “religion hijacked” or “perverted” by “the few”.
2.5) Underestimating the ‘Religion’: Islam is not even a religion in the conventional sense of the term. It is a transnational political and ethical movement that believes that it holds the solution to mankind’s problems. It therefore holds that it is in mankind’s own interests to be subdued under Islam’s rule.
3) Crap Western Leadership: Indeed, the third reason why Islam will not be defeated, as things stand, is the low level of Western leadership, in particular in the United States. During the half-century of the Islamic revival, it has shown itself at sixes and sevens both diplomatically and militarily.
4) ‘Islamophobes’ & ‘Apologists’: Next is the contribution to the disarray of Western policy-making being made by the egotistical competitiveness, and in some cases hysterics, of “experts” and commentators on Islam. They include hyperventilating Islamophobes as well as academic apologists for the worst that is being done in Islam’s name.
5) Leftist Guilt: The fifth disablement is to be found in the confusion of “progressives” about the Islamic advance. With their political and moral bearings lost since the defeat of the “socialist project”, many on the Left have only the fag-end of anti-colonial positions on which to take their stand.. Moreover, to Islam’s further advantage, it has led most of today’s “progressives” to say little, or even to keep silent, about what would once have been regarded as the reactionary aspects of Islam: its oppressive hostility to dissent, its maltreatment of women, …. Mein Kampf circulates in Arab countries under the title Jihadi.
6) Trojan Horses: The sixth reason for Islam’s growing strength is the vicarious satisfaction felt by many non-Muslims at America’s reverses. Those who feel such satisfaction could be regarded as Trojan horses, a cavalry whose number is legion and which is growing..
7) Moral Poverty: The seventh reason lies in the moral poverty of the West’s, and especially America’s, own value system. Doctrines of market freedom, free choice and competition — or “freedom ’n’ liberty” — are no match for the ethics of Islam and Sharia, like them or not…
8) Propaganda: The next indication that Islam’s advance will continue lies in the skilful use being made of the media and of the world wide web in the service both of the “electronic jihad” and the bamboozling of Western opinion by Muslim spokesmen.
9) Dependency: The ninth factor guaranteeing Islam’s onward march is the West’s dependency on the material resources of Arab and Muslim countries. In April 1917, Woodrow Wilson, recommending to the US Congress an American declaration of war against Germany, could say that “we have no selfish ends to serve”. American levels of consumption make no such statement possible now. The US is, so to speak, over a barrel.
10) Powerful Retrograde Force: Finally, the West is convinced that its notions of technology-driven modernity and market-driven prog- ress are innately superior to the ideals of “backward” Islam. This is an old delusion. In 1899, Winston Churchill asserted that there was “no stronger retrograde force in the world” than Islam.
Shortened version - Full article in The TimesDavid Selbourne is the author of The Losing Battle with Islam, which was published in the United States in November last year
What do you think?