Monday, April 28, 2008

Dali on "What's my line"

Because we can trust our leaders

John Dasch and Peter Burger

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States government approved the use of military tribunals to try captured terrorist suspects. The key precedent for these tribunals, and any future court for "unlawful combatants" that avoids normal justice, is a 1942 case against eight German agents called Ex parte Quirin. Read what happened.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jeremiah Wright

Set aside few dozen minutes to watch this interview with Jeremiah Wright, the "nutter" who has been getting Obama into hot water. It is in two parts.

Serving recommendation: Load up the video, press play and don't watch it. It will keep getting stopped by the internet lag. Go and have your breakfast or something. When you return, drag the play bar back to the start, press the little square icon to get a full screen and enjoy with a cup of coffee. I found it enlightening.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A bit of colour on Newcastle

I was trying to persuade G. to watch the Chelsea-Manchester United game tonight. It is quite amazing how partisan he has become.

G. (eyes wide in expectancy, hands in the air, shouting): "Newcastle United!"
Me: "No, this one is Chelsea versus Manchester United."
G. (displeased) : "No, Newcastle"
Me: "Well, there are lots of teams in England..."
G. (furrowed, shouting): "No, NO! ONE!"
Me: "There are lots of teams and they all play each other and they get three points if they win. They add it all up and this game will decide the winner..."
G. (totally unconvinced): "Football is goalkeeper and ball [burble, burble, not sure I understood it] the goalkeeper touches it. And the 6 players kicking it. And score a goal. And Newcastle wins!" (Eyes again wide with conviction.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Type racer

On your marks, get set, go!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Digg for victory

Digg this (kind of ironic I suppose!) or Reddit here.

AT THE height of the Ron Paul frenzy, I got heartily sick of hordes of Paulites filling up Digg with pro-Paul propaganda. I quite liked the man but it all felt too much like mob politics.

And now I find myself in the middle of the mob carrying the longest scythe! Over the past two or three days, I have become the worst of Obama-spammers. I was just so incensed by Clinton's empty cynicism over this "bitter" thing that I began digging every pro-Obama piece I could find. I'm not even an American voter!

I think I may lay off my new addiction now but, before I do, I feel Obama-spammers, and all future mobs of political diggers, need a slogan. The British Government, c. 1939, came up trumps:

"Digg for victory"

They even provided us with a song which would only need the addition of a few Gs and the substitution of "worms" with "trolls" to be a great theme tune!
Dig! Dig! Dig! And your muscles will grow big
Keep on pushing the spade
Don’t mind the worms
Just ignore their squirms
And when your back aches laugh with glee
And keep on diggin’
Till we give our foes a Wiggin’
Dig! Dig! Dig! to Victory"

The original "Dig for Victory" campaign, by the way, was about trying to get British people to grow their own food during the Second World War to avoid national starvation. It was extremely successful. If you don't know what Digg is, get with it!

Update: I have thought about this a bit more. Having experienced this transformation - from being an onlooker deploring the mob to a member of the Obama-spammer fraternity - I think it works remarkably like a real mob. One of the characteristics of a mob (say a riot over food prices) is that it temporarily empowers people. It is not only their original anger that moves them but also the intoxication of suddenly being able to do something about it. Participants go from being insignificant and powerless, to being part of a huge combine that has real strength. I have been quite an enthusiastic Digger over the years. I have submitted and Digged dozens of articles in my time, but they are almost always buried in the snowdrift of material coming from others. I think my tastes may not be exactly populist but I suspect this is the experience of many people participating in services like Digg. So when, suddenly, you find yourself Digging things and KNOWING that what you support will be on the front page because you are part of an internet mob, you keep on Digging. You Digg furiously and, just like in real mob politics, it can all become a bit mad sometimes. Observing the Ron Paul frenzy a few months ago, I strongly suspected that the mass Digging was being coordinated by someone. Now, I feel it is much more likely that this sort of phenomenon is just a large group feeling empowered by being able to make a mark on Digg's front page with something they strongly believe in.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Obama: an elitist?

Sometimes even big media talking heads have to call it how it is:

And Obama's response: