All My Little Words

A Proportional Response

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 31, 2008

I don’t really know what to make of Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza. No one is arguing that Israel does not have a right to defend itself or to protect its people. The charge, it seems to me, is that the level of force it is employing to successfully achieve its publicly stated aims far exceeds that which would be described as proportional.

The problem with proportionality, as far as Israel is concerned, is that it lacks value as a future deterrent.

I am reminded of this scene from the West Wing episode entitled “A Proportional Response”. A US military aircraft carrying Bartlet’s personal physician has been shot down in the Middle East and the president is facing his first real foreign policy test.

So a case can be made. However, as Bartlet learns later in the episode and Israel should really have learned itself at some point in the past sixty years, once you lose all sense of perspective you also lose legitimacy among your peers and the right to consider yourself the victim, more sinned against than sinning. And that is before we even begin to consider whether Israel will actually achieve anything in the long term. It might be argued that should Israel sufficiently weaken Hamas, with which it will not negotiate, Fattah, with which it will, can increase its political influence in Gaza. However, even if this were to succeed would it not likely dangerously divide the  Palestinian people and take us further away from the possibility of a Palestinian state? Or might that possibly be Israel’s true intention?

It’s all just a little bit of history repeating.

As ridiculously simplistic as it is to say, someone needs to sit these two down and politely but firmly inform each that neither is going to be driven into the sea any time soon. A job for Hillary and Obama?

Awards! Huh! What are they good for? Absolutely nothing. Part III

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 28, 2008

The “World in Motion” award:

Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours

New Order: they were pretty good weren’t they? Still, great album all the same.

Talking during a movie? You’ve been warned…

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 27, 2008

Harsh but fair

Awards! Huh! What are they good for? Absolutely nothing. Part II.

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 24, 2008

The “Liiiike A Glooooove” Award.

Far and away my most played album of the year notching up a pretty impressive 40(ish) plays per track, John Darnielle has produced something quite special. As familiar and comforting as you can hope for from the first listen this is a record worth celebrating. If this had been the only musical release of 2008, I’d still have been a happy man.

Who throws a shoe? Honestly!

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 24, 2008

Iraqi shoe-thrower set for trial

An Iraqi journalist who flung shoes at US President George W Bush will go on trial on 31 December, his brother and a judge have said.

Muntadar al-Zaidi is accused of “aggression against a foreign head of state” over the 14 December incident.

To be fair, if that’s a crime, he’s definitely guilty of it.

Awards! Huh! What are they good for? Absolutely nothing. Part I.

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 23, 2008

The “OMFG WHY THE F IS THIS REKKID NOT LIKE TOTES POPULAR?!” Award:alopecia

Why? – Alopecia

“Even though I haven’t seen you in years/Yours is a funeral I’d fly to from anywhere”

I’m not sure when it happened but I’ve either reached an age, or passed a quantity of musical consumption, where elusive is the instance of discovering something that seems truly new and exciting. After a while almost everything you hear is simply a better or worse version of something you’ve already heard.

That being said, as rare as such moments are, when they do occur they seem to take on an epiphanic quality, reducing one to a state of, I would say, “agog”. My introduction to Yoni Wolf’s band Why?, at Primavera Sound in Barcelona last summer, was one such moment.

Itunes genrifies Alopecia as “hip pop”  which is a charmingly succinct, albeit ultimately meaningless, encapsulation of the sound of the record. Yoni’s refinedly flat, foreboding vocal is not quite rapping but nor does he sing, although several tracks are splendidly “singalong”, and cuts perfectly against simple, unassuming melodies and lines of percussion as good as any you’ll hear. Buy this album.

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The Death of Deep Throat

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 23, 2008

deep_throat-fullNo, not the spectacularly impressive sexual practice but former FBI agent Mark Felt, key source for Woodward and Bernstein’s investigation into the Watergate burglary.

For more than thirty year’s the identity of Deep Throat was speculated upon, with Felt generally thought to be the most likely candidate, but never confirmed. Most interesting to me, once you get past the stealth and the subterfuge and the circling of page 20 in Woodward’s paper to arrange a meeting, are Felt’s motivations.

This article from the Atlantic, published more than ten years before Felt outed himself (or was coerced into outing himself, depending on who you believe), astutely gets to the heart of the matter, even without the confirmation of Deep Throat’s identity. Felt, in tipping off Bob Woodward, was not acting out of moral outrage at overreaches of a power-hungry executive, nor out of loyalty to his country.

Instead he was motivated by… well, it would be too simplistic to say revenge but certainly his intent contained no small measure of malice. The culture of the FBI, until his death in 1972, was dominated by the personality of J. Edgar Hoover. Although it existed within the executive branch it operated almost entirely independently of the White House. Nixon, ever the paranoiac, sought to impose himself upon the organization and bring its activities back into line by appointing a loyalist to the post of FBI director.

To an institutionalised figure such as Felt, himself having been a strong candidate for the top job, this was less than welcome. In his position as No. 3 at the bureau Felt was privy to the investigation into Watergate and had access to all manner of secrets. To publicly blow the whistle by informing the grand jury of all he knew would have meant self-defenestration so he went to the press instead. And the rest is history.

Speaking of War Criminals

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 22, 2008

torture…not to mention journalistic negligence, here’s another story that should have covered far more widely than it was.

Of course Bush has been labeled a war criminal before, but up to now it was largely by sign-wielding protesters on Pennsylvania Ave, East Coast academics and, oh I don’t know, bloggers. I.e. people who didn’t matter.

But this is different. It’s a governmental disavowal of the actions of the Bush administration and demonstrates a willingness to make amends and restore America’s standing. It would be foolishly optimistic to expect a full criminal investigation and charges to follow (although had the report emerged a year or two earlier it might be reasonable to expect axes to fall and/or impeachments to proceed) but that alone should not render it valueless. While Bush does the rounds in the media artificially embellishing his legacy with spurious claims that his presidency has made Americans safer, this investigation provides a powerful repudiation.

And Clinton got a blow-job.

Theoneste Bagosora, Director of Rwandan Genocide, Convicted

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 18, 2008

Romeo Dallaire, Force Commander of the UN’s UNAMIR mission to Rwanda said that to meet him was to “shake hands with the devil”.

Although this story will go underreported and its significance underestimated it is, in my opinion, the most important victory for legal justice since the convictions of the Nazis at Nuremburg.
Recommended Reading:

Samantha Power – A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide

Romeo Dallaire – Shake Hands With The Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda

Dishonest, Guv

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 15, 2008

There can be no question that the Illinois Governor is a revoltingly reptilian character, not to mention a total fucking moron. Nonetheless when measured against the usual Machiavellian methods of political actors, are his crimes really that far off the scale?

In Slate’s Political Podcast, Editor David Plotz argues that while Blagojevich’s corruptness sits toward the far end of it is still comparable with, say, Bill Clinton granting White House access to campaign contributors. Politics trades using the currency of favours  – “If I do this for you, what are you going to do for me?” – and power, as we know, corrupts.  Blagojevich might have simply lost sight of the line between legitimacy and corruption and assumed that what he was doing was an extension of the executive privilege of his office. He could not, after all, have simply sold Obama’s senate seat to the highest bidder, merely to the highest bidder out of the modest pool of legitimate candidates.

Not that I’m by any means condoning his behaviour or giving him any benefit of the doubt. He is a sleaze and a scumbag to the Nth power but lest we forget, he’s a politician and that’s the breed.

Little Faaaakin’ Donkey, Bruv

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 12, 2008

This is truly brilliant.

A SCHOOL has asked kids to learn a “chav” nativity play — where Jesus turns water into lager instead of wine.

Mary and Joseph break into a garage instead of finding shelter in a stable.

For the first time I’m truly proud of my country.

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An Unlikely List

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 9, 2008

A List of Places in Somerset

Lol @ Compton Pauncefoot

Cricket Malherbie

Hornblotton

Huish Champflower

David Foster Wallace

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 8, 2008

“I think being shy basically means being self-absorbed to the point that it makes it difficult to be around other people. For instance, if I’m hanging out with you, I can’t even tell whether I like you or not because I’m too worried about whether you like me.”

I confess that, until reading this extended epitaph in Rolling Stone I had not previously heard of the American author David Foster Wallace. It seems that David Lipsky’s view of him as “the greatest writer of his generation”, while not an isolated opinion, is not necessarily a consensus one either – at least it wasn’t prior to his death.

Nonetheless the above quote – one I agree with completely – piqued my interest enough to cause me to order Consider the Lobster from my local bookshop in East Dulwich. I will report back.

P.S. According to Amazon, 1% of people who view the page containing DFW’s novel, Consider the Lobster subsequently find themselves purchasing The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean. While I’m almost certain that stat is based on a single individual out of hundred it’s no less an amusing numeric morsel. The Secret Life of Lobsters has a better average rating too.

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin YEEEEAAAH

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 8, 2008

rickroll_chart-1

I’d like to open the nominations for this year’s most unlikely social phenomenon. Forget a black guy with a funny name capturing the world’s attention and eventually the American Presidency – 2008’s been all about the RickRoll.

The premise is simple: you click on a link pertaining to be, say, Margaret Thatcher Sex Tape (and don’t even try to pretend you wouldn’t), but instead of the iron lady expressing physical passions of pornographic proportions you arrive at a YouTube Video of Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up. Gutted.

You’ve just been RickRoll’d.

This plague of Rick Rolls ultimately led to victory for Astley last month the MTV Europe Awards category for Best Act Ever and has also resulted in a Facebook campaign for him to have the Christmas No.1 single. Although I haven’t give a carp about the charts for about a decade, personally I think the joke’s gone on for too long and needs to end now.

Gonzo

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 7, 2008

I’ve never been a massive fan of Hunter S. Thompson’s work. While I’ve attempted to read both Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and On The Campaign Trail with neither book did I make it much further than half-way. That being said, as a cultural icon I find him absolutely fascinating; while I may not like to read him,I do like to read around him.

HST was utterly contemptuous of the art of journalism, once writing that it “is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuck-offs and misfits – a fake doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.”

“Gonzo”, the label coined by Bill Cardoso in 1970 to describe HST’s writing style, is born in part of the belief that an objective perspective is impossible and to attempt to disguise this fact by employing the third person is tantamount to fraud. I can certainly relate to the basic premise because it’s more or less exactly how I feel about music criticism and perhaps critical literature in its entirety. Yet while I would agree that it’s difficult to remove oneself from a story – and ultimately impossible to achieve entirely; articles are, after all, still written by human beings – that’s not to say we shouldn’t try.

HST’s reaction – to place himself at the centre of every piece – strikes me as, at best, damn lazy and at worst, pathologically egotistical. His lengthy, fragmented diatribes read like the coke-fueled conversations of a partygoer at 4am transcribed. Having so often been the instigator of such conversations it is not with that alone which I take issue. I have, I’m positive, bored the bejeesus out of many an unsuspecting victim. But please don’t publish that shit.

Alex Gibney’s documentary, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, is released in select UK cinema’s on the 19th of December.

My Office Christmas Party – Effortlessly Summed Up With A Quote

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 6, 2008

“Vodka’s very deceptive. And it’s evil because it’s so deceptive. You drink it and you think: what is this? You can’t taste it, you smell it. Why did we waste our money on this bloody…. why are we on a traffic island?” – Dylan Moran

I won’t go into the details – mainly because I can’t remember most of them – but I will say that everyone should try drinking vodka from an ice sculpture. However, once you’re on your 5th shot, you’re not really trying it  anymore.

Listless

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on December 2, 2008

It’s about this time of year that boring men begin to compile lists of their top things or bottom things, or things gone most unnoticed of the previous eleven months. Really boring men begin the process of chronicling as far back as January so as to ensure complete accuracy at year’s end: “That was a great wank, but will I remember it well enough to include it in my top 50 in six month’s time? Maybe I should enter the various metrics into Excel?” For example.

Unfortunately my brain’s capacity to create and recall memories has been somewhat dulled in recent years and as such I struggle to remember the name’s of close friends without some kind of prompt; much less those of all the films I’ve seen, records I’ve heard and girls I’ve slept with since January 1st.

Well, maybe the latter. If I really try.

While I may lack the mental faculties to be either of the two men described above – and it really is only men that do this – I do not lack the compulsion to be one. Therefore over the next couple I weeks I will be trawling the internet, itunes and back issues of Rolling Stone so as to provide a comprehensive and ordered evaluation of the year.

I’m betting on a clean sweep for Wall-E.

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