Now posts ↓

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Fetid pools mark the 'new America'

The sub-prime loans crisis reaches 2 million foreclosures and goes legal as the Feds start laying charges on those whose claim was to be a “Proud sponsor of the American Dream.” Enron déjà vu.

So what does a fetid swimming pool explosion in LA have to do with panicked people queuing outside British banks? Read on:

Timothy Eagan /New York Times: The Pools of Riverside County
Look closer and you think you’re staring into a ghost exurb – empty homes left to bankers. This is the new America, Southern California’s affordable edge city, drowning in a sea of debt. In the Inland Empire, the eastern-most suburbs of Los Angeles, one out of every 43 households is facing foreclosure proceedings.

Peek behind the palm trees and there you see the most shocking sight: abandoned swimming pools, fetid and green, left to the elements and choked with algae.

Thousands of people have walked away without even draining the water. Mosquito control agents now patrol these murky pools, treating them with pesticides to keep disease-carrying larvae from forming.

“With the skyrocketing foreclosure rate, the problem is compounding daily,” said Jared Dever, a spokesman for the government district that monitors insect breeding grounds. He said about 2,000 abandoned swimming pools would have to be treated in just one part of Riverside County.

Still no wiser? Let John Bird and John Fortune explain what the hell is going on, Without going into any detail at all. It's far too boring:

I like 'enhanced'. I'd buy anything if it said 'enhanced'.

More about "the ingenuity of the markets":

That's not silly, that's a sophisticated banking system in operation.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

More movie clips? That's all there is, folks

Continuing my rummaging through Google Video Search, I actually found clips from all my list, bar one (a few were unpostable).

However, some of them aren't exactly inflictable or foul up a potential viewing of the movie . Like the ones for Distant Voices, Still Lives - a Terrence Davies movie which never fails to make me cry but seeing a clip would just ruin your day.

Or the one I couldn't find a clip for, Derek Jarman's Blue, described thus by IMDB: 'Against a plain, unchanging blue screen, a densely interwoven soundtrack of voices, sound effects and music attempt to convey a portrait of Derek Jarman's experiences with AIDS, both literally and allegorically, together with an exploration of the meanings associated with the colour blue.' Well I like it.

Or the Ciao Manhattan clips, all Edie tributes except for the uninflictable original trailer.

Or the terrible selection of bad copies of Muriel's Wedding highlights (not my pick), despite the Abba theme.

Or finding the - great - Anita Ekberg's Trevi Fountain flounce clip from La Dolce Vita but only advertising's tribute to the spectacular opening scene. Also good but not the actual film. As un-referable as most trailers, all I could find for Altman's The Player although its opening scene, which features an 8 minute tracking shot, sells the movie.

But the really popular movies do have a variety of clips, mash-ups and parodies and are ready made for clip picking/Youtube. Like one of my NSFW favourite numbers from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut:

'It's not my fault that I'm so eeevill.. it's society ... society ...'

Or another - very safe for work but insane - number ripe for a guitar band rethrashing from Wizard of Oz:

'Witch that rhymes with bitch'?

Masses of Oz and South Park clips. And there are other findable, memorable, inflictable clips like this one of the stunning Pam Grier acting cool for a reason in Jackie Brown.

Or the happy conclusion of Beautiful Thing:

As well as insane ephemera like a surreal 1930s Wizard of Oz cartoon or the bizarre, full-length Turkish version or, from last September, the even more bizarre 'Surviving Munchkins Honored At Wizard Of Oz Screening' (some still in costume):

From my rummaging I learnt that you just can't find 'everything' yet, including with the added touch that I can't then, easily, reshow it to you. Surprising lapse in movie marketing? I think so.

NSFW: F*** Planet Earth

Very very rude and very very funny anthropomorphism in the raw.

Scary spam

Almost all my blog generated spam gets filtered out by Blogger and using a gmail account, but this one got through and certainly stopped me in my tracks.

It appears to be computer generated but it made me think of William Burroughs' cut-ups after I'd stopped thinking 'Do I know anyone in Swansea?' ('which wouldn't be the DVLA', as someone jested).

But, jeez, if this is the state of computer simulation and AI be afraid ...

From: chris miller
Date: 25 Jan 2008 20:30
Subject: webmaster for me, my name is Canning
To: paulcanning1(at)

Hi Paul,
My name is Canning, i am a 54yr old,well built, proffessional lady,at present living in the Swansea Marina.Unfortunately, at the present time, i am in the position of being unloved,so,
in order to bring name to the attention of as many interested people as possible,and hopefully encourage a number of individuals to become special friends of mine,i have decided to look
around for that 'special person' whom i know will take the greatest pleasure in promoting me to all and sundry.
Would you possibly be interested?
Just so there is no misunderstanding, i am sorry, but i will be unable to pay you,but i know i will be able to cover any out of pocket expenses you may incur.
Hope to hear from you.

The State of the Ridicule

Classic Jon Stewart on Bush.

He does the best Bush caricature, better than Steve Bell's. And the cheer when he says 'last State of the Union' is something to behold.

  • Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) explains 'Why I kissed President Bush'

  • Stewart hacks up 'the Democrat response' hilariously too.

    All round great show as he's also on form batting against historical anecdote queen, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.


    One anecdote from this year to be recorded for history was Bush performing the rite of 'pass the phone' - where you go up to someone on the phone and say "tell them 'X' celebrity says 'hi'".

    At the State of The Union it was Bush to the very gay Democrat congressman, elder and power broker Barney Frank:

    "Tell him I said, 'Hello,' ''

    Him, in this case, being Barney's Bf.

    Barney rushed back over and said:

    "Mr. President, by the way, the person I was talking to when you said to say hello was my boyfriend.'

    "Well. I hope you said how open-minded I am,'' Frank said the president replied.

    "I considered telling [the president] I wouldn't marry him,'' Frank said, "but then I thought, 'Nah.' ''

    'Open-minded' must be Mary Cheney's doing and very 'State of the Union'.

    Tuesday, 29 January 2008

    'Kill me because I am from the tribe called Kenya'

    Excellent post abut the worsening situation from a self-described young aspiring Kenyan diplomat:
    I refuse to be labeled, hate me, burn my house and even kill me, but because I am Kenyan.

    Kill me because I am Kenyan, not because of my tribe Not because of my name, please kill me because I am Kenyan


    I chose to be proactive. We have to be proactive. I and one of my best friend are starting this movement called kill me because I am from the tribe called Kenya. He is Kenyan luo engaged to a Kenyan kikuyu girl, but first and most he is the key word is kenyan.

    I am angry, really angry. Angry at myself for thinking being passive has ever changed anything. angry that this politicians, this gangs be it mungiki, taliban, kalenjin warriors and et al who want to tell us how to live, who to love and they want to dictate who to hate or kill?

    I refuse yes I refuse that agenda and that is not my destiny

    The Kenyan blogosphere makes for a series of such reads. And it's intimately connected to what's happening on the ground. It's plainly, for Kenyans, becoming the place to find news and where democracy is being fought over.

    There are saboteurs, there are tribalists and there are ordinary people, like this poster, Kamau. The Mashada forum, especially, is apparently becoming the main social site for verbal battle with tribalism a big issue. This is what Kamau is reacting against.

    NB: I was looking for a photo from Joseph Karoki's blog to use and this was about the mildest one. He, like the media is the rest of the 'developing' world, does carry photos of bodies. Burnt and hacked people - one shows a tin hut with a hacked to death mother and a child crying over her. Westerners never get to see these images. But it's really only by actually seeing it that you get closer to what's happening - horror - to other people. So - a warning for 'strong content'.

    Best place to get a flavour if the blogosphere is the blog aggregator.


    Very quick postscript! Just saw the photo of the mother murdered in front of her child in the Washington Post -- anyone seen it in a UK paper? Are we that timid? And where's the offense?

    Friday, 25 January 2008

    Blogger's Favourite Movies

    Tidying my profile link and then the profile, I noticed I could click on movies I'd favourited. This gave me the top ten of popularity, amongst Blogger users of these movies.

    Clicking through was an exercise in revelation as some were far more well-known than I thought and others had interesting, not always predictable, fans.

    Not in order of addition, some movies I could watch over and overI also investigated clips and found out just how enormous the YouTube archive is getting, though not every thing's there and not every scene I'd pick.

    A couple of scenes from Tarkovsky's "Mirror"

    Storica introduzione di "Manhattan", film che più di ogni altro può essere considerato capolavoro della poetica del grande regista Woody Allen. Scritto da Allen e da Marshall Brickman, accompagnato dalla storica colonna sonora di George Gershwin.

    Trailer for Amarcord directed by Federico Fellini

    Just going wider to Google Video Search brings up more gems.

    La Dolce Vita
    Anita Eckberg e Marcello Matroianni nella celebre scena della Fontana di Trevi, dal film "La dolce vita" di Fellini

    Peroni's beautiful and stylish portrayal of Fellini's 1960s Italian classic La Dolce Vita. This advertisement is the colour version of Peroni's stunning La Dolce Vita commercial — a great pastiche of the opening scene but I couldn't find the original :{

    'e-suicide'? Nothing new

    Danny Finkelstein at The Times looks at copycat suicides, supposedly spawned by the web, and finds them part of a long tradition.

    Too right. One word: Valentino, the silent screen heartthrob.
    At the news of Valentino's death, two women attempted suicide in front of Polyclinic Hospital; in London a girl took poison before Rudy's inscribed photograph; an elevator boy of the Ritz in Paris was found dead on a bed covered with Valentino's photos.

    While Valentino was lying in state at Campbell's Funeral Home, New York streets became the scene of a ghoulish carnival as a mob of over 100,000 fought for a last glimpse of the Great Lover

    From Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon.

    Kenya: where is the BBC?

    Here's today's BBC Online headline:

    And here's Kenya's headline:

    More about the troop movements on Siasa Duni's blog and others.

    Very little continuing political analysis about Kenya on the BBC's site, although this was published on Monday.

    Note the author. Let's hear more from him. Keep the star reporters at home (less carbon miles for one thing).

    It is right to report the violence but not when that's the whole story and the impression is left that it's solely 'tribal' or little explanation is given.

    BBC Online has the vastness of scale to do way, way more to report what's happening or - at minimum - link to it. There's not even cross links to their other huge resource, the World Service, which has specialists.

    I don't think their coverage lives up to their responsibilities and, given their resources, is pretty pathetic.


    More background from the Kenyan blogosphere:

    · Very interesting post about division and 'dobbing-in' to authorities in the diaspora and how Kibaki backers are using the web to, amongst other things, say that Raila Ondinga is funded by Al Qaeda.

    · Never mind the BBC, the same author has no time for the efforts of Kenyan MSM:

    For the rest of their lives, Kenyans will have a healthy skepticism for the media. As of January 2008, Kenya will have the largest number of healthy media critics ever known. Why? Media personalities, such as Mildred Ngesa, Catherine Kasavuli and Carole Mandi, people that Kenyans looked up to, have turned out to be fickle and unprincipled. As it strived to cheapen its stories, the Kenyan media as a whole was cheapened. They allowed Michuki (Minister and loud Kibaki backer - very like the Zimbabwean tyke, Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo) to cello-tape their mouths. They cannot call themselves journalists. It is not enough for them to come out on national TV and emotionally say that they are forming a group because “Somewhere, the story has been lost.” If the true story has been lost, then it is because they were asleep while they were supposed to be telling it. I venture to surmise, however, that the true story is alive and well, because Kenyan bloggers have come out and done the job that the Kenyan news media is supposed to do. Kenyan journalists should be ashamed of themselves. They have let Kenya down. Many people now trust Kumekucha more than they trust their regular dailies. [Kumekucha says: Kofi Annan appears to have waved his MAGIC wand and viola all Kenyans are ululating with bliss. )

    Kenyans who never cared much about media personalities have had their attention rudely drawn to the fact that their newspapers and televisions might not be giving them the whole story. Circumstances have forced Kenyans to begin to ask themselves what might be written between the lines; what is not being told; what the purpose is, for what is being told. This is very healthy, because it will hopefully bring a sense of accountability to the media. Pretty soon, people will begin to ask questions. How could Ugandan soldiers venture into Kenya undetected? Why did I have to read a blog to find out about a woman whose daughter was raped in the Rift Valley?


    On Day One

    The Better World Campaign, a coalition of groups which works to build a stronger relationship between the United States and the United Nations, is trying to raise the status of foreign policy in the US Presidential campaign with this new site.

    It wants overseas contribution and will sort and sieve it to provide some real numbers, if it's taken up.
    On November 4th, 2008, Americans will elect new leadership and a new direction for the United States. Help shape a new way forward -- share your thoughts, upload videos and tell the next president what to do on the first day in office to improve our standing in the world.
    You can:
    • Post your ideas (including videos) for the next President
    • Vote on and discuss other people's ideas
    • Tell the Presidential candidates (and friends and family) what you think
    Mohammed YunusMohammed Yunus, amongst others, has already contributed.

    Contributions will be whittled down to the most popular in each of nine categories. They will then be presented to the newly-elected president when he or she is sworn in.

    Here are some aides memoire:

    Thursday, 24 January 2008

    Send Kenyans some love

    Very easy to show some support for Kenyans by sending some money to the Red Cross via MamaMikes.

    I just bought someone a mattress and a few other items.

    You can send just £5 - lunchmoney in the UK - and that will make a difference for someone.

    Aussies should boycott the Daily Mail and Sun

    This is how the Daily Mail has been spinning the 'drugs death' of Heath Ledger.

    Nobody knows yet what exactly killed him but all the evidence thus far points to a fatal prescription drug interaction.

    Australia is in national mourning and it's worth recording just how this British tabloid is treating their favourite son.

    Also worth noting that I tried to add a comment saying 'shame on you' but the Mail doesn't like criticism of its behavior appearing on its website. Unlike The Guardian and others.

    And they're not the only one - Aussies take note.

    By contrast, this is the Australian tabloid 'spin'.

    Blow me away travel maps

    Absolutely stunning project from MySociety, a bunch of geniuses, on truly useful travel maps.
    This mapping work was very important because it provides a potentially revolutionary new way of working out the best place for people to live and work.
    You can see some examples here.

    This one shows which areas it makes more sense to get public transport to work in Edinburgh, and which areas it makes more sense to drive.

    They compare car vs cycling and one allow users to set both the maximum time they’re willing to commute, and the median house price they’re willing or able to pay.

    There are two ways in which you can get a travel map of this sort centred on a location of interest to you.

    If you’re a interested user, you can contact your local transport journey planning organisation, for example Transport for London or San Francisco BART, and encourage them to work with us to get a system like this working interactively on their websites.

    If you’re a rich user, or company, you can commission us to create bespoke maps – we’re a non-profit after all and all the money will help run our other projects. And if you’re really rich, you can work with us to develop a real-time service of the sort that the transport agencies should be doing. Francis Irving from mySociety has written a technical review on the challenges of developing a real-time map generation system.

    If you’re interested in working with us on this, email

    Wednesday, 23 January 2008

    Why Ken is losing

    Compare and contrast these emails from Ken Livingstone's campaign and Barack Obama's.

    Click for full-size

    Just a terrible campaign email. Why does Ken need donations? Where is his rebuttal? Where are his allies? And, most importantly, why should I believe him? And who the heck is 'we'?

    By contrast, Obama has recognised that the 'Barack=Muslim' meme isn't going away and impales it with John Kerry (losing Dem. 2004 candidate). Great ammunition for his supporters.

    Ken needs to hire some online campaigning advisors, like, today.

    The audacity of hope

    Astonishingly powerful speech by Barack Obama from the 'bully pulpit' at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the church where Martin Luther King and his father pastored. Well repays 45' of attention. He's good.

    "I wasn't born into money or great wealth, but I had hope!" he declared, bringing the congregation to its feet, cheering and clapping. "I needed some hope to get here. My daddy left me when I was little, but I had hope! I was raised by a single mother, but I had hope! I was given love, an education, and some hope!"

    The Tweety Effect

    Fascinating post on Media Matters by Eric Boehlert about a new net created phenomenon - the Tweety Effect.

    'Tweety' is US TV commentator, MSNBC's Chris Matthews.

    The meme, which Boehlert examines in detail, is that the barrage of sexism directed at Hillary Clinton by Matthews and other TV pundits directly affected the New Hampshire result as women voted for Hillary and against the media.

    Matthews has referred to Clinton as "She devil." He has repeatedly likened Clinton to "Nurse Ratched," referring to the scheming, manipulative character in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest who "asserts arbitrary control simply because she can." He has called her "Madame Defarge." And he has described male politicians who have endorsed Clinton as "castratos in the eunuch chorus."

    Matthews has compared Clinton to a "strip-teaser" and questioned whether she is "a convincing mom." He refers to Clinton's "cold eyes" and the "cold look" she supposedly gives people; he says she speaks in a "scolding manner" and is "going to tell us what to do."

    Matthews was forced to apologise — by bloggers.

    So we have a new Net term :}

    Tweety Effect
    1. where the misogyny of a talking head in the MSM so enrages a demographic that they go out and vote in a manner that will put egg on the face of the talking head.

    Wesly Ngetich

    Kenyan Marathon Runner Killed by Arrow - 14 hours ago
    Wesly Ngetich, 34, won the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn., in 2005 and 2007. He and at least a dozen other Kenyans withdrew from the Rock 'n' Roll ...
    The Associated Press - 157 related articles »

    Photo/hat-tip: K. Praslowicz

    Kenya Crisis - Online response flourishing

    More inspiring online responses.

    SMS as Information Channel in Post-Election Kenya

    "Kenya IndyMedia solicits contributions of either cash or airtime minutes from not only within East Africa but from around the globe. Text messages with sufficient minutes attached are sent out to potential interview subjects, who then ring up one of IndyMedia's reporters. With the interview recorded, either John or a fellow activist then trudges over to one of Nairobi's cyber cafes. Paying about $1 an hour for Internet access, they're interviews are posting posted online for all the world to hear. Some of these SMS-enabled recordings have appeared on the Kenya IndyMedia website. Others are now airing on international radio."

    Naburr is connecting with villages connected to NGOs by SMS.

    Twitter is the only channel which can connect back to mobiles, allowing users to view posts without an Internet connection. Kenyan Twitter channels: KenyaNews - afromusing

    Peace for Kenya and Kenya’s Post Election Humanitarian Crisis Facebook Groups.

    Worknets Wiki.

    Google comments on Kenyan use of YouTube.
    While Kenya's future is uncertain, YouTube remains a window into the challenges the country faces – in other words, you don't need expensive satellite TV to catch the news from the region or footage of the chaos.

    Hat-tip: NetSquared.

    Previous posts with more links:

    Paint The White House Black

    Been catching up with and - yay! - got re-exposed to this P-Fonkay jam from George 'presient' Clinton's 2nd album release "Hey Man... Smell My Finger" on Prince's Paisley Park/NPG Records label in '93..

    Spooky ...

    Tuesday, 22 January 2008

    Kenya bloggers postscript

    from joseph karokis blog
    My post on the inspiring development of the Kenyan blogosphere has been picked up. This got me adding a couple of observations — points which I'm not picking up elsewhere.

    1. One of the new tech angles in the crisis is SMS/Mobile. This is enormous in Africa and widely used - people send money by text. As there's a total news media blackout, SMS has been key for news. The blogosphere is keyed right into this, with many relaying messages and using SMS networks to find out and distribute news. As well, the big East African forum Masada includes SMS discussion. I'm not aware of anything like this anywhere else — Kenyans are in advance of the US/Europe I think?

    2. All types of bloggers feel that they must contribute. I have seen golf blogs, religious blogs, business blogs all chipping in and receiving comments - suggesting a thriving online network of ideas spreading out way beyond the usual suspects. Again, I'd suggest this is a new phenomenon.

    There has been some comment online bemoaning the lack of interest in Kenya - notably from Robert Scroble - But it's not 'white guilt' that should get Scobalites interested alone, just look at the tech issues and there's something of great interest which seems to be passing the commentariat by.

    London Mayoral race online: postscript

    Ian Douglas at the Telegraph has had a look at the online presence of the London Mayoral candidates and has a similar conclusion to mine [Web oiling US campaign, not so much in London]: Boris is winning.

    Ian points me at a Ken supporter website, which is dire, possibly worse than useless as it's not responding at all to the smears.

    Brian Paddick has a website too. Plus Facebook/Twitter but they're unused - which, again, is worse than useless because an untended web presence provokes a general feeling of neglect. All the US campaigns learnt that lesson very quickly.

    Brian does have more 'standard' web campaign components than Boris though, including SMS, which is pretty sophisticated (Obama only started that a few months ago). Like this banner:

    Advert for Brian Paddick website

    Plus the LibDems do have an organised and networked presence online and have had for a while. Experience helps and may help Brian but I would expect the Tories to copy him.

    Douglas loves Barack Obama's website. Actually, you could now look at all the Democrat candidate sites and many Republican's and say similar things. A year ago some were leading but everyone's caught up - so there's precious little first mover advantage. However for both Obama (youth) and Ron Paul (Libertarians) their natural supporters are web-savvy anyway. So there is an advantage for them in being able to use the web to organise/fundraise their base where it was much harder before.

    The problem for Ken is that he's a bit like Guiliani in his approach to online. It's very obvious that it's not a serious factor in his campaign. As time wears on, this will become more and more obvious - and cost him votes.

    Sunday, 20 January 2008

    Column width · Bigger isn't better

    The poll I ran came in with 'narrow' as the favourite for text column width.

    I wasn't surprised, as I've always taken the idea that newspapers were onto something — around the twelve word mark and the eyes/brain needs to stop and go to another line.

    That's why sites which have text running the full width of a screen wear the eyes out (unless your eyes are already worn out, or it's a mobile screen).

    Guru Jakob
    Readability: How easy is it to read the text in various columns, given their allocated width?
    And talks a lot about scrolling. Which is increasingly prevalent user behaviour.

    Resizability is the key, meaning fluid design.

    As for the content, Jakob was talking about 'Inverted Pyramids in Cyberspace' in '96. Again, something newspapers have always done.

    The more things change ....

    Web oiling US campaign, not so much in London

    Techmeme's sister site Memeorandum watches the flow of news - and dirt - across the blogosphere and beyond

    The Times recently ran a story about the 2008 US Presidential race being 'the Internet election'.

    It's not quite.

    All the main presidential campaigns "think that the internet is just a slice of the pie ­ they don't realise it's actually the plan", as Andrew Rasiej, the founder of TechPresident, which has been following the online race for some time, puts it.

    The campaigns tend to view the Web as a "direct mail for the 21st century, an exercise in top-down control where they create the message, tell us how to vote and where to send the money", he says.

    The idea of 'the list versus the network'.

    The online success of the libertarian GOP candidate Ron Paul is actually nothing to do with his campaign - his supporters have generated his out-of-proportion 'presence' on the web themselves. not really surprising given that so many libertarians have driven the web's growth.

    That online sucess has got 'offline' votes for 'Dr Paul' and for Obama. The media's just not paying much attention. This caused Paul supporters to resort to parading down the Las Vegas Strip last Saturday surreally shouting
    'We’re not just the Internet. We’re flesh and blood.'
    Nevada is fertile territory for Libertarians, according to the Guardian. And Paul did well in the Republican caucus. They pounded for the Dr.

    None of the other GOP candidates have shown much interest in the Web. Commentators have suggested that this may have something to do with the make-up of typical party members.

    What the Democrat campaigns have done is simply hire from the same youthful pool - often those who ran Howard Dean's ill-fated 2004 campaign, which first showed the power of the web as a political organising and fundraising tool, especially with new voters.

    TechPresident has been detailing how the 2008 campaigns have tended to corral and be slightly afraid of letting supporters loose.

    Talking about a just issued question and answer video from Hillary:
    Instead of asking supporters to upload videos of questions, or to text or IM them — which would have been a natural thing for young voters to do — she asked them fill out a web form. Thanks to the closed nature of web forms, once participants hit “Submit” their questions went up the stovepipe and couldn’t be shared among other supporters. Not a very networked, webby way to behave, and typical of Clinton’s top-down style.

    I actually find this video a tad patronising. I'm sure the kid whose music video I posted earlier would be better 'pissing inside the tent', but I can't imagine Hillary's tight campaign 'reaching out'.

    Both main campaigns have been using social networks but, again, in this tightly controlled way. Edwards has picked up attention for making early, wider use of the web, using sites such as Eventful ('find and post local events anywhere in the world') to get the online to actual 'fleshmeets'. But now everyone is doing the same.

    What the campaigns do appear to have spawned - I think that's the right word - is various organising sites that double as attack-sites. Hillaryis44 is one such site, fingered as a focal point for dirt aimed at Obama.

    Allen points to Webb aide, Sidarth, referring to him as "Macaca" [18]
    He would be right to have something to fear, as the web finds cracks and burrows it's way in at the wavering and acts as an amplifier for lies. Bad news gets out, quickly. Remember 'Macaca'?

    The web is driving the election in that way - as a news source it's unrivaled. I've watched stories head from blog buzz to TV mainstream. Like the Obama= Madrassa/Muslim Manchurian Candidate meme.

    Currently it's an attempt to link Obama with black radical Louis Farrakkan via Obama's church. Another lot is trying to tie him to Kenyan election violence. Smears can work but they can also backfire.

    : One interesting bit of data about the web and the race, just put out by Yahoo, is that Clinton’s Buzz Score” — “the percentage of Yahoo! users searching for that subject on a given day, multiplied by a constant to make the number easier to read” — similar to Google Trends —went up and up in the runup to the New Hampshire primary. At the same time, Barack Obama’s score spiked downward. NH was where the polls got the result dramatically wrong, but they missed the change as they were a couple of days old.

    In the run-up to Iowa webstats service Hitwise, similarly, picked up spiking online Obama buzz.


    Despite us having a similarly high web penetration, the UK is way behind this game. Politicians have very little clue as to how to use the web and look likely to continue to be blindsided.

    Try googling 'Boris for Mayor' or 'Ken for Mayor' or 'Brian for Mayor' — you'll only see Boris in there with his mates. Ken is nowhere, neither is Paddick.

    Boris' web presence will earn him lots of London Mayoral votes I predict!

    The Tories in the UK have by far the longest web involvement and a lot of smart people ready to start 'piling in' - as Boris' would undoubtedly put it.

    Ken, by contrast, has a problem with the Mayoral Site being his sole web presence - it's not really his, it belongs to the office and that'll restrict him. Plus his mates aren't defending him online. So he has zip web presence as far as I can see.

    Does this look like a campaign website?

    One whole section is devoted to 'Statements'.

    And Ken's got problems.

    The New Statesman's TV company is about to publicise alleged "astonishing and shocking" drinking habits and being "a law unto himself", via Channel Four, then YouTube and virally.

    London's paper the Evening Standard has four attack stories on its website last Friday.

    He'd better get his web-act together.

    Huge proportions of the London electorate now get their news via the Web and things like video of Ken knocking back the booze and endless sleaze stories circulating online cannot be just laughed off any more.

    Polls currently show it too close to call.

    "I Got a Crush...On Hillary" (take that obama girl!)

    Truly bizarre music video. On several levels.

    'Those thighs, those eyes'. 'You're the sexiest candidate'.

    Views: 484,179

    As is this, er, lesbian version by 'Hott 4 Hill feat. Taryn Southern'.

    'The usa would be a better place if everyone could get a taste of you.'

    Views: 1,100,219

    NB: these vids are getting ten-times the numbers that official 'youth' campaign vids are getting.

    10 Suckin' Years

    Am I detecting a little trans-Atlantic ribaldry at the end of this back-to-form riff between Jon Stewart and Britain's own John Oliver?

    'Memories ... '

    It's funny what appalling titbits stick in the mind from that episode ...

    Saturday, 19 January 2008

    US States Renamed For Countries With Similar GDPs

    The creator of this map has had the interesting idea to break down that gigantic US GDP into the GDPs of individual states, and compare those to other countries’ GDP.

    read more | digg story

    This is Web power · Challenging Cosa Nostra

    PALERMO Comittee Addiopizzo was started by a group of young Italians in Sicily against the Mafia.

    They wanted to start a bar, but one of them asked:
    “What if they ask us for the pizzo?”
    'Pizzo' are the extortion payments made by local businesses for protection. The group says:
    We have found a new strategy to fight mafia: critical shopping against pizzo. The campaign “Against pizzo change your shopping habits” wants to create a group of consumers in Palermo and in the region, ready to support businesses who stand up against racket and, overcoming fear, denounce their extorters.

    Those businesses are listed on their website. Over 7000 Sicilians have also put their names down.

    Safety in numbers and this is the first time this has happened in Palermo.

    The local business association, Confindustria, has now signed on - they will expel anyone found to be paying pizzo.

    And they now know who many of those businesses are - and how much they were paying - as lists were found when bosses Berndando Provenzano and Lo Piccolo were arrested last year. Half Palermo's businesses are estimated to pay.

    Sicilian authorities are now aggressively prosecuting those who refuse to testify against the Mafia in clear-cut cases of extortion, charging them with "aiding and abetting" Cosa Nostra.

    "Now it is a bigger risk for us to pay than not to pay," said Ugo Argiroffi, an engineer who recently added his Palermo construction company, C.O.C.I. to Addiopizzo's list

    The website is undermining the 'culture of fear', raising real hope of an end to the one a a half century long stranglehold of the 'shadow state'.
    "This rebellion goes to the heart of the Mafia," said Palermo prosecutor Maurizio De Lucia, who has investigated extortion cases for years. "If it works, we will have a great advantage in the fight against the Mafia."

    `It's a happy coincidence'' that Provenzano's capture corresponds to the banding together of businesses and consumers against the mob, Vittorio Greco, a University of Palermo professor and Comittee Addiopizzo founder said. ``The police forces were able to capture Provenzano just as civil society was able to reach this goal.
    Unfortunately, some things are lost forever:

    Villa Deliella
    , one of Palermo's historical monuments destroyed by Mafia corruption

    And Addiopizzo has built on many before it, such as their hero, Libero Grassi, a merchant killed in 1991 for refusing to pay pizzo.
    Libero Grassi has not been forgotten. A new station of Palermo's metro (underground) line and a technical school have been named in his honour. Recently a Palermo fashion show televised nationally was dedicated to his memory. He didn't consider himself exceptional.
    Other Sicilians are also using the Web to spread the message, inspired by Committee Addiopizzo:
    • Addiopizzo in Catania, Scicily's second-largest City.

    TGR SICILIA TV news report

    Palermo, November 15, 1983. Benedetto Grado's wife and daughters at the scene of his slaying. The family was already mourning his son Antonio. Mafia violence has felled generations of Sicilians, innocents and implicated.
    · [Photoessay] Franco Zecchin: Fifteen Years of Mafia