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Wednesday 19 November 2008

Lost and frightened

Is there blood on your mobile phone?
Congo harbors the biggest world reserves. The coltan, a mix of niobite and tantalite, is also found in 6 other African countries. Children work in the coltan mines (only they can reach the narrowest galleries) and also Hutu prisoners and adults. They all must face semi-slavery conditions. On the ground, women cook and prostitute. The benefits from the coltran smuggling are directed to financing armies and guerilla forces of the confronting countries.

Congo also harbors 70 % of the world's cobalt reserves, 30 % of diamonds, and 10 % of copper.

Seven foreign armies were attracted in the civil war by the treasures of a country as big as Western Europe, the third in Africa. On one side, there is the Republic of Congo, supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe; on the other side Rwanda, Uganda and the Congolese rebels, in a conflict qualified by some as "the First African World War".

Want to do something? Support Amnesty International's actions for the Congo.

The sexiest man in the world ...

... according to People magazine.

And here he is! As Peter Allen.

Love it! Australia should be proud.

But I am having Bob Downe flashbacks ...

Of course it's the brain which attracts:
It's easy with my wife. She loves the idea of me coming home in costume because it makes her feel like she's having an affair in a good way. When we met, I was cast as a prisoner with tattoos and she'd say, "Don't take your tattoos off tonight!" and I'd be like, "All right!" But what works best with her is the stockbroker look. She also says, "Do your sexy dance for me," [an '80s-like, hip-swiveling number] and that works for me.
N'kay, back to the boring serious/egov/internet stuff. But first!

Yes, it's a fake from Google images ...

Tuesday 18 November 2008

"I think we should kill Obama"

Not a good sign. The election is bringing out the racists. As black people feared, way back in the primary.

From Mudflats, reporting from a town next to Palin's Wasilla:
The event was supposed to be for all parties, for all people, but it didn't feel like it. I was shocked and offended. The event was supposed to be for supporters of Senators Obama and McCain and no one paid respect to President-elect Obama's historic moment. Finally, another step toward complete equality and it seemed no one cared.

So the next day I borrowed my mother's Obama shirt and walked into school wearing my pride on my chest. Finally the campaign was over and I was actively supporting our new president, even though I knew I would be vastly out numbered at school. I expected complaints and qualms about the new president, but I was not prepared for the flat-out racist remarks said openly in the halls and classrooms. I was appalled. While I sat at my desk trying to do my work I could hear my fellow classmates:

"I think we should kill Obama," one said.

"I hope someone comes up and shoots him in the head," another would say.

"I hate Obama ... he's black."

On went the racist words for the full 80 minutes of that class. Angered, I began to think of the injustice of it all and the ignorance of the students I was surrounded by. I wondered where they learned to be so hateful, and I wondered why the teacher never stepped in - why no adult, no student, including myself, had the guts to cut in and say it was not OK. Because it's never OK for intolerance. It is never OK to cut someone down and dehumanize them because they do not look like you, or think like you, or talk like you, or worship the way you do.
From the Christian Science Monitor:
The election of America's first black president has triggered more than 200 hate-related incidents, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center – a record in modern presidential elections. Moreover, the white nationalist movement, bemoaning an election that confirmed voters' comfort with a multiracial demography, expects Mr. Obama's election to be a potent recruiting tool – one that watchdog groups warn could give new impetus to a mostly defanged fringe element.

Most election-related threats have so far been little more than juvenile pranks. But the political marginalization of certain Southern whites, economic distress in rural areas, and a White House occupant who symbolizes a multiethnic United States could combine to produce a backlash against what some have heralded as the dawn of a postracial America. In some parts of the South, there's even talk of secession.

"Most of this movement is not violent, but there is a substantive underbelly that is violent and does try to make a bridge to people who feel disenfranchised," says Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. "The question is: Will this swirl become a tornado or just an ill wind? We're not there yet, but there's dust on the horizon, a swirling of wind, and the atmospherics are getting put together for [conflict]."

At least two white nationalist websites – Stormfront and the Council of Conservative Citizens – report their servers have crashed because of heavy traffic. The League of the South, a secessionist group, says Web hits jumped from 50,000 a month to 300,000 since Nov. 4, and its phones are ringing off the hook.

"The vitriol is flailing out shotgun-style," says Mr. Levin. "They recognize Obama as a tipping point, the perfect storm in the narrative of the hate world – the apocalypse that they've been moaning about has come true."

"We're not looking at a race war or anything close to it, but ... what we are seeing now is undeniably a fairly major backlash by some subset of the white population," says Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report in Montomgery, Ala. "Many whites feel that the country their forefathers built has been ... stolen from them, so there's in some places a real boiling rage, and that can only become worse as more people lose jobs."

In an election in which barely 20 percent of native Southern whites in Deep South states voted for Obama, the newly apparent political clout of "outsiders" and people of color has been unnerving to some.

"In states like Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, there was extraordinary racial polarization in the vote," says Merle Black, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta. "Black Americans really do believe that Obama is going to represent their interests and views in ways that they haven't been before, and, in the Deep South, whites feel exactly the opposite."

But for nonviolent secessionist groups like the League of the South, the hope is for a more vigorous debate about the direction of the US and the South's role in it, says Michael Tuggle, a League blogger in North Carolina.

Mr. Tuggle says his group isn't looking for an 1860-style secession but, rather, a model that Spain, for one, is moving toward, in which "there's a great deal of autonomy for constituent regions" – a foil to what is seen as unchecked, dangerous federal power in Washington.

"To a lot of people, the idea of secession doesn't seem so crazy anymore," says Tuggle. "People are talking about how left out they feel, ... and they feel that something strange and radical has taken over our country."
Don't say you weren't warned ...

Eric Schmidt on Obama's Internet plans

Monday 17 November 2008

Gays, Smith, Harman and other Labour 'feminists'

News that Jacqui Smith - bless - has found a compromise and will outlaw hiring prossies who have pimps.

This is a somewhat watered down version of what was being pushed by various Labour 'feminist' MPs - the so-called Swedish model of 'prostitution law reform', which completely outlaws paying for sex.

I'm indebted to blogging colleague Cosmodaddy who has dug up research showing that this ain't working:

Again it’s a seductive argument, but bear in mind (which Prostitution Reform do not) that although the criminalisation of men using female prostitutes in Sweden (the model being adopted by Jacqui Smith) was accompanied by legislation decriminalising the selling of sex, there have been undesirable outcomes:

When the prostitution market disappears underground it is harder for the authorities to intercept the persons that really need help. In Gothenburg many young women seek help to detoxify because of their addiction to heroin and almost all of them have sold sexual services. But the city’s prostitution group (social workers) seldom comes in contact with these women because they don’t show up on the streets today.

The risk of infection have gone up because if a sexseller gets infected with a sexually transmitted disease, and the authorities advise customers to the sexworker to contact them, many are afraid to do so.

If a client meets a sexworker that he/she suspects is in need of help the client is scared to contact for example the social services. Anf if a customer meets a sexworker that he/she suspects is the victim of sexual trafficking that person is today scared of going to the police. Before you could obtain evidence against traffickers and pimps based on customer’s testimony. These days they aren’t likely to participate in trials and if they are forced to testify as the same time they are prosecuted for buying sex their testimony are not credible in the same way.

I used to work in HIV prevention, OF COURSE driving sex underground isn't a good idea! Any HIV worker worth their salt will tell you this.

If you want to stop trafficking of women the answer is policing of criminals. Full, stop. Anything else ('let's make a law!') is showboating.

But further, I found the original proposals from Harman et al anti-gay. Yes, anti-gay. Not 'good for the gays' as the Jews might put it.

I immediately thought when the Labour 'feminists' trumped up this idea - they're forgetting the gays. Again.

Gay male prostitution is not generally pimp-driven, it's a small business. Of course there are issues (self esteem and body fascism to name but two) but just as with Andrea Dworkin and her 80s fantasies about what gay male porn was it's not the equivalent of the heterosexual version.

Largely from my Australian experience, I had numerous friends who dabbled or supported themselves for a while or did it for a one-off. It didn't make them community outlaws. The experience wasn't damaging, as it might be with women. Yes, some guys on heroin do it but they weren't even gay. Gay male prostitution is part of a sexualised culture which many feminists plain don't like.

Just as with Dworkin the collateral oppression of gays passed Harman et al by. That they actually have 'oppressive' power - despite being supposedly power-less women, despite being cabinet members - passed them by.

Must be the gay=male thing.

And they were trusting that Laura Norder will play fair (if they were thinking of us at all, which I doubt). When experience tells us otherwise (just look at Terror law misapplication).

Feminists are not always the allies of gay men. Lesson.

Postscript: I note that this proposed law apparently has something about funding 'drug dealers' in it - that is. it's not just about pimps. Laura Norder will make a meal of gay prossies using this 'law'. Bless Ms. Harman + Smith et al for creating this ... not.

Postscript: Harman and Smith's incompetence gets more obvious:

Human trafficking police unit to close

Britain's only specialist police human trafficking unit is to be shut down after two years because of a lack of funding, the government said today.

A Home Office spokeswoman confirmed that money for the Metropolitan police team, which totalled £1.8m in the first year and £700,000 in the second, would no longer be available after April.

Experts and campaigners reacted to the move with dismay. Denise Marshall, the chief executive of the Poppy Project, which helps trafficked women after they have been rescued, said she was appalled at the decision, which would have a "hugely detrimental impact".

"This is at best foolhardy and at worst discriminatory," she said.

Postscript: I shall be continuing this meme on pinknews. In the meantime, my friend Tania Hurst has a few thoughtful comments (nod, well worth quoting in full):
At the moment in this country it's widely seen as socially acceptable for men to pay for sex (whether with women or other men). In current law it is the prostitute selling sex who is viewed as the criminal - not the person buying the sex.

Whether a prostitute has "freely chosen" a sex industry profession, or has been forced into it (by pimps or traffickers) is largely seen as irrelevant and unimportant by the customer.

The question is: how does one change the perception that having sex with a man or woman who has been "forced" into prostitution is wrong - and that this is effectively rape? One way is to make a law against it.

This law is making a distinction between prostitutes who've "chosen" to work in the sex industry from those who are being "forced" to have sex (by pimps or traffickers).* [see note below]

The new law isn't criminialising everyone who pays for sex, but it is saying buying sex from women (or men) who have been "forced" to have sex (by pimps or traffickers) is not acceptable. This woman (or man) has not freely chosen to have sex with you - you are raping them. You have a responsibility to recognise this and to know the difference when you go out to purchase sex.

I'm in agreement with (what I think is) the motivation behind this law: 1) making it socially unacceptable to purchase sex from someone who's been forced into it. 2) reducing the demand for and ultimately the numbers of prostitutes who are being forced to have sex.

The real question is whether this law is the right way to achieve the objectives? Can the negative impacts that your article has highlighted, be mitigated? For example, maybe customers could be exempt from prosecution if they report to police that they believe a woman they had paid-for-sex with was trafficked or pimped? Are there other ways of getting HIV and substance-abuse services to prostitutes?

Or are there other better forms or combinations of legislation? Closing down the Human Trafficking police unit doesn't seem particularly helpful if you're trying to reduce the numbers of trafficked women. But prosecuting traffickers alone hasn't changed the perception that it doesn't matter whether the prostitute you pay for has been "forced" to have sex with you or not.


I have a couple of issues with your original article:
1. The UK law appears to be different from the Swedish law: the Swedish law is criminialising everyone who pays for sex; the UK one criminalises the purchase of sex from a prostitute who's been forced to have sex. This is very different - and you can't assume that the negative impacts will be the same.

2. I don't see how this law is prejudicial against gay prostitution (although I accept that the original proposals criminialising all paid-for sex may well have been). If a man buys sex from a male prostitute who isn't being forced into having sex, then no criminal offence will have taken place. If gay male prostitution is not generally pimp-driven as you say, then this law doesn't sound like it's going to have any impact on gay prostitution and their customers at all!

* [I've put "chosen" and "forced" in quotes: I'm not going to get into a debate about whether a heroin addict and/or a previous victim of child abuse is really making a free choice when they sell themselves; nor am I going to discuss the varying levels of exploitation/protection that may occur in prostitute-pimp relationships]
As I said in discussion with Tania this, (my point) isn't about heterosexual prostitution (which I may have an opinion about), it's about the 'collateral impact' of law on the gay 'community'. Tania's point "it's widely seen as socially acceptable for men to pay for sex" is worth quoting because I don't think this is true and another example of something I don't think is true in the gay community!

This idea underlines the gulf in understanding of how this issue relates in these two worlds.

And this community isn't going to give much of a s**t about people like prostitutes - there is zero comment already on this proposed law. There are a lot of issues here, but it's unlikely that many of them in relation to gay prostitutes are being even vaguely considered. That's my point.

When gays riot

We're going to have to wait to see it until January but Shaun Penn's next Oscar winner will be 'Milk'.

The long-awaited biopic of the San Francisco gay supervisor Harvey Milk, assassinated alongside Mayor George Moscone in 1977, has just opened in the US.

Here's the trailer:

Harvey was an icon for the gay rights movement. He came just before my time but I still remember when I saw the biopic 'The Times of Harvey Milk' in the early eighties and came to learn more about him. Harvey changed the world.

It's just wonderful that Gus van Sant is the one to finally make this movie and all the reviews are great. It's extra great because the history will come back and people will get to see what was sacrificed to make the world we live in today.

This is especially good for young LGBT.

Here's some videos about that history.

Milk and Moscone's assassin, fellow San Francisco Supervisor (councilor) Dan White, got a very light sentence. This was 1977! Following this there was a candlelight parade and then a riot (the gay movement started with a riot at Stonewall).

Now California State Senator Carole Migden speaking so movingly about Harvey.

I'm such an old fart. I can totally relate to this aging queen, Cleve Jones, who worked with Harvey (and then went on to start the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt).

He speaks wisdom:
If your generation of young people do not know our history you will not be prepared to fight. History is full of examples of people who thought they were free and woke up and discovered they were not.

It's important for people to understand that Harvey Milk was an ordinary faggot. He was not a genius, he was not a saint. His personal life was in disarray. He was poverty stricken. He was an ordinary man and yet because he was honest. because he had courage and because he really did love his people and love his city he was able to change the world. And I want all young people to understand that they have the power to do that.
Just like Rosa Parks.

Gay San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano adds to this point - Harvey was just like you and me:
Harvey was a mensch. He could also be a diva. He would have loved knowing that Sean Penn would be playing him.
At the moment there's a riotous anger in California because of the passage of Prop 8, blocking gay marriage.

Harvey's spirit lives on.

HT: This post is for Darren.

Sunday 16 November 2008

That elusive second hit

It's an old story. Your first record is a smash, your first novel wins the Booker - then what? Can you top that or forever live in its shadow.

So it is with viral video and after hitting the sweet spot with a 10m views message about watching out for cyclists, Transport for London is getting diminishing returns.

Here's their latest. Smart but too smart.

And here's their massive hit:

Just how viral? This viral:

And this (from a New York Critical Mass demo):

Friday 14 November 2008

BBC 'real player'?

Just tuned into the News Quiz on iPlayer and faced with Real Player and the most bizarre echo and not terribly good sound.

Isn't this going backwards? One would think. I shall investigate ...

Postscript: From what I can tell, it's picking up my RealPlayer installation and hence playing via that rather than Flash-based iPlayer, based on WMP. However, it's only doing this now, it was the Flash player before, so it must be something to do with my Firefox upgrade. Oh well, at least it plays. Just get bizarre echo when it starts ...

Thursday 13 November 2008

Delegating as deniability

Two great journos going head-to-head. Hur, hur.

Bob Woodward plainly enjoying himself and Colbert spiking the Bush inadequacy.


Can I recycle it? A plea

The government is to fund a website to help people find recycling facilities, as the winner of its Show Us A Better Way competition

Can I Recycle It? will provide information on what can and cannot be put in recycling bins or has to be carted to a recycling centre based on users' postcodes.

This is a really great idea, especially in places where people aren't sure (because information provision isn't very good). It will be a great supplement for often dry or confusing information on poorly promoted local government websites.

But here's my plea. Instead of simply providing yet another website, widgetise the postcode interface so local authorities can bung it on their webpages and be sent off to the Can I recycle it? website. Like Transport Direct does with public transport information.

It would also be great if the website 'cross-sold' recycling messages and sent people back - perhaps using the data local government webbies submit to directgov - to local government website pages about stuff like hazardous waste disposal and locations of recycling centres.

It does sound, though, that this approach isn't in the planning.

Adam Temple, who came up with the idea, suggested that: "if it is in the database, the householder would get an immediate answer. If not, the question could be forwarded to the appropriate person in the local council. That person could then amend the database, and that way the website would gradually get more useful."

Which is the very definition of duplication.

POSTSCRIPT: Shane McCracken has pointed out (I'd forgotten it) that RecycleNow already does this exact same job. EXACT SAME.

Tom, explain quick. Or something will rub off.

Postscript: Picking up on my point about localdirectgov, Andy Key comments that:
you can link to their search with the postcode pre-set (e.g. Recycling near SO23 8US)
And PSF has picked up on this, finding out that the Cabinet Office will instead direct the winnings to RecycleNow!

The rider is that RecycleNow! needs to get some SEO happening as they ain't appearing in SERPs - the reason they were missed as a duplication for Can I Recycle It? in the first place.

I am very much noticing though that no-one is picking up my widgets point. As I have endlessly pointed out, the thing with widgets is that they drive traffic to your website and you don't lose customers along the way. The RecycleNow! is hidden away in a deadzone on their website.

Burma: the UK link

A year after their crackdown, Burma's military dictators remain entrenched, propped up by dealings with Western companies. But the Burmese democracy movement has found a powerful pressure point according to — many of the Generals' West-linked business ventures depend on one insurer: Lloyd’s of London.

Lloyd’s is the world's oldest, most respected insurer, and cares a great deal about its global reputation. By pointing out Lloyd’s blameworthiness as key insurance deals come up for renewal, says Avaaz we can shift their cost-benefit calculations on support to the Burmese regime.

They are calling on people to email and call key decision-makers at Lloyd’s to shame them into pulling out of this dirty trade. This will help undermine the hardliners and creating pressure for human rights and the release of political prisoners like democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Foreign Office has written to Lloyd's of London chairman Lord Levene to outline its disapproval that Lloyd's brokers are trading with the Burmese military dictatorship.

Avaaz say that, as in South Africa, international pressure on the regime's exploitative ventures could tip the balance; because it's hard or impossible for them to continue without insurance.

Already many big global insurers have stopped insuring junta-linked businesses – after Lloyd’s, the generals will start to run out of options.

NY Times: Iraq war ends

A brilliant satire with a fake website and 1.2m fake copies handed out on the streets.

It's the product of The Yes Men, whose job is:
Impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else.
Famous past hoaxes include Dow Chemical apologising for the Bhopal, India chemical disaster.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Another Ministerial foot in mouth

Cross-posted from LGBT asylum news.

In an article about how the UK government 'challenges' the homophobic administration in Kingston Jamaica, UK foreign affairs (DFID) minister Gareth Thomas said the following about LGBT asylum seekers from that country.
"Every case has to be looked at on its own merits. You need to unpick the details of what was alleged to have happened." [Our emphasis]
The article in points out that Thomas has directly challenged Jamaican homophobia, specifically and correctly citing it as an issue in fighting HIV.

But it also inadvertently cites the disconnect at the heart of the attitude to LGBT asylum seekers in the UK's government:
Asylum of course is a Home Office matter - DFID's work tends on the whole to be more positive.
In other words, as we have always said, the Home Office says one thing and the Foreign Office another.

Monday 10 November 2008

Music: RIP Miriam Makeba

Zenzile Makeba Qgwashu Nguvama Yiketheli Nxgowa Bantana Balomzi Xa Ufun Ubajabulisa Ubaphekeli Mbiza Yotshwala Sithi Xa Saku Qgiba Ukutja Sithathe Izitsha Sizi Khabe Singama Lawu Singama Qgwashu Singama Nqamla Nqgithi was her full name.

In 1963, after testifying against Apartheid before the United Nations, her South African citizenship and her right to return to the country were revoked. She has had nine passports, and was granted honorary citizenship of ten countries.

She died shortly after taking part in a concert organized to support writer Roberto Saviano in his stand against the Camorra.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Super Obama World

Bounce, Obama! Bounce! Jump! Watch out for the lipsticked pigs!

Postscript: Election stars .. and Doofuses

The election in one-liners. From
This. Fucking. Election

Power concedes nothing without demand
Frederick Douglaas

The festive scenes of liberation that Dick Cheney had once imagined for Iraq were finally taking place — in cities all over America.
Frank Rich


Nate Silver. And (it's a trio that does it, not just Nate). Proven with their on-the-money final calls on the electoral vote and percentages. Traffic went through the roof and the MSM came calling. And if he doesn't get a 'Webbie' award, there's no justice.
Rachel Maddow. A power butch dyke is now the most respected voice in US TV news. Wow! (as she might put it).
Hillary Clinton. Glass ceilings well and truly shattered. Redemption in Denver and, later, Florida.
YouTube. Ok, here's Huffpost's round up of the best. As Techpresident pointed out, just Barack's vids alone ammounted to $46m worth of free advertising.
Techpresident. By far the best place to follow how the Internet MADE Obama. Cannot emphasise this strongly enough - he would not be President-elect without the Internet - and glad to (finally) see some acknowledgment of this gamechanging fact in the MSM.
The web. Not only because without it there would be no Obama, and not just because of the bright light it shone on dirty tricks and lies (Arianna's point), but that the change it's brought will continue on - he himself has said that he wants to continue the momentum after he's elected and use the tools in government, this was in his half-hour infomercial. I'd also note that groups like moveon and sites like dailykos and huffpost will be used as tools to rally support for change. The dems don't have a filibuster proof senate majority so to get things like health care change they will use the web and all the tools. Here was Obama's email to his list post victory: "We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next."

Tina Fey. Who? You'll know soon enough. Here's her best SNL comedy sketch.
Jon Stewart. Yes, he's a funny guy but his clip compilations were absolute political genius and skewered consistently throughout the campaign.
Web news. Now the main source for the young and, as Pew just showed, now bigger than newspapers overall.
Mike Gravel. Mad, mad, mad. Brought a touch of Dada to the campaign. Bless.
Doris Kearns Goodwin. The historian always ready with an anecdote.
The Onion. For their perfect satire of network news.
Guiliani's drag. Remember that? And then he had the nerve to attack 'cultural elites' in Minneapolis?
David Axelrod. "The past is not prologue we've shattered that".
Romney's dog. Remember this? The one he tied to the car roof?
Red State Update. Just crawl-on-the-floor funny pisstake on 'Appalachia', here they go on the dog:


The BBC. And it all came to a ignominious end on election night itself. Did anyone watch? I have documented how, frankly, biased the coverage was but it was all to one end, the traditional one of pretending it's closer than it is just to make a story where there isn't one. In the primaries it was 'Clinton still might win' - when she had no statistical chance. In the general it was 'McCain still might win' - when the polls said otherwise. One of the key things i spotted was just who BBC America editor Justin Webb linked to - the MSM, consistently. This isn't the sort of approach the beeb has preached about.
"Here's the deal". The 'go to' line for far too many.
Clinton. She redeemed herself but the depths she and her supporters lowered themselves to needs recalling. This included her extensive gay following. Oh, and Bill.
The MSM in general. Keith Olbermann made this point well, if you look at McCain's gaffes vs Obama's it is clear that a different standard was being held. If Obama had made anything like as many (remember Lieberman wispering in his ear when McCain stuffed up to a camera in Iraq about who the enemy was?) he would have been toast.
Joe the plumber. Simply an idiot.
Matt Drudge. At the end he was touting his number's - but they'd been beaten months before by the web's new stars, led by Huffington Post. His major league screw ups and blatant bias can only damn his chief selling-point: that the MSM follows his lead.
PUMAs. Clinton's 'loyalists' damned and screwed by Clinton herself. Until September they screamed the same anti-Obama rubbish as McCain ended on (see image, right).
Capitalism. McCain condoms?
Lieberman. And now comes the reckoning.
Reverend Wright. When the shit hit the fan I actually listened to his speeches and he made a lot of sense. When he took his show to the national Press Club he was nothing but an egotistical showpony.
Green screens. As in McCain's weird appearance in front of one. Should. Be. Banned.
Voter suppresssion. Americans can but hope something will change but it likely won't, Robert Kennedy Jnr and many others leveraged the web to shine a spotlight on this year's suppression efforts. Plus Obama's teams were right-on-it. As I predicted, it counted for nothing in the end but it shouldn't take overwhelming numbers to just about win. (Plus to get on the ballot in the first place).
Six hour waits. For a Brit, this is madness. But Americans haven't yet done anything about what is actually an international shaming
Robocalls. Some reported getting literally dozens a day, more if you were unfortunate enough to live in New Hampshire. They got worse as McCain's campaign got more desperate and were the hollow centre to any claims he ran a 'decent' campaign.
Holograms. CNN's election night tecnowizzadry just highlighted for me the emptiness of their core content. The journalism I watched? MSNBC. Plus they were actually tomograms and the presenters couldn't see them.
Ralph Nader. There is always a space to the left of the Dems but Nader proved he's not it with his narcissistic final (?) run this time. To see how broke his political space has become check this interview where he calls Obama an "Uncle Tom".
Palin. n'est-ce pas, and all she represents for the future of the GOP. As the bloodletting begins on the right, former speechwriter David Frum has a very interesting piece 'Republicans face fraught choice between two roads to revival' and the parallels with 1997 and the Tories are ripe. The argument is that they need to ditch the social conservatism. One good thing though? Because of her we met the brilliant Muckracker and his Mudflats bog - and now we now lots more about the weird and wonderful world of Alaskan politics.

And finally ...

Rachel Maddow's brilliant take on the funniest moments of the campaign:

And some of my posts from the past (arrrrgh .. ) year
and a half:

Great videos

Absolutely fabulous
Anonymous woman sets Palin to Lloyd Webber.
Cleese on Olbermann
One long cackle.
Wassup 2008
One of the very best virals came right at the end.
Red State Update With Joe The Plumber
Election funnies
Barack and McCain do a 'roast'.
Scary Americans
(and Less scary Americans)
Paul Canning hits New Hampshire for Obama
(He's a union organiser from the 'International' Union of Painters and Allied Trades in New England.)
Barack in the Virginia Rain
One of his top three speeches.
Michael Palin for President
Hilarious SNL Palin vs Couric skit
Barack Obama’s bold economic recovery plan
'Stop America's shitty jobs from going overseas'.
Red State and others take a pop.
Harriett vs Hillary

Great Clinton video that I suggested Harriet Harman might want to take lessons from.
Dems 101
Comedy genius from Robert Klein on Olbermann.
"He will make Cheney look like Ghandi"
Strong anti-McCain viral.
Oh. Knarly

Paris Hilton weighs in.
NSFW: He Said It First

He called her a 'c+++'?!?
Genius viral

"I love cheap Chinese crap", "if people want clean water, buy it in a bottle".
The Empire Strikes Barack

'You're my only hope'.
Whilst Hillary and Obama bash seven types of crap ...

Early anti-McCain virals.
Don't Think of a Black Man

Clinton's campaigns 'never noticed his blackness ... '
More McCain comedy riffs

Featuring Letterman and Red State Update.
A message to Ralph Nader from anonymous

First as tragedy, then as farce ...
The audacity of hope
Another of Obama's great speeches - from the 'bully pulpit' at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
"I Got a Crush...On Hillary" (take that obama girl!)

"Fat and Dumb"

Mike Gravel as the Dada candidate.
"I Got a Crush...On Obama"; By Obama Girl

This was from June last year!
Vote Different

Very early anti-Hillary mega-viral.

Daily Show clips

The gift from heaven
Palin: she'll be missed (by comics).
Stewart on 2008 'swiftboating'.
Behind the scenes at the conventions
The, er, 'gay' side of the GOP.
PUMAs meet child psychologists

Healing the Clinton supporters.
Barack has ladyparts!

John Oliver on the Primaries

Ralph Nader on the Daily Show

John shows respect; NB this was from March.
The CNN/YouTube Presidential debate

Jon sets the tone.

My analysis

Snatching victory?
My answer to Tatchell on vote stealing fears.
"I should have laid a bookies bet when the odds were a lot better."
The only poll that counts
The electoral vote.
When in doubt .. (or losing)
Turn to fear - and race.
Will McCain drop out?
Got that one wrong!
Barry in Hawaii, BBC rubbish again and why Hillary lost.
BBC US election coverage - and another thing ...

Nothing but spin.
The Obama=Muslim smear: The London connection

Where it all started.
Obama: good for the gays?

Sky joins BBC in misreporting US Primaries

If it's not close, where's the story?
Great moments from the campaign trail

Obama and the Jews and how a DNC committee meeting turned into high drama.
Follow the worm

The history of the instant, on-screen voter reaction 'worm'.
Hillary's nuclear option

When Tomasky still thought she had a nomination chance.
Americans: don't look to BBC for unbiased election coverage

No Internet, no Obama

You betcha!
Could a British teacher ever do this?

A New York teacher discusses Obama in the classroom - this post sparked a lot of interest.
Turning web buzz into votes: how Obama does it

Going into detail on Obama's web roots.
Rewriting history over Rwanda
One of Hillary's lesser known 'misspeaks'.
More Obama speech reaction - it's positive but you won't read about it
His speech on race pushes up his polls but most of the UK media miss the boat.
Postscript: Obama addresses race: hear the whole speech, not the BBC's meme

More on the BBC's bias.
Obama addresses race: hear the whole speech, not the BBC's meme

Are Hillary's wins bad news for web campaigning fans?

Turns out not.
Climate Change nowhere in US Elections and the world should worry

Fetid pools mark the 'new America'

Some 'sub-prime' crisis coverage from January.
Web oiling US campaign, not so much in London

Comparing the primaries with the London mayoral race.
And so, the Macaca turns ..
Guiliani and Romney hit below the waterline by YouTube.
Evolution of a political web 'brand'

Another early analysis on the Obama and Hillary web ops.
Attack ads move onto YouTube?

US Prez election: Web Video Reviews Are Mixed


Postscript: Don't piss off Dave!

Don't piss off Dave!

Alaskans for Truth
Wassilians on Sarah.
Republikan police state
'Preemptive strike' hits activists at the GOP convention.
The West Wing analogy still holds
What Rev. Wright actually said

America's pompous journalists

When they collectively went for The Scotsman.
UK searching for Obama

Election viral video numbers go boom

Hillary is not the 'devil'

When AP tried it on.
Hillary mocks Obama

'The Sky Will Open, The Light Will Come Down'
The Tweety Effect

The sexism against Hillary.
Postscript: Obama and accessibility

The Battle to Control Obama's Myspace

Democrats drop Fox News

Friday 7 November 2008

Berlusconi in context

"Suntanned"? Was always thus?

Rory Bremner, you may miss Bush but I think you have your next impression.

Dodgee - the Olympic Hoodie

The Guardian asked for designs for an Olympic mascot. All were pretty great (I liked the pigeon as well) but this one made me laugh.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Re: 4.01am tears

My friend Toby Grace writes from New Jersey about what last night meant for him:
Trenton is to a large extent, a black city. Over half the population is black and Latino. Last night, the people were honking horns and rejoicing in the streets. Church bells rang.

What makes me especially happy though, is that this rejoicing was not split along racial lines. Obama could not have been elected without a substantial part of the white vote and he got it.

There is the real change - the real cause for rejoicing - that those who were blind can now see and who were deaf can now hear. That we can look at our neighbors of other races and see them as the same as us and hear them when they cry out and know that some among them are better than we are and that we can say "let's take the best and have them lead."

It has taken a long time to get to this point and it has been a terribly difficult and even a bloody road. Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, Medgar Evers, and many others, you did not die in vain.

It is a road that gay people know very, very we ll. Our road has run parallel and even been one and the same. We are a long way from the end of our road still, but at least we can see that it is in fact a road that can be traveled and it leads to a mountaintop where the sunshine and the starlight are truly beautiful.

On Christopher Street, the tears shed by those of us, black, white and Latino, who fought there for liberty so long ago still sparkle in that starlight if we look to see them and this evening, they will shine more brightly.

4.01am tears

.. finally, they make the projection.

It's hard to know what to say except the obvious: I am watching history. One of those moments which will change us. Mandela walking free, the Wall coming down, even - and I remember this - "one small step for a man".

Stevie is playing 'signed,sealed, delivered' ... and here's the release.

It's done. Change.


I am watching Jess Jackson in tears, Jesse who was there when Luther King died. This is the time for tears.

And McCain concedes honorably. Bless.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Fingers crossed, legs clenched

� +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+############### ++++ +++++###########+

awh, this takes me right back ...

: DaisyDooks

Gervais on Letterman

.. doing the Top Ten

HT: Daily Mail (yes, really)

The whole thing

Let the issues be the issue

Cool stuff. Source: Sky. HT: Chris.

Music: History and a day to remember

The Ruler (from Malcolm to Barack) by Fly Gypsy. Can't think of anything more appropriate for this day.

Monday 3 November 2008

Real electoral map

Another great widget (though they're not making it widgetty ;[ - and it's late).

This is the 'real electoral map', produced by TechPresident, which shows the US vote based on population, not geography:

Look at an electoral map such as those shown by CNN, New York Times, or, and it looks like America is a sea of red (for Republican states) with pockets of blue (Democratic). The problem is conventional maps based on landmass do not accurately reflect the Electoral College. Instead they unwittingly perpetuate a kind of geographic media bias. But land mass does not equal votes.

Sunday 2 November 2008

Neat widget

This is a beta product. That means it is not done and is a work in progress. We constantly make updates and enhancements based on user feedback.

No maverick

Samuel Maverick was a Texas cattleman, land baron and politician, so influential that he was one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Fiercely independent and equally liberal. Sam became well known for what he didn't do, however. It seems, according to Fontaine, that he had taken some cattle in lieu of a debt he was owed. He let them roam on an island off of Texas, and for whatever reason, didn't brand them. So, any unbranded cattle became known as Maverick's.

Now, this more than likely wasn't an act of revolt. No one knows for sure, but Maverick really wasn't much of a cattleman. He was also shrewd, later on in life if cattle weren't branded, he would often claim them.

Sam was also very spirited and free minded. It was because of this that in 1867 the term Maverick was first cited as being used to describe someone with an independent streak, someone not branded.

Mavericks believe everybody has a right to be in America so long as they obey the law," Fontaine told me. "Grandfather Maury was no coward. He chased the Klan right out of San Antonio once, stood up to the mob... Maury was burned in effigy in San Antonio, for his defense of members of the Communist Party's right to assemble, for his defense of the Hispanic community, support for those who didn't have a voice. "

The C team

This seems to be about the best we can come up with on the humorous political video front in the UK.

Mild chuckles ...

Music: Apache

The Incredible Bongo Band, also known as Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band, was a project started by Michael Viner, a record artist manager and executive at MGM Records. The band’s output consisted of instrumental music in the funk genre, characterised by the prominence of bongo drums and also conga drums.

Although the band released two albums, 1973’s Bongo Rock and 1974’s Return of the Incredible Bongo Band, the band is best known for its cover of “Apache”, a song originally made popular by The Shadows.
"Apache" has been cited by Afrika Bambaataa as an important early element of hip hop music with the record being sampled and scratched by many DJs. But it wasn't the hit versions by The Shadows, Ingmann or Weedon that Bambaataa, Kool Herc and the like turned into "hip-hop’s national anthem": it was the 1973 version by Michael Viner and an ad hoc group called the Incredible Bongo Band. They added a distinctive bongo drum intro to the tune, and added more percussion throughout the song.

This version was not a hit upon its initial release, but later became the sampled foundation of several rap and hip-hop classics, being reworked by hip hop performers "ranging from the Sugarhill Gang and L.L. Cool J to The Roots and Nas," not to mention sampling by techno performers Future Sound of London and Moby and drum and bass acts J. Majik and Goldie.
Michaelangelo Matos, All Roads Lead to ‘Apache’

Saturday 1 November 2008

Absolutely fabulous

And I don't even like AL Webber!

Not just Boris

All sorts of Londoners want Obama to win on Tuesday.

London's Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson Endorses Obama

Cleese on Olbermann


"69. May be dead."

"If he addresses this crowd as 'my fellow prisoners' what's actually going on in his mind?"

He reads his latest poem -

"He will not shirk from Rupert's work."

"Thank you for what you're doing Keith."

Postscript: Burkeman countdown ...

I won! kindof ...

On the subject of contests: about a hundred years ago I posted a list of 20 election spoofs you may have missed, and bemoaned the fact that there didn't seem to be any good Joe Biden-related comedy around. I offered Guardian merchandise to whoever could locate the funniest counter-example. Three commenters -- toypadlock, PaulCanning and Elishabet -- did their very best, suggesting What if Joe Biden Said What He Was Really Thinking?, an episode of Red State Update about Biden, and a Joe Biden blues number. I fear they basically proved my point, though, since... well, I don't want to be ungrateful for your efforts. And the blues song, while not that funny, is pretty darn good, you betcha. But none of them made me laugh as much as watching -- not for the first time -- Biden's excellent debate response to a question about his loquaciousness, which PaulCanning also mentioned (see above). Turns out there's no Biden spoof as funny as Biden being intentionally funny, which is a rare thing to say of a politician. Anyhow, I'll happily distribute Guardian t-shirts to all three of you if you email me a postal address.

UPDATE: Biden's also pretty funny when he's swearily berating the news media.

Yay! Teeshirt (I hope it fits ... ) I like the line about 'a hundred years ago'. But he's right, there are no funny Biden spoofs ;[