Sunday, July 31, 2005

Night songs

Goodnight Irene -- Huddie 'Lead Belly' Ledbetter
Night & Day -- Frank Sinatra
Blues in the Night -- Frank Sinatra
I Could Have Danced All Night -- Cast of My Fair Lady
One Night (With You) -- Elvis Presley
Such a Night -- Elvis Presley
What A Night -- Franki Valli
Twistin' the Night Away -- Sam Cooke
The Night Has A Thousand Eyes -- Bobby Vee
(Night Time) Is the Right Time -- Ray Charles & The Raelettes
The Night Before -- The Beatles
A Hard Day's Night -- The Beatles
Another Saturday Night -- Sam Cooke
All Day & All of the Night -- The Kinks
Strangers in the Night -- Frank Sinatra
Night Train -- James Brown & His Famous Flames
Let's Spend the Night Together -- The Rolling Stones
In the Heat of the Night -- Ray Charles
I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) -- The Electric Prunes
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight -- Bob Dylan
Help Me Make It Through the Night -- Kris Kristofferson
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down -- The Band
Starry, Starry Night -- Don McLean
Here Comes the Night -- Van Morrison
One More Night -- Bob Dylan
Father of Night -- Bob Dylan
Tender is the Night -- Jackson Browne
Tonight's the Night -- Neil Young
Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) -- Elton John
One More Saturday Night -- Grateful Dead
On a Night Like This -- Bob Dylan
Because the Night -- Patti Smith
Where Are You Tonight? -- Bob Dylan
One Night in Bangkok -- Murray Head
One More Night -- Phil Collins
All Night Long -- Lionel Richie
When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky -- Bob Dylan
Night in Baghdad -- Laurie Anderson
Night Ride Home -- Joni Mitchell
Last Night -- Travelling Willburys
Silent Night -- every Christmas

Because the night

Entertaining review of a history of human activity after dark -- At Day's Close: A History of Nighttime, by A Roger Ekirch. Worth a read.
While we are at it: fight light pollution. Don't you think it sad that light from stars trillions of miles away gets wiped out in the last fifty feet by an over-abundance of urban lighting? Read about the movement for dark skies here.

Brummies causing trouble again

Birmingham, my hometown, has been in the news a bit recently.
First they taser (scary link) one of the suspected would-be London bombers who's reaching for his backpack while hiding out in a poor part of town.
Then a tornado rips through another poor part of the city not too far from the part of town mentioned above. Mind you, they had a tornado in that area before, in 1931. But I don't suppose anyone currently living there would have known about that. Added to which, in an area like that, many people will have limited insurance, if at all. And it probably wouldn't cover tornados and suchlike anyway.
Go away, stuff happens. Five Brummie Sikhs (with backpacks) on holiday in New York got hauled off a tour bus on Broadway. Handcuffed, they were made to kneel on the street until it was established they were Sikhs, and that's OK. Mayor Bloomberg later apologized.
Birmingham phlegm: "These things happen, don't they? We have no hard feelings. It certainly made our trip different, but didn't ruin it at all." Well, it will certainly be something to talk about when they get back and go down the pub.

Better Change Your Mind

Slide over to Banana Nutrament and download the mp3 by William Onyeabor called Better Change Your Mind. Woooah! Takes a minute or two to download -- but the result is eight minutes and twenty-four seconds of hard-to-sit-still music pleasure.
Turns out Better Change Your Mind is one track from a compilation called Love's A Real Thing: The Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa. Based on the Onyeabor track, funky and gloriously fuzzy it is too. The compilation is on David Byrne's record label Luaka Bop. Still need convincing? Pitchfork review. Having read it, my VISA card started twitching in my wallet. Thanks, William O! Thanks, David B! Thanks, Banana N!


Discovery shuttle... live from space (scroll down for Real Player/Windows Media). Spacewalks, the works!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bob Dylan: Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

First saw the recorded light of day on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963). That album still remains one of my Dylan favourites. You know, Freewheelin' has much to recommend. Now, the song and a cute use of typography (Flash required).

Southorn Playground, Wanchai

Popular with local basketball players and footballers as well as methadone and heroin users, Southorn Playground in Wanchai may soon have a new look. Thanks to Thomas Heatherwick and associates, local cultural activists and residents of Wanchai. Wanchai?
The plans for a renewed Southorn Playground have included public consultations every step of the way. The result is to be unveiled at Southorn Playground this evening, 30 July. To be approved or vetoed by the locals (the plan, not the calendar date). Whether funds will be found to do anything only time will tell. Meantime, local report and lousy-quality photo. Or, readable background report here.
Heatherwick? Among many other things, he's the guy that designed that wonderful curling footbridge for Paddington Basin, London.

Hong Kong Parkview milkshake murder trial

Sex, lies, love, betrayal. Court report.
Sadly, the travails of the Kissel family continue. Connecticut-based Andrew Kissel, the dead man's brother, was in court during the week to face fraud charges (NYT reg-required). When it rains, etc.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Interview with a British jihadist

As I write this, I am listening/watching BBC News 24. Oh, the joys of broadband. Big police operation in Notting Hill. Operation in Hackney Rome. Arrests of suspected 21 July bombers. Operation and arrests in Liverpool Street railway station.
Timely... an interview with Hassan Butt, a British jihadist -- in prospect magazine. From rootlessnes to very radical Islamo-politico. Worthwhile read.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I Will Always Love You

Went and sat up on the roof around 7:30pm. To the west, the sun had already dropped down below the horizon, leaving in its wake a slow fading, very pale blue sky. Behind me? Darkness. The sound of the waves breaking on the beach. So I sat and watched the fading light, and wondered about the two pinpoints of brightness in the western sky. Was one Venus, the other Arcturus or Aldeban? And to the southwest, a slowly moving, regular blinking of lights: jetliners making their descent in preparation for landing at Chep Lap Kok airport. One plane after another. All too far away to hear. Just the waves and the wind. Then a baby, somewhere, started crying. Briefly.
So, I sat and watched, and listened. And tried not to think of anything too much. Finally came downstairs and made dinner and stuff. I wasn't going to come back on line. But I did.
And found the song I Will Always Love You. Not so much found, but stumbled upon, unexpected. It's not the Whitney Houston version. But as sung by the lady who wrote it: Dolly Parton.
Mp3 here. 'Nuff said.

First female riot police force in China

One member has been awarded the title of March-Eighth Red-Banner Pacesetter. What happened on 8 March? Anyone have any idea? No answer yet, but riot grrrl story and pix.

Every day is July 7 in occupied Iraq

Tony Blair appears to be on the brink of a Brechtian moment, in which he will need to dissolve the people who have lost his confidence and elect another.
The government's refusal to associate cause and consequence, which would be child-like were it not so obviously self-serving, is sustained only by hysterical warnings against the new evil of "root-causism" from the residual pro-empire liberals.
This approach risks reaping a different whirlwind in anti-Muslim attacks, physical and verbal. It also creates the climate in which Brazilians allegedly wearing coats on a hot day can become targets for a shoot-to-kill policy imported from Israel.

"Iraq" is shorthand for describing the problem. As well as the occupation of Iraq, it encompasses the faltering occupation of Afghanistan, the misery of the Palestinians, Guantánamo Bay and the carefully photographed torture at Abu Ghraib and Camp Breadbasket.

The British government bears less responsibility for some of these policies than for others. But if the British ambassador to Washington is briefed by Downing Street that his job is to "get up the arse of the White House and stay there", as has been reported, then it is small surprise that nuances of difference get overlooked.
By Andrew Murray. Full text here (Guardian).

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Seen this film? No. May I suggest you beg, borrow or steal the DVD. ASAP. It is a delightful movie. More info here (NYT, reg-required).

What's that bug?

Scorpions in a bottle? See earlier post, below. But what about all those other bugs, creepy-crawlies, various other insects and whatnot? Get the lowdown on arthropods and other assorted organisms at this US-oriented web site. On a little island in the South China Sea, the major fear is the local centipede. Even the cats and dogs are wary. It is one of the few living things on the island that people will go out of their way to kill on sight. These are not your regular house centipedes, local centipedes (Class Chilopoda) can grow to four or five inches long, have a bad attitude, are fast, and pack a very, very painful bite. Photo here, not for the squeamish.

It's magic!

Some years ago, I met someone who was a professional magician. He still is, as far as I know. But now he lives in New Zealand. When he lived here, we occasionally went for a coffee at Delifrance in Central. While we were at the counter waiting for our orders, he'd sometimes do some tricks with a coin -- make it disappear, re-appear. I never figured out how he did it, and neither did the Delifrance girls. We all of us just ended up grinning and laughing. Grateful for a break in the tedium of work and life, I think some of them, if they could have, would have given him a kiss. Oh, lucky man! Yes, I envied his skill and talent; he was good-looking, too. But most of all the effect he had on us. In a couple of minutes, he, the magician, had made us all feel 100 per cent alive.
Like to find out what psychologists are learning about magicians, the audience, and the construct that is reality? Fascinating stuff. And no, it won't spoil the next time you watch a magician. Short article in Guardian.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Iraq: scorpions in a bottle

Earlier today, I posted three links to articles about Iraq. About what's going on in Iraq. Now. The first link was to Peter Galbraith at the New York Review of Books. The second was to Los Angeles Times. The third was to an article by Patrick Cockburn that originally appeared in the Independent but is now at Counterpunch. The first and third articles are commented on in this very useful analysis, which also looks ahead. Worthwhile. It ends thus:
Considering the American blunders, American crimes and -- worst of all -- sheer American ignorance that brought Iraq and its peoples to this point, such a stance has about as much moral integrity as a little boy who, having dumped a bunch of red ants and black ants together to watch them fight, gets bored with the whole thing and flushes them all down the toilet. It is beneath contempt.
Which is why it probably is exactly what the Cheney administration will ultimately do in Iraq -- no doubt to the grateful cheers of the American public.

Notting Hill Gate

Photoshopped? Maybe. But it is très amusant. If you can't read the text, click on image or go here. Thanks, Gavin!

Bush To London Bombers: 'Bring It On'

WASHINGTON, DC—President Bush officially responded to the latest round of London transit bombings Monday, challenging terrorists to "do their worst." Said Bush, in a televised statement from the Oval Office: "The proud and resilient people of London can take anything the forces of evil and cowardice can throw at them. They will never live in fear of you. Bring it on." Prime Minister Tony Blair thanked Bush for his comments, inviting him to visit London and ride the Underground in a show of solidarity.
More 'news' at The Onion.


Who's who in Iraq.
Trigger-happy troops.
Ill-considered ventures: Boer War, Suez... Iraq.

Go, Lance... go!

That's it. Seven times winner of the Tour de France. Le touriste suprême says he is going to retire. Instead of Sheryl Crow following him around, I guess he'll now be following her around while saying: I'm with the band.
Lance Armstrong
Testicular cancer
Chemotherapy side effects
I don't know if he is a very likeable man, but Lance has been an inspiration to many, me included. Thanks, Lance!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Bob Dylan: Blind Willie McTell

Bob Dylan doesn't sing Blind Willie McTell too often in concert, but he did so for the Amazon 10th anniversary, 1 July, 2005.
Mp3 of Blind Willie McTell now available at this webpage. Along with mp3s for Watching the River Flow, Ballad of a Thin Man, and I Shall Be Released.
One of life's mysteries is why Bob Dylan waited from 1983 (when he wrote it) to 1991 (when it appeared on the official Bootleg Series Volume 1-3) to release Blind Willie McTell. Still relatively unknown, Blind Willie McTell ranks among Dylan's greatest songs. Belatedly acknowledged as such, it has since featured on several Dylan compilations.
Well, God is in heaven
And we all want what's his
But power and greed and corruptible seed
Seem to be all that there is
I'm gazing out the window
Of the St. James Hotel
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell
Thanks, Cheeseball!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Liquid Assets

Fancy a drink? Review of A History of the World in 6 Glasses, by Tom Standage. Cheaper than buying the book, it is possible to sup at The New Yorker magazine -- which has a longish review.

If it's Tuesday, it must be Belgium

Drag and drop.
European geography test.
Or, how about Asia?
Test here.
(Flash required)

Logic of Suicide Terrorism

Albert Camus opened his collection of essays published as The Myth of Sisyphus (Le Mythe de Sisyphe,1942) with these words:
"There is only one really serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide."
Or, as Shakespeare's Hamlet muses:
to be or not to be, that is the question.
An age-old question. A daily question. So be it. Pick up the rock...
I first read Sisyphus a long time ago and only re-read it recently. In doing so, I discovered, yet again, that although the words on the printed page have not changed, I have. That first reading fed an already ballooning existential angst. Years later, I find hope and joy within those pages. Better late, than never. Eh?
That age-old question? That daily question? Not quite so daily. Now. There was a time. More than once, close to the abyss. Perilous, foolhardy, foolish explorations. Here, now? Camus, Sisyphus, and suicide -- they spring to mind given the current headlines.
Follow up to an earlier link about a new book Dying to Win: the Logic of Suicide Terrorism, by Robert Pape. The first link was to an American conservative magazine, this link is to a very left of centre publication. Both are, I suggest, worthwhile reads.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Reading Chinese menus

How to read Chinese menus and restaurant signs.
More ways to fill one's rice bowl.
吃米 -- Sek Faan!

Iraq Body Count

Remember General Tommy Franks? He was Commander in Chief, US Central Command, and oversaw the US-led military invasion of Iraq in March 2003. He's the guy who said: We don't do body counts.
Well, someone else does do body counts: Iraq Body Count.
Min: 22,850; Max: 25,881 people
Injured? 45,000 people
That's the period March 2003-March 2005.
Say, 24,500 people dead. Mostly civilians. 45,000 people injured. Mostly civilians. A lot permanently maimed or disfigured. Traumatized physically and/or psychologically. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, grandchildren, friends, acquaintances, colleagues. Shot, bombed, blown up. First, by invading forces. To be joined later by insurgents, and criminals.
Sad, sad, sad.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

CIA's La Dolce Vita War on Terror

The dollars and cents of state-sponsored kidnapping. Tom Engelhardt takes a look at the La Dolce Vita lifestyles of CIA kidnappers while in Italy in early 2003. Five-star hotels, expensive restaurants... Signori e signore: Il Buono, il Brutto, il Cattivo. The Good, the Bad, the Ugly. The Spies Who Came In from the Hot Tub.

Sauve Qui Peut (La Vie)

Round about sunset, as I was riding my bike to Sai Wan, I was thinking about of all the films I have seen, and which ones would I have in my top ten. As well to think about lists as anything else at the moment.
Performance (Cammell/Roeg) would be on the list. Orson Welles' Touch of Evil, too. The Mirror by Tarkovsky, that's another. The Japanese film In the Realm of the Senses. Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love. How many's that? Five... Truffaut's Day for Night. Rossellini's Open City. Playtime by Jacques Tati. 1900 by Bertolucci. Ten? Sauve Qui Peut (La Vie) by Jean-Luc Godard. Honourable mentions: Roman Polanski's Chinatown, John Huston's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and the Pennebaker documentary about Dylan, Don't Look Back. Which is what I just did. Even so, it would be nice to see them all again...

Sharm el-Sheik

Sharm el-Sheikh (شرم الشيخ, also transliterated as Sharm ash Shaykh), often known simply as Sharm. Bombs, bombs, bombs. More carnage. Where? Here. The town is also the southern headquarters of the Multinational Force & Observers (MFO), whose largest component is the US military. Never heard of 'em? MFO.

London Underground blog

Going underground in London? Most excellent blog for Tube users and fellow-travellers.
Prefer the official party line? News, planner, updates and a lot more besides from the people who manage public transport in London. Which stations are open? Which lines are closed? Buses? It looks like a very useful resource.

Friday, July 22, 2005

W H Auden: tohu-bohu

I have seen this stanza a couple of times in the last 24 hours. It is from In Sickness and in Health, a longish poem written in the autumn of 1940 by W H Auden and dedicated to Maurice and Gwen Mandelbaum. Auden's poem September 1, 1939 was much quoted after 9/11. Now, another Auden that seems appropriate for these times.
Beloved, we are always in the wrong,
Handling so clumsily our stupid lives,
Suffering too little or too long,
Too careful even in our selfish loves;
The decorative manias we obey
Die in grimaces round us every day,
Yet through their tohu-bohu comes a voice
Which utters an absurd command -- Rejoice.
Here is the complete poem, but I think the best is above. See for yourself (scroll down). Tohu-bohu? That's a French phrase for confusion/disorder.

London? It could be worse...

Copy this:
You are going to paste it here as Target.
Change Disaster from whatever it is to Dinosaurs.
Then hit Go! Thanks, Gavin!

Hong Kong Parkview milkshake murder trial

More forensics from the Hong Kong Police IT guys in the trial of Nancy Kissel. They looked at Mr Kissel's computer and found evidence he had been googling for sex. The forensics also unearthed the fact that there is not much online about sex in Hong Kong. Errh, discuss. All that and more in the Standard.
Maybe Kissel thought his web browser's Clear History, Clear Cookies, etc was enough?
If he ever bothered to clean up after such searches. Wrong. Evidence is also elsewhere.
House-keeping tips: On XP, wipe the contents of the following folders (assuming log on as Administrator each time):
C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Cookies

C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Favorites\Links
C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Recent\

C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\History
C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\
C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\Temp
Oh, and empty the Recycle Bin.
Having done all that, the seriously paranoid will then run Disk Defragmenter. Doing so will re-arrange and compact existing files and write over most of any remaining traces of already deleted files. That'll really stymie the forensics.

Latest London incidents

Make some people nervous, irritate others, cause chaos, force a shift of resources, close down the transport system, bring a city to a standstill, work towards crippling an economy... and demonstrate that small groups of people with very limited money and means have the wherewithal to strike when and how they please.
Among other things, a city is made up of complex networks and systems, organic as well as technological, social as well as physical. Such networks and systems have vulnerable intersections or nodes. Identify those and systems disruption is easy. Readable analyses by an expert on technology, terrorism, and global markets.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Mash up!

Forty of 'em
Mp3s. (click, scroll, click)
The Steelers Wheel vs. Vanity 6 is very jaunty. Luke Chable (who he?) vs. Linkin Park is music for driving, or typing. Benny Hill Theme vs. 50 Cent is a private pleasure. Fatboy Slim vs. Rolling Stones is... I think I'll go and make a cup of tea.

Hong Kong Parkview milkshake murder trial

In 2003, Mr Kissel, now deceased, loaded up his wife's Sony Vaio laptop with`E-blaster' spyware. Entertaining review of said 'spyware' here. Yesterday, 20 July 2005, a forensic scientist from the Hong Kong Police Technology Crimes Bureau was in court and telling anyone who would listen what he had found.

Unstable weather, unstable computer

Yesterday, I had to take the ferry into town. Why? Windows XP refused to boot up completely. Was it to do with the oppressive heat (34C)? The Hot Weather Warning? The Amber Rainstorm Warning? The Thunderstorm Warning? Hardware failure? Software malfunction? I am inclined to: all of the above. Anyway, ferry to Central, then taxi to Wanchai. (Too hot to go by any other means.)
There are two buildings on Hennessy Road, Wanchai, with floor after floor devoted to all-things computer: Wanchai Computer Centre and 298 Hennessy Road. A computer nerd's wet dream. I elected to frequent the rather more louche 298. Matters computer are now rather more stable; fingers crossed.
So it seems appropriate, at this juncture, to feature this natty website: Net Disaster. Wherein you can trash the website of your choice. Very enjoyable it is, too. Without permanent damage to you, your computer, or your website of choice. Recommended: experiment, and go massive. Thanks, Gavin!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Bob Dylan: Maggie's Farm

More Dylan. No apology. Dylan is one of the people on this planet that makes living worthwhile.
Couple of days ago, Dylan and Norah Jones performed on the Amazon 10th anniversary. Can't help you with the Jones, but go here for the Dylan Mp3s.The first five songs. Recommended: listening to them in the order performed. I don't know how long the Mp3s will stay up.
The remaining four songs will be posted on 25 July. I hope I remember, since that group includes the awesome Blind Willie McTell.

Philosophical pessimism

Came across this:
"Depression, in most of its manifestations, is the healthy suspicion that 1) there may not be an aim or point to existence, and/or 2) that the life people have actually created, the 'structure of society,' is not one worth participating in. The objective should not be to kill this suspicion, but to tame it and work with it."
From a short essay by someone named Tim Ruggiero. Arthur Schopenhauer and R D Laing are both mentioned. I don't know if
R D Laing is still in print. If not, he should be. I don't have time right now to check. I can recommend Schopenhauer's Essays and Aphorisms (Penguin, just under a tenner).

Monday, July 18, 2005

Cradle to cradle protocol

Fascinating article about urban planning. In China. Optimistic, too. China is where some of the west's most innovative and forward-looking architects and urban planners are working. Among them is William McDonough + Partners. McDonough has a lot of interesting things to say. Modernization. Solarization. Ecological sustainability. The merging of opportunism with the nurturing instinct of ecological and social systems. Creating templates for cities based on the cradle to cradle protocol. Good stuff. Even better, McDonough is turning ideas into reality with forward-looking, ecologically-aware Chinese authorities and developers.
Text here.
Don't know about you, but I'd not before come across the term: cradle to cradle protocol.
More about that here.

Bit of a boiler

4:00pm, Monday, 18 July 2005. Generally fine and very hot over Guangdong. Up to 4 p.m., the maximum temperature recorded at Hong Kong Observatory was 34.4 degrees, the highest recorded so far this year. The Very Hot Weather Warning is in force. Hot weather may cause adverse health effects. Members of the public should take care to avoid heatstroke. Air temperatures at other places:
TAI PO -- 36
SHA TIN -- 35
TUEN MUN -- 35
SAI KUNG -- 35
TSING YI -- 34

Fly guy

Use your keyboard arrow keys to move the man about. (Flash required)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Today's newspaper front pages

Map + index.
Click, click -- for the front page of newspaper.
Worldwide (Flash required)

Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash

I have the bootleg cd somewhere. Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash messing around in the studio, and His Bobness sometimes forgetting the words. Still, it sounds like they had a good time. Oh, yes, one of the Cash/Dylan tracks ended up as track one, side one on Nashville Skyline. Not one of my favourite albums, but that has much to do with the way my life was at that time.
Mp3, anyone?
I can recommend Ring of Fire, That's All Right Mama, and, yes, why not, You Are My Sunshine. Plus, I Threw It All Away (from some TV programme).
Those tracks and the rest will, I suspect, only be up for a limited time. So, go for it.
Thanks, whoever!

Karl Marx, man of the 21st century

In a recent BBC Radio 4 poll, listeners chose Karl Marx as their most favourite thinker. Marx, the man who had globalisation sussed out 150 years ago. Easy to read intro to Marx and Marx's relevance in the 21st century.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Tonight the moon is orange

Why, tonight?
The moon is orange!
Lunar music?
Drone music!
Played on a dijeridoo...
Mp3 (click, and download to listen).
From the cd The Young Person's Guide to Phill Niblock
Thanks to aworks.
Further info about the minimalist composer and videographer Phill Niblock here.

The slide to disorder

A useful overview.

Eyeless in Gaza

Snipers with children in their sights.

Information aesthetics

Towards creative information visualization.
Power cords that glow!

Hong Kong Parkview milkshake murder trial

This week, the forensics guys have been testifying in court. Blood spatter pattern? Impact pattern? Go here to become an armchair expert. Sort of.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Rare Dylan recordings on No Direction Home

Background information about the next official Bob Dylan Bootleg Series 2-cd set, and the Martin Scorsese two-part feature-length film biography of His Bobness. Details at

London beer flood

Free beer!

Did White House blow cover of Al-Qaeda mole?

So, who blew Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan's cover?
Christian Science Monitor
Democracy Now
Juan Cole (15 July, 2005)

The Threat of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Revolutionary Movement

Well written, insightful, high-quality analysis by Power and Interest News Report.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter?
Bah, humbug!
An antidote to Potterism.
Thanks, Anonymous!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Legalize Afghan opium

Let a thousand licensed poppies bloom. I think this is a brillant idea, for more reasons than one. Full story International Herald Tribune (no-reg required).

Dylan's No Direction Home

Available end-August. Liner notes by Andrew Loog Oldham (The Stone's first manager & producer), and Al Kooper (Blood Sweat & Tears; Kooper/Bloomfield/Stills; organist on Like A Rolling Stone; Dylan collaborator.)

Disc one:
When I Got Troubles (1959)
Rambler, Gambler (1960)
This Land Is Your Land (live at New York's Carnegie Chapter Hall, 1961)
Song to Woody (1961)
Dink's Song (1961)
I Was Young When I Left Home (1961)
Sally Gal (The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan outtake, 1962)
Don't Think Twice, It's Alright (demo, 1963)
Man of Constant Sorrow (1963)
Blowin' in the Wind (live at New York's Town Hall, 1963)
Masters of War (live at New York's Town Hall, 1963)
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (live at New York's Carnegie Hall, 1963)
When the Ship Comes In (live at New York's Carnegie Hall, 1963)
Mr Tambourine Man (Bringing It All Back Home alternate take, 1964)
Chimes of Freedom (live at Newport, R.I. Folk Festival, 1964)
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bringing It All Back Home alternate take, 1965)

Disc two:
She Belongs To Me (Bringing It All Back Home alternate take, 1965)
Maggie's Farm (live at Newport, R.I. Folk Festival, 1965)
It's Take a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry (Highway 61 Revisited alternate take, 1965)
Tombstone Blues (Highway 61 Revisited alternate take, 1965)
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues (Highway 61 Revisited alternate take, 1965)
Desolation Row (Highway 61 Revisited alternate take, 1965)
Highway 61 Revisited (Highway 61 Revisited alternate take, 1965)
Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat (Blonde on Blonde alternate take, 1966)
Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again (Blonde on Blonde alternate take, 1965)
Visions of Johanna (Blonde on Blonde alternate take, 1965)
Ballad of a Thin Man (live at Edinburgh's ABC Theatre, 1966)
Like a Rolling Stone (live at Manchester Free Trade Hall, 1966)

Power politics

In little more than a decade, China has changed from a net exporter of oil into the world's second-largest importer, trailing only the United States.
"No matter if it's rogue's oil or a friend's oil, we don't care," said an energy adviser to the central government who spoke on the condition he not be identified, citing the threat of government disciplinary action. "Human rights? We don't care. We care about oil. Whether Iran would have nuclear weapons or not is not our business. America cares, but Iran is not our neighbor. Anyone who helps China with energy is a friend."
Worthwhile read.

Fox News beneath contempt? Fox News are scum

Roger Mosey, head of BBC Television News, writing about the BBC's public service mission to report 'honestly and accurately' during and since the bombing in London, had this to say about Rupert Murdoch's Fox News:
A contributor to Fox said after the London bombings that "the BBC almost operates as a foreign registered agent of Hezbollah and some of the other jihadist groups". On the Fox website today there is an opinion piece, "How Jane Fonda and the BBC put you in danger". I am writing this in a building which was bombed by Irish terrorists. My colleagues and I are living in a city recovering from the wounds inflicted last week. If I may leave our customary impartiality aside for a moment, the comments made on Fox News are beneath contempt.
Full text here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Home Office and Foreign Office report: 'Young Muslims and Extremism'

These leaked documents make for interesting reading. Published in the Sunday Times, 10 July 2005. Ignore the Sunday Times tosh. The Home Office and Foreign Office documents are thoughtful and wide ranging. Who knows how long they will be available? Go here, and then download four pdf files.

Lament for a lost son

On Monday, Marie Fatayi-Williams stood near Tavistock Square, where her son Anthony is feared to have been killed in last week's bus bombing, and delivered a lament of extraordinary power. You may have heard it, it's truly heartrending. For transcript of what this Nigerian lady said, go here, and scroll down.

Up Against the Wall

Associated Press describes the photo:
"A Palestinian man sits in front of a section of Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of A-Ram, on the outskirt of Jerusalem Sunday July 10, 2005. Israel's separation barrier will cut off 55,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem from their city, Israel's Cabinet acknowledged Sunday, July 10, 2005, even as it decided to push ahead with the project over strident Palestinian objections and some U.S. misgivings." [Emphasis mine.]
There was a suicide bomb attack on Tuesday in the Israeli seaside town of Netanya, north of Tel Aviv. The first such attack against the Israelis in four months. I would suggest that the official Israeli acknowledgement and the Palestinian attack are connected.

The Logic of Suicide Terrorism

Excerpts from a conversation with Robert Pape, author of Dying to Win: the Logic of Suicide Terrorism.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

London bombing

Liza Pulman. Who she? The person who took those pictures on her mobile phone. The ones of people walking along the lighted tunnel. After the bombing. She writes in the Guardian about that morning. Her tale is, in places, delightfully offbeat. Worth a read.

The Dotcom King & the Rooftop Solar Revolution

Hereabouts, the sun is blazing, and not a solar panel in sight. Solar panels? Overthrow the powers that be? Sign me up!
That is, instead of competing with wholesale power from distant power plants, rooftop solar competes with retail kilowatt-hours delivered by the local electric company, which often are marked up as much as 1,000 percent over their original generating cost. What's more, retail prices typically peak on hot, sunny summer days, when air conditioners suck every last electron from the grid - precisely when solar panels are most productive. Add a final boost from government handouts, and solar can get over the hump, especially with homeowners and other customers whose motives might not be purely economic.
Full story in Wired.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Baghdad: From Our Own Correspondent

Iraq is so far from normality it is hard to know where to begin in describing it. By Jon Leyne, BBC correspondent in Baghdad.

Hong Kong Parkview milkshake murder trial

After an adjournment last week, the court is back in session. Judge and jury will hear and see further testimony from police and forensic experts. Hong Kong Standard report here.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn't everyone in Asia have a headache?

Good question.
To find out the answer, go here.
The Guardian.
Yet again.
What a fine online newspaper.

Sunday, Sunday

mister bijou recommends:
Two minutes of silence in Europe on Thursday, 14 July 2005.
Commentary by John Gray, professor of European thought at the LSE.
Ever wondered about them? Fate, luck, and chance, by Robert McCrum.
Someone who actually knows what they are talking about: Jason Burke.
Davinia says: thank you.
Me? I say: have a day!
Seize the day!
Carpe diem!
Seize the carp!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Low intensity insurgency

Networked tribes, infrastructure disruption, and so-called 'open source warfare.' The latter term is that writer's fancy brand name for a style and method I saw emerge in Paris in the very late 1970s: les autonomes (autonomous groups). But, heh! This is the 21st century! As some Americans are wont to say: Get with the program.
Still, a little history telling would do me good. So here goes.
Driven by frustration, anger, and theory, the Parisian autonomes were small, temporary associations of people. Mostly male, they were leaderless. [Shades of Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues: don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters]. The leaderless shared a common life-style and had common aims: smash the state, etc. They were more than willing to collectively and physically confront authority. Naturally, they had a taste for propaganda by deed. Any of that sound currently familiar?
The more extreme end of the autonomes movement, Action Directe, started out with machine gunning and dynamiting properties, and soon added proletarian expropriations (aka bank robberies) to their repertoire. They ended up assassinating people. Nearly 20 years later, some members of Action Directe are still doing time.
Meanwhile, the idea of autonomous, leaderless, non-hierarchical, non-organizational groups was evidently one whose time had come... the wacko end of US racist and fascist groups soon also adopted a similar profile.
Likewise, al-Qaeda. It's not an organization, it's an idea. With a worldview around which autonomous groups arise, innovate, plan, and act locally without central direction.
What about Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ)? For TAZ, see first link above. But also see works of Hakim Bey, where they were first developed, although to very different ends. Or, maybe it was William Burroughs with his Interzone in Naked Lunch. Who knows? Who cares? The times they are a-changin'. Anyway, the first link is worth a look, if you are interested in that sort of stuff.
Speaking of which, here is a paper, in English, about the French experience and how their state security apparatus countered terrorism. (pdf file)
Oh, and here is a very recent story in the Washington Post about how the French have been helping the Yanks in covert operations. Overt, covert...
But let's not forget state terrorism.
There's a lot of it about.
Timely reminder: 10th July is 20th anniversary of the French attack against the eco-friendly Rainbow Warrior. New Zealand police report about Rainbow Warrior, and the role of Major Alain Mafart, aged 35 and Captain Dominique Prieur, aged 36.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Steve Bell cartoon from
Also from Guardian: the price of occupation, commentary by Tariq Ali.

London bombing

mister bijou recommends:
editorial cartoons

London CCTV

There are, it is claimed, 500,000 CCTV cameras in London. It is further reported that the metropolis is the most heavily surveilled city in the world. Today, The Wall Street Journal, which earlier summarized the invasion and occupation of Iraq as one of the 'world's most hostile takeovers', has an interesting report on the city's CCTV. In London, like many other places, for good and ill, Big Brother is watching us.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Bombs

mister bijou recommends:
BBC Worldservice (Listen: top of the page, click on the right)
Guardian Newsblog
Raw GoogleNews feed
The Beeb
WikiNews (+ many links)
Letter to the Terrorists
George Galloway statement
Mike Marqusee

What life looks like from the 88th floor

Views from the top of the IFC 2 building in Hong Kong -- weather permitting and absent the pollution. (Quicktime)
Thanks, Billy C!

Avian flu

While not wishing to join in the scaremongering, I think it constructive to list some useful avian flu websites:
Flu China
Hong Kong Prevention of Avian Flu FAQ

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

G8: Beacons of dissent

Carnival for Full Enjoyment
Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA)
Faslane G8 Blockade
Scottish Socialist Party
G8 Alternatives
Lenin's Tomb
Indymedia UK
Guardian Newsblog @ G8

FIP Radio

To my knowledge, FIP (France Inter Parisienne) has been broadcasting since the mid-1970s. A mix of classical, jazz, pop and world music occasionally interrupted by dead-pan females giving traffic reports: if you are on the périphérique, counter-clockwise, in the northwest tangent, you are stuck in a traffic jam. FIP is still going strong and has, according to the Guardian, a big fan base in Brighton. Why should Brighton have all the fun? To listen to FIP, go to the links column on right and click on Music FIP.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Walter Benjamin

Theses on the Philosophy of History, IX
A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.
But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only.

Origins and Common Usage of British Swear-words

Brian Johnson commentating a cricket match: The bowler's Holding, the batsman's Willey.
Read on?
Bad language.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Summer songs

Lovin' Spoonful's Summer in the City is one of my all-time favourite songs. That and the thoroughly subversive Summer Holiday by Cliff Richard. Come to think of it, most all of the songs listed below are A-1.
Little known fact: the Spoonful played the Plaza Ballroom, Rookery Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, in 1966. Great show, great band. Someone should write a history of the Plaza's owner, Mrs Reegan. Summer in the City? Lyrics here. Summer Holiday? Here.

Some summer songs:
Summertime Blues -- Eddie Cochran
Theme to 'A Summer Place' -- Percy Faith & His Orchestra
Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer -- Nat 'King' Cole
Summer Holiday -- Cliff Richard
Summer in the City -- Lovin' Spoonful
In the Summertime -- Mungo Jerry
Summertime -- Janis Joplin
Summer '68 -- Pink Floyd
Summer Breeze -- Seals & Croft
The Hissing Of Summer Lawns -- Joni Mitchell
Boys of Summer -- Don Henley
Summer Romance -- The Rolling Stones
Summer Nights -- Cast of Grease
Summer Days -- Bob Dylan

The New Yorker magazine

Some great articles in the latest issue:
Candy Man: Roald Dahl
Fighting words: whatever
CNOOC + Unocal: All the Oil in China?

Nancy Kissel

Hong Kong Parkview milkshake murder trial.
The story (in court) so far.

Fourth of July: the sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new

[Augustus] seduced the army with bonuses, and his cheap food policy was successful bait for civilians. Indeed, he attracted everybody's good will by the enjoyable gift of peace. Then he gradually pushed ahead and absorbed the functions of the senate, the officials, and even the law. Opposition did not exist. War or judicial murder had disposed of all men of spirit. Upper-class survivors found that slavish obedience was the way to succeed, both politically and financially. They had profited from the revolution, and so now they liked the security of the existing arrangement better than the dangerous uncertainties of the old regime. Besides, the new order was popular in the provinces. (1. 2)
-- From The Annals of Tacitus

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Invisible Cities: memory, desire, signs

Several posts ago, I included an excerpt from Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. Here. The Calvino was prompted by an earlier conversation in the week I had with Lynn A, during which she mentioned she was re-reading the Calvino after a long hiatus. Lynn A, let it be said, knows a thing or three about writers, writing and reading. Reading it second time around, she said, had proved to be an even more rewarding experience of what is a superb book. She went on to speculate that a life lived in the interim had now enabled her to see and appreciate the book in ways that were not available to her first time around.
Like Lynn A, I first read Invisible Cities a long time ago, but now my appetite was whetted. Hence the posting. A few hours later, I got an email from Billy C. It began:
Wow this is one of those weird earthly coincidences that often tend to happen even when the unbelievably improbable outweighs the probable by the odds of 99 to 1. It's nothing drastic, but yesterday, by chance, I found this interesting book on the vast shelves of the Hong Kong Central Library and today - not being able to go rollerblading because of the 'lovely' weather - I started to read Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. 1 hour later I went online and decided to write you an e-mail after recognizing a picture on your site. Lo and behold, by the time your page had refreshed there appeared an extract from Invisible Cities.
Weird, eh? Well, there's more weirdness. The section I put on the blog was about the 'inferno' and 'not inferno'. Late the same evening, I discovered I still had my copy of Invisible Cities. Opening it, there was a note to me from Louise A, dated 1/1/87, that said: Find the not-inferno.
Is there something in the air? The water? Five Flower Tea? In the memory, desire, signs of certain people on a little island in the South China Sea?
As Billy C says, with a nod to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "one of those weirdly earthly coincidences that often tend to happen even when the unbelievably improbable outweighs the probable by the odds of 99 to one." Here endeth one of today's lessons. Thanks, Italo Calvino! Thanks, Lynn A! Thanks, Billy C! Thanks, Louise A! Thanks, Everyone!

Sunshine songs

Bring Me Sunshine -- Morecambe & Wise
We'll Sing in the Sunshine -- Gale Garnett
Sunshine Superman -- Donovan
Good Day Sunshine -- The Beatles
Sunshine of Your Love -- Cream
You Are the Sunshine of My Life -- Stevie Wonder
Ain't No Sunshine -- Bill Withers
Walking on Sunshine -- Katrina and The Waves

Google Map: a little island in the South China Sea

This is so cool, I am re-posting it:
Click here, zoom in/zoom out, and you can see a little island in the South China Sea. A million thanks to Nick G!
[Further, if you keep scrolling to the right you'll find Hong Kong Island, and Kowloon to the north]

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Fan death

This has nowt to do with the Live 8 concerts for 'Make Poverty History'. My electric fan went and died this afternoon. It had been ailing for some time. I'd had it for a long time, and it wasn't new when it found me. Oh, well... mustn't grumble... could've been worse:
an electric fan, if left running overnight in a closed room, can result in the death (by suffocation, poisoning, hypothermia) of those inside.
Panic not, brothers and sisters -- the killer fan is an urban legend primarily confined to South Korea.

1 July in Hong Kong

Local reports: pro-Beijing parade vs march for democracy.
International reports: IHT, BBC, AFP, Reuters.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day

The official title for today -- 1 July -- sounds much snappier in Cantonese. Interview with (Sir) Donald Tsang in the mainland's People's Daily. Meanwhile, Hong Kong Government issues a tedious text for 'Reunion Day'. It reads like it was cobbled together by agit/prop officials, People's Daily circa 1966.