Archive for January, 2003


January 31st, 2003

Government playing silly buggers over the ID card consultation exercise [via Nick].

Putrid Stuff

January 31st, 2003

“It has been putrid stuff”: Polly Toynbee in today’s Guardian, on right-wing press coverage of refugees and asylum seekers.

The Sex Life of the Elephant Seal

January 31st, 2003

It’s always good to have discussions of the sex life of the elephant seal.

Martin writes [31.1.2003]: “The only other mammal thought to travel such large distances are whales.” Surely some mistake? Or is that Virgin Atlantic plane which takes me from Boston to London a figment of my imagination?

Chris replies: Mammals, Martin, mammals.

Martin, again: Am I not a mammal, Chris? Am I not?

Good News!

January 29th, 2003

My friend and comrade Leo Zeilig has had the criminal charges against him dropped. As you may know or remember, he was picked up by police recently for being the man with the megaphone on an antiwar demonstration in London, and had up to five years in prison dangled in front of him on a charge of incitement to violent disorder, or somesuch. He writes:

Comrades and friends,

We fought and we won! At 4pm today my solicitor received a fax from the Crown Prosecution Service that stated, “all charges against your client have been dropped”. While no reasons were given we can feel confident that the message of our campaign — the Right to Protest — the anti-war movement and the show of support at the court on 31 December, the work we did raising the profile of the campaign and the absurdity of the charges against a peaceful demonstrator forced their hand. That they didn’t have the confidence to pursue charges against me with all the evidence they claimed to have amassed on the day is proof of the great strength of the anti-war movement. The cost they have wasted in the last three months runs into thousands. We must make sure that demonstration in London on the 15 February will ring out across the world with the message that we can stop the war and we are RIGHT TO PROTEST!

The support of my comrades and friends in the campaign has ensured this victory. We must make sure that Right to Protest organised by the Stop the War Coalition continues to exist, providing support and solidarity to the others still facing charges and anti-war activists that the police will undoubtedly arrest in the protests and demonstrations against the war in the coming weeks and months.

Excellent news: and many thanks to those who were a bit better than me at managing to make it along to the court hearing.


January 29th, 2003

If anyone’s up late at night to listen to W.’s speech tonight, here the State of the Union Drinking Game.

Face Down In His Own Bullshit

January 23rd, 2003

The recent London Review of Books essay, “‘No Bullshit’ Bullshit” by Stefan Collini, discussing Christopher Hitchens’s Orwell’s Victory [aka Why Orwell Matters] is now online.

“The sight of Hitchens view-hallooing across the fields in pursuit of some particularly dislikable quarry has been among the most exhilarating experiences of literary journalism during the last two decades. He’s courageous, fast, tireless and certainly not squeamish about being in at the kill. But after reading this and some of his other recent writings, I begin to imagine that, encountering him, still glowing and red-faced from the pleasures of the chase, in the tap-room of the local inn afterwards, one might begin to see a resemblance not to Trotsky and other members of the European revolutionary intelligentsia whom he once admired, nor to the sophisticated columnists and political commentators of the East Coast among whom he now practises his trade, but to other red-coated, red-faced riders increasingly comfortable in their prejudices and their Englishness – to Kingsley Amis, pop-eyed, spluttering and splenetic; to Philip Larkin, farcing away at the expense of all bien pensants; to Robert Conquest and a hundred other ‘I told you so’s. They would be good company, up to a point, but their brand of saloon-bar finality is only a quick sharpener away from philistinism, and I would be sorry to think of one of the essayists I have most enjoyed reading in recent decades turning into a no-two-ways-about-it-let’s-face-it bore. I just hope he doesn’t go on one hunt too many and find himself, as twilight gathers and the fields fall silent, lying face down in his own bullshit.”

Glen Newey’s essay on the royal family is quite fun, too.

Dead Socialist Watch, #15

January 23rd, 2003

In Memoriam Pierre Bourdieu, died 23 January 2002.