Archive for February, 2003

Just Dead Socialist Watch, #1

February 26th, 2003

Marxist historian Christopher Hill died on Monday, aged 91. There are obituaries in today’s Times and Guardian.

Bridget Hill died in July last year, aged 80, and her Guardian obituary is very fine, too.

UPDATE: The Telegraph has an obit, too [28.2.2003], as has the Independent [1.3.2003].

Read My Lips

February 25th, 2003

Read My Lips. Fantastic stuff, via Raj.

UPDATE: If the link isn’t working, try this one, to the same file in RealAudio, or this one, to an mpeg, or, most recently, this one.


February 22nd, 2003

Lots of people are linking to it, and Kieran Healy’s presentation is the best of the lot, but the egregious Department of Homeland Security’s pictograms are just great.

[Incidentally, Kieran Healy is writing about all the right things at the moment, since he also has also taken to discussing the Big Red Book, aka G. E. M. de Ste Croix’s The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World].

While on the subject of barking Americans barking, though, Raj points me towards this page, which has a clip of John Ashcroft singing “Let the Eagles Soar”, his own composition written some time after 9/11, although I can’t quite work out how to configure my browser to get it to play properly. All of which will remind the people who like this kind of thing — and we are legion — of the heroic career of Senator Orrin Hatch, songman.

So why don’t right-wing British politicians write songs like these? We’re missing out.

Dead Socialist Watch, #18

February 19th, 2003

Over the past few days both Tom and Raj have sent me the link for the Iraq war game thingy, but I think I’m more entranced by Papal Bowling, from the same site.

UPDATE [22.2.2003]: I’m slipping this one in as an addendum to Wednesday’s entry, since I forgot to commemorate one of my favourite Dead Socialists: Georg Büchner.

As the Dictionary of the Turtle explains:

The German dramatist Georg Büchner (1813-1837) is remembered today chiefly on account of his excellent plays. Danton’s Death (1835) was an impressive debut; Woyzeck (1837) an absolutely astonishing tragedy, and the first with a proletarian protagonist. Yet when he died at an absurdly young age, he was mourned by his contemporaries as an expert on the anatomy of the barbel fish, on which he had completed a scientific dissertation. Drama and Fish Science were not his only talents: Büchner was also a member of the radical Society of the Rights of Man, and the author of stirring tracts. The Big Soviet Encyclopaedia (third edition, English version, v.4 p.132) draws attention to his role in propagating the slogan “Peace to the huts, war on the palaces” in Germany. He also wrote a comedy, Leonce and Lena (published 1839), but it is not funny.

In Memoriam Georg Büchner, born 17 October 1813, died 19 February 1837.


February 17th, 2003

Steve writes to the Stoa to recommend this link.

Tom adds [2.18.2003]: Steve either isn’t reading NTK, or thought that the link just after the one he sent in wasn’t worthwhile: “How Auburn, Massachusetts Got WMD Capability”.

Steve replies: “Tom is totally correct, I don’t read NTK regularly (the bastards never published anything I submitted) and got the link from somewhere else…”

March against the War, London 15 February, and Image of the Week, #20

February 16th, 2003

More photos from the march here, here, here and here [via Indymedia Italy, via Infoshop].

The march was slow and the weather was cold, but the whole thing was quite extraordinary. Well organised, too, except for the decision to allow Harold Pinter to read one of his awful poems [scroll down to the bottom].

Dead Sheep Watch, #1 (and only)

February 14th, 2003

In Memoriam Dolly the Sheep, 5 July 1996 – 14? February 2003.

Mr Blair Wants To Read Your Essays

February 14th, 2003

As the demonstrations at the weekend promise to be vast…

SEND YOUR ESSAYS TO BLAIR!Here is an inspired action being co-ordinated by our friends at Cambridge Students Against the War:

5 minute student action:

Oppose the war? Then email your essays to Tony Blair! (and forward this email)

It came to light on Thursday that the government is relying on plagiarised post-graduate essays to bolster its case for war on Iraq. Its “dossier” entitled “Iraq – its infrastructure of concealment, deception and intimidation”, was posted on the Number 10 website and hailed by Colin Powell in his presentation to the United Nations on Wednesday. It claimed to be based on up-to-date intelligence – but turned out to have been nicked, typos and all, from 3 out-of-date sources, including an essay by a graduate student in California.

We’re obviously very excited that students’ academic endeavours are being taken so seriously, and think it’s time for students to act to ensure that war plans continue to be “intelligence led”.

So, why not send Tony Blair some of your essays?

Tony Blair posted an essay by Ibrahim al-Marashi, a student in Monterey, California, up on his web site. Maybe he’ll do the same for yours! Why not email the web master, and attach some of your best scholarly efforts. Don’t worry too much about the relevance of the subject – Tony and his skilled advisers are on hand to subtly distort your words to suit their war agenda. So, whether it’s Proust or particle analysis, Geography or History, attach a copy of your essay and send it to Number 10!

Here’s what we suggest you do:

* email your essays as attachments, to, as soon as possible and definitely by next Tuesday, explaining why you are sending it.

* or even better post your essays to ’10 Downing Street, London SW1′ with a covering letter (we’ve copied one below, and it’s online here) in an envelope titled ‘Warning: Top Secret’.

* email us here telling us you’ve done it, so we can let the press know what’s happening (please don’t send us your essays though – we don’t want them!)

Excellent idea. Via the Oxford Students Stop The War list.


February 12th, 2003

More on gin, thanks to Katy. This is a 1705 ad for a special kind of gin brewed up in a London ginhouse:

“One glass will restore an old man of threescore to the juvenility of thirty, make a girl of fourteen as ripe as an old maid of twentyfour, a Puritan to lust after the flesh and a married man to oblige his wife oftener in one night than without it he might do in seven”.

She adds: “Such dangerous concoctions were served up surreptitiously at so-called Puss and Mew shops after the hardline mid 18th century Gin Act. On walls down side alleys, there were painted signs of cats, and if you looked closely, there was a little slot under its tail for a coin. On inserting a coin, crying “Mew, mew!” and holding a glass underneath the cat’s mouth, the glass would be magically filled with contraband gin via a spout protruding from beneath the cat’s teeth.”


February 9th, 2003

If you were wondering about how the translations of the Harry Potter books into various East Asian languages do when it comes to dealing with some of the puns, anagrams and other kinds of wordplay, you need to study this exceptionally informative page. Thanks to Andrew for passing it my way.

Still haven’t read the books. People tell me they are quite good. I saw one of the films, though.

Gender as Anti-Church Code

February 8th, 2003

Oh dear: I seem to be experiencing another anti-Catholic moment. (Last month’s anti-Catholic moment, you will recall, concerned the way the Church in Boston is behaving like a bunch of thugs as it tries to evade responsibility for ruining many people’s lives: this piece by Christopher Hitchens also deserves a link). This month’s takes a different tack:

Vatican Says Word ‘Gender’ Is Anti-Church Code(WOMENSENEWS)–The Vatican announced it will publish a collection of phrases and words including “reproductive rights” and “gender” that it says are code for anti-Catholic sentiments.

The Vatican said these and approximately 76 other neutral-sounding terms about family and life are used to cover up deeper, anti-Church meanings, according to The Associated Press. The Vatican will publish the 1,000-page lexicon of the terms soon.

In an interview with the religious affairs monthly journal 30 Giorni (30 Days), Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said the phrase “reproductive rights” is misleading because it “is used for propaganda–not for the right to reproduction but . . . to abortion,” The Washington Times reported.

The Vatican decided to create the book after nongovernmental organizations complained about “ambiguous” words and phrases used at United Nations meetings…

It will be great fun to get a copy of this thousand-page lexicon when it comes out, which will be required and entertaining reading. But what’s sad — more than sad, in fact — is that this isn’t just the usual run of harmless religious lunacy, since these interventions on the subject of “gender” have a real impact on the development of the international legal regime.The International Criminal Court website, for example, trumpets this:

“The Rome Statute explicitly recognizes rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization and sexual violence as war crimes and crimes against humanity. Trafficking is encompassed within the crime against humanity of enslavement. Also, for the first time, gender-based persecution is included as a crime against humanity. The codification of these crimes in the Statute is significant as prior humanitarian law has afforded trivial treatment to such grave violence.”

This sounds excellent, and indeed, it mostly is. Turn to Article 7, Paragraph 3, however, and you find the weaselly definition of “gender” being used by the Statute, negotiated by the Vatican and supported by various Islamic regimes and the United States (which isn’t proposing to cooperate with the Court after all):

It is understood that the term ‘gender’ refers to the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society. The term ‘gender’ does not indicate any meaning different from the above.

So much for the work of a generation of gender studies. And so much for the human rights of transsexuals and other gender queers who alone seem to be exempted from international legal protections against gender-based violence. The small print bit: Credit where it’s due: the above information came to me via Raj, but is originally from Women’s Enews, which is a nonprofit independent news service covering issues of concern to women and their allies: an incubator program of the Fund for the City of New York, Women’s Enews is supported by readers and various progressive foundations. Donate now by going here.

“Niall Ferguson is the Leni Riefenstahl of George Bush’s new imperial order…”

February 8th, 2003

Friend and comrade Jon Wilson sinks in his teeth and doesn’t let go, writing in today’s Guardian.