Saturday, April 18, 2009

YouTube - Yes, We're Gay But...

Greek Holy Saturday

The Easter Sermon of John Chrysostom
Pastor of Constantinople (~400 AD)

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

'Sickened' MP Alice Mahon quits Labour - Yorkshire Post

'Sickened' MP Alice Mahon quits Labour - Yorkshire Post

One of Yorkshire's best known Labour members has launched a ferocious attack on the party and Gordon Brown in a withering resignation letter in which she says she feels 'betrayed''.

Alice Mahon, a Halifax MP for 18 years and a party member for more than 50 years, has resigned her membership of the party saying she can no longer stomach how it operates.

In her letter to the Halifax Constituency Labour Party she criticises the Prime Minister saying he has shown zero contrition over privatising public services and failed to tackle the excesses of the bankers.

And she heaps scorn on the Welfare Reform Bill saying: 'This Labour Government should hang its head in shame for inflicting this on the British public just as we face the most severe recession any of us have experienced in a lifetime.''

Mrs Mahon, 71, a trenchant critic of Tony Blair's government, says she had hoped that under Mr Brown's stewardship 'we might go back to being a really progressive and caring party'' but 'in the event I could not have been more wrong''.

Taking this story and the previous one, I think the time is up for Gordon Brown's government.

Shami Chakrabarti was target in police search - Times Online

Shami Chakrabarti was target in police search - Times Online

Police who arrested the Conservative frontbencher Damian Green trawled his private e-mails looking for information on Britain’s leading civil liberties campaigner.

Officers from Scotland Yard’s antiterror squad searched the computer seized from his parliamentary office using the key words “Shami Chakrabarti” – even though the Liberty director had nothing to do with the leaking of Home Office documents that prompted the investigation.

In an interview with The Times, Mr Green warned that his arrest and the raids on his Commons office and homes smacked of a “police state”. The Tory immigration spokesman said that Ms Chakrabarti’s name had been one of the keywords used to go through e-mails and computer documents going back several years.

“This feels to me like a fishing expedition on somebody who embarrasses the government of the day,” he said. “That’s very disturbing.”

Friday, April 17, 2009

Have Dastardly and Muttley cost Labour the next election?

Labourhome : Have Dastardly and Muttley cost Labour the next election?

Whether they meant to or not the people currently in charge of the Labour Party have dismantled public trust in their honesty, they will not even begin to regain it without spending a long and painful period in opposition. It gives me no pleasure to write that and even less to think of all the good people who will have their chance to make a difference through the political process greatly reduced as a result, but the consequences of foolishness and complacency, like your own shadow cannot be outrun.

It certainly looks impossible for Labour to be renewed while it remains in power.

Once again, we need to plan for a Tory government.

Should Susan Boyle have a makeover?

Should Susan Boyle have a makeover? | Life and style |

I really enjoyed BGT at the weekend. I was moved by Susan Boyle. It's perfectly OK for The Guardian to report actual social trends and fads.

And I agree with the author here. Ms. Boyle should do what she likes, and that would probably involve ignoring Amanda Holden, and all those people who said Paul Potts should not have had his teeth fixed.

Finally, perhaps as a gay man, I am not really qualified to say, but she is quite bonnie. There is nothing wrong with her face, and she has a very nice smile.

Ms. Boyle should do what she wants.

Where the New York Times and Washington Post Fail

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

As Andrew points out the WP and NYT will not used the word "torture". He asks:

Does anyone believe that if Iran, say, captured an American soldier, kept him awake for eleven days straight, bashed his head and body against plywood walls with a towel around his neck, forced him to stand and sit in stress positions finessed by the Communist Chinese, stuck him in a dark coffin for hours, and then waterboarded him, that the NYT would describe him as a victim of 'harsh interrogation techniques'?


An Important Event

Ashton Kucher reached one million Twitter followers today.

Which is why I post this pic.

It shouldn't be this difficult to own my own home |

It shouldn't be this difficult to own my own home |

The fall in house prices over the last year has meant that many people, my partner and I included, can now realistically consider buying a home. However, the problem remains that whilst there are properties which we can in theory afford, it is still extremely difficult to get a mortgage. This lack of access to credit risks extending the economic downturn and undermining young people's faith in the Government's recovery plan.

We want to buy our own home not as an investment or a way of making money, but as somewhere to live. It would give us control over our own surroundings and a stake in the community in which we've lived for three years. It would also have tangible benefits like being able to improve the building's insulation to reduce our energy bills, something which our landlord currently has no incentive to do.

I was stunned to read this on LabourList. How are these attitudes different from Tory attitudes?

I agree people should be able to buy houses, but *owning a home* is not the be all and all of society. I live in a council flat. It's nice. My neighbours are nice. There a lot's of other people who can say the same.

But under the Labour government of the past twelve years virtually no new council homes are being built.

The solution to the housing problem is for the state to build a large number of good quality "social housing". That will keep private house prices more stable, and provide lots of other people with affordable housing.

'I thought we were discussing Austrian economics'

Sacha Baron Cohen's Bruno tries to 'seduce' Republican politician | Mail Online

After the huge success of Sacha Baron Cohen's films Ali G In Da House and Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan, you'd think the people would have wised up to the comedian's disguises.

But it appears not everyone recognises the comedian when he's dressed up as his third alter-ego, gay Austrian fashion reporter Bruno.

Texas congressman Ron Paul, who was Republican candidate for the 2008 presidential election, was left fuming after he was unwittingly tricked into a hotel room with Cohen's Bruno character.

The right-wing politician was tricked into being a target of seduction by Bruno last summer by posing as an economic reporter.
Republican presidential hopeful, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas

Unhappy: Ron Paul fled a hotel room when Sacha Baron Cohen started undressing

After Paul briefly appeared in the trailer for Cohen's forthcoming film Bruno: Delicious Journeys Through America For The Purpose Of Making Heterosexual Male, he realised he would have to explain himself to voters.

Speaking on America's ABC radio this week, angry Paul condemned Cohen for lying and accused him of 'fraud'.

During an interview with presenter Curtis Sliwa, Paul was asked how he ended up in a hotel room in such a compromising situation.

He said: 'We were in a studio situation, I wasn't invited into a hotel room. There were lots of lights and blaze and commotion and they said we better get in this back room which had been fixed up as a bedroom.

'So there was some dishonesty getting me into the interview, I was expecting an interview on Austrian economics. That didn't turn out that way.

'By the time he (Cohen) started pulling his pants down, I was like what on earth is going on here and I ran out of the room. This interview had ended.'

The Shame of the Bush Adminstration

Andrew Sullivan rounds up net reactions to the legal memos written at the behest of the Bush administration as a way to get round legal prohibitions of torture.

The focus in parts of the US media, and in the UK on the BBC, is on the statement that the Obama administration will not seek indictment for those CIA officials who acted "in good faith."

The fact of Bush seeking out ways to commit torture has been known for some time now. But it is still major news to have these OLC memos now released.

The history is now clear: the Bush-Cheney regime goes down as a torture administration. At some stage, perhaps after Obama, some of the perps will come to trial.

Beckham the Cyborg

I'll be Beck: David Beckham stars as the Terminator for new mobile phone ad - The Daily Record

He's undressed to kill and has an eye for goal - meet David Beckham as The Terminator.

The AC Milan star was mocked up like Arnold Schwarzenegger's cyborg to advertise a new phone.

Ribs, muscles and arteries were painted on his body as make-up artists turned him into a robot.

There is a video of the making of the ad.

I wonder how long it will be before 3D interactive porn with any person you like will become possible. Just as Becks sells his body now, for advertising, will future stars sell their personas to function in porn?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Susan Boyle - Cry Me a River

The Daily Record has a track of Susan Boyle singing another song than I Dreamed a Dream. Apparently she contributed a version of Cry Me a River to a local charity CD in 1999.

The Record says:

Only 1000 copies of the disc were ever produced, but we’ve got hold of the long-forgotten recording and it’s now on our site. A showbiz insider said: “This is a real coup for the Record. The whole world would have wanted to find this.

The track shows her Les Mis song was not a one off. She has a wonderful voice.

Susan Boyle Reaction Videos - a New Genre

This guy seems genuinely smitten.

Will Excessive Heterosexuality Bring Down the Brown Government?

Rachel Sylvester: Brown's loyal attack dogs always bite to order, Times Online

There is a laddish and bullying atmosphere to the cabal of advisers and MPs surrounding Mr Brown. Small talk revolves around football. Briefings take place in pubs and karaoke bars. The alleged coup against Tony Blair was planned over balti and beers. It is not surprising that Mr McBride begins his e-mail with the word “Gents” - the underlying misogyny of the rumours he was trying to spread is one of the most shocking aspects of the whole thing.

Too much testosterone seems to be Ms Sylvester's analysis.

And she might be right.

Andrew Brown: Anti-catholic prejudice is still prejudice

Andrew Brown: Anti-catholic prejudice is still prejudice | Comment is free |

There is one error common to both old and new anti-Catholicism; to some extent it is an error that the Vatican encourages, since it, too, would like to believe that a faithful Catholic is one who obeys the Pope and that a majority of the world's billion Catholics are like that. But this is nonsense. The vast majority of Catholics, and not just the laity, throughout the world just ignore papal teachings that they disagree with. This is most obvious about sex: the celibacy of the clergy is a dead letter in most of Africa and is maintained in North America only because so many priests there are gay.

He's right. On all counts.

Damian Green Will Not Face Charges

Iain Dale's Diary: Damian Green Will Not Face Charges

Process is important. But I'm watching Damian Greene right now, for the nth time on BBC News (to make sure I am right), and the SUBJECT here is immigration.

Labour is scared of being *right* on immigration issues simply because of the widespread hatred (and I used the word advisedly) of immigrants among wide swathes of the native populations.

In my opinion, it is immigrant hatred that is the real problem. And the Tories efforts to exploit immigrant hatred in a nice way.

Damian Greene should not have been arrested in Parliament, because of the need for parliamentary privilege. But let's not hide what he was trying to exploit: the racism and xenophobia of far too many British people.

Jewish Catholics in Israel

For Jerusalem's Hebrew-speaking Catholics, Jewish identity is cardinal - Haaretz - Israel News

The traditional Jewish blessings over wine and bread, the Kiddush and the Motzi, echoed through the sanctuary at 10 HaRav Kook Street in Jerusalem. It was a room of striking simplicity - with just one small cross in brown wood.

Four Catholic priests wearing white robes and green stoles stood at the altar, as one of them recited these blessings. But unlike the blessings at a festive Jewish meal, these were blessings of consecration, transforming the bread and the wine into the body and blood of Christ. Just before taking Communion, church members exchanged the greetings of Pax Christi, Peace of Christ, saying to one another, 'Shalom HaMashiach.'

I sometimes wonder what I would do if I had been born Jewish. Probably I would have tried to be a good Jew and (I hope) think Jesus of Nazareth said some good things.

It is interesting to note that the Hebrew Catholics in Israel do not try to portray themselves as completed Jews, the awful term used by some Evangelical Christians, but simply as products of their own biographies.

Death of the traditional family

Death of the traditional family - Telegraph

More people are living alone, more children are being raised by single parents and more grown-up children are living with their parents than ever before, according to the Office for National Statistics.

One expert said that the in-depth annual study was final confirmation that the nuclear family had become “a museum piece”.

The wide-ranging report also showed that Britain had become a nation of people who travel longer distances to work, take more foreign holidays and fill their homes with electrical gadgets.

As a gay man living alone, I find my "traditional family" quite strong thank you. Me, my sister and my brother are all in contact, and seem to be getting closer as we grow older. My (step)-Dad remains central for all of us, and we have good relations with other relations.

What the Telegraph fails to notice is that it is pure unadulterated capitalism that has reduced people from "family units" to "units of consumption."

Altar Boyz

It's tough to admit you are a Catholic and Proud.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ronaldo fires Man Utd past Porto

An Amazing night for Manchester United! And a wonderful picture from the BBC.

An Apercu


The apparent influence of the right-wing blogs is that they are consistent with the mainstream media obsession with minutiae of personal interactions of the professional political classes operating within a very narrow consensus. This is in contrast to the much greater ideological and political diversity outside the London media circus, which affects real people, with real lives.

Guido did Drugs

Guy Fawkes' blog of parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy

Guido did drugs and partied in his twenties, the parties were probably illegal.

I'm no fan, but good for him for calling out this line of attack.

Drug laws are a mess; weed harms a much smaller percentage of its users than alcohol; ecstasy can be fun; you can get over a cocaine addiction.

Tory councillor suspended for describing gays as "sexual deviants"

ConservativeHome's Local Government Blog: Tory councillor suspended for describing gays as "sexual deviants"

It's worth reading the comments section at ConservativeHome.

Educated Tories were not usually anti-gay. Read Alan Clark's Diaries, or look back to Margaret Thatcher voting to decriminalise homosexuality in 1967. [She also had the openly gay Lord Avon as one of her early minister and allowed Norman Fowler at the DHSS to deal much more directly and effectively with the danger of the spread of HIV than Reagan did in the US.]

And under David Cameron this Tory tolerance has become official party policy, Alan Duncan, an openly gay MP, is in the shadow cabinet, and many gays and lesbians now seem willing to vote Tory.

But there were always the unter-Tories, the "deferential working class", the "Essex men", the "Daily Mail Readers", or whatever they are called, who just hate poofs.

You can see there scrawlings under this ConservativeHome post.

The Beauty That Matters Is Always On The Inside (from The Herald )

The Beauty That Matters Is Always On The Inside (from The Herald )

Probably the best article on why so many of us are touched, and impressed, by Susan Boyle.

Obama's Moment Of Truth On Torture

Obama's Moment Of Truth On Torture | By Andrew Sullivan

The question before the president today is not whether to prosecute his predecessors for war crimes; it is simply whether to release the memos that the Bush administration drew up describing in gruesome detail the torture techniques they authorized - or to cover them up. There are zero national security interests in keeping such information secret. The ICRC report has already detailed what was done to many high value detainees, and the methods are unequivocally war crimes, and known across the world. To directly attach such torture techniques to the specific decisions of the Bush administration merely provides accountability. No more; no less. It provides transparency.

If Obama, for some reason, decides to prevent us from seeing exactly what was done then he will achieve only one thing: he will tell the world that the US has indeed authorized and practised war crimes while simultaneously telling the world that America will not be accountable for it.

He will betray all of us who supported him to restore the rule of law. He will, in fact, merely confirm the worst fears of what was actually done while making himself an accomplice to protecting the war criminals who did it.

Obama owes Andrew Sullivan, who really pushed his candidacy with an important article in The Atlantic before the primaries.

So it is great to see Andrew here hold Obama to account. The United States cannot continue to protect its war criminals. The whole point of supporting Obama will be gone if Obama does not utterly overturn Bush policies.

John Harris on Damian McBride and an image change for Labour | Comment is free | The Guardian

John Harris on Damian McBride and an image change for Labour | Comment is free | The Guardian

High-ups in the Labour party watched as online politics flared into life, and wondered why it was the political right who were making most of the running. As the Tory blogger Tim Montgomerie argued in these pages yesterday, they thus made plans that ignored the key reason why some of us spend far too much time reading even the most arcane political blogs: their independence. Derek Draper's LabourList website flags itself up as an 'independent grassroots e-network', but he is too close to the government to truly walk the walk; the planned Red Rag site was predicated not only on the daft idea that people would give credence to online gossip authored in Downing Street, but McBride would somehow get away with it.

The underlying mistake was obvious: the idea that you could somehow square the essentially pluralistic, chaotic online culture with a modus operandi still stuck somewhere between Lenin and Mayor Daley. The two simply don't fit: thanks to the web, the political world is changing beyond recognition, and the tireless zealots who populate the online world increasingly make old-fashioned fixes very difficult indeed.

But the fix is not that difficult. We just need to formulate how to make The DailyKos format work in the UK.

Lots of Fuss about the Joy of Blogging

The disreputable Tory blogger Paul Staines managed to whip up a blog whirlwind this weekend about Damian McBride. The reputable Tory blogger Iain Dale and everybody else joined in, because after all nothing is more important is in blogging than blogging itself.

No blog coverage of 114 people arrested BEFORE a Demo at the weekend. Twelves Pakistanis arrested and going to be deported, with no evidence so far. Police lying about CCTV cameras in the City over the death of a non-protestor.

These are the stories Right Wing blogs have not covered this weekend.

CIF at The Guardian is doing better and remains Top Blog.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009



An mini bio by Johann Hari of my favourite blogger.

Dubai: A Lousy Country but Good for Arab Gays

The dark side of Dubai - Johann Hari, Commentators - The Independent

Dubai was meant to be a Middle-Eastern Shangri-La, a glittering monument to Arab enterprise and western capitalism. But as hard times arrive in the city state that rose from the desert sands, an uglier story is emerging. Johann Hari reports

There is one group in Dubai for whom the rhetoric of sudden freedom and liberation rings true – but it is the very group the government wanted to liberate least: gays.

Beneath a famous international hotel, I clamber down into possibly the only gay club on the Saudi Arabian peninsula. I find a United Nations of tank-tops and bulging biceps, dancing to Kylie, dropping ecstasy, and partying like it's Soho. "Dubai is the best place in the Muslim world for gays!" a 25-year old Emirati with spiked hair says, his arms wrapped around his 31-year old "husband". "We are alive. We can meet. That is more than most Arab gays."

It is illegal to be gay in Dubai, and punishable by 10 years in prison. But the locations of the latest unofficial gay clubs circulate online, and men flock there, seemingly unafraid of the police. "They might bust the club, but they will just disperse us," one of them says. "The police have other things to do."

In every large city, gay people find a way to find each other – but Dubai has become the clearing-house for the region's homosexuals, a place where they can live in relative safety. Saleh, a lean private in the Saudi Arabian army, has come here for the Coldplay concert, and tells me Dubai is "great" for gays: "In Saudi, it's hard to be straight when you're young. The women are shut away so everyone has gay sex. But they only want to have sex with boys – 15- to 21-year-olds. I'm 27, so I'm too old now. I need to find real gays, so this is the best place. All Arab gays want to live in Dubai."

With that, Saleh dances off across the dancefloor, towards a Dutch guy with big biceps and a big smile.

The Bush Six to Be Indicted

The Bush Six to Be Indicted - The Daily Beast

Spanish prosecutors will seek criminal charges against Alberto Gonzales and five high-ranking Bush administration officials for sanctioning torture at Guantanamo.

The crucial thing, looking ahead, is that the Obama administration does not repeat the whole thing by using Bagram Airbase as a replacement.

And when will Bush and Cheney be indicted?

Super 14 Jersey Swap

Super 14 Jersey Swap

The best ad ever.

Via Andrew Sullivan

Math pupils learn how to drown Turks :: Poland behind the headlines - news, business, life

“How would you place Christians and Turks on a sinking ship so that only the latter drowned?”, reads a problem in a math textbook for Poland’s primary school pupils.

“On board a sinking ship there are fifteen Christians and fifteen Turks. In order to save the ship from going to the bottom, half of the crew needs to be thrown overboard. One of the Christians proposes that the whole crew form a circle and every ninth person jump overboard. How should the Christians place themselves so that only the Turks are drowned?”reads a problem, quoted the lay Catholic newspaper Tygodnik Powszechny.

The rather controversial problem appeares in The Mathematical Miniatures for Primary Schools, a manual for second to twelfth grade students who want to participate in the International Mathematical Kangaroo competition. The book was published in 2004 by Aksjomat Publishing House from the northern city of Torun and has already been translated into English, German, French and Russian.

“We did not try to exhort anyone to hate. What mattered to us was the mathematical model – the historical context was irrelevant. In order to solve the problem one needs to be acquainted with principles Maths, not the ways of murdering Turks,” said co-author and publisher of the manual Piotr Nodzynski, naively.

Via Andrew Brown at The Guardian

I'm stunned.

[Image: Philip II (1527-98), King of Spain (1556-98) offers his son or Allegory of the Battle of Lepanto, 1571; By Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (1487-1576) - Museo del Prado Madrid]

The Damian McBride scandal shows that political journalism already focuses on politicians' private lives | Comment is free |

The Damian McBride scandal shows that political journalism already focuses on politicians' private lives | Comment is free |

Draper would have none of it. In its place, he called for a journalism of the personal and the revelatory: a style that would have as its object the unveiling of the personalities and private behaviour of the men and women in politics and in other areas of public life, so that we, the public, could judge their characters. These, he said, were more important and interesting to most people than a series of tedious programmes and policies, and were also a better way of judging a present or prospective government.

The "politics of personal destruction" as it's called in the US has really snapped back at efforts by those in the Labour Party to give it a try.

But the home of such personal politics remains a specialty of the right wing blogs. Not uniquely so, but mostly so.

Boldly Going Nowhere?

Op-Ed Contributor - Boldly Going Nowhere -

IT’S a birthright proffered by science and prophesied by “Star Trek,” “Battlestar Galactica” and a thousand other space operas: We’re destined to go to the stars. Our descendants will spread beyond this nondescript solar system and seek adventure and bumpy-headed pals in the stellar realms.

Well, cool your warp jets, Mr. Scott, because we’re not about to breach the final frontier. Piling into a starship and barreling into deep space may long remain — like perfect children or effort-free bathroom cleaners — a pipe dream.

I don't really see how you can predict future knowledge and technology. I agree that we might be able to project forward twenty, perhaps thirty year at a pinch, what areas of scientific progress might be made.

But after that, unless we are to assume the scientific breakthroughs of the past 50 years represent a now declining peak of scientific endeavour, it is simply not possible to predict future science.

Monday, April 13, 2009

An American Republican Attacks Cameron's Tories

Kimberley Strassel Says the British Conservative Party Is No Example for the GOP -

Conservative Party leader David Cameron, we are told, has crafted a "modern conservatism" which is well past all that Thatcherite talk of free markets, tax cuts and individual freedom. This conservatism is caring and recognizes the role of government; it connects with citizens and worries about day care and global warming. If only the GOP would emulate its British cousins, so the argument goes, it might forge that lasting conservative majority.

It's true the Cameroons (as they are referred to by disaffected Tories) are on track to win next year's general election. It is also true that this has little to do with the non-philosophy the Cameroons have been spinning to the public. The next election will instead be a referendum on a worn-out Labour movement. If Conservatives win, it will be because the party has made itself less offensive to the electorate than those currently in charge. And that, American friends, is no way to rebuild a party.

It's quite an interesting article, but woefully uninformed.

Psychology Today: A Field Guide To Narcissism

Psychology Today: A Field Guide To Narcissism

There's the groom who wouldn't let his fianc�e's overweight friend be a bridesmaid because he didn't want her near him in the wedding pictures. The entrepreneur who launched a meeting for new employees by explaining that nobody ever gets anywhere working for someone else. The woman who had such confidence in her great taste, she routinely redecorated her daughter's home without asking. The guy who found himself so handsome, he took a self-portrait with a Polaroid every night before bed to preserve the moment.

Via Andrew Sullivan, who thinks it describes bloggers.

What Happened to Jesus this Easter?

It seems very odd, but as far as I can see no UK TV channel showed a film of the life of Jesus over Easter.

The following is a list from my Ancient History in the Movies. The best is by Pasolini.

The Life of Christ in Film

From the Manger to the Cross (1912) BW, Silent, Dir. Sidney Olcott. With Robert Henderson-Bland as Jesus.

The King of Kings (1927) BW, Silent , Dir. Cecil B. Demille, With H.B. Warner as Jesus.

King of Kings (1961) 168 mins, Dir. Nicholas Ray, With Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus.

Gospel According to Matthew (1964) 136 mins, Dir. Pier Paol Pasolini, With Enrique Irazoqui as Jesus. Pasolini, an agnostic or atheist Marxist, made what is often considered the purest Jesus movie by using only the Gospel of Matthew (he left out the "Saint" in theItalian title) and the services of local non-professional actors.

The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) 268 mins, Dir, George Stevens, With Max von Sydow as Jesus. Very long, and full of "guest stars," including a famous appearance by John Wayne as the centurion at the cross. With von Sydow as a very in control Jesus, this film perhaps best presents the Jesus of the Gospel of John.

Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) 108 mins, Dir. Norman Jewison, With Ted Neely as Jesus. A filmed version of Andrew Lloyd-Weber and Tim Rice's musical. Although many enjoy the music, it was widely criticized for its stressed-out Jesus and failure to go beyond the crucifixion. In effect, this is the most "de-mythologizing" of all the Jesus movies.

Godspell (1973) 103 mins, Dir. David Greene, With Victor Garber as Jesus. In general this was a more "religious" musical adaptation of Jesus's life than Superstar

Jesus of Nazareth (TV)(1977) 371 mins, Dir. Franco Zeffirelli, With Robert Powell as Jesus. As a made-for-TV series, Zeffirelli was able to take longer with his story, and his is probably the most faithful to the gospel's telling of the story. Although no actor has satisfactorily played Jesus, Robert Powell looked the part (at least as established in Western art), and played it without the gaucheness (Hunter) or sheer weirdness (von Sydow, Neely) of others.

Jesus (1979), 117 mins , Dir. John Krish and Peter Sykes, With Brian Deacon as Jesus. Apart from the prologue, this movie is entirely based on the Gospel of Luke. It was produced by evangelical Protestants (Campus Crusade for Christ) who rave over it, and have made audio tracks in over 660 languages! The whole film is available to view online. Unfortunately the acting is lousy and Jesus presented as a tepid bourgeois, perhaps just as men in suits would like him to be. It is, however, interesting to compare this with Pasolini's version of the Gospel of Matthew.

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) 168 mins. Dir. Martin Scorcese, With William Dafoe as Jesus.Based on Kazantzaki's novel, in which Jesus on the cross dreams of avoiding his death and marrying Mary Magdalene (i.e. one final temptation), this was stupidly criticized as blasphemous when it came out.

Jesus of Montreal (1989) in French. 120 mins. Dir. Denys Arcand. A group of actors puts on a play about Jesus, while their lives come to echo the play.

Jesus (TV)(1999) 2x 60 mins. Dir. Robert Young, with Jeremy Sisto as Jesus.

The Miracle Maker (TV)(2000) 90 mins
Dir. Derek W. Hayes and Stanislav Sokolov, With Ralph Fiennes as Jesus. A claymation version of the life of Jesus.

There is also a Gospel of John, and Mel Gibson's The Passion, which I have not listed.

American PFI

Plan to Change Student Lending Sets Up a Fight -

At the same time, the private loan industry, which would have collapsed without a government rescue last year, has begun lobbying aggressively to save a program that has generated giant profits with very little risk.

“The administration has decided that it wants to capture the profits of federal student loans,” said Kevin Bruns, executive director of America’s Student Loan Providers, a trade group that is fighting Mr. Obama’s plan.

To press its case, the nation’s largest student lender, Sallie Mae, has hired two prominent lobbyists, Tony Podesta, whose brother, John, led the Obama transition, and Jamie S. Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration.

The US is hardly a location of unfettered capitalism and "market economics." Note that in this case the private businesses are trying to keep going a kind of public/private initiative where the public only optioin is cheaper and more effective.

Dumping PFI and all other "market" measures in public policy - where these mean in effect guaranteed profits based on no risk and under-paying workers - needs to become basic to a left revival in the UK.

Republicans have become embarrassing to watch

Op-Ed Columnist - Tea Parties Forever -

Republicans have become embarrassing to watch. And it doesn’t feel right to make fun of crazy people. Better, perhaps, to focus on the real policy debates, which are all among Democrats.

Front Page of theManchester Evening News for Purnell

MP defends expenses - News - Manchester Evening News

CABINET minister James Purnell has defended his use of MPs' allowances after claims he puts grocery bills of up to £400 a month on expenses.

The Work and Pensions Secretary, who represents Stalybridge and Hyde, is the latest MP criticised for his use of tax-free second home allowances.

Leaked documents allegedly reveal that even though Mr Purnell earns £142,000 a year, he charges the taxpayer for the food he eats.

A spokesman for the politician said that Mr Purnell had not done anything against the rules and supported the reform of the allowances system.

It is alleged Mr Purnell, 39, has clawed back £9,094 he has spent on groceries in five years.

Some months, he is said to have claimed the maximum amount of £400 for food - double the amount that unemployed youngsters receive from the benefits system that he presides over.

And since he was elected in 2001, his second home, in Islington, London, has cost the public more than £145,000 in utility, council tax bills, fixtures, fittings and cleaning.

His spokesman said: "We have no intention of commenting on leaked documents, but are confident all claims are within Commons guidelines and have been approved - nor is there any allegation that they weren't."

The allowances system is intended to compensate MPs for the costs of staying away from their main home on Parliamentary business. Grocery claims are controversial, since they would have to buy food even if they only had one home.

Why pick on Purnell? Because of his repeated attacks on people who are genuinely incapacitated, and his use of Tory David Freud's report to smear people who are disabled.

He is 39 and single, and yet claims more per week (c. £100) for food alone than people who are on long term disability actually get to do everything (£86).

Downfall of Mr McPoison: How Gordon Brown's king of the dirty tricks was sent spinning out of No10

Downfall of Mr McPoison: How Gordon Brown's king of the dirty tricks was sent spinning out of No10 | Mail Online

This really does seem to be the best summing up for people who spent the weekend praying and celebrating the resurrection of the Lord.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Is Amazon Censoring LGBT Books?

Queers United: Is Amazon Censoring LGBT Books?

Is Amazon Censoring LGBT Books?

It has been brought to our attention that hundreds of gay,lesbian, and trans books simultaneously lost their sales rankings yesterday. Bringing into question whether there is a campaign to suppress LGBT themed books?

This prompted many Amazon users, authors, and purchasers of LGBT literature to contact the company. It seems many books simply about being transgender, or a college guide for LGBT students is being deemed 'erotic'?

UPDATE: More Here

UPDATE: You can Google bomb by using the following URL in a link called "Amazon Rank"

Like this Amazon Rank

UPDATE: Gawker claims it was a hack job.

Damian McBride scandal: Fatal flaws of the PM's pitbull - Telegraph

Damian McBride scandal: Fatal flaws of the PM's pitbull - Telegraph

Iain Dale on McBride and my local MP (Ivan Lewis) from the Daily Telegraph, April 13 2009

McBride revelled in making enemies, conveniently forgetting the maxim that all those who you offend on the way up are unlikely to come to your aid on the way down. He didn't just brief against Conservatives, he would slag off anyone he felt wasn't totally loyal to Gordon Brown – and that meant anyone who could reasonably be described as a Blairite. Many a minister felt his wrath – not directly, but through the pages of a national newspaper.

Health Minister Ivan Lewis, who spoke out injudiciously, suddenly found text messages to a woman who was not his wife plastered all over a Sunday tabloid. Transport Minister Tom Harris, who committed the cardinal sin of being a Blairite and an entertaining blogger, found himself dispatched to the back benches after being overheard at the Labour Party conference by McBride and his Downing Street acolyte Tom Watson saying something less than flattering about the Dear Leader.

Tameside Mafia: Purnell Troughs £400 a Month on Food Expenses

Tameside Mafia: Purnell Troughs £400 a Month on Food Expenses

From the Daily Star

CABINET Minister James Purnell charges taxpayers up to £400 a month – for his household groceries.

The Work and Pensions Secretary, in charge of the Government’s crackdown on benefit cheats, submits the claims for food under the controversial MPs’ second homes allowance.

He is not even required to provide any receipts to support his claims, which have cost taxpayers £9,094 over the last five years.

At one point the 39-year-old bachelor, who earns £142,000 a year, tried to increase his tax-free monthly claim to £475 but was told this was too much, even under the lax rules surrounding MPs’ expenses.


Michael White The Guardian Dec 4, 2007

G2: Shortcuts: Meet 'McPoison' - the prime minister's new spin meister

Thanks to Alastair Campbell and Charlie Whelan, not to mention Malcolm Tucker's foul-mouthed performance in The Thick of It, many voters have the impression that political spin doctors are ferocious bullies who whip reporters into line. So why have we heard so little of Gordon Brown's new man?

Lacking Campbell's fatal fondness for the limelight, Damian McBride has managed to keep a sensibly low profile since moving with the former chancellor to run the political side of Brown's press operation. Standup comics could not get a gag out of mentioning his name. Not yet.

But in chalk-and-cheese tandem with the austere Mike Ellam (the official No 10 spokesman rather than another party appointee) the boisterous McBride has an unenviable task. Even in good times, running Brown's PR is a job from hell.

The lack of publicity is not to say McBride is not interesting, and not for nothing is he called McPoison by some admirers. When Anthony Browne left the Times staff to run the Tory thinktank Policy Exchange, he used his leaving party to settle a score with McBride. He read out a couple of abusive text messages that arose from a Times investigation into how much Brown knew of the effect his 1997 tax changes would have on pensions. "I just wish for once you'd try to get past your cynical, Tory halfwit Harold Lloyd shtick to try to be a genuine journalist," was one choice phrase. (Browne wears what Ernie Wise used to call "cruel glasses" - the Harold Lloyd kind.)

Yet he is nowhere near as rough as his predecessor at No 11, Whelan, from whom the phrase "It's bollocks" often meant "It's true". An avid Arsenal fan, red-cheeked and quick to temper when it suits, McBride, 32, could probably give Charlie the thumping he often deserved. By comparison, he is a diplomat, charming when so inclined, as befits a former head of VAT strategy at the Treasury, the post he held until he acquired a taste for party politics in the press office. What's more, Brown is not an easy product to market. The early "no more spin" message was bad spin. But all in all, "McPoison" does well.

Derek Draper. Mail On Sunday, Oct 28

"Tonight we've been on a rare night out to the cool new London club Shoreditch House. We were having a drink with Gordon Browns Press supremo Damian McBride. He has all the skill of Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell without the baggage.

Obviously we talked about whether there would be an early Election but Damian was giving nothing away. Amazingly, like everyone else he seemed more interested in Strictly. Gordon loves it, he confided. He says its real family entertainment, perfect Saturday-night TV. But will the new PM be voting for Kate?

Its a secret ballot I presume, shot back Damian with a smile.

'Herbal viagra' warning | NHS Choices | Nursing Times

'Herbal viagra' warning | NHS Choices | Nursing Times

12 April, 2009

A ‘herbal Viagra’ sold in many traditional Chinese medicine stores contains ‘dangerously high’ levels of prescription-only anti-obesity and erectile dysfunction drugs, the UK’s medicine watchdog has warned.
Brought to you by NHS Choices

Despite claiming to contain only herbal ingredients, the product actually contains up to four times the levels of the pharmaceuticals found in legal prescription drugs.

The unlicensed product ‘Jia Yi Jian’, has been analysed by the MHRA and found to contain the undeclared ingredients Sibutramine, used to treat obesity, and Tadalafil, for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

These drugs are licensed as prescription-only drugs in the UK. Potential side effects include significant heart and blood pressure problems and potential harmful interactions with other blood pressure and heart disease medications and some antidepressants.

The MHRA warns that this product presents ‘a clear risk’ to consumers and that anyone taking it should stop immediately and consult their GP.

Hmmm. I suppose there will be a rush to get it before it's banned.

The Nasty Blogs Story

It seems fair to say that LabourList is a completely failed venture. And also true that in the UK the right-wing side of politics is better represented in the "blogosphere" than the left.

But the problem LabourList tried to solve was a false one. There is no shortage of places for the current Labour government to present its policies. It controls all the levers of official communications and can get its spokespeople on the BBC at any time.

The problem here is the lack of a wide-ranging multiplexed blog in which different ideas and concerns from those on the progressive left can be worked out - an in opposition to government policy if necessary. Eight years ago the earliest "power blogs" in the US were largely right-wing - Drudge, Andrew Sullivan, and The Corner.

What emerged in opposition were DailyKos and The Huffington Post. These kinds of blogs are more or less what we need in Britain now.

What LabourList had rapidly become was a more sterile and tedious version of National Review's The Corner combined, it now seems, with an aspiration to the politics of personal destruction practiced by Drudge.

Let LabourList die and let's try to find a more interesting and open platform for left-wing politics online.