Skellywag

Friday, June 30, 2006

Occupation

I saw The Wind That Shakes The Barley last night with N and R. This is a Must-See. In the UK we get very little history of Ireland: the potato famine is mentioned, plus the Troubles, but that's about it. It was good therefore to have fleshed out some history from the early 20th C. However, this film was not really about Ireland at all.

This was a film about Occupation, and the Occupied. It is completely timely, with viscious and brutal occupations in Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan continuing with very little international criticism. The film shows the frightening brutality of the soldiers (first British, and then - tragically - Free State Irish) against those people who are fighting back.

The cinematography is beautiful, and the violence all the more shocking for its muted character: the "rape" scene in which Siobhan's hair is cut off was very powerful, for it manages to capture much more than the expected sexual violence alone. The destruction of the bond between the resistance fighters is painful to watch, with friend and family turning against each other in a shocking echo of the former actions of the British. Even the same prison cells are used to house the captives.

The "terrorists" of course are completely ordinary people, driven sometimes regretfully towards violence in defence of justice and freedom. The acts of the occupying forces clearly create terror in the occupied people: who are the terrorists?

The wanton destruction, the personal violence, the dehumanisation of the occupied people is a feature of occupation. Recent events in Haditha, Gaza, and Kabul are not one-off acts of mad-dog soldiers, but part and parcel of military strategy in occupied countries. Many of these recent tactics were devised by the British army in Ireland during the occupation, then transferred to US and Israeli forces in the decades since. Israel now exports its urban combat "skills" to oppressive regimes around the world.

To understand life in an occupied land, and the deep difficulties - emotional and physical - which such an existance produces, watch ...Barley.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Israeli Disproportionality

Hamas militants capture a soldier, Israel bombs out power stations for 1.3 million people.

How is depriving so many people of power and water a reasonable response to a kidnapping? This is collective punishment on a gross scale.

This is a woefully apt exemplar of the utter disparity in military and civil power between Palestine and Israel.

More here, in this article by Jonathan Cook, on the myth of Israeli "Retaliation". The BBC is still biased in how it reports actions by the IDF, even after extensive reports on the BBC's coverage of the situation in Palestine/Israel.

Update: the Israelis, of course, got their tactics from the British, but one particularly revolting character in particular: Orde Wingate

Update 2: Israeli troops rounded up dozens of ministers and lawmakers from the Palestinians' ruling Hamas party - just the very language used by the Yahoo/AP report is insulting (cattle are 'rounded up'), never mind that a foreign power is, out of its juristiction, arresting elected and high-ranking officals.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Effix

I was in Colchester on Friday for the Graduate Conference on Morality, Ethics, and Social Order, co-organised by Effix Girl herself, Becky P.

Although some of the stuff (particluarly Kant, and more advanced Habermas) was beyond me, there was some interesting use of the idea of myth and mythology in relation to the projection of reason and truth. Some rather useful references for the utility of myth in social change, but also its mass-psychological aspects (e.g. that myth perceived as myth can still be strongly effective).


Mud chute

Spent some time with lzz in Mudchute Park on the Isle of Dogs; a treasure amidst the humdrum. We will both be immensely sad to leave it behind. I hope we can find something similar in the future.

I understand much more now about motivation, honesty, and plain saying "no".


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Dawning

I went to Stonehenge yesterday with H and friends. It was a good laugh, and a great tonic to the slow dripfeed poison of continual work over the past few weeks.

I was impressed how organised the whole thing was: English Heritage out in force, plus police-staffed pedestrian crossings, burger joints, keepsafes for glass bottles and valuables, floodlights, free placcy macs (well, bin bags), etc. I guess it's actually cheaper to do it hat way then to hire out the police to try to defnd it from the hordes. There were a few 'real' pagans in evidence, but the majority were crusties and dopeheads, with some randoms like us along for the ride.

The forecast was dry, but obviously them damn Wiccans had done their rituals properly, as it was drizzling when we were dropped off by the special bus service, and then at about 1am it pissed it down. Still, a reet good lark.

Photos of Stonehenge here on Yahoo.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

New Job

I have just accepted a full-time job with Priocept*, working as a consultant software developer. The firm is small but growing, agile, and well-respected, with clients including LSE, Lloyds and Panasonic.

I am looking fwd to getting into some meaty projects, but in an environment which welcomes forward-thinking and creativity, rather than dogged code-bashing ;o)

*As in proprioceptive


Monday, June 19, 2006

Bleach Rage

I am pretty easy-going, most of the time. I can get along with many different people. I like to avoid conflict if possible. Having lived in 10 shared houses in the past nine years, I have a pretty good idea what works in that environment: how to avoid angst and annoyance, and how to have a good time with housemates.

This house is different. I have TEH R4GE. I (perhaps unwisely) gave people time to adjust and settle in, but they are just as rude, bitchy, and patronising as Day 1. So me and H are moving out, after just 6 weeks.

What is so wrong? Pizza-girl upstairs wants every one to bleach the bathtub after every use. Fog-horn-face next to my room will not let me share her FUCKING KITCHEN ROLL for crisake. The only time she says anything to me is to complain about some random thing, like the back door being open for 5 mins while I water the plants.

So basically, it's war. I have started piling up HER dishes, in mirror of her habit with mine. I will pile up all the shite she leaves on the kitchen table: note that she complains about any random thing *I* leave there, of course.

The cunting agency never told us that there would be 8 people living in a 5-bed house, including one small child. I mean, I like children, but I couldn't eat a whole one.

Leaving dead fish in cupboards - and turds in laundry - starts next week.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Picasa goes online, misses target

Google Picasa has gone online, with a new Picasa Web Albums feature. Yet, still one is tied to the the concept of static galleries, and which photographer with any aesthetic judgement at all will want the Google branding all around their pictures? Pas moi, bien sur!

The future is still XML-driven metadata, and full sync between desktop, Flickr, and online gallery, with no long-term lock in to any one database or web app framework.


Doorways

I had the first public viewing of my photos the other day, as part of a collaboration with my housemate, who put on a performance 'experiment' based on the ideas of Yi-Fu Tuan, Italo Calvino and others.

The performance was very stimulating: rather nerve-wracking, but in a good way; the object was to see how people reacted to the performance space and performers. Hari deliberately blurred the line between 'stage' and 'audience', 'cast' and 'viewers'. When I went out half-way through to take a call, no-one was sure whether I was 'performing', which was half the point.

My pictures of doorways were well-received, even though most were taken with very basic equipment.

Partly as aresult of talking to H about her work, I am now reading Calvino's Invisible Cities: a highly refreshing mediation on space, memory and passion. I'd recommend this book to anyone with imagination.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

International etymology

A damn fine weekend spent with D + K in Harrogate saw us in a pub, and winning 3rd place in the quiz. Random words:

  • Maverick - renegade Texas cattle rancher whi refused to brand cattle
  • Quisling - fascist Norwegian dictator in WW2
  • urge - related to Greek εργο (work) as in Metallurgy: metal-working


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Honor killing on the installment plan

Let's hope this is not where the UK is headed, with Tony Bliar's gung-ho religios rhetoric:

"It all comes down to the evils of sex," says Trussell. "That's an ideological position impervious to empirical evidence."

Time for some militant atheism.