The last living eyewitness to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Samuel J Seymour, makes an appearance on a hokey 1950s game show called 'I've Got A Secret'. When I say 'eyewitness', I mean he was five and actually saw John Wilkes Booth jump from Lincoln's box at the Ford Theatre, but that's close enough for jazz. And Old Sam scored himself some sweet prizes too. Yessiree.
You may well have seen a bit of stuff on SOPA knocking about over the last few days and asked yourself: "Why should I give it shit? It's a piece of American legislation. I live a long way away from America. It cannot harm me or my Internet."
If you think this, you are wrong.
In summary, SOPA allows bloated American corporations run by cryptofascists like Rupert Murdoch to throw hand grenades at the Internet until it's in pieces small enough to flush.
What it effectively does is shift responsibility for copyright enforcement from law enforcement to websites and service providers, while extending the power of US law enforcement to attack non-compliers' right to exist in a number of wicked ways, wherever in the world they may be. Effectively, it extends a global licence to doughnut chomping knuckleheads to bully and censor on a hitherto unimaginable scale.
If passed, SOPA could be used to shut down many of the sites that define the Internet today. So if you fancy a world without, say, You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia and Google, where your opinions are copyright controlled by Fox News and Walt Disney and the only fun you can have has to be officially sanctioned by Sony, then here is a good place to start.
For the full list of the companies you should boycott for supporting SOPA, have a look atthis list. See it as a sort of rollcall of fuck you.
Truly astonishing. This is an Associated Press translation of the conversation between Captain Francesco Schettino, commander of the Costa Concordia, and Captain Gregorio De Falco of the Italian coast guard. De Falco comes out if it well. Schettino sounds like a disgraceful little bitch. But don't let me colour your perception.
De Falco: "This is De Falco speaking from Livorno. Am I speaking with the commander?"
Schettino: "Yes. Good evening, Commander De Falco."
De Falco: "Please tell me your name."
Schettino: “I'm Commander Schettino, commander."
De Falco: "Schettino? Listen, Schettino. There are people trapped on board. Now you go with your boat under the prow on the starboard side. There is a pilot ladder. You will climb that ladder and go on board. You go on board and then you will tell me how many people there are. Is that clear? I'm recording this conversation, Schettino…"
Schettino: "Commander, let me tell you one thing…"
De Falco: "Speak up! Put your hand in front of the microphone and speak more loudly, is that clear?"
Schettino: "In this moment, the boat is tipping…"
De Falco: "I understand that, listen, there are people that are coming down the pilot ladder of the prow. You go up that pilot ladder, get on that ship and tell me how many people are still on board. And what they need. Is that clear? You need to tell me if there are children, women or people in need of assistance. And tell me the exact number of each of these categories. Is that clear? Listen, Schettino, that you saved yourself from the sea, but I am going to … I'm going to make sure you get in trouble. … I am going to make you pay for this. Go on board, [expletive]!"
Schettino: "Commander, please…"
De Falco: "No, please. You now get up and go on board. They are telling me that on board there are still…"
Schettino: "I am here with the rescue boats, I am here, I am not going anywhere, I am here…"
De Falco: "What are you doing, commander?"
Schettino: "I am here to coordinate the rescue…"
De Falco: "What are you coordinating there? Go on board! Coordinate the rescue from aboard the ship. Are you refusing?"
Schettino: "No, I am not refusing."
De Falco: "Are you refusing to go aboard commander? Can you tell me the reason why you are not going?"
Schettino: "I am not going because the other lifeboat is stopped."
De Falco: "You go aboard. It is an order. Don't make any more excuses. You have declared abandon ship. Now I am in charge. You go on board! Is that clear? Do you hear me? Go, and call me when you are aboard. My air rescue crew is there."
Schettino: "Where are your rescuers?"
De Falco: "My air rescue is on the prow. Go. There are already bodies, Schettino."
Schettino: "How many bodies are there?"
De Falco: "I don't know. I have heard of one. You are the one who has to tell me how many there are. Christ."
Schettino: "But do you realize it is dark and here we can't see anything…"
De Falco: "And so what? You want to go home, Schettino? It is dark and you want to go home? Get on that prow of the boat using the pilot ladder and tell me what can be done, how many people there are and what their needs are. Now!"
Schettino: "…I am with my second in command."
De Falco: "So both of you go up then … You and your second go on board now. Is that clear?"
Schettino: "Commander, I want to go on board, but it is simply that the other boat here … there are other rescuers. It has stopped and is waiting…"
De Falco: "It has been an hour that you have been telling me the same thing. Now, go on board. Go on board! And then tell me immediately how many people there are there."
Most of what you think you know about food is wrong. This is largely thanks to a multi-billion dollar global 'nutrition' industry of irresponsible wankers who make money out of flogging you misinformation. The horrifying thing is that modern Western society seems to have an insatiable appetite for the nutritionists' endless stream of quack cures, iffy supplements, fad diets and pseudo-scientific 'healthy eating' advice.
You too can be fluent in shite
If there's any justice in the world, these pricks will be next to the wall, right after we've settled the bent politicians, robber-baron crony capitalists and tabloid journalists. Fat is bad for you. Right? Wrong. Vitamin supplements are good for you. Right? Wrong. It's good to cut carbs out of your diet completely. Right? Wrong. Some foods are slimming. Right? Ed Miliband wrong (and that's about as wrong as you can get).
Healthy living is a very simple. Eat a balanced diet of fresh food with lots of fruit and vegetables. Eat in moderation. Take regular exercise. Don't smoke. Drink in moderation. Stay hydrated. Done.
The trouble is, nutritionists have convinced us that their brand of bullshit 'science' can improve on this winning formula so that you, the corpulent, lazy, over-indulged consumer, can chuck as much intemperate crap into your system as you like and then cough up money to avoid paying the physical consequences. It doesn't work like that. How it does work is garbage-in-garbage-out, which usually manifests itself as several kilos of ugly fat nestling in your very efficient subcutaneous stores, cirrhosis of the liver and the resting pulse rate of a terrified gerbil.
This is a heartening tale. The Babylon restaurant in Lowell, Massachusetts had a large rock put through its window in what was thought to be a 'hate crime'. The restaurant is owned by an Iraqi and serves Iraqi food. An organisation called Veterans for Peace immediately arranged an 'eat in' to support the restaurant and booked it out twice (see vid) in a prominent show of support.
The dickhead who threw the rock was quickly apprehended and denied that the attack was racially motivated, but then he probably would given that jail terms for hate crimes in the US are considerably steeper than those for stupid acts of vandalism.
Either way, it's good to see that the majority of Americans are intelligent human beings with a well-balanced moral compass who have little in common with the sort of arseholes who piss on dead Taliban.
According to a report in yesterday's Newsround, these children are suffering from child poverty. Things are so bad, their family requires food aid. The dad had to shift to a low paid job and the mum had to pack in working completely due to illness. This is not a happy story and they are clearly living in straitened times.
Even so, they've got a fucking Nintendo DS EACH.
They seem like nice kids and things have clearly taken a turn for the worse. But don't tell them they're in poverty. They've got a fucking Nintendo DS EACH. And a dog. And a bloody Sky Plus box.
I bet there's a Sudanese toddler who's planning on sending them his milk powder ration just the minute the Janjaweed have finished murdering his parents and setting fire to his house. Get some fucking perspective people.
Klara is a filmmaker from Austria (allesklara.com). She shot this video of her summer spent walking across Iceland alone. It's rather lovely. She also seems delightfully bonkers and the soundtrack is nigh-on perfect. A good way to spend 20 minutes.
This really is a terribly sad story and I might not have blogged it but for the fact that we all love dogs and I, in particular, love Vizsla dogs and in this story the Vizsla dog comes out of it OK. And if the dog's owner were still around, they would probably be heartened by the fact that their beloved pet made it against all the odds.
The kayaker dude in question was out fishing off the coast of Florida and videoing himself for what was presumably intended to be his entry into some sort of world's dullest home video competition. Suddenly, out of right field swims said Vizsla dog, Barney, who is out way too fair and on his last legs. Nice Guy Kayaker Dude rescues him and You Tubes the video with a cheery 'man catches dog while fishing' headline.
It subsequently turns out that Barney and his owner were hit by a drunk driver. His owner, Donna Chen, was killed outright and Barney was pretty badly banged up. Seems that traumatised doggo just ran and ran until he hit the sea and then started swimming. Lucky for him Nice Guy Kayaker Dude was there to pull him out of the drink. I told you it was sad.
Looking at it objectively, it doesn't seem to be the smartest move to base your life on a book that was written even decades ago, let alone several millennia. Lord of the Rings is a fine tome, but is questing through Middle Earth with Elves something the thrusting 21st century neophyte should really be doing? Discuss.
The Song of Solomon: Well erotic
The central theme of the New and Old Testaments is "be good". The problem is that being good for most of human history has involved some pretty warped, time-and-locality specific morality, and the Bible, frankly, can be as warped as any other crumbly book written by beardy types whose life experience didn't extend much beyond the five mile radius of their shitty just-post-Bronze Age village. Credit where credit's due, the New Testament is a big step in the right direction, but even then I think we've moved on quite a way.
Not that this stops the Christian Right from thinking that the 'Good' Book (or rather the bits of the Good Book they chose to acknowledge) is some sort of arbiter of truth in a modern, pluralist society where the majority of people choose not to believe in that specific deity, if they believe in one at all. They also seem to be massively hung up about sex, which almost certainly says more about them than it does about the people they vilify. Does the thought of all that naughty, illicit sex give you some uncomfortable feelings, chaps? You know, down in the trouser department? Thought as much.
According to Fox News, the global mouthpiece of blinkered conservative stupidity, the Bible says that men and women are different and complement one another (Genesis 1:27-28); Love is more like a song than a maths equation (Song of Solomon); Marriage is for one man and one woman by God’s design (Genesis 2:24-25, Matthew 19:4); God created sex and designed our bodies for it (Genesis 2:24-25); Sex outside of marriage is a sin (I Corinthians 6:9-11,18-20, Hebrews 13:4); Sex is to be done in such a way that there is no shame (Genesis 2:25; Proverbs 5:18-23); and your standard of beauty is your spouse. (Genesis 2:23, Proverbs 6:20-35).
This is all true, inasmuch as it's in the book. But then it also has the bit about Jephthah sacrificing his virgin daughter to God. And Abraham having children with both his wife Sarah and his servant Hagar. And Jacob getting hitched to Rachel, then her sister Leah, then their servants Bilhah and Zilpah. And Naomi and Ruth devoting their love to one another 'until death'. And Lot offering up his virgin daughters (emphasis here on virgin) to save himself from a baying mob. And Deuteronomy condemning female adulterers to death. And the Song of Solomon being basically a very lengthy paean to unbridled eroticism and unmarried sex ("My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door and my body was moved for him."). And Ruth jumping Boaz out of wedlock. And Tamar getting jiggy with her father-in-law after posing as a hooker. And the condoning of marriage between very old men and very young girls; And anyone who thinks Jonathan and David weren't into each other in more than a manly, back-slapping, brothers-in-arms type way clearly isn't reading the same book.
The people spouting this phobic bullshit and seeking to control what consenting adults do in the bedroom are, generally speaking, very, very rich people. My advice to them is to quit the prurient curtain twitching and get their Luke on: "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
Or your Mark: "One thing you lack: go your way, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying and went away grieved: for he had great possessions."
Or your Matthew: "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
God seems pretty clear on this point, ladies and gentlemen. Certainly a lot clearer than he is on the subject of shagging.
Maybe I shouldn't have sounded quite so excited. Apparently this isn't a licensed product and is all the work of a lady calling herself General Zoi, who apparently likes My Little Pony quite a bit. Like you, I went: "Pshaw! What nonsense. I'll have no truck with cutesy ponies!" Then I made this. How fucking rock and roll am I?!?!
The all-important Iowa vote in the race to find a Republican challenger to Barack Obama placed the virtually unknown (in the UK at least) Rick Santorum a very close second behind the improbably named Mitt Romney.
To bring you up to speed, Mr Santorum is another of that virulent strain of right wing Christian nutjobs who think that anyone who isn't a preppy, white, phenomenally wealthy, glad-handing ballbag is hated by god. He's basically an intolerant twat.
Back in 2003, he did an interview with AP in which he expressed a distaste for "homosexual acts", and asserted that sex between consenting adults that doesn't adhere to the scribblings in a 2,000 year old religious manual (which in any case condones all sorts of 'forbidden' acts) should be illegal.
That's when sex columnist Dan Savage Google-bombed him. Savage ran a highly successful vote to name a sex act after Santorum and so, rather wonderfully, the name came to define the foamy mixture of lube and ... errr ... other things that is the by-product of a bit of back door action.
For most of the intervening eight years, the search terms "Santorum" and "Rick Santorum" gave you results about buttsecks first and the politician second. Even now, anal is ... errr ... right up there in the listings.
So, for anyone who is still unsure why the Internet is such a brilliant thing, there's your answer right there. Put that up your pipe and smoke it.
The Indie did a nice backgrounder today explaining the half-lives the scumbags who knifed Stephen Lawrence have been living since they carried out their hateful crime 18 years ago. Apparently, the poor lambs have been hounded, unable to hold down jobs or build relationships, treated as pariahs, subjected to violence, taunted, spat at, rejected and marginalised. Rather as they would have liked black people to live, if indeed they were to be allowed to live.
Admittedly, it would have been much better if the gang had been in prison these 18 years, being routinely bummed half to death in the showers by big beefy, non-Aryan lads, but there's still time. I'd imagine that's just around the corner for Messrs Dobson and Norris. Keep a tight grip on that soap lads.
It turns out that of the five lowlifes originally fingered for the murder by no lesser campaigning organ than the Daily Mail, only the youngest, Jamie Acourt, appears to lead anything like a normal life. Dobson and Norris are off to clink, while Neil Acourt and Luke Knight still live with their parents, hiding from the press and doing odd jobs to bring in money. Fingers crossed, they too, one day, will be had up before the beak and sentenced to long stretches. All it takes is for one to crack, especially if they're staring down the barrel of a life term. Eh Gary, David?
I love the way that "working it out" basically involves falling from enormous heights onto different parts of his body. This is Dane Searls, a BMX legend who seemed to have a key screw loose in the 'fear of heights' and 'fear of landing after falling from great heights' departments of his brain.
He's dead now. No, really, he is. Killed himself trying to dive off a pub balcony into a pool last year.
I'm slightly underselling it here. This is a 20 minute-long theatre release version of a 1923 educational documentary, produced by the Fleischer Studio that also created Betty Boop and made Superman cartoons. It's very basic, but quite elegant for it. It also features a demonstration of the non-relativity of the speed of light using two pistols tied to a wagon wheel. Who says physics can't be fun?
Admittedly some of this is a bit tenuous - there are only so many ways you can shoot a scene - but the rest has nonetheless been quite blatantly lifted from earlier movies. Not that this detracts in any way from the outstanding Raiders of the Lost Ark. Oh no. We have the sequels for that.