Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Land of the free

I don't usually really fuss much over US elections, although a chance that Palin could literally be a heartbeat away from the presidency is a bit of a worry. In practice there'll be little policy wise between the two main candidates. The Obama-McCain business bailout pact is an example.

Despite this there's great excitement in the US when the televised debates start. Such is the strong partisan element of US politics. But voters get to watch debates between two candidates among whose top corporate contributors are the financial institutions who have screwed the banking system.

It's pure theatre.

US voters don't get to see the third or fourth parties in the debate. This is because the televised debates are stitched up by and between the Republicans and Democrats not to allow any third parties into the game. The debates are structured beforehand and subjects decided upon to leave the viewer with little more than a press conference with rehearsed spin and catchy sound bites.

Such manipulation is as cynical and undemocratic as Putin's fiddling of the Russian presidential elections, where opponents to his heir were refused coverage or given airtime when no-one was watching.

The United States claims to export democracy. In the US presidential elections, democratic choice is a fiction.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The 7th day...

Seems an apt day for some holy advice for god-fearin' bloggers, the Ten Virtual Blogging Commandments:

1 You shall not put your blog before your integrity

2 You shall not make an idol of your blog

3 You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin

4 Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog

5 Honour your fellow-bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes

6 You shall not murder someone else's honour, reputation or feelings

7 You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind

8 You shall not steal another person's content

9 You shall not give false testimony against your fellow-blogger

10 You shall not covet your neighbour's blog ranking; Be content with your own content

Hat-tip to jailhouselawyer.

Monday, September 22, 2008

South Tyneside TV

A new online TV channel called STCentral has opened for business in South Tyneside. Run by JAG productions at Holman Court in South Shields, it's labelled as a "local community TV network based in South Tyneside delivering news coverage and programmes about the South Tyneside".

And it's free of charge. If you have a local story, let them know.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tesco Vile

Tyne Crossings Alliance honcho Paul Winch has another target in his sights, and it's the supermarket that helps itself to more than a little: Tesco. He has a new site Hebburn:TescoVille?, to chronicle Tesco's bid to add Hebburn to its list of retail fiefdoms and the campaign to stop Hebburn from becoming another carbon copy town where local business makes way for giant retail sheds.

Key in the list of charges is that a developer and retailer were chosen before South Tyneside Council put it to public consultation.

And this is the council that praises itself for consultations?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


There's a saying in Middlesbrough: "What smell?"

However, for the last couple of days there's been a distinctly poo smell in my little corner of Shields, which has been tugging at the nostrils without respite. Whiteleas, Cleadon Park, the Nook and Harton have been fairly mingin'. Despite a fairly warm night last night, windows stayed closed. It only just now seems to be dissipating.

Or "Middlesbrough Syndrome" is kicking in.

It happens a couple of times a year when farmland bordering Cleadon and Whiteleas gets mucked with pig shit. I know its got to be done, but begads it honks.

Not nazi taxis

A mistake. Well, that's all right then and everything's fine with the world.

But, it's obvious that the member of staff responsible for the poster faux pas doesn't see anything wrong with the BNP, which is a bit concerning. It seems in some quarters the BNP has been successful in burying its Nazi heritage behind class struggle and snappy suits.

Some people are either easily fooled, or actually agree with the BNP's racist agenda and simplistic solutions.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Nazis in taxis

Some South Tynesiders have spotted BNP posters on display in taxi offices around the borough. Express taxis in Jarrow has one on view to the public in their Viking precinct office.

I've got no problem with political parties getting their posters up in business premises. Several candidates at the last local election were fortunate to have their posters displayed in shops and pubs.

However, the BNP is not a normal political party. Despite its attempts to play respectable, the BNP is a racist party with shamelessly racist members. It's leader, Nick Griffin, has denied the Holocaust and has been convicted for inciting racial hatred. Many of its councillors and members are not strangers to the courts on charges for fraud, violence, drug dealing, and even bomb making and murder.

The BNP's publicity material is rife with exaggeration and lies, and conspires to raise a cult of white victimhood amongst the British working class and forment hostility towards ethnic minorities and immigrants. The content of the message boards of the BNP and its sister Stormfront illustrate the race hate that forms the dark heart of the BNP.

As the votes for the BNP have grown in South Tyneside, so has the racist graffiti on our streets. Extreme viewpoints feeds extreme behaviour.

The BNP is a cancer.

Express Taxis has its freephone number up in shops like Morrisons. Many of the firm's customers won't be aware of what kind of organisation Express is endorsing. I would also hate to think that South Tyneside Council has contracts with Express and its subsidiaries whilst the taxi firm is giving a publicity platform to such a divisive and hate-filled organisation.

Slow news day

Well done to the Gazette for splashing news of critical importance to the people of South Tyneside. There's just not enough oddly shaped vegetable stories.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Christian bonk on

The easily offended religious have got a hard on at an expression of free speech again. Fundamentalist Christian Emily Mapfuwa has launched a private prosecution against the Baltic Gallery in Gateshead for

"outraging public decency and causing harassment, alarm and distress to the public"

The distress was caused by a Jesus with a nice big cock strapped on. Presumably Ms Mapfuwa travelled specially from Brentwood in Essex to be outraged at this crappy monument to a priapic prince of heaven. Must have been a fun day out.

Whether you consider it art or not (and I think it's a bit age 12), or a clich├ęd conceit, in a room full of other brand icons with erections, you can't fail to see the attempt at some wry humour and a clever eye for attracting publicity.

Perhaps Mapfuwa should have picked a better work to go for, rather than something which is pretty shit. At least she's guaranteed it worldwide success wherever it goes.

I find an odd and twisted morality in a religion where it's okay for young children to see images in churches and schools of a man being crucified - a hideously cruel and barbaric method of execution - with a very human visage of a man in pain and despair, but images of the same guy with his old man out in an art gallery are taboo.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Tonight I've been mostly playing around with Google's new browser Chrome. My normal browser use is split between Opera and Firefox. I have Safari for testing and Apple mobile, but it's so hideously slow that it doesn't get used for day to day stuff on my Windows systems.

I like the page text search function in Firefox, but Opera runs faster. Other users may disagree on the speed comparison, especially since FF3 is much improved speed-wise, but Opera still seems to run faster on my systems. It seems Chrome has the best of both worlds here, but I need to tweak it (and especially the security settings) to get it running the way I want.

The installation is a breeze, but one slight annoyance is that it won't load Firefox or Opera bookmarks: IE favorites only.

The first thing that hits you is the interface: its definitely of the minimalist school (below), an address/search bar, a couple of icons and that's about it. A nifty new toy is the 'Icognito' window. Pages viewed using an Incognito window won't be recorded in your browser history and any cookies loaded during a window session will automatically be cleared when the Incognito window closes.

Tabbed browsing is here to stay and Chrome uses tabs, but in a different way. Each tab runs in its own thread, which means more system resources being used, but it also means that if one tab fails due to dodgy page scripting then you only loose the tab, not the whole browser session.

I've written this post using Chrome, and it seems that it kills Blogger's click and drag image resizing function which is a bit annoying, as I thought Google would have produced a browser fully compatible with their own blogging tool, but perhaps I need to explore a bit more.

From what I've seen so far I don't think Firefox, IE or Opera have much to worry about from Chrome. For me it'll be an interesting toy. However, if Google throw development resource at it (as they've contributed to FF), it may one day become a contender.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Local wildlife

I've been away on holiday to the West Coast of Scotland, staying in a lodge on the outskirts of the village of Strontian. I saw Sea Otters, Common and Grey Seals, Herons, a fleeting glimpse of a Pine Marten and even a Sea Eagle. And lots of Highland coos, which are staging something of a farming comeback in the area. Once I've recovered the photos of the shots I managed to take on my old camera I'll post them here. Unfortunately, one batch had their headers corrupted so I'll be spending some hours with a Hex editor.

Due to an ankle injury I was unable to enjoy the mountains (Ben Resipole was a neighbour) so I had to enjoy them from afar.

I came back home to South Shields to find straggly tomato plants after a deluge, an overgrown lawn full of frogs and this little beauty, a Common Darter.

common darter