Saturday, 19 December 2009

Privacy - Where did it go?

I don't know.

It seems to me that the ubiquitousness of the mobile phone with it's inclusive camera, the general concept of fame being a good thing and the acceptance of celebrity with it's intrusiveness being an acceptable price to pay, papparazzi be damned, seems to me to have altered forever the idea that you can have a private life.

The degree that you are entitled to live your life without intrusion seems a concept that has passed us by.

Charles Kennedy, for example, was accused of drinking too much. How did his drinking equate with Churchills? To what extent was Gladstones somewhat strange interest in Ladies of the Night likely to have passed our present yellow press by?

I am, obviously, interested when the rich and famous come out of their shell and do stuff that I think of as counter productive. In an earlier post here, I think there is reason to suspect that senior figures, close to royalty, had different ideas about how to conclude WW2. It strikes me as ludicrous that that should be cloaked in secrecy, whereas wearing a Chelsea top whilst having sex should be the talk of the Steamie.

Just saying. 

The case against Peter Watts

It seems to me that I could be Peter Watts.

If I was held up at a border for no apparent reason, especially an allegedly friendly border like the one between the US and Canada, Canada for fucks sake, I'd have expected a degree of respect, rather than a load of thugs hassling me.

(I accept that I will never enter the US of A for this.)

But that is not how it works anymore. The US border guards are out of control lunatics, pepped up on spurious authority. A power conceeded to them by idiotic Americans that have rarely crossed a State Border rather than an international border.

It bares on the absurd that stepping out of a car, or questioning a border guard, counts, for many Americans as a causus belli, as if they were characters in a Judge Dredd story rather than genuine human beings. It is a degree of submission to authority that contradicts everything we have learned from The Dukes of Hazzard.

American cops appear to represent a new attitude for the American public. They have become submissive fools. We are frankly, all, the worse for it....

For it would be stupid to assume that that foolishness will not cross the Atlantic.

Go Lassie Go

This is probably the most reasonable Scottish orientated site on the Internet:

Obviously, whilst she is obviously right, I disagree!

Great comments though.

Monday, 14 December 2009


Re the Dr Peter Watts that I mentioned in my previous post.

Letting the  the

take up the story:

For author Peter Watts, life can be stranger than science fiction.

Watts – who has written six books in the genre – was on his way back to Toronto Tuesday after helping a friend move to the U.S. Before he crossed the border into Sarnia, American customs officers pulled him over.

When they began rifling through his car, he got out to ask what was going on. They ordered him back into the car; he asked again.

What happened next has become the talk of the blogosphere.

Watts, too, has waded in, posting on the Internet that he was assaulted, punched in the face, pepper-sprayed and thrown in jail for the night, only to find himself facing charges of assaulting a customs officer.

Port Huron police told the local newspaper Watts was angry when he got out of the car and when he refused to get back in, customs officers tried to cuff him and he was "aggressive." In the melee, police said, Watts "choked" an officer.

Ronald Smith, chief customs and border protection officer at Blue Water Bridge, told the Star Watts "became non-compliant ... and a physical altercation" ensued.

"As a result of that, he was detained and turned over to local authorities," said Smith.

Watts denies any wrongdoing.

"I can state categorically that I did not choke anybody. I did not use profanity and did not raise my voice. I did not initiate any physical contact," said Watts, who has a PhD in zoology. "All I basically did was use words to ask what was going on."

This seems odd behaviour for a Marine Biologist.

The Huffington Post also has the story.

I have heard bad things about border security in the US before and the comments seem to suggest that this is nothing unusual. However it is two civillians against law enforcement and unless there is video, he'll be very lucky to get off with this.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Satire with your coffee

My best chum Amazon always has 'recommendations' for me. So it thought, this is just the ticket for oor Dougie:

Blindsight - Peter Watts.

I must admit I had never heard of young Peter, but on checking him out, I came across this, which is pretty damn funny:

You need to press the 'Click to Start' in the pseudo PowerPoint screen. It is a slow burn to complete insanity.

I am about to order the book.

Do you think I should send Amazon a Winterval Card?

Friday, 4 December 2009

Liam Clancy RIP

I was searching for the best version I could find of the anti war song 'And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda'. And I found it this morning. Yesterday the man that sang it best died.

This is the man of whom Bob Dylan said:

“I never heard a singer as good as him ever. He was just the best ballad singer I ever heard in my life, still is probably.”

So, my search reached an end. This is it:

Farewell, I hardly knew you.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Wide Angle or Close Focus - the Manipulation of Perception.

This is the third, and last part of my ideas about far right and far left propognda. I trust that both newspapers would see my use of these two photographs as 'fair use', on the grounds that I am using them for different reasons from those that were originally intended, and that without comparing and contrasting them there is no other way to make the arguement. Both are newspaper photographs from the Herald and the Scotsman respectively. They both show the Scottish Defence League demonstration in Glasgow on the 14th of November 2009.

The first photograph has one main message to send I think.

It is that the SDL demonstration was small and under control. (It has to be admitted that there is a sub text of kettling, but there is also a sub-text of getting soaked.)

The latter photograph looks more dynamic and balanced. The thin blue line against the mob. At least until you spot the two dots of flourescent yellow at the top of the picture which constitutes the other side of the Police encirclement. But a casual glance wouldn't do that for you, would it?

Both of these are photographs of record, neither is linked in any realistic way to a political movement. But they do illustrate my point, if you want the dramatic go in close or close crop, if you want the magisterial, wide angle is better. Professional photographers like drama. This rather plays into the hands of any small political movement, unfortunately.