Archive for June, 2005

So I’ve made it. I got here ok, I’ve been here a little over 12 hours & already I feel the decision to come fully vindicated. The atmosphere here in the city is very much one of a city building up for something big.

It has not been without it’s hiccups. At the airport my departure was delayed on account of my foresight to have remembered to pack a corkscrew. This was deemed an offensive weapon & presumably a long-haired geezer getting on a flight to Edinburgh with a “sharp” could have resulted in pandemonium were I to unsheath the 1 inch blade. I mean I could have demanded that they fly the plane immediately to I dunno, Glasgow or something, I can see how that might have been a worry!

Admittedly the last time I was in an airport I unwittingly caused a security alert by leaving a small briefcase with a sony walkman and some cassettes by the X-Ray machine in the fluster of being late for the flight. Yes, I had arrived at the airport with very little time to spare for my flight, this was lessened by the fact that there was no way I was going to miss out on my 200 fags from the duty-free! They asked me to take my jacket off at security, and then my money belt etc. and I got all stressed and miscounted the items I was picking up in my haste. Naturally I paid for my impetuosity as I had to spend the next few months with 3 tapes which happened to be in another bag, rather than the planned 40 odd that I should have had. There is only so much time you can listen to the same music no matter how good it is.

So I digress, back to Edinburgh, I survived the flight and got on the convenient airport bus and the driver, who was English, told me not only where to get off on Princes St. but the bus no. of the one I wanted from there. It is a pity that the driver of the 41 was blissfully unaware of his route & told me he hadn’t a clue where Melville drive or Argyle Place were and therefore seemed assured that he didn’t go there in his bus. Whether or not this was some payback for the Battle of Cullodden or some other such sassenach crimes agin’ the Scot I know not, but I should have worn one of my Ireland shirts to be safe! So, I found myself devoid of both bus and clue in a city in which I had never been and with a woefully inferior map and carrying an ‘all eventualities covered (except anything requiring a corkscrew)’ which was obviously quite hefty. I had a pretty fair idea that I needed to be South of Princes St. but there is something of an obstacle to this, those familiar with the city will be ahead of me on this one, namely a big fecking castle in the way!

It seems the street I was looking for was totally off the radar for native Scots, of all the people I asked everyone seemed to have a different direction for me. I was sent in all sorts of random directions, none of which seemed quite right. Irritatingly had I just followed my instincts I would have ended up in the right place. But nay, I placed my trust in those that lived and worked in the place thinking they may know more about it than I who had only just arrived, silly twisted boy!

I admitted defeat in the end and caught a black cab only to find that sure enough there was a 41 bus stop around the corner.

Song Of The Day ~ Velvet Revolver – Fall To Pieces

So having written a review of the actual gig with very little of the accompanying stuff I thought I wrote write a more straight diary type entry for the rest of the day.

I will come clean about what happened in the earlier part of the day otherwise A certain person may choose to jog my memory for me! Having set off quite early I made excellent time down to meet the others and was all nice and relaxed and drinking tea getting ready to go, right up until the point when I realised that I had left my ticket at home! This meant a rather hasty 250 round trip to home and back again, the outbound journey of which was typified by me calling myself every insult under the sun and even ringing someone else up to take over! Credit where it’s due tho’ there and back in 3 hours was not bad, it’s amazing what you can do when you really want it badly enough!

Having rectified the idiocy section of the day after then missing my stop once on the train across to Twickenham I actually managed to get there with time to spare. On this occasion they were not allowing those with seated tickets to go into the standing area which turned out to be a bloody shame because from what I’ve heard the stewards at the gates were selling the armbands to get into the inner circle for a fiver a time. In would have been quite a buzz to be in there but after the fiasco of the morning I was happy to be there at all! So we sat in the pub which was very convivial and quite fecking warm.

I was especially lucky that in the time I was waiting in the queue for merchandise I was next to a vast dutchman, we exchanged sizes of the t-shirts in which we were currently clad (Mine 4XL his 6XL if you’re interested, and he filled his more than I did mine!) so when he came to look at the XXL t-shirts he wanted to buy he was shown the white one by mistake, it looked quite big and we both thought there was a fair chance of it fitting, but he wanted one of the black ones, they showed him that and it was smaller, he took it on the proviso that he could always bring it back if it didn’t fit. I didn’t take the chance and altho’ I had wanted one of the khaki ones I went for the white one. Correct decision it fits me quite well, the dutchman will have had geen Chance

Obviously I have described the actual gig itself in my review entry so I shall not double up the details but I am still very surprised at the organisation of the concert and those people with tickets who were either unable or unwilling to come in and watch the support acts. it is poetic justice that they missed out on what was a perfect example of why you should have support bands of calibre. Twickenham doesn’t have the layout for a cohesive gig because of the tiered structure of the seating so roll on Wembly being ready. I don’t know what it was like at Cardiff or others, maybe the layout was better suited.

In the breaks between bands I got talking to the Irish girl next to me and the Scottish geezer who turned up late. We discussed politics and economics and all the sorts of things that you should discuss in this sort of political climate. I always enjoy such discussions anyway and I had forgotten just how much I like meeting people in a safe environment where you all automatically have something in common. After the gig email addresses were exchanged perhaps never to be used in much the same way that we used to exchange addresses when I was interrailing round Europe in the late 80s with a “come and stay if ever you’re over” No-one ever did, I don’t suppose I ever expected them to, and what my Mother would have made of it if they had heaven alone knows!

The drive home was taken up by a certain person’s anecdotal prowess regaling us at the expense of Michael and Sheila, serial campers from London but with Bradford accents for artistic license, was another one of those things that only those present will ever be able to understand, it would lose everything in the telling so I’m not going to try.

I got home at 2 and was a bit knackered. Would I have got up at 6am to see them again the next day if someone had offered me a ticket, you bet your arse I would!

Song Of The Day ~ U2 – City Of Blinding Lights

Original Comments:

sarah the twin made this comment,
hahahahaha – i can’t believe you left your ticket at home!!!!!!
-Redbaron responds – Yeah cheers for that piece of schadenfreude honey!! I can always rely on your understanding!

comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-27 15:11:41’} GMT+01

moog made this comment,
neither can i!! but i have learnt from your misfortune, and now before leavig the house for live 8 yesterday, we paused as i checked my bag for our tickets…they were there, but they might not have been, so thank you for reminding us to do that! 🙂
comment added :: {ts ‘2005-07-03 21:17:40’} GMT+01

U2 Vertigo Tour Twickenham 18/06/05

Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jnr

Date: 18th June 2005   —   65.00   —   Other

product page


I really had been looking forward to this one for months. A U2 gig is a special event the whole process takes up a whole day, it’s a proper event not just a night out. As the program says U2 are the last band packing out stadium with a program that is not simply nostalgia. They may well go down in music history as the defining rock band for my generation. I last saw them in a packed out Wembley stadium on the PopMart tour in 1997, I missed the Elevation tour in 2001 which I was pretty pissed off about. So in fact you could say I had waited 8 years for this gig. It is all too easy to be disappointed when expectations are so high but then they were in 97 and I wasn’t disappointed then. I had taken my ex back then and she was well impressed and she wasn’t even a U2 fan. This time I had booked my ticket alone because none of the other feckers from work would commit to it. With the benefit of hindsight I could have ordered the extra 3 tickets I was entitled to and sold them many times over the amount of people who claimed they would have gone with me but hey ho it would have been a lot of money to shell out on spec and I could barely afford the ticket for me.

We were lucky enough to have 2 support acts both of whom one would be happy to pay money to see alone, and somebody I know has! Doves were not helped by the fact that for some unknown many people had not taken their seats which was their loss really because Doves’ set was excellent, it complimented the U2 sound very well and I was sorry that they didn’t get the crowd feedback that they certainly deserved, those of us who were their were enthusiastic. Amusingly I appear to find myself now in the Dad’s section, it was us mid generation boys who were getting well into it! I don’t understand why having paid what is a pretty substantial amount of cash why you wouldn’t want to see the whole show. Anyway on the basis of the performance I’ll be looking out for Doves next UK tour dates.

Following Doves we had Athlete who are a good SE London band who came to prominence last summer. They have a freshness and exuberance that comes perhaps from the enjoyment of doing some things for the first time. This was their first stadium gig in their hometown and they gave it everything they had with a slight air of not quite believing they were actually here! Anyway like Doves I can recommend Athlete as a live act in their own right.

So then the main event. Not as glitzy and comercialist as PopMart and I don’t think the occasion would have allowed for that. The light show was raw and grainy but good but it looked understated tho’ the effects were great. The show seemed to be in stages for starters straight into Vertigo and the crowd livened up quickly everybody in our section was up on there feet. I have, I realised, joined the Dad’s section in so far as I am now old enough not to give a monkey what I look like when I get up to have a bop. I was singing too loudly and dancing in unison with the other burly geezers either side of me to care what I looked like, which is probably just as well.

If you want the full running order of the concert you can get it here I was pleased that we got I will follow, but we didn’t get With or Without You or Wild Horses which they got on Sunday and happen to be 2 U2 songs with very loaded personal significance. There was a good mix of old and new and they were put together in a very fluid way. I think the biggest surprise was Running To Stand Still whilst the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was shown article by article on the screen and read in tribute to Burmese president elect Aung San Suu Kyi.
That was very powerful and the song was a perfect choice, a very underrated track off Joshua Tree and never previously part of the U2 live setup that I have ever heard. The main body of the show had a sense of the new mirroring the old in that City Of Blinding Lights is a very Joshua Tree style of track and there were quite a few older tracks played. The encore was very Achtung Baby and ended with Vertigo which again has that Achtung Baby industrial feel about it.

I could have listened and sung along all day, it would have been nice to have had Desire, Angel Of Harlem, In God’s Country, Discotheque, Ms Sarajevo, Stay (Faraway So Close) – in fact there was nothing from Zooropa, Pop or Passengers at all. When you have a back catalogue like U2’s there is always going to be so much left out. For me U2 albums have been such a fundamental part of my life that any of the songs have reasonance and reminiscence.

All in all I get very grumpy when I spend large amounts of money and get nothing back, I needn’t have worried about this and the elation prompted me to start looking forward to the possibility of the next U2 gig at the new Wembley Stadium in maybe 2008-9.

Song Of The Day ~ U2 – Whichever Song You Like

Original Comments:

Lynne made this comment,
Psst…check date in header, hon. ;o) At least no one can accuse you of living in the past, eh?
Glad you had such a good time.

Redbaron responds – Move along now nothing to see here! 😉

comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-22 20:13:15’} GMT+01 ::

rocky made this comment,
oh wow, that sounds awesome!!
once again, i am dying of envy, since the last concert i went to was ‘destiny’s child’ and i was DRAGGED there by the boyfriend’s lust for beyonce’s booty…well, he claimed it was her singing, but we all know better.

i actually bought athlete’s cd recently and liked it, especially ‘half light’ (great song).

i can’t believe U2 didn’t sing ‘with or without you’ though…

comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-23 14:32:27’} GMT+01

moog made this comment,
ok, baron, ill see you in wembely!!! i admit it, ii will love U2 no matter what they do! saw them yesterday, and they were great as always! am glad that you had such a fantastic time! x
comment added :: {ts ‘2005-07-03 21:22:01’} GMT+01

Stallionez made this comment,
I went to Rome to see them last Sat.
All i can say is that they were Awesome. I am a U2 fan, and i have never been to a concert at all in my life. not just a U2 concert, but any concert

It is going to take a very very special band to beat that concert for me in the future, Unless it is U2 again!!!

Bono works the crowd. They know the score.

-Redbaron responds – Yeah they’ve always been known for their big stadium gigs and it is a special experience. I don’t think anything else will beat it per se but I would advise you go to lots of gigs, get the experience, some newer bands you get to see at very close quarters and that’s a different type of ambience.-

comment added :: {ts ‘2005-07-26 21:15:33’} GMT+01

This entry was in fact the most viewed entry I had on my old blog, separately viewed 3,227 times.

I’m in a bad mood anyway because it was bloody humid last night and I didn’t get to sleep until 3.30am and my countenance is not improving when trying to blog.

I have had enough poxing about trying to figure out how now to do bloody hyperlinks and placing images, it is a fecking mess. The help thing on this wiki stuff would have you believe that putting square brackets around a URL will create a hyperlink or around a pic URL will embed the pic, this seems patently untrue unless it simply doesn’t show up in the preview. In addition to this irritation trying to re-figure out how to do basic blog things again I am now swamped daily by bloody trackback spam notifications. Ok I could turn notifications off but then that seems to go against the whole point of having that facility for genuine comments and other people’s postings.

Another thing I don’t like is that when publishing an entry or leaving a comment for someone it doesn’t default to a done page so to speak it stays there as if it hasn’t registered, that’s quite confusing, I know there is a little line of text telling you that it’s done but it’s easy to miss that, or is it just me being senile?!

And what the fuck has happened to my blog board?

Suddenly I know what it must have been like to be a PC user having just upgraded to Windows ME.

I want to downgrade to version 3.3 please, I know it wasn’t perfect, I know I’ll have to stomach going back to the ruddy Java but at least I knew how to fucking publish the shit I wanted to in it. Now all I’m doing is staring at this wiki syntax which just seems to be a competition of who can put the most apostrophes in a line and it makes me feel stupid that I can’t figure it out. It’s like trying to understand teenage txt language. I mean I’ve got to grips with 1337 in my time and all that but this bollocks seems not to compute for whatever reason. And I’m paying for this privilege…

If things were going to be changed so drastically could we not have had some warning about the syntax thing and given a translation chart for the basic html functions? If anyone has one of these or knows where to find one I’d be much obliged, I have already looked at the BC one that you can access from the comments page and the wiki url it takes you to.

Sorry, you know I would prefer to have a rant about the state of world politics or my impending trip to the G8, or to publish my pics and review of the U2 gig on Sat. but I can’t because I can’t figure out how to do it properly and that is making me rather angry. I am very seriously thinking of decamping full-time to blogspot or some such because at least then it won’t feel like continually banging one’s head against a brick wall! I might have calmed down by tomorrow, don’t count on it.

Song Of The Day ~ Led Zeppelin – Dazed And Confused

Original Comments:

Mark Ellott made this comment,
For day-to-day blogging, I use w.bloggar (link on my blog). It is less fussy than Blog-City’s native system. I can use it for everything except reviews and photo albums. It also has an inbuilt spell – checker which is useful.
Redbaron responds – It would be useful Mark if it were not for the fact that I am on a Mac, however it does give me the idea of seeing if there are any free/shareware Mac equivalents that may work on the Mac. Cheers.

comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-20 14:50:25’} GMT+01 ::

john made this comment,
My IT skills are based on ‘monkey see, monkey do’and my old brain has problems with anything new. I know that I’ve said it before but someone should tell ‘blog-city’…’If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ and I much prefer my ‘wiki’ with soda.
comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-20 15:02:18’} GMT+01 ::

Mark Ellott made this comment,
iBlog Might be the thing, then.
comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-20 15:16:42’} GMT+01 ::

MrDan made this comment,
The wiki square bracket thing works for me. It is only for comments though, the actual entries still use html. I tried playing with the the other things on that wiki help page. Some of it works and some of it doesn’t. I found out that four dashes give you a horizonal rule!

Doesn’t that make it all better? 🙂


comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-20 17:54:37’} GMT+01 :: http:/

moog made this comment,
arg!!! its all gone horribly worng mate!!!!
comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-20 21:31:05′} GMT+01

Bob Red made this comment,
Yeah i agree, i prefer v3.3 too! Everythings changed so drastically and WHY??? Why change something that works perfectly well? how about just upgrade all the extras and leave the user interface the same. There is also a danger of publishing your secure entries as public ones as he setting is on a different page to your blog text. Then all it needs is for google to cache it and…
Anyhow spare a thought for ol’ red here, height of the UK summer and im suffering from a bastard of a cold in this humidity!

comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-21 12:12:08’} GMT+01 ::

rocky made this comment,
i started to use blogsome recently, which is better than blogger (more options), still free, and quite simple (probably not as functional as YOU would want, but then you’re fussy!). i think it’s a good idea to split up blogs and start one with a service that doesn’t send your blood pressure soaring!
comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-23 14:08:32’} GMT+01

On the Blog City upgrade note I have one of two observations: The most irritating thing thus far is that I don’t know how to get uploaded pic URL anymore, s’alright for you PC people and your advanced editor but us non Internet Exploder proper computer users were accustomed to taking the URL from the control panel listing and addng some html round it now you don’t see the actual URL of the pic. If anybody knows how to get around this I’d be grateful. Secondly trackback spam is back in earnest but of course now it has to be approved it is rendered somewhat obsolete as far as the actual blog is concerned. It’s a pain in the arse tho’ having to wade through & delete 15-20 emails a day which either means I am a great deal more popular with the spammers these days or that previously Mayoress was single-handedly fending off all the spam before I knew about it, in which case whilst I would not wish to deprive Mayoress of her newly found evening time can we have a Mayoress robot to do the fending too, in the first 7 days after the upgrade I have had to trash 91 spam trackback mails. I am now up to 116 so I’m averaging 16 junk mails a day which is really starting to piss both me and my junk filter off.

I like some of the other features such as the new Look N Feel, thank Christ that bloody Java’s gone that used to be something of a pain. The new bits about how many reads your blog has had were of course somewhat biased in favour of those who do not publish their whole entries on their front page. Hence it would only show reads for me if someone left a comment. I decided to experiment with the short summaries just to amuse me for a while and see what difference it made, I suspect I shan’t like it and we will revert again. Another problem is the whole symmetry of the blog shifted again, tho’ thankfully this has been sorted out. My blog board is still well up the khyber, I don’t know if it displays dodgy to anyone else!

And Wiki, what the fuck is that? It used to be the way a German would refer to a girl called Victoria. I’ve only just got the bloody hang of html and they change the goalposts, how do you make a line thru’ in wiki eh? And why can’t you put it in the title anymore? Suffice to say the Jack in the title of this blog is supposed to have a strike thru’ it. And why have they stuffed around with my square brackets that I used to use for my repost to comments. I didn’t realise that since the upgrade any of the responses I’ve put on there haven’t actually been displaying because for some unknown reason square brackets now seem to make shit invisible.

Anyway fuck it all, I’ve booked my flight to Edinburgh for the Make Poverty History week and even found accommodation for the week. And tomorrow I’ve off to see U2 which is going to be magic. It’s been about 10 years since I last saw them and I can’t wait. We’re going to try to get into the pit near the front so it’s up at stupid o’clock for me.

Song Of The Day ~ U2 – Beautiful Day

Original Comments:

MrDan made this comment,
Apparently the html in comments was too much of a security hole. The square brackets are used for hyperlinks in wiki, so that’s your problem. Having a free blog I don’t know about your image problem but I guess you could host them somewhere else (I use imageshack). I know you’re paying for filespace so that’s a bit crap, but it would work.

comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-17 23:43:39’} GMT+01 ::,com

Mark Ellott made this comment,
You should be able to see the URL for the uploaded images in the file manager. The files are listed with user friendly URLs. I don’t like WIKI – much preferring the HTML and its flexibility. Like you, I’ve been forced to drop the square brackets.
I suspect you will get a bit tired of the short summary layout – as a reader, I find it irritating as I prefer to see the whole entry and just scroll down

comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-18 12:36:23’} GMT+01 ::

MrDan made this comment,
I don’t personally like the summary layout either, though I normally open up blogs at the permalink page from my RSS reader anyway so I don’t see the front page. I’ve taken to writing the summary with my mailing list subscribers in mind as it appears on the email.

comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-18 13:13:11’} GMT+01 ::,com

As if by magic a follow up appeared. Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post comes a cast-iron example of what I was talking about.

The ebay fiasco today is another example of direct action versus smokescreening. Initially ebay posted a notice claiming that they did not see anything wrong with people selling their Live8 tickets on the site and that the company would be making a contribution of the charges levied on the auctions in question to charity. They did not elaborate on the details of this contribution. Naturally the auctions started going up with all the “I’ll going to be at a wedding so I won’t be abble to go.” So how many weddings do you know where they only send out the invitations 3 fucking weeks before the event eh? It was all so bloody obvious but sadly very unsurprising.

During the day the discussions board was awash with those vehemently opposed to the sale and those who felt there was nothing wrong with it. In the afternoon many people decided to take action into their own hands and bids of £9/10,000,000 and the like were being placed on all the listings of tickets. On the Channel 4 news it was reported that ebay were going to pull the listings and an interview with Bob Geldof showed that Sir Bob was somewhat enraged by the whole thing and was calling on hackers to bring down the site. At 7.34pm ebay issued the following announcement:

Today you have made it very clear to us that our previous decision to allow the sale of LIVE 8 tickets on was not one that the vast majority of you agreed with. As a result of this clear signal from the Community we have decided to prohibit the resale of LIVE 8 tickets on the site.

Although the resale of tickets is not illegal, we think that this is absolutely the right thing to do. We have listened to the views you expressed on the discussion boards and in the many emails you have sent to us. We shall be working over the next few hours to remove all LIVE 8 ticket listings from the site.

Thanks for taking the time to contact us and make your views heard, It was signed by Doug McCallum MD of ebay UK.

What this message neglected to mention was the fact that those responsible for the outlandish bids who were effectively directly responsible for forcing ebay’s hand had been suspended throughout the day. It is as yet not clear where the membership of these users stands. One must also consider that ebay are acting retrospectively in this matter. They have not done anything about those Buy it Now listings or listings closed early and no reference has been made to what is happening to any ebay fees incurred for these. If you were unaware of what had been going on during the day you might be forgiven for thinking that ebay have acted benignly and responded to user requests etc. This of course does not explain the whole story at all and is another example of that selective marketing that companies use to try to put a positive spin on what is in reality an example of them being racketeers.

Ebay had no choice as to their actions today, they were exposed as complicit in the profiteering from a charitable enterprise and due to tthe action of certain progressive and inventive users not to mention the adverse media coverage they sought a damage limitation exercise. By midnight on the 14th all listings had been removed of tickets but there were still plenty of sales of white bands for the Make Poverty History campaign, no information has been forthcoming as to whether ebay will donate any of this money to the charity. Furthermore the profiteers are still there, attempting to sell domain names etc. for Live8, and these practices since they have not attracted the same attention remain in line with the ebay policy.

Do not forget ebay have done this due to the disgust of many users and their subsequent action, not because they care, they are a business and had there not been the uproar there is no question they would have allowed the sales to take place and made a profit on the fees as a result. Capitalism eh, does exactly wat it says on the tin!

Song Of The Day ~ Robert Cray Band – Consequences

Original Comments:

baracuda made this comment,
There was a lad on the radio earlier saying that ebay is the biggest black market in the World, which is true. However, if you stop Ebay selling Live8 tickets, why not stop them selling all concert tickets? If I bought a U2 ticket for £50 and sold it on Ebay for £300, then that’s fine, a nice little earner. But if I spend £1.50 on a text and win a Live8 ticket, it’s wrong to sell that? Live8 got their £1.50. Whether the person who spent that money goes or not makes no difference to Live8 or to Make Poverty History, they won’t be getting anymore money no matter what. I don’t think people should be selling tickets for Live8 on Ebay, but i don’t think tickets should be sold for above face value fullstop. But I get your point, Ebay have accted very poorly, especially as they announced weeks ago that they wouldn’t allow Live8 tickets to be sold.
Redbaron responds – Ah, now you make a very good point here regarding whether or not tickets should be sold at face value at all, I agree with you that they should not. To take the U2 example as a case in point I saw before the actual dates were announced that places were selling U2 tickets for around £150. I then found out face value was around £45 and that members got a 1 day advance sales opportunity. 1 years membership = £15 so I joined up and got my ticket. I could have bought 4 tickets and sold them on ebay for doubtless a large profit which would have eased my bank balance to be sure but then I’d be a hypocrite. The question about the Live8 tickets was that it was clear from the outset that many people only texted to get tickets with the express intention of selling them on at a profit, ebay is not to blame for that simply for providing a market for the immoral money-grabbing bastards!

comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-15 03:22:53’} GMT+01

Mark Ellott made this comment,
Given that there is nothing that I am aware of in eBay’s terms and conditions limiting the resale of tickets, what they were doing was perfectly legal. They are simply a conduit and one uses it with that in mind. If ever there was a need for caveat emptor, this is it.
As I understand it, the tickets are marked as non-transferable. How that would be policed remains a mystery. If anyone is guilty of racketeering it is those who applied for them fully intending to make a profit from resale. If eBay are to be criticised, it is for being tardy in responding to the will of its customers – not having anticipated the phenomenon in advance. Of course, you could criticise them for that; it was foreseeable, after all.

Redbaron responds – It’s true there is no specific legal reason therein lies the problem it’s one of those tricky areas where you know morally it’s pretty suss but companies make lots of money by doing that – that’s the nature of the system we live in. My main beef with ebay was the way they attempted to give the impression that they were all humble etc. when actually they left things going long enough to make a fair amount of both money and publicity out of it.

comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-16 13:21:53’} GMT+01 ::

If you believe that individuals can do nothing against the corporate and governmental juggernaut the MacLibel case is a prime example of how this doesn’t have to be the case. 2 people who felt they had nothing to lose because they didn’t have any money anyway, decide not to cow-tow to the Giant of the Golden Arches but to stand up to it. It is made all the more remarkable when one looks at the context of all the newpapers and television channels toadying to MacDonalds in the light of the libel proceedings and offering unreserved apologies from left, right and centre. I can understand for example why the Morning Star might have baulked at the prospect of any legal action as they do not earn advertising revenue and therefore would struggle to even come up with the money for any defence, but in the case of the larger newspapers and Channel 4 etc. it really does go to show that “the media are only as liberal as the conservative businessmen that own them.”

For many years justice has been something that you are more likely to get if you can pay for it. There are many examples: OJ Simpson’s situation turned into a media circus, I would not like to state whether or not I felt he was guilty because the verdict became practically irrelevant. Tell me in all seriousness if OJ Simpson was a black man on trial for murder in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Utah, Mississippi, Virginia, etc. etc. would he have been found not guilty? As it was it became politically expedient that he be found not guilty and lo the necessary verdict was delivered. Again were he to have been just another disenfranchised black youth would the state have cared at all about the outcome of the case. Then of course there is Jackson, a man who has long exhibited signs of being somewhat unstable. I wonder if parents would have been quite so keen to leave their children in the care of a hispanic Miguel Jackson living in a small appartment in a less salubrious part of town? If such allegations had been fired at any other person, especially a black man, I don’t think there would be scores of people at the courthouse protesting his innocence, he would be vilified as a monster and no-one would let their children near him whether or not he was acquited.

For many years companies and individuals have sought to perpetuate a form of bully-boy justice, basically like busting someone in a hand of poker without ever revealing the cards. MacDonalds were relying on the fact that no-one actually calls their bluff. Interestingly their grip on power appears to be waning as people start to feel now that the invincibility surrounding the comapny is now shaky, it is like a huge punch-drunk boxer stumbling around whilst a smaller person nimbly dances round jabbing him. Morgan Spurlock may well have dealt a serious blow which coupled with the MacLibel trial may yet have dynamic repercussions. Already as a result of the taking of the case to the European Court of Human Rights British law has been judged to be in convention of supra-national law by its denying of legal aid in the case of libel trials.

So what does this all have to do with Live8. Well, the Make Poverty History campaign is one that seems to have gathered immense weight with its celebrity endorsements and I support wholeheartedly the dropping of debts and the restriction of punitive trade barriers and anti-competitive internal state subsidies. It is nice to have the publicity from celebrities to enhance the profile of good causes but it is not the be all and end all, when media interest wanes there are people without recognisable faces who continue to work tirelessly.

But in the midst of this I can’t help but think that so many people seem to be missing the bigger picture. The situation as it stands is inevitable and will continue to happen. The reason countries can afford to drop debts etc. is because they can easily lend more money or use a resurgent economy in that country to invest or build industry etc. There is a vicious circle element and the reason for this is that this is the way capitalism works. The most effective way for companies is by exploiting the resources at their disposal for maximum output from minimum input. This is indisputable surely? look at Iraq. it has proved a huge money spinner for the US. It has propped up the defence industry at a time when post cold war one might have been forgiven for thinking that things might be looking bleak for the armaments sector. Furthermore the US people have paid for this, and they have paid for private companies like Haliburton to go in on lucrative contracts to “rebuild” the damges that their sister and subsidiary companies made in the first place.

No private sector company can survive by not making a profit, therefore one cannot be suprised that there is debris strewn by the wayside in the relentless pursuit of profit. It is not in a companies interests to be environmentally-friendly or charitable unless they are able to offset these costs by some other means, such as by marketing the fact that they are ‘different’, and even then this is likely to be a short term measure whilst they figure out how to be different but not have to pay any money for doing so.

An interesting example of this marketing ploy is in the case of the airline companies who have banned smoking on flights. Now they would have you believe that they have done this because of the dangers of passive smoking and the effects on air quality. There is however a very important fact to consider at this point though. Up until the ban on smoking devices known as “packs” were used to filter the air in the passenger cabins. Typically on a normal flight, the airlines used up to six packs to filter the air in first class; a fewer number in economy class. Packs, however, cost the airlines money, because they decrease fuel economy. The smoking ban enabled the airlines to reduce the number of packs they used, and they did so, enthusiastically, since, without the odour of cigarette smoke, passengers could not tell whether the air was being efficiently filtered, or not. As a result, the air in commercial airliners is likely to be far less clean than before as it is now recirculated and often passes through areas of the aeroplane that one could hardly consider sterile. Consequently there is talk of air laden with viruses, bacteria, and other unpleasant things. It’s no coincidence, that there have been stories in the newspapers about airline staff transmitting tuberculosis to passengers and other crew members. Unsurprisingly this information is reported far less than the lauding of the smoke-less cabin environment by the airlines themselves.

In conclusion my point is that we live in a world where money is power, and whilst that continues we can fight all we like to clean up some of the consequences but if we fail to tackle the cause at source it is going to be a long and ultimately fruitless struggle.

Song Of The Day ~ James Brown – The Big Payback

“An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind” -Gandhi

There is little better deconstruction of selective religion than this. Nowadays religion is used to lend authenticity to things people want to do anyway. Ali’s post citing the one verse in the Koran that refers to the allowance of beating a woman whilst many others appear to contradict that stance is mirrored in Western Christianity. Domestic violence here is frowned upon, and yet it exists and in many areas appears quite widespread. Murder, rape, assault, GBH etc. are criminal offences and yet the “eye for an eye” verse of the old testament is cited and seemingly used for justification to extol far greater international conflicts.

It has always puzzled me how people wishing to use the bible to defend reactionary and fundamentalist positions only ever seem to use the old testament. Is it that they do not know the new testament or simply that they choose to ignore the more progressive teachings in it? After all “eye for an eye” is in direct contradiction to Jesus’ principle that you must forgive those that have wronged you 77 x 7 times – no-one would think of taking that literally and, breathing a sigh of relief, kill their neighbour on the 540th time s/he has wronged them. So why do they cherry pick the parts to take literally? It is because it suits what they wish to believe in nothing more, this isn’t religion it is more a fundamentalist political doctrine based around an outdated notion of theology.

When it comes to the interpretations of the bible itself I remain astonished that some wish to take it all so literally to deflect scientific study. If you had a science book that was 2000 years old you might well expect that much of it would have been superseded by modern studies. That does not degrade the study or the original premise, nor does it do so to the method of study which can well form the basis of future expansion in this area. However to disregard well-researched and backed up scientific principles for something which has been written by a bunch of enthusiastic laymen some 2000 years ago is utterly barking and does the human race neither credit nor good. It seems that the more scientific evidence contravenes what the dogmatic theologians would have us believe the more said clerics seek to bury their head in the sand with a “La la la I can’t hear you” hands over the ears approach.

Islam is purported, were you to believe the hype out of the West, to be the other side of this great clash of civilisations. It is portrayed as a strange, violent, fundamentalist religion to be feared. And yet we are expected to believe the same is not true of Christianity? This in spite of the fact that the two religions are both mono-deist and in fact share very many of the same beliefs not to mention the same figures of worship. In fact of all the religions practised by humanity these two along with Judaism are perhaps the most homogenous. Perhaps therein lies the problem. Besides this great clash of civilisations hardly seems at the forefront when the Western leaders deal with the House of Saud who preside over one of the more repressive regimes in the Middle East.

It reflects poorly on us as societies that we seem to have such basic irrational concepts when it comes to a more metaphysical outlook. Is, and more prevalent, should religion be immune from the scrutiny to which we subject science and technology? If it is then we are destined to be constantly dragged back to a regressive and arcane past by outdated conservative tenets. It is time for religion to evolve or die.

I ought perhaps to declare that personally I think organised religion is horse shit but then many people think the same of socialism which I do believe in so it’s all dogma really isn’t it. It is all about giving you the guidelines by which to form your advanced moral code and live your life. If people choose to do so in an aggressive fashion then they will look for any justification by which to do so. It’s just that religion makes it so easy for the zealots not to even have to work for a bloody reason.



Jeunet & Caro

Date: 15/04/02   —   6.97   —   DVD / VHS

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OK, so I’m probably behind so many people in even seeing Amelie but I bought the special edition DVD and it is the sort of film you have to review. Of late every time I see a French film it gives me an extra confidence in the French cinematic industry, perhaps I’m just watching the right films.

My only very minor disappointment with Amelie was the orgasm scene, that’s not a problem for me and the film is a 15, it just means I wouldn’t be able to show it to my kids and I think that’s a shame because it is a very visual film almost cartoon-like in the way it moves. Everything else woul I think make it a U or at worst a PG. My daughter did watch a bit which had a 6 year old Amelie on the roof getting revenge on a guy by pulling out his TV ariel every time there was a goal, and she was howling with laughter.

I like the way the narration comes and goes and the way random items of what’s going on in the world around are inserted. The plot is good and well-woven, it couldn’t be done to this intelligence in the US it would be watered down and you’d lost the intricacies. The French seem to be able to portray places in a particular way and the steps in Parisian districts seem a feature of a number of films. Unlike L’Homme du Train which for me had a very interesting blue cast to it Amelie has what to me seemed a more Mediterranean yellowish cast. I can’t put my finger on it but the colour saturation is totally different in both the last 2 French films and it adds a non-verbal dimension to the film.

All in all I found it warm and funny. A feel good film without the smaltz. Since the DVD is now only £7 in the UK it is the ideal film to watch with the spouse.

Song Of The Day ~ Plastic Bertrand – Ca Plain Pour Moi

Original Comments:

Mark Ellott made this comment,
This is one I haven’t caught up with yet. I’ve still got to watch the DVDs we bought of Jean De Florette and Manon De Sources I bought in January…
comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-12 20:07:26’} GMT+01 ::

Bianca made this comment,
I absolutely loved Amelie!!
comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-13 09:34:52’} GMT+01

rayts made this comment,
better late than never. sometimes, i like watching film the dvd better because i get to see the speciaal features especially if they are foreign films. i’m watching this film again and again for my French class and i couldn’t concentrate on what Amelie was saying because she talks too fast.
comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-14 01:13:01’} GMT+01

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sarah made this comment,
i love this film, its one of my favorites – the actress (her name is audrey tatou, i think) is absolutely fantastic.
i love french cinema or rather, i prefer most foreign language films, because hollywood tends to get extremely cliched – the boy always gets the girl, and its extremely predictable with lots of feel good american sentiments thrown in. mexican, french, and japanese cinema is brilliant because they either keep it real or they get really surreal…

Redbaron responds – My sentiments entirely, if you ever get over here there’s a selection of European and chinese films for you to get thru’!

It’s rare that you get 2 news stories on the same day dealing with useless freeloading layabouts but preceeding the story of Obersturmfuehrer Harry a couple of months back was that of Mark Thatcher, son of the infamous Mrs. For Thatcher it was capricious timing because the story would have received considerably more coverage had it not been for the buffoon third in line to the throne wishing to dress up in the ancestral clothes.

So let’s start with the context shall we. There was a planned coup in Equatorial Guinea funded by foreigners and to be predominantly carried out by foreign mercenary forces

Mark Thatcher is a man at the heart of the British establishment. He is a hereditary baronet courtesy of his father. The most sucessful thing he has done is to have acquired maximum wealth and influence on minimum talent. He has married a Texan oil heiress, he has been involved in the arms trade, there have been innumerable investigations into his dealings in both Britain and South Africa for financial as well as ethical irregularities. Oh and he got lost in the desert some years ago whilst on some rally. The tosser!

Having pleaded guilty to the purchase of a helicopter with the inference that this was to be used in the coup attempt but not categorically underlined as being earmarked for the coup in the full knowledge of Mark Thatcher he has escaped by paying £265,000, which for a man with an estimated net worth of around £40 million is going to trouble him about as much as one of us getting fined for bunking the fare on the London Underground. Ah no you say I forgot he has agreed to turn State’s evidence in return for this leniency, yes I was coming to that. Pray tell me if he was not heavily involved in the coup attempt how would he have any information that is of use to the authorities? If he is contending that he bought this helicopter without knowing what it was for then this is hardly likely to be invaluable information. Looks to me like a case of the eel slips through the hands of justice and he is prepared to grass anyone up to save his skin. Puts the idea of honour among thieves to bed then!

The is a silver lining to this cloud, he attempted to go to America to live and they wouldn’t let him in ha ha ha. I mean that must be severe because they’ve even let me in before!

What vexes me the most is that there is this glass cellar for the Gary Glitterati (ie the rich criminal) where they can rely on the establishment protecting their own. You only have to look at Jeffrey Archer, still a Lord having served time for purgery. So we allow a convicted and congenital liar to continue to sit in the second legislature because he was mates with the former PM and gave the Tory party lots of money raised on the basis of his dubious literary talent? The man has proven time and again to be a fraud and a cheat and yet with the friends he has he’s like a social weeble, you can’t knock the fucker down so that he stays down. Then there’s Johnathon Aitken, the man who swore publically that he would “stamp out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism with the sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play” at his side

Then there’s Jacko, regardless of whether or not I think he’s guilty if you had put any other unknown black man in the same situation with the facts identical there is little question he would have not only been convicted but that there would be mass hysteria about whether to put such ‘monsters’ to death in the future. It’s not as if there isn’t precedent in both the US and the UK for this. The OJ Simpson example is obvious but let’s look at some other instances that may perhaps seem at first glance to have lesser impact. A particular bete-noir of mine is those who get off for driving offences on a technicality. David Beckham for example was stopped for speeding and claimed that it was to “escape the paparazzi” he was let off. The present Foreign Secretary Jack Straw whilst he was Home Secretary was stopped for speeding in a car driven by his chauffeur, there was no reason why he was breaking the speed limit it was not on important cabinet business or anything. Now, I have to declare a vested interest having been banned from driving before on account of suffering from an exuberance of the right foot. I wasn’t chuffed, but I was caught and suffered the consequences. I was fined quick a bit of money and forced to give up work for a month which I could ill afford. The only reason they did not fine me more was because it was first offence and I had a young dependent. So why is it that for those who can easily afford such a penalty they do not have to abide by the same rules as the rest of us riff-raff.

It seems that once you have achieved success, by which I mean material wealth, (their yardstick, not mine) no matter how you might have done so, there is this belief that you must be a decent person or perhaps just someone that can afford slick legal representation. You only have to look at the libel laws and such like to see that, big companies will often use their lawyers to bully people into their own way of thinking. By and large the man/woman in the street cannot afford to take on a business and is therefore at an immediate disadvantage should s/he ever need to do so. Most people grudgingly accept this as being the way things are, personally I think that is exactly what the companies want you to do, resign yourself to their over-arching power. Over my dead body!

Song Of The Day ~ A House – Why Me?

Original Comments:

Mark made this comment,
It was unfortunate that Thatcher managed to get rescued from the Sahara – best place for the bugger. His turning State’s evidence has shades of the Cretan liar paradox about it…
comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-09 13:25:38’} GMT+01 ::