Sunday, November 23, 2008



Woke up yesterday to find my right eye half filled with blood!

Yuck and Fuck! What's going on here?

Nothing much, actually. It seems to be a sub-conjunctival hemorrhage, probably caused by me rubbing my eyes in the morning, or possibly high blood pressure from Friday evening's attempt to play tennis.

Looks horrible though and it'll be a few days before it disappears...


Monday, November 17, 2008


I heard/saw a song this morning I really liked on the monitors in the foyer. It was well before eight and the space was deserted but for me a receptionist and a couple of other mad people dressed and at the office before sunrise.

A lovely intricate relaxed piece of chill music, it reminded me of the ambient stuff I used to listen too in the mid 1990s.

Excited at finding some new contemporary music to download, I scribbed down the artist's name William Orbit and the track title: Water from a Vine Leaf.

A few moments ago I researched this new song on-line only to find...

It was recorded 15 years ago (15!) with vocals by Beth Orton.


Maybe I'll find a contemporary song I like tomorrow.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

More Thoughts on the Election

As predicted here (sorry T), Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States.

It’s a wonderful and historic victory, although the whinging part of me (never entirely silent) wishes that the Democratic Party could have come up with an Obama in 2004. As it was, even the feeble John Kerry managed to get within a percentage point of unseating Dubya.

That 2004 election was far more important than 2008, as Dubya and neo-cons were still going strong in 2004 whereas now it’s clear they ran out energy and ideas at least a year ago. But from 2004 to roughly 2007 they managed to kill vast numbers of people, drown a few thousand more in New Orleans, and generally screw up the United States and the world in their own unique and vicious way.

It’s also worth acknowledging the campaign of John McCane; until the financial collapse a few weeks ago he was actually leading Obama, or at least running extremely close to him. This despite the huge disadvantage of being associated with the Republican administration and a President who is a serious contender as one of the worst in American history.

Is Obama lucky?

Thatcher and Regan were both lucky leaders, and the longer I live, the convinced I am that luck plays a huge role in the success or failure of any enterprise where there are large number of unknown and difficult to calculate factors. Famously, Napolean used to demand “is he a lucky general?”

I hope he is, because McCain was definitely on to something when he said we know nothing about Obama. There’s been a huge amount of vague soaring inspirational rhetoric, and sod all substance to his speeches. I’ve no idea whether he’s the next Franklin D Rosevelt or (god forbid) the next Jimmy Carter.

Alexander Cockburn, writing in The Nation gives a harsh warning about over expectations:

In these last days I’ve been scraping around, trying to muster a single positive reason to encourage a vote for Obama. Please note my accent on the positive, since the candidate himself has couched his appeal in this idiom. Why vote for Obama-Biden, as opposed to against the McCain-Palin ticket?

Obama invokes change. Yet never has the dead hand of the past had a “reform” candidate so firmly by the windpipe.

Is it possible to confront America’s problems without talking about the arms budget, now entirely out of control? The Pentagon is spending more than at any point since the end of World War II. In “real dollars” – admittedly an optimistic concept these days -- the $635 billion appropriated in fiscal 2007 is 5 percent above the previous all-time high, reached in 1952. Depending on how you count them, the Empire has somewhere between 700 and 1,000 overseas bases.

Obama wants to enlarge the armed services by 92,000. He pledges to escalate the US war in Afghanistan; to attack Pakistan’s sovereign territory if it obstructs any unilateral US mission to kill Osama bin Laden; and to wage a war against terror in a hundred countries, creating for this purpose a new international intelligence and law enforcement “infrastructure” to take down terrorist networks. A fresh start? Where does this differ from Bush’s commitment to Congress on September 20, 2001, to an ongoing “war on terror” against “every terrorist group of global reach” and “any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism”?

If elected he will be prisoner of his promise that on his watch Afghanistan will not be lost, nor the white man’s burden shirked.

In the event of Obama’s victory, the most immediate consequence overseas will most likely be brusque imperial reassertion.

In February, seeking a liberal profile in the primaries, Obama stood against warrantless wiretapping. His support for liberty did not survive its second trimester; he aborted it with a vote for warrantless wiretapping. The man who voted to reaffirm the awful Patriot Act declared that ‘the ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counterterrorism tool.’

As a political organizer of his own advancement, Obama is a wonder. But I have yet to identify a single uplifting intention to which he has remained constant if it has presented the slightest risk to his advancement. Summoning all the optimism at my disposal, I suppose we could say he has not yet had occasion to offend two important constituencies and adjust his relatively decent stances on immigration and labor-law reform. Public funding of his campaign? A commitment made becomes a commitment betrayed, just as on warrantless eavesdropping. His campaign treasury is now a vast hogswallow that, if it had been amassed by a Republican, would be the topic of thunderous liberal complaint.

In substantive terms Obama’s run has been the negation of almost every decent progressive principle, a negation achieved with scarcely a bleat of protest from the progressives seeking to hold him to account. The Michael Moores stay silent. Abroad, Obama stands for imperial renaissance. He has groveled before the Israel lobby and pandered to the sourest reflexes of the cold war era. At home he has crooked the knee to bankers and Wall Street, to the oil companies, the coal companies, the nuclear lobby, the big agricultural combines. He is even more popular with Pentagon contractors than McCain, and has been the most popular of the candidates with K Street lobbyists. He has been fearless in offending progressives, constant in appeasing the powerful.

The early months of 2009 will be really interesting to see just what he does, and who he appoints to do it.



I've been dozing and listening to the radio all night, but John McCain's concession speach from Phoenix has dragged me out of bed and in front of the telly.

McCain's speach is simple and dignified, with a grace and moderation that was conspicuously absent from his campaign. Perhaps he would have done better if he'd followed his natural instincts rather than the Bushies who tried to get him elected with smears and innuendo.

It's noticable how sections of the crowd booed at certain moments - none the less it was a great speach from the "Old John McCain" who somehow got lost over the past few weeks.

Obama will be up next from Chicago - I'm off to bed with a big smile on my face.