Thursday, September 29, 2005

florida hit by 100mph foetus

Oh father forgive me, for I now see the error of my ways.

I suggested that Hurricane Katrina was part of an increase in hurricane activity due to climate change.

Now father, I see The Truth. It was God's judgement against them evil abortionists.

Thanks to ms.musings I found The Truth as sent out by Columbia Christians for Life, who explained that 'coming ashore Gulf Coast - satellite image looks like 6-week fetus'.

The picture is a swirl of colour, and seems to be something of a Rorschach test, and what the anti-abortionists are seeing in the blob is dictated by their own fixation.

I see it as an elongated elephant impersonating a map of Indonesia whilst carrying a space hopper on its back. Not quite sure what that says about my own preoccupations.

The bit I really love is the idea that God wants to smite the top three abortion states so he hits California with earthquakes, New York with 9/11, and then hits Florida by sending a hurricane to hit New Orleans.

That's New Orleans, the city in Louisiana.

Florida, the state God was aiming for, is the dangly bit on the right. God's geographical knowledge seems to be as good as Dubya's.

However, the Bush administration don't share the idea of the ruin of New Orleans being the judgement of God. Well, what can you expect from a president who spends his time 'promoting evil and openly supporting wickedness'?

Nope, the feds are trying to pin the damage in New Orleans on environmentalists. As revealed in an article in Mississippi newspaper the Clarion-Ledger, the US Department of Justice is asking relevant District Attorneys if environmental groups have ever sued anyone to prevent the building of the New Orleans levees or other city defences.

They've taken their cue from the conservative American fuckheads National Review:

The national Sierra Club was one of several environmental groups who sued the Army Corps of Engineers to stop a 1996 plan to raise and fortify Mississippi River levees

...The lawsuit was settled in 1997 with the Corps agreeing to hold off on some work while doing an additional two-year environmental impact study. Whether this delay directly affected the levees that broke in New Orleans is difficult to ascertain.

As the Clarion-Ledger points out, the lawsuit wasn't about the building of the levees, it was only about where the building materials came from. But more than that, whether those levees had anything to do with the Katrina devastation is certainly not 'difficult to ascertain'

The levees that broke causing New Orleans to flood weren't Mississippi River levees. They were levees that protected the city from Lake Pontchartrain, levees on the other side of the city.

When Katrina struck, the hurricane pushed tons of water from the Gulf of Mexico into Lake Pontchartrain, which borders the city to the north. Corps officials say the water from the lake cleared the levees by 3 feet. It was those floodwaters, they say, that caused the levees to degrade until they ruptured, causing 80 percent of New Orleans to flood.

Bookbinder [David Bookbinder, senior attorney for Sierra Club] said the purpose of the litigation by the Sierra Club and others in 1996 was where the corps got the dirt for the project. "We had no objections to levees," he said. "We said, 'Just don't dig film materials out of the wetlands. Get the dirt from somewhere else'."

Anyway, all the levees in the world won't save you from a vengeant god come to cleanse the world of the unholy, the unrighteous, and the people live in neighbouring states.

Monday, September 26, 2005

from haiti to iraq

From The Miami Herald

Ghosts of the 1915 U.S. invasion still haunt Haiti's people,
by Edwidge Danticat

On July 28, 1915, U.S. forces invaded Haiti, launching an occupation that would last 19 years.

The U.S. invasion came in the wake of President Woodrow Wilson's professed commitment to make the world safe for democracy. However, as soon as the Marines landed in Haiti, Wilson's administration remapped the country into police departments, shut down the press, installed a lame-duck government, rewrote the constitution to give foreigners land-owning rights, took charge of Haiti's banks and customs and instituted a system of compulsory labor for poor Haitians.

Those who resisted the occupation - among them a militant peasant-run group called Cacos - were crushed. In 1919, U.S. Marines in blackface ambushed and killed the Cacos' fearless leader, Charlemagne Peralte, mutilated his corpse and displayed it in a public square for days.

By the end of the occupation, more than 15,000 Haitians had lost their lives. A Haitian gendarmerie was trained to replace the U.S. Marines, then proceeded to form juntas, organize coups and terrorize Haitians for decades.

Although U.S. troops were officially withdrawn from Haiti in 1934, the U.S. government maintained economic control of the country until 1947.

Ninety years later, there are many, including some current foreign-policy experts, who maintain that Haiti, like recently occupied Iraq, should be declared a failed state. This could make way for another lengthy takeover. After all, some of the conditions that existed in Haiti in 1915 are still present today: rampant insecurity, political uncertainty, proximity to U.S. shores and concern for American interests, no small part of which is the fear of an exodus of boat people headed for Miami.

However, while Haiti tantalized the West at the beginning of the 20th century with an entryway to the Panama Canal and mineral, fruit, coffee and sugar resources, it seems to have little left to currently exploit except the desperation of a people, whose most basic needs have often been neglected by its own leaders.

Few Americans are aware that their country once occupied ours, and for such a long time. This is not surprising, for as one Haitian proverb suggests, while those who give the blows can easily forget, the ones who carry the scar have no choice but to remember.

While it takes American leaders and their armed enforcers just a few hours, days, weeks, months to rewrite another sovereign nation's history, it takes more than 90 years to overcome devastations caused by such an operation, to replace the irreplaceable, the dead lost, the spirits quelled, to steer an entire generation out of the shadows of dependency, to meet fellow citizens across carefully constructed divides and become halfway whole again.

The 1915-1934 U.S. occupation is not the only problem that Haiti has or has ever faced in the last nine decades. Yet it is one more hurdle that the country has had to overcome in a long and painful cycle of destruction and reconstruction, self-governance and subjugation.

Ninety years is a long span of time in the life of a woman or a man, but it is a short phase in the life of a country.

Iraq, take heed.

Edwidge Danticat, a native of Haiti, is the author of several novels, including, most recently, Anacaona, Golden Flower.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

total eclipse of the kitchen

When you got up today, you didn't realise that you needed to see a Norwegian band in blue tracksuits performing Total Eclipse Of The Heart on kitchen appliances.

But I know you better than you know yourself, I know it's what you need. So here it is.

Turn yer speakers on and click here.

Watch for the guy's arse hanging out as he's bashing the cooker.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

kill the poor (slight return)

David Cameron, the scary far-right no-hope contender for the Tory leadership, has set out what makes him different from the other candidates. His team have decided to run with the idea of legalising recreational drugs.

It tallies with Cameron's right-wing libertarian small-government ideas, but it actually owes more to his time spent on the Home Affairs Select Committe in 2002 when, like anyone else examining the evidence objectively, he came to see that prohibition has none of the benefits its proponents claim and causes huge damage.

Cameron's stance beats his colleague Alan Duncan who, as I've said before, argued for legalisation until he got a frontbench post then he had a new edition of his book revised to omit his stated support for the idea and has voted for prohibiton laws ever since.

Writing in The Independent, Johann Hari picks up on Cameron's position and eloquently makes the case for legalisation that longer-term Badgerers will be familiar with as one of my ongoing rant-points.

He also includes a horrifying news item that had gone right under my radar.

As if on cue, the Government is doing something this week that illustrates Cameron's arguments about the weird evidence-free nature of the war on drugs in blood-red Technicolor.

Right now, 2,500 British troops are about to be despatched to trash one of the only cash-crops in the poorest country in the world - and they are going to kill anybody who fights back.

The 16th Air Assault Brigade is flying into the Afghan province of Helmand, where they have orders to "secure" the fields of dirt-poor farmers growing opium and destroy them. British Army commanders briefed a newspaper that they expect the farmers to stage an uprising when their livelihoods are wrecked and they face starvation.

So - strike up "Land of Hope and Glory" - we will then have British forces firing on some of the poorest people on earth after destroying their only source of income. It's as if the Government was dealing with binge-drinking by sending Swat teams into Oddbins and despatching the SAS to commit massacres in rum distilleries in Jamaica.

Although this "operation" might seem very distant from domestic concerns, it is an illustration of the strategy carried out back home in one crucial respect. Whenever politicians order "crackdowns" like this, they have invariably been warned by their experts that it is a waste of time. Tony Blair's Strategy Unit warned him in 2003 that targeting drug-supplying countries squanders blood and money. "Drug crop eradication appears not to limit illicit crops in the long term," it explained dryly.

Monday, September 19, 2005

avast behind

Yaharr ye scurvy-pups,

I meant to be a-warnin' ye of International Talk Like A Pirate Day afore now, but I been a-rovin' round other shores. Appropriately enough, this day be findin' me a wanderin' around Robin Hood's Bay, a tiny village with more than its share of smugglin' history. A couple of centuries back and the rummest brigands that e'er set sail could be found haulin' their booty ashore in them there parts.

The village be a piece of wild North Yorkshire coast, enthrallin' whate'er the weather, and today I be spendin' all the mornin' amongst the kelp beds revealed by low tide. Be it just me, or does 'bladder wrack' sound like an evil torture instrument?

'As a measure of last resort, The Spanish Inquisition would put the most stubborn of the accused on the bladder rack, which rapidly and invariably brought either confession or death'.

But me excuses be nought and none for keepin' all quiet on this most fine of occasions. I be throwin' meself to a keelhaulin' worthy of a government inspector if I not be givin' ITLAPD some mention to ye Badgerers.

If ye be a-wantin' more detail, there be several good fine websites to help ye. O'er thar across the Atlantic ye be findin' the accurately but somewhat unimaginatively domained The UK counterpart be the altogether funnier-named

Of course, if ye be a lily-livered landlubber who not be hearin' of ITLAPD till just now, all be not lost. The day be all but o'er for another year, but be not puttin' yerself to a-worryin' if ye be missin' out. Be as jolly as a roger, for ye now be findin' yerself with the longest of run-ups for next year's ITLAPD, which gives ye the maximum chance of developin' a good pirate voice that holds its accent as steady as a full-rigged schooner cross a mirror-flat sea, as opposed to me own goodly attempt, which veers wildly like a rum cask tossed o'erboard in a foul diabolical gale, seemin' to be comin' from Delhi one moment and an extra out of The Archers the next.

Yarrr, oo-arr!

And ye also be chanced to be a-workin' up a ripe combinin' of the sexually suggestive possibilities of pirate talk; 'blow the man down', 'a salty dog', 'treasure chest', 'a vast behind', 'poop deck'. I be thinkin' that be most apt.

Yarrr, oo-er!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

allah the net nanny

I've heard him called Allah The Merciful, also Allah The Most High. That one tickles me a lot. Say it in a posh English accent with the emphasis on 'most' and the intoxicant option of its ambiguity comes to the fore, as in 'good lord, I do seem to be most high'.

Anyway, another string has been added to the teetotal deity's bow. He's now watching over your internet browsing.

A new Trojan monitors access to porn sites and then displays a quote from the Koran chastising the surfer for his or her sins, a security vendor said Tuesday.

Once it's installed, Yusufali.a - called 'Cager.a' by Trend Micro - watches which sites Windows users visit by examining the browser's title bar. If the Trojan sees a word in its list - such as 'teen', 'xx', 'sex', or 'penis' - it minimizes the window and displays a quote from the Koran.

Firstly, what a rubbish list of keywords; any medical student doing research on genitalia, any biologist finding a site discussing the sex of an animal, any Nirvana fan's page about Smells Like Teen Spirit is liable to be hit with Islamic codswallop; a page for Fuzzbox's 1986 feminist proto-grunge classic XX Sex doubly so.

But that's all by the by. Even if it could hit just porn sites it's existence wouldn't be any more justified.

I plead with any techie types reading this, please get this virus and reverse engineer it. Make it so that anyone browsing monotheistic sites suddenly gets an unclosable pop-up window of some rampant sucking fucking polysexual orgy with a message telling them to stop believing in fairy stories and go enjoy themselves and their bodies.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

got a brand new bag

The introduction of the 15c tax on plastic bags in Ireland has had astonishing results; a reduction in bag consumption of over 90%, with commensurate saved energy and raw materials, cleaner streets, less pollution of land and waterways, less wildlife choked and suffocated, and an increase in awareness of conservation and the need for waste reduction.

The measure is such a clear winner on all fronts that its introduction in the UK is only opposed by those with vested interests; the bag manufacturers, some retailers, and their friends in government.

Thanks to Jim Bliss and his recent blog post, I finally got my shit together and did the article I've been meaning to do on this issue.

It's just been published here.

Monday, September 12, 2005

'we're all fucked,' admits brown

Gordon Brown 'blames Opec on fuel costs'.

He elaborates; Denouncing Opec as a "cartel" which had failed to respond quickly enough to the rising demand for oil from China, Mr Brown made clear that he wanted to see action by the end of this month to increase supplies and relieve pressure on prices.

This isn't going to happen, for the simple reason that OPEC can't do it. Earlier this year Gharwar, the largest oilfield on earth, was announced to be in decline. Which almost certainly means the world is in permanent production decline.

No amount of chest-beating at OPEC countries can make them produce oil they don't have. Any urging them to do so is, in effect, done in the belief they can make oil out of thin air.

'Don't you know how much thin air they have in Saudi Arabia? Why aren't they making it into oil for us then, eh? Bastards!', Mr Brown commented later.

In a more in-depth piece in The Guardian there's a different emphasis on the story. Britain must use less oil, says Brown

The piece is interesting for the rare inclusion in the mainstream media of the words 'peak oil', albeit in conjunction with 'experts say it could trigger a global recession'.

Er, could?

All of the last five major recessions have been triggered by a hike in oil prices. Now imagine what happens if there's a price hike with no hope of it ever coming back down but instead inexorably increasing.

Is there anyone who can give a reason how this merely 'could' be the trigger for a recession?

Understating the severity of the situation gallops onward with the line about 'weaning the country off fossil fuels towards greener, renewable energy'.

The alternative fuel sources cannot deliver anything like the energy we get from fossil fuels. All credible opinion is clear that yes, we need to be getting off the fossil fuels and on to the renewables, but of far greater importance is reducing our demand as it simply cannot be met from any source.

These things never say 'weaning the country off fossil fuels towards less energy consumption'. But to even say we need to consume less oil when we have no replacement available is, in effect, to admit that.

For us to actually do it means consuming less of pretty much everything. It means the end of many things we take for granted. I'm not just talking disposable plastic cups, I'm talking stuff like universal health care and pensions. Our economy and our fossil fuel consumption are so closely linked that the end of cheap fossil fuels means reaching the inevitable end of economic growth.

Mr Brown hasn't mentioned any of that by name, but any implication that we can simply swap to non-fossil energy sources and carry on is utterly absurd. In a position as well informed as the Chancellor's, if he's saying we need to consume less oil then he's saying the age of cheap oil - and thereby the age of perpetual economic growth - is over.

The longer we keep up the charade that it means anything else, the less opportunity there is for any sort of gradual 'weaning off' and the more brutal and ugly the crunch will be.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

death and torture for fun and profit

This week sees the return to London of DSEi, the bi-annual biggest arms fair on earth, where makers of weapons can meet their potential clients as capitalism and war combine in arguably the greatest obscenity on British soil.

From 13th-16th September, once again the ExCel Centre in London's Docklands will be the brokering ground for everything from battleships and attack helicopters to cluster bombs and machine guns. At DSEi 2003 there were 973 exhibitors selling their deadly wares to delegates from a third of the world’s countries.

There is nobody with even the slightest conscience who can be comfortable with the vast array of repressive regimes coming to browse and buy, nor the range of weapons technology. Really, if this one doesn't get you angry and outraged then all humanity has departed your soul.

In 2003 there were loads of blocades and other bits of direct action going off to make access to the fair difficult. This time we're going to do it again. See you down the front.

Disarm DSEi is co-ordinating protests, not just at the ExCel Centre but at numerous relevant places around the country too. There will be ample meeting and crash space in London.

2003's protests were notable for the first use of Jack Straw's new anti-terrorism laws. They were used as the pretext for stopping and searching the protesters.

To the untrained eye it looks like a harmless bag of sandwiches, but to the elite Metropolitan Police officer it turns out on further investigation to be, er, oh, a bag of sandwiches after all. Never mind, we'll take your personal details, fingerprint you, take a DNA sample for the database that will never be deleted, and release you without charge in the dead of night.

If, on the other hand, you carry a briefcase with a banker's draft to buy thousands of cluster bombs to be dropped on civilian residential areas then you are a legitimate business person and need protecting from those terrorists who would blocade your path.

= = = = =

On a related tip, I got emailed a report of an action last Thursday outside the Hiatt's factory in Birmingham.

Hiatt's, as the home page of their website proudly declares, were founded in 1780 and made their initial money supplying handcuffs and shackles to the British government for colonial use. There was an equally lucrative contemporaneous market in slave-collars, but peculiarly their site omits that.

They kept on making leg-shackles until manufacture was banned 20 years ago. Since then they've got around it by making, wink wink, 'extra large handcuffs' whose buyer can easily make them into shackles by swapping the short chains for large ones.

And now it turns out they've been supplying the shackles for the forgotten hundreds being illegally held and tortured at Guantanamo Bay.

The protest was called by a local doctor who discovered that the Hiatt's company were supplying the Shackles and Hand-cuffs used on people being held without trial or any hope of justice at the US prison-camp in Guantanamo Bay.

Seize The Day arrived on a flat-bed truck to lead 20 orange-clad dancers in The Shackle Shuffle [MP3 here] before an audience of about 15 media, 2 coppers, and assorted local residents. Behind us, comedian Mark Thomas, in regulation Boiler Suit, held one end of a banner reading 'Tackle the Shakles - Call Hiatt 0121 357 4347'. After the song, Mark spoke passionately about the disgrace of the torture industry operating in our country.

He was followed by Abu Bakr, whose brother
Omar Deghayes is currently on Hunger Strike with over 200 other victims of gratuitous American military detention. The hunger strike is now in it's 5th week, and if the prisoners demands for humane treatment are not met soon, innocent men like Omar will start to die from starvation. The realities of Guantanamo abuses were spelled out by UK Lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith, who represents many of the inmates, but is not permitted by the US authorities to tell the world everything which he has seen.

However thanks to the widespread reporting of this protest and the interest it generated through the
BBC and the Guardian newspaper, the courageous and desperate struggle of the men and boys kidnapped by the Bush regime and deprived of their most basic human rights in the name of "defending democracy" is now in the news.

Public awareness of the Hunger Strike may make a difference for people like Omar Deghayes. Please take the time to read about his case - he needs us.

They all need us. Every 'Human Right' we now take for granted was once a Human victory. If we do not protect them now, we may live to wish that we had when the same treatment is meted out to us, or those we love, in the future.

I hope that people reading this will think of other ways to apply pressure on the UK and US government to end the 3 year nightmare of Guantanamo.

There are 3 issues:

1) The export by Hiatt's of shackles - their address and phone number are available, and MPs may also want to raise it in parliament;

2) The plight of Omar Deghayes, who faces execution if the UK government force him to return to Libya upon his release;

3) The restoration of Human Rights to all the detainees, so that the hunger strike can end.

The Hiatt's factory's address is:

Hiatt & Co Ltd
111 Baltimore Road
B42 1DN

Their phone number is +44 (0)121 357 4347

Their fax number is (0)121 358 7768

Their email address is

Need to find out who your MP is and what they're like, with a direct link to email them? Click here

Friday, September 09, 2005

wide awake in america

As was to be expected, despite similar events elsewhere in the world and uncannily accurate warnings it would happen to them some time soon, it takes a major event on home ground to awaken the American popular consciousness.

Hurricane Katrina seems to have really opened up debate on climate change in America. Or, more accurately, ended the 'is it?' debate and moved it on to 'what do we do about it?'

Climate change is not on the way, it is already here. Mark Lynas' superbly researched book High Tide gives all the evidence you need to be frankly terrified.

Of course, climate change can't be said to have specifically caused Katrina, but the analogy that's commonly cropping up is of 'loaded dice'. If you load dice so that sixes come up twice as often, you never know whether one particular six-throw was a 'natural' one or due to your loading the dice. But you can be sure that you'll be seeing a lot more sixes in future.

My thanks to Gyrus for the nudge to this article from America about Katrina, climate change and its inter-relatedness with poverty and security.

The Debate Is Over

That's Katrina's most important lesson: the time to debate whether or not to act is over. That debate's history, like the Berlin Wall. Katrina flattened it. In the aftermath of Katrina, we can no longer scruple self-interest masked as caution, short-sightedness masked as responsibility, and lies masked as patriotism. To see the pictures and hear the stories coming out of New Orleans is to know one thing: whatever moral credibility professional environmental "skeptics" once claimed is as shredded as the Superdome roof.

We aren't trying to build a bright green future because we have nothing else to do. We aren't scrambling to reinvent our industrial civilization because we're bored. We aren't working for a more just global economy for kicks. We aren't fighting for democracy and human rights and good global governance in order to have something to talk about at parties. We aren't ringing the alarm sirens over global warming because we like the way they sound.

We're doing all these things because the future of our planet is at stake. People's lives are at stake, millions of them.

We're doing them because we knew Katrina, or something like it, was coming, just as we know now that more Katrinas are on their way. The world is unsustainable. That which is not sustainable does not continue. Katrina just showed us precisely what that means.

The article is followed by some excellent discussion in the comments section, including;

All of this was true in 1991, when floods killed over 130,000 people in Bangladesh. It was true last May, when over 2,000 died in floods in the Caribbean, earlier this month when floods killed over 220 in Maharashtra State in India, and yesterday when floods from Typhoon Talim killed at least 84 people in China.

It's also true that climate disruption can't be shown to "cause" any one storm. There's a difference between "climate" and "weather". We can't ask what event "causes" the water cycle, and we can't assert that greenhouse gasses "caused" Katrina. We need to think differently, to learn to see past linear "cause-and-effect", billiard-ball filters. As my brother, a climate scientist, says, "The weather is still a crap shoot - but we're loading the dice."

We also "load the dice" when we strip land of forests, wreck mangroves and reefs, pave over land in relentless sprawl, and fill wetlands for quick profit. We load the dice when we ignore abject poverty and its ensuing desperation. We load the dice when we pretend that "growth" will solve our problems, when all it's doing is making them worse.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

lennon: the musical

A while back I had a poke at the mercifully short-lived Oscar Wilde: The Musical, a theatrical abomination from the same pen that brought us Cliff!, the Cliff Richard musical.

Then came Diana The Princess: A Celebration In Dance, from the people who'd brought us The King, a 'dansical spectacular' that told the story of Elvis in a combination of classical, contemporary, show dance and tap styles.

On 14th August a new musical atrocity was inflicted in New York. Lennon: The Musical, 'a misconceived affair which suffers from both timidity and banality'.

Nine of the cast, with a mixture of genders and ethnicities, portray Lennon. One of them also has to do Winston Churchill, David Frost and the Queen at various other times. Really.

The New York Daily News said of the nine

They all seemed amateurish. Then, so does everything about the show. Apparently there was no budget for a choreographer, because the little dancing there is would embarrass the director of a high school musical.

The New York Times said:

In the immortal words of Yoko Ono, 'Aieeeee!' A fierce primal scream -- of the kind Ms. Ono is famous for as a performance and recording artist -- is surely the healthiest response to the agony of 'Lennon,' the jerry-built musical shrine that opened last night at the Broadhurst Theater.

According to one source the show is bombing and won't make its planned big days of October 9th (John's birthday) and December 8th (the anniversary of his death).

And this is all after the show opened in San Francisco, got panned and had a radical rewrite to make it more historically accurate (the Beatles appear more, though still over and done with in the first half hour).

But the thing is that even a good balanced script wouldn't deliver a production worth watching. These shows are performed by superficial stage school smugs who couldn't rock if their insignificant lives depended on it.

More than that, the very concept insults the public as well. The patronising cheap and lazy approach of doing such a show beggars belief. Roll up roll up! Be thrilled, enthralled, amazed and enlightened by some songs you already know played by people with no soul, people who dream of singing excremental Lloyd-Webber tosh.

The New York Daily News again:

Jukebox musicals — shows based on the songs of a popular entertainer — always raise one big question: Should you plop down $100 for a theater ticket or just stay home and listen to your old records?

In the case of 'Lennon,' the answer is easy: Light one up and put on the stereo.

Ditto all other jukebox musicals.

Which, it must be said, are still better than other musicals, which are just as bad but with far poorer songwriting. Anyone who goes to see Phantom of The Opera should forfeit their ownership of ears.

Monday, September 05, 2005

let the people decide again

Having pondered the meaning of Nick Drake, in January I put a readers' poll in the sidebar to let the people decide.

You get several options to say what you really believe Chris De Burgh to be.

Sadly, two regulars here at Bristling Badger - Jim Bliss and RA - kept voting for the 'Not very good but the first couple of albums have nice tunes on, which is more than you can say for Huey Lewis' option.

I think the public should also be aware that these defenders of De Burgh are also the only two defenders of Neil Diamond's recorded works I've ever met. They clearly forfeit the right to any credible opinion about music.

Anyway, the upshot was that this totally unacceptable response was romping ahead in the poll. I now confess that in order to counter this, I entered into a little untoward ballot rigging.

Then, for some reason, the poll disappeared. There was just a page saying the poll had closed, even though I'd not asked for it to do so. I fear Pollhost might have sussed my Orange Countyisms, but what I think is more likely and a lot more funny is if some fuckin Chris De Burgh fan googled in to the site and complained to Pollhost.

Anyway, I restarted the poll and left it for a geniune response. But this last week that 'he's not so bad' option has been creeping up. Jim or RA have noticed the poll's live again.

So please, my dear devoted reader, go vote in the sidebar poll. Do your bit for taste, decency, and the prevention of the world being conquered by shapeshifting lizards singing The Lady In Red.