04 February 2011

04/02/11

We want the facts to fit the preconceptions. When they don't, it is easier to ignore the facts than to change the preconceptions.

Jessamyn West

77 comments:

  1. @Atomboy:

    Fear not. I didn't think that you or anyone else (apart from Bracken) here had ever implied or said that I am vacuous. That was just my way of asking what I thought might be considered a stupid question.

    And speaking of stupid Americans, re: the Fox News map that placed Egypt next to Iran:

    I showed the map to Joe (who is, I remind everyone, 11 yrs old) and he instantly spotted the problem without even being told that there was anything wrong with it.

    I suspect that the people who put it up knew that the map was wrong & it was done deliberately to stir up fear about Egypt. If Americans think that Egypt is right next door to that oh-so-scary Iran, they'll be against the protesters, doncha know?

    They've been known to deliberately misidentify Republican politicians who've committed some especially fuckwitted bit of fuckwittery as Democrats and have no scruples about extremely selective editing of video clips, so it would by SOP for them.

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  2. Who saw Louis Theroux then? Classic. Religious zealots of all stripes really are terrifying, such blind lunacy and delusion. Moment of the programme:

    "What security measures do you take?"

    "Well, we dont lock our doors" (what a chilled out place eh? This laid back guy doesnt even lock his door, its all peace and love in the promised land)

    "Right, but you have armed guards and steel gates at the entrance"

    "Erm... yes, we do."

    "And you have a guard on the roof"

    "Yes we have a guard on the roof."

    "And do you have an escort for when you leave the property?"

    "Erm, yes we do."



    One of my favourite TV moments in years. Another good'n, interviewing the main zealot. Old Palestinian man shouts at him. Zealot explains:

    "Its his problem, not mine."

    "Right, but the international community would say this is their land, and that you're illegally settling here."

    "Ok, the whole world has a problem then."


    I hope you saw that, Nap, and i hope you've had a read over the Wikileak cable on the issue. There is quite plainly no desire for peace from zealots like this or their leaders in government - the desire is plain and simple annexation, so the "peace process" sham will continue until thats been achieved.

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  4. Louis was on fine form, Jay. (Did you see his thing about the crystalmeth epidemic in Fresno CA a couple of years ago ?)
    Right now I have a less troubling, but nonethelss niggling question: who is the bigger dickhead - Nadine Dorries or Sally Bercow ?

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  5. Can I just put on record that I've been analysing a report in which one of the authors is called:

    Joopie van der Klaam

    Dutch names truly are the gift that keep on giving (with no offence intended medve, I daresay a lot of Brit nnames raise a chuckle with you).

    Spencer, nice story about Nevin and McLair.

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  6. This is the best description of Tony Blair I've ever read. Choice quote:

    "In many respects, Blair is unique among the rogue’s gallery of British prime ministers. Plenty of them have been arrogant, heedless, aloof warmongers, but all except Blair grew up in circumstances which deadened them to the concerns and experiences of lesser lifeforms.

    With Blair, it’s something different, some kind of inexplicable psychical lacuna which altered the course of history. There’s something in those wild eyes, those blokily dropped t’s, the unconvincing attempts at firmness and fierceness. Blair is a fundamentally disconcerting amalgam of General Franco and Cliff Richard, and undoubtedly the strangest man to attain fame in the modern era without recourse to incest, cannibalism or Big Brother."

    Bingo.

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  7. It’s probably just me, but I have a real blind spot with Louis Theroux. I can’t watch him in anything, he just gets right up my shonker.

    Anyway, if I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to ask.

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  8. Anyway, dear oh dear, it’s “political correctness/litigious society gone mad” time again...

    http://www.metro.co.uk/tv/854623-top-gear-sued-by-mexican-student-as-bbc-apologises-for-racism-slur

    It’s a bad day when we can’t all have a good laugh at the Mexicans...

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  9. Thanks, Montana.

    Also thanks for the quotes, Jay and Wybourne.

    Now it's a case of "back on your heads", I'm afraid, with some chilling news about our futures.

    It seems that the Yellow Streak is going to fix the economy for us, so plan for Broekn Britain becoming an international basket-case and start brushing up on those native dance routines and putting on a happy face as tourists fling change at you and laugh.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5gexlx2WMSTiLiBHyQtRLBAfAsogA?docId=N0542871296800026559A

    Mr Clegg will defend the Government against accusations from Labour and business that it has not done enough to foster economic growth, particularly by failing to publish a Growth White Paper in the autumn.

    He will say he sees no need to apologise for taking time to consult with business and experts rather than rushing to churn out initiatives designed to create the appearance of stimulating the economy.

    The Government's growth review will produce a "grounded, evidence-based and properly thought-through" approach in time for Chancellor George Osborne's March 23 Budget - already being billed as a "budget for growth" - he will say.

    And he will insist that the coalition's ambitions are not limited to paying down the deficit inherited from Labour in time for the next general election in 2015.

    While eliminating the deficit is a vital part of the Government's economic plan, it is "a means, not an end in itself", Mr Clegg will say, adding: "We are determined to foster a new model of economic growth, and a new economy - one built on enterprise and investment, not unsustainable debt. We seek nothing less than a new model of sustainable growth."

    ............

    So, expect more of the usual, but worse.

    The rich can only be persuaded to get out of bed for zillions of pounds and no tax, state-provided servants and all-night bunga-bunga parties, with drugs and booze and a constant parade of back-slapping, air-kissing rich and famous glitterati.

    The poor, on the other hand, can only be made to work hard enough by herding them into disused pig-sheds a hundred miles from where they live and ferrying them for eighteen-hour shifts in factories where they have to work harder and for less than Chinese prison-slave-labour in this globalised world of unlimited opportunity.

    Er, that's it.

    We are all in this together.

    There is no alternative.

    Arbeit macht Frei.

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  10. PS Thanks for the help on the air-instrument-toy-thingy yesterday.

    Gotta go.

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  11. "There’s something in those wild eyes, those blokily dropped t’s, the unconvincing attempts at firmness and fierceness. Blair is a fundamentally disconcerting amalgam of General Franco and Cliff Richard"

    Blair is "unspeakable" to me in quite a unique way, its not that he shouldnt be spoken of, its that its always impossible to find the words that do him justice, rendering him literally unspeakable. I don't think it unreasonable to say he's the most repugnant specimen on the planet. Your average tinpot dictator at least knows they're an animal. Blair sincerely believes himself an honourable and decent man. And whats worse, he still thinks the rest of the world believes it.

    Bell's "Angels of Peace Descend on Cairo" cartoon was perfection.

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  12. Morning all

    Your Grace

    No hint of any offence. However, a daily dose of raised chuckles is said to repair one's immune system. Perhaps you have come across the fairly well-known Dutch surname Naaktgeboren. Well, can't argue with that.

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  13. medve,

    Naaktgeboren is een achternaam? Echte Waar? Geweldig!

    For non-Dutch Naaktgeboren- born naked.

    There's a weather girl on Nederland 1- Michelle de Hond or Michelle the Dog. And of course Frank de Boer, new Ajax coach is literally Frank the Farmer.

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  14. What would Bob the Builder be in Dutch?

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  15. Spike

    What would Bob the Builder be in Dutch?

    Bob de Bouwer

    does not sound odd to me ;-)

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  16. @Spike:

    ”...What would Bob the Builder be in Dutch?”

    I think it might be something like “Fock de bouwer op den arse med een dildo”?

    Anyway, good luck with that, hope the date goes OK.

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  17. Swifty
    I know what you mean about Louis; can't stand him when he's just mocking people for being a bit stupid - but he is quite fearless when fronting out sh1t-heads - that's when he comes into his own. By the way, off to memphis in May. Hell yes.

    Rgds
    B.W.
    69 FichMirInDenArseBitteStrasse
    Luton

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  18. @BW:

    Mate, I know, I know... I'm sure he does it well, but I still just can’t stand him - the medium gets in the way of the message too much for me to be able to sit still and quiet long enough to put up with it.

    Anyway, Memphis TN, eh? You old son-of-a-gun – music, business or pleasure? Whichever, hope you get to see the old Mississippi Delta shining like a National guitar as you roll through the cradle of the Civil War “uh huh huh momma”, etc.

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  19. Just caught up with last night's Question Time. [I don't have TV any more, but I can get just about all the recent current affairs stuff as torrents on thebox.bz or uknova.com. You can get the Theroux docu, the Posh & Posher Andrew Neil docu and all the QT episodes off them. Especially useful if you live overseas as I do, and are trying to follow a 'did you see X?' conversation].

    Here's what I learned about Egypt. Nobody has a clue. Seriously. The Muslim Brotherhood has 15% of popular support. Or possibly a lot more. Or not. What will follow will be an Islamic theocracy. Or a secular Egypt in which the Muslim Brotherhood plays a significant part. Or not.

    Truth is, there's no knowing what level of support anyone has because there's no way of knowing how free and fair previous elections have been, how influenced sentiment has been by the ruling regime or what people see as the solution.

    The most significant statistic that I've heard of, bobbing along on an ocean of commentariat bullshit, is that 40% of Egyptians survive on £2 or less a day. My guess is that the people who'll come out ahead are the ones that will guarantee lower food prices and enough money for necessities.

    From my own position of ignorance, the popular uprising seems to me less to do with a western liberal-style yearning for freedom as the demand for enough to eat and a decent life for families. The poverty of ordinary people in the Arab world doesn't seem to have exercised the minds of many liberal commentators. Even now, Twitter seems a more popular talking point amongst them.

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  20. SB, playing a bit of blues mate. Also going to Columbus Mississippi. Reckon I won't want to come back.

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  21. ”...the Posh & Posher Andrew Neil docu...”

    Brillo’s another one I can’t stick. I never did like him, to be honest, but he put the badly-bewigged cap on it when he got the gig as enthusiastic frontman for that teeth-grindingly execrable BBC New Year bash, set on the river boat on the Thames and featuring all manner of “mwah mwah” luvvies, “who she?” slebs and “considerably richer than you” bigwigs.

    And David “Bloody” Baddiel.

    Fuck me, but that was awful, awful television. I almost turned over to watch Jools Holland. Almost.

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  22. @BW:

    Mississipi’s the place to play them ol’ blues, no doubt.

    Oddly enough, I’ve been to Columbus MS. I stayed there for a night once on my trip round the Civil War battlefields of the South, I’d been visiting the battlefield at Pittsburgh Landing (a.k.a Shiloh, of course). Corinth, Tupelo, Columbus (to see the Civil War cemetery), Meridian, Jackson, Vicksburg, Natchez, then a flight to Chattanooga for a trip to Chickamauga.

    Probably a bit early for tunes, but what the hell, it’s Friday and this is about levees.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbrjRKB586s

    Believe you me mate, I didn’t want to come back either.

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  23. All sounds good, will try to take some of that in too.

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  24. I can't imagine setting foot in Mississippi and not being eager to get the fuck back out of the place.

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  25. @MW:

    Ah, but you’re reckoning without the draw that placenames like “Jackson” and “Natchez” have on us foreigners. Personally, it’s the pull of the Civil War that drags me back – for others, it’s the music, or the racism (joke).

    And it works both ways – I’m damned if I can understand why anyone would ever want to do the tourist thang over here. But millions do, every year.

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  26. Eddie
    "The most significant statistic that I've heard of, bobbing along on an ocean of commentariat bullshit, is that 40% of Egyptians survive on £2 or less a day. My guess is that the people who'll come out ahead are the ones that will guarantee lower food prices and enough money for necessities.

    From my own position of ignorance, the popular uprising seems to me less to do with a western liberal-style yearning for freedom as the demand for enough to eat and a decent life for families. The poverty of ordinary people in the Arab world doesn't seem to have exercised the minds of many liberal commentators. Even now, Twitter seems a more popular talking point amongst them."

    Exactly what I said last night. They simply want a Western lifestyle but are dirt poor. A corrupt and opressive regime doesn't help, but equally the massive population growth (27 million in 1961 to over 80 million today) is one of the reasons why they are poor. It's sad, but there are only finite resources to support people living a comfortable lifestyle. In recent years we've had crops failing, droughts, fires, floods around the world, and coupled with an ever increasing demand has pushed the price of staples up. We might grumble a bit if rice or bread increases by 10p each serving, but for those in a poorer situation it's enough to start riots.

    Jay- I have never supported the idiot Zionists.

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  27. Nap, it's funny you should mention population as there's an article on Vanity Fair on the Rise & Fall of The Celtic Tiger here.

    One of the points the author, Michael Lewis, makes is that economists were at a bit of a loss to explain the sudden wealth of the Irish people experienced (well before any property boom). Then it turns out that the average size of families had dropped like a stone in a couple of generations. This would be my own experience, with my parents' generation having 5 or 6 kids on average, down to about 2 for my generation. Pay packets are no longer being split between 8 or 10 people. Result: sudden wealth. There were other factors too, but family sizes would be a big one.

    All that said, I think that trying to scrape the money together for food is also a function of the unbridled corruption in ME governments and historic inequality. I wouldn't say that trade unions have a big impact over there. Money sloshes around the ultra wealthy, wages are kept depressed. The stories of the migrant workers building the skyscrapers in Dubai spring to mind.

    The other interesting news to me from the Vanity Fair story is that all the senior bondholders have now been paid. An incoming Irish government can't tell them to go fuck, as the money is now owed back directly to the European Central Bank. The only way to tell the ECB to go fuck is to pull out of the euro. There's a great aside in the Lewis article about the guy trying to sell Irish bonds for 50c on the euro, finding no takers and then waking up to find that he was guaranteed 100c back.

    No wonder the markets shake their heads at politicians and think "Fuck, these guys are stupid."

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  28. Interesting piece Eddie, will read later.

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  29. "the medium gets in the way of the message too much for me to be able to sit still and quiet long enough to put up with it."

    Nice one, Shiloh.

    I hope, for the same reason, that you don't mind if I say you're are a bit of a dick in saying "It’s a bad day when we can’t all have a good laugh at the Mexicans..."

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  30. @habib:

    ”...that you don't mind if I say you're are a bit of a dick..."”

    Nope, don’t mind at all. In fact, I'm pretty sure that’d be the majority view if put to the vote.

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  31. The Mexicans I met in the US were anything but lazy. Worked their arses off for (in many cases of illegals) far less than the minimum wage, lived in crap conditions and still saved some money to send back to their families.

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  32. @thaum:

    I know, I know... Christ on a bike, I’ve turned into Clarkson. Shoot me now.

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  33. 3.13 in the morning for me - so probably out of whack with your body clocks, but ... loving this:

    and our limitations

    cool, p

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  34. I'm still enjoying the hell out of Stephen Stills and Manassas.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMzAcXqHvcs

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  35. Para/swifty

    Great tunes chaps - cheered me up after a grim week at work.

    Whats the weather like in your part of Oz P?

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  36. Evening all

    Friday Evening! Yessssssss!!!

    So tired I don't know what to do wiv meself, but there you go...

    BW - excellent news re Memphis. Jammy bugger. Have a fantabadozie time. :o)

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  37. Sheff - refreshed (not me) this site and found your response just before I logged off and headed out into cicada-denuded back yard for a fag.

    Brilliant James Blake song.

    Weather - mid 30s for the last 10 days and nights - no air conditioning, overhead fans but yep bit of a hot draft - so erm - sticky as fuck - not that the weather forecasters use that expression.

    Off to the Egypt solidarity collection in town tomorrow - better crash before dawn breaks.

    cheers, p

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  38. Peter Guillam has another great article up....

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  39. Following the success of Egypt in shutting down the internet at the first sign if civil disturbance, it looks like UK Plc will be seeking to do the same.

    Obviously, we won't necessarily have to wait for any signs of trouble before being able to enjoy this particular delight.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/8303806/William-Hague-proposes-cyber-warfare-rules.html

    William Hague proposes cyber warfare rules

    Foreign Secretary William Hague appealed today for governments to come together to agree a set of rules amid growing fears of ''cyber war'' between states.

    ''It [the dependence on computers and the internet for all functions of modern life] has opened up new channels for hostile governments to probe our defences and attempt to steal our confidential information or intellectual property. It has promoted fears of future 'cyber war','' he said.

    He described how last month, three of his staff were sent an innocent-looking email, purportedly from ''a UK colleague outside the Foreign Office'', about a forthcoming visit to the region they were working on.

    ''In fact, it was from a hostile state intelligence agency and contained computer code embedded in the attached document that would have attacked their machine. Luckily, our various automated systems identified it and stopped it from ever reaching my staff,'' he said.

    In another case last year, a ''malicious file posing as a report on a nuclear Trident missile'' was sent to a UK defence contractor by someone masquerading as the employee of another defence contractor.

    ...........

    Mr Hague refused to comment on whether the overseas aid budget has now been drained because the government has responded to emails from the various sisters and cousins and aunts of senior Nigerian officials who have millions stashed in bank accounts and only need the government's account number at the Bank of England in order to be able to release those funds to a willing and credulous office junior.

    There was also no comment as to whether our sector of the military-industrial complex has been jeopardised by the cunning ruse of heading an email: "See Top Totty Tits and Barenaked Ladies" with an attachment called something like: "Phwoaarr!.jpg"

    Yes, these fuckers are actually in charge of things.

    Feel free to start running and screaming.

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  40. @Sheff:

    Did we ever have this one...?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGDdK5L2SX8

    I remember Jack Cade (late of this parish) was a big fan.

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  41. Eddie

    Interesting article about the rise and fall of the Celtic tiger.Increased household wealth can also be explained by the increasing % of married Irish women in paid emplyment-thus increasing the % of dual income Irish households.Therefore a combination of having fewer kids, more women working and increased pay rates for men and women alike have improved living standards and expectations.

    However as you know the benefits of the boom in Ireland were never evenly spread amongst the population.Consequently like the UK Ireland also has some deeep rooted structural problems of poverty with all the social problems that go with it.Although by most criteria things are still worse in the UK despite the economic problems in Ireland.

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  42. This one's for Montana.

    As it's Friday night and tomorrow will be, erm Saturday morning, here's Nouvelle Vague doing a rather beautiful and haunting cover of The Specials Friday Night, Saturday Morning

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  43. "Blair is a fundamentally disconcerting amalgam of General Franco and Cliff Richard, and undoubtedly the strangest man to attain fame in the modern era without recourse to incest, cannibalism or Big Brother."

    Ha ha, that really has nailed him. You could replace the General Franco with Pinochet or Thatcher or anyone of a hundred swivel-eyed authoritarian zealots. But you need the Cliff Richards in there to get what makes Blair so uniquely, toe-curlingly apalling.

    04 February, 2011 17:15

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  44. Afternoon/evening all

    X-posting something by Felix Stalder from the nettime mailing list:

    The Al Jazeera stream has been running for the last week nearly non-stop in my living room.

    I'm reminded of Berlin 1989. Again, courageous people, highly articulate and self-organized, are pushing aside a sclerotic regime and its oppressive apparatus that threatened to swallow the future. Just a few weeks ago the regime seemed to last forever. Suddenly, it seems amazing that it lasted so long.

    The similarities belie all talk about the 'facebook/twitter revolution'. It's a true popular uprising, intelligent, peaceful, using whatever is available to channel its own energies. Sure, the means of communication are important. But, in the end, they are secondary to the will to communicate.

    But it seems appropriate to connect Berlin to Cairo for other reasons as well. If the former stands for the beginning of the end of the cold war geopolitical order, then Cairo could well stand for the end of the end of that order. Many of the now crumbling dictatorships in the middle-east managed to extend their lease on live within the American empire by switching from anti-communism to anti-islamism, for the sole purpose of keeping their privileged positions within periphery of the empire. That bluff has been called now by the people.

    Thus, it's perhaps only now that the 20th century is truly over. How fitting it is, that this event is broadcast not by CNN but by Al Jazeera.

    Felix

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  45. @Atom

    I think it still has to be "Phwoaarr!.exe".

    You can't do much damage with a jpg as far as I know (if I'm wrong I expect PeterJ will put me right).

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  46. Another good article from PeterGuillam, ending:

    Reconfigured in this way, management could act to promote both economic growth and social wellbeing rather than being an obstacle to these, forever drawing fat pay cheques for devising grandiose strategic visions for picking low-hanging fruit in a holistic manner with key stakeholders, going forward.

    Will that ever get off the ground without some empowerment, though?

    Spike

    Yes, I'm sure you are right.

    However, I remember years ago, they were using pictures to embed news items to send to places which censored news, although I cannot remember the details.

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  47. @Atom

    Ah, that's digital steganography - e.g. when you conceal a text file within a track on a music CD. In that case, you have to want to get the information out.

    As they say on Wiki, a sender might start with an innocuous image file and adjust the color of every 100th pixel to correspond to a letter in the alphabet, a change so subtle that someone not specifically looking for it is unlikely to notice it.

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  48. Swifty

    The Allman Bros at the Fillmore! God that takes me back...

    Love the General Franco + cliff richard = T Bair description - totally spot on.

    medve

    I'm beginning to get worried - I don't know how long people in Egypt can keep up this level of protest. Mubarak is such an obstinate and stubborn old bastard I think he would sacrifice the well being of the whole country to save face.

    Al Jazeera have been great - streaming them on my laptop until they come on the TV at 6pm. given the problems they've had with office trashings and arrests they've done a good job. would like to hear more about whats going on outside the major cities though.

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  49. @Spike, AB

    Yeah, you can't disguise a .EXE as a .JPG and get it to run on every machine. You can call it VIRUS.JPG.EXE, and the .EXE part won't appear on machines where extensions are set not to appear; that would work. Or you could call it VIRUS.SCR and pretend it's a screensaver, or VIRUS.PIF and hope that users don't know that that isn't just another graphics format.

    As for hiding files in things that look like images, there are various ways of doing it. The sneaky way is to use a form of steganography; the crude way is to use archive programs like WinRAR.

    Now, that's enough computers; as it's my birthday, here's a tune.

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  50. Spike

    Thanks for that.

    You learn something new every day.

    Then forget ten other things to make up for it.

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  51. evening all!

    BIG best wishes for your Birthday PeterJ!!!

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  52. cif have put that Zizek piece up in Arabic....am slightly impressed. I wonder though if they'll keep articles in Arabic as a feature once the Egyptian revolution is resolved and they're all back round their dinner tables.

    If I were the cynical old bag some accuse me of being, the words 'page' and 'hits' would spring to mind.

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  53. Its your Birthday Peter? Many happies....

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  54. Happy Birthday, PeterJ!

    Sheff

    Gary Gibbon was saying on his Channel 4 News blog thing yesterday that the Mubarak regime will try to pick off ringleaders and use the military and police to crack down hard, when the protesters think things might be moving their way.

    Obviously, there are layers within the military and police who depend upon the regime for their livelihoods, as opposed to the poor who may feel they have nothing to lose.

    Have not had time to keep up since then.

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  55. sheff

    cynical re CiF? you? nawh!!

    cif being "full of cynical western liberals" no doubt is trying to "redeem itself" by appearing right on.. but no doubt still worry and wringing their hands about petrol prices going up and that lost luxury holiday they booked to the Red Sea and the Pyramids rather than people actually demanding justice and a decent life.......the same that lament when BA go on strike and "ruin" their holiday....blah blah...

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  56. Spike, Atoms

    I think it still has to be "Phwoaarr!.exe".

    You can't do much damage with a jpg as far as I know (if I'm wrong I expect PeterJ will put me right).


    Actually, depending on which flavour of windoze, there are some issues about buffer overflows in snippets of windoze graphics processing code which can result in parts of picture files becoming executable and thus a risk.

    and

    However, I remember years ago, they were using pictures to embed news items to send to places which censored news, although I cannot remember the details.

    Steganography

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  57. Whoops, sorry about that. I left the previous post in preview for ages and went back to work. Now i've thrown the thread off-kilter again. Happy birthday Peter!

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  58. Sheff

    I'm beginning to get worried - I don't know how long people in Egypt can keep up this level of protest. Mubarak is such an obstinate and stubborn old bastard I think he would sacrifice the well being of the whole country to save face.

    I have no doubt you are right Sheff. And calling that secret police chief vice-president a snake is slanderous to reptiles. On the plus side there is the fact that many many observers have commented on the massive dignity of the protest. And yet when push came to shove with the Mubarak thugs provocating murderously yesterday and the day before they stood fast.

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  59. Medve

    On the plus side there is the fact that many many observers have commented on the massive dignity of the protest. And yet when push came to shove with the Mubarak thugs provocating murderously yesterday and the day before they stood fast.

    Agreed. You can't underestimate the power of the pure joy and exhilaration at events like this to carry people along. Especially for people who've found their voice collectively on this scale for effectively the first time. Am full of admiration for them all and the work thats been going on to support and protect the protest by ordinary people providing food, medical help etc.

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  60. medve

    Its so impressive the way they have rallied to protect the library, history and heritage. I read somewhere else that some Iraqis who have been glued to the events since the beginning have felt ashamed that the response to their extremis included looting their museums and great libraries, that no one thought to protect. Circs were different in Iraq, obviously.

    The photos from the library website are great.

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  61. Happy birthday PeterJ. I would drink to you if I wasn't on the wagon.

    The problem I have in getting optimistic about Egypt is that there does not seem to be much of a democratic organised opposition ready to make use of the spontaneous protests.

    So I hate to sound cynical and I would love to be wrong but I am guessing that in a year or two we will just see a different general in control, with some cosmetic reforms at best, a brutal crackdown at worst.

    The army would appear to be the main power in the country and unless either the top brass have suddenly become egalitarian democrats committed to human rights, or the rank and file join the protesters en masse and there is a real and sweeping revolution, it is very hard to see how meaningful change can come out of the current situation.

    Having said that, my ignorance of Egypt and its politics is pretty well boundless. So I hope my cynicism will prove to be misguided.

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  62. Having said that, my ignorance of Egypt and its politics is pretty well boundless.

    Count yourself lucky.

    I am beginning to find that the entire world is too small a place to contain the vastness which is my ignorance.

    I am starting to stuff bits of it into space now, for lack of room.

    At the moment, I am hiding it behind the moon, but I don't know what will happen once that gets filled up.

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  63. Spencer

    So I hate to sound cynical and I would love to be wrong but I am guessing that in a year or two we will just see a different general in control, with some cosmetic reforms at best, a brutal crackdown at worst.

    Fair comment, but i also hope that you are wrong. And look at the case of Hungary. Fidesz played a major role in the events leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall, yet today they (or rather Viktor Orbán who controls Fidesz all by himself) are cynically dismantling democracy in Hungary.

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  64. Happy birthday, PeterJ!

    As a pressie have one of my favourite songs, hope you like it.

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  65. Quiet here? Is there a football match or REVOLUTION happening, and nobody told me ?

    Enjoyed the Duke's 8.22 link on Blair, and the other bits on Bertie Ahern--

    "Historians, we are told, will judge Ahern more favourably than his myopic contemporaries, as the passage of time breaks down the encrusted filth of Bertie’s venality, low tricks and incompetence, leaving only the dazzling pearl of peace as his legacy. This may well be true; historians will, as ever, shape their judgements to suit the requirements of power. Thus it may well be that future generations grow up with Bertie the peacebroker, as their forefathers grew up with Dev the visionary."

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  66. Happy birthday Peter... have a bit of good ol' boy Southern rawk 'n' roll.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASxaSpGJmic

    Goddamn, y'all.

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  67. Happy Birthday PeterJ-hope it's been a good one.

    @Referring to some of the posts at the top of the thread i too saw Louis Theroux's programme last night about the West Bank settlers.Putting aside the fact that Theroux was the wrong person to be reporting this highly sensitive and complex issue the programme was for me nevertheless an eye opener .And frustratingly left many questions unanswered.Like are some Arabs on the West Bank really selling their homes to Ultra Orthodox Zionists or are they being genuinely forced to leave without most of their possessions?For in the cases that were highlighted there was no way of knowing who was telling the truth.It is however the case that the Israeli government is sanctioning unacceptable levels of abuse towards the Palestinians by Ultra Orthodox Zionist settlers who openly refer to them as dogs,destroy their property yet have absolutely no sense that they are doing anything wrong.For by using the IDF to defend these settlers and creating 'sterile zones'where Palestinian are in effect driven out the Israeli government are defending the indefensible.And are leading themselves wide open to the charge that they are seeking to annexe parts of the West Bank by fair means or foul.And that they view the Palestinians as being expendable whilst they seek to achieve their objectives.

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  68. Paul

    The Igvt. is doing more than defending the indefensible - they created the situation. Many ultra zionists from before the 48 UDI and since have claimed a Greater Israel - from the river to the sea.
    Many just want the Palestinians to go away - there have been various covert attempts to persuade them to go - go anywhere.

    Geneva Convention 4 says it is illegal to place civilian settlers in occupied land - Israel ignores this describing WB as 'disputed land @ J'Salem is also, in International law illegally occupied by Israel.


    The I gvt. supports the settlers - provides roads and utilities, protection etc.

    The houses being taken in EJ have often been in Palestinian families for several generations - the claims that the victions are 'legal' is based on Israeli law. There are some unclear areas here where the British adopted laws from the Ottoman Empire - but by and large the P are illegally didpossessed - just more refugees.

    There is an ideological motive for the occupation which has now developed an economic one. There are around 500,000 settlers on occupied land - 300,000 of them in WB. To suddenly have to rehouse them would present big problems. Additionally there are many I businesses there - employing Ps as cheap labour and , increasingly, migrant workers.

    Begin to understand the history here and you will see why I fears change in Egypt. You have to remember that both E and I are armed and equipped through US donations of 'aid'. Yet all 3 condemn Iranian support for Hamas.

    Above remarks do not apply to all Israelis - just unfortunately to those who have upper hand - backed by US regular use of veto in UNSC.

    Then they wonder why so many people distrust them.

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  69. There's going to be no one judging Bertie as a visionary until everyone currently over voting/working age has died. After that, maybe they can start the airbrushing. The anger is palpable. Many commentators have remarked that the Irish don't do protests and civil insurrection and maybe they're right. But there are few Fianna Fail politicians that are sticking their heads out in public.

    One thing I've noticed is that while the opposition parties already have posters on every lamppost in sight in Dublin, there's pretty much none from FF. They know they're going to be crucified at the polls. My sadness is simply that the party organization is so large and embedded that they'll sit effectively this one out and come storming back into government in 2015.

    Make no mistake, this was a clusterfuck conceived, promoted and secured by the Soldiers of Destiny. Property developers have always been the biggest funders of FF and the tax system was geared more and more to inflate the property bubble.

    Even the new head boy, Micheál Martin, has a few unanswered questions about previous dodgy dealings to his name. That's the FF culture. A few brown envelopes, a few blank cheques and a few favours called in.

    Unfortunately, Fine Gael are useless cunts [© Laurie Penny 2011] and Labour are just as bad. If Sinn Fein get up around the 15% mark in the General Election, listen out for the sound of mass soiling of pants from the political commentariat.

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  70. Eddie

    I was chatting to some Irish people last week who told me that thousands of people are leaving Ireland looking for work. They seemed to have despaired - lost faith in any political party being able to sort things out or build a secure future.

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  71. .
    "Blair is a fundamentally disconcerting amalgam of General Franco and Cliff Richard, and undoubtedly the strangest man to attain fame in the modern era without recourse to incest, cannibalism or Big Brother."

    Ha ha, that really has nailed him. You could replace the General Franco with Pinochet or Thatcher or anyone of a hundred swivel-eyed authoritarian zealots. But you need the Cliff Richards in there to get what makes Blair so uniquely, toe-curlingly apalling.


    And this is meant to be the kind of political analysis that will form the basis of a successful attack on the politics of the coalition?

    Why not include Hitler and Pol Pot for the politically unsophisticated?

    So now let's see what words of wisdom Guillam is offering us today.

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  72. You nearly entered the debating for the sane there, but fucked up on the "Why not include Hitler and Pol Pot for the politically unsophisticated?"

    Tsk Tsk, nearly but not quite eh Bitey?

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  73. .

    timboktutu, point well made, although I think you might agree the distinction between Blair and Pinochet is somewhat greater than between Pinochet and Hitler.

    With some people you just have to over-egg the pudding to get them to take notice.

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  74. Morning all

    @Montana

    Hope you and Joe are coping ok with the shit weather that has engulfed 'Cowpat Junction' at present.

    @ For everyone still up here's a cover of a classic from Elvis Costello's missus.

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  75. One more from me for those who enjoy the AfroLatin jazz of Tania Maria

    Nite all

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