Misc. Long.

I'm the first person to read my copy of Lanark. One of the pages was uncut at one corner. It's a secondhand paperback twenty years old. Tragic.

Oddly, the edition information claims that it was originally published in 1982, then reprinted in 1892. Clearly Gray's a talented bloke.

When I opened it and got to the frontispiece, I got a surprise. It's one of Gray's drawings, and on the left there's the face of a woman with long blonde hair. I know that face, because for as long as I can remember my parents have had a painting of her on the livingroom wall. It's by Gray too, and they bought it for the princely sum of twelve pounds (more than they could really afford at the time) back in the early seventies. She's sitting at a desk smelling some spring onions, and apparently her name's Marian Ogg.

I mentioned this to my mum the other weekend, and she said that it was odd I'd mentioned it, because Gray had just phoned them a couple of weeks earlier about having it photographed for a catalogue of his work that someone's making up.

Miffy wouldn't be seen dead in pink.

I nearly avoided that article totally, for fairly obvious reasons, but actually it's rather interesting. She turned 50 last year.

Errr . . . . on Friday I think I went to the pub and chatted to people until late. It was fun, anyway, and I think it happened on Friday. It was fun even if it didn't.

On Saturday I went looking for CDwalkthings, and found that people are dropping them. Curry's don't stock them at all any more, and John Lewis only have one (which wasn't what I was looking for). I guess they're being destroyed by twenty-pound mp3 players. After that, Saunderses for Champions, and then with my folks for dinner in the Italian place next to the Doctor's. Very nice food, and they had a large photo on the wall of a boxer called Mancini. Obviously I wondered if it was Boom-Boom, but it wasn't. I don't think it was his dad either.

I was going to go down to the Tav to see L&S&al, but I was running horribly late due to food and nap and stuff, so I went straight to Teviot for the GoffRockSock Antivalentine's, which was quite fun. Saunderses were there, and Seth turned up for a bit, and there were some other folks (Fraser, frinstance). It was fun. I think we did better last week, slightly, but then I'm biased. Eventually AJ&N left, and I finished my drink, "danced" (for want of a better word) to Alternative Ulster and went home.

On Sunday I went to see Ed after getting him a CD player and radio - anyone who can be bothered giving him disks (including disks of mp3s) is encouraged to pass them on. After that, I dropped in on Graham and Sara, and was rewarded with, among other things, conversation and the best roast potatoes I've had in a very long time. As I'd not seen either of them meaningfully in weeks or months, this was well worthwhile and long overdue. Sara's running a course on fantastic fiction soon, and I'm more than a bit tempted. I was probably supposed to go to the Beltane vido showing immediately after, but I didn't leave theirs until after it had nominally started, so I went home and then for a drink in the Festival Tavern (opposite the Odeon that was the ABC at the top of Bread Street) with Pete and Stevie, before going to KJ's for another. Was the Festival a restaurant before? And if so, how long ago?

gingiber and anonymouseth spent Sunday rather differently - they went photographing the wrecks of midget submarines. The results can be seen here.

At some point Mark phoned and insisted on playing some Gogol Bordello down the line. Consequently, Gogol Bordello recordings were purchased. I heartily recommend that any of you who can stomach the idea of energetic folky twostep in a daft central European accent do likewise - it's top stuff. Ed likes it too, so it must be good. And they're touring soon. The new Belle and Sebastian's not bad either. And I've been listening to the Editors album, too, with great pleasure.

Yesterday I went to the EUSA office to get a life membership photocard. The only pictures I have look like an axe murderer with a hangover, so that's what's going to be immortalised. I get the old card back, happily, which is definitely what I want as it has bootpunk's autograph on it. I picked up another bathroom brochure, on a tip from my folks about a bog they thought I might like. And I failed to find a couple of replacement bowls (food bowls, this time). Even the manufacturer seems to have evaporated.

I saw this post earlier on, about Mike Peters and various other kent faces playing and releasing an album under the name The Alarm MMVI. While it's probably not bad, the only thing running through my head while reading it was the line "Hot Shot City is particularly good".

[I hadn't previously seen the ones on the end of that link, although I've read many of the others (there are currently almost a thousand on Amazon). SFW, at least in not containing smut. Interestingly, on the strength of those reviews, blackmetalbaz actually bought a copy.]

I rather liked this review of a couple of books - Female Chauvinist Pigs and Love My Rifle More Than You: Young, Female and in the Army. Not exactly cheery reading, though - Levy builds up a sharp picture of a culture that is incredibly over-sexualised and yet weirdly unsexy. There's a longer piece by Ariel Levy here.

Just in case you think that she hasn't got a point, there was an interview with Chris Moyles about six weeks ago where he pretty much succeeds in grabbing enough rope to hang himself by his tender parts from the nearest tree.

He sits up, spins his silver mobile around on the table. 'And really, which woman is going to argue that Jodie Marsh isn't a fucking slapper? I don't see any hands going up. If you pardon the expression.' The very next morning he calls Marsh a slag several times on his show and I realise he was talking only about not being able to say 'fucking'.

A funny guy at times, but mostly he's just a wanker. A wanker with 6 million listeners.

There was also a big double-page graphic (they do this fairly regularly) with various graphs on some topic. Last week it claimed, apparently based on figures from the record industry, that 74% of the "typical earnings for an established stadium act" come from touring - which implies to me that they're getting ripped off by the majors as badly as everyone else. It would be interesting to have a look at their actual figures. How much detail do you get in the annual report? Is it worthwhile buying one share in each to see them? Is it possible to do this? Inquiring minds want to know.

Oestreicher was good yesterday. There are letters today respoding in various ways but I think his basic point - that conflating the Israeli state or government with Judaism generally is at best invidious and at worst dishonest - stands.

This last bit's quite upsetting. It was for me, anyway. You may want to stop here, especially if you're at work and screams of outrage might be inappropriate.

A bit over ten years ago there was a fuss I remember hearing about in the states because a man (called Jesse Tafero) had been executed in the electric chair in Florida. Either because they'd decided that artificial sponges were a cheaper way of holding electrolyte than natural ones (the widespread explanation at the time) or because they were just plain incompetent, his head caught fire and they had to stop the execution twice before he was dead, before restarting and finishing him off.

They stopped using the chair in Florida after that, but what I hadn't heard was what had happened since. His co-convict Sonia Jacobs (girlfriend, mother of their children, interviewed in yesterday's paper) appealed against her conviction, and the case against her (and therefore against him) collapsed so thoroughly that his innocence now seems undeniable. The likely culprit was their co-accused, who copped a plea-bargain in return for incriminating them.

It gets better. Two policemen were killed by two shots, and according to a bystander Tafero was actually spreadeagled on a car bonnet at the moment when the shots were fired. There were two shots, one allegedly fired by each of Tafero and Jacobs in spite of the fact that the third man, Rhodes, was the only one forensic tests indicated had definitely fired a gun. Other evidence was witheld from the defence by the prosecution, the judge refused to allow the defence to call witnesses, and the court appointed a lawyer who was later jailed for corruption.

On the other hand, I've also just found out that Bush, while governor of Texas, commuted Henry Lee Lucas's sentence to life. Lucas was thought for a while (by the credulous) to be the most prolific serial killer on record after he confessed to hundreds of killings, and he was sentenced to death based on specimen charges. A cursory examination of the case revealed, though, that at times he was known to have been hundreds of miles away or even in jail, and at least one of his victims wasn't even dead. My dad - no stranger, of course to the legal system, not infrequently on what would in other countries be capital cases - reckons that by elevating the stakes the existence of the death penalty makes this sort of thing more common rather than less. Instead of examining the evidence thoroughly to ensure there's no doubt, the emphasis turns to demonising the defendant to the point where the morality of imposing death seems clear.
  • Current Mood: Overall . . . quite angry.
  • Current Music: Gogol Bordello - Undestructable
at least one of his victims wasn't even dead

OMFG????!!!! What a wonderful legal system. It couldn't happen here*.

* Instead, we get detention without trial, people arrested for possession of a subversive cake, if you walk along a cycle path, you're a terrorist suspect.
We had the Birmingham Six (et al), of course. I believe their trial judge said that he wished he was still able to pass death sentences - and only shortly before they were exonerated, that if they'd been decently killed there'd be none of the annoying fuss over whether they'd done it.
Guildford Four, as well, where evidence was faked and evidence of their innocence was witheld for something like...20+ years?

To be fair, in both of those cases, the people they were accused of killing were actually dead.
True. Still a horrible miscarraige of justice, tho'. And the father of one of the accused died in jail.
That wasn't one of the ones he was convicted of, to the best of my knowledge. It should, though, have made it perfectly obvious that he was just confessing to anything that was put in front of him.
Woah, wait, articles confusing me. Who wasn't convicted of what? The father was convicted of conspiracy, and the actual four convicted of terrorism/murder, right?
The four were tortured to confess, weren't they? I take it confessions gotten through torture wasn't illegal back then...
Lucas was convicted of loads of killings that he confessed to. I'm not convinced, by my reading of the accounts, that he was guilty of any of them (although he served time for killing his mother years earlier, which doens't seem to be disputed). He certainly couldn't have done some of them, because he was too far away or in jail or in at least one case the alleged victim suffered no sort of attack and still lives. There's inevitably a wikipedia page.

The Guildford Four, Birmingham Six and Maguire Seven were convicted of pub bombings, based on forged and altered confessions, Statements extracted under excessive pressure (whether or not it counts as torture is probably a semantic question) and dodgy forensic evidence, all of which went unquestioned at their trials because there was such widespread certainty that it must have been them.
Bless Wiki.

Right - sorry - I was confused by your use of pronouns above, not what the cases were, but thanks :) I hadn't really heard of the Lucas case before, but I've read about the people accused of IRA bombings several times (I saw In The Name of the Father when I was 12 and took an interest)... I think a big differentiating factor is that the UK police were getting their bums whooped by the IRA and they and the people were desperate for someone - anyone - to pin it on, to get JUSTICE, etc.

Bloody awful but at least they didn't kill the prinsoners.
Considering they've only recently signed a law in Texas not to execute the mentally retarded, none of this really surprises me. FLA has lethal injection now, doesn't it?
Also, I seem to recall some weird state law in NY that the only time you'll get the death penalty is if you kill a police officer. This might have been awhile back, not sure. So...killing a police officer will get you killed, but killing a five year old is somehow...better?
Someone - Bill Hicks, probably - asked whether this meant police officers' lives were more valuable than other people's, and how that applied to, say, firefighters.

One of the things that used to get a regular vote (and be defeated equally regularly) is whether we should bring back the death penalty for terrorists or killers of police. It seems a common idea.

I noticed last week that Scottish police are very against routinely firearms. I find this encouraging.
I *heart* Bill Hicks. It might not MEAN that policemens' lives are more important, but it certainly suggests it. And, of course, death penalty supporters use that as a case for how the death penalty really does inhibit crime (because police deaths statistics dropped, apparently). NRGH.

I find the Scottish police's stance on firearms very encouraging as well. Every time I go to the States I run into police officers (New York is full of them now, I wonder why?) and there's always the standard issue gun bulging off the holster on their hip and i get this incredibly urge (that, put together with their blue Gestapo uniforms - it's the flared trousers that really do it - and knee high boots and mirror sunglasses) to laugh.

When they announced the war in 2003 I was at JFK waiting for my (virtually empty) flight and these militia guys were walking past with huge, giant M16-like rifles or whatever and I just stared in bewilderment. I usully have ana wful time leaving NY, I miss my friends and family awfully but that time it didn't hurt quite as much to get on the plane and back to sanity where firearms aren't the Way of Life and where seeing things like that isn't normal.
If I understood the phone call properly, I'm ging along with Mark and Lauren.

Did you see that one about the Sisters touring? It's a proper actual tour too. At least six dates in Britain, and loads more outside. makes a change fro the occasional one-off or festival.

They'll probably still be shite, though.
On Oestreicher ...
Absolutely. The argument that gets deployed is that Israel is equivalent to the Jewish people, therefore attacks on the policies of Israel are intrinsically anti-Semitic, therefore if you believe that it would be nice if the Israeli security forces shot fewer Palestinian women and children, you must also believe that the Nazis should have sent more Jews to the concentration camps. This monstrous notion has been propounded by intellectual giants such as, erm, Julie Burchill.

Tony's Reality Check of the Day: Being a member of an oppressed minority does not make you incapable of being unpleasant, vicious or idiotic. It merely means that people should not assume that you possess such qualities by virtue of your minority status.
Re: On Oestreicher ...
Yes. I can see Sacks' concern, but the result - people being unable to criticise actions they believe wrong - is too much. The rest of us being careful to also observe the distinction wuld be a perfectly reasonable request, though. I'd follow him that far.
A funny guy at times, but mostly he's just a wanker. A wanker with 6 million listeners.

He made some astoundingly homophobic remarks this morning - immediately after criticising the Sun for being homophobic in an article about Brokeback Mountain winning an award (cartoon: two cowboys at an awards ceremony. "Whoops, I've dropped my BAFTA!" "Well, I'm not bending down for it!"). I think if I ever met him I'd want to punch his head in. But, y'know, I'm the peaceful sort.
I have a Lanark boxed set thing that appears to be signed by someone. The author I suspect. My ex gave it to me but I've never read it and I'm not sure I want to. Any ideas about what to do with it?
I know exactly the edition you mean. I gave a copy to my then girlfriend, who had (and I assuume still has) excellent taste. My advice is to read it, or failing that flog it to me.

It's really good, and a big influence on Mr Banks' fine book The Bridge.