Monday, 23 March 2015

NSA Circle Of Friends

The NSA spook espied the housewife prying into her son's internet browsing history as she uncovered that he had been viewing a live sex cam of a woman who used to date the NSA agent and had lots of secret footage on his sexual proclivities which she had uploaded to YouPorn... 

Saturday, 21 March 2015


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                                GCCTATATAAGCCTAGT                          AATAGTACGATACCAGAG
                                TTAGATAGTCACCATGA                          GCGATGCGTAGCATGACG
                                AGAGCTACTCAACCTGG                         TTGGCTCTACATGACAGG

Friday, 20 March 2015

Music For The Eclipse - Songs about the sun and the moon

There was an eclipse today. Being this was my day off work, I slept through it, although most commentators in the UK said it just became a bit more cloudy and overcast so it was hard to tell the difference.

Nevertheless, since this event isn't due to happen for another eleven years, I thought I'd honour it with a themed chart that is out of this world (but not out of our solar system).

1) Creedance Clearwater Revival - "Bad Moon Rising"
Jaunty country inflected song about ecological disaster, who'd have thunk it?

2) New Order - "Sunrise"
You say New Order and immediately think of synth club dance anthems, but they could also rock out with guitars as this suggests

3) Grinderman - "Man In The Moon"
Nick Cave's offshoot project Grinderman put the rock and roll back into the music whereas his solo stuff was far more ballad based, yet this one could have been from either version.

4) Gun Club - "Give Up the Sun"
A bit more lyrically complex than most of their swamp rock bluesy stuff.

5) Jimi Hendrix - "Moon Turn Tides Gently Gently Away"
Hippyish title, but what the heck, once the song gets out of its psychedelic intro it ain't quite so serene

6) Pink Floyd - "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun"
Could have been "Dark Side Of The Moon" but I went for the slightly happier if still unsettling sunnyside up.

if you'd prefer the longer but more wonderful version Live from Pompeii -

7) The Police - Walking On the Moon"
It's not often anything Sting related gets into one of my charts, but this is an okay song even if they do look like idiots in the video, but that was the 80s for you I suppose

8) Wu Tang Clan - "Sunlight"
Wu Tang get all spiritual and not even the metaphysics of drugs either.

9) The Ramones - "Howling At the Moon (Sha La La)"
This almost seems like the Ramones were pastiching themselves. Having string orchestras for songs works, having an organ in the band doesn't.

10) Royal Trux - "Sun on the Run"
US noise merchants down it down from 11 to 10.

13) "Roll Along Prairie Moon"
From the TV drama "Pennies From Heaven" with the inestimable late Bob Hoskins.

12) Arctic Monkeys - "When The Sun Goes Down"
When they were still Northern and good. Alex Turner has gone very Queen's English these days.

13) Neil Young - "Harvest Moon"
Never much of a Neil Young fan, (his voice always too reedy for my tastes), I find it interesting that most of the songs here about the Moon are 60s and early 70s, whereas the Sun songs range from all over. Something to do with The Age Of Aquarius I imagine.

14) Fat Boy Slim - "Sunset (Bird Of Prey)"
Fat Boy Slim produces mighty tunea, or at least half-tunes. When he has a good riff or diddle, he never revels in constantly reprising it, which is to be respected, but also means none of his songs quite hang together imho.

15) Violent Femmes - "Blister In the Sun"
I loved this band when they were around, but now find their music hasn't aged terribly well. Don't know what you think?

16) Dead Kennedys - "Moon Over Marin"
This is the final track on an album of unrelenting US hardcore punk and is a bit of a stand out oddity for its wistfulness.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Political Songs - A Chart

With a General Election coming up in Britain in May, thought I'd unearth some political-related songs. I've already done an earlier chart on the related theme of Revolution - "A Little Light Molotov Cocktail Music" 

1) Heaven 17 - "We Don't Need This Fascist Groove Thang"
Never liked all that New Romantic floppy quiff and high mounted bass thing, but this song popped out completely unexpectedly from the genre. Respect!

2) Crucifucks - "Democracy Spawns Bad Taste"
American hardcore punks, all throbbing bass and rumbling drums, somewhat undermined by the squeaky vocal.

3) Circle Jerks - "Coup D'Etat"
More US hardcore punk. I've ben going through university courses with my son who wants to do American studies, two of the courses offer a module on American punk, one on hip-hop. *Sigh*

4) Killing Joke - "Democracy"
Almost has the feel of one of those songs politicians commission for a campaign to get more young people to vote. Killing Joke had definitely lost it by this time. However, couple of years ago they released a dub remix of their songs, knockout it was, one my best albums of that year.

5) Muse - Exo-Politics
It's Muse, so it's about space politics right?

6) Nas - "Black Republican"
Bit of a specious one this, as it's really about ghetto hip-hop politics and very little to do with Congressional representatives.

7) The Sex Pistols - "Anarchy in The UK"
The grand-daddy of them all, although their concept of anarchy is a bit underdeveloped! Still a great song even after all these years.

8) Radiohead - "Electioneering"
I assert my democratic right to state that I have never liked Radiohead. This is just bad early genesis to me.

9) Dead Kennedys - "We Got A Bigger Problem Now"
Ronald Reagan provided a whole music sub-genre of American hardcore devoted to ragging on him. This song is one of the best, but was itself an updating of their earlier song "California Uber Alles" when Reagan was Californian Governor.

10) Dillinger - "Natty Socialist"
Jamaica, the land of heavy political violence.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Wheelie Bags - A Rant

A new scourge is blighting London. Wheelie bags. They turn the pavements into chariot races as humble pedestrians are forced to dodge their uncertain parabolas across the paving stones.

The first creative piece I ever wrote, back in the early 1980s, contrasted the young mothers pushing prams in front of them across the pavements, with the old people dragging their wheeled shopping bags behind them. My image was that these were the only two types of pedestrian left in the inner city abandoned by everyone else in search of jobs. But the wheelie handlers of today are all thrusting young business types. Now were this around a London airport, one could understand their need for mobile light luggage for a hop over to Madrid or Geneva. But I'm talking about London Bridge, a confluence of workers and tourists and a teeming hive of foot traffic. Wrangled and boxed in, in the face of the jabbing wheeled scourges.

I don't believe there is anything in these sturdy sided bags other than a lunchtime banana, a book of Sudoku for the train ride home and a phone charger. What executive these days needs papers? Everything is an email attachment and they all have smartphones. No, these pavement hogs wield their wheeled chargers for other purposes.

When you walk in the wake of one of these, you are likely to have contact at some point. Be it the vagaries of London's sunken paving stones, the lack of concentration on steering in favour of a face planted at their phone's screen, the prancing and bucking wheelie bag does not trace a path straight and true. It lurches and snaps at your shins.

Now this inevitably brings about what I believe is a desired state of affairs for the pavement pilots; the bag establishes an exclusion zone around them. It carves out a personal inviolable space in which trespassers take their lives in their hands for impinging/infringing. Now this is bad enough on the roadworked bedeviiled streets of SE1. It's worse when it's on the narrow concourse of London Bridge station (only last week castigated by the Mayor of London for its delay and danger in getting commuters safely through the ticket barriers through overcrowding). And it's lethal when these lazy bastards wheel their cases right up to the start of the escalators at the station before pulling them off their wheels and heaving them on to be supported by the moving stairs, again establishing a no-go zone around them. Have all these people's arm muscles atrophied to such a point they have to have the weight of their cases borne by anything but themselves?

If you're under 45 years old and you have a bag on wheels, just pick it up by the handles and carry the goddamned thing in crowded areas. And stop looking at your phones too.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Great Unknown - UK politics and the 2015 general election

I try and avoid talking about UK politics because I am a disaffected voter who in the last few elections has spoiled his ballot paper by scrawling on it 'None of The Above'.

The upcoming election will be impossible to predict, since we just don't know what the effect will be of UKIP taking votes away from all three major parties. It will vary from seat to seat, depending on how tactical the local electorate will be. At least it should mean rather than 40 or so seats out of 600+ being genuinely contested rather than 'safe' for the incumbent party, we could well have many times more seats changing hands.

For what it's worth and please don't go down the bookmakers on the basis of what I say, I don't think there will be an outright winner at the polls able to form a majority government. Instead it will be a 3-party coalition, involving Lib-Dems and SNP with Labour Or LibDems and the Northern Irish DUP with Conservatives. UKIP will win no more than 6 seats, Greens will be lucky to hold on to their lone single seat. This is just how the first past the post electoral system works. UKIP will take votes away from both Labour and Conservative, enough to ensure either of the latter lose seats, but not enough to win the seat outright for UKIP. If Miliband weren't such a walking disaster as a leader, Labour should romp this election. But he is an electoral liability, so much so that the vapid Cameron has a greater popularity rating than Miliband. Also Labour will lose seats in Scotland as the SNP managed to sustain their post-independence bandwagon of support, which they really shouldn't be able to do since they lost the referendum, which removes a good portion of their raison d'etre. Instead we now have the irony of them potentially being kingmakers down in Westminster. They might be able to negotiate a devolution of powers from Westminster to Edinburgh so large that it becomes de facto independence in all but name.

As an example of how fragmented and inchoate the psephology is, take a look at London. London is a wealthy city, a natural constituency for the Conservatives you would have thought. And yet it is overwhelmingly Labour and Labour are predicted to take some more seats in May, off both Conservatives and Lib-Dems. And yet Londoners have voted to re-elect a Conservative Mayor in the form of Boris Johnson!

So, what will be the outcome? Almost certainly a lot of surprising results on an individual level and I reckon no one party will have a majority. I think there will be a lot of tooing and froing which may not result in putting a coalition together, or a coalition that is too strained and collapses quickly, so that we might actually have 2 elections within a period of 12 months. Which would crucify the finances of all the parties.

Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Social Housing & London Property Prices

Mrs Thatcher made them an offer many couldn't refuse. Who wouldn't want to be a property owner, having their own house rather than being beholden to the local authorities to house you? And so in the 1980s the stock of social housing was at a stroke decimated as lots of people took up the opportunity for buying their Council House at a 30% discounted rate from its market value.

We'll pass over the misery of the quixotic rise and fall of interest rates and the point at which the sale value of their house was actually lower than the value of their mortgage, the dread phrase 'negative equity'. What if these new property owners had no inkling that they were exposed to the rise and fall of investments in the world of accumulation and speculation? That they'd had no education whatsoever for this sudden elevation to rentier capitalism that they'd been invited into.

London, due to its prohibitive property prices and rental costs is a de facto City-State. If you're not already a Londoner with one foot on the property ladder, you've got no chance of becoming one unless you have a big cache of cash. Labour's "Mansion tax", a tax on property's valued at over one million pounds, would fall largely on London compared with the rest of the country.

I was born and bred a Londoner. By sheer luck of when I was born, it was still just possible to get on the London property ladder. When I was in my final year of University and knowing I would be returning to my home city to live and work, I started scoping areas I might like to live in. In the Easter holidays of my final year, I looked at property prices in an area called Tufnell Park in North London. It was an overflow area for Kentish Town which had all been bought up, since it in turn was an overflow area for Camden Town which was a hugely desirable area and whose property prices had rocketed up. (Now all of London is an overflow area for some other borough in the city). Even as I walked the streets of N19, there was a huge amount of activity converting houses into flats so that developers doubled their money on their investment in purchasing the house. When I graduated 5 months later, the average price of flats in the area had already increased by fifty thousand pounds from when I'd first looked. I was already priced out.

In the end, me and my fiancee bought an ex-council flat in Kilburn. The original council tenant had bought it for seventy thousand pounds and quickly sold it on to us for one hundred and ten thousand. a nice quick forty grand profit. None of which the Council would see to be able to reinvest in replacement social housing. We lived there for five years until the birth of our twins meant we had to move to a bigger place. We sold for one hundred and sixty-seven thousand. Today, some 15 years later, my wife informed me our old flat there had sold for over half a million pounds.

Now imagine if the local council had been able to retain a share in all its properties like that one, so that each time they were sold on, the council would receive some money. Then there would be far less of a housing crisis in London and more available social housing through reinvesting the money. But no, local government was stripped of its assets for ideological reasons as Mrs Thatcher went to war with them.

It's ironic that for such a rich city, London has become a city of the Left. The Conservative held seats are pretty much banished to the leafy suburbs, with the exception of the two most central and desirable areas. Labour are predicted to make further inroads into London in the upcoming election. Maybe because it's London for all its wealth has a conscience about those who have been excluded through exorbitant property prices and the lack of viable social housing.