Night Vision

I got an email from Nick Matthews of Best Kept Secret artist management about a benefit event being put on. While I don’t know about the ins and outs of what its all about, the line-up looks really good for a Sunday though I am not too sure that it blows the imgination. Enjoy!

The Place:

The Lodge, 226 Harlesden High Road, Kensal Rise, LONDON, NW10

The Date:

THIS SUNDAY 25th JULY 2004 – 12 hours of music that blows the imigination

The Cause:

…A family in the Peruvian Amazon put a English boy up for some weeks while he was traveling and discovered their child was going blind. A sight saving operation is possible at the cost £3000 pounds. The family – who would take more than a lifetime to save the money – have accepted that their son’s fate…. or maybe you can help a miracle take place. …….The travelling boy vowed to come back to England and raise the money…Individuals CAN make a difference to other individuals – one human to another…

The DJ’s:

12:00-14:00 – Chris Jay & loungin’ kollective

14:00-15:00 – Phil Asher (Restless Soul)

15:00-16:00 – Solid Groove & Trevor Loveys

16:00-17:00 – Patrick Forge (Da Lata / Kiss 100)

17:00-18:00 – Yam Who?

18:00-19:00 – Daz-I-Kue (Bugz in the Attic)

19:00-20:00 – M.K

20:00-21:00 – Benji B (BBC 1xtra)

21:00-22:00 – Stanton Warriors

22:00-23:00 – Stevie ‘Fela’ Kotey

23:00-24:00 – Stuart Patterson, Frank Tope & Jesse Rose

DONATIONS OF EVERY DENOMINATION WILL BE TAKEN AT THE DOOR – YOU GIVE WHAT YOU CAN.

The ‘Dead: Fantastic Free Bootleg Collection

While surfing Archive.org in search of a copy of Fahrenheit 911, the Michael Moore political film I came across a treasure trove of Grateful Dead bootlegs on their servers. The Dead are part of a US phenomenon of ‘jam bands’ – people who make their money by touring and sell just enough records for to keep them in the public eye. They did a multitude of cover versions and their concerts were a home from home for acid casualties from the 1960’s.

The Dead took a farsighted attitude to the nature of the copyright of their live concerts:

The Grateful Dead and our managing organizations have long encouraged the purely non-commercial exchange of music taped at our concerts and those of our individual members. That a new medium of distribution has arisen – digital audio files being traded over the Internet – does not change our policy in this regard. Our stipulations regarding digital distribution are merely extensions of those long-standing principles and they are as follow:

No commercial gain may be sought by websites offering digital files of our music, whether through advertising, exploiting databases compiled from their traffic, or any other means.

All participants in such digital exchange acknowledge and respect the copyrights of the performers, writers and publishers of the music.

This notice should be clearly posted on all sites engaged in this activity.

We reserve the ability to withdraw our sanction of non-commercial digital music should circumstances arise that compromise our ability to protect and steward the integrity of our work.

Rock on!

Oprah Time: Serpico by Peter Maas

I have been off ill from work the past few days with flu and I had my posts largely pre-written, At the moment I am bored out of my skin and procastinating about getting stuck into my IPR development plan, so I thought a book recommendation would be in order. I recently read Serpico by Peter Maas. Peter’s true-life account of officer Frank Serpico’s one man fight against corruption in the New York Police Department is a fantastic read. The Al Pacino film sticks pretty close to the book, but thats my recommendation for the moment!

Record Industry Bodies Seeking to Subvert UK Copyright Law

According to Reuters, Elvis Presley’s back catalogue starts to become public domain from next year. Music industry fat cats are petrified as they see their revenues from The Beatles and the Rolling Stones start to go south in the near future. Maybe they should have invested in new talent instead? The BPI is trying to put the squeeze on the UK government to secure legislation similar to the Sonny Bono bill in the US, violating existing public rights.

Fantastic Viral Clips

Bainst is a web designer with a sense of humour based around subverting the form of communication. Check out some of his really cool viral videos. The Soul Calibur (a Mortal Kombat type fighting game for hormone crazed teenage boys) characters getting jiggy wid it, rather than taking chunks out of each other and a public service announcement making it clear why tax evasion is your civic duty!

Jargon Watch: URST

URST (said so it rhymes with thirst) – unresolved sexual tension. A device and description used by soap opera script writers describing the relationship (or lack of it) between two characters according to the Late Late Breakfast Show on RTE.

Too Good Not to Include

Fantastic piece of satire by OpenDemocracy which can be found here and below: Imagine a McKinsey style outfit touting for work amongst the local entrepreneurs, and they were commissioned by Al Queda to produce a report on their struggle.

The SWISH Report

Paul Rogers

14 – 7 – 2004

If al–Qaida had a planning unit that dealt with the consortium’s long–term strategy, and if that unit commissioned an independent consultancy to report on al–Qaida’s progress to date…might this be the result?

Report from the South Waziristan Institute of Strategic Hermeneutics (SWISH) to the al–Qaida Strategic Planning Cell (SPC) on the progress of the campaign

Introduction

You have asked SWISH to undertake an independent analysis of the progress of your campaign, as of mid–July 2004. The report is for your consideration as the SPC, but may also be shown to elements of the leadership. You have asked us to be candid in assessing current threats and opportunities, and also to suggest changes in strategy that may be appropriate in pursuant of your aims.

A–Q Aims and Context

As we understand it, you have three short–term aims and one long–term strategic objective. The short–term aims are:

• removal of foreign (especially US) forces from the Islamic world, with Saudi Arabia as the priority

• termination of the House of Saud as the unacceptably corrupt and illegitimate Keeper of the Two Holy Places

• establishment of an independent Palestine that may involve the termination of the state of Israel.

We understand that the last aim is a relatively recent addition, and stems from the current nature of the Christian/Zionist axis and the extreme policies of the Sharon government, as well as the manner in which these are overriding your supporters’ long–standing mistrust of the Palestinian diaspora in the western Gulf states.

Your long–term aim is the establishment of legitimate Islamic governance, initially in the Arab world but also elsewhere, as a prelude to a wider global conversion.

Your movement has developed from writings and teachings dating back several decades, and was initiated in a practical sense during opposition to Soviet rule in Afghanistan. That campaign was successful, even though it was necessary to obtain support from the United States to ensure that success.

After the 1991 Gulf war, your movement consolidated and evolved principally in western Gulf States, Pakistan and North Africa, but with support in many countries, including a number of western states. You commenced paramilitary actions directed primarily against US interests, including the Khobar Towers attack (1996) and the East African embassy bombings (1998). Associates attempted to destroy the New York World Trade Center in 1993. Other associates succeeded in September 2001 and also attacked the Pentagon.

The timescale for your strategy is not fixed but we assume it to be measured in terms of five decades or more. You are currently near the end of the second decade.

We understand that the 9/11 actions, in particular, had three broad aims:

• to demonstrate the organisation’s capacity for major trans–national attacks

• to encourage your supporters and those of associated organisations and increase their recruitment potential, and most importantly

• to incite the United States to mount very large military operations in Afghanistan and in the wider regions of Central and South–West Asia.

Subsequent Developments

Your only substantial failure was that the United States did not engage in major ground force operations in Afghanistan.

It did not therefore provide a basis for a vigorous guerrilla war against an external occupying power (although such an interaction is now developing on a rather smaller scale than that originally envisaged).

Instead, the US used a combination of air power, special forces and the wholesale rearming of Northern Alliance warlord forces, with the latter serving as ground troops. While termination of the Taliban regime was rapid, Taliban militia largely dispersed with their weapons and supplies intact. Where there were direct engagements with US forces, as at Tora Bora, the Taliban and al–Qaida militia acquitted themselves well.

The US has since established two major military bases in Afghanistan as well as others in several Central Asian republics together with a dispersed military presence in Pakistan. Immediately after 9/11, there were few A–Q operatives in Afghanistan as they had already dispersed.

Although the loss of your Afghanistan facilities, and the killing or capturing of a substantial minority of your leadership was significant, your opponents overestimated the costs to A–Q as a result. Many facilities, and many more personnel, were available to take their place. Moreover, A–Q has never been a narrow hierarchical organisation but rather a federation or consortium of like–minded groups with broadly similar aims, able to cooperate on matters such as logistics, paramilitary expertise and finance, and variably willing to adhere to a degree of centralised planning and strategy formulation. We will use the term “consortium” in the remainder of this report.

We note, incidentally, that many of your Afghan bases were primarily concerned with training expatriate militias to support the Taliban in the pursuit of its civil war against the warlords. The loss of your Afghan bases was never going to do terminal damage to the consortium – indeed to believe that it would is to fail to understand the nature of your consortium, let alone your strategy.

The US policy of widespread detention without trial, especially in Afghanistan, Cuba and now Iraq, has been a great help to you and your affiliates. It has been further aided by the systematic use of harassment, sexual humiliation and torture by US forces and their allies.

The civilian death toll in Afghanistan was around 3,000, and in Iraq it is so far about 12,000, with up to 100 civilians still being killed each week. Serious injuries in the two conflicts are likely to have exceeded 30,000. These features of the two conflicts, with close to 50,000 civilians killed or seriously injured, have greatly aided recruitment into your consortium and have also been key factors in enhancing a more global anti–American mood.

Paramilitary Actions

Your consortium has faced severe counter–actions from security and intelligence agencies and special forces in many parts of the world, including targeted assassinations, yet you have maintained an impressive level of activity. This includes attacks in Islamabad, Karachi, Djakarta, Bali, Mombasa, Riyadh, Casablanca and Istanbul. Of particular note was your large and coordinated attack in Madrid, achieved in spite of intense intelligence and security operations by the Spanish authorities. It is true that many other actions have been intercepted. Even so, such actions have served to heighten concern in many western states.

We note your subtle but important change of tactics in Saudi Arabia. Recognising that a chaotic overthrow of the House of Saud would incite immediate US intervention, and that such intervention would delay your longer–term plans by damaging a key economy, you are now engaged in a triple strategy of weakening the presence of western expatriates, avoiding Muslim casualties and, at the same time, infiltrating and influencing Saudi governance from within, utilising the substantial existing support for your aims.

Supporting Factors

You have been aided in your activities by three somewhat unexpected factors, none of them under your control. The first is the increasing importance of satellite TV channels such as al–Arabiya and al–Jazeera, with their ability to deliver uncensored news information into many millions of households.

The second is the particularly militant nature of the Sharon government in Israel together with its close links with the Bush administration. The activities on the West Bank two years ago and in Gaza more recently have been of huge help in gaining you more support across the region and beyond. The refusal of the Sharon government to acknowledge any deference to the International Court of Justice ruling on the barrier, coupled with the deafening silence from Washington, are further aids to your strategy.

The third, and by far the most important, has been the termination of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq followed by the US occupation of the country and consequent insurgency. This has been, purely and simply, nothing less than a gift from heaven, and has been of immense value to the consortium.

It is ironic that the consortium failed to attract the United States into Afghanistan in the manner hoped for, yet the Bush administration achieved the much more significant feat of inserting around 140,000 Americans as an occupying force into the heart of the Arab world. This has been truly an amazing development and of real value to the long–term achievement of your aims.

Even with our perspectives on the incompetence of your opponents, we have to confess our astonishment that the US occupiers in Iraq have been willing to allow Israeli special forces to operate in the Kurdish areas of Iraq. That the US leadership has supported Israel in gaining direct access to an enclave in an Arab country is frankly astounding and further illustrates the fundamental lack of understanding of the current administration in Washington.

Where You Stand – And Why

In terms of the achievement of your aims, your only short–term success has been the substantial withdrawal of US forces from Saudi Arabia, although current paramilitary campaigns in the Kingdom are already having an effect on business and expatriate confidence and are beginning to indicate a core instability. You have not succeeded in effecting change in any other governments in the Islamic world but your prospects in Pakistan are quite good, Afghanistan remains in disorder if not chaos, and Iraq is ripe for change.

You are operating over a timescale of many decades and in such a context progress has been rather good, but it has to be said that this is not entirely down to your own capabilities but largely to the sheer incompetence of your opponents.

Consider the consequences for your strategy if your opponents were to take the following five actions:

• A determined western effort to ensure security in Afghanistan, limit the power of the warlords and aid civil reconstruction. This would need to hugely transcend what is currently envisaged and would be more akin to repeated requests and demands from experienced UN officials, Afghans and independent analysts

• Withdrawal of US military force from Afghanistan and elsewhere in Central Asia coupled with action against the governmental human rights abuses endemic in much of the region

• In Iraq, moves towards a genuine democracy rather than the client regime that has now been installed, coupled with UN oversight of the transition and a rapid decrease in the US military presence. This would be paralleled by an avoidance of recourse to crude market forces and an acceptance of the need for temporarily centralised development planning

• Effective pressure on Israel to concede a peace agreement with a viable Palestinian state

• In parallel with this would be pressure on Arab autocracies to modernise and democratise.

All these, in combination, would present a serious threat to the integrity and viability of the al–Qaida strategy. It is indeed fortunate that none is likely to happen, given the current western political leadership.

At the same time, it does also mean that your current strong position does not primarily stem from your own success. You must therefore guard vigorously against any sense of achievement – too much of it is due to the incompetence of your principle opponent and its British ally.

Indeed, your own statements, with the exception of ObL’s statement after Madrid, may have been of use to supporters but have been largely counterproductive in addressing a wider audience of potential sympathisers.

Nevertheless, you are currently in a strong position. This poses an important issue: how can the consortium best ensure the re–election of George W Bush in November? We are not suggesting that a Kerry victory would be a disaster but it would present a less attractive environment for your near–term operations. A Kerry presidency might embrace some of the five dangers just listed. A Bush presidency would not.

On balance, we therefore suggest that you consider short–term tactics designed to aid the Bush campaign. It is possible that another major attack in the US would increase support for a “war president”, but we cannot be sure. What would certainly help him greatly would be the detention or capture of ObL, especially if this could be arranged within a month or so of the election.

Although the martyrdom factor is important, and it would certainly be unwise for him to be taken without a fight (as was Saddam Hussein), we would, on balance, recommend that he allow himself to be detained during a conflict rather than be killed. As a detainee he would be a powerful continuing focus and, if brought to trial, would be in an exceptionally strong position to make significant pronouncements.

Furthermore, given his current state of health and his frequent need to relocate, he could well be assured of a longer life in US custody, unlike almost all other detainees.

Conclusion

We would conclude that your campaign is going well, has some very strong prospects for further progress in Saudi Arabia, is in a good position in Pakistan and has excellent potential for action in Iraq. In the latter case, in particular, the long–term security of Gulf oil is essential to the United States, and withdrawal from Iraq is therefore highly unlikely. This gives you a remarkable opportunity to develop a range of oppositional policies and tactics.

Thus, the future looks bright. We insist, though, that much of this is due to the actions of your opponents and it follows that any actions that you can take to ensure that they persist with their current policies will be to your advantage. The immediate requirement, as we have indicated, is therefore to aid, in any way within the framework of your core values, the survival of the Bush administration.

Wana,

14 July 2004

South Waziristan

Think Derivative

New iPod, pretty much the same as the old one, that won’t stop it selling well though. Leaked cover of Newsweek courtesy of MSN.

Couture and the Air Marshal

The New York Times and bloggist AdviceGoddess ran pieces on how air marshals are obvious because of the dress code that they have to adhear to.

From the New York Times: Federal air marshals must have neatly trimmed hair, and men must be clean-shaven, the documents say. Some of the service’s 21 field offices have mandated that male officers wear suits, ties and dress shoes while on duty, even in summer heat. Women are required to wear blouses and skirts or dress slacks.

Reminds me of spot the CID man at warehouse parties in Blackburn back in the day. They had a distinctive dress code of C&A and BHS easy care polyester clothing items that gave them away, while the drugs squad were the mad ones giving it a hundred and ten per cent in front of the strobe lamp.

Making your vote count

Eligible to vote in the forthcoming US elections, but haven’t registered yet? Well, you can do here and its easy.

This was a renaissance chambara public service blog.

Customer Service Heroes and villains

Orange turns me green at the gills

One of the things I have learned over the past couple of weeks is that you can’t rely on a brand for consistent customer service, only people.

As you may have read, I had some problems when Three cut my number off. Well credit where credit is due, eventually my problem was dealt with in a most professional and helpful manner by a Scottish customer services lady called Sammy Reynolds. I decided to move to Orange, they seem on the surface to have their act in gear, WRONG!!! The shop staff near Bond Street tube were happy to sell me a phone but weren’t so eager to expedite a swift number port from Three. I eventually called the Orange customer services line and got through to the relevant team, things then got Kaftesque. Orange would not be interested in my number until Three called them. Read Orange was not interested in having my custom in a particularly speedy manner. I had to get Three to call Orange to sort things out. Three had given my number up, yet could not do anything as Orange’s systems were down for two days.

Orange did not keep me informed of my progress and dealt with me in a manner that would have impressed a civil servant. This was all happening on the back of me trying to sell my house and my best friend about to give birth. My initial impressions of Orange have been disappointing to say the least. Despite Three facilitating the process as much as possible it still took seven and a bit days to port my number over – this is the minimum standard specified by Ofcom!

BT signs Jeremy Clarkson for ad campaign, wags start their engines

A quick skim of the infospam that comes from various IT news organisations reviewing the weeks news came up with this gem courtesy of the merry pranksters at St Katherines tower:

And finally, everybody’s favourite incumbent telco has signed up everybody’s favourite jacket-and-jeans wearing braggart for its latest advertising campaign. That’s right: BT and Jeremy Clarkson. It’s a match made in heaven. One is overblown, often rude and has offended pretty much everybody in the UK at one time or another (wait for it… you’ll never guess what’s coming next) and the other one used to present Top Gear. Gavin Patterson, BT group managing director, consumer and ventures, said: ?We felt that Jeremy Clarkson was an ideal choice for the whole area of customer service. He?s famous as somebody who doesn?t suffer fools gladly and embodies the straightforward principles we aim to follow in our business.” Great, so we can expect BT customer service modelled on the presenting style of Clarkson. “I’m sorry your phone’s not working love, have you ever stopped to think it could be because………..[cue long dramatic pause, raise eyebrow to camera and lower tone] ………. you?re a woman.” “Is your husband there?…………………………….Or are you too ugly to have one?” “Aha! Now this really is the Ferrari of phones! Whereas, your current model is very much………………………………………………. the Skoda” You get the idea. Patterson added: “If these adverts are anywhere near as successful as the famous Bob Hoskins ones then we won?t be doing badly at all.? So Jeremy has his work cut out trying to fill the shoes of Bob Hoskins? That’s quite a challenge, not least of all, the Round-Up assumes because Sir Bob (come on, he should be!) probably has pretty small feet.

 

For our international readership you can find out more about BT here and Jeremy Clarkson.

Dot.com with Good Idea

A couple of weeks ago, I got invited the wedding reception of an ex-colleague. The bash was at the function room of a well appointed pub in North London. The wedding present list was online, ok lists can be a bit assumptive, however this one was cool. The thing that struck me was how well the whole online thing leant itself to wedding presents:

– You don’t have wrap the present

– don’t worry about bringing it along to the bash

– don’t look too mean or extravagant compared to other guests

– they won’t get damaged in the traditional family punch-up that happens at these events

Oh yeah, the party was good and all.

Renaissance Chambara in we like Microsoft Product Scandal

Feted not slated

Actually we like three:

Word 5.1 for the Mac in the early 1990s. A word processor that had a reasonable real world speed and all the features that you still use now. Hell, I still use the Word 5.1 layout in my version of Office X. Stripe out the fat, speed bump it and reinvent Word Mr Balmer – less is more. Your competitors are already doing it, have a look at Nisus Writer Express

– Excel for the mac. Some truths Microsoft made the best spreadsheet, now I realise that thats as contraversal as saying that Poll Tax was a good thing, but I’ve used alternatives like Lotus 1-2-3, ClarisWorks, AppleWorks, QuattroPro and they sucked. They got kicked because Excel is better – there I’ve said it

– Number three is MSN’s Slate magazine. I had avoided Slate in favour of Salon, partly because I thought that it would have some of the attributes of other Microsoft products:

– bloated

– useless

– lacking in quality

– full of profane language

– low on anything meaningful (like the Microsoft Executive emails)

Slate is actually a damn good read with varied content and a quality of writing that is close to that of the New Yorker, but for a younger audience. Check it out, seriously.