Independent thought can lead to obvious conclusions

Councillor Gareth Davies is welcome at the Labour Party Conference, while Councillor Bob Piper is not. Says it all, really.

UPDATE – Blood & Treasure – From the red zone: They’ve actually blocked off a fair chunk of the city centre, with no access at all except to the apparat. Great. Treated like a terrorist suspect in my own city. This isn’t a public event. It’s the sales conference of the governing party. (via)

UPDATE (24 Sep) – Bob’s inside.

(Psst! The nurses run naked in Portsmouth General… pass it on.)








Posted in Tony 'King Blair | 2 Comments

New Tory Labour… is it!

I’ve been promising you some Flash fun (of the political and non-political variety) for some time now. The non-political material is right around the corner… the first version of the new political material goes live today:

Click here to see the first New Tory Labour flash-video that I’ve produced for the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats initially approached me about doing a music video along the lines of the stuff I created for Backing Blair with a primary focus on Tory/Labour policies and promises on the environment.

Early ideas I floated included:

1. A new song politely-titled: ‘Forget you and your first class ticket to nowhere’.

2. Another new song; a lilting, boppy Caribbean-influenced summery number that was pro-warming, on the basis that we’ll all be able to enjoy many summery days in our new seaside homes… in the Scottish Highlands.

3. A re-recording of ‘Up, Up And Away’ by Fifth Dimension with an animation tracking the ascent of man and climate change throughout this period. This had a nifty punchline at the end, where you could ‘play again’ or ‘play again with nuclear waste’. If you clicked the latter, the video would re-play with modern nuclear waste buried under The Great Pyramid of Giza… and staying radioactive up until the present day and well beyond.

[Psst! during music research for this project, a new idea for an independent video occurred… more on that later.]

But the strongest idea departed from a one-off model, and instead presented the Liberal Democrats with something serialised and versatile:

New Tory Labour - Teh HeroThe Concept

Instead of a song, I would commission a jingle, with a strong intro, 60-second instrumental and a sting at the tail. During the instrumental, a central character would put the case for ‘action’ on the environment from a Tory/Labour perspective. This would allow the Lib Dems to take matters issue by issue (or absurdity by absurdity) *and* have room to expand beyond the environment if they chose to do so.

The Character

The ‘hero’ of the piece is a cheesy (and really quite scary) Frankenstein creation made up from bits of David Cameron, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

The mouth is based on the eerily-named Preston Blair phoneme series by Gary C. Martin.

Mouth movements have been enhanced by further manipulation of the chin, cheeks, eyes and eyebrows (right down to a tell-tale twitch that occurs whenever our hero tries to maintain his cheesy grin for more than 3.5 seconds).

The Setting

I began with a blackboard in the background, but the ‘roll-down’ method allowed for faster (and more dramatic) use of images.

All images are drawn by hand, eliminating the need to get permission for use of photos etc.

The Jingle

The choice of tune for the jingle was obvious (New Tory Labour = Shave and a Hair Cut) and Nicolas Bulostin delivered just the right level of cheese.

The use of a simple piano arrangement for the ‘sting’ was an accident; I used this to time the final animation while waiting for the finished sting and fell in love with it.

New Tory Labour - Teh LogoThe Branding

Initial logos (you can see some rejects here) started out with mixes of blue and red, including many early treatments playing on the Conservatives’ pre-broccoli attempts to take control of the magic squares.

The chosen logo represents New Tory Labour (or, if you prefer e-stylee; ‘newtorylabour’) aiming for that precious centre ground.

The Execution

There’s very little tweening or automation involved; the core of each animation is built frame-by-frame, beginning with the head (lip-synch and expressions) and then expanding on body/graphic movements.

Yes, it’s a lot of work… but it’s fun work and it delivers a tasty result.

[Psst! And, as an added bonus, local smear-merchants Dennis Paul and Mike Chambers are going to go totally spare about it, despite my making the following ab-so-lute-ly clear at the time; “I have done creative/production work for the Liberal Democrats in the past (and plan to do more)…”]

Search Engines

There’s a focused search engine strategy on the first video especially; most people who are in the know (i.e. not including certain Google “maximisers”) will be able to spot it. It’s a tall order, but I’m hoping for results comparable to that for ‘leo blair’.

So, that’s about it… here’s that link again:

Click here to see the first New Tory Labour flash-video that I’ve produced for the Liberal Democrats.

Remember folks; if you like it; share it.

The more you share it, the more likely it is that I’ll be asked to do another… and another… and another.

Cheers all.








Posted in Flash Music Video, Games and Objects | 2 Comments

The rules of the game have changed

A lovely poem by Rachel. Go see.








Posted in The War on Stupid | 4 Comments

The fruits of New Labour (four articles relating to the surrendering of our moral authority)

Independent – New terror that stalks Iraq’s republic of fear: The republic of fear is born again. The state of terror now gripping Iraq is as bad as it was under Saddam Hussein. Torture in the country may even be worse than it was during his rule, the United Nation’s special investigator on torture said yesterday. “The situation as far as torture is concerned now in Iraq is totally out of hand,” said Manfred Nowak. “The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it had been in the times of Saddam Hussein.” The report, from an even-handed senior UN official, is in sharp contrast with the hopes of George Bush and Tony Blair, when in 2003 they promised to bring democracy and respect for human rights to the people of Iraq. The brutal tortures committed in the prisons of the regime overthrown in 2003 are being emulated and surpassed in the detention centres of the present US- and British-backed Iraqi government. “Detainees’ bodies show signs of beating using electric cables, wounds in different parts of their bodies including in the head and genitals, broken bones of legs and hands, electric and cigarette burns,” the human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq says in a new report. The horrors of the torture chamber that led to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq being labelled “The Republic of Fear”, after the book of that title by Kanan Makiya, have again become commonplace. The bodies in Baghdad’s morgue ” often bear signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones (back, hands and legs), missing eyes and wounds caused by power drills or nails”, the UN report said. Those not killed by these abuses are shot in the head. Human rights groups say torture is practised in prisons run by the US as well as those run by the Interior and Defence ministries and the numerous Sunni and Shia militias.

Guardian – Sir Menzies Campbell’s conference speech: Excessive powers – and the excessive use of powers – alienate the very communities we need on our side. Terrorism thrives where civil liberties are denied. That is why Liberal Democrats, under my leadership, will fight to maintain the principles of the Human Rights Act. That is why Liberal Democrats, under my leadership, will fight for the independence of judges and the rule of law. That is why Liberal Democrats, under my leadership, will fight against any acceptance of torture. And if the proposal comes back – and it will – we will fight to ensure that the government cannot imprison people for ninety days without trial or charge. When tackling terrorism, we must recognise that how we act abroad is as important as how we act at home. We should all be proud of the contribution the United Kingdom has made to democracy, to the values of tolerance and diversity, to the spread of the rule of law. But in a few short years, Britain’s reputation has been tarnished. In foreign policy, the Prime Minister has elevated belief over evidence, conviction over judgement, and instinct over understanding. Put quite simply, he has presided over a foreign policy which is neither ethical nor effective. Week after week in Parliament, the Prime Minister has had to lead tributes to the members of the armed forces who have been killed in action. Since Parliament last sat in July, another 29 have died. We must never forget the price that we ask the men and women of our armed forces to pay. In Iraq we are approaching a state of civil war. Hundreds dying every week. Terrorism taking root. And all the while, Guantanamo Bay stands as a shameful affront to justice and the rule of law. Secret Prisons, rendition, the suspicion of torture. How can those who operate outside the rule of law argue credibly for its observance in Iraq? We Liberal Democrats will not shrink from our responsibility to challenge the government for the consequences of its decisions. Security is not being gained, it is being lost. Terrorism is not being defeated, it is being invigorated. Freedom is not being spread, it is being undermined.

Adrian Hamilton – It’s a bit late for ministers to express regrets now: If you hear the noise of splashing from the halls of Government at the moment, it is the sound of ministers desperately trying to row away from the Iraqi policy and its consequences. In the last week we have had both the Lord Chancellor, Charles Falconer, and the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, in different parts of the world declaring how wrong Guantanamo Bay was: a “shocking affront to the principles of democracy,” declared Lord Falconer in Australia, a breach of Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions opined Lord Goldsmith in Chicago. Didn’t say that at the time, did they? All those years when Charles Kennedy doggedly raised the question of treatment of British detainees at Prime Minister’s Question Time, to be swatted aside by a Tony Blair determined to avoid any hint of criticism of President Bush and a Commons all too ready to jeer at anything as serious as this, we didn’t get one solitary voice or its law officers that this grotesque institution was unacceptable by any international standard of behaviour.

Los Angeles Times – Bush Bows to Senators on Detainees: President Bush acceded to dissident Senate Republicans on Thursday, agreeing to new rules for interrogating and prosecuting suspected terrorists that leave intact international treaty protections against torture. In a major concession to Arizona Sen. John McCain and other Republicans, the administration dropped its efforts to have Congress redefine U.S. obligations under the Geneva Convention. The compromise bill in effect bans the most controversial CIA interrogation tactics, including water boarding, a form of simulated drowning, said those involved in the negotiations. At the same time, the agreement gives Bush the legal protections he said were needed to preserve a secret CIA interrogation program. The compromise bill would allow Bush the latitude to employ interrogation tactics which go beyond legal limits set for the U.S. military.








Posted in The War on Stupid | Comments Off

Who’s placing adverts and running campaigns, and who’s paying for them?

Guardian – Royal Society tells Exxon: stop funding climate change denial: Britain’s leading scientists have challenged the US oil company ExxonMobil to stop funding groups that attempt to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change. In an unprecedented step, the Royal Society, Britain’s premier scientific academy, has written to the oil giant to demand that the company withdraws support for dozens of groups that have “misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence”. The scientists also strongly criticise the company’s public statements on global warming, which they describe as “inaccurate and misleading”.

Oh, they’re doing more than that… here’s something I meant to blog a while ago…

The Raw Story – Republican firm hired by Exxon exposed as Gore documentary spoofer

But feel free to keep ignoring the men behind the green curtain.








Posted in Consume! | 3 Comments

Tony Blair is undermining the Labour Party and robbing it of grass-roots support

That’s funny… I was talking about this very point just last night:

Independent – Blair damages party by clinging to power, say Labour officials: Tony Blair is facing fresh pressure to stand down soon from Labour officials worried that his “long goodbye” is disrupting the party’s plans for next May’s mid-term elections. The officials say the uncertainty over who will lead Labour into the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and English council elections is damaging grassroots morale. They report that some party members are refusing to commit themselves to standing as candidates or campaigning for the party while Mr Blair remains leader. One official said: “Tony should go immediately. He is destroying the party. He is clinging on to the cliff by his fingertips while other people trample all over them.”… Last night a row was brewing over a decision to block an emergency debate over the leadership at the party conference next week in Manchester. A number of constituencies tabled motions calling for the national executive committee to agree a timetable for Mr Blair to step down early next year. The conference arrangements committee meeting is believed to have thrown out all the motions. “They decided that the issue of the leadership is not a contemporary issue, and they were ruled out of order,” said one Labour campaigner.

The Tories didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the last general election, but currently they’re gaining an alarming amount of ground *and* enjoying the luxury of all sorts of reserves.

The time to start taking this on is now… but Blair’s putting the squeeze on me – and lots of people like me – by continuing to cling to power through the use of fear and deception.

I don’t want to see a Conservative government… but I can’t possibly be expected to roll over and allow Blair to have his way. The games he plays are far too dangerous.








Posted in Tony 'King Blair | 2 Comments

Ten tell-tale signs that your teenager might be a terrorist

PA – Reid terror plea to Muslim parents: Home Secretary John Reid will challenge British Muslims to come forward with information about suspected terrorists. He will meet an audience of specially-invited Muslims and urge parents to “look for the tell-tale signs” of radicalisation in their children.

Let’s leave aside the disgraceful failure to fulfil Teh Sacred Orwellian Prophecy (damn it; everyone knows the children are supposed to spy on the parents) and instead focus on that most-crucial of missing gaps… the “tell-tale signs” that John Reid fails to provide for Willing Servants of Western Democracy:

Ten tell-tale signs that your teenager might be a terrorist:

1. Do they harbour a completely false sense of grievance?
2. Do they question and/or challenge authority?
3. Do they complain when you or other figures of authority interfere with their independence and/or their ‘right’ to do this or that?
4. Do they stay out late and/or act in a suspicious manner with friends?
5. Do they play violent videos games and/or own an iPod?
7. iPod or not, do they listen to subversive music?
8. Do they show a superior grasp of technology?
9. Have they ever contemplated suicide?
10. Have they been exposed to extreme and/or militant religious views?

If all of the above is too challenging, then you may instead choose to rely on this alternative list:

1. Are they a Muslim?
2. Are they a Muslim?
3. Are they a Muslim?
4. Are they a Muslim?
5. Are they a Muslim?
6. Are they a Muslim?
7. Are they a Muslim?
8. Are they a Muslim?
9. Are they a Muslim?
10. Are they a Muslim?








Posted in The War on Stupid | 4 Comments

Thailand

People inside Thailand are chatting, reporting, debating and collating right now. Go see.

A brand new purpose-built weblog (via) reports that a popular local political discussion site has closed down due to ‘over crowded news and argument’, so – on this basis alone – it’s probably worth saving a page or two, just in case mirrors are required (i.e. even if the tubes aren’t cut, they’re going to get very clogged very soon).

UPDATE – Global Voices has more (including reports of activity on Flickr & YouTube) and confirms that local… interwebs….. connections…… are……. getting…….. very…………. slwoaffhdcvbcbx*

UPDATE – True geeks may wish to watch the relevant Wikipedia entry expand.

UPDATE – If this happens in your neck of the woods, who’s your overseas blog-buddy? Who do you direct people to if your website is down and/or who can you call if your corner of Teh Interwebs web goes down and you want something published?

This would be more of a standard/movement than a service, as a simple full-time-basic-button-that-links-to-options should do it. This data would be preserved in a variety of caches, and therefore accessible even if a major search engine took a tumble.

One for the back-burner (unless someone wants to beat me to it).








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off

‘Cramlington Village Councillor’…. who he?

Oh, FFS…

Gareth Davies: I had an email from Tim Ireland the other day, suggesting I’ve been slow to publish some comments about torture. I have. No conspiracy Tim, I’ve been busy.

[Um… Gareth? I don’t think there’s a conspiracy; I just think that you’re a dick.]

Take a look at Gareth’s post where he attempts to have the ‘final word’ on torture. Witness how many twists and turns he takes to avoid giving a straight answer to this question; “Do you support detention without trial based on intelligence gained through torture?”

He’s also posted a reply to this post at Bloggerheads that completely fails to address the central point (perhaps he feels he has ‘no need’ to do so) and instead presents the following in his defence:

Tim Ireland: “Gareth Davies… took a ‘moral’ standpoint against the Backing Blair website without declaring that he was employed by the Labour Party in a regional party call-centre.”

Gareth Davies: “Tim keeps saying I worked in one of the Labour Party’s regional call centres. I didn’t. I worked in the communications unit at Labour Party Head Office.”

*sigh*

It was Gareth himself who said that he “worked in call centres for banks and telephone companies and universities” and during the election worked “in a call centre environment for the Party.”

Oh, and the office he worked for was of the regional variety (unless he was based at Labour HQ in London, which would make his position even harder to defend, because that would put him even closer to the core camapign team).

But now for the whopper (if you have a drink in your hand, I advise you to put it down now)…

Gareth Davies: “…it’s hilarious to read one of Blogggerhead’s anonymous ccommenters [sic] demanding that David put his name on the websites he publishes, when Bloggerheads went to town on me as a Labour stooge for suggesting much the same thing about the Backing Blair website.”

Tim Ireland: “There wasn’t a single anonymous comment on Bloggerheads demanding that David Taylor put his name on the websites he publishes… Gareth made it up to support his ‘point’.”

Gareth Davies: “Tim keeps claiming that there wasn’t an anonymous comment on his site demanding David Taylor identify himself on sites he authored. Read this.

[Here Gareth links to one of my comments as evidence and continues…]

Gareth Davies: I’m happy to accept that I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t know that Manic is Tim Ireland. And to withdraw the suggestion that, as such the comment is anonymous. But I didn’t invent it Tim (or is it Manic I’m talking to now?)”

Duh…

Gosh, it’s all so confusing, isn’t it? Not only is it declared in the Page Title on the front page, but every post on the website of Tim Ireland – marked ‘© Tim Ireland’ – is entered under the nickname ‘Manic’… in much the same way that every entry at Gareth Davies’ weblog is entered under the ID ‘Cramlington Village Councillor’.

Similarly, every comment on the website of Tim Ireland that’s made by Tim Ireland is entered under the nickname ‘Manic’… in much the same way that every comment at Gareth Davies’ weblog that’s made by Gareth Davies is entered under the ID ‘Cramlington Village Councillor’.

Having failed to pass off invented evidence, Gareth is now attempting to invent confusion! Well, at least we can hope this is the case…

Normally, a dishonest/witless blogger like Gareth Davies wouldn’t be worth spitting on, but this serves as an excellent example of the self-deception and/or ignorance that’s required to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a lying, torturing, murdering psychopath like Tony Blair and still fool yourself into thinking that you’re a decent human being.

UPDATE – No. Sorry. I take that back. He is worth spitting on.

Hawwwwk..*ptooie!*








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement, Tony 'King Blair | 2 Comments

Hungary: lies, leaks and whispers

BBC – We lied to win, says Hungary PM: Hungary’s prime minister has admitted saying that his party lied to the public to win April’s general election. Ferenc Gyurcsany’s admission came after Hungarian radio played a tape of a meeting he had with his Socialist MPs a few weeks after the election. On it he says the party had lied to the public and his “boneheaded” government failed to introduce any real policies.

(Psst! Has anyone else noticed that the list of Tony Blair’s achievements on the Keeping the Faith website has been trimmed down?)

Guardian – Hungary PM: we lied to win election: Some observers say the leaked tape could have come from Mr Gyurcsany’s office as a way to justify tough economic reforms. Just hours after the tape came out, a full transcript was posted on his weblog.

(Psst! Specific entry is here. In Hungarian.)

Independent – Budapest rioters storm TV station in ‘lying PM’ protest: Protesters clashed with police and stormed the headquarters of Hungary’s state television early today, enraged at a leaked recording in which the prime minister admitted the government “lied morning, evening and night” about the economy… Confronted with initial excerpts of the 25-minute recording, which Hungarian state radio posted on its website on Sunday, Gyurcsany not only acknowledged their authenticity but seemed relieved they had been made public – leading to speculation that the leak came from sources close to him… Others said the leak was an attempt – which may have misfired – by Gyurcsany’s Socialist rivals to block his aspirations to become party chairman.

(Psst! If Tony Blair ever does this, don’t even think of marching on Downing Street.)








Posted in Inneresting | Comments Off