Saturday, 23 March 2019

Bob Honey Who Just do Stuff - Maybe stop doing stuff

Even the cover is a lazy imitation of the concept of "Quirk"


Recently a book club I take part in decided to tackle Sean Penn's novel Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff. I should probably mention its an online book club that covers bad books so we can have some catharsis. I had never heard of this book nor knew much about Sean Penn besides the name and that he's an actor.

Anyway, I really didn't like it, its in my opinion the worst book we've covered and the worst one I managed to finish.

Here's my thoughts broken up with some screenshots to prove I'm not making any of this up.


"Whenever he felt these collisions of incubus and succubus, he punched his way out of the proletariat with the purposeful inputting of covert codes, thereby drawing distraction through Scottsdale deployments, dodging the ambush of innocents astray, evading the viscount vogue of Viagratic assaults on virtual vaginas, or worse, falling passively into prosaic pastimes. Instead, he would quake the elderly in all corners. POP goes the weasel! Bob’s mallet would speak. He knew his destiny’s turn."

Its like a parody or rip off of the style of the beat generation, particularly Ginsberg and Borroughs, only with no authentic creativity or anything interesting to say.

"Bob finishes his grilled cheese sandwich, last French fry, and final gulp of Pepsi with the bulk of its remaining crushed ice. As he places Pepsi drained genuine Georgia-green Coca-Cola tumbler on counter, the old man takes hold of Bob’s paw with purchase."

Did you get that? Pepsi in a Coca-Cola glass.

At times when Penn isn't too busy stuffing his sentences with pointless alliteration, the story lurches into satire. But the satire is incredibly weak, the Iraq war is barely commented on as being a pay day for corporations, instead Penn is more interested in talking about a band of Papua Guinean cannibal mercenaries, who are a recurring group in the story.

Speaking of cannibals, the story is stuffed with ugliness, there's a Jewish character who speaks in an incredibly strange way with the footnotes helpfully explaining that his dialogue is a form of "Jew talk". And it has incredibly disgusting descriptions of women, and worryingly given Penn's history of domestic abuse graphic fantasies of murdering many of these women.

" You are not simply a president in need of impeachment, you are a man in need of an intervention. We are not simply a people in need of an intervention, we are a nation in need of an assassin. I am God’s squared-away man. I am Bob Honey. That’s who I am. Sir, I challenge you to a duel. Tweet me, bitch. I dare you."

At the end of the book Penn drops most of the twee obtuse stream of consciousness quirkiness to turn Bob into an explicit stand in for Penn's own views. He does this by having his character write out a letter, on a type writer of course. He follows this up with an inner monologue ranting at Conservative strawmen in which his suddenly pro Clinton avatar thinks of all the slurs for ethnic and sexual minorities he can find.

It then ends with a self indulgent recap poem that doesn't really re-cap much of the book, but does take swipes at other targets including the Metoo campaign against sexual harassment, which doesn't do him any favours. 


Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The Bombardment of Iraq








Video link https://youtu.be/jfCTnXWM_10


The Bombardment

Of Baghdad

Transcript



Introduction:

Hello, this is the Witness History podcast from the BBC World Service. And we started broadcasting our first-hand accounts from the past back in 2009, and all this week ten years on we’re bringing you some of our favourite programs from the early days.

In 2003 the US and its allies invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein from power. For Iraqis bombardment and struggle would become the norm. Robin Lustig heard from one ordinary Iraqi, Lubna Naji, about her experiences of the war.  

Robin Lustig:

It’s the evening of March the 19th and seventeen-year-old Lubna Naji is at home with her relatives in Baghdad.

Lubna Naji:

Well, actually we were all in the living room, we were watching TV. And the Iraqi TV which was like the government TV at that time, was showing like an American movie about monkeys taking over the earth, yeah.

Robert Lustig:

Planet of the Apes.

Lubna Naji:

Exactly, exactly. We were all watching that movie and we were really interested in it. And suddenly the program changed and they started featuring patriotic songs. About the regime, about Saddam, so we knew something was wrong.

But you know noting happened. We went to sleep and it was like 5a.m. in the morning when we heard the first noises of bombardment.

[War correspondent from 2003]

About 15 minutes ago their air-raid sirens sounded across Baghdad, anti-aircraft artillery began firing across the night sky. There were a couple of large explosions that uh and I can see a few large plumes of smoke. I presume that that may have been targets being hit but I can’t be certain.

Robin Lustig:

When you woke up on that first night as the first bombs fell, can you remember what went through your mind?

Lubna Naji:

I thought I was going to die obviously. I was really worried about me and about my family as well. You worry that you’re not going to die but that you’re going to end up crippled or being disabled. And it would be dreadful in Iraq because you know, healthy and well people in Iraq do not get things right, so what’s it going to be like for disabled and crippled people?

Trust me in Iraq death is not the worst thing that could ever happen to you, there are many far worse things that can happen. It was it was really terrifying. It was really terrifying.

We had electricity and we had access to the radio, and we started to search for you know international you know media, like BBC Arabic radio, and in Monte Carlo International. Because we really wanted to know what was going on.

We knew what was going on, but we wanted to be really sure about it. Sometimes you would hear some really close noises.

Robin Lustig:

A few days before the invasion had begun Lubna, her sister and their two aunts had moved in with an uncle and his family. And they’d all set about trying to get ready for the coming onslaught.

Lubna Naiji:

We taped the windows, we bought like an enormous of food and actually we, we had this room we called it the shelter. It was like an internal room inside the house with no windows whatsoever, whenever there was a bombardment all the eight of us would just sit inside the room and hide and wait until the bombardment is over.

I was really fond of this room because it was it was more like my safety nets really.

Robin Lustig:

Were you able to stay in touch with other members of the family who were elsewhere in Baghdad, elsewhere in Iraq?

Lubna Naji:

No. Because they all fled Baghdad, some of them went to Kerbala, some of them went to Najaf. Yes, in more safe places.

Robin Lustig:

For three weeks then, you did not leave the house?

Lubna Naji:

I did not leave the house. Actually my, my cousin was missing, he went out a short while before this war started and we’ve never heard from him. So, we spent those three weeks obsessing about his destiny. And his parents were sick worried about him, and we were all sick worried about him. We had no idea where he was, what happened to him. It was a very very dreadful you know thing.

I mean I do I do remember that every night before we go to sleep, we would say the Shahada, which is like the final prayer that a Muslim would say if he/she were about to die. Because you never know you’re going to die, you know while you’re asleep. I used to hug the Holy Quran because I was really scared you know.

We tried, we tried to make conversations, we tried to laugh to chat but it was it was impossible, not to worry.

Robin Lustig:

Every night you went to bed you didn’t know if you were going to wake up the next morning. You did wake up; how did the day proceed?

Lubna Naji:

Well actually my uncle’s wife used to handle all of those you know day-to-day activities; dinner, breakfast, lunch. We’ve had an enormous amount of food in the house.

Robin Lustig:

What kind of food?

Lubna Naji:

Everything, canned food.

Robin Lustig:

No fresh bread?

Lubna Naji:

No fresh bread. The thing is that when it comes to Iraq we cannot live without fresh bread. We love all kinds of breads. So, when there was no bread you start to eat, and eat and eat and eat trying to compensate the absence of bread.

 It was like every five minutes I’d go to the fridge and try to take out something in order to eat. Because that was the only way to defuse the tension.

Robin Lustig:

What was the weather like at that time. Was it already getting very hot?

Lubna Naji:

My God, It was this dreadful sandstorm that lasted for like days. And actually you’ve had this smoke I believe that there were people who were trying to burn stuff.

Robin Lustig:

There were reports at the time of ditched being filled with oil and set alight.

Luba Naji:

Exactly, there was always smoke in the air which was really really unpleasant combined with the sandstorm.

Robin Lustig:

 You could hardly breathe.

Lubna Njai:

Of course.

Robin Lustig:

Did you dare to open windows?

Lubna Naji:

No, no we did not, because we had the windows taped already and one of my aunties is actually pretty old. She was the typical frightened elderly woman, so whenever we tried to open the windows, she would beg us to close them.

Robin Lustig:

But after three long weeks cooped up in their house not daring to go out, American troops rolled into Baghdad, and on the 9th of April live on television, down came that giant statue of Saddam Hussein in the centre of the city.

[News commentator 9th of April]

[Applause]

Its making a grinding sound the armoured personnel carrier, tightening the tension of the ropes and the chains around the neck of the statue of Saddam Hussein. The engine of the armoured personnel carrier is roaring- here it comes.

[Cheering and whistling]

Lubna Naji:

We knew that Saddam has gone, you know when they destroyed the statue. To tell you the truth we hated Saddam, my entire family hated him, I hated him. We were so relieved that he was gone. So, the 9th of April 2003 was a very happy day for us.

But afterwards you start you know every year on the 9th of April you start to think back about that dream that you had that’s been taken away from you. Because on the 9th of April, you had you had a time to think and you say “yes this is going to be a democratic prosperous country. We’re going to be as prosperous as the United Arab Emirates or maybe even more. “

But, as time you know went by, you started to see all of those hopes and dreams getting crushed really really slowly and gradually. So, it was a very big disappointment, a very very big disappointment.

Robin Lustig:

Lubna Naji returned to school in June 2003 and she went on to study medicine.





Friday, 15 March 2019

Bloody Sunday leaks





Video link https://youtu.be/Yvc852TztSs

Bugged telephone conversation from Victoria Barracks, Derry on Bloody Sunday 1972.

                Bloody Sunday

Leaked calls by the British Army



First call, between two officers.



First Officer (Alan):

Bombadier Phillips is here, what does he want?

Second Officer:

I don’t know, what does he want?

First Officer:

Emm… look it’s presented to have been a hell of a sort out.

The whole thing’s in chaos.

Second Officer:

Yeah, obviously.

First Officer:

I think it’s gone badly wrong in the Rossvilles… the doctor’s just been up the hospital and they’re pulling stiffs out there as fast as they can get them out.

Second Officer:

There’s nothing wrong with that Alan.

First Officer:

Well, there is because they’re the wrong people. There’s about nine, between nine and fifteen killed by the paratroopers in the Rossville area. They’re all women, children fuck knows what, and they’re still going up there.

I mean their pigs [Saracens] are just full of bodies, and there’s a 3-tonner up there with bodies in.

Second Officer:

Yeah, it’s alright. Stiffs all over the place and Mount.

First Officer:

Mount’s involved is he?

Second Officer:

Mount was down there, yeah. Yeah fucking [indecipherable]

 First Officer:

But the padre’s a bit upset, he’s going up to see the commander about all the ill-treatment.

Second Officer:

General Ford?

First Officer:

Yeah.

Second Officer:

He was lapping it up.

First Officer:

Who was?

Second Officer:

Ford.

First Officer:

Was he?

Second Officer:

Yeah, he said it was the best thing he’d seen for a long time.

First Officer:

Interesting isn’t it?

Second Officer:

“Well done 1st Para,” he said. “Look at them, 24 million dollars.”

First Officer:

Good excellent.

Second Officer:

And he said you know this is what should happen.

First Officer:

Yeah.

Second Officer:

He said we were far too passive and, I’ll tell you later.

First Officer:

Yeah okay, bye bye.

Second Officer:

Ciao.



Second call, between an officer (Tony) and a journalist (Max Hastings) for the BBC.

Max Hastings:

Hello Press?

Officer Tony:

Hello, I’m Tony [indecipherable] yes?

Hastings:

Oh sorry to bother you, Max Hastings at BBC.

Officer:

Hello, Max. are you here around?

Hastings:

Very much so, yes.

Officer:

Hmmmm,

Hastings:

I was just going to ask what the latest score was?

Officer:
Ummm… Yeah. We just are referring everybody off to Northern Ireland [HQ] now. Ah, we are working out.

Hastings:

No, no no no, I won’t say what- by the latest score I don’t just mean by how many have been killed. Let’s say, just how many soldiers have been killed?

Officer:

None.

Hastings:

No soldiers?

Officer:

No.

Hastings:

And civilian casualties, what is the situation in Bogside as far as you know?

Officer:

At this moment?

Hastings:

Yeah.

Officer:

Ummm.

Hastings:

Are the Parachute regiment still there? In there?

Officer:

Oh no. they were only in for a short while.

Hastings:

Yeah.

Officer:

A short devastating moment. Umm, no all is quiet now in the Bogside.

Hastings:

All is quiet now yeah? And there’s been no shooting now for what? Several hours?

Officer:

That’s true.

Hastings:

And what is the sort of holding the line, William street and all the rest of it, or are they even pulled off there?

Officer:

Oh, I think that’s all come down now.

Hastings:

All come down?

Officer:

Let me just check a moment, Max. just hang on a moment.

Max the troops are all withdrawing to their normal Londonderry deployments.

Hastings:

Yeah.

Officer:

The reserve forces have been now withdrawn.

Hastings:

Yeah.

Officer:

And that there have been no incidents in the last couple of hours.

Hastings:

No incidents for two hours?

Officer:

That’s right.

Hastings:

Is there any- you say that Northern Ireland [HQ] is working out all the details of how

Officer:

Northern Ireland [HQ] ummm  [indecipherable] I’ve just been ringing up Northern Ireland [HQ], I’m from there. Just ringing up and saying “Hello what’s happening?” Because we’re referring people along there, and I was interested to know what sort of answer they’re getting.

Hastings:

Oh well well. And the Bogside as far as you know is quote quiet unquote?

Offcier:

Uh, correct.

Hastongs:

Good God [chuckling laughter] alright.

Officer:

How long you here for Max?

Hastings:

Umm several weeks I’m afraid. But we’re just trying to get an interview with your General, General Ford tomorrow.

Officer:

Yeah, were you all up with us today?

Hastings:

Yes we were, but we’ve now returned to Belfast.

Officer:

You’re in Belfast now?

Hastings:

Yeah, but uh we may have to come back to Derry if our soldiers carry on shooting people at this remarkable rate.

Officer:

Ah hahahaha, Well yes, I’m from Belfast myself and I think it’s entirely a good trend myself.

Hastings:

Well it’s something I would’ve thought that the Bogside might take a dim view of. But em anyway many thanks.

Officer:

Okay then.

Hastings:

Alright, bye

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Green Anarchism by Corin Bruce





Bruce argues that green anarchism is the most coherent form of anarchist thought because it challenges hierarchy and exploitation in ways generally unacknowledged by social anarchism: animal liberation and social ecology.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Thoughts on Peterson, Zizek and debate as a concept




Peterson V Zizek: Dawn of For-Profit Clickbait Debate! An enormous thank you to my now over 1000 subscribers! That number means a lot to me, and I appreciate everyone sticking with me thins long. Now an apology for my sick, sad, slow mumbling. I was home ill and had a day to kill, and considering I have no hobbies or interests in general, made a video about the latest internet buzz. Note: While some tickets sold for $80, those tickets were some of the earliest available and sold out fast. I realised this and wanted to use the most extreme price point in my video, but understand I should have said something along the lines of "cost some people up to $1000". If you want to see more of me follow me on twitter @The_Infranaut or check out my website at Tumblr.com/infranaut. Some clips from Community's "Debate 109" episode. Opening Diddy is "Your Parent's Cocaine" by the Coup. The rest of the music is courtesy of Youtube, including "Flow" by MK2, "Sad Sunday" by W's Jammy Jams and "Acid Jazz" by Kevin Macleod.
So, Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Zizek have decided to have a debate. Can't say I'm surprised both of them are as aggressive self promoters as Niall Ferguson. This caught the parts of the internet I like to frequent by storm, and many are eagerly awaiting the massive defeat of the arch enemy. I can't see the future but I suspect they'll either be disappointed or think they've gotten just what they've wanting and ignore that the other side of the audience will be thinking much the same.

The video I've linked above has demonstrated a lot of the problems with debates. I used to canvass debates at university and in my community, it was very depressing. The audience was dominated by supporters of the two sides, with the remainder being made up of the curious. Unless one debater was very poor, and I don't mean his argument was weak I mean poor in style, there was very little change in audience. Largely it seemed to be an exercise in group validation, partisans attended to here one of their idols speak and they always regarded their side as having "won" the debate.

But what surprised me was that there didn't seem to be much movement amongst the undecided group either. If there were some people changing their minds and favouring one speaker over the other the reason given was usually personal, like their charisma or ability to make the complex seem simple. I can't recall a single person saying something like "I was on the fence until the pros mentioned ____ and I realised their argument made a lot of sense" or " I don't think the Cons side had a very good grasp of the figures, and their conclusions seemed very optimistic".

There's also a very interesting case study of how little impact debates have on changing opinions,  BBC Question Time is a very old weekly show that's a debate between politicians and social commentator types, novelists, journalists, comedians etc.

I know many of the local politicals in my area, including current and former council and parliament candidates. They all watch it weekly, and scrabble to get tickets to sit in the audience when it comes to our area, and I can't think of a single person whose political views have shifted as a result of the program. They just watch it to agree with their side making points and sneer at the opposition making theirs. The only real change I've noticed is that some of them over the years have gotten sick of the program.

Infamously in an attempt to boost ratings the show hosted Nick Griffin the then leader of the far right British National Party (BNP). The whole program was essentially just everyone on else on the panel taking pot shots at him and ridiculing and challenging his horrible views. The liberal types like to congratulate themselves on a thorough debunking and humiliation for the would be Fuhrer, but this is just hot air. The elections that took place after that Question Time episode the BNP enjoyed their best election results. In terms of vote share they came in fifth place out of the parties that stood throughout the UK.

So, I'll probably be ignoring this one assuming they do make it viewable online for free anyway. I'm sure many people will make supercuts of the best bits if I get curious.


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