Sunday, July 30, 2006

Girlistic

The first issue of Girlistic, an online feminist magazine, has selected the article "Fuck off with your "non-invasive procedures" - I'm a poet-warrior!" (see original post in April 2006 Archive) by our own Kedazzle for its pilot issue, due out in December of this year of our Lord.

Kedazzle has requested that Girlistic refer her article back to The Rhexis, and they have agreed so to refer.

Hats off and trousers down!

Yep, Israel's Fucked

I find it very, very hard to give a damn about the Middle East. I know that's not right, and it's certainly not in general character, but it's true.

When this latest tiring episode of the petty, bitter, and seemingly interminable turmoil in that region was reported, BBC News ran the headline "MIDDLE EAST CRISIS". When, since my birth or yours, has it not been in crisis? This series of erosive conflicts has been progressing without promise of resolution for over eight decades. The "Middle East Crisis" is a state of being, a normality, for those of us young enough not to have fought Kaiser Wilhelm's hordes of pointy-hatted Huns. I can't imagine Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, et al, not shelling, raiding, sacking, raping, or suicide bombing one another over trivial border disputes or dogmatic differences.

Part of me has given up caring; part of me has given hope of ever achieving peace; part of me just doesn't know better.


Cross-posted from a comment I made on this post on my friend Adam's LiveJournal. His LJ is very good for intricate dissection of Israeli and Israelite culture and politics, by the way.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bank Fines Are Illegal

Yes, you read what I wrote. It is illegal for any bank, building society, or credit union to invoice you for any quantity of cash beyond the actual expenses you have incurred them. So states Common Law, Statute, and consumer rights as dictated by the Office of Fair Trading.

So, follow these steps, and with the information gathered, send your bank this letter, and you can kiss your over-the-odds charging woes goodbye, and look forward to a jurisprudent rebate to boot.

/SXV

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Minor International Injustice #∞

An e-mail I picked up a little late.

Nick Clegg MP to [SXV]

Today we won an unprecedented victory against the Government in a debate on the lop-sided Extradition Treaty with the United States.

Three former employees of Nat West bank, together with south Londoner Babar Ahmed and up to 20 more British residents, face extradition to the United States under a treaty signed in 2003 that grants fewer rights to British citizens than to Americans.

Just four Labour MPs voted in favour of the treaty in the symbolic vote called by the Liberal Democrats this afternoon.

UK citizens can be extradited to the US without the United States having to make a clear "prima facie" case that they committed a crime. Yet we need to meet a much higher level of proof if we wish to extradite US citizens to the UK.

Adding insult to injury, the Government hasn't even convinced the US Senate to ratify the treaty.

The Liberal Democrats have been campaigning against this treaty for three years - ever since it was signed. We were the only party that voted against the extradition rules when they were brought into force.

But the battle isn't over: the Nat West Three, to be extradited tomorrow, are only the tip of the iceberg. Many other extradition cases are in the pipeline, and will be decided under this unfair treaty unless the Government acts now.

Thanks to today's debate and vote, the House of Commons has signalled its clear condemnation of the Extradition Treaty. Now we need you to do the same.

Please write to the Solicitor General and ask him to support my Extradition (United States of America) Bill that would repeal parts of the Extradition Act 2003 and bring an end to these unfair extradition procedures:

Mike O'Brien
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

(Personal letters are the most effective way of lobbying him).

With your help, we can put even more pressure on the Government to take action.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg
Shadow Home Secretary, Liberal Democrats

PS Please do also encourage other people to write to him. If you have your own blog or website, perhaps you could also mention this letter-writing campaign there?

-------
The small print:
This email was sent to [SXV] because, according to our records, you have given us permission to email you. If you believe a mistake has been made, or if you do not wish to receive emails in the future, please reply to this message giving details. You can opt-out of emails containing news and / or opt out of emails containing financial appeals.

Printed (dispatched), published and promoted by and on behalf of Liberal Democrats, 4 Cowley Street, London, SW1P 3NB, (020) 7222 7999.


This is our Solicitor General. A précis of his performance is available on the excellent They Work for You, and more thoroughly on the superlative Public Whip. Unfortunately, Mike O'Brien doesn't seem to have an e-mail address, and damned if I'm walking five minutes down the road to buy an envelope to write to him. Still, thought you might like to know...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Don't Run Your Country Like A Company, Mrs. Walmington

I had a very interesting argument the other day. I was attempting, on the behalf of a friend of mine, to persuade the gentleman in question of the disturbing implications of a National Identity Card system, and, disturbingly, not doing very well. I brought out all the usual points - the general iniquity of the current administration, the violation of the right to privacy, the fact that it's unclear who gets access to the centralised database and when - but kept getting rebuffed by the assertion that these problems with the proposal simply meant that it was a waste of money, rather than a Bad and Terrifying Thing. This is emblematic of a creeping commercial moronism and needs to be Stamped On.

EXPLANATION: Because, in the benighted U of K, we now lack any kind of real ideological opposition between the Labour Government and the Conservative Opposition, and both espouse a neo-Thatcherite, crypto-fascist* communitarian philosophy, while presenting a broadly corporate-branded front, condemnation of political or public-service failures is no longer political, but practical. That is to say, based on efficiency. Recently, I believe, there was another of the perennial news stories in which someone refuses to pay council tax and gets banged up for their trouble. However, in this case the reasoning was the interesting bit - the person in question was refusing to pay because there was rubbish in the streets (amongst other things) and therefore the council wasn't doing its job, and therefore it didn't deserve its "fee". Equally, criticisms of the NHS claim that it's not fit for purpose and would be better off run by private concerns. This is Filth and Lies. The whole point of a public service is that you put money in, and get Heatlth and Education out. You're not looking to make a profit, or meet targets - your job is to make people better or teach people things, wheras a private firm's job is to make as much money as possible, and any teaching or healing that goes on is a side-effect. Which is why (if it is indeed the case) public services are in such a mess, because if you try to treat an organisation designed for essentially non-commercial means like a corporation, it doesn't work.

And exactly the same thing is wrong with British politics.
I'm frankly uninterested in who can play the "Centre-Right Middle England Authoritarian Warmaker" game best, because political parties aren't meant to be machines for governing - if anything, that's what Parliament is for - the parties themselves should ideally be some sort of Hegelian dialectic, where politicians of all persuasions are forced, in the crucible of debate, to justify their shit. At the moment, there can be no ideological debate because the current nature of Government is being taken as axiomatic - the only game in town, if you will. Corporations operate on a different ethical level from more or less everything else, in that they exist to produce money for the people that own them, but mostly to create money for themselves (which is why they outlive their creators and shareholders - the people involved are entirely contingent).

Moreover, the demands of a corporate entity can excuse some fairly unpleasant acts of bigotry - insurance rates are can be determined by race and gender, and it's entirely allowable to refuse to employ people because they don't fit the "brand" as a metonymic** excuse for exclusion by class. This is, I suppose, the end result of a full-fledged capitalistic system; that everything is judged by commercial ethics. So what we really need is an actual opposition who will take our rulers to task over their amoral antics, rather than agree on the goals but quibble over the method. Why, for example, has no-one cornered David Cameron on his abhorrence of "yob culture" and unrepentant membership of the fucking repulsive and inexcusable Bullingdon Club? Why has the Prime Minister, a man who seems to have an almost pathological aversion for the truth, not been eviscerated (either figuratively or literally; I don't care which) over his illegal wars, appointment of various fascist nutcases as Home Secretary, lying to the public about more or less everything and systematic destruction of the educative process in schools? It's not that he's "not doing his job properly" or he's "wasting our money", it's that he's an amoral monster who will do anything for approval and power and has repealed most of the basic legal rights posessed by citizens in this country and needs to be stopped right. now. It's simply not a case of "things can't possibly go wrong, because if they were, then people would be dealing with it" : the system is sick and needs fixing. Things are going very wrong indeed. I'd tell you to as Jean Charles de Menezes, except, of course, you can't.

The only possible thing to do other than fervently hope that somewhere, a minister will grow a spine, is to be the conscience that Government lacks. Maximum political action on behalf over everyone who doesn't find the idea of neo-Thatcherite authoritarian bondage appealing is the only way to deal with the corporatisation of government and the ills that stem from it. Because it's not going to fix itself.



* O for the days when "crypto-fascist" used to be an insult in public discourse.
** A metonym is where part of something stands for the rest of it: "The Crown" for "The institution of the Monarchy", for example.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Notes from Cowley Road

Swallowed my prozac wrong again this evening, leaving a small, acid lump at the back of my throat that makes it fuzzily difficult to swallow. Nonetheless, I am tentatively sipping sweet, black coffee, trying to stab my mind more awake, sting myself into writing the first scene of the new play.

Outside the window that won't open, deep shadows are gouging out the contours of the little terraces on the bullingdon road, the sun is burning down parakeet pink-and-blue over cowley, the sweet stink of takeaway and warm dustbins.

What a strange evening, strung out on nowhere like the lyrics of a song you half-remember. Listening to my favurite unsigned bands from when I was fifteen, turned up as loud as I like, as, in the house I am temporarily inhabiting, everyone else has gone home, and I am left to feed the rat and turn off the lights, my laptop glowing and humming soft and comforting in the deepening gloom.

I'm a fugitive in this house; somehow, strangely, I wish the window did open, because some primal part of the mind is half-expecting the regimental rap on the door, and I want there to be another escape route. It would take me thirty seconds to throw my whole life into the suitcase behind me.

Darkening rapidly now, outside, the shadows of the houses lengthening and gathering to consume the entire sky in a clutch of deep purple-laid-orange and a prickle of unseen stars.

Music from the house next door pulsing through the pebble-dash; I am alone tonight. Old disturbances beat upon the brain a heart's breath away, urgent and ever so close. Things with wings and many-eyed faces are chittering in the high corners of the brain, walls are thinning and draining into cracked layers through which the edging cold seeps; ever so close tonight. Ever so close.

Fugitive. Coward. Addict. Pervert. Lunatic. Writer. Liar. All of these things and, above all, half-naked nineteen-year-old girl with house to myself, I pad across the hall and switch on the kettle, the roar and little red glow like a home beacon flashing far away into the darkened kitchen.

Kettle. Mug. Teabag. Milk. Sugar. Teaspoon. Dishcloth. Kettle. Tea. Back at the desk now, my fingers aching with frustration, the steam clearing my head and cutting through the white noise.

BEGIN.

Scene 1: A kitchen-come-living area in a rather grotty student house in London. The near future. The lights are down; A kettle is boiling. Upstage is a wide sofa with a dirty coffee-table on it, which has upon it several dirty cups and a laptop, closed. Enter CHRIS, a 20-year old student, tall and dressed unprovocatively, with a bandana around her head. Chris goes to the sofa, opens the laptop and, as if typing -

CHRIS: Swallowed my pills the wrong way this morning...

Monday, July 10, 2006

rhexisMUSIC presents: I LOST MY FIRST LOVE TO THE NIGHT.

Withiel and rhexisMUSIC present a 2.5 intarwub single release from the forthcoming album Mr. Atomy's Blues Hypothesis:



SIDE ONE: I LOST MY FIRST LOVE TO THE NIGHT.

SIDE TWO: THE MORNING AFTER THE END OF THE WAR.

SPECIAL BONUS YAY: SUFFRAGETTE CITY (Bowie cover)

[This music is copyright "Withiel Black", 2006, but you're free to download and distribute it amongst as many friends, acquaintances and enemies as you like with acknowledgement of the originator and (preferably) a link back here or to the Rhexis.]