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Tim Blair on Spleenville

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Sat Jan 29, 2005


Please visit the updated site here.

Posted by: tim on Jan 29, 05 | 11:56 am | Profile

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Mon Jan 24, 2005


An Anarcho-Stupidist makes his point during George W. Bush's inauguration:


Check the wan, sensitive, ethereal expression ... you cannot possibly know of my inner torment, you oil-minded Republican brutes! I exist on a higher plane! Oh, and let's bomb Texas!

The guy in the bear head, though ... cool.

(Via a reader in D.C.)

UPDATE. The Dissident Frogman has just the thing to cheer up our sour-faced friend.

Posted by: tim on Jan 24, 05 | 12:50 am | Profile

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Sun Jan 23, 2005


The Age's Guy Rundle slams ugly Melbourne architecture, and asks:

How, in what was once one of the greatest of all 19th century cities, did we get to this point? The short answer, of course, is capitalism ...

That's Rundle's answer to every question that asks why something is bad. He's particularly angered by a new building that he says is "the ugliest, most featureless pile" constructed in Melbourne since the 1830s:

A dozen storeys high, windowless on three sides and painted a nasty mustard colour - to hide the nasty grey underneath - it is an anti-triumph, a construction so devoid of feature and style as to make the average Holiday Inn look like the Bilbao Guggenheim.

It still sounds better than the Age building (small image here), which is easily one of the ugliest objects in Australia. Talk about a featureless pile; it's even built in the form of a pile. That thing could depress an East German. A Minsk tractor factory worker would die from deja vu. So, what's Rundle's big solution to all the unattractiveness?

Governments rather than the market setting standards about what is built in this city, so that development adds to our heritage rather than subtracting from it.

Rundle doesn't mention the last major architectural advance achieved by a Victorian government: gigantic, uniform, revolting housing commission flats that scar several inner-city suburbs and effectively function as low-security prisons. As for market standards ... many houses once scheduled for demolition to allow construction of yet more commission flats now sell for amounts that only Age writers can afford. Go live in a housing commission flat, Rundle. Celebrate the beauty.

UPDATE. Terry Lane, another anti-capitalist (in 2005!) Age columnist:

This year could be the one in which Australia becomes more like Soeharto's Indonesia, or George W. Bush's America, and less like the civilised nations of Europe, where capital and labour have a more sophisticated and subtle understanding of the tension between the two that is necessary for civilisation to flourish.

France is really flourishing. If it flourished any more it'd be dead.

Posted by: tim on Jan 23, 05 | 11:31 pm | Profile

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The Washington Post's Jackie Spinner meets a calm and reasonable Baghdad resident who turned against the US after ... well, you'll find out soon enough. The sequence of extracts below is altered from the original to more closely describe events as they are alleged to have occurred:

By all accounts, Imaad, 32, was a typical, mild-mannered college graduate who spoke English well and had quietly supported the U.S. presence in Iraq -- until Jan. 5, the night the soldiers came.

The night they came -- for vengeance!

His story about that night, told days later in his small living room, is the story of how the U.S. military made an enemy of one man during a 20-minute encounter.

A 20-minute encounter -- with terror!

On the night of Jan. 5, Imaad and his mother, Um Imaad -- both of whom declined to give their full names for fear of retribution -- were watching a movie in the living room.

In the living room -- of impending bloodthirsty murderingness! (reader: quit it. tim: okay)

Imaad said they were startled by a loud banging at the door. He went quickly to open it. When he did, Imaad said, there were about a dozen U.S. soldiers standing with their guns pointed at his head.

Every single one of them?

Imaad and his mother said the soldiers rushed in, ordering them to sit together while they searched the house. "You look poor," Imaad recalled one of the soldiers saying. "Why?"

Seems an unusual thing for a soldier to say. Maybe he was a Sociology Commando.

Imaad answered in English: "I have not been able to find a job, although I'm a graduate of the College of Arts." His heart was pounding, Imaad said.

As well it might. For we are about to reach this story's moment of Hitchcockian ultra-horror:

The soldiers went to search his bedroom. He heard laughing, and then they called for him, he said. Imaad went to his room and saw that the soldiers had ...


Posted by: tim on Jan 23, 05 | 10:53 pm | Profile

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Via LGF, news that Germany is getting serious:

German officials are drawing up lists of hundreds of Islamic militants to be deported from the country under a new law making expulsions easier, the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel said on Saturday.

Der Spiegel said authorities were already using their powers under an immigration law introduced this month in conducting an operation dubbed "Aktion Kehraus" ("Action Sweep Out").

Under new rules, potential deportees will not be able to use normal legal channels to challenge an expulsion order. A special panel of the Federal Administrative Court will be responsible, with no right of appeal.

Sounds dandy. The Australian government should float a similar idea, just for entertainment purposes. On the subject of Germany and extremists, check out this VW satire; Adweek describes the mock commercial as disturbing. Mustn't laugh at suicidal fundamentalists! Their feelings may be hurt.

(Via Andrew Sullivan, taken to task here and here for lack of linkage.)

Posted by: tim on Jan 23, 05 | 6:10 pm | Profile

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John Pilger -- one of the Australians who matter, according to a newspaper that doesn't -- will next month open a photographic exhibition to celebrate the peace movement's magnificent triumphs:


That "peace education forum" sounds like fun. Issue for discussion: "The Taliban has been routed, Saddam arrested, and Howard and Bush re-elected; are we the most pathetic mass movement in history, or what?"

(Via Evil Pundit)

Posted by: tim on Jan 23, 05 | 4:26 pm | Profile

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Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, whose previous remarks placed him firmly within Islam's "ridiculous maniac" wing, seems to have joined a more moderate faction:

As millions of faithful marked Eid Al-Adha yesterday, Muslims were warned against heeding militant calls to wage terrorist attacks in the name of Islam.

The warning came, amid a surge in militant attacks in Muslim countries and beyond, from Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, while addressing Haj pilgrims in a customary Eid sermon. The imam also advised Islamic scholars to preach moderation to confront this "rotten" phenomenon.

"Islam is the religion of moderation. There is no room for extremism in Islam," he said.

He called on Muslims to "protect non-Muslims in the Kingdom and not to attack them in the country or anywhere. Islam is a religion of peace that abhors attack on innocents." Militants were using misguided interpretations of Islam to justify violence, he added.

"Because Muslims have strayed from moderation, we are now suffering from this dangerous phenomenon of branding people infidels and inciting Muslims to rise against their leaders to cause instability," Al-Sudais said.

"The reason for this is a delinquent and void interpretation of Islam based on ignorance ... faith does not mean killing Muslims or non-Muslims who live among us, it does not mean shedding blood, terrorizing or sending body parts flying."

Well said. And thanks for not mentioning "pigs and monkeys" this time.

(Via reader Gene Dillenburg)

Posted by: tim on Jan 23, 05 | 3:52 pm | Profile

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The French are a nation of depressed pessimists, wracked with self-doubt and unable to see a positive future. Who says so? The French:

This gloomy portrait of the current state of Gallic morale - or rather the lack of it - was made public yesterday in a damning report by France's prefects, the country's top administrators.

"The French no longer believe in anything," the report said. "That is the reason that the situation is relatively calm, for they believe that it is not even worthwhile expressing their opinions or trying to be heard any more."

The country's 100 prefects went on to use the words "lifelessness", "resignation", "anxiety" and "pessimism" to describe the attitudes they believe prevail in France today.

Adele Horin will be shattered.

* Nation of sadness update:

A man who went missing five weeks ago in south-western France has been found alive in an underground cave system where he had got lost.

Jean-Luc Josuat-Verges, 48, told police he survived by eating wood and clay.

Mr Josuat-Verges left his home on 18 December suffering from depression and telling his wife he wanted to be alone for a time, local newspapers said.

Posted by: tim on Jan 23, 05 | 2:48 am | Profile

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Oh no! Iraqi prisoners are being mistreated. Americans aren't involved, however, so there's no need for any leftoid outrage:

A Danish army intelligence officer and four military police sergeants have been charged with mistreating Iraqi prisoners in southern Iraq last year.

Captain Annemette Hommel was charged with four counts of negligence while on duty in March, April and June 2004.

All five are accused of verbal abuse of detainees, denying them food and water, and forcing them to kneel in discomfort during interrogation.

Sweet Miss Hommel seems such an unlikely target for these accusations. Hey, maybe there is a way for the caring left to get angry about this ... behold: the smoking gun!

(From J.F. Beck)

Posted by: tim on Jan 23, 05 | 2:41 am | Profile

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* Italy's Joy of Knitting reports: "In the opening shots for the electoral campaign (there will be regional elections in April) Silvio Berlusconi, whose specialty is to get into trouble for stating the obvious, said that communism brought nothing but poverty and death. As was to be imagined, all hell broke loose."

* Gordon King is concerned about his daughter: "For example, when playing Zoo Tycoon 2 she devises the most elaborate methods to muster then trap crowds of park visitors, after which she releases various combinations of predators to attack and kill them."

* Moonbats in tinfoil hats!

* No matter where on earth you live, there's still time for you to make it to the Hole in the Wall Huckfest Weekend.

* Who will the new ALP leader be? Nobody cares, but Quentin George has all bases covered just in case. (Kevin Rudd is doomed, incidentally, since he's just won the endorsement of Mark Latham/Wes Clark/John Kerry teenage fanclub member Chris Sheil.)

* You will enjoy Mohammed's reply to New York Times credibility drain Sarah Boxer.

* Outstanding Britisher Harry Hutton: "In my opinion it is better that thirty innocent men go to jail than that a single villain gets away with something. As luck would have it, the last five or six Home Secretaries have all enthusiastically agreed with me."

* I once spent a year studying at the University of New England and several subsequent years trying to figure out why. Looks like I dodged a bullet.

* Goodyear is now manufacturing replicas of the company's old competition tyres:


Posted by: tim on Jan 23, 05 | 1:07 am | Profile

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