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28 May 2007
In place of a posting...
In place of a posting you get this, an explanation as to why postings are so few and far between.

I am working to create content for my pay site which is due to go live next month. Time is not of the essence, so the blog is having to take second place. Put bluntly, the pay site is about earning money, the blog I do for love.

I spent today photographing the ruins at Teotehuacan and have come home with a nasty case of sun burn. Having smothered my face in lotion, I am now going to bed.

Do you like the clock that you can see just to the right of this post? It is set to Mexico City time, which is six hours behind that of the UK. We are on central time, for those of you in the USA and Canada.
25 May 2007
Trying to hide the truth by smearing the truth tellers
Neil Clark is a journalist and blogger who tends to get the little things wrong, but the big things very, very right. He reminds me a bit of Andrew Gilligan, the former BBC reporter, who reported back in 2003 that the Blairite regime had "sexed up" a dossier full of allegations about Iraq, in the run up to the aggression against that country. Gilligan got some of his small details wrong, but the big one, the one that stated that this dossier was seriously dodgy, he got bang to rights.

So it is with Neil Clark. He commented that Bernard Kouchner, the new French Foreign Minister, had supported the war against Iraq. This is not the case, but it is also not the main point that Neil was making. What he was arguing was that Kouchner's appointment reflects a new "alliance of neoconservatives and liberal interventionists that is already entrenched in both the US and Britain".

That Kouchner falls into the latter category is not in question. Indeed, Neil has a rather nice photograph of him shaking hands with various Kosovo Liberation Army types, and he did support the war against Yugoslavia in 1999. So Neil's argument seems to stand: the alliance between liberal- interventionists and neo-cons is up and running.

As with Gilligan, the warwankers are not seeking to deny this fact. Rather they are seeking to discredit Neil's argument by pointing out his minor errors.

Boys, Andrew Gilligan was right about Iraq, just as Neil Clark is right about you.

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21 May 2007
Thoughts on London
I was in London from the end of February to the beginning of April. Time enough to look around the city that I lived in for a year and which I had always thought of as England's premier city. I had been back on other trips, but never for so long, and never with the intention of staying there. This time I wanted to look at London differently: did I really want to live there?

About a year earlier I had spoken to an Englishman who had just arrived in Mexico. He made the comment that "London isn't England any more". He didn't say anything else; he just fixed me with a stare, just to make sure that I got the message. I can see his eyes, in my mind's eye, as I type these words. London isn't England any more...

The old London working class have been decanted - or have decanted themselves - into the new towns and suburbs that ring the capital. Essex to the east and Milton Keynes to the north, that is where the old London is still to be found. This has been going on for many years, but it has speeded up considerably while I have been away.

To take their place, to occupy the old districts, the middle class have moved in. To provide the cheap labour that is the talk of the smart dinner parties, in have come the East Europeans, Africans and Asians. A Chinaman sells pirate DVDs in Putney, and African tried to flog me a copy of a Rolex watch and the Eastern Europeans are the skilled labourers , the plumbers, mechanics and general factotums. They keep the wages down and prevent northerners, who would love to do those jobs, from moving in.

Nobody complains because nobody seems to be suffering. The old working class have moved out to nicer pastures. They commute into the city to work and then flee back home at night. The middle class are very happy because they benefit from the cheap labour, besides they can pat each other on the back and tell each other how liberal and tolerant London has become.

Underneath this calm people are unhappy. They worry about job security, about the long and gruelling hours that they work, and above all they worry about the price of houses. People are not happy, but there is not one political party that articulates their grievances. So all they do is complain.

Political involvement is at record lows. Probably the Iraq War has something to do with this. Over two million people turned out to protest at the coming aggression in 2003 and they were ignored. Turnout has fallen to record lows because all three main parties are dominated by upper middle class professionals who all share the same values and articulate the same ideology. What is the point of getting involved with any of that?

The city keeps going, but the smooth efficiency that I remember from the 1970s is gone, and probably gone forever. The underground trains keep breaking down, buses do not arrive on time, and everything costs an arm and a leg.

Service no longer exists. I went to a branch of PC World to ask about software. Nobody there even understood my question. Why are they not trained? Probably because it costs money and once fully trained they would demand higher pay. Far better to let the punter suffer and refer him to the website. British Airways no longer have an office outside the airports - the one that used to be at Oxford Circus closed last year. Everything is done on the web, until someone has a question that cannot be answered by a machine and then he has to wait over an hour to speak to a real live person on the telephone.

I took one look at that city and decided to return to Mexico. If I am going to live in a badly run shithole, that nobody cares about, then at least the weather is nice here.
18 May 2007
A lesson for leakers
A former civil servant and an MP's researcher have just been banged up for six and three months respectively. Their crime was to try and leak the infamous "Let's bomb al-Jazeera" memorandum of talks that took place between the Chimp and his favourite little doggie in April 2004.

A full analysis of the significance of all this can be found here, but the Exile has one question: Why didn't they release the memo on the web? If they had done that within minutes every anti-war site all over the world would have copied it and reposted it. Nothing could have stopped its dissemination.

Instead what these two men did was give the document to a Labour MP who handed it back to the government. Face has been saved all round, the two putative leakers are in jail and we still don't know exactly what other dirt the document contains.

People, dish the dirt on the web - you know it makes sense.


16 May 2007
Starting the blog again
The last post announced the blog's suspension; obviously this one is about starting it up again.

I returned to Mexico a month ago, and have been pretty much tied up with other projects since then. Now that I have a bit of free time it is time to start the blogging routine again.

Folks, I will be back soon with a report on London, England, and my trip over there.