31 July 2009
Urban agriculture: the Cuban example
This is a good BBC video which looks at the urban market gardens of Havana, Cuba. The presenter makes the point that there is nothing going on in Cuba that could not be replicated by most gardeners in Britain - it is just on a larger scale, that´s all. Attempts have been made in the UK to set up urban smallholdings as this video shows, but by and large they all tend to vanish once the initial enthusiasm has worn off.
Will the same thing happen in Cuba when the American blockade is finally lifted? Nothing is ever certain when looking to the future, but the chances are that Cuban urban farming will disappear once cheap food starts to be imported.
Only the middle class romanticises the urban farmstead. Actually as the video shows, the work is long and hard, and thus it is much easier to pop along to the local supermarket and pull something off the shelves.
Which is pretty much what Cubans did before the Russians sold them out back in 1990.
30 July 2009
Give us a vote, folks
OK, folks, it´s that time of year again when Total Politics runs its best blog competition. The rules are simple, you just have to list ten blogs and email your choice to firstname.lastname@example.org. The full list of rules can be found here, so make up your list and get it in before voting ends on the 31st of this month.
I voted for myself, naturally, as number one, Neil Clark at number two and Martin Meenagh at three.
29 July 2009
Let´s negotiate with the Taliban says Nu-Labour
The British are preparing to negotiate with elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan, according to reports that are going the rounds. Actions like this were common in the 1960s as the imperial powers played their final cards, but they usually failed largely because everyone realised that the westerners were playing a poor hand out of weakness. All the locals had to do was stand firm and sooner rather than later the imperial power would negotiate its final withdrawal. Once that happened then the nationalist leaders got to stick their paws into the goodies that the state had to offer. It was far better to do that than act as the white man´s coolie, which is what attempts to split the nationalist movement involved then, just as they do today. Besides, it doesn´t take a genius to figure out that the westerners are keen to leave, so doing a deal with them at the expense of the rest of the movement runs the risk that the deal-makers will be left all alone when the withdrawal is made.
The Americans haven´t made any fuss publicly about this wheeze, probably because they are worried that the British will dump Afghanistan into their laps and leave them to fill the vacuum with American troops. So far the American public has supported the war, but there must be grave doubts as to whether they will continue to do so once the casualty rate mounts.
Watching the warmongers twist and turn is good sport, it has to be admitted.
27 July 2009
Fighting back against the creeping censorship
Last year we looked at how Nu-Labour plans to censor the blogs and the video sharing sites. It then emerged that the regime had taken powers to order the suspension of mobile 'phone services, all this as part of a wide-ranging scheme "to monitor every phone call, website visit, text message, and email in the country..."
The organised left which should be planning our response has done sweet fuck all, which leaves your friendly old exile to ask the question, just how are we going to stoke the fires when the shit hits the fan, and when the government has prevented us from communicating?
We need to look abroad for our inspiration. The Iranian rioters seem to be using video as their primary agitprop tool. A lot of the video that is kicking around is in MP4 format, which suggests that it is being passed around via mobiles, since they all use MP4. The rioters are also uploading video to YouTube and the like, which is why the government in Tehran is trying to block access to the site, and why the regime in London will want to do the same thing.
It is highly unlikely that mobile 'phone services will be cut off for days at a time. A more likely scenario is that they will go off air in the riot zones for a limited period. That means that video footage can be passed around once the services have been restored, or that activists can hop on a bus and travel outside the rioting area to find a signal. Either way this method of agitation is almost certain to remain open for use, just as it has in Iran.
More problematical is the use of the video sharing sites. Both China and Iran try to prevent access to them, but methods to overcome their schemes have been devised. Funnily enough, they have been devised by the Americans, which makes their use by us all the sweeter.
What the USA has done is to create proxy software that can be downloaded and installed on a computer. It is fairly easy for a government to block access to on-line proxies, so this method circumvents that ploy. The most well known example of proxy software is Freegate, which is used by over 200,000 computers to break down government censorship in China. Unfortunately it is only available for use in China, although rumours that it will soon become available world-wide are rife. What is available at the moment is Ultrasurf, a small bit of software that works in a similar fashion to the better known Freegate, but which can be used anywhere.
The time to start getting to grips with this is now. We cannot wait until the next time a northern city or town kicks off because, given government plans, by then it may very well be too late.
25 July 2009
Weekending: Gary Glitter
|I´ll bet that this seemed like a wonderful idea back in 1991.|
24 July 2009
First the 419 scam, now this lunacy from Ghana
You will all be familiar with the 419 scam, where an e-mail arrives one day offering you a cut in some illegal deal. Quite a lot of people have rather a lot of fun writing to the inbred primitives behind those e-mails, and getting them to do all sorts of daft things.
The latest bit of African nonsense involves girls from Ghana and the Skype internet telephone service. Quite why Ghana has become home to this wheeze is unclear - it may just be that the country has got wired up over recent years. Anyway, what the little darlings are doing is using the Skype messenger service to get in contact with as many westerners as they can. They all seem to be using public internet facilities, hence the inability to make voice calls. However, it does not take many texts before they start the sob story for money.
Girls, here´s a tip: if you introduce yourself as Ruth, say, then it is not a good idea to send out a photo marked Ellen-1.jpg. Simple things like that make the white people suspicious that maybe you are not being entirely honest with them.
Perish the thought. . .
23 July 2009
Folks I am weary so in place of a posting I am leaving you with this video of Gloria Estefan singing what is probably my favourite song. I am not the only one who admires her talents - just look at Andy Garcia´s face!
22 July 2009
Iran rioting: the web is full of videos
The government of Iran doesn't want people to watch the rioting that has rocked the country over recent weeks, but video clips of it are now flooding the web to provide yet more proof that censoring anything these days is next to impossible.
Watching these clips that first thing that becomes apparent is just how tech-savy the demonstrators seem to be. Consider the above as a case in point. Someone shot the video, and at about the twenty second point another man appears in the frame also grabbing the scene on his mobile ´phone. It is as if almost every demonstrator is also a budding film-maker, something that we are seeing more and more in every third world riot.
The other thing that is apparent is just how relatively few rioters are on the streets. In some clips they clearly number in the thousands, but that is nowhere near the millions who turned out in 1979 to overthrow the Shah. Those westerners who are hoping for a re-run of the events of thirty years ago will probably be in for a disappointment.
We will keep an eye on the situation over in Iran, but on the basis of the video clips that have come down the line, the government in Tehran is in no real danger.
21 July 2009
The end of the Afghan War is near
As far as the UK is concerned, it is now obvious to an increasing majority of people that the war in Afghanistan has become unwinnable. One reason for this is the refusal of the government to increase taxes to normal wartime levels: in other words, the regime has to continue fighting the war on the cheap.
That is not to say that such a tax increase would actually mean that victory is on the horizon, but it would mean that the looming disaster could at least be postponed for a few more years. Time at least, to hand off the problem to a regime in Kabul that might be able to hang on for a few months after the western withdrawal has been completed, thus to save a few faces in London and Washington.
The problem is that the Nu-Labour government cannot even think about raising taxes because if the electorate even sniffed at such an idea, then the governments rating would fall from the floor into the basement.
How the war will actually end is still impossible to say, but what is clear from recent events is that imperialism has shot its bolt and everyone is now just waiting for the final withdrawal orders to be issued.
20 July 2009
Royal Ascot Upskirt Video
This video was e-mailed to me on a no names, no pack drill basis, and I just know that all you Royal Ascot upskirt fans will love it. The blog still gets about a dozen hits a day from Ascot Upskirt aficionados who enjoy looking at the series of photos that we posted last year. Well, here is a video to amuse you even more.
The girl in the black panties is called Suzy Perry, but other than that the Exile knows nothing about her. Information in the comment box please.
Naz Sarker or Gimlet Kamm: who is the most clueless?
Did Naz Sarker give "the most hapless political interview of the year"? Iain Dale thinks that he did, but watch the video and decide for yourselves.
What is clear from Dale´s report is that neither of the two main parties looks set to win Reading at the next election, since the Tories are running some chancer named Alok Sharma. This seat looks like a shoo-in for the Liberal-Democrats or the BNP.
Naz Sarker may or may not be completely hapless, but there can be no doubt as to who the most clueless blogger in town is. Step forward Gimlet Kamm, since he´s the short arsed little fucker who can´t even post a YouTube video without fucking things up. If you are using Firefox, click on the link and see how the video screen cuts across Gimlet´s template. In Explorer the template seems to cut into the screen´s border, and God knows what it all looks like in Opera or any other browser.
Someone should tell Gimlet how to edit the screen size, but in the meantime all that we can do is to remind the little maggot that folk who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
Elyse Downs, the crying sorority girl
This is Elyse Downs, and late last year she decided to "make it snow" in an Alfa Chi Omega dormitory hallway at the University of Oklahoma. She did this by setting off a fire extinguisher, something which her father seems to have done in his student days. However, in her case the chemicals in the foam seem to have triggered the fire alarm, thus waking up the entire sorority in the middle of an examination week. Now as she blubs, everyone but God hates her.
The video was probably shot by Brianna DeCassios, who for reasons that only a bimbo could understand, then uploaded it to YouTube. It seems that she then had second thoughts and spent weeks trying to get it pulled, only to find that someone else had reposted it. Once a video goes viral, dearie, you can forget that idea.
Enough background: just watch the video and I defy you not to emerge pissing yourself laughing.
18 July 2009
Weekending: Fancy a slash?
|Have a great weekend!|
17 July 2009
Porn revolutionised technology, but not as the Independent thinks
The Independent has a story written by no less than three hacks which manages to get its conclusion right, but which has a fair bit of its evidence just plain wrong.
The argument that technology is porn driven is neither new nor controversial. The internet, mobile telephones and digital cameras have all been driven by hand shandyism, but the rest of the Indy´s piece is simply off the wall. Super 8mm was introduced by Kodak to give the company a propriety home movie format that was as easy to use as Standard 8mm - porn had nothing to do with it. Neither did it have anything to do with the triumph of VHS over Betamax in the early 1980s. The latter´s cassettes did not run for just an hour as the report states, and even if they had, most wank vids in those days were little more than 30 minutes in length. What did for Betamax was Sony´s refusal to licence the technology to third parties - and to keep the price of their machines far too high.
Where porn did have an effect was in the failure of digital video disks to take off in the mid 1980s. The porn trade had just switched over from film to video and was not willing to make the investment needed to ensure the success of the digital disks.
So the porn trade has greatly influenced the growth of technology, and sometimes has held that growth back, something which this report ignores completely. Hard to believe that it took three well-paid hacks to write it.
16 July 2009
Change of URL
I doubt if many people are reading this as the blog´s old URL is no longer valid. It expired while I was in hospital and the domain was then grabbed by a company in the USA. They haven´t done anything with it as yet, so the blog still shows at the old address, albeit without updates.
If you are reading this please update any links that you may have to the Exile to show the blog´s new URL:
Mexican Police Showdown
Here´s something that should raise a sardonic laugh or two: Mexican federal cops in a showdown with their local counterparts in Nuevo Leon. Basically the former had been sent to arrest the latter for cooperating with the drug gangs, but as you can see, the locals had ideas of their own.
Anyway, now you know why this part of the planet is called the third world - it´s because it is so third rate.
10 July 2009
Guess what? I am still alive and was discharged from hospital at the end of May. The lack of postings since then owes everything to a broken down computer, however, I am still not fully recovered from my surgery so postings in the immediate future will be few and far between. That said my recovery is proceeding apace and I expect to be back posting very soon.