Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Road Warrior

This is a homemade armoured vehicle being used by the Kurdish YPG militia in north-east Syria (the photo is from the Avashin Twitter account). It's interesting to wonder about the influence of films like Mad Max on this, although improvised armoured fighting vehicles date back to the Spanish Civil War.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The 嫦娥 Has Landed

A video of the Chinese "Jade Rabbit" lander touching down on the Moon. As various people on the internet are pointing out, if you're under 37, these are the first pictures taken on the surface of the Moon during your lifetime.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Beaucoup Theories

There's supposed to be a half-dozen or six dozen or two dozen more fucking plots in the works, like the fucking assassination metaphysic is just out there too undeniably -

- James Ellroy, American Tabloid (1995)

Theories! We were almost lost in theories, there were so many of them.

- Inspector Frederick Abberline, lead investigator of the "Jack The Ripper" murders, quoted in Cassell's Saturday Journal, May 22nd 1892

Monday, November 18, 2013

Red Heat

The Blog Vintage Everyday has some great Soviet police posters dating from the 1950s to the 1980s. Here are my favourites:

Soviet Police 1

Soviet Police 2
Soviet law enforcement was equipped with the MASSIVE SLEEVES OF JUSTICE.

Soviet Police 3
In fairness, this isn't much creeper than police posters I see in contemporary Britain.

Soviet Police 4
I would watch the hell out of this film.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Up to now, the Nazis, if somewhat halfhearted in the concealment of their crimes, have nevertheless kept up a superficial discretion that has enabled some people to avert their gaze from the regime’s true nature. With Lidice, the scales have fallen from the whole world’s eyes. In the days that follow, Hitler will understand. For once, it is not his SS who will be let loose but an entity whose power he does not fully grasp: world opinion. Soviet newspapers declare that, from today, people will fight with the name Lidice on their lips – and they’re right. In England, miners from Stoke-on-Trent launch an appeal to raise money for the future reconstruction of the village and come up with a slogan that will be echoed all around the world: 'Lidice shall live!' In the United States, in Mexico, in Cuba, in Venezuela and Uruguay and Brazil, town squares and districts, even villages, are renamed Lidice. Egypt and India broadcast messages of solidarity. Writers, composers, filmmakers and dramatists pay homage to Lidice in their works. The news is relayed by newspapers, radio, and television. In Washington, D.C., the naval secretary declares: 'If future generations ask us what we were fighting for, we shall tell them the story of Lidice.' The name of the martyred village is scrawled on the bombs dropped by the Allies on German cities, while in the East, Soviet soldiers do the same on the gun turrets of their T34s. By reacting like the crude psychopath that he is (rather than the head of state that he also is), Hitler will suffer his most devastating defeat in a domain he once mastered: by the end of the month the international propaganda war will be irredeemably lost.

But on June 10, 1942, neither he nor anyone else is aware of all this – least of all Gabčík and Kubiš. The news of the village’s destruction plunges the two parachutists into horror and despair. More than ever, they are wracked by guilt. No matter that they have rid Czechoslovakia and the world of one of its most evil creatures – they feel as if they themselves have killed the inhabitants of Lidice.

No one ever manages to persuade them that Heydrich’s death was good for anything.

Perhaps I am writing this book to make them understand that they are wrong.

 - Laurent Binet, HHhH (2012)

Monday, September 02, 2013

A Gazely Stare

Now all I have to do is work out the single most unsettling place in the house to put it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

No One Here Gets Out Alive

Today the Londonist Twitter account asked people for the most ludicrous flats and houses they'd seen in the capital. Highlights included the following:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Nice Chaps, Aren't They? Picturesque...

In a column in this weekend's Spectator, "Taki" describes Greece's neo-fascist Golden Dawn as "good old-fashioned patriotic Greeks" who are "not house-trained, and many of its members tend to use rough language and get physical." I instantly knew what the column made me think of:
I've seen them all right. I was in sunny Italy when the Fascisti went for the Freemasons in twenty-five. Florence it was. Night after night of it with shooting and beating and screams, till you felt like vomiting. I was in Vienna in thirty-four when they turned the guns on the municipal flats with the women and children inside them. A lot of the men they strung up afterwards had to be lifted on to the gallows because of their wounds. I saw the Paris riots with the garde mobile shooting down the crowd like flies and everyone howling "mort aux vaches" like lunatics. I saw the Nazis in Frankfurt kick a man to death in his front garden. After the first he never made a sound. I was arrested that night because I'd seen it, but they had to let me go. In Spain, they tell me, they doused men with petrol and set light to them.

Nice chaps, aren't they? Picturesque...
- Eric Ambler, Uncommon Danger (1937)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Monuments are for Defeats, as well as Victories

It's a decade since I started this blog, while I was an MA student living in north London - a period of 12 months which I count as one of the happiest times in my life. On that basis I felt that some sort of acknowledgement of the anniversary was appropriate. At the same time, there's no doubt that if the version of me who started the blog in 2003 could see himself in 2013 he'd be disappointed, and rightly so.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln Considered as a Gameshow

The best use of the only surviving witness to the Lincoln assassination is surely as a turn on a light-entertainment panel show. I'd say that this is the sort of thing that could only happen on 1950s TV, but I reckon it could easily happen now, too.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Ghostly Voices of a Distant War

Thanks to the Brown Moses Blog, I came across this video of intercepted radio communications from Qusayr, Syria. There's an English transcription of the conversation behind that link.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Robust Defence

Fulham have just signed Fernando Amorebieta on a free transfer from Athletic Bilbao. This is how he opted to deal with the threat from Barcelona's Lionel Messi, arguably the best player in the world:


Amorebieta received 11 red cards during his playing career in Spain. I look forward to seeing him in the Premier League.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Canadian Football

About 40 years ago my dad came back from being an MA student in Canada, bringing with him this set of posters for the teams in the Canadian Football League. I'm thinking of getting one framed for my wall. Let me know your favourites!

Montreal Alouettes Hamilton Tiger-Cats Toronto Argonauts
Saskatchewan Roughriders Edmonton Eskimos B.C. Lions

Monday, April 08, 2013

An Accident Waiting To Happen

Billy Bragg - An Accident Waiting To Happen (Live, 1992)

Monday, March 04, 2013

The Hero Bradford Deserves, But Not the One it Needs

We start carrying semi automatics, they buy automatics, we start wearing Kevlar, they buy armor piercing rounds, and you're wearing a mask and jumping off rooftops.

- Jim Gordon, Batman Begins (2005)

I'm not saying that we're definitely going to see someone dressed as a clown committing a series of anarchic crimes across south Yorkshire. I'm just saying that that's the logical progression.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Wacky Nuremberg

This week it's become apparent that a young fascist has ensconced himself at the University of Liverpool. He's used his Twitter account to invite people to ask him about his philosophy of "culturism" fascism. Craig Sinclair, lead singer of the band Lovecraft has asked the following questions:

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Materialising Class in the English Classroom

I'm currently doing work of different kinds at two universities in the north-west. At one, I notice a fair number of students using iPads or laptops in their lectures, and at the other I notice none at all. Have I stumbled on the emergence of some new form of class divide in English HE?