26th December, 2006
I know that many of our readers (and indeed our writers) are media darlings at various stages of accomplishment. From tycoons who rub shoulders with Rupert and Ted, like Sunny, to nobodies who hover behind reporters so they can get on telly. Like me.
This post is for those with media aspirations and it centres around a topic that has come up a few times in discussion with Asian and black journalist-friends. When starting a career in the media, be it print or radio journalism, creative writing or painting, getting an initial foothold can be one of the biggest challenges.
There are multiple points of entry one can choose from â€“ some easier than others. The ethnic press (which really shouldnâ€™t be referred to as one entity) has employed many of the countryâ€™s leading lights at early stages of their careers.
25th December, 2006
I would hate to think that my opinion on faith schools is ambiguous. I am vehemently against them. As a website, Pickled Politics has specifically opposed any link between the government and faith schools. We’ve also mentioned how Amartya Sen denounces them at length in one of his recent books.
So it is with considerable disappointment I catch up on the latest development in the progress of the UK’s first Hindu state school. Whilst touted quite some time back, nearly Â£10million of taxpayers’ money has now been put forward for the development of the Krishna-Avanti school in Harrow.
The venture is backed by ISKCON, known by many as the Hare-Krishna movement. However, it is the cryptically-named I-Foundation that is promoting the school. The hopeful date of completion is September 2008.
24th December, 2006
Ho ho ho, maiiiiry Christmas, MAIIIIRRY CHRISTMAS! Not really though, because this is my humble urge to you all to spare a thought for those less fortunate than yourselves. Yes, those of us who are working on Christmas day. As Sunny gets anally probed on the US border and you are stuffing your Turkey, I’ll have my finger up someone’s bottom. Yes, such are the joys of a 14 hour colorectal Christmas shift (here’s the colorectal surgeon song, for those what is interested). I will be wearing my Santa hat and red scrubs and I’ll carry a big sack full of organs for the good little boys and girls.
This post is really a poor excuse to say hello. I hope that, despite my hiatus, I will be a more frequent visitor than that other fabled children’s fairytale figure that drops in from up above every Christmas, Jesus. I know that my absence has hardly registered, but I’ve missed my Pickled Pals. I have been reading as often as I can, but whenever I feel I have a few minutes to blog, Sunny has normally got to the topic first!
And while I’m here, hell, if Sunny can tootle his own horn (he had ribs removed), then so can I. If only to demonstrate why you should be reading Pickled Politics RELIGIOUSLY. A little while ago I won the Guardian Student Media Award for Diversity Writer of the Year, predominantly for that old Apu piece; I was runner-up in the Columnist of the Year and nominated for Feature Writer of the Year. It seems, inexplicably, that the Guardian likes Sunny and myself. This, in my humble opinion, is more than ample evidence to support those who think the Guardian is tosh. Ah crap I have to be at work in 7 hours. Anyone else working today?
22nd December, 2006
Seasons Greetings to you all,
It’s that time of year when we celebrate God’s boy’s birthday by getting roaring drunk, overeating and buying people we don’t like presents they don’t want. Like Easter I can’t help thinking the Christmas message might have got lost somewhere. Never one to pass up the chance to be self indulgent, I am afraid the only spirit I’ll be full of this year will be around 40% proof and toxic to the liver.
I thought I’d wallop this thread up to allow us to hold a Pickled Politics office party. Or should I say an award winning Pickled Politics office party. So come on tell us all you love us, show us some terrible dancing, make unwanted advances on the furniture. In short make utter clown of yourself or tell us your tales of festive debauchery.
Many of you, like me, will be trapped with relatives with no means of escape. There’s not much I can do to make this ordeal any easier. All I can offer is this thread is a means of venting your rage as auntie asks you once again why you’re not married. Remember you can’t stop your family being barking mad but you can at least amuse the rest of us by ridiculing them here (names can and probably should be changed).
As well as the above I’m looking for your funny stuff, music and any other links you’d like to bring to the Picklers attention.
20th December, 2006
So says Georgina Henry today and as many of you have already pointed out. Thank you to everyone who voted for me, probably through gritted teeth. I will spare you the victory speech, you’ll be glad to know. Not because I don’t want to make one, mind you, but because I’m off to mexico within the hour and still have my packing to do. Be assured though, I’ll have an extra drink for each vote I got. I’ll become a legend in the bars around Tijuana….and they probably won’t let me back into the US border after.
So anyway, thank you once again to all those who voted for me. What a complete surprise, that’s all I can say.
Oh boy, it seems enough of the readers at comment is free are mad enough to think I’m “a decent chap”, and have propelled me into one of the top four bloggers for the year. This is quite a pleasant surprise, though I think I would have preferred to be nominated for my finely manicured beard. It’s clearly a Zionist / Islamist conspiracy against the celebration of Hanukkah / Eid. Even more surprisingly the New Generation Network manifesto has been voted in as one of the top threads of the year. Wonders will never cease.
Anyway, if you are an existing CIF commenter or reader, feel free to go here and vote. I don’t want to be accused of using this blog to skew the results. I just don’t want to be last dammit. Let Dave Hill be last, at least he has a book out and has a loving family (which he keeps reminding us about, the lucky sod).
Best blogger vote / best commenter vote / best thread vote
18th December, 2006
Ya know… I was reading this today and thought – Joel Stein has a point. The war over holidays really is a zero-sum game. And we’re losing out to Christmas dammit!
There is a war on Hanukkah. I know this because, even by late last week, I had absolutely no idea it was Hanukkah. Usually my grandmother sends a card, or the radio plays that Adam Sandler song, or one of those Chabad people in a Mitzvah tank picks me out on the street as Jewish and hands me candles, causing me to worry that I’m balding and short and my nose is too big. Apparently, disseminating self-loathing is a mitzvah.
War is a zero-sum game, so when Christmas is winning, Hanukkah is losing. Crumbling under pressure from conservatives, Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Target, Kmart, Walgreens and Kohl’s dropped “Happy Holidays” and brought back their “Merry Christmas” campaigns. The Seattle airport put back its Christmas trees after removing them last week when a rabbi complained. That controversy never would have happened if Gentiles simply realized that absolutely no one ever listens to rabbis. If we did, kids who went to Hebrew school would actually speak Hebrew.
Because if you’re going tribal, we’re going tribal. And though our tribe is small and often out of shape, we’re scrappy. So think twice before you spill out too much vitriol about this war on Christmas that you’re winning. When the empowered convince themselves that they’re under attack, they often convince themselves that cruelty to the powerless is justified. These are the scary sugar plums that dance in Lou Dobbs’ [CNN news anchor] head.
I realize these are difficult times. I understand the desire to declare “our” unified Christianity in public places, to fence out the Mexicans, to fight against the luxury of Muslim free speech, to pass English-only legislation. But a great nation, as our Constitution figured out, fights its populist instincts. And uses Latin to confuse its citizens.
And if getting along means accepting a manger and not hearing “Happy Hanukkah,” I’m willing to surrender in this war. As long as you realize that without those of us who don’t celebrate Christmas, this nation would lose its purpose. And the chance to have this dumb debate every year.
Yup, he has my vote! Next year we’re gonna declare war on Christmas. Who’s with me?
17th December, 2006
The blogosphere would be useless if it weren’t a nepotistic pit full of people scratching each other’s backs. Yes, quid pro quo makes it go round. Carrying on in that spirit, I urge you to check out Dave Hill’s new book Adoption. I haven’t read it, nor do I know what it is about but he’s a great writer. He also has some extracts online.
I’m plugging it because I was amused by his article today on CIF, plugging the book 31 times in an article. That record deserves mentioning. Plus he talks about how blogs can help in promoting so of course I’m just doing my bit. Blogger Aaron Heath is making this a personal mission. There’s an interesting experiment in there somewhere…
15th December, 2006
I haven’t had a single minute to myself this weekend. With it being near Christmas my parents have been dragging me round various relatives to spread the misery or share the burden of their terrible disappointment.
A weekend just isn’t the same without an open thread or a Guardian wallchart. What is this mania for wallcharts the Guardian have? Can it be treated? Will it last much longer? I am not making this up but their latest wallchart is …oh God I can hardly bear to write this… of different types of Guardian readers. I wouldn’t mind but not one of them is anything like me. I feel excluded. This on top of their recent rejection of an article I wrote is a declaration of war as far as I’m concerned. I have long been baffled at their refusal to give me my own column and now this!
If the headline on tomorrows Guardian is ‘Clairwil-PISS OFF!’ I will not raise so much as an eyebrow in surprise.
Anyway unlike some, I am not an elitist snob, all are welcome below even if you’re not good enough for The Guardian. Lets have links to funny stuff, random chatter, amusing anecdotes, confessions of inappropriate drunken behaviour and anything else that might tickle the collective fancy.
14th December, 2006
Intelligent children are more likely to become vegetarians later in life, a study says.
A Southampton University team found those who were vegetarian by 30 had recorded five IQ points more on average at the age of 10. Researchers said it could explain why people with higher IQ were healthier as a vegetarian diet was linked to lower heart disease and obesity rates. [BBC News]
Do I need to say more (he says with a smug look)? Ok, I will. Up to 40% of people in India are vegetarians apparently, which looks high but that number has actually declined in recent years (via SM). Henceforth I decree that we will settle all arguments on PP through Mensa exams and IQ tests rather than penis-size comparing contests. Either way I win anyway, heh.
13th December, 2006
Another day, another BBC quiz to embarrass myself with. Todayâ€™s is youth slang. Thereâ€™s some strange words here, many Iâ€™ve never heard before (I must be getting old…) proven by my 4/10 score!
How well did you do?
12th December, 2006
Hello! As you may imagine, I’m writing this from sunny Los Angeles. I love this place – the people are really friendly, the weather is great and the side-streets are immaculately manicured.
Not that I want to add to your already growing sense of envy, but my preliminary holiday plans are as follows. I’m off to Mexico for a few days just before Christmas. Then the whole extended family gets together for food and presents on Christmas day. Then just before new years eve I’m planning to head down to San Diego for the big beach parties there with a few friends and family. In the new year I’m planning to drive up with a few people to San Fransisco and then over to Yosemite park, and then to a skiing resort nearby. Oh yeah, it’s gonna be crazy. I’m itching to write something about American politics but I think I’ll give it a rest. What are your holiday plans?
11th December, 2006
Bloody hell! So much for lighthearted December. The thread below started well but the last time I checked it had descended to Muslims are ace v Muslims are Satan. Mr Sunny is going to be outraged when he returns. I shudder to think what horrible punishment he’ll subject you all to. So there.
Anyway in an effort to distract you all until the divine Miss Newton returns. I offer you Naomi Campbell. Let’s all give her a deafening round of applause for her latest achievement, namely the Plain English Campaign’s annual Foot in Mouth prize.
Frankly I was stunned it wasn’t some sort of servant beating award but life is full of surprises. Well at least mine is, what the builders left in my bathroom today being but one horrifying example. Anyway here is Ms Campbell’s award winning quote;
“I love England, especially the food. There’s nothing I like more than a lovely bowl of pasta.”
Poor Naomi, blessed to be as statuesque and beautiful as Venus and cursed with the brain of a wilted houseplant and the social skills of a nightclub bouncer. So near yet so far.
9th December, 2006
Maybe there is an opportunity here for an enterprising group of Muslim students to declare they hate Christmas so the tabloids can finally find someone to point fingers at. They could then make some nice money doing print and television interviews. At least everyone’s happy and the Sun’s campaign could begin to make sense.
Maybe some other students could argue that, by virtue of demanding a ban on Christmas trees, tinsel and even Santa Claus, they are trying to bring back the original Christian meaning behind this secularised festival? But that might go right over the head of most Sun readers.
That is, erm, me in a short article in today’s Media Guardian having a sarcastic dig at the tabloids for their annual idiotic headlines that proclaim ‘Muslims want to ban Christmas!’ In Friday’s Guardian G2 Oliver Burkeman did a brilliant job of taking apart these seasonal urban myths. At Wordblog, Andrew is less forgiving, while Robert has different angle entirely. Happy Christmas suckers, my flight leaves in the morning!
8th December, 2006
As readers of my own blog will know I have started a cosmic ordering experiment. For those who don’t know cosmic ordering is a new age belief that allows one to get anything one wants just by asking the cosmos. I must say I have my doubts but I’m currently on a mission to adopt a belief system loopy enough to make an atheist kick a hole in a window.
Anyway just for fun I thought I’d extend my experiment to the weekend open thread. Let’s have your weekend cosmic orders below. The deadline for receipt of cosmic orders is Monday morning when you can no longer kid yourself it’s still the weekend. This weekend I have asked the universe to allow me to meditate for half an hour without a car alarm going off. Honestly what is the bloody point of me trying to be all nice and calm if the general public wont keep their sodding racket down. See just thinking about it has got me hopping mad.
All light hearted spiritual experimentation aside. I want to hear about your weekend plans, jokes, links to funny things, random scribblings. If it’s amusing let’s hear about it. No politics, death and clever things please. This thread has an IQ of 10. Let’s not interfere with the delicate bloom of it’s jaw dropping silliness.
Good Day to you all.
I should stress at the outset that not all men of Indian origin are, erm, the same. There is considerable, er, diversity within their midst. We like celebrating diversity right? So keep that in mind when reading this.
A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men.
The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms. It has led to a call for condoms of mixed sizes to be made more widely available in India.
But Indian men need not be concerned about measuring up internationally according to Sunil Mehra, the former editor of the Indian version of the men’s magazine Maxim.
“It’s not size, it’s what you do with it that matters,” he said. “From our population, the evidence is Indians are doing pretty well.
A bit too well maybe; the population there is set to overtake China by 2050.
And so begins our temporary focus on light stories. If you want something serious, I’ve written a response to Tony Blair’s speech today on multi-culturalism for CIF.
7th December, 2006
Muslim women in Britain feel their views are being ignored because community leaders and male-dominated national Muslim organisations are failing to represent them, according to a government report published today.
They also accuse the government of consulting the community only through groups such as the Muslim Council of Britain, in which women’s voices are “either absent or extremely marginalised”. [The Guardian.]
I wonder who else made the same point recently. Look forward to Inayat Bunglawala, Madeleine Bunting and Salma Yaqoob’s reactions. How dare these women challenge “community leaders”, right?
5th December, 2006
The implication of my earlier post on blogging was not to say it is entirely useless. Just a year after PP launched New Generation Network was born out of the same ideals, and the arguments it encapsulates have been shaped and formed from discussions here. This has been a very enriching experience for me and I’m not about to throw it away. But maybe we need a more focused approach.
So for a start, I will be focusing more on building on ideas encapsulated in the NGN manifesto in the new year. These include: a) more feminism; b) challenging the assault on our civil liberties and demonisation of British Muslims and Jews; c) challenging the hard-left’s marriage with intolerant religious organisations; d) challenging racism and inequality (for ppl of all races). And advocating more love and peace and other hippy ideals of course.
I also feel we need a more UK-centric approach to editorial. World events may be important but those discussions are largely peripheral and have little impact. At least a more domestic focus has the potential to lead to action. Mentioning the launch of the Misjudging Rape dossier is a good example.
I’ll henceforth also be taking a stronger line against commenters hijacking articles with their own agenda or spouting abuse against other visitors. No mercy. Much of the recent bad blood has now been resolved and we are back to being a happy Pickled family. Clairwil, who is all over the Blog Digest (I’m envious) because she is a bloody good writer, is now also part of our family too, I’m proud to announce. Her and Katy will work out some arrangement on the weekend open threads while also contributing normally when and if they feel like it.
All this outbreak of love is handy for me as I’m off to Los Angeles next week (for a month) and will be posting very irregularly. I love you folks but, given I’ll be making short visits to San Fransisco and Mexico with some hardcore party people, that takes precedence. KnowwhaddaImean? I need a holiday. In the run up to Christmas and New Year, the Picklers will be posting lighter stories instead of hardcore political discussions. ‘Tis the time for light relief me thinks.
I leave you with this, part of a silly cartoon commissioned by Keith Vaz to publicise the Labour party’s Ethnic Minority Taskforce. Right… so a man tainted by corruption charges and firmly part of the old-skool Labour framework that loves self-appointed “community leaders” is going to endear the party to young British Asians? With this silly stereotypical cartoon? New Labour – same old rubbish.
Yes…. Justin McKeating does look a bit crazed doesn’t he? He has a right to be proud though, I picked up The Blog Digest today and it is as interesting as the cover is amusing. The blurb states it is the “the ultimate anthology of blog writing from the last twelve months,” and it certainly tries to live up to that promise by covering a whole range of subjects. The book features lots of excellent writers from the blogosphere, and myself, as you may expect.
But I’m having a bit of a crisis of confidence here folks, so help me out. Are blogs helping people get to know each other? Do they build understanding or simply lead to more hardline attitudes? I only ask because the last post on the Middle East descended into a string of insults (once again) involving people who really should know better.
If rational and intelligent people cannot have a civilised conversation on a blog that tries to remain as non-partisan as possible, where is the hope for world peace? Maybe that’s why it makes more sense to take a side: at least only one side will accuse you of bias.
I don’t know, I’m feeling a bit disappointed that however hard one tries to encourage a whole different group of people to independently share their experiences and build a positive conversation – it is doomed to failure unless you take a very authoritative line and actively weed out the troublemakers. In other words, bang some heads together and force people to live with it. Or avoid talking about anything sensitive at all.
The conventional wisdom seems to be that blogs are good because people are allowed to express their views. Except, increasingly, it looks like the only outcome is that rather people learning from each other, the online space simply becomes an even bigger penis-size-comparing-contest. What a monumental waste of time.
4th December, 2006
Oh dear, Channel 4 has decided to take its pseudo subversive â€˜controversyâ€™ reputation one step further.
A veiled Muslim woman will deliver this year’s alternative Christmas speech on Channel 4, the broadcaster has said. Khadija, a Zimbabwean-born British citizen who has been wearing the full veil – or niqab – for 10 years, has been given the slot.
The message will reflect a year in which the wearing of religious clothing and symbols have “dominated the news agenda”, said a Channel 4 spokesman. [Via BBC news]
Sure, not â€˜Weâ€™ve just thought of another way to exploit a news story for ratingsâ€™. Right? Opportunistic and cynical or simply clever marketing?
Update: Clive Davis likes the idea of Helen Mirren (she played the Queen on film recently). Kinda like that idea too. Better yet why not get those Spitting Image puppets out of storage and use them?!
Sunny adds: Turns out Khadija actually loves the Queen and “being British”. I love such twists to the tale.
Tomorrow a ‘dossier’ will be launched, detailing how adjudicators (now known as immigration judges) flout international law and even their own guidelines when they consider the asylum claims of women and girls seeking safety and protection from rape.
Update: Guardian coverage of this launch.
The think-thank Demos has published a report today titled: Bringing it Home: Community based approaches to counter-terrorism. More on it later.
Demos will claim Government actions are breeding resentment and alienation among Britainâ€™s Muslims, allowing violent extremists to gain sympathy from some quarters of the Muslim communities. Based on over twelve months of embedded research, [the report] argues that, despite some commendable attempts at engagement, the Governmentâ€™s actions continue to drive a wedge between the majority of British Muslims and the rest of society, rather than isolating the violent few.
The authors argue that without a strategic blueprint for putting community relations at the heart of security, the Government is denied a valuable resource in tackling the threat of home grown al Qaida inspired terrorism. The approach to Muslim communities called for by the report would offer a source of intelligence; support in diverting potential extremists away from violence; community level allies in seeking social justice; and an acceptance of necessary measures taken by police and other security services.
“By viewing Muslims as a single interest group the government has failed to draw a clear enough distinction between angry Muslim opinion and those that would seek to inflict violence and terror,” they say.
All of which I agree with. As I have said before, John Reid’s chest-beating and Tony Blair’s head-in-sand approach to terrorism has not made anything better. Perusing through the report, this paragraph also struck me:
First, the magnitude of September 11 and the audacity of Osama bin Laden made us lose sight of the fact that terrorism is a social and political phenomenon that needs local roots to take hold. The international network and the concept of the â€˜ummaâ€™ â€“ the global community of which every Muslim is a part â€“ are important features of al Qaida, but distant and global concerns can gain currency only when they are able to feed off local, everyday, personal grievances, such as those experienced by Muslims in the UK.
Second, the almost exclusive focus on the group â€“ its membership, infrastructure and modus operandi â€“ distracted politicians and security forces from the fact that terrorists prefer to get other people to do their work for them… In other words, when a terrorist kills, the goal is not murder itself but something else, such as a police crackdown, that will create a rift between government and society that the terrorist can then exploit for revolutionary purpose.
One of the co-authors of the report, Dr Catherine Fieschi, is also a signatory to the NGN manifesto. I hadn’t read the report before it was published, but the summary points are very similar to what I have also been saying on PP.
In an earlier article titled the Tipping Point theory applied to terrorism, I made the same point – that we cannot ignore social factors in favour of foreign policy or religion entirely.
I hope the report makes the govt re-think its rather idiotic approach so far.
2nd December, 2006
Abu Kais, writing on his blog From Beirut to the Beltway, explains how Hizbullah is leading Lebanon into civil war just because the government does not want to give in to its demands.
But time is running out for Hizbullah and Aoun. The resentment towards them and their supporters is reaching dangerous levels. There have been many spontaneous protests in several Lebanese cities, and it is clear that there are people who will not sit and watch the militia and its Christian cover besieging their government and paralyzing the country.
Unless they plan on a military coup, I don’t see how they will succeed in toppling the government, which is enjoying the support of parliament, not to mention most of the world. If they don’t end their occupation of downtown Beirut soon, civil war will come knocking.
It should come as no surprise that Iran and Syria would rather have Lebanon as their own controllable satellite-state than its own entity. Hizbullah is merely doing their job for them. How sad.
1st December, 2006
Three of my favourite blogging comrades: Ali Eteraz, Haroon Moghul and Thabet have joined force to launch Eteraz: States of Islam – which plans to be the Muslim world’s superblog (and it’s getting there quick). I have a lot of time for their progressive and intelligent approach to current affairs and theological issues so they come highly recommended.
Ali also sees it as a “collective communitarian net activist project”, and to that extent has collated lots of material on the Pakistani women’s protection bill (to protect them against the hudood laws). Worth reading.
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I can’t say it better than Osama Saeed, who rightly takes to task the idiotic headlines in the Daily Telegraph and Daily Express about Sharia law ‘reaching Britain’. For God’s sakes, get some perspective you dimwits.
Through him, I also find this article by Victoria Brittain on how badly Abdul Kahar has been harassed by the police since he spoke out against the very-badly-executed Forest Gate raid. Article well worth reading.