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  • 14th March, 2010

    I’m chillin’ in Vietnam

    by Sunny at 9:56 am    

    Hi all,
    just a quick message from the wonderful city of Ho Chi Minh, aka Saigon, where I’ve temporarily stopped by an internet cafe. As you can see, I’m not making a habit of it. HCM City is, to my mind, amazing for its sheer craziness and vitality. I hired out a scooter and have been driving it around everywhere. The thing about the roads here is that there are no rules at all - people regularly ignore traffic lights, cross roads whereever they want, and een drive straight into incoming traffic while expecting others to give way (and people generally do). It’s reckless and crazy but very exhilirating. I’ve not driven into incoming traffic yet but may do so in Hanoi - where I’m headed tonight.

    From there it’s a bus to Laos, and then somehow into Burma. After that it’s back to Thailand. Today I spent so long driving in the hot baking sun that I may actually have a tan and look brown. I can’t wait to see Hanoi. Right, I’m off to eat my mango.

    Filed under: Blog
    9th March, 2010

    A quick hello / Asian Network

    by Sunny at 6:10 pm    

    Hello! I’m writing from somewhere deep in the middle of Cambodia! It’s not entirely jungle territory as I’m in a small town which has a fair bit of tourism, but it was a bit of a hair-raising ride here. Tomorrow off to the capital of Cambodia - Phnom Penh - and then to Vietnam in a few days (which I can’t wait to see).

    Oh, also did anyone see my letter in the Guardian to save the Asian Network? Yes, well, they didn’t credit me but I drafted that thing and set up the publication before I left. I love creating trouble while on holiday. Well done to Ammo Talwar from Punch records for getting most of the signatures sorted.

    See you folks in a few weeks time. I’m only online here because the internet is free and it’s hot as hell.

    Filed under: Blog
    3rd March, 2010

    Going away for a month

    by Sunny at 4:59 pm    

    Hello all!
    I’m heading to South East Asia tonight, with a plan to backpack around Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Burma. No blogging or checking email for me in the meantime - Rumbold will be taking care of PP while I’m away.
    I’ll be back at the end of March.

    Filed under: Blog
    14th February, 2010

    The dangers of the blogosphere

    by Rumbold at 3:23 pm    

    Councillor Terry Kelly (Labour, Paisley) isn’t an easy man to defend. A fan of despotic regimes, he has praised Stalin in the past. I often find myself disagreeing strongly with his views, particularly on foreign countries (most notably Cuba and Israel), and have found them very unpleasant on occasion. He has frequently attacked others, most notably accusing Clairwil of this parish of being mentally ill. He refuses to provide evidence for most of his assertions, and has been investigated several times by the standards board.

    Yet now he is the victim of a series of comments posted under his name. To my knowledge, Terry Kelly never leaves any comments on any blog other than his own. Examining the things he writes on his blog, it is unclear why he would leave comments under his own name and then pretend he never wrote them.

    Given some of Terry Kelly’s blog posts in the past, why should people bother to stick up for him? Well, apart from basic human decency, there is also an important principle to defend: on the blogosphere we are all judged on the comments we leave and the blogposts we write. Compromising that (by having people post under our monikers) creates serious problems, particularly for those writing under their own names. Take the Terry Kelly case. An individual is under attack despite there being no actual evidence that he made said comments. Some left-wing blogs have recently seen an imposter pretending to be various bloggers/commentors.

    Other dangers lurk too. Richard Bartholomew and Tim Ireland are still under attack from a thuggish group calling themselves ‘The Cheerleaders’. Tim has had his family threatened and has been smeared as a paedophile because he and Richard have worked on exposing the dubious nature of some ‘anti-jihadists’.

    Ultimately, those of us who enjoy blogging are all in the same boat. In order to combat impersonators, we need to start taking denials at face value, especially when the comment seems out of character; after all, why leave a comment under your own name/moniker only to deny it later? As for threats, we need to highlight them as quickly as possible, as was achieved most notably in the Usimov affair.

    Filed under: Blog
    10th February, 2010

    The joys of blogging

    by Sunny at 10:09 am    

    One of the joys of being a (somewhat) well known blogger is that when certain stories come up, you can be accused of saying what you didn’t say about it, or not saying anything at all - at the same time! There are people out there waiting for me to write about everything, and if I don’t - see, we knew he was like that!

    Joy!
    Meanwhile, Jewish rabbi blames gays for Haiti disaster. [link fixed]

    Filed under: Blog,Humour
    29th January, 2010

    Speaking at Progressive London conf tomorrow

    by Sunny at 4:56 pm    

    Hello all: I’ll be at the Progressive London conference tomorrow, on:

    WINNING THE ARGUMENT – NEW MEDIA AND THE ELECTION
    • Clifford Singer, mydavidcameron.com
    • Helen Gardner, Boriswatch.co.uk
    • Andy Newman, Socialist Unity
    • Sunny Hundal, Liberal Conspiracy
    • Alex Smith, Labourlist
    • CHAIR: Kevin Maguire, Associate Editor, The Mirror

    maybe see you then!

    Filed under: Blog
    22nd January, 2010

    Douglas Murray: A Clarification

    by Sunny at 7:20 pm    

    On my blog for 9 September 2009 about the English Defence League, I suggested that Douglas Murray of the Centre for Social Cohesion was a friend and supporter of the EDL and Christian Action Network. I was wrong about this. Mr Murray has clarified to me that he supports neither of these organisations and I apologise.

    Filed under: Blog
    31st December, 2009

    How shall I respond to Tim Montgomerie and Iain Fale?

    by Sunny at 2:21 pm    

    This is an amusing start to my new year celebrations. Tim Montgomerie and Iain Dale are outraged….OUTRAGED I say!… that I had something nasty to say about Rush Limbaugh on Twitter last night.

    Of course it’s all rather predictable. Both get a constant beating at Liberal Conspiracy when we expose crap they publish - from the easily destroyed global warming conspiracy theories to the infamous mass-resignation from PoliticsHome that Montgomerie was livid over. Poor guy is still smarting over that. Oh and not to forget the ridicule he attracts for his infamous ‘left-watch’ site that keeps am eye on lefties who disagree with the David Cameron line.

    Readers, how shall I respond? Shall I:

    1. Point at the fact that they prominently and constantly link to Guido Fawkes and Devils Kitchen, where far worse has been said about left-wing personalities by the authors and/or their readers? Nah, too obvious.

    2. Go all hysterical and claim that it’s political correctness gone mad, typical of right-wingers to try and police people’s thoughts and that these people can’t take a joke? Wait - that’s their usual line. Though it would still apply - this sort of hyporcrisy is typical of them.

    3. Get all faux-outraged over Dale taking off the link to LC and claim it’s typical of his immature behaviour, throw
    a strop and start fundraising for his political opponent? Oh wait, he hasn’t actually been selected for anything. Damn.

    4. Link to all the nasty racist, homophobic and sexist things Rush “Barack the Magic Negro” Limbaugh has said in the past? The guy is so off the charts even Richard Littlejohn wouldn’t repeat the stuff he’s said. And yet Montgomerie says he is a mainstream ‘centre-right’ figure. Says it all doesn’t it?

    No… I’ve got it. I’ve got my bottle of JD that is. I’m off to get ready and party tonight like it’s the end of the decade.

    Have a good one all of you! If I was a rapper, I’d say 2010 is gonna be off the chain. But I’m not. So it’s just going to be off the hook.
    (will add links later, this is from my phone)

    Filed under: Blog
    27th December, 2009

    Comments system back to the way it was

    by Sunny at 8:48 pm    

    I think the jury is out but it seems too many of our regulars had problems with the new comments system - so I’ve disabled it. We’re back to the way it was now.

    Filed under: Blog
    22nd December, 2009

    Hysterical Iain Dale runs away when confronted with ‘facts’

    by Sunny at 2:31 pm    

    Yesterday Tory blogger Iain Dale posted a blog-post titled ‘Oxford is Cool’. Not long after, Unity posted an article on LibCon pointing out what a bunch of tripe the thinking and methodology behind that post was. Note, how Iain Dale then acted when others pointed this out.

    It’s worth noting, for a start, that Dale’s blogpost is just one in a long line of rubbish he has published about global warming (including a recent punt on the ‘Global Cooling’ myth). It’s a subject he clearly knows little about. But it has become de rigeur for global warming deniers to publish a continuous stream of bad science and rubbish claims, and obfuscate the debate while saying it is there just to further discussion and ‘challenge the consensus‘.

    Continue Reading...
    5th December, 2009

    Poll: what should PP do with our commenting system?

    by Leon at 4:40 am    

    There’s been some email discussion and a fairly short but pertinent public discussion about PP’s new commenting system. I’ve stated my opposition to it but continuing on from the discussion I think it’s only fair the readers have a chance to vote.

    Filed under: Blog
    1st December, 2009

    Comment system review

    by Rumbold at 8:42 pm    

    We have been trialing this new comments system for a few weeks, and Douglas and others have asked for a debate on it, which seems sensible. Please consider four questions:

    -Is the new system preferable to the old?

    -What do you like about the new system?

    -What do you dislike about the new system?

    -How would you improve it?

    The new system isn’t set in stone, and we may go back to the old one. Thank you.

    Filed under: Blog
    19th November, 2009

    Digging deeper into a hole of stupidity

    by Sunny at 2:55 am    

    If you ever want to see another example of vile misogyny by someone who calls themselves a ‘leftie’, then Marcus’ pathetic respond to Laurie Penny today on Harry’s Place is it.

    Poor Marcus must have been a bit stung by all the criticism he got elsewhere, and decided the best he was going to rescue his reputation was to write even more tripe. In fact, Laurie isn’t the only person who’s complained about the dire sexism over at HP. A long-standing commenter there, Judy, turns up in the thread to say:

    This is an updated and edited version of the comment I’ve put up on Penny’s response to her treatment by HP:
    Penny, well done for calling Harry’s Place on its bullying and for refusing to be put down by their usual abusive response techniques. In particular, thanks for going on pointing out the particular forms of misogynist and patronising abuse some members of the collective and a great many of the commenters invariably direct at women who challenge whatever particular piece of received wisdom they regard as beyond criticism.

    Like you, I’ve been subjected to tirades of the sort of violent, childish and deeply personalised misogynist abuse, and gave examples on the thread which grew out of your blog. I see today’s response from Marcus is to put up yet another defensive blustering post which uses resorting to reductio ad absurdum and frivolity rather than dealing with these issues.

    Guess how the boys in the comments respond? By calling them both ‘silly cows’. And poor ‘Brownie’ got so upset by Laurie Penny closing the thread at her place that he started crying that he was ‘banned’, also patent rubbish. Perhaps they’re among the 55% of people across the country who think white males are the most discriminated in the country. Life is so harsh in reality they have to take out their frustrations online.

    Filed under: Blog,Media
    16th November, 2009

    ‘Shut up woman, don’t you know grownups are talking’?

    by Sunny at 2:20 pm    

    Laurie Penny of PennyRed fame wrote an article for the new blog The Samosa about Harry’s Place. Her main problem was:

    Whilst most contributors to sites such as Harry’s Place or MPACUK attempt to maintain at least a façade of tolerance, a scan of the comments to the average article reveals reams of virulent and poorly understood dogma, much of it founded on ignorance, racism and religious intolerance.

    It is a truth universally acknowledged by anyone who has spent time moderating blog comments that as well as being a brilliant place to share ideas and force the pace of social change, the blogosphere has a tendency to lure idiots, bigots and bullies from their hiding places. Such is the case in comments threads of both camps in this debate. Not content with hosting frothing wingnuts, however, Harry’s Place has pursued what has been seen as a ‘witch-hunt’ against any Muslim or Muslim-ally who does not fit the site editors’ strict definitions of ‘moderation’; to whit, near non-involvement in politics.

    Can’t really argue with that. Of course, Marcus does, with hilarity. The best way to sum up his response is actually done by Neil Robertson, who says:

    Continue Reading...
    9th November, 2009

    New comments system

    by Sunny at 2:35 am    

    I’m testing out a new comments system which is threaded and a bit more fancy. But it’s also a plugin by another company - so it means the old comments are temporarily unavailable. They should soon be imported on to the new system hopefully. Then let’s see how it goes…
    Please email or leave a comment below if you spot any problems.

    Filed under: Blog
    30th October, 2009

    Freedom of speech includes the right to be angry

    by Sunny at 10:14 am    

    Guido Fawkes, the blogger who issues legal letters on behalf of MPs only because he wants to be like “conan the barbarian” wrote a post a couple of days ago titled ‘Freedom of Speech Includes “Hate Speech”‘ that I didn’t see earlier.

    The funny thing is that these so-called defenders of free speech (except, apparently, when they want to issue legal threats) think this is some new argument. It’s not. Perhaps I should reiterate it: people who make homophobic, racist, sexist or even inflammatory statements should not be banned or legislated against. I’ve been for free speech and against banning speech that “offends” various religious, racial, right-wing groups for ages. See here and here and here as quick examples.

    But the thing is lefties never actually argue for hate speech to be banned or censored. We just want to register our anger when someone says something offensive. They have the legal right to be offensive and we have the right to complain to advertisers and broadcasters. My legal right to swear at mad libertarians is not being curbed just because I can’t do it on the BBC. In the same way if someone offensive is taken off air they’re not losing their right to free speech but have violated the terms they’re working under.

    If people complain to advertisers the next time someone like Jan Moir writes a nasty article - then it’s up to the advertisers to take action if they so choose. But that is not censorship. That is our legal right as citizens to use democratic, economic and other frameworks to punish those people.

    But it seems such a simple argument is too difficult to understand, and so the only way such numpties can frame this debate is by pretending that lefties want to ban things. No we don’t. Then he ends with:

    You don’t want to end up like Sunny Hundal, a man so right-on as to be a walking parody. Once in a fit of rage, yet so conflicted by political correctness, all he could do was call Guido “you bloody human!”

    .. which is rather amusing. Anyone who knows me I can swear like the Asian version of Samuel L Jackson, and if I was angry with Paul Staines I’d have no problems calling him a drunk-driving, limp-dick, fat, pathetic excuse for a baboon who should have been pulverised by A.A. Gill but escaped by scaring people with his ugly mug. But I don’t ever recall being “in rage” while Guido has been around and am generally quite calm in real life :)
    I didn’t realise he had to resort to making up shit just to make a political point.

    Filed under: Blog,Humour,Media
    23rd October, 2009

    Spam apologies

    by Rumbold at 2:09 pm    

    Apologies, as a number of comments are being caught in the spam filter. Carry on posting.

    Filed under: Blog
    17th October, 2009

    Happy Diwali

    by Rumbold at 5:26 am    

    Pickled Politics would like to wish all of our Sikh and Hindu readers a happy Diwali.

    Filed under: Blog,Culture
    14th October, 2009

    How does blog hosting impact your legal situation?

    by Sunny at 12:30 am    

    To what extent does where you run your blog from and / or host it impact its legal situation? For example, PP is hosted in the United States. All material contained on this site and everything uploaded to it is hosted in the US. US libel laws are clearly very different to the UK’s.

    Guido Fawkes has a slightly more elaborate set-up (see video) where he says that the ‘publisher’ is based somewhere in the Cayman islands. But he’s the publisher and he’s always mostly in the UK. But his hosting company is also based in the United States, which shields him too. I’m not sneering here - in fact I admire that Staines has created a setup that allows him to frustrate or confuse potential libel lawyers.

    But the question is: how important is the hosting company? I’m aware that in some cases people of other countries have taken their fellow countrymen to court in the UK simply because the site was accessed by a few people here. That seems confusing. Is any website in the US accessible by British courts then liable?

    We’re hosted in California - which has just passed a law stating that websites hosted there are not liable under British libel law. Obviously they care for free speech a lot. That would cover us - but to what extent? As bloggers we need more discussion and thought about this surely?

    Filed under: Blog
    12th October, 2009

    Iain Dale, candidate for Bracknell, advocates hosing protestors

    by Sunny at 8:54 pm    

    Sometimes you just have to laugh at how absurd right-wingers are. Tory blogger Iain Dale goes off on one of his hysterical rants again today, fuming about the Greenpeace supporters who put up a big sign across Westminster.

    Legitimate protest is one thing. Invading the parliamentary estate like this is quite another. Just leaving them up there on the roof with no intervention by the Police sends a simple message to others who might have the same idea: come on in, we’re too worried about negative press reaction to do anything.

    I wish I had suggested to Bob Ainsworth that he send the army in with a water cannon. It’s the only language they understand.

    Unbelievable that a PPC candidate is openly advocating using such strong-arm tactics against peaceful protestors. Where are we living, in North Korea?

    But the more amusing thing is that when this gets picked up by various people on Twitter - realising he made a big gaffe - Dale hurriedly adds:

    UPDATE: For the humourless left, perhaps I should have added a smiley after that sentence. They really don’t do tongue in cheek humour do they? Po faced idiots.

    Ahh yes, that old tactic of claiming lefties have no humour to cover up your own gaffe.

    Funny, someone forgot to tell his own right-wing readers that it was all meant to be a joke: they think he’s being far too charitable! This must be the modern compassionate conservative party.

    Filed under: Blog,Media
    3rd October, 2009

    What will happen to the left once the Tories come into power?

    by Sunny at 11:59 am    

    Once Obama swept into power on a super-majority, the common wisdom was that the Republicans were in danger of becoming a minority party that would fade into irrelevance unless they became centrist. Six months later however everything is up in the air. The likes of Glenn Beck and Fox News, through their overtly partisan agenda, have driven a howling crowd at the Obama administration catching everyone by surprise. There’s a good article here on Next Right talking about how the right organised and hit back quickly. Here is a key point:

    The right’s rise online (and offline too) has been a pretty automatic reaction to Democratic hegemony in Washington, disproving the notion that there is anything intrinsic to the right or the left driving the use of specific tools. And wrapping this up in a neat little bow, the political environment turns out to be the decisive factor in how emphatically people use the technology, not the other way around.

    Let’s apply this to the UK. It’s almost become conventional wisdom that the right ‘gets’ the web better than the left… without the realisation that much of it is driven by people’s annoyance with New Labour than particular love for the Tories. Once the latter get into power the situation will be reversed. It will be the Tory grassroots accusing their party of betrayal, and splits between traditional Tories and libertarians will be common. Especially as Obama will end up influencing a lot of policy around climate change and foreign affairs.

    So what is the left to do? Will it flail around helplessly while out of power? Not necessarily. The Labour party might for a while. The Libdems too will be caught between trying to attack the Tories and differentiating themselves from Labour. But it doesn’t have to be like that. It will be ‘the left’ outside the party structure to drive the agenda. In this case: the media, think-tanks, NGOs, campaign groups and activists.

    Like in the United States, the left-wing media is now almost exclusively limited to the internet. With the rise of group blogs, and loads of single-issue blogs, you won’t need the national press for your partisan news. They’ll break stories for the general public but for the activists and politicos - blogs will become major source of information. Or will they?

    Again, I think there is much to learn from left-wing blogs in the US. But it can happen. I’ve seen left-wing bloggers investigate and break many more stories in recent months. There needs to be an increasing drive towards investigative blogging, finding news and digging up dirt on the opposition. Just writing opinion is no longer enough. Left-wing blogging has to focus on two things: collating and publishing news, and doing distributed investigative journalism. More on this another time.

    Not only will it get dirty and partisan - I’d say that is exactly where we need to be. I’ve slowly come around to the idea that I don’t want the cosy centrist agenda that rests upon the national press reporting and regurgitating the same stories endlessly. If the left wants to push their agenda forward then they have to get aggressive and they have to expose the right (not just complain about them). Does aggressive politics work? Yes it does. And in fact it’s worked well for Cameron since he quickly abandoned his pledge not to engage in ‘Punch and Judy politics’.

    To be clear: I’m not saying the left should start inventing ‘death panels’ like the Republicans did to attack the Tories. However I’m saying that attack politics works.

    The election of the Tories is likely to be the single biggest driver of traffic to left-wing blogs. The question is can they do something useful with that to push their ideals and agenda? Lots of thinking and conspiring required.

    Filed under: Blog,Media
    30th September, 2009

    Back from Labour party conference

    by Sunny at 12:41 am    

    Hello all - sorry for not posting anything on PP last few days… just got back from the Labour Party conference where I was asked to speak at an event on how housing is used to divide communities. Short answer: build more houses!

    Anyway… there weren’t enough free wi-fi places in Brighton to work at, so I couldn’t blog much here. Besides, I was running around trying to instigate a conspiracy to bring down Andrew Marr. Back now. No, I’m not going to the Tory party conference next week either…

    Filed under: Blog,Events
    26th September, 2009

    Weekend open thread

    by Rumbold at 9:02 pm    

    I hope that everyone is enjoying what papers are now dubbing an ‘Indian’ autumn. I was gently and jokily admonished in an e-mail today by a Mr. Rumbold. He complained that because I wrote under the name ‘Rumbold’, and did not distinguish myself from other Rumbolds (by use of an initial), this risked giving them a bad name. For that, I apologise, and would just like to point out that ‘Rumbold’ is a pseudonym. I hope that will stop gangs of Rumbolds from tracking me down.

    Have a nice weekend.

    Filed under: Blog
    18th September, 2009

    Time for festivities again

    by Sunny at 6:53 pm    

    Happy Rosh Hashanah to our Jewish readers, and Eid Mubarak in advance to Muslim readers. I’ve been a bit past few days so it’s been difficult to blog. But lot’s going on and will be back in full swing next week…

    Filed under: Blog
    28th August, 2009

    Weekend open thread/meetup

    by Rumbold at 5:17 pm    

    I hope that everyone has an exciting weekend planned, or at least will be going for a nice walk. On Sunday the 6th of September, we will be having a Pickled Politics meetup in central London. If you would like to attend, please e-mail Sunny on sunny [at] pickledpolitics.com. All are welcome.

    A few weeks ago I highlighted the show Kuchh Kook Hota Hai. I praised it for combining cookery, singing and dancing, a fusion sorely lacking on British TV. I must now apologise, after failing to highlight what I have realised is the most brilliant part of the show- the aftermath of the song. At this point the dancing girls have nothing to do but nod and smile, and when the chef points at the ingredients, the girls’ fingers emerge instead.

    Filed under: Blog
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