US Exported Banned Rice To UK


Britons have unwittingly been eating banned GM rice imported from the United States for months, if not years, food safety experts fear.

Imports of the rice were stopped by the European Commission (EC) on Thursday. But investigations in the US show that it has long been “wide-spread” in grain destined to be shipped overseas.

It was first discovered in January that the banned crop, which has never received safety clearance, was contaminating export stocks of long-grain rice. But it was not until nine days ago that the US government informed importing countries.
(Source: The Independent)

Apparently, we’ve been buying this frankenfood since maybe 2001?

Nice of the US government to finally deign to tell us they’ve been breaking our law for five years. Thanks!

The Tyranny Of Hair

How long did that take?

I used to have hair. I’m not bald now, I choose to shave my head but I could have a full head of hair if I chose to. I’m slightly receding at the front but apart from that, my follicles are pretty productive for a man of forty.

But I used to have lots of hair. I even used to have it dyed and styled at a barbers. For years, I had a purple fringe. At first, it was to annoy my parents but I grew to like it after a while. The bizarre thing was that I was asked many times if it was natural. Naturally purple hair? Eh?

The reason I shave my head now is simple: pure laziness.

The shaved head is the easiest hair style to maintain. All other hairstyles are like spinning a plate on top of a pole. They require a constant daily input of energy and time in order to reverse the inevitable ravages of entropy. Shaving your head is taking that plate and laying it gently on the floor.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe some people have magic hair that flows easily into place and complies quietly with any styling choice. Mine isn’t like that. When I used to have hair, I had to wash it every day and spend ages drying it and trying to get it to go into the shape I was after. It was like wrestling sand. Sometimes, I’d spend half an hour washing and drying it and then look at it and start over again.

This played hell with my social life. I try to be punctual so I had to figure my hair prep time into any social plans I made. It was like a NASA launch window. Bear in mind that my hair wasn’t long enough to just hang and it wasn’t short enough to spike out. It was that awkward, high-maintenance distance in between.

Hair is a large component of how people define their identities and that’s most true with teens to twentysomethings. That may sound like a ridiculous statement but if you analyse how you look at strangers on the street, I bet you look at their head and hairstyle quite early on. It’s an easy way to pigeonhole someone, it’s a very accurate pointer to age, class, gender and those other attributes we have to judge instantly.

So… from a distance, you see someone around 5′ 4″ with an enormous cloud of jet black hair and rod-straight extensions. In 2006, in Derby, that’s probably going to be a teenage emo girl. Immediately, you’ll throw a subcultural stereotype onto her: probably likes Panic At The Disco, probably goes to the Blue Note, very likely got a MySpace page. Individual elements of this could be wrong but the overall subcultural tagging is going to be fairly accurate.

All that from from some vestigial fur on our heads.

My hair got radically shorter around a decade ago. I guess I got fed-up with spending that time every day on primping and preening. And, being brutally honest about it, I don’t think I ever attracted anyone because of my fabulous hair.

So one day I shaved it all off. At first, I went for a grade 2 all over. But eventually I took the guard off the clippers and shaved the whole damned lot off.

The joy! The liberation! The hours of grooming time reclaimed for other purposes!

Estimating conservatively, I used to spend 30 minutes a day on my hair. That’s 3.5 hours a week. 182.5 hours a year. That’s a week and a half a year just on doing my hair.

Now I spend ten minutes once a fortnight shaving my head. A considerable saving in time, effort and cursing at the mirror.

The best thing about having a shaved head is waking up. You never feel beddy, you roll out of bed and you look smart and prepared, as if you’ve already spent time getting wakeful. You feel ready and more able as your hair never gets in your eyes or your way. When I had a big ’80s fringe, I was forever flicking it out of my eyes. In retrospect, why did I grow my hair so it hung over my eyes? And then flick it out of the way? I should have either cut it our been happy to view the world sheepdog-style.

I’ve left the best bit about shaving your head till last: killing your vanity.

We’re all vain. Even the people who pretend to be above such “superficial” things as judging others by their looks probably judge them on their record collections / books they’ve read / intelligence. We judge others every day and we also judge ourselves against a floaty, Platonic self.

When you shave your head, it’s killing part of that reflexive judgement. You’re shaving off a major way others will tag you. The shaved head doesn’t signify any one subculture: it’s been adopted by Buddhists and fascists, soldiers and monks. The shaved head is perhaps the most universal human hairstyle, it pops up in every culture somewhere.

So, when you shave your head, you’re rejecting a lot of things. You’re saying, “I really don’t care about having attractive, youthful looks. I prefer something more utilitarian and easy-care. Don’t look at my hair or clothes, look at me. Image-schmimage!” This is a bold statement for any man and revolutionary if you’re a woman.

Of course, there are many, many possible caveats to all the above: what if having a shaved head in itself becomes a high-fashion haircut? What if everyone around you has a shaved head – aren’t you conforming then rather than rebelling? Yep, you can think of many specific arguments against my general rambling. But, generally, I think most of the above is mostly true(ish).

Really, life’s too short for hair.

Ruth Kelly’s Racist Appeal

Ruth Kelly
Ruth Kelly. The fundamentalist Christian tackling fundamentalist Muslims.

The communities secretary, Ruth Kelly, will today call for a “new, honest debate” about rooting out extremism, arguing that it is “not racist” to discuss immigration and asylum.
(Source: The Guardian)

Hear, hear! Finally, Ruth Kelly has had the courage to stand up and tackle the real issues: rooting out extremists from minority communities.

And here’s where you can help. If you’re white and reading this, answer this question:


The BNP are a racist, fascist grouping of white people, whose supporters have been connected with violent attacks, murders and even bombings. Although they now project a respectable face, they are to neo-Nazi groups what Sinn Fein is to the IRA.

In some areas, white communities have even voted these people into power. So I ask you,


Yeah, you. After all, if the first duty of every single Muslim in Britain is to “root out extremism” from their community, why should it be any different for whites?

I can hear you saying:

“But I’m not a racist. Or a fascist. In fact, I don’t know any white people who are. Sure, there are probably some around but I don’t know them – why would I want to know morons like that? Why should it be my responsibility to fight the BNP simply because we share the same skin colour? It’s the police’s job to tackle criminals, not mine! What’s it got to do with me!?”

Indeed. And I’m sure Muslims in Britain will be thinking similar thoughts about supporters of Al Quaeda or other terrorist nutters who just happen to be Muslims. Terrorism is no more a part of Islam than it is Roman Catholicism. Or should we start calling the IRA “Catholic fundamentalists?” This might strike home with Kelly who is a fundie nutter herself and may be a member of Opus Dei.

When Kelly says “Muslim community” she’s proposing some kind of monolithic, homogenous group of people. The truth is far more complex: there are myriad Muslim communties in Britain, often with little in common or even hostile to each other.

Kelly is simply doing a more wordy version of the following:

(slightly racist white person)Hi! And what’s your name?
(me) Jyoti
(srwp) Er… Giyacterzeeee?
(me) No…. Joe-tee
(srwp) Yatteee?
(me) Yeah, that’s it. (sigh)
(srwp) So… where are you from?
(me) Derby.
(srwp) No, no… er… you… er
(me) Oh. I was born in India.
(srwp) So, you’re Indian?
(me) Er… yes (?)
(srwp) Ahhhh, there’s a bloke works in our office who’s Indian. Name’s Patel. Do you know him?
(me) oh god…

Do you see my point?

I don’t assume every single white person I see is a racist fascist even though only white people compose the BNP, NF and all the other white terror groups. I don’t assume that every single white person in Britain must know or have links to these extreme organisations.

That would be ridiculous. And racist.

I see those groups as being supported by a tiny, tiny minority of the white population, isolated and out-of-touch with the majority of law-abiding, non-racist whites. Therefore, to ask the entire “white community” as a whole to root out these extremists is pointless.

When Kelly, Blair and the other New Labour liars start these kind of campaigns, they are engaging in a similarly pointless exercise. The only thing they will achieve is to increase racism against Muslims and all other brown people in Britain as they whip-up white people’s xenophobia for their political ends.

Think about it. We’re all in danger from terrorists, no matter what philosophy they spout. The murderers who carried out the London bombings last year didn’t care about their victims. They didn’t care if they were white, black or brown, Jew or Muslim. They simply wanted to murder a mass of people and throw this country into despair, fear and terror. Dividing us along racial and religious lines until we’re all eyeing each other in shivering fear.

It appears, with the help of this government, that they’re achieving their goal handsomely.

A Local Venue For Local People Locally

Some metal, earlier today.

First, read this article by Robin Laboratory.

I think Rob makes some good points.

I hate to hark back to forgotten times but The Dial? The Wherehouse? Where are the replacements for these venues? If you google Derby Wherehouse, it comes up with a who’s who of nineties indie bands that played there.
(Source: ROFL)

The above is certainly true. The Dial particularly is sorely missed in Derby because it was an adventurous, bold venue run by someone who was passionate about music as an art form, not just aural wallpaper to sell drinks over. And he paid local bands like mine real, actual money for playing. None of this “free gig” shite:

Dial Wage

I also remember seeing fantastic bands at The Wherehouse. The BMX Bandits, Even As We Speak, Bikini Kill, The Boo Radleys, Huggy Bear. At the time, I even got a bit blasé about it all and didn’t go to some gigs through sheer laziness.

Truly, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

Nowadays you have to trog across to Nottingham and get shot in the face by a crackhead if you want to catch bands of that level.

The only local venue that’s had bands I’ve wanted to see since I moved back to Derby has been The Vic. If it wasn’t for The Vic, I wouldn’t have seen stunning gigs by Red Animal War, Throwdown, The Mystery Jets, Jetplane Landing, Good Shoes and loads of others.

Mystery Jets

But as good as it is, The Vic is only a small venue.

It’d be lovely to have a Rescue Rooms-sized venue back in Derby, with that kind of vibe about it too. Although it was a lot smaller, this is essentially what The Dial used to be. It was an alternative bar and venue. By which I mean average blokey bloke pissheads wouldn’t go in there because they’d heard it was a gay bar. You know the kind of blokes I mean – the ones who’re spilling out of Revolution and Walkabout every weekend. They have a zero interest in music coupled with a high interest in kicking your head in for no reason.

So The Dial, like The Blue Note back then, was a home for freaks and their excellent music tastes. It even became a beacon for non-Derby freaks: when my band supported Primal Scream there in 1989, I looked out into a packed venue. Every indie kid in the Midlands seemed to have turned up. They were practically hanging off the rafters. So, yeah, The Dial is missed. Which brings me neatly to…

On the other hand, I have NEVER heard anyone complaining about the lack of a 12000 seat arena.
(Source: ROFL)

Can you see what’s going on here? I’ve never heard anyone moan about the lack of a 12,000 seater venue either. But I have heard an immense amount of moaning about the lack of bigger bands coming through Derby.

Yeah, it’d be great to have a local venue bigger than The Dial used to be, bigger than The Vic is now which has, say, around 1,800 capacity and a good central location… hold on – haven’t we got that?

What the hell is The Assembly Rooms doing?


Yep, thanks to outside promoters like Bloodstock and Micky Sheehan, they occasionally have something on for people under 80. But ask any band that’s ever had dealings with the venue and they’ll tell you that their conditions and charges are so high, it’s basically not worth playing there.

Wouldn’t it be nice if that great, hulking building was as full of pop music and bigger bands as it used to be in the ’80s? Between now and Christmas, they’ve got exactly two contemporary pop/rock acts on: The Ordinary Boys and Embrace. In the ’80s, there would have been one or more a week. And if you think I’m exaggerating, check this out.

I’m not as against the idea of a 12,000-seater venue as Robbie is. It’s just that I know that the bands that can fill that size venue are bands I have no interest in seeing. Think of bands bigger than The Ordinary Boys but smaller than the Chilli Peppers. Yep. Pretty grim.

On the other hand, I think Robbie’s wrong here:

The only bands it gets will be stereophonics and Rod Stewart (essentially the bands that would have played Pride Park but are scared they wont sell it out).
(Source: ROFL)

If it was someone else planning this, I’d agree. But since it’s the Bloodstock peeps, I think they’ve got plans to use it for some future mega-metal events they’re planning. Think about it: if it’s built somewhere around Pride Park (plenty of space opposite the train station still), there are hotels nearby and good roads in and out. They might even be able to do some kind of metal All Tomorrows Parties. And with a 12,000 capacity, they could get in bigger metal acts and rely on the dedication of metal kids internationally to fill that space. After all, they already travel here to the Assembly Rooms, why wouldn’t they want to go and see bigger metal acts in a better venue?

So, if this gets built, it may be very good news if you’re into metal. But when it’s not being used for those acts, it may indeed end up being home to Stereophonics-style turgidity. It’ll be ideal for the people who only buy one album a year. From Tescos. Before going to Walkabout to get pissed and harangue passing girls.



The Blair Who Cried Wolf

Terror Threat?

The Tories have gained over the last month while support for Labour has fallen heavily in the wake of the recent alleged terror plot against airlines. An overwhelming majority of voters appear to pin part of the blame for the increased threat on Tony Blair’s policy of intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ministers – including Mr Blair – have repeatedly denied that there is a connection. But 72%, including 65% of Labour voters, think government policy has made Britain more of a target for terrorists. Only 1% of voters believe the government’s foreign policy has made Britain safer, a devastating finding given that action in Iraq and Afghanistan has been justified in part to defeat Islamist terrorism.
(Source: The Guardian)

These results are from a poll. And the only poll that really counts is an election.


Look at those figures. 72% of people polled thought that Blair’s foreign policy has made us more of a target for terrorism, not less. So his kowtowing to Bush has lost Blair support there.

More significant is this:

The findings will shock many at Westminster who had expected Labour to gain ground following John Reid’s high-profile handling of the alleged plot against transatlantic airlines. Carried out over the past weekend, following the series of terror arrests, the poll shows voters do not believe the government is giving an honest account of the threat facing Britain. Only 20% of all voters, and 26% of Labour voters, say they think the government is telling the truth about the threat, while 21% of voters think the government has actively exaggerated the danger.
(Source: The Guardian)

So, 80% of people polled think the government is lying to them. That’s an impressive lack of confidence during a time when we’re being blown up by terrorists. This is when government support should be at its highest as we all rally round to face a common threat. That’s what John Reid called for last week. But it appears the response is a protracted raspberry.

One fifth of the sample believe that Reid and Blair are actively exaggerating the terror threat. They’ve heard all these stern warnings and exhortations to action before. That time it was Blair and his “45 minutes” claim that turned out to be utterly false.

As I’ve said before, since there were no WMDs in Iraq and Blair lied about that, why should we trust anything he says now?

We know he’ll say anything to weld this country’s foreign policy to Bush’s insane crusade. He’ll do it in his usual smarmy, slimy manner and then he’ll send in his bully-boy Reid to repeat the lies at higher volume. Reid is as arrogant and imperial as Blair is glib and unctuous. They’re quite the double act.

However, if you cry wolf too often, as happened with the imminent threat that wasn’t, you will eventually wear out the patience of the public. They won’t forget hours of chaos at airports and blaring alerts on television. For what? Nothing.

More seriously, loss of confidence in the government leaves us confused and in the dark. The next time there’s an alert, how will we evaluate the warning?

We were bombed by terrorists just over a year ago – Britain is a target for mass murderers, that cannot be denied.

But since our leaders lie to us and play political games with our lives, we have no accurate measure of the threat to us. We need to know this in order to decide if we want to catch that plane or book that holiday.

Is it too much to ask for some truth and clarity instead of New Labour mendacity and spin?

John Reid’s Racist Victory


Two brown men were forced off a plane by a bunch of non-brown British passengers who became convinced that they were behaving suspiciously and were therefore terrorists.

The extraordinary scenes happened after some of the 150 passengers on a Malaga-Manchester flight overheard two men of Asian appearance apparently talking Arabic. Passengers told cabin crew they feared for their safety and demanded police action. Some stormed off the Monarch Airlines Airbus A320 minutes before it was due to leave the Costa del Sol at 3am. Others waiting for Flight ZB 613 in the departure lounge refused to board it…
(Source: BoingBoing)

Thank you, John Reid.

Thank you for whipping-up racist paranoia in this country with your “imminent threat” that turned out to be completely non-imminent. Oh, your strategy worked brilliantly for you and the other butchers of New Labour, the party that gleefully killed 100,000 Iraqis and now delivers sermons on morality. You managed to distract the media and public from the carnage in Lebanon and the dog’s dinner of Iraq. Well done.

Was it really necessary to impose such strict security measures at British airports?

It seems unlikely. The threat level in the UK was raised to critical, which means an attack is imminent, after the arrest of what Mr Reid said were all the “main suspects”.

Given that, it seems the measures forced upon British airports for several days were unnecessary.
(Source: The Guardian)

You’ve got the whole country on the edge of hysteria, being fearful of any brown person who happens not to be speaking English in the plane seat next to them. The people on this plane couldn’t even work out if the men were Asian or Middle Eastern, that’s the astounding level of ignorance behind this racist debacle.

I shouldn’t be surprised: most non-Asians I’ve met can’t even tell if my background is Hindu or Muslim from my name. And in the eyes of the Great Unwashed like the morons on this plane, it doesn’t even matter: if you’re brown, you’re suspect. Never mind that there are many white Muslims now living in Britain.

Thank you, John Reid, for making life harder for every non-white Briton.

You utter fucking cunt.

Bloody Eye ’06

Bloody Eye 06

Dedicated Groinkers might remember this post from August last year.

Well, it’s happened again! The above photo was taken yesterday. I woke up on Friday morning and my mrs. pointed out I’d got another tomato eye. I’ve been quite asthma-y lately so I think it’s from the coughing I’ve been doing when I’m asleep.

It doesn’t hurt, it’s just a bit sore but it’s quite funny to see people do that “yowwwch” face when they first see the redness. 🙂

I’m hoping this isn’t an annual occurrence. 🙁