The Internet Doesn’t Care

The Real Me
A picture of me taken earlier today in the Westfield food court.

I’m sitting typing this and I’m a 41-year-old, very obese, Indian male.

But it doesn’t matter.

I could be a swoonsome, pneumatic, flame-haired temptress. I could be an octogenarian Theosophist in Kuala Lumpur. I could be the ticket man at Fulham Broadway Station.

The internet doesn’t care.

I’m currently watching a documentary about people who have primordial dwarfism.

I don’t watch programmes about different-from-average people as freak shows. I watch them because I had, in some ways, a difficult childhood so I invariably identify with fellow outsiders. Growing up brown in a series of white towns wasn’t easy. Apart from the racist physical bullying (which was most days), there was the constant pain of exclusion. And what kid or teenager doesn’t want to fit in? To be normal.

Of course, in no way did I have it as bad as the kids on the dwarfism documentary. Or people with other disabilities. I know that I’m incredibly lucky just to have two arms, two legs and a functional sensorium.

Still, I learnt at an early age that the world is full of bigots. People who will shun you if you’re not the right colour or height or size or sexuality or just like the wrong goddamned pop band. I’m no different – I try my best to be non-prejudiced but every one of us makes thousands of snap judgements every day about other people, based on very little input, me included.

But watching the documentary, I realised that there is currently one venue that a lot of that bullshit can’t permeate: the net.

God, if I’d had the net when I was a kid, I wouldn’t have felt such a freak. I could have found forums helping me to deal with bullying, met other kids going through the same things, connected somehow to someone.

At this point of the internet, a lot of the interaction is textual. That may change in the future but, for now, if you’re online, you’re probably typing. Or reading something that’s been typed, as you are at this second.

And in that space, in that tiny gap of LOLs on Facebook and LMAOs on YouTube, there’s a freedom from the dictatorship of identity, there’s a liberation from the oppression of consensus-imposed selfhood. You can, in a small way, find some space to negotiate who you want to be.

The Real Me

I really hope that lasts. I really hope that video messaging or Second Life scenarios don’t take over from the current net. As you’re reading this now, you’re unaware of how attractive I’m looking tonight (hint: think LOLrus) or how fashionable I am. I could be deaf or blind or take minutes to type each sentence because of a neuromuscular condition.

But you won’t judge me on that.

And, yes, you will still judge me. You’ll classify me by my use of language, the dialect, the idioms. If i wz typin lk dis, then your image of me might change.

Still…

In a world which can be terribly cruel to the gentlest of souls, I love the relatively level arena of text on the net. The divorce from the physical self is to be celebrated.

Let’s keep it unreal!

EDIT!
Of course, anonymity can lead to several new flavours of hell too. Let’s be careful out there, people!

Derby Feste

Phew! What a night!

Further to this rant, tonight I DJed at Hurly Burly, the evening programme for Derby Feste.

But before that, we took a wander to the market place, piccy above, to see the crazy inflatable thingumajig. It was, indeed, inflated and strange. It was like a giant had dropped his puffa jacket on Derby.

And then.. the best thing I’ve seen in Derby in ages:

DRAGONS!

I loved these. I was instantly nine years old again. I loved the firespouts, I loved the gusts of dragon breath sent into the shrieking crowds, I loved the stupidly loud pounding music. Whatever Sarruga got for herding these beasts through our city, it was worth it. My fave bit was seeing them squeeze up Sadler Gate – the colours and sounds were incredible! It’s fun being nearly squashed by a dragon. 🙂

And then, it was off to Derby Dance Centre where I was just in time to witness some fine jazzing:

It’s a shame they were on so early – I’m sure many of the peeps who didn’t turn up till later would have loved them!

I missed the first burlesque dancer of the evening but I manager to catch Ms. Fleur du Mal:

As you can see from the pic, she was both very beautiful and extremely slinky. It was all over far too quickly. Er… her act, that is. 😛

And then, I missed the main burlesque show as it was scheduled *exactly* when I was DJing. Now, what do you think drew the crowd in? Was it:

A. Fat bloke prodding at a laptop and looking mildly dyspeptic?
B. Loads of really fit women taking their clothes off?

Yes. I ended up DJing to not many people. 🙂

All in all, I had a great night. I wish I’d actually got into town earlier so I could have seen some of the other acts during the day but I had DJ prep to do.

It was lovely to be part of something so saucy, gaudy and defiantly non-grey.

Derby needs more events this silly and joyful!

Click here for all the pics!

US General: Iraq A ‘Nightmare’

Gen. Sanchez, torturer
Lt General Ricardo Sanchez, a fan of torturing innocent civilians

A former US military chief in Iraq has condemned the current strategy in the conflict, which he warned was “a nightmare with no end in sight”.

Retired Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez also labelled US political leaders as “incompetent” and “corrupted”.

He said they would have faced courts martial for dereliction of duty had they been in the military.

The best the US could manage under the current approach in Iraq was to “stave off defeat”, Gen Sanchez warned.

“There is no question that America is living a nightmare with no end in sight,” he said, addressing journalists at Arlington, near Washington.
(Source: BBC News)

Personally, I wouldn’t trust anything that Sanchez, who ordered the torture of prisoners, says.

However, even if the above is a another pack of lies, for Sanchez to be breaking ranks like this and openly criticising his former masters is a significant development.

Of course, he most probably isn’t lying: Iraq is a hellhole now, thanks to the brutal illegal invasion and subsequent occupation. It’s clear that all the US was concerned about was securing the oil fields. The people of Iraq were inconveniences at best, target practice at worst.

Sanchez, devil that he is, may actually be telling the truth this time.

If someone this high up in the American military can be so damning about the US occupation, why can’t any of our politicians mutter even one word of criticism?

Why I Love The Westfield

Tomorrow, I’m DJing at the night-time part of Derby Feste. Ostensibly, the event is to celebrate the opening of Derby’s new Westfield shopping centre. But this is a rather, ummm, playful mission statement. It’s far more about trying to divert some of the extra people flooding into Derby to other events. Events that are not shopping-related.

It’s been an interesting week. The Westfield has polarised most people I know. The two camps tend to be: I love it! SHOES! versus BAH! It’s industrial capitalism, life is not just shopping!

I’m in neither camp. I love the new shopping centre but not because I can shop there. There’s only one computer shop and I’m too fat to fit into any of the clothing.

I love it precisely because life under capitalism is just shopping. Or, as a much better thinker than me put it:

The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth–it is the truth which conceals that there is none.

The simulacrum is true.
(Source: Stanford University)

The Westfield is real life, it’s the rest of the city centre that is the lie!

Life is basically birth -> school -> work -> shop -> death. With maybe some reproduction thrown in, if you’re lucky. Unless and until you reject capitalism in its entirety, that’s all your life is, all it ever can be. Precisely because you’ve never imagined anything else

You cannot pick and choose. You can’t love a quaint olde-worlde shop on Sadler Gate and abhor the Westfield: they are the same, the only difference is scale. One is a small, inefficient capitalist, the other a large, efficient one.

If you’ve ever got excited about buying any product, whether that’s a computer, shoes, a dress, a videogame, then you should be ecstatic about the Westfield. I mean, just look at it:

This is naked, brutal capitalism at its very best. This is a hyper-efficient shopping machine. It’s as gleaming and productive as an abattoir, as sleek and aerodynamic as a US bomb killing nine Iraqi children.

If you’re a science fiction fan, you’ll love the Westfield because it is the future, here. Now. It’s a moonbase, glowing under the regolith. It’s the all-providing cell that EM Forster wrote about in The Machine Stops, way back in 1909. (Read the full story here.)

It’s Asimov’s Caves of Steel.

It’s Le Corbusier, triumphant!

I took some video footage inside but when I returned home, it had magically transmogrified into Metropolis. But with an added Nut Hut. Look at this picture:

Those are my feet. I sat, alone, in the Westfield for an hour. It’s the most solitary place in Derby. Thousands of people, milling around. All of us alone. If you want a true spiritual revelation, don’t go to a church, go to Westfield. Because the Westfield, unlike every religious building ever built, isn’t lying to you. It isn’t pretending there’s a God or objective morality or truth or some afterlife or that you’re coming back as a chicken.

It just wants to sell you stuff. Simple. Clean. Honest.

I think a lot of people are annoyed at the Westfield because it’s too clean a mirror. When we’re ambling around rustic markets in Holidayland or browsing through the racks of independent record shops, we can pretend we’re different. After all, we are buying different records, different clothes, specialist cheeses, fine wines. We’re not consumerist sheep!

And then the Westfield opens and slaps us in our fat fucking faces. We walk round and see thousands of other slack-jawed sheeple. And then we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the ridiculous wankart frontage of All Saints…

…and we look exactly the same.

Look, I’ll be kind. And quick. And helpful:

If you can’t join me in celebrating the opening of Westfield, then here’s what you can do:

Overthrow capitalism.

There you go – simple, innit? Don’t like big bastard shopping centres? Then just go and overturn the economic system that creates and necessitates them. Stop gassing on about ‘soulless boxes’ and claiming to be above it when you’re first in the queue for your Egg McMuffin. Unless you live in a yurt and recycle your shit into a totally self-sustaining vegan diet, you’re as much of a consumer as I am. As anyone is.

You can’t pick and choose which bits of capitalism you get. It’s not a fucking buffet. The Westfield is exactly what you ordered.

Enjoy!

US Murders 34 Civilians, 9 Children

US Murders 34 Civilians

The US military has said it will investigate an operation in Iraq which left 15 women and children dead, alongside 19 suspected militants.

The operation, north of Baghdad, is thought to have resulted one of the biggest single losses of civilian life since the war began in 2003.
(Source: BBC News)

Read that carefully: “suspected militants.” This is what the US military calls any Iraqis it murders. It’s troops often murder civilians and then plant guns next to the bodies to imply they were under attack. Here’s just one US soldier’s sworn testimony:

“He asked me if I was ready. I had the pistol out. I heard the word ‘shoot.’ I don’t remember pulling the trigger. It took me a second to realize that the shot came from the pistol in my hand,” he said, crying and speaking barely above a whisper.

Vela said that as the Iraqi man was convulsing on the ground, “Hensley laughed about it and hit the guy on the throat and said shoot again.”

“After he (the Iraqi man) was shot, Sgt. Hensley pulled an AK-47 out of his rucksack and said, ‘This is what we are going to say happened,”‘ Vela said. He was dismissed from the witness stand to compose himself.
(Source: AlterNet)

If I shot someone in the street because I suspected they might be dangerous, I think I’d be charged with murder. Even if I did plant a gun on them afterwards.

So, the US liberators have slaughtered 34 innocent civilians, nine of them children.

This is another glowing milestone in Bush’s wonderful mission in Iraq. Think how those Iraqi children must have smiled and welcomed their liberation from oppression as they were blown apart by advanced US military tech. The blood on the ground at the scene of their butchery must positively stink of American-style freedom.

And the top story on the BBC News site today? The Queen has visited a memorial.

We are sooo bored of the US’ violence in Iraq, it doesn’t even make the headlines any more. They can go on massacreing innocents in Iraq every day and our news will be full of fluff about the Diana inquest or the Blue Peter cat’s name.

Meanwhile, most people think the massive death toll in Iraq is a result of sectarian violence. It isn’t.

Let’s be clear here: the US and UK illegal invasion has killed the majority of people murdered in Iraq. From 655,000 to 1.2 million Iraqis have now been murdered by our actions.

Again, I’ll ask you to imagine…

Imagine if Burma had just shot 34 protestors, nine of them children. That would be headline news. We’d have all the usual Tory and New Labour cunts wheeled on to mewl about brutal regimes. Ohhh, the injustice! Ohhhh, the inhumanity!

But when the USA butchers 34 innocent people?

Nothing.

NOTHING.

London By Night

Click the above pic for some shots I got around and in Trafalgar Square, last night, after the demo.

I find London at night terribly romantic. I love the sounds, the traffic, the sense of pregnant excitement that one feels only in a capital city. I do love dear old Derby but, let’s face it, after 7pm there’s very little to do. Apart from being racially abused by tramps near the waterfall. That never gets old for me.

Ahhhh… grimy, smelly, rude, scintillating Lahndahn….

*sigh…*