US Military Murders More Iraqi Children

US Military murders more Iraqi civilians

Eight civilians have been killed in an air strike by US military helicopters north of Baghdad, Iraqi police say.

Two children were among those who died in the attack on Wednesday evening near the town of Baiji, the police said.

A local man, Ghafil Rashed, told Reuters that his brother and son had been killed in the attack: “The Americans raided our houses… People started fleeing with their children, then the aircraft started bombing people in a street along the farm.”
(Source: BBC News)

Yesterday, North Korea killed no civilians in a country it had invaded and occupied.
Yesterday, China killed no civilians in a country it had invaded and occupied.
Yesterday, Iran killed no civilians in a country it had invaded and occupied.

Yesterday, the USA killed eight more civilians, two of them children, in a country it has invaded and occupied.

You tell me – which one is the rogue nation here? Which one do we have to fear more?

The US military continues to slaughter Iraqi civilians every day, retroactively labelling them insurgents to cover up their murder.

The crime these civilians committed was of not stopping when ordered to do so by a foreign troops occupying their territory. They were murdered for having the temerity to think they could move round their own land without the permission of George W. Bush.

Never forget, the US occupation is killing around 300 Iraqis a day. But I guess those lives are a small price to pay for some good, old-fashioned American freedom and democracy.

Will there be any Iraqis left alive to savour that delight?

Mattel Synsonic Drum Machine / Pads

Mattel Synsonic

When I first got the Mattel Synsonic, I went mental.

Finally, I could act-out all my Kraftwerk fantasies and pretend I was Wolfgang or Karl, tippy-tapping away on my ubercool drum synth pads.

There was a kick, snare and two tom pads. They weren’t up to Simmons drum standards but for what was essentially a novelty toy, they were pretty damn good. I used to whack the crap out of mine, so much so that the little piezoelectric transducers under the rubbery pads would occasionally fall off.

What’s more, these weren’t just whackalong pads – the Synsonic was also a drum machine. Yeah, programming was a bit hit and miss, there was no quantising of events unless you used the repeat buttons but it was awesome.

In some ways, it was more advanced than the beatboxes of today. My fave feature was the choke button that turned the open hi-hat sound into a closed. It wasn’t a simple switch, like you would have on a sample-based machine, this was a gradual closing. Sounded lovely!

Mattel Synsonic Modded

Eventually, I even modded my baby as you can see above, adding trigger ins and outs. This meant I could play my JX-3P and Rogue from the pads. Or play the pad sounds from my synths!

Can you imagine how many hours I spent, triggering great bursts of white and pink noise?

Ahhh… now that’s what I call fun! 🙂

Iron Man @ Cinema De Lux, Westfield

I’ve just come back from seeing Iron Man at the new Cinema De Lux at the Westfield Centre. This isn’t a proper review of the film but rather a review of the whole experience…

Well, the new cinema is certainly swanky central. Everything is impeccably clean, scrubbed and gleaming. The staff are all well-groomed, well-spoken and friendly. Even the lad I bought my too-tasty hot dog from was chatty and welcoming. As such, the initial feeling is the antithesis of going to a British cinema in the 1970s or early ’80s.

Before the big multiplexes opened, going to the cinema was a tacky, furtive, smelly expedition. If you managed to get a working seat it would invariably be covered with several generations of chewing gum. And worse. The staff would be surly bordering on homicidal and the food over-priced kapok. Forget any nostalgic bobbins you hear – I was there and British cinemas were shit. No wonder they were empty.

Then the multiplexes came! Clean! Loads of screens! Proper sound! People sweeping up! Masturbating onto seats discouraged!

And, surprise, surprise, Britons started going to the cinema again. Even families went, together!

Here we are at the last two years of The Noughties and Derby is the first city in Britain to get a Showcase De Lux. Apparently, the market is now being segmented. At the one end will be the cheaper, old multiplexes (hello Derby Odeon and the existing Showcase). At the other will be new luxury multiplexes.

Well, the luxury is there. But I do wonder if there are enough people who are willing to pay for it when they can see exactly the same film more cheaply elsewhere.

Our Cinema De Lux only opened last Friday but at tonight’s 7.30 screening of Iron Man, my wife and I felt like VIPs as it was almost like a private screening. This is a big film in a big screen but only thirty to forty people were there. It felt a bit like when you go to see a film in the day at Odeon. But way swankier service, of course. I ordered some chicken nuggets and the assistant said they’d be five or ten minutes. When I looked a bit worried as the film was due to start by then, he said he’d bring them to me. And he did! Now that’s swanky!

The picture and sound quality were excellent. Of course, as a musician, bad sound irritates me insanely. I stopped going to the old Showcase because of numerous sound faults. The Cinema De Lux’s sound doesn’t have those bugs. The only gripe I have is that I found the seats a little low: when I sat down my knees were heading toward my chin. And I’m not that tall, I’m only 6’1″. However, the seats do recline so I could rock back. I wish they were a teensy bit higher but I’m guessing they’re low to maximise visibility and seat numbers. Whatever, it wasn’t enought to spoil my enjoyment of the film.

Oh… the film…

Iron Man

I liked it!

I was extremely irked by all the Afghanistan Bananistan bits but, hell, this is a mainstream Hollywood summer blockbuster, not Syriana. The whole ‘US military saving the innocents from warlords’ was so laughably the opposite of their actual actions in Afghanistan and Iraq that no-one with any intelligence could swallow that propagandic turd.

BUT… (deep breath)

At least the major villain wasn’t Yet Another Swarthy Ayyy-raab. The inherent gung-ho-ness was also defused by Stark’s contingent conversion to occasional pacifism.

Pluses: cool fighting! Good explosions! Lovely effects coupled with non-intrusive CGI. It was also lovely to see a superhero film not ruined by huge dollops of shit campery like the Fantastic Four films were or nonsensical characterisations like the later Batmans (pre-Begins). Downey was ace, as much Tony Stark as he was Charlie Chaplin. I grew up reading Iron Man and Downey nailed the character totally. If anything, he animated it more than the comic book version which is a reversal of the norm for comic to film adaptations.

Iron Man is a great action film that even non-comic fans will enjoy provided you can leave any knowledge of the last six years geopolitics at home. Just switch that part of your brain off and you’ll be fine. It’s a film, it’s a bloke in a flying exoskeletal battle suit, it’s fantasy. As such, it’s good fantasy. A proper popcorn movie.

So, I’d give the experience:

Cinema De Lux – 9/10
Iron Man – 7/10

Let’s hope they can put some more bums on those expensive (and low) seats! Or we’re going to have a large, luxurious, empty shed right in the centre of Derby…

Why I Love Einstein


A newly published letter reveals that Albert Einstein viewed religion and religious works as “childish,” and “primitive works.”

In the letter, dated January 3 1954, he wrote: “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.
“No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this…”

“For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people.”

(Source: Boing Boing)

Of course, it’s never been science versus religion. The real fight is rationality versus irrationality. I only call myself an atheist as shorthand, the same as I apply the label ‘straight edge’ to myself. The term ‘atheist’ is semiotically stacked to indicate that being ‘theist’ is the normal position. I’m a rationalist. Anyone who is religious is an irrationalist. 🙂

For example…

I put my milk bottles out at night. In the middle of the night, I hear some yowling and find one of the bottles smashed in the morning. I assume, being rational, that a cat knocked over a bottle. Or maybe a badger. Perhaps a tiger but that’s not as likely in Derby. But if I was religious, I’d assume that some mysterious ghost / goblin / demon / God did it. Because irrational thinkers always leap for the least likely explanation. Before reason, every love affair, every volcano, every harvest or summer or eclipse or plague was ascribed to the agency of some tinpot God or Goddess.

As a rationalist, the next night I stay up and look out of my window whereupon I observe a cat knocking over my bottles. This is because I’m investigating the phenomenon in a rational manner. If I was religious, I wouldn’t look out of the window. I’d have faith in my large ghostie which I call God. To actually inquire would be blasphemous! In fact, I’d brick the window up and declare anyone who tried to see what was happening outside a heretic / infidel and perhaps burn out their eyes with a hot poker. Because, verily, GOD MUST NOT BE QUESTIONED. Reality for the religious is not defined by observation or experiment, it is defined by dusty works of fiction which can never be wrong. Even when they are.

Here’s an argument I’ve had countless times in the last thirty+ years (I became a conscious atheist at the age of eight):

God-botherer: “So, if there is no God – WHERE DID THE UNIVERSE COME FROM? HUH? HUH? ANSWER THAT, EH?
Me: It just happened.
GB: RUBBISH! You can’t have something from nothing. There must have been a creator, A GOD! HAH!
Me: So…. okay… where did this God come from?
GB: He just is. He exists. He just happened. Ummm. HE IS OUTSIDE OF ANY REALITY YOU CAN COMPREHEND!
Me: Right, I see… much more logical and simple than my hypothesis. I say, would you like to buy a bridge? It’s got a ghost on it!
GB: Ghosts! I don’t believe in such childish stuff! What would the people in Church think of me? Heaven forfend!
Me: But you can’t prove this bridge hasn’t got a ghost on it, can you?
GB: By Jove, you’re right! Okay, how much for the bridge? I’ve got some money coming through from Nigeria soon, that’ll come in handy!

Anyway, I must be going as I think I can hear some goblins playing skittles with my milk bottles outside.


The Mystery Jets, Live At The Royal, 10/5/08

Whooo! On Saturday night I was lucky enough to see The Mystery Jets live at The Royal!


Supporting were Esser who managed to surmount a lack of soundchecking and played a fun, bouncy set. They remind me of A Certain Ratio channelled through LCD Soundsystem.

Click the pic above for more shots of Esser.

The Mystery Jets

And then the Jets came on and hummed through a lot of their new album, ’21,’ plus some old faves like ‘Dennis’ and ‘Zootime.’ The audience lapped it up, both the old and the new songs. And what’s not to like? This band write great pop tunes.

They’re also amazing live. If you get the chance, go and see them. You won’t regret it!

Click the pic! 😀