Monday, 28 May 2007

Fair(y) use and Copyright Law

by Pritchard Buckminster

Brilliant. Just Brilliant.


Thursday, 24 May 2007

Tory T-Shirts

by Charles Pooter

Harry laments the quality of right-wing T-Shirts (something we've noted before) and suggests some of his own. However, I think these would be more suitable for the UK market:

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Quote of the Day

by Charles Pooter

Over at Slashdot, user NeutronCowboy responds to novelist Mark Halprin's call for perpetual copyrights:

Dear Mr Helprin,

In light of a rumored bill before Congress to retroactively extend the limited copyright in the US to 25000 years after the death of the author (or the destruction of the last copy of the work, whichever comes last), we are investigating several potential copyright infringements in your last op-ed entitled "A Great Idea Lives Forever. Shouldn't Its Copyright?".

Descendants of James Madison request to be compensated for any citation, partial or full, of any of his works. Descendants of Hammurabi (currently estimated at about 127 million) claim copyright on any western law text and discussion thereof, as they are all derivative works of Hammurabi's Code of Law. Finally, there have been claims by descendants of Evander, son of the Sybil, that all Roman letters fall under their copyright, and that therefore any text using them needs to pay them a fair share of proceeds.

Preliminary calculations put the projected statutory infringement fines at 4.2 trillion dollars. This number may change as more claimants come forward. As it is unknown how much more the US Congress is going to extend copyrights, we suggest to settle sooner rather than later.

Sincerely,

Howard Howe,
Dewey, Chetham & Howe, LLP

Monday, 21 May 2007

Carnivorous, Stinging, Walking Plants re-Invade London! Wait, Today They Look Like Zombies! - A Review of 28 Weeks Later

by Edwin Hesselthwite

I have recently visited the cinema for the long awaited (by me) sequel to one of my recent favourite films, '28 Days Later'. The sequel with the silly title was receiving mixed reviews from reviewers whom I normally trust so I it was with a touch of ambivalence that I rested in the surprisingly comfortable chair in a good central position and waited for the film to start.

Before that moment I was treated to a full preview for Die Hard 4.0, which I have to say, looked like the absolute pinnacle of mindless fun and appears to have done for the ‘geriatric action hero’ genre what Matrix did for car chases and kung fu!

That preview was the highlight of the whole experience.

'28 Weeks Later' is unrelentingly dire, drab and awful. God it’s bad. Now don’t get me wrong, it has its moments. I’m certainly not going to attack it on the basis of a few continuity errors (“…we know it can’t species jump…”, er, wasn’t the original carrier a chimp?) or the inaccurate geography of London as some have done. The feel of the abandoned Capitol was as brilliantly rendered here as in the original and as the two child characters (blowed if I can remember names or pretend to care) cross the Tower bridge on a moped there is a genuine feel that the World has stopped outside the cinema (although in my case it was rather supplanted by a fear of ambulatory plants but, hey, it’s a better story!).

No the failings of this film are two-fold, no wait, three-fold… er well actually could be four. Tell you what, I’ll just try and explain why I didn’t like it.

Firstly the NATO coalition forces, that are exclusively American and appear to have no command structure and are excitingly incompetent, are just characterless clones despite the fact that two of them are main characters! There is no attempt to fill in the story behind their presence or slant the audience in one direction or the other as to whether their presence is beneficial or not. Which considering the final results of their actions and behaviour in the closing sequence is just unforgivable. A beautiful opportunity to bait and switch the audience was missed here. You end up feeling just a little confused as to w
ho the real bad guys are, and not in a moral dilemma sense of the first film either.

Secondly, the characterisation of one of the ‘zombies’ just does not work. They’re mindless. That’s the whole point. So the fact that the same one keeps turning up at key moments at the right time spoils the whole feel of a horde of screaming monsters. It implants the notion that they are more intelligent that previously believed
which then destroys the mythos of the RAGE as previously created.

Now the camera work. Oh god, I get a headache just thinking about the opening sequence. I understand that highly fragmented and fast moving Blurrovision
type shots are meant to convey panic and fear but there are limits. They should have handed out motion sickness drugs with the popcorn.

My main problem with this film is that it felt like a missed chance to maybe make the defining trilogy of this genre. The first film is brilliant, flawed, but brilliant. The second is formulaic, flawed and disappointing. Watch it, I would suggest, but do so on DV
D and save yourself a few bob.

Oh well, there is always Die Hard to look forward to I suppose.

*As is made clear in the tags, this is a Pritchard Buckminster article that has, due to technical problems, been posted by Edwin.

-
Nobody does it better, makes me feel sad for the rest

Friday, 18 May 2007

Quote of the Day

by Charles Pooter

There have been moments of reverie, wreathed in smoke and alone with a book, and moments of conversation, perfumed with ashtrays and cocktails and decent company, which I would not have exchanged for a year of ordinary existence.
- Christopher Hitchens

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Billion monkey at Notre Dame

by Ted Hoffman



It has been quiet at LMWNOW of late, but I can explain. Of the various writers, 3 are just too busy, 2 are fighting forces of evil and 1 is living in a perspex box above Hyde Park for a month; I've no idea what has happened to the others. In the mean time, here is a Micklethwaitian picture taken during a recent trip to Paris.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Pooter's Second Law

by Charles Pooter

Anyone who lets the phone ring for only two rings, before hanging up, is probably too impatient to bother talking to anyway.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

A Warning to Blogger Bloggers

by Charles Pooter

A cautionary tale for other Blogger users. We recently made use of their "custom domain" service. Our blog, previously at lmwnow.blogspot.com, is now at www.littlemanwhatnow.com. Although it now has its own custom domain, it is still hosted on the blogspot servers and old URLs are redirected to URLs on the new domain.

The problem is that this has massively reduced our Google ranking and we are now getting about a quarter of the traffic that we had before. I don't know if this is a temporary effect, but I've looked at the Google webmaster tools and there doesn't seem to be a way to associate the new domain with the old one. So far there has been no answer to my enquiry with Google. Oh well, it is not like it is costing us anything I suppose.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

The Wilberforce Oak

by Charles Pooter

On Saturday we went for a drive in the countryside. It was one of those drives where you choose a general direction but don't make any exact plans. As is usual on these kind of excursions, I just kept a look out for "foot path" signs and stopped when I saw one where the surroundings looked pretty and interesting. On our first stop we had a look around some of the woods near the village of Keston, traditionally in Kent, but now annexed into the London borough of Bromley. As we walked around, we came across signs directing us to the "Wilberforce Oak". Intriguing, I thought to myself, I'm sure I've heard that name a lot in the media recently. After a short walk up a hill we found the oak, now somewhat destroyed:


The Wilberforce Oak

(Apologies for the quality of these photos by the way: I didn't have my real camera with me so had to use my mobile phone). Opposite the oak was an ancient looking stone bench with an engraving on it:

Stone bench near the Wilberforce Oak

The engraving had been eroded but was still just about legible:

“At length, I well remember after a conversation with Mr. Pitt in the open air at the root of an old tree at Holwood, just above the steep descent into the vale of Keston, I resolved to give notice on a fit occasion in the House of Commons of my intention to bring forward the abolition of the slave-trade.”
What a coincidence that we should happen upon this monument so near to the bi-centenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act! The Oak is in the grounds of the Holwood Estate, which was the residence of Pitt the Younger. Pitt and Wilberforce were lifelong friends, having met at Cambridge University. Wilberforce would often visit Keston and Holwood and sit in deep thought upon the stone bench which now bears the quotation from his diary. I imagine the view helped in his contemplations:

View from "above the steep descent into the vale of Keston"

Friday, 4 May 2007

Scotch Elections Live Blogging

by Charles Pooter

Blogger "FlyingRodent" (who is a Scotchman) has the best coverage of the Scotch elections so far.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Guido the Vulgar Libertarian?

by Charles Pooter

I read Guido Fawkes' blog every day. I love his lack of respect for politicians and I love the fact that he has probably helped, at least somewhat, to damage the Blair regime. It came as no surprise to me to discover that he is a libertarian, who has in the past written pamphlets for my favourite English think tank: The Libertarian Alliance. He occasionally makes his core beliefs explicit, as with this post today. However, certain things he has said in the past encouraged me to make this cheeky comment on his blog:

“…I class myself as a libertarian, and love the way Guide sticks it to politicians, but I suspect him of being one of those libertarians that thinks that total free-market anarchy would be capitalism on speed. If so, he is wrong. True freedom won't be socialist, but it won't be capitalist either (in any meaningful sense). In a total free market there will be no state to enforce corporate patents, put down unions, recognise corporate copyrights, protect the vast swathes of land ’owned‚ by absentee landlords, regulate markets in favour of large corporations, drive subsistence farmers off land into capitalist-owned sweatshops, create limited liability laws, etc, etc.

Capitalism is not the free market.

For more along these lines see:

http://mutualist.blogspot.com/ (especially the ‘Vulgar Libertarianism’ posts).

Guido: Libertarianism only takes you so far philosophically. Mutualism is the logical next step to total freedom. Join us!”
Guido responded:
“Pooter,

Actually Guido (when he had UK bank accounts) banked with the Co-op. Cobdenites don't do patents or corporate welfare. We do out-compete subsistence farmers and own sweat shops etc.

But you wouldn't stop us doing that and we wouldn't stop you running co-ops.

My humour may be vulgar, but my libertarianism is not.”
I didn't want to invade the private property of his blog with any more irreverent/irrelevant comment, so I thought I would reply to his reply here:

It is great that he doesn't “do” patents or corporate welfare. That makes him more enlightened than most conservatives and a lot of libertarians, but his claim that in a free society capitalists would “out-compete subsistence farmers” is non-nonsensical. How would he “out-compete” self-sufficient communities free to live off their traditionally owned lands or commons? He also claims that sweat shops could exist in a free society, but where would he find labour freely willing to work in his sweat shop? I don't wish to put words into his mouth, but he seems to be saying something similar to Madsen Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute when he said:
“One person’s exploitation is another’s opportunity. Multinationals pay lower wages in developing countries than in rich ones: that’s why they go there. But their pay and conditions are reportedly better than those available elsewhere in poor countries, and so represent economic advancement. There are usually waiting lists to work for them.”
But as Kevin Carson said:
“But golly, the transnationals sure do seem to gravitate toward banana republics where the death squads torture and ‘disappear’‚ labor organizers and peasant co-op leaders, or toward ‘workers' paradises’ like China, where attempting to organize an independent union can get you a stint in a mental hospital. Wonder why that is? And the foreign policy of the U.S. government sure does seem to devote an awful lot of effort to making sure such anti-labor regimes stay in power. For example, the Suharto regime (which was put in power by a U.S.-sponsored coup, followed by the mass-murder of several hundred thousand leftists) treated independent labor organizing as a serious criminal offense. Even today, in the neoliberal Indonesian ‘democracy’TM, they're barely legal. And Indonesia is a favorite haven for sweatshops. Again, wonder why that is?

A man who hands over his wallet to a mugger does so because he prefers it to the ‘next-best alternative.’ So what? As Benjamin Tucker pointed out over a century ago, the capitalists systematically manipulate the state to create a buyers' market for wages and limit the conditions under which workers can sell their labor, and then blithely answer all criticisms with the response that the workers ‘voluntarily agreed’ to work on those terms.

‘Now, to solemnly tell these men who are thus prevented by law from getting the wages which their labor would command in a free market that they have a right to reject any price that may be offered for their labor is undoubtedly to speak a formal truth, but it is also to utter a commonplace and a cruel impertinence.’
- ‘The Lesson of Homestead’, Instead of a Book.”
As I have said before, a true world free market would be unrecognisably different from capitalism as it exists today. I don't mind that prospect, even if it is possible that it will mean fewer disposable electronic toys. What about you?

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

A Reason to Vote in Tomorrow's Elections

by Edwin Hesselthwite

A couple of facts about tomorrow's election, when it comes to the party no one wants to talk about, and who are far less interesting to the political classes than The Scottish National Party:

The British National Party are fielding 879 candidates in England And Wales at these local elections.

The British National Party currently possess 53 council seats from the last council elections.

The British National Party have already gained one council seat in this election due to a lack of contest.
The remarkable rise of the BNP over the last decade (from 4 council seats in 2002) is most notable for the negligable resistance that has been provided in the media. Anti-Fascism has become associated with old socialists and young militants, and now it is left up to the Conservative party (here, insulting the BNP always gives the impression of moderation) and Ken Livingstone (here, A solid way of making his leftist friends happy without commiting to any distasteful leftwing policies) to shout them down.

The BNP is Nick Griffin — British minority parties have become increasingly a front for their leader, and their leader's manner — much as Alex Salmond is the SNP, in the same way that Gerry Adams is Sinn Fein, and Iain Paisley is the DUP. In minority politics the actual policies are secondary, what is important is that the electorate trusts the party leader to have the right instinctive reactions on key issues. Nick Griffin has had massive success empathising with the British white working class, who have been disenfranchised from the political process by the metropolitan atmosphere of the modern Labour and Conservative parties (much like Paisley, who has represented equally scandalous positions, the attitude to Griffin is "He's our bastard"). This model works, it should be noted that the other 3 politicians I have mentioned who run personality driven parties are either in power, or in rock-throwing distance of power. Fortunately (at least in this case), this electorate are among those less likely to vote, but should the party gain any more momentum their potential electorate is significant.

Here are a few extracts from their 2005 general election manifesto (a remarkably succinct document, worth reading)

1. We would repeal the Race Relations Acts and all other restrictions on free speech in Britain.

4. We would abolish all government-sponsored ethnicity-specific professional bodies, housing associations, and other organisations.

6. We would abolish all laws against racial discrimination in employment and the government bodies associated with enforcing them.

10. A massively-funded and permanent programme, using and doubling Britain's current foreign aid budget, will aim to reduce, by voluntary resettlement to their lands of ethnic origin, the proportion of ethnic minorities living in Britain, for as long as the majority of the electorate are willing to fund such expenditure.
These are utterly, utterly repellent policies, and show an implicitly racist party. Yet the largest voluntary Anti-Fascism organisation in the UK is Unite Against Fascism, a somewhat underwhelming group with a website that is, at best, sub-standard. These issues used to be driven by trade unionists and the left, and now are covered by no-one. The, frankly meteoric, recent ascent of the BNP is extremely unlikely to end up with them in government but should still be watched with caution. The silence in the media when it comes to a party that has come to represent, above all else, Islam-hatred and repatriation is becoming unacceptable.

These people are the enemy, these people are a threat: Vote.

- Addendum, the best website giving statistics, figures and information on the actions of the BNP is Searchlight, a magazine who document the party's actions in detail. According to Searchlight the BNP's current campaign is targetted at the acquisition of an MEP in the next EU elections, assuming the continuing decline of UKIP.



The mural on Cable Street in London's East End in memory of the last time Britain dealt with fascists.