End the war on drugs

mexican drug war

In 72 hours, we could finally see the beginning of the end of the ‘war on drugs’. This expensive war has completely failed to curb the plague of drug addiction, while costing countless lives, devastating communities, and funneling trillions of dollars into violent organized crime networks.

Experts all agree that the most sensible policy is to regulate, but politicians are afraid to touch the issue. In days, a global commission including former heads of state and foreign policy chiefs of the UN, EU, US, Brazil, Mexico and more will break the taboo and publicly call for new approaches including decriminalization and regulation of drugs.

This could be a once-in-a-generation tipping-point moment — if enough of us call for an end to this madness. Politicians say they understand that the war on drugs has failed, but claim the public isn’t ready for an alternative. Let’s show them we not only accept a sane and humane policy — we demand it. Sign the petition and share with everyone — when we reach 1/2 million, it will be personally delivered to world leaders by the global commission.


To Ban Ki-moon and all Heads of State:

We call on you to end the war on drugs and the prohibition regime, and move towards a system based on decriminalisation, regulation, public health and education. This 50 year old policy has failed, fuels violent organised crime, devastates lives and is costing billions. It is time for a humane and effective approach.

Click here to sign the Avaaz Petition

Robert Foster tells it like it is!

If you haven’t seen Rap News yet you’ve been missing out!
A no-bullshit hip-hop news channel from Melbourne, Australia, taking on the biggest stories of these troubling times – it is a must-see for all comedy hip hop fans and liberal-minded fuckheads everywhere. The news is spat by fictional b-boy anchorman Robert Foster aka Hugo Farrant…

“Hugo Farrant fills the role of the amiable Rap News anchorman, Robert Foster – as well as all the guests who appear on the show. Hailing from Branksome in the UK, Hugo is a prolific rhymer and orator, MC and spoken-word poet who regularly graces the stages and festivals of Melbourne. Having spent seven years rhyming and rapping, he now co-rhymes/writes ~TheJuiceMedia: Rap News.”

See more here:





RIP Gil Scott Heron

Gil Scott Heron

The legendary poet, musician and “Godfather of Hip Hop”  Gil Scott Heron, died yesterday afternoon at St. Luke’s Hospital, New York City, aged 62.

Active right up until his death, his music and poetry has been a massive inspiration to disenfranchised people across the globe, for several generations, and was a catalyst for the birth of rap music.

Anything I could try and write about this sad news will not do the man justice, and anything I write about how this news makes me feel will sound cheesy and crass, but I feel I should write something.
He has been a personal hero of mine for many years, his political messages and heartbreaking stories resonated with me despite being worlds apart, and his poetry stimulated me to pick up a microphone myself  – he will be missed by many who never knew him. There was an honesty to his work that I seldom hear in music these days, and his lyrics spoke of great strength and of great weakness, as he battled for civil rights and against his own debilitating drug addictions. I can only have eternal respect for the man, and my condolences go out to all those that knew him.

Me and the Devil now seems like his swansong, much like Johnny Cash with his cover of Hurt, there seemed a finality to his last album and perhaps a premonition in its contents.

Either way I’m New Here was a fitting end to an unbelievable musical career though his legacy to music was already etched in stone. RIP GSH.

The Bridge

Nephele by Bo Legz

Bo Legz is a female producer from Leeds. Fairly new to the game, she has a small following on soundcloud.

Her debut release ‘Masquerade’ will be available for download in winter 2011/12.

For more tracks go to: http://soundcloud.com/bo-legz

Wobble n Dubb – It’s Not Rocket Surgery [Review]

It's Not Rocket Sugery - Wobble N Dubb's debut LP

I’ve never been raped in either of my ears, but I imagine that the sensation would not be dissimilar to that of listening to the merciless new album from Wobble n Dubb. The duo’s debut album, a bass-heavy Techno hybrid called It’s Not Rocket Surgery, demands to be played loud: loud enough to make you think the room you’re in is the only piece of horrific reality left in existence, and everything outside has disappeared into the abyss. It will pulverise the soft tissue of your inner ear and maul at your ear drum to the point of near collapse; it will melt a fuse in your brain and trap you in a dark acid flashback of mental psychosis… It’s not for pussies, I’m for real.

The intro, Brain Science, sets the psychotic pace of the album. Wobble N Dubb ain’t messin’. The Godfathers of Ravecore have returned and they mean serious deviant mash-up business. The album starts for real with the pummelling rhythm of Kokoro’s Actroid pulling you into a futuristic nightmare realm of androids and robots, where the sublimely heavy kick-drums batter out the pace of a revolution. The epic Holy Shiite comes next, a track which not only gives you an insight into Wobble n Dubb’s troublesome sense of humour, it also shows them at the top of their game: eerie and unsettling glitched-out vocals mesh perfectly with pounding drums and a crushing bassline; every second is immaculately and painstakingly produced.

Full of blistering snares and nervous sounding bass, Shifty is just that: the theme tune to a man skulking away down an alley after indecently exposing himself to a schoolboy. The dirty bastard. Then comes the hammering bassline of Propa Wood, thrashing out the soundtrack to an imaginary scene in an imaginary documentary in which David Cameron gets ripped apart limb from limb by a naked midget with a tin opener, and screams of anguish erupt from his posh twat-hole of a mouth as his ridiculously annoying face gets sprayed with lumps of bile-soaked cartilage and chunks of bloody gristle. But that might just be me.

Wobble n Dubb – Propa Wood

The aptly titled Loud is a highlight – its unearthly sci-fi melody fuses immaculately with a thundering signature Wobble n Dubb bassline, and it morphs into a destructive and fierce rave anthem. Monstrously heavy Seppuku is a summoning to watch a ritual suicide by disembowelment – the wobbling bass takes prime position again, ripping apart your ear canal without so much as a bit of courtesy spit to ease the pain. Deal with it or fuck off, it seems to say. Gonzo throws you into a brutal Gabber insanity of thrashing spastics; but then Front Gammon pulls you back out with a jolly little melody, and makes you feel like you’ve landed in the middle of a rave down a rabbit hole with a clarted Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee ripping up the dance floor.

The atmospheric and dreamy Tiny Dinosaur Hands brings this demented album to a close in a way that’s actually verging on serene. Maybe Wobble N Dubb aren’t complete savages after all – they have at least had the decency to attempt to calm our troubled minds at the end of this psychotic saga that has been It’s Not Rocket Surgery.

But I do think it’s time for them to fuck off now. Don’t you?

Get the album NOW (at your peril) from Dead Channel
Wobble N Dubb on Soundcloud / Facebook
Check out The Wobble n Dubb takeover on The Otherside Radio show back in January 2011: download here.

New releases on Dead Channel

Conflux vs. Micoland - Ark Hive

Our friends at Dead Channel are back with two new releases and more to follow in coming days. The net label, based in the North of England, aims to serve as a vehicle primarily for the transmission of electronic music that has little, or no other outlet, but all has been quiet for a few months due to other commitments by its artists. Now Dead Channel are back on air with releases from label stalwarts Wobble N Dubb and Micoland, with an EP to follow by Tokyo based techno-maverick, Little Nobody. Fans of Wobble N Dubb will be pleased to hear that their debut album It’s Not Rocket Surgery is now available for free download from the website and we’ll have a review of that up in the next few days from the legendary Lisa Right Eye. Until then you can download and listen to the new releases for yourself here:


Wobble N Dubb – It’s Not Rocket Surgery 

734 years in the making, Wobble N Dubb do not recommend you download their debut album, as it may distort your perception of reality as you know it.

After a year of polluting the underground rave scene with atrocious, viscerally-coagulated beat spasms, they retreated back to their secret lair in the Yorkshire mountains to push their manifesto of noise to it’s logical conclusion. The chromosomes of Coldcut, Point B, Modeselektor, Reso and Venetian Snares have been spliced into a genetically modified hyper-toxic foetus, in a collaboration with NASA and HP Sauce.
It’s Not Rocket Surgery but it sure as hell feels like it!

Conflux vs. Micoland – Ark Hive

This second retrospective of early works by Micoland has been compiled in the spirit of Spac Hand Luke Vs. Amen Andrews, in that both artists are in fact the same person. These tracks all date from 2007 and 2008 and feature both the Skam Records-inspired analogue experiments of his Conflux project, and the darker output of his Dubstep and Hip Hop tunes as Micoland.

The album’s tracks were written primarily on hardware such as the Roland Juno 6 and the Casio 101, through delay pedals and other cheap effects, giving the LP a unique feel, unlike much of the polished Dubstep released today. Many of the tracks here featured in the set he performed supporting Milanese at Room 237 in April 2008, but are released here, in all their lo-fi glory, for the first time.

More on Psychopathy…

It is easy — terribly easy — to shake a man’s faith in himself. To take advantage of that to break a man’s spirit is devil’s work. – George Bernard Shaw

Most of us comprehend instinctively that there are shades of good and bad rather than absolute categories. We know in our hearts that there must be no such thing as a person who is 100% good, and so we assume that there is no such thing as a person who is 100% bad… However psychologically speaking there definitely are people who possess an intervening sense of constraint based on emotional attachments and other people who have no such sense. And to fail to understand this is to place people of conscience in the world in danger. – Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door 

Further to my original post on this topic (here). I just stumbled across this on youtube. In this short webcast Frank Ochberg explains what a psychopath is and why they do not get upset or excited about seeing the pain of others.

If you’re interested in delving even deeper into the world of psychopathy I also recommend I, Psychopath. From the documentary’s promotional blurb:-

…In this intriguing documentary, Sam Vaknin, a self-proclaimed psychopath, goes in search of a diagnosis. In a scientific first, he allows himself to undergo testing to find out if he was born without a conscience. He knows he’s narcissistic and cannot empathize with others. By his own admission, he’s pompous, grandiose, repulsive and contradictory, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable… but he believes, he’s not a bad person. What he is is indifferent…he couldn’t care less. Unless, of course, the topic is himself. Vaknin and his long-suffering but ever-loyal wife, Lidija, embark on a diagnostic road trip. But, it’s uncharted territory… deep into the mind and life of a psychopath. The 47-year-old convicted corporate criminal has agreed to take part in the pursuit of his own diagnosis… meeting the world’s experts in psychopathy in the hope that science will provide some answers for why he is like he is. These experts put Vaknin (and his wife) through a battery of rigorous psychological tests and neuro-scientific experiments. Vaknin is shocked at the results. Sam, his wife, the scientists, the film-makers – will they ever be quite the same again?

Me and the Devil

Awesome track and video by Gil Scott Heron

Corporate Armies

Yesterday, in The New York Times, it was revealed that the UAE (the United Arab Emirates) have hired the services of a private army, run by Erik Prince, a Christian Fundamentalist and the billionaire founder of Blackwater, a private military corporation. The Emiratis have paid $529 million dollars for this secret army, apparently to respond to terrorist attacks, uprisings amongst the countries largely foreign workforce and to defend themselves against Iran.

 and  write: “The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest in their crowded labor camps or were challenged by pro-democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.”

You can read the full article on this in the New York Times here.

Blackwater Mercenaries in New Orleans

Mercenaries are not a new phenomenon, their use is as old as war itself. Neither is American security investment in the Oil states or wartime contracting. But something really troubled me about this news, particularly in the wake of watching The Corporation, a documentary on the psychopathic nature of big businesses, and their pathological pursuit of profit and power (see Matt Jones’s article on this here). It may seem like the dystopic fantasy of a science fiction geek, but we may only be a few years away from the corporations tooling up. Currently the military-industrial complex is armed by the state, governments are in the hands of big business, and corporations can get governments to do their dirty work – those caught in the crossfire are considered ‘externalities’. But what if this was to change? The corporations would seek to defend themselves without the aid of powerful western governments. Companies akin to Blackwater could provide the firepower, and war itself could be privatized. This may not be that dissimilar to what is happening on the ground as we speak – in exactly whose interests is it that we have troops across the Middle East – who benefits from this? The difference is, our governments are supposedly still accountable.

As our precious fossil fuels gradually run out, the scrabble for the last remains of these dwindling resources is bound to get messy. And if corporations can fight these “resource wars” without the armed support of national governments, it removes any accountability for that military action – you can’t vote a CEO out of office  – who would be liable? I realise that a lot of this is conjecture, but we need to look into these sorts of possibilities now, to prevent them from happening, especially in the light of this latest development, as it appears these sorts of deals are already going on behind closed doors.


Burial & Fourtet

38 Degrees | Save the NHS: Petition

Save our NHS
Sign the petition, show the tories we’re not going to stand for this shit.
38 Degrees | Save the NHS: Petition.

Class and Consciousness

How you relate to the World, to other people and the availability of money, is broadly determined by your social class. It is not a strictly determinist process however, and there can be exceptions, but when it is indeed class that is primary, it is the mode of life and relationships to political power that are important.
Manchester slums
Having myself started out in a Victorian slum in a northern industrial city, with a Grandmother who could neither read or write, and having ended up in a professorial post in London University, I am perhaps better placed than most as an observant outsider to many different class configurations. I started out as a Primary School teacher and ended up as Director of Information Technology in a major University and met, worked with, and even taught, many very different people, and in the case of my students, have for long periods taught many different groups whose first language was not English, but, for example, Gujerati or Cantonese. My academic life has involved many different subjects and specialisms, from politics to science, from sculpture to philosophy, and from mathematics to writing.

Nevertheless, I have never lost my broad Mancunian accent, and a working class attitude to all that I do, though this has been vastly better informed than that of my friends and relations back in West Gorton.

Now, this brief scene-setting is important, because without that history I would never have realised what factors are essential in the formation of social consciousness. From the blinkered heart of any similarly privileged (or under-privileged) like-thinking group, it became clear that there could be NO realisation of such things: a sub-group consensus is invariably dominant. So, it is by no accident that much of value in modern literature has come, most often, from the outsiders, who can both see the currents dominant in the waters in which they have to swim, and, with wide-eyed amazement, reject them!

It also takes a very long time, even with such a history, to arrive at such a realisation, because nothing equips you to find alternatives other than a lifetime of experiences: you certainly don’t come up with all the answers in your youth, even if your heart is in the right place. For most of the time you have no choice but to oscillate between various substitute world-views, offered by others, and only with sufficient time, many mistakes, and determined study, do you slowly establish a human standpoint, rather than a commonly-shared class standpoint. And it is a sad revelation, because by that juncture you are already speaking a different language, and no-one from your origins gives any credence to what you have to say. For the majority dwell within only second-hand, class-determined conceptions of the World, and you are either “on another planet”, or alternatively “talking though the wrong orifice.”

Indeed, as a teacher all my life, I have learned that to say it like it is and be understood, requires a pre-prepared audience equipped to follow your meaning, while for any understanding to actually grow, they will had to have traversed successfully many important crises (as well as failed in a fair number of others). The successful teacher has to deal in what are termed Didactic Models, so will have had to arrange for specially designed Didactic journeys on which to accompany his auditors, so that they are guaranteed to both suffer these crises and also see for themselves the necessary new paths required thereafter. You cannot merely tell them the answers, as people only ever really learn from their mistakes. Your job as a teacher is mainly to lead them to good vantage points, and even let them climb a few gum trees along the way, so that they, in the end, see for themselves where to go next.

Of course, what would be entirely inappropriate, would be to deliver to them exactly what I am endeavouring to achieve in this article. For one thing, you would not stay long in post if you did, and you wouldn’t get many takers either, because you would not be taking into account their age and experience – they wouldn’t really know what you were talking about!

Let us then consider my initial statement about World View and class position.

We have to start with Work. How do people get the necessary wherewithall to be able to support themselves in life. Historically, for the working class, it is mostly out of their hands, yet in a contradictory way, they are the people who construct, mend and adjust most things: they are the people who can make things work with practical skill. Yet the fruits of their labours do not belong to them. They get the minimum that their employers can get away with, and effectively have to work all their lives, owning nothing of what they have made.

Their education was not meant to equip them to rise above their normal state, though some (like me) did manage it. The education of the majority of the population was always to serve what they would need to be able to do as employees, and this has changed dramatically since my Grandmother had to bring up a family with literally zero education or income.

While the class I know very little about is that which sits on top of the whole structure and calls the shots, from the upper middle class upwards, the broad reaches of the lower middle class I know very well. I have worked with them in education literally all my life, and none of the real middle class do the kind of work that is familiar to the working classes, neither are they in supervisory roles, which are for a narrow band of workers, who from their detailed knowledge of poaching, make excellent game keepers. The middle class deal in design, teaching and various other professions, and they are usually paid fairly well, and don’t have the same money problems as the workers. There is more inheritance at that level, and financial support from parents who own property. And such advantages definitely produce their consciousness, and in particular their “rights” to such things.

But class has become a dirty word in our aspirational, consumer-capitalist country. People who once would have called themselves working class and been proud of it, now shrug and say “middle class… probably”. How has the fabric of our society changed? Are these real changes? Where do you really fit into it? Class is still as much of an issue as it was in 1950s Manchester, but how has our consciousness of it been changed? These are important questions to ask of yourself and society at large, but the answers won’t be easy or comfortable.


Chris Kubex – The Trans Global Super Hyper Mega Bass EP

Chris Kubex
Download here

Our good friend Chris Kubex has a new release out on Kanji Kinetic’s Mutant Bass net label. After years of ripping up the dancefloors of Leeds and Birmingham, it looks like this extremely talented producer is finally getting the recognition he deserves. You can download it for free from the link above, and it’s more than worth the asking price 😉 For fans of heavy dance music Kubex delivers Bassline, Techno and Dubstep bangers aplenty, but this is Kubex, so don’t expect these to be mere DJ tools. Emotive chip-tune-style melodies, intricate beats and heavy bass jostle for your attention in these dense slabs of mainroom rave mayhem. Rinsin.

Listen here

Into The Fire – Review

Into The Fire by Steven Davies, Bryan Law, and Dan Dicks is a documentary about the Toronto G20 summit in 2010, the massive crackdown that imposed martial law across the whole city and the unusual style of policing that allowed the Black Bloc to run riot while greeting peaceful protesters with a baton to the face. It is without a doubt the most terrifying thing I have seen this year leaving me quivering with a mixture of fear and rage that no fictional film can come close to instilling.

As far as made for internet ‘truth’ documentaries go this one stands out from the crowd like a sore thumb of pure quality. It shines as a documentation of the events surrounding the G20, relying on the footage of various people on the ground to  tell the story, as opposed to much of the found footage that goes into online documentaries. At 2 hours it’s a slog, but a well paced one that draws you further and further into the events of the week that continually unfold from pre G20 Toronto to the aftermath displaying all the curiosities in between.

The creators have put themselves on the line to try get the views of protesters, the public and the police leading to shady stories of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, meetings with provocative activist Charlie Veitch (who quickly gets dragged off and thrown in a cage for being too cocky) and encounter with one of Toronto’s friendliest police officer who’s upholding the law when all her co workers are abusing it.

It offers a window into the police state that keeps on popping up when the big wigs are in town and the treatment that you can expect when you say things like “good luck on Saturday” to the authorities.

If you take anything from this film don’t let it be a foreboding sense of fear but a useful chunk of knowledge of what happens when Mr Fancy Pants comes to your town.


Amon Tobin – ISAM

Illustrious Brazilian producer Amon Tobin has returned with his 8th album – ISAM – a work that takes you to the next level, sweeping you into a rich and deep sci-fi future as fragments of sounds cluster and morph harmoniously together before disassembling into space and dusty glitches once again.

ISAM is an intense and all-consuming project, and is a refined and inspiring culmination of Tobin’s work so far. He’s forever been pushing the boundaries of electronic music, straining towards a future sound that now encompasses sound design, art, melody and emotion. Tobin made a name for himself with his heavy and ingenious use of sampling in his earlier works, but he pushed beyond this with the use of field recordings in the production of his 2007 album Foley Room. And now he’s gone a step further – “It’s 2011 folks, welcome to the future!” he tells us on his Soundcloud page on which he gives a track-by-track commentary of the album:

To define ISAM as any sort of musical genre would be to needlessly confine it – essentially this album is rejuvenating electronic music using sound design, and that is as far as I’ll go. The influences for ISAM range unexpectedly (or perhaps expectedly) from Tom Waits to Pink Floyd, from the Sgt. Pepper album to Frank Zappa – try to imagine these influences through the electronic spectrum of ISAM and you can see where my unwillingness to pigeon hole arises.

The sounds of ISAM all started out as field recordings that were then synthesized and built into playable instruments using the Haken Continuum Fingerboard . See the making of some of the ISAM sounds:

Using this method of production he is succeeding in re-arranging natural sounds to make something new and imaginary – he has mechanised the natural word, and has lent himself some control over it.

The highlight for me comes mid-way through this epic album with the dark and melodious Lost & Found. Tobin explains part of the concept of the album: “This is where I imagine the hatch being lifted on the torso of the Westworld robot and technology shows itself as the true driving force of all you are experiencing. Nothing is real, it’s all computers.” (ref). The track succeeds in making the listener feel a sort of apocalyptic fear that is somehow enjoyable in its intensity.

This is the second album this year to feed my imagination in such an intense way – the first was Semiomime’s From Memory (an alias of Dj Hidden), a soundtrack to an imaginary film that takes on subtle shape and form in the mind of the listener. Like From Memory, ISAM immerses the listener in a new unknown realm, making you feel awed and alive, disturbed and unnerved, grasping at something tangible and yet entirely unknown.

To mark the release of ISAM, Tobin will be collaborating with Saachii Collection artist Tessa Farmer on a radical and exciting installation project called ‘Control Over Nature’, where Tobin’s sound design will feature alongside Farmer’s natural sculptures: tiny scenes and spectacles built from dead insects, bones and other organic material. An audio-visual match made in heaven, it would seem.

Tessa Farmer: Dragon Fly

ISAM is self indulgent at times there’s no doubt, but it is also fully reliant on the listener to bring it to life. My advice: listen to this album only when you can give it your full undivided attention, your imagination will do the rest. Let’s see where it takes you.

AMON TOBIN + TESSA FARMER PRESENT: ISAM: CONTROL OVER NATURE: 26th May – 5th June (11am – 5pm everyday) Crypt Gallery, below St Pancras Church, Euston Road, London, NW1 2BA

Amon Tobin will bring his Audio-Visual show “ISAM: Live” to the following venues, with many more to be announced…
1st June – Mutek, Montreal
9th June – Astra, Berlin
10th June – AB, Brussels
17th June – Roundhouse, London

Due to the unfortunate leaking of the album, ISAM is now available digitally from Ninja Tune or youn can wait ’til the 23rd May to save some pennies and get the Deluxe Bundle – the digital version, Artwork CD, 2xLP and T-Shirt.

New Banksy

New Banksy
More here

Do Psychopaths Dream of Power & Status?

The following documentaries are extremely interesting and worrying in their implications (to put it mildly). Both documentaries are centred around psychologist Robert D Hare’s recently devised checklist to accurately diagnose cases of psychopathy, and raise, in my opinion, some serious issues which need to be addressed if we are to make a better, fairer and safer world for future generations. But an ethical solution to some of the problems presented may not become available to us for some time to come, and even if/when the science /technology to resolve the problems without resorting to inhuman right-wing tactics becomes available to us, there may still be serious ethical considerations to weigh-up as to whether or not the technology should be employed.

This undoubtedly all sounds very melodramatic and exaggerated, but I think once you’ve delved even just a bit deeper into this topic beyond the commonly held view (or misconception), as I have, you’ll find that you agree with me, if not in whole, in part.

Experts say that as many as 1 in 100 people could be psychopaths. They are not only serial killers, that is only the extreme and a small minority of the whole, in reality they are all around us, functioning, for the most part, as law abiding citizens. But this does not mean they are harmless.

What defines a psychopath is the inability to relate – a total lack of empathic reasoning. This causes them to be extremely selfish and ruthless; they will hold no qualms over deceiving and/or manipulating to get what they want. Sometimes to get what they want they must inflict violence or kill. Whilst other times (remember, they possess no empathy or conscience) they simply crave the rush and sense of power dominating/abusing/killing a person will provide them.

Not all psychopaths feel they need to break the law to get what they want though. They are often, by nature, very cunning people, and resorting to such crude methods as killing to fulfil their selfish desires often is not necessary. As you’ll find out if you watch the documentaries, a lot of psychopaths get on extremely well in the ruthless, cut-throat world of business and commerce for example. And this world satisfies their craving for power and domination over others.

Quote from the Equinox documentary, Psyschopath:-

The notion of industrial psychopaths rising throught the ranks to become captains of industry could mean that the character traits are a positive business asset.

Power attracts the corruptible – Frank Herbert

So, we know what defines a psychopath, but what defines a human? Is empathy and a conscience vital qualities to being human? If so, can psychopaths really be classified as truly “human”? Or are they humans in disguise? Cold, unfeeling androids without a “soul”? If this is the case, then maybe the ethical conundrums I mentioned earlier don’t apply, but I feel very wairy of going down this route… we all know what happens when people are classed as “subhuman”.  The inspiration for Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was people PKD saw around him who he felt lacked these vital humanistic ingredients. Even the “Voight-Kampff” test used to identify the androids is reminiscent of a psychopathy evaluation, gauging emotional reaction to stimuli.

From the wiki article about the novel:-

The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic near future, where the Earth and its populations have been damaged greatly by Nuclear War during World War Terminus. Most types of animals are endangered or extinct due to extreme radiation poisoning from the war. To own an animal is a sign of status, but what is emphasized more is the empathic emotions humans experience towards an animal.

Deckard is faced with “retiring” six escaped Nexus-6 model androids, the latest and most advanced model. Because of this task, the novel explores the issue of what it is to be human. Unlike humans, the androids possess no empathic sense. In essence, Deckard probes the existence of defining qualities that separate humans from androids.

What definately isn’t a human is a corporation (Tyrell, “More Human than Human”!). Yet as explored in the second documentary, a Canadian film called The Corporation, these organisations must be considered, in the eyes of the law, as a person rather than an entity. Under this definition, reasons profiler Robert Hare, corporations can be categorized as psychopathic because they exhibit a personality disorder: that of single-mindedly pursuing their objectives without regard for the people in and around them.

In my opinion, these docos are explosive and should be seen by everyone. The Equinox documentary is an eye-opener for sure, and The Corporation is nothing short of a masterpiece in my opinion, winning the World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, 2004, along with a Special Jury Award at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in 2003 and 2004. They have certainly changed and shaped my present view of the world in which we find ourselves (as well as my interpretation of PKD’s novel). I hope you can find the time to view them both, and I look forward to the debate these docos will hopefully initiate on the comments section.

If you want to research even more into this topic after watching the documentaries, I recommend the book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths among Us by Robert D Hare, the psychologist who developed the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL) and Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R).

Hot Sauce Committee Part 2

In case you’ve been asleep (- Lisa, lol), the Beastie Boy’s new album, Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 is out now! And, of course, it’s off the hook. Check it:


Marwencol is the strange and wonderful story of Mark Hogancamp, a man who, after suffering brain damage resulting from being severely beaten-up by a group of drunken thugs, sets about creating his own very personal brand of therapy. This therapy involves revisiting his childhood passion for Action Man figurines. Mark creates and maintains a miniature, fictional WWII era Belgium town named Marwencol, and documents, in the form of highly accomplished photographs, the on-going narrative of its occupants, modified Barbie and Action Man dolls based on real people in his life. Eventually he and his creations are discovered by a curator, who is so impressed and taken-back by Marwencol that he proposes putting on an exhibition of Mark’s photographs of his town and its curious narrative.

A must see! Highly recommended. Link to full film bottom of post.

Speaks to the addictiveness, the catharsis, the unpredictability, and the eternity of the creative process. – Jeffrey Chen, Window to the Movies

Marwencol is a mesmerizing documentary, and like Mark Hogancamp it continually surprises you. It may also be one of the best films you’ll see all year. – Beth Accomando, KPBS.org

First-time director Jeff Malmberg does almost everything right in this stunningly empathetic documentary. – Jeff Meyers, Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Marwencol, full film stream.

Mark’s website, marwencol.com

Egypt Sentences Blogger to 3 Years

There follows a link to a New York Times article about an Egyptian blogger said to be the ‘first prisoner of conscience in Egypt after the revolution,’ The blogger, Maikel Nabil, 25, was sentenced to 3 years for criticizing the military, nothing else, and his views were of pacifism- he was also a conscientious objector and campaigner against conscription. Nothing he was charged with would be legal under democratic law.

Read more in The New York Times

Al Thawra (The Revolution)

Hip Hop track inspired by the Egyptian Revolution. Rhymes, beats and video by Red Eye contributor Micolagist.

Free Bag of Crisps!

So a new series of Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle started tonight. Hurrah!

I lurve Stewart Lee. He makes me laugh. His jokes are funny, very funny, but I like most the way he tries to alienate a large parts of his audience. I didn’t feel that way before, but the more I see of Lee, the more I appreciate the subversive elements of his “comedy”.

He’s gained popularity in the last few years, and he’s trying to get rid of all those “middle-class tossers” (and I know quite a few of them, living in Lee’s home town, Solihull) who have jumped on the band wagon. He tries to trip his audience up with jokes that are a bit shit (or blue and bigoted in many cases), and it’s funny and satisfying (and more than a little unsettling) when it works. I saw him live in December, in a small intimate venue in London, it was good. One of his “jokes” was centred around taking the piss out of a single, working class mother struggling with her kids and her shopping on a bus; a trap more than a few fell into.

One common criticism of his jokes is that there aren’t enough of them… if you feel the same way, go seek-out another stand-up that will suit your short attention-span! And leave Stewart for the rest of us, unadulterated and de-constructed. Crisps crisps crisps crisps crisps crisps.

Crips. I lurve the way he stands by his left-field guns. He doesn’t tailor his act for the masses, he keeps it real. His shows are witty, cutting, subversive and politically charged, and at times, a bit moronic and stupid.

Long live Stewart Lee!

If you missed it, Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle episode 1 series 2.

Three of the North’s finest….

I want to introduce you to three artists whom I consider to be extremely talented. They were all living in the West Yorkshire area at time of publishing.

First in the list is Andrew Reynolds; a self proclaimed stress head and master of the stream of conciousness, these traits appear thick and fast within many of his works. I love the flow of these pieces and the way you could imagine seeing a glimpse of something like this in water, smoke or clouds. It is almost as if he captures a snap shot of natural imagery, only existing because of the layers of other things around it. Whilst at Staffordshire University, he undertook a monster of a project, drawing lines on A4 paper and taping them together to form a behemoth of a piece. Much of this was done whilst listening to Venetian Snares and at the time he told me that it aided his creativity, allowing himself to adopt a ‘breakcore mindset’. Some shows in which he has exhibited include: HALLelujah, Princes, Glasgow April 17th Reception, Plan 9, Bristol, 13th March 2009 – Sale-Royal Standard Liverpool Jan – late Feb 2009 The PaperMarket @ Jibbering Records May – July 2008, Live performance drawing @ Soul Monkey for Airspace @ LRV – Light box gallery shop, Jewellery quarter, Birmingham – current Studio 4 commercial gallery, Custard Factory – current Airtrade auction viewing, for Airspace – 11th – 13th December 2007 Airspace, Cultural quarter, Stoke-on-Trent – 22nd September – 20th October 2007 Future Shorts, The Underground, Stoke on Trent – 21st September 2007 Nog Gallery, Brick Lane, Whitechapel, London – 16th July – 13th August 2007 Brick House, Brick Lane, Whitechapel, London – 12th July – 16th July 2007 Graduate show, Staffordshire University, Stoke – 8th June – 16th June 2007

For more information or to contact him please visit this address: http://www.myspace.com/spastiserendipitous

Secondly we have the unbelievably skilled filmmaker and animator, Ben Daure. If you like twisted visions of the future, apocalyptic goings on, dark, intense comedy and a sprinkle of nonsense, he is the man to watch. Combining awesome digital manipulation techniques with simple yet effective ideas, Ben consistently pushes his art to extremes and still regularly manages to get a message in there too! Nothing short of awesome.

Here is one of my personal favourites:

For more videos including the absolute masterpiece music video, for Mishkin’s “Good Day To Die” please visit: http://www.grape-productions.com/

Last, but by no means least, is the best sketch and character artist that I have ever met, Dan Barritt. If this guy doesn’t work in comics or computer games at some point, then the world will have missed out! He recently exhibited a large, highly detailed piece at the Leeds Art Gallery, of a very recognisable part of Leeds, being invaded and terrorised by giant robots. I expect that in Dan’s mind, this is the image he sees every Friday night when walking past the Dry Dock at closing time. There are definite messages within these pictures, but you have to look long and hard to really know what is going on. This is what I particularly love though, as anything with this level of detail immediately catches my attention and is an ongoing inspiration to me. There is also a consistent feeling of impending doom throughout his work, but if you, like me also hate many elements of the world, I guarantee you will enjoy!

Self Portrait:

For more information and artwork please visit: http://www.ragadabah.co.uk/portal.html

To add his page on Facebook please click the following link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ragadabah/26753390995?sk=wall


Facebook Censorship- A Frightening Development

This week, during the royal wedding, 50 facebook groups have been shut down, all of them left-wing and anti-cuts groups. Perhaps not surprising, but certainly very frightening, this is one of many actions the current government has taken to repress its enemies and whistle-blowers. Facebook, it seems right to conclude, is no longer safe for activists. Perhaps it never really was.

I was suspicious of facebook initially. Reluctant to create an internet alter-ego, and wary of the information already present even in more traditional free email websites such as hotmail. I am the kind of person who deletes all her emails as she goes, and also the kind of person who is faced with sudden bouts of internet paranoia, especially when intoxicated- What if they are tracking me? What if they ‘know’. Of course, when I sober up, I remind myself I am neither a terrorist or a trafficker- and so not of enough interest to warrent that kind of financial investment… But even in the cold light of day, I am uneasy of a website through which any random acquaintance (or any random person if you are one of those incomprehensible people who feel no need for privacy settings) can see where I am going, who I am in a relationship with, and what I am into.

Still, despite my reservations, eventually I too was dragged into this weird world, this hazy extraneous self, my profile created by an insistent friend. She was appalled that I had not joined, and seemingly obsessed with this website. Her and her house-mates would sit in their separate rooms, not talking, but facebooking each other. I was actually astounded by this at the time, but now think nothing of doing it myself. More then any other website, facebook has begun to reflect and extend my conciousness. It serves as a map of my personality and opinions, my main method of communication, and an occasional massage for my self esteem.  I still worry about privacy and do all I can to keep it exclusive, but Facebook, I have since argued, is primarily a Good Thing. In an age when many feel a loss of the sense of community, Facebook allows you to see the village within the urban sprawl, connecting you with people and allowing you to map your relationships with others. I am hooked, and many others are with me, to the sense of community, the sharing of information, and the platform it gives for discussion. It politicizes people, it allows you to form groups and raise awareness, to express what you care about- and even to start or spread a movement. It used to be that I would tell a few friends about a protest I was attending, now I tell everyone I know, in the hope that as many as possible will be inspired to attend.

The power of the social network to turn these unstructured public debates into real, positive action was illustrated poignantly by the recent revolution in Egypt. Even the most apolitical of us could not fail to be moved by such an event. What a show of humanity’s unbreakable will, a blow for the downtrodden. A beacon of hope for those giving up on change. The megalomaniac ruling right, who had of course supported this repressive and, for them, economically viable regime, struggled in their tangles of lies, exposed as unarguably amoral and self-serving for anybody still unconvinced. This motivating event has changed the psychology of a generation for whom revolution resided mainly in the history books. The first televised revolution, the first true revolution of the new millennium, and it would have been far more difficult without social networking sites such as facebook and twitter. Arguably sparked when the first of many activists, a 26 year-old woman, named Asmaa Mahfouz, wrote on Facebook: “People, I am going to Tahrir Square”, this was truly an uprising facilitated by the modern age. The message was to promote a movement which eventually led to the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Groups such as ‘We are All Kaled Said’, ‘Operation Egypt’, and others led the rallying cries that were crucial to the revolution, mobilising huge amounts of people, reaching unprecedented amounts of protesters in an intelligent way, with discussion and pictures, and calls to contact those without internet by mobile and word of mouth. During the period of unrest, the regime cut off the internet connection for the entire country in an attempt to counteract the uprising.

The slow, queasy, shameful reaction of our own western repressive regimes was enraging to say the least. But they were taking notice. And they are now set to prevent anything akin to this from happening in the west.

The 50 facebook groups blocked included many anti-cuts protest groups, such as Bristol Uk uncut, No Cuts, chesterfield Stopthecuts, BigSociety Leeds and No quater Cutthewar, ArtsAgainst Cuts, and also socialist and anarchist groups such as Socialist Unity, Ecosocialists Unite, Firstof Mayband, Don’t Break Britain United, SWP Cork, York Anarchists (according to http://brightgreenscotland.org/index.php/2011/04/mass-facebook-purge-of-activist-groups/) All groups promoting activism, and planning protests against the current government. That they were taken down at all is sinister, that they were taken down under this government and at a time when the high-profile royal wedding was angering dissidents and free thinkers across the uk, is altogether petrifying.

This was not all our current regime was doing to suppress free thought at the time of this national embarrassment. Police were given a ‘Shoot to kill’ order for protesters, whose banners were confiscated if considered to be ‘offensive’, squats were raided across the country, and we all ‘celebrated’ to the sounds of sirens day and night. Many arrests were made. Several activist groups were shut down. (see this link for an article about some of the squats which were raided in London, Bristol and Brighton http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/guy-aitchison/political-policing-in-britain-ahead-of-big-day). All the major newspapers featured leading articles praising the event and even the headlines in the Guardian and Independent for the day of the wedding, were, quite frankly, laughable- if not horrifying. It would seem that the government, partly in lieu of the upcoming loss of over 10,000 police officers, partly in lieu of further crackdowns, decided to see what they could get away with. David Cameron’s announcement to the people to party with abandon was really an attempt to cause a ruckus- so that they were able to test a limited police force, and so crimes against free speech such as the deleting of facebook groups and the blatant censoring of the left-wing media could take place without criticism.

When questioned about the shut-down of these groups, facebook has stated that the groups were  ‘technically in violation of Facebook’s terms of agreement, which state that participants in social media must not make use of a “fake name”.’ Fair enough. But it seems highly unlikely that these are the only groups for which this is true. Are all extremist right-wing groups, for example, without pseudonyms? Why, if this small violation of terms was the reason for the clampdown, were the only groups targeted those involved with left-wing, anti-capitalist activity? Even more sinister, this has happened before. ‘We Are All Kaled Said’ was also removed from facebook in november last year. (follow this link to a report from the time on the ‘We are all Khaled Said’ website about the closing of their facebook group) According to a pro-facebook article in  mashable.com ”The Page mysteriously disappeared as activists prepared to substantiate what would likely be rigged elections in November of last year. It turned out someone had likely notified Facebook that the Page administrator was using a pseudonym, a violation of Facebook’s terms of service.” The question is, who did such a thing?

At best, the groups were systematically reported by the authorities.  But this seems too convenient, it must take rather a while for the site to research and prove such a violation, let alone 50 of these types of groups on one day, the day of the royal wedding. It just doesn’t make sense. The government, the global corporate machine, has seen fit to silence voices of dissent. Not in China, Not in Egypt, but here, in the UK. And it is not just these activist groups that are being watched. This blogger has herself fallen victim to the facebook censorship machine. Am I on a list? I doubt it. I am, if anything, a prolific ranter, and peaceful protester. I am not worth police time. But I have had posts deleted- posts critical of the policing planned for the royal wedding, and I am not the only one. As the weekend went by, I saw more and more status updates from my more outspoken friends, about their debates being removed from their walls. I reposted mine 3 times. Third time lucky, I removed the word ‘shot’ from my post. Bingo.

I have encountered this before. I remember in the heyday of MSN messenger, I discovered that you could not update your MSN status to ‘I hate MSN’. This and swearing was automatically censored by msn back in the early noughties- I don’t use it now so I am unsure as to whether or not this  is still as obvious… but my point is that it is really not difficult to write software that does this kind of editing automatically. And, of course, simultaneously searches for keywords and builds a database of people who use such words, ready to investigate when they reach a certain quota. People whose profiles are then readily available for investigating authorities to peruse at their leisure- the same investivating authorities that obviously have enough power to shut down activist groups. Just as dangerous as the obviously planned and pointed destruction of fifty dissident groups, this kind of software can make it impossible for the individual to express… to share and promote their views- even to a select group of friends. Facebook has become a reflection of my mind- and I am apparently guilty of thoughtcrime.  It is nothing else but the worst kind of censorship, and a sudden threat to the internet revolution which is a movement away from the biased, corporate-led drivel of mass media.

We must fight this with all that we have. My initial reaction, which was to consider deleting my account, has quickly become resolve to defend my views more ardently, to be more outspoken than ever, and to encourage others to do the same. The fact remains that, with sheer volume, we can make it unfeasible for this type of thing to continue. It is still logistically impossible to police the internet efficiently. I shall remain on facebook, and if they do choose to investigate me, they will find me with my middle fingers pointed straight up, defiant. But let us also remember that this is symptomatic of a growing policy of repression- and let us be increasingly vigilant of our enemies.


Donald Trump “Take the oil…”

Donald Trump Announces Scottish Golf course Plans

At least he’s an honest right-wing bastard.

Donald Trump: On Libya, he says: “I would go in and take the oil… I would take the oil and stop this baby stuff.” On Iraq, he says: “We stay there, and we take the oil… In the old days, when you have a war and you win, that nation’s yours.”

Read more here in an article for The Independent by Johann Hari


Someone introduced me to the AdBlock browser extension the other day, it’s 100% free and it actually works really effectively. You don’t notice it in action until you go onto a webpage which would normally have a load of adverts (like a video file hosting site for example) and there is just a mass of beautiful blank space where the ad banners usually are!

You may know about it, or another similar browser extension already, but it was news to me that one could be free and work so effectively! So I felt compelled to share it. It’s improved my surfing experience no-end.

Firefox AdBlock
Google Chrome AdBlock
Safari AdBlock

Space Invader

A Space Invader spotted in Rome

Space Invader, the French graffiti street artist featured in Exit Through the Gift Shop, uses mosaic ceramic tiles to make his pixelated creations. Then he pastes them onto exterior walls around the world with tiling grout.

If you’re interested in seeing more of his creations, there is a flikr group where people can post photos of space invaders they’ve spotted. Definitely worth a butchers using flikr’s slideshow function, there are some great shots in there.

And also a Space Invader Facebook page.

Space Invader PA_??? : Paris 4eme

My favourite photo in the Space Invader flikr group pool.

“Underneath the Pavement, the Beach!”

The most exciting and relevant art around at the moment isn’t in the white cube galleries, it’s on the streets. Fuck Saatchi and Hirst. Banksy knows what time it really is. Time for a revolution.

The catchy Situationist slogan “beneath the pavement, the beach!” (or “Sous les pavés, la plage!”) has stayed with me since I first heard it in a lecture at art school, and I thought it’d be an appropriate title for this post about “street art”. Googling for background info to blog about on the slogan, I found the photo of the Banksy, left. I had no prior knowledge of this piece before stumbling upon it just now. Quite a coincidence, and satisfying find to boot!

It echoes my feeling, that there are links between contemporary street art, its reaction against the art establishmen/general establishment/advertising industry, and the anarchistic [anti-] art-based movements of Dadaism and Situationist International I studied in my early 20s.

The background info on the slogan. Apparently it refers to the sand found beneath the cobble stones French rioters tore-up to hurl at police during the general wildcat strike riots of the 60s. It suggests, or implies that liberty emerges from the “underground”; la résistance.

The Saatchi era of art, to my eyes, it’s… simply bollocks.

Advertising magnate Charles Saatchi, patron of British art. I remember seeing billboard adverts using concepts/imagery from the Saatchi collection. Funny thing is, I didn’t make the connection at the time. Art as not only a commodity for the rich, but for the advertising industry too?

Saatchi hi-jacked the British art scene in my opinion. Right from the moment he signed the cheque to buy-up all the work in the Hirst curated (and tailored – its layout was based on Saatchi’s new St John’s Wood gallery space. Hirst always has been an excellent salesman) Freeze warehouse exhibition of Goldsmiths students, Saatchi dictated the 90s British art scene. His “sensationalist” artists (see the Sensation exhibition of pieces from Saatchi’s collection) playing the tabloid media like genius publicists.

Damien Hirst admitted he was a businessman before an artist. Platinum cast, diamond encrusted skull to order. More than reminiscent of the 80s stockbroker-cum-artist Jeff Koons and his kitsch, hollow creations of excess and emptiness. Hirst’s diamond skull also reminds me of a Banksy piece I saw in my mate’s video of the Bristol Museum exhibition (Yup, cameras are allowed in Banksy exhibitions. Link to vid is at the bottom of this post. I’m sure neither Adam nor Banksy will mind me sharing it!). A simple painting with an ornate gold frame of two stick figures having a conversation. The one stick figure says, “Do people actually take this art seriously?” to which the other replies, “never underestimate the power of an expensive gold frame.”

I realise art will always be a reflection of the political/cultural climate of the era, it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Street art comes, to me, as a welcome and refreshing reaction against all that 80s/90s unashamedly capitalist, defeatist and cynical art. With its sell-out “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality. For one thing, the likes of Banksy are giving art back to the people. They are liberators of the visual arts.

Banksy - Hirst Spot Painting

I saw Banksy’s documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop” the other day (if you haven’t seen it, I can’t recommend it enough – it’s a must see. I’ll provide a link to it at the bottom of this post), and that got me delving into the world of street art a bit deeper. I knew of Banksy, obviously, and I’d seen some other street art, but I was pretty ignorant on the topic as a whole. ETtGS opened my eyes to a wealth of surprising and exciting new art. Like this by Eyesaw (who obviously acquired an ad shell key on their travels and has put it to good use! ):

“Buying is Believing” – should read “Tasting is Believing”
(Click on photo for link to more Eyesaws).

From the Eyesaw website:-

Advertising is everywhere and there is no escape from it. It’s propaganda used as a front line weapon to make you part with your money. It’s in the street, on tv, in magazines, on the internet. Damn, you can’t even enjoy a peaceful cup of tea in your own home without the phone ringing and some robot trying to sell you more crap you don’t need. You may think that you are immune to it and it does not affect you, but constant bombardment feeds into our subconsciousness. Advertising and the media have painted a distorted image of the world and the consumer. Advertising affects everything around us it has shaped the world we live in, the way we live our lives and the way we view ourselves. Advertising promotes greed, jealousy and sexism; it affects our self-asteam and makes us feel inadequate. Advertising is suicide material.

What distinguishes street art from its roots, i.e. graffiti culture, and raises it above most contemporary “traditional” fine art, is the combination of its accessible yet politically charged “low-art” heritage and a sophisticated “high art” aesthetic language. Anything goes as long as it’s witty and creative, if it’s got an overt political slant, all the better. The most important thing is the canvas, which is, as the name implies, the streets.


Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy documentary

Street Art Utopia on Facebook

My friend Adam Baker’s video of the Bristol Banksy Exhibition

Vote Meow on May 5th