Sunday, November 30, 2003

Coetzee and interviews
In short, he won't do them.
"In the transports of unrehearsed speech, the subject utters truths unknown to his waking self "
"truth is related to silence, to reflection, to the practice of writing. Speech is not a fount of truth but a pale and provisional version of writing."

The Evening Standard has more. As much as I end up agreeeing with his reasons, part of me still wants to see that Kirsty Wark interview from 1998.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Why all bold?
Thanks F! Template was indeed the problem.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Tangible all the way
Sharon is a one-man Bullshit Artists, Inc. He is
bullshitting Bush the same way he is
bullshitting the citizens of this country. The
future of the settlements, the outposts, the
fence project and where it is heading - none of
these matters is being addressed in any
tangible way.

I'm not convinced about the chill-wind from Washington. Perhaps Israeli citizens will wake up to the problem before Washington ever feels compelled to. The situation today doesn't inspire hope though. Things can certainly stay as they are, and that's a calculation Sharon must have made. Because impending doom is just that. And Haaretz is but a staged spectacle of free speech, democracy and all that.

Monday, November 24, 2003

The 'Seam Zone'
Khalid says that all the sheep owned by the village are going to starve, while their pastures lie across the Israeli security barrier. "Can somebody intervene here?" he asks. "You know when birds get stuck in oil slicks or whales get beached, everybody rushes to help them. Maybe helping the Palestinians is complicated. But the world could help the sheep. That should be simple."

Ahdaf Soueif writes of her recent travels across the West Bank in G2 today.

AKA 'a card-carrying shit'
Andrew Wylie
reveals some unsavoury secrets to his success in this interview. As agent for Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis amongst others, you might expect him to be bit of a ruthless animal. And he is.

Did he really sign up Benazir Bhutto just to impress Salman?
"Um." Sniff. "Yes."
Does she know that?
Sigh. "Yeah, I think she probably does."

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Hanri Kunzru
Making an enemy of the Daily Mail is a little like putting your head in a lion's mouth and then inviting it to bite. The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday are the most xenophobic mainstream papers in the UK. Which is the reason Hanri Kunzru turned down the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize which The Mail co-sponsors. Here's more on the affair from Hanri Kunzru himself. Best of all he's asked the Mail to donate his £5,000 award to the Refugee Council! Better find out what happpens.

More Vidal
In the Guardian as he explains how at the age of 19 he got writing and the inspiration behind Williwaw.
I began to write in the ledger and, as I wrote, the story obligingly wrote itself for me, which sometimes (rarely) happens. I hear before I see. So the voices come first. Then their owners materialise. Finally, like the print of a negative in solution, the picture emerges. I hear the white roar of a dark sea striking a rocky shore. See jasper and moonstone on the black volcanic beach. A man throws - hurls? - a hammer at another on the deck.
Read more in the Guardian.
Virtually Hip Coffee
In this city if you want/need coffee you have little choice but to take your pick from the big three. Let's summarise:

1. Starbucks - Over-roasted. Have you ever made it to the bottom of the cup? Well that solid stuff is ash. There must be a reason for over-roasting beans to that degree. I don't know. Vile. Avoid.

2. Cafe Nero - Good coffee served in a mug that's as wide as a saucer, which means the coffee reaches room temperature just as you take your first sip. Stick to the espresso.

3. Coffee Republic - Sofas to go apparently. Just don't hang about. The coffee is actually quite variable: you might get lucky. But then you might pay £1.50 for a cup of warm milk.

On desperate days there's always 2nd floor at House of Frazer where you can pretend to be buying an espresso machine. They'll make you a few espressos to try out the machines. Do not abuse this facility.

Anyway, read this Starbucks script:

Two: What do you mean Starbucks hospitals?

Three: Like, we should all be in beds with intravenous lattes in our veins...

Friday, November 21, 2003

Still serving his country
(We) Brits know nothing about American history or ideology and we don't care, according to Boyd Tonkin in The Independent Arts and Books Review. Gore Vidal's new book, Inventing a Nation then, is a well timed exposition on everything from the creation of the Constitution in 1787 to the inauguration of Jefferson in 1801.

Over there, Inventing a Nation will read like another seditious salvo fired by Unpatriotic Gore. Over here, the case is altered. For all his debunking mischief, Vidal has a salutary story to tell us of how grand ideas can coalesce into fresh institutions.

Nick Hornby meets Zadie Smith
Is the description given to a memoir, still in the pipeline, by Sarfraz Manzoor, Britpak and deputy commissioning editor at Channel 4. Reconciling being a Muslim with loving everything American post 9/11, growing up under Maggie Thatcher's Britain, all intertwined with obsessions about Bruce Springsteen. Signed up with Bloomsbury this week.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

David Aaranovitch
A one time Alibhai-Brown leaguer, churning out mediocre sincerity rants for the Independent, became a Hitchens disciple shortly after 9/11. Deficient in either the style or finesse of the latter, Aaronovitch repeatedly asserts his lack of (loss of?) self righteousness which, he would like us to believe, is what truly seperates him from the anti-war brigade, who are his target more often than not. Here's the article and below are two sophistication indicators (or quotes if you will):

In a new book, Noam Chomsky, the prophet of Yanks Go Home-ism, derides the use of the term 'humanitarian intervention'.

But our enemy is not America. It isn't America that gives the most effective support to Sharonic intransigence - it's Israeli insecurity that does that..

Brilliant. Lets fund our intransigence with some 'insecurity'. I'll take one Caterpiller Bulldozer and an Apache helicopter.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

El Dorado?
Didn't know about the prize winning, Moorish Girl. (link via Old Hag.) How can I get a copy?

Book of the Week
Chileans are very religious, although that has alot more to do with fetishism and superstition than with religion...
Great book, but what's that music? Sounds very similar to Bahia by Anouar Brahem, although that's on oud rather than guitar.

Monday, November 17, 2003

To Fudgeit, but I just had to change a few things about. Cheers for the link. Roth spots are disease. Too much bad.
What do you mean scarily similar? You need to take more breaks girl!

Just came back from the Amanah. A mosque and much much more. So I'm told (not by the website). The last time I visited this institution, I was the tallest person by far, (apart from the odd Syrian), but since the the recent Somali landings in Birmingham I 'm now below average height. These guys are seriously tall and must outnumber the original Yemeni community by a fair bit. A pleasant bunch too, before anyone thinks I'm being pejorative. Which is just as well since most of South Birmingham now has to drive through Mogadishu / Sparkbrook on their way into the city. I wonder if the next generation will have the same social problems that other immigrant communties, such as the Afro-Carribbeans, Paks and Bangladeshis did?
OK, just been doing some tweaking etc and the blog has moved HERE

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Two more hours..
Ramadan is good. Hungry, waiting for sunset, in a spiritual kind of way.

Ejection-systolic or pan-systolic??

Do you have problems differentiating aortic stenosis from mitral regurgitation?? Well if you like Vivaldi (or not) have a listen to the opening of this, ("Tempesta di mare"). Close your eyes, place the heart sounds and presto! First it's ejection systolic, then pan... again and again. Will it come back to you in the exam/OSCE? Or just listen to it anyway it's a great piece.

If you're still hungry and waiting have a look at these. Ungrateful Arabs I know. Anyway the standard is usually pretty dire but a real talent is this dude whose stuff I saw framed and on the wall in the British Embassy in Amman! Although some of them are bit tricky if your Arabic isn't up to scratch, others are more obvious like this and this just before the attack on Iraq.
Oh, and Gore Vidal --"It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail"-- moved back to America this month. Do have a read of this interview in the LA Weekly, but if it's nearly time for feasting (?) make do with random extract thus:

Marc Cooper: Is Bush the worst president we've ever had?

GV: Well, nobody has ever wrecked the Bill of Rights as he has. Other presidents have dodged around it, but no president before this one has so put the Bill of Rights at risk. No one has proposed preemptive war before. And two countries in a row that have done no harm to us have been bombed.

MC: How do you think the current war in Iraq is going to play out?

GV: I think we will go down the tubes right with it. With each action Bush ever more enrages the Muslims. And there are a billion of them. And sooner or later they will have a Saladin who will pull them together, and they will come after us. And it won’t be pretty.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Facility 1391:
Have a read of this disturbing article in The Guardian about a secret interrogation facility in Northern Israel.

Where am I? A voice filtering through a narrow slit in the steel door told Sameer Jadala he was "in Honolulu", Raab Bader that he was "in a submarine" and "outside the borders of Israel", Bashar Jadala that he was "on the moon". None of them imagined it at the time, because only a handful of the political and security establishment knew such a thing existed, but they were prisoners in Israel's Guantanamo: Facility 1391.

Torture is still a feature of the Israeli interrogation process despite it becoming technically illegal back in 1999. Most tellingly in this article when a certain 'Major George' is named for raping a lebanese prisoner:

"Major George" was sacked. Dozens of other interrogators signed a petition objecting to his punishment for using methods they said were sanctioned by the authorities.

More about 1391 here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Ok so The Fraud didn't quite work out as expected. Never mind. At least now I won't have to elaborate here, now that the potential ego-trip side of it has evaporated. Good.

Don't like it
Poor Fudgeit staring at that monstrosity all day. Can't be doing much for the work ethic on floor 5! That's not central library --it was never about the work ethic on that floor 5-- is it? Just wondering which building..
Rode past the wheel myself on my scoot today. The view from the top must be pretty. High rise tower blocks aplenty. Oh and don't forget the gas pipe cylinder things. Tell me it's not permanent.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Ahlam Shilbi: Lost Time
If you're in Birmingham over the next week or so check out Ahlam Shibli's exhibition, Lost Time, on Palestine at the Ikon Gallery. I might have to skive off teaching tommorrow to pop over there. Here's a review.

With their unsentimental and undramatic quietude, Shibli's photographs approach their subject with a delicacy and tact that becomes, as one learns the timbre of her artistic voice, extremely moving. The effect is cumulative, dispassionate, fugue-like. The fact that these are not overtly angry or polemical images makes them more affective, more painful to linger over. Go there.

Suicide attempts..
...Would rather fascinate me last year when I did my first psych attachment. However psych became boring very quickly. Partly, I think, because everything gets reduced to some list in ICD-10 or DSM whatever. Anyway you still come across bizarre suicide attempts in A&E from time to time. This 70 year old man took a tablet of frusemide and an amytriptilline and arrived in A&E (probably needing to pee). The ambulance crew had also managed to find his suicide note. Poor thing.
Which isn't as bad as the middle aged lady who shared a blister pack of paracetamol with her dog so they could both die together. I'm afraid blister packs just aren't large enough these days.
Violent attempts, typical of young men are more often successful.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

This week, one of Beirut's few remaining theatres, the Al-Madina, closed due to financial difficulties. "We offered the city of Beirut a window for freedom," said Nidal Ashkar, the director, "by introducing the best Lebanese, Arab and international artists. But we don't want to close down. We're trying to raise the money. We just need more time." She blamed the culture ministry for not bailing out the theatre and has challenged the public to take a stand against the closure, "in order not to transform Beirut into one big restaurant, without any culture".

One big restaurant eh? That's certainly not a bad description of Beirut! (As much as I love it)

Monday, November 03, 2003

Just finished reading Disgrace by Nobel prize winner JM Coetzee. A novelist a who is both a critic and a linguist. What a work of art. I wish I'd discovered him last year when I had some freedom.
Random extracts:

He does not understand what is happening to him. Until now he has been more or less indifferent to animals. Although in an abstract way he disapproves of cruelty, he cannot tell whether by nature he is cruel or kind. He is simply nothing.

A risk to own anything: a car, a pair of shoes, a packet of cigarettes. Not enough to go around, not enough cars, shoes, cigarettes. Too many people, too few things. What there is must go into circulation, so that everyone can have a chance to be happy for a day. That is the theory; hold to the theory and to the comforts of theory. Not human evil, just a vast circulatory system, to whose workings pity and terror are irrelevant. That is how one must see life in this country: in its schematic aspect. Otherwise one could go mad. Cars, shoes; women too. There must be some niche in the system for women and what happens to them.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Passed Surgery.

Station 1: A 'chap' who couldn't swallow
Station 2: Can't remember any more apart from the gentleman with huge balls. Oh my, they were bigger than his head.

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