Jah Jah Dub

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Jeez, Man Utd fans are being pricks, aren't they?

Ah Boris, how sweet that you have finally noticed the kids in their CCCP t-shirts. But the article title made me laugh - well done sub-editor.

"Tell me, O ye coolers and groovers, why is it OK to wear a badge with Fidel on it, but very much not OK to wear a badge showing Pinochet?

There is only one man in Britain who might even consider wearing a Pinochet badge on his lapel, and that is Norman Lamont, and much as I admire Norman I would not describe him as cool.

More Kaletsky on the need for a diverse Europe.

"On one side there are French-style “concentric” countries, respectful of order and authority, rigorously rational and politically centralised. On the other side are British-style “eccentric” countries, characterised by liberal individualism, pragmatism, grassroots democracy and disdain for authority."

This guy’s right that people shouldn’t be surprised that Bob Dylan has made a deal with Starbucks, giving them exclusive rights to one of his live recordings; but he doesn’t explain why we should care.

I’m not going to guess at Dylan’s motivations (money, presumably: fair play) – they’re his songs, he can do what he likes with them.

But it’s Starbucks, don’t you see? Everything that’s bad about capitalism (if, that is, you accept there are good parts).

“its cut-throat policies have pushed independent coffee houses out of business”

You must remember that, right? Ten years ago every High Street in Britain had its own Deux Maggots. If it wasn’t for Starbucks and their super-cheap coffee, they would still be there, nourishing our struggling, noble intellectuals.

This is a snobbery disguised as ethics: that Starbucks is an evil empire is lazily taken for granted but irrelevant. Part of the point of being into Dylan is that other people are not. How to differentiate oneself from the masses - how to feel like one has superior taste - if anyone off the street can pick up this album on a whim. They’ll probably have them on the counter and everything. "Ooh! I’ll pick up one of those for my husband, he likes Bob Dylan, he’s always listening to that Best Of.”

Dylan’s crime is that he has made his music accessible to those people - perhaps they’ll forget to listen to it for a while? Perhaps they’ll stick it on in the background as an atmospheric accompaniment to their vegetable chopping?

But not to worry:

"…when the apocalyptic lyrics of Hard Rain ring out at Starbucks later this summer, they may not carry the same charge as they did at the Gaslight in 1962, but they'll still challenge anyone who really listens to take a step beyond caffeine-hyped consumerism."

You don't just enjoy Dylan, he is good for you.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Vinnie K's got Sudoku's number (and by linking to it here, you can use it more than once a line... etc).

Norm's "All-time favourite movie stars" poll results are in. Four of my choices are in the top ten, and the right person won; I can't complain.

I may have to change my opinion on the Royal Family. With this latest generation we may get a regular Rougon-Macquart series.


Monday, June 27, 2005

I'm thinking about doing my top 100 songs...

I should explain my link policy. If you link to me, I’ll link to you. I’m that easy.

So I was watching Pimp My Ride… UK! earlier. It doesn’t really work. I assume you’re a fan of the American version? Let’s just say that Westwood is no Xzibit. He’s better than you might think though, he displays some warmth. But he’s not there for most of the episode.

The garage? Their workmanship is fine. Don’t get me wrong. But it seems so parochial. Where’s the California light? Where are the exuberant characters? When you watch Americans, they’re automatically awarded fifty cool points – it’s hard for the English to catch up. But they’re doing themselves no favours. They complain about “loud music”, they’re middle-aged and called Reg, they moan about the time constraint (lads, it’s not Challenge Annika – Mad Mike would be Takin’ Care of Business [of course T.C.B.] about now). You worry about what they can achieve. You expect a, “Yeah… dog… we’re goin’ to pimp this motha with some ker-azzy shit. We’re goin’ to put a Christmas tree aircon right here, right here on the mirror…” But they do OK. It’s fine. The car is fine. But they’re not American. What can you do?

I stay one with the bourbon

Well, the Two Pints of a Lager and a Packet of Crisps musical special download has finally ticked from 98.5 to 100% completed. I’ll be cherry-picking those biscuit moments for a while.

Ralf Little: the best non-professional left back in England; Britain’s finest white rapper.


And what the fuck is it with my forehead? It furrows regardless of my mood. I’m generally happy - London and me are happy-go-lucky, love-a-duck. But I can’t help it: my brows have an irresistible transverse attraction. This cleft may be inevitable. Perhaps it will lend a much-sought gravitas to my jailbait aspect.

I may need to sleep wearing a swimming cap.

I went to Dungeness today – an extraordinary place. We were in Kent, only an hour from London, but this was unfamiliar - like a New Mexico town abandoned when the nuclear testing roadshow has moved on. England has changed for me: my mental map has enlarged boundaries. I had never seen somewhere so ragged round here before. None of the houses had fences: they were gathered together, oblivious to municipal omnividence.

I recommend it. It is eerie but beguiling.

We checked out the local arcade, but with scant return: the shove-tuppeny machines were parsimonious; the ersatz equine-engagement was frugal.

However, Beef being suspiciously appraised by the arcade manager as he ponderously rode out his twenty pence on the mechanical horse is an image that will stay with me forever.


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Nous devrons faire une micro-trottoir. Est-ce que je pouvais vous demander des questions?

I’ve recently established contact with my old French teacher – the finest man who has ever wielded chalk before me. I decided to chance a (perhaps drunken) arm. Did he have a copy of the film we made on the History-French Paris trip I went on as a callow lower-sixth former, one commodious decade ago?

And it arrived today. I put it in the player. We had to make a film, see? The others dodged the responsibility: Ed and I hauled in the slack. We edited it too; we had to bump up others’ parts so it wasn’t just us. Oh, I’m not so bad: skinny; flailing within a t-shirt more suited to a larger boy; what looks suspiciously like an undercut; adolescence with her rosy fingers touching my cheek. I take on the bulk – in fact, perhaps all – of the contact with real-life French people. I grew in confidence by the second day of micro-trottoirs. I asked nonsense questions (“What do you think of Paris’s bins?) with a misplaced pride. Such petty transgressions were exhilarating - we really couldn’t get over it. I had completely forgotten our self-aggrandizing credit sequence. We overplay our parts, of course, but it could have been worse.

Now I’m thinking about the video we made in the Upper Sixth: “Bonjour La France”. I was l’auteur. Somehow managing to temporarily shrug off the teenage terror of standing out, I pushed for a daytime TV format. Ed was the husband presenter, I his wife. A couple of girls made me up (“You’d make a really pretty girl…” “Cheers”.), I stuck on a dress and we were away. Maybe I shouldn’t seek that one. Perhaps, like The Great American Novel, it is a quest best unfulfilled.

Believe me, I tried for screenshots. I would share with you if I could. Didn't work.

Bien sur “Vous preferez le sport ou les poires?”


Friday, June 24, 2005

Good to see George selflessly dedicating himself to his constituents.

This morning I slipped on a banana skin. It was lying on the street. I don't know what I was thinking - how many times must the Beano warn me?

UPDATE: Reaching for a pen in the stationery holder on my desk, I lanced my finger on a pencil. The lead broke off and is now lodged in my epidermis.

Economics Friday – Sort of.

I’ve been unsure about this proposed smoking ban. I know that most non-smokers hate smoky bars, yet as a general rule I am an uneasy about government prohibition. That people should be able to socialise with their friends without inhaling someone else’s fumes seems reasonable; but smokers should surely be able to relax in company and with a cigarette too.

If a ban is so popular, if there are so many people who want smoke-free environments, then I am surprised that the market hasn’t solved the problem on its own. If there is the custom, if there is the money to be made, then why isn’t there a fair proportion of non-smoking restaurants and bars already - especially in a market the size of London which could easily support them? It leads me to think that either this is not a particularly popular issue, but one which has been pushed by pressure groups, or that institutional and cultural norms – smoke and alcohol tied together as reasonable – are preventing the market from functioning efficiently.

Giving the issue the benefit of the doubt, I will assume that the second of these is the case. If so, then why not license tobacco consumption in the same way as alcohol. The default setting of an establishment is that no alcohol may be consumed there. The proprietor may then apply for a license which allows alcohol to be drunk on the premises. Why not treat smoking in the same way? Pubs and cafes could apply for a smoking license, its staff would be made up of those who do not care about working in such an environment, and smokers would have somewhere to go. To protect non-smokers still further, all such places could be required by law to have a smoke-free, ventilated area: the squares would still be allowed to rub up beside the cool kids.

More and better stuff on this here.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Berlusconi: he keeps on giving.

These articles appeared in the Observer over the weekend: those damn Anglo-Saxons attacking the European social model again.

Anatole Kaletsky on Blair's opportunity "to emerge as Europe’s dominant political leader, stamping the label “Blairism” on EU economic and foreign policy for the next decade."


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

TV's poor tonight. There's nothing. Nothing. I have no option but to go to my room, listen to Beethoven and read the Iliad.

I was clearing out my room today and I found a load of old Mojo and Uncut magazines. They are no good to me now my inner middle aged man has ripened into an inner elderly curmudgeon: anyone want them? Anyone?


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A vision of Europe that I feel like getting out of bed for...

It wasn't just me then who is secretly a bit thrilled by this European brouhaha. David Aaronvitch: he's smug, but better than you think.

"As Tony Blair put it at the weekend: “I’m not prepared to have someone tell me there is only one view of what Europe is . . . Europe isn’t owned by any of them; Europe is owned by all of us.” The flashing eye! The flushed cheek!

...Do we really want a Europe that sees itself as a “political counterweight” to America, chiefly by virtue of its willingness to do business with unpleasant regimes?"


Monday, June 20, 2005

You know how people can't climb a mountain without taking photos? Like it's some kind of achievement? Left foot - right foot - left foot: you'll get there in the end.

Well, I have finally finished Proust's In Search of Lost Time.

It's quite good.

That's what I'm talking about.

I don't believe in God, of course - who does? - but I was curious to see what type of theologian I'd make.

You scored as Charles Finney. You're passionate about God and love to preach the Gospel. Your theology borders on pelagianism and it is said that if God were taken out of your theology, it would look exactly the same.

Charles Finney




John Calvin


Jürgen Moltmann


Paul Tillich




Friedrich Schleiermacher


Martin Luther


Jonathan Edwards


Karl Barth


Which theologian are you?
created with

Pe·la·gi·an·ism ( P )
The theological doctrine propounded by Pelagius, a British monk, and condemned as heresy by the Roman Catholic Church in A.D. 416. It denied original sin and affirmed the ability of humans to be righteous by the exercise of free will.

Karaoke is back, and it's the coolest thing in town, says Jess Cartner-Morley...

Did it ever go away?

In these days of ever-declining standards, you could do much worse than become familiar with these terms.

So Norm’s tagged me with this meme; and when Norm tags you, you do what he says. He knows what time it is.

1. The total volume of music on my pc:

At work, about 15 albums; the computer I have access to at home, some hundred songs.

2. Songs playing right now:

Don't Mug Yourself - The Streets

3. Last album I bought:

Bought? I think it was Want Two by Rufus Wainwright. I could be wrong.

4. Five songs I've been listening to a lot:

You're still on my mind – George Jones
Be My Wife – David Bowie
Barmy's Choice – From the Jeeves and Wooster soundtrack
Brazil – Frank Sinatra
Mean Pair of Jeans – Marty Rhone

Has there ever been a bad song with the letters j-e-a-n clustering in the title? Jean Genie – David Bowie; Forever in Blue Jeans – Neil Diamond; Billie Jean – Michael Jackson; Jeans On – David Dundas…

5. Passing this along to:

Slap Him He’s Scottish, Pink Windmill, The Uncertainty Principle and anyone else who wants it.


Saturday, June 18, 2005

Well, I couldn't be bothered doing economics Friday today. If you're interested, it would have been about this story. Unfortunately I was too busy in the pub and playing Singstar: I am the king of Love Machine (Girls Aloud).


Friday, June 17, 2005

I have just come across a tune so banging, so rinsing, so huge I can't believe no one has tried to make me listen to it every day of my life. I refer, of course, to Mean Pair Of Jeans by Marty Rhone.

I missed the birthday, but it's over two years since I started this thing. Let's have a look at my first post:

Errr. Hi there. don't have any ideas about what to say. See ya.

# posted by Jah Jah Dub : 5:00 PM
Comment (0) | Trackback (0)

Wise words.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

That's nice, that's different, that's unusual...

Why has no one informed me about Kath and Kim? Why must I rely on the woman who cut my hair on Friday to provide me with my cultural signposts? Yes, there have been some bits in the Guardian about it - but you can't trust them. But I should have known: Australian comedy is famously superior...

Look, sorry, I'm not annoyed. You should have told me, that's all.

Since I had my hair cut on Friday the girls of Nero’s have become much more liberal with the loyalty stamp.

"What he witnessed was probably the first observed exchange of money for sex in the history of monkeykind."

Monkeys and economics: I'm spoiling you now.

What’s Bob Geldof’s problem? Shame on ebay for capitulating. Here’s what the talentless Father4Justice had to say,

"It is filthy money made on the back of the poorest people on the planet. Stick it where it belongs."

Well, Bob, you’re wrong of course. No one is being exploited here. The tickets were allocated by lot, those who received them were not the worthiest. Someone who just sent a text off for a laugh had an equal chance as someone who really wanted to go. If trade is allowed, no less money goes to Africa (and remember, this is an “awareness” rather than fund raising event), but those who would prefer the money can swap with those who would prefer the concert. Who loses out?

UPDATE: Nice to see the Adam Smith Institute, the Guardian and I are as one on this.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

There are a couple of blue tits looking after their fledgling in the tree outside the house. They're excellent.

Want to see a photo of my Dad's Test the Nation team? Of course you do.

He's roughly in the middle, bowtie, cross between me and a guinea pig.

Jonathan Steele. Is he normally such a twat? I don't recall.

Of course I've just sent an email to my sixth-form French teacher.

Go to bed, Al. Go to bed.

Forgive my meanderings. Posting has been spare lately: I'm afraid of taking you places you really don't want to go.

Perfidious Nostalgia

I used to read my abridged Tom Sawyer in bed, in the box room of our house near Skelmorlie. We were two thirds of the way between Largs – famous for birthday knickerbocker glories at Nardinis – and Skelmorlie – famous for nothing but deserving renown for its library: they had every Asterix, but they were kept under the counter, available only on request, subject to long waiting lists. Sometimes I heard the throb of the nine o’clock news and wondered how I’d ever stayed up so late. Would my body still work in the morning? A creak on the stairs and I’d hit the off switch of the lamp which sat, germinating me, on the floor beside my bed. A flush, some steps, and I’d escaped capture. Back to life on the Mississippi.

I moved rooms. I was now above the kitchen, a wooden stair climbing to my lair – why not a rope ladder? I never could understand my parents’ refusal of the piratical. The box room became a study for my Dad. He didn’t use the laser there - that was beforehand, in Bicester - but it was here that we evaluated our experiment. A break from his Open University degree; we would be scientists together. We measured limpet shells. We went to Meigle beach; we found the shells and we measured them, with 30cm ruler and builder’s tape. I read the results and Dad entered them into the primitive spreadsheet laid out on the Acorn Electron. We would do it the next year, and the next after that, we would see if anything was changing. The endeavour was never repeated. Perhaps the move to Weston-Super-Mare came that soon; perhaps we forgot. We still collected sea anemone shells.

I’ve just lent Marty Tom Sawyer. It’s my favourite book, I think. It’s so hard to tell though: I read an abridged version at seven, was enrapt by the television series at eight, read the full version at sixteen, reread it at twenty one. I know that Huckleberry Finn is a better book, but it’s not stained with my perfidious nostalgia. I hope he likes it.

The Great American Novel. Why does the quest continue? And how would we know if we’d reached the destination? What is the difference between a great novel written by an American and A Great American Novel? Presumably it has to say something about what it is to be human as well as what it is to be American. Need it be written by an American? Would Don Quixote do?

Either way, it’s done. Finished. It’s Moby Dick: enormous; flawed; ambitious; startling; perfect. Read it.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Is there a sight more pleasing than a vanquished Australian? I’m no nationalist, nor cricket fan, and yet…

My friend Ed was like that, all “Boo! How ya like me now?” whenever he won at anything. It annoyed me. It brought out my competitive side. I didn’t want to win: I wanted him to lose. And so it is with Australians. If they care that much about beating England then I hope they are defeated, every time.

Cricket has lurked just beyond my gaze for a few years now. Sometimes I think I might try to get into it: it seems gentle. I suppose it would be a bit obvious to convert now. The 20-20 looks good though. Boundaries and Outs. The fun stuff.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

Not for Adam, perhaps, but he didn't have an internet.


Brett Westwood's Guide to Garden Birdsong.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sketch of weekend:

I met up with Marty and the


On Friday after work. We went to a celebratory party for Young Labour. I snuck in - I’m not even young! We only spoke to the most interesting people there: each other. Decided to split so went across the road to a pub. They started breaking out the karaoke at ten to eleven. Of course it was a

Lock In.

But we decided that it was dead anyway, so it was all back to ours for


The G-Unit was already playing on his own – bottle of whisky in his hand and Keane on his lips. We crashed his party and sang until the sun came up. Of course Jake.

Saturday I went to the

London Wetlands Centre

Which was predictably excellent - considering membership. Of course Great Crested Grebes. Swung into Soho, nodded to Victor Spinetti and hooked up with James and Dan. We discussed what was most on our minds: me – cormorants; James – cycling and climbing; Dan – antiquarian books. Whatever has become of us? We didn’t even get drunk; we had a lovely time.

Sunday Jane and I read the paper and I finished A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It’s quite good.

Fleshed out: a result of a weekend.


Saturday, June 11, 2005

The J-Unit and the G-Unit are singing Stacey's Mom on Singstar. It's a beautiful moment.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Economics Friday - Might do this later on immigration/free trade. We'll see.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

I hope you're watching these falcons. They're brilliant.

Bloody life outpacing satire. As I was reading this I was thinking, "Ha! Just like the Real IRA." And then...

"You know there's the IRA, right," David Chick, who held a crane top protest on Tower Bridge dressed as Spiderman, said yesterday. "Well, I'm not saying we are like the IRA, but it's like when the Real IRA formed. What we are is the RealF4J and in the next few months it's going to kick off - because the fight goes on."

Endearingly preposterous stuff from the new French Prime Minister.

"Solidarity and initiative, protection and daring: that is the French genius."

"My government will be guided by one principle: the imperative of justice; by one criterion: the general interest; by one aim: to improve the lot of every French man and woman."

Every one! What's that? Yes. Yes they do make some marvelous cheeses.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Anyone work near St. James's Square? You should get down there on your lunchbreak: every non-overcast day there's an old guy in a thong lying on the grass, sunbathing.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Relatively interesting but not really that important article comparing the college records of the "cerebral" John Kerry and the "muttonhead" President.

Far more captivating is the sure evidence of social mobility. A young man can go from the Munsters:

to My Cousin Vinnie

to Presidential Candidate.

God bless America!

Peregrine Falcon webcam.

Now there's pride, and there's hubris.

Jamie, in a comment on a post below, alerted me to this article about Melvyn Bragg. Sometimes I think I don’t rate Bragg as highly as I should. I admire his curiosity, and his interest in science, and yet… Perhaps it’s the media fawning over his polymath status… Mr Intellectual. Perhaps it’s his glaring vanity - it is surely disingenuous for a man in his sixties to sport such a pompadour and pretend that he doesn’t want it noticed. He never strikes me as particularly knowledgeable (unlike, say, Jonathan Miller) but he asks the questions a novice would ask. And that’s fine, as far as it goes. He gives nice introduction. I was listening to an archived In Our Time about Proust the other day – “Who nowadays has the time to read Proust,” he said. Well, anyone who wants to, Melvyn. That we now have Gameboys does not make books redundant. Ah, there I go, off on a tangent – back to work now after a week off (it was lovely, thank you) and listen to me babbling.

Oh, and “shamelessly brainy”? Who but a child would be ashamed of braininess?

Of course we all know by now that music is the least of “the Arts”, and pop music the lowest form of music. It’s about as good as origami. That someone is accomplished in this field is fine, as is the folding of a new breed of bird, but at least we have it in perspective. Still, I’m finding myself drawn to “grime”. I think it might be alright.

I see that my least favourite Tory - the vile, wretched Malcolm Rifkind - will be standing for leadership of the Conservative party.

That he remains an MP is extraordinary enough, but to have the arrogence to believe that he should be a leader... Will no disgrace stick to the man?

Looking forward to a two horse race with John Gummer.

UPDATE: Meant to explain my disgust with Rifkind.

1) His support of Pinochet.
2) His Bosnia policy.

"Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red..."

“Give a man a reputation as an early riser and he can sleep until noon.” - Mark Twain

Has "Professor" Brian Eno done anything worthwhile, or said anything interesting, in twenty years? That most people in pop music are complete chuckleheads is beyond doubt; but having a bald head and an interest in physics does not make him an intellectual. You're going to have to try harder than that, Brian. And everyone knows that Roxy Music only got good after you left*.

* This bit isn't true.


Sunday, June 05, 2005

Sporting Sunday (II)

Anyone see the World's Greatest Sporting Legend? More old men talking about how things were better in their day. Ooh, Bobby Moore. Ooh, Charlton. Ooh, fucking Pele.

Christ, who cares?

Sporting Sunday

If only all football books could be as good as this one.


Friday, June 03, 2005

Economics Friday

Pareto Efficiency

When economists talk about efficiency they don’t just mean counting paper clips, clock-watching and using both sides of a piece of paper. They are usually talking about Pareto efficiency (we’ll ignore the other types of efficiency for now).

Pareto improvements are made when there is a movement from one allocation of resources to another whereby at least one individual becomes better off, and none are made worse off. If no such improvements can be made, the situation is Pareto efficient (on the production possibility frontier and all that).

Hold onto your hats because another vital concept is coming:

Opportunity Cost

Not monetary cost like you thought. This is all about the opportunity foregone - what was the best alternative use of resources. So the cost of a CD is not just £12.99, it’s a couple of hours in the pub, or a night in the cinema – perhaps to see I, Robot – and some popcorn, or a deposit in a building society and £15.00 in a year’s time.

So when the government talks about £x million going in to education or health, the response should not be, “Yes. That sounds good. £x million must be doing something…” it’s, “Could something better be done with that money?” or, “could the same result (whatever it may be) be achieved with less money?” And as a side issue, and one that may come up on another Friday, it does matter: this is our money that is being spent, it is the result of our labour. Tax is taken from us. We do not work for the government: we should not be grateful for what they let us keep, we should be fastidious in checking what they spend.


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