Thursday, December 22, 2005

Great T-Shirt Wit

"So many right-wing Christians... So few lions"

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Other Republican Contenders

The GOP is already churning out Presidential hopefuls like there's no tomorrow. All strong contenders, here's a short run down of the two front runners...

Rudy Giuliani - I think he'd make a great President, to be honest, assuming he can repeat his success as Mayor of New York and transfer it onto a national scale.

Condaleeza Rice - She's got all the same selling points that Hillary Clinton has, coupled with the fact that she's the only member of the current administration with a brain. Following her great success with progressing talks between Israel and Palestine, as well as her jet-setting role as Secretary of State, if she were to run, she'd give pretty much anyone a run for her money. However, being African-American and a woman, she'd probably run into trouble in the South... She'd make a good President, but she'd be stuck with the Bush Jr. tag, and that might hold her back in some respects.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Clinton, McCain & The War In Iraq

As an addendum to my previous post discussing Senators Clinton and McCain, and their respective prospects for the 2008 Presidential Election, something interesting seems to be going on with their polling numbers...

Hillary Clinton's polls are plummeting, with the plummeting support for the continued war in Iraq - originally, she supported the war to dilute her reputation as a centrist, yet now it is seriously damaging her. Luckily, her husband, former President Clinton, has stepped up to help out by opposing the war - allowing Senator Clinton the opportunity to back-peddle and join the anti-war movement.

Senator McCain, on the other hand, is pushing for more troops in Iraq, and his polls don't seem to be harmed too much - despite less than overwhelming support in Washington. In fact, in a recent poll in mid-November, he is still considered the 3rd likeliest candidate for the Republican nomination (after Rudy Giuliani and Condoleeza Rice).

Maybe Hillary should switch sides...?

Asia vs. Africa

Now that everyone's got Africa out of their system (and my how people have forgotten about it recently), could we please get Bono and Bob to focus their attention on Asia, where there are many more people living in abject poverty, under the rule of totalitarian (and in the case of North Korea, loony) regimes.

This fact has finally been brought to light, thanks to ?? from TIME magazine, who wrote a revealing, attention grabbing article on the subject. It's about damn time!

I'll add the link as soon as I've found it.

Monday, November 21, 2005

He's done it again...

There really is very little excuse for this sort of thing...

(Yesterday - President Bush tries to run from journalists, only to be confronted with a locked door...)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Poor George

There are times when you really do need to feel sorry for President George W. Bush. He seems to be the most photogenically challenged of all American Presidents to date. There is a real wealth of material out there - be it floating about on the internet, or in print for the World to see. A recent example is to the left: this week's cover of The Economist, which shows portraits of Hu Jintao, Mao Zedong, and President Bush.

Hu looks proud and confident, Mao looks smug yet constipated, while Bush looks like someone's asked him to spell Azerbaijan and it's all finally too much for him.

Friday, November 18, 2005

George W. Bush - is he really a Republican? (A short musing)

Democrats want a small army, and want to send it everywhere. Republicans want a huge army, but don't want to send it anywhere.

George W. Bush has a vast army, and is eyeing up every country in the Middle East and Asia.

Democrats want big government, big spending and high taxes. Republicans want small government, little spending and no taxes.

George Bush drops taxes (very often), and the US has experienced their highest ever rate of irresponsible expenditure in its history. Not only that, but he's creating new governmental departments (Homneland Security, etc.).

The New Dutchman

The New Dutchman has arrived! Editor-in-chief Phil Wiggenraad has launched the movement today, in attempt to bring to the world (skewed) awareness that the modern world owes more to Holland than you might think!

Here's the link...

Head over there for illuminating, amusing news! All coming soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

44 - McCain or Clinton?

When compared to the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the two brightest hopes for the 2008 Presidential Election appear seemingly invincible. It is often difficult to get the measure of presidential hopefuls abroad, as very little time is spent on the subject until the final months before the election.

This time around, though, the race will probably be less explosive and emotional. Potentially - you can always rely on a politician from backwater, red-kneck Mississippi or some other Southern state who will undoubtedly take offence with the strongest Democratic hopeful - Senator Hillary Clinton (D., New York) - simply because she's a woman. So, let's start with her...

With Hillary Clinton, the Democrats have a fiery, politically accomplished Senator with high approval ratings (both abroad and at home). The added benefit that she is the first strong female contender, as well as a "celebrity politician" will also bode well for her chances in the elections. As the current zeitgeist involves doing new and unconventional things, a female US President is really the next step. However, from a party stand-point, it's not all roses. She's a centrist, which means she's at odds with the insanely liberal left wing of her party (i.e. the ones who want the government to pay for everything, as well as control everything). In a time when the country is drawing further and further from the centre, spreading itself to either the left or the right, her own party feels that they should go for the supreme left to fight the supreme right style of the Republicans. In The Economist, they say she's most likely to win the nomination, but only because her opponents are relative unknowns and none of them embody all the traits needed in a leader. Perhaps a blending of two or three might make it more difficult for her.

Senator John McCain (R., Arizona), however, is a strong opponent, and the lesser known outside of the USA. So, let's spend some time on him. He was in the runnning for the 2000 election (he beat Bush in the New Hampshire primary by 18%) and, if he sticks to the same tactics of that race (pathalogical honesty, campaign finance reforms, etc.), then he could very easily win this time around. He bears some resemblance to 2004 Democratic candidate John Kerry, in that he has a very international outlook, rather than the 'traditional' isolationism of the GOP.

He is the antithesis of President George W. Bush, so that should make about 90% of the World's population happy from the start. He pledged to use the Clinton-surpluses to pay down national debt, a small tax cut for the middle classes, and bolster Social Security, which would have pleased a lot of voters who normally vote Democrat, as well as independents (who are making an increasingly large proportion of registered voters). He appealed as much to the middle classes as the rich. Let's hope he can create this image once again. Articulate, intelligent, honest, good war record, good sense of humour...*

McCain - 5, Bush - 0. He is the sort of candidate that the Republicans should accept wholeheartedly; he might be the first where underhand and dirty tricks won't be needed to win the election.

Unfortunately, he's not completely squeaky-clean, which makes him fit in rather well with a growing proportion of the Republican leadership. Campaigns financed by a well-known fraudster could hurt his chances. At the same time, his candid acceptance of the fact might hold him in good stead.

(I don't know why this would be interesting to anyone...)

* I recently saw Senator McCain on The Daily Show, and he really came across as an intelligent and very funny guy.

Brave Mr Bryson

As the newly minted chancellor of Durham University, it was very brave from Bill Bryson to state that he had little sympathy for students who have to pay £3,000 a year for university education. He made his comments to the Financial Times yesterday (Tuesday 15th), who ran a feature of his first official tour of the university - he had been before, to award degrees for last year's graduates (including myself).

His rationale was that although we pay £9,000 for the total course at a superior university, he had to pay $100,000 (approx. £50,000) for his son's university education in an okay university in Ohio. Now, Durham was one of the university's that put up some of the strongest resistance to top-up fees, so for the new chancellor to say he's fine with us paying even more was potentially harmful to his status and affection in the minds of the students.

I completely agree with him and I'm very glad that someone finally actually said it. British students don't want to pay for their education - fine, I like things for free, too - but we then complain that things are never any good, don't work, or "American Universities do it so much better". From the state of the buildings (see St. Aidan's College and much of the accomodation for University/Castle College), to the treatment of certain departments that have been stupidly closed, despite holding perhaps the greatest global significance, we are woefully let down by the fact that noone's willing to pay for something.

(Yes, in case you are wondering, it was my own department, East Asian Studies, that was closed down, but that's immaterial - they kept open the Sport In The Community department, so I'm SURE everything will work out for the best).

Monday, November 07, 2005

Mini-goths die in summer...

It was not so long ago that I became enthralled in the world of rock and metal music. At least, that's how it feels - in reality, it was 10 years ago. However, back then, rock music wasn't in the mainstream, and it wasn't considered 'cool'. On the other hand, I thought it was awesome!

Nowadays, though, the scene has changed. With rock bands infiltrating Top of the Pops with increasing regularity (Lostprophets, HIM, Funeral For A Friend, Slipknot, et al), a new culture has arisen: that of the mini-mosher.

For me to complain about them is only half hypocritical, though. Whereas I was very immersed in the rock world when I was (much) younger, I did not live it, as some do these days. Yes, so you listen to rock music - not everyone can pull off corpse paint and 'gothic' outfits. And the flourescent beads just clash with everything, so please don't.

I wear band t-shirts, true, and have a tattoo, but when I don't wear them (or display the tattoo, which is a very rare occurance) you'd probably be hard pressed to know I listen to metal (and often Melodic Death Metal, too). I don't dress in velvet, heavily darkened tones (though black is simply fabulous with everything, according to a friend of mine), ruffles or an aggressive amount of spikes.

And corpse paint is terrible for the complexion, which makes it harder to believe that a teenager, of all people, would be willing to cake themselves with it. Also, as teenagers, they should know that their peers are going to take the piss out of them for looking different (or, "being themselves" as they call it). The 'chavs' and 'townies' will always make fun of those who look different. Anyone who doesn't get this deserves to be ridiculed. Especially if they wear corpse paint. It's silly.

There is a strange belief among the younger members of the rock fraternity - though really they're a whole new breed - that you can't be a rock fan if you a) listen to anything else, or b) don't let it consume you completely.

I didn't originally dress in the crazy stuff for many reasons: it's expensive, it's way too hot in the summer (at the time I was also living in Singapore and Malaysia), I'm pale enough as it is, and I would have had the s**t kicked out of me on a daily basis. Kids in boarding school are not known for their tolerance of 'alternative' lifestyles...

I've become completely disenfranchised with the scene, as people quickly develop attitudes. I once saw someone dressed in black, sporting a Green Day t-shirt, verbally abusing someone perusing the rock/metal section who was dressed like a normal human being (jeans, shirt, etc.). It's not like Green Day are exactly dangerous or even mildly edgy, but the fact that there was this conflict saddened me to the core. It used to be a case of, if you liked rock - any genre, be it punk, grunge (oh, how I loved the grunge scene), metal - you would get on with other rock fans. It was a guarantee, and it's how I met some of my best friends from years back.

God I'm sounding old... Oh, and that's another thing - get over the Satan references, it's getting old and very, very boring.

The only reason I brought this up was because you see so many in Cardiff, which is weird.