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16 November 2007


I am in Atlanta for the start of my fortnight-with-the-family. I have just met Carey's girlfriend Ashley. She is amazingly cute, smart and a great match for him in the personality arena, or so it seems to me. They hug all the time and semi-fondly bicker like an old married couple. She drives a Toyota Camry with a stick shift and she drives like my old high-school buddy and partner-in-anti-social-behaviour Margaret (or Maggie, as I began calling her, and I think it stuck.) I describe the driving style as "like a maniac with a guardian angel", that is, fast, confident and leaves the passengers more breathless and speechless than shaking and scared, as less protected maniacs do. It was actually kind of exciting.
I saw their loft apartment at the Mattress Factory. Nice.
We ate at R. Thomas, which I just cannot recommend enough.
I am now blogging from the Atlanta Public Library, which I also recommend; they're such nice people in Atlanta. I had sort of forgotten over the years.
I just discovered I can't capture a picture to illustrate this post. Oh, well, sorry. You'll have to find your own pictures.

11 November 2007

Victim of laws against thoughts

I just heard Norman Mailer, who died two days ago, in an interview with Andrew Marr in 2002, say something very profound: "The essence of totalitarianism is the perversion of language." (This is, I admit, a paraphrase, from my age-enfeebled memory.) He was talking about Bush, of course. One of my major political prophets was George Orwell, who expounded so eloquently on this in the immortal essay "Politics and the English Language", and indeed, that essay is probably the germ of Mailer's political analysis, as it is of mine. The other, closely related, concept besides "newspeak" that Orwell invented in 1984 is the idea of "thought crime". When I read 1984 in 1968, I wondered if things would ever come to such a pass that Western so-called democracies would have thought crimes. In 1984, when Mrs. Thatcher and Mr. Reagan held powerful sway, I believed we were on the brink, but still safe in the sane world where evil must be done, rather than just thought about, written about or even aesthetically appreciated (abhorrent as that idea is) before a crime had been committed. Now, in 2007, the US and the UK have had thought crime for about five years. Prisons whose existence we still do not know about are full of these mental "perpetrators".
This week, what I consider a gross miscarriage of justice showed just how far this can be taken.

A 23-year-old Heathrow airport worker who dubbed herself the "lyrical terrorist" today became the first woman to be convicted under the government's anti-terror legislation.
Samina Malik, who burst into tears on hearing the verdict, wrote poems entitled How To Behead and The Living Martyrs and stocked a "library" of documents useful to terrorists.

The article on the trial and conviction of Ms. Malik goes on to catalogue all her "crimes", e.g. the possession of books, the writing of things in a private diary and an ominous nickname she used on social networking websites. "I am not a terrorist." Malik said after her trial.
She claimed to have used the nickname "lyrical terrorist" because she thought it was "cool".

Norman Mailer dead

Norman Mailer, author of The Naked and the Dead and many other fine books, a prolific writer in the New York media, and an often controversial political commentator, has died aged 84.

07 November 2007

The Return of Deborama's WWW - the train you've been waiting for

Deborama's Wednesday Website of the Week is a railway company that has not started running yet. But it will - soon! No, really, they promise. And if you want to find out what Marilyn Monroe has to do with it, you'll have to read the link. But here's a little tidbit for free:

All tables in First and Standard will have imprinted Monopoly®, Cluedo® and Chess Boards for those looking for some more traditional and inter-active entertainment on their journey. Pieces will be available to purchase from the buffet, or passengers are very welcome to bring their own.

Cool, eh?

06 November 2007

The Queen's big day

My goodness, but Her Maj had a busy day today. Not only did she have the Queen's speech to deliver, making it already one of her busiest days of the year, but on the same day she opened the newly refurbished St. Pancras Station to Eurostar travel to the continent. (She doesn't have to write the speech, even though it's called the Queen's speech; the PM writes it and she just reads it, but she reads it very nicely.)

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