Spin and Win

Roll up roll up if you’re not already rolled up and jammed in a tube train/behind a desk/down the pub/in front of the telly/at a sushi bar in Westfields. Priceless double think and irony going for a song. Where to start…how about here:

Screen Shot 2011-11-02 at 20.15.03

'Screen Shot' 2011-11-02 at 20.15.03

Before we delve…

Actually, before we do anything I will enable typographic safety mode: encapsulate anything that might be seen to ‘refer’ to the ‘real’ and therefore litigious world in quotes. Borrowing from the dynamic of simulation, this syntactic tongue in cheek will serve to dissimilate from any ‘statement’ ‘made’ ‘here’ that might be used against ‘author’ or ‘reader’ at some hypothetical point in the future, that point itself being hypothetically subsequent (or at least near) to another point – the point at which ‘you’ ‘decide’ ‘you’ have ‘had enough’. That point has already been algorithmically computed, according to e.g. your average proximity to St Paul’s Cathedral over the last few weeks, your average delay in paying your council tax and a complex function of the content of websites you visit – this one assuredly fattening your stakes of being Guantanamoed by forces outsourced from Serco, Capita, Veolia, First Capital Connect or whichever’s CEO is in favour on the golf course at the moment. I leave off the quotes in that last sentence by way of heroic experiment.

‘That’ said, we can continue.

Before we delve into the ‘substance’ of the ‘fresh nuclear fears’ we make two observations:

  • that ‘war’ with ‘Iran’ is a foregone conclusion, given the presentation of the ‘question’ under More on this story: “Is the US heading for war with Iran?”
  • that the Devil has a sense of humour, which manifests particularly easily through advertisement placing algorithms, here gently nudged in order to place “click here to spin and win…” on this ‘page’ ‘about’ ‘war’ with ‘Iran’.

There were rumblings from Al Bla’ira not so long ago – we can trust them to be ahead of the game at least – but what has ‘happened’ that we are being primed with images of men in trademark War On Terror suits? According the Guardian article:

The Ministry of Defence believes the US may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government.

Which ‘implies’ that:

  • the US has been planning ‘this’ for some time.
  • the UK’s exemplary, democratic ‘government‘ is not in agreement over the automatic transmission of US military will to the UK.
  • therefore, any actual ‘democratic action’ will have no effect whatsoever.
and ‘could’ be seen to imply that:
  • there’s plenty of money available for military action against middle eastern countries.

Now clock this textbook doublespeak:

The Guardian has spoken to a number of Whitehall and defence officials over recent weeks…They made clear that Barack Obama has no wish to embark on a new and provocative military venture before next November’s presidential election.

Actually, it’s Triplespeak. The statement begs the question: who are Whitehall officials to be making clear what Barack Obama might or might not want to do?

As ‘I’ wrote in The Special Relationship some months ago, I sort of want to kinda like you know like Barack. Lets indulge this fantasy a bit longer then, and look elsewhere for the ‘source’ of any ‘provocative military venture’. The Guardian article notes that:

Washington has been warned by Israel against leaving any military action until it is too late.

And searching for ‘Iran’ on ‘the BBC website’ produces:

Screen Shot 2011-11-02 at 21.20.41

'Screen Shot' 2011-11-02 at 21.20.41

Ok you got me – a little doublespeak of my own there.

But you get the point. Liking or hating Obama is about as close to the action as liking or hating Jimmy Saville, or worrying about why anyone would want to remake Total Recall. (Surely we can’t have Colin Farrell saying, ‘We’ve got get out of here!’)

‘So’ the fait accomplit of ‘war’ with ‘Iran’ would ‘appear’ to rest on Hilary Clinton’s judgment of the Iranians for

  • trying to ‘assassinate’ the Saudi ambassador to the US
  • blocking their own people’s freedom of access to the internet
The alleged assassination, according to another Guardian article, ‘began’ with this plot-point:
24 May One Iranian, Manssor Arbabsiar, meets in Mexico with a person posing as an associate of a drug trafficking cartel, but who in reality is an informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

So highly spun is Clinton’s assurance that the US is doing ‘everything’ to stop ‘Iranian jamming’ of its own internet that we feel we ought to take it at face value, perhaps even conjecturing that the US wants nothing more than for ordinary Iranians to catch Colin Farrell’s remade ‘We’ve got to get out of here!’

But even a momentary fluctuation in the Whitehouse trance will have you ‘remember’ that:

The Stuxnet computer worm, thought to have been engineered by the Americans and Israelis, sabotaged many of the centrifuges the Iranians were using to enrich uranium.

Only long distance spinners will have the stomach for these last statement-side improvised doublespeak devices: ‘thought’ to have been engineered, but no such doubt in the purpose of the ‘Iranian’ centrifuges.

Medallists might care to ‘observe’ that Israel ‘is’ one of the four nations outside of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 0f 1970 ‘known’ to ‘possess’ nuclear weapons.

Olympians may pause a moment in their sprint across town to the desk or Westfields or whatever, to wonder exactly how stupid ‘officials’ must think them to be.

Martyrs might have a go at pitching a tent in front of the MI6 building (ever noticed how all the gates say ‘OUT’?)

But only winners, motivated by uncomputable irony, will load up the original Guardian page and see what ‘big prizes’ the ‘spin and win’ ad has in store…

[Answers in the comment box.]

End of the spermatozoic era

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/02/anti-abortion-critics-nadine-dorries:

The campaign to toughen Britain’s abortion laws was losing momentum as Tory MPs on Friday backed a rival amendment and questions emerged about links to Christian counselling services that might benefit from the proposed reform.

Here if ever is an issue which will only be resolved by women restored to their proper power, i.e. with genuine transcendent intuition, able to understand issues such as these unclouded by – in this case – American Evangelical “Christianity” – in other words blokes exerting the same spermatozoic half-Nelson they have had women in for millennia. As Monty Python sang, “Every sperm is sacred…”

Is it not obvious, given the immensely complex, emotional and sometimes painful process of menstruation, that the human female egg is the thing that is sacred? Each woman carries within her a finite number of eggs, release over the course of her lifetime. Blokes on the other hand cook up millions of fresh sperm every time they glimpse a pair of boobs.

Precisely why, you will say, the fertilised egg is sacred. Women who abort are murderers, you will say. Life begins at conception. Perhaps! But this is post hoc moral high-grounding. The cock withdrawn, the cave door rolled shut and its contents left to resurrect. To be borne and born and suckled and nurtured by the woman.

If every sperm is sacred, then it is blokes who must respect the cock, this curious Y-chromosome viral add-on. A genetic graft contrived to compensate for the catastrophic schism between soul and matter. Almost everything we know about the world and our place in it comes from this dark aeon whose brightest spark to date is probably the iPhone – and I am not being wholly ironic here, this device has its part to play!

But for those able to cleanse themselves of the millennia of blokery, able to see the laughable triviality of the cock and ball story of it, its imminent obsolescence in the face of massive global overpopulation (yes, India and your moustachioed bloke-clones) there are other glimmers!

O woman, deep in your toils. Persist! And you will meet your Lady!

Bwap, bwap, bwap!

london riots

Those involved in the riots and looting are from a diverse range of backgrounds and age groups. Photograph: Simon Dawson/AP

Who are the rioters? Young men from poor areas … but that’s not the full story
[Guardian, Mon 9 8 11]  

Indeed what is the full story?

I suppose, confronted with wanton, random, indiscriminate destruction – setting a car on fire, smashing someone’s shop up, I feel depressed. I relate to it through the gentler and enormously privileged lens of my occasional custodianship of the glades of Brockwell Park, and indeed any nice spots I come across. Too often the mark of ignorance left there. A fried chicken box, a ‘disposable barbecue’ (please ban them), bottles of booze, tissues, condoms. One time, a favourite spot was thus defiled, and I was overcome with anger and then depression. Which immediately lifted as I saw that my anger and depression would achieve nothing. There was only one thing for it – clear up the mess.

Look at this from an Oak’s point of view:  Alright it wasn’t you that lit the disposable barbecue right up against my trunk, nor you that got smashed on licit moonshine outta Tesco and shouted obscenities and banalities gleaned from a short life stained by drugs and porn and social dysfunction. But I don’t care. I’ll be here after you’re gone and all I want right now is the damn remains taken away before the filth of it soaks into my roots.

Obviously, picking up litter is a tiny thing. Obviously I fantasised about waiting amid the gloom with a claw hammer for the next bunch of jack asses.

The rioters may or may not be the type of person who leaves their shit behind in places of natural beauty. They may even be rescuing beautifully made bicycles from the forces of destruction. But this just might be Guardianish balance gone too far. Alright, but what is this type of person who leaves disposable barbecues behind? Is any categorisation possible? Or useful? What if the full story – the real objective truth behind the smoke and sirens – is that there is no story?

No story. Try though we might to make one, e.g: ‘Seconds later there was a smash as the minicab office around the corner was broken into. Teenagers swarmed in, shouting: “Bwap, bwap, bwap.”‘ Did they make a London version of Dawn of the Dead yet?

The besieged Arab despot analysis is invariably, ‘Troublemakers have been bussed in from outside.’ Dave and Boris haven’t played the Al Q card yet. Perhaps they’re not besieged enough.

The East Ham youth worker quoted in the article offers probably the sagest appraisal, “They’re disconnected from the community and they just don’t care.”

Which doesn’t really say anything, does it? (Unless, possibly, we deduce they don’t care about a bloke shot by Police in Tottenham.)

I feel disconnected from the community (the pub? other people’s kids?) – why else am I up on Brockwell Park picking up litter?

But, you say, you care.

Yes, I suppose I do. But then again, I am immensely privileged. I have a bike and several small, heavy things designed in California and assembled in China. Thus ‘fulfilled’ – or at least, temporarily relieved of consumerist angst – I am free to care. It’s a privilege.

Guessing, of course, but Mr Tesco should be endowed with enough small heavy things to care too. At least about the disposable barbecues and ultra-cheap booze.

Dummies’ Guide to Temptation

Idiot's guide to temptation

Golden Thread extends from You to New You. Beware the Chance Encounter along the Way...

I was told a delightful story last night.

Many years ago a young woman went off to India in search of herself. After some months of travel and rest and adjustment and contemplation, she found herself heading north, and heading up into the mountains where the air is cooler, the grass greener.

Somewhere up in the foothills of the Himalayas she met an old man. His face was thousands of years old – absurd wisdom radiating out – and the body of child. His secret was readily apparent – the field of laden, aromatic plants nodding on the steep slope on which he squatted. Gathering some between his hands, he rubbed and showed her the result. She stayed for some days, squatting beside him on the slope and knowing.

A different knowing, she thought, from the pressing, urgent bursting of thought back in London – bustling along some roaring street in Brixton or Soho. ‘All the rubbish they put in it,’ said the old man. ‘Here we do not put.’

She looked at the old man with his cloth around his loins. The cracked faced woman and naked children at the corner of the field that might have been his family. A tear slipped down her cheek. She would return, she said. A little business would benefit everyone.

Some years later – years of roaring streets in Brixton and Soho – she returned to the Himalayas. Such was the progression of the world that the old man was now on Facebook, and arranging their meeting had been straightforward. He was expecting her. The elements had been kind, and the plants nodded more affirmatively than ever.

Sipping tea at a pleasant hill station more or less half way up to the old man’s field, a startlingly handsome man in a white shirt asked with tremendous politeness if he might sip his tea with her a moment or two. She smiled. He sat, shyly twiddling the ends of his thin moustache. Like her, he said, he was there for the mountain air. ‘Certain kinds of mountain air, in fact, are a great aid to the mind,’ he said. ‘Are you going much further up?’

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘To where the air is very clean.’

‘The road is dangerous, of course.’

‘Howcome?’

‘It is very narrow up there. But there is no need to climb higher. In the right hands, the cleanest air can be brought down the foothills.’

‘Down here?’

‘Yes, madam no problem. Look.’ And he rubbed his hands and showed her. ‘Just the same, and because we are down here, where everything is a little easier, I can make a better offer.’ He made his offer. It was tempting.

‘Let me think about it.’ She licked her lips, trying to survey the handsome stranger in minute detail and at the same time afraid of doing so in case it insulted him. She was hardly your average, suspicious newby gori.

That night, on a cot in the hill station’s rickety guesthouse, she woke, sweating, from a dream in which she was busted and thrown in jail.

But after dahl and chapattis and two cups of fresh mountain coffee the night seemed like another world, of which memory was already dim. She was sitting on the verandah with her face to the sun when a shadow fell across her.

‘Good morning, madam.’ The handsome stranger sat down beside her. ‘Bad tidings from the higher mountain,’ he whispered. ‘They are stopping people. Very sad that you will not this time see the beauty of that place. Perhaps another time. But there is really no need for you to risk anything. I have everything here.’ He rubbed his hands and showed her and repeated his tempting offer. The thought of the dream broke her out in a sweat. He saw her anxiety, became anxious himself, peering at her with his moist, dark eyes. ‘You must trust me, madam. There is no need to climb higher.’ She thought of the empty track up to the old man’s field. Several days travel, every step clouded by the dream’s dark outcome.

‘Alright,’ she said. The handsome stranger was solemn. Things changed hands. She packed her bag carefully and came out onto the verandah again, expecting to wave the stranger goodbye. She did not see him. She was being naive: why would he hang around! Then she was glad to be out in the morning sun, heading downhill after a long time climbing.

They were waiting for her at the next hill station, twiddling their moustaches and trying not to smile. She tried to determine if these were the men from the dream, but she could not remember. It didn’t matter. Juddering on the hard seat of the Land Rover to the police station, all she could think was how simple it had been, how obvious.

Reality is aspirational

Kellog's Corn Flakes "Good Morning" cinema ad

Kellogg's Corn Flakes "Good Morning" cinema ad

Forget artificial intelligence and quantum computing, advertising has long relied on fuzzy logic. If you have been to the cinema or watched TV recently you will have felt the warm fuzzy feelings generated by, for instance, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes “Good Morning” ad. Whilst I turned up, incredibly, that the ad is filmed in Grovenor Park, London SE5 (you would have thought maybe Queens or Brooklyn from the look of it) my investigatory skills failed to put name to iconic face of the little girl (shown) whose smile carries the whole proposition. With a name, one could hit IMDB or something and discover that she was paid a million pounds, has also done stuff for Shredded Wheat etc.

Diversity? Kellogg’s versus David Cameron versus Nick Clegg versus ‘Islamists’ versus the EDL. But it is borg-like assimilation at work here. We are approaching the Big Crunch. Part of it – read the ulterior fuzzy logic of the ad – is that there is no longer room for cultural differences. Mongoloids, Caucasoids, Negroids all eat Corn Flakes for breakfast. Perhaps there is something of US multicultural strategy behind it – make the smile golden enough and we might just co-opt China.

But the ulterior proposition is more straightforward than that. As with Vodafone’s ‘Couple’ ad, which delivers multimedia messaging capabilities of fones right enough, aspirational advertising has gotten real.

Vodafone "Couple" ad

Vodafone "Couple" ad

Gone are the neon penthouses and supercars: such imagery is off-strategy for aspirational campaigns as the worlds they proselytise are simply no longer attainable. Aspirations have been toned down, and what we now have is a relatively ordinary street – somewhere redbrick, a nice bit of London perhaps. But look carefully. That looks like a house, not a mashup conversion, and one with an adjoining garage! Now look at the bloke at work:

Vodafone "Couple" ad

Vodafone "Couple" ad

He has driven to work, where he has an allocated parking space in an underground car park and a desk that looks like this:

Vodafone "Couple" ad

Vodafone "Couple" ad

What does he do? Own Nokia or Pratt and Whitney or something? Meanwhile his fiancee (more aspirational than ‘wife’ or ‘partner’) is here:

Vodafone "Couple" ad

Vodafone "Couple" ad

Not exactly your local Fitness First is it?

But it’s aspirational, you say. That’s the point.

But the point is this: as we approach The Asymptote, the headroom of aspiration, the dreaming gap hovering above attainable reality, becomes thinner and thinner. In other words, run the same ad in a year’s time, and the phone will be smaller and smarter and so on, but the aspirational backdrop will be more realistic. A mashup conversion in East Ham perhaps. A job on an Underground station. A sort of memetic inflation, if you like. At The Asymptote (so to speak) we will aspire to what we are.

Imaginative flatline, the End of Desire. Nirvana in other words.

And you thought advertising was evil.