Archive for September 21st, 2006

Regeneration Redux

Ever bought a record and thought it was the greatest thing since Leatherass died, only to tire of it somewhat inexplicably, and then return to it a few months later to find that it was, in fact, shite?

This happened to me with the Magic Numbers’ album, the Strokes’ first album (I still like their second album though), the Vines’ first album, the Thrills’ first album (I didn’t bother with their second), and, to give an example from the far more distant past, Sleeps With Angels by Neil Young.

More rare, I think, is the album you gave a couple of listens and discarded because you thought it was totally dire, and then you returned to it to find that, in fact, it is rather good.

This has happened to me with The Divine Comedy’s Regeneration. I got an iPod for my birthday, and I’ve started about loading all my CDs on to it. I thought I had lost this particular CD, although I hadn’t exactly killed myself trying to find it. But I came across it this morning and have given it a few listens, and I now think I was very harsh in my initial assessment.

It has little of the pomp and circumstance or louche personae of any of his other albums, and since that’s one of the things you might find most alluring about, say, Casanova or Victory for the Comic Muse, it could be this absence that makes it difficult to get into. This work is a lot more understated and restrained in production and lyrics, yet after a few listens this becomes part of its appeal.

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Hegemony or Non-survival

Even by Hugo Chávez’s standards, this is funny:

‘But compared with Mr. Ahmadinejad, Mr. Chávez was just more colorful. He brandished a copy of Noam Chomsky’s “Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance” and recommended it to members of the General Assembly to read. Later, he told a news conference that one of his greatest regrets was not getting to meet Mr. Chomsky before he died. (Mr. Chomsky, 77, is still alive.) ‘

Reid It And Weep, Terrorists

I know, I know. I’ve mentioned him before. So this is the last time, as I don’t want people to think I fancy him or something.


But still. John Reid. A tough-guy hero. They should make him British PM. What that country needs is a strong leader. Even his name sounds decisive. The best leaders have only two syllables to their name. Like George Bush. Tito. Pol Pot.

The thing is, though, he’s such a shy and retiring type not given to self-promotion that I think he needs a higher profile. So I was glad to see the Guardian’s headline painted him in positive terms: Defiant Reid clashes with Islamic Radicals. OK, so it was Anjem Choudhury’s crew again, and some of them probably work for MI5, but still, you have to start somewhere.

So inspired am I by the cut of his jib that I went looking for the text of his speech, but alas, my hopes were dashed. I did get the next best thing, though: his Sun article yesterday, from what I can see, appears to have covered the same ground.

Although, I think that Reid may have missed a trick at his meeting. To drive home his wise words, he ought to have taken the Sun’s lead and spoken against a backdrop of a giant photo of the World Trade Centre in flames.

Anyway, in a manner similar to that of Clare Boylan when she finished Charlotte Brontë’s Emma Brown, I have used the text of the Sun speech (in italics) to piece together what people may have been lucky enough to hear at Reid’s speech yesterday:

OUR world has changed enormously over the last 15 years. The dangers of religious extremism and ethnic tensions have replaced the East-West rivalries of the Cold War

As a former Western communist, I know how it feels for you Muslims these days.

The end of communism was a great victory for freedom and democracy but it created new challenges — including global terrorism.

The end of communism was a great defeat for communists, but it created new challenges – including global terrorism. Which is why I’m here talking to you Muslims.

Tomorrow, one year on, we will remember the victims of terrorism at Sharm El- Sheikh, Kusadasi and Doha.

Even we at the Home Office had forgotten about the victims of terrorism at Sharm El- Sheikh, Kusadasi and Doha.

Who can forget what happened in New York on 9/11, or London, or Bali, or Madrid? Thousands of lives lost in the name of a war supposedly fought to advance Islam.

Let me remind you one more time about New York on 9/11, or London, or Bali, or Madrid. Just in case you Muslims had forgotten.

But this is not a war with Islam, this is a battle against extremism and intolerance. And it is vital that we all work together to defeat those twin evils. That’s why there must be no sectarian divide between Muslims and non-Muslims.

This is not a war with Islam, which is why I’m here talking to you Muslims. This is a battle against extremism and tolerance, which is why I’m here talking to you Muslims. And it is vital that we all work together to defeat those twin evils. Which is why I’m here talking to you Muslims. That’s why there must be no sectarian divide between you Muslims and the rest of us.


After all, the minority who abuse Islam in their pursuit of violence are not only attacking western values, they are attacking the values of their co-religionists.

Islam in the wrong hands is dangerous and can be used for violent ends. The minority isn’t just attacking western values, they are attacking your non-western values too. Which is why I’m here talking to you non-western Muslims.


And mainstream Muslims and Christians share so many common values — devotion to family and society, to faith and good deeds. A belief in the right to life, equality, justice and opportunity.

In case you needed reminding, you non-extremist Muslims are normal people, like us Christians.


The terrorists don’t share these values. They are not true Muslims. They seek to achieve their aims through violence — they may use the rhetoric of Islamic teachings, but they behave in ways that contradict the very principles of the Islamic faith.

The terrorists aren’t normal people, and they aren’t true Muslims. Which is why I’m here talking to you Muslims.


They may claim that their war is a jihad but many of the victims of al-Qaeda have been Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria and Turkey.

Whilst it might be your natural inclination to support al-Qaeda, bear in mind that they kill Muslims too. Unlike, say, my friend Radovan Karadzic.


So this is not a battle between religions but a fundamental struggle between opposing values. That’s why the Muslim community must choose between accepting the propaganda of the terrorists and taking on would-be terrorists at every opportunity.

It’s put up or shut up time for you Muslims. While it might be your natural inclination, being normal people, to accept the propaganda of the terrorists, we need you to take on would-be terrorists, i.e. you Muslims, at every opportunity.


Some may think it is better to accommodate extremists in the hopes of influencing them for the better, but as I know from the bitter experience of dealing with militants in the Labour Party, you cannot compromise with fanatical beliefs.

Some may think it is better to accommodate moderates in the hopes of influencing them for the better, but as I know from the bitter experience of dealing with moderates in the Labour Party, you cannot compromise with fanatical beliefs.


As a father of two boys, I know how hard it is to raise children and know everything they are up to. It is especially difficult to intervene as they get older.

I’m very much the family man, you know.

But there are times when we must confront them to protect them from harm. So I appeal to you to look for changes in your teenage sons — odd hours, dropping out of school or college, strange new friends. And if you are worried, talk to them before their hatred grows.

As normal people, Muslim teenagers are as susceptible to reefer madness as a normal teenager, but in their case it can lead to terrorism.


[Ends]


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