by Belle Waring on May 4, 2005

Readers of BoingBoing will have heard about this a while ago, but mashup artist extraordinaire ccc has done an amazing Beatles mashup album called Revolved (scroll down for a bittorrent link). I was just listening to it and I had to share it with all of you, because it is so very fab and gear. The Taxman track is great; it combines Beck’s New Pollution with The Jam’s Start (which, of course, just rips off the bass line from Taxman, but hearing them together is funny). You should check out his other tracks, too.

In more depressing news, I met an actual real-live defender of torture last night. I mean, I know they’re out there because I have to read all the incredibly stupid and irritating comments threads, but it was still weird. His metric of sucess involved 99 innocent people being tortured for every one guilty jihadi who then gives up the goods on some plot which would have killed many people (not clear if this was he fabled nuke scenario or your more run of the mill bombing). And he seemed so normal otherwise! For an English guy who reads LGF all the time. I was really polite too; clearly I wasn’t drinking enough, though when I woke up this morning that wasn’t my first thought.

N.B. Please talk about mashups in this comments thread. Please. You too, jet. C’mon, McSleazy vs. dsico, who’s your man?

UPDATE: You know, there are all these famous mashups out there that don’t seem to be available anymore, like Conway’s “Lisa’s Got The Hives”, or some of that Frenchbloke stuff, or Soundhog? I can’t believe that the basic illegality of the whole thing could possibly be compounded by some enterprising CT reader emailing me some mp3’s. Just thinking out loud, here.

Election Day

by John Q on May 4, 2005

If I’m not confused by timezone differences, today is election day in Britain and the outcome seems pretty much a foregone conclusion (I haven’t checked the omniscient betting markets, I must admit). So, I’ll look at a more trivial question. If the British government wants to increase voter turnout, why don’t they hold elections on Saturdays instead of Thursdays?

I looked into this question in the case of the US, and there’s a complicated historical explanation, but the central point that, at the time Tuesday was chosen as a polling day, the standard working week was six days, and Sunday was excluded for religious reasons. So it didn’t really matter which day was chosen.

But in an economy where, even with a 24-7 service sector, Saturday is a day off for most people, it seems like a much more convenient choice. For a bunch of reasons, I can’t see the US ever making a change like this[1]. But in Britain it would be easy, and presumably modestly beneficial to Labour, which could therefore push such a change through Parliament any time it wanted.

fn1. First, the US is very conservative in relation to traditions of this kind. Second, although it had an excellent record on this issue up to the 1960s, the Republican party now routinely opposes measures to increase voter turnout.

LA Traffic

by Kieran Healy on May 4, 2005

I’m off to “UCLA”: tomorrow to give a talk to their “Comparative Social Analysis”: group. Provided, that is, I don’t get “shot”: “on”: “the”:,1,1550122.story?coll=la-news-state&ctrack=1&cset=true “way”: to campus.

Got one

by Ted on May 4, 2005

Need some good news?

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Authorities arrested the nation’s most-wanted militant, the head of al-Qaida operations in Pakistan who had a $10 million bounty on his head, and said Wednesday they now were ”on the right track” to catch Osama bin Laden.

Abu Farraj al-Libbi, who allegedly orchestrated two assassination attempts against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, was arrested after a firefight on the outskirts of Mardan, 30 miles north of Peshawar, capital of the deeply conservative North West Frontier Province, the government and security officials said.

Via praktike, who has more.

Samuel Beckett Smiles

by Henry Farrell on May 4, 2005

Two blogospheric manifestations of Beckett. First, Maud Newton links to an old piece in the Guardian, defending the critically panned novel, _Mercier and Camier_ as a good starting-point if you want to start reading Beckett. While I agree, I think that his early novel, _Watt_ is even better; it’s a sort of evolutionary missing link between Flann O’Brian and Beckett’s own later work. Some very fine jokes; I especially like the railway porter who is both “stout” and “bitter.” If you start by reading Beckett’s earlier novels, you’re more likely to get and enjoy the less obvious (but still real) comedy of his later work. _Waiting for Godot_ is a very funny play if you’ve got a particular sense of humour.

But if you really want to find out about the brighter side of Beckett, you need to ask Janice Brown. Mark Kleiman gives her grief for perverse reading and misattribution in this widely cited (and rather scary) speech, but by far the best bit is her stirring closing paragraph, in which she puts Beckett to work ladling out some Chicken Soup for the Conservative Soul.

Freedom requires us to have courage; to live with our own convictions; to question and struggle and strive. And to fail. To Fail. Recently, I saw a quote attributed to Samuel Beckett. He asks: “Ever tried? Ever failed?” Well, no matter. He says, “Try again. Fail better.” Trying to live as free people is always going to be a struggle. But we should commit ourselves to trying and failing, and trying again. To failing better until we really do become like that city on the hill, which offered the world salvation.

This passes beyond misprision into an appalling sort of creativity. What _would_ that city on the hill look like if Beckett were the architect? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Update: small changes following comment from Jacob Levy.

Update 2: title changed following realization that a Bad Pun was trapped in the post’s main body, waiting to be liberated.

Crosses, crescents and another anti-Israel boycott

by Eszter Hargittai on May 4, 2005

Jeff Weintraub (via Normblog) writes a post I have been meaning to write forever. It relates to why I don’t donate [1] to the Red Cross: the International Federation’s refusal to grant the Israeli branch – Magen David Adom – full membership. The post is motivated by this editorial in The New York Times. The author of the editorial explains:

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies includes Red Cross organizations from North Korea, Iran and Cuba, but not from Israel. The reason it gives is that the corresponding Israeli society, Magen David Adom, uses the Jewish star as its emblem and will not adopt the red cross or red crescent, emblems that are recognized by the Geneva Conventions and the international Red Cross movement. Understandably, the Israelis do not want to adopt either of these emblems because they are heavy with religious meaning.

It seems like the issue is all about symbols. But as Jeff Weintraub notes, the opposition to admit the Israeli branch comes from particular countries and reflects more politics than a conflict over images.

Opposition by Red Crescent branches from Islamic countries, including but not restricted to the Arab world, has always been the decisive factor preventing the inclusion of Israel. It is now more than a half-century since the creation of Israel, and it is time for these countries to come to terms with Israel’s existence – not to endorse Israel’s policies, or even necessarily to make peace with Israel (if that seems too radical), but just to accept its existence. If they can’t bring themselves to do this, then at least the international Red Cross/Red Crescent organization should do so.

The NYTimes editorial ends by explaining why it is ironic and troubling for the actions of an organization such as the ICRC to be so politically motivated:

Despite all the talk of emblems, it is politics that have impeded Israel’s entry. That situation puts the Red Cross movement in an unfortunate position. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the arm of the movement that works in conflict zones and visits prisoners, often finds itself urging nations to put politics aside and do the right thing, such as in its current work on behalf of the detainees at the American prison in Guantánamo Bay. It will be in a better position to make these moral appeals when it can show that it is part of a movement that does what is right, rather than what is politically expedient, when it comes to running its own shop.

1. Of course, my actions may well be unfair to the American Red Cross given that it has tried to pressure the International Red Cross to ending its boycott of the Israeli organization. Nonetheless, there are enough other organizations in need of donations that I will continue to channel my support away from ones with strong ties to such overt anti-Israel stances.