Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Vegetarians are cruel, unthinking people.
Everybody knows that a carrot screams when grated.
That a peach bleeds when torn apart.
Do you believe an orange insensitive
to thumbs gouging out its flesh?
That tomatoes spill their brains painlessly?
Potatoes, skinned alive and boiled,
the soil's little lobsters.
Don't tell me it doesn't hurt
when peas are ripped from the scrotum,
the hide flayed off sprouts,
cabbage shredded, onions beheaded.

Throw in the trowel
and lay down the hoe.
Mow no more
Let my people go!

by Roger McGough

Sunday, December 04, 2005

(Some) Extreme Dictatorships

According to The Independent on Sunday these are the worst regimes in the world:

1. Belarus: Alexander Lukashenko, whose human rights record is nearly as bad as his comb-over, presides over Europe's last tyranny. Once, when likening Belarus's history to Germany, observed: "Germany was raised from the ruins thanks to firm aothority, and not everything connected with Hitler was bad." A Ukraine-style revolution is long overdue.

2. North Korea: While loathsome in everyway, Kim Jung-Il's regime can't be accused of doing things by halves. Not content with merely broadcasting propaganda, the amusingly named Democratic People's Republic of Korea manufactures televisions whose channels cannot be changed.

3. Turkmenistan: Not content with just renaming months of the year after members of his family, banning recorded music and commissioning an ice palace in the desert, darling of the foreign news pages President Saparmurat Niyazov's most recent noteworthy initiative was launching the Ruhnama - a compulsory book of his teaching - into space.

4. Libya: Self-styled "golden leader" Colonel Muammar Gaddafi may be an odd cove, but there's no disputing his diplomatic agility. Having spent years as the poster child for Arab terrorism, Gaddafi has reinvented himself as a moderate figure that the West can do business with.

5. Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe was once hailed as a Mandela-like reforming hero. Bishop Desmond Tutu characterises his decline most eloquently: "It is a great sadness what has happened to President Mugabe. He was one of Africa's best leaders, a bright spark, a debonair, well-spoken and well-read person. But he seems to have gone bonkers in a big way."

6. Saudi Arabia: Britain's profitable friendship with the Saudis means we rarely pause to consider just how Talibanesque the place really is: its recent judicial brainstorms include sentencing one teacher to 750 lashes and 40 months in jail for "mocking Islam". Interestingly, Saudi Arabia is still the British arms industry's best customer.

Do you agree with this list? Or do you think the journalist forgot some other dark corners like a non-Cuban lawless prisson in Cuba? What about China invading Tibet? And Morocco invading West Sahara? And... just let me know your opinion, ok? Cheers.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

CCTV State

The Dream Police

Combing the snakes in his head
Reading a book in his bed
Getting ready for the night to begin
Waiting for daylight to end

In this court of law
This court of common pleas
The crimes that you committed
You claim were only a dream

Ev'ryone has the same dreams
On diff'rent days of the week
We are the watchdogs of your mind
We are the dream police

The judge has closed his eyes
The court begins to dream
Of crimes that you committed
While you were lying asleep

by David Byrne

Friday, December 02, 2005


Thursday, December 01, 2005

A Poem at 4.37am

Mirror Image

Tonight I saw myself in the dark window as
the image of my father, whose life
was spent like this,
thinking of death, to the exclusion
of other sensual matters, so in the end that life
was easy to give up, since
it contained nothing: even
my mother's voice couldn't make him
change or turn back
as he believed
that once you can't love another human being
you have no place in the world.

Louise GLUCK