Thursday, 27 August 2009


Twitter is a mystery to me. Seems like some form of digitised narcissism. Twittering is what Arts correspondents do, Kirsty Wark and Paul Morley and Germaine Greer, twitter-twitter, any old frothy, pretentious bollocks, just as long as they get paid. Who would want to be a twitterer ? No, really, have you seen Paul Morley ?

Facebook, too, don't know what it is, don't want to; i-things, don't know, blackberry, that, too. Not a thing to admit-to in decent company but I don't have a mobile phone. There is no special virtue in this abstinence but neither is it being Luddite - although the Luddites had some socio-economic validity to their opposition, an early manifestation of It's not the economy, Stupid - I have some IT stuff, enough. This non-engagement with the latest IT wheeze is, though, a sort of discernment, a resistance. I would jump in my car tomorrow, even with its world-famous sticky automatic transmission, and drive to Moscow or Kathmandu, having managed all these years without satnav. Genghis Kahn did it and he was on horseback. It is in our nature to cultivate a sense of direction, or we could look at the Sun, or we could ask someone for directions, do some of that communicating shit that we're so good at. Satnav is an infantilisation too far, like Fatboy Jerry Clarkson and his simile-generating engine - this car is soooo fast that your hair'll catch fire, this car is soooo extraordinary that you'll want to own one, only you can't afford one, but I can, it's for big boys, see, like a sitemeter. My ancestors - and yours - sailed the world in paper boats, what the fuck do I want with satnav?

His Holy Grumpiness, my Highlands neighbour, Mr Bob Dylan, in one if his interviews of epic grievance, remarked that Aaah-Wontsa-Pohna-Time, if people wanted the sound of a handclap on a pop record they'd run up to the 'mic and clap their fucking hands, like decent Christian or in his case, artistically pantheistic people should, fucking self-indulgent idiot, one minute at the Wailing Wall, the next at the Vatican; nowadays, there's a button on the keyboard marked "handclap." What is the point of that ? Bob's rock'n'roll credentials may be as counterfeit as much - but by no means all - of his output, indeed, given his endlessly tedious Western Swing Rockabilly it is difficult and painful to recall that he authored Highway 61 Revisited (and should in all decency, therefore, shut the fuck up with his cheesy gnomic whining, vain, silly old fart) but he was right enough in being dismayed by the digitisation of everything, even spontaneity, by GlobaMusic; it's the human handclap for me, too. But not the Stetson.

It is as though we do this shit without even thinking Do we want to ? but just because some nerd lacking a proper job has dreamed it up - eg Vista. A sitemeter, for instance, counts the visits to this cyberplace, it logs the duration of and the geographical location of visitors. I don't know how it works, some instrument of Satan. I looked at it for a couple of weeks and found that it influenced what I wrote, as though I was the CEO of a global dissent corporation; Hmmm. things are a bit quiet in Malaysia this week, maybe do a piece about pineapples, or rubber. I now take a quick peek every couple of weeks, just to get an idea of how many people read this stuff, there is no analysis beyond that and actually I should disable it altogether, lest I be tempted. It wouldn't ever occur to me, though, that I should make it public, have it running down the side of the page, somebody has just come on and is from such-and-such a place and the last site he was looking at was so-and-so; what on Earth is that about? If someone signs their name and address in a comment, that's one thing, although no-one ever does but to have a piece of software identifying the reader's location and last-visited site is an impertinence worthy of government, isn't it, creepy, entirely contrary to the supposed anonymous nature of cyberworld, a staggering impudence, an overwhelming conceit. Not only is Big Brother watching you on behalf of the government, he is watching you on behalf of me, the Mighty Libertarian Blogger, look, that's you, City of London, or Frome, Somerset, down the side there; you can post but you can't hide, cheeky fucking bastard.

Some, of course, measure their hits as though they were their cock and the publication of site spymeters information just a form of exhibitionism, the IT-flasher, so to speak, but even that is wholly perverse, unsavoury, bragadaccio compounding an ever-indignant scattergun demagoguery, almost, actually, like a party political broadcast, innit, by some crypto-fascist grouping, it's all the wogs' fault, if there weren't any wogs we'd have decent politicians, seem to be the fatuous Chimes of Freedom, tolling through much of bloggery, the bedrock of much of this sort of stuff, wogs out, that's the thing, just watch how that ushers-in a new dawn of repectable and representative politics. Or maybe not.

If anybody wants their ISP revealed and where they have come from then just mention it; it'll only take me a second to publish it. But this being where it is, the assumption - or the default setting, as even Mr The Dyers Garden now says - will be that it is your comment and readership which matters and not your ISP.

And the moral of this story, the moral of this song is that if you see your neighbour revealing your details to all and sundry for their delectation and analysis and his own self-aggrandisement, make warmly to him the sign of Ruin and punch him, hard, in the mouth.

We will close with some community singing, led by the reverend Bob; altogether, now, You gotta lotta nerve to say you are my friend...


lilith said...

Site meters are deeply alarming. For a start, they reveal my obsessive compulsive clicking to all and sundry. Someone with a site meter (Guido) once told me to get a life! Worse, they reveal when I have visited a site I am just sickly curious about and may give the impression of endorsing the views of the narcissistic blogger therein...

Sat navs take people to the road behind my home, never to the front door. People confidently dismiss my directions and then take an hour to find me when they get here because they have no phone reception and they are driving up and down the wrong road. Enormous lorries have to back onto a main road because their sat nav has no record of the low bridge around the corner. Elby is used to saying "do you mean This left or That left", waving his arms left and right as I firmly say left, meaning right.

(Mobiles are crucial. How else would Elby be able to ask me to pick up some spuds and a bottle on the way home ?)

Mr Ishmael, with your site meter you have a sinister power. I have occasionally wondered about getting one just to see if I am ever visited by "the authorities", but really, do I want to know?

call me ishmael said...

When you wed, Lilith, mayhap you will develop the self-protective telepathy of matrimony, ie knowing when to keep silent, as I often do, and when the cellar needs replenishing.

I had one of those early mobile telephones, like a brick, and kept getting newer, smaller ones until, one day, I found myself conversing to someone whilst sat on the loo, well, I was, and they might have been, too, for all I know, never had one since then.

And the other thing, another thing, about the IT revolution is the fact that any cheeky bastard in the world can invade your life anonymously as "number witheld" or "number unavailable" and expect you to answer their impertinent, anonymous summons. I never do. I think the public sitemeter is part of the same impudent, obnoxious, jumped up, conceited fuckpiggery.

As for the sitemeter-private, I was intrigued, at first, by the exotic locations of some readers here but quickly, as I said, I became sort of enslaved to it or at least influenced by it, so stopped.

I have no power, sinister or otherwise, nor want any, that's the point; I am the dog, Buster's, servant, and remain yours.

Edgar said...

There is a small rectangle at the bottom of your page with the word 'Sitemeter' in it. An ad, I suppose. Hmm, the premium version is only $6.99. I can be omnivident for $6.99?

Maybe I'll wait for the price to drop a little more. That's the promise of technology right there; soon, we shall all be gods for free.

mongoose said...

Mr Ishmael,

Satnav? Before I came to my senses, I used to be that terrible bastard, the gobby salesman - constantly on the motorways and going to new places every other day.

Mongoose Rule of Thumb: Compute time taken to drive to meeting site town, add half-an-hour to find the blasted place (or if found easily, to have a cup of coffee and do the crossword). Meetings are at 11am or 2pm. That way you get lunch and you get to sleep more times than not in your own bed. 40,000 miles per year; maybe 100-150 meetings at its peak. Late how many times? Twice, that I remember and one of those was the M18 being closed entirely. Ely paper mill was touch and go too, as I remember. Cardiff - what a shit-hole it was in those days.

Just get in the bloody car and go to Hartlepool or whatever. If you cannot see the place, stop the car at a petrol station and ask, or if it's a big city buy a map. I've even got a map of freakin' Birkenhead.

Satnav? Bollocks! Look out your window and I'll be gone.

call me ishmael said...

No use to sit and wonder why,you can get sitemeter, as we now say, Mr Edgar, for free. Just google it, if you want.

That's dangerous anti-consumerism talk, Mr mongoose, could see you walking down the highway.

woman on a raft said...

The interesting thing about exotic locations is that, like the rainbow's end, they are always where I'm not.

I've been comforting myself that people in Hawaii probably also reckon they aren't in an exotic location and say things like "Coo, Warrington - I bet that's sophisticated".

If anybody is coming in from Hawaii and disagrees, considering themselves to be living in an earthly paradise, I'd be much obliged if they'd keep it to themselves. Thank you

The Dyer's Garden said...

There is a history of friendship (and enmity) only by correspondence; whether such a thing is mediated by paper or the internet would seem immaterial.

But a conversation *exclusively* by correspondence stands to a normal conversation like sex via remotely controlled rubber suits stands to normal sex: it can be done, it may be the only option for some, but it is depressingly barren all the same.

In a normal world, Mr Smith would be holding court in some palazzo, his dazzle measured not by some fucking widget, but voices, smiles, gestures: life as life used to be understood.

It is true, (he is bound to tell us) that were it not for the internet we would know nothing of him, fetishists of neo-elizabethan prose would have had to look elsewhere for material to knock one off over, and we would all - since we are here now - consider ourselves the poorer. But then he might have been induced to escape his hellish idyll, buster, the seals, the lot.

Daisy said...

Yes, Mr Ishmael, exactly so, all of it.

call me ishmael said...

Yes, Mr TDG, they say, don't they, that ninety per cent of a conversation is non-verbal; how much more diminished is this cyberstuff - being, as it is, voiceless as well as expressionless, gestureless?

My young friend, stanislav, the plumber, is at an advantage; people straining to make sense of his constructions hear a voice, it is unmistakeable and adds a dimension, a musicality and a pace denied my plodding, seeming virtuous commentaries.

While it is very nice to see you in expansive mood you are too gracious by half, too generous about my street entertainments but if you would see the writing of proper adepts try Mrs Woman On a Raft, or Debbie, PA to Mr Screwtape, over at the Daily Politics - inventive, lustrous and lyrical, or try Chase Me Ladies I'm In The Cavalry, for a surreal parallel universe.

I was talking, incidentally, to two German holiday-makers, both retired, fairly senior professionals from twenty-five miles East of Berlin; the old GDR, they both commented, was much better for them than is the poverty and unemployment and lack of public services which characterise their part of reunified Germany. In retirement, they are poor yet vividly aware of obscenely wealthy Russian gangsters, larging it all over the resorts of the former Warsaw Pact, aware of drug problems never seen before and of heartless promiscuity and prostitution; they spoke, too, familiarly - some family connection - of Angela Merkel as just a marionette and surprisingly of a New World Order, worse than the filthy Nazis. These were just perfecty gentle, non-dogmatic older people without an ideological axe to grind, relating all the ways in which life was measurably better, before. It would be wrong to describe them as Marxists but they cetainly had a different view of consumerism than is common - enforced - here.

I have only met affluent Germans before, glistening, with shiny shoes, expensive spectacles and very good English. Meeting an impoverished intelligentsia, finding only Ruin in what we consider freedom, was most sobering and perhaps ominous, even here, on a quiet shore, a Hellish idyll.

call me ishmael said...

Thanks Mr Daisy, it's good when it clicks.

woman on a raft said...

Dear Mr Ishmael

I watched a documentary last year which was based on family records and interviews with East German nationals. I think - but I'm not absolutely sure - that it may have been this one: Life behind the Wall.

The trouble with nostalgia is that almost everywhere was better when people were young. Coincidence?.
These two news items summarize the situation fairly
Good Old Days of the GDR
Former-East German companies sell traditional products

Against which one has to set the 1-in-50 of the population who collaborated with the Stasi to build the total surveillance society. Was that the necessary price for the society? Is it better to go along with it tacitly and then shake the dust off one's feathers later, saying "Well, you know, I never approved of all that malarkey" - or is it just more honest to say the total surveillance society was alright by me, and I'd do it again if it stopped people behaving in ways I disapprove of?

Anyway, while I was trying to figure out which documentary it was, this one popped up.

Dean Reed was known as The Red Elvis. Combining Robert Redford looks and a Glen Campbell voice, he was doing pretty well in the US but decided to move to East Germany around 1971 and became the Iron Curtain megarock star. Synopsis.

A documentary by Leopold Gruen was made of Reed's life and sad suicide - purely personal reasons, although foul play was first suspected.

There was talk of Tom Hanks making a separate biopic with Eric Bana playing Reed, but I don't think it came to anything. Pity. Hanks could have made a good film, but it's hard to do anything about the ultimately sad ending.

To get a flavour of the material available, there is a trailer for the documentary and a library of Dean Reed clips. He's probably too sweet for your tastes, but you can tell a lot about a society by its popular music.

It isn't immediately apparent how to get a copy of either Life behind the Wall or The Red Elvis legitimately. It won't suprise you that rip versions are available - but people can google them for themselves.

Reggie Nadelson wrote the bigoraphy of Dean Reed.
Comrade Rockstar: The Life and Mystery of Dean Reed, the All-American Boy Who Brought Rock ‘n' Roll to the Soviet Union.

In the UK, the book went out under the slightly shorter title: Comrade Rockstar: search for Dean Reed.
AbeBooks list about 30 suppliers in the UK who have copies in various bindings.

call me ishmael said...

Thanks Mrs WOAR

I was trying not to affirm this couple's views, just relay them, Mr TDG had been, while you were away, excoriating about Marxism; these two would not have seen themselves as living in a form of Marxist-Leninist police state, even if they were and were quaintly, almost in a Puritan or Presbyterian way, surprised when, post-reunification, a store stocking sixty kinds of beer opened-up down the road and they immediateley developed what is to my mind a healthy scepticism as to the sustainability or merit of what we call the free market. You know, one man's choice is another man's hardship, one man's ceiling another man's floor.

The secret police state is not formalised thus here but if you add up the security services with those managing the poor on behalf of the rich - probation, social services, welfare agencies volutary and statutory, the Law, the Press, the local politician, ommogration HMRC etc, there will be a significant number unquestioningly doing the bidding of the state, against their fellows. An army of jobsworths, finding and imprisoning or sectioning rather than torturing, I grant you, but you know what I mean. Of course you do. You write of it regularly enough.

The public sitemeter display is a sign of that controlling, surveilling, obnoxious regulating mentality. Which is where I came in.

I will try to look at that stuff later, thanks. Off, now, to take our carless Germans on a drive around the rainy mountains.

Edgar said...

I have no wish to be a god, Mr Ishmael. There is enough evil in the world.

call me ishmael said...

You can say that again, Mr Edgar, and again.

The Dyer's Garden said...

Communism froze to death what civilization there was in Eastern Europe, and the so called velvet revolution has merely thawed the corpse. That the stench of decay irritates the nostrils more than the cold dust of the mausoleum makes neither an appealing substitute for life. I say this as one who has lived this undeath, and knows it well.

None of which is to say that democracy or a free market guarantee escape from dystopia: these things are no more pre-conditions for civilization than they are its culmination. And they are certainly no remedy for the ruin that now surrounds us.

lilith said...

I LOVE this Dylan song. It is in tune with my shitegeist.

black hole sunset said...

Know what you mean Lilith. Just clicked back through the older posts to play it, for the n-teen'th time, and thought I'd pull the comments up while I was listening, which I am.


spark up said...

it's all the wogs' fault, if there weren't any wogs we'd have decent politicians, seem to be the fatuous Chimes of Freedom, tolling through much of bloggery, the bedrock of much of this sort of stuff, wogs out, that's the thing, just watch how that ushers-in a new dawn of repectable and representative politics. Or maybe not.

a bunch of poppycock, of course - but, given that public politics is deeply devoted to the exploitation, degradation and annihilation of one's fellow alternatively-skin-coloured man, and meanwhile having a disproportionate number of wogs amongst my (very small) circle of friends, i must admit to finding myself unduly zealous in my desire to purge the parliamentary scene of all darker-skinned protagonists, feeling that to do otherwise would, quite frankly, be wogist. you see, although my implausible mission in life is to expunge from power every last politically inclined individual of any heritage, i do, nevertheless, visualize our rulers in terms of 'white-wogs' and 'black-wogs', and do not believe they should be allowed to mix, match and cover for each other, perversely intent on making themselves look more respectable than the professional racists they all really are. i would, naturally, exempt diane abbott from this fate - that she might serve as a grisly warning of what 25 years in politics can do to any idealistic soul tempted to follow in her trail of chocolate wrappers. ms dynamite please take note.

call me ishmael said...

Yes that's ok by me. Expunge them, all of them; expunge them up againist the wall, motherfuckers. Especially keith Vaz and Trevor Phillips and Diane Lard.

The Minnesotan dwarf puts it thusly - and the poor white man's used in the hands of them all like a tool, although that is probably lifted from another's work, his ouevre being showbusiness; this, anyway, is what I aee happening at places like order-order. Since you asked, Mr spark-up.

My German visitors, Mr TDG, said that of course they were happy that they could now visit relatives in West Germany and travel abroad but they were now, as never previously, frigthened at home, perhaps it is just that they are not, as are we, acclimatised to Consumerism but just met its wanton forces all of a sudden. I merely report. My knowledge of Europe stops, to all intents and purposes, at the ReichsMuseum in Amsterdam, or maybe at the nice gallery in Vienna which has all the Breughels.

spark up said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
spark up said...

in all honesty, i thought that old holborn's displayed sitemeter was an attempt at self-regulation of an uncensored comments-section - but grant that it did discourage lengthy stop-overs. personally, i love the stat-meter and find its vagaries as real as the weather, especially if one is relying on the advertising revenue. can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em - and to say otherwise is disingenuous. however, the details of ip addresses are simply techno-fodder and of about as much interest as the identities of occupants of motor-cars as they whizz past at 70mph on a motorway - except when one's blog has only one visitor a week and one becomes fascinated by who gives a fleeting fuck...which was how i came to remark, after a dearth of traffic, that i had received an unreferred visit from the commission for equality and human rights, within hours of posting...and this, combined with the knowledge that my telephone had been bugged and monitored since the time when i was accustomed to commenting on guido fawkes, made me very suspicious...(not to mention being approached by strangers who hinted that they were intimate with my personal habits and receiving e-mails with similar revelations). is this how the fixated threat assessment unit operates? or is this a branch of the guido fawkes inner-circle who sold-out to obama and his control-freak-faction of fundamentally evil islamophobes? or are they all one and the same? anyhow, i published the ip address, in self-defence, in full cognisance of the effect that this action would have on reader-trust and traffic-volumes - it was intended as a one-off publication and hopefully does not herald a slippery slide into inappropriate exhibitionism.

but what can one expect from obama supporters? they thought they could ride roughshod over people's dignity, they thought they could employ intimidation and dirty-tricks to derail the lives and careers of those who had indepedent obama-critical minds, they thought the ends justified the means, and they thought they were changing the world...but ultimately they only succeeded in electing a man with a darker skin than his predecessor. dirty ends, dirty means. arses for causes.

call me ishmael said...

I can't respond at length just now, Mr spark-up but if you go back I think you'll find that the imagined, hoped-for Belle of the Presidential Ball at order-order was Codger McCain and it was only a handful, among them my friend stanislav, the young polish plumber, who insisted that Obama would win. My recollection may be flawed but it seemed that the majority audience, certainly, was predominantly Republican-Conservative and that the author by editorial decision and by default steered things in that direction. Personally I never doudted that Obama would win, once selected - that doesn't make me a supporter.

I never went there for political science, I brought my own. What I did find was that this largely apparently right-wing readership was, in the main, actually anarchic.

I don't know if it is now, as you say, pro-Obama, I don't go there. If it is, I imagine it will be on the same footing of ignorant rabble-rousing as made it pro-McCain, pro-Cameron. It doesn't matter to me and I would respectfully suggest that it shouldn't matter to you.

I agree with and used to enjoy some but not all of Mr Old Holborn's endeavours; his sitemeter, however, precludes my visiting him, for the reasons cited in the post.

spark up said...


and the poor white man's used in the hands of them all like a tool

well, i wasn't going to blame the entire historic catalogue of white racist atrocities on keith vaz, trevor phillips and lardy di, that would seem a bit unfair...but then so's what the hell?

spark up said...


i'll defer to your political plumbing, of course, mr ishmael - as for old holborn, you're right, the sitemeter's still there poking its nose in from the public sector...and the site's a bugger to load up for my poor simple old computer, on tops...just can't handle it i'm afraid...and like guido fawkes it's become a rich man's site...shame, because it throws up some interesting issues...glad to hear you've got nothing to do with the nasty bunch of contributors tho'.

come to think of it...someone did kindly communicate to me the details of the modem i was using...

takes two t tango said...


"they thought they could employ intimidation and dirty-tricks to derail the lives and careers of those who had indepedent obama-critical minds"

nothing to do with your own fallibilities then, bracup?

spark up said...


glad to hear you've got nothing to do with the nasty bunch of contributors tho'.

or with guido fawkes.

i used to enjoy commenting on the big stage...but always felt there was something amiss with that chap.

spark up said...


where's the apostrophe darling? did it get caught in your throat?

a sunnyside-up-shareholder said...

...especially if one is relying on the advertising revenue...

didn't you get paid off, sparkup? gentlemen don't need to advertise.

dribble-down erogenie said...

re: sitemeters

i hear that guido gets some fairly long hits over order-order's...but seemingly they come mostly on the tottywatch posts.

jonny swift-shift said...


i'm confident mr ishmael wouldn't post over on boreder-boreder if they paid him

colour sergeant oyiboman said...


i do, nevertheless, visualize our rulers in terms of 'white-wogs' and 'black-wogs'

yes sir, i fully endorse that sentiment. i like my white racists white and my black racists black. and i would keep them in strictly segregated battalions myself. it gets so damnably confusing otherwise, sir. and for queen and country, i would be more than chuffed to boot the bally lot of them out of a cargo plane at twenty thousand feet above helmund kitted out in nothing but cross-of-st george boxers accessorized with modishly matching designer parachutes and bijoux english national handflags. but don't think i am reckless with the lives of my troops - they will all be armed with standard british codfish specially procured at exorbitant rates from billingsgate by the ministry of defence and designed to withstand use in the fiercest fug of hand-to-hand combat. i'll make soldiers out these scumbag-politicians if it kills them...