Just a smidgen sexier than James Blunt...

...is David Cameron, according to the apparently partially-sighted readers of New Woman magazine. Blair is probably a bit miffed, but if I was numbers 93-99 I would be really pissed off to be beaten by the podgy-faced leader of the Tories. Even if I do find his policies worryingly sane-sounding, for a Tory.
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On islamophobia and freedom of speech

So by now you will probably have heard about an enormous row going on over some political cartoons published in a danish newspaper. These cartoons were deeply offensive to some muslims, primarily but not exclusively because they depict the prophet Mohammed, something many muslims consider sacreligious (although there is apparently nothing specific in the Koran which says so). The argument is raging back and forth: is this free speech, or is this religious persecution? Do Danish newspapers have a right to say what they like, or is this "hate speech" that should be illegal, in the same way that Nazis are banned from advocating the killing of Jews? A number of newspapers around Europe have decided the former is correct, and republished the cartoons. I must say that something has been bugging me about these cartoons, and specifically their republication "in solidarity" (aka to boost readership). But I need to draw a clear distinction between the very first one and all the subsequent ones. The...
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Off to pokey

Good to see the BBC maintains high standards of impartiality in reporting while its photo editors continue to have a huge laugh in their coverage of Abu Hamza's trial: Honestly. Given the man has one eye and hooks for hands, do you really have to go out of your way to make him look even more evil?
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Soft skills

I hated them the moment I saw them. Sitting together on an early morning tube, her hand enveloped in his as she lay her head on his shoulder. They were pretty in the way that plain people who've had a lifetime of excellent food, little stress and expensive dentistry can be pretty: not naturally striking, but looking as good as someone with their features could possibly look: healthy, well-scrubbed, full of youth. She was thin and dirty blonde, with heavy eye makeup that was carelessly applied. He had mousy brown hair in a carefully-cultivated shaggy mop reaching to his chin. Without seeing more than their faces, I already knew who I was looking at, but a more careful examination revealed more details. His crumpled suit was very expensive, and peeking out from one of his unbuttoned cuffs was a beautiful and clearly expensive watch of sleek, modern design. Then another member of the same species boarded the train: this one tall, with more faux-shaggy black hair and designer stubble. He knew the pair,...
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Quote of the week

"I'm so hip I have difficulty seeing over my pelvis"
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Munich

[Spoiler content warning: low. The historical events that are the basis of the movie are mentioned, without any specifics.] After a frantic day of house cleaning and packing (no actual moving yet... that all happens in two weeks) I caught up with O and went to see Munich. It's excellently acted, very well directed, and has a lot to say. Unfortunately, I fundamentally disagree not with what it says, but the way it says it. It starts off weakly, with some heavy-handed historical lecturing and clunky plot exposition. It then takes off, covering the endless sequence of assassinations in a gripping and suspenseful manner. And that is the problem. This is not just some thriller, where you know the excitement is illusory and the dead are just actors. Notwithstanding the large amount of creative licence that has been taken, this a record of real deaths, murders and bombings that actually happened. It doesn't matter whether you agree that those who died deserved it or not; dramatizing the murders in this...
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The Vice President Of The United States Shot Someone This Weekend

Actually shot someone, and then just hoped nobody would find out. Apparently, this was only 2nd-page news in the US today. Hello! Your second-in-command seriously injured someone with a rifle? Is this the kind of wacko you want running your country? Can you imagine if a UK politician did this, how quickly he would be gone? But in the US it's barely even a scandal that he tried to cover it up, far less that he shot someone in the first place. The United States is fucking crazy. Update: And if ignoring it doesn't work, why not joke about it? Because it's not like the guy may die from his wounds right? Oh? Oh. [via Ed]
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No Smoking

I am going smoke-free clubbing this Friday. HURRAH for the nanny-state! Fuck you all, nicotine-fiends! This is selfish and illiberal and a bad general trend, but whatever, I never said I wasn't a hypocrite. Update: *cough* And by "this Friday," I of course mean "this Friday in summer of 2007," which is of course when the ban comes into effect. I knew that. Of course I did. I don't post links without reading past the first paragraph, that would be irresponsible.
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On hold

I'm a little bit too busy with work and moving house to blog about anything or, indeed, think about anything. Friday is the big day, folks.
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Racism is a crime; being a racist is not

British "holocaust denier" David Irving has been given a 3-year jail sentence for denying, in 1989, that the gas chambers existed at Auschwitz. This is important, for a lot of reasons. Firstly, it's important to note that he's being punished for something he said 17 years ago, and which he retracted 15 years ago. In 1991, he read the Eichmann papers, he stopped saying that the Nazis had not killed millions of Jews, and instead admitted -- and continues to admit -- that they did. So, is it still "holocaust denial" if you retract your statements? Exactly are we punishing here? And what is the crime of Holocaust denial? Because it seems like you're punishing speech, and a strangely particular piece of speech. Eleven countries in Europe have laws specifically against denying the existence of the Holocaust. That's a very, very specific piece of anti-semitism. Why is it that this piece of speech is so abhorrent as to require specific legislation, while other sorts of speech -- even hate speech -- are...
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We have liftoff

As usual, when I write about work, I am expressing my own opinions and not necessarily those of my employer. So my week from hell became my ten days from hell, as my house moving overlapped with a huge deadline at work. But it's all over now: I've moved into the Ultimate 80s Flat (pictures to follow) and tonight, we finally launched the new Yahoo! UK mobile site as well as the German version. It's nothing ground-breaking, but it was a hell of a lot of work. So go! Buy ringtones without a pesky subscription!
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