Sunday, July 20, 2003

Saturday Night Special

A late night update from The World Of Mad Iain, taking advantage of a free phoneline, and the fact my girlfriend is away for the weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon, at the Hen Weekend of one of her work colleagues.

Had quite an odd day today, since I stayed up really late last night, writing an editorial for State, bemoaning the lack of innovation in the games industry, and its descent into Franchise Hell, and was playing Vice City until 6am, getting beautifully drunk in the meantime. I then went to bed, catching up on some much needed sleep, crawling back out into the world of the living around 7pm, just in time to catch the last half of Jurassic Park: The Lost World (not a patch on the original, despite a feisty performance from Julianne Moore) and I then watched Deep Impact, which is a seriously enjoyable film. It's delicately paced, doesn't place too much emphasis on the CGI, and really makes you wait for the asteroid impact set piece. What's even more important is that when it arrives, it doesn't disappoint, but by far the most impressive part of the film is the emphasis on characterisation. It's a real personality driven piece, and has a first rate cast. The single most affecting piece of drama in the film is where the crew of the Messiah realise that they can save the Earth from an Extinction Level Event, but only at the cost of their own lives, and pilot, Baker, says to lighten the mood "Look on the bright side - we'll all get High Schools named after us."

As a piece of cinema, it's utterly formulaic and predictable, but still, it's a keen observation on the indominability of the human spirit - the will to keep striving and fighting until all options are lost, and given the choice between the self-preservation of yourself, and the self-preservation of human life and society, it's the latter which most people would choose. Imagine being put in the position where all life on Earth could be annihilated - but you could prevent it at the cost of your own life. I don't think that there's any question about what you would do - in any case, your life is forfeit (in the words of Cats "You have no hope of survive - make your time.") - so why insist on taking the rest of the world with you?

I have absolutely no fear of death (I don't welcome it, but I when my time comes, I'll embrace it with a clean conscience, a happy heart and no regrets) and if I were ever in the same position as the crew of the Messiah, I wouldn't have a single hesitation. Despite all the evil in the world, I believe that mankind can be fundamentally good - though that may just being overly idealistic, which itself is a necessary trait of man. Without ideas to pursue or ideals to aim for, what is the point of existence? If people have no hope for a life better than they currently have, what chance do we have as a species?

Speaking of hope - fucking hell - this whole business with Iraq is turning into an even worse mess than I ever envisaged it would. Three months now after official hostilities have ceased, and over 30 Coalition soldiers (by which I mean US and UK soldiers - no other country was stupid enough to commit serious ground forces) have been killed in random attacks, and still no Weapons Of Mass Destruction, the "clear and immediate threat" that constituted our reason for going to war in the first place, have been found, or show any likelihood of being found, and with the death of David Kelly, the MOD scientist at the centre of the dispute between Downing Street and the BBC over the exaggeration of the claims of the threat Iraq's WMD programme posed, raises serious doubts as to the motivations and validity of war in the first place.

Already Glenda Jackson (an ex-Government Minister and outspoken Labour MP) has declared Tony Blair's credibility fatally "holed below the waterline" and called for his resignation. I can only agree - the public has been lied to, and the world appears to be run by crooks, cronies and charlatans, acting in their own best interests, whilst pretending to do the world a favour. Did Kelly really commit suicide, or are there even darker forces at work? Even with a mooted judicial enquiry, you can't help question whenever we'll ever get the whole truth behind his death. I find it hard to believe that a man would commit suicide over a little media exposure, and doesn't the presense of a practically unknown prescription drug (presumably not easily available, yet still (reportedly) commonly found in the possession of suicidal people) being found near Kelly's body raise the slightest hint of doubts?

The family claims that there wasn't even the slightest hint that he was suicidal, and the last e-mail sent to one of Kelly's journalistic contacts spoke of him wanting to "wait until to the end of the week" until he saw how his appearance before the MP committee had been received. So - a man under pressure, but not suicidally depressed, yet he still turns up dead.

So who's to blame? The BBC for not naming its source, or the government for naming Kelly as the source and demanding that a journalist break the very founding principle of journalistic integrity by confirming or denying the claim? I'd expect both parties to protect their own interests, but the government is the one with the more to lose, and that's where I'd choose to apportion blame, if push were to come to shove.

I was one of the people who stayed up until 5am after the General Election in 1997, watching the coverage, watching Portillio get ousted by a gay MP in a Tory heartland, listening to "Things can only get better" blaring (Blairing?) out from the New Labour headquarters, as career politicians tried to be hip and dance to music that they couldn't possibly comprehend or enjoy, hoping that they'd usher in a new era of transparent, accountable politics, where your opinion mattered, and where the will of a people couldn't be ridden over roughshod by a group of self-serving bastards, who only wanted to have power and keep it.

Six years down the line, and here we are - life is pretty much exactly the same as under Major or Thatcher, an NHS and education system falling apart, spiralling taxes, and spuriously justifiable wars. Fantastic. The only difference these days is that it's more palatably presented, by Spin Doctors that keep the public revolving at 45rpm so that they're too dizzy to notice what's really going on. New government, same old shit. Oh, actually, no - the wars under Major and Thatcher could be justified. Oops.

I don't and can't trust Blair anymore - whenever he opens his mouth all I hear is "wah, wah, wah." Don't you find it *slightly* coincidental that he's off on a tour of America and the Far East when all this business with Dr Kelly kicks off? You'd have thought he needed a cast-iron alibi. Blair is a man in the pocket of the Bush and Bush's paymasters - the reception he got this week in the US should be evidence enough of that to anyone. The "special relationship" between Blair and Bush goes beyond the one that Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski used to share, if you ask me.

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