Ms .45's mp3/bureaucratic/gaming blog.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

mp3s yay!

I'm on an downloading spree at uni before I lose my library privileges this Sunday, and have grabbed some awesome stuff recently.

Our Monk - A Little Monk (bandwidth stolen from Sandwich Club, a great blog of Aussie music that you should totally check out)
Our Monk are from Sydney, and this is a great, Beatle-y track with jangly piano and a jaunty melody suitable for walking out in your zoot suit swinging a diamond-tipped cane. I hope they play Melbourne at some point. (Oh man, I'm checking out Our Monk's myspace and they are more Beatle-y than I imagined, but not in a shitful Oasis-y way.)

Hello Saferide - The Quiz (myspace)
Singer/songwriter Annika Norlin is Swedish, but sounds Irish. The Quiz is a great little (2 and a bit minutes) minimalist song grilling a prospective boyfriend on his bad habits, possibly revealing a few quirks of her own ("Can you always wear socks cos I'm still scared of feet"). Bounce on over to her website to check out her more poppy material.

The New Morty Show - Unskinny Bop
My taste in hair metal runs more to Guns'n'Roses and Motley Crue than (cough) Poison, Bon Jovi (I can't go on, ugh), but this nu-swing version just makes it aaaaaaaaall right.

ROOT! - Shazza and Michelle
It's frankly pretty weird to be able to see a member of TISM's face. This country outfit is TISM quiet man Humphrey B. Flaubert's new joint, with a new album in the pipeline. In keeping with Humphrey's (now "D. C. Root") "good cop" persona, Shazza and Michelle channels all the Pollyanna family values that TISM stood for, a tale of two innocent country nurses who enter the Australian Idol competition and get swept up in the shifting, changing shattering world of fame, fashion, fashion and fame. But nay, our doughty country maidens fall not for the glitz and sleaze of the entertainment world, and return happier and wiser to their country nursing home, smug in the knowledge of having deeper human values than ... ok, it's not quite that bad. It's actually quite sweet-natured, and very catchy in true TISM style. Nevertheless, I am eagerly waiting for Family First to grab a TISM track (And The Ass Said to the Angel, Wanna Play Kick To Kick?, perhaps) for their election campaign.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


The G. W. Bush Administration's Freedom Agenda for the Middle East

I've done it. I'm free. I haven't totally humiliated myself (although, if you read that document, you may be able to work out exactly where I threw my hands in the air and hissed "Fuck it").

Monday, June 18, 2007

Non-Stick Plans

Non-Stick Plans is a daily blog of charming cartoons based on terrible puns. This one's called "Supposit Account" (arrrrgh).

Yet more procrastination....

Er... I'm doing my laundry...

What Famous Student Are You?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Minute or Less - more tracks

I posted about A Minute of Less nearly two years ago - but, being such short songs, there's 72 tracks and I haven't gotten around to posting all the good ones. Here's some more.

The Worms - Happy Day - cheery indie pop.
Slurper - Shy Girl - ditto.
Those Acapelicans - Dragoncalf - acapella from Sime Nugent's old band.
Trabampoline - Lions and Tigers and Bears - weird sample madness.
Poohbum - Kennett - angry folk.
The Jizzbuckets - Hanging Out With Ian Curtis - ummmm...

Ed Husain

Ed Husain is the sort of person who is one of the most important weapons in the Global War On Terror (or whatever the hell we're calling it this week). Husain is a former Islamist (author of, funnily enough, The Islamist) who seeks to expose extremism in supposedly mainstream Islamic organisations, and he does this from the perspective of one who remains devout, which gives him somewhat more credibility with the very people vulnerable to hateful ideology than a Hirsi Ali who has become a full-on atheist.

Mr. Husain is in the uncomfortable position of giving fuel to Islamophobes, which is a shame, because clearly he does not adhere to the view that Muslims are inevitably kaffir-hating nutters who seek to establish a worldwide Caliphate. I quite like the fact that he doesn't seem to have replaced Muslim extremism with anti-Muslim extremism, which will make it harder for professional Islamophobes to recruit him.

He laments the mushrooming of Islamic 'peak bodies' in this interview with Alt.Muslim:

Alt.Muslim: The British government sought the help of the Muslim Council of Britain in the past, especially after 7/7, but now they've fallen out of favour. Now the government appears to be looking towards other Muslim organisations, such as the Sufi Muslim Council, as an alternative. Is that the right approach? Should they get different Muslim representative groups together and help them come to a consensus? Or are they pitting Muslims against Muslims?

I'm in two minds about this whole – the creation of different Muslim organisations and, as you say, pitting Muslims against Muslims. Why can't Muslims just be Muslims and participate in civil society as citizens? Why do we need to have all these forums? They inevitably bring on board certain types of individuals and certain groups come with their own agenda and their own baggage. It's like Mosca said, the Italian thinker, that it's the organised minority controlling the discourse of the disorganised majority.

Why can't we just be human beings, be Western citizens of different countries, engage with the existing structure, be it through the political parties or whatever it is that takes our fancy or wherever it is we feel our niche lies – Greenpeace, for example? Engage at that level. Why do we need to have these councils where again and again they've always thrown up that sort of leadership that young Muslims – children of this soil – feel inherently uncomfortable with?
I for one am quite happy to see Australian Muslims stepping forward to form political parties, write op-eds and so on, as it indicates that they are in fact engaged with Australian life rather than withdrawing from it. However, I agree that it would be good to see Muslims visibly involved in mainstream organisations.

Conversely, you should also read Ziauddin Sardar's review of The Islamist, alongside Journey into Islam by Akbar Ahmed, to see its limitations. Husain's insight is valuable, but of course, it's his unique experience.

[EDIT: Good review by Waleed Aly in the Age.]

Sharia - it's not all about getting stoned

This Guardian article about divorce and British Muslims is a good introduction to the breadth of sharia law. It is mostly focused on the tensions between civil and religious marriage, but also gives a glimpse into other issues such as halal food and financial interest.

One slightly upsetting aspect is not with sharia at all, but with British civil law -

...the British courts do not recognise Islamic ceremonies carried out in this country unless they are registered separately with the civil authorities. The result is that some Muslims think they are protected by family law when they are not, and others think they are properly divorced when, in fact, they are still married. In one case, Luton police contacted WLUML [Women Living Under Muslim Laws] after pursuing a man for bigamy who had married in Luton, then flown to Pakistan and married again. After looking into the case, they found that the first marriage was invalid as it had been conducted by an imam in an unregistered mosque. His first wife was left with no legal protection by the family courts, and the husband was free to bring his second wife back to Britain as his legal spouse.

In Australia, the first wife would be protected by the fact that she had been living in a "marriage-like relationship". She would be able to leave the marriage and claim her property and child maintenance. I can't believe that in the early 21st century, Britain doesn't recognise common-law marriage!

Blair's media whinge

Whilst I have a small amount of sympathy, Tony Blair's screed against the modern media is not really anything new. He is, in effect, whining about news values -

Tell me how many maiden speeches are listened to; how many excellent second reading speeches or committee speeches are covered. Except when they generate major controversy, they aren't. If you are a backbench MP today, you learn to give a press release first and a good parliamentary speech second.

Firstly, news values have been like that ever since media have existed. Dog bites man is not news, man bites dog is. When things are going well, there's nothing to report. This is a problem, but it's not unique to today's media-saturated world.

Secondly, is it necessarily a problem that the press release comes before the speech? Surely you would write one and re-purpose it towards the other? Provided that your ideas are fundamentally sound, a dot-point presentation for lazy journalists should not do those ideas any injustice. Commentators like to complain that sound-bite culture erodes the quality of political discussion, and it certainly can - both left and right wingers love to take comments out of context. But soundbites have some value in that it forces the speaker to tightly communicate their point.

The other mistake Blair makes is to assume that all readers are dumbshits who don't take into account context and hyperbole. Plenty are, of course, but many readers (and voters) are perfectly capable of taking into account who the writer/speaker is, what else is going on in the issue, and identifying emotive words like "savage".

As Blair acknowledges, "There is a market in providing serious, balanced news. There is a desire for impartiality. The way that people get their news may be changing, but the thirst for the news being real news is not." The thing is that the real news may still not be what Blair wants to hear.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Two weeks to go - Still procrastinating

gURL.comI took the "Women Warriors" quiz on
My woman warrior is...

When Lakshmibai went to battle, she often consulted all types of political strategists, whether they were books or seasoned warriors. She was also very smart and literate in more than three languages.Read more...

Which woman warrior are you?

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Fauves 1000th Show

My first encounter with The Fauves (aside from liking Henri Matisse in high school, I mean) was when their single "Misguided Modelling Career" was first spun on JJJ. I was attracted to the unique whininess of Coxy's voice and the spiky, off-kilter rhythm. Over the years The Fauves became more 'alternative' - that is, commercial - but, at least for a while, this was in a good way.

One of the awesome things about the early 90s was printed zines. Printed zines uniformly suck these days, since anyone with talent is on the web attracting thousands of readers instead of a few hundred art wankers, but back then they actually meant something. Anyway, I don't know how it happened, but after a big RRR fundraiser in '93 or so, a bunch of people including myself recieved a copy of a zine called Shred and a sample CD.

Shred was not like any other promotional zine. Whereas your average promo zine looked and read like Dolly with less tampon ads, Shred Told It Like It Was. Disinterested venues, unhelpful record companies, disgruntled bandmates, terrible cartoons - it had everything. Shred lives on in the My Say section of the Fauves website (actually, everything about the Fauves website has Doug's Down Vibe written all over it), but the sample CD did not - until now.

Please find attached The Fauves Polydor Promotional Album. It's from about 1993 and has that quirky minimalist thing going. The terse lyrics ("I invented the blues so it's my right to kill it/hear that train a-comin', knock it on the head with a rusty skillet", Orgamosarion) are the Coxy you know and love.

Best of all, the Fauves will be playing their 1000th show at the East Brunswick club on June 8th and all payers will recieve a copy of Prefer Others, a 23-track CD of B-sides. If you like these songs, there is a possibility that at least one may be on this album, and therefore you should go to the show.

Ghosting The Road
Someone Elses' Earthquake
Puffinhead and Manta Ray
High How
Archimedes' Crown

Check out the Fauves bio at Myspace.

Monem freed

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is happy to report that Abdel Monem Mahmoud and several other MB detainees will be released from prison in a couple of days.

Monem Free

This is a surprise event, with no explanation of why they are being released. The presence of comment in the Western press, including the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal (!), may have helped here.

Now, as Monem's lawyer points out, they can work on releasing other political prisoners.

Muslim feminists and Hirsi Ali

Good little article in the Age today about the tragedy of high profile ex-Muslim feminist campaigners vs low profile Muslim feminist campaigners:

A hatred of Islam will not aid reform, Hanifa Deen

Unfortunately, Hirsi Ali's continual trashing of Islam alienates many Australian Muslim women activists who also see themselves as agents of change but who are not prepared to turn their backs on what gives meaning to their lives. They will not join in what they see as "Muslim bashing". The bitterness they hear in Hirsi Ali's voice overwhelms them and they observe how her unrelenting message — that Islam is brutal and uncompassionate — is avidly received. In the end, they circle their wagons in defence of Islam, their capacity to be self-critical lessens and they are diverted from the main game of questioning misogynistic traditions. The Muslim women I know don't want to be pitied — they want to be understood — yet unintentionally Hirsi Ali's denunciations have the effect of silencing them.
There are plenty of Muslim liberal activists we (ie Westerners) could be supporting. Here's a short list to be going on with.

Liberal Islam Network, Indonesia
Fatima Mernissi
Muslim WakeUp!
Aswat & Helem (gay rights)
Saudi Arabia Greens Party (illegal in KSA)

Interview with Hanifa Deen about Muslims in Australia