Joe Strummer on Plastic Bertrand

“I don’t like saying, “You’re a punk and you’re not.”

There was a record out there called “Ca Plane pour Moi” by Plastic Bertrand, right? And I guarantee you if I had to play it for you right now you’d go, “Right! That is rockin!”

Now, if you were to say to any sort of purist punk, “This is a good punk record,” they’d get completely enraged. But Plastic Bertrand, whoever he was, compressed into that three minutes a bloody good record that will get any comatose person toe-tapping, you know what I mean?

By purist rules, it’s not allowed to even mention Plastic Bertrand. Yet, this record was probably a lot better than a lot of so-called punk records.”


Stealing electronic elections

There is a detailed, and important, and terrifying article on Ars Technica, explaining how easy it is to hack the electronic voting machines increasingly being used in the US. Example (with my emphasis):

In order to use a supervisor card to access the AccuVote, you must first enter a four-digit PIN. In version of the machine that was in use as late as 2003, the exact same supervisor PIN was hard-coded into every single AccuVote TS shipped nationwide. That PIN was 1111. (I am not making this up.) This is still the default PIN for these machines, although the county can change it on a machine-by-machine basis if they have the workers and the time.

Slip-sliding away

Went to see the new exhibition at the Tate Modern, a series of huge slides set up in the Turbine Hall by Carsten Höller. They were rather beautiful, and Tom enjoyed sliding down them a lot, though I don’t completely buy the artist’s description of why they were art:

For Carsten Höller, the experience of sliding is best summed up in a phrase by the French writer Roger Caillois as a ‘voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind’. The slides are impressive sculptures in their own right, and you don’t have to hurtle down them to appreciate this artwork. What interests Höller, however, is both the visual spectacle of watching people sliding and the ‘inner spectacle’ experienced by the sliders themselves, the state of simultaneous delight and anxiety that you enter as you descend.

Travel notes: Reading

To Reading for a meeting. Stayed at the Royal County Hotel, an old-fashioned place in a central location. Friendly staff and nice rooms, but on lift.

Dinner on Sunday night at Santa Fe by the Thames. Chainy but nice American-Mexican place. Tonight ate at the fantastic Sweeney & Todd’s pie shop on Castle Street and ate heartily for £6. Then to the Three Bs cafe bar in the old town hall, which showed historic public sector randomness by not serving coffees after 4pm.

The real battle of Hastings

940th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, and I’m in Battle for a huge re-enactment. It’s very spectacular, though of course the result is never in doubt. Even more spectacular, and a lot less organised, is the melee of kids with wooden swords charging around while their parents watch the battle.


An piece in this week’s New Republic, not available for free online,
talks about the large Russian community around Brighton Beach, in New
York state. There’s a fierce battle going on between two Russian-
speakers for the Democratic nomination (and hence the seat in November).

The Russian community, interestingly, have been excluded from the
political process in the past, and that has bred in them a sort of
apathy that I find quite recognisable from disengaged people in the
UK. The speaker is Gene Borsh, a voter-education activist who works
with the Russians in Brighton Beach:

“The result is this terrible apathy.What will my vote
change?” He summed up the communal affliction as “pofigism,” a one-of-
a-kind Russian neologism that roughly translates as “I-don’t-give-a-
shit-ism.” Borsh’s colleague Marina Belotserkovsky described it as
trepidation before the unknown that became expressed as disdain: “We
stand apart—we don’t get involved in the things these idiots do.”

Pofigism – a word we have use for.