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Practical advice time, folks: how do I find interesting films showing in London cinemas?

I'm particularly interested in older and moderately obscure films -- the kind that will turn up over the course of a year, but that I'll miss unless I inhale a listings magazine every week.

Does there exist a website that can take a wish-list of films, and email me whenever one of them is on in London? That seems like such an obvious and potentially-profitable concept that somebody must already have built it, but I can't find it.

Relatedly, does anybody want to come see some films with me?

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George Osborne supposedly used to regularly snort cocaine with a sex worker. Andy Coulson's NotW was on hand to damp down the story, hacking the escort's phone, attacking her personally, and printing an editorial sympathetic to Osborne. Hypocritical Tory saved by friends in high places, what's new?

But what I love is how in the midst of all this, she still manages to put the boot into Hague:

At the time [Osborne] was working for William Hague. I remember that vividly because he called William Hague insipid and I didn't know what the word meant. I do now.

[FWIW I find Hague much less insipid than the average politician, and in fact the current cabinet show up just how insipid the New Labour minsters were. Osborne, by contrast, has no redeeming features I've yet been able to find]

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It seems about time for me to throw some kind of a party. Late-night consultation with my housemate Cristina narrows us down to the middle of October, i.e.:

- Friday 7/10
- Saturday 8/10
- Friday 14/10
- Saturday 15/10

Now would be a great time to tell me about clashes, holidays, bad omens and the like. Which dates could you manage, were you so inclined?

[this is in London, Wood Green, around here]

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Guardian:


Just as Tottenham residents in 1985 lambasted the media for scaremongering about protesters – the Daily Express suggested some had been trained in Russia – today's rioters might be surprised to read about "Twitter-organised chaos".


I love the idea of twitter as the new Soviet influence behind every event. It's not quite a perfect stand-in, but it comes close.
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I'm moving back to London in 2 weeks.

I'll be arriving on the July 4th. My birthday is on July 8th.

Combined, that's sufficient excuse for a gathering of londoners I love.

Conveniently, mirabehn and mirrorshard are already organizing a readthrough in Finsbury Park on Sunday 10th. I'm going to hijack it.

So: let's meet in Finsbury Park from noon that day. There will be food, and drink, and Shakespeare, and at least a 30% chance of sun. Those of you who don't know the readthrough crowd can be overwhelmed by how lovely they are. Those of you who do -- well, surely you'll want to come anyway? Anybody with a hotline to God, please hint that sun would be really convenient :)

Details of location, plans in case of rain, etc, to follow once we've figured them out :)
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In less wanky news...
I'll be in London next week, Thursday to Sunday. Then off to Bristol for a couple of days.

Let me know if there are things I should be going to!

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[warning: 600 words of indulgent waffle on identity politics]

I've never been good at pseudonyms, collective identities, self-reinvention. Nonmetheless, I consider them a Good Thing at a fundamental level. Your identity, or mine, is the accretion of social conformism, gender roles, the acceptance of our own position in society. You can try to unpick it, layer by layer, but the chances are you'll never get to a 'real you'.

Or you can take the shortcut: choose another identity, put it on, change it once it's no longer useful. Be Luther Blissett, be Spartacus. Be your friends, or your enemies, or some combination of them all.

steerpikelet just gave a wonderful interview, where she defends political action without a true name:


Anonymous is its own separate thing, an anarchic and brilliant thing, but the wider concept of anonymity itself as a political statement - whether online or offline - is gaining more and more ground as a way of rebelling against a political culture that not only seeks to root out unsavory elements with surveillance but which mandates individuality as a form of rigid conformity. Think about it: it you grow up being commanded to self-actualise, to be the best individual you can be, to define yourself by buying things, to be yourself and find your special centre and compete with your neighbors and colleagues, then choosing to be anonymous is an inherently revolutionary act, quite apart from the organising possibilities the phenomenon offers. Plus, there’s a growing sense that there is a great deal of power in the collective, in sharing a sense of solidarity, symmetry and protection in anonymity.


It's perhaps not a coincidence that Laurie writes this in an interview with a comics blog. If there's one area that comics have picked over in every possible regard, it's the secondary identity. Start with a world that has Clark Kent/Superman as the mainstream, where almost every hero wears a mask or leads a double life. Then in the 80s, along come Alan Moore and friends, devote their considerable talents to picking apart every aspect of the superhero identity. The Guy Fawkes mask now identifying Anonymous is just the smallest part of this.

The climax of this tendency, to my mind, is Grant Morrison's The Invisibles. A cell of superpowered freedom fighters draw their personalities by lot; each necessary identity is filled by a different person each week. Characters live under layers of assumed identities, brainwashing themselves at each level to forget the next layer. Heroes and villains turn out to be the same groups, veiling their consciousness in order to play out their roles. The end result is reminiscent of, say, Shaiva Tantrism. By the end, it seems that everybody is part of the same identity: a character in a dream, a player in a video-game, the 'fiction suit' with which God walks the earth, or part of a hyper-dimensional being.

Yes, this is part plot device, part stoner esoterica. But it's also a guide to discarding the unwanted parts of your past, and to acting as a group not based on prior hierarchies. And, as Laurie suggests, to dodging surveillance. When government and corporations devote so much energy to tracking and correlating our behaviour, it becomes almost a matter of duty to thow a spanner in the works. That is to adopt some identity not linked to a passport and a birth certificate. To dream a fiction suit, be it, share it, discard it, and move on to the next identity.
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Azerbaijan has banned wearing hijabs in schools.
In a move some say is designed to bring the secular predominantly Muslim country closer to Europe, Azerbaijan follows a number of other countries in banning religious head scarves in schools. It also follows the closure of several mosques late last year under a new law on religion.

Don't you feel proud of the European export of tolerance?

[there's a very similar dynamic behind Turkish regulation of the hijab, and Turkish secularisation in general]

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Does the cost of policing affect what laws are enforced?

I'd (naïvely?) imagined that there would be some kind of institutional firewall in place, analogous to the division between advertising and content in a newspaper, or the various Chinese Walls inside financial firms. That is, that decisions on which types of crime to pursue would be separate from decisions about how to pay for it.

Is that not the case? Brooke Magnanti (belle de jour) writes:


Another way in which opposing sex work brings financial benefit is through the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Police know, for instance, that if a brothel owner is prosecuted, since running a brothel is illegal, any money and property retrieved from the 'crime scene' becomes theirs. When police resources are limited, does the temptation of profit possibly influence victimless crimes being prosecuted more vigourously than they otherwise would?
...
It's impossible to know for certain, but one can imagine plenty of situations in which police - with restricted time and money - must make choices: unknown violent criminals who may be difficult and expensive to catch, or women technically breaking the law standing right in front of you, with cash assets?


Similarly, there's a debate about the cost of evicting travellers from Dale Farm:


The cost of evicting travellers from Europe’s largest illegal camp could spiral to £18million, councillors have revealed.
The occupants of Dale Farm in Crays Hill, Essex, have threatened violence if bailiffs move in, pushing up the bill to remove them from £3.5million just 18 months ago.
Basildon Council has set aside £8million for the operation – almost a third of its annual budget – while Essex Police has a £10million ‘worst-case scenario’ fund.
...
Despite the huge cost, Tony Ball, leader of the council is determined to press ahead if the families choose not leave by their own accord.
Mr Ball said: 'No one wants a forced clearance of this site and we have spent ten years asking the travellers to work with us to seek a peaceful resolution.
'However, it is important the law is applied equally and fairly to all people and if we do not take action in this case, we would have little moral right as a planning authority to take action against future unauthorised developments.


So it sounds like the cost of enforcement is taken into account in policing decisions, whether at the level of the police themselves or their political masters. Is that the case? If I break the law in some way that's expensive to identify, can I expect to get away with it?
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I've lately been poking around in the UN Comtrade database. This records international trade in detail that is mind-boggling, and I suspect not entirely reliable. So today I learned that:

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