Weekend reads: Russell Brand's Revolution and Joy Division's Ian Curtis gets lyrical

And Lemony Snicket's author goes piratical

Page File El Reg bookworm Mark Diston peruses the pick of publishing this week and finds he prefers Russell Brand when he's on the page rather than on the telly, as the media messiah offers more words of wisdom on society's ills. The work of Joy Division's vocalist and lyricist is presented as never before and Daniel Handler, known to many as Lemony Snicket, has an intriguing tale of the high seas to tell.


There are few individuals who can polarise opinion like Russell Brand. My landlady wants to shag him to death, whereas I yearn to see him star in an ISIS snuff video. That reason alone made it essential to review Chairman Brand’s little red booky wook: Revolution.

The first advantage of consuming Brand via the page, rather than the TV, is evident: you don’t have to look at him or listen to his voice. Comedians' books are nearly always hit-and-miss affairs; great stand-ups such as Frankie Boyle have corpsed badly even when utilising similar material, i.e. their autobiographies.

I have never found Brand the comedian at all funny. However, it is immediately apparent that the boy can write in a direct and engaging style. It is easy to compare Brand’s book with Owen Jones’s The Establishment as they seem to have teamed up into a Blair and Brown double act recently: Russell charms them, Owen does the politics. Yet Owen plays the politicos at their own game and has all but joined the establishment he eschews.

Brand is a different character entirely, having come from closer to the wrong side of the tracks rather than Jones’s upwardly mobile Fabian background. Brand has the advantage of a very different perspective that you need to have been down to see:

“Anyone who’s been poor and gets rich is stalked by guilt and fear”

and that his current celebrity is: ‘The accumulation of a million easy treats, a license to speak your mind or sulk”

Brand is what you might call a broad rather than a deep thinker. There are a few pithy one liners such as the one that dismisses the current establishment as: “A cartel of Etonian skanks”

Russell Brand Revolution book cover

And amusing disclaimers like: “Legally though, I’m obliged to say that Hitler and Murdoch are two distinct entities and that Hitler is a worse bloke.”

The narrative veers from the banal ...

“If we’ve learned anything from Blackadder it’s that history is a shithole” and ... “The Arab spring we were all so excited about on Twitter turned out to be fuck all”

... to the mystic philosophical ...

“I remain uncharmed by the incessant rationalism that requires the spirit’s capitulations.”

Russell Brand is a practitioner of transcendental meditation and in many places he seems to be stuck between the media and the Maharishi. His sources are eclectic to say the least, everyone from Guy Debord to Alan Devonshire gets a mention.

Brand is aiming for a very spiritual and holistic revolution, quoting Swami: “All desire is the inappropriate substitute for the desire to be at one with God.”

Brand exhorts us: “The revolution cannot be boring” and there are a couple of classic pieces of satire: “I know the only productive attitude to have towards a paedophile is one of loving, inclusive, rehabilitative tolerance, how can I not afford the same stance to George Osborne? Well, he has fucked over more kids than the average nonce.”

In practical terms, Brand extols the Spanish and Cuban revolutions, quoting George Orwell – regarding the halcyon days of the anarcho-syndicalist Barcelona – yet he neglects to quote the same author when the anarchists, communists and Trotskyists were at each other's throats a few months later.

Revolution is woolly and confused. Russell Brand comes over as something of a Marxist-Lennonist. A follower of Groucho, rather than Karl. Nevertheless, his thinking, however naïve, is refreshing and out-of-the-box. Although I won’t be competing with my landlady for access to Russell’s charms, I did end up thinking he was somewhat less of an arsehole after reading this book.

Russell Brand Revolution book coverAuthor Russell Brand
Title Revolution
Publisher Century
Price £20 (Hardback), £9.98 (eBook)
More info Publication web site

Other stories you might like

  • China reveals its top five sources of online fraud
    'Brushing' tops the list, as quantity of forbidden content continue to rise

    China’s Ministry of Public Security has revealed the five most prevalent types of fraud perpetrated online or by phone.

    The e-commerce scam known as “brushing” topped the list and accounted for around a third of all internet fraud activity in China. Brushing sees victims lured into making payment for goods that may not be delivered, or are only delivered after buyers are asked to perform several other online tasks that may include downloading dodgy apps and/or establishing e-commerce profiles. Victims can find themselves being asked to pay more than the original price for goods, or denied promised rebates.

    Brushing has also seen e-commerce providers send victims small items they never ordered, using profiles victims did not create or control. Dodgy vendors use that tactic to then write themselves glowing product reviews that increase their visibility on marketplace platforms.

    Continue reading
  • Oracle really does owe HPE $3b after Supreme Court snub
    Appeal petition as doomed as the Itanic chips at the heart of decade-long drama

    The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Oracle's appeal to overturn a ruling ordering the IT giant to pay $3 billion in damages for violating a decades-old contract agreement.

    In June 2011, back when HPE had not yet split from HP, the biz sued Oracle for refusing to add Itanium support to its database software. HP alleged Big Red had violated a contract agreement by not doing so, though Oracle claimed it explicitly refused requests to support Intel's Itanium processors at the time.

    A lengthy legal battle ensued. Oracle was ordered to cough up $3 billion in damages in a jury trial, and appealed the decision all the way to the highest judges in America. Now, the Supreme Court has declined its petition.

    Continue reading
  • Infusion of $3.5bn not enough to revive Terra's 'stablecoin'
    Estimated $42bn vanished with collapse of UST, Luna – we explain what all this means

    TerraUSD, a so-called "stablecoin," has seen its value drop from $1 apiece a week ago to about $0.09 on Monday, demonstrating not all that much stability.

    The cryptocurrency token, abbreviated UST, is supposed to be pegged to the price of the US dollar. Hence the "stable" terminology.

    But UST is not a "centralized stablecoin" that's exchangeable for a fiat currency; UST for USD (US dollars). Rather, it's a "decentralized stablecoin," meaning it can be exchanged for Luna (LUNA) tokens, another cryptocurrency tied to the Terra blockchain.

    Continue reading
  • DigitalOcean tries to take sting out of price hike with $4 VM
    Cloud biz says it is reacting to customer mix largely shifting from lone devs to SMBs

    DigitalOcean attempted to lessen the sting of higher prices this week by announcing a cut-rate instance aimed at developers and hobbyists.

    The $4-a-month droplet — what the infrastructure-as-a-service outfit calls its virtual machines — pairs a single virtual CPU with 512 MB of memory, 10 GB of SSD storage, and 500 GB a month in network bandwidth.

    The launch comes as DigitalOcean plans a sweeping price hike across much of its product portfolio, effective July 1. On the low-end, most instances will see pricing increase between $1 and $16 a month, but on the high-end, some products will see increases of as much as $120 in the case of DigitalOceans’ top-tier storage-optimized virtual machines.

    Continue reading
  • GPL legal battle: Vizio told by judge it will have to answer breach-of-contract claims
    Fine-print crucially deemed contractual agreement as well as copyright license in smartTV source-code case

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has won a significant legal victory in its ongoing effort to force Vizio to publish the source code of its SmartCast TV software, which is said to contain GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 copyleft-licensed components.

    SFC sued Vizio, claiming it was in breach of contract by failing to obey the terms of the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 licenses that require source code to be made public when certain conditions are met, and sought declaratory relief on behalf of Vizio TV owners. SFC wanted its breach-of-contract arguments to be heard by the Orange County Superior Court in California, though Vizio kicked the matter up to the district court level in central California where it hoped to avoid the contract issue and defend its corner using just federal copyright law.

    On Friday, Federal District Judge Josephine Staton sided with SFC and granted its motion to send its lawsuit back to superior court. To do so, Judge Staton had to decide whether or not the federal Copyright Act preempted the SFC's breach-of-contract allegations; in the end, she decided it didn't.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022