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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Helen Love – the Radio Hits August 30, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Long live the UK music scene Long live the UK music scene Long live the UK music scene
Each night I get down on my knees And say, hey God, I can’t believe We’re losing the UK music scene
Hey, all you kids, there’s a fab new sound So put your Nintendos and PlayStations down ‘Cos Chris Evans and Shed Seven will save the UK music scene
Hey, Johnny Cigarettes and Steven Wells Don’t get upset, your paper will still sell
Chris Evans and Shed Seven will save the UK music scene.

Cynical, humorous, clever… yep, that’ll be Helen Love, the almost all woman group from Wales (founder members being Helen, Sheena, Roxy and Mark), formed in the early 1990s, who seamlessly melded Ramones inflected punk and bubblegum pop into indie pop. And it is pop, speeding by in two and three minute increments, with great hook laden arrangements.

Conveniently, their first three albums were essentially compilations of EPs and so on, the Radio Hits Compilations. The title, is, as is the way with such things, a humorous reflection on the small fact that many of these never came near being radio hits, no, not one, though they should have in an ideal world. But that hasn’t stopped them having a long and fruitful and continuing career. Favourites of John Peel, they also played with Joey Ramone – subject of their early song (Sheena’s in Love With) Joey Ramone. He also sang on one of their records and Helen Love sang backing vocals on one track on his solo album.

Radio 1 pulls together their early EPs and singles. Check out Rollercoasting which is a love letter to music. Radio Hits 2 and 3 are no less brilliant, the latter including “Beat Him Up” which is feminist, ironic, deeply serious and utterly to the point about violence against women perpetrated by men. When they sing ‘Girl Power’ as a refrain in the opening bars of “Formula One Racing Girls” … it’s knowing and cynical, but it’s also somehow genuine. And if the instrumentation (and composition) is nowhere near as crude as some reviewers make out, well, that’s all for the good because however much they love the Ramones they aren’t the Ramones, but something different again – those tinny keyboards and choppy guitars notwithstanding.

Did they improve across the albums? Well, the production certainly toughened up, and so did the guitars, and there was an increasing dance/electronic tinge to keyboards (Jump Up and Down, Atomic Bea Boy, Big Pink Candyfloss Haircut and so on), but in essence it wasn’t so much an improvement – or that much of a real change – as a redefinition (and some, like myself, will find the dance remixes entertaining).

You might think that if you have Radio Hits, 1, 2 and 3 you have as much Helen Love as you might ever need. This though would be a mistake for they have released subsequent albums right up to the present day, all of which are well worth a listen. Indeed, I’m always struck by how many tunes they have managed to wrest from what seems like an incredibly constrained format. There’s the intro to Girl About Town, or listen to “Greatest Fan” and there’s a chunk of the Go! Club’s joyous melancholy, the tinny keyboards, the summery vocals, the muted guitars, the… well, it’s all there.

Cool.

Beat Him Up

Punk Boy (with Joey Ramone – natch!)

Formula One Racing Girls

Girl About Town

Diet Coke Girl

Rockaway Beach For Me, Heartbreak Hotel For You

Jump and Down

Shifty Disco Girl

We Love You

Message from Locked Out Greyhound Workers August 29, 2014

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Greyhound Workers Support Group

March to City Hall for the September meeting of Dublin City Council.
Monday coming, 1st September, assemble Liberty Hall, 5pm.

If you support us, please attend our march on Monday and share our facebook event page to spread the word.

About William Thompson August 29, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish History, The Left.
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Interesting piece by Fintan Lane in Irish Historical Studies, no.154 entitled William Thompson, bankruptcy and the west Cork estate, 1808–34. The first paragraph – quoted below – outlines William Thomson’s legacy. Well worth a read if you can get it…

Historians of socialist thought have rated the Irish political philosopher and radical economist William Thompson (1778–1833) as the most influential theorist to emerge from the Owenite movement in early nineteenth-century Britain.1 Indeed, Gregory Claeys has judged him to be that movement’s ‘most analytical and original thinker … and a writer whose subsequent influence upon the history of socialist economic thought has been long established’.2 Furthermore, stressing Thompson’s democratic values, Claeys insists that the Irishman ‘may rightfully be considered the founder of a more traditionally republican form of British democratic socialism’.3 While Robert Owen is remembered for his ambitious co-operative experiments, he was not a theoretical or deeply reflective writer and his intellectual legacy was minimal. The Cork born Thompson, on the other hand, wrote assiduously on the theory and practice of early socialism, reputedly influenced Karl Marx and became a key figure in the history of feminism; nonetheless, our knowledge of this important Irish intellectual remains deficient.

Education and elitism… August 29, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Culture, Economy, The Left.
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Useful research in the UK (headed up by Alan Milburn no less) from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission which notes some fairly astounding facts about how embedded elitism is in that state:

Looking at the background of more than 4,000 people filling jobs at the top of government, the civil service, the judiciary, the media, business and the creative industries, the commission investigated where they went to school, on the grounds that going to a private school is reasonably indicative of a wealthy background.

It sure is:

Only 7% of members of the public attended a private school. But 71% of senior judges, 62% of senior officers in the armed forces, 55% of permanent secretaries in Whitehall, 53% of senior diplomats, 50% of members of the House of Lords and 45% of public body chairs did so.

But it’s not just those areas that are overwhelmingly dominated by a certain social group (or class, let’s call them a class). For…

So too did 44% of people on the Sunday Times Rich List, 43% of newspaper columnists, 36% of cabinet ministers, 33% of MPs, 26% of BBC executives and 22% of shadow cabinet ministers.
It gets worse:

Oxbridge graduates also have a stranglehold on top jobs. They comprise less than 1% of the public as a whole, but 75% of senior judges, 59% of cabinet ministers, 57% of permanent secretaries, 50% of diplomats, 47% of newspaper columnists, 44% of public body chairs, 38% of members of the House of Lords, 33% of BBC executives, 33% of shadow cabinet ministers, 24% of MPs and 12% of those on the Sunday Times Rich List.
The report says the judiciary is the most privileged professional group. About 14% of judges attended one of just five independent schools (Eton, Westminster, Radley, Charterhouse and St Paul’s Boys).

And what about this?

And senior armed forces officers are the second most exclusive group, the report says. Some 62% of them went to a private school, and only 7% attended a comprehensive.

The report makes the point that this was ‘so embedded in Britain that it could be called ‘social engineering’’. Could be? Only could be?

And before people become complacent on this side of the water it’s important to understand that these are the very outcomes that so many seek through private education, access (or continued access) to high status and high salaried positions as well as the broader support structures that they provide.

Lets also note that this is going to get worse. In a society where a former Taoiseach can lightly talk of removing social supports and provision such as pensions and welfare it is clear that the opportunities to those without recourse to financial supports are going to be much lesser. That’s most of us.

Owen Jones makes an excellent point here:

The flaw with the report is an implicit assumption that inequality is not the problem, but rather that our current inequality is not a fair distribution of talents. “If only a few bright sparks from humble backgrounds could be scraped into the higher echelons,” seems to be the plea.

As ever it requires a genuinely left wing approach to alter this situation. Though where that comes from…

By the way, I’m a little conflicted about the Scottish referendum, not because I’m against independence – because I’m not against it – so much as regards the effects on those left behind by a Scottish exit. But… when one sees, as here, even if we had a good idea it was bad, just how rotten the set-up is in Britain. Well, after so much time and effort and with clearly so little reward in terms of ameliorating this, perhaps it is indeed time for Scotland to go it alone (not that it too doesn’t have its own embedded internal elite. But… still).

An interview with Paul Cleary from issue 2 of the Shamrock Rovers fanzine “And If I Should Falter” August 29, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Culture.
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An interesting interview with Rovers fan Paul Cleary from issue 2 of the wonderful Shamrock Rovers fanzine “And If I Should Falter”.
The Fanzine is excellent with some very good articles and it is available to buy here
It should also be available in Offside, formerly Casa Rebelde, in Temple Bar.

cleary1

(more…)

This Week At Irish Election Literature August 29, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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sink

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Above two great badges which someone sent me pictures of….

On then to the first bit of material from the forthcoming Roscommon South Leitrim Bye Election. This one from Fianna Fails Ivan Connaughton

A leaflet attacking Budget 2009 from Fine Gael (could be used to attack FG now with different branding)

A flyer from Fine Gael with rugby puns and fixture guide for the 2005 Lions Tour (distributed in South Dublin).

and apologies but I didn’t get a chance to do the quiz this week.

Left Archive: Gralton excerpt – The Party’s Over, Socialist Labour Party, August/September 1982 August 28, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Uncategorized.
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GRAL1003

Another excerpt from Gralton (and many thanks to the person who is forwarding full copies of same for the Archive). This time an article from Dermot Boucher, of the National Executive of the SLP on the demise of that party.

Full article available here: GRALTON SLP2

The article is useful, being written at a time of economic turmoil, but this final paragraph from it is of particular interest:

Significantly, it now seems likely that few ex-SLP members will seek to join another political party, preferring to join the growing ranks of the organisationally unattached. This will reinforce that phenomenon of recent years whereby activists prefer to involve themselves in single issues campaigns and ad hoc organisations, rather than submit to the tedium and discipline of a political party. Given the continuing failure of the Irish Left to create any sort of credible political alternative is it any wonder that eh working class prefers to place its trust in parties of the Right, even at a time of economic crisis and deepening recession.

Hahahahh… August 28, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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…sorry, got to wipe the tears (of laughter) from my eyes reading this , from the UK.

“A hand grenade has been thrown into David Cameron’s general election campaign after the Eurosceptic Tory MP Douglas Carswell defected to Ukip, triggering an immediate byelection.”

And then I read the latest polls on this this
Sure, the British Labour Party aren’t much cop, but it’s never a bad day when the Tories get a knock.

By the by, isn’t it all very reminiscent of the mid-1990s in Tory politics. Happy days…

Risk and mortgages… August 28, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy.
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Useful piece by Mary Feely in the Irish Times which asks:

So why, after the worst property bust in history, haven’t I seen any public-interest ads on telly warning people of the risks of buying a home, and especially the risks of borrowing money to do so?
Maybe the powers-that-be assume the risks are obvious. For years it’s been impossible to switch on talk radio without hearing miserable unfortunates say they had no notion their lender was unregulated / didn’t know they’d still owe money even after they relinquished their over-mortgaged house / are gobsmacked their lender could veto a deal to sell their property at a loss.

I think that raises a very sensible point. That the sheer risk involved in mortgages, which after all are nothing more than extravagantly sized loans, and the manner in which they are contingent on incomes remaining extant, is something that is hugely under considered. It wasn’t even a factor in the coverage of the last housing boom, and now that we appear to be well within a sort of housing boom redux it is again unremarked, for the most part.

And Feely continues:

As my teachers used to tell me in secondary school, to assume makes an ass out of “u” and “me”. Given that our entire economy collapsed after a binge of, ahem, ill-advised property loans, it’s in the nation’s interest to make sure the next generation of borrowers is informed and rational – as supposed by free-market economic theory. And especially as the property market, having mouldered for several years in an unmarked grave, may be reviving.

The problem is that this ‘free-market’ doesn’t at all come close to addressing the risk issue. The respective balance of risk is distorted. The necessary information isn’t available. The concept of an ‘informed and rational’ decision in the context of media, industry and yes, political, enthusiasm for a housing ‘market’ is well-nigh impossible.

She continues:

Start by defining a safe level of borrowing, as a percentage of household income (not the maximum amount, the SAFE amount). Go on to explain who your jovial local auctioneer represents (clue: not the buyer). Give tips on how to test whether a price is fair. For example, dividing the purchase price by the potential annual rent will give a price-to-earnings ratio, a valuation technique used in other financial markets.

I don’t disagree, but there’s one thought that I can’t avoid. Some years back I had to get a loan for something house related. it wasn’t a stratospheric sum, but neither was it chump change, though my definition of the latter is probably very small amounts of money indeed. I remember going through the finances and talking to the loan provider and they said, quite bluntly, when I asked about risk that of course there was a risk and there was no way to insure against it (figuratively speaking). I could lose a job, I could have a massive financial blow of one sort of another, and so on. However cautious I was (and having grown into adulthood in the 1980s I’m cautious) that was the simple reality. Sure, I could sustain that in 2011, but 2012, 20015, 2020? In this system there’s always risk, and again we know who, for the most part has to bear that risk.

Latest edition of An Phoblacht out on Friday August 28, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics, The Left, Uncategorized.
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