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Title Night October 24, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Culture.
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Tonight I’ll be up in Tallaght for Rovers last game of the season against Limerick…. There is a far far big clash this evening in Oriel Park as Dundalk host Cork City in the title decider. Dundalk need a win , Cork a draw or better. It’s a hard one to call but despite Dundalk having home advantage , which doesn’t just mean a huge home support but that awful plastic pitch too, I think it will be Cork City that lift the trophy. Pressure in a title run in does funny things to teams and fans.
Last week in Bray in woeful conditions Dundalk couldn’t get their passing game going at all. There has been a title build up in Dundalk for a while and I gather the Town is more than excited about it.
Still Hows this for pressure … from The Dundalk Democrat

No disrespect to Cork City, but, if Dundalk FC are not crowned 2014 SSE Airtricity League winners at 9.45pm this Friday evening it’ll be one of the biggest travesties to have befallen Irish football in decades.

Whether or not they deserve to be champions is, in essence, yet to be decided. Cork City are a very good side in their own right and, just like Dundalk last season, they have hung in there right to the end but, make no mistake about it, Stephen Kenny’s men are the best team in the league and are, arguably, one of the best sides the domestic scene has ever produced.

Cork are a canny side. Colin Healy is still class, Dan Murray can marshall a defence with the best of them, Billy Dennehy is back to his best, Gearoid Morrissey is excellent and they are a very good team. I think they will have enough… we’ll know later tonight.

I’ve been to a couple of title deciders and the night Rovers won the title out in Bray was probably the most nerve wracking night of my life. Tonight though is even bigger as its the two teams playing for the title.
Any views as to who will win or indeed any good title winning or losing memories

Mark Bell of LFO October 19, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
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Lfo_frequencies

Mark Bell of LFO died earlier this month. LFO was – to put it simply – a great group and Bell’s contribution to the duo ( Gez Varley being the other half ) fundamental. Acid house, techno, a nod to ambient, IDM or proto-IDM and there they were. And those LFO albums still get a regular airing in this neck of the woods. I also find the cover of the debut album, Frequencies, amazingly evocative, it was on Warp and had that those large sans serif initials with a stylised figure set against them. But listen to Nurture which surely was the track that helped launched a thousand IDM tracks subsequently all. Bell went on to produce a broad range of people, and LFO themselves produced a second album as a duo and then with Bell as the sole member remaining released another well received one in the early 2000s.

Here’s the eponymous classic from them, all the way from 1990/1991.

And here’s Nurture:

And to round it off… Freak from much much later…which filled many a dance floor in its time.

He’ll be missed.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… The Men They Couldn’t Hang October 18, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Its funny how you find bands that you presumed were long broken up are still on the go. The Men They Couldn’t Hang are one such band. I had a copy of their album “How Green is the Valley” many moons ago and played it to death. Their folk punk is more often than not about the lyrics as opposed to the actual music. Similar in a way to a lot of Billy Bragg material.
Included here are “The Ghosts of Cable Street” about the riots in Cable Street stopping Mosleys Blackshirts from entering London’s East End.  “Ironmasters” about The Industrial Revolution and the Miners Strike. They show how music can be an education , and with The Men They Couldn’t Hang  an education in Political and Social History.
From their Facebook I gather that they are currently recording an album of covers. …….. and it was a cover of Eric Bogles “The Green Fields of France” that was their first single. I still prefer the Fureys version of that though.

Amazon – the global digital East India company. October 17, 2014

Posted by guestposter in Culture, Economy, European Politics, The Left.
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Many thanks to Gewerkschaftler for this post…

My trades union is engaged in a long term fight against Amazon for half-way tolerable pay and working conditions in its distribution centres in Germany. Basic stuff like trades union representation or even a works council, reasonable breaks, being paid for the time spent while standing in line for security checks. Compliance with local labour law. Some degree of respect for workers from the management. etc.

We are trying to extend this fight internationally and have had some initial success.

But it would help all those who are not uncritical admirers of totalitarian hyper-capitalism knew a thing or two about Amazon’s business strategy and role in the great cancer. Mathew Stoller’s piece here has a good brief survey of just how and why this electronic trading monopolist has become so powerful.

Firstly this isn’t an electronic retailer any more. Bezos’ ambitions are much wider – he is constructing a monopolist trading empire – something like a global East India Company. Amazon itself says that it competes in the following sectors:

physical-world retailers, publishers, vendors, distributors, manufacturers, and producers of our products, other online e-commerce and mobile e-commerce sites, including sites that sell or distribute digital content, media companies, web portals, comparison shopping websites, and web search engines, either directly or in collaboration with other retailers, companies that provide e-commerce services, including website development, fulfillment, customer service, and payment processing, companies that provide information storage or computing services or products, including infrastructure and other web services, companies that design, manufacture, market, or sell consumer electronics, telecommunication, and electronic devices.

Amazon is hardly taxed because all it’s profits are plowed back into aggressive expansion and the accumulation of assets. In this sense it is doing what capitalist are supposed traditionally to do, namely invest – as opposed to the recently hegemonic financialisation of everything, everywhere, regardless of what the company actually sells.

Why does it dare to invest? Because Bezos is convinced of his monopoly power. Here are some of the monopolist strategies:

It is a capital-parasite – in other words uses the working capital of it’s ‘partners’. As the company puts it:

On average, our high inventory velocity means we generally collect from consumers before our payments to suppliers come due.

Or in plain English:

… if you are a supplier to Amazon, you not only sell the company goods at cut-rate prices, but you are also effectively required to make Amazon a 0% loan that turns over as long as you have a relationship with the company. Amazon is a cannibal, running itself on the working capital of other, small companies.

Amazon’s strategy of vertical and horizontal conglomeration and the power it brings is a negative sum game in terms of the surrounding capitalist networks of production and exchange.

It’s quite clear that Amazon is a deflationary force, pushing down wages, prices, tax revenues, and new non-Amazon business activity. It has deflated prices in book publishing, and retailers across the board are terrified that Amazon is in the process of ripping their guts out. The company is having a ripple effect across the economy. To the extent that deflation is a serious problem, which it is, Amazon is a villain. And this isn’t just ‘technological process’, it’s straight up market power over workers, suppliers, and even governments.

Even the benefits to consumers are balanced by a quasi-feudal, company-store relationship between them and the big A.

The one group that is treated with exceptional grace is consumers. They get low prices and great service. But this relationship is increasingly feudal, with low prices and great service as the benefits I get for surrendering my liberties to Jeff Bezos. I may get excellent prices on my Kindle, but I am now a renter of those books. I can’t lend them to my girlfriend any more, unless Amazon says I can. Amazon can take them away at any point. It knows every page I’ve read, everything I’ve highlighted, it knows what I might want to buy. It knows what I’ve watched on Amazon prime, where I’ve lived, what I buy on a regular basis, whether I’m price sensitive, an impulsive buyer, what I might be selling. Amazon knows, and at any point can exert power.

Stoller’s ‘solutions’ are of the ‘regulate this un-American monopoly and it will be fine’ order. Allow me a certain skepticism, given the recent history of regulating capitalism. But he at least stumbles on the realisation that economics is always politics.

The problem with Amazon is not fundamentally one of economics. I mean, yes, it’s destroying wealth, but this is a symptom of the real issue. Amazon is a cannibal. It eats other companies in ways large and small, it eats the time of its workers, and it eats our government through tax avoidance, all to create a cash generating machine. It sucks in investment in as much of the economy to serve its ends, much as Walmart did in the 1990s (a substantial amount of American productivity basically boiled down to Walmart getting more efficient). Amazon is a tyrant, it rules through terror, and left unencumbered, it will destroy swaths of the U.S. economy. Arguments for Amazon as pro-consumer essentially boil down to ‘well its use of economic terror is efficient’. And the British East India Trading company sold really cheap tea in 1775.

All Bezos needs now is a armed partner. But wait – isn’t Bezos a big drone-fetishist, like many of his techno-optimist peers?

Resistance is hard, but essential.

Same-sex marriage poll… October 12, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics, The Left.
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…in the IT suggests ‘support holding steady’ since the spring.

Asked how they will vote in the planned referendum on the issue next year, 67 per cent they would vote in favour, 20 per cent said No, with 9 per cent having no opinion and 3 per cent refusing to respond.

When undecided voters, or those who refused to respond, are excluded from the poll, the Yes figure rises to 77 per cent with 23 per cent on the No side. That is a marginal change since April when the figure was 76 per cent to 24 per cent, but it is considerably stronger than November, 2012, when it was 64 per cent Yes and 36 per cent No.

And broadly speaking the left/center-left are in favour while the right… less so.

Supporters of Sinn Féin, Independents/others and the Labour Party are almost equally strong in their support for same sex marriage, but Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil supporters are significantly less enthusiastic.

“We’ll be listening to you. ” – The Conversation, 1974 October 11, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
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Just saw this, and I think it’s a fine fine film. Directed by Francis Coppola and starring that standby of 1970s cinema, Gene Hackman, with additional performances by Teri Garr, John Cazale and a youthful Harrison Ford, it’s a brilliant exploration of paranoia and human inquisitiveness – that need to know more and more and…until it all falls apart. Hackman’s surveillance specialist in well over his head is adeptly played, and there are all the small touches, the conference on surveillance, the party at his ‘office’, the detached atmosphere, where Hackman remains the focus but is almost entirely alienated from the world around him. It really is as if there was a window that opened up in the late 1960s and snapped shut around 1976 or 1977 where US cinema shone. But above and beyond all that what strikes me is that this was a time when the thriller form, whether noir-like, political, social or whatever, was more or less as good as it got.

Here’s the trailer…

And here’s the opening scene which is close enough a masterpiece in its own right.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… A selection of tracks… October 11, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Arnaud Robotini The First Thirteen Minutes of Love

Been meaning to post this up for quite a while but never got the chance, this is from the last couple of years or so and his excellent Someone Gave Me Religion LP. Robotini is perhaps more famous for Black Strobe.

Aphex Twin XMAS_EVET10 [120][thanaton3 mix] (live version)

A very listenable album that doesn’t try to obscure its roots. Early Aphex Twin soundscapes? Check. Added percussion from later Aphex Twin. Check. More than a hint of Black Dog. Check. The piano like keyboard on this, all smeared slightly detuned sounds, is what makes this track for me. Almost none more 1995.

Comsat AngelsIndependence Day

There are two version of this, one on their first album form 1980, and then one on their later, more commercial (for which some will read ‘sell-out’) album, Land from 1983 or so. I’m a bad bad person, I know, for preferring the later one. But that said, the album from which it is drawn (and the next one after that) is unbelievable, and not really in a good way, to those of us who cherish Sleep No More or whatever. Clearly someone in the Angels camp put out the welcome mat to pop, and in some ways the most hackneyed pop at that (the Psychedelic Furs took a not dissimilar journey but did it better in my opinion). Pop took one look and ran as far and as fast as it could, result being no success and abandonment by their label some years later. They reformed subsequently and returned to their more usual approach. Which was a better plan.

Harvey Bainbridge Voyager 1 (The Voyage)

At one point a mainstay of Hawkwind, in 1993 Mr. Bainbridge released the most curious Interstellar Chaos album, which consisted entirely of instrumentals. Though instrumentals for the most part lacking percussion, or melody, or… er… anything much else except for synthesised swooshings and odd found sounds, so much so that it’s been described as being almost freeform jazz like. But that was okay, in fact that was better than alright, because it was space themed, something I think about a space freighter seeing the sights of the galaxy, and it sounded like nothing else I’ve ever heard. Too loud for most ambient at the time, too fragmented for anything else. I found it catalogued under the IDM label in Comet or somewhere like that a year or two later – which in retrospect seems optimistic.

If I say this is the most…erm… melodic track, you’ll get the idea.

Spratley Japs Sparrows

Another Cardiacs side project, spin-off, whatever, with a somewhat softer neo-psychedelic approach musically. Somewhat. Joanne Spratley’s occasional vocals, as on this track are great. I’d strongly recommend the track Vine as well.

Wizards of Firetop Mountain Sonic War

An Irish band, no less. Stoner/metal. I cannot but love a group that on their band camp page have the following ‘Wizards go forth with stone and weed To conduct sorcery and onerous deeds With heavy riff we will give birth To rock and roll and hell on earth…’ . Of course they do.

Spirit Caravan Dreamwheel

And here’s US outfit Spirit Caravan ploughing that metal, Sabbath, stoner furrow, to good effect.


Hawkwind
Sonic Attack feat Brian Blessed

And here’s an oddity from Hawkwind. One cannot but feel that it reflects certain – ahem – tensions in the Hawkwind camp in that it is a reworking of the old Michael Moorcock led track from the 1970s. It ain’t better than the original, that’s for sure, even if Blessed does his thing.

Tangerine Dream Midnight in Tula

There was a time when Tangerine Dream’s name was mud, but I suspect that was due to the fact that most people had only heard their soundtracks, rather than some of the genuinely avant-garde early stuff and Berlin School/krautrock output. That said it’s a mixed bag, genuinely good stuff cheek by jowl with some… er… not so good stuff. This is kind of fascinating. As if Gary Numan was asked to score Miami Vice. Or DAF were forced to go commercial.

The Physics House Band Obeliskmonolith

If you like prog and krautrock, chances are you’ll like The Physics House Band. A lot.

Protomartyr Scum, Rise!

I’m always entertained by the way in which every seven or eight years groups appear whose sound is a little bit post-punk, a little bit goth, and immediately they are heralded, usually in the US, as treading in Joy Division’s footsteps. Yes, once you Interpol were the future. Though they had also been listening to a hefty dose of Chameleons in their spare time too. Here’s Protomartyr whose output does indeed include on occasion staccato JD guitars and doomy vocals and so on, but in a weird way it reminds me more of a cross between the Teardrop Explodes and the actually pretty good Girls Vs Boys. Oh yeah, and Interpol too.

Concrete Blonde Bloodletting

Seeing as goth was mentioned, granted indirectly, and Joy Division were never goth, this is a catchy little song from CB from many many years ago. Never warmed to them, so to speak, but kind of like the track.

Pale Sketcher Wash It All Away? Remix.

Mentioned Resonanz Therapie Musik before and this comes from a while before that, a remix version…

Katmandu I Can Make the Future

An Irish band from the early 1980s, as a kid I loved this, the synth in this track burned its way indelibly into my mind. In retrospect it’s obvious someone was listening to a lot of John Foxx, Ultravox, Roxy, Bowie etc. Almost needless to say it took until the internet until there was a sniff at getting hold of the track. I still think it holds up pretty well, albeit the sound is broadly speaking unlike most of everything else they did.


Hammock
No Agenda feat Steve KIlbey

The indefatigable Mr. Kilbey is roped in to make up numbers on vocals for shoe-gaze outfit Hammock.

Niagara Currybox

This is kind of cool, from earlier in the year.

Clap!Clap! Elon Mentana feat. DJ Khalab (Black Acre)

And this is kind of cool too.

Mirror Lakes Gold in April

From another indefatigable character in reasonably contemporary music, Knut Schreiner of Turbonegro, and Euroboys, and well, other groups… this is Mirror Lakes, which perfectly recreates a sort of breathless 1970s west coast rock sound.

And finishing up with Robyn Hitchcock and given something appearing a little later, a version of his track, Gene Hackman.

They’ve obviously never been to Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day October 7, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, US Politics.
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Thanks, I think, to the person who sent the link to this petition… a US crew bemoaning what they see as: the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City will have homosexual activists marching under their own banner promoting the acceptance of homosexual sin.

And the outfit behind it are:

TFP Student Action is a project of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. Founded in 1973, the American TFP was formed to resist, in the realm of ideas, the liberal, socialist and communist trends of the times and proudly affirm the positive values of tradition, family and private property. The American TFP was inspired by the work of the Brazilian intellectual and man of action Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira.

Telling to find in amongst the homophobia exhortations against socialism and communism, evolution… you name it…

Disobedient Objects V&A July 2014-February 2015 October 4, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, The Left.
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mask-stack-290

Can’t recommend this highly enough, the Disobedient Objects exhibition at the V&A. As it says on the website:

Disobedient Objects is an exhibition about the art and design produced by grassroots social movements. It will show exhibits loaned from activist groups from all over the world, bringing together for the first time many objects rarely before seen in a museum.

And:

From a Suffragette tea service to protest robots, this exhibition is the first to examine the powerful role of objects in movements for social change. It demonstrates how political activism drives a wealth of design ingenuity and collective creativity that defy standard definitions of art and design. Disobedient Objects focuses on the period from the late 1970s to now, a time that has brought new technologies and political challenges. On display are arts of rebellion from around the world that illuminate the role of making in grassroots movements for social change: finely woven banners; defaced currency; changing designs for barricades and blockades; political video games; an inflatable general assembly to facilitate consensus decision-making; experimental activist-bicycles; and textiles bearing witness to political murders.

A very wide range of materials on display. LGBT stickers and information leaflets from the 70s on, materials from the Wapping strike, struggles globally… it’s all there. And while it could seem to be depoliticised by the context somehow it’s not.

There’s a remarkable display which charts the numbers of protests globally since the 1960s and which demonstrates that they have been steadily increasing since then with a near exponential growth in the past half decade.

It’s on until the end of the year. Well worth getting to if you’re in London.

“Nobody came… nobody cares. It’s still not about anything” – Hickey and Boggs, 1972 October 4, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
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Still ploughing through 1970s films, and here’s a real oddity, Robert Culp and Bill Cosby’s Hickey and Boggs from 1972. I saw this, or part of it, for the first time in the mid 1980s on television. The last forty minutes or so is what I caught, and it left an indelible impression, particularly the end. It’s dark, very very dark indeed – even in a decade that excelled at same in cinema, and stylised too – perhaps Walter Hill’s screenplay is a bit too detached, and for those who know Cosby from later roles he is a revelation. It’s unpleasant too, though there’s a sense that it very deliberately points to the misogyny and homophobia of the times. There’s a plot about leftists and hippies and criminal organisations, but that’s all so much fluff really because it’s a bitter little tale, summed up by the quote above from Cosby in the last minute or so of the film. To which the riposte from Culp is ‘Yeah, it’s about four hundred grand’. Culp was a very liberal democrat and I don’t think it’s at all far-fetched to see it as in part a meditation on society, class and race.

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