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Losing October 28, 2014

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

I was talking to a friend recently who had seen firsthand the Greyhound dispute. The observation was made that those working for the company tended to have little or no familiarity of the very concept of scabbing. To them the protests were simply obstructing their work for which they were paid. And far from the stuff put about that these were non-nationals, overwhelmingly they were Irish.

And that got me thinking, because in the 1990s, which is beginning to feel like a very very long time ago now, I worked for a group of companies, one of which had a foot in basic manufacturing of electrical goods. And what was striking was firstly that those in that particular company were some of the vanishingly few of us who were members of unions and secondly how seriously this was taken by the companies involved. Unlike the rest of us they got wage increases in tandem with those agreed nationally and had slightly better working conditions.

Now, as an aside, one could consider for quite a while the lessons of that and just why was it that their approach wasn’t emulated more widely by workers in the companies. But that’s a different issue, in a way.

The other point was that everyone was aware of the implications of strikes and pickets and what would happen if those in the manufacturing side were at the main gate and there was no appetite to pass pickets whatsoever. And, despite the essentially depoliticised attitude of most workers in the place, that was a given. And I’d suspect that passing pickets, let alone accepting scab workers, was something that many would think twice about, let alone actually do.

I was wondering whether twenty odd years later things might be different, because of that anecdote from Greyhound. Has that broad, almost sympathy, dissipated in the past decade or so?

But it also strikes me that this is, in part, a result of the bizarre lack of interest on the part of the unions in the 1990s and on into the 2000s in extending further into the private sector and seeming to default to seeing the public sector as their primary focus. It’s important, of course, to note the exceptions to that, both in terms of unions that didn’t do that and individuals within unions that did who went above and beyond the call of duty. But I think I am describing a real dynamic. And this was linked into ‘partnership’ and approaches to taxation, unionisation of multinationals and so forth where once more the unions were found seriously wanting.

What do others think?

Martyn Ware’s list of favourite electronica October 26, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
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…this is intriguing. From Martyn Ware of the Human League and Heaven 17. Some great stuff in the list on this website here.

And here’s one of many of Heaven 17’s fine moments…vocalist Carol Kenyon a key part of the overall song, she had worked with Pink Floyd amongst others.

Just on Martyn Ware, someone mean-spirited has been at his wiki page. Check out the Personal Life stuff.
Worth noting how excoriating Heaven 17’s output was of consumerism and business.

Underworld October 25, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
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Good interview in the Guardian recently with Underworld, featured in TWIMBLT, some time back. No mention, really, of Darren Emerson – tut tut… who also featured in a TWIMBLT, a while ago. Some of us will be heartened to read this about their influences:

The rave scene was the perfect home, too. It reminded them of older music they loved (Kraftwerk, Steve Reich, Hawkwind, Tangerine Dream), favoured anonymity and allowed them to roadtest material, via Emerson’s DJ sets, without having to negotiate with record labels.

Good for them. Or to put it another way, always good to see one’s own likes legitimised by others!

Still, for real entertainment check out some of the comments, not least if you search for ‘craighm’ . Ah, that attitude brings back the memories. Though there’s a kernel of truth in there, as regards how diverse the music scene was (and I’m no great fan of Born Slippy), but still a pretty good to great group when on form.

It’s kind of cool to see that… October 25, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
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…the Babylon 5 Lurkers guide continues to exist online, after many many years. You’ll find it here. I particularly like it’s none-more-1990s design. But why wouldn’t it be, having started all the way back in 1993 on Usenet – more on the overall history of the site can be found here.

Sadly there’s little prospect of more television from that quarter – remake anyone? The way it faded out, particularly with the depressingly inept Crusade and the curious Legends of the Rangers, not to mention the ‘Lost Tales’ which were… well, lost, is a great pity. That said it can’t take away from the achievement that was B5.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… The High Llama’s – Gideon Gaye October 25, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Six or seven years of This Weekends and there’s still so many groups that haven’t been covered. Here’s an album I’ve long meant to discuss, The High Llama’s – that being Sean O’Hagan formerly of Microdisney with a group of friends, and their album Gideon Gaye from 1994. Emerging from the – at this remove – slow demise of Microdisney, a group who have been dealt with previously in this spot, O’Hagan took quite a while to get going (there was a solo album credited to O’Hagan which is now regarded as their first on e released in 1990 which would make Gideon Gaye their third release, though that seems like retrofitting) in contrast to his former Microdisney comrade Cathal Coughlan who had the Fatima Mansions seemingly ready to roll almost immediately.

And that contrast between them is only heightened by the different natures of their solo enterprises. Where Coughlan is all sturm und drang, nodding to punk, hardcore, and whatever in his bid to weld together a genuinely ferocious vehicle with which to express his worldview that of O’Hagan is almost the polar opposite, melodic, soft, an overt hommage to the Beach Boys of the Smile era.

If the intention is to offer us a sunny world where textures are as important, no, more important than melodies – for there’s little question but there’s an ambient drift here, it works perfectly. Checking In, Checking Out is west coast personified, but it’s better, shorn of all nonsense that accompanied that genre (and to my ears there’s an oddly krautrock inflection to the piano as it chugs past – and that makes sense given his work with and almost de facto membership of Stereolab during this period). Sure, it’s no stranger to the baroque, Track Goes By lavishes the listener with a not-entirely necessary, but far from unwelcome, ten minutes. The Goat Looks on is all lavish swoops and dips.

And yet, and yet.

Is that a hint of the Seeds “Up In Her Room” in the background of Giddy and Gay? And isn’t there something, well, just a little demented in those sweeping strings? Where exactly is O’Hagan taking the listener?

The effect can be both smooth and oddly claustrophobic – this is a seamless vision of the world and like all such personal visions it can exclude more than it intends to keep in.

And what of the lyrics? Is Checking In, Checking Out seems to be a reflection on LA…

if funny looks don’t get you down,
you could get on in this town.
the drivers crawl along the curb.
the thought of walking’s quite absurd,

But is it partly autobiographical? And what of this from Track Goes By?

now country music at this time of day
can make the future seem so far away.
though the trade was slow, the cabby knew more
than he let her know.

Granted, O’Hagan’s voice is an acquired taste. I like it but I’d be the first to admit that it can be a little weak. But the compositions are artfully crafted to conceal that for the most part – and the fact that vocals are few and far between with instrumentals predominating doesn’t hurt.

It’s worth saying that none of this is a huge step away from Microdisney. I always admired – actually, perhaps loved isn’t too strong a word – the way in which the anger of Coughlan’s vision was set against the Steely Dan/countryish inflected melodicism of O’Hagan’s guitars. The thing is that O’Hagan brought a punk/new wave economy that in its own way was as subversive of the music as was the vocal and lyrical content:

This from, Goodbye, It’s 1987 is a perfect example of same with it’s musical arrangement.

The High Llama’s next album, Hawaii is pretty damned impressive too, they toured as Arthur Lee’s backing band for some of the 1990s and they’re still going, last album released just three years ago. I like that.

Up in the Hills

Checking In, Checking Out

The Goat Looks On

The Goat Strings

Track Goes By

Green Day October 24, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, The Left.
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From the Progressive Film Club…

A reminder about this weekend’s screening, which is devoted to environmental issues.

Where : The New Theatre, 43 East Essex St., Temple Bar, Dublin 2.
When : Sat. 25th October 2014
Time : 15.00hrs

(A) 3pm – The Last Ice Merchant – 15mins

Ecuador is small in size yet rich in geographic diversity. The land ranges from the towering, snow-capped Andes to the lush, coastal lowlands, the Amazon jungle and the Galapagos Islands. Chimborazo, with an elevation of 20,700 feet above sea level, is the tallest mountain in Ecuador and the closest point on Earth to the sun due to its proximity to the equator. The summit is covered with snow-capped glaciers.
Twice a week for over half a century, Baltazar Ushca has hiked up the slopes of Mount Chimborazo, the tallest mountain in Ecuador, to harvest glacial ice that covers the highest altitudes of this dormant volcano. In the past, up to forty ice merchants made the journey up the mountain to mine the ice; today, however, Baltazar works alone. Even his brothers, Gregorio and Juan, both raised as ice merchants, have retired from the mountain to find more steady work.
The Last Ice Merchant tells a story of cultural change and indigenous lifestyle through the perspectives of three brothers who have dealt with change in different ways.

(B) 3.30pm – Th Wisdom to Survive – 60mins

Climate Change, Capitalism & Community

THE WISDOM TO SURVIVE accepts the consensus of scientists that climate change has already arrived, and asks, what is keeping us from action? The film explores how unlimited growth and greed are destroying the life support system of the planet, the social fabric of the society, and the lives of billions of people.
The film examines the challenges that climate change poses and discusses meaningful action that can be taken by individuals and communities.
Will we have the wisdom to survive? The film features leaders and activists in the realms of science, economics and spirituality discussing how we can evolve and take action in the face of climate disruption.
Directed by John Ankele & Anne Macksoud
Videography: Michael Sacca
Music: Eugene Friesen – Cello
A film by Old Dog Documentaries

Robert Navan,
Progressive Film Club


Phone: 087 6257521

It’s all a game – eh? October 24, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.

Anyone following tech and gaming in recent times will have, I guess, been at least half aware of the gamergate fiasco.

If you can be bothered to delve into this, and perhaps you should, if only because of the disconnect between the supposed rhetoric of some gamers and the death threats directed to women like Brianna Wu, Anita Sarkeesian, Leigh Alexander and Zoe Quinn amongst others – threats so serious that they have had to leave their homes and/or had their life turned upside down in various other ways, or because Intel pulled advertising from certain sites due to pressure from ‘gamers’ or because it exposes a serious fault line over gender and race and what some term – pejoratively – “social justice” issues, then here’s a bunch of links…

Wiki on the overall issue, the nytimes on intel pulling ads, some useful information on who plays what sort of games - hallo Halo and COD fans, upwards of 25% of you are women, neatly skewering the idea that women only play mobile or non FPS style games, here’s something on harassment and threats and the law in the UK, here’s something on how Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel a speech in Utah due to threats, here’s something from well back earlier in the Summer relating to some factual information that’s useful – as well as a truck load of examples of people not understand the actual meaning of conflict of interest and finally here’s a more recent piece from the Verge (who have taken a progressive, or if you prefer a simply civilised and egalitarian attitude on the whole thing) on where things stand at the moment – featuring not least a late arrival to the issue – why yes, one J. Assange.

Does any of this matter? I think it does when women (or men) receive death threats and are forced out of their homes (and perhaps also on foot of the fact they are raising progressive issues). This is an oddly contradictory, sometimes progressive, sometimes reactionary cultural moment, and that mixture is perhaps precisely because the culture is changing rapidly. We see various toxic manifestations of same, and while some of those are peripheral it’s useful to track them and to consider how they represent deeper dynamics within our societies.

Title Night October 24, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Culture.

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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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.


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