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Left Archive: Comment, British and Irish Communist Organisation, Vol 2, No.3, 22 June 1973. April 24, 2017

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To download the above please click on the following link. BICO COMMEnt

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

This edition of Comment from BICO is a short six pages long. It carries an attack on the National Wage Agreement. Also mentioned and criticised is a piece from the Irish People of Official Sinn Féin which attacked Conor Cruise O’Brien for suggesting that the state might beam British television stations into the Republic. Another piece engages with social class and illiteracy.

Meanwhile… in France April 23, 2017

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From RTÉ...

French centrist Emmanuel Macron has come out on top in the first round of France’s presidential election with far right leader Marine Le Pen in second place, which means both have qualified for the 7 May runoff vote, pollsters projections from partial results showed.

Mr Macron won 23.7% of the vote and Le Pen 21.7%, an Ipsos/Sopra Steria estimate showed.

Mr Macron got 23% of the vote and Le Pen got 22% in an estimate from Harris Interactive.

Will this shake matters up? April 23, 2017

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The vote today on abortion legislation reform… from the Citizen’s Assembly the final determination of their deliberations:

The Citizens’ Assembly has voted to recommend an extensive liberalisation of the grounds on which abortion is available in Ireland.

In all, the Assembly approved 13 grounds for legal terminations in the event of the electorate supporting its recommendation that the current Constitutional restrictions on abortion should be replaced in a referendum.

The Assembly voted to recommend that terminations of pregnancy should be available in Ireland with “no restriction as to reasons” by a margin of 64% to 36%.

I wonder was that the expected outcome when the idea was first floated?

Bernadette McAliskey – Gernika 80 – Then & Now: Special commemorative magazine launch April 23, 2017

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Special commemorative magazine which was launched on Friday 21st April in Wynn’s Hotel, Abbey Street, Dublin, by Bernadette McAliskey. Gernika 80 – Then & Now: the 80th anniversary of the Fascist bombing, on April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War.The Basque town Gernika was razed to the ground by Fascist aircraft.
via The Irish Republican Marxist History Project

J.J. Smyths to close this evening… April 23, 2017

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Always sorry to see a venue close its doors…

J.J. Smyths, Ireland’s oldest blues/jazz venue, will host its last ever gig this Sunday after thirty years as a home from home for some of the country’s best jazz and blues musicians.

The intimate Aungier Street room was a spiritual home for the likes of late jazz guitarist Louis Stewart, Noel Kelehan’s Ozone quintet, Nigel Mooney, Richie Buckley, and acclaimed Steely Dan tribute act Aja.

But I have to be honest. I have never once darkened its door… I can’t believe no one I liked never played there. There’s mention of Steely Dan tribute act, Aja, in the piece. Always loved SD, so I’m wondering what are they like, has anyone seen and heard them?

Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week April 23, 2017

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Some regulars are missing today so not as much to consider as normal, but at least one old hand delivers.

Ruth Dudley Edwards has a piece on how Scottish and Irish nationalists need to grow up when it comes to Brexit. Strangely, no mention of English nationalism.

There’s genuine concern in Westminster about the effect of Brexit on Ireland, north and south, and a strong desire to make the effects as painless as possible.

All that evidence to the contrary is clearly wrong.

Another UK Poll April 23, 2017

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This one from Observer/Opinium…

The survey by Opinium for the Observer, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, puts the Tories on 45% (up seven points compared with the previous week), while Labour is down three points on 26%.

And:

The poll also shows support growing for the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, who are up four points on 11%, and a dramatic fall in backing for Ukip, which is down five points to 9%, from 14% the week before. Backing for the Lib Dems suggests that the party’s clear anti-Brexit strategy is appealing to hardcore Remain voters.

It will be interesting to see if the UKIP poll figures do weaken substantially. Given the dominance of the Tories and a Tory-led Brexit one has to wonder what precisely is the point of a one-note right of right party like UKIP.

Babylon 5 redux April 22, 2017

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Mentioned Babylon 5 last week, and here’s the wikia, and quite comprehensive it is too. I’m always amazed by fandom and how it manages to persist. But what of B5? There’s some – frankly – fairly cheesy CGI (good in its day, no mistake but twenty odd years later showing its age).

Oddly, and rather cleverly, the live action scenes were shot in widescreen which makes it an oddly enjoyable viewing experience, whereas the effects were all shot in 4:3 if I recall correctly and are very obviously pixellated. Given how difficult it has been to get some Star Trek series with updated CGI and it’s not hugely necessary (sure, I like The Original Series with fancy planet shapes but there was something charming about the original matte paintings etc – and yeah, the Blu-Ray’s have old and new on the same discs but that’s an expense too far), I’m almost certain B5 won’t be updated.

The Citizens’ Assembly speaks April 22, 2017

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From the IT… interesting news that must have significant political implications down the lin

The Citizens’ Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to amend the Constitutional provision on abortion.

And…

The first ballot had two options: that “Article 40.3.3 should be retained in full”, or that “Article 40.3.3 should not be retained in full”.

Of 91 eligible voters, just 12 voted for the first proposition (13 per cent), while 79 voted in favour of the second (87 per cent).

Speaking of the Lord of the Rings yet again… April 22, 2017

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As we did last week and the week before. When I was a kid I read the LOTR very young, probably around the age of ten, and for a couple of years it was something I’d haul around with me and reread again and again. And then. I stopped and didn’t pick it up for decades, not until the films came out. At which point I wasn’t able to read it.

More recently I’ve started back in again and I’m struck by how cosy it is – and how near forensic its detailing of Middle-Earth. I kind of like the way it lopes along, over hill and dale as it were, with, quite literally many a twist and turn in the landscape described. Indeed the thought strikes that it would be feasible to provide a sort of visual journey depicting that. An enormous project.

Cosy, as I mentioned above, and chock full of songs and poems and so on. I’m fascinated in a way as to what Tolkien thought of what he was doing – not in the sense of what his intent was, but whether he thought it was ‘serious’. Because it is difficult to read it and not be hugely impressed by the detail of place and language and history and mythos. And it is impossible not to feel that this fantasy was indeed serious.

But then, in another sense, how is that different to any fiction? These are, after all, all creations – perhaps even lies in the sense that they are not fact or truth or history. Tolkien went further, much further, than most others in filling in the backstory.

For me the way my own feelings about it have changed over the years is somewhat intriguing. They have moved from absolute love to something close to indifference (music and politics and so on took over my adolescent years and after) and back slowly to a sort of fondness.

It’s intriguing too how those other factors inflect my reading (and viewing) of it. For example, and I know this probably sounds like no fun, viewing Rohan last weekend on DVD the question struck me how the hell does its economy work? Or Bree and the Shire? How do the different races function in relation to one another. Bree is human, the Shire hobbit. But the distribution of humans throughout that area seems remarkably sparse given our own experience of same. And again the economy of Bree is somewhat mystifying, though the Shire less so. The levels of technology are pretty disparate, the Shire is 18th century, or thereabouts, those of Rohan near medieval. Gondor perhaps a little more advanced. Mordor is more mechanised but whether a largely troll-driven technology counts is a different matter.

And what of the court of the King in Rohan? Were there no checks and balances to prevent him being upstaged? Or the Stewart of Gondor. Not a King but with a seemingly hereditary system of rule. How did that work? On the other hand perhaps one should be grateful to Tolkien for offering us a rather more sceptical view of hereditary rulers than traditional myth – human frailty and weakness is never more than a chapter or two away. But then for Tolkien all is decline – and humans are thin material to build upon. Rohan may be led by a ‘noble’ King but he’s pretty damned flawed too. It’s difficult to feel any comfort in the reign of Kings. And perhaps that is how it should be.

Then there’s the dearth of women. Famously the film had to blur out Glorfindel and introduce Arwen on the way to Rivendell, in order to introduce a prominent female character. But the books? You’ll be looking quite some time. And not finding. I’m admiring of the treatment of Eowyn which at least attempts to address the issue more or less head one – that being why are women not more prominent, and her role right up to the end is significant. But is Tolkien addressing a ‘reality’ consistent with the mythos he is building or is he ignoring potential means of introducing or giving a higher profile to female characters?

And speaking of reality – how does magic work in relation to the fabric of the universe. There’s Gandalf and the Balrog falling through a fissure in the Earth. Do plate tectonics function? If so how do other ‘powers’ impinge on them?

Yeah. I’ll back away from the book real slow…

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