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While we’re talking about the galaxy… April 18, 2015

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…this is sort of cool. Murals depicting the galaxy that you can get for your room…

Joss Whedon… April 18, 2015

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is someone who appears to be a nice person and never more so than here where in the midst of making entirely salient points about genuine disagreements with Adam Baldwin in regards to Gamergate, anti-vax, et al he has some kind words to say about someone who he clearly likes a lot even if they have fundamental disagreements. I think he’s also right about the way social media operates in a reductionist way much of the time in how arguments are shaped by it. In passing he mentions the Hugo’s controversy, again, I’m getting a post on that together. Interesting comments BTL too in the piece.

From the centre of our galaxy April 18, 2015

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I find this piece by the ever excellent Phil Plait in Slate on what is thought to be a star that has successfully swung around the black hole at the centre of the galaxy to be remarkable. Remarkable not simply for the story but because we can see photographs of the centre of the galaxy. Isn’t that something?

Plait notes…

This image is amazing; it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. No joke: We are so good at what we do that we have built telescopes and detectors that can directly detect the motions of objects trillions of kilometers away! We can watch as another bizarre object is caught in the clutches of a black hole and forced into a tight orbit that takes it so close that it moves through space at a fraction of the speed of light itself.

This is what we do, we evolved apes. So many people poopoo science for so many reasons, sometimes claiming other or higher sovereignty. But when I think on things like this, what we see and what we do, I can only shake my head and smile ruefully.

He’s absolutely right. That this is possible is an achievement of incredible proportions.

An analysis of British politics… April 18, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.

…here on the LRB, James Meek visits Grimsby, once a Labour redoubt, held by Austin Mitchell for decades, now? Well, who knows… It’s an interesting mix of politics with some very contemporary resonances.

Just one thought that puzzles me, a lot of talk about how Britain should have stayed out of the EEC and how they could have retained a 200 mile fishing limit, but how would that work in relation to this state given the width of the Irish Sea alone is as little as a 100km?

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Peter Mulvey April 18, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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It was 15 or so years ago when I first saw Peter Mulvey, he was supporting Chris Smither in Whelans and staying for a few days on a friends floor. He was I think touring his album “The Trouble With Poets” and also had a live CD “Glencree” for sale at the gig too. They are both decent albums and have received plenty of play in my house over the years.
He had quite a distinctive style of guitar playing and a lovely husky voice…. like many artists he fell off my radar until I read that his latest album had been produced by Chuck Prophet (who had a spell in one of my favourite bands ‘Green on Red’). I had a listen and really liked it.

Student politics… April 17, 2015

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

Pat Rabbitte in the SBP has some thoughts on the upcoming referendums. He’s utterly dismissive of the one proposing the age of eligibility for contesting Presidential elections should be reduced to 21. I’m not that fussed either way about it, but I’m not sure Pat arguing from his own rather limited experience is the best argument agin:

It is a daft proposal. What kind of 21-year-old would want to become President? Apparently the answer is an exceptional and mature one. This is especially alarming because if there is anyone less suited for the Presidency than a 21-year-old, it is a 21-year-old who is going on 50.

I was a president once at 21. Fortunately the only citizens under my rule were students. They and I considered our main purpose to be to make as much mayhem as we could for the government of the day on issues like equality of opportunity in education and the price of coffee and strong drink on the campus. To have sent any of us to the venerable old house in the park would have been simply unthinkable. We would probably have made Paul Durcan Poet Laureate and encouraged him to engage in pursuits inside Áras an Uachtarán similar to those that preoccupied him with the judge’s daughter outside the gates.

I don’t know. I too was involved in elected student politics for a number of years in a not dissimilar role – I was a couple of years older than Rabbitte had been when he was involved but what struck me was that for the most part people involved took elected roles fairly seriously. Sure, it wasn’t navigating the Titanic away from the iceberg like stuff, there was no real danger involved, though – that said, I was involved in campaigns that drew extremely antagonistic responses from socially conservative quarters. But nor was it nothing.

And it’s curious in the extreme for Rabbitte who – arguably – gained a fair bit of political capital both within and outside organisations that he was a member of through his involvement in USI appear to throw all that under the bus.

Indeed being a generation younger than Rabbitte and also a member of the WP at the time I remember being both entertained in the mid to late 1980s to read as an SU member the typed reports from USI of the period when OSF/SFWP were at their height in that organisation, and also being a little bit envious given that I was the only person in SU politics, or at least in SU politics linked to USI, who was flying that flag during that later period. It was clear from those reports that there was no end of open conflict between various factions vying for supremacy. I’ll bet he took it pretty damn seriously then. Others did.

And while I’m as sceptical and/or cynical of student politics as most of us – it is too limited, too self-referential, for the most part too transitory a population of people, and found the focus of my political activity to be in the constituency/community then and after, it is pointless to argue that it had no scope for opportunity in communicating our (various) messages. My own belief is a party has to have roots outside academia, otherwise it will be too…well…limited… self-referential…etc, but that it is useful to have some roots everywhere.

More on the UK Election April 17, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’m really enjoying the UK General Election campaign – in a detached sort of a way – and it will be well worth focusing on those portions of it held on this island too. The atavistic anti-Tory in me trumps most considerations as regards the position of the Labour Party or whoever else. The Tories are the enemy. Everyone else? Differing levels of error. Speaking of those whose error is entirely egregious, consider the Liberal Democrats. For what strikes me is how it is offering us a forensic look at the nature of British politics, and both previous and contemporary contradictions. Because, for example, reading UK Polling Report’s latest piece, which considers polls held in the southwest

ComRes have published a new poll of voting intentions in LD-Con seats in the South West for ITV. Full details are here. The topline figures are CON 44%, LAB 13%, LDEM 26%, UKIP 10%. Given these are all seats that the Liberal Democrats won in 2010 this is a huge turnaround – in 2010 the Lib Dems had an overall lead of 8.5% over the Tories in these seats, now they are 18 points behind, a whopping great swing of 13 points. If there was a uniform swing of this scale across these seats the Lib Dems would lose the lot.


Depressing for the Lib Dems, but wholly at odds with previous polling evidence in these seats. Lord Ashcroft has polled Lib Dem held seats pretty comprehensively, so we actually have constituency polls in 12 of the 14 seats included in this sample, and they paint a very different picture. Compared to the 13 point LD>Con swing in the ComRes poll Lord Ashcroft found an average LD>Con swing of about 4 points.
The difference between these two sets of polling is much larger than can explained by margin of error – they paint a genuinely contradictory picture. If ComRes are right the Lib Dems have collapsed in their heartland and face wipeout, if Ashcroft are right they are holding up against the tide and should retain around half those seats.

Look at the usage of the term ‘heartland’. I recall that it wasn’t that long ago that in some ways the LD’s functioned as a proxy local/regional party. Their ‘heartlands’ were parts of Scotland, the south west of England and then a scatter of seats here and there. It may be unwise to read too much into this, after all they had less than half their current crop of seats – in 1983 the SDP-Liberal Alliance got 23 seats, in 1997 the LDs got 46 seats. In 2005 they won 62 seats and at the last election for all that Cleggmania existed as a media frenzy they fell back to a 57. But look at their previous history as the Liberal party and they oscillated between 12 seats in 1945 and as low as 6 seats at numerous elections in the 1950s and at 1970. This from 158 in 1923, their last genuinely good result.

Wiki notes that in the 1960s…

The new middle-class suburban generation began to find the Liberals’ policies attractive again. Under Grimond (who retired in 1967) and his successor, Jeremy Thorpe, the Liberals regained the status of a serious third force in British politics, polling up to 20% of the vote but unable to break the duopoly of Labour and Conservative and win more than fourteen seats in the Commons. An additional problem was competition in the Liberal heartlands in Scotland and Wales from the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru who both grew as electoral forces from the 1960s onwards. Although Emlyn Hooson held on to the seat of Montgomeryshire, upon Clement Davies death in 1962, the party lost five Welsh seats between 1950 and 1966. In September 1966 the Welsh Liberal Party formed their own state party, moving the Liberal Party into a fully federal structure.[27]

Was it a case that in places where the Labour Party was strong they offered a sort of half-way house to conservatism?

Current polling indicates no good news for them. I listened to an interview on the Guardian podcast last week with Clegg and he struck me as a man supremely detached from the realities of his position and that of his party and unmoored from what most of us would regards as political ideology, let alone principles. Some will think they entirely deserve their fate.

This Week At Irish Election Literature April 17, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Election Literature Blog.
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From the Marriage Equality Referendum, a “Vote Yes For Marriage Equality” leaflet from Eamon Ryan and Councillor Claire Byrne of The Green Party.

From the 1977 General Election a flyer for Noël Browne who was running as an Independent ‘Anti Coalition Labour’ candidate in Dublin Artane

FF produced a drugs policy on Thursday…. reminded me of 1997 when they were last in opposition and they used Crime and Drugs as a major election issue
“Who’ll keep the pushers from our children?” and “Who’ll protect my daughter from the pushers?”

Demonstrate in Solidarity with Venezuela. Sunday 19th April 2015 April 16, 2015

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venez (2)

Demonstrate in Solidarity with Venezuela. Sunday 19th April 2015

In 1985 President Ronald Reagan declared Nicaragua to be “a threat to the United States”, and proceeded to finance and arm the “contras” in order to overthrow the democratically elected Sandinista government. When, thirty years later the current president of the U.S. declares Venezuela to be “a threat to the United States”, it can only mean one thing – the U.S. is seeking to overthrow the government of Venezuela.
Since the election of Hugo Chávez in 1998 transformed the political situation in Venezuela and Latin America, the U.S. has striven to restore its dominion over the continent. It has supported and encouraged the Venezuelan ultra-right, during the coup d’état in 2002 and since, in all its efforts to destabilise and undermine the Bolivarian Government.
Last year the ultra-right organised street violence resulting in the deaths of 43 people. This year in February, Venezuelan security services uncovered a plot for another coup d’état. You would not know this from the Irish media who take their news from the Washington Post and the New York Times. They would have us believe that the deaths last year were the result of state repression of peaceful demonstrations and that there was no plot, that persons convicted of violent crimes or awaiting trial are political prisoners.
These false reports have been endorsed by the U.S. Senate and the European Parliament. It is on this basis that the Senate orders sanctions and the President issues his executive order.
The threats against Venezuela have been repudiated by UNASUR and by ALBA, representing a majority of Latin American States, who no longer accept the hegemony of the United States. The Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement in the United Nations has stated that they also reject the latest decision of the Government of the United States to expand it’s coercive measures against Venezuela.

The Venezuela Ireland Network is holding a demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy in Dublin from 2pm til 4pm on Sunday 19thApril, to call for the rescinding of the order declaring Venezuela to be a threat to the United States, for the ending of sanctions against officials who were only acting according to the constitution and laws of Venezuela, and for an end to all U.S. interference in Venezuelan affairs.

Robert Navan,
Venezuela Ireland Network

Seán Murray: Marxist-Leninist & Irish Socialist Republican April 16, 2015

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Thanks to the person who forwarded this…

21 April, Connolly Books

This new biography explores the history of Irish communism and socialist republicanism between 1916 and 1962 through the life of Seán Murray. Murray left a significant imprint on leftist politics through his work as an activist, prolific writer, propagandist and theorist.
This book uses newly-discovered archives relating to the Irish socialist and left republican movements, including letters from International Brigaders during the Spanish Civil War.


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