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The greatest record sleeves? September 25, 2016

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…as chosen by album sleeve designers in the Guardian. And happy I am that so many are albums I like (and designs I like – hats off to Barney Bubbles and Peter Saville). Still, as I get older I can’t help but notice how slewed to a very narrow slice of rock and pop these selections tend to be.

Staffless libraries on a Sunday? The thin end of the wedge? September 25, 2016

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A dispute is emerging in Dún Laoghaire Library over the following:

Impact trade union has said its members will gather outside the library on Haigh Terrace, Moran Park, at 2pm to object to a decision by management to open the dlr Lexicon on Sundays without any library staff present.
Gerry O’Quigley, chairman of the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Impact branch, told The Irish Times the decision was a “provocative and premature move” by management.

Staffless opening of libraries does not sound like a great idea to be honest. Part of the utility of a library is having people there to talk to about a range of issues – the idea that everything can be automated is problematic. The arrival of self-service automated kiosks is one thing – though its notable to me how often some of them can be out of service. But going further is of considerable concern.

Notably the union – Impact, isn’t too exercised by Sunday opening, but I wonder if that’s hugely necessary. Frankly I’d sooner see libraries open on Saturdays of Bank Holiday weekends throughout the year rather than close as they now do. But even beyond that once a library is open on a Saturday and five other days of the week that should accommodate those whose working times are less social.

Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week September 25, 2016

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Academics currently whitewashing the Old IRA’s killing of civilian “spies” should remember real spies are always at the top.

Guess who?

SBP/REDC Poll September 24, 2016

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FF – 27% [-2%]FG – 25% [-1%]SF – 15% [+2%]LP – 7% [+1%]INDS – 10% [+3%]AAA-PBP – 6% [+1%]IND ALLIANCE 4% [-1%]SDS – 4% [NC]GP – 2% [-2%]

A lot of that is movement within the margin of error, but tentatively we can see firming of support for SF and unaligned Independents.

SF, non-aligned Independents and SDs will be pleased. AAA-PBP equally so. GP might be scratching their heads. And FF and FG? As with last week’s poll they won’t be running to the country on this one either.

Their big concern must be what is the situation if there is no upward tick in their polling numbers. For if getting a government up and running in the 32nd Dáil was difficult it looks like the same task in the 33rd may – if these figures remain in or around where they currently are, no easier. A lot of road yet to travel and one could presume that the more we see polls like these two recent ones the more likely this government is to survive past the immediate.

Watch the skies in 2017… September 24, 2016

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I’d only recently mentioned the Chinese space programme. And during this week comes the news that:

China’s first space station is expected to come crashing down to Earth next year, fuelling concerns that Chinese space authorities have lost control of the 8.5-tonne module.
The Tiangong-1 or “Heavenly Palace” lab was described as a “potent political symbol” of China’s growing power when it was launched in 2011 as part of an ambitious scientific push to turn China into a space superpower.

Various people contacted by the Guardian suggest that the descent is uncontrolled, that something happened and perhaps somewhat problematically:

Jonathan McDowell, renowned Harvard astrophysicist and space industry enthusiast, said the announcement suggested China had lost control of the station and that it would re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere “naturally.”
If this is the case, it would be impossible to predict where the debris from the space station will land.
“You really can’t steer these things,” he said. “Even a couple of days before it re-enters we probably won’t know better than six or seven hours, plus or minus, when it’s going to come down. Not knowing when it’s going to come down translates as not knowing where its going to come down.”

Most of the station will, like Skylab in the late 1970s disintegrate and melt long before it reaches the ground. But some will reach the ground or sea. Messy.

Thriller? September 24, 2016

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Fredierick Forsyth to stop writing thrillers, said the headline in the Guardian. Thought he did that years ago. Ba dum tish!

I liked Day of the Jackel and the Odessa File was a neat thriller.

But Forsyth’s works following those two were, to my mind, not great. What I also disliked was that in a genre where quite a number of mildly subversive authors were in evidence he displayed remarkably little cynicism about the wheres and wheretofors of espionage or geopolitics. Len Deighton, as noted before on this site, is hardly a man of the left, but his books were strongly inflected by an awareness of how class operates. And likewise a range of authors from Ambler on. Forsyth, it will hardly come as a surprise is an anti-EU Tory.

Of course one cannot read thrillers without coming across reactionary attitudes. But a number of writers I’ve liked enormously – Craig Thomas comes to mind, Ted Allbeury too, would also be conservative, albeit small ‘c’ conservative. Forsyth though always rubbed me up the wrong way.

Oddly if there’s one of his works I do like it was the little aerial ghost story – The Shepherd (illustrated by Chris Foss no less) from the mid-70s.

We Shall Overcome – A Celebration of DIY – Sunday 9th October – Workman’s Club – 4pm September 24, 2016

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we-shall-overcome-logo-2016

State.ie & Hope Collective present
 
 
An all ages punk show in support of Oxfam & Dublin Simon Community
Entry by cash / item donation
 

Having come together last year for a night of punk rock and hip-hop, The Hope Collective and State Magazine are proud to present the second We Shall Overcome Weekend festival to Dublin, supporting Oxjam Ireland’s campaign for female rights and the Dublin Simon Community‘s work with rough sleepers in the capital.

Marking twenty years since Hope hosted their first festival of DIY at the City Arts Centre, the 2016 edition will bring together musicians from across the punk generations – all of whom have a desire to do things on their own terms. Admission is via cash donation to Oxfam and items such as new underwear / socks / hats / gloves for Dublin Simon Community.

The line-up is as follows:

Bill Blood – as part of Flexihead, Jackbeast and Redneck Manifesto, Niall Byrne has graced many DIY stages in the country and beyond. Bill Blood is his latest musical incarnation.

Carol Hodge – described as “Shakespeares Sister fighting Amanda Palmer and Tori Amos in a dimly lit Victorian pub”, Carol is a seven fingered pianist best for her singing work with Steve Ignorant (co-founder of punk legends CRASS) on his Last Supper world tour.

Ed Wenn – first visiting Ireland with the band Sink in 1992, Ed made his name with The Stupids, where his Ed Shred persona blasted out some early UK skatecore riffs. He has also been the main songwriter behind Bad Dress Sense, Big Ray, K-Line and more.
Mhaol – having made their live debut at last year’s WSO, M(h)aol have established themselves as one of the most fiercly political bands in Ireland today, with music to match.

Not Monsters – the meeting of deliciously experimental melodies and in your face power, Not Monsters are firmly in the DIY tradition – springing from a network of shared gigs, spaces and ideas.

Simon Wells – one of the founding members of UK Hardcore legends Snuff, Simon has continued to play and tour throughout the world with Your Mum, Southport and many others.

the objectorZ – sitting somewhere between hard rock n’ roll and punk, the Dublin band flter in a power pop influence.

For more information contact niall@thumped.com

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Doveman “Footloose” September 24, 2016

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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There’s been some brilliant strange covers , Mark Kozeleks album of AC/DC covers is one that springs to mind. Through no fault of my own I’m familiar with the Footloose Soundtrack ….This cover of the Footloose album from Doveman is excellent, an album reworked into something very different. Doveman is Thomas Bartlett that I really first came across as pianist with The Gloaming. He also plays guitar and is a renowned producer.
I love the version of “Lets hear it for the boy” and “Holding Out For a Hero”.
The songs don’t seem to be available in Ireland on Youtube , hence the Spotify playlist.

 

ZHCs September 23, 2016

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This letter here in relation to a piece by Deborah Orr in the Guardian really gets to the heart of matters in regard to zero hour contracts. The writer notes that:

Orr (A good job doesn’t have to be one for life, 10 September) greatly overstates the element of choice and autonomy that workers have over contractual arrangements such as zero-hours contracts (ZHCs) and so-called self-employment. The rationale for both transfers risk on to workers, in some cases to accommodate or avoid the “national living wage” (an hourly minimum which does not guarantee a living weekly wage). Both increase the power of employers and weaken that of workers. In the case of ZHCs, if workers do not make themselves available to employer demands, they will not be given the hours they need, and employers can dismiss workers at will by cutting their hours instead of having to go through formal dismissal procedures.

And:

Similarly, “self-employment” is often bogus and hides unpaid labour. In parcel delivery, workers are paid by actual delivery (and not for non-delivery when those of us who order online are not in to receive parcels) and work 11- or 12-hour days to make a living and defray the costs of the vehicles they own or lease. If they are sick or want a holiday they have to pay the costs of “the employer” hiring an agency replacement – some rarely take holidays because of this. They may work alongside directly-employed workers with the same managers, but have no employment rights and can, again, be dismissed at whim.

And this is fundamentally the key…

Orr ignores the fact that choice is constrained, and this goes beyond the element of compulsion introduced by the benefits system. ZHCs might fit in with studying and childcare, but this is dependent upon (often working-class) students having to work because grants have been removed, to the detriment of their education, and upon (working-class) women having limited access to childcare or having to care for partners and older relatives. Young self-employed men might be happy to work 11 or 12 hours a day, but once they have children it denies them participation in childcare.

The language of ‘choice’ in all this is actually a mask for a reality of compulsion. And it conceals another aspect – as another letter writer notes, no holiday or sick pay. These aren’t additional extras. For workers in a raft of areas they are vital. What is needed is a genuine flexibility, but curiously the forms of work that are being imposed on workers seem to eschew that in preference of deeply anti-social and anti-worker structures.

And I’d add a further point. Orr makes the now characteristic point and mistake about ‘jobs for life’ not existing. It is something we see time and again from journalists and commentators who are often on contract to the media and who map their rather limited experience (or that of the class position – where some of those whose work patterns vary from jobs for life are actually rather privileged and have degrees of autonomy that most workers would kill for) onto other areas where it is deeply inappropriate. I don’t know about a job for life, as someone who has worked in the private sector or on contract to the PS since the late 1980s I’ve had a number of long-term jobs, that is ones that went on for over a decade. Those aren’t jobs for life, sure, but nor are they short term jobs either. And I suspect many, if not indeed most, workers experience something along those lines these days rather than rapid turnover of jobs.

But even more fundamentally decent jobs aren’t based on the length of time one is in them. They are about the terms and conditions, the wages, the sense that one isn’t being tolerated or employed on sufferance to be discarded at a whim and the reality of options beyond them when one leaves. Not all shorter term jobs are like that, but too many are. Far too many, and without something much more significant in terms of taking up the slack – ensuring that workers who do them are fully protected and have genuine prospects as well as, for want of a better word, a degree of transferable capital in terms of pension, wages and holiday rights, they’re a dismal option.

By the by, Orr gets in a dig at the idea of nationalisation under Jeremy Corbyn… ‘a past that failed’. Really? Really? [she might look at how limited the proposals from Corbyn are on nationalisation – energy and British Rail – both good but not exactly red revolution and by even 1970s BLP terms quite remarkably mild].

The ‘new politics’… September 23, 2016

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Courtesy of Stephen Collins in the Irish Times based on this piece of his on Fianna Fáil from last Saturday. In it he frets about whether FF is ‘returning to their old ways’ having seemed to join the ‘new politics’ by supporting the FG led coalition. The cause of this is the FF promise to abolish water charges – a promise that during the week was retracted (or as IEL noted wasn’t really a change of position at all by FF).

This is terrible he feels, this promise (of sorts), and is that old FF there poking through the ‘new politics’ flesh. Hmmm… odd imagery that.

But how many key words and phrases can he get into one article? You may be surprised!

Starting with: “Has the old Fianna Fáil come back to haunt the country once more?”

Then:

The party’s pledge to abolish water charges certainly looks like a return to the carefree, populist policies of old.

On to…

It does not sit easily with the party’s commitment to the “new politics” which has facilitated the Fine Gael-led minority Government

Here’s a good one. Perhaps two or three:

The party’s abandonment of a rational and sustainable approach to the supply of water is a worrying development as it indicates that it has not, after all, really learned any lessons from the cavalier policies that led the country to the brink of economic ruin twice over the past 40 years.

Too many to mention here:

Only time will tell whether inside the party of “new politics” the old-style Haughey-era Fianna Fáil is simply waiting to burst out, when the opportunity arises. The signal given by the decision on water is ominous. The aggressive element in Fianna Fáil has been encouraged by the surge in support for the party in the opinion polls since the general election but that could be a serious misreading of the public mood.

And:

It is arguable that Fianna Fáil has regained public confidence by the manner in which it has built on its election comeback by adopting a mature approach to the formation of government.

And more…

It could very easily squander that new-found respectability by lining itself up with Sinn Féin and the array of hard-left Independents who have campaigned against the water charges.

And how about some class disdain?

The move may well help the party wrest a seat or two from the left in working-class constituencies but it could lose many more in middle Ireland. More than half of all households paid at least some of their water bills and another chunk of the population who live in rural Ireland pay for water already. Who will represent them?

There’s more. So much more. And throughout what is clears an absolute certainty that the orthodoxy, at any given time, is utterly deserving of adherence and that any deviation from that is a disaster. That view from “middle” Ireland can be very constraining, and no mistake.

Though perhaps special mention for this last paragraph – a triumph of hope over experience some might think.

Coveney and Bruton have demonstrated that the Government can do positive things if the will is there, regardless of its minority status. If Fine Gael can come up with initiatives in other vital areas of public concern, it might even rebuild some of the credibility it lost through a disastrous election campaign last February and differentiate itself from Fianna Fáil in the process.

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