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Mary McAleese Exemplifies the James Connolly Tradition of Ireland Meaning Nothing to Me without its People December 27, 2011

Posted by Garibaldy in Film and Television.
4 comments

Three guesses who said that on what can only be described as the stupidest TV show of this – or indeed any other – year.

What you want to say? Open Thread, Christmas Week 2011 December 27, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
25 comments

Happy Christmas and New Year to everyone. As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free. Anything seasonal? Anything not?

ULA Conference Imminent… January/early February 2012 December 26, 2011

Posted by guestposter in Irish Politics, The Left.
30 comments

Thanks to Julian Assandwich for the following:

In a few places its been confirmed that there will be a conference in late January/early Feb. Apparently the Cork branch has been told February 4th is the date pencilled in.

(Also, I have put up some clips from the December rally on my blog if anyone is interested.)

If anyone would like a platform to discuss a motion/proposal they have, I would be most obliged to post it on my blog for them to use to circulate their ideas. You can email me at weareragbags@gmail.com and the blog is http://weareragbags.wordpress.com

Also here is a good place for more informal discussion and C.Flower has kindly offered her website for people to form more discrete social groups to talk through proposals in more detail

The conference is imminent as there hasn’t been much publicizing of the event and people will need time to get their proposals done and “peer-reviewed” by a national discussion.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly be Listening to …. Black Dub December 24, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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2 comments

One my musical highlights of the year. A KCRW session by the latest venture from Daniel Lanois, Black Dub. Their website.
It veers from the bluesy “I Believe in You” and “Surely” which show off the vocal talents of Trixie Whitley (who also plays Keyboards and drums) to possibly my favourite one in the session “Ring the Alarm” .
Lanois plays guitar, the brilliant Brian Blade is on drums and Daryl Johnson on bass.
Their album ‘Black Dub’ is good but having had this session as my introduction to the band, its not what I hoped it to be. It sounds overproduced and too studioish compared to this session.

Anyway sit back for 45 minutes and enjoy … and a Happy Christmas.

set list:
I Believe in You
Canaan
Last Time
->interview
Surely
Nomad
Ring the Alarm

And This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Jack Frost [Steve Kilbey of the Church and Grant McLennan of The Go-Betweens] December 24, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
2 comments

Both IELB and myself have posts up this weekend. It’s Christmas after all! I’m going to repost this, more or less from 2007, since first the time and name are appropriate, and there are a few more YouTube tracks available. But otherwise the text is as it was then because nothing has happened subsequently to make me change my mind. Two of the most interesting people working in Australian music throughout the 1980s and 1990s and on into the 2000s and two of my favourite musicians. Kilbey, who I’ll regale you all with in a future piece is still working away at it. McLennan died far too young in 2006 cutting short a career that had numerous highlights.

On foot of last week when soubresauts [where are you?] mentioned Steve Kilbey, and thinking – yet again – of all things Antipodean, my mind was drawn back to Jack Frost, the joint solo project between Grant McLennan of the Go-Betweens and Steve Kilbey of the Church. The two got together in 1990/1 and produced the first eponymous album. Working together on almost all the instruments it had a synth sheen put on acoustic guitars. Melodic, wistful and quite affecting it was probably purchased by no-one.

Two years later they reconvened for the harsher Snow Job, an altogether feistier affair. This time the guitars are more often electric and more clearly put to the fore. Jack Frost Blues and Dry Dock are fabulous songs. Angela Carter treading dangerously close to whimsy. Some think that overall the sound is closer to the Church than to The Go-Betweens.

And yet Robert Christgau – a vehement critic of the Church – notes that:

It’s 1993. Grant McLennan of the much-mourned Go-Betweens meets Steve Kilbey of the barely-missed Church for a second one-off, written and recorded on the spot and then stuck in a box until they find time to finalize it, which takes years. The songs evoke romantic moods and vague experiences rather than nailing the literal-cum-ineffable; the music strives for effect rather than detail or even ambience. By McLennan’s standards, it’s hokey, mysterioso, fulla keybs. Yet its schlock disposability and glam brio generate the crass charm McLennan’s class act too often avoids. Too bad only cultists will care–and worse still that they’ll probably reject it on principle. B+

I can’t find any YouTube video from the second album but there are two for the first [I can now!]. Every hour god sends…is here. I presume that it was released as a single. It gives a good flavour of one strand of the album… early 1990s percussion, partially synthesised… though it’s not my favourite of theirs.

Perhaps more representative is Thought that I was over you…

It’s more traditional in approach, has some fairly bitter lyrics which then subside into sadness and it is clear that the two of them are having a ball. 
My God! They look young. McLennan is even fresh faced. Well… it was 16 years ago [now 20 odd years]. The interplay between the two vocalists works well. There’s no egotistical mugging.

I’ve mentioned before how some years back I met McLennan briefly in a pub close to the Ambassador where the Go-Betweens had played that evening. In the course of a few words I told him how much I had enjoyed the Jack Frost project and he said a few very generous words about how much fun he’d had working on that with Steve Kilbey. Last year [2006], when the Church played Dublin, Kilbey played Providence – from the first JF album by way of a tribute.

It’s hard not to feel listening to these albums that they provided a real insight into two very different, but sometimes quite similar, talents and in a way led to a weird merging of those talents. I’ve listened to the albums over the years and even now I find it hard to entirely be sure who is singing what. And yet, Kilbey and McLennan have utterly different singing voices… I don’t know how it works… perhaps something of that antipodean slightly flat vocalisation that one sees with bands as diverse as the Chills and the Clean.

Actually, they’re not that diverse are they?

Anyhow, I’m sorry they never got together for a third album.

Since the above was written the songs on YouTube are much more comprehensive, so here are some new additions.

[Jack Frost:First album]

Providence [A classic Kilbey/McLennan composition]

Every Hour God Sends

Number Eleven [This strikes me as more a Kilbey composition, huge washes of keyboards, etc… but…it still gets me]

These next two songs, now available, always seem to me to be more McLennan oriented than Kilbey, and none the worse for it.

Even As We Speak

Didn’t Know Where I Was

[Snow Job:Second album]

Haze [Interesting sound, darker, less soft than the eponymous first album]

Running from the Body

Cousin-Angel

Angela Carter

Aviatrix [A good example of the more pared back sound of this album]

Hobsbawm, 1848 and 2011. And Barack Obama. December 23, 2011

Posted by Garibaldy in History, The Left.
8 comments

Hard to resist posting everytime I come across a new interview or whatever from Hobsbawm. Besides which, at least one of us is awaiting Hobsbawm’s How to Change the World from Santa. The BBC has an interview with Hobsbawm, in which he discusses the parallels between the revolutions that swept Europe in 1848 and the Arab Spring of 2011, and goes on to offer some thoughts on other forms of protest, such as the occupy movement. The full interview is going to be on the World Today from the World Service.

The renowned historian Eric Hobsbawm has watched the revolutions of 2011 with excitement – and notes that it’s now the middle class, not the working class, that is making waves.

“It was an enormous joy to discover once again that it’s possible for people to get down in the streets, to demonstrate, to overthrow governments,” says EJ Hobsbawm at the close of a year of revolutionary upheaval in the Arab world.

Not that he is holding out much hope for the short-term successes of these revolts, hence the comparison with 1848.

“If there is to be a revolution, it should be a bit like this. At least in the first few days. People turning up in the streets, demonstrating for the right things.”

But, he adds: “We know it won’t last.”

The historian in him draws a parallel between the Arab Spring of 2011 and Europe’s “year of revolutions” almost two centuries earlier, when an uprising in France was followed by others in the Italian and German states, in the Hapsburg Empire, and beyond.

Arab democracies?
“It reminds me of 1848 – another self-propelled revolution which started in one country then spread all over the continent in a short time.”

As Hobsbawm notes,

Two years after 1848, it looked as if it had all failed. In the long run, it hadn’t failed. A good deal of liberal advances had been made. So it was an immediate failure but a longer term partial success – though no longer in the form of a revolution.

He suspects only Tunisia is likely to emerge as a western-style liberal democracy, and argues that despite the similarities we are different revolutions, rather than a single revolution sweeping the Arab world.

We are in the middle of a revolution – but it isn’t the same revolution.

What unites them is a common discontent and common mobilisable forces – a modernising middle class, particularly a young, student middle class, and of course technology which makes it today very much easier to mobilise protests.

Hobsbawm argues that the model for the importance of technology for mobilising previously quiet forces was in fact Obama’s election campaign and the way he used the internet to mobilise young people behind him. But you get a sense of scepticism about some of what has been going on.

The actual occupations in most cases have not been mass protests, not the 99%, but the famous ‘stage army’ of students and counter culture. Sometimes that has found an echo in public opinion – and in the anti-Wall Street, anti-capitalist occupations, that is clearly the case.

He notes the difference between today and what revolutionaries of his generation had expected would happen.

The traditional left was geared to a kind of society that is no longer in existence or is going out of business. It believed very largely in the mass labour movement as the carrier of the future. Well, we’ve been de-industrialised, so that’s no longer possible.

The most effective mass mobilisations today are those which start from a new modernised middle class, and particularly the enormously swollen body of students.

They are more effective in countries in which, demographically, young men and women are a far greater part of the population than they are in Europe.

He also sounds a note of caution, based on the experience of the Iranian revolution.

The people who had made concessions to Islam, but were not Islamists themselves, were marginalised. And that included reformers, liberals, communists.

“What emerges as the mass ideology is not the ideology of those that started off the demonstrations.

So quite a pessimistic view then. Welcome proof that revolution is still possible, but also what is in effect a warning that the collapse of a regime is far from being the same as a revolution that radically alters the political, never mind social, nature of power in a given society. And also a warning that reaction can come in different forms, including from within the opposition to the original regime. His argument that the Arab Spring probably won’t last seems reasonable enough to me, as does concern about what will happen if the Islamists prove to be the main beneficiaries of the revolts. Let’s hope history isn’t repeating itself, either with 1849-50, or 1979.

Your RTE Christmas TV viewing from 1975 December 23, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
39 comments

Further into the Christmas Spirit we go with an RTE Television schedule from Christmas 1975.

This Week At The Irish Election Literature Blog December 23, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Election Literature Blog.
3 comments

Starting off with a 1949 booklet from The Anti Partition of Ireland League for the visit of Eamon De Valera to Birmingham

Then a much quoted one from Alice Glenn who passed away this week..
A Woman voting for Divorce is like a Turkey voting for Christmas’

Then a leaflet on “Keeping warm this winter” from Labours Ciaran Lynch that he wont be sending around this year given the cut in Fuel Allowance.

From 1972 “No to EEC” from the ITGWU

And finally the most viewed post from last year.. “Vote Ming” posters from the 90’s

Austerity = growth? Er… December 22, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.
1 comment so far

I mentioned earlier in the week that there had been some interesting noises emanating from the IMF over the austerity measures, and these have now been formalised in a report…

The report [described] the risks to future economic growth as “large” and said that the capacity of the State to service its debts in the future is “fragile”.

The IMF cited the unresolved euro area crisis as the main reason for a downgrading of its economic growth prospects for the economy in 2012.

“The substantial deterioration in the regional economic outlook represents a major external drag on Ireland’s recovery, and also poses large downside risks,” the report stated.

What’s fascinating about this is that this is precisely the analysis which many on the left have put forward for most of the crisis, that the burden placed upon this state’s citizens is too great to bear and that every development subsequently has made the feasibility [quite distinct from the appropriateness] of this diminish month on month.

As telling is the following:

Separately, the IMF also advised the Government against adding to the €3.8 billion in spending cuts and tax increases, to be implemented in 2012, in the event of weaker economic growth.

This, as you will note, cuts right across the ‘quick dash through austerity’, ‘let’s pile it on now’, ‘get the pain out of the way’ line extolled by much of the commentariat which for the last year or so was arguing for increasing cuts, though notably they weren’t half as keen on tax increases [or at least not progressive tax increases – in the tecnnical sense, such as income tax] supposedly so that we would cut the time to ‘recovery’. That this recovery seems, in light of the ‘regional economic outlook’, or indeed the global economic outlook, to be chimerical merely points up how willing some have been not merely to unquestioningly accept every measure imposed by the troika but also to play fast and loose with an economy which the IMF itself accepts is fragile, though as any journey beyond certain comfort zones will attest it’s worse than fragile out there.

Still, you can remove the IMF, conceptually speaking, from the troika, but you can’t remove the troika from the IMF. It also suggests,

Despite this, the report suggested that Government commitments to adhere to the Croke Park Agreement on public sector pay and to maintain headline social welfare rates may have to be reassessed.

“The savings committed will be delivered, if necessary through fallback options in relation to public sector wages and primary social welfare rates,” the report stated.

Good stuff. And what of the yet further deflationary and anti-growth impacts of such measures on our ‘fragile’ economy? In a context where consumer spending is declining (and the figures for this Christmas and New Year will be particularly important in terms of building up a sense of where things are going, though again, anecdotally it’s not looking good) the idea that more would be taken out seems… contradictory. At best.

That pupil ratio… December 22, 2011

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

This is a slow burning fuse from the Budget…

Sir, – Something which went under the radar in Budget 2012 is the scrapping of the Breaking the Cycle scheme in education. Under the scheme extra teachers were allocated to schools in areas of high socio-economic deprivation.
This move, in line with revised ratio rates, will see 292 posts abolished. Some primary schools in the inner city are set to lose two, three or four teachers. This is appalling. Education – particularly early education – is one of the few measures which can counter inter-generational poverty and improve life chances.
The move is puzzling when juxtaposed with the launch of the new literacy and numeracy strategy. How can a literacy scheme realistically be implemented in areas which need it most when teaching posts are being cut?
It is wrong that inner-city children, who rank among the most vulnerable in society should have to pay for the financial mistakes of the most powerful. This Budget decision is a damning indictment of a growing inequality in our society. – Yours, etc,
NIAMH MURRAY,

Meanwhile there were the testy exchanges between Eamon Gilmore and Mary Lou McDonad on the topic…

[Eamon Gilmore] said “this will enable them to continue to have smaller class sizes for the youngest children starting school”.

Thirty two schools with “legacy” posts that provided for one teacher for every 15 pupils in junior classes only “will now have a staffing schedule that operates on the basis of an average of one teacher per 18 junior pupils”.

And…

He accused Ms McDonald of “making things up” when she hit out at cuts to disadvantaged schools and highlighted the impact on pupils’ development, across the State.

But…

Ms McDonald asked him if the Minister for Education who met schools principals earlier this week that “they were making things up”.

The Tánaiste said the Minister “is very well aware that some schools will be “particularly impacted by the withdrawal of legacy disadvantage posts”.

But the Sinn Féin Dublin Central TD told the Tanaiste not to insult the intelligence of the Dail or the general public by using the “connivance” of describing teaching jobs to be lost as “legacy” posts.

To which Gilmore offered this riposte…

Mr Gilmore insisted the position of pupils in disadvantaged schools and their special needs “will continue to be recognised by this Government, will be address by the Minister”.

He added: “The Minister is going to pay far more attention to the reasoned arguments and reasoned cases which are made to him by the principals of the schools than he is to some kind of a political rant.”

Hmmm…

This is from an article in the Examiner.

SCHOOLS in disadvantaged areas are to lose more than 400 teachers as a result of the cuts buried in Budget 2012.

In a range of measures that avoided cuts to class sizes across all the country’s 3,300 primary schools, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn is axing almost 430 teaching posts schools were allowed keep from previous schemes after a unified programme to tackle disadvantage started in 2005.

These so-called legacy posts are in 270 primary schools and include more than 40 support teachers who gave counselling and dealt with extreme behaviour.

However, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) said these and other measures buried in the detail of the budget will take more posts out of primary classes for children who need most help. The union claimed that many of the jobs being lost would be re-allocated to schools in better-off areas.

And here’s a document from the INTO on the changes…

TeacherAllocation

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