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Hearing loss…  July 31, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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I know, I know, I’m always going on about this, but hearing is such a precious resource it seems crazed to damage it. 

Recently I was buying tickets for a gig and what came up but earphones as an additional extra. Sadly they were out of stock so I’ve had to source them elsewhere but I don’t go to gigs without them. I may have mentioned that the Robert Forster gig in Whelans was perfectly pitched, so much so that the pub after was probably louder. 

This piece in the Irish Times by Kevin Courtney gets to the heart of the problem. You go to a gig. You return home, your ears are ringing, so far so normal for many (I was always fairly careful and often wore earplugs). But then… 

…what if it’s still there the next day, and the next, and the next, and the rest of the year, often getting louder, sometimes getting softer, but never, ever completely disappearing? After a year or two of listening to this tuneless epic, the realisation dawns slowly that this maddening noise is never going to go away, so you may as well live with it, because the only alternative is to bang your head off the wall or poke your eardrums out with a drumstick.

Courtney himself has tinnitus and can’t quite place where and when it arrived (I can, Hermano, six or so years ago). For him it is pretty bad:

After years of reviewing rock gigs and albums, I now have a continuous ringing sound in my head, and if I was reviewing this particular tune, I’d give it zero stars. But what’s causing it? There’s no mini-Angus Young inside my ear, so how can I be hearing a sound that’s not there? Reassuringly, I’m not the only one hearing this annoying sound.

For others, including I guess myself, not quite so bad. It never goes away, but I have to consciously ‘listen’ out for it. 

“It’s a condition in which people have a sound in their head which doesn’t have an external cause,” says Jean Scott, chairwoman of the Irish Tinnitus Association, a support group for people living with tinnitus.

“They would hear many different kinds of noises – buzzing, whistling, roaring, rumbling – and some people sense these as very loud and others have it in the back of their head. But it’s the people who have it very loud who are really distressed by it.”

But even if it’s not in the foreground of my perception it is pretty invasive. There’s no such thing any longer as a genuinely quiet place. 

But I’m over 50, it’s the next tranche that is going to be an even bigger problem. I remember talking to a friend of mine in his early thirties, perhaps a decade ago who had worse tinnitus than I did. And there’ll be many more:

Brendan Conlon, the ENT (ear, nose and throat) consultant at St James’s Hospital in Dublin, says: “I think we’ll be looking at huge numbers with tinnitus over the next 10 or 15 years; the kids and adults going around with earphones stuck in their ears. It certainly isn’t something that’s going to go away.”

And the real problem is there’s no cure, it never goes away completely. Courtney ends on a note of hope, one can train oneself to stop it overwhelming one. Key thing is to minimise it, or not get it in the first place. 

Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week July 31, 2016

Posted by Garibaldy in Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week.
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You wouldn’t half know it’s the silly season from the paucity of content in the Sindo this week. Therefore, let’s give some credit where it’s due. Fair play to Brendan O’Connor, who, while rightly angry that more were not prosecuted, shows a commendable desire to gloat at the imprisonment of a particularly egregious member of the three bankers gaoled this week.

So remember that – and you might feel more satisfaction about that bollix John Bowe getting some of what he deserves.

Although he did also say this

He’s a terrible loss to this country. Let’s get him home. And let’s get Geldof in the Aras.

Telescopes July 31, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This is a fantastic project, though it doesn’t fully quantify the disruption to those who live in the area. 

Work on the 1.2bn yuan (£127m) Fast (Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope) project began in the south-western province of Guizhou in 2011 and is expected to be completed by September.

Before then 9,110 residents of Guizhou’s Pingtang and Luodian counties will be “evacuated” from their homes, the Xinhua news agency announced on Tuesday. Each will receive 12,000 yuan (£1,275) in compensation from the government’s eco-migration bureau, Xinhua added.

 

Hook and Sumner books July 30, 2016

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I’m reading Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner’s books on Joy Division and New Order (though Hook only deals with the former in any detail) at the same time. Kind of an odd experience flicking between one and the other. They’re both interesting in their own way,

Sumner’s is perhaps the more thoughtful. Certainly one would come away from it with enormous sympathy for the man in some respects to his life.

There isn’t really a single comprehensive book on this topic, and perhaps never will be. Indeed there’s a danger that learning too much about the creators of the music will in some way diminish it – seeing the sausage made in a factory is always an unedifying process. But then – as noted above – we don’t really get to see the sausage made. And parts of the story are now well worn. How could it be otherwise with a film about Joy Division, another film on Factory that has a strong focus on the groups, a number of documentaries and so on?

There’s less about the actual music than one might expect. Curious as to their thoughts on Movement, New Order’s first album? Well, you won’t learn much more than you probably already knew. Or Brotherhood, their mid to late 80s album? No mention at all. And you’ll learn nothing at all in Hook’s book about the New Order years which concentrates on Joy Division and then briefly his split with New Order and after.

As to the…erm… disagreement between the two camps, well don’t expect to be hugely enlightened by the books. Fault on both sides is perhaps the only reasonable conclusion. Indeed the fact that they worked together as long as they did is something of a miracle.

For all that, there’s a real strength in the reminiscences about growing up in working class Manchester. I keep having to remind myself that both men are barely nine or ten years older than myself and yet their experiences were a world away from Northside Dublin, or at least the parts I grew up in. I guess there’s a thesis in there about how things changed between the start of the 1970s and the end of it…

Sabbath’s Final Tour, bands we’ve seen and the one’s that got away. July 30, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Black Sabbath’s final tour arrives in Dublin in January 2017. This I did not know until last weekend. I’ve never seen them, indeed I’ve never seen any of the groups of that period – or not as such.

I don’t think Robert Plant solo in the mid-2000s – great gig by the way, and his dance tendencies were admirable – I kid you not, count? Or Page and Plant in the 1990s?, Kiss six or so years back (don’t ask) or Rush four or so years ago. Other than that I’ve avoided very large scale gigs. If you were to ask me who I’d like to see of those groups, well, someone mentioned AC/DC (by the way, I’m still amazed at the critical rehabilitation of them as a group. In the 80s their name was mud. Unfairly so, a great group in their own way, but to see the needle swing 180 degrees has been strange) but the era I’d have wanted was Bon Scott. Deep Purple I’d like to see – they released a pretty great album two years ago.

After that. Ah, not too pushed. I’m not a completist in these matters, and never been hugely fond of live music, it’s uncomfortable, too loud (by the way, on the Ticketmaster.ie website they now have the option of selling noise reducing earplugs – which is oddly impressive). Seen Hawkwind, and would again. Nik Turner, now there’s a man I’d like to see. Girlschool are still giging and that would be good fun. Motorhead I saw ten or so years ago.

The next wave of metal – sadly I’ve only seen Metallica. But again, liked them but never much of a fan. Megadeth, Monster Magnet I’ve not had the pleasure.

Once we get to punk and new wave – perhaps predictably, been at a lot more gigs. The Damned, Buzzcocks, New Order (by the way, doesn’t Paranoid, above, sound oddly like Joy Division at this remove?), Killing Joke and on the list goes. Same with indie, JAMC, etc, etc. Next to no electronic, bar Ulrich Schnauss and Orbital, which is odd given how much I like that genre.

When Springsteen was here there were many complaints about his not playing the ‘hits’, similarly with Neil Young. I’ve no particular interest in the former, would quite like to see the latter though would make no great effort to do so, but I have to somewhat admire their stance. Too often music seems to be about nostalgia and little else. But for artists who keep making music as Young and Springsteen do it seems almost perverse to demand they simply offer a ‘greatest hits’ package. And when they have such longevity which greatest hits? Perhaps after all it’s the whole thing of being glad they’re still going.

So what are the groups people would like to see? Or the one’s that people wanted to see but were either too young or weren’t able to get to?

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… God Is an Astronaut July 30, 2016

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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A Wicklow band that I knew little or nothing about until recently and yet they have been around since 2002, have released 7 albums and amassed quite a following worldwide. Everything is purely instrumental and they are another ‘post rock’ band. They are really good . I Talked to some people who saw them live in Whelans recently and they were very impressed.

Muslim attitudes in the US and elsewhere… July 29, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Kind of find this well worth a look. It certainly shoots down the idea that Muslims are a particularly heterogenous lot. Attitudes to Sharia alone are very varied – and perhaps predictably in certain more authoritarian states there’s much greater adherence to them whereas – say – take Turkey, there’s only a minority in favour. Moreover one has to ask what flavour of Sharia.

Attachment to ISIS is very low. Attachment to the use of political violence is very low. And fears of Islamic extremism is high.

Even the importance of religion is a variable, though belief in God is very very strong.

Perceptions of Muslims? In the US they are regarded on a par with… atheists!

Check out characteristics associated with Westerners and Muslims by each other. Muslims see “Westerners” as being from their perspective more violent than Westerners see Muslims.

North and South July 29, 2016

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David McWilliams in the SBP this weekend had some comparative statistics in relation to North and South which led him to suggest that ‘the Union has been an economic disaster for all the people of Northern Ireland…. they’ve all ben impoverished by it and this shows no sign of letting up’. Granted one suspects that the last few decades have been kinder to this state than to the North, but he has a point. He notes that in 1920 80% of industrial output came from the three counties around Belfast. And in the 1910s Belfast was the largest city on the island. I’ve got to admit I only learned that this year and I still think it fascinating and perhaps indicative of the true nature of the ‘union’ at that time.

By contrast the South was mainly agricultural, no strike that, overwhelmingly agricultural. And was to remain so – and let’s not ignore the fact that that sector is still massively important.

Whereas today, industrial output in the South is ten times greater than that of the North, Exports (as he notes distorted by multinationals, but still not unimportant) are €89bn as against €6bn, the size of the RoI economy is four times the North, and income per head? That of the North is a little over half that of the average income per head of the South which is just shy of €40,000.

Of course it’s not quite that simple. The histories of the two parts of the island have been considerably different and as we know all too well economic winds blow hot and cold. Moreover the progress of the economy of this state was hardly an upward climb since partial independence. It might also be worth factoring in – and again in fairness he does mention this – different public services and so on. Though I think some might wonder given the nature of the dispensation there politically and socially whether that rebalances the scales. He makes the point that the Union did protect living standards but that that changed around 1990. I’d like him to expand on that.

He’s no demographic determinist, but he sees in the 2011 census returns for the North the possibility of increasing nationalist populations in the medium term. Still all this dovetails with Michael McDowell’s piece in the same paper referenced on Wednesday where he asks whether the South would be willing to assume the economic burden of the North?

Still, a contemporary resonance too, he notes that Conor Cruise O’Brien once said that Unionisms last battle would be with English nationalism. Loath though I am to credit CCOB there’s an aspect of that today, isn’t there with the post-Brexit developments?

Living in the past July 29, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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A most thought-provoking point made on Slate in this examination of US based couple who attempt to live their lives as if it were the late 19th century. If your sense is that that seems like an over-extended variant of cosplay you might be right. The author Rebecca Onion, I suspect would agree.

The question of health brings me to perhaps the greatest fallacy inherent in the Chrismans’ method of “living history.” The “past” was not made up only of things. Like our own world, it was a web of social ties. These social ties extended into every corner of people’s lives, influencing the way people treated each other in intimate relationships; the way disease was passed and treated; the possibilities open to women, minorities, and the poor; the whirl of expectations, traditions, language, and community that made up everyday lives. Material objects like corsets or kerosene lamps were part of this complex web, but only a part.

Onion points to some of the more contradictory aspects of the Chrismans’ approach – for example they appear to believe that society now is more rigid and conformist than in the late 19th century (and some of the comments BTL make it clear that one doesn’t have to go as far back as the 19th century to see massive changes in everyday life – and many of us here will remember vastly less technological lifestyles only a relatively short time ago. Though speaking of BTL, the phrase ‘Cultural Marxism’ rears its ugly head in one criticism of the author). A questionable assumption many would think. And while they make great play of their desire to ‘escape incomprehensible technologies that now govern our lives…’ they also happen to have a website.

Of course the past is interesting. It has a fascination for us. Looking through some documents recently from the 1970s, a period I and it would seem a fair few who engage on this site actually lived through, someone commented that it was amazing how evocative the papers and photographs were.

Sure – the whole of the Left Archive is, on one level, an exercise in revisiting that past – we could have transcripts of content and once someone very thoughtfully offered to provide same. But my sense has always been that to get a better understanding of the time it is probably best to present texts in the format they were originally found, that is on the printed page of a magazine accompanied by photographs, advertising, etc.

Onion notes that the very process by which materials survive to this day or are represented is in itself a ‘type of commentary’.

The primary sources the Chrismans choose to read made it to the present day because they held some kind of value for the intervening generations. The couple finds its period magazines on Google Books, that redoubtable Victorian technology. It seems not to have crossed their minds that a series of human decisions resulted in the digitization of those magazines and not others, and that those decisions are themselves a type of commentary.

Exactly.

But the Archive is about getting a sense of the time, not about a hope to position oneself within it. On one level what the Chrismans are doing is innocuous, on another a little troubling. Onion notes that they tend to gloss over the problematic aspects of ‘living in the 19th century’. They’re not living as labourers, or as servants or as African Americans, theirs is, as Onion says ‘a version of … a comfortable and privileged life’ and even that is a stretch. Moreover the Chrismans appear to believe that only through their route is it possible to understand the 19th century – that historians of the period are intrinsically untrustworthy, and that ‘their’ understanding of the period is the only correct one. This too seems a stretch.

One thing that continually strikes me, and this again is drawn from my own historical research, an engagement with the Archive and just general general observation, is how much is beyond the grasp of analysis, materials that don’t exist – or are lost, partial accounts of a time, the lack of knowledge of life as it is experienced. Try doing an oral history of a given topic, say in the late 1960s – as I’ve had cause to in recent years – and you’ll soon realise how, even for a period of time well within living memory there is so much that is lost, so much that is unrecorded, so much contingent on fallible memory. For periods before living memory, well, that’s an even greater challenge.

None of which is to say that one shouldn’t attempt to engage with the past. Anything but. But it’s worth keeping one’s head about it – no?

This Week At Irish Election Literature July 29, 2016

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics.
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sickobscene
The above is from the November 1982 General Election

An Offical Sinn Fein anti EEC pamphlet titled: “Mansholt: The Second Cromwell” from March 1971.

From the 2007 General Election a 20 page magazine style summary of their manifesto from The Progressive Democrats

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