jump to navigation

BDS isn’t antisemitic March 31, 2018

Posted by Citizen of Nowhere in Uncategorized.

On the day that’s in it, when Israeli troops have killed at least 17 Palestinians and counting in Gaza it’s important to renew support for BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment & Sanctions) against the current government of Israel –  the only tactic likely to make a difference – and resist attempts to criminalise it.

Here’s Judith Butler on the falsehood that identifies BDS with antisemitism

and the contrasting alliance of real antisemites like Bannon, Spencer and Orban with the murderous Likud government.

As Butler states:

… antisemitism has become identified as anti-Zionism, or as BDS (which are different, by the way) or openly critical attitudes to the state of Israel (which is yet different again). The new version of antisemitism vacates the term of its descriptive powers…

Slow train to China March 31, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

As we know Kim Jong-un was on a visit to China this last week. A somewhat distinctive train similar to ones used by Kim Jong-il and his father before him (nothing dynastic about that – eh?) was seen in China before the details of the visit came out. Apparently there were at least six of them, which had access to special stations only used by the leader.

Some of the details are fascinating:

Kim Jong-un likely uses one of his father’s trains. According to Chosun Ilbo, they are protected by armour plate and equipped with satellite phones, flatscreen televisions, conference rooms, bedrooms and reception halls. The trains typically travel at no more than 37mph (60km/h).

That is mighty slow. I love trains, but that would be frustrating I imagine. I wonder what the reason is for that. Any suggestions?

Screen time March 31, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

Good Analysis from the BBC on Screens and Teens about the perils of excessive smartphone and tech use by teens. Some good thoughts, not least this quote from Douglas Adams:

“I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

And another point was made – that the focus on tech was in some ways possibly a distraction from much deeper and more profound dynamics and changes in society and economic life.

As someone seeing this process more or less at first hand, and for kids younger than teens (and here’s a thought, amongst the peer-group iPad and even phones are pervasive) it is astounding to see the centrality of YouTube and games (which have a social content). Even more so to realise what is being learned online. Limiting time is central.

And I’ve certainly seen the ‘echo-chamber’ effect where online matters amplify supposed needs or concerns. I think it comes back to constraint. But given how patchy that can be…

Interesting was an ex-Apple person who thinks ultimately the economics and corporate interests are what drive this.

But perhaps as a coda (or a starting point?) is what came out yesterday, an unvarnished insight into the world of Facebook… and other social media.

The public disclosure of the 2016 memo, in which a vice-president, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, wrote “anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good”, prompted the CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to defend his company’s mission in a hastily released statement on Thursday.

The offending text?

Bosworth wrote: “Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.” The memo, which provides an insight into the philosophy among some at the Silicon Valley giant, continued: “It is literally just what we do. We connect people. Period. That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified.”

I’m almost entertained by how Bosworth walks it back, as best he can.

Bosworth said in his statement on Thursday: “I don’t agree with the post today and I didn’t agree with it even when I wrote it.” He argued that the intent of the memo was to “bring to the surface issues I felt deserved more discussion”, adding: “I care deeply about how our product affects people and I take very personally the responsibility I have to make that impact positive.”

But not really. Note the line about bullying – though the terrorism stuff seems to have got greater coverage. But personally I think the former is worse, firstly because it is so pervasive, secondly because of the almost Pontius Pilate like washing of hands in regard to responsibility. Bosworth doesn’t seem to care or have any interest in means of mitigating that. Hey, it’s just what happens – yeah?

Anyone with kids, anyone without, should think about their engagement with social media given this represents at least one attitude prevalent by those behind it.

Roseanne March 31, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I got hold of Season Six of Roseanne on DVD second hand (€2.50 – a bargain) and been working through it across the last couple of months. Many years back I watched probably most of the seasons, though I must have faded out because I have no memory of the infamous last one. And now of course there’s a return to an older Roseanne and family.

What’s fascinating is how rooted in working class life in the US the orginal series was. It really doesn’t at that time shy away from at least a version of reality – education, workplaces, etc. Add to that an openness on social issues and sexuality that was ground-breaking in its own way.And that it is wrapped up in a weird almost stilted humour doesn’t detract from that. And crucially it is funny – weird and all.

What’s also intriguing is the way in which Barr in real life has shuffled around politically. A fiery leftwing candidate for the President in the past she appears to have aligned (due in some part animus to Clinton) with Trump. This too apparently is part of the new series – which I haven’t seen Roxane Gay has as always a very thought-provoking piece here in the NYT on the returning show. And she makes a key point, to my mind, that being:

What I found is that the tensions in the TV show — which more than 18 million people watched, a network TV high since 2014 — are the same tensions that shape this current political climate. Roseanne the character voted for Donald Trump because he talked about “jobs.” For that she sacrificed so many other things. The promise of jobs and the myth of the white working class as the only people struggling in this country, which animates so much of our present political moment, are right there, in this sitcom.

This is an essential oddity, particularly of those who have argued that somehow the Trump presidency would represent some fundamental shift – almost to the past, with state investment, jobs, etc. It is of course utterly belied by the reality of that supposed investment (in infrastructure in particularly that has been shown to be utterly hollow). But it’s also a curious line to be taking given the reification of ‘work’ above all else, and the sidelining of the nature of the work or the position of labour and unions and so in this mix. It’s a sort of half-nostalgia – rhetorical at best for a time when there were ‘real’ jobs and lifetimes spent in them but ignoring what else was necessary for them to exist and in reality being completely hostile to the ‘what else was necessary’. And of course it ignores a multitude to in relation to attitudes to race and gender extant at that time.

Difficult not to agree with Gay when she writes:

When a lot of the mainstream media talks about the working class, there is a tendency to romanticize, to idealize them as the most authentic Americans. They are “real” and their problems are “real” problems, as if everyone else is dealing with artificial obstacles. We see this in the some of the breathless media coverage of Trump voters and in a lot of the online chatter about the “Roseanne” reboot. What often goes unsaid is that when the working class is defined in our cultural imagination, we are talking about white people, even though the real American working class is made up of people from many races and ethnicities.

Moreover – as Gay further notes:

During a Television Critics Association panel promoting the show, Ms. Barr said, “it was working-class people who elected Trump.”

This myth persists, but it is only a myth. Forty-one percent of voters earning less than $50,000 voted for Mr. Trump while 53 percent voted for Hillary Clinton. Forty-nine percent of voters earning between $50,000 and $100,000 voted for Mr. Trump while 47 percent voted for Mrs. Clinton. The median income of these voters was $72,000, while the median income of Hillary Clinton voters was $61,000. A significant number of middle-class and wealthy white people contributed to Trump’s election.

Gay will not be watching more episodes, though she enjoyed the first two. For her, and I think this is completely understandable, disentangling the actor from the show is too great an ask in the era of Trump and risks normalising the latter. I’ve not seen it myself, have others?

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Hannah Peel March 31, 2018

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to..., Uncategorized.

My brother saw her perform recently and having been very impressed he sent me on a clip. Apparently every note for the music box has to be done by hand, so it is quite a laborious process to put a tune together and of course the paper is quite delicate.
She performs without the music box also but it’s the music box that enamoured me.


1968 Commemorations March 30, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Thanks to the person who sent this link… from the NewsLetter…

Signs of Hope – A continuing series March 30, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Gewerkschaftler suggested this recently:

I suggest this blog should have a regular (weekly) slot where people can post happenings at the personal or political level that gives them hope that we’re perhaps not going to hell in a handbasket as quickly as we thought. Or as the phlegmatic Germans put it “hope dies last”.

Any contributions this week?

The President’s base… March 30, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A comment on Slate.com below an article on Trump’s latest wheeze – that is to get the Pentagon to pay for the border wall (on the grounds of it being a matter of ‘national security’ – natch!) – I think is very perceptive and it certainly made me think:

I don’t think that we have seen a major politician as amoral as Trump for a very long time. Most politicians are spineless because they serve a fickle public who can turn on a dime.  But Trump does not really care about the general public.  He has his fans, he does not expect to get more and that is that.  Unfortunately, his fan base makes no demands on him.  Rather than forcing him to be consistent, they adjust to him.  With that can of power over his fan base – that is how he thinks of them – he is totally unrestrained.

Those latter points re the ‘fan base’ making no demands and adjusting to him are excellent. This, in a way, explains so much – his continuing support. Of course there’s an aspect of this to any President, any political leader. But what is so striking is that there are no clear base expectations. I suspect that were the wall not to be implemented in any meaningful fashion that he wouldn’t lose any great degree of support because this isn’t about principles, or even ideology (though both are aspects), but about attitudes. Trump speaks for a cohort and even if what he says is incoherent (perhaps particularly because it is incoherent) that is sufficient.

The last scare, same as the next scare… March 30, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Funny, reading this in Slate.com really struck a chord. It describes how Republicans in the US are using Hillary Clinton in upcoming mid-terms…

Republicans have struggled mightily at the ballot box since Donald Trump took office. They lost a U.S. Senate seat in dark-red Alabama last December and a House seat in heavily conservative western Pennsylvania earlier this month. In those races, the usual rhetoric about abortion and immigration did little to buoy Republican candidates, and even a recent tax cut failed to rally GOP voters. So, to reverse that trend, Republicans are turning back the clock to 2016.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee on Monday unveiled a new ad campaign that focuses on—who else?—Hillary Clinton. The ads hope to use the former presidential candidate as a weapon against 10 Senate Democrats up for re-election in states that went for Trump two years ago. The ads, which the NRSC says will run on Facebook for two weeks, highlight a pair of remarks Clinton made about Trump voters that she felt compelled to later walk back: her “basket of deplorables” comments last year and similar ones she made this month about Trump appealing to voters by “looking backwards.”

But the funny thing I’d noticed in comments in various places this last few months was the way her name had suddenly popped up again – and something along the lines of comments BTL on the Slate piece, that she was the Democrats ‘standard-bearer’ or leader. That this is a nonsense hasn’t stopped people reiterating it. She has no role in the Democratic Party, is not running for office, etc, etc. I found that, at the time inexplicable. But now it all comes a little clearer if the intention is to tie her to Democratic candidates.

Now, whatever about Clinton one has to wonder at a strategy that uses the last candidate bested by a Republican as a central focus of a campaign.

I wonder too how effective as a strategy it will be, given that Democrats will be broadly speaking running against Trump.

Harnessing the response March 30, 2018

Posted by Tomboktu in Equality, Ethics, Feminism, Gaelic Football, League of Ireland.

[This was originally a response to a comment on IEL’s post  Quite a crowd …….. but the, eh, “gaffer” (i.e. WBS) suggested it be made a post.]

I expect that taking that support [at the gatherings across the Island to express support for the woman who was the victim in the events that led to the trial of Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding, Blane McIlroy, and Rory Harrison] and turning it into practical changes would probably entail the RCC or NWCI or sister organisations organising or coordinating specific actions.

‘Places’ that responses could go next include

  • revisiting trial and prosecution procedures,
  • standards and practices of media providers, including the ‘mainstream’ print and broadcast media and social media,
  • standards and practices of sports organisations,
  • decisions of commercial organisations that sponsor sports organisations,
  • education programmes both in schools and colleges and in other settings,
  • police and medical and social care responses to all forms of gender-based violence,
  • lobbying for political responses to rape and domestic violence and their victims is a range of settings (including, for example, the nature and quantity of support provided to victims of sexual abuse in the asylum system, including where rape or assault occurred outside this jurisdiction),
  • harnessing public support to boycott organisations – commercial, sporting, political, social – that respond inadequately to rape, sexual assault, gender-based violence.

When I was born, the concept of sexual harassment was not a legal concept, but activists lobbied and harried and secured that legal change. That gives me hope to say that there is no reason why that concept could not be expanded, or a new concept introduced (and given legal weight), to prohibit, and to provide effective remedies to, the disgraceful response that occurred on social media, including the comments by the Laois and the Drogheda United players.

I am also reminded that we changed our criminal laws when they proved inadequate to responding to wealth-producing crime to enable the proceeds to be seized, and would be interested to see if the law could be changed to enable sub-criminal sanctions to be imposed in cases of alleged rape, sexual violence or gender-based violence, where the ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard could not be met but it is sufficiently clear that unacceptable behaviour was committed.

On the other hand, a challenge just at the moment is that the NWCI for the next eight or so weeks has its eye on the referendum. The RCC would be a suitable leadership organisation for a major national programme of work if it wished to take on that role, but its financial resources might make it difficult for it to do a significant volume of work.

%d bloggers like this: