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Pride, and after June 30, 2018

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It is of course Pride today, the IT has a very moving piece by Oliver Callan on his growing up in Monaghan in the 80s and 90s as a young gay man and how the society constrained him. He came out in his very early 30s. Another very moving piece is on the family of Declan Flynn, the young Irish gay man murdered in Fairview Park in 1982.

A sign of how far matters have improved, there’s another piece on a Defence Forces Sergeant and his male partner and how senior military are participating in today’s events.

Meanwhile, a friend of the CLR notes that a relative contacted them about how FF were ‘organising the Pride parade’. As was put to me the relative probably misread FF’s wish to ensure a strong contingent at the parade. And there is this, a video from FF to mark the 25th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland. As was noted the audio clip from the Dáil debate is an interesting one, politically. And yet, what a time now when everyone is on the same page.

Food and drink: Low and Non alcoholic beers… June 30, 2018

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Along with vegetarian non-meat substitutes I’m a sucker for non-alcoholic beers. I drink the real thing but I’m always fascinated by the efforts to develop non-alcoholic substitutes.

And, got to say, from Guinness, their Pure Brew is pretty good. Erdinger I always find a bit cardboard like. Mind you, there’s a good 0.0% alcohol lager in cans in Tesco which is very inexpensive and is excellent.

Though this brings back unpleasant memories:

This isn’t Diageo’s first foray into the world of non-alcoholic beers. Last year it introduced Guinness Zero in Indonesia, although the stout is not expected to be made available in Ireland.
It was also behind Kaliber, which launched in 1986.

Kaliber – shudder.

Still, that doesn’t address the low-alcohol beers, that is ones from 2.5% to 3%. Is Guinness Mid-Strength which was 2.8% proof, and on tap in some pubs a while back, still on the go? I never see it anywhere.

Heineken have Heineken Light at 3%, which I’ve not tried. Is it any good?

Interesting stat in the linked article above that numbers drinking have dropped by 25% since the early 2000s.

Lifestyle pseudoscience… June 30, 2018

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Excellent piece here on Slate.com by Rebecca Onion taking on the NYT’s curious tilt into ‘wellness’ and detoxes – to the extent that they have a ‘My detox’ column. So pernicious is this that it describes the following:

My Detox isn’t the only place in the Times where you can find casual, credulous treatments of pseudoscientific “wellness” concepts. The Styles section has run its share of coverage that might trigger a skeptical reader’s bullshit alarm. For a recent installment of her Styles column
“Me Time,” Marisa Meltzer went to a spa, where she got one treatment combining clairvoyance (!) and acupuncture, and another with a crystal healer. Meltzer’s tone projects gameness—“Let’s try this out!”—rather than whole-hearted endorsement, but the writer does report some actual results. “The [crystals] session felt cathartic and left me emotionally vulnerable in a way that a massage never has,” Meltzer wrote. Available research suggests that if crystals work for you, it’s probably through the placebo effect. (And for what it’s worth, Emily Atkin wrote in the New Republic recently that the crystals you buy may have been mined under adverse conditions, for workers and the environment; it’ll be very hard for the average consumer to tell.)

I once did a course of acupuncture. I enjoyed it, but I went in believing that it’s only function was one of relaxation – and that’s how I came out after. Very relaxed.

The piece discusses how pseudoscience is creeping into newspapers – I think it never went away. Only recently the Observer (IIRC) had a long piece on astrology which was credulous in the extreme.

But I’m 100% with this:

As the Times’ Taffy Brodesser-Akner wrote in her great 2017 piece on the shift between an old “diet” paradigm and our “clean eating” world, talk of “cleansing” hides old compulsions in new clothing. In other words, the “detoxing” concept implies that it’s normal to lead a life where your body is “dirty,” then clean; dirty, then clean; over and over again. Boringly, the actual best way to stay healthy is to maintain a Pollan-esque diet, drink enough water, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep—over and over again, forever and ever.

That last is the key. Everything else is fluff, and sometimes, well, toxic and pernicious fluff.

Space Force June 30, 2018

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This is a great takedown of the latest Trump wheeze, the US Space Force. What is it good for, what is it meant to do? Fred Kaplan of Slate.com offers us a jaundiced view of matters.

At some point in the future, it might be a good idea to create a Space Force (or perhaps a Space Corps, which would have the same semi-autonomous relationship to the Air Force that the Marine Corps has to the Navy). But many other things need to be done first: A policy has to be stated; doctrines, strategies, tactics, and training manuals have to be written; specialists need to be given richer incentives—career paths, with steady promotions—to join the existing services’ space commands; all the services would need to work jointly on these tasks.

Stephen Baxter once wrote an excellent short story entitled War Birds about a US space programme that after the failure of Apollo 11 goes into militaristic overdrive. Always think of that when I read of ‘space force’ and similar…

This Weekend I’ll be listening to… songs that remind me of Summer or are about the Summer June 30, 2018

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As noted previously there are songs that I reach for in late Autumn. And similarly in the Summer there are songs I’ll play precisely because they remind me of Summer, or one or other Summer in particular. Usually this is because they are about summer (natch) or I first heard them in various Summers. They’re a bit of a mixed bag, but here we go… and all contributions welcome…

Hawkwind – Hurry on Sundown
Always sounded summery to me – not least the chorus, ‘Hurry on Sundown, see what tomorrow brings’.

New Order – Dreams Never End
Was given the album this was on as a gift in the Summer of 1982. So while for some I’m sure it’s all chilly post-punk, for me it always conjures up sunny evenings.

Donna Summer – I Feel Love
See what I did there, but it’s true. Not just that synth line, but also released July 1977.

The Penelope[s] – Summer Life
From a few years back and French dance exponents. Genius.

Robert Forster – Warm Nights

The Cult – Sun King
New York, Summer 1989. It was hot. Got the album on cassette.

The Hold Steady – Constructive Summer
A homage to Husker Du’s Celebrated Summer and Joe Strummer. Kind of like it.

The Specials – Ghost Town
It’s not particularly summery but… Summer 1981 and UK cities went up in riots and this was kind of a soundtrack.

Rush – Summertime Blues
There are more versions of this than one would believe, Blue Cheer’s one is particularly good, but I like this one too.

The Undertones – Here Comes the Summer
Speaks for itself.

Jonathan Richman – Summer Feeling
Speaks for itself redux.

Sly & The Family Stone – Hot Fun in the Summertime
Still great.

Horslips – We Bring the Summer With Us
Always liked this.

ELO – Summer and Lightening
A group made for Summer in a way.

Sing-Sing – Feels Like Summer
Ex-Lush member producing melodic indie-pop to good effect.

Crosby Stills and Nash – Wooden Ships
Sung at Woodstock unless I am much mistaken.

Casino Versus Japan – Summer Clip

Type O Negative – Summer Breeze
Views differ on TON but this is a great cover.

Abba – Summer Night City
A classic.

The Bothy Band – Tiocfaidh an Samhradh (Summer will Come)
Really started listening to this the last year or so. Very appropriate.

Air – Alpha Beta Gaga
Kind of summery in its airbrushed way, but listened to this a lot over the summer of 2007 so that’s why it’s here.

Swamp thing June 29, 2018

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Odd as it may seem, reading about Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA in the US, one is tempted to say ‘forget about the environment stuff, just check out this…’.For it appears that Pruitt exemplifies a particularly pernicious approach to life:

Mr. Chmielewski left the E.P.A. after falling out with Mr. Pruitt, but the three other aides confirmed the internship request, as well as multiple other personal directives from their boss described by Mr. Chmielewski. They said Mr. Pruitt told them that he expected a certain standard of living akin to wealthier Trump cabinet members. The aides felt as if Mr. Pruitt — who is paid about $180,000 a year — saw them as foot soldiers in achieving that lifestyle.
“The problem is he is not Trump — he is not a billionaire,” said one of the other aides, who spoke on the condition that they not be named. “But he sincerely thinks he is.”

Imagine living a life where that was the yardstick of success. Not being head of a US federal agency, not being by any reasonable measure well-paid, but by wanting some absurd ‘standard of living’.

Weep for him and his mediocre standard of living…

As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mr. Pruitt earned an annual salary of about $133,000, and he had assets between $320,000 and $800,000, mostly in investment accounts, according to his disclosure documents. That included between $15,000 and $50,000 in a cash account. He reported a public employee’s retirement plan worth $100,000 to $250,000. His wife reported no income.
He also said he owed between $500,000 and $1 million on his $1.18 million home in Tulsa.

On the other hand – regarding an election… June 29, 2018

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This isn’t quite a Gordon Brown “bottling it” moment (and my sympathies were broadly with Brown in that instance) but interesting to see the framing used by M Martin here today:

“Speaking on Newstalk, Mr Martin said: “Maybe he wants an election, if he wants an election, let him call an election”.

Addressing the prospect of an early election, Deputy Martin said: “The Taoiseach himself created the hype, and I think the Taoiseach has contributed to all of this, in the sense that he has raised the spectre falsely about us openly talking about supporting a Sinn Féin motion that was never tabled, it was a phantom motion, it was a bit of a stunt at the time.”

Putting it back on Varadkar, linking to SF, headlines etc, Martin will likely count that a good mornings work.

Conscience redux June 29, 2018

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Got to say this isn’t impressive, a complaint about SF not allowing a ‘conscience’ vote on abortion by its representatives. I’ve already noted the exquisite hypocrisy in those who were happy when the party cleaved to an anti-abortion line and made not a squeak of complaint about conscience suddenly getting exercised by the issue now that the worm has turned. But there’s a deeper problem.

There’s a lot of fluff about ‘mature’ parties allowing conscience votes but to me it’s always seemed the most ridiculous cant to reify that in some instances and not in others. For example, why are social issues conscience issues and not economic? There’s no clear reason why one is elevated above the other.

And in truth it seems to me that a party does have a right to impose – democratically – constraints on those who represent it. If one does not like it, well parties are voluntary, one can either attempt to force policy change democratically, or establish a new one.

Or, cutting to the chase, if one joins a party one signs up to a range of beliefs arrived at previously or contemporaneously. Which btw, is why I’m not a member of a party, that range is too much hassle to have to adhere to – been there, done that, three times now.

2 extra MEPs for Ireland June 29, 2018

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This news this morning on foot of a reallocation of the UKs 73 seats – or 27 October those seats to be precise.

No election round here anytime soon… June 29, 2018

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Fiach Kelly in the IT articulates something that I’ve felt for some time now, certainly for twelve months or so, that away from the recurrent rhetoric in the media about an election, and the self-serving chatter from some politicians and aspirant politicians, the reality is rather different:

The political class, so accustomed to being on edge over the prospect of a general election, appears to have have missed some signs this week that should relieve its perpetual anxiety.
The odds on an extension to the confidence-and-supply deal which underpins the Fine Gael-led minority government have now significantly shortened, although little attention has been paid to this development.

Kelly argues that the Summer Economic Statement and its rather dry tone points to anything but a pre-election giveaway budget. And he suggests that FF is keen to ‘deny’ FG any excuse for an election. But then perhaps FG is none too keen on one either.

In recent days, one seasoned Fine Gael political operator confidently predicted the general election would not be until October 2019 at the earliest.
Until recently, such a suggestion would have been met with extreme sarcasm by most in Leinster House. After the past week, it does not seem far-fetched at all.

And why would they be? Kelly points to Varadkar’s poll ratings as being good, and the recent referendum victory, but… but… FG’s ratings have not substantially improved to the point where it would be a safe bet, or even a good bet, or a fair one, on an election. Though some of that is more about the shape of the post-election landscape. It is implausible that FG will not, at this point, be the winner in terms of most TDs. But cobbling together another coalition and supply and confidence agreement – well, why not stick with the one that is already there? At least for a while yet.

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