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Happy Halloween… unless you’re Catholic, in which case… October 31, 2021

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Thanks to JH for noting this curious front page from the Irish Catholic, out to spread seasonal good cheer.

This sort of hyperbole in the front page article is, sadly, of a piece with this stuff emanating from the US. As Slate reports the further shores of conservative Catholicism (by which one means genuinely reactionary conservative Catholicism) are very very wild indeed:

Last weekend, the leading voices of the QAnon camp gathered in Las Vegas to discuss the state of the world and the future of their movement. The prominent names in attendance at the convention included Jim and Ron Watkins, a father-and-son pair accused of inventing the conspiracy theory.

But the speech that ultimately garnered the most attention was by the actor Jim Caviezel, who is best known—at least among the conservative Christian crowd—for playing Jesus in Mel Gibson’s 2004 film The Passion of the Christ. Caviezel’s speech, which amounted to a literal call to arms against the liberal worldview, concluded with the proclamation that “the Storm is upon us”—a direct invocation of QAnon’s central conspiracy theory.

On Monday, Caviezel’s speech was quoted approvingly by a Catholic bishop. “All need to listen to this speech,” wrote Joseph Strickland, the bishop of Tyler, Texas.

Caviezel, as any who have followed his career, is a deeply conservative figure (pity, always liked him in Person of Interest, but separating the actor from the role isn’t that difficult and the thought of the pro-same-sex relationships and feminist inflected scripts makes one believe that there is indeed a God and s/he has a pretty good sense of humour to place Caviezel at the heart of that show).

But if Caviezel comes over as, to put it at it’s kindest, a simple if dangerously deluded soul, Strickland is something else, and as with the front page article on the Irish Catholic above all too eager to wade into ‘culture wars’ and such like. For Strickland Pope Francis is clearly next best thing to an apostate. And Strickland’s Gospel is one that isn’t limited to abortion or similar issues. Nope, as Slate notes he’s exercised by a broader range of matters:

But those aren’t the only issues that Strickland cares about, and while his position on abortion lines up with Catholic teaching, several other stances very much do not.

The most shocking evidence for this came from his firm support for a blogger priest named Fr. James Altman, whose reactionary positions led his own bishop in Wisconsin to ask him to resign. (Altman is currently challenging his ousting in a canonical appeal.) Altman set off a firestorm in 2020 with a video titled “You cannot be a Catholic & a Democrat. Period.” In the video, he asserted that Democrats would burn in hell because of the party’s support for abortion rights, DACA, and climate change mitigation efforts.

DACA, climate change? Perhaps science itself?

So while the Irish Catholic headline is foolish seeming, what it represents – and we’ve seen some remarkably reactionary voices in the Irish church well beyond their usual comfort zone during the pandemic – really isn’t.

BTW, anyone read any of those editorials post-1916? Sounds interesting.

Sunday and other stupid media statements from this week… October 31, 2021

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

This morning’s Sunday Independent has this gem:

Remember trade unions? They used to be in the news all the time. Demanding this. Threatening to strike over that.

They’ve been quiet for the past 18 months as millions of workers saw their pay and working conditions hit by lockdown. Maybe trade unionists were on furlough too. Now they’re back, seeking to shape the future in their own image.


And Dan O’Brien draws a convoluted line from cyberattacks to Irish neutrality in the following (apparently we’d be ‘safer’ if we were ‘more closely aligned with our democratic allies’ though oddly that hasn’t prevented the following elsewhere “cyber attacks in recent weeks against medical facilities in the Czech Republic, France, Spain, Thailand, and the United States, international organizations such as the World Health Organization, and other health authorities.”

The inertia that bedevils our political system is also in evidence in how the state carries out its first duty, to protect citizens. Last May, Ireland was attacked. The cyber attack on the state’s healthcare system was carried out by criminals based in a country which, at the very least, turns a blind eye to such crimes.

Ireland’s “neutrality” – neutral against who, one always needs to ask – did not protect it from having citizens’ lives in the healthcare system threatened or even worse. A request to the HSE for information on loss of life related to the attack had not been answered by close of business last Friday.

The failure to face up to external threats is deeply ingrained in the political class. When Nato was being established in the 1940s, the government of the day’s decision not to join with its natural allies was not based on any principle. It didn’t join because a naive attempt to trade Irish membership for having the US pressure Britain to end partition failed.

Stephen Collins has decided that he’s the arbiter of whether environmentalists are ‘truly serious’ about ‘reducing carbon emissions’.

Over the past decade as the worries about global warming have become ever greater some environmentalists have begun to face up to a stark choice. If they are truly serious about reducing carbon emissions they have to reconsider their opposition to nuclear power.

Finn McRedmond in the same paper decides to construct a remarkable straw man – whereby criticism of Facebook for many contemporary ills becomes in her analysis criticism of Facebook for all contemporary ills.

We cannot locate all of our anxieties on Facebook and Zuckerberg if we wish to make the world better. American conservatives might use video games to sidestep conversations about gun violence. Are we redirecting our attention from difficult issues – increasing political polarisation in an age of intense anxiety, for example – to the easy-to-digest scapegoat “Facebook”?

Fake news is worrisome and Facebook has a moral obligation to acknowledge and ameliorate its role in spreading it. But governments have a responsibility to impose unfriendly and stringent regulation on them too. Instagram is harmful to teenage girls but show me a social media platform that isn’t.

…Facebook is hopefully facing a long overdue reckoning. But so long as we use it as a bogeyman for all of the ills we are facing, our efforts to improve will always fall short.

Meanwhile in the Examiner (thanks to gypsybhoy69 for the link) there was this:

Since last year, as Ireland grappled with lockdowns and restrictions, we were told vaccines would be our silver bullet once developed.

Once they were developed, we were told that we can only ease restrictions when we have a sufficient cohort of the population vaccinated.

Once we got to 80% vaccinated, we were told we would need to get to 90% vaccinated before life could return to normal.

“These vaccines are transformative and they are our way out,” Taoiseach Micheál Martin told us in March of this year amid sluggish supply at that stage from Europe.

This was echoed by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, and virtually every Cabinet minister who appeared on the airwaves at that time.

However, this week, the decision to push out the deadline for the abolition of restrictions came against the backdrop of rising case numbers, notwithstanding the extraordinarily high vaccination rates throughout the State. These case numbers have led many, if not all of us, to ask what the hell is going on?

Why, when we were promised that vaccinations would deliver us to the promised land of freedom, is the narrative now changing?

How is it that, at this stage of the pandemic, Daniel McConnell doesn’t appreciate that a novel coronavirus isn’t going to function in a predictable way and that the suite of responses to the virus are going to have to be flexible and change and at times restrictions will be retained or in extremis reintroduced.

Who could disagree with this from the weekend?

It’s easy to express outrage at the recent protests targeting the private houses of those in powerful positions.

The tactic is rotten – a form of vigilantism that borders on soft terrorism. It’s anti-democratic, menacing, malevolent, dehumanising and dangerous.

I’ve been a critic of Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar – both of whom were subjected to home protests in recent weeks. Regardless: it’s 100pc wrong and I can’t stand it.

And yet, someone writing under the same name in the same paper only a fortnight ago under the following headline “Lazy jabs at the unvaccinated highlight the blind bigotry of Irish society” had this to say:

The silence is evident in our latest national pandemic pastime – demonising the small minority of those who are as yet unvaccinated.

The more voices we hear railing against the 8pc of selfish free-riders, the louder the silence from the refuseniks.

In a culture of judgment and shaming, no wonder they are mute. We never hear their view, so we never hear the why – which is the key to addressing concerns.



Fortnightly Culture Thread October 31, 2021

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gregtimo proposed in comments recently the idea of a Culture Thread.

It’s a great idea. Currently culture is a bit strange, but people read, listen to music, watch television and film and so on – spread the net wide, sports, activities, interests, all relevant – and any pointers are always welcome. And it’s not just those areas but many more. Suggestions as to new or old things, events that might have been missed, literally anything. gregtimo for example asks… 

A not insignificant change… October 30, 2021

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...in Sinn Féin's approach to justice this afternoon. 

Sinn Féin has passed a motion at its Ard Fheis that backs the use of non-jury courts in very exceptional circumstances.

A small number of speakers opposed the motion and urged the party not to bow to pressure from the “establishment”.

Irish band October 30, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Thought this was entertaining, and far from inaccurate too. An overview from El País of a certain Irish group and their career across the decades.

The unkindest cut?

U2′s latest release is We Are The People, the official theme song of the UEFA European Football Championship performed by Bono and The Edge together with dance music DJ and producer Martin Garrix. The song is so cheesy it’s beyond parody. If at the turn of the millennium Coldplay were hailed as the contender to take U2′s throne, here the theory that U2 are their own tribute band has been confirmed.


The H-Block album re-released… October 30, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Listening to last weekends Léargas from Gerry Adams I was struck by mention of the H-Block album compiled and produced by Christy Moore in 1978. It had completely slipped out of my memory as an album. Quite a track list:

  • “Rights of Man” (Traditional) – Matt Molloy
  • “Guest of the Queen” (Brian Ua Baoill) – Stephen Ray
  • “On The Blanket” (Mick Hanly) – Mick Hanly
  • “H. Block Song” (Francie Brolly) – Francie Brolly
  • “Repeal the Union” (Traditional) – Matt Molloy
  • “Bright Star” – Stephen Ray
  • “Patrick’s Arrival”
  • “Taimse I Mo Chodladh” (Traditional) – Dan Dowd
  • “90 Miles from Dublin” (Christy Moore) – Christy Moore
  • “A Retort” – Stephen Ray
  • “Lucy Campbell/Patsy Tuohy” (Traditional) – Noel Hill and Tony Linnane


Stephen Ray was, of course, Stephen Rea who read out three poems.


The album has just been re-released as noted in this transcript of the podcast:


The re-launched album received its first public presentation at an event last Friday evening in the Felons Club on the Falls Road. Speaking about the role, impact and importance of music and art, of film and the written word, former blanketman and hunger striker, Laurence McKeown, told those present that the arts have the ability to move people to tears, to lift confidence and provide hope, and to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Friday night was such a night.

Christy Moore, in fine form, sat alone on the stage reminiscing and singing. The audience was enthralled. It was an intimate event, more like a family gathering than a gig. Christy was obviously enjoying the appreciative audience response to his songs and stories. Many had tears in their eyes as Christy interspersed  “No Time for Love,” “Only our rivers run free,” “Back Home in Derry,”  “McIlhatton,” and other songs with stories from those years.



This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Sly & The Family Stone, There’s A Riot Goin’ On October 30, 2021

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Some albums have such a prominence culturally that it’s really difficult to know how to write about them. Then again music is both collective and individual and everyone reacts differently to a group, an album, a song. And this album released in 1971 is such a fascinating example of the form – R&B/Soul, as iTunes (or is it Music these days?) flattens into categories that really don’t/can’t encompass the totality of what is here – that it really is something else. Anyone who has seen the recent Apple TV+ documentary, 1971, will know that this was produced in something of a haze by the group who were falling into addiction. Allmusic thinks the whole album is inflected by weariness. And yes, while that’s evident in the elongated arrangements and a sometimes soporific aspect to the whole enterprise, that is perhaps to ignore that this is still a vibrant, energetic album fueled by a sort of desperation at the state of US society in that year – perhaps in every year. And listening to tracks such as ‘Just Like a Baby’ with its slurred vocals and ghostly distant keyboard line set against the funk rhythm the strangest thing is that there’s a real anger here.

It’s weirdly dense sounding – while somehow simultaneously spare. Take ‘Poet’ which surges along in an almost claustrophobic fashion so that when ‘Family Affair’ arrives its near enough a respite propelled along by Larry Graham’s bass. And listen to the lyrics of that last song and for all that it sounds upbeat, it isn’t really. And here the political edge of the album (the title famously a direct response and riposte to Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ released only months earlier and the title ‘track’ four seconds of silence) really comes to the fore, showing lives trapped within broader dynamics. But there’s no clear solutions on offer.

That said the music at times is uplifting. ‘Africa Talks to You (The Asphalt Jungle)’ is, if not joyous, at least pacier (and propelled by an early drum machine which gives the music an oddly modern sheen). Brave & Strong (and by the by Sly & the Family Stone really liked ampersands) is great, but again sparse and with a lyric to match. ‘(You Caught Me) Smilin’ is another highlight – both musically and emotionally. ‘Spaced Cowboy’ is parodic (yodelling, Mr. Stone?) but that percussion is remarkable, particularly the way it comes in building up (and someone in Alabama 3 was listening closely one suspects).

Rose Stone’s lead vocal on ‘Runnin’ Away’ is stunning as is the track itself built around the simplest yet most effective of melodies (and Cynthia Robinson on trumpet). But in a way it typifies the album. It’s not that this is a sketch but a fully formed song, and yet there’s an oddly sketch-like impressionistic aspect to the sound throughout. A function of the production, surely, but of the songs themselves and the way in which they’re put together. And perhaps in other hands that would make this a listless album (hank You For Talkin’ to Me Africa is 7.14 minutes long but not a second is wasted and if it was another 7.14 minutes long it wouldn’t pall), but Sly Stone and his comrades manage to pull the whole thing together into something very very different, something both all too comfortable and entirely uncomfortable and challenging – and just on that Stone never seems to have been unwilling to share out the sounds. This is far far from a one person band. Difficult to believe it is a half century old. Timeless, though.


Spaced Cowboy

Runnin’ Away

(You Caught Me) Smilin

Family Affair

Thank You For Talkin’ to Me Africa

Signs of Hope – A continuing series October 29, 2021

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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?

Chapters to close, and the TCD Science Gallery too October 29, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

As noted by SonofStan in comments and by IEL here:

Across that forty years would have been in there on a sometimes weekly basis. That is sad news, presumably a sign of the times with extraordinary pressure on shops from online and other retailers as well as the pandemic(?) and it raises the question as to what bookshops are left in Dublin.

Also noted by 6to5against:

And the science gallery around the same time. A real pity to my eyes, taking away an offbeat mix of science and art in an accessible space. And one of the few (maybe the only?) public facing space on the ever-growing Trinity campus.

Another real loss and somewhere that as 6to5 notes was a space that was part of TCD but also easily accessible for those outside it.


And speaking about the delayed return to the office… October 29, 2021

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Talking to a friend at the weekend he made the point that the actual rhetoric from the government on the delay or otherwise to offices is a bit ambiguous. As Sandra Hurley notes on RTÉ:

So where does the Government policy on return to workplaces stand now and what about the right to request remote working?

Before the recent spike in cases, the official advice was for employees to return to the workplace on a “phased and staggered basis” from 20 September.


But life at the office was upended just three weeks into the new regime when Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn took to Twitter to comment on the sudden spike in Covid numbers.

Dr Glynn advised employees to work from home when possible, in a move that seemed to clash with the Government policy on a phased return to workplaces.

And then, last week:

When NPHET met earlier this week, it recommended that all who can work from home should continue to do so, although the return to the workplace could continue on “a phased and cautious basis”.


But on Tuesday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said a full return to the office would not happen until spring next year.

He said a staggered return to the workplace was possible, but he added that employers should facilitate those who can and want to work from home.

And this is where the confusion lies with two sets of competing advice.

As Hurley notes, SF’s Louise O’Reilly has noted that:

“While the public health advice is still for people to work from home where possible, the reality for many workers is that they have been summoned back to the workplace even though they could continue to work from home.

“It is not good enough for the Government to say a full return to offices will not be possible until spring without ensuring that workers can continue to work remotely, where possible.”

But absent legislation to allow for that all is confusion – with workers dependent upon managers and employers who are willing to see them work from home (where appropriate – but I would suggest that fewer in the office takes pressure of workers in other contexts who are by dint of the nature of their employment in work).

So all remains confused. And as to early Spring. I think I mentioned, four weeks ago I thought I’d be on a hybrid basis by now. Now I’m seriously wondering as to when that situation will be possible.

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