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Scary television April 30, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This piece on the Guardian website was a head-scratcher. It purports to be about how to ‘turn adult science fiction into kids TV’ and the problems therein. But from the off, the tone is strange:

Children are not allowed on the bridge!” said Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s pilot episode. Nowadays, that attitude has softened, with Trek about to get its own animated series as an antidote to the smörgåsbord of F-bombs, Klingon boobs and decapitated Romulans that populate its live-action incarnations.

Alongside Netflix’s Camp Cretaceous – which turns the Jurassic World franchise into a family-friendly cartoon – it’s part of a trend for creating versions of sci-fi shows for children that haven’t lost their power to shock – but won’t give kids nightmares.

Star Trek giving kids nightmares? Not in The Next Generation. Or any of the iterations before then. Or in Voyager, or Enterprise. Okay maybe one or two episodes here and there, but I’ve always viewed Star Trek as a franchise as one that straddles children and adults. For better and worse.

Now granted there’s a new tranche of ST shows, of varying quality from the actually quite good Picard (well, Season 2 is good, so far – Season 1 was woeful) to the not great ST: Discovery. Others are on their way. And as for F-bombs and so on. Not many in ST:D IIRC, and a few, but not many, in Picard. All kind of strange complaints to be honest.

But what about that line about Trek about to get its own animated series. I know I’m not the only person on this site who has sung the praises of Star Trek: Lower Decks. Now I know a year is a long time in show business, but it was released in August 2020. Hardly years ago. So why isn’t it mentioned?

As for Star Trek: Prodigy which the article references. That dropped in October 2021.

The broader point isn’t uninteresting but then again, let’s not overstate it.

Babylon 5 was arguably one of the more sophisticated science fiction television serials, whatever about the ropey sets, but there was little or nothing there most children couldn’t watch. The Expanse, Foundation, For All Mankind? Well, I guess it depends on where you set the age boundaries for children. The last might on an emotional level be a bit much; the former might for the intermittent use of naked(ish) actors be a problem. Who knows? But then I think science fiction is science fiction and horror is horror and it’s the latter area where real violence enters the picture. The creature is fascinated to see Alien, but Alien’s might be a better bet being more in the former area than the latter (though I think Alien is a fantastic film in its own right). And perhaps it is that equation SF is SF and horror is horror that has meant that the former is pitched towards a more ambiguous and broader area.

But it’s odd. The piece looks at Jurassic Park as an example of ‘adult’ SF that has to be softened for a younger audience in television iteration.

When the creators of Camp Cretaceous were developing a kid-friendly version of the Jurassic World movies, they decided to do it by asking existential questions. “We asked ourselves, what is the DNA of the Jurassic franchise? Why do people watch these films?” says Zack Stentz, creator of Camp Cretaceous. “We decided you need those scary action beats, but you also need Spielbergian moments of awe and wonder.”

Getting those scary moments right is a tricky balancing act when it comes to writing for kids. It can’t be too scary, but you also can’t go too far the other way – particularly if you’re being given input by the creator of Jurassic Park. “Everything to do with the Jurassic franchise goes to Steven Spielberg,” he says. “He’s shot down attempts to do animated shows in the past, and he only agreed this time on one condition: ‘Make it scary!’”

But Jurassic Park always struck me as a franchise that was pitched towards that broader range of viewers age-wise anyhow.  Or take Jaws, speaking of Spielberg. That was a horror film of sorts, but it was sufficiently broad based that I recall being brought on a friends birthday to see the second one in 1978 when I was all of twelve. It was kind of scary. But not impossibly so. So what were the expectations back then as to how that film would be received by a gang of eleven and twelve year olds at the Savoy?

But then different imagery or narratives hits at different times. People might laugh at the idea of people hiding behind the sofa during Doctor Who. And yet, and yet, I recall watching The Time Warrior series of Doctor Who in 1973 – I’d have been eight, and watching in, well, horror as the Sontaran removes his helmet at the end of an episode. What was under that helmet? Nothing good was clearly the answer. I kept watching. The reality of what was there was, naturally, much less worse than anything one could imagine, even then, and little did I know that by 2011 this eldritch horror would wind up on a more recent iteration of Doctor Who represented by an amiable battlefield nurse amongst its number. Truly we live in a different age.

Then again, and I’m a bit of a fan of Jon Pertwee Doctor Who, The Three Doctors from late 1972, more or less blew my mind with whole buildings being torn from this dimension into another – those visual effects might be rudimentary but they were effective, if you were eleven.

But all this raises questions. What scared people when they were young and when is scary too scary?


Church to library April 30, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Caught sight of this on RTÉ, an article on Athy Library, took a look at the accompanying photo and thought ‘that’s some building’ followed by the next thought, ‘isn’t that a church?’.

And indeed it was.

…the construction of St. Dominic’s Catholic Church terminating Convent Lane – a building so remarkable that it has become an Athy landmark. The most striking feature of this church is its roof, which grandstands the remarkable plasticity and strength of concrete, sometimes called ‘liquid stone’, and which may well have seemed to some of the first parishioners that it was held in place by the hand of God.

The freestanding parabolic roof meets the ground and sits on a wedge-shaped plan. Its apex reaches a level at 75.96m at one end and 69.15m at the other with a span of almost 48 m between the abutments. The walls were constructed after the completion of the roof as it was expected that the roof would move up and down with changes in temperature.

The church opened in 1965 at a time when the idea it might undergo a conversion would have been unthinkable.

I’ve got to admit I’ve a real love for those buildings from that period. Raheny Church is another.

Kilbarrack, another again from slightly later, early 1970s (and this is more or less what it replaced – though this could be the Community Centre and the old temporary church was knocked down, but same buildings essentially).

Coolock/Donaghmede similarly. There was a vogue for pyramids, and similar during those years for Catholic Church architecture and there’s something fabulously futuristic about them, all soaring angles and curious geometries. This conversion in Athy makes perfect aesthetic sense given the purpose (even more so if one takes an agnostic view of these matters) of the building at the time.

But reconfiguring churches as libraries. What a brilliant idea, because conceptually it’s not a huge step, not least that libraries are quiet places, generally, given over to focus and consideration. I really like the idea that these buildings might survive to be positioned, as the article notes, as civic spaces. This is a precedent that surely could be followed elsewhere.


This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… The Saints April 30, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Once upon a time there was no internet. And in those days, as noted here regularly, what one heard was a function of what was on the radio – very little that one liked; on the television – ditto; in the music press – UK-centric and fashion driven to a fault; in fanzines – fun but difficult to acquire; and finally, though arguably most importantly, what people acquired in terms of records and tapes and so on. Which is why I doubt I was consciously aware of Australian punk/rock, outfit, The Saints until the 2000s when I subscribed to Emusic and started working through their back catalogue. Sad to relate that their singer Chris Baily passed away this month.

What’s perhaps a bit strange is that Australian and New Zealand music was right in my wheelhouse – The Church, and all their side groups and offshoots, remain one of my favourite groups to this day. Similarly with any number of obscure Antipodean new wave and goth acts. Or The Chills or The Crystal Set, or the Lime Spiders. Well, it’s a long long list. And did I mention the Dunedin sound and Flying Nun?

So how did The Saints pass me by? Well they weren’t much loved by the UK music press – wrong image for punk (longish hair, ordinary clothing). And they didn’t stay in the punk camp for that long – arguably no more than two albums

What struck me then, and continues to this day, is how strong a group they were on the first few albums. They had the songs – (I’m) Stranded being example A. They had the riffs and then some. They were fast, they were slow. They had the vocals, a scalding rasp in places, more subdued in others. But listen to Nights in Venice and it’s sort of a mix of fast-Sabbath guitars and Adolescents style vocals. It’s ahead of its time by quite some way and while not every cut hits overall it’s a fantastic debut. But then second album Eternally Yours, which broadens out the sound a little, is a fantastic follow-up. They shift from Ramones goes Antipodean buzzsaw guitars to something that adds a little soul and a horn section. Know Your Product is perhaps best known, a peerless earworm of a track that in its cynical take on commercialism sounds as relevant today as when it was released. But there’s a lot more. Orstralia, A Minor Aversion and Lost and Found are simply great.

And the third album as noted above broadens it out quite a bit more again with more horns and Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin covers. It’s interesting and when it works it really works, take Save Me as an example, but it’s patchier than the first two, almost like the work of a different band entirely in some ways. Chris Bailey sounds a bit like Peter Perrett from The Only Ones at various points. There was a rift in the camp soon after. And later, particularly after Ed Kuepper, co-founder and guitarist who left after this third album and took with him quite a lot, they tipped towards a pop rock sound and your mileage may vary about how much you like that. They remind me of all people of 1980s Liverpool group The Icicle Works who started out in the New Wave camp but then moved towards pop/rock/heavy rock to varying effect. It’s not a precise analogue – I think the Icicle Works were more successful in their shift from new wave, or perhaps simply more to my liking. So perhaps that stylistic shift was a problem and saw their first burst of energy dissipated?

Whatever about that it strikes me with The Saints that there were enough differing and disparate ideas in those first few albums to fuel entire careers of other groups.

I’m Stranded

Erotic Neurotic

No Time

Nights in Venice


Know Your Product

No, Your Product

Private Affair

Save Me

Church of Indifference

The Chameleon

Brisbane (Security City)

Completism April 29, 2022

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

The Collector in me was thrilled to have this arrive in the post this morning.

Signs of Hope – A continuing series April 29, 2022

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

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?

And if SF becomes the largest party in the Assembly… April 29, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Good piece in the IT about the changes that appear to be afoot in Northern Ireland.

If the opinion polls are correct ahead of the May 5 elections, it will be the first time in Northern Ireland’s history that a unionist will not head up its government.

Nationalism has never been more in a more confident position, according to Dr. Éamon Phoenix.

“It is seismic in a way but the real impact is going to be on the morale of unionism,” he adds.

It was during the last Assembly elections in 2017 that the north’s political landscape was radically altered, when unionists no longer held a majority position.

But more is ahead.

In what was a watershed result, the DUP came within one seat of losing the election to Sinn Féin.

“For the first time, Unionists who describe themselves as unionists on the ballot paper were in the minority…they really didn’t think that moment was coming,” says Alex Kane, political commentator and former Ulster Unionist party head of communications.

“If it really is the case that Sinn Féin emerge as the largest party with the largest number of seats, you have the double whammy; a minority in terms of seat numbers but also, for the first time ever, unionists will no longer be able to stand up and say ‘on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland’ – because they’re not anymore, unionists are not speaking for Northern Ireland, and that is why it is such a huge psychological shock,” Kane adds.

That’s an important point because it has implications more widely. For example on Brexit. To date we’ve had the ludicrous situation where Donaldson appropriates the rhetoric of speaking for everyone particularly on Brexit. But if an anti-Brexit party is largest that has significant implications – perhaps not least in regard to how the UK government must approach the situation. Indeed in that latter case they will have an interesting reorientation to undergo.

And with the question open as to whether the DUP will take the DFM position or simply walk away one has to wonder what happens next? Such an retreat from democratic politics would have its own implications too. A Northern Ireland where the main element of Unionism refuses to work with the main element of Nationalism/Republicanism in the context of the agreed dispensation is an NI hardly worth anything.

And this last is thought-provoking.

We now have a nationalism that is confident…and a situation today where Sinn Féin, 100 years on from opposing partition, is confident and in a position to take Stormont,” says Phoenix.

“Unionism is not only divided but disconcerted and is really going to find it very difficult to come to terms with the ongoing demographic changes in this place.”

That Nationalism is not going anywhere, however much the DUP might seek to wish it away. They can’t pull the blanket over their heads and pretend matters are other than they are. The reality is that NI is a shared space for both national identities or it is nothing at all.

No low too low April 29, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Anyone read this, about how female Tory MPs have complained that:

…a female minister reported seeing a male colleague watching porn on a mobile phone in parliament.

A string of the party’s female MPs have complained to the whips about sexism and misogyny within its ranks in a heated meeting on Tuesday night.


Female MPs are also “on the brink of mutiny”, according to one senior Tory, over a report over the weekend that three cabinet ministers were among 56 MPs against whom complaints of sexual harassment were made to the independent complaints system.


When the complaints were raised, others among the group of 40 MPs in attendance were said to have “gone ballistic”. One recalled: “We all shouted that they had to be suspended.” Another attender said: “I think chief wasn’t prepared for strength of feeling, one colleague talked about comments made on her skirt, another at being called ‘girls’ by whips, another about being sniggered at by male colleagues in chamber.” They also complained that female MPs were being sidelined, with the media dominated by senior Tory men on the morning broadcast rounds and regular television shows.

All this in the context of the revolting political attacks on Angela Rayner (and I see the Mail attempted to double down on this during the week by misquoting earlier comments by her on a podcast – comments which did not in any way undermine her valid complaints against the allegations in the MOS).

But all this raises so many issues – the embedded nature of sexism and misogyny, not surprising in the Tories of all parties, but telling nonetheless and interesting, and telling too, to see this pushed back from within that group. The entitlement and stupidity of a man watching porn on a device in parliament is almost beyond belief. But – of course – it isn’t beyond belief. And the entirety of the spectrum, sexual harassment – both verbal and otherwise, dismissing women or sidelining them.

The porn watcher is also indulging in a very specific form of sexual harassment – and one has to wonder about the performative aspect of that, doing so in a context where others will of necessity be forced to see them do so. On so many levels that is deeply deeply troubling. If the identity is discovered what will the sanction be?

But what all this speaks of is much wider than the Tories, though how it is handled is extremely important because it will provide an exemplary effect – workers in workplaces deserve the basic right not to feel they are subject to any forms of sexual harassment or to be marginalised. This is such simple stuff and it’s 2022.

James Connolly Festival 2022, May 7-15 April 29, 2022

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

Featuring Clare Daly (MEP), Rebel Phoenix (Rapper), Eoin Ó Broin (Sinn Féin), Sharon Graham (Unite The Union), Emmet Kirwan (Actor) John Bellamy Foster (Monthly Review), Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Gerry Carroll (People Before Profit), Mags Casey (Travellers Mental Health Network) + much more

The James Connolly Festival is an annual, week-long series of events in radical arts, culture, and politics. It is a community-centred celebration of music, film, discussion and debate that brings together the ideas and thoughts of progressive and radical thinkers and organisations from around Ireland and beyond.

The festival will take place from The New Theatre in Temple Bar and venues across Dublin city. It opens with a discussion entitled ‘Building Working Class Power’ that will feature newly elected general secretary of Unite The Union, Sharon Graham.

None more pressing than the question of housing. We welcome Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin to take part in a panel debate ‘Ireland’s Housing Crisis – Public Housing The Solution’, hosted by Community Action Tenants Union (CATU).

The New Theatre will be the venue for a discussion on ‘Traveller History, Culture, and Movements’ with an array of speakers and performers from within the Travelling community including Mags Casey (Travellers Mental Health Network) and Margaret O’Leary (Southside Travellers Action Group)

This year’s James Connolly Memorial Lecture is to be presented by the eminent Marxist thinker John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review and author of many books including The Return Of Nature: Socialism & Ecology

Peace And Neutrality Alliance (PANA) will host an event on peace and Irish neutrality with Clare Daly (MEP), Ed Horgan of Shannonwatch and Roger Cole.

As the question of a united Ireland intensifies, the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum will hold a talk on sectarianism that will include Rev. Dr Mark Gray (Presbyterian Church), Gerry Carroll MLA, and others.

On Friday 13 May the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign host a gig and Q&A with the musical duo Gazelleband (Palestinian oud-player Reem Anbar and musician Louis Brehony). 

The following night will have the actor Emmet Kirwan MC a show with Irish rapper Rebel Phoenix and guests at Peadar Kearney’s basement in Dame Street.

The Small Trans Library will host a screening of Keyboard Fantasies, the story of black transgender folk-electronic music pioneer Glenn Copeland

Left-wing Irish-language advocates Misneach will host a poetry and conversational event in Connolly Books.

And, as is customary, the festival will close on Sunday 15 May at Arbour Hill by the graveside of our greatest martyr, James Connolly, followed by a drinks reception and traditional music session to close the festival in The Cobblestone.

Festival organiser, Aaron Nolan, said  “We continue to provide a space for healthy debate, discussion and expression. Through words, music and performance we look at where our society lies and where we want it to go.”


Please see festival programme and images available for publication attached

For more information contact:

Aaron Nolan

Festival Organiser

M: 0857667066

E: connollyfestdublin@gmail.com


Make hay while the sun shines, then look again in Autumn… April 28, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Useful to see some rhetoric beginning to appear in relation to potential issues with Covid-19 in the Autumn and Winter. For example, the Taoiseach for once said something useful on the topic:

[he] told the Dáil today that he is “very anxious that the new oversight group” on Covid-19 would look ahead to next autumn and provide recommendations on how to prepare for a possible increase in cases.

Micheál Martin said the pandemic “has not gone away” and that “one of our challenges could be the next autumn and winter period”.

The new oversight group was established to “give a more multi-disciplinary approach to the next phase of Covid-19”.

And he’s not alone. In this report, which includes the near incredible statistic that perhaps up to 80% of the EU population has caught Covid in the past two years (granted some of that figure doing so unknowingly), what about the following:

The EU public health agency said reported cases had covered about 30% of the European population so far, but if unreported infections were added, cases could be as high as 350 million – about 77% of the European population.

With a recent drop in infections and deaths linked to Covid-19, the EU is now shifting away from mass testing and reporting of cases, Ms Kyriakides said.

But fresh Covid-19 surges are likely as the virus is expected to continue mutating, and therefore countries should have in place plans to shift back into emergency mode, and should ramp up vaccinations, the commission said.

And while the headlines are that Denmark has ‘suspended’ its widespread vaccination campaign there is this:

“We plan to reopen the vaccination programme in the autumn. This will be preceded by a thorough professional assessment of who and when to vaccinate and with which vaccines,” Ms Soberg said.

Again, the current situation with numbers of cases declining, and more importantly the numbers in hospitals being much lower than previously, is very positive. That said Andrew Flood makes an important point here:

For a comparison keep in mind:

The flu season typically runs from week 40 to week 20.

That’s 32 weeks. In general terms – pre-Covid, that would result in about 200-500 deaths across the Winter in the Republic, and in more severe seasons that might go up to 700 to 900. This here offers an insight into the excess mortality from recent flu seasons.

Week 40 in 2021 was starting the 4th of October. Week 20 will start May 16th this year. Across the period from the start of October to date there have been 1588 deaths. That’s triple the numbers for a moderate flu season, and already near enough double that of a more severe flu season. Worth keeping in mind that Covid-19 functions in addition to other respiratory illnesses, such as flu, so pressures on the health service are greater than they otherwise would be. The point of this is not to ignore the huge strides already made, or to argue for a return to restrictions (though masking on public transport and in some indoor locations would be sensible). Clearly the situation absent vaccines would be much much worse than a flu season and by many multiples. And as things stand there is a positive return to, if not quite normality, something that is close enough, all things considered.

But it is to underscore Flood’s point regarding co-existing with Covid has not been without consequences, and that this is not going to change. If the virus simply remains as is, not mutating into a more dangerous form, we will still be at a point which is markedly different and more problematic than we were in April or May 2019. And, as those straws in the wind from Martin and the EU suggest, it is not a particularly stable situation, in so far as we are likely to face periods where the virus flares up and other periods where it is more quiescent.

In some ways Martin and the EU seem to be moving to the Greek approach – a clearly stated one of reopening fully for the Summer and then considering where matters stand later in the year.

In an unprecedented step aimed at capitalising on the hunger of people to travel, the tourist season kicked off earlier in Greece this year. Last week, officials announced that pandemic restrictions, including the requirement of presenting an EU digital Covid certificate to enter the Mediterranean nation, would be lifted from 1 May and reviewed in September.

Perhaps that is simply bowing to reality. If so it’s a welcome development.




Political projectiles April 28, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Got to admit this made me laugh.

A certain former President of the United States has testified under oath about the dangers of being pelted by fruit, and once again demonstrated a certain – ah, oddness about his thinking processes.

The comments were revealed in court documents made public on Tuesday which included a transcript of a deposition Mr Trump gave last October as part of an ongoing civil lawsuit in New York.

The case was brought by several activists who say they were attacked by his security guards outside Trump Tower in Manhattan in 2015.

The great thinker offered these gems:

“I wanted to have people be ready because we were put on alert that they were going to do fruit,” Mr Trump said under questioning by attorney Benjamin Dictor.

He added that “tomatoes are bad, by the way” but that “some fruit is a lot worse.”

Mr Dictor asked Mr Trump about comments he made at a rally in Iowa in 2016 when the then-presidential candidate told supporters to “knock the crap” out of anyone about to throw a tomato.


“That was to the audience. It was said sort of in jest,” Mr Trump responded, before adding: “But maybe, you know, a little truth to it. It’s very dangerous stuff. You can get killed with those things.

Mr Dictor asked Mr Trump whether it was his “expectation that if your security guards see someone about to throw a tomato that they should knock the crap out of them?”

“Yeah, I think that they have to be aggressive in stopping that from happening. Because if that happens, you can be killed if that happens,” Mr Trump answered.

“To stop somebody from throwing pineapples, tomatoes, bananas, stuff like that, yeah, it’s dangerous stuff,” he added later.

Of course some projectiles are more projectiley than others. Macron came under assault from tomatoes only this week.

This from the UK has a range of same. Always quite liked Prescott’s response if only because it was at such close range he might be forgiven for pushing back sharply.  And here’s one with a more international flavour.

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