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Le Gach Dea-Ghuí don Athbhliain 2023 December 31, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Well that was quite the year, wasn’t it? Let’s hope 2023 is a little calmer perhaps?

Thanks as always to everyone who comments, lurks, reads, helps or writes for the site.

Many thanks – you know who you are and it’s always appreciated. 

Thanks to all those sites – linked to here (some aren’t posting at the moment and are sorely missed), all like minds.

Thanks as always to Tomboktu, Irish Election Literature, YourCousin, Aonrud of the Left Archive, JH, BH and JM (both of them) and other contributors and moderators on the site – and those who send suggestions for pieces to write about. 

Anyone who has an idea for a post fire it in and we’ll take a look. In the meantime keep well, safe and left.

Dance man December 31, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I had more than a smidgin of sympathy for this person in the Guardian. Phil Hilton is a little older than I am and has faced something I haven’t, which is the ageing out process in the context of clubs. I haven’t because clubs were never my go to space for music or entertainment and dancing isn’t something I’ve any particular interest – grand in short bursts but always seemed uncomfortably close to exercise for what was meant to be a relaxing evening out. Your mileage likely will vary. But even in my late thirties and early forties when I’d still occasionally wind up in a club after an evening’s drinking it seemed clear that many (not all) such spaces were indeed ageist.

The ageism around clubbing is unquestioned. A recent survey into when people stop going dancing found we retreat at about 37. Walking past the queues outside clubs in London it looks more like 25 to me. The thought of standing there, at the age of 58, waiting to be scrutinised by the door team, makes my stomach scrunch imagining the humiliation of rejection.

I was surprised it was 37 years of age. That seems a little young, but then again, maybe not. What do I know?

And for those for whom dancing was the centre of their lives during the late 1980s and early 1990s in particular I can understand how to age out must have been, or is, quite startling. Gigs are a little different, if only because they’re a bit more broad in terms of age ranges – though I’ve been at gigs in the last five years where I was surprised by how young some segments of the crowd were. But I’ve never felt actually uncomfortable or too old. Perhaps that joy awaits, though not likely given the next three or four gigs I’ve tickets for for 2023 include Judas Priest/Ozzy, Robert Forster and Gina Birch. Actually in that company I feel robustly middle-aged, which is a good thing from where I stand. 
And Hilton is right.

“Dad dancing” and “mum dancing” are terms of ridicule – the implication is that we can’t do it properly any more, we shouldn’t try, and if we do it’s very, very funny. We’re allowed salsa, Strictly and Zumba, and we’re permitted to take specialist lessons and attend gym classes, but walking into a huge, dark space with strangers and feeling our internal organs pulse to the bass is no longer acceptable.

And yet dancing is an extraordinarily healthy activity for mature people. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found dance to be the best physical activity for reducing the risk of dementia. Obviously, it is good for the heart and lungs, but it has also been shown to help with depression, improve balance and boost self-esteem.

But then there are social functions to dancing above and beyond health or enjoyment. Meeting potential future partners is one.  Hanging out with friends. Hilton notes too that ‘fewer and fewer contemporaries were willing to come out’. Small wonder as they accrued partners and many would have families and so on. Staying out until the morning is one thing when you’re in your twenties or thirties. Sort of another when you’ve children. Or want to be clear-headed come Monday morning. Or… well, whatever. 

And yet, and yet, the culture is oddly deceptive too, with groups and DJs keeping on keeping on in ways that I suspect would have been unimaginable to their parents and grand parents – there’s Orbital still going strong, only after releasing a new compilation album this very year and they’re literally just a year or two younger than me. And all those other artists haven’t just faded away. So perhaps not so surprising and a little bit heartening in the extreme to see the comments section and the range of options available for those who are still devoted to clubbing into their fifties and sixties. 

Colours fly away December 31, 2022

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An interesting example of property rights here. Many will have heard of Pantone colours – as wiki notes ‘its Pantone Matching System (PMS), a proprietary color space used in a variety of industries, notably graphic designfashion designproduct designprinting and manufacturing and supporting the management of color from design to production, in physical and digital formats, among coated and uncoated materials, cotton, polyester, nylon and plastics.’

To date it’s been built into a range of apps, but, there’s trouble ahead.

Pantone asserts that their lists of color numbers and pigment values are the intellectual property of Pantone and free use of the list is not allowed.[45] This is frequently held as a reason Pantone colors cannot be supported in open-source software and are not often found in low-cost proprietary software.[46] Pantone has been accused of “being intentionally unclear” about its exact legal claims, but it is acknowledged that “the simplest claim would be trademark misappropriation or dilution towards someone who produced a color palette marketed as compatible with Pantone’s”.[46]

By contrast, intellectual property scholar Aaron Perzanowski claims that Pantone has no intellectual property rights over individual colors or color libraries.[47]

In 2022, a dispute between Pantone and Adobe resulted in the removal of Pantone color coordinates from Photoshop and Adobe’s other design software, causing colors in graphic artists’ digital documents to be replaced with black unless artists paid Pantone a separate $15 monthly subscription fee.[47] Artists accused Adobe and Pantone of holding their work hostage, and UK artist Stuart Semple responded by releasing Freetone, a freeware clone of Pantone’s color lists for use with Adobe software. [47]

Semple has done some interesting things, not least producing the world’s blackest black. Freetone is pretty great, with as he says ‘very Pantone-is colours’.


1280 Liberated colours are extremely Pantoneish and reminiscent of those found in the most iconic colour book of all time. In fact it’s been argued that they are indistinguishable from those behind the Adobe paywall. 

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Manuel and The Music of The Mountains December 31, 2022

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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The most familiar of these is Tico’s Tune, the B side of an obscure 1965 single from “Manuel and The Music of The Mountains” which was the name used by prolific British arranger and composer Geoff Love.. It’s amazing what memories the one tune can bring. Indeed in this case a few bars of it. Days off from school sick and having a radio by the bedside listening to Gay Byrne in the morning. During his time , Love released 42 Albums as “Manuel and The Music of The Mountains” and his music featured on many well known Movies and TV Series.

UK State papers: ‘elements in the security services’ December 30, 2022

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What a fascinating admission from John Reid back in the early 2000s.

The Northern Ireland secretary in mid-2002 told a cabinet meeting that “elements in the security services” were part of a potential “coalition” trying to frustrate the peace process.

John Reid was briefing fellow ministers a day after Tony Blair had told MPs that the IRA’s ceasefire was not enough.

“We could be approaching a watershed in Northern Ireland,” notes from the meeting record Reid as saying on 24 July 2002. “In the past, coalitions of forces had come together to damage attempts to find solutions to Northern Ireland’s problems. It was possible to see the reactionary elements of unionism, the Ulster Defence Association, elements in the security services, some members of the House of Lords and the opposition building such a coalition now.”

Reid added: “It required a steady nerve to handle the situation. The prize was huge.”

Speaking of that Blair government, here’s an intriguing insight into their approach to the world. 

Downing Street feared that a group portrait of Tony Blair’s cabinet that the Scottish National Portrait Gallery wanted to commission to mark New Labour’s 1997 election victory would look “triumphalist” and be unlikely to win votes in Scotland, newly released documents reveal.

The gallery proposed a portrait by Peter Howson, a distinguished member of the new wave of expressionist artists who emerged from the Glasgow School of Art in the 80s, and was willing to pay. With the fee likely to be “substantial”, Downing Street aides were also concerned about negative coverage if any public funds were used, the documents released by the National Archives show.

Jonathan Powell, the chief of staff, wrote: “Not worth it unless it gets us votes in Scotland.” The press secretary Alastair Campbell worried it “might take a lot of time”, and the No 10 adviser Pat McFadden was concerned that “Howson might produce unexpected results”.

How about this too?

Notes for Blair’s presentation in September 1998 to a cabinet away day at Chequers, the prime minister’s country house, stated: “We have a serious problem with juvenile media. The smallest decision can become big headlines. They refuse to report the substance of what you do.”

Campbell advised Blair privately that he must tackle the problem of senior ministers not informing No 10 of their media interviews and briefings. Blair should tell the cabinet that “in relation to all major media bids, we want them cleared and coordinated,” he wrote.

Of ministers, he wrote: “Above all, they do not do message.” He added: “There is a basic lack of professionalism problem re message discipline which is beyond a joke.”

Interesting complaint in the following:

Conservative messages against Labour “are beginning to take hold”, Campbell wrote to Blair in October 2000. Referring to the Tory leader William Hague’s shadow cabinet, which at the time included Michael Portillo, Francis Maude and Ann Widdecombe, Campbell said: “And if the Conservative leading personalities were not so unattractive, we would not have recovered from the fuel crisis in the way we have.”

He added: “Too many ministers are almost completely depoliticised in their language and activities.”

More state papers December 30, 2022

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Some of the media leading heavily with the revelation that:

Gerry Adams told Irish government officials he would not have stopped the Canary Wharf bombing if he had known about it in advance “because of his republicanism.”

According to a record of the Sinn Féin leader’s secret meetings with Irish Government officials in the days after the explosion, Mr Adams said he would have had “serious dilemmas” if he had known an attack was being planned.

I can’t imagine that will have a massive impact at this remove but really, what do people expect in the context where Adams, McGuinness and the leadership of the Republican Movement were attempting to bring about a complete change in matters? 

And this is something that was recognised at the time:

Newly released State papers from the 1990s show the evolution of the peace process – and just how much the Irish and British governments depended on the Sinn Féin leadership, and particularly Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

For instance, in June 1995, during the first IRA ceasefire, the Permanent Secretary at the Northern Ireland Office, Sir John Chilcot, said that Adams and McGuinness represented the “last hope for progress” and were “irreplaceable.”

Indeed reading these papers it does cast a particular negative light on those who much more recently would seek to as it were rewrite the history of the conflict for more specific political gain in a context where armed struggle is no longer a feature. The sheer effort to get to that point of purely political activity was exhausting and exhaustive and those like the Republican leadership and of course many others played a crucial role in achieving what was achieved.

More oddities. It was the Progressive Democrats, Liz O’Donnell, who in the late 1990s did this:

Minister O’Donnell had written to Ms Mowlam after receiving a confidential file from the British Irish Rights Watch group, which she felt made a “compelling” case for a public inquiry into Mr Finucane’s murder.

“The accumulated evidence is sufficient to give reasonable cause to the public to believe that collusion may have taken place. In my view, they can only be answered with confidence – one way or the other – through the mechanism of a public inquiry,” Ms O Donnell wrote, adding the separate “heinous murder” of Rosemary Nelson further highlighted the need for an inquiry.


In a letter responding to then-minister of state and Progressive Democrats TD Liz O Donnell on 24 May, 1999, Ms Mowlam said she was aware of “certain allegations” surrounding the murder and wanted answers about what had happened.

As RTÉ notes ‘although plans for an inquiry were later quietly sidelined.’


Meanwhile, file under ‘a different world’. 

A senior government official advised Taoiseach Albert Reyolds to delay legislation on the availability of contraceptives until after three referendums relating to abortion, because “the possibilities for genital politics… are already sufficiently horrific”.

Secretary to the Government Dermot Nally was commenting on the draft of a Family Planning Bill which aimed to liberalise the availability of contraceptives, though within still strict limits.

He felt it should be delayed until after forthcoming referendums on abortion and the rights to travel and to information. Those arose out of the X case, in which a 14-year-old rape victim was prevented from travelling outside the State to get an abortion (a decision of the High Court, overturned on appeal to the Supreme Court).

Nally said his personal view on contraception was that the State should not interfere in matters of personal morality that did not affect public order. “What happens in the bedroom – or elsewhere – out of public view is not a matter for regulation,” he argued. He also opposed restrictions on the sale of contraceptives, which were only to be available from chemists or family planning services, and were not to be available on licensed premises or through vending machines. “We are proposing to ban sales where they are most likely to be wanted!”

And here’s another odd one. 

The Irish Ambassador to Spain complained bitterly about RTÉ’s coverage of a failed military coup in Spain in on 23 February, 1981

Ambassador Denis Holmes said the report suggested that the coup had taken place “all over Spain and democracy had come to an end… It was all good rousing stuff and could even have been true if things had turned out differently over the subsequent 18 hours.”

As it happened, the coup collapsed after King Juan Carlos condemned it. An RTÉ executive admitted that the report had overstated the likely success of the coup, suggesting that the reporter concerned had “jumped the gun more than he should”.

Who, one wonders, was the reporter?


Speaking of RTÉ:

A claim by Northern Ireland Secretary of State Roy Mason that RTÉ had collaborated with the IRA to show weapons on television drew an angry response from RTÉ’s Director General in March 1978.

Mr Mason told attendees at a private function that RTÉ had collaborated with Republican paramilitaries in arranging a display of the M-60 machine gun in Derry two months earlier.

“RTÉ does not cooperate in any way with illegal organisations” declared the DG in an angry letter to the Secretary of State.

“I am sure you will appreciate my concern that allegations of cooperation with the Provisional IRA or other illegal organisations might put at risk the safety of our staff working in Northern Ireland.”


Signs of Hope – A continuing series December 30, 2022

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Gewerkschaftler suggested this a while back and it’s as good an idea now as it was then. Whatever else those of us on the left need some hope, need some tangible achievements to hold on to, something that gives a sense of how things can be made better:

“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?

UFOs in 2022 December 30, 2022

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Always intrigued by UFOs, while not believing for a moment that they represent anything extra-terrestrial. As noted here before, they appear to be more psychological than anything else, perhaps with some infrequent natural phenomena thrown into the mix. This year is the seventy fifth anniversary of the first sightings of the near modern era.

In June 1947, a commercial pilot, Kenneth Arnold, claimed to have seen nine “flying discs” zipping across Washington state in the US at 1,200 mph. The editor of the East Oregonian newspaper sent this utterly unverifiable story to the Associated Press news service, and on 26 June, Hearst International put out a press release that contained the fateful term “flying saucers”. The story spread around the globe considerably faster than 1,200 mph. Soon there were hundreds of other reported sightings – including one of crashed flying-saucer debris in Roswell, New Mexico. Some of these reports were clearly hoaxes: it wasn’t hard to fake a saucer photograph if you had a hubcap, frisbee or pizza to hand. Some sightings, says Shail, were of “weather balloons, Zeppelins, cloud formations and experimental aircraft being developed by the US Air Force as part of the Cold War”. And, just to be open-minded about it, perhaps some of the sightings were of Martians who were hovering over sparsely populated parts of the Earth for the fun of it. But one thing was certain: saucer-mania had begun.

And so it has continued.

Here’s a report on a very interesting French organisation that seeks to find rational explanations for UFOs – that is the Study and Information Group on Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena (GEIPAN), which has been in existence for 45 years now. It is now intended that GEIPAN will work closely with NASA in this area.

Closer to home from the PSNI a report on UFO sightings in Northern Ireland in 2022.

Request 1

How many UFO sightings did the PSNI receive in relation in 2022, from January 1 to current date?

Could the data be broken down by date and location of reported sighting, detail of sighting and whether any investigation was carried out?

Rather disappointingly:


Between 1st January 2022 and 3rd November 2022 there was 1 incident of UFO sightings reported to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The incident reported occurred in the Stewartstown area of Dungannon on the 30th of October 2022. The caller reported seeing a UFO flying from the Belfast direction to Dungannon every evening. No further Police action was required on this occasion.


Meanwhile in the US there’s this:

The U.S. government’s brand new UFO-tracking office has been open for half a year but business is already booming. https://www.livescience.com/hundreds-of-ufo-reports

Over the last six months, the office — named the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) — has received “several hundreds” of new UFO reports from U.S. military personnel, office director Sean Kirkpatrick told the Associated Press. This adds to more than 140 UFO sightings reported by the military between 2004 and 2021, which were previously described in a much-anticipated report from the Pentagon in June 2021.

The new reports, which were filed this year by personnel in the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, describe unidentified anomalous phenomena, or UAP — the government’s preferred name for UFOs — sighted in the air, under water and in space. 


None of the reports, old or new, show any hint of alien activity, Kirkpatrick noted.

And as the Guardian reported:

This May, Congress held its first hearing in more than half a century on the topic, with members expressing concern that – whether or not the objects are alien or potentially new technology being flown by China, Russia or another potential adversary – the unknown creates a security risk.

So far, “we have not seen anything, and we’re still very early on, that would lead us to believe that any of the objects that we have seen are of alien origin”, said Ronald Moultrie, under secretary of defense for intelligence and security. “Any unauthorized system in our airspace we deem as a threat to safety.”

The office is also working on ways to improve its ability to identify unknown objects, such as by recalibrating sensors that may be focused just on known adversary aircraft or drone signatures, Moultrie said.

Some tracks from 2022 December 29, 2022

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… well I liked them anyway. Any that people liked themselves this year?

Halfway through the year I wasn’t so sure I’d make twenty, come early December and I was having to pare this down from thirty five tracks plus. That seemed excessive, so here’s 25.

These aren’t in any particular order – though if you were to ask me what were my absolute favourites – probably The Asteroid No. 4, Rolling Blackouts, The Godfathers, without question The Hardy Tree (a track that despite its subtlety requires the listener pay attention), Nahum Korm and Shit and Shine. The latter I see popped up with another track on The Quietus as number one of the year and I’m not really surprised. There’s something about it that like The Hardy Tree, albeit in a completely different area) demands concentration and focus. Others one’s I’m particularly fond of? Closet Yi – a Korean techno DJ, Soothsayer from Ruby the Hatchet, Wet Leg (near enough earworm of the year – though as SonofStan noted it falls just the right side of unbearable) and Gwenno’s track – the most melodic and heartfelt call for independence for Wales. Some old favourites, where would we be without Killing Joke’s patented roar, though these days I do wonder given the way the world is do they ever wonder if their career of warning about impending doom has been vindicated or falls some way short in the face of reality. Half Man Half Biscuit continue a career of bleakly humorous observation. The Black Dog too who had an excellent year of EPs. Tangerine Dream even managed to release an album. I still listen to – well, not so much metal as heavy rock. Ruby the Hatchet, Goodbye June. MWWB and Crown Lands provide different takes on that. Good to see an Irish band in there, with MELTS. Another post will discuss how in this world of multiple media and so on one even gets to hear ‘new’ music.

Continua (feat. Duval Timothy) – Nosaj Thing

Planet Everfree – Milieu

Form, Function and Friction – The Black Dog

Above Ground Pool – Shit and Shine

Razorblades & Honey (Hifi Sean Revisions) – BMX Bandits feat. Anton Newcombe & Hifi Sean

Tones of the Sparrow – The Asteroid No. 4

Tidal River – Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Chaise Long – Wet Leg

Star Y – Nahum Korm

DRM – Closet Yi

Rave Whistle – u-ziq

N.Y.C.A.W. – Gwenno

Echoes of Pluto – Kayla Painter

Soothsayer – Ruby the Hatchet

See Where the Night Goes – Goodbye June

Inner Light – Crown Lands

Interstellar Wrecking – MWWB

Lord of Chaos – Killing Joke

Spectral – Melts

Awkward Sean – Half Man Half Biscuit

OCD – The Godfathers

Raum – Tangerine Dream

The Warp and The Weft – Red Snapper feat. Natty Whylay

Full Circle – The Advisory Circle

The Spire of St. Mary’s – The Hardy Tree

The whole Solar System is visible December 29, 2022

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Thanks to Tomboktu for the heads up!

Every planet in the solar system was visible in the night sky simultaneously on Wednesday, which is regarded by experts as a rare astronomical event.

Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars could all be seen in that order in the northern hemisphere with the naked eye, starting from the south-western horizon and moving east.


Uranus, located between Mars and Jupiter, and Neptune, which is between Saturn and Jupiter, can be seen with binoculars or a telescope until the end of the year.

All eight planets appeared only 1.5 degrees apart on Wednesday night and were set to reach conjunction – their closest point – on Thursday at 2100 GMT.

The planets can be spotted low in the west, with the clearest view expected to be about 30 minutes after sunset, with Venus disappearing about 40 minutes later, each day until the end of the year.

That’s something. 

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