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More on that Aer Lingus rebrand January 19, 2019

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The above is interesting in light of this earlier post.

Fiction January 19, 2019

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Funny to read the le Carré/Hobsbawm intersection where the former used the name Hobsbawn for a character who was a Marxist academic and also an MI5 agent. Hobsbawm was – understandably – a bit upset by all this but le Carré never changed the name. I’ve expressed before my sense that le Carré is very typical of his age and generation of English males – there’s an attitude to women that grates on me. And in this my sympathies would be entirely with Hobsbawm and le Carré is ambiguous about the provenance:

Speaking this weekend, Le Carré told the Observer he imagines that back in the early 1980s he had simply reached for a name that would have the right political associations for those familiar with leftwing theory.
“I can’t imagine from this distance that I was unaware of Hobsbawm’s distinction or his politics,” Le Carré said. “I suspect that what I did in midstream was picture a Marxist intellectual under MI5 control, and then give him an analogous name that would resonate with the knowing.”

Nightfall January 19, 2019

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Some will recall the fine story of that name by Isaac Asimov, which in the 1960s was voted best SF story ever written by the SFWA. What it describes is fascinating. A world, Lagash, surrounded by six suns whose light permanently (or near permanently – thereby hangs the tale) occludes sight of the stars or space beyond, in other words the planet is in permanent daylight. All the planet, all the time.

Yet, in the story, it becomes clear that periodically Lagash is plunged into a darkness its inhabitants have no real understanding of (even a darkened room is too much for them psychologically to bear) as the suns line up in a conjunction that sees them all ‘set’ as it were. And when this happens civilisations fall into madness at the first sight of a true night sky.

It’s a great little tale, albeit Asimov’s writing was characteristically flat, perfectly encapsulating that period of science fiction story-telling where actual scientific ideas became key to the narratives.

But could such a world within such a star system exist? Would orbital perturbations from six stars linked together not destroy a planet, or at the least make it difficult for life, let alone sentient life to evolve. And could the stars be arranged in such a way as to allow for the scenario envisaged by Asimov.

Look no further than Space.com for the answer.

Signs of Hope – A continuing series January 18, 2019

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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?

Too much optimism… January 18, 2019

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This from Larry Elliott in the Guardian seems weirdly panglossian, a soft(isa) Lexiteer analysis arguing that only a British rupture with the EU – and notably he’s not talking about Remain alone as the alternative but something he terms ‘Brexit in Name Only’ which rather suggests he’s unwilling to countenance, say, EEA/EFTA style approaches – can provide change. In that he, as one person notes BTL, shifts towards a sort of left equivalent of disaster capitalism – worry not about the costs in the near to medium term because they’ll be so worth it. Why?

Why? Because the forces of conservatism are strong. Change comes about only when the pressure for it becomes too great to resist. The financial crisis provided one such opportunity to reform an economic system that for many people clearly wasn’t working; Brexit was a second. The left’s case for Brexit has always been based on the following notions: the current economic model is failing; socialism is needed to fix it; and the free-market ideology hardwired into the EU via the European Central Bank, judgments of the European court of justice and treaty changes will make that process all but impossible without a break with the status quo.

Which both reifies the importance of the EU in terms of domestic policy approaches and under estimates the ability of national governments within the EU to cleave to approaches that can be strikingly more left-wing than he will seemingly admit. It’s long since become tedious having to point out to those on the left who view the EU through British tinted glasses that it is eminently possible not merely to have socialised and nationalised forms of ownership within the EU as is and to extend them but also that it is necessary to put it up to the EU in terms of challenging right-wing economic approaches from within.

The inconsistency in the above allied with his clear attachment to something close to a no-deal Brexit is depressing. Elliott is a commentator whose views on a range of issues are always well worth considering, on many I’d be as one, but he has a blind spot in relation to this which seems to overwhelm rational analysis. It’s not that the EU is perfect or even close, it is that the picture he presents and the framing is essentially disingenuous, that the EU is more powerful than it is and national governments much less so. It’s a sort of parallel argument to that deployed by British political parties in government where all blame was shifted on to Europe as a means of evading their own responsibility and lack of engagement with issue after issue. Frankly if he simply came out and said that “despite the fact socialised approaches are possible in Europe and state after state does implement them when the political will is there but I dislike the very concept of the EU and consider its impact on British sovereignty, or whatever, unconscionable” that would be a more credible argument and one worth engaging with. It’s the fact he knows that what he is saying is simply incorrect but he continues to say it that is so frustrating.

And of course – not one mention, even in passing, of the fact there’s an island directly to the west of Britain that also has skin in this game. But then I suppose when it comes to playing geopolitics on the page mere reality and all the complications and contradictions that throws up is beneath consideration.

A shared future? January 18, 2019

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Slugger had an interesting post last week which dovetails with a lot of what is discussed on the CLR in recent years – the writer, from a ‘lapsed’ unionist perspective asked how would the PUL be accommodated in a United Ireland. To be honest the more he asked the more it struck me how feasible it would be to accommodate even the more complex issues. I think it inconceivable that Orange parades would end (though on that given that Republican parades in the North are not state organised I cannot see why they should end either). And the issues here could be broadly accommodated by that separate NI administration – a transitional arrangement to ease matters forward.

Would Northern Ireland still be allowed to compete in the Commonwealth Games? Or would Ireland re-join the Commonwealth and compete as a joint all-Ireland team, perhaps again having two separate teams competing?
If Ireland was to re-join the Commonwealth, would they still keep the President as Head of State rather than the British Monarch being Head of State, as happens with India?

I think it plausible to have NI compete as NI – the ROI rejoining the Commonwealth is a bigger ask, perhaps it would be possible for NI to remain within it for a period of time without the ROI participating.

Anyhow, all good solid questions deserving answers. Interesting the same day, almost, a Southern perspective was offered which addressed a fair few of them.

An early contender for our regular Sunday post… January 18, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

There is only one option left for those of us who consider democracy something worth fighting for – to push for a no-deal Brexit. This is not what we voted for initially, and it will come with its own challenges. It’s scandalous that the British government has failed to prepare for a no-deal scenario, and is now using this deliberate mistake as a means to stop us from cutting the cord with the EU and being done with it all. Nevertheless, for every scaremongering story about backed-up lorries, violence across borders and economic catastrophe, voters know that we’ve been here before. During the referendum, we heard all about the dangers that Brexit might bring. Two years on and still no third World War – we now know how to sort fact from fiction.

That Aer Lingus brand refresh… January 18, 2019

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Interesting how relatively low key the roll out of the new Aer Lingus livery is. And clever of them to only update the aircraft when they get regular repaint jobs. According to RTÉ:

The company’s 65 aircraft in the fleet will all be updated over time as they fall due for routine repainting every seven to eight years.

This is clearly a different age where rebranding and refreshing brands is meant to be somewhat more frugal than before.

The YouTube video is entertaining, I’m not sure I understand this compulsion for everyone in brands to feel every launch has to look like a lecture or TED talk.

Your mileage may vary as to whether you are moved by the news that ‘The re-imagining of the Aer Lingus brand reflects Ireland in 2019. A society that is open, progressive, liberal, outward-looking and dynamic, an Ireland that is proudly European and has become the destination of choice for inward investment.’

Yes, so unlike the fusty old livery – closed, reactionary, illiberal, retrospective and slothful…

And then there’s this: ‘our new colour palette consists of two contrasting shades of green. The rich teal represents strength and confidence. The light green stripe modernises the design and reflects our value carrier proposition’. Ah… so that’s what light green reflects!

And the information that the Shamrock ‘sits proudly as the hero of our livery’ is positively curious.

That said I quite like the overall design, not least the expanses of white and the green on the engine cowlings as well as the shamrock on the winglets, visible only from inside the aircraft and ‘instagram-worthy’ no less. It will be interesting to see how distinctive this appears on actual runways and in front of airport buildings.

PBP Running a candidate in Ireland South January 17, 2019

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

Good to see that there will be a Far Left candidate in the Ireland South Constituency as Adrienne Wallace of People Before Profit was announced as their candidate this evening.
No word yet of Solidarity-People Before Profit European Election candidates in the other two constituencies. The 2014 European Elections saw Bríd Smith running against the incumbent Paul Murphy and it caused some discord at the time.
Interesting to see what happens this time around.

The future of the peace process? January 17, 2019

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Slugger mentioned this last week and it’s well worth a read, or even a skim if you’ve limited time. The fifth Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report offers a 200 page overview of various matters relating to peace in the North produced by a team at UU. The authors are Ann Marie Gray, Jennifer Hamilton, Gráinne Kelly, Brendan Lynn, Martin Melaugh and Gillian Robinson and the report covers four ‘dimensions’. Political Progress, The Sense of Safety, Wealth Poverty and Inequality and finally Cohesion and Sharing.

There’s a shortish Ten Key Points at the start which provides a useful precis but the broader text is useful to mine. Of those ten key points some that jump out include 3 – “Inter-governmental relations, which have been crucial to the peace process, are weakening.’ And the point that Catholic recruitment to the PSNI has ‘levelled out’ with the end of equal recruitment in 2011 and representation of that community is currently about 32%. Never a good thing when a police service is not reasonably reflective of a society.

Just to focus in on one area – 2.5 Likelihood of violence caused by changes at the open border

The study notes that:

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast conducted a survey and a deliberative forum to find out what people thought of Brexit (Garry. et
al., Report, May 2018). The research found that, ‘there is substantial and intense opposition to possible North-South border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and to East-West border checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain’, and it also found, ‘strong expectations that protests against either North-South or East-West border checks would quickly deteriorate into violence’ (Garry, et al., Report, May 2018)


There has been a long history of political opposition to the existence of
the border and also various republican paramilitary campaigns involving attacks against the physical infrastructure at the border and on the security personnel who protected the border (CAIN, Violence at the border, 2018). Those in favour of Brexit have labelled as scare mongering any discussion which has raised the possibility of violence by dissident republican paramilitary groups. However, George Hamilton, the Chief Constable of
the PSNI, has expressed concern at the risk of violence at the border: ‘The last thing we would want is any infrastructure around the border because there is something symbolic about it and it becomes a target for violent dissident republicans’ (The Guardian, 7 February 2018). There is hardly any doubt that dissident republicans would seek some way to exploit any popular resentment against, and protest at, a more visible border. However, it is unclear if this would lead to wide-scale violence.

Of course it doesn’t need to lead to wide-scale violence. The point though is that despite the talk of ‘fear-mongering’ there’s strong indications that something would happen.

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