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Latest Sunday Business Post / Red C Poll June 27, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics.

SBP/Red C poll:
FG 28 (nc),
Labour 7 (-3),
Fianna Fáil 20 (+1),
Sinn Féin 18 (-3),
Inds 23 (+5),
Greens 2 (-1),
Renua 1 (nc),
Others 1 (+1)

Any Marriage Equality Referendum bounce for Labour looks to have been wiped out by the cuts to Lone Parents. ….

Real flight simulators… June 27, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Anyone who comments here ever been on a commercial flight simulator? I’ve got to admit that’s long been an ambition of mine – which is curious given that for many years I had a pathological fear of flying, or perhaps not so curious.

Anyhow, this looks good, a Quantas flight simulator. The graphics look a bit ropy, but I wonder if they’re actually better in real life than, as it were, second hand here.

Speaking of flight simulators, as someone using Macs the range wasn’t great back in the day. There was the interesting but overly demanding Fly! whose graphics required a better machine than I had at the time.

Way way back, there was Chuck Yaeger’s Air Combat for the Mac. This was almost good, though not really a flight simulator, you could send up biplanes against B-52s or whatever depending on your mood.

F/A-18 wasn’t exactly a flight simulator either – well, it was, but shoehorned into an air force game (Iraq or North Korea were the theatres of operation). There was a great demo where you could wander around over Hawaii. My thing was to fly as far as possible in any given direction. No reason.

X-Plane is kind of good, amazing how detail has just improved and improved.

But there’s something about the rougher and readier Extreme Landings Pro which I kind of like. And you can fly Concorde.

Patrick Macnee…1922 to 2015 June 27, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Always liked Patrick Macnee and always liked the Avengers. His character Steed was an almost hyper-English, unbelievably laid back, individual set loose in a near-surreal world of espionage that touched not at all on reality – nothing there about post-colonial angst, or real examinations of super-power rivalry, let alone, say, mention of the North. Anything but.

Criminal organisations, absurd megalomaniacs. That was grist to its mill and very good it was too. Channel 4 used to run it late at night in the 1980s and that’s where I first saw it (though I’d seen Macnee’s earlier/later incarnation as Steed in the New Avengers from the 1970s – it was of variable quality but enjoyable nonetheless).

I’ve been rewatching the first colour season (series 5) with the amazing Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, and for all that it could hokey it still stands up pretty well. There’s just something about it and the way it managed to glory in the rickety sets and kind of silly setups that makes it the greater than the sum of its parts. I’m tempted to say it’s Pythonesque, but I’ve never entirely warmed to Monty Python (while liking quite a bit of it) whereas the Avengers, well that’s different. Perhaps it was the science fictional plots? Perhaps the baroque tone in parts. There’s a cracking episode about a cartoonist who… well, watch it yourselves if you haven’t already seen it, it’s called the Winged Avenger.

In some ways in depicting autonomous women it both reflected changes in the 1960s and foreshadowed more to come.

The Guardian notes;

The show was noted for a progressive approach to feminism, with the female stars being more than a match for Steed.

And Macnee is quoted as being aware of this:

Macnee said the show paved the way for women to play leading action roles on television. “It just seemed that a woman would make the ideal foil to my John Steed. And so she did,” he told The Lady magazine last year.
“The wonderful thing was it made women feel they didn’t just belong in an apron in front of a stove cooking for the kids. It made them delight in the awareness that they could get out there and do it all, fight men, take on villains, all the kinds of stuff we showed in The Avengers.”

Some interesting stuff in relation to class too in the Avengers mix.

What always strikes me is what a generous actor Macnee was – Kelsey Grammer has something of the same quality – being clearly happy to share the limelight with others.

He had a spotty career subsequent to the Avengers, but one gets the impression that he didn’t much care, and why should he?. He was forty when it started and from there where could he possibly go? Dapper dresser too!

By the way, here’s the intro… that music by Laurie Johnson. Effortlessly cool.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… The Wailers June 27, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Went to The Script last Weekend in Croke Park… The Script were good , that Pharrell Williams was woeful and the highlight of the day were The Wailers. I hadn’t realised that they were playing!
I suppose they are almost a tribute act at this stage but what a repertoire they have to choose from. Yes no Bob Marley but still a brilliant sound and great songs.
Was amused in the intro to “Get Up, Stand Up” the leader singer Dwayne “Danglin” Anglin was talking about Revolution with his arm up in the air clenched fist in a Black Power style salute…. a lot of the crowd seemed bemused at the gesture.
It’s very hard not to enjoy songs like ‘One Love’ , ‘No Woman No Cry’ and so on. They really are classics. It also left me wondering how much better it would have been to see Bob Marley and The Wailers in their prime.

Greece to have a Referendum June 27, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in European Politics.

Greece to have a Referendum on the bailout package that they have been offered

Following an emergency meeting of his cabinet, Tsipras said his leftist-led government had decided a package of austerity measures – made in a last-ditch effort to avert default – would be put to popular vote. The referendum will take place on Sunday 5 July.

Paul Mason has a good piece on it here

Pride 2015 June 26, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Just in case anyone had missed this, it’s Dublin LGBTQ Pride week – 19th to 28th and tomorrow is the Parade kicking off at the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square at 1.30. And a week, given the news from the US, and the events here from what was actually only a few short weeks ago, that is of even greater importance than usual.

All details here.

Marriage Equality now a constitutional right in the US June 26, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Good news and not before time…

Same-sex marriages are now legal across the entirety of the United States after a historic supreme court ruling that declared attempts by conservative states to ban them unconstitutional.

In what may prove the most important civil rights case in a generation, five of the nine court justices determined that the right to marriage equality was enshrined under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

Collusion… redux June 26, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Tom McGurk had a great line in a piece in the SBP this weekend on recent evidence that has come to light on collusion between the British state and loyalist paramilitaries:

As I watched these programmes, I had to remind myself that I live in the EU and not the Central America of the 1980s. To see members of the House of Lords talking about government-sponsored death squads killing troublesome lawyers fairly takes the breath away.

And he offers another thought:

I also find the continuing indifference of our political and media establishments to this story extraordinary.

The first point is indeed well worth considering. I was at the NUIG Irish Centre for Histories of Labour and Class conference last weekend and it struck me again listening to some of the excellent contributions on Saor Éire and other groups just how militarised this island was for much of the conflict. Of course the North most obviously so, but the South as well – not least in its responses. Was it directly comparable with conflicts and civil wars in Central America? Perhaps not in terms of scale, but there were uneasy echoes. Alan Mac Simoin’s accounts of the activities of the Heavy Gang and how widely drawn the net around activists or even those who one might describe as liberals who questioned certain actions or policy approaches offered a perfect example of how state activities can be distorted.
And it perhaps goes some way to explaining the second thought McGurk offers us. That ultimately political and media establishments shy away from engagement with these issues – perhaps because they are inconvenient, perhaps because they are positioned within a nexus of state power and effective license of non-state actors, because they are so self-evidently wrong and undermine narratives of the state being a virtuous actor above and beyond the fray during these years.

McGurk in a way arrives more or less at that conclusion in the following:

It is as if the establishment here feels as uncomfortable about this story as the British government does. Maybe that’s not surprising, because it’s a revelation that undermines the prevailing political ideology in the South: that throughout the years of the Troubles, the principal creators of the crisis in the North were the Provisional IRA, while the British state was a long-suffering and neutral ringmaster.
This convenient generalisation not only allowed the state to find refuge behind it, but also helped to create a journalistic climate in which this murderous campaign could flourish. For example, the self-censoring mentality created by the imposition of Section 31 on RTÉ made it almost impossible, if not career-ending, for a journalist to try to tackle the collusion story.

Of course one has to add to this a tendency to reductionism, not least on the part of broader populations, and in some respects the comforts of ideas that there is a clear set of antagonists on who all the most negative aspects of a situation can be centred. This isn’t to deny volition or autonomy to any group within this environment, but to suggest given the depth of broader dynamics to refuse to admit the complexity is deeply problematic.

Educational inequality June 26, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Funny to see Finnish education expert Pasi Sahlberg pop up again at an educational policy seminar – this one organised by the Department of Education. The last time was either late last year or earlier this year at a symposium in NUIG organised by former FG, now Independent, Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames. I wondered at the time what she would think of the message he delivered. He certainly doesn’t mince words.

By making parental choice the cornerstone of its education system, Ireland is following a “lazy”, market-based strategy which is likely to produce greater inequalities and poorer learning outcomes, renowned educational expert Pasi Sahlberg has said.
Addressing a Department of Education policy seminar in Dublin, the Finnish scholar said “either you are serious about equality” or you rely on parental choice “and you just hope that this will somehow create good things”.


He noted Sweden had moved towards a parental-choice model, with ill-effects in terms of educational outcomes.
The results elsewhere “are not very convincing”, he added. In contrast, Finland abolished private schools more than 40 years ago and now tops international school performance tables.

Strong stuff in our society where even relatively mild push-backs against fee-charging education are met with extremely stiff resistance. And the situation he describes is of a piece with the partial, effectively chaotic, approaches in health care with a mix between public and ‘private’.

TUI General Secretary expanded on the point too:

He said choice was “largely a middle-class option”, and the impact could be seen in an area like Firhouse, where two new schools were being created – one for Educate Together and the other a Gaelscoil – on playing fields that were once used by the whole community.
The development “will facilitate a choice for a particular segment of Irish society”, but the community “feels it has been robbed blind” of a much-loved facility, he added.

Because of course the exercise of ‘choices’ comes with broader costs whether directly or indirectly. It’s understandable on a human level how people might feel they must make such choices, but it’s depressing that it isn’t more clearly articulated by political parties as being something that in the short to medium term needs to be readdressed and along the lines proposed by Sahlberg.

That European solidarity in action… June 26, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

…from this morning’s Irish Times...

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras to follow the Irish recovery programme if he wants a deal to keep his country in the euro.
He told a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels last night that Greece could come up with alternative measures to those being proposed by its creditors, as Ireland had done, but they had to make economic sense.

And what about this for pushing a certain socio-economic and political direction…

He said Ireland, as one of the three countries in an EU-IMF bailout programme, had emerged by pursuing pro-growth policies and not by increasing income tax, VAT and PRSI as was being proposed in Greece.
“We put up alternatives to those measures that were proposed in order to keep a pro-growth policy and to make our country competitive and to provide jobs for our people.”

Because of course there can be only one route and one route alone to economic growth and that has be one that eschews tax increases, etc etc. Desperate stuff.


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