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Fundamentally unserious June 16, 2019

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Well, if news there was that someone wasn’t a serious thinker, it must be in the following, noted by the Guardian. Someone who has decided that freedom of speech means recruiting failed – and by failed, really failed UKIP candidate Carl Benjamin (aka some risible username, and yeah, who am I to talk, but hey it takes one to know one), to establish ‘a new anti-censorship website that will only take down offensive content if specifically ordered to by a US court’ and will be:

“…a subscription service. And so that’s partly what makes it a replacement for Patreon to some degree, because we want to be able to monetise creators.”

Why it’s one J. Peterson, no less. ‘Controversial’ academic etc, etc. But wait, even on freedom of speech sites – perhaps the most pointless of hills to die on given the very real stuff that’s happening out in the world, it’s quite something to believe that some of those listed are any useful addition. And who are those listed?

He said: “I think we’ve got four, five or six people who are lined up. [Dave] Rubin is going to use it. I’m going to use it, James Altucher, Jocko Willink, Michael Shermer, oh and Carl Benjamin, Sargon of Akkad. They’ll be our first beta testers fundamentally.”

Check them out if you don’t know of them already. Hardly what I’d consider representative of ordinary folk (though what the usually sane Michael Shermer is doing in all this escapes me).

Heroes June 16, 2019

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There’s a lot of truth in this piece here on Anne Frank which makes an appeal for an appreciation, not of her as a sort of mythologised heroic figure of perfection but rather a very human, imperfect, entirely normal young girl and woman. And to me that is crucial to understanding the reality of fascism (and indeed anti-semitism) and the utter inhumanity of what fascists did to Anne Frank and many millions of other people:

Most Americans turn hushed and reverent at the mention of the Holocaust’s victims. This is well-intended; reverence seems like a necessary corrective, especially in a time when manifestations of racism and anti-Semitism are on the rise. But reverence also does damage. When people insist on the perfection of martyrs, they forget that one of the great violences accomplished by the Nazis was in robbing their victims of their right to be seen as real, complex people. In the eyes of the Nazis, Anne and Helga weren’t people; they were insects, subhumans.

And:

The remedy for that dehumanization isn’t deification. Yet that’s exactly what we flirt with when we insist that the people murdered by Hitler were perfect. Idealizing the Nazis’ victims—cordoning them off from the flaws the rest of humanity is subject to—may be an attempt to rebalance the scales, but there’s something deeply untrustworthy about it.

Strange intergalactic journey… June 15, 2019

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I’d long known about stars cast out of galaxies into inter-galactic space – Iain Banks wrote a pretty good, if enormously baroque novel set on the planets of just such a system ‘Against a Dark Background’. But this from the Atlantic notes even more exotic interstellar travellers, that is stars from one galaxy which wind up in another.

Astronomers have used spectroscopy to detect rogue stars in the satellite galaxies around our own. In 2011, they discovered that the composition of more than 5 percent of the stars inside the Large Magellanic Cloud didn’t match that of its other stellar residents. Those rogues resembled stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a nearby galaxy, instead. At some point, the larger cloud had stolen them away.
Astronomers say many more stars of this nature are in the Milky Way, but they are tricky to find.

Of course the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are near neighbours in interstellar terms. But it is fascinating to think of how fluid all this is albeit by human timescales the degree of movement is near infinitesimal.

Class music… June 15, 2019

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In more ways than one.

Speaking of Joy Division, here’s Peter Hook talking about New Order’s “Power, Corruption & Lies”. He has some interesting thoughts on keyboards/synths and working class musicians (around 4mins in).

Forty years of Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division June 15, 2019

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I’m always curious about how cultural artefacts from the past survive. The idea in 1979 or 1980 when I started listening to Joy Division that they would be feted in an Irish Times piece forty years later would have been near incomprehensible. But, it has come to pass. That could easily be a function of not just a changing culture, and with rock and attached genres finding a purchase on what passes for a mainstream, but also demography as those who grew up with the album find positions in the media and so on.

Which raises the question what about twenty years from now or forty years? There is unquestionably a canon of sorts. They’re in there.
Will Joy Division still retain a niche within the culture though into the decades ahead? If it went one way or another I wouldn’t be entirely surprised. They might persist, or they might not.

As to the album itself, without question a classic of its kind – for me the tracks that I always loved were… … and … though I have to admit I might actually prefer Closer. Good, too, to see the unmistakeable influence of Joy Division on the early years of U2 acknowledged. But their influence was so much wider and appearing in the strangest places in music, and some predictable ones too – echoes of it in IDM and techno, in goth (though they were distinctly not a goth band) and elsewhere. Martin Hannett’s production was a huge part of this – they were apparently appalled by how the punkish band they were when they went into the recording studios turned into something entirely different on record. And the aesthetic, that cool, detached imagery generated by Peter Saville (and in fairness Anton Corbijn) so much a part of the overall phenomenon. Somehow despite working with the traditional template of rock, guitar, bass, drums and vocals, they managed to sound, and continue to, utterly of the moment.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Nomeansno June 15, 2019

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Found some No Means No on vinyl at home recently, had forgotten I even had it. The particular EP had been bought in a record shop I think on South William Street that stocked a lot of alternative records. It was a great spot for getting punk/Metal the like. Can’t remember it’s name. It may have only been there for a few years.
No Means No were a Canadian band around from 1979 to 2016. Produced 10 albums and countless EPs over the years. They made their final public appearance in late 2015.

Hilarious June 14, 2019

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An overview on Change UK on the Guardian “Today In Focus” podcast is absolutely devastating and well worth a listen
. Shambolic doesn’t begin to describe how rubbish they were. I wasn’t aware of some of the tactical errors they made during the recent elections – to me their whole schtick was clearly problematic from the off. But those errors were telling. Again the question is, what on earth did they stand for?

Some scathing analysis from the Guardian commentators, not least that their political approach was twenty years old. And an interesting point that they needed a good leader, needed to be slick, etc, but that above all they needed to be clear. And a point that had they run as the ‘Remain’ party they might have done considerably better. But, of course they couldn’t because while Remain was a pole around which they could cohere, the truth was so much of what they were about was a function of dynamics within Labour and the Tories. And add to that remarkable self-perceptions as to their intrinsic worth.

Be prepared… June 14, 2019

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…is clearly not the watchword of the UK government. At least not if we are to believe this:

…a confidential cabinet note [warns] that the country is still far from prepared for the disruption of a disorderly exit.
The note, seen by the Financial Times, says the government needs six to eight months of engagement with the pharmaceutical industry “to ensure adequate arrangements are in place to build stockpiles of medicines by October 31”.

It also says that it would take “at least 4-5 months” to improve trader readiness for the new border checks that might be required, including the provision of financial incentives to encourage exporters and importers to register for new schemes.

One door closes, another opens… June 14, 2019

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And so… the news arrives that:

Chuka Umunna, who left Labour in February to found the Independent Group, has switched party once again and joined the Liberal Democrats.

Given the inglorious failure of CUK – not least at the European Elections did he suddenly wonder what structure would be there to maintain his seat? Indeed that raises an intriguing question – how many members of the BLP in his constituency made the journey with him?

This might be suggestive:

It is unclear whether Umunna hopes to fight for his Streatham seat at the next election, or has been offered an alternative. He told the Times: “I’m a Streatham boy, born and bred, and I’m absolutely committed to the constituency,” but added that where he stands at the next election is a “discussion that needs to be had”.

One Lib Dem source suggested he could stand in Richmond Park, the seat currently held by the Tories’ Zac Goldsmith but which was won by Cable’s former chief of staff Sarah Olney at a byelection in 2016.

I’m always curious about that issue of memberships in such instances – solo runs by MPs (or TDs or whoever) are a risky business. Perhaps he and those who founded CUK thought hordes of possible members would stream towards them. Clearly it didn’t work out like that. More on this topic later today.

Dublin ‘driving us all’ towards a no-deal Brexit? A distortion of reality… June 13, 2019

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Amazing, is it not how Jeffrey Donaldson appears every once in Dublin as a sort of ‘moderate’ voice of the DUP. Problem is that this tactical deployment of him in that role can only go so far, and particularly when one reads what he says:

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has accused Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of being the “the first Irish Taoiseach to subcontract Northern Ireland policy to the EU Commission” as he hit out at what he says are “seismic” problems with the Brexit backstop.
Mr Donaldson, who is the party’s chief whip, is addressing the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin this evening on Brexit and Northern Ireland.

All of which suggests he simply doesn’t understand the processes that have been taking place in the past three years, not least in relation to ROI membership of the EU or the reason why the backstop has entered into the equation.

And then there’s this:

Mr Donaldson said he believes the Irish Government are “driving us all” towards a no-deal Brexit and said he was frustrated by Mr Varadkar’s approach to the issue.
“There is no correlation between EU membership and terrorism on this island. What frustrates me further by Leo Varadkar’s approach is that no one was even talking about building border posts in 2018, other than the Sinn Féin amateur dramatics society in South Armagh. What we have witnessed over the last two years has been the politics of turning ploughshares into swords rather than the swords into ploughshares.”

Not a word of the DUP’s role as a support for the Tory government or its own ‘red lines’ in respect of differentiation between NI and GB or UK membership of the customs union. Indeed not a word about how the ultras in the Tories and beyond have driven the narrative that only a no-deal Brexit is a Brexit. The idea that Dublin has a role in pushing matters to this point simply doesn’t stand up to any scrutiny.

Then there’s the straw man about a correlation between EU membership and terrorism on the island. The point isn’t about EU membership as such, but rather EU membership in the context of, and one wonders does Donaldson remember this far from minor detail, the GFA/BA and the nature of the border on the island that came into being on foot of same and how Brexit disrupts and potentially washes away that dispensation. It really is, and there’s no other word for it, dishonest to distort the arguments to such a degree.

And what of this in the context of two ‘Remain/Soft Brexit’ MEPs being returned for NI?

“Not a single credible voice in unionism supports the backstop in its current form and Parliament has three times now overwhelmingly rejected the draft Withdrawal Agreement because of the backstop. Yet, Dublin continues to ignore this reality, takes a purely partisan view, has abandoned the need for consensus and is driving us all now towards a no deal Brexit.”

And yet somehow I suspect the usual cheerleaders will be quoting him approvingly and berating Dublin in the Sunday papers for its supposed failings.

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