Friday, December 29, 2006

Elvis Has Entered The Building

I thought he was a sure thing for Charlton, but I'm pleased that he has signed for Celtic; if, for no other reason, than the fact that it turns up the heat on Romanov. I'm petty like that.

Mmm, isn't Hartley a Celtic supporter?

My Friend Stan*

Don't know why, but I've always mixed Dave Hill up with Stan Hey. Now that I've discovered, via this week's Normblog profile, that he has a blog I hopefully won't make that mistake again. (Though my first thought on seeing his blog was: "Brilliant, the bloke who wrote some of the best episodes of 'Auf Wiedersehen, Pet' has got a blog").

*Slade hit single'My Friend Stan' -> Stan Hey -> Dave Hill (the writer) -> Dave Hill (The good looking one from Slade) -> I think I'm a bona fide genius sometimes.

Question of the Day

Why is TV Smith so popular in Germany? Do the Arctic Monkeys know the reason?

No links, no clues . . . just questions.

Friday's Playlist #4

An ongoing series:

  • The Rakes, 'Auslandmission' (Demos)
  • Robert Wyatt, 'At Last I Am Free' (Nothing Can Stop Us Now)
  • Morrissey, 'Come Back to Camden' (You Are The Quarry)
  • Duran Duran, '(Reach Up For The) Sunrise' (Astronaut)
  • Dexys Midnight Runners, 'Dance Stance' (Geno - Best of)
  • Dexys Midnight Runners, 'Geno' (Searching for the Young Soul Rebels)
  • XTC, 'One of the Millions' (Oranges & Lemons)
  • The Organ, 'Memorize The City' (Grab That Gun)
  • Diesel Park West, 'All The Myths On Sunday' (Shakespeare, Alabama)
  • The Boo Radleys, 'Lazarus' (Giant Steps)
  • Quote of the Day

    "It is not any amelioration of the conditions of the most miserable that will satisfy us; it is justice to all that we demand. It is not the mere improvement of the social life of our class that we seek; but the abolition of classes and the destruction of those wicked distinctions which have divided the human race into princes and paupers, landlords and labourers, masters and slaves. It is not any patching and cobbling of the present system we aspire to accomplish; but the annihilation of the system and the substitution, in its stead, of an order of things in which all shall labour and all shall enjoy, and the happiness of each guarantee the welfare of the entire community." Julian Harney, 12th October, 1850

    Quote lifted from this piece.

    Sunday, December 24, 2006

    Friday, December 22, 2006

    Old Wave

    I hadn't fallen in love with him at that point but I guess it was apt that about five years ago I spotted Luke Haines on the down escalator at Holborn Tube Station. How could one fail to recognise him? A pasty faced misanthrope, he was most unlikely candidate for pop stardom this side of Cathal Coughlan appearing on Cheggars Plays Pop.

    Fast forward five years, he is now at that hat wearing phase that all middle aged blokes who make music go through, and the recognition of his own peculiar brand of musical genius has yet to be fully embraced outside of a small circle of obsessives. Thankfully, it appears that one of this obsessives ensures that Mr Haines is still in a position to make records, and another member of that exclusive club, the Guardian music critic, Alexis Petridis, has reviewed the latest album in today's Guardian.

    I used to think that Luke Haines best bet for a bank balance in the black was for him to become a Richard X type writer/producer type who would channel his poison pen lyrics wrapped in sugary pop through Stage School wannabes, but then I remembered that was probably the whole point of Black Box Recorder.

    One single reaching number twenty in the British charts over the the course of five years being together unfortunately wasn't the greatest of returns.

    But back to the here and now: the video for the title track off the new album, 'Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop', is available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube. Poor Luke, a man out of time and out of place. If he lived in Williamsburg, that video would be on heavy rotation on New York Noise, and he would be guest presenting the show with that bloke out of Fischerspooner every other week.


    Friday's Playlist #3

    An ongoing series:

  • Simple Minds, 'Hunter and the Hunted' (New Gold Dream 81-82-83-84)
  • Pulp, 'She's Dead' (Separations)
  • Moby featuring Debbie Harry, 'New York, New York' (Go)
  • Stephen Duffy, 'Eucharist' (I Love My Friends)
  • Felt, 'Primitive Painters' (Ignite The Seven Cannons)
  • The Auteurs, 'Bailed Out' (New Wave)
  • Luke Haines, 'How To Hate The Working Classes' (Christie Malry's Own Double Entry)
  • The Supremes, 'Stormy' (The Supremes Box Set)
  • Kristen Vigard, 'God Give Me Strength' (Grace Of My Heart Soundtrack)
  • Teenage Fanclub, 'Mellow Doubt' (Grand Prix)
  • Arthur Antunes Coimbra

    Apparently he wasn't allowed to score ordinary goals, but who was the joker that decided to put that free kick as the opening goal?
    And for the record I was never him in the playground kickaround, I was this bloke, but in (political) retropsect I wish I had been this bloke.

    Wednesday, December 20, 2006

    "Consigned to the basket of history."

    Lenny hits a three-pointer, but no one has the heart to tell him that the Cleveland Rebels disbanded in 1947.

    Hat tip to Graham at Lets Have Socialism


    Footnote #2 - Prince William, Joe Cole, geezerdom and too gobsmacked to come up with a snappy one-liner.

    Tuesday, December 19, 2006

    (S)ectarian (A)rt (T)errorism

    "It's OK lads. I'm a situationist prankster. Under the pavement lies the dead bodies".

    Remember that whole business of Banksy punking Disneyland?

    Well, concern yourself no more with that small fry; it turns out that when loyalist murderer, Michael Stone, stormed the Parliament buildings at Stormont late last month, it wasn't to murder Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, it was in fact to stage an elaborate form of 'performance art'.

    Stone's lawyer, Arthur Harvey QC, was quoted in Belfast High Court today saying that:

    "It was, in fact, a piece of performance art replicating a terrorist attack . . . My instructions are that these were not viable explosive devices and were improvised from the most basic household items, including a cardboard holder for a kitchen roll, candle wax and powder from fireworks freely available in shops."

    No news at this point on whether or not the Blue Peter presenting team are to be called as expert witnesses's for the defence.


    What About Chairman Bob?

    Dave seemingly can't get enough of his political top tens. So, in that spirit, a link to the extremely funny Ten Reasons Why I Am Not A Maoist by Thomas Good of Next Left Notes.

    Old or sold, it's still comedy gold.

    December Socialist Standard 'Will The Waves Rule Britannia?'

    The December Socialist Standard can also be viewed as a PDF here.


  • Saddam's Death Penalty
  • Regular Columns

  • Pathfinders Hot Air Emissions
  • Cooking the Books #1 Stating the obvious
  • Cooking the Books #2Poor Woman's banker
  • Greasy Pole The Queen's Speech
  • 50 Years Ago Hungary and Suez
  • Main Articles

  • Capitalism and Climate Change The Market has failed. Long Live the Market!" is the illogical conclusion of the Stern Report on the Economics of Climate Change published at the end of October.
  • The Stern gag - capitalist policies for capitalism's problems The Stern Report makes for grim reading, and suggests that time is running out to really address the environment question.
  • Whose thoughts are you thinking? Richard Dawkins, the biologist, has become something of a celebrity through his outspoken advocacy of atheism as in his new book 'The God Delusion'. But his approach to religion is still an idealist one.
  • Co-operation not competition Does competitive capitalism really deliver the goods?
  • Driven from Eden? Was the Neolithic Revolution entirely a good thing?
  • Parting with Leninism Extracts from an email received from a reader who has recently broken with a Leninist organisation, the New Communist Party (publishers of the 'New Worker')
  • Reviews, Letters & Obituaries

  • Book Reviews The Last Conflict by Pieter Lawrence; The Corporation that Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational by Nick Robins; Crisis of Socialism By Randhir Singh
  • Film Review An Inconvenient Truth
  • Letters to the Editors Zionism & Structured Party
  • Obituaries Len Feinzing & Bill Ross
  • Voice From The Back

  • Profits and Oily Words; A Toxic Society; Cut Price Killers; Gangster Talk; Bull in a China Shop; An American Myth
  • Sunday, December 17, 2006

    'In the second city of the empire'

    (Sweet Shop, Shettleston, Glasgow)

    The above pic is part of nice wee slideshow of photos, entitled Glasgow, that I found on Flickr. The photographer, 'nekO', also has a set entitled Edinburgh.

    Original hat tip to Alister for pointing me in the right direction.

    Saturday, December 16, 2006

    I think chat-up line number two did the trick

    Dave Osler is currently doing a top ten Trotskyist chat-up lines thread on his blog, which reminded me of the following cute pic of a couple of Millies paper sellers that I stumbled across on the internet ages ago. 'Cos I seriously underestimate the cultural savvy of my readership, I feel it's necessary to also include the famous pic that obviously inspired it.

    Thanks Dave - and the Strops - for giving me the excuse to post it, 'cos I've really wanted to post that pic for ages, and I was fearful that I would be reduced to posting it with the byline: "Quick, pretend to kiss me, Tommy Sheridan's coming.

    The Bastard Fairies does it crass-style

    Nearly missed this, even though John at Counago and Spaves had posted a link to it nearly a week ago. Very funny spoof video-cam footage of a wee eight year old girl laying into Bill O'Reilly and the religious right. Turns out that it is all part of an elaborate scam to publicise a band called the Bastard Fairies.

    The YouTube clip below shows that Bill O'Reilly has responded to it in the only way he can, by throwing out accusations of indoctrination and child abuse.

    Friday, December 15, 2006

    Friday's Playlist #2

    An ongoing series:

  • Elizabeth Fraser, 'At Last I Am Free' (Rough Trade 25-Stop Me if You)
  • The Dears, 'Bandwagoneers' (Gang of Losers)
  • Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, 'Me and Mia' (Shake The Sheets)
  • The Motions, 'For Another Man' (Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond, Vol. 2)
  • Jarvis Cocker, 'Tonite' (Jarvis)
  • XTC, 'Paper And Iron (Notes And Coins)' (Black Sea)
  • Arctic Monkeys, 'From the Ritz to the Rubble' (Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not)
  • ballboy, 'I Hate Scotland' (Club Anthems)
  • Omarion, 'Entourage' (O)
  • The Silencers, 'Painted Moon' (A Letter From St. Paul)
  • Thursday, December 14, 2006

    Snoop, it's a different kind of draw tomorrow

    The draw for the last 16 of the Champions League takes place tomorrow. As mentioned previously on the blog, I think Celtic lucked out by finishing second in their group.

    Now, all I ask is that they get drawn against one of the English clubs. I don't mind if it's Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool. It's Celtic's best chance of progressing to the last eight, what with their recent woeful away form in Europe. That, and the reverse hex of a comment/post from Reidski, where he goes into rant overdrive, decrying the woefulness of the current eleven and predicting that Celtic will be absolutely slaughtered.


    It turns out that Celtic will be losing to Berlusconi's AC Milan over two legs. I can't see any other scenario after getting drawn against a club who are currently suffering a terrible season in Serie A and, therefore, have everything to play for in the Champions League.

    Lyon to win this year's Champions League.

    Monday, December 11, 2006

    Luxemburg in China?

    The November-December issue of Socialist Labor Party journal, 'The People', has an interesting wee article on the strange appearance of the spectre of Rosa Luxemburg in modern day China.
    'Luxemburg in China?'

    I've posted the link from the unofficial Socialist Standard MySpace page on account of the fact that the SLP only appears to put the journal on the website as a PDF, rather than also listing individual articles as html links.

    Hat tip to Arminius at Space of Hope blog.

    Punt Up Pompey

    A shoe in for goal of the season?

    However, I still think that this peach of a goal by Patrik Berger from a few years back is the best goal scored by a Portsmouth player in recent years.


    I have to state for the record that any other weekend I would be raving about Essien's wonder strike against Arsenal, but that's the breaks.

    "Go Home And Die"

    Christ, I bet this clip is ancient , but like Stuart at From Despair To Where, I'm totally behind the times when it comes to matters relating to Chris Morris.

    My double-barrelled excuse is that I've been in the States for a year and a half now, and also the embarassing revelation that - whispering this very quietly - I don't think that Chris Morris is the best thing since sliced bread. However, Stuart, as someone who probably wants to bear Charlie Brooker's lovechild, has no such excuse.

    All the same, hat tip to Stuart for this funny clip of a spliced Bush speech from the manic wit of Chris Morris.

    As I'm really behind the Bush bashing times, I'll also throw in a Backwords Bush countdown clock for free. I was looking for a Margaret Thatcher death clock, but it looks like Class War haven't got their act together yet on that pressing matter.

    On related up-to-the-minute political matters, next week the blog will carry a ten thousand word essay on why I think Dickie is Tricky.

    'I Bet You Look Good On The Bookshelf'

    Britpop might be long dead but, pound for pound, Jarvis Cocker and Noel Gallagher are still the most quotable pop stars out there. The latest issue of the Observer Music Monthly magazine carries this gem of a quote from Gallagher that is in amongst a whole-nine-yards sort of article on the Arctic Monkeys:

    "I think they [The Arctic Monkeys] were a good kick up the arse, but I'm a bit worried about what's going to follow in their wake. If it's going to be loads of cunts with guitars up here going, "and my mum works down the fucking chip shop, she met a geezer..." and all that. Great pop music is not about real life, it's about how great life can be. Real life's fucking shit."

    I can't remember who exactly it was who said it, but I remember that at the height of Oasis's success, a music journalist offered the opinion that if Noel Gallagher had ever actually read a book in his life, good songs would have become great songs. Let's hope that the Arctic Monkeys chief songwriter, Alex Turner - who, it has to be said that as a lyricist is already head and shoulders above Gallagher - doesn't fall away in the same way that Gallagher did. Spotting this wee quote from Turner further on in the article gives me hope:

    "There's a book my grandad and my dad always try to get me to read and I've sort of read half of it - 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists'. I want to have read it to be able to have a conversation with my grandad about it, and I always take it with me, and I quite like it, but..."

    If he gets round to finishing it, the Arctic Monkeys third album should be a cracker.

    Sunday, December 10, 2006

    Died in a hospital bed, surrounded by his family, at the age of 91

    Will Rubbish has got it right: skip over to Marc Cooper's blog for his post Pinochet Dies. His Legacy Lingers.

    Naturally, the blogosphere is awash with claim and counter-claim from contending opinion on the right and left about whether or not Pinochet's deposing of the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in '73 saved Chile from a 'Marxist' dictatorship, but I was particularly struck by this quote from an article published in the Economist in 1999 that was cut and pasted into the comments box of Marc Cooper's post, and which answers some of the bullshit from the right that Pinochet was Chile's saviour from a supposed creeping authoritarianism and dictatorship which was occuring under Allende:

    "As to killings, any comparison of Allende to that regime is quite simply false. The new pamphlet, citing the old white book, records 96 “political” deaths, on right and left, during the Allende years. Hardly any, except a few during a minor mutiny in mid-1973, can be (or were) blamed on the official forces. In contrast, the pamphlet admits 1,261 such deaths—82 among the armed forces—in the few months after the coup. The pamphlet ascribes this to “bitter and brutal” fighting during a left-wing revolt. The 1,261 died, it says, “in the course of the struggle.”
    They did not. It would be an odd urban struggle in which “well trained, highly armed” extremists lose more than a dozen men for every one they kill. In fact, as many have related who were merely held or tortured there, most of the deaths occurred in the national stadium in Santiago, where real or alleged enemies of the new order were held, to be singled out by masked informers, often for immediate execution. And that still leaves at least 800 later deaths under the regime, when it was in total control, to be accounted for. Or whitewashed?

    For further evidence, go to a source of the time: The Economist, non-Chilean but firmly critical of Allende and what its then Chile specialist was later to entitle his savagely critical book, “Chile’s Marxist Experiment”. That title was in fact overblown. Allende’s economics were, approximately, Marxist and certainly disastrous. Not so the political system he ran. The opposition press and parties carried on. So did elections, and even in March 1973 the regime could win only 44% of the vote for Congress. Still, this paper was deeply suspicious, and the more so—in those days of raging cold war—because of Allende’s friendship with Fidel Castro.

    Twice it sent its specialist for long visits. He wrote a six-page report in March 1972, one of five pages in October 1973, a month after the coup. The second time, our man clearly had free access to the regime and its evidence against Allende. But even in 1972 he talked widely to enemies of the Allende government. Both his reports damned it. Both produced mild versions of some charges now laid against Allende: for instance (1973), of Cubans training his personal guard, or guerrillas “tolerated” by the government, (though the actual ones our reporter met were a fairly hopeless, partly Amerindian group, more like Mexico’s Zapatists than the strike force of revolution). But what did this ferocious critic of Allende’s regime say of its now alleged political tortures or killings? Not a word.

    And that bastard Pinochet died in a hospital bed, surrounded by his family, at the age of 91.

    Saturday, December 09, 2006

    Product Placement

    Brilliant. Just discovered this clever spoof by Irn Bru of the Raymond Briggs's classic The Snowman via Fixation blog. If you need a lyric sheet to sing along, you can grab one courtesy of the official page.

    And if A.G Barr PLC, the manufacturer's of Irn Bru, wish to send me a case of Irn Bru for Christmas for this shameless product placement on the blog, don't be shy. I'm quite happy to sell out my socialism and my principles for the sweet taste of Irn Bru (or a batch of Cornish Pasties for that matter).

    For any non-British readers of the blog, Irn Bru is a popular soft drink - what Kara calls 'soda pop' - produced out of Scotland. To the best of my knowledge, alongside Inca Kola in Peru, it continues to be one of the handful of homegrown soft drinks in the world to outsell both Coca-Cola and Pepsi in its domestic market. Perhaps because it is best known as a popular hangover cure.


    Just discovered this info via its wiki page that Irn Bru:
    ". . . is currently listed as a banned substance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA website lists Irn-Bru and Diet Irn-Bru as containing the banned carcinogenic colouring Ponceau 4R, and Sunset Yellow FCF, which the FDA has to approve on a per-batch basis".

    Looks like I'll be popping along to the Chip Shop in Park Slope tomorrow to make a citizen's arrest of its stock.

    Flogging Flagging Blog

    Hat tip to Chris.

    The Actor and the King by 'Ret Marut' - a short story

    Latest post to the unofficial Socialist Standard MySpace page is a canny wee short story by Ret Marut aka B. Traven, entitled 'The Actor and the King', which was liberated shamelessly from the anarchist website, libcom. Libcom also carries an informative biographical essay on one of literature's most mysterious characters.

    I must give his first novel, Death Ship, another go sometime. I never did finish it first time round, despite the fact that I really loved 'The Treasure of Sierra Madre'.

    Friday, December 08, 2006

    trade union consciousness

    From the BBC Sports website:

    "Ashley Cole's barrister in the 'tapping-up' case has revealed the defender was Arsenal's PFA representative while at the club - but "appeared to have no knowledge of the fact". (Guardian)

    That probably explains why he didn't make FourFourTwo magazine's top ten list this year. Better luck next year, comrade.

    Apologies to Arminius and Michelle

    Further to this post, I stand corrected.

    Image lifted from what looks like an interesting website.


    I thought Bono was the most hated man in pop, but I forgot about Mick Hucknall. You don't really need to bother about the article itself. Just scroll down to the comments from the shiny happy people who make up the Guardian online readership in response to Mick's heartfelt piece on protecting copyright.

    'Chewtoy' started off with the zinger below, and everyone decided to pile in after him:

    "Don't worry Mick. I'll never illegally download one of your songs... they're just too shite."

    Despite thinking that he is a bit of a muppet, I'll always have a soft spot for 'Holding Back The Years'.

    What "Friday Playlist"?

    This one:
  • ABC, 'If I Ever Thought You'd Be Lonely' (Beauty Stab)
  • Supergrass, 'Sad Girl' (Road To Rouen)
  • XTC, 'Washaway' (The Big Express)
  • Stephen Duffy, 'Oh God' (Keep Moving)
  • Elk City, 'Love's Like A Bomb' (Status)
  • The School, 'You Belong' (Espionage)
  • The Rapture, 'Whoo! Alright-Yeah...Uh Huh' (Pieces Of The People We Love)
  • TV On The Radio, 'Wolf Like Me' (Return To Cookie Mountain)
  • The Poets, 'That's The Way It's Got To Be' (Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond, Vol. 2)
  • Beck, 'Think I'm In Love' (The Information)
  • Smug Humbug

    The sitemeter for the blog tells me that it is that time of the year again, so to just clear up a couple of Christmas related questions that always seem to prompt people finding the blog through searches on google:

  • This song is the greatest Christmas song of all time. It's not open to debate. The matter was decided (by me) about 15 years ago, and short of The Smiths reforming to record a Christmas album, that decision won't be revised anytime soon.
  • Christmas means Christmas number ones and, for more people than I'd like to imagine, this conjures up memories of this bloke and his 1985 number one, 'Merry Christmas Everyone'.
    Some of those people seem to be fascinated by his political affiliations for some reason. So, for the record, I understand that before he was on Top of the Pops every other week in the eighties, his old band Shakin' Stevens and the Sunsets were known to play benefits for the old British Communist Party.

    Why people would want to type 'Shakin Stevens' + 'SWP' into the google search engine is beyond my comprehension. I'm sure you have your reasons.
  • Watching The Testcard

    That sound you can hear is the tumbleweed drifting across this post from 'Micky H', whose blog appears to be dedicated to misfired gags aimed at Trot opponents in the murky world of Unison internal politics.

    It says something when a blog prompts a pang of sympathy from me for the various 'Generals Without Armies' that make up the magazine rack at Housmans Bookshop, but Micky's blog hits the mark. I don't think that the late lamented 'Dave Dudley' need be roused from his slumber with the news that someone is playing the Craig Ferguson to his Jerry Sadowitz.

    Shame really, 'cos there is the making of a decent pisstake of us all in the original idea. I seem to remember that a few years back, Matt V-W, a now ex-member of the Birmingham Branch of the SPGB, came up with the idea for a tv show called 'Comrades', a brilliant parody of the SPGB loosely based on 'Friends'.

    Sadly, it failed at the planning stage: He couldn't find three female SPGB members to cast and, on top of that, no six members of the SPGB would agree to be in the same rehearsal room at the same time, for fear that the Central Organiser would take the opportunity to try and get them to form a branch.

    Life imitates art imitating life

    Kara insists that I don't get irony - which is kind of ironic in itself, what with Kara being American, and me being British - so I guess this qualifies as tragedy:

    "A talented Cambridge graduate fell to his death after attending a party with the rock star and drug addict Pete Doherty, it emerged yesterday . . .

    "The actor, originally from Surrey, appears to have accidentally fallen to his death from the third floor flat in the early hours of Sunday after being thrown out of the party. He had been due to star this week in Accidental Death of an Anarchist, in which the anarchist of the title falls to his death from the window of a police station." [From the music section of yesterday's Guardian]

    Suspicious Minds

    Looks like Romanov is stitching up Steven Pressley big time. I'm guessing that he's been in Edinburgh far too long, and has, as a consequence, adopted the “you will have had your tea then” mentality so beloved of the people of the east coast of Scotland.

    This space filler is dedicated to Alan J., who is probably claiming to be a Hibs supporter at the moment 'cos they are two points ahead of Hearts in the league.

    Thursday, December 07, 2006

    "Imagine No Possessions . . ."

    . . . it's easy if you're skint

    Quick link to an excellent article on the politics of John Lennon and his most famous song, 'Imagine', that originally appeared on the World Socialist Movement website. It's author, DV, also wrote the definitive impossibilist text/history of punk a few years back in the pages of the Socialist Standard. Move over Lester Bangs . . . what do you mean he already 'moved on' years ago?

    Btw, if you like good music, the unofficial Socialist Standard MySpace page currently has as its profile song, 'You Belong' by The School. It's a belter of a tune. The other two tracks on their MySpace page, 'Madchen' and 'Attraction' are also worth checking out.

    Think Kaiser Ferdinand mashed in with the Glitter Band, whilst the Sparks do backing vocals. Add in the fact that they are from Trondheim in Norway, and you have the bastard pop-love child of Turbonegro and A-Ha who have landed on my Friday playlist to bury once and for all the memory of Harald Brattbakk.

    Reasons To Be Cheerful

    Still smarting from last night's result, and that's even without seeing the lowhlights of the game (saw Emre's sublime winner for Newcastle against Reading, though. John will be pleased).

    Shipping nine goals - and amassing zero points - from three Championship League away games doesn't bode well for Celtic progressing beyond the last sixteen of the competition. However, disregarding the disquieting fact that the Celtic defence when it plays in Europe has all the durability of a jelly nailed to the underside of a crossbar, I think there is an argument to be made that finishing runners-up to Man Utd in their group was the best result that Celtic could get last night.

    If they had actually won their group last night, Celtic could have been facing teams of the calibre of Barcelona or Real Madrid (currently first and second in Primera Liga); Inter Milan or Roma (currently first and second in Serie A); PSV Eindhoven (currently five points clear in the Dutch league); or Porto (like PSV, leading their domestic league by five points at the moment) as possible opponents in the last sixteen. Finishing second in their group means that Celtic have a strong chance of getting drawn against Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea when the draw is made on December 15th.

    I'm not downplaying the fact that Wenger, Benitez and Mourinho all rate their chances for their teams possibly winning this year's Champions League. For Mourinho, it's the next stage in Chelski's doimnation of European football, and at this point in time, it's the reason for living for Wenger and Benitez, which raises the stakes even higher. However, Celtic have shown in recent years that they have a bit of form when facing English clubs in Europe, whatever the supposed disparity in quality before the games (ask Blackburn, Liverpool and Man Utd fans for confirmation of this), coupled with their tremendous away support that takes on the cliched role of the twelfth man, and the fact that Celtic doesn't seem as overawed when playing away in England,and you have the makings of Celtic making the last eight of the top European competition for the first time since 1979/80.* Who knows, they might get Chelski as their opponents in the next round, Strachan might by this point have seen my special pleading for Riordan on this blog, and Riordan will actually get to do this for real this time.

    That's a lot of ifs. What will actually happen is that we will get drawn against Lyon, duly spanked handsomely over two legs and Houllier will get his revenge for this night three years ago.

    Wednesday, December 06, 2006

    That Line About The Bakery

    Latest post from the Socialism Or Your Money Back blog:
    'Them and Us'

    With the largest report of its kind ever conducted on the subject of wealth distribution in the world revealing that 1% of the world's population own 40% of the world's wealth, the question to ask is: how long will it take before we - the world's overwhelming majority - realise that we don't just have to settle for the crumbs?

    Alan J. has also blogged about this.

    A Bright Idea

    Dave Osler has just posted a political lightbulb jokes thread on his blog. You should wing your way over there and offer your own ideas in the comments box.

    On a related matter:

    Q. How many Celtic players does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A. Two. Artur Boruc to change the lightbulb, and Derek Riordan to sit on the fucking bench ONCE AGAIN watching him do it.

    Just in case Gordon Strachan does read the blog; Here's a reminder of why Riordan shouldn't be picking splinters out of his arse every Saturday afternoon.

    Travel Sickness

    From the BBC Sports Website:

    19:46: GOAL Copenhagen 1-0 Celtic
    The worst possible start for Celtic as Atiba Hutchison bundles his way through the visitors' defence and shoots low into the bottom corner. The goal is timed at 80 seconds.

    This is why I've never entertained the notion to try and do a minute by minute report of a Celtic game. I don't think I could handle it. Only 88 minutes to go.

    Hospitalised Copper

    Christ, the George Galloway fan club at Harry's Place must be wetting themselves at this news from his website that George and chums have re-recorded Edwin Starr's best known song, 'War', and intend to release it as a download only single in the first week in January.

    George himself explains the plan of action on his website:

    "The idea is to take the song to the top of the singles chart in the first week of January entirely through downloads. From January 1 download-only singles are eligible for chart placing in the official Top 40 . . .

    . . . Two million of us marched against the war, if only a small number of us buy the download not only will it benefit the campaign against the war it will be a hugely embarrassing musical referendum on Blair".

    The stills are from the video recorded for the three minutes of incendiary political pop, and the storyboard of the video has George playing a policeman who gets mixed up with Tony Blair who: " is out of a job now Gordon has replaced him as PM so he’s reformed his college band Ugly Rumours for one last crack at rock stardom". I'm guessing that Ken Loach didn't direct the video.

    It turns out that Tony Blair's sister in law, Lauren Booth, also appears in the video playing a WPC. The lengths some people will go to to get out of buying their nephew and nieces Christmas presents.

    What's really disquieting about this news is that because Respect previously recorded a version of Erasure's 'Respect' for an election campaign, which I blogged about here, I've exhausted my repertoire of Respect 'Crap politics, crap taste in music' jokes. Bastards.

    Political satire is officially dead.

    Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    What's in a name?

    Via Dave Osler's blog at his new address:

    "Amicus employed a consultancy, at a cost of £10,000, to advise on a new name for the super-union, although then it threw out all of its suggestions as inappropriate. Two of its list of 200 rejected names were Voice and Accommodate, as it pursued a theme of partnership. Also discarded from the final list were Spectrum and United. The name that Amicus finally selected was suggested by Derek Simpson, its general secretary. (My emphasis.)" [From the Times article Workers asked to stamp identity on new super-union]

    Ten fookin' grand!! Am I missing something here? What ever happened to all that flannel about the awkward squad? Naive fool that I am, I would have thought such info would have Amicus members up in arms doing a sealed knot type re-enactment of Tin Tin Starts The Revolution, but according to David Beaumont, who runs a website focusing on matters relating to the Amicus union, Simpson must feel pretty secure in these matters 'cos he: "decided on 'oneunion' AKA '1union' and his long time lawyer Georgina Hirsch has registered both internet domain names, oddly using her own name as the registrant."

    What isn't clear from either the Times article or from Beaumont's commentary is when exactly Amicus employed the consultants for that exorbitant fee to come up with the wish list of suggested names for the proposed super union of merged Amicus and T & G members. The links provided by Beaumont for the registration of the internet domain names for both and indicates that they were registered by Hirsch as long ago as the 27th September 2005. Surely, Simpson didn't spend the member's money knowing that he already had that name in his backpocket?

    Catching Up, Keeping Up

    Apologies, should have posted this a few days back but it was resting in the draft section of the blog. Making the title of the post all the more apposite.

    My guess is that John and Rob over at the SPGB blog, Socialism Or Your Money Back have been popping the pro-plus like they are smarties, but just to keep you up to speed, they have placed the following posts on the blog in the last few days:

  • Iranian President Ahmadinejad's letter to the American people
  • Remembering CND
  • Rendition To Torture
  • Socialists and Cuba
  • Penal Profits
  • As I'm on the subject of the Small Party Getting Blogwise, Alan of Mailstrom blogging fame has been rifling through back issues of the old WSM journal, the World Socialist, that was published for three or four years in the mid-eighties, and has put the following articles online:

  • Money Must Go
  • How Socialism Can Organise Production Without Money
  • Building Profits versus Building Homes
  • Of the articles that Alan has posted, 'Money Must Go' is the real curio. The original exercise in 'blackboard socialism', if you like, it was an attempt to put forward the case for socialism in jargon-free language through a dialogue between 'George' and the 'Professor'. Its quaint style and language has 1940s screaming all over it, and if it had ever been adapted for the silver screen Mickey Rooney would have been cast as George, with Monty Woolley doing a turn as the Professor.

    What with the various incarnations of 'World of Free Access', the World in Common project and Capitalism & Other Kids Stuff in more recent years, SPGBers are more used to this approach of trying to get the ideas across - even if not every SPGBer agrees with this method - but from reading Robert Barltrop's history of the SPGB, 'The Monument', it appears that in the day many members of the SPGB frowned upon this pamphlet 'cos they considered it "unscientific", but other SPGBers looked upon it a lot more favourably and were wont to sell the pamphlet 'under the counter', so to speak.

    The authors of the pamphlet, 'Philoren', were two SPGB sympathisers by the name of Phillips and Renson. I don't know much about Phillips, but I vaguely remember reading Jerry White's obituary for Israel Renson in an old issue of the History Workshop Journal many years ago. (It's online but you have to pay a subscription.)

    From what I can recollect of the obituary, Renson (1906-1986) was a chemist from Hackney in East London who, though never actually a member of the SPGB, was an active sympathiser of the SPGB from the 1920s onwards after hearing one of the great SPGB outdoor speakers, Alex Anderson, speak at his regular speaking pitch in Tottenham, North London. According to White's obituary, right up until his death in the mid-eighties, Renson - at that point in his late seventies - continued to distribute about twenty Socialist Standards every month to a regular round of readers and sympathisers. I remember the evident exasperation in White's obituary at Renson's - a man who White obviously thought very highly of - continued political attachment to the SPGB over many decades, suggesting something about Renson falling under the "penumbra" of the SPGB as a young man.

    I'm guessing that White had his own axe to grind 'cos, if I remember rightly, he was a Labour councillor on Islington Council in the mid-eighties, and the old Islington Branch of the SPGB was very noisy and visible in the eighties, and were probably an irritant to the hard left in the local Labour Party, who weren't used to being called on on their lack of socialist credentials.

    As well as being a socialist and chemist, Renson was a local historian (of Hackney) of some repute, hence his obituary in the History Workshop Journal from Jerry White, who himself was a local historian (of Islington). A link to Renson's personal papers can be found here


    Just followed the link for Renson, and found the following biographical information about him:

    Israel Renson was born in 1906, the third child of Jewish immigrants from Russia. Mr Renson Senior was born in about 1860 in Mir, in European Russia and had left Russia about 1890 to become the minister to a congregation at Bath. After a dispute over religious orthodoxy he left in 1892 and came to London, moving many times in the East End. Israel Renson was born in Scarborough Street, but in 1910 the family moved to Colvestone Crescent, Hackney. He went to Sigdon Road School from 1911-16 and then to Dalston Central School. Between 1917 and 1918 he was evacuated to Reading.

    "After leaving school in 1923 Israel Renson was apprenticed to Daniel Vahrman, a chemist in Fournier Street, just off Brick Lane until 1926. While serving his apprenticeship he also attended evening classes at Chelsea Polytechnic to do the examinations required by the Pharmaceutical Society.

    Israel's departure from the Fournier Street business co-incided with the period of the General Strike and it was this period that began his strong socialist leanings, though he had attended many meetings in the East End from 1919 onwards, and sympathised with the Socialist Party of Great Britain, though he never became a member. This arose from his belief that active socialism and running a business were incompatable.

    After a brief and unsuccessful job with a large chemist's firm, Israel Renson went to work for a chemist in Well Street from 1927 to 1935, after which he was able to start up his own business in Classic Mansions, on the south side of Well Street. His political interests continued and he also went to Communist Party meetings in the 1930s. Out of his socialist beliefs came a text on the abolition of money; this was published just after the Second World War as 'Money Must Go' under the pseudonym 'Philoren'. Israel was also active in local affairs, taking a great interest in the local history of Hackney. He was a founder member of the Hackney Society and the Victoria Park Society, and assisted in publications, as well as producing his own work on Broadway Market. He lived with his eldest sister for many years in Skipworth Road and died after a short illness in 1986."

    Well, they got the date of the publication of 'Money Must Go' wrong, and it's unclear from the excerpt if the author knew that Renson co-wrote the pamphlet, rather than being the sole author of the work, but it is definitely a wee insight into a time when the SPGB had an influence out of all proportion to its size.

    Friendly Fire

    It almost feels as if I've been teleported into an old Peter McDougall drama after receiving the follow comment to this recent post, when I posted it on a footie discussion list:

    " . . . .Brian Laudrup a player who was far faster than Larsson, far better skill with the ball, better agility, better crosser of the ball, better passer of the ball, a player who in that video there, takes on a team with white shorts and red shirts, a wonder who the fuck that is? a think it starts with Manchester and finishes with United, cause they just got their arses handed to them by the Glasgow Rangers. Champions of England and we beat them we fucked them all over the park just like we done to Leeds, so you can take your dirty filthy fenian bastarden fucken stupid fucken article and shove that right up your arse


    fucken yaaaaaaasss!!



    ye don't like it??

    naw ye fucken don't

    it makes you absolutely fucken sick you dirty fenian fucken smelly catholic fucken smelly bastard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Before you ask, it wasn't this bloke delivering the friendly fire. At least, I don't think so . . .

    This Comment Made Me Smile

    Gene's pissed off big style and the usual suspects are knocking seven bells out of each other in the comments box* on the recent Chavez reelected post on Harry's Place, but I have to give an impromptu round of applause to 'Hamish Q Cumber'** for the following comment in the thread that made me laugh out loud:

    "Chavez re-elected with a resounding victory on a 70% turnout and Pinochet having a heart attack the same day - life is sweet.

    You had to be there.

    *Only temporarily stopping to take turns at sticking the boot into 'Hong Kong Benji', who has actually be known to make sensible points in the comments box at Harry's Place.

    **Isn't that the pseudonym that Sean Matgamna uses when he is writing on the Scottish Question?

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Milton Friedman - A Free Market Guru Gone Wrong

    Despite the best intentions of all concerned going back many years, unfortunately the Socialist Standard has yet to make that leap (of faith) from being a monthly magazine to a journal that appears more frequently. So until we reach that day when the magazine appears daily, SPGBers can use their personal blogs to point people in the direction of articles that probably won't appear on the printed page for a couple of months otherwise.

    Such an occasion arises with this post - an exclusive of sorts - where I provide you with the link to an article by a longstanding member of the SPGB, Dave Perrin, on the legacy of the recently deceased economist, Milton Friedman:

    A Free Market Guru Gone Wrong

    Hope people find it of interest. Feel free to post the link on, but don't let that stop you taking out a supporters subscription to the Socialist Standard for that special someone this coming Christmas.

    I understand that this particular "tart"* already has this prezzie in mind for that special someone.

    *I'm not slagging him. It's his own self-description.

    Sunday, December 03, 2006

    The Primitive Accumulation . . .

    . . . of devotees to the novels of Denise Mina continues apace with the news that SCWR has succumbed to her brilliance.

    Just remember comrades, all we need is 50% + 1 of the population and we will have ensured that a tv adaption of her works will be in the works. But we have to be ever vigilant on this matter. As great an actress as she is, Shirley Henderson is not suited to play either Maureen O'Donnell or Paddy Meehan in any proposed adaptation. Let's make sure that the Rebus-JohnHannah-KenStott debacle is never ever repeated.

    Saturday, December 02, 2006

    The Lost Seinfeld Episode - 'Kramer Becomes A Racist'

    Clever, very clever.

    Remember, don't fall for his attempt at the Mel Gibson defence. Michael Richards is still a total scumbag, however many mea culpas he does on talk shows from here until the New Year

    Hat tip to Total Jim.

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    A Jaw Drops In Brooklyn*

    To say that I was shocked when I read the news would be an understatement - maybe not as shocked as Martin O'Neill, mind - but I think Fergie has just pulled off his best bit of work in the transfer market since that one winter night in the Pennines in November 1992, when he mugged Howard Wilkinson for Eric Cantona.

    Larsson as United's talisman to deprive Mourinho of his third Premiership title in a row? Just whisper the words Paris, 17th May 2006 into the ear of Arsene Wenger and see how he responds to the suggestion. It may only be a three month loan period at the start of the new year whilst the Swedish football season beds down for the dark nights and a Ingmar Bergman DVD marathon, but at a time when the football pundits - whilst applauding Man Utd's strong start to the season - have also been setting their clocks to when Man Utd title challenge will fall away due to the lack of depth in their squad in comparison to Chelsea**, Larsson could emulate the role that the aforementioned Cantona played when he went to Leeds Utd in the second half of the '91-92 season, and was that icing on the cake that delivered Leeds the old First Division title at the expense of Man Utd.

    As is Larsson's nature, he is playing down the impact that he can deliver in the three months he is at Old Trafford, only stating: "It feels good to come and play for such a big club. I may not start every match, but it feels like a fun thing . . . ", but don't be fooled by the playful words. Everybody thought he was just having a season in the sun when he went to the Nou Camp, but Thierry Henry knows differently. (This post seems to have it in for Arsenal for some reason. I don't know why.)

    Though, according to the fixture list, he can only play in a maximum of eight league games, I'll stick my neck out and say that Man Utd will win the title this year and that Larsson will play a not so insignificant role in the victory. Man Utd won't suffer the blip that everyone is expecting, 'cos Larsson won't get injured, he will score (important) goals every other game he plays and come May of next year John Terry will have a face like a ripped arse.

    This rash prediction is not just about my devotion to Larsson; I've never really liked Chelsea - even before the Chelski days of dodgy money and arrogant swaggering.Though there is no denying they've deserved to win the Premiership the last two years - spending hundred of millions of pounds makes a club very deserving - they've won with a lack of elegance and style. They'll never be anyone's second favourite team, and however much people rant and raved against Liverpool in their heyday in the seventies and eighties, and against Man Utd in more recent years when they dominated English football, there was always that grudging respect for their good football. Chelsea haven't been able to buy that. Or at least buy it back. They had it in the sixties and seventies in spades, but that was the era of Osgood and Cooke. Alongside Rangers, they continue to be the ugly sisters of British football. That's my petty-minded prejudice and I'm sticking to it.

    Apologies to Richard Headicar***. You're a good man fallen amongst GQ readers, and I'm off to sign up for a Fantasy Football League in time for the start of January. This could be fun.

    *Apologies to Betty Smith. I couldn't resist it.

    **What better proof than last Sunday's game at Old Trafford when Utd substitutes who came on were Darren Fletcher and John O'Shea versus Chelsea's Joe Cole, Paulo Ferreira and Arjen Robben.

    ***Good comrade from the SPGB, whose excuse for being a Chelsea supporter is that he was born in Chelsea, so I'll forgive him. If only 'cos it must be lonely being a Chelsea supporter who was actually born in Chelsea. Bit like being being a working class member of the SWP.

    DH Lawrence does Anti-Flag

    Alan's has been rifling through his socialist literature, and reproduced a series of fascinating DH Lawrence poems on his blog. As he mentions in his post, these poems were originally published in 1929 in a volume entitled Pansies, and Alan and myself both spotted them in an old issue of 'World Socialist', which was a theoretical magazine produced by the WSM for a few years in the mid-eighties.
    I especially liked the poem reproduced below, though the eyesight is going a bit. At first glance, I thought it was called 'Oi - Start a Revolution', and I suddenly had Lawrence pegged as a proto-Attila the Stockbroker type.
    However, if I was psycho-politicising him - don't know what that means, but for the purposes of this post, it'll do - the opening line in the poem would mark him down as a disillusioned Council Communist in my book. The desperate cry of 'Somebody' at the end of the line with the exclamation mark for added emphasis puts him in the spontaneist camp, but with other poems in Alan's post carrying such titles as 'Kill Money'; 'How Beastly The Bourgeois Is'; & 'Money Madness', it means he could also be an Anti-Flag type. Just a shame that with his beard, he looks more like someone who would be playing second guitar in Grandaddy.
    O! Start A Revolution

    O! start a revolution , somebody!
    not to get the money
    but to lose it forever.

    O! start a revolution , somebody!
    not to install the working classes
    but to abolish the working classes forever
    and have a world of men.

    Never read Rand but this amused me nonetheless.

    I've seen this cartoon before but I can't remember where. So apologies in advance if a reader doesn't get due credit/hat tip for the image. It's not 'cos I didn''t want to.

    I also liked the byline for the cartoon:

    The Fuck Ayn Rand Discussion Group: "Simplistic right-wing propaganda in the style of airport reading. If you want to impress your friends with the fact you can get through a 900 page book, read harry potter."

    It turns out there are plans for a film adaptation of her 1957 novel, 'Atlas Shrugged', in the pipeline. Randall Wallace, the numpty who wrote the screenplay for 'Braveheart' and 'Pearl Harbour' is writing/directing, and Angelina Jolie is pencilled in to play the role of Dagny Taggart. I can't wait.