. . . and happy birthday, big sis.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Sunday, October 29, 2006
I'm half taken by his chutzpah, half shocked that he thought he would get away with it. Second thoughts, he probably will. Of course, it's probably all above aboard. I mean this sort of thing happens everyday:
The Land Register shows that Patrick Home Robertson bought a £72,000 apartment in Tytler Gardens in April 1999 when he was 17 years old. Days later, his father became an MSP and has claimed rental on the property. The register discloses that there is no mortgage on the property.
Hat tip to Seren.
Friday, October 27, 2006
I just discovered that the last non Auld Firm player to win the Scottish PFA Players' Player of the Year was Jim Bett way back in 1990!!! That is ridiculous and, as a consequence, this blog will be endorsing a joint package of Craig Gordon and Scott Brown to win the award this year.
Of course, I can be magnaminous like that 'cos the name Aiden McGeady is already engraved on the award for this year.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
As the comments to this post indicates, it turns out that everyone has heard the Bono heckle before but no one could quite place it. Now, via the sitemeter, I discover that someone was recounting the incident in an article in the Guardian way back in the middle of August during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Though a few of the stories recounted have done the rounds many times before, you should check out the article as there are some choice heckles that I hadn't heard before. I especially liked the following:
David Baddiel was telling a story about a comedian floundering on stage, when someone shouted: "Nobody likes you. Surely you remember that from school."
Best political heckle I ever heard was probably the one from a meeting at the Bread and Roses pub in Clapham a few years back at the launch of the local Socialist Alliance. I think it was local Millie, Steve Nally, doing the sales pitch at the end of the meeting where he was doing his best to get attendees to both sign up and empty their pockets, and during one particular rhetorical flourish he declaimed: 'I can't promise you revolution . . . ', only to met with the rapid response of 'Oh, I'm leaving then'. from a voice at the back of the room. The room dissolved into laughter.
The best put down of a heckler I've ever read about was an SPGBer on the platform at Hyde Park who was heckled by one of the passing wits who took exception to the socialist argument that capitalism was based on the exploitation:
Heckler:"That's bullshit. I'm a self-made man."
SPGBer:"Well, you obviously misread the instructions."
Sunday, October 22, 2006
The Donald Rooum cartoon is from an old Wildcat book, and probably originally appeared in the anarchist newspaper Freedom.
Go to your music player, set it to shuffle/random, and answer the following questions with the title of the FIRST song that you skip to each time. No cheating!
If you reached the top of Mount Everest, you would shout:
The next time you stand up in front of a group of people, you'll say:
Your favorite thing to say when drunk is:
Your message to the world:
When you think of your best friend you think:
Your deepest secret:
Your innermost desire:
Your oldest memory makes you think:
Somewhere in your wedding vows, you should have included:
On your deathbed, you'll whisper:
Your friends say behind your back:
You say behind your friends' back:
Your opinion of Blogging:
When you wake up in the morning, you mutter:
If you found yourself lost on a desert island, you'd yell:
Right now, your feelings are:
What's your excuse for reposting this music survey?:
Your life's soundtrack:
The day you fell in love was the day that:
You Scream During Sex:
Your farewell message to the readers of this music survey:
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Bono is at a U2 concert in Glasgow when he asks the audience for some quiet. Then in the silence, he starts to slowly clap his hands. Holding the audience in total silence, he says softly and seriously into the microphone . . .
"Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies . . ."
A voice from near the front pierces the silence: "Well, fucken' stop doin' it then!"
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The principal challenge facing socialists is how to get from the present state of the world, formed out of production for profit and a “free market” economy, to the desired one of democratically controlled production for use and free access to goods and services. There is only one way. That way is for a vast majority of the population to come to understand socialist principles, organize into a democratic body and act as a majority to abolish capitalism by popular vote. [READ MORE]
The October issue of News From Nowhere is now online, and you've just read its opening paragraph.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Sorry, I don't want the blog to be overrun by YouTube clips, but I stumbled across this short piece of montage on Rosa Luxemburg that accompanies Brecht's poem 'Epitaph, 1919'. I'm not going to pretend that it's the greatest clip in the world but it holds my interest. Reprinted below is a different translation of Brecht's poem with accompanying image by Käthe Kollwitz.
Red Rosa has also now disappeared
Where she lies is unknown
Because she told the truth to the poor
The rich have hunted her out of the world.
Epitaph for Karl Liebknecht
The fighter against war
When he was struck down
Our city still continued to stand.
Epitaph for Rosa Luxemburg
Here lies buried
A Jewess from Poland
Champion of the German workers Murdered on the orders of
The German oppressors. Oppressed;
Bury your differences!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
It will be an opportunity to find out more about the World Socialist Party of the United States, pick up some copies of the Socialist Standard and other socialist literature, or to just say hello.
The Brooklyn Peace Fair is on Sunday, the 22nd October and will be from 11am to 5pm. It is being held at the Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University, which is at 1 University Plaza at Flatbush & Dekalb Avenues.To find out more about all the events, workshops and speakers you can visit their website here.
For more information about the WSPUS, you can visit their MySpace Page.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Reproduced below is a really outstanding article by Bob Herbert that appeared in the op-ed section of today's New York Times. It was Kara who pointed it out to me and its opening paragraphs expertly skewers the media's seeming inability to ask the question that we both asked ourselves at the time when the news broke: Why was it the case that girls were the sole targets in both these horrific attacks?
I have reproduced it below in full because you need to be registered with the New York Times to read op-ed pieces online, and even then they don't always let you access the articles.
Why Aren't We Shocked? by Bob Herbert
"Who needs a brain when you have these?" — message on an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt for young women
In the recent shootings at an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania and a large public high school in Colorado, the killers went out of their way to separate the girls from the boys, and then deliberately attacked only the girls.
Ten girls were shot and five killed at the Amish school. One girl was killed and a number of others were molested in the Colorado attack.
In the widespread coverage that followed these crimes, very little was made of the fact that only girls were targeted. Imagine if a gunman had gone into a school, separated the kids up on the basis of race or religion, and then shot only the black kids. Or only the white kids. Or only the Jews.
There would have been thunderous outrage. The country would have first recoiled in horror, and then mobilized in an effort to eradicate that kind of murderous bigotry. There would have been calls for action and reflection. And the attack would have been seen for what it really was: a hate crime.
None of that occurred because these were just girls, and we have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that violence against females is more or less to be expected. Stories about the rape, murder and mutilation of women and girls are staples of the news, as familiar to us as weather forecasts. The startling aspect of the Pennsylvania attack was that this terrible thing happened at a school in Amish country, not that it happened to girls.
The disrespectful, degrading, contemptuous treatment of women is so pervasive and so mainstream that it has just about lost its ability to shock. Guys at sporting events and other public venues have shown no qualms about raising an insistent chant to nearby women to show their breasts. An ad for a major long-distance telephone carrier shows three apparently naked women holding a billing statement from a competitor. The text asks, "When was the last time you got screwed?"
An ad for Clinique moisturizing lotion shows a woman's face with the lotion spattered across it to simulate the climactic shot of a porn video.
We have a problem. Staggering amounts of violence are unleashed on women every day, and there is no escaping the fact that in the most sensational stories, large segments of the population are titillated by that violence. We've been watching the sexualized image of the murdered 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey for 10 years. JonBenet is dead. Her mother is dead. And we're still watching the video of this poor child prancing in lipstick and high heels.
What have we learned since then? That there's big money to be made from thongs, spandex tops and sexy makeovers for little girls. In a misogynistic culture, it's never too early to drill into the minds of girls that what really matters is their appearance and their ability to please men sexually.
A girl or woman is sexually assaulted every couple of minutes or so in the U.S. The number of seriously battered wives and girlfriends is far beyond the ability of any agency to count. We're all implicated in this carnage because the relentless violence against women and girls is linked at its core to the wider society's casual willingness to dehumanize women and girls, to see them first and foremost as sexual vessels — objects — and never, ever as the equals of men.
"Once you dehumanize somebody, everything is possible," said Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the women's advocacy group Equality Now.
That was never clearer than in some of the extreme forms of pornography that have spread like nuclear waste across mainstream America. Forget the embarrassed, inhibited raincoat crowd of the old days. Now Mr. Solid Citizen can come home, log on to this $7 billion mega-industry and get his kicks watching real women being beaten and sexually assaulted on Web sites with names like "Ravished Bride" and "Rough Sex — Where Whores Get Owned."
Then, of course, there's gangsta rap, and the video games where the players themselves get to maul and molest women, the rise of pimp culture (the Academy Award-winning song this year was "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"), and on and on.
You're deluded if you think this is all about fun and games. It's all part of a devastating continuum of misogyny that at its farthest extreme touches down in places like the one-room Amish schoolhouse in normally quiet Nickel Mines, Pa.
It's early doors, but the excellent news is that the SPGB now has its blog up and running.
Subscribing to the theory that if ain't broke, don't pick any of these brilliant suggestions, the Party has opted for Socialism or Your Money Back as the title of the blog. That's fine and I'm not bitter, as it's a canny title and it will doubly serve the purpose of reminding people of that excellent book of the same name.
As it states in that always difficult third post to a new blog:
So here is another Blog.
Given time and effort it will make a case for a post capitalist society. We aim to provide comment and analysis from an uncompromising Socialist point of view. We will make no pretence to objectivity. We will present a no nonsense case for ending the present way of running the common affairs of humanity. We will present a political programme based on fact and argument. A programme that we know can be understood by anyone willing to give it consideration.(From 'What? Another Blog?')
Damn, I guess that means it won't be carrying the lottery numbers. So much for my hope that it would be an online socialist daily newspaper that the movement has always needed. I'm kidding of course. There are some top notch writers in the SPGB, and I'm sure that it will go from strength to strength.
Bookmark it; commission Banksy to do a mural to mark its appearance; Fisk it; tell your friends (and David Duff) about it; urge Norm to give it a Normblog Profile and maybe even post a link to it on your blog, but perhaps don't hold your breath in the process in getting a reciprical link in return. Some SPGBers do take that hostility clause to heart.
It's all well saying in his editor's letter that music journalists will never be able to capture the real essence of what makes a musician and their music, but it looks like most musicians shouldn't be let near a laptop unless its to send out random friend requests for their band's page on MySpace.
However, I did like this wee snippet from a Round Table discussion which is featured in the issue, and involved Jarvis having a chin wag with some of his mates:
Paul Morley: "I do think it's fascinating that 25-30 years after these pieces of music had a meaning to people who felt so passionate about what they stood for, they're being used to sell something. I think that's what you mean when you say music is everywhere now. Twenty-five years ago, when we were beginning our little lives in this world, music was oddly marginal and, oddly, it meant something, and now it has become a commodity. People of a certain age find it very bewildering. All those things we thought were important ... they've been co-opted by the capitalist world to give what it has to sell the illusion of hipness and cool, so that the whole world feels as if they're in on the revolution and that they're hip and they're cool. But the meaning of it has been sucked dry."
Fuck, you know what I'm going to say:
Paul Morley is a smug twat Why was I so rash in using "Turning Rebellion Into Money" as the title for post on the blog on those previous 23 occasions? Missed opportunity.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Somebody write the Scottish Patient a sicknote as it will take a while for him - and Hibs - to recover from the loss of Mowbray to West Brom. As I've written more than once on this blog, Hibs has played some of the best free flowing football I've seen this year and despite the fact that Hibs would lose at least one of their best players year on year - Ian Murray, Garry O'Connor, Derek Riordan and Gary Caldwell - Mowbray seemed to come back the following year with the free transfers, cast offs or 'I thought he'd retired two years ago" to replace them.
Actually, it might be an idea to write Kev a second sicknote 'cos the danger is that Mowbray does what nine out of ten managers do when they are head-hunted by another club: they try and pack three or four of their best players from their old club in the kit bag before they leave the ground for the last time. Everytime I've seen clips of Scott Brown I've been impressed, and Sproule will scare the bejesus out of an defence when he is running at them. Throw in Zemmama and Benjelloun, and Kev will be on a respirator for the rest of the season.
With the appointment of Mowbray at West Brom coming the same week as Peter Grant getting the nod at Norwich, I can't help but wonder when it became an unwritten law when appointing managers that if you opt for a solid but not that spectacular former Celtic player then you have the makings of a canny investment. Did it start with David Moyes? Or maybe even the late great Jock Stein? Does anyone know if Marting Hayes or Wayne Biggins have managerial aspirations?
Just noticed via the BBC videprinter that Stoke spanked Leeds Utd 4-0 at Elland Rd today, and why not. With Lee Hendrie and Luke Chadwick in their squad, Stoke surely have the most fearsome midfield in the
Second First Championship at the moment.
A midfield potentially so fearsome that at this early stage of Hendrie being at the club on loan, they couldn't both be on the pitch at the same time. Chadwick came on as a substitute for Hendrie in the 85th minute, after the latter had earlier opened the scoring for Stoke.
Any suggestion that this post is fuelled by a thinly veiled malice on my part because I've always had a soft spot for Port Vale is completely unfounded. It's purely coincidental.
Totally love this pic that I stumbled across on MySpace. I think the people who made this film should use it as part of their ad campaign for when they release the film on DVD.
*Apologies to that German bloke who was born in Trier in 1818.
Friday, October 13, 2006
From this week's Normblog Profile:
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > "O'Rourke's advice at election time. All politicians are stupid, all politicians are thieves. Always vote against the incumbent as it will take the new guy a few years to learn how to steal your money and there might be a new election by the time he does."
Tim Worstall is the blogger under the Norm's microscope this week.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Apparently, October 12th is John Peel Day.
Who am I to argue? The bloke was a diamond who will never be forgotten, and though I can never wax lyrical about him after the fashion of Archie, Mental Kid, Dave and Richard from Gordon Legge's classic novel, 'The Shoe', even I - who was always more of a Late Night Mark Radcliffe type -
can recognise if it wasn't for the sterling efforts of Mr Peel, the likes of Nigel Blackwell, David Gedge and Mark E Smith would be better known as that slightly frazzled looking mature student doing a Communications Degree at a Tech college in Crosby, Bramley or Widnes, heavy on the sarcasm but heavier around the gut, and whose feared in seminars by other students for his withering glare. (As a sideline, he will also moan about the price of a pint of heavy at the student union bar whilst sharing an in-joke with himself by telling disinterested bystanders that his real name is Holger Czukay.)
Beg, borrow or download 'Teenage Kicks' by the Undertones and play it at full blast in memory of John.
I had to employ the
Whilst I'm waiting for the second episode of the third series of the brilliant The Last Detective - everything that the television adaptation of Rebus isn't and more - to download, I thought I would throw this iTunes meme your way. I'm not going to tag anyone to do it, but if you do end up doing the meme on your blog, let me know so I can check it out. Cheers.
6918 songs, 28.13 GB
Sorted by Song Title
First: 'A' Bomb in Wardour Street - The Jam
Last: Zurich is Stained - Pavement
Sorted by Artist
First: Voices Carry - 'Til Tuesday
Last: Loads of Noise - Zounds
Sorted by Album
First: Sex Boy - The Germs (from (MIA) The Complete Anthology)
Last: When the World is Running, You Make the Best of What's Still Around - The Police (from Zenyatta Mondatta)
Ten Most Played Songs
Ten Most Recently Played
Find 'sex' - how many songs show up?
Find 'death' - how many songs show up?
Find 'love' - how many songs show up?
249, and 10 picked via an iTunes shuffle are as follows:
Find 'war' - how many songs show up?
Find 'peace' - how many songs show up?
Find 'rain' - how many songs show up?
25, and 10 picked via an iTunes shuffle are as follows:
Find 'sun' - how many songs show up?
43, and 10 picked via an iTunes shuffle are as follows:
Find 'socialist', 'communist' or 'anarchist' - how many songs show up?
"But then Vonnegut starts coughing, clearing his throat of phlegm, grasping for a half-smoked pack of Pall Malls lying on a coffee table. He quickly lights up. His wheezing ceases. I ask him whether he worries that cigarettes are killing him. "Oh, yes," he answers, in what is clearly a set-piece gag. "I've been smoking Pall Mall unfiltered cigarettes since I was twelve or fourteen. So I'm going to sue the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company, who manufactured them. And do you know why?" "Lung cancer?" I offer.
"No. No. Because I'm eighty-three years old. The lying bastards! On the package Brown & Williamson promised to kill me. Instead, their cigarettes didn't work. Now I'm forced to suffer leaders with names like Bush and Dick and, up until recently, 'Colon.'" . . .
OK, you've got me - the quote is from a interview that he did for Rolling Stone that dates back to August of this year, but like I'm going to keep up to speed with what's going on in an old fart muso magazine like Rolling Stone. That's why I read Q magazine.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
The October Socialist Standard is now online and can be read as a PDF here. However, if you like to read the articles in the html format, then you can take advantage of the links posted below.
What with late September and early October traditionally being the Party Conference silly season in Britain, I guess it is understandable that this month's Standard has a specifically British flavour. The editorial, the three main articles and the regular column, 'Greasy Pole', focus on both the current fall out in the Labour Party as it comes to terms with future world of Post-Blair politics and on an apparently resurgent Conservative Party, led by David Camcorderon, who is currently in the process of casting off nearly two hundred years of political history by recasting the Conservatives in the image of the Stephen Fry catchphrase, "soft, cuddly and moist".
However, there is something for everyone in this month's Standard with a review of Francis Wheen's new book, an article on John Maynard Keynes as someone who believed in Utopian Capitalism, and a review of the film, 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised', which documents those few days in April 2002 when there was an attempted military coup against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and the lessons the outcome of those few days hold for socialists.
On the matter of the Chavez film, this blog has to put its hands up to the mistake that appears in the penultimate paragraph of the review. The film was shown at last year's Anarchist Bookfair, rather than the up and coming one at the end of this month. When I wrote a post on the blog about this year's Anarchist Bookfair a few months back, I was under the impression that the Chavez film was being shown this year but that was only because, at the time of writing, they had yet to update their website fully and I was instead looking at last year's programme. Apologies to the reviewer that he took my blog at its word. Red faces all round, but it at least means that I finally get to appear in the hallowed pages of the Socialist Standard: Even if it is only as a misprint.
Reviews, Letters and Obituary
Voice From The Back
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Though it was no doubt prompted by these cheeky young scamps, it was still more by chance than by design that the last few days of September took on the air of an unofficial 'Menshevism Week' on the blog. So, before I forget, I should point you in the direction of following article that I posted on MySpace about a week ago.
'The Role of the Soviets in Russia's Bourgeois Revolution: the point of view of Julius Martov' originally appeared in the French language journal, 'Economies et societes, cahiers de l'ISMEA', just over thirty years ago, though readers of the Socialist Standard will recognise the author of the article, Adam Buick, as a longstanding writer and editor for the Standard.
Why publish it now? Why not? Martov is one of those historical figures that everyone who has ever chewed over 1917 has an opinion of and yet, when pushed, most people don't know a lot about him**, save that he was one of the main leaders of the Mensheviks; Trotsky tried to bin him; and Lenin wasn't really a bad man 'cos he allowed
Rosebud Martov to go into exile. Despite nearly thirty years of political activism and writing that included being on the original editorial board of 'Iskra' in 1900 - alongside Lenin and Plekhanov, amongst others - right through to the appearance of the 'Socialist Messenger', the Menshevik journal founded by him and his co-thinkers whilst in exile in Berlin towards the end of his life, when one clicks on the Martov Section at the Marxist Internet Archive, you'll only find six articles available in English, and three of those make up his best known work, 'The State and the Socialist Revolution'.
There has been over the years a handful of historians who have written about Martov and the Mensheviks; from Israel Getzler's biography of Martov that originally appeared in '67 (and which was reprinted by Cambridge University Press a few years back) through to the works of such historians as Ascher, Brovkin, Haimson and Liebich in later years. However, possibly because of such factors as the lack of any modern left current taking up the mantle of the custodians of the Menshevik tradition - with the accompanying role of unearthing, translating and publishing those lost Menshevik texts from that period - through to the reality that some of the last dwindling number of the Mensheviks - the best known example being David Dallin - pioneered 'Sovietology' in the USA in the Cold War period, thus further compounding the image of Mensheviks in exile as being on the wrong side of the class war, it doesn't look like that we will be seeing anytime soon the appearance in English of further articles by Martov and his colleagues.
That's a shame 'cos the next time someone throws around 'Menshevik' as a pejorative label in a discussion or during a comment box ding dong , it would be nice to point them in the direction of a few primary sources that would help chip away at those inherited prejudices. I guess this essay will have to do for now.
*The title of the post is a quote attributed to Martov that is reproduced from Victor Serge's 'Memoirs of a Revolutionary'. It's only fair that I reproduce the full passage from the book, less I give the impression that Serge didn't have his criticisms of Martov:
"In 1919 I would visit another dissident, this time a Marxist, whose honesty and brilliance were of the first order: Martov, co-founder with Plekhanov and Lenin, of Russian Social Democracy, and the leader of Menshevism. He was campaigning for working-class democracy, denouncing the excesses of the Cheka and the Lenin-Trotsky "mania for authority". He kept saying, "Just as though Socialism could be instituted by decree, and by shooting people in cellars!" Lenin, who was fond of him, protected him against the Cheka, though he quailed before Martov's sharp criticism.
When I saw Martov he was living on the brink of utter destitution in a little room. He struck me at the very first glance as being aware of his absolute incompatibility with the Bolsheviks, although like them he was a Marxist, highly cultured, uncompromising and exceedingly brave. Here was a man of scruple and scholarship, lacking the tough and robust revolutionary will that sweeps obstacles aside. His criticisms were apposite, but his general solutions verged on the Utopian."
**Though I've read the Getzler biography, and the other historians mentioned in that paragraph, I include myself in that number. Naming our Boston Terrier mix, Martov, doesn't mean that I will be listing Martov as my specialist subject if and when I decide to apply to appear on Mastermind.
I know that he can be an acquired taste - "Shouldn't he be Irish?" - Kara, Brooklyn NY 6/10/06 - but I caught a brilliant performance by Billy Bragg Thursday night/Friday morning on the 'Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson'. Performing on electric guitar - with accompaniment from Ian McLagan on piano - he played a reworded version of 'Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards' as part of his promotional tour to plug his book, 'The Progressive Patriot', and Volume II of his 'Billy Bragg' boxset.
As it is one of my favourite songs* of his, I thought I would reproduce below the reworded lyrics** from last night's perfomance. I know that Bragg is a dyed in the wool reformist, and the editorial committee of the Socialist Standard would no doubt use up a box of red pens, going through the lyric line by line, but the fact remains that he is one of the best songwriters of the last twenty years and I'll give kudos to anyone who takes the time out to heckle from the stage the Ashbourne Court Group, like he did a few years back when he was performing at the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival.
And on the subject of acquired tastes and all things Irish, I was in my natural state of cringing embarrassment when watching the risible Craig Ferguson - one upon a time the Dennis Leary to Gerry Sadowitz's Bill Hicks - but it was especially excruciating the other night when, at the end of the perfomance from Bragg, he swept up to Billy to gladhand him with the words: "Billy, it's always a pleasure", only to turn around as an afterthought to Ian McLagan, and mumble "Thanks Mate" as if he was some sort of nobody. That would be THE Ian McLagan, the bloke who played keyboards on 'Itchycoo Park', 'All or Nothing', 'Maggie May', and 'You're Wear It Well', amongst countless other bona fide classics.
Christ, it's 'cos of Craig that I tell people in the States that I'm Irish.
* Other favoured songs of Bragg include 'Levi Stubbs Tears', 'Greetings to the New Brunette', 'She's Got A New Spell', 'Valentine's Day is Over', 'Accident Waiting to Happen', 'Body of Water' & his version of 'The Red Flag' with Dick Gaughan.
**An earlier alternative version of 'Waiting For The President Elect'', performed at The Bottom Line, New York on 01/01/01, can be found here.
Some kind soul on has posted a clip of the performance on YouTube.
'WAITING FOR THE GREAT LEAP FORWARDS
(Alternative version performed on 'The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson', Los Angeles, 5/10/06).
It may have been Camelot for Jack and Jacqueline
But on the Hugo Chavez highway filling up with gasoline
Little Donald Rumsfield spies a rich lady who's crying
Over luxury's disappointment, so he goes over and he's trying
To sympathise with her but he thinks that he should warn her
To prepare to be bombed back into the Stone Age
In the former Soviet Union the citizens demand
To know why they are still the target of Strategic Air Command
And they shake their fists in anger and respectfully suggest
We take the money from our missiles and spend them on our hospitals instead (yeah)
The Cold War now is over but the stakes are getting higher
I'm frightened of collateral damage and of friendly fire
And I don't think we can defeat no Axis of Evil
By putting 'smart bombs' in the hands of dumb people
Mixing Pop and Politics they ask me what the use is
I offer them my acupuncturist and massueuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where my ego is waiting
I'm looking for the New World Order (yeah)
Jumble sales are organised, all my mates got fat
Even after all this time you know you can still send me a fax
You can be active with the activists or sleeping with the media
While you're waiting for the Great Leap Forwards
Oh, one leap forward, two leaps back
Will YouTube give MTV the sack?
Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards
Well here comes the future and you can't run from it
If you've got a website I want to be on it
Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards
In a perfect world we'd all sing in tune
But this is reality not American Idol
Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards (yeah)
So join the struggle while you may
The Revolution's just an ethical haircut away
When you're waiting for the Great Leap Forwards
Words & Music : Billy Bragg
Friday, October 06, 2006
Do you think anyone will notice if I use "Turning Rebellion Into Money" as a title for a post on the blog for the seventeenth time?
Newsday is spitting feathers over it, and Pat Kiernan was doing his 'Oh, I'm so amused' raised eyebrow schtick when my local news station, New York One, reported on the story a couple of days ago, but you have to have a sneaking admiration for the chutzpah of Roger Toussaint, on hearing the news that he is selling autographed postcards of himself and others that show images from the 2005 NYC Transit Strike to raise funds for his re-election campaign for the position of President of the TWU (Local 100). (And they only cost $2, the price of a subway fare.)
Two dollars doesn't seem much in the politician-as-celebrity stakes when you read about the details of the events and price list in place for the weekend of October 27-29, to commemorate the 60th birthday of Bill Clinton:
"The 2,100 invitations began arriving this week. Weekend packages start at $60,000 (Hint: $1,000 for every year of Clinton's age). Next is the "Vice Chair Package," for those who contribute $100,000 or raise $250,000. Those who pledge $500,000 or more will receive the "Birthday Chair Package," which includes the "Backstage Pass" dinner and photo with Clinton and platinum seating at the Saturday dinner and the Stones concert."
Though I'll be in New York that weekend - and the money raised is going to the William J Clinton Foundation - I will have to give the event a pass. The Rolling Stones just aren't my cup of tea, and it will be far more fun watching Pat Kiernan's eyebrow doing overtime when he reports on the event for New York One.
Who are these two kidding? If I didn't know any better, I would be under the impression that Ian Dowie was still on Crystal Palace's payroll.
Yes, dear reader, you've guessed it: I just learned how to do a screen grab, and I was itching to put my new knowledge to good use. I'm so transparent.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
He's a bit slow jumping on the bandwagon, but via a friend request I received today for the Socialist Standard page, I discover that George Galloway now has a page on MySpace. The byline for the page says the 'Official George Galloway Profile', so perhaps the blurb on the page really is from GG.
I never knew that he was a Man Utd supporter first, Glasgow Celtic supporter second and Dundee Utd fan third but . . . wait up, what does this say on the profile page: "Without blowing my own trumpet too loudly, everything I said about the war and its consequences in the House of Commons at the time has come to pass, as even my enemies admit." Yeah, it's definitely him: He makes Tommy Sheridan look shy and retiring by comparison.*
With regards to his other listed interests, whilst David Cameron namechecks the Smiths and Gordon Brown's speechwriter makes mention of the Arctic Monkeys, George will only admit to being a Dylan nut who has a soft spot for The Killers. (I wonder if that means their song, 'Smile Like You Mean It', is being considered as the campaign song for Respect at the next election?)
And for someone who gives lipservice to the idea of the self-activity of the working class in politics, it is perhaps unfortunate that under books, he lists reading biographies of politicians as his favourite reading matter. Perhaps I'm being far too cynical on this matter, and reading political biographies is not all about: 'The Great and the Good did Good . . . now read on for 457 pages', but . . . wait up (again), where does that link on George's MySpace page lead to?:
"In the year that Fidel Castro turns 80, this is a fresh look at his life from childhood, through his dramatic conquest of power, and his extraordinary, charismatic leadership of Cuba over 47 years—including sharply focused “takes” on the guerrilla struggle in the Sierra Maestra, life with the Soviet Union, involvement in Third World politics, and survival in the face of the hostility of the United States just 90 miles away. The author has researched archives from Havana, London, Washington, and Madrid and conducted original interviews with Fidel Castro’s contemporaries, in Cuba and throughout the world, that provide fascinating insights into his personality and achievements." From the forthcoming 'The Fidel Castro Handbook', by George Galloway (432 pages)
Perhaps I'm not being cynical enough?
*To give him his credit, Galloway can sometimes laugh at himself. See the picture accompnaying this post as evidence of that.
Sorry, it's silly I know, but I stumbled across this picture on the internet and, as I had never seen it before, I just had to post it on the blog. Despite my best efforts, I can't find out which constituency it was that Vanessa Redgrave contested as a candidate for the Workers Revolutionary Party in the October election of 1974. All I can work out is that the WRP didn't stand too many candidates in the February and October General Elections of '74 gripped, I guess, with the expectation that a fascist dictatorship was just round the corner for Britain.So presecient were they with that prediction of an impending fascist coup d'etat that they were able stand sixty parliamentary candidates five years later at the 1979 General Election - not one of their candidates winning enough votes to retain their election deposits - but with their newspaper, 'Newsline', informing the working class that "The stage is set in Britain for a general strike and a civil war, whoever wins the coming General Election"*. [ A quote from the April 7th 1979 issue.] Those were the days.
The last time I saw Vanessa Regrave on my tv screen she was playing Joely Richardson's mum on Nip/Tuck. It may have been a while ago.
*That quote unearthed from the very readable 'The Rise and Fall of Gerry Healy' by Bob Pitt.
Excellent wee talking head piece from YouTube featuring Howard Zinn on the subject of human nature and aggression. There isn't anything particularly revelatory in the clip as to why it is humans feel or do not feel compelled to fight in wars, but Zinn expresses his views in such clear and concise language that even the most ardent keyboard warrior will consider it calm and considered. And if they can't understand the point Zinn is making, then they are just asking for a slap.
Hat tip to Alan J. at the Mailstrom blog.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Sod the hackneyed image of Che and its 1001 imitations that followed , for me the picture to the left has always been the enduring iconic image from the turbulent sixties.
Everyone should already know about Tommy Smith and John Carlos, and their brave stance on the medal podium at the Mexico Olympics in 1968, where they raised awareness of the issue of continuing poverty* and lack of progress in civil rights for the black working class in the United States before the watching millions but Hak Mao's post on her blog notes the small but nonetheless meaningful contribution made by the Australian athlete on the podium that night, Peter Norman, who died Tuesday of a heart attack at the age of 64.There's an excellent article by the American sports journalist, Dave Zirin, from last year about the unveiling of a statue of Smith and Carlos at San Jose State University marking that moment from '68, and the continuing relevance of their actions that night, and perhaps mention should also be made in this post of the "wound on the national conscience"** that preceded those Olympics.
*John Carlos in an interview with Dave Zirin that appeared in the December 2003 issue of Z magazine is quoted as saying:
"We wanted the world to know that in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, South Central Los Angeles, and Chicago people were still walking back and forth in poverty without even the necessary clothes to live. We have kids that don’t have shoes even today. It’s not like the powers that be can’t provide these things. They can send a spaceship to the moon or send a probe to Mars, yet they can’t give shoes? They can’t give health care? I’m just not naïve enough to accept that."
**The official figures of 25 killed in the Tlatelolco Massacre are disputed by many, with the counter-claim that the true number of protestors killed that night was somewhere between 200-300 people.
I can't help but feel that Peter Lazenby hits the nail on the head in the final quote from Matthew Taylor's article in today's Guardian on the sinister and disturbing website, Redwatch:
"I feel a degree of anger against the authorities that they have done nothing about this site. They have said repeatedly that there is nothing that can be done, but I simply don't believe them. We have quite rightly managed to close down paedophile sites and others that are deemed unacceptable, and I am sure that if Redwatch was targeting the richest 100 people in the country, it would be swiftly dealt with". [My emphasis.]
Lazenby's anger against the authorities is understandable in light of the fact that he is one of individuals targetted on the fascist website due to his work as a journalist for the Yorkshire Evening Post, reporting on the far right.
The scum behind Redwatch.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
How's that for a coincidence. Just rifling through those half finished sentences and random photgraphs that were going to be posts on the blog, but were left languishing in draft, and I stumble across this much better *homage* to the "asthma sufferer"** from Argentina.
There was no text accompanying this pic of Ricky Gervais, so I have no idea why I was going to blog about him or what I was going to say. I'll hazard a guess that the photo is some promotional fluff from when he was doing his stand up show, 'Politics', a few years back. (The unfinished post dates back to July 2004!)
Is Gervais at all left-wing? Absolutely no idea, but as I'm desperate to finish this post I'll make a case that his fictional sitcom, When the Whistle Blows, is his subtle homage to Colin Welland's classic Play for Today drama, 'Leeds United'. Bollocks, I know, but it'll do as a closer.
*Punned after this song. I hate it when I have to explain my puns, but I can't help but underestimate the intelligence of my readership. You are, after all, reading this shite.
**Hat tip to the SFA's 'Herman Loves Pauline'
Thank christ that wait is finally over. The sitemeter informs me that the page views* to the blog have now passed the 100,000 mark.
No more accelerated RSI from clicking on the sitemeter every nano-second to see if the figure has been reached, and no more scrambling around the net to look for any old excuse to publish three or four posts a day to help push it on its way. I can now go back to the good old blogging days when I would have to start a post with the words: "Rumours of my death have been exaggerated . . . "
Here's to the next sitemeter ballpark viewing figure to fret and fuss over. I'm guessing it won't be for quite a while.
Just to clarify: at the time of writing, the blog has 100,013 page views from 61,146 individual visits.
Monday, October 02, 2006
As Graham notes, the good news is that after a couple of false starts and after much huffing and puffing, the SPGB will have its own blog up and running sometime in the coming weeks. It's a case of watch this - and other SPGBers - blog space for further details.
I have to put my hand up to being one of the main reasons for it not being 'operational' sooner. The Party gave the green light to set up the blog a while back, and appointed the members to do the spade work, etc but as is the norm in small organisations where too few people do too much work, all of us have been channelling our energies into other party activities in other areas - my excuse being this - and that has meant we have taken our collective eye off the blog . . . and missed a few opportunities in the process.
In my case it is doubly ironic 'cos I've been one of the Party members who has been arguing for absolutely ages that the Party should have a day to day blog*, and now that we've won the argument I became one of the main brakes on it actually being realised. Hopefully, that is behind us now and I'm looking forward to the blog.
I'm positive for its success 'cos despite our tradition's tendency to fall into the polemical trap of the 'final paragraph' syndrome, "And only under Socialism . . . " etc etc, there is also strong tradition of sharp political commentary from a socialist perspective on day to day events that was obviously originally rooted in the outdoor platform tradition where SPGBers and others would have to argue the toss on this, that and everything to all and sundry, but has also been evident in those regular columns that have always appeared in the Socialist Standard, such as 'Voice From The Back', 'Sting in the Tail', 'Scavenger' and 'Passing Notes' down the years. Fingers crossed that the comrades who employed their sardonic wit with such great effect on 'Sting in the Tail' in the past, and 'Voice From The Back' now, will be on board to make the same pertinent propaganda points online.
The bad news regarding the blog is that once again my suggestion for possible titles for a Party endeavour has fallen on deaf ears (see this post for the previous occasion I was thwarted), and I have to break the news to you gently dear reader that the Party blog will not be going with any of the following titles:
The Small Party's Good Blog Class War on the Blogging Front The Blog on the Clapham Omnibus The Cunts Are Still Running The World In Between Talking About Football Birth, School, Work, Abolish Capitalism Notes from the Class Struggle
*The Party has already had a couple of election blogs up and running here and here, and I just know that if the comrades who had so diligently maintained those blogs had been on board for this blog, it would be on its 787th post by now.
During a recent bitter polemic between VP of Shiraz Socialist and my good self:
"pure comedy gold, pure comedy gold.
It's official. We are the new abbott and costello. You're Diane 'cos you share the same watered down reformism, and I'm Elvis 'cos I also have a punchable face."
I had to blog about this 'cos apart from having the annoying habit of liking to laugh at my own jokes . . . hence the punchable face, I also suddenly realised that with VP being a young 'un he probably hasn't heard of Abbot and Costello. (Click on the link VP.)
He probably thinks comedy started with Newman and Baddiel. It would explain a lot . . .
I had no idea that Terry Gilliam concerned himself with the minutiae of far-left politics in Scotland, but if that what it takes to get him back to his roots of Monty Python madcap animation then fair play to him. And if it delays him making another film with Robin Williams, all the better.
If only this wee short film* 'celebrating' Alice Sheridan's rendition of the 'Impossible Dream' was all that Tommy Sheridan had to concern himself with, but anyone who has seen the front page from yesterday's News of the World will realise that the political game is all but up for him. To be honest, I'm surprised by the timing, as I thought that Sheridan's lies would unravel either immediately after he won the court case against the News of the World, or some time in the distant future. However, it appears that Sheridan trousering thirty grand from the Daily Record to denounce former colleagues as "scabs" was one act of chutzpah too much for one former close political ally and personal friend.
Whatever one thinks of the decision taken by George McNeilage, to first secretly record the meeting between Sheridan and himself - apparently to show to other SSP members in the Pollok area - but then to pass on a copy of the videotape to the News of the World, it has to be accepted that it is now in the public domain. McNeilage maintains that the tape was available to anyone in the news media, and that he didn't get paid by News International for the tape. He also states that his action in going to the paper was prompted by Sheridan denouncing those colleagues called to testify against him in a court case - that they advised him against, but which he pursued nonetheless - as "scabs". It's been a murky business all round but from reading the transcript of the meeting, I think it does provide conclusive proof - if any more was needed after this - that Sheridan's hubris has got the better of him. That he continues to try and front the matter out is by the by. It's all starting to unravel, and the rats in the shape of the Socialist Worker and CWI Platforms, who originally joined HMS Sheridan, are probably already preparing their exit strategy.
Maybe I'm premature in blogging Sheridan's political obituary, but I can't see any way in which he can wriggle out of this one. This whole business really has entered the realms of fiction, and the only matter up for debate now is whether or not his close political and personal ally, Peter Mullan, will accept a call from casting if and when Channel 5 get in touch with their plans for the TV Movie of the week, factionalising the event. I think they've probably already pencilled in Ashley Jensen for the role of Gail Sheridan, and now they just have to ascertain - for insurance purposes - whether Peter can swim or not, for that closing scene in the film where Gail throws Tommy into the Clyde.
You'll have to scroll down to the bit to the bottom of this page, to the section entitled 'Salma Hayek Blog Buzz', but a couple of entries down - somewhere between a post about Scarlett Johansson having the best boobs in Hollywood and another post about Scarlett Johansson having the best boobs in Hollywood, pride of place is giving over to my Menshevik Misprint post.
When I say 'pride of place', I mean that there is a generic RSS link to the post but no matter, touching the hem of hollywood royalty is enough to be going on with for now. And Ms Hayek - loved you in Frida, btw - if you are reading this: it wasn't me that said Zelda Harris was their favourite actress, it was the petit-bourgeois centrist deviationists from Greater Lancashire who said that. You've always been my favourite actress.
And Kathy Burke, if you've just read the above paragraph, I'm just spouting bollocks to get my sitemeter going through its paces. You will always be my favourite actress.
And Shirley Henderson, if you've just read the previous two paragraphs, I'm just spouting bollocks to get my sitemeter going through its paces. You will always be my favourite actress.
And Suzy Kettles, if you've just read the previous three paragraphs . . . ['I think you should stop now. This post could use up a lot of bandwidth before anyone actually laughs at that joke you're trying to make.' . . . CEO of Blogspot]