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A Guardian editorial column is read by how many?

Thursday, 18 January, 2018 0 Comments

Rod Liddle has the answer: “A Guardian editorial column is read by about 100,000 people, 0.1 per cent of the population. It does not matter. And nor does double that number signing a petition. It is time the right wised up to this and acquired from somewhere the semblance of a spine.”

That’s from “Your Twitter history will always haunt you — if you’re on the right” in The Spectator, and Liddle is fired up:

“Just hypothetically speaking, I think it is entirely possible that one could be appointed to a senior position within a left-wing party despite having demanded honours for IRA murderers, supported genocidal terrorist organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and proclaimed an affection for a totalitarian communist dictatorship in, say, Cuba which imprisons trade union leaders and persecutes homosexuals That’s just hypothetically speaking, mind; I can’t know for sure.”

The Guardian offers its platform now to those who have glorified Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA, along with apologists for Cuba, Venezuela and every other awfulness that the Left endorses. And things can only get worse now that the newspaper has downsized to what it once despised: the tabloid format.

It was a very different Guardian, however, that crowed with confidence in 2005 when it switched from broadsheet to the “Berliner” format. Then editor Alan Rusbridger praised it as “a modern print format for a new generation of readers” combining “the portability of a tabloid with the sensibility of a broadsheet.” To pursue this vision, the Guardian Media Group invested (wasted) £80 million on specially commissioned Berliner printing presses. Today, The Guardian and its Sunday title, The Observer, have gone tabloid and, what’s more, the group has gone from printing papers on its own presses to outsourcing the job to Trinity Mirror.

The Guardian made a loss of £45 million in the year to last April and this unsustainable “burn rate” cannot continue. The endgame is obvious. The paper will follow the ghastly London Independent out of the print business and into the online shark tank where clickbait is the only currency that counts. There, it will compete with everything from The Huffington Post to The New York Times for eyeballs with faux outrage and lots of “Wow!” From an ignominious present to an ignoble future is the path of The Guardian.


Waking At 3 A.M.

Wednesday, 17 January, 2018 0 Comments

The American poet William Stafford was born on this day in 1913 in Hutchinson, Kansas, and he died at his home in Lake Oswego, Oregon on 28 August 1993, having written a poem that morning containing the lines, “‘You don’t have to / prove anything,’ my mother said. ‘Just be ready / for what God sends.'”

Stafford’s poetry career is remarkable in that he was 46 years old when his first major collection, Traveling Through the Dark, appeared. It went on to win the 1963 National Book Award for Poetry. Stafford is said to have written a daily journal for 50 years, and he composed nearly 22,000 poems, of which some 3,000 were published. For all those who have trouble sleeping, this offers comfort.

Waking At 3 A.M.

Even in the cave of the night when you
wake and are free and lonely,
neglected by others, discarded, loved only
by what doesn’t matter — even in that
big room no one can see,
you push with your eyes till forever
comes in its twisted figure eight
and lies down in your head.

You think water in the river;
you think slower than the tide in
the grain of the wood; you become
a secret storehouse that saves the country,
so open and foolish and empty.

You look over all that the darkness
ripples across. More than has ever
been found comforts you. You open your
eyes in a vault that unlocks as fast
and as far as your thought can run.
A great snug wall goes around everything,
has always been there, will always
remain. It is a good world to be
lost in. It comforts you. It is
all right. And you sleep.

William Stafford


Dolores O’Riordan (1971 – 2018)

Tuesday, 16 January, 2018 0 Comments

The last time I saw the late Dolores O’Riordan was on Friday, 6 June 2003 in the Olympiastadion in Munich. Her group, The Cranberries, were the support band for The Rolling Stones during their LICKS tour.

Can there be a more thankless music job than supporting the Stones? The masses flock to their concerts for the thrill of escaping the present for the past and it was the task of The Cranberries that warm June evening to “warm up” the crowd with a 45-minute set of songs, some of which were intended for a 2004 follow-up to the band’s fifth album, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, issued in 2001. Little did we know that the material would never be released. In September 2003, The Cranberries went into hiatus and they didn’t enter a recording studio again until 2011. Now, some seven years later, aged 46, Dolores O’Riordan is dead. RIP.

Dolores O'Riordan


Is Margaret Atwood a bad feminist?

Monday, 15 January, 2018 0 Comments

Margaret Atwood, the celebrated author of The Handmaid’s Tale and more than 40 books of poetry, fiction and essays, asks Am I A Bad Feminist? Money quote: “My fundamental position is that women are human beings, with the full range of saintly and demonic behaviours this entails, including criminal ones. They’re not angels, incapable of wrongdoing… Nor do I believe that women are children, incapable of agency or of making moral decisions. If they were, we’re back to the 19th century, and women should not own property, have credit cards, have access to higher education, control their own reproduction or vote.”

And note her comment on the current “guilty because accused” rampage which, she says, has its roots in the excesses of the French Revolution, Stalin’s purges in the USSR, the Red Guard period in China and the reign of the Generals in Argentina:

“Such things are always done in the name of ushering in a better world. Sometimes they do usher one in, for a time anyway. Sometimes they are used as an excuse for new forms of oppression. As for vigilante justice — condemnation without a trial — it begins as a response to a lack of justice — either the system is corrupt, as in prerevolutionary France, or there isn’t one, as in the Wild West — so people take things into their own hands. But understandable and temporary vigilante justice can morph into a culturally solidified lynch-mob habit, in which the available mode of justice is thrown out the window, and extralegal power structures are put into place and maintained. The Cosa Nostra, for instance, began as a resistance to political tyranny.”

It will take brave people to fight the new Cosa Nostra.


It’s Time to Resist the Excesses of #MeToo

Sunday, 14 January, 2018 0 Comments

Well, so says Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine. What spurred his “resistance” is the open letter signed last week by a hundred French women who don’t regard themselves as helpless victims of men. Sullivan’s money quote: “A woman can, in the same day, lead a professional team and enjoy being the sexual object of a man, without being a ‘slut’, nor a cheap accomplice of the patriarchy.”

Sullivan then turns his attention to Moira Donegan, the infamous creator of the infamous “Shitty Media Men” list and he calls it for what it is: McCarthyism. Snippet:

“The act of anonymously disseminating serious allegations about people’s sex lives as a means to destroy their careers and livelihoods has long gone by a simple name. It’s called McCarthyism, and the people behind the list engaged in it. Sure, they believed they were doing good — but the McCarthyites, in a similar panic about communism, did as well. They believe they are fighting an insidious, ubiquitous evil — the patriarchy — just as the extreme anti-Communists in the 1950s believed that commies were everywhere and so foul they didn’t deserve a presumption of innocence, or simple human decency. They demand public confessions of the guilty and public support for their cause … or they will cast suspicion on you as well. Sophie Gilbert just berated the men at the Golden Globes for not saying what they were supposed to say. It’s no wonder that today’s McCarthyites also engage in demonizing other writers, like Katie Roiphe, and threatening their livelihoods. And just as McCarthyites believed they had no other option, given the complicity of the entire federal government with communism, so today’s McCarthyites claim that appeals to the police, or the HR department, or to the usual channels, are “fruitless” — because they’re part of the patriarchal system too! These mechanisms, Donegan writes, have ‘an obligation to presume innocence,’ and we can’t have that, can we?”

The time has come to resist the new McCarthyism of the Left and its cruel cadres.


The game of cards and the call of duty

Saturday, 13 January, 2018 0 Comments

The Irish writer Frank O’Connor began his career with a book of stories called Guests of the Nation (1931) and the title story begins:

“At dusk the big Englishman, Belcher, would shift his long legs out of the ashes and say, ‘Well, chums, what about it?’ and Noble and myself would say ‘All right, chum’ (for we had picked up some of their curious expressions), and the little Englishman, Hawkins, would light the lamp and bring out the cards. Sometimes Jeremiah Donovan would come up and supervise the game, and get excited over Hawkins’ cards, which he always played badly, and shout at him, as if he was one of our own, ‘Ah, you divil, why didn’t you play the tray?'”

Belcher and Hawkins are two English prisoners taken during the Irish War of Independence, being guarded by three Republican militants, to use today’s PC term, and they have all become friends. Then, news comes that some Irish prisoners have been shot by the English and orders arrive for the Republicans to shoot Belcher and Hawkins in reprisal. No one can quite believe it. None of the Republicans seem to understand what they are doing and none of their victims can comprehend what is being done to them. Belcher asks for a handkerchief to tie around his eyes as his own is too small. His captors help him tie it.

“You understand that we’re only doing our duty?” said Donovan.
Belcher’s head was raised like a blind man’s, so that you could only see his chin and the top of his nose in the lantern-light.
“I never could make out what duty was myself,” he said. “I think you’re all good lads, if that’s what you mean, I’m not complaining.”

The card players of Galbally


Killing The Butterfly

Friday, 12 January, 2018 0 Comments

The language used by today’s innovators and entrepreneurs is continually evolving, often drawing on metaphors from the worlds of IT, consulting, R&D, enterprise, academia, social media, product development and culture. Throughout the year here, we’ll be looking at some of the more colourful terms and we’re starting with “Killing The Butterfly”.

When a startup is acquired by a bigger company that then crushes the startup’s culture, often resulting in mass employee departures, the move is called “killing the butterfly.” The said butterfly can also come to a bad end when startups and corporations collaborate on projects.

Lepidoptera, the order of insects that includes butterflies, is popular with the jargon makers. The Chrysalis Effect, for example, is used to describe the process of maturation for startups.


A line for the reposing

Thursday, 11 January, 2018 0 Comments

Bereavement announcements are succinct: “The death has occurred of Lucy KINSELLA. Reposing this evening at her residence, Upper Street, Brunnbur, from 4 pm to 8 pm. Funeral arriving at St. Donough’s Church, Creagh, Saturday morning at 10.15 am for 11.00 am Mass. Burial afterwards in adjoining cemetery. May she rest in peace.”

Despite the freezing January fog, friends and neighbours stand patiently in line, often for more than an hour, speaking softly about the weather, shuffling and waiting for the few moments when they repeat incantations like, “Sorry for your troubles,” when shaking hands with the immediate family of the deceased. Enduring the conditions while “paying one’s respects” is a regular ritual and it bonds communities depleted by their loss. The scenes are guaranteed to be repeated.

The line for the reposing


Autocrats have a very high friend in Brussels

Wednesday, 10 January, 2018 0 Comments

“If @FedericaMog didn’t exist, the world’s autocrats would be trying to invent her.” So tweeted @EliLake yesterday. Background:

“As the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs, she is a tireless advocate for engaging rogue states. Few diplomats though have pursued this kind of engagement with such moralizing puffery. In Mogherini’s world, diplomacy with dictators should not aim to transition these countries to open societies, but rather to prevent conflicts at all costs.”

That’s from Europe’s High Representative for Appeasement, in which Lake highlights the disgraceful conduct of Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Snippet:

“Just consider her trip last week to Cuba, a plantation masquerading as a nation-state. Did Mogherini use her visit to call attention to the struggle of human rights activists or to comfort the families of political prisoners? No, Mogherini was in Cuba to reassure a regime that Europe will not go along with America’s trade embargo.”

Shabby and all as Mogherini’s behaviour in Cuba was, her position on Iran is horrifying:

“Mogherini’s ideology is a particular tragedy in the case of Iran. The West can help aid Iran’s freedom movement by linking the regime’s treatment of its people, and particularly its political prisoners, to economic and political engagement. The U.S. has some leverage here, but Europe — because so many of its businesses want a piece of Iran’s economy — has far more.

As Suzanne Maloney, an Iran expert at the Brookings Institution, told me this week: ‘This is the European moment on Iran.’ Europe’s response to the regime’s violent suppression of protests after the stolen election of 2009 was firm. The EU should send the same message today: ‘We are not going to sustain political and economic engagement with a country engaged in the suppression of peaceful protests,’ she said.

So far Mogherini and the Europeans have delivered the opposite message. On Monday, the high representative invited Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, to Brussels next week for more discussions on the Iran nuclear deal. Alireza Nader, an Iran expert at the RAND Corporation, told me this week that Mogherini’s statement on Iran was ‘saying both sides are equal, when it’s Iranian security forces that are shooting and killing people.'”

Iran, Cuba, Russia and North Korea have a friend in very high places in Brussels. That’s bad news for everyone, apart from autocrats, of course.

Federica Mogherini


The ‘peakiness’ of A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

Tuesday, 9 January, 2018 0 Comments

Set in Birmingham in the aftermath of World War I, Peaky Blinders is a crime drama based upon the exploits of Tommy Shelby, “a crime boss set on moving up in the world no matter the cost.” The Season 4 soundtrack features the original score and songs by the likes of Foals, Johnny Cash and Savages. The standout track, however, is Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall by Laura Marling.

On 22 September 1962, Bob Dylan performed A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall for the first time. Now, in 2018, the song’s power is as great as ever. These words never fail to encourage:

“And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it”


President Oprah and pervnado

Monday, 8 January, 2018 2 Comments

Actress: Weinstein used Oprah and Naomi to seduce me” reported The New York Post on 28 November last year. Well, it would, wouldn’t it? It’s a Murdochian rag, isn’t it? But Hollywood will find it harder to wish away the photo of Oprah Winfrey and Harvey Weinstein attending the 19th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards back in January 2014. Oh, and Oprah co-starred in the 2013 film The Butler, produced by Harvey and Bob Weinstein and their company distributed the film.

Oprah 2020? It’s a long road to the White House and pervnado is not exhausted yet.

Oprah and Harvey

[Director Lee Daniels, Oprah Winfrey and Harvey Weinstein at the “after party” for The Butler on 12 August 2013 in Los Angeles. Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Invision/AP Images.]