Thursday, June 29, 2006

"It's not for me, you understand. It's for a friend...."

Bling for the bigger-booted bird in your life

How can I put this delicately? Soon-to-be Mrs NTaH has feet that are not as dainty as the rest of her.

Will that do?

Anyway, she sometimes deals with this problem by buying the more unisex-looking offerings from men's shoe shops. When trainers will do, that’s OK. But this isn't really going to help much in the selection of bridal wear for the upcoming nuptuals, is it?

However, she has a number of Bright Sparks in her personal circle. One of them suggested that there are shops that cater specifically for the transvestite market. And transvestites tend to insist on fairly blingy large footwear rather than the sort of stuff in the wide-fitting shop up the road. Only Nuns would wear that kind of stuff. And NOT this kind of Nun either....

Now, I always thought that a transvestite shop and a ladies outfitter would be one and the same thing. Well, they are not. And, it seems, they make all of their money out of the different foot dimensions. There is, apparently, a roaring trade in classy high heels made to fit the average bricklayer.

And what do Bright Sparks have? Well, a connection to the Internet, for one thing. It seems that they've found a few of suitable shops just near my workplace. So they've all come up with the hilarious* idea of sending me on a recce.

"Would you mind popping in at lunchtime to see what they've got in a size eight?"

Stop press: Thankfully, a ladies outfitter has unearthed a presentable set of outsizes that should do the trick. And, apparently, the tranny shop idea was dreamed up in the first place to wind me up.

*Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with cross-dressing as far as I'm concerned. What I do object to is being sent to a shop with the implausible "It's not for me, it's for my girlfriend...." line.

Globalising and localising tendencies

This is worth a look: Will Davies writing in OpenDemocracy:

"As less brutal responsibilities flow elsewhere, government is left looking unattractively naked. But this trend will continue regardless of the "war on terror or the latest tabloid outburst on paedophiles. It is structural not contingent. Until the globalising and localising tendencies go into reverse, this uglier, stripped-down model of the state is the only possible one for the foreseeable future. This makes it all the more important that a more sophisticated politics arises around topics such as criminal justice and surveillance, given that these look set to be the definitive problems for 21st-century central government."

Read it all.

Keep the cards coming

Valentin Ivanov: Give him a medal and put him in charge of the final.

I'm not usually much of an armchair pundit, but I'm going to get all Five Live on your ass today.

Don't you think that the way that the referees judgement during the Portugal v Holland match is being discussed is a bit weird?

Apparently, alongside the ability to get a perfect vantage point, an encyclopaedic knowledge of the rules, and the judgement of Solomon on each incident, referees are now expected to predict the future behaviour of players so that they can know how lenient to be early in the game.

Mr Ivanov's crime, it seems, was to 'lose control of the game' by booking a cheating fucker early on. Apparently, he should have known that both managers had instructed their players to play like cheating fuckers and he should have adjusted his use of the yellow card accordingly. That way, one of the teams of cheating fuckers would have emerged into the next round without as many cards next to their cheating fucking names for being cheating fuckers.

Because both Portugal and Holland were both disgusting in that game (for the avoidance of doubt).

As far as I can see it, the game had almost the perfect outcome. One set of cheating fuckers can fuck off back to Holland with fuck all but the shame of having disgraced their profession and country. The other lot of fuckers go into the next game with a load of cards next to their cheating fucking names. Even if they win the next game, there should be none of them left to play the following one - the fuckers.

A better outcome still would be to disqualify any side that picks up more than, say, six cards in a game? Then Ghana (for instance) could go forward in their place?

Now back to Alan in the studio…..

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Time to see sense

I think that Chris (usually Britain's brightest blogger) is presenting a false opposition here and here.

He rightly identifies a "growing and potentially dangerous gap between politicians and the public" – and he offers direct democracy as an ideal (though thankfully, not a practical) solution.

You see, when someone calls for a system of governance to be changed, there is an implication that the current official system has failed. And I'd suggest that this isn't the case. We are, of course, officially a representative democracy. In practical terms, however, we are not so in the truest sense – and that there are plenty of steps that could be taken to improve that situation – thereby bringing the governors and the governed closer.

I would argue that the most effective form of democratic renewal possible is a programme of capacity building for elected representatives, so that they can

  • reduce their dependence upon political parties and civil servants
  • be less vulnerable to misrepresentation from journalists of single-issue campaigns by pressure groups
  • be more effective at deliberating on policy issues
  • be more effective at managing multilateral communication with policy experts in particular, and the public in general. And be more effective in interpreting those discussions during the process of policy formation.

Indeed, I've even outlined a Charter that could provide the cornerstone to this approach here.

There are many other interesting strategies promoting democratic renewal, but without addressing the cornerstone issue of representation, they are less likely to succeed. For this reason, capacity building for elected representatives should be the prime medium term project for those promoting democratic renewal.

Oddly, Chris’s arguments for technocracy and against managerialism are very important bulwarks to my own arguments here.

I hope he can see sense on this matter. ;-)

As a further provocation, I'd also argue that, even if Direct Democracy - in it's perfect incarnation - would be a good thing, moves towards it may not. It's a reworking of Paul Ormerod's argument (in The Death of Economics) that - even if a perfection of free-markets could be shown to be a good thing (and this will never be practically possible) that there is no evidence that 'more free market' means 'more efficient'.

You either do it perfectly (you can't) or you don't do it at all (yay!).

The Wind that Shakes the Barley

I've no time to write this up as carefully as I'd like to at the moment, but I'd urge you to go and see Ken Loach's "The Wind that Shakes the Barley".

It's a powerful story well delivered. I'd question whether it is good history accurately told.

Like a lot of good authors (Brian Moore and Graham Greene particularly spring to mind) Loach knows that - if you locate a moment of crisis - a story will not be far away.

One of his signature dishes is the dramatisation of revolutionary situations. In Land and Freedom, he offers a debate about common ownership during the Spanish Civil War.

In The Wind that Shakes the Barley, however, this is taken further. There are two notable set-piece discussions - one on pragmatism over principle, and another in which the treaty is discussed.

There's one question that occurs to me that I don't have an answer for.

In these scenes, Loach manages to get an rare emotional intensity from his actors. It makes for electrifying drama. But does it offer a fair representation of what really happened? And does this device serve to shed light on the situation, or to mislead viewers?

One aspect that isn't apparent to the viewer is the effect on the silent onlookers. In a situation in which the more articulate players are drunk on their own rhetoric and polarising the room, what about the silent doubters? How does a film represent those that can see the catastrophe coming, (and as sure as a dog has a dick, it came) but are unable to make the case?

Whatever your answer, in these debates, the unavoidable question to the viewer is "which side would you be on"? And having read a good deal about this period, my answer while watching this film is different to the one I'd take after a longer view of the literature.

The other (related) question I'd have is about how far this ground-level of perspective is instructive? In the situations as portrayed in Loach's film, I'd like to think that I would have had the courage to take the republican position. (I expect cowardice would have lead me elsewhere).

But Loach's portrayal of Irish republicanism is simply not an accurate one. From the ground level, all that you can see is a response to the brutality of the Black and Tans. What you don't see much of is the way that Irish Republicanism synthesised in the years between 1916 and the treaty. We are treated to the usual story of left-wing principles betrayed - a plainly dishonest characterisation of the IRA and circumstances they found themselves in.*

Loach has suggested (in interviews) that there are parallels with the situation in Iraq. Aside from parallels between the way the 'Tans brutalised a population in search of 'insurgents', I can't see this myself.

If I took one lesson from the film, however, it would be about what happens when nationalists and socialists form an alliance. In Ireland, it has repeatedly proven disastrous for socialists - and murderous for anyone who has found themselves in the vicinity.

So, alongside a recommenndation to go and see this fictional recreation, I'd also urge you to read Roddy Doyle's 'A Star Called Henry'** - a very different fictional rendition of republicanism - and one with an entertaining set-piece of it's own.

*the best history of the IRA that I've seen - particularly covering 'social republicanism' is Henry Patterson's 'Politics of Illusion'

** I know! Roddy Doyle! I read his Barrytown Trilogy (Commitments / Van / Snapper) and thought "never again". But 'A Star Called Henry' is a great read.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Yes!

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Boris Johnson says:

"If I had anything to do with the honours system I would be advising that the next list should contain a special medal for Mr Justice Ognall, and that the citation should recognise his conspicuous gallantry under fire.

In schools across the country there should be instituted an Ognall prize for all those who stand up to bullies, and here in Parliament I propose the immediate establishment of an Ognall Committee, to be chaired by myself, to vet all legislation for signs that it has been generated by some kind of irrational media hysteria."
Can't see Dave giving Boris a job for very long, can you?

Mind you, even without this article.....

(Via the Drink Soaked Trots)

Decent blogging

A complete Tit, yesterday.

There’s a good letter in today’s paper from a Londoner called Chris Trude saying....

"… Britain is an overwhelmingly conservative country dominated by a conservative establishment, with a conservative media that day in day out bleats out an anti-Blair/Labour message. .....

....It is journalists and newspapers - even the Guardian - which have consistently let down the working class by ensuring a climate of mistrust has surrounded the most progressive government in the past century. Ordinary people will tell you how successful the Labour government has been in tackling poverty and raising the standard of living for the vast majority. Unfortunately, working-class views are never heard in our media."

I’ve left out an introductory gush about how wonderful Labour are, and I’m not as convinced as Chris about Labour’s successes. But s/he still makes a very good point. One that regular visitors here will be used to reading.

And like Shuggy, I’m consistently baffled by the left’s inability to grasp just how much the Labour leadership relish the opportunity to play to the right-wing gallery (this time on the question of Trident).

I share Shuggy's anti-nuke position. In fact, my view on lots of things haven’t changed since my days as an unreconstructed ‘80s spart. I’ve just realised that keeping quiet about this stuff is the only option. Large slices of the left serve only to make anyone who agrees with them look a complete tit.

I mention this as a preface to……
***************

…..Dave Osler seems keen to respond to Iain Dale’s comments (in Tribune) about the relative stagnancy of the left-wing blogosphere.

Dave should take it with a pinch of salt IMHO.

For one thing, Iain’s notion (and perhaps Dave’s) of a good blog is not one that I’d share. Guido Fawkes for example, may be entertaining – if you like that sort of thing. But I don’t think that he adds anything of any value.

Is the world a better or wiser place because in now has a hypertext publication that appears to be positioned somewhere between the erstwhile Scallywag, the National Enquirer, the News of the Screws? I think not. I’d suggest that, if anything, it diminishes political life ever further – if that were possible.

While I’d accept that there is possibly a gap for a leftish version of Conservative Home. I’d suggest that most lefties with a brain and an RSS reader can construct their own version – and it would be better. I don’t need one site that compiles everything for me because I’ve got an RSS reader. If anything, a blog like this actually narrows the frame of reference for its users because they all end up reading and responding to the same stuff.

The Bloggers4Labour’s aggregator is good enough for me – I use it to make sure I don’t miss anything rather than as a first port of call. Which is why you – dear reader – benefit from such a glittering array of diversity here. ;-)

But the real substance of my disagreement with Dave here is his notion of what blogs are for, and what makes a good one. I think that Dave looks at this (as you would expect a journalist to do) in a journalistic way. The blogs he likes include his own (actually, fair enough - Dave is the far-left's premier blogger and he uses the site to publish original stuff that he may not have an immediate outlet for), and our mutual friend, Paul Anderson's Gauche (usually quiet while he catches up on his marking or that missed book-deadline).

Again, Gauche provides decent journalism - Paul is quite analytical and rigorous in a way that bloggers often aren't. So. It seems that Dave and Iain measure the quality of blogs by their ability to imitate existing offline publications – perhaps by providing an outlet for copy that would otherwise be spiked.

But, I'd suggest, that the world is not dying for a lack of journalists. It is suffering from a poor standard of public dialogue - and this is what bloggers can fix.

I’d suggest (indeed, I have done before ) that bloggers are at their best when they are documenting events in a different way to the way journalists do. As you would expect journalists to be, Dave is preoccupied by numbers of visitors, his lack of comments, and the relative popularity of his blog.

This would not have bothered Aristotle, so I won't let it bother me either (not with MY visitor numbers!).

Right wing bloggers are right to want to see US shock-jockery brought into everyone’s lives. As the letter writer (above) points out, populist politics, and the shabby way that journalists cover the subject is doing no-one any good. Blogging is only worthwhile if it raises the quality of debate.

Bloggers can help to change this. Whatever you think of the Euston Manifesto, one of the reasons that they are called the ‘decents’ is because this project is all about raising the standard of debate – particularly on the left. It shows what the blogosphere is capable of.

Even the Euston Manifesto’s critics (Dave being one of the more coherent of these) have acknowledged this.

So, Dave, if you want to wrest control of the left wing blogosphere, you could consider some site dedicated to improving the standards of your own lousy profession. But then, there’s probably only room for one group of ‘decents’.

Perhaps you should just roll over and sign the Euston Manifesto instead? ;-)

nb: This post is an attempt to replace one that was chewed up by the blogger software yesterday.

Something to look forward to.

Mmmmm. Carlisle! Cheltenham! Orient! Accrington Stanley in the Carling Cup!

Life really can't get any better than this, can it?

Towards a 'Charter for Representation'

Mat raises the question of what role Councillors can play in planning applications - and how there are rules that can preclude someone who has been elected taking part in important local decisions.

This is, of course, a complex issue. For a start, I'd argue that elected representatives should be clear that they don't get involved in single-issue campaigns. They should, instead, explicitly state that their role is to defend the wider public interest.

I'd also argue that the thing that all representatives should avoid at all costs is being mandated.

So if you say 'vote for me and I will oppose the citing of these masts on our patch' you are then mandating yourself to oppose them and you can't listen to reason or defend the wider public interest. This would be a bad thing.

And what's more, if a political party were to take this view, it would mean that mobile phones would be effectively abolished (perhaps a good idea, but not one I would take to the country).

However, you could retain an open mind while telling voters your disposition. You could say "I believe there are health risks associated with these things - and I think that they bring down the price of property. So I will - wherever practicable - aim to have them cited away from residential areas."

I'd then want to see what your evidence for the health risk is, and when you could only come up with some NIMBY-ish bullshit, I'd vote against you, but I'm not the general public.

All of this points to something that I think we need in this country: A 'Charter for public representation'.

I'd like to draft a short (2-3 page) outline of what makes for effective representation in the public interest. Spell out what representatives responsibilities are to their constituents, their parties and their concience. How much of their private lives should remain private, what their duties are, what their rights and responsibilites are, and what they can reasonably expect by way of recompense - or by way of covering expenses and compensating them for what they lose in terms of time and quality of life.

On the privacy issue, Simon Collister raises the question of how far ministers should use their (publicly funded) webspace to project their personalities, here.

And this charter should bear in mind that part of it's role is to attract clever capable and honest people into public life. It should aim to put the dignity of office back into the equation. It should also seek to present something of a united front for elected representatives against their rivals.

And those rivals, I would argue, are journalists, pressure groups, civil servants, centralising political structures, and - to some extent (a more complex rivalry) their political parties. One day, the good citizens of this nation will take up arms agaist all of them.

The bastards.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bloody blogger

Service notice

The blogger software that I use to manage this blog is really annoying at the moment.

It is stripping out whole chunks of text and removing paragraph breaks when I submit longer posts. Oddly, this is only happening on longer posts.

I've removed one I posted earlier because the omissions have changed the sense of the post.

I'll try again tomorrow.

In the meantime, apologies to Paul Anderson and Dave Osler. Blogger deleted the compliments but retained minor criticisms.

It couldn't have happened to two nicer blokes ;-)

Soz Dave. Soz Paul.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

England


Mick says that nobody hates the English any more.

Apart from the English....

When civil servants blog....

Stephen Hilton at Bristol City Council - shouldn't bother blogging

It's my birthday today. All donations to the usual charity please. And because it's my birthday, I'm going to seek to correct a very minor wrong that I believe I've suffered. Forgive the self indulgence here - anyone annoyed by this can get on with something else.

**********

When civil servants blog, they behave like civil servants, I'm afraid. Well, Stephen Hilton does anyway. Ages ago, I posted a comment to his blog referring to a project he is involved in (one that I have political objections to). For background on those objections, I’ve written about them here and here.

Stephen 'moderates' his comments, or course. And they don't appear for a while - until he's had time to post a suitably cutting response. In this case, he chose sarcasm. Here it is:
Hello Paul,

Is your ideal representative democracy one where ward councillors say hello to their constituents once every three-to-four years and then don’t engage them again until next time there is an election?
And then - if you can disprove anything in his response - and you follow it up with a reply - he doesn't publish it. Or respond to an e-mail asking why he won't publish it.

Annoying or what?

So, here's a suggested rule. Civil servants - if they decide to blog - should restrict themselves to post-hoc moderation (to weed out the abuse). Or not bother blogging at all.

If he hadn't combined rudeness with censorship, I'd have forgotten all about it. But he did, and I haven't.
And if I weren’t annoyed I would have kept my views to myself about how tedious and self-congratulatory his blog is as well. But I am, so I won't.

(Oh yes – did I say that I DO practice post-hoc moderation? And if there is cock-up answer for the fact that comments are lost and e-mails go unresponded-to, I’d be happy to amend this post accordingly. I note that the Read My Day blogs suffer rather from trackback spam *grin*).

Dead letter office

Our office is above a recording studio. A delivery-bloke just rang the doorbell and said "Vocoder for Jarvis Cocker."

They aren't in downstairs, so I've agreed to look after it.

Don't worry Jarvis. We'll make sure it gets to you in the end. When we've finished with it.

"Mishter bwue skwaiyy...... mishter bwue skwaiyy-yai."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What fun we had.

Oh cheer up. The football will be on in a minute.

We... are.... the.... pride of the midlands, the cock of the north...

Further to the view that local loyalty is better than the national, you can get a red shirt with this on here.

Mine's in the post.

Ta Col.

(er.... altoghether now, "Bertie Mee said to Bill Shankly....")

Monday, June 19, 2006

Quick question

Has anyone seen a blog that they think looks really good?

In terms of design, layout, usability, the way that images display, choice of colours (particularly combinations that look good on a PC screen, but also on a mobile phone) etc?

The devil having the best tunes, I think that ‘Conservative Home’ is the best looking blog I’ve seen so far. So please don't let content cloud your judgement in answering this question?

Anyone who has any ideas about other blogs that look good – please let me know?

I'll tell you why shortly....

Cynical and misanthropic

A few weeks ago, Mick Hume, editor of Spiked! declared that their mission was to combat misanthropy wherever they found it.

Now he's set his face against cynicism as well.

And Spiked could never be said to be misanthropic or cynical, could it?

Here's a challenge: Go to Spiked and find an article that praises any initiative for being successful or any public figure for being virtuous.

Allocate plenty of time for this task.

Now shut up and get on with your work.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Were you there too?

The Sex Pistols in 1976: Everyone saw them except me.

My generation - like yours - is full of fibbers. People who claim that they saw the Sex Pistols in 1976. People who claimed to have gone to a Wigan Casino All-Nighter. People who claim to have been there on the night of the 27th September 1978. The night that everything changed forever.

I was too young for The Pistols or Wigan. But I swear I was at Anfield when it really mattered.

In years to come, a lot more than 2062 people will claim that they signed the Euston Manifesto in its first 66 days. Yet many of those same people are still a bit mystified by this project at the moment. Over pints, I've had it put to me that it is one long tilt at straw men. That it is an exercise in reification.

I've listened to the argument that, while there is nothing in the text to actually disagree with, that it represents a strategic error by leftists because it gives comfort to neo-cons. Or that it somehow disrupts some surefire unwritten strategy the left has been intuitively persuing for decades.

Well, there's a explanation that covers all of this. It is that the Euston Manifesto came from the blogosphere. The blogosphere is an analytical place. It has conventions that reject the use of weasel words in favour of a neutral point of view. Where these demands are not met (and few blogs do meet them, in fairness - we're pretty bad at forgoing rhetoric), we have fisking.

But, for all of the noise, the blogosphere does demand that arguments are spelled out in rich hypertext - and that they must stand on their own merit. A simple appeal to a herd-instinct will no longer do. You now longer have to keep quiet about your doubts in case they make you look stupid. It turns out that there were lots of people who had the same views all along.

If the Euston Manifesto is a betrayal, it has only betrayed the unchallenged orthodoxies of the hippy left.

And those straw men that slip under most people's radars are also hugely in evidence in the blogosphere. We know they are around. They lack the perspective needed to understand that liberal democracy is not simply a variation of totalitarianism and tyranny.

Those journalists who have spent their lives peddaling psuedo-liberalism without being challenged have stopped getting away with it. And it is the blogosphere that has blown the whistle on them.

The blogosphere has also challenged the petrification that has overtaken many left-liberal strategies. It is impatient with the way public life is conducted, and it's full of people who agree with every word in John Lloyd's book - even though most of them never actually read it.

I'd suggest that the Euston Manifesto is a fundamental challenge to the way that public life is conducted. It is a symptom of the blogosphere - and a very benign one at that.

Go on. Sign it.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Peter Crouch: An apology

Though I’m usually a defender of Mr Crouch (or 'Crouchy' as he has just been renamed. Good old Crouchy), I confess that I spent 83 minutes yelling “you big fucking useless carthorse” at a TV screen (in a pub full of people doing the same).

I’d now like to make clear that it is not, and never was, my intention to imply that Mr Crouch is anything other than the embodiment of virtue. A man who’s flatulence carries a faint but noticeable hint of lavender.

I hope this clears everything up.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Stupid Party

Vote early, vote often kids! "vte lrd gfry archr"

Anyone who decides to pick candidates by txt-voting is just too stupid to run the country.

"Somewhere in London, there's a mayor in the making. If it's you, please consider applying today," Mr Cameron pleaded hopefully.

Apparently, they're going to use 'headhunters' to find their candidates. Now I knew that they were still really just closet rightwingers - but I didn't realise how right wing.

Please tell me that this is not a spoof?

(via).

This is a bit clever...

Even if you don't like football much, you can marvel at each World Cup Game being displayed - LIVE - in an ASCII format on your PC.

You will need a computer with an internet connection.

Everyone got one of these? OK. Here are the instructions for Windows users (UNIX users - you don't need instructions, do you?)
  1. Go to the start button
  2. Select 'run' and then type cmd in the box.
  3. When the command prompt comes up, type telnet ascii-wm.net 2006
  4. Then hit the 'return' key and enjoy the match in glorious ASCII*
*eyebrow raised in a James Bond-type way. The way you do when you demonstrate Shazam on your mobile phone.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Pro-War?

Anyone who continues to describe the Euston Manifesto as 'pro-war' is just a lying wanker. Norman Geras rebuts this one yet again. How many more times, I wonder....?

As one of the founding signatories of the Manifesto, I think that my blog demonstrates that I was not a supporter of the invasion.

Not sure I still agree with every word I've ever written here, but I was broadly opposed to the invasion of Iraq and sceptical about the likelihood of success. I still have my doubts. And I (perhaps mistakenly) thought that the idiotic response of large sections of the left were no real cause for concern either.

The one thing I did comment on a lot was why so many people regarded themselves as experts on the subject - and was that expertise borne out any real understanding of the facts or out of a need to make a different point altogether.

Re-reading these, it reminds me of Eric's post a while ago about how blogging can change your mind. Mine has changed on a few things in the last year or so.

But, if I had to sum up why I signed the Euston Manifesto in a few words, I'd urge people to read John Lloyds book and reflect on lousy way that things are discussed - and not just by journalists.

One thing I've learned about the ongoing situation in Iraq: That it's a complex issue, and large sections of the left shown themselves to be fossilised by their response to it.

If you think this is the case, then I'd urge you to sign it as well.

Get your boots on Archie....

Marvellous. World Cups were better with Forest players.


Not Friday. But still...

I've been offline since Thursday. Blogger was playing up during my last posting, thus the unnoticed duplication.

Sorry for that now.

Here's a round-up of those 'it's Friday' e-mails:
  • Kids TV themes
  • The impossible dream.
  • Divine intervention and Lions, the Deer rampant, Snakey matrimony and Bunny drownings: It's all here.

    And, on Friday, Bernie told me about this:



    Mmmm. Nice.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Abundance. And sincerity.

Well, this says it all, doesn't it?

....Marx was more hard-headed than his weaker successors. As G.A Cohen put it:
He thought that anything short of an abundance so complete that it removes all major conflicts of interest would guarantee continued social strife,

'a struggle for necessities...and all the old filthy business.' It was because he was uncompromisingly pessimistic about the social consequences of anything less than limitless abundance that Marx needed to be so optimistic about the possibility of that abundance. (Self-ownership, Freedom and Equality, p10-11)
So there's the lesson: Work out how is could be done first. THEN work out how it should be done. Boring, I know.

AND (nothing much to do with the above) I bet you haven't read this or this yet have you?

You donkey.

Perogatives

Reg; Asserting perogatives?

Some years ago, I met a man from Greenock who told me about his time as a 'red Clydesider'.

He said that they didn't always go on strike for a specific reason. Sometimes, they used to just assert their perogatives.

Respectable, from a syndicalist point of view, I think you'll find? But the implied nationalism of supporting England does create a tension of sorts.

Bet they wouldn't have gone on strike for the Yeovil match..... the Quislings.

Ooh arrrrr.

(and when I googled Yeovil FC, I found that their fan-site is called 'Ciderspace').

Bloggy autodidacts only need apply

I like - and endorse - the following promtional message from Tim Worstall. So I'll present it unedited. I can't help him, because I haven't bought a digital camera lately (and I'm thinking about a cheapo / mid range one for practical snaps and want ad recommendation).
Some of you will already know of our new adventure, others won't. Apologies for this mass bleg for a bit of publicity.

We have a new site up called Nightcap Syndication. The intention is to try and bring together those bloggers who'd like to get paid for writing and those editors who'd like to pay bloggers for writing.

We've been going three days so far.

Whoop whoop, I know.

However, we have our first real live editor looking for material and he's asked us to act as a proving ground for him.

The full details are here:

http://www.nightcapsyndication.com/content/view/138/104/

Quite simply, anyone interested can write and then place on our site a review of a digital camera. In two weeks time the Editor (of the unnamed magazine) will make freelance commission offers to those who have impressed.

Whether you think this is of sufficient interest to tell your readers is of course entirely up to you. We hope you will, of course.

If you should happen to be or know of an editor who is interested in something similar then please do drop us a line. You should also do so to swear at me for being so presumptuous to think that you might be interested etc etc, or if you'd like more information.

Tim Worstall
--
Tim Worstall
www.timworstall.com
Bloggy autodidacts will understand why this is a great idea. Anyone who doesn't.... well... I'm not sure it's worth explaining....

We can be heroes...

The citizen journalist as Action Man.

(and while you're at Cybersoc, bookmark it, whydontcha?)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The hard centre

Hippies! Vote for Dave!

How terrifying it must be for every politician when they hear some bearded vegetarian telling them that they have crossed a line in the sand and can no longer count on one dog-eared vote.

I was surprised to read Neal Lawson’s take on this in yesterday's Groan. He's worried that hippies everywhere will be impressed by England's most smackable face.

Neal isn’t daft, but this time, he deserves the riposte he got from Cllr Luke Akehurst today.

Luke's answer is very persuasive: That Labour needs to keep it's eye on working class switchers - not on The Independent readers who are threatening with their little fists to defect 'en masse' to Cameron's cuddly new Tories.

Of course, this sounds like a reworking of late-80s 'new realism' - an electoral determinism that requires only a populist response. One that propels Labour inexorably on to Tebbitt territory.

Yet this will - by definition - remain an unanswered challenge to the progressive left until we can all acknowledge it rather than duck it. For every hand-wringing editorial about how authoritarian or populist Labour have become, there should be a dozen calling for root and branch change to the way public life is conducted.

But that would involve discussing something other than the tedious charade that is court politics. And we can't have that, can we?

This centralising momentum that has built up over the past forty years is the direct result of a failure to challenge the homogenising demands of the emerging media. In the same way that 24 hour news stiffles reflection, it also demands a single simple manifesto that can be delivered in a two clause sentance - at most.

And though this is obvious to anyone who thinks about it, there is still greater journalistic mileage in finding a more attractive target. Geoffrey Wheatcroft, for instance, today has decided that Labour MPs are the culprits. It would be cruel to him to drive the dozen coach and horses that fit through the middle of his sloppy argument, but if you've got a bit of time on your hands, read it - for a mirthless laugh.

We need technocrats, not managerialists (hat tip, Chris D). We need strong local elected representatives. We need strong ministers and a cabinet that picks itself.

This is why the debate on state funding* is so important at the moment. It is usually presented as an alternative to funding from the Unions, but I don't think it's an either / or question. I argued - here - that state funding is almost an essential pre-requisite for any decentralised democratic renewal that the left could hope for. The Unions still have an essential campaigning role. They could still be the backbone of the active party. They can still pay for the election machine (what they really pay for already).

But it's time that we recognised that the Unions will never be able to provide the kind of consistent no-strings investment that is needed to develop multiple centres of policy development. The kind of investment that is needed to overcome this most centralised of states.

It's time that we started to discuss the real nature of political centralism. Everyone thinks they are against it, after all.

*This reference must not be taken to mean that I expecct this to be a real consultation.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

'International Never Again Day'.

At some point, once the dust has settled over Darfur, there will be a moment that we will all be able to bookmark.

This will be on a day that the full numbers are revealed - whatever passes for speculation about the unknowable number (surely in six figures already) of un-named victims - that were slaughtered as the International Community stood by and scratched it's collective head.

Maybe. Or perhaps it will be the day that a handful of survivors - the abused women that were raped and left for dead - come forward and somehow manage to trick their way onto our TV screens?

Or perhaps it will be the day that the full scale of 'ethic cleansing' becomes clear? When we know exactly how many million of the world's poorest people have been driven from their homes?

Can we agree to mark this day? Perhaps make it an international spectacle that statespeople can all be seen to mark? Solemn photo-opportunities can be arranged by highly-paid PRs. Heads of state can be photographed looking suitably sombre? Perhaps it can even have it's own logo? A clever series of bright penstrokes to depict someone shrugging their shoulders, with a '?' artfully placed over their heads?

Oh, and a few educational packs as well. Can't have a global festival of cant without some educational packs, can we?

It can be called 'International Never Again Day'. The day - every year - that empty platitudes and barely concealed agendas can be trotted out in the place of the minimum of resolve that was needed in 2006 from the International Community to stop the carnage?

Because this really is so fucking simple. This is – by a country mile – the most important issue facing every democracy in the world today.

Where are the million-man marches? Where is the outrage? Where are the posturing journalists and grandstanding politicos demanding action?

And is there going to be a prize for the first bigshot who says ‘never again’ when the dust has settled? Perhaps we can take a suitable photograph of the first stateman to utter the platitude, and put it on a T-Shirt?

A new radical hero. A bit like Che?

Bliss

A few months ago, Ms NTaH agreed to .... er.... make me the happiest man in the world.

Sorry ladies.

*****

So, anyway, it's all happening next month. And the plans are reaching an advanced stage. Thus the light blogging and general short-tempered vibes that you may have been picking up.

You probably all know, though, that organising a wedding is a complete fucking minefield. But here's something that you didn't know already:

It is bad form to not send an invitation to a relative that you have spoken to, invited, and has told you that they aren't coming.

'ja credit dat?

(Feel free t0 e-mail me for details of the wedding list though....)

More on apologia

Simon Cottee at The Journal of Human Rights:
"But only a moment's reflection shows that not all young Muslims express their anger by killing themselves and their fellow citizens. (Even in their darkest moments of despondency, the ANC refrained from immolating themselves and others in tall heavily populated civilian buildings.)"

Quoted in more detail by those dipsomaniac fourth-internationalist birdies.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Experimentation

More light blogging. Here something to be going on with (via i-Pope).

As you were.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Explaining stuff. By any means necessary.

On rationality and voting. And thighboots.

On sincerity in public life.....

…. and Shuggy's take on the same.

And, (changing the subject), come the revolution, Wayne's detractors can be rounded up and shot. They hate him. They hate Jade. They hate all Counterjumpers.

Friday, June 02, 2006

National guilt

Light blogging due to spending most of the last couple of days trying to find my way out of Ikea.

Is everywhere in Sweden like this? And if so, does this explain the high suicide rate there?

Or are they all topping themselves out of guilt for creating such a hell-hole?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Priorities

Mayo. God help us.

In Co.Mayo the other week, I had a pint with a few people of my own age. For some reason, they all support Liverpool. It was Cup Final day and they were all nearly unbearable.

But they all had the same answer to the defining question of the age: Would they prefer....


  • Liverpool to win the European Champions League
  • Eire to with the World Cup, or...
  • Co. Mayo to win the All Ireland (Irish football) final?
The latter was the unanimous choice. Eire and Liverpool tied for second place. Mayo haven't won much for a very long time. And in years gone by, in speech, Irish people always added the words "god help us" after the word Mayo. As in "she's from Mayo, God help us...")

Though I'm an International Citizen of the World, in my case, the order is....


  • Forest to win absolutely anything
  • Mayo to win the All Ireland
  • Any international team that has an Forest or ex-Forest player (apart from one that left leaving a bad smell). Trinidad and Tobago with Stern John!
  • Any British Isles team to do well in international competition
The last two are a tie. Much as I want them to do well, I can't fully endorse England, because that would make me directly responsible for Sven's horrible antiseptic style of management. And you'd never forgive me for that.

The boy is supporting the Czech Republic this summer (he likes the Forest-style kit, which is as good a reason as any to support them, I reckon).

Apropos of this, a Councillor in the West Midlands has come up with an interesting basis for choosing which international team to follow. On a previous International, he explained that....

"....I want White Denmark to beat the mongrel "England" team..."
Lovely.

PS: One for Rockmother. Pursey on anthems.

Expensive cat toy

Here. (ta Charlie).

Who do I know that likes cats and and Macs?