Wednesday, April 16, 2014

There is nothing in this lefty article about Ukraine that I disagree with:  http://king-tom.tumblr.com/post/82821464342/were-already-up-to-our-eyeballs-in-ukraine

Tesco CEO Philip Clarke on the Today programme this morning

Uninspiring interview with Tesco CEO Philip Clarke on the Today programme this morning.

Discussing innovation, he just made bland comments about consumerist ideology.

However there is a timebomb under food retailing which will inevitably blow Tesco and other big chains out of the water.

This bomb is the increasing technology available to food traceability (which consumers are increasingly insisting on).

Having seen how an animal is treated during the process of factory farm production, how will it be possible for ordinary non-sadistic people to eat products from that animal?

It is only possible now because most people (including myself) screen out all thought of what the animal might have gone through.

As soon as traceability technology makes it possible for consumers to see the life of the animals that are being eaten (specific named and numbered animals, their lives recorded in colour film) there will be a revolution in food retailing.

The "prefer not to know" option will no longer be tenable.

The first supermarket to solve this problem will gain an enormous competitive advantage.

On the basis of Philip Clarke's interview this morning it appears that Tesco will not be that innovative supermarket.

Average earnings are up 1.7% in the year to February at the same time as the CPI rate of inflation has been 1.6%

Sorry to keep harping on about this, but I note that average earnings are up 1.7% in the year to February at the same time as the CPI rate of inflation has been 1.6%.

As the last year has seen a closing of the door to immigrants from outside the EU, is it possible to connect these two facts?

By stopping the inward rush of dirt-cheap labour, perhaps the result has been that average earnings are already beginning to rise (notwithstanding the incessant flow from Eastern Europe, which still needs to be tackled urgently).

Perhaps we may yet see Jonathan Portes apologising for his false and cranky connection between immigration and genuine economic growth (economic growth that benefits everyone, not just the elite).


The use of foodbanks highlighted by Emily Dugan in The Independent

The rise in the use of foodbanks highlighted by Emily Dugan in The Independent:  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/churches-unite-to-act-on-food-poverty-600-leaders-from-all-denominations-demand-government-uturn-on-punitive-benefits-sanctions-9263035.html

Sorry to ask an awkward unpolitically-correct question, but has any assessment been made between ethnicity, immigration status and the use of foodbanks?

We know that the rise in the use of foodbanks has coincided with an unprecedented rise in immigration, the majority of whom have been from the poorest societies around the world and include those least likely to have financial reserves to support themselves should their relocation to the United Kingdom experience setbacks.

Is it unrealistic to suggest a connection between the two?

By importing cheapo workers from developing countries (I would include Poland in that category) and paying them next to nothing we have also imported people who are dependent on the charity of foodbanks to make ends meet.

Stop the import of cheap labour and conditions for the poorest people in society must rise as competition for labour forces employers to offer higher wages and benefits.


Article by Oliver Laughland in the Guardian about the Royal Visit to Australia

Sneering and sarcastic article by Oliver Laughland in the Guardian about the Royal Visit to Australia:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/apr/16/kate-william-and-george-welcomed-to-sydney-by-beaming-prime-minister

The most important line in the 610 words is:  "Thousands who had gathered there waited for hours..."

This tells you all you need to know about attitudes to the monarchy in Australia, and rather undermines Oliver Laughland's clever-dick faux-irony.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I just signed the petition "UNITED EGG PRODUCERS: Stop Killing Male Chicks!" on Change.org.

This goes on in the United Kingdom too.

Here's the link:

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/united-egg-producers-stop-killing-male-chicks?recruiter=89720975&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

Lastwordism

Currently there is a Twitter spat raging between Laurie Penny and Dan Hodges ostensibly over the issue of false rape allegations, although really it is an exercise in lastwordism (a profoundly destructive force in society).

Both of them are right.

Which means of course that both of them are wrong.

https://twitter.com/PennyRed
https://twitter.com/DPJHodges

Clontarf

I hope that the new Wikipedia entry on the Battle of Clontarf will point out that the Brian Boru regime was the only pre-British period when Ireland was "united" (and then it was a patchy unity to an individual monarch):  http://1014retold.com/improve-battle-of-clontarf-on-wikipedia/

Michael Morpurgo was entirely unconvincing in his appearance on Newsnight

Michael Morpurgo was entirely unconvincing in his appearance on Newsnight yesterday.

As someone born in 1943 he seemed representative of those who came to adulthood in the 1960s - lefty, pacifist, internationalist.  This was the generation who could not live up to the achievements of their fathers and grandfathers who won victory for British civilisation in two global conflicts.  Frustrated by their oedipal inadequacy they have since the mid-1960s reviled that civilisation and its achievements and attempted to smash up its institutions (a process that is still on-going).

Therefore it is ironic that Mr Morpurgo is also the spiritual successor of those "...men who look as if they had done very well out of the war", ransacking the tragedy of the Great War to produce a sales-orientated story of trite sentimentality and then sitting on a national news and current affairs programme in his cardigan-covered plumpness to tell us that the Germans need commemorating as well and that the anniversaries of the next four years should be covered in a sickly internationalist jam where everything is mixed together and boiled up and given a "we were all guilty" label.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-27033633

The Times

As a brand The Times newspaper is rather like the Co-Op - once great (decades ago) but now a hollow shell filled with sub-standard offerings.

It is purchased today mostly by people who define their lives by the brands they purchase.  They buy The Times because they think they are the sort of people who should buy The Times.  This is a very precarious position for a media organisation to be in, as fashion is fickle.

There are also those few (mostly ageing) people who buy it hoping to find an echo of what it used to be.

And inevitably they are disappointed. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

On the whole I think I agree with Chapman Pincher that the security services would be justified in shooting Edward Snowden  http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/apr/14/guardian-washington-post-pulitzer-nsa-revelations (and Glenn Greenwald, David Miranda and anyone else who gets in the way).
New York Times editorial: "In effect Nepal has turned itself into a partner of China’s anti-Tibetan policies."

The window needs to be transferred

Can the Department of Culture Media and Sport please tell us what their policy is towards the stained glass windows of St Stephen's church in Hyde, Greater Manchester?

In particular the 1920 window by Edward Hartwell commemorating Second Lieutenant Allan Hudson who died at Gallipoli in the First World War.

The church has been closed for some while, and is about to be converted into sixteen "luxury" flats.

It would be a disgrace if the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign in 2015 should see the window illuminating the bathroom ablutions of some Mancunian yuppie.

The window needs to be transferred to a museum - perhaps the Imperial War Museum North.


There is a picture of Second Lieutenant Hudson (third photo down) - he was only aged 20:  http://ashtonpals.webs.com/1915page4.htm

Article by George Eaton in the New Statesman

One cannot open a newspaper or current affairs periodical these days without seeing a profile of Sajid Javid, the new Culture Secretary.

However there are some inconsistencies in this article by George Eaton in the New Statesmanhttp://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/04/sajid-javids-father-would-never-have-made-it-camerons-britain

If his father was "welcomed" to Britain in 1961 (as the sub-heading states) why was he turned away "time and time again" from employment?  Doesn't quite add up does it.  In reality, there was no welcome for Mr Javid senior in 1961 except from bosses keen to take on dirt cheap non-unionised labour and use it to drive down wages (the repeated turning away from the 'bus companies was almost certainly at the insistence of the transport unions).

And why are we supposed to admire the oft-stated fact that the seven-strong Javid family crammed themselves into a two-bedroom flat?  Does this not illustrate the detrimental effect floods of migrants will have on property in an area, where over-crowding and the inevitable noise and other consequences will lead to white flight so that the only English people left are the old and those too poor to move away.  I speak as someone who experienced this effect twice as a child - in Kentish Town and in the Dallow area of Luton.

The same article tells us approvingly:  "Mehdi Hasan noted in a Guardian piece in 2011, Had Avram Kohen not arrived on these shores from Poland in the late 19th century, his son Jack would not have been able to start Tesco in 1919".

With the presumed consequence that Tesco would not today be attempting to employ "work experience" slaves on zero salaries.
The Swedish authorities should have thrown the other passengers off the plane (without refunds) and run the flight to Iran with just the deportee and guards on board:  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugee-facing-deportation-from-sweden-saved-by-fellow-passengers-refusing-to-let-plane-leave-9259085.html

And if anyone becomes violent the police should use tasers.

We need to nip this sort of thing in the bud.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lichen

















Lichen on weathered old stones.

Just looking at these innocent organisms is very calming.

Untouched















The lambs graze with their mothers.  The buds on the trees silently and slowly open.  Even the rain clouds look beautiful.


Fanciful theory, published by the County History Society, that a small Romano-British garrison survived at this hill-top village after the departure of the legions in 410.  The most ancient building is the church, no sign of any re-used Roman masonry.  Friendly dog.















At the back of the church is what can only be described as a shrine to the village dead of the Great War.

Hand-illuminated list of ten men from the village who died.  An enlarged portrait of one of the fallen.  An idealised illustration of the moment of death and heavenly committal.

This corner looks as if it has been untouched for nearly a hundred years.

Palm Sunday



















Palm Sunday, and at Morning Service we were given these palms to hold.

An elderly lady in the row behind me said "I'd have thought there would be more people here".

Another elderly lady went up to a lectern to welcome everyone, saying "It's good to see the church looking so full".

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New acquisitions - the past week at work

Monday

Arriving this morning I was sifting through the heap of paper on my desk when Marcia Walsh (Deputy Director) asked me into her office where Office Supervisor Gladys Y was already seated in one of the chairs.  Marcia Walsh told us both that she had been asked to be Acting Director for the foreseeable future.  However I am not reporting to her but remain reporting to Alec Nussbaum directly.

In the light of this change I spent the rest of the day reassessing all the projects I am currently working on and destroying anything sensitive (Marcia Walsh is the sort of person who will go looking through your desk).

Tuesday

Among the e-mails this morning was one praising the "superb" work I did last year, asking if I would consider doing a similar campaign.

In the afternoon I planned more literature distribution, and booked space at exhibitions.

Wednesday


Most of the day I spent in the Reading Room downstairs going through some of the new acquisitions.  In particular Stuart Eldon's Territory.  This book had been held up at Head Office (it was published last year) and someone had made pencil notes in the margins:

"Anthropocene... a pre-modern system... useful for complex circumstances... aim for equilibrium in society and the question is how do you manage that... stress produces results... look for imbalances... during the life of the average individual the relationship to the territory is less or more important...  need to counter the agents that are disruptive... territory is seen as a unity... territory is a perpetual dynamic for any one person at any one time... people get stuck in their frustration... look for case studies..."

Thursday


Alec Nussbaum rang me.

I told him "I am thoroughly demoralised".

Friday

Working at home, although in fact I did very little work.

What does he intend to do?









Full page article by Robert Booth about new Culture Secretary Sajid Javid in today's Guardian:  http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/apr/11/sajid-javid-a-wonderful-life-banker-culture-minister

The article quotes Mr Javid's view that appointments should be made on merit, not tokenism.

And yet his appointment as Culture Secretary could not be more tokenistic.

We shall see in the months to come the extent of his interest in art and culture.

What does he intend to do about the 15th century mural of The Last Judgement at Waltham Abbey, likely to fall of the wall unless urgently conserved?

Or the funerary brasses at Linwood church?  http://www.pegasus-onlinezeitschrift.de/2010_1/erga_1_2010_lamp_en.pdf

Or the 1906 William Morris carpet at St Andrew's church in Roker?

The Sweater Weather video














The video for Honest by The Neighbourhood will be released in the next week or so.

The Sweater Weather video last year was excellent https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCdwKhTtNNw

Directed by Zack Sekuler and Daniel Iglesias Jr.

Shapes, shadows, textures.




According to Sean O'Neill (The Times Crime Editor) the Metropolitan Police Trident team seized a Scorpion sub-machine gun and seventy rounds of ammunition in Mitcham yesterday.

In Mitcham, only a short way from Carshalton!

Friday, April 11, 2014

What on earth has Euan Blair done to merit this level of priveleged advancement?

The idea of an hereditary political caste is disgusting:  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tony-blairs-eldest-son-euan-in-the-frame-for-safe-labour-seat-in-bootle-9254905.html

What on earth has Euan Blair done to merit this level of priveleged advancement?

How can the Labour party claim it is for working people when this sort of thing goes on?

I am fully aware of the fact















In a towering niche of porphyry the Blessed Virgin, wearing a lace mantilla and golden crown holds the crowned Jesus.

A barrier of candles on baroque candlesticks.

The side altar itself so surrounded by flowers it could hardly be seen.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week.

There is no need to point out that I have sinned, I am fully aware of the fact.  Sinned and sinning I have done those things which I ought not to have done.  I have followed too much the devices and desires of my own heart.

Temporary settlements

Working "confidentially" at home, I took the dog for a long walk in the afternoon.  Warm sunshine, cool zephyrs, sound of larks ascending.  The wide flat landscape was empty of people.

Except at a compound half-way along a straight lane.  Bungalow house with a big square area protected by a high metal fence, various pre-fab buildings inside.  The compound was already filled with about ten white caravans, with another arriving.

This was not a holiday caravan park but the usual temporary accommodation for "agency" staff (effectively indentured servants - migrants of various kinds).

The house cannot have had mains drainage.  It was too remote.  They would have a septic tank emptying into a soakaway.

But where would the effluent from the caravans go?

Assuming the caravans are intended to house fifty or sixty people in all, that's a lot of night soil.

Presumably it is going into the dykes, completely untreated.

And there are hundreds of these temporary settlements all over the southern half of the county.

Patrick Wintour in the Guardian gives a helpful synopsis

This article by Patrick Wintour in the Guardian gives a helpful synopsis of the Conservative leadership's offer to the electorate at the forthcoming European elections http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/apr/10/conservatives-david-cameron-european-elections-ukip

Let us take them one by one:

• An advantageous deal for British taxpayers in the EU budget
What does this mean?  A short term bribe bunged in our direction (but not actually reaching our pockets).  And in a few years the budget shenanigans will start again.
 

• A better deal for business through deregulation
Hmm.  The EU cannot help regulating.  Like the many headed hydra of mythology, you might cut off some bits but they will grow back again, more potently than before.
 

• A guarantee that Britain will remain outside the single currency and any EU bailout schemes
Big effing deal.  There is no way we are going into the single currency anyway.  Any party that even suggests it is dead in the water, so this "promise" is just a statement of the bleedin' obvious.

• Full control of borders, aligned to free movement of labour, but not the free movement of benefits
For me and many other people (perhaps most people) the European elections will be a referendum on immigration.  So these weasel words on a policy "aligned to free movement of labour" are of no interest.  I want the door shut, not slightly pulled-to for a little while before being flung open again.
 

• An opt-out from justice and home affairs
Comme ci, comme ça.  
 
• Opposition to ever-closer union inside the EU
This is one of the big issues.  What practical measures are proposed to stop it?  It's not enough to just say "trust us, we are politicians with your best interests at heart and our trusty diplomats will work tirelessly on your behalf".

• A guaranteed referendum by the end of 2017
This is where it all falls down as no-one (not even Tories) trust the Conservative leadership to deliver this.  A referendum was in the 2010 Conservative manifesto and reneged upon.  Even though the Lisbon Treaty had been signed, a referendum should have been held to allow the people to retrospectively comment on what Gordon Brown had done, and to act as a statement of intent on the negotiations to come.

As a life-long Conservative I am not voting Conservative in the European elections - mainly because the official Conservative policy towards the EU is not really Conservative and the people standing as candidates are not true Conservatives (with one or two exceptions).

They are luke-warm liberals, and I am spitting them out.
The new Culture Secretary Sajid Javid defends predatory blood-sucking parasites:  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ticket-touts-are-classic-entrepreneurs-who-should-be-allowed-to-operate-without-interference-says-new-culture-secretary-sajid-javid-9252429.html

He appeared on Question Time last night, adopting faux-thoughtful poses (like nosferatu listening to the children of the night).  I doubt that a serious thought about culture has ever entered his head.  I hope he is asked in public, and on camera, what culture means to him.
The blackthorn blossom is late this year, but now all the hedges are displaying it.

Sweet slightly sickly smell, with an afternote of drains.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Newsnight seems to give up on Thursdays and just fields their reserve team.

Which is a mistake, as Question Time is so formulaic it has become tired.

Switching from BBC2 to BBC1 is going from dull to duller.

David Cameron















I am ignoring this message from David Cameron - I will not be doing any work in the European election campaign and will not be donating any money.

The thought occurs to me that David Cameron might be our Ramsay MacDonald, and will lead to the same consequences.

Even 48 hours after the event I am still disgusted (seriously pissed off in fact) that a Conservative government has appointed a Muslim Culture Secretary.

Is this what I have helped work for all these years?

When did the United Kingdom become a black country?

Withdrawing our support on 22nd May

David Cameron launches today the Conservative campaign for the European elections on Thursday 22nd May 2014 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26968252

I have been a member of the Conservative party since I was 16, but I am not advising anyone to vote Conservative in the European elections (the local elections are a different matter and yes, you should vote Conservative locally).

The people who are in charge of our party are not listening to us.

We must make them listen, and withdrawing our support on 22nd May is an easy way to do it.

Too many people have died

Why is this happening? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/queen-elizabeth-II/10755530/The-Queen-to-help-the-Irish-commemorate-the-1916-Easter-Rising.html

I am not at all happy that the United Kingdom head of state is interacting with people who so obviously hate us and have demonstrated that hatred for the last hundred years through murder and maiming and the most offensive anti-British statements and behaviour.

Please do not tell me "it is time to let bygones be bygones".

Too many people have died for it to be all brushed under the carpet.

At the very least all that generation of IRA murderers active until the early 1990s must pass away before we can even think about "normal" relations (and in case you are thinking that is too long to wait, let me point out that there is a very easy fast-track to ensure murderers pass away).

And a personal message to the British head of state - please do not take my loyalty for granted.