Monday, 25 October 2010

RIP Gregory Isaacs.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Thursday, 21 October 2010

We were automatically women's rights by being who we were and making sure we were who we were and remaining who we were.

- Ari Up

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

it seems almost like a sort of cruel joke that the Conservative party conference this year took place in Birmingham city centre.

the downtown of Britain's second city is part of the Birmingham Ladywood parliamentary constituency, which is one of the most deprived areas in the UK.

Ladywood has the worst child poverty rates of all 650 UK parliamentary constituencies.
it also has the highest unemployment rate of any constituency.

(incidentally, the neighbouring constituencies of Birmingham Hodge Hill and Birmingham Erdington have, respectively, the second and fifth worst rates currently, with other neighbouring constituencies also doing badly.)

and so it came to pass that a politician who represents one of the wealthiest constituencies (in fact, very wealthy by some measures) went to conference, in this suffering zone, to address us about a desire to inflict his brand of sadistic aristocratic economics on everybody else.
(he should weather the storm himself just about OK you'd imagine, if only owing to his £4million trust fund.)

whether it's Tory and Lib Dem buzzwords about fairness proving to be so much demonstrable rubbish, Chancellor George Osborne's laughably threadbare defence of his ridiculously compromised sources, or a potential assault on the fabric of our cities (a severe assault at that), there is much evidence to suggest that the coalition approach to tackling the British deficit may be misguided, although, from the point of view of the Chancellor, what does that matter?

attacking public services is ideological for this guy, and not just incidental to current economic conditions.

growth, after all, will return sooner or later; it's just a shame a concern for wealth and income differences is for wimps (it's certainly not something the Tory party appear to care for).

my friend Ruth wondered re Osborne, that, as a constituency MP for a very wealthy area with relatively few social problems, how much experience he has of life at the deep end.

compare Osborne with recently defeated Labour leadership challenger David Miliband.

Miliband represents South Shields in northeast England, a far less affluent constituency than Osborne's Tatton (a semi-rural area of suburban villages in Manchester's commuter belt).
Miliband apparently once remarked how the problems of constituents (someone facing eviction from their home, and someone facing deportation following an asylum claim, were two examples cited) were a slap in the face to him as a young constituency politician (he comes from a comfortable background and had worked in a policy role in glamorous central London for some time).

now, with all due respect to the people of Tatton, it is inevitable that, say, South Shields - let alone Birmingham Ladywood - will have a greater proportion of beleaguered constituents in the sort of real trouble that demands the intervention of a public servant, not just somebody's private purse.

good for the voters of Tatton, of course, good for them, but it does raise an interesting point about Osborne, and would ideally have more of us asking more urgent questions of him and his ideas given many of the toughest proposals he will be unveiling will, in general, surely not be felt that much in Tatton (though will in all probability be felt keenly in Birmingham Ladywood).

sadly - as Krishnan Guru-Murthy acknowledges - the Chancellor knows the way he wants to go; an observation donpaskini also made recently:

Poorly designed child benefit cuts which take away benefits for some families on £44,000 while giving them to other families on £86,000: £1 billion.

Giving party activists something to cheer by cutting benefits for homeless families in temporary accommodation: £150 million

Not having to explain where the other £13 billion in welfare cuts is going to fall: priceless.

There are some things money can't buy. For spinning savage cuts to the poorest, there's Tory Party conference.

Friday, 15 October 2010

i wonder if certain powerful men in Ottawa have read this?

Sri Lanka: Groups Decline to Testify Before Flawed Commission
Government War Panel Lacks Mandate, Credibility, Independence
An asylum seeker who was being deported on a flight from Heathrow begged passengers to help him moments before he collapsed and died beneath three security guards, according to a new witness who has spoken to the Guardian.


An engineer who works Angola's rich oil fields alongside other western expatriates, Michael said Mubenga's death spoke to hypocrisy in global border control. "You have got a man deported from over there. Did you ever stop to think how many British are over here, making £400 or £500 a day in Angola?"

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

from that Globe and Mail piece noted on one's Twitter earlier today: "Thailand has not signed onto the international conventions that can make refugee removals time-consuming."

but of course!

Thailand's neighbours only include such paragons of virtue as the Myanmar junta and the Laotian dictatorship.

in addition, the likes of Vietnam and China are nearby. (and Sri Lanka, granted.)

time time time, we are very busy and pressed for time, we are professional people, we do not have time for all this.
political language decoded: when wealthy, (relatively) powerful governments such as Canada or Australia use some sort of variation on a 'Tamil boat crisis' or such, they are in fact discussing a virtual handful of bedraggled Sri Lankans fleeing who knows what.

in a slightly less imperfect world, the word "crisis" would be reserved for momentous events causing widespread social upheaval, such as the genuine villainy that was what Margaret Thatcher did to much of central and northern Britain in her time in office.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Sunday, 10 October 2010


concerned about the deeply pernicious Tory lies taking root in the UK about Labour's handling of the economy ('everything is Labour's fault' etc), and with so many willingly credulous dicks propping up the UK press corps and giving these lies an easy ride, it's got to be worth lauding when someone stands up and challenges such ludicrous falsehoods.

so, then, with such lies abroad, Brian Barder fisks "six Tory myths" here.

elsewhere: Spotify, thank you for Solomon Burke (RIP), for Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk, and for the Pearson Sound tunes Wad (the longer 5 minute + version that is news to me), and Indelible. oh and the Brownswood Recordings compilation Brownswood Electr*c.

i want to go mental on a dance floor to Wad.

should and probably could have got in with a beautiful young woman in a pub last night but am moving city on Wednesday, so didn't really see the point.

you learn more from a few Private Eye columns in one afternoon than an entire month of mainstream British journalism, swear it.

Friday, 8 October 2010

street paper The Big Issue has a column that interviews celebrities about advice for their younger selves. writer AL Kennedy and actress Sadie Frost have been two particularly affecting ones of late.

among other things, Kennedy noted I'd like to tell my 16-year-old self - don't go out with predatory men. They are less interesting than you think while Frost admitted I wish I could go back and be more gentle, more compassionate with my dad. I had a very difficult relationship with him. I didn't understand his illness - he had manic depression, he was undiagnosed hepatitis C and he had issues with alcohol. He was very unconventional and larger than life and I was very unsure of him and neither of us could connect very well. I think my love and validation would have really helped him. I only came to grips with it all after he died and that has haunted me because I think I broke his heart.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Our mission was to show the world that girls can play rock and roll. When people would say to me 'girls can't play rock and roll' I'd say what do you mean?
Do you mean they cannot master the instruments? Because I'm in school with girls playing cello and violin performing Beethoven and Bach.

What you mean is rock and roll is sexual. And when you play rock and roll, you own your sexuality. And that's threatening to some people.

People are more willing to give girls a shot these days but there's still absolutely that glass ceiling.

- Joan Jett

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

apparently the World Bank estimate more than 800 million Indians get by on £1.26 a day (that's roughly 2 Canadian bucks or 1.45 euro at current rates).

yesterday i travelled on a coach from London to Manchester, 200 miles or so a trip, a fairly long journey by the standards of geographically small Britain, which is smaller than many states in the USA.

i was with my brother's partner in the morning and we had a central London food court breakfast (which is obviously going to be expensive by the standards of many wealthy nations, let alone in absolute terms), that i shouted.

i had a bagel with cream cheese, and a flat white and a bottle of a fruit smoothie, and she had an egg sandwich and a flat white.

all this was about ten pounds. ten pounds before 9 in the morning, and then i later got on a coach that cost about five pounds for a return journey (a cheap price by the standards of much British inter-city public transport travel, to be fair: because i have an internet connection where i live and a laptop, and can search for cheaper prices - very lucky).

15 quid by lunch because i have the immense good fortune to be a particular middle-class Briton with money to spare.

what luck.

all because of an accident of birth.

i suppose this somewhat self-aggrandising anecdote just goes to show that small-state conservative politicians in the wealthy world are the enemy, because they do not acknowledge that the good fortune of some of us which is built on the structurally sustained bad fortune of others (so therefore, no accident, in truth) must be remedied by more state intervention on capital than has been the case.