Friday, December 31, 2010

Tonight I drink to "honest men and sonsie lassies", and reflect on my patrilineage.
Here are some verdicts on the Scottish character which I've picked up over the years -

Scotus est, piper in naso.
(He is a Scot, pepper in the nose). A medieval warning from continental Europe, where the Scots had a reputation for violent reaction to a word out of turn. In the Middle Ages the term 'Scot' might have identified an Irish person too, but would those continentals have recognised a difference? The Irish didn't appear to: "The Kings of Scotia Minor all trace their blood to our Scotia Major and retain to some degree our language and customs." Thus the Irish king Domhnall Ó Néill to Pope John XXII.
My Old Lady firmly believed that the Scots were really Irish who took a wrong turn at the Reformation.

Fier comme un Ecossais.
(Proud as a Scot) a French simile. I don't know what the Scots had done to the French. Did those Gardes écossais pull rank on their hosts? Was it know-alls like the 'Admirable Crichton' and Thomas Dempster getting up their noses?

... qu'on n'irritast les Ecossois, sachant bien que les Ecossois estaient pauvres mais gens vaillants.
(Loose translation, "Don't upset the Jocks, they're hard as well as hard-up"). A warning from the German Emperor Charles V (1500-58).

Les Ecossais sont bons philosophes.
Joseph Scaliger (1540-1609). Scaliger was a French Protestant, so he may have regarded Scottish thinkers as allies against popery.

Every Scottishman has a pedigree. It is a national prerogative as unalienable as his pride and his poverty.
Sir Walter Scott, a minor novelist.

It is never difficult to tell the difference between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.
Stereotyping courtesy of P.G.Wodehouse, "English Literature's performing flea".

Sandy is our national figure - a shy, subtle, disgruntled idiosyncratic individual - very different from John Bull.
Stereotyping courtesy of Hugh MacDiarmid, a disgruntled, idiosyncratic individual.

The Scots, like the Spaniards and the Rajputs, are a race of noblemen.
Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, who held the office of Lord Lyon King of Arms from 1945 to 1969. He was an old reactionary, but he wouldn't let the English heralds ignore Scotland's sovereignty, or her ancient customs.
The basis of his claim (I think) is that all Scottish chiefs and heidsmen are noble, in the continental sense; and all clansmen, being cadets therefore of noble houses, can lay claim to familial noblesse. A bit of a stretch, but a nose-thumbing at the English fiction that there is no possibility of a shared ancestry between the gentry and the commonalty.

Wha's like us, eh?
Rab C. Nesbitt, trying to explain away some drunken escapade as Scottish eccentricity.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

For those of us who divide up our existence by means of the Gregorian Calendar a new year approaches. So I wish any Gregorian passing this way a good and happy New Year.
I speculated last New Year's Day on the likelihood of surviving to the end of the year. I need to hang on for another 27 hours and some minutes to succeed. I grit my teeth.
An explanation of the following list can be found at Lansbury's Lido.

The Battle of Algiers
The Big Lebowski
The Four Hundred Blows
His Kind of Woman
Raging Bull
Hue and Cry
I Soliti Ignoti*
Dr. Strangelove
Confidential Report
Paths of Glory
Mystery Train
Night on Earth
Sunset Boulevard
Godfather 2
M.Hulot's Holiday

I could go on but I've reached the limit.

*Various daft English titles, e.g., "Big Deal on Madonna Street". Hollywood has twice attemted to remake this capolavoro. The Louis Malle version (LOUIS MALLE!) was dire; name of "Crackers", to be avoided at all costs. The second attempt, "Welcome to Collingwood" was better, but the devotees gave it the thumbs-down.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It is now clear that David Cameron systematically lied to the electorate. He said it was "sick" and "frankly disgusting" to say he would end the NHS guarantee for cancer patients to be seen within two weeks – and then scrapped NHS guarantees, so that the number of patients waiting months before their cancer is detected has doubled. He said hospitals were "my No 1 priority" to be "totally protected" – and then slashed 20 per cent from the budget of specialist hospitals across the country. He said he would "protect the poor" from cuts – and then slashed the income of each poor family by £1,000 and began forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes.

(Johann Hari, The Independent, 24.12.10)
Or we could have had a Labour Government, and be listing their betrayals. Whoever you vote for you get the Global Capitalism Party. Time we weened ourselves off our masochistic addiction to pseudo-democracy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A pretty depressing holiday so far, but this made me laugh -
O Fortuna as Oh Four Tuna

The original lyrics (more in accord with my present mood) are here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

This photograph was sent to me by my friend Katriina Etholén of Porvoo, Finland. I think it adds a seasonal touch to these doom-laden pages.
I also share Katriina's Christmas and New Year greeting -
"Hyvää Joulua ja Onnellista Uutta Vuotta"
Mr. Julian Assange is the French daily Le Monde's Man of the Year, but not Time Magazine's Person of the Year.

Newsreaders and commentators always pronounce the name Assange as if it is French, but I can find no evidence of it as a French surname. I wonder what is its origin.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Ed Davey said: "Their housing benefit cuts are going to mean in my view, if they go through, that some people who are on the breadline will be put below the breadline. And that's just deeply unacceptable."

What he didn't say: "I'm not resigning though. The money's good, and people without principles can't resign on a principle."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"And I don't know if you have been following what has been happening with the Murdoch press, where I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we are going to win."
(Vince Feeble)

Well, you can tell outrageous lies like the above if you are talking to genuine constituents. It makes you look big, and you can always say later that the thick ballot fodder got your words wrong. But when you are talking to journalists who are recording your words then you're in the midden.
No British government will take on the Master of the Universe. When he set out to take over Sky everybody was watching to see what the Tory-Tory coalition would do. Vince and crew could not be seen to nod it through, though the outcome was inevitable. It seems that merely pretending to oppose Murdoch's fiendish plans is anathema. The responsibility for handing Sky to the Dirty Digger has been passed to one Jeremy Hunt, whose name recently entered the rhyming slang dictionary.
Having offended His Satanic Majesty, Vince is on borrowed time. He should last out till after the Christmas recess, but Murdoch will have his head on a plate, and another post-liberal sellout will take his place.
Entrapment? Certainly, but no sympathy for the turncoat who raised tuition fees; who masterminded the overthrow of Charles Kennedy and cleared the way for Clegg.

Friday, December 17, 2010

" ... it's nice not to be cut off in an interview. The way I was going to expand on that point is quite simply to say, as with the Palestinian conflict, the BBC tried to portray the apartheid state of Israel, who are the oppressor and the perpetrator of violence, as the victim of violence, and the Palestinians, who are the oppressed people, in this conflict, as the perpetrator of violence. This is what they are now trying to do with the student demonstrators, to such an extent that they are prepared for eight minutes live on national television to try and suggest that a person with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair brought on himself assault from a member of the Metropolitan Police. They have this time gone so far down the road of insanity that I don't think they have a shred of credibility left as a news broadcaster. But I think the point that I'm also trying to make is that this should not be a surprise to us. That interviewer's line of questioning I don't think should be a shock to anyone, that is standard BBC tactics. They are the state media in this country. Why are we so easy to condemn state media in other countries but somehow expect to describe our own state media as impartial. It's so hypocritical that it makes me feel sick.
(Jody McIntyre)

Ben Brown, your OBE is in the post; some consolation for demonstrating to the world that you are a prick.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I never wound up my recent poetry season, mainly by reason of being increasingly forgetful.
Today I went to pay my respects to a recently deceased friend, comrade in struggle, and drinking crony. His political inclinations were mainly to the achievement of a thirty-two county Workers' Republic of Ireland, by peaceful means of course.
He was steeped in Irish culture, and not averse to a poem or two, though words set to music took precedent. In his memory I post a poem by John Philpot Curran (1750-1815) entitled


If sadly thinking, with spirits sinking,
Could more than drinking my cares compose,
A cure for sorrow from sighs I'd borrow
And hope tomorrow would end my woes.
But as in wailing there's nought availing
And Death unfailing will strike the blow
Then for that reason, and for a season,
Let us be merry before we go.

To joy a stranger, a way-worn ranger,
In every danger my course I've run;
Now hope all ending, and death befriending,
His last aid lending, my cares are done.
No more a rover, or hapless lover,
My griefs are over - my glass runs low;
Then for that reason, and for a season,
Let us be merry before we go.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tony Blair's company 'to make £27m advising Kuwait on how to govern itself'
(Headline in the 'Daily Hate Mail')

Tone's rule no.1 "Lie, lie, lie."
Tone's rule no.2 "Prepare to eat copious amounts of American faeces."
"Julian Assange is not a criminal under the laws of the United States. I was the first one prosecuted for the charges that would be brought against him. I was the first person ever prosecuted for a leak in this country—although there had been a lot of leaks before me. That’s because the First Amendment kept us from having an Official Secrets Act. . . . The founding of this country was based on the principle that the government should not have a say as to what we hear, what we think, and what we read."
. . .
"If Bradley Manning did what he’s accused of, then he’s a hero if mine and I think he did a great service to this country. We’re not in the mess we’re in, in the world, because of too many leaks. . . . I say there should be some secrets. But I also say we invaded Iraq illegally because of a lack of a Bradley Manning at that time."
(Daniel Ellsberg, of the Pentagon Papers)
Well, well!
I have complained a couple of times about some of our citizens' obsession with the poet and misanthrope, Philip Larkin. This has gone to the absurd length of erecting a statue of this son of Coventry in the centre of town.
Now, it seems, a local lass named Ruth Halkon has been perusing a sheaf of letters from Larkin to one of his doxies. In this collection he describes us inhabitants of Hull as "filthy low class swine" who live in the "gaunt streets" of a town that "smells of fish" and is a "dreary dump/East Riding's dirty rump".
Now why wouldn't we erect a statue to this admirer of ours?
Ms. Halkon suggests that the old fascist's problem was not Hull, "but his own shameless indulgence in self-pity."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Richard Holbrooke, diplomat, arms dealer, and friend of Afghan drug lords.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Captain Ska, 'Liar, Liar'

Will it be the Christmas no.1 single? It must be better than anything the 'Karaoke Sauron' (© Marina Hyde) is peddling.
From the current issue of 'Private Eye' -


Julian Assange


That's it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Phone hacking: Andy Coulson will not be charged says DPP
(Guardian headline)
Kettle them
Baton them
Dragoon them

The self-styled 'children of Thatcher' have wasted no time in bringing Thatcher-style confrontation back to the streets. They must have been longing for the good old days of cracked skulls and bloodied heads. Wrestling kids to the ground and kneeling on them, softer targets than miners.
Soon 'Broken Britain' will be fragmented Britain and we'll be forced to listen to endless tirades about 'thuggery'. The BBC will keep its cameras on the fallen coppers, and the evidence of police thuggery will filter out via the internet.
Yesterday the police acted with "commendable restraint", according to the police.

I was consoling myself with the thought that twenty percent of the ruling class's barmy army will find themselves on the dole soon. But obviously they will be recruited into private militias hired to do the same job of making our streets unsafe for kids and the elderly. Still they'll be doing the same dirty work for shit wages, lousy conditions and no job security.

"Off with their heads!" How quaint.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I hear that the Globocop Fan Club, Mastercard, et al., are having a little trouble with their online business. I weep for them.
“There is a delicious irony in the fact that it is now the so-called liberal democracies that are clamouring to shut WikiLeaks down. Consider, for instance, how the views of the US administration have changed in just a year. On 21 January, secretary of state Hillary Clinton made a landmark speech about internet freedom, in Washington DC, which many people welcomed and most interpreted as a rebuke to China for its alleged cyber attack on Google. "Information has never been so free," declared Clinton. "Even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable."
She went on to relate how, during his visit to China in November 2009, Barack Obama had "defended the right of people to freely access information, and said that the more freely information flows the stronger societies become. He spoke about how access to information helps citizens to hold their governments accountable, generates new ideas, and encourages creativity." Given what we now know, that Clinton speech reads like a satirical masterpiece.

The above is from Mick Hall's blog -
ORGANIZED RAGE: Wikileaks: The great Satan strikes back in a vain,...: "When Leon Trotsky, newly appointed Commissar for Foreign Affairs stepped down from the his train at Brest-Litovsk to negotiate with the Kai..."

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Come fare bella figura, anche in agitazione. Students in Rome confront riot cops with riot shields of their own, emblazoned with the names of literary works and of their authors.
Some thoughts on the choice of works here.
How embarrassing, how humiliating for those deluded Britons who believe that they are citizens of a sovereign nation. Aneurin Bevan famously said that the Tories were lower than vermin. Who could envisage the possibility that they might willingly abase themselves so far as to make Tony Blair [pause to spit] stand tall? Lower than vermin, lower than Blair, come on 'Children of Thatcher', let's limbo some more.

Liam Fox, now the defence secretary, promised to buy American military equipment, while the current foreign secretary, William Hague, offered the ambassador a "pro-American" government. Hague also said the entire Conservative leadership were, like him, "staunchly Atlanticist" and "children of Thatcher".
Fox met the US ambassador, Louis Susman, a year ago. In a 10 December 2009 cable marked "confidential", Susman recorded: "Liam Fox affirmed his desire to work closely with the US if the Conservative party wins power … adding that 'we (Conservatives) intend to follow a much more pro-American profile in procurement'." He reportedly went on: "Increasing US-UK 'interoperability is the key' since the US and UK will continue to fight together in the future" and "expressed confidence regarding US leadership in Afghanistan and optimism about the way forward".
Hague said he, David Cameron and George Osborne were 'children of Thatcher' and staunch Atlanticists … For his part, said Hague, he has a sister who is American, spends his own vacations in America and, like many similar to him, considers America the 'other country to turn to'.

The British political class's Yankee masters look down indulgently on their grovelling messenger boys, and decide not to stoke up their paranoia about the imagined 'special relationship'. I'm surprised, though, that Hague didn't inform his bosses that the UK will continue to act as the US's fifth column inside the European Union. Maybe that promise has to come from Cameron.

Friday, December 03, 2010

I try to avoid having brand names here, but I just had to give Motorola a plug -
While many of us know this brand for its stylish cellphones, did you know that it also develops and manufactures bomb fuses and missile guidance systems? Motorola components are also used in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or 'drones') and in communications and surveillance systems used in settlements, checkpoints, and along the 490 mile apartheid wall. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has launched the 'Hang Up on Motorola' campaign

Cellphones AND missile guidance systems! It pays to diversify.

Youth Against Normalization: #BDS: All I want for Christmas is an end to aparth...: "While there are many Israeli and multinational companies that benefit from apartheid, we put together this list to highlight ten specific co..."

Thursday, December 02, 2010

"Russia is a corrupt, autocratic kleptocracy centred on the leadership of Vladimir Putin, in which officials, oligarchs and organised crime are bound together to create a 'virtual mafia state', according to leaked secret diplomatic cables that provide a damning American assessment of its erstwhile rival superpower."

Silly me, I thought it was untrammelled capitalism.
"So Britain has a simple choice: do we persist in believing that a limpet-like allegiance to the Special Relationship will serve our interests? Or do we drop our sentimental attachment to a world which no longer exists, and pursue our own interests by standing tall in our own European backyard? My answer is clear: it's time we repatriate our foreign policy, for the good of Britain." (Nick Clegg, 29th January 2010)

"I made clear to Secretary Clinton that recent WikiLeaks disclosures would not affect our uniquely strong relationship. UK-US co-operation will continue with the same depth and closeness as before." (Nick Clegg, 1st December 2010)

"I'll get my coat." (Nick Clegg, the near future)