Friday, August 30, 2013

Remember Frank Muir's description of Joan Bakewell as "the thinking man's crumpet"? That sort of language would not be acceptable in polite circles today, but it was meant as a compliment, and I'm sure Ms. Bakewell didn't object too strongly at the time. Autres temps, autres moeurs, as they say.
So how would I describe Ms. Abby Martin? Her "Breaking the Set" is a regular feature on "Russia Today". She doesn't pull her punches. I'll just call her the angry leftie's commentator of choice.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013


25th August

At dawn on this day in 1944, Paris went crazy.
The Nazi occupation was over.
The first tanks and armoured cars had entered the city a few hours before. "Is it the Americans?" people asked.
The names scrawled in white paint on those tanks and armoured cars were: 'Guadalajara', 'Ebro', 'Teruel', 'Brunete', 'Madrid', 'Don Quijote', 'Durruti' ...
The first liberators of Paris were the Spanish republicans.
Defeated in their own land they fought for France.
They were convinced that Spain's rescue would follow.
They were wrong.

(Eduardo Galeano, "Children of the Days: a calendar of human history")

Friday, August 23, 2013

That parcel of rogues known as the Adam Smith Institute are demanding the abolition of the minimum (and minimal) wage. They make the preposterous claim that lower wages will mean that employers who object to paying the minimum wage would take on more workers if they were not burdened by these outrageous wage bills.
Come off it! Wages are falling year upon year; is there any sign of growth in employment or a steady fall in the number of people out of work?
And yet people like the BBC give these thimble-riggers a hearing, a chance to air their propaganda, even refer to them as a "think-tank". Lower taxes, lower wages, no protection for the workforce. Yet no mention of the handouts and subsidies being thrown at the tax-dodging profiteers. That's a bit of the old Adam that doesn't suit the thimble-riggers or their paymasters.

"We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate: [When workers combine,] masters: never cease to call aloud for the assistance of the civil magistrate, and the rigorous execution of those laws which have been enacted with so much severity against the combinations of servants, labourers, and journeymen."
Adam Smith

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary."

"We have no acts of parliament against combining to lower the price of wages but many against combining to heighten it."

"The master can hold out longer than the man ... in the long run, the workman may be as necessary to the master as the master is to him. But the necessity is not so imminent."

In my opinion Adam Smith was an honest man whose ideas have fallen among thieves.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Last night I watched a documentary on BBC4 about John Cooper Clarke. One of the poems he read was called "Things are going to get worse", about growing old. It was funny, and a little poignant*. I wanted to link to it online; couldn't find the whole thing, only a few lines. There is film of him reciting the poem. And the gent has a website on which some of his verse is published.
When I first saw JCC on the telly I suspected him of being a phoney. I thought he must be some Oxford product putting on the Mancunian accent. People with accents like that don't do poetry, I thought, but no, he's the genuine article, Northern Urban Working Class.

When I was at school I hated poetry, couldn't see the point. I changed schools when I was nine and went to a primary that could only be described as "dog-rough". The kids weren't interested in learning. Their education took place outside of the school, mostly thieving. Yet there was one thing they loved - poetry. I just didn't get it. "Can we do a poem, sir?" Was a regular cry. If permission was granted they would recite the stuff they'd memorised, sometimes in unison. I remember a favourite was called 'The Lion-Tamer' and they'd give it the full strength.
"I CRACK my pistol, LASH my whip
to quell the angry lion"
Great emphasis was put on 'crack' and 'lash'. I don't remember any more of the poem, except 'cage of iron' which was the rhyme with 'lion'. I was bemused and couldn't remember any of the poetry. Another favourite began with the words "I sprang to the stirrup ...", and 'sprang' got the treatment in that one.
Then there was the kid who sat next to me. Every now and then he'd hand me a book of poems, and say "See if I've remembered that right". He'd reel off some poem he'd memorised and I checked that he was word-perfect. Why? What did he do with those poems after he'd learned them? Where did he deliver them? Who listened? He came from a family that always had at least one member doing time.
Not all poems were acceptable however. I remember a teacher was reading "The Highwayman" to the class. That poem contains an attempt to represent the sound of horses' hooves [hoofs?] with the word 'tlot'. Now this was near enough to 'plop' to cause some mirth.

"Tlot, tlot upon the highway"
(read the teacher)
"Tlot, tlot in the echoing night.
Tlot tlot upon the highway..."

"The, horse was having a shite"
came a suggested rhyme from the back of the class.
The teacher tore down the room, dragged some poor kid out to the front, and beat him about the head. The lad protested his innocence, "It wasn't me, sir." To no avail, the teacher had to reassert his authority, and quick; no time for investigation.
I don't think we 'did' that poem again.

Just to show that poetry can appeal to young working-class males, but the subject has to be right. Plenty of action, and it's got to rhyme. At least it did in my schooldays. Even then there were those who didn't get it - me for instance.

*Afterthought: 'poignant' may not be the word I wanted. 'Disturbing'?

Friday, August 09, 2013

"Hull City is is common. I want the club to be special. It is about identity. City is a lousy identity. 'Hull City Association Football Club' is so long."
Thus spake Assem Allam, owner of Hull City AFC, but not the owner of the KC Stadium, and there's the rub. Allam doesn't give a fiddler's fart about Hull City, or the City of Hull. His takeover of the club was, he thought, a step towards acquiring the stadium. The city council wouldn't sell, and Allam has turned nasty.
"City is a lousy identity." Tell that to Manchester City, Leicester City, Birmingham City. Maybe we should call our town Madinat-al-Allam, and the self-serving little creep will be happy with that.
I'm not a supporter of Hull City, but I am a supporter of the City of Hull, and if some money grubber runs it down there is a solution. There's always Cairo, but it seems he wasn't happy there. So why not go and live among the Asian Tigers whose largesse he craves.
Some people talk of Allam as a saviour, I see him as an opportunist.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

A few years ago I predicted that slavery would become legal in the UK. My thinking was that the government (any government, any party) would legislate to allow people in debt and unable to extricate themselves to undertake unpaid work for their creditor(s) until the debt was paid off.
I was right about the return of slavery, but wrong about the reason for its return.

We have just learned that there are about one million workers in this country on zero-hours contracts. This means that those workers are bound to a company but guaranteed no earnings. It means that their main income is provided by the taxpayer in the form of benefits. It means that their employer has no responsibility toward them, but has total control of their allotted work time whether they work or not.
The government has being pretending that there are 250,000 zero-hour slaves nationally, which would be enough of a disgrace for anyone with a social conscience. The fact that they were lying about the numbers tells us that even those soulless rats know that this is an abominable state of affairs.
The zero-hours slavery puts the "welfare to work" form of slavery in the shade, but let's not forget those hundreds of thousands of slaves also working for dole money.
In addition to the Sklavarbeiter there's something like 2.5 million on the dole and yet to be enslaved. Is anybody working in this country, whose economy, according to our criminally insane Chancellor of the Exchequer, is recovering nicely, thank you, from the great bank rip-off? Well, there are who are keeping a lot of slaves from starvation while the slavers pay little or no taxes on the vast profits they are removing from this sceptred isle.
In the immortal words of the loathsome Hughie Green, "Wake up, Britain!"

I still haven't written off the slavery as debt repayment idea. It could come. Another money-saving scheme I'm predicting is euthanasia for the no longer productive aged. Thanasia really, as there's nothing 'eu-' about killing people off.

Qatar’s Bay’ah to the Saudi King » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Qatar’s Bay’ah to the Saudi King » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Sunday, August 04, 2013

"At a recent meeting of the Association of Orthodox Jewish scientists and the Columbia Center for the Study of Science and Religion, it became clear that Jewish curiosity has provided sufficient genetic material to give a perfectly clear negative answer: There is no support in the genomes of today’s Jews for the calumnious and calamitous model of biological Judaism. Though there are many deleterious versions of genes shared within the Ashkenazic community, there are no DNA sequences common to all Jews and absent from all non-Jews. There is nothing in the human genome that makes or diagnoses a person as a Jew."
Robert Pollack, "The Fallacy of Biological Judaism"

No doubt I've written this before on these pages: Jew is a religion, Israeli is a nationality, Zionist is a an adherent of a political movement. One can be a Jew without being an Israeli or a Zionist. One can be an Israeli without being a Jew or a Zionist, one can be a Zionist without being a Jew or an Israeli. It may be possible to be a Zionist without being an apologist for genocide or ethnic cleansing, but it must be difficult, like being a socialist in the Labour Party.
When I was young to speak of a Jewish race was anathema. It was to parrot the propaganda of the recently defeated Nazis. But the necessity of justifying the creation of the zionist state has resulted in the kindred of Nazism's chief victims adopting the Nazis' discredited ideas on race.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Preamble to the Constitution of the Industrial Workers of the World - in Welsh

Nid oes gan y dosbarth gweithiol na’r dosbarth cyflogi unrhyw beth yn gyffredin. Ni all fod dim heddwch tra fod newyn ac angen ymysg miliynau o bobl sy’n gweithio, a bod elit bychan; y dosbarth cyflogi, yn cael yr holl bethau da mewn bywyd.

Mi fydd rhaid i’r frwydr barhau rhwng y ddau ddosbarth yma nes bod y gweithwyr y byd yn trefnu fel dosbarth, yn cymryd meddiant o’r dulliau o gynhyrchu, yn diddymu’r system cyflog, ac yn byw mewn cytgord â’r Ddaear.

Gwelwn fod y canoli o rheolaeth diwydiannau gan llai a llai o bobl yn gwneud hi’n anoddach i’r undebau llafur ymdopi gyda grym cynyddol y dosbarth cyflogi. Mae’r undebau llafur yn meithrin sefyllfa sy’n caniatáu i un set o weithwyr gael eu ddefnyddio yn erbyn set arall o weithwyr yn yr un diwydiant, a thrwy hynny helpu trechu ei gilydd mewn rhyfeloedd cyflog. Ar ben hynny, mae’r undebau llafur yn helpu y dosbarth cyflogi i gamarwain y gweithwyr yn y gred bod gan y dosbarth gweithiol buddiannau sy’n gyffredin gyda’u cyflogwyr.

Gall yr amodau hyn cael eu newid a gall ddiddordeb y dosbarth gweithiol cael eu cadarnhau dim ond gan sefydliad a ffurfiwyd yn y fath fodd bod ei holl aelodau mewn unrhyw un diwydiant, neu yn yr holl ddiwydiannau os oes rhaid, yn pallu gweithio pryd bynnag fod streic neu cloi allan sy’n digwydd o fewn unrhyw adran ohono, felly mae’n golygu bod anaf i un yn anaf i bawb.

Yn lle yr arwyddair ceidwadol, ”Ddiwrnod o gyflog teg am ddiwrnod o waith teg”, mae’n rhaid i ni ysgrifennu ar ein baner yr arwyddair chwyldroadol, “Diddymu’r system cyflog.” Cenhadaeth hanesyddol y dosbarth gweithiol yw i ddinistrio cyfalafiaeth. Mae’n rhaid i’r fyddin o gynhyrchu gael eu trefnu, nid yn unig y frwydr bob dydd gyda cyfalafwyr, ond hefyd i barhau i gynhyrchu pan fydd cyfalafiaeth wedi cael eu diddymu. Drwy drefnu diwydiant, rydym yn ffurfio strwythur y gymdeithas newydd o fewn cragen yr hen.

"Safe in our hands".