Friday, January 31, 2014

A couple of chapters from the "Kiltartan History Book" of Lady Gregory. I suspect that she was transcribing a version of history from the mouths of Irish peasants. There is a story told of Yeats and Augusta Gregory going round the cottages of the Gaelic speaking peasantry. The gentle lady entered the cottages of the poor, sat among them, listening to their tales, and writing them down. The middle class Yeats thought himself too good to mingle with the lower orders and waited outside.
He was, in his own mind, the rightful Duke of Ormond.

"Henry the Eighth was crying and roaring and leaping out of the bed for three days and nights before his death. And he died cursing his children, and he that had eight millions when he came to the Throne, coining leather money at the end."

"Queen Elizabeth was awful. Beyond everything she was. When she came to the turn she dyed her hair red, and whatever man she had to do with, she sent him to the block in the morning, that he would be able to tell nothing. She had an awful temper. She would throw a knife from the table at the waiting ladies, and if anything vexed her she would maybe work upon the floor. A thousand dresses she left after her. Very superstitious she was. Sure after her death they found a card, the ace of hearts, nailed to her chair under the seat. She thought she would never die while she had it there. And she bought a bracelet from an old woman out in Wales that was over a hundred years. It was superstition made her do that, and they found it after her death tied about her neck."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I often try to listen to the 'Today' programme on BBC4. I usually change stations within fifteen minutes, disgusted by the blatant right-wing bias, and presentation of the government line on any topic as the reasonable option.
One of Today's gimmicks is to have the programme produced and presented occasionally by non-journalist guests. This is in line with what Marina Hyde has dubbed 'celebocracy', the line that anything can be improved by the towering presence of someone famous in another field, entertainment being favoured. No doubt the BBC ascertains that the guest producer is "a safe pair of hands", i.e., a right-winger or a political naïf.
However, something went awry earlier this month. The guest was the recording artist P.J.Harvey who introduced taboo subjects and people on the BBC's blacklist. Thus my prediction that John Pilger would never be allowed to broadcast from a BBC studio has had to be discarded
So, Ms. Harvey, your relationship with the BBC is subject to revision. I hope someone keeps a check on how often Ms. Harvey's recordings are aired on the corporation's music programme's following her act of subversion.

Predictably, reactionary voices bewailed afterwards that the BBC had broadcast 'left-wing tosh' and 'liberal drivel'. Nick Robinson, the BBC's 'impartial' political editor, took particular exception to the contribution by John Pilger, while the pro-war Murdoch employee David Aaronovitch, a Times columnist with a penchant for wagging a warning finger at Glenn Greenwald, objected to being 'lectured at in a news programme'

That's Nick Robinson the out and proud Conservative Party member, and Aaronovitch, the self-proclaimed socialist who is well paid for spewing out anti-left propaganda.

'For the 21st-century British Right, though – used to seeing their sense of what is important go largely unchallenged in day-to-day political broadcasting – the programme was an outrage. [...] Since this year's group of guest editors also included such establishment figures as Dame Eliza Manningham Buller, former head of MI5, and Anthony Jenkins, CEO of Barclays Bank, there are clearly no grounds for complaint from the Right about the overall balance of this year's holiday editions.'

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"Got you, you mini-terrorist*!"

*'Terrorist' is Israeli-speak for 'Palestinian'.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


because I'm tired of all the bullshit.
Nicolas Anelka, not the brightest star in the firmament, made a certain gesture in a goal celebration. He has since been accused of anti-semitism and making "an inverted Hitler salute".
This is a lie. Anelka says that he made the gesture in solidarity with his friend Dieudonné Mbala Mbala, who, we hear, is to have his children seized by the French state because the French ruling élite don't like him. DMM is a controversial figure in France, and has been accused of anti-semitism. He is fond of making the so-called quenelle in the direction of his many enemies and critics. So the "anti-Semite" makes a gesture of defiance, of dismissal, and it becomes an anti-Semitic gesture.
Is DMM an anti-Semite? He may well be. He is a friend of Jean-Marie le Pen, and that neo-Nazi can't have many black friends.
However, that doesn't make the quenelle (silly name) anti-semitic. It is a gesture much older than DMM. I quote Desmond Morris, from his book "Gestures" (1979) -

The cryptic forearm jerk
In some regions, the full-blooded gesture is considered so obscene that it is possible to be arrested for employing it in a public place. This has led to a cryptic version of it, understood by both the gesturer and his victim, but not sufficiently conspicuous to attract attention from outside the group in which it is being used. on the island of Malta, where there is a strong taboo against the full gesture, the cryptic form is no more than a mild rubbing of the left hand on the right upper arm. In other regions two fingers of the left hand are slapped on to the right upper arm. These are gestural equivalents of spoken phrases such as 'eff off', or written phrases such as '', which transmit an obscene message without actually saying or writing down the obscene word.

It seems that the Hitlerian association was invented by the ever reliable British press. To the French establishment the quenelle, or lesser bras d'honneur, was anti-Semitic. It had to cross the chamnnel to become a Nazi salute, though nothing like the kind favoured by racist football fans and the English (sic) Defence League -

Fin décembre 2013, Nicolas Anelka effectue une quenelle après un but dans le championnat anglais. Il est félicité par Dieudonné mais condamné par la ministre des Sports Valérie Fourneyron et par l'ancienne ministre des Sports Chantal Jouanno. À cette occasion la presse anglaise parle pour la première fois de cette affaire en France en désignant le geste comme un « Nazi Salute », ou « Nazi Gesture »
(Wikipedia, French language, s.v. "Dieudonné")

Jacob Cohen writes,
and speaks.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"... there is a thing that ye would never do, and that is to offer your dirty money to a Hieland shentleman."
(R.L.Stevenson, "Kidnapped")

I just like the Gaelic speaker's pronunciation of 'gentleman'.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The following article is the work of my friend Mary Scully, whose trenchant opinions I'm always happy to reproduce.

Politicians from around the world gathered in Israel today to lay wreaths at the grave of Ariel Sharon & eulogize him for virtues he did not possess. Even his allies knew he was bereft of any saving grace. Eulogies for lowlife criminals of high status don’t really challenge the art of invention since they just keep recycling the same old eulogy about what a great leader the deceased was. What else do you do when a guy’s biography reads more like a criminal rap sheet!? It’s Sharon’s policies toward Gaza that most typify his political character & those are worth taking a look at before the Zionist myth-making machine moves into action & he comes out fumigated from the stench of his crimes.

Eulogists herald his removal of about 10,000 Zionist settlers from Gaza in 2005 as a peace policy. They’re not just grasping at straws to praise him; selling that narrative is an important part of Israel’s war strategy against Gaza. Despite the political opposition by settlers who felt entitled to move onto Palestinian lands & expropriate them & the hysterical chorus of right-wing Israelis who want all-out war with Palestinians, Sharon did not intend the disengagement from Gaza to be a gesture of peace. It’s purpose was to remove Israelis from harm’s way so the economic blockade & aerial bombardments of Gaza could proceed with impunity. The settlers simply moved to Zionist settlements in the West Bank to continue their plunder.

The chief justification Israel uses for its murderous bombing sieges which target civilians & destroy infrastructure (like power plants, hospitals, schools, housing) is that Palestinian armed groups in Gaza under the political leadership of Hamas are bombarding southern Israel with thousands of rockets & mortars. Since Israel has embargoed so many materials (everything from pharmaceuticals to cement) these missiles are necessarily homemade & cannot be aimed with any reliability; nor are they a match for Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome system which can pick them off midair.

Israel claims thousands of these things are detonated in Gaza every year but there is scarcely a shred of evidence of any kind. Allegations galore but scarcely any hard evidence. Meanwhile there is an avalanche of photojournalistic documentation for Israel’s destruction in Gaza. To get around the glaring discrepancy, media sources like Fox News claim Hamas choreographs gory scenes, stages fake deaths & scenes of severely injured people “right in front of international TV crews,” & releases images from other conflicts (like in Iraq & Syria) to pass off as Gazan civilians killed by Israeli bombs. (It’s getting harder to distinguish Fox from the National Inquirer & Globe except that the latter two are more reliable.) That still doesn’t answer why Israel can’t produce any proof of rocket bombardment.

Israel puts on a great spectacle of red alert sirens to warn Israelis of pending rockets but these do more to psychologically traumatize the population than any fatalities or property damage from rockets coming in from Gaza. Over the past several years, there are about 25 deaths attributed (without proof) to rockets from Gaza; there have been hundreds of documentable deaths in Gaza from the blockade & repeated carpet bombings.

The Goldstone Report, authorized in 2009 by the UN, said outright it was unable to document rocket attacks from Gaza since Israel refused to cooperate with the investigation & would not provide access to the Israeli sites & victims. The primary sources used in the Goldstone Report for their allegations were Human Rights Watch (HRW) & Amnesty International, along with some Israeli groups.

If those sources seem unimpeachable, think again. HRW pulls the political stunt of “a plague on both your houses” in chastising both Hamas & Israel for violations of international laws governing war--as if there was military parity between a homemade arsenal & the most advanced weaponry systems in the world. Contrary to UN & HRW mythology there is no courteous or genteel way to conduct war. War crimes are the hallmark of modern war. And when one of the combatants is waging a war of ethnic cleansing, those being erased from human history have a right to fight with whatever means necessary to defend themselves, with or without the imprimatur of HRW or the UN.

There may be a few rockets coming in from Gaza. Maybe even undoubtedly. Rocket fire that cannot be directed at military facilities & may strike civilians is a damn foolish military method & even more foolish political method when it’s the equivalent of slingshots against drone aircraft. Hamas has long-since recognized that & claims it Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima; the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough so they hit Nagasaki too.” He went on to say Israel should force Gaza to capitulate by cutting off all supplies. “There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire. Were this to happen, the images from Gaza might be unpleasant – but victory would be swift, & the lives of our soldiers & civilians spared.” And that is the legacy of Ariel Sharon: genocide & ethnic cleansing reduced to ‘unpleasant images’.

Photo is Ahmed Zayed, an 18-year-old fisherman standing in the rubble of what used to be his home in Gaza which was destroyed in Israel’s 8-day bombing siege (November 2012) called Operation Pillar of Defense. Young Zayed’s dream is “to live in peace & go to college.”

Support the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions movement against Israeli products (barcode beginning 729); support the academic & cultural boycott, demand “No US aid to Israel.” Stand with justice.

(Photo from Make a Wish-Gaza by Loulou D’Aki)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Qibya 1953, Mitla 1956, Sabra , Shatila 1982. What was the secret of your success in the military and in politics, Abu madhabih? Oh yes, your enthusiasm for massacring prisoners of war and innocent civilians. They called you the King of Israel - you must have modelled yourself on King Herod. They called you the Lion of God, a title you shared with Usama bin Ladin.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees".

This from a Woody Guthrie song which I used to know as "Plane Crash at Los Gatos", but which I've learned to call "Deportees".
Woody's words "You won't have your names ..." has held true for almost 65 years, but now the names of those who lost their lives are known.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

"Other names blocked by government agencies include: Metallica, Superman, Veranda, Ikea, and Elvis (all blocked in Sweden); Matti, Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler (Germany); Akuma or devil (Japan); @ (China); V8, *, 5th, Anal and Christ (New Zealand); and famously, before winning a national legal fight to use her name, Blaer (Iceland)."

Monday, January 06, 2014

I was wondering a couple of days ago how the Scottish author of the diatribe against English self-regard would have thought of his own people's origins. Perhaps the following, from the Declaration of Arbroath, might have influenced his thinking -
"Most Holy Father, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. It journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage peoples, but nowhere could it be subdued by any people, however barbarous. Thence it came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to its home in the west where it still lives today. The Britons it first drove out, the Picts it utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, it took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the histories of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all servitude ever since. In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal stock, the line unbroken by a single foreigner."

This is close to the ancestry myth of the Irish, those at least who considered themselves "Milesian", descendants of Miled, a mythical Spanish ruler. This is from a poem ascribed to Mael Muru of Fahan, a ninth century Irish monk -

Faenius came from Scythia
On an expedition;
A man illustrious, wise, learned'
Ardent, warlike.

A son was born to Faenius Farsaid
His rightful heir,
On the building of the tower by the peoples,
Niall, whom he loved.

Niall was carried southward to Egypt
By the Fenians of the blue weapons.
Scotta, daughter of the Pharaoh
Was given him as wife later on.

Lovely Scotta bore a son to Niall
After his coming to Egypt.
Hero of a hundred fights, Gaeeal Glas,
A princely upright man.

We are called Fenians from Faenius
Of unclouded fame;
We are called Gaedil from Gaedeal Glas,
Scots from Scotta's name.

No mention of Spain here but elsewhere in the poem this account is described as "the history of the sons of Miled". All nonsense of course, though recent research into the DNA of various population groups has found a close relationship between the peoples of Spain and Ireland, and the Irish and the Scots.

Joe Corrie again, the Fife miner turned poet and playwright.

(Joe Corrie)

I am the Common Man
I am the brute and the slave
I am the fool, the despised
From the cradle to the grave.

I am the hewer of coal
I am the tiller of soil
I am serf of the seas
Born to bear and to toil.

I am the builder of halls
I am the dweller of slums
I am the filth and the scourge
When winter's depression comes.

I am the fighter of wars
I am the killer of men
Not for a day or an age
But again and again and again

I am the Common Man
But Masters of mine take heed
For you have put into my head
Oh! many a wicked deed.

Another of his poems here

Sunday, January 05, 2014

"Hull, birthplace of the 18th-century abolitionist William Wilberforce and the rock band the Housemartins, once had a thriving fishing industry and bustling harbor. Successive waves of New York-bound Eastern European emigrants stopped through on their way to Liverpool and some stayed. Today, in per capita terms, it has the greatest number of jobless benefit claimants in the country. More than one in three children here live under the poverty line."
(New York Times)

Welcome to Hull, known internationally for its hungry citizens.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

This year the Scots will vote on leaving the Union or remaining yoked to England and Wales. The Scots have their own languages, one of them developing from the language of the Northumbrian Angles. This poem of the early 16th century is an example of the old Scots tongue, and holds up English ancestry claims to mockery. It would be interesting to know what the author believed his origins to be. I'll try to find William Dunbar's version of the Highlanders' creation story for comparison.
Incidentally, the Scots' own name for the language of this poem was 'Inglis', while the Gaelic of the Highlanders was call 'Erse' or Irish. There was, before the Union, no language called 'Scots'.

(An Anonymous Scot)

Ye Inglische hursone suntyme wil avant
Your progeny frome Brutus to haif tane
And sumtyme frome ane angell or ane sanct
As Angelus and Anglus bayth war ane.

Angellis in erth yit hard I few or nane
Except the feyndis with Lucifer that fell
Avant yow villane of that Lord allane
Tak thy progeny frome Pluto prence of Hell

Becauss ye use in hoillis to hyd your sell
Anglus is cum frome Angulus in deid
Aboive all uderis Brutus bure the bell
Quha slew his fader howping to succeed

Than chus you ane of thais I rek not ader
Tak Beelzebub or Brutus to your fader.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Just thinking (as one does) -
After watching "The Big Bang Theory" the last night I was wondering if the character Sheldon Cooper's behaviour was indicative of autism. I assumed that others would have considered this question, so I did a search via the net.
Apparently those who know about these matters think that Sheldon has Asperger's Syndrome, which is a particular form of autism (I'm learning). The writers claim that Sheldon is not autistic, just a narcissistic nerd, but Jim Parsons, the actor, says that he had read a book on Asperger's Syndrome and made use of what he learned in developing the Sheldon character.

Another thought: it occurred to me yesterday that all Jim Jarmusch's films have characters who don't speak English, and there is often a failure of communication in the story as a result. The opposite is true in "Ghost Dog, the Way of the Samurai". There two of the the characters, played by Forest Whitaker and Isaac de Bankolé, hold conversations with each speaking his own language but managing to instinctively know what the other is saying. M. de Bankolé is a Jarmusch regular, and always speaks French, in the films I've seen anyway.
I got to thinking about this language business when reminded of the film "Stranger Than Paradise". The main character goes to visit an aunt who insists on speaking Hungarian. All the time this fellow is saying "Speak English, Auntie". Finally he is ready to leave. As he is getting into his car his last words are "Speak English, Auntie". She continues to babble on in her own language, but as the car drives off she says "You son of a bitch!" (Fadeout).
"Down by Law", an Italian jailbreaker who can't converse with his fellow escapees.
"Mystery Train", a Japanese couple on a pilgrimage to Graceland, and an Italian widow collecting her late husband's body.
"Night on Earth", a German Taxi driver in New York, who not only can't speak English, he can't drive!
I now remember one film that may not have had any foreign languages in it, but I can't remember its name. Then again, I didn't watch it through as I found it pointless, so I may have missed something. On the whole though I am a fan of Jarmusch and his stories.

Afterthought: just looked Jim J. up on IMDb. The last film I mentioned is called "Permanent Vacation. Also I saw another film which doesn't fall into the multilingual category, unless I've forgotten something - "Broken Flowers". I also noticed "Dead Man", but there may have been some Native American speech in that.