October 31, 2013

Lindsay Allen on the 11-plus

Lindsay Allen said in a November 2009 episode of BBC Hearts and Minds:
"I’m nothing exceptional. I grew up in a working class housing estate in East Belfast. My father was a storeman in the Aircraft Factory, my mother was a part time school dinner lady. I went to the primary school which was literally at the bottom of our street. 
So forgive me if I appear sceptical when I hear the 11 plus described as a socially divisive mechanism for ensuring that the privileged sons and daughters of the middle classes are given an unfair advantage in life! None of the guys I went to school with felt that they had been born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Maybe some of the homes they came from, didn’t have spoons! 
On the contrary, it gave working class kids of my generation a real shot at the sort of careers that up to that point had only been open to the sons and daughters of the middle classes, and what was wrong with that? 
There is a problem with the 11 plus, but it’s not that it is attempting to assess the academic potential of children.  
It’s that politicians with an ideology to grind have convinced parents and children that the “Transfer Test” is their child’s once in a lifetime shot at success, “miss the boat at eleven and you’ve missed it for life”! And this scaremongering exerts enormous pressure on both parents and children who are terrified of being branded as failures! 
Ms. Ruane’s answer, is to slam the door of opportunity in the child’s face! This Left Wing commitment to mediocrity in education means that in order to achieve an equality of performance across all schools, you not only have to try and lift the worst schools up, you also have drag the best schools down!  
The result of this misguided ideology is the sort of scandalous and shambolic debacle we have at present where last Saturday anxious children and worried parents jumped through multiple hoops in an attempt to get into a school with a reputation for academic excellence.  
And I ask again, “What’s wrong with wanting that?"
Andrew Sullivan, editor of the Dish and esteemed political blogging attributed the destruction of the grammar school in England and Wales as the reason for him becoming a conservative. He said:
"When the left destroyed this unique avenue of social mobility, in favour of the cult of equality of outcomes, it made me a conservative"

A protestant party for a protestant people

In a previous post here ('A catholic party for a catholic people') we covered Patrick Murphy's critique of Sinn Fein in The Irish News - a party that operates to the exclusion of the protestant people of Northern Ireland. The DUP are the opposite side of the same medieval coin. As Alex Kane said:
"The DUP (along with the UUP) regards its primary task as the protection, promotion and preservation of unionist interests. Put bluntly, that means doing everything possible to undermine the republican, united-Ireland agenda. Meanwhile, Sinn Fein (with the SDLP) sees its primary task as continuing to erase, or at least blur, the signs, symbols, touchstones and benchmarks which sharply define Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom."
And as we said in the previous post here, the Assembly cannot stand if parties cannot come to realize that they owe a duty and responsibility to those people who are perceived to be on the other side.

The West-Belfast British Soldier

Colum is standing with his prosthetics in the background.
Colum McGeown, a west-Belfast Catholic joined the British army at 23 and by doing so he broke the west-Belfast rules. He said:
"Ok, how about I follow the west-Belfast rules and live in that hostel for the next 50 years of my life and do f**k all, or break the rules, see the world, have a meaningful life, decent job, have some wonderful and challenging experiences and get paid and start a family. You obviously know what one I went for."
Colum said also: "For me, to develop hatred in my heart for something that happened 15 years before I was even though of would be an ignorant stance to take." And here's the important bit: "I can only be influenced by what happens in my life." And that's why Brian Walker was very very right when he said that "Obsessing over history and identity won't educate our kids or bring them closer together."

Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome

Felix Salmon via Andrew Sullivan explains why expensive win tastes better:
"Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome... what you see on the price tag... is important information which can tell you a lot about what you’re drinking. And the key to any kind of connoisseurship is informed appreciation of something beautiful."

October 30, 2013

A protestant party for a protestant people

In a previous post here ('A catholic party for a catholic people') we covered Patrick Murphy's critique of Sinn Fein in The Irish News - a party that operates to the exclusion of the protestant people of Northern Ireland. The DUP are the opposite side of the same medieval coin. As Alex Kane said:
"The DUP (along with the UUP) regards its primary task as the protection, promotion and preservation of unionist interests. Put bluntly, that means doing everything possible to undermine the republican, united-Ireland agenda. Meanwhile, Sinn Fein (with the SDLP) sees its primary task as continuing to erase, or at least blur, the signs, symbols, touchstones and benchmarks which sharply define Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom."
And as we said in the previous post here, the Assembly cannot stand if parties cannot come to realize that they owe a duty and responsibility to those people who are perceived to be on the other side.

October 29, 2013

An Open Letter from Northern Ireland

I'm contacting you about the continuing unrest and uncertainty in Northern Ireland.

The context is this. The most cynical and sinister elements in NI society have been very violent and vocal over the last year, at huge cost to the local economy and at huge damage to the reputation of the province. The future looks bleak: squalid sectarian bickering among politicians, a rise in dissident republican activity and loyalist unrest on the streets with a 10,000 person march planned for Belfast city center on November 30 2013 (the busiest shopping day of the year). The march has been organised by a hysterical, hostile and intimidating group. A democratic decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag has been taken. Nothing can be changed. While the grievance is understandable, the march has no legitimate purpose other than the fomentation of tensions.

The problem is this. Sectarian politicians have stood shoulder to shoulder with these most extremist fringe elements of society, pandering and entertaining their most outlandish and outrageous claims. Claims that come straight out of a BNP or EDL press release. The media has also puffed up their cause. This contrasts with a civil and plural Northern Ireland society that has simply chosen to ignore, put up and get on with life.

My reason for reaching out is this. Where in the UK and America, anti-fascist/extremist groups have been established to counter-balance and undermine extremism and the lovers of medievalism, in Northern Ireland no material effort has been made whatsoever to represent, spread and push forward the interests of civil, moderate, plural society.

Violent republicans and loyalists who make intransigence a virtue are exercising arbitrary power over a civilised majority. Apologised on the behalf of and indulged and nurtured by politicians. This can't continue. No power can go on unchecked. It must be resisted. I fear for the young people of Northern Ireland. I feel the fierce urgency of now. It's urgent that we tackle extremism, lest another generation be lost to instability, delinquency and conflict.

If you can provide any advice or suggest how efforts can be made to address extremism in politics and on the streets and how we can create a movement, all help would be appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

De Valera - Rejecting Irish Unity

In 1940 the nations of Europe were caught in a squalid world war. In the face of a fearsome German military and the axis forces, Churchill knew that in order to protect the convoys in the Atlantic the allied forces would need access to the Irish ports. Churchill had only one bargaining chip - Northern Ireland. And an offer was made. Fintan O'Toole said:
"I think that the offers of unity that were made at the beginning of the Second World War by the British were probably reasonably serious. You have to remember that if Churchill was prepared to deal with Stalin, he was certainly prepared to deal with de Valera. The war was the absolutely central aim that Churchill had and I think his loyalty to Northern Ireland protestants would not have been particularly strong in these circumstances." 
It seemed even some unionists were open to the idea. Professor Paul Bew said, "There's even evidence that some of the younger members of the Ulster Unionist Party cabinet took the view that if Irish neutrality was ended, the great priority was to defeat Hitler and that they would simply have to accept Irish unity in such a context."

Fintan O'Toole also said: "It's very striking that de Valera didn't take those offers very seriously or explore them at any level. Because what it told you was that ultimately de Valera was a southern Irish Catholic leader representing the southern Irish state."

Giving Northern Ireland to Ireland meant de Valera would have to take more than 800,000 northern Protestants into the electorate. In that context he would have found that his party - with its Catholic, gaelic and rural values - would see its political majority obliterated. Dr John Bowman, author of De Valera and The Ulster Question said:

"I think de Valera certainly wanted a united Ireland, but whether he was ready to pay the price for it, which would have been a much more pluralist, much less catholic, less Catholic state, whether he was prepared to pay that price for it is another question. And in a way he wasn't. So to that extent he can be faulted. But I'll tell you above all, he wanted the custody of the aspiration to unity. Because he knew there were much more dangerous forces potentially at work, northern republicans among them. He had to maintain the custody of the aspiration to Irish unity. One might say he rendered that into a permanently postponable aspiration."

Fintan O'Toole wrote in the Irish Times in October 2013: "Ireland is our dream - if it didn't have any Protestants in it."

A catholic party for catholic people

Patrick Murphy wrote in the Irish News:
"By representing only nationlists, you [Sinn Fein] have abandoned the Protestant people to unionism - which is more Daniel O'Connell than Wolfe Tone. You speak of a lack of leadership among unionists - but your lack of leadership towards what should be your own Protestant people is even more marked. (Critics of the newly formed republicans - they were just Catholics with guns. The same argument today would suggest that they are now just Catholics.)"
He continued: "An Ireland united, not by a common concept of nationhood, but by deprivation. That's why we thought you might like to reconsider your position in Irish politics." As Dr Cillian McGrattan said elsewhere, "Sinn Fein reaching out to unionism strategy is a nonsense."

The same can be said for the status quo unionist parties. Alex Kane has written of the political dangers of apathy and indifference to non-traditional voters. He said: "The Assembly cannot survive if unionist/nationalist parties refuse to accept that they have responsibilities to both sides - not just their own."

Maria Popova - Our current definition of success needs serious retuning

Maria Popova said:
"The myth of the overnight success is just that – a myth – as well as a reminder that our present definition of success needs serious retuning. As I've reflected elsewhere, the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we're disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny."
This very much follows on from my earlier post on Matthew Syed who spoke on Radio 4 about the need to promote grit and resilience over the cult of immediacy and overnight success. He said:
When you speak to young people, it is striking just how often they blame their innate deficiencies when they are struggling with a subject such as, say, maths. “I don’t have a brain for numbers” is a phrase heard up and down the country. This may sound trifling, but it has deep effects. After all, if I lack the mental equipment to understand maths, what is the point of persevering? Surely it is as pointless as someone without hands trying to master origami. In effect, the belief destroys the grit that is essential to success.

Sometimes you don’t know what the right thing is for you until you start to do it

Paul Bernal is a lecturer in IT, IP and media law at the University of East Anglia, blogging at Paul Bernal's Blog. In an interview with legal tabloid Legal Cheek he explained how practical doing can bear more professional fruit than abstractive reflection. He said:
"Now, I would say I’m closer to doing what I really want to do than I have been at any stage in my life — and I’ve found it without a plan. At first I thought I needed one. Now I’m quite clear that even if I had had a plan, it would have been important to be able to break with it, to follow my nose — and not to be afraid to change plans."
The key part: "Sometimes you don’t know what the right thing is for you until you start to do it. The thing I’ve learned, more than anything else, is that that’s OK. In fact, it’s great."
As Picasso said, "Inspiration exists, but it must find you working." English political philosopher Michael Oakeshott wrote to the same effect: "the greatest achievements are accomplished in the mental fog of practical experience."


October 28, 2013

The Law's long arc towards equality

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York said on the issue of civil rights:
"In the whole history of the United States, no law limiting the rights of a particular class of people has ever stood the test of time, and neither will [laws like the Defense of Marriage Act]." 
He then said: “Marriage equality is the civil rights issue of our time." Andrew Sullivan echoed this position, who said: "When a government is upholding a position not just different from the people, but in a different universe, it’s only a matter of time before the dam bursts." Time after time lawmakers yield to the people; then suddenly past bigotries, prejudices and discriminations no longer exist in the public forum. As Alexis de Toqueville said:
"As long as the majority is still undecided, discussion is carried on; but as soon as its decision is irrevocably pronounced, everyone is silent, and the friends as well as the opponents of the measure unite in assenting to its propriety."
That's the story we need to tell in the debate, that, as Christopher Hitchens said, "At every turn they [the religious] try to make the public forget about their earlier obscurantism, in order that their present obscurantism may not be seen for what it really is."

Between the Tory far right and the BNP

Sometimes it's refreshing to speak plain English. To just say what everyone is thinking. Daniel Finn in the London Review of Books confronted the DUP political ideology and practice, one that is out of step with life in the 21st Century, Catholics in Northern Ireland and progressive Protestants. Daniel Finn said:
"In British political terms, the DUP slots in between the right of the Tory Party and the BNP, with a generous side-helping of fundamentalist Christianity. The party’s environment minister, Sammy Wilson, recently vetoed a government global warming campaign on the grounds that global warming isn’t caused by human activity, while another DUP stalwart, Mervyn Storey, who chairs the Stormont education committee, is trying to have intelligent design included in the school biology curriculum."

Art is theft, Ctd

Austin Kleon put it in especially fluent terms: "Nothing is completely original. All artists’ work builds on what came before. Every new idea is just a remix or a mashup of two previous ideas." As designer Paula Scher said: "You are a mashup of what you let into your life."

Via Maria Popova on Brain Pickings here

Christianism versus Christianity

Andrew Sullivan explains here:
"And when Francis says ideology, he means (I think) both a neurotic and public fixation on a set of truths or doctrines – and also a fusion of religion and politics. This is the distinction I have tried to make between Christianism (an ideology) and Christianity (a faith). Ridding the latter of the former could do a huge amount to improve public life – and politics – in America."
How well this translates to affairs in Northern Ireland where religious certainty and absolutism drives political debate and street protests. As Rod Liddle said in the Sunday Times of October 27 2013, mutual loathing is a great way to help foster a sense of community, and thus contentment (as per Northern Ireland people being so content according to the recent survey): "Marching up and down wearing bowler hats and occasional knee-capping are enjoyable activities that help to foster a sense of community, and hence contentment. So, too, does mutual loathing based on ill-conceived religious and political certitudes. There is nothing quite so life-affirming as knowing you are utterly right and those people over there are utterly wrong… It is doubt that fosters unhappiness."

Writing is hard, Ctd

"Writing beats baling hay or going door-to-door for a living, but it’s still shockingly unenjoyable work."

By Tim Kreider on not giving your work away for free via Austin Kleon here.

October 27, 2013

Michel Serres wants the French to oppose "l’invasion de l’anglais"

The French philosopher Michel Serres wants the French to boycott places and products in France that use English words. What he calls "l’invasion de l’anglais dans le langage de tous les jours." The French edition of Slate Magazine has it:
"Il est tellement énervé, Michel Serres, qu’il veut inviter les Français à faire la grève de la langue de Shakespeare, ou plutôt celle de Ronald McDonald. «Chaque fois qu’une publicité sera en anglais on n’achète pas le produit, chaque fois qu’un film ne sera pas traduit dans le titre, on ne rentrera pas dans la salle de cinéma. On ne rentre pas dans un shop, on entrera dans une boutique. Et dès lors que les publicitaires et les commerçants auront 10 % de moins de chiffre d’affaires, ne vous en faites pas, ils reviendront au Français"."

Irish republicanism needs more self analysis of what self-determination looks like

Professor of modern Irish history at UCD Diarmaid Ferriter wrote an article in the Irish Times by the title 'A Mission Statement for Ireland' and explained how after independence there was an almost total absence of vision and strategy for the new Free State beyond the base desire to secure absolute separation from Britain. He said:
"Those who propelled the Irish revolution were more focused on the idea of seperation from Britain."
As opposed to, (quoting fellow historian Charles Townsend):
"Implementing and concrete political programme... The new nationalist leaders did not see it as necessary to analyse the 'self' that was to exercise self-determination."
This exists to this day. And so, as Alan Hynes said, "surely [Irish republicanism] should mean more than ‘Brits Out'?" Indeed. Irish republicans need to create a more realistic vision of Ireland to place beside the unreal "official" version. For too many republicans, and often the most vocal and passionate, Irish independence is driven almost entirely by grievances: anti-British, anti-English, anti-unionist, anti-history, anti-broadmindedness. It needs to be more than a definition of Irishness defined by what you're not. As Seán Ó Faoláin said in Eire and the Commonwealth:
"It is essential for the mental health of Ireland that we should as quickly as possible get to the stage where we do not give a damn about Britain... we shall never expand the contours of life, expand our horizons, get room to breathe mentally.'
Ernest A. Boyd landed a hard critique against what he called Gaelic jingoism. He said:
"Whatever social evils affect the Irish people are understood to be simply by products of an alien regime. The social and industrial problems which engage the minds of modern thinkers weigh little with the Gaelic idealists. Blind optimism and habit for ignoring unpleasant facts."
He asked: "Have Gaels any proposals which will enable Irishmen to live more freely than is possible in other countries?" And that's why we're back to professor Diarmaid Ferriter and Charles Townsend, we need more hard solutions, answers, programmes to what a united Ireland could look like and less idealism of what Ireland should be.

Being a Loyalist and Irish

The well known loyalist and Protestant from Northern Ireland Billy Mitchell explained in an interview how he held himself as Irish and further regarded being Irish and British as wholly compatible. He said
"Identity transcends the boxes, you know? For instance in cultural stuff I was brought up in an era where Irish culture had absolutely no problems for me – I would regard myself in that respect as an Irish unionist. I’ve no problems with Irish culture; I’ve problems with the provisionalisation of it. I have some affinity with spoken Ulster Scots but I have very little time for the politicisation of it. We grew up with the hamely tongue or the language of the hearth – it was bate out of us at school. My musical taste…I have no problem with Irish music whether its ‘diddly-dee’ music or traditional Scottish music. Basically if you’re talking about culture, my culture in music is blues! Blues, and strangely enough classics – the like of Katherine Jenkins. I have a problem with people talking about your cultural identity…I have problems with people trying to piegeonhole me; because I’m as comfortable playing the bodhran…as I am playing ‘The Sash’."

Martin Rowson on political cartoons

Martin Rowson said of drawing politicians on the BBC One Show:

"The one thing worse for a politician than being drawn in a political cartoon is not being drawn in a political cartoon. Because it means, first of all that nobody has heard of them and also that they're not recognizable." 
In my previous post here, Gerald Scarfe said:
"The sad final truth is that it doesn’t matter how hard you hit politicians — most are so arrogant, they would rather be drawn as a warthog than not drawn at all."
Gerald Scarfe on live drawing here. And Scarfe's influence, here.

Art is hard, Ctd

Juliette Aristides said in her book on drawing, 'Leasons in Classical Drawing':
"In my atelier, students routinely struggle for the first few months of their training, seemingly making no progress at all. And then, all of a sudden, they make a drawing that is a major breakthrough. This is often followed by a disheartening slide back for a week or so. But before long they have a baseline of solid technical skill; this rock-solid start becomes the norm rather than the exception. Expect this cycle. If you know it is coming, you will find it easier to wait it out."
She continued: "Each hard-won drawing allows you to bring a new skill to your next one. You will soon learn to take shortcuts and streamline the process. My experience has shown me time and time again that the students who can hang in there and keep focus gain ownership of the material very quickly."

October 26, 2013

Art is theft, Ctd Jack Vettriano

The self-taught Scottish painter Jack Vettriano was asked by Terri Eaton of the Artists and Illistrators magazine of November 2013, 'how did you learn to paint?' He said:
"I copied the techniques of lots of artists to see how they managed to get the paint down."
Asked what the best advice ever given to him he said: "The art critic W Gordon Smith advised me not to be sidelined by other people's opinions and to follow my own ideas." Asked for his inspiration he said: "Caravaggio for creating atmosphere and Francis Bacon for his imagination - though I'm probably intrigued by his lifestyle more than his work."

October 25, 2013

Dilberate, offensive, stupid

October 23, 2013

Britain's hereditocracy, Ctd

France is the home of nepotism, the very term is a throw-off from Napoleon Bonaparte who employed a host of family members. Now it turns out that a high profile Paris politician is doing the same. The Times of London recently reported that the leader of the Front National, Marine Le Pen, has employed a number of family members. It said:
"The commission approved subsidies to cover the cost of hiring Yann Maréchal, Ms Le Pen’s sister, as her “campaign strategy director” on a salary of €3884 a month, and Louis Aliot, her partner, as “political adviser’ on €5381 a month. Although the practice of hiring family members is common in French politics, Ms Le Pen could be damaged by the disclosure that she has adopted them, too."

Planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man's laws, not God's

Below is an excerpt from 'Man For All Seasons' writen by Robert Bolt which explains the primacy of man's law, over God's.
William Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! 
Thomas More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? 
William Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! 
Thomas More:
"Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man's laws, not God's — and if you cut them down — and you're just the man to do it — d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake."

Gerald Scarfe on drawing politicians

Gerald Scarfe said of drawing politicians:
"The sad final truth is that it doesn’t matter how hard you hit politicians — most are so arrogant, they would rather be drawn as a warthog than not drawn at all."

Reforming Law School

Following the publication of the American Bar Association report on the future of US legal education, Lisa Needham of lawyerist.com said:
"Perhaps most radical and most important, it could reintegrate the legal profession with legal education and require that practitioners become stewards of the profession, committed to creating opportunities and mentorship for the newly graduate."

October 22, 2013

Dilbert and Why I draw

The creator of Dilbert, Scott Adams started to cartoon while on the job at Pacific Bell Telephone Company (now acquired by AT&T), after he was repeatedly passed over for promotion. He said of the lesson this experience taught him:
"The day you realize that your efforts and rewards are not related, it really frees up your calendar. I had time for hobbies."
This is the lesson I learnt. Read the Harvard Business Review blog feature on Scott Adams and his creation Dilbert here.

October 21, 2013

Gerald Scarfe on live drawing

Gerald Scarfe said of Honoré Daumier and the importance of working with your subject in real-time:
"Drawing was forbidden in the French parliament, so Honoré Daumier would take pieces of clay into the building, sit in the gallery and mould maquettes while watching the characters below. They serve to remind the cartoonist there is no substitute for observing your subject live. I have drawn enough politicians at party conferences to understand that well."

October 20, 2013

Art is theft, Ctd Gerald Scarfe

Gerald Scarfe said of the French political cartoonist Honoré Daumier:
"At times, his influence on me has been almost palpable. In 1834 he did a drawing called The Legislative Belly: rows of plump and senescent parliamentarians gossiping, sleeping, scribbling on bits of paper, all looking entirely unsuited to governing the country. I used it as the direct inspiration for a large theatre backdrop I painted for a production of Orpheus in the Underworld in 1988." 
And this was a fascinating comment from Scarfe: "I wonder whether Daumier’s portrayal of the pear-shaped king might have been an unconscious influence on me recently when I drew David Cameron as a lightbulb."

October 17, 2013

Paul Krugman - You don't need to be an academic to be taken seriously online

Paul Krugman explains on his New York Times that you don't need fancy academic letters behind your name to be taken as a serious, credible and authoritative voice online and on the blogosphere. He said: 
"But academic credentials are neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for having your ideas taken seriously. If a famous professor repeatedly says stupid things, then tries to claim he never said them, there’s no rule against calling him a mendacious idiot — and no special qualifications required to make that pronouncement other than doing your own homework.

Conversely, if someone without formal credentials consistently makes trenchant, insightful observations, he or she has earned the right to be taken seriously, regardless of background.

One of the great things about the blogosphere is that it has made it possible for a number of people meeting that second condition to gain an audience. I don’t care whether they’re PhDs, professors, or just some guy with a blog — it’s the work that matters."

Read in full here

Britain's hereditocracy, Ctd Carola Binney

Carola Binney, a first year history student at some school at Oxford is a house writer at both the Spectator and The Telegraph. She made an interesting observation here on the role of privilege, proximity, provenance and patronage when it comes to young people finding work experience and a career. I should also note that at the age of, I presume 18, Carola has already enjoyed 6 work placements. Anyways, she gave a little background first and underlined the importance of work experience:
"In June, my friends and I left school. With the final trill of the four o’clock bell came the realisation that in three short years we’re going to have to start looking for jobs, and it’s not going to be easy. As it slowly dawns on my contemporaries that “Certificate of participation in the Year 6 swimming gala” isn’t going to get you on to the Goldman Sachs graduate scheme, everyone is duly trudging off to marketing firms, accountants and hospitals in the hope of making their CVs slightly less resemble Ed Miliband’s policy agenda."
Carola then explained how her milieu tend to acquire and come about work experience:

October 16, 2013

When it's cool to be dumb, Ctd

Sian Griffiths wrote in the Sunday Times, 'The Lessons our Schools must Learn':

"Some of the worst miscreants come from white working-class families who failed at their own schools are passing on a contempt for education to their children."

Richard Cairns, head of the independent Brighton College said:

"The problem is not immigrants but white working-class kids in areas where there are relatively few jobs and their parents have not worked."

Taking back being Irish from the little Irelanders

Deporting unionists, Ctd

In an earlier post here I outlined how Sean Lemass proposed the removal of unionists from the island of Ireland. How very pleasant, plural, tolerant and non-discriminatory. Below is another suggestion to remove unionists from the island, this time from de Valera in 1964.

October 13, 2013

Grayson Perry - Who decides what makes good art?

Ahead of the Reith lectures Grayson Perry recently asked, who decides what makes good art? 


Elise Andrew and "I Fucking Love Science"

This is how the Guardian presented the Internet phenomenon here:

"I Fucking Love Science was born, in March 2012, out of mischief and frustration. The page is a mixture: of meme-style science illustrations (an image of floating, sleeping otters overlaid with the words: "Sea otters hold hands when they sleep so they don't drift away from each other… they also rape baby seals to death"); of plain-speaking summaries of the latest research ("Researchers have discovered how and where imagination originates in the brain"); and of links to oddities such as a video of a student singing an explanation of string theory to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody. These have helped her accrue 10,000-15,000 new followers a day."

October 12, 2013

Writing for free, Ctd Philip Henscher

Author Philip Henscher recently got mad about being asked to write for free. The Guardian featured the event. On the same week, author Guy Walters also penned a rebarbative attack against the expectation. He said:
"It's across lots and lots of different institutions, organisations, literary prizes and events who expect authors to do things for very little or no money, because it's an honour to do it."
He continued: "Walters said. "There's a romantic notion that authors work for the love of culture and high ideals, but it doesn't put food on the table. If you value culture, you must pay artists. It's a complete con and an absolute racket. There's a word for working for free: it's slavery."
On his Facebook, Philip Hensher wrote: "Authors be warned – if you suggest that you want to be paid for your hard work, prepare to be insulted by Cambridge professors."
He continued:
"It's not reasonable to say if you're not being paid, you shouldn't complain and you shouldn't be angry. Nobody would say that about absolutely any other profession. It's our duty as writers to place a value on our work, and not to allow it to be unreasonably eroded. There is increasingly a culture of consumers not paying for cultural products, whether it's downloaded music or free newspapers. You can have writers who do it in their spare time, who have independent means, or have literature written by people in institutions, but it's not going to lead to an improvement in literature."
He added: "I absolutely refuse to do anything for free, no matter what it is. It basically supposes that authors live in a rarefied world in which they don't need money. If you want culture to be enriched, you need to enrich authors."He said that publishers' advances had been reduced over the past decade, which added to the squeeze on authors' income, making payment for one-off freelance jobs all the more important."
In full here.

October 11, 2013

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett - "Everyone lies on their CV..."

So says Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett here:
"Everyone lies on their CV don't they (guys? Guys?). I'm not talking massive great lies like O'Riordan's, who audaciously faked a stint at Harvard and a doctorate, but little lies, like "I am a highly motivated and enthusiastic employee." Or bumping up your A-levels a grade or two. Or saying you have A-Levels. You know, minor stuff."

The mad-dog ravings of an ultra-nationalist

Jamie Byrson penned an article for the QUB conflict blog here. The jottings of a paranoid conspiracist who is calling for the removal of modernity.

The superstitious ravings sound just like the recent BNP press release which denounced the The Quilliam Foundation. It read:
"The Quilliam Foundation is run by 'ex' Hizb ut Tahrir extremists who are now taking a gradualist, Fabian approach to Islamising Britain. They are therefore financed both by Wahhabi Gulf states AND by the British government."
The same sort of suspicion-soaked writing and rhetoric of Bryson and friends who paint a world that is being taken over by republicans. The recent calls by Jim Dowson for protestants to breed more sound just like a plagiarism of a BNP press release from a while back here.


October 10, 2013

Drink and Draw - 8.x.13

Below is a selection of images from an evening of life drawing at the Loft Studios, Belfast.

Christopher Hitchens on the term, political "spectrum"

The epithet is ubiquitous. Muttered daily. Here's what Christopher Hitchens makes of it:
"The use of “spectrum” is one of the hoariest and most conventional means of describing the demarcations of allegiance and alignment."

October 08, 2013

Don't Go To Law School Unless You Make and Informed Choice

Connecticut attorney Samuel Browning has converted Paul Campos' book, Don’t Go to Law School (Unless), into a flow chart. Paul Campos is also former editor of The Law School Scam blog. 

October 06, 2013

Dear Graduates, sound familiar?

Sound familiar?
"Most young adults started out having faith in the system. They worked hard, they got good grades, they stayed out of trouble and many of them went on to college. But when their educations where over, they discovered that the good jobs that they had been promised were not waiting for them at the end of the rainbow."

[Writing and art] is Theft, Ctd The Sins of Literature

In the Radio 4 series The Sins of Literature Robert McCrum casts an eye over the literary codes of our time. In the third episode, Thou Shalt Not Steal Robert McCrum was joined by Malcolm Gladwell, Will Self, Sarah Waters and Howard Jacobson who helped him to consider the history of literary theft.

Here's how Radio 4 summarised the show on the website:
"Plagiarism is perhaps the gravest of literary sins and yet writers steal all the time and sweat away their lives under the anxiety of influence. This program looks at the shifting sands of plagiarism, theft, influence and borrowing. The Romantics may have worshipped the original genius of Shakespeare but he merrily lifted whole sections of Anthony and Cleopatra from Holinshed's chronicles." 
I felt Radio 4 put things beautifully here:
"In the internet age true creativity appears to reside not in what you write yourself but in the ways you can remix, mash up, parody and generally mess around with the work of others." 
Every young writer has models. You don't invent yourself. You become a writer because you've read books. And some of those books make a very deep impression on you, and they in some way launch you into the whole project of becoming a lawyer. But then you really have to get away from those influences; it's paralysing and ultimately very destructive. 
I just read somewhere and it's unclear who said this, it was either John Cage or Wallace Stephens or Phillip Gustand the painter. They said: 
"When you go into your studio, whether you're a writer or a painter, the entire past is with you. Al your influences are there and then as time goes on, one by one they start leaving and then in the end you're there alone."
And then I think John Cage said, ideally then you too disappear as well."
Will Self said he had it, full blowm "kleptomania". He asked, "How would that be possible to avoid? That would be impossible." Adding that, "The thing is, you've got to be pretty sharp to spot it."

As Einstein said: "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."

Will Self responded to the question of why Ernest Hemingway is so prevalent in people's writing style and said:
"Hemingway has crept into the entire American creative writing programme, disseminating through it like some kind of monstrous virus."
Paul Auster said that "voice is a curious thing. No one really knows where it comes from. Somehow it's inside you." He continued:
"The most important discovery I made was that I was not going to find that voice by thinking about it, sitting in an armchair thinking where is my voice or by walking along the street. You find it in the act of writing. Only by sitting there and writing do you recognise what's authentic, what's not authentic, what feels good, what feels like you. For me, it truly was a discovery. You don't go out and find your voice. It finds you and it happens by you just doing it and doing it."
Here's a few more quotes from the show:

One: "All writers are pickpockets with an eye for a shining phrase or sparkling smile."

Two: Malcolm Gladwell said that "words belong to the world once they're published."

Three: Modernism made writers feel OK for writers to "ransack the museum of the past."

Elsewhere Noel Gallagher put it rather bluntly when confronted about his musical influences:
"There's twelve notes in a scale and 36 chords and that's the end of it. All the configurations have been done before."

October 05, 2013

William Butler Yeats - Protestants are the people of Ireland

In 1925, when the Irish Free State was about to outlaw divorce, the poet William Butler Yeats delivered before the Senate a famous eulogy on the role and pointed relevance of Anglo-Irish:
"This speech is haughty and snobbish indeed. If not sectarian. I think it is tragic that within three years of this country gaining its independence we should be discussing a measure which a minority of this nation considers to be grossly oppressive. I am proud to consider myself a typical man of that minority. We against whom you have done this thing, are no petty people. We are one of the great stocks of Europe. We are the people of Burke; we are the people of Grattan; we are the people of Swift, the people of Emmet, the people of Parnell. We have created the most of the modern literature of this country. We have created the best of its political intelligence. Yet I do not altogether regret what has happened. I shall be able to find out, if not I, my children will be able to find out whether we have lost our stamina or not. You have defined our position and have given us a popular following. If we have not lost our stamina then your victory will be brief, and your defeat final, and when it comes this nation may be transformed."
As was observed elsewhere here: "What would England be without Ireland, and Ireland without England? Would Ireland be better without William Butler Yeats, Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, Louis MacNiece, Edmund Burke, Bernard Shaw, the Duke of Wellington, Charles Stuart Parnell, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, and every Anglo-Irishman who compose the bulk of Ireland's heroes, their most celebrated legacy?"

And more:

"There can be no progress until the people of Ireland want to move forward, embracing their heritage which is drawn from both the Emerald Isle and England's green and pleasant land."

Hannah Arendt on same-sex marriage

Hannah Arendt wrote in her book Dissent in 1959:

“The right to marry whoever one wishes is an elementary human right compared to which ‘the right to attend an integrated school, the right to sit where one pleases on a bus, the right to go into any hotel or recreation area or place of amusement, regardless of one’s skin or color or race’ are minor indeed. Even political rights, like the right to vote, and nearly all other rights enumerated in the Constitution, are secondary to the inalienable human rights to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence; and to this category the right to home and marriage unquestionably belongs.”

Gore Vidal on narrow nationalism

In an interview with BBC Hardtalk Gore Vidal was asked if he loved his country, in his response he said of narrow nationalism:
"Anyone who loves thier country is in such trouble. That is nonsense. Out of that has come every war, every famine and everything that is wrong in the western world."

Roger Scruton - Europe's shared culture tackles narrow nationalism

Roger Scruton explained the role of a common culture in tackling narrow nationalism:
"The high culture that we've been talking about hasn't really been nationalistic. Brought up on the scared Hebrew book, Latin Greek, literature and the Greek epic. No particular national inheritance and that's the great achievement of Europe - thta is has erected a high culture as a critical aparatus that allows us to put our national culture into question if we need to."

October 04, 2013

Why does everyone want to go to Law School? Ctd Laura Olin

Laura Olin, that girl behind Obama's social media strategy for Obama 2012, made an interesting observation on the everybody's collective dystopic, zombie drift towards Law School. She gave a biographical overview in note form:
"Devote a few words to early, fairly stupid inclination to be a lawyer, explaining two years at a civil rights legal nonprofit."

October 03, 2013

Judge Peter Murphy - "England and Wales is essentially a Secular Democracy"

His Honour Judge Peter Murphy recently ruled that a female Muslim defendant in a criminal trial must remove her face-covering veil (niqaab) whilst giving evidence. On the relationship between the church and the state, he said this:
"The jurisdiction of England and Wales is essentially (though not formally) a secular democracy. I recognise that the jurisdiction is in the rather odd position that part of it (England) has an established church, while the other part (Wales) does not. But in neither part does the church interfere with the working of the courts. I do not for a moment suggest, to borrow language used in

NS, that courts should be a religion-free zone where religious beliefs and practices must be parked at the door of the court. On the contrary, the Courts must respect and protect religious rights as far as that can properly be done. But in my view, it is necessary to the working of the Crown Court in a democratic society for the Court, not the defendant, to control the conduct of judicial proceedings. A defendant cannot, by claiming to adopt a particular religious practice, oblige the court to set aside its established procedure to accommodate that practice. That would be to privilege religious practice in a discriminatory way, and would adversely affect the administration of justice."
 Adam Wagner covers it here and here.

Clare Foges - Antiseptic oratory

Poet and David Cameron's speechwriter Clare Foges writes about the demise of great political orators here.

Why Law School? Ctd Move on if no job after 2 years post-TC

October 02, 2013

Ian Knox on the Absolute State of Loyalism

I've previously featured cartoons by Ian Knox on the state of loyalism here and here. See some more of his recent works as they appear in the Irish News below:

Culture Night - Live Drawing

Below are a selection of photos from my evening of live cartooning at Culture Night in Belfast. 

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