Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Think of Me When You Write

Nadine Jarvis's carbon copies, pencils made from cremated human remains. The perfect disposal option for the terminally ill academic/illustrator in your life.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Death of a Legend


It's Friday. Lest We Forget.

Cashier No.9 - When Jackie Shone

R.I.P Jackie Swindells. Alty's Legendary No.9

(Check out the goals in 65/66.Dixie Dean? Pah!)

Power Play

Two posts on power and the social imaginary by Cassiodorus at Daily Kos, one a book review of Richard Peet's book The Geography of Power, the other an outline of the concept of the social imaginary and an explanation why it needs to be changed.

Revolution does not mean torrents of blood, the taking of the Winter Palace, and so on. Revolution means a radical transformation of society's institutions. In this sense, I certainly am a revolutionary. But for there to be revolution in this sense, profound changes must take place in the psychosocial organization of Western man, in his attitude toward life, in short, in his imaginary. The idea that the sole goal of life is to produce and to consume more—an idea that is both absurd and degrading—must be abandoned; the capitalist imaginary of pseudorational pseudomastery, of unlimited expansion, must be abandoned. That is something only men and women can do. A single individual, or one organization, can, at best, only prepare, criticize, incite, sketch out possible orientations.
From here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Europe. Radio. Free.

Station WFMU has a selection of sets from this year's Primavera Sound Festival

Death of a Tiger

Conor over at Dublin Opinion is posting a Situ-style comic strip on the current Irish Financial Ratfuck. Parts 1 to 5 can be found here, here, here, here, and here.

Can't wait for the film version.

Weapon of the Weak

From the ever-reliable Harper's magazine, a beautifully written proposal presented by two Princeton academics for submission to war profiteers Lockheed Martin, entitled "Irony in the National Defense."

Irony is a powerful and incompletely understood feature of human dynamics. A technique for dissimulation and “secret speech,” irony is considerably more complex than lying and even more dangerous. Ideally suited to mobilization on the shifting terrain of asymmetrical conflict, inherently covert, insidiously plastic, politically potent, irony offers rogue elements a volatile if often overlooked means by which to demoralize opponents and destabilize regimes. And yet while major research resources have for forty years poured into the human sciences from the defense and intelligence community in an effort to gain control over the human capacity to lie (investments that led to the modern polygraph, sodium pentothal–derived truth serums, “brain fingerprinting,” etc.), we have no comparable tradition of sustained, empirical, applied investigation into irony.

The rest, annoyingly, is available to subscribers only. Get your own copy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stick It Up Your Blogroll

Cuddle up to Coddlepot.com


"They couldn't be more evenly matched: Brazil have won six, Italy have won five, and two have been drawn in their previous 13 meetings."

"Sports" commentator George Hamilton on RTE 2 last night before the kick-off.

Kicking Off

Does anybody else think it daft that FIFA insist that the final group games in tournaments such as yesterday's Confederation Cup are played at the same time, even down to synchronising the first-half kick-offs, when they then go and let the second-halves kick off 5 minutes apart? If it had been Brazil-Italy that had been delayed they could easily have fudged a result between them but, somewhat fortunately, it was US v Egypt and both had to go for it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

It's Friday. Let's Boogie!

Bonnie Prince Billy - Horses

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Counago & Spaves Caption Competition No. 3

Ok, maybe our ever-popular caption competition isn't as popular as I'd imagined, but let's see how you do with this one:

Answers in Comments box please.

Because an Army Marches on Its Stomach

The always-inspiring O: The Oprah Magazine profiles Slim Peace.

In the most unlikely of weight loss groups, 14 women—Israelis and Palestinians—drop pounds, lose inches, and together gain immeasurable humanity.

. . .

Slim Peace (is) a program started by Yael Luttwak, a 36-year-old American filmmaker who is also a citizen of Israel and now lives in London. Using the common denominator of weight—and women's near-universal anguish over it—as a way to bridge deep political, cultural, and religious divides, the project's sixth group will meet for ten two-hour sessions. The idea came to Luttwak about nine years ago when historic peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians completely collapsed. At the time she had managed to drop a few pounds through Weight Watchers and remembers thinking, "Ariel Sharon is very overweight, and Arafat is not thin either. If they lost weight together, maybe they'd be in a better mood and make better decisions."

Not so much a roadblock to peace as a gastric band.

The substantial leftovers are here.

If You Go Down to the Woods Today . . .

. . . You're sure of a big surprise: Dolphins hunting among the trees.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dig That Groove

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the birth of Gerrard Winstanley, he of Digger fame. A lecture to commemorate this event by John Gurney, author of Brave Community: The Digger Movement in the English Revolution, is available here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's Friday. Let's Boogie!

The Panderers - Come On

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mind over Matter

Simon Critchley has just started to explain Why Heidegger Matters over at the Guardian.

This shouldn't take a minute.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

One for the Beach

In Rag and Bone: A Journey among the World's Holy Dead, Peter Manseau embarks on a global odyssey in search of the "dismembered toes, splinters of shinbone, stolen bits of hair, burned remnants of an anonymous rib cage, and other odds and ends" belonging to saints and other sacred figures. The book could have been ghoulish, but Manseau's irreverent approach and enthusiasm keep the tone surprisingly light. He examines the curious dissemination of pieces of saints around the globe, meets a cast of fellow enthusiasts and explores the fringes of devotion. Most notable is the pious Portuguese woman who, in a fit of ecstacy, is said to have bitten off the little toe of St. Francis Xavier, whose damaged cadaver lures Manseau to the Roman Catholic enclave of Goa, India: "To look at the foot now -- with at least three digits missing -- is to wonder if she got away with an even bigger bite."

Laughing Stock

A candidate in the local elections for the Slane Electoral Area of Meath County Council was arrested outside a polling station in his home area of Stamullen on polling day and taken before Drogheda Court to face charges dating from 2001.

The case against James Carey (26) of Preston Hill, Stamullen, was called at the court on Friday morning.

A medical certificate was presented to explain his absence but Judge Flann Brennan said that he was not satisfied with the certificate and issued a warrant for his arrest.

Just after 3pm, Carey was brought into court by Gardai. He stood as an independent in the Meath County Council elections last Friday, polling 734 first preferences before being eliminated on the seventh count in the Slane Electoral Area.

Last month he was arrested and brought before the court at which time the case was adjourned until last Friday. He is accused of assaulting two people, causing them harm; dangerous driving, unauthorised possession of a firearm and reckless discharge of a firearm. The offences are alleged to have happened at Gormanston or Stamullen in February 2001.

. . .

Garda Inspector Pat Marry said he would like to refute any allegation that Carey’s arrest had been contrived. He said the medical certificate presented had shown “total contempt” for the court. The certificate was for one day only.

The accused said that if his arrest had not been contrived, why had he so openly canvassed his home area for the last year.

He had knocked on 10,000 doors. “I’m the chairperson of the Stamullen Comunity Alert Committee which was organised with Sergeant Dooley. In God’s name, I couldn’t be more visible. Why the timing? I’m not refuting this charge, I’m refuting the timing. It is a laughing stock.”

The rest is here.

Local Resilience

Worth a look. Available here.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


In the May/June issue of Foreign Policy magazine, "Environmental Futurist" Jamais Cascio identifies the qualities that organizations and societies require in order to survive crises:

* Diversity: Not relying on a single kind of solution means not suffering from a single point of failure.
* Redundancy: Backup, backup, backup. Never leave yourself with just one path of escape or rescue.
* Decentralization: Centralized systems look strong, but when they fail, they fail catastrophically.
* Collaboration: We're all in this together. Take advantage of collaborative technologies, especially those offering shared communication and information.
* Transparency: Don't hide your systems—transparency makes it easier to figure out where a problem may lie. Share your plans and preparations, and listen when people point out flaws.
* Fail gracefully: Failure happens, so make sure that a failure state won't make things worse than they are already.
* Flexibility: Be ready to change your plans when they're not working the way you expected; don't count on things remaining stable.
* Foresight: You can't predict the future, but you can hear its footsteps approaching. Think and prepare.

I've Never Had It So Good

Michelle Obama shares her good fortune with the readers of Jet magazine

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Mutual Aid

Gadgie spots via Norm research confirming Peter Kropotkin's view that animals have a natural sense of morality. But why should we be surprised? Aren't we animals too?

Professor Frans de Waal, a primate behaviourist at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, said: "I don't believe animals are moral in the sense we humans are – with well developed and reasoned sense of right and wrong – rather that human morality incorporates a set of psychological tendencies and capacities such as empathy, reciprocity, a desire for co-operation and harmony that are older than our species.

"Human morality was not formed from scratch, but grew out of our primate psychology. Primate psychology has ancient roots, and I agree that other animals show many of the same tendencies and have an intense sociality."

If animals have morals, why shouldn't we?

The Placebo Placebo Effect

In the June 1 issue of Newsweek, Sharon Begley discusses how placebos really work, in the process revealing that

As far as the body is concerned, a placebo is nothing—a sugar pill, a sham treatment, an inert compound. But try telling that to the brain, as scientists led by Daniel Cherkin of Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle recently saw. They assigned 638 adults with chronic lower-back pain to receive either standard acupuncture therapy, customized acupuncture (tailored to the individual, such as by using nonstandard acupuncture points), sham acupuncture (toothpicks in acupuncture-needle guide tubes that mimic the feel of real acupuncture) or standard back-pain care, such as anti-inflammatory drugs and massage. As the scientists reported this month in Archives of Internal Medicine, pain diminished significantly for 60 percent of the people in all three acupuncture groups—but for just 39 percent of patients receiving usual care. On average, both fake and real acupuncture reduced pain more than twice as much as standard care. Weirdly, this is being spun as "acupuncture is better than standard medical care for back pain!" I say "weirdly" because the key finding is that sham acupuncture delivered as much benefit as real acupuncture. And the most parsimonious explanation for that finding is inescapable: it is possible to think yourself out of pain.

The rest is here.

It Could Almost Be a Foreign Country

The Iceland Review reports that Good Old Porridge is Back

It's thick and sticky, extremely gluey, but cheaper and more wholesome than most foodstuffs. We are talking about porridge. So forget the old Kellogg's Cornflakes, Cheerios or Cocoa Puffs. Those times are gone. Breakfast in Iceland is porridge time. Reykjavik pre-schools now offer porridge instead of the more expensive, processed and imported cereals. Parents are even invited to join their children for a bowl of porridge at the elementary schools. It's also becoming popular in upper secondary schools, where students stand in line for their bowl of the grey gluey stuff during their first morning break. At Hamrahlíd Upper Secondary School, one of Reykjavik's largest, the dean serves it out, one ladle for each student, four days a week. "Porridge is not expensive and I thought it was fitting to introduce this idea now, although it is not entirely a response to the crisis," says the dean, Lárus H. Bjarnason. Due to high inflation and rising mortgage payments, most families have less money to spend so they turn to porridge as a means of saving. A bowl of thick porridge served with milk can get a healthy male through the day and it only costs a few cents. Top it with a green apple, peeled and cut into pieces, or a few California raisins, and you have a gourmet breakfast. Or try it old Icelandic style, mixed with skyr. This mixture is called hraeríngur and should be served with a generous slice of pickled blood or liver sausage, slàtur. Then you won't have to eat anything else for a week.

Karl Marx, the Investor's Friend

A letter to the editor in The Atlantic, June 2009:

I take great solace in Christopher Hitchens's eloquent essay revitalizing the teachings of Karl Marx ("He's Back," April Atlantic). Over many years of following the stock market, I have found no more consistent sign that we are at the bottom of a bear market than a renewed interest in the teachings of the author of Das Kapital. I have therefore given appropriate directions to my stockbroker.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

It Was Primavera Sound 2009. What Did We Boogie To?

Best "Drummer's Band" - Lightning Bolt (Pictured). Like The White Stripes but in reverse.

Best "Let Them Know Who's Boss!" Moment - Jarvis Cocker telling a punter on his way out after just one song, "Where are you going? Have you got a fucking train to catch?"

Most Ambitious Attempt At Catalan - Jarvis Cocker for his stab at "My hovercraft is full of eels."

Best Impression of Hot Pants Romance - The Vivian Girls. What Manchester does today,New York does today.

Best Middle-Aged Man Horizontal, Balancing On One Leg - David Yow of Jesus Lizard (1.46 into video)

Best Young Man Soldiering On With A Bad Back - Eddie Argos of Art Brut. What a cracking set. He even had the nerve to leave the stage a la James Brown. Class.

Best Cover Version - A Certain Ratio. "Shack Up." (Not "Lie Down" as the dickheads behind in the crowd seem to think.)

Biggest Opportunity Missed During A Cover Version - Neil Young closed out "A Day in the Life" with several minutes of squalling guitar feedback when there was piano behind that was begging for a one-note finale.

Best Mid-set Breakdown - Wavves. There we were saying,"These are bit shit considering the hype they get."

Least Expected Footy Reference - Andrew Bird "Hey, congratulations on last night. You have an excellent football team."

Furthest Away From Stage Due To Volume - My Bloody Valentine. At least we weren't daft enough to see them in the Auditorium without earplugs. Jordi?

Furthest Away From Stage Due To Size of Crowd - Neil Young. The papers reckon there were 30,000 in for his set. I reckon there were 30 people behind us. The attendance was somewhat swollen by the fact that Primavera closed down all the other stages while he was on.

Greatest Relief For The Use Of Video Screens - Aphex Twin.

Tightest Outfit - Bat For Lashes. Well, Natasha Khan's anyway.(Picture doesn't do it justice. Sorry.)

Reformed Band Sounding Most Like Teenage Fan Club - The Bats

Reformed Band Sounding Most Like Belle & Sebastian - The Vaselines

Band With The Most Number Of Obvious Influences - The Horrors

Worst Disguise Of The Week - Tim Burgess. Even with a beret, a wig and thick glasses on John still spotted him 50 yards away, and John's technically blind.

Song That Has Stuck In My Head For A Week - Bowerbirds "In Our Talons"

John says

Lest we forget:

Least Gracious Gesture of Magnanimity in Defeat from a Red: Jeremy Kerr of A Certain Ratio: "Anyone here from Manchester? Oooh! I said a dirty word!"

Second-Least Gracious Gesture of Magnanimity in Defeat from a Red: Also Jeremy Kerr of A Certain Ratio: "We didn't turn up, did we? Fucking hell."

Record for Interminable Grumpy Strumming of Bass: Jeremy Kerr of A Certain Ratio

Foulest Dietary Staple of Festival: Cans of Jack Daniels and Coke

Most Pointless Use of 500 Mobile Phone Cameras: Audience of the Aphex Twin

Can I also point out that it was Tim Burgess wearing the wig, beret and thick glasses, not me?

Also, that the drummer of Lightning Bolt is also the vocalist. A picture alone doesn't do them justice.

(Photos courtesy of Pitchfork.com)

Counago & Spaves Caption Competition No. 2

One of our less frequent yet more popular features. Answers in Comments box please.

The original caption in People Weekly magazine was "I've come as that twat Bono. How about you?"

Deathrope 2000

Kill Bill and Kung Fu star David Carradine has been found dead in a Bangkok hotel room on Thursday.

Thai police told the BBC the 72-year-old was found by a hotel maid sitting
in a wardrobe with a rope around his neck and genitals on Thursday morning.*

I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable explanation. A new chokehold, perhaps. Or maybe it was research for a part.

The US star was in Thailand filming his latest film, Stretch.

There you go. Told you.

*BBC page has been changed to "with a cord around his neck and other parts of his body."

*UPDATE* People Weekly insists it was his genitals.

Who are yer? Who are yer?

Didn't you used to be famous?

FILM DIRECTOR Ken Loach has accused former taoiseach Bertie Ahern of trying to hijack the premiere of a film starring Eric Cantona.

. . .

Just before the premiere started, the Ahern brothers presented Cantona with a No 7 Dublin shirt with the legendary former Manchester United footballer’s name on the back. The brothers then left before the film started.

. . .

Loach said Cantona had “not a clue” who Bertie Ahern was, although Mr Ahern, a life-long Manchester United fan, said he met the Frenchman “a good few times” in the players’ lounge at Old Trafford.

. . .

In an interview with Newstalk’s Tom Dunne, Loach later described Mr Ahern as a “rather dodgy right-wing politician”.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Primavera Profile 2009 #2: Lightning Bolt

It’s difficult to believe but Lightning Bolt are Brian Chippendale and Brian Gibson, and nobody else. It is difficult to believe because they sound like a troop of mad buffalos, like a steam roller of noise sculptured from hammering which reduces punk and hardcore to scraps of infernal noise. Formed in Providence, Rhode Island, in the mid-nineties, the duo became known in 1999 with a self-titled debut album and since then they have not stopped recharging and twisting a sound which is pure uncontrolled rage. Impeccable live, these North Americans released the brutal “Hypermagic Mountain” in 2007.

"Brutal" means something different than in Ireland. I think.

Sell Your Soul

A brief but enlightening interview in Publishers Weekly magazine with author Clancy Martin, whose debut novel, How to Sell, tells the story of an impressionable Canadian teenager who learns some hard lessons about life, love and diamonds in 1980s Fort Worth:

What's a juicy bit that didn't make it into the book?

We were in China to buy pearls, and this guy said, you have to come see my factory. We go to see it, and this factory is the size of 15 or 20 airport hangars. And he said to me, “The great thing is, the workers never have to leave. They have a hospital here, they have a school here. One week a year they can go home to their village, but the rest of the time, they stay right here and they never even have to go outside.” We did not do business with this guy.