18 February 2010


According to the Surya Siddhanta, the Epoch of Kali Yuga (Age of Vice) began in 3102 BC.  King Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont, Savoy and Sardinia assumed the title King of Italy in 1861.  Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in 1884.  For the first time in recorded history, snow fell in the Sahara Desert in 1979.

Born today:  Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957), Wallace Stegner (1909-1993), Jack Palance (1919-2006), George Kennedy (1925), Len Deighton (1929), Gahan Wilson (1930), Toni Morrison (1931) Milos Forman (1932), Bobby Robson, Yoko Ono, Mary Ure and my new girl-crush, Nimmi, were all born in 1933, Audre Lord (1934), Jean Auel (1936), Graeme Garden (1943), Sinéad Cusack (1948), John Hughes (1950-2009), Robbie Bachman (1953), John Travolta (1954), Greta Scacchi (1960), Roberto Baggio (1967) and Gary Neville (1975).

It is Independence Day in the Gambia.


  1. OK Montana, she wasn't just unbearably cute!

    The singing does nowt poir moi, but what a beautiful mover she is.

    Happy Birthday to Gahan Wilson. He did a Science Fiction plot calculator in the early 70s (for Playboy originally i think) that is just wonderful.

    Habib, am raising a cup of Equal Exchange coffee to you just now!

  2. @Edwin - is this the Gahan Wilson thing you mean?

  3. It may be the Kali Yuga, but that is all the more reason to be thankful for the light and life we have. I hope we can recover from the depression thread of yest (did what it says on the tin...), bad things will always happen, let them make us stronger.

    Good piece by Eva Wilt just up on cif.

  4. turminder -"bad things will always happen let them make us stronger".

    Thankyou - needed that, just heard that the offer made for my house (made yesterday) has now been withdrawn :(

    What is wrong with people, sick of living in limbo! I hate moving (but have to - am fuel poor and will end up bankrupt if I don't).

  5. oh, annetan, bugger...

    am keeping things crossed that you get another offer soon.

  6. another yarls wood thread up, kids. usual suspects present and correct. can't face it myself, am a wuss...

  7. Thanks Philippa -

    Turminder I really am greatful for your comment - snapped me out of the dumps!

    We are embroiled in a selection process in our local LP. Rhodri Morgan, who has already stood down as Welsh Assembly first minister, will stand down as Assembly Member in 2011. I have been phoned to death by members campaigning for selection candidates! The woman who has put herself forward has, inevitably attracted the support of the identity brigade.

    Why can't these idiots see that by that argument we should all have voted Tory when Maggie was pm? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

  8. (Again I wonder why I bother)

    Sorry to hear that Annetan but so much for solidarity between 'working class'?

    The powerful will tend to be better organised than the weak (by definition they have more resources), they may also be smaller in number which makes the coordination load less. So one is more likely to get a group as entity from the powerful than than the weak. But all groups are prone to sectional and sectarian identities and consequent interests.

    Re depression I think you are right when you say that it is not a single phenomenon. An obvious distinction is between exogenous / reactive dep and endogenous / innate.

    The C in CBT is 'cognitive' or representational. Cognition (in some sense) mediates between the physical neuro level and the environment.
    Current cog theories depend upon a computational model of mind. Classic computation is strongly representational and emphasises syntax over semantics (grammar over meaning).

    CBT may be more effective than other current treatments but may of course also be used to further other aims (eg reducing n in other categories such as benefit claimants). In the USSR ind psychopathologies could not be put down to social process and structure since the workers' utopia was perfect.

  9. Loving the Henry Porter thread on Purnell. The usual (correct) condemnation of the shitdribble is there, but for some reason the mods have let stand not one, but two posts calling him a cunt (which he is), yet someone has been deleted. What the fuck can they have said.
    I hope that this is a sign belatedly that the mods will allow at least some views that run contrary to those of the senior bods at the paper, who are unnaturally keen on shitdribble. Does rusbridger have special links with shitdribble to keep giving him so much coverage, when then man is so,so unpopular with even those deluded fools still clinging to the New labour ship?

  10. "yet someone has been deleted. What the fuck can they have said."

    I'd say they were addressing your post Alisdair; upbraiding you for labouring under the misapprehension that the Graun gave a flying knuckleshuffle what its readers wanted..The Guardian gives its readers what's good for them.

    I'm pretty sure it then went onto link to this..

    the world of work

    The last paragraph makes a good point..who is documenting this shite? A lad who plays football for me got up at 4:30 all last week, travelled 2 hours each way to clean up in a slaughterhouse (12 hour shifts) and earned £95 last week...£35 travel and overall 'hire' having been deducted. Guess what happened when he complained?..still, gotta look on the bright side, eh?..he's got a lot more time to hone his ball skills this week.

  11. I read the article MF, it's okish.

    But the concept of the individual is as problematic as group. And the individual is also an identity (as it were). What is this 'self' that we attach rights to?

    Dawkins theory of the selfish gene undercuts both organismic individuality and group - selection operates on genes and not on organisms or groups (such as species). I don't agree that this is so since selection may be applied in all sorts of cases to all sorts of entities. But one then has to identify actual extant entities etc.

    I am (in some sense and amongst other aims) trying to suggest that one does need a taxonomy of social kinds, a social cladistics. The class / identity analysis currently popular tend towards the chinese classic - animals that look like flies at a distance, heavenly horses, beasts not included in this list, etc.

    Many groups (as entities) do have rights attached to them, I believe they may include companies and countries.

  12. "And the individual is also an identity (as it were)."

    Yeah OK...but aren't you in danger here of relying on what is in effect a negative dialectic based on deliberate misreading of 'identity'. Ultimately, any object or concept has an identity..the discussion about identity politics is concerned with the privileging of certain (by no means all potential..) groups based on the extent of their perceived worthiness by the 'liberal left'. You are on the verge of toying with an etymological fallacy.

    To be honest, I thought a lot of the guff I read on identity had been dispensed with by Bertrand Russell in the thirties with his "Fallacy of the Superior Virtue of the Oppressed"

    #The class / identity analysis currently popular tend towards the chinese classic - animals that look like flies at a distance, heavenly horses, beasts not included in this list, etc.#

    Don't know enough about this. Got a link?

    #Many groups (as entities) do have rights attached to them, I believe they may include companies and countries.#

    Well yeah..that is the nub of the debate..just which groups have which rights could serve as a reasonable description of what constitutes politics.

  13. Anyway..I'm off out to back-flush my car's radiator..the joys of the internal combustion age.

  14. Why would I deliberately mis-read the term 'identity'? I understand how it is being used in 'identity politics' I am pointing out that this is wrong (you see I am not a relativist duh I have said this before).

    Russell the well known working class philosopher/ander? Why would he settle the issue? He got flummoxed with 1 + 1, didn't he?

    A category is not a group as entity. Companies are constructed through legal and other practices. The working class is (at best) a category and not a functional group, mechanistically instantiated.

    I cannot see why you suggest that I am "toying with an etymological fallacy", discussing the meaning of a term does not depend upon tracing its origins. The physics meaning of 'gravity' does not depend upon its derivation (duh). Identity is no different.

  15. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/8517727.stm

    First thing that made me laugh in ages. And the thread suggesting Tony Blair is 'determined' to make peace in Middle East.


    "Why do people cooperate in groups? They do it when they perceive high procedural justice and not good outcomes."

    I've sat through a kindergarten treatment of social dilemmas and now I've got to listen to this bland American's sententious sermon. My PhD was on social dilemmas, games theory, self awareness and selfishness. He's missing the point of the analysis, finessing away the competition with smug self-satisfaction.

    "How can we get people to cooperate by coming in on saturdays to clean up their office without pay? What will make them comply with authority? They will if th y have what I call 'pride' in their group and 'respect' for its practices.

    Well, that's what I call 'shit'. Hasn't he heard of Milgram or is 'just following orders' ok?Has he heard of Marx? Isn't there a real conflict of interest between employer and employee? This is psychology at its worst, acting as an apologist for, and assistant to, exploitation. It's a psychology for the powerful to apply to the weak. A technology of control and restraint that puts people in the position of hostages identifying with their captors. He seems to want a society wide Stockholm syndrome. respect should be honestly earned not stolen by thieves nor swindled by con merchants.

    My organisation inspires little respect and less pride in me.

    "The relationship between the individual and the group needs to be considered. We have neglected social factors. Social identity is an important process in getting people to cooperate."

    What's this individual group thing? Cartesian dualism in a social form. Secure in his mid-west mind-set this Yank assumes everyone thinks like him. What's novel to him must be new to all. He may have neglected social factors but I haven't. Endogenous growth theory, Austrian school economics, and other macro theories, depend upon inaccurate assumptions about people, full rationality, complete knowledge, narrow selfish utility maximisation. He's in the same tradition.

    We're a group sat around this table. Does he see that? We share interests, have a degree of common fate both short and long term, we could all be put in the same category (academics, arseholes, adults, whatever). But we're also at each other's throat, jostling and fighting for our own individual advantage. It's ironic. Social dilemmas are everywhere. This guy is promoting his version, his slogan, himself. he'll come out with some new term for some old established concept, add confusion, not clarity, to the debate.

  17. Given what they have to deal with, the Palestinian sense of humour amazes me
    Valentines day in Palestine

  18. Afternoon all. Not read up everything yet.

    Hugs to Habib!

    MF - interesting article. Liked this bit:

    "There is something to be said for multiculturalist arguments that people should not have to adapt their beliefs and practices to the dominant culture if they don’t want to. Sikhs, if they would like to wear turbans, should be free to do so in all circumstances. Just as Dickens regrets in Great Expectations that Pip has to turn against his working-class roots in order to succeed in the world of London business, we should regret any instance in which people feel ashamed of their background. But again, this has nothing to do with “group rights” or the public recognition of “difference.” It has to do with the liberal commitment to transcending difference."

    I much prefer this T-word - transcending - than "tolerance" as tolerence implies "putting up with" something, in my book. Culturalism as defined by this article is clearly not the correct approach. There should be no justification for practices such as FGM on the basis that "it is what their culture does". But having said that, I also take on board the bit about the Sikh being able to wear his turban.

    Anyhoo - off to browse a bit more - back in a bit.

  19. Bah. It's taken me half an hour to do the six miles home from work. Roll on spring.

  20. Just dropping in to say hello. I'm a bit preoccupied with other matters but will be back soon, as I'm obviously missing out on some interesting debate on identity.


    I had to drive home through fog & snow last night. Roll on spring, indeed.

    Here's some more hugs for ((habib)) to add to his collection.

  21. Scherfig, stop fucking with my head!

  22. @Sheffield Pixie They're ace. I travelled with now ex husband to Lebanon in 97 (parents from there) and we wandered into a Palestinian refugee camp in North Lebanon (shocking our snooty Christian Leb cousins in process). Anyway ex hub is tall and blonde and I suddenly heard someone say in Arabic "he looks like rice pudding." I translated for him and then we had a lovely chat and they let us take some amazing pics.

  23. msrobinson, I was in Beirut a few times in '92. More holes than bricks in some areas, but I remember it anyway as a wonderful city. If this was Cif, I would almost say vibrant. I imagine that the Corniche is a little prettier now than it was then.

  24. @scherfig I was taken as child in 1975. The first war (they have sequences for the wars!!) was breaking out.It was August but my mum took us out of school because she wanted us to see homeland. it was exquisite, so beautiful. The most wonderful six weeks and old Beirut was amazing. I didn't go again until 97 but my mum travelled during the wars. There would be this paid trail of drivers who would collect her from the airport and pass her on to the next one until she got to her village. I was due to go in 2006. The day I was to fly out Israel invaded.

  25. msrobinson, Beirut is special in many ways. A very long history, and sometimes a sad one. But it survives, I suppose, after a fashion. And it is a beautiful place.

  26. My dad worked for Rafic Hariri back in his Oger Int'l days before he went back to Beirut for good. Lots of flying in and out of Beirut with "aid" during the wars. Ahem.

    Never got to go there myself, though. Would love to one day.

  27. Lebanon, that is, not just Beirut.

  28. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/melanie_reid/article7031188.ece

  29. I love it when you can call someone a shallow, selfish, materialistic cow without much danger of its being deleted. Ahem.

  30. (Previous post related to Waddya and not Jay's link, for clarity.)

  31. This little piece of nostalgia has been inspired, I think, by EvaWilt's brilliant thread today.

  32. thauma, her highness recently said that she felt like Ratty, and that 'Wind in the Wilows' was her favourite book. I was thinking that she was more like Mr Toad, but I was too well-bred and polite to say so. It's amusing when people seem to feel the need to prove that they're intellectual by posting nonsense about Tolstoy and Flaubert and then let slip that their literary icons are actually Kenneth Grahame and Dan Brown.

  33. Indeed, scherf; that one's had a few embarrassing and supremely ironic moments lately but I've tried to hold back. Couldn't quite help it finally.

  34. Nytol - still knackered and a weekend coming up!

    Best to Habib and others who are ailing....

  35. I wonder how many ferrets had to die to make Michael Mates' eyebrows?

  36. In case of deletion im reposting this here, i've been trying to pin this damn thing down in my mind for ages and its just clicked:

    I've been wracking my brains for week over who it is Ed Balls reminds me of, just havent quite been able to place it. Its just come to me. There is something about their faces and expressions that is eerily similar:

    Here's Ed Balls, just to remind you:


    And then there's this little chap who is possibly a long lost relative:


    I've always found Balls disturbing and i think this is why.

  37. pen mate,

    I think we are on different sides of an unbridgeable gap on this issue. I'm not a relativist either and as such can't really acknowledge the validity of your opinions any more than you can mine.

    However..if memory serves, Russell had no issue with 1 + 1..he was quite happy with the way Principia Mathematica turned out, it was Godel who showed that axiomatic logic could never contain all of number theory..never mind any more complex mathematics, physics or, say, ethics. Russell got hung up on his own paradox on self-contained sets which was effectively a problem concerning self-reference..which can't be overcome without the meta-language described in his theory of types.

    Maybe there's a lesson there for all of us. If we can introduce a meta-language of identity we might eventually agree..only a meta-meta-language (and so on might) be required to solve the issue..which is no real solution..it just kinda leaves the conflict in abeyance.

    Maybe a change of subject is in order?

  38. Ed Balls works in a chicken factory?

    What's a chicken factory?..or more importantly: what do they make them out of?..I bet it's something dodgy.

  39. Monkeyfish it's because you are a relativist that you end up with lets all just agree to disagree.

    I thought you were serious about identity and such, my mistake.

    But, sure, why bother flogging a dead horse. Carry on with your circular discourses re identity politics without me.

  40. #Monkeyfish it's because you are a relativist that you end up with lets all just agree to disagree.#

    That statement rests on the assumption that my "lets all just agree to disagree" allows an acceptance that we're both 'correct' from some differing perspectives. I don't pen (I'm no more a relativist than you are).

    I think you're wrong. Dead wrong. I don't want us to agree; not unless it's on my terms. I assume you're the same..or we at least reach some accommodatory middle position..I don't want to do that either since I'm convinced I'm right. For a satisfactory conclusion you'd have to come around to my way of thinking.

    Just what are the chances of that would you say?..I'd say v. remote.