29 April 2010


The first Moorish forces to arrive on the Iberian peninsula, led by Tariq ibn-Ziyad, landed at Gibraltar in 711. Joan of Arc arrived to relieve the Siege of Orleans in 1429.  James Cook arrived at Botany Bay in 1770.  A cyclone with winds as high as 155 mph slammed the Chittagong region of Bangladesh in 1992, killing more than 138,000 people and leaving 10 million homeless.

Born today:  Duke Ellington (1899-1974), Zubin Mehta (1936), Tommy James (1947) and Daniel Day-Lewis (1957).

It is Showa Day in Japan.


  1. Lyrics on the news that Billy Bragg is supporting the Lib Dems in the 2010 election

    I was fifty three years when I wrote this song,
    I’ll still be fifty three when the elections gone,
    People ask where I lost my left wing,
    Around about the time I lost my songwriting sting.

    I founded red wedge, Socialism 1 Thatcher 0
    I put left wing on a pedestal, I said “I always will”
    I don’t feel bad about letting it go,
    I just feel bad about letting it show

    I don’t want to change a thing,
    I’m not looking for a New England,
    I wanna be media relevant,
    I don’t want to change a thing,
    I’m not looking for a New England,
    I wanna be media relevant

    Miners strike, Clause IV, marches on MayDay,
    But that was bloody yesterday,
    Now I ‘bash the fash’ in the Graun,
    Yes I’m a sellout, you’re not wrong

    I don’t want to change a thing,
    I’m not looking for a New England…

    I heard two socialists last night,
    I think they were, I may not be right,
    They spoke about making a society that’s fair
    I wish, I wish, I wish I still cared

    I don’t want to change a thing,
    I’m not looking for a New England,
    I wanna be media relevant,
    (media relevant)
    (media relevant)
    (media relevant)

  2. morning medve,

    The postman yesterday morning said something like "ooimoga". He must be from Friesland.

  3. melissadarley has just posted a stonker on WADDYA.

  4. Your Grice:

    I am of West-Frisian extraction myself, you know, the part of Friesland that is technically in Noord Holland. The Noord Holland West Frisians are by all indicators the most stupid of all: drug use, mental health problems, school leaving, criminality, suicide. Still, proud to be (partly) West Frisian.

  5. On my way. Forgive me for being dense, what is a stonker?

  6. Medve
    The worst thing is that it looks to me as if that poor woman may well be a few degrees towards the bigoted side.

    This is an ordinary, possibly not very educated woman, she is bombarded on all sides by a bigoted press and media so of course she is a bit fucking bigoted. She is not going to question statistics she is likely to accept them however flawed they are and she is worried about immigration, she had a perfect right to express her concerns.

    If Brown was a real socialist, which he isn’t he would have already pursued policies to ensure that ‘immigrant’ (including EU migrant Labour) were protected against the sort of employers who are happy to pay them less than the wage that’s acceptable to British people.

    Immigration is encouraged by Capital precisely because it lowers the wage bill and so lowers the standard of living of all working people. Immigrants are just as much victims as the rest of us, the beneficiaries are unscrupulous employers.

    It also doesn’t matter what race, or religion they belong to, it is not racist to want to defend your standard of living against attacks by employers and immigration from countries that have lower costs of living is encouraged by employers New labour is on the employers side.

    To this lady, Gordon Brown represents the cause of all her frustrations and fears. Some of those fears have been fanned by the right wing press for years . So it was these issues, expressed in those terms that ‘took up with him.

    She is a symptom of the complete disenfranchisement of the British working class and this is the fault of new Labour who were expected to sort this in 1997 – they did the opposite.

    She is now the victim of a media feeding frenzy and its not a pretty sight frankly!

    Paul, excellent point at 00:41 this morning – our masters have divided us and New labour’s identity politics has played its role in this.

    This is where the vital importance of socialists talking to people comes in – it’s the only way to reunite the class people need reminding that no matter what our colour is or where we come from we have common cause and a common enemy.

    Habib – sidetrack scam – excellent way of putting it!

    But Paul has a point - After 9/11 I was quite worried about those of my Muslim students who walked to my class through quite a rough area. Fortunately they were Ok. I think paul is expressing similar concerns.

  7. Anne + Paul

    Agree with much of what Anne says and Paul on 'perception' of situation. Misperceptions really.

    Is Mrs. Duffy a bigot or was she descibibg a situation which she understood in the light of 'facts' as she understood them.

    If I believe someone has stolen from me and say so without any evidence does the ethnicity of the accused make a difference?Am I accusing them because I believe them to be a thief or cos they are black or Polish ? If they are not the thief I could be accused of bigotry - of picking on them for biggoted reasons - I may ,in fact , have genuinely believed they had stolen from me.

    The BNP are always over anxious to say they are not racist - simply pointing out facts and figures - telling it how it is. They are racist but many take on board the lies - seeing them as truth. I suspect across the membership and voters there is a mixture of racist and the misinformed.

    The major parties are as much to blame as BNP for allowing the situation to develope in this way. Europe and immigration have been presented in a long series of for or againsy sound bites lacking substance or information for too long.

    Does Mrs. Duffy know . for example, that as a pensioner she can go to live in Spain and still draw her pension ? There is too much muddled thinking around all these issues - much of it encouraged by polarised poltical sloganeering. there is a danger in this constant dividing and weakening people - problem is the people at the bottom can't see how they are being used.

    Mrs. Duffy could, on the other hand, be a bigot indeed.

  8. Anne, Leni:

    Fair comment.

  9. Hi All,

    Haven't got anything to add, except to let you all know that I'm reading with interest!

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Medve

    hat an interesting article - is it open for comment?


    Yesterday the Jackdaw was very alarmed by the mirror ! He seemed to notice it just as he came into land - still with wings open - several times he veered off again. Today he landed and sidled across - giving oblique glances. Now he seems to be ignoring it.

    The robin - predictably I suppose - reacted with feather fluffing and head thrusts. Most other birds do not seem to have noticed it.

  12. Paul

    further to last night - re Muslims and benefits. This misunderstanding is deliberately created. The non working Muslims - along with everyone else - have benefits supplied from one pot.

    Whose benefits do the tax payments of working Muslims pay ? Are we to say that Jewish claimants , or white people, can have benefits only upto the value of the amount in their own ethnic/religious pot ? These false arguments are attributing ethnic or religious identities to money . is there such a thing as christian money ?

    You are right about misperceptions - they are very dangerous as of course are stereotypes.

  13. Leni,

    Animals and mirrors is a fascinating topic: (apologies if you know all this but): it's been argued that the ability to recognise oneself in a mirror is a mark of high intelligence: even human babies take a while to develop it. (I've also seen friends lose it when inebriated in a nightclub full of mirrors!). The test is generally to put a mark on the animal's (or baby's) head and show them a mirror. If they try to remove the mark from themselves (rather than the reflection or not at all) they have recognised themselves. Clear proof that they haven't recognised themselves is attacking their reflection (your robin or my house mate's cat: whose nemesis turns up outside the full length kitchen window only when it's dark and the kitchen light is on!).

    BUT: what of your jackdaw, did he recognise himself or not? and what of animals whose primary mode of recognition is not visual?

  14. Afternoon all - would just like to recommend that if you have a genuine interest in issues pertaining to the working class, you avoid this article like the plague:
    Working class are under attack from health paternalism.

    If, on the other hand, you want to see Clunie swear, go right ahead.

  15. Dott
    I understand these experiments also point to self awareness.

    As to Jackdaw - very difficult to say - interpreting it from a human angle I would suggest he has'assessed' situation and no longer sees it as threatening. May well be wrong - I/m not a jackdaw.

    I will leave mirror there for few days - then perhaps cover half - watch reaction to half a bird.

    Mirrors are very interesting - people have long been aware of the different reactions to them .i'm thinking of the story of Narcissus.

    Nonvisual recognition - birds recognise each other through visual clues . How aware is a bird (any bird) of his own transformation in the Spring when he starts to colour up and wear his courting suit?

  16. Dot - my aunt's jack russell used to wind himself up into a frenzy of aggression whenever he caught sight of his reflection in the highly polished piano.

    You'd be sitting there on the sofa, and would hear
    arf! arf! arf! arf! arf! arf! arf! arf!
    whimper... whimper...

    Every bloody time. Monty didn't really do 'high intelligence'.

  17. Re mirrors and animals / people it is about self awareness not intelligence per se. Self consciousness and the 'self' (process and structure / concept) is seen as higher cognitive processes.

    Basic consciousness is obviously more widespread. (Both self- and consciousness are very interesting.)

    Re bigotgate etc well there is a reasonable case that movement of people is an issue but the comment was ill informed. She was bigoted.

  18. @Philippa - yes, that's a car crash and a half. The shame is, there's a genuine discussion to be had on the subject and the two idiot authors are the last people who should be kicking it off.

  19. Most animals are responding as if to another animal which is why they get in a tizzy more often than not.

    Self awareness was probably one of the key evolutionary moves in the hominid lineage.

    See Mead 1934 Mind self and society. Or Markova Self awareness (198?)

  20. PeterJ - am imagining that this will be rolled out as 'we've done that recently' example, every time someone asks for more coverage of class / real-life issues. peh.

    (although jess appears about as impressed as everyone else...)

    (matt appears impressed, though)
    "In the US, [ultra free-market libertarianism is] a powerful strand of the Tea Party movement's instinctive anti-statism"

    Oh, that's alright then - it's a 'know-your-enemy' thread.

    Clunie swore...

  21. Leni,

    Yes that too, sorry, it's been a long day in the field! Self awareness and intelligence are fairly closely linked IMHO though. Keep the jackdaw/mirror updates coming!

    And you raise an interesting point re: courting suits, I'm reminded of honest and dishonest signals (honest: the signal is a true measure of how good a mate the bird would be, dishonest not a true measure). I wish I had time to put together a bit on it but I'm afraid I don't.

    Philippa: LOL, just like my house mate's cat! (except scrabble, scrabble, hiss, hiss!)

  22. Depends Dot, autism and asbergers are thought of as dysfunctions of theory of mind which is part of self awareness. One lacks a model of self and other as social beings. But many such idiot savants show clear ability re intelligence in the more general sense.

    Similar with animals, lots show all sorts of complexity of behaviour and ability to represent environments but lack self awareness.

    As I said consciousness is much more widespread, but again for me the terms has a weight of meaning.

  23. Mirrors aren't to be trusted. I flatly refuse to believe that the raddled rake I see in the mirror is the lean and handsome youth I know myself to be.

  24. Pen

    Question for you - does Dogge have theory of mind (intention) when he recognises certain moves of mine are leading towards his getting his dinner ?

  25. Hello, I am back. I have got my laptop and I have my internet connection. This is a positive step.

    Yesterday was awful. After going home I basically collapsed on my bed and slept all afternoon. Felt awful. I feel better though now. Well fed at least.

  26. Misha

    I/m sure you're looking in a warped mirror.

  27. Hi Nap

    Good food and sleep always help;

    glad your hooked in again. You will be better able to research and communicate - not feel so cut off and isolated.

  28. At the place I used to keep my horse, they decided in their wisdom to mirror one wall of the indoor arena. Having a shall we say somewhat flighty specimen, I informed the trainer that he could bloody take the beast in and introduce him to said mirrors.

    When he was taken in, there was another horse down the far end of the arena from the mirrors. As he approached the mirror, he stopped dead, looked in the mirror, then looked over his shoulder at the real version of the other horse in sheer disbelief.

    Then I *think* he clocked that the handsome brute closer up must be himself and preened for a while. Was never able to get him to go past the mirror after that without turning his head so that he could admire himself. (Not good in the middle of a dressage test!)

    The dog is unbothered by mirrors. I'll have to try the mark test on her.

  29. Nap,

    Glad you're feeling better, keep well fed and rested!


    Let me know the results of the dog test!

  30. Dot - not sure about the spot test. Firstly, she's naturally quite spotty. Secondly, she wears (for example) splotches of fox shit like a badge of honour.

  31. The comments on the 'health paternalism' thread are great!

  32. Dot, now you're making me work for this! Will have to go and find sticker shop.... :-)

  33. Does it have to be blue? I thought dogs couldn't see colours.

    I was thinking of just smearing her with a bit of fag ash to bolster my working-class cred. Maybe a bit of fake tan.

  34. Thauma,

    Dogs are thought to be to be dichromatic (can distinguish two colours, where we're trichromatic: three, the three primary colours).

    "Put in human color terms, anything that is bluish can potentially be discriminated from objects that reflect more long-wavelength light (browns, reds, yellows, greens, etc.)"


  35. Now the dog is hyper-excited and the experiment has failed.

    Went looking for stickers and found a mini post-it note. Called her upstairs (where the only mirror she can see in is) and of course this could only mean food. (!) The post-it failed to stick to her face and now she's wondering how the exciting new prospect of getting food upstairs as well as downstairs has gone so wrong.

    The post-it nearly got eaten.

  36. (Sorry posted too soon)

    So if it's blue he'd be more easily able to tell that it wasn't just another bit of fox shit, but only a suggestion if you're really curious!

  37. Ah, that's interesting, Dot. Dimly remember something from biology in school referring to a lack of cones (or something).

    The post-it was orange anyway!

  38. The paper I mentioned reckons they have two different types of cones, for the two colours, they also mentioned their results contradicting some earlier assumptions....

  39. So.. the political debate is tonight. Maybe I will give it a miss.

  40. It all explains why sometimes I get the "why, I could just scratch your [blue] eyes out!" look from her.

    What about horses? Cos mine has a deathly fear of green plastic barrels. White and black ones are OK, but green ones are clearly the work of Sauron and require lots of rearing and spinning.

  41. Nap

    I thought of skipping it too - but am now interested in Browns economic whatevers after his promise yesterday to make up for bigot debacle

  42. I am too busy. I have studying to do. I have to do various things with my lap top.

  43. I have to do various things with my lap top.


  44. thauma
    you wish, eh? You like nubile athletic young men....?

    No, seriosuly, there are many things to do. I only bought the lap top today and there is always stuff that has to be done, preferences, installing software, files and folders etc.

    One issue, there is no web cam, even though there is supposed to be one. On the instructiuon unit and the display in the shop, there is a web cam and microphone on the top, but it is not here!

  45. Are you sure they aren't built in, Napoleon?

    But probably not - you will probably have to go back and have your brain twisted to get them.

  46. Evening all,

    Jay, you've got mail.

    I was cycling back from work today and a bloke passed me on his bike. He had a crate of 24 beers on the front of his bike and a mattress doubled over and tied on the back.

    He looked for all intents and purposes as if he was cycling to the park to neck the beers and then crash out on his mattress for the night. Tomorrow is Koninginnedag (Queen's day), a national holiday, so he may well have been.

    The Dutch will never cease to amaze me what they can get on a bike.

  47. Te working class article - is it a spoof ? Remember the meercat thing - all thought it was spoof only to discover sensibilities had been affronted.

  48. thauma.
    The webcam should be built in, but it isn't there. On the top of the lap top above the screen, there is supposed to be a bump sticking out,containg microphone and webcam. The instruction manual that came with it has this picutre. I checked this model online before buying and it should have this web cam.

  49. Leni - I'm afraid not.

    Napoleon - meh. Drudgery at the shop. My sympathies.

    Off for a bite and then the debate....

  50. Leni,

    I had a look at that. Great post on there from you.

    This epistle from the Ivory tower of neo-liberalism looks to me for all intents and purposes as a trojan horse disguising a savage public health spending cuts agenda.

    They're disguising themselves as critics of the paternalist attitude towards the working class in Public Health terms. Once they recommend Public Health initiative cuts, Public Health will be next.

    The cack handed way of approaching it- "we're here to defend your working class culture of tabs, tits, tans and booze" is a complete giveaway in terms of their wilful ignorance towards the sector of society they are claiming to defend. They are using spurious claims of defending the "working class" to push their monetarist agenda.

    Anything published by the Institute of Economic Affairs should come with an enormous foghorn warning.

  51. Duke

    I am beginning to suspect this article is a Trojan horse with all sorts of nasties hidden within.

    It is so insulting - demeaning the majority - As you say in the guise of defending our right to be stupid and empty they are preparing the way for our supine acceptance of the inevitible cuts to come - but ah well ! - they tried.

  52. @Napoleon - what make is it? I bought a netbook a while back where the standard model had a webcam and, it turned out, mine didn't. Which is why it was a bit cheap...

  53. peter.
    It is a Toshiba satelite pro L450, which can be seen here on this price comparison site. This is an excellent site btw.

    Ok, it turns out it wasn't meant to have awebcam. Curious. Turns out the one with th webcam had a tiny difference in the name, a few different digits at the end. Oh well, I already have a webcam.

    Duke, and others, re the 'let the plebs eat junk food' article. Where I live it is very apparent of the poor socio economic conditions, plenty of icelands, lidls, bulging track suits, heaps of dogshit on the pavement, cheap take aways everywhere, drug addicts, alcoholics, dive bars everywhere as well. I have not seen so many smokers in my life. It is no coincidence, that I am just 15 minutes walk away from Glasgow Calton, the place with the lowest life expectancy in Britain.
    (as an aside, I was shocked to see headscarve weating and even fully veiled Muslims smoking. In our society we see tobacco as being evil, and alcohol not so much so, so it was a bit of a surprise to see a devout muslim having no problem smoking.)

    I disagree with the libertarian path. What is needed are social conservative values (not Tory), rather a sense of community, duty to society and to oneself. In this country we do not have a proper European style conservative movement. I am liberal and even left wing on some issues, but on many social aspects I feel quite conservative. High tax to fund social welfare though.

    Time to watch David Dimblebiy. I know wherte he lives. He lives in a rural village in East Sussex just outside Eastbournes, on the fothills of the South Downs. I often used to go walking through that village. I never met him though.

  54. @Napoleon - thought it might be something like that. With mine the only difference was a little 'g' at the end of the part number.

  55. Dot - re animals and mirrors, I used to have a mirror in the hallway that reached almost to the ground.

    One night I was awakened by the most god awful catawalling from my cat! She was trying to frighten off the cat she saw in the mirror. It was so funny her tail was as wide as a loo brush!

    Have similar mirror in bedroom now - she ignors it! Don't know why, perhaps like the Jackdaw she no longer sees the 'other cat' as threatening?

  56. CIF is completely plucked - presumably a sort of sigh of relief that it's over after the leadership debate. So two points that I have now failed to make over there.

    1) Kettle's piece up saying Cameron 'passed the test' of the final debate went up at 22.07 BST. The people reading the print version tomorrow won't see that, and therefore might be fondly imagining that it was written after the debate, with careful consideration, rather than him having made his mind up in advance. That stinks...

    2) Chap from Plaid on R4 just said that "the London-based parties aren't dealing with the big issues, they're just talking about the fridges". Made i laugh.

    R4 apparently asked the BNP if they wanted to come on and join the 'smaller parties' post-mortem they're having - they said no. Bless. Maybe Griffin's tired after dodging marmite all afternoon.

  57. Glad I'm not the only one who's having problems with Cif. I thought at first I might have been banned -- I usually go to my profile first and it wouldn't load. Then I went to the Waddaya thread and it was just the garbage that Medve posted above. Tried a couple of other threads -- same thing. No comments, just garbage. Hmph.

  58. I got 'sorry' posting on kettle's garbage, all the avatars were 'red cross boxes', a 'service unavailable' on Waddya, and now the open thread has gone '404' as well, so I think it's well and truly knackered.

  59. Clegg's point that 80% of immigration is from within the EU was a bit garbled by the time it was repeated by one of the voters' panel - 80% of immigrants are from Eastern Europe.


  60. Philippa, Montana:

    The dangerous property boom thread has its commenting working just at the moment, Waddya is throwing uncaught exceptions as you say. I posted the "garbage" because it reveals the inner workings of pluck and i thought it might interest thauma and others.

  61. Stop press!! waddya is working again.

  62. Evenin' all who are awake!
    I'm voting BNP - £50,000 to leave Britain? I love the place, but come on, that's a lot of money to sit in the sun with.

    Oh hang on, lies and cattle trucks spring to mind, think I'll give it a miss.

  63. @habib

    If they up it to a million the i is gone man!

  64. Hi Guys

    Can I come with you ?

  65. @Leni

    Cos you can come.My first port of call will be the
    Rep of Ireland where me Mums relatives still live.
    Habib may come up with a better offer mind.Longer
    term i,d say Canada.Will obviously tell people i,ve
    inherited the dosh rather than being bought off by
    the BNP.Must keep up appearances.See how British i
    am at heart!!

  66. Leni, it would be great to have you along, I think we'd have a great time, all three of us.

    But Paul, come on, Canada is too cold. With £50,000 each we could make a killing in Greece this summer, or die happy trying...

  67. I doubt it will happen but I would just love it if the majority of the electorate thought; "fuck it, why not give the Lib Dems a chance, they couldn't fuck up any worse could they?"
    Then just sit back and watch in astonishment when New Labour came third and won the most seats in Parliament.
    The English are pretty docile when it comes to politics but surely that result would cause many people of the right or left persuasion to think: "Hang on a minute, what is this sham of a democracy all about?"

  68. Chekhov

    My dilemma - with 6 candidates here Labour will win.

    So where do I place my vote. The discrepencies between number of votes cast for and the guy who is elected is huge. I want to use my vote to help highlight this.

    Both MP and AM were elected with more votes agin them than for.

  69. @habib

    I won,t settle for less than a million!

    C,mon habib you need to up your game.£50K is nothing.

    If the BNP wanna get rid of us they pay big time.

    Plus we get refunds on all the tax and NI contributions we,ve made.Trust me the Banking
    bailout will be nothing compared to what a BNP govt
    would have to pay to get rid of us.

  70. Paul + Habib

    Somewhere warm please - sweet wine and music.

  71. Btw: I don't agree with the Lib Dems on all their policies but this "apple cart" needs seriously upsetting so I'm voting Lib Dem on that basis.

  72. Leni: we all know the voting system is rigged. I've no idea who you should vote for and I haven't got a clue if your vote will make any difference.
    My vote probably won't make any difference either but I will make it in the knowledge that I can sleep at night living with my decision.

  73. Leni; Just vote Lib Dem and show up the sham that our democracy really is!

  74. Chekhov

    That's the way my thinking is taking me.

  75. Hi All--Habib, my man, it is not colder here than the UK. 21 deg. today. That is in the west of Canada of course. You couldn't pay me enough to live in the east. We do have wineries in the hundreds, good music, and of course many many species of birds for Leni. As I have mentioned before, not utopia, but up the list towards.

    Have to say the debate was not impressive. Too much throwing of turds and a paucity of new formed ideas and policy. Had I a vote, would go for Clegg. Seen through my anti -Tory glasses of course.