10 July 2010

10/07/10

Fire in the Evening -- Paul Klee

We all have strength enough to endure the misfortunes of others.
-François de la Rochefoucauld

243 comments:

  1. BTH

    fuckin hell, do I have to run through this again?...I thought I explained last time: I say something bad about you..then you say something bad about me..and so on.

    (extra points awarded for wit, style and touching a nerve)
    That's how the internet works..got it?

    Imagine it's like a sort of fight. I punch you..you punch me..I punch..etc.

    NOT..

    I punch you...you stand on one leg..I punch you..you lie down and make a noise like a dolphin...I punch you...you tell me your favourite film..I punch you..you turn vegetarian etc.

    Sort it out..it just gets surreal and that's not intentional on your part..you're just not really up to it are you.

    Oh btw..about your CRB check..looking good..I know a guy who works in the office and he saw it near the top of a pile of forms the other day..probably just waiting for final approval. There was just a firearm application from this guy called Rauol something and Stevie Wonder's pilot licence above it..so any time now mate.

    Hang on..just had a thought..better wipe out your entire back posting catalogue; if they catch sight of some of your stuff, you're fucked bitey.

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  2. We all have strength enough to endure the misfortunes of others

    - Not sure I have at the moment but I need to get it from somewhere or I won't be able to help stop it.

    Paul your last post yesterday was brilliant and expresses what so many are feeling at the moment - including me. It makes me want to throw bricks but I know thats useless it will help no-one in the long run , not even me, although I would feel a lot better in the short run!

    Leni -Suffering is hard to bear and to witness - avoidable suffering deliberately inflicted is an outrage against heaven and mankind

    WE have to find a way to make that anger work there doesn't seem to be anything credible happining at the moment by way of opposition. WE have no leadership (Harman fffs! and the unions are no better)

    But the class lines are now very clearly drawn and more and more people are seeing this very clearly.

    WE need leadership because
    'WE have a fight to fight, we have a score to settle...
    WE have a fight to fight, we have a war to win.

    Anyone recognise that song can't remember its title or who recorded it (someone did Alex Glasgow possibly). If anyone knows I'd be greatful Karl Liebnicht and Rosa Luxembourg feature in it somewhere if I remember rightly, Ta.

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  3. morning all
    lovely picture
    paul - great 'last post' last night

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  4. annetan42

    I am not completely convinced about the class lines and I think that those lines are now so sketchy and confused that other people are probably not too sure, either.

    We do not now have the old working-, middle- and upper-classes (with various strata and gradations between each one, of course) but neither do we really have anything levelling or "meritocratic."

    We seem to have an underclass, a middle class and an amoral class.

    The underclass is composed of dole-cheat scum; rat-faced, hoodied, drug-dealers; petty-thieves; anyone who is ill, mentally or physically for any reason and people who work in jobs which only pay enough for them to live in bus-shelters.

    The middle-class are those people whose jobs pay enough for them to actually live in buildings most of the time, but this could be something the size of a small potting-shed (and about the same structural quality) with a mortgage the size of Blenheim Palace.

    The middle-classes actually go all the way up to people who can afford a car and a holiday or two and at the upper edges, a second property which you cannot actually afford, but hope might be another little profit centre if you can let it out when you don't need it.

    The amoral classes are those who will use any means to ensure that the classes beneath them fund them and to ensure that no rules, regulations, laws or restrictions act as lets or impediments to anything they do. To these people, the entire world simply has their name on it and they are forever coming to collect.

    An animal which preys on other animals will not pick out the biggest and strongest and most healthy to invite to a dinner in which it is the meal.

    It is not about spite or hatred or even a cunning plan.

    It is about ease and efficiency.

    Of course, the two extremes of the classes are now so far apart that they are basically separate species.

    It is probably the middle-class which is most attractive, though, containing some nice lean or flabby meat, rather than the stringy, sinewy stuff on the underclass.

    You keep that stock healthy by giving it the runaround forever between the threat of falling over the cliff into the snappy little jaws of the Untermenschen or having to leap and clamber at the other cliffs which lead to the sunny uplands of success, from which, of course, you stare and laugh.

    There will be no leader emerging because, unless you are at the top, nobody wants to admit to belonging to their actual class.

    The best you can hope for is probably small local groups brought together for other means because nobody is political now. Never even suggest that one day, all these local groups might actually coalesce into something bigger when people begin to see that their problems are connected and actually flow from the same source.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Morning all.

    Looks like I missed out on some interesting 'debate' last night.

    anne

    Yes - the lack of leadership is really hampering things for the opposition.

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  7. Duplicate posts and my dustbin has disappeared.

    Google hates me and taunts me and makes me look foolish in public, whereas I love Google and only want to win its cold, pure heart.

    I know my place.

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  8. Then the dustbins come back!

    I hate you, Google, and I hope the chocolates I sent you make you choke to death!

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  9. Chocolates, AB? Just the thing for breakfast - can we share them?

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  10. Third place play-off tonight. Why do FIFA persist with this crap? Nobody's watching, nobody cares..an all round pointless, demeaning and humiliating endeavour.

    My prediction: D Milliband...on penalties

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  11. MsChin

    Of course. I'll get on to my Ambassador friend and tell him to fire up the lorry to deliver Ferrero Rocher all round.

    Escellente! But, monsieur, you are spoiling us wiz ze Ferrero Rocher!

    Obviously, if you were having one of your little parties in a motorway service station, I would also send wine, but you would probably prefer something more suited to your stations in life.

    Brown bottles of fizzy Fuckwit (alc 6.7% by vol) will be more to your tastes and unsophisticated palates.

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  12. monkeyfish

    My prediction: D Milliband...on penalties

    If they had a final playoff with bottles and knives, I'd watch.

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  13. I see Rapid Eddie's had no response yet..and nobody else took up the baton and demanded an answer

    seems the house-spam aren't particularly exercised by suggestions of rank in-house hypocrisy..not when there's procrastination and fuck-ugly little muts to rhapsodise about

    posed the cynic

    Giyus bang on form lately btw..he was getting some stick from one of the spam last night about his prose style..forget which one..they all look the same to me..but at least he has a style..which is more than you can say for the slack arsed, boring, predictable drivel produced by his critic whose USP is the sheer volume of tumbleweed invoked by his 'pithy' one liners. Why can't they leave him alone?

    If CIF had an Oscar night, Giyus would be up for a Lifetime Achievement award while the other clown might just get nominated for Best Joke adapted from a Radio 4 sitcom..tragic

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  14. Absolutely priceless..speaks for itself..sort of..in a manner of speaking...ya kna

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZHnWpLQtyo

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  15. suzanne vega on 'inheritance tracks'
    where have all the flowers gone, and masters of war.
    fabulous...

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  16. AB to me it seems that we are approaching the situation where the 'class lines' Marx and Engels talked about in the manefesto are becoming clearer - those who own most and those who have to work to survive (two months salary away from eviction).

    All the upper middle lower middle/upper working class stuff is just a very clever smoke screen.

    In the end though its a case of 'which side you are on and even some of the wealthy - who might prefer not to live behind razor wire fences might prefer a society that is more secure for everyone because the gap between the richest and the poorest is so dangerously high.

    So we have the rich powerful and greedy who will do everything to saty that way.

    The poor who are totally powerless at the moment through lack of any sort of credible leadership.

    A mass in the middle who are more or less likely to drop down into the second group.

    Those in the middle who (even if very likely to fall into group 2) have been convinced that they two could become members of group 1)

    Finally we have the feckless and lazy 'lumpem proletariat who have always been there and can usually be recruited (at a price ) by the forces of reaction to do their dirty work.

    In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations. The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones. Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other - bourgeoisie and proletariat

    Events seem to me to show that that is still essentially true. It will remain true until we get rid of the current form of class society - capitalism and replace it with one based on common ownership and economic as well as political freedom.

    At the moment I don't think I really have either of those - although at least I can still type this on an open blog without being arrested for it.

    However - watch this space - when the Tories start banging on about 'our ancient feedoms' (and they are ) I get suspicipous.

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  17. btw, for any gil scott heron fans out there, the great man appears to be missing. again.

    he was due to play at sete on Thursday night, apparently 'missed his plane' so couldn't appear, but overhearings in the car park suggest that his agent doesn't know where the hell he is.

    so keep an eye out...

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  18. How come we haven't had a Bindel piece on Raoul Moate?..OK, he's a rabid misogynist etc..but he only actually seems to have killed men..radfem icon in the making? He's already a bit of a Robin Hood figure around here among the more discerning and shell-suited, weasel-faced little street philosophers. Why not the feminists too..maybe he's an antihero whose 'legend' will one day transcend all cultural boundaries?

    Makes sense to me. If Snoop Dogg gets a panegyric why not some fuckin fat ugly, pig-ignorant Geordie bouncer? He's an icon for our time.

    Aimless working class lad who's rejected traditional notions of respect and solidarity and has instead built an identity on violence, fear, 'reputation'..'I'm looking out for number 1' and 'nobody fucks with me'..Thatcher's legacy..uneducated dickheads who let their steroids do the thinking for them and terrorise their own.

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  19. HankScorpio

    "Like most paedophiles, I'm guessing that you're a bully full of shit. I'd love to meet you face to face. I'd happily kick the fucking shit out of you. As would monkeyfish."

    And you accuse me of being boring?

    Here you are on 06 Mar 09, at 5:42pm, when presumably for once you were sober:

    "Oh Gawd, not this one again... We all have equal right to protection from violence, and we should all face the same sanctions for using violence"

    You Mr Scorpio, the anonymous armchair militant, who thinks "Kinnock was a genuinely principled guy" and Gordon Brown "entered No. 11 in 1997 with principles and objectives", and made "genuinely progressive changes in his early days", threatening me with violence through a second anonymous proxy?

    What are you going to do, get him to hit me with a copy of clause 4?

    Fortunately for your readers Mr Scorpio, you've provided us with the answer yourself. Here you are on 12 June 2008:

    "Violence becomes an issue when people have no stake in the system, and it is in danger of becoming endemic when those people understand that their marginalisation itself is endemic."

    Perhaps you should change your moniker to HankMarginalisation and your violent friend to monkeymarginalisation?

    Then you'd become the marginalisation twins.

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  20. anne

    I agree with you but it seems to be that the way people perceive things and their place within them disguises this to the point of invisibility.

    The rich - in the sense of high mortgages and running like fuck in the ferret-wheel of life - have their gated communities, which they would never imagine look quite like ghettos, from either side of the electronic gates and razor-wire-topped walls.

    The poor in America are living in tents under the freeways, voluntarily sequestering themselves from the public gaze because they are ashamed to be seen to be poor.

    The poor do not have a sense of their bigger community or the degree to which they are being detached and jettisoned from the cuddling (geddit?) arms of the society from which they should be able to seek help.

    Once they get back on their financial feet - those who ever do: a lot never will - they will seek to fly as far and fast as they can from the people with whom they shared roadkill cooked in old oil-drums beneath the shuddering roar of America speeding to success.

    Those in gated communities think they have made it, when the real rich would regard their funny little just-about-detached houses and pocket-money incomes as something like life on an insect scale.

    The problem is, insects are often pretty organised and sometimes swarm and colonise when their current lot fails to provide what is needed.

    We tend to just wrap ourselves up like woodlice and dream revenge.

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  21. BTH

    "Oh Gawd, not this one again... We all have equal right to protection from violence, and we should all face the same sanctions for using violence"

    I think we can assume he was referring to unjustified violence; self defence, the protection of others and kicking the crap out of kiddy-fiddlers are another category entirely.

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  22. Violence is the last resort of the incompetent, don't be incompetent, give Bitey a smack in the mouth now.

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  23. Taking a look at la Toynbee's article on 'class politics' (suddenly feeling brave this morning!)

    Now I have absolutely no time for John Prescot but the sort of comments we are getting about his elevation to the peerage has, to my mind, confirmed that class lines have again been drawn.

    This what certain people have always thought about people who sound working class 'common' is the word they usually use.

    If they were attacking him for his policies or his behaviour I would probably agree with them but they don't its his accent his somewhat inarticulate speech, The phrases below are what they think of ALL working class people.

    "Prescott was a steward on passenger ships; we called them housemaids with testicles, and like many another flunky he likes to emulate those he cares to consider his betters."

    "Lord Two-Jags has finally slashed the average IQ of the upper house to single digits."

    and
    "Someone has to serve the drinks between debates!"

    Nothing else to say really

    Going back to finish the article and read the comments - can't wait!

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  24. "@peterbracken - you really are are a pretentious fucker."

    And I fart at thee, Hank Scorpio, the rankest cow that ever pissed.

    And before you call me a cunt again, remember cunt was once relatively harmless. "Chaucer dropped it casually and severally into Canterbury Tales, and the City of London once had an alley favoured by prostitutes called GropeCuntLane."

    Perhaps you were conceived there.

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  25. peter

    I don't wish to get involved in spats between others, but I object to your misogynist insult. Are the children of women involved in prostitution worth less as human beings than you or I?

    anne

    Don't get your hopes up re: sensible debate on the Toynbee thread. Did you see the housing benefit cuts one yesterday? Truly dreadful, people with no concept of compassion.

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  26. Morning....gawd! a bit fragile this morning. Did I talk crap on here last night? Daren't go and look. Great night though - dancing till dawn and all that.

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  27. Nah, sheff, but you played some good tunes, apparently!

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  28. "Are the children of women involved in prostitution worth less as human beings than you or I?"

    Perhaps we were too, Ms Chin.

    We think we know the ones we love...

    Besides, a cunt conceived in CuntLane has a certain symmetry, don't ya think?

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  29. The Guardian coverage of the Dutch at this world cup is driving me nuts.

    Relentlessly negative "Where is the Total Football?" "Isn't Mark Bommel a cunt?" "Why have they become Germany?" on the other hand Spain are now playing "total football".

    If that's the case how come the Netherlands have won every game scoring 12 goals in the process whereas total football Spain lost one and have only scored 7 with three 1-0 victories in their last three games?

    As for Mark van Bommel. Every team has a hard bastard, sneaky, devious, dirty holding midfielder. It's hardly unique.

    I hope the Netherlands win just to stick it right up the moaning faced Guardian journalists on the Sports section.

    Is the rest of the UK press just as bad in their view of the Dutch or is it a Guardian thing?Anyone know?

    #monkeyfish#

    your assessment of Moat was spot on.

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  30. Morning all

    MF - just had me choking on my tea with this:

    "seems the house-spam aren't particularly exercised by suggestions of rank in-house hypocrisy..not when there's procrastination and fuck-ugly little muts to rhapsodise about

    posed the cynic "

    Nice one.

    BTH - the home educating is coming along fine and dandy, ta. One or two hiccups at the start, but now we are into a good working rhythm.

    Nice of you to take an interest in my 15 yr old son... oh... wait.... ugh.

    MsChin

    The place is over-run with people with no concept of compassion these days. But as one or two people have said, I really do think it is fear. They are worried that they are going to be next for the chop, so denounce others in the vilest terms in the hope that they will be somehow protected from it.

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  31. monkeyfish
    Roaul Moat was scum, yet the crime reports seem to suggest he was a a loveable fugitgive type. It is the same as the glorification given football hooligans, who 'repent' as soon as they smell a book deal coming their way

    Remember that man was a murderer, he has robbed a man of his life. The media's response was reprehensible.

    I like the humour of you posts, but are there seriously people who look up to him in your part of the world?

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  32. Peter Bracken

    So you're a cunt and his mam's a whore..classy stuff!

    I'll tell you what winds people up about you..it's the "I'm of the Left" routine. I'd even concede you're not a tory. I think 'Tory' and I think: self-serving rapacious bastard..fervent cheerleader for unfettered capitalism because it's the best way for him/her to make a quick buck.

    I imagine you believe Capitalism is the most efficient form of wealth creation...I think Hank would probably agree..but in the same way he'd agree a Napalm strike is the best way of eliminating greenfly..brilliantly efficacious but one or two unfortunate side effects. See, I'm not speaking for anyone else here but I think it axiomatic that along with the 'efficiency' (I'm talking rate and volume of production here..there's no implication on my part that human contentment has entered the story) there are various concomitant tendencies which make it untenable from a humanist perspective..

    capitalism: concentrates wealth exponentially in ever fewer hands and in proportion to those hands' existing wealth; is inherently unstable and can't regulate itself..and needs state bailouts at depressingly regular intervals; it wrecks environments; requires armed persuasion for its survival; is socially divisive; requires an underclass. It eats people..and becomes progressively more dehumanising.

    However, you seem to regard it as a force for good in the world; a system that can feed us all, lift ever greater numbers out of poverty and spread liberal democracy..and since all these highly questionable assumptions are vaguely altruistic, you imagine yourself 'of the Left'..OK, these ideals might separate you from the average Tory but they don't make you Left Wing...not if the term retains any objective currency.

    To me, the Left shares my take on Capitalism. That's why they oppose it. Not because they're deluded and misty eyed nostalgia freaks for the post-war consensus but because they look around them and see it for the monster that it is.

    Because you're basic view is so radically different, any 'discussion' would devolve into question begging. In particular, debate about a particular issue or policy would be akin to a 'New Atheist' arguing over the 'meaning' of a psalm with a Rabbi. The latter's fundamental beliefs and assumptions render the discussion meaningless..the real debate is about God's existence, all else is reducible to that.

    Likewise, any debate you engage in here will be reducible to a row over capitalism's potential benefits..with one side taking the non-existent stance. Not much point discussing anything else...especially telling someone their mother's a slapper.

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  33. your grace - l'equipe is talking more about von bronckhorst, and sees the change from 'beauty' to 'efficiency' as a good thing (and not at all german). if that cheers you up.

    and remaining resolutely neutral as i seem to be adversely affecting the chances of teams I support...

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  34. Talking about midle/upper class attitudes, one of the volunteer tutors I had when I worked in basic skills said this the people who lived near him (on a council estate):

    The trouble is they breed

    He didn't last! half my students were from that estate. I was very shocked hadn't heard that kind of remark since the early 60's (Chatterley trial 'would you let your servant read it?')

    These attitudes were repressed for a while but they haven't died, they are a old as class society.

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  35. #I like the humour of you posts, but are there seriously people who look up to him in your part of the world?#

    Yes..seriously. And it's not just the hoodie fraternity. I've heard grown men saying how much they admire him.."game as fuck".."you can't blame him..if I got sent down and my lass started.."
    ..and then you look at the picture: the bloated ignorant face, the vacant stare, the inner life which seems to have consisted of he-man cartoons and gangster fantasies..and he's a fuckin hero to some people? truly fuckin depressing.

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  36. BTW that Vt was a former manager of the local branch of IBM comouters and lived in a 'posh' area next to a council estate.

    There is also some working class private housing near that area, my daughter lives there now. There is a footpath leading to it from the posh bit. There was recently a campaign (unsuccessful fortunately) to have the footpath closed.

    People like my daughter (a qualified nurse) are obviouslynot good enough to walk the same streets as the residents of the said posh area.

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  37. Cheers Philippa,

    even contrary Cruyff is at it "I'm a Dutchman but Spain play my type of football", he's just being pre-emptively bitter in case the Netherlands win.

    As I just said on the latest Richard Williams moanfest, if the Dutch played 1970's total football in 2010 they would be dicked good and proper, what are they supposed to do?

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  38. MF

    Apparently Paul Gascoigne, claiming to be a mate of Moats, arrived while Moat was surrounded last night, complete with a can of lager & chicken for his pal.

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  39. The testosterone still seems to be pumping on UT then.

    I have to venture again into that noisesome Dantesque fifth circle that is our "centre commercial régional".

    I bought a pair of trousers in the sales yesterday and, with the classic self-delusion of the middle-aged man, I got them a size too small.

    I can't help feeling I lack a little extravagance. Some men's mid-life crises involve sports cars (or at least motorcycles) and young women in the twilight of their teens. Mine seems to consist of buying trousers I can barely do up.

    So, once more into the breeches, dear friends.

    Serves me right.

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  40. MF and Nap

    I think what happens in cases like Moat is this: first of all people are not all that bothered, then as time wears on and the media builds it up, it starts to take on a Hollywood life of its own and they start making up their own Hollywood fantasy versions - maybe he was stitched up by a dodgy copper and shouldn't have been inside; maybe his gf was in on it because of her undying love for said copper etc.

    Plus there is always the merest hint of anarchism that bubbles under the surface in all of us at times, and likes to see someone getting one over on the cops/the government etc.

    They have elevated it all into some kind of action blockbuster. I can't see how the ending could have been any different, with all the media hype around it and what looked like every armed copper in the country on his trail. Either the cops were going to top him or he was going to top himself.

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  41. Yes..seriously. And it's not just the hoodie fraternity. I've heard grown men saying how much they admire him.."game as fuck".."you can't blame him..if I got sent down and my lass started.."

    Truly weird. In a few years he will have transmogrified into the north east's very own Robin Hood. Songs sung, pubs named etc etc.

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  42. #Apparently Paul Gascoigne, claiming to be a mate of Moats, arrived while Moat was surrounded last night, complete with a can of lager & chicken for his pal.#

    ex-premiership footballer, celebrity thug bouncer..lager..chicken in a basket...sounds like the North East Academy Award gala evening.

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  43. Dime to a dollar says Moat had a framed poster from the Pacino/De Palma "Scarface" on the wall.Most of the steroidal gym-monkeys doing the doors round here buy into that shtick. Not a bad film, very stylish, but the sheen masks the fact it's a dark satire, not a fucking guide to life.

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  44. So you can be excused for trying to kill your ex and killing her partern as long as you shoot some random coppers too.

    People are worrying sometimes.

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  45. AnnTan

    With respect to your political position, I think suggesting that the Tories are going to ban people from blogging is a bit crazy.

    "Finally we have the feckless and lazy 'lumpem proletariat who have always been there and can usually be recruited (at a price ) by the forces of reaction to do their dirty work."

    Have there ever been any contemporay examples of this? Do police cars trawl council estates with banners recruitng poor people to say, crush an anti war demonstration?

    Or the army, yes it is true that many poor people do join the army and the army does specifically target deprived areas. But perhaps there might be positives for some- an iron discipline, a sense of fmaily nad structure that many never had.
    (yes a huge %age of ex squaddies will be homeless, but could that not be ascribed to them being 'dysfunctional' before they entered the armed forces?)

    What I accept is the poor are used as a vehicle by some- namely Rupert Murdoch- but he is a third party, the actual state establishments don't go around bribing the poor to be a mlitia. Can you provide any evidence of the poor being 'recrutied (at a price) by the forces of reaction to do their dirty work'.

    Who are the 'forces of reaction' anyway? Murdoch. In which case the poor don't get recruited, they have to pay 20p a day to to be part of the forces of reaction.

    I believe that people are the arbiters of their own fate. No one forces people to read and get their political opinions from the Sun, but they do anyway, evne though the bile in it often goes against their interests. Why?

    I knew instictinvely, even growing up in a poor household that these rags were intrinsically evil. Why did my fellows in my peer group not see that and choose to submit to Murdoch's propaganda? I do not know.

    I just don't take this Marxist perspective. People are not particulraly opressed, they choose to opress themselves by reading rags like the Sun, or having no political interest.

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  46. Partern? Sounds like a waterfowl.

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  47. Actually now you mention it, even thoguh I grew up in a poor hosuehold, we read the Independant, so that is probably where I got my 'conscioussness' from.

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  48. I can't look at vid links at work, where I do most of my reading. So someone may have posted this before, worth posting again even if they have.



    Must-See Animated Capitalist Takedown from RSA and David Harvey | The New York Observer


    Here

    Agree that the Moat debacle is mostly media hype, in fact this is a sad tale about a person, clearly of unsound mind, who forreasons that will never be known, but shall fetisisticly be pored over, documentarised and paperbackbooked for years to come.

    I know a medic, who did a rotation of psych during training, they were in america, Boston, I think. He told me that 2-3 times a week he'd have to meet and interview someone who had just murdered someone. Usualy a partner or friend. The word he used to describe all of them was broken. We all make society. Society, yours and mine, made Roual Moat.

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  49. spike

    Agree - the man was violent towards his ex-partner before he was jailed. He was sentenced for assault on a minor, a family member. He refused to take the blame for his own behaviour & chose to blame others instead. How the hell that makes him a hero, I don't know. I have serious concerns about those expressing approval of his revenge on his ex - they seem to think it's entirely acceptable.

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  50. The Left no longer opposes capitalism, MK, or at least most of it doesn't. Why, even Communist China and the former Soviet republics couldn't stomach the abject suffering their goose-stepping economies inflicted on their people, and have turned to capitalism to provide the things everyone wants.

    I don't give a stuff about growing absolute wealth differentials. It might be obscene, but if capitalism delivers better, healthier, wealthier lifestyles - and it does, undeniably - that matters loads more.

    Also, the notion that only capitalism wreaks havoc - environmentally, geopolitically - is a load of cack, and you know it to be.

    And the reason why you get stuck on my claim to be on the Left, is that you're looking for my credentials as an ideologue, which I'm not. Misty eyed nostalgia for a social system that could never work, and only blighted the lives of the very people you purport to be concerned about when it was tried, means jack shit in the real world. Which is the focus of my leftism.

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  51. #Dime to a dollar says Moat had a framed poster from the Pacino/De Palma "Scarface" on the wall.Most of the steroidal gym-monkeys doing the doors round here buy into that shtick. Not a bad film, very stylish, but the sheen masks the fact it's a dark satire, not a fucking guide to life.#

    Too true..unfortunately it's just these monkeys who set the moral, cultural and intellectual tone in too many estates around here..role models for poor little sods who can't see any other route to a life of 'glamour'..an escape from supping white cider in a bus shelter and shopping at Lidl.

    Mind you..if it turns out Moat had a poster of "Breathless" (the Jean Luc Goddard..not the pale Richard Gere rip-off) we'll probably be treated to a eulogy from Bidisha or Barbara Ellen..doomed hero..life imitating art.

    Message to any little mindless tearaways..develop some middle-class pretensions..that way you can always cash in your notoriety with the colour supplements.."the McVicar ploy".

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  52. Just off to the bus shelter, then LIDL for me white cider. L8rs..

    Wee Linky for The Bracken. ; - )

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  53. Nap
    With respect to your political position, I think suggesting that the Tories are going to ban people from blogging is a bit crazy.

    If I had said that it would be crazy! There are of course places where this does happen (Iran? China?). I was simply suggesting that although our democracy was compromised we did at least still have freedom speech.

    My final para on that comment was more than a bit ironic! My bad, irony does not come over well on the web! Should have included a :)

    "Finally we have the feckless and lazy 'lumpem proletariat' who have always been there and can usually be recruited (at a price ) by the forces of reaction to do their dirty work."

    Firstly such people do unfortunately exist. This does not of course mean that all working class unemployed people come into this category - the vast majority don't. But they do exist and the present a problem for the working class because the ruling class do try to expand the membership of this group to the whole working class.

    I do not know of any current cases where capitalism recruits such people but the naziz in germany did recruit a thug element to their Brownshirts in their early campaigning.

    Strikebreakers could be said to come into this category too although many of these may just be duped.

    My post was only a comment on the current government in as far as it shows how the lines between the haves and the have nots are being drawn more and more clearly. Bankers still getting their bonuses while the poor and needy get reductions in benefits and will inevitably see the public services they depend on more than any other section of society.

    It was more a general comment on the nature of our democracy and the nature of capitalist society. It has shown the features i was discussing since its earliest days in the 17th century.

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  54. Doh!! 'will inevitably see the public services they depend on more than any other section of society CUT.'

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  55. MsChin

    "I have serious concerns about those expressing approval of his revenge on his ex - they seem to think it's entirely acceptable. "

    Most people would be surprised about the extent to which some people genuinely think that a woman deserves "a slap" if she is unfaithful. The saddest thing of all is the number of youngsters that think this is ok. I often see cases where lads as young as 20 are in the dock for domestic violence. How the hell can that still be happening?

    PeterB

    "Misty eyed nostalgia for a social system that could never work, and only blighted the lives of the very people you purport to be concerned about when it was tried, means jack shit in the real world. Which is the focus of my leftism. "

    As opposed to Capitalism, which worked so well until it needed a socialist bail-out you mean?

    Sheesh.

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  56. #I don't give a stuff about growing absolute wealth differentials.#

    and in a nutshell..there it is. Thing is they're not an unfortunate by-product, they're an essential structural feature..they're the whole fuckin point.

    #It might be obscene,#
    ..might?

    #but if capitalism delivers 'better',#
    ..needs qualification..no?

    #healthier,#
    ...let's face it, a free-market health care system does NOT make MOST people healthier.

    #wealthier#
    ...amassing greater overall wealth, concentrated in relatively few hands and then proclaiming an increase in average wealth is not really a watertight case.

    A glaring omission from your defence of Capitalism is any reference to social stability, contentment and security...most people in a freemarket tread a path which skirts a looming abyss..rather than find a safer route, the capitalist approach is to remove the guard rail..keeps us alert and competitive, apparently.

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  57. Peter Please define 'The left' - be interested - been trying to for years - seems to mean different things to different people tbh.

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  58. @peter bracken

    The Left no longer opposes capitalism, MK, or at least most of it doesn't. Why, even Communist China and the former Soviet republics couldn't stomach the abject suffering their goose-stepping economies inflicted on their people, and have turned to capitalism to provide the things everyone wants.

    Is it not a deluded notion that these former state-capitalist and centrally planned economies were of the left?

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  59. James Dixon and anyone interested

    Re: Niall Ferguson and the History curriculum.

    I’ve mentioned before this ludicrous but unsurprising decision by Gove to allow Ferguson to rewrite the History curriculum.

    He’s an apologist for the history of the Eurocentric ‘rich and famous’ and colonialism. His basic ‘Empire’ thesis is that conquered peoples needed to realize they were conquered, accept it and realize it was in their best interests to do so.

    Ferguson also vigorously defended Hugh Trevor- Roper in the face of the criticisms of Richard J Evans in Evan’s book ‘In defence of History’. In his book, Evans quite rightly criticized the view taken by Trevor- Roper that African and Colonial History is:

    'the unrewarding gyrations of barbarous tribes in picturesque but irrelevant corners of the globe'.

    Ferguson defended Trevor-Ropers position vigorously accusing Evans o disrespect despite Evans quoting Ropers views verbatim.
    More tellingly, Ferguson in his book “Colossus” on the rise and fall of the American Empire, states in the preface:

    "Unlike most of the previous writers who have remarked on this, I have no objection in principle to an American empire. Indeed, a part of my argument is that many parts of the world would benefit from a period of American rule."

    Which clearly highlights his neo-con beliefs also shown in his activities with the AEI and the What if? movement. What if? is counterfactual history.

    Counterfactual history attempts to rewrite what would have happened had a historical event not taken place. Interestingly, nearly all counterfactual history is written by right wing historians.

    The topics tend to concern how better History would have been if revolutionary, radical and emancipatory events had not happened. Therefore we have Newt Gingrich on a Confederate victory, Andrew Roberts on Lenin being shot at Finland Station, John Adamson on what would have happened had Charles I won the English Civil War? etc etc.

    And who has compiled a collection of these essays with a preface arguing in favour of the study of counterfactual history?- Niall Ferguson in 1997.

    Ferguson has been regularly criticized for simply ignoring sources which do not fit his ideological viewpoint. Ann Talbot and Jerry Brotton have consistently addressed this. Talbot has also noted that:

    ”All British historians, E.H. Carr once said, are Whigs, even the Tories—but not in Niall Ferguson’s case. He is a Tory formed in the Thatcherite mould, who cut his teeth writing for Conrad Black’s Daily Telegraph while he was a research student in Germany.

    Now my argument is not that Ferguson should have no part to play in rewriting the History curriculum due to his bias. The point is, all History is biased, therefore the decision to allow an individual with such a biased viewpoint a free hand to write the curriculum is pure ruinous ideology.

    If Gove was serious about rewriting the History curriculum properly, a panel of Historians across the ideological spectrum would have been employed. The appointment of Ferguson is right wing anti-intellectualism of the highest order.

    And lest we forget, who was one of Ferguson’s biggest supporters and defenders against these charges at the Hay festival this year?

    Martin Kettle. Of the Guardian.

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  60. Fucking hell. That was some piss up.

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  61. @Your Grice

    The point is, all History is biased, therefore the decision to allow an individual with such a biased viewpoint a free hand to write the curriculum is pure ruinous ideology.

    Sadly not ruinous for the future electoral chances of the right when the youth are so indoctrinated, as we have seen in Hungary.

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  62. "Rush Limbaugh said on his July 2 radio show that he believes Obama tanked the economy on purpose, both as "payback" for 230 years of racial oppression and because Obama simply doesn't like America."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/07/rush-limbaugh-obama-creat_n_637716.html

    Sorry Peter, you're right..Capitalism is self-sustaining and self-regulating after all...whenever there's a crisis, it's usually the fault of some 'uppity' black geezer with a chip on his shoulder.

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  63. @ annetan. Might as well ask define 'capitalism'. Aye, commerce and trade have been always with us, or so it seems, but not this detached, unsustainable, post-industrial, super-corporatised turbo-capitalism. Actually that's not even the 'brand' of capitalism coming through in China etc which is more of a state/oligarch cross-over authoritarian capitalism (and some might say Italy's a bit that way...).
    There is a school of thought that the birth of the modern corporation/company and status as a distinct legal 'person' and associated developments alongside the industrial revolution was a complete wrong turn, one never corrected because those who benefit from the structural flaws won't allow it. Capitalism in the broad-brush sense could have taken any of a myriad of forms, not capitalism in the narrow sense of what we have prevailing today, which may not be the form that endures through this century. Will a kinder form emerge? I doubt it. An even harsher one? Probably.

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  64. "As opposed to Capitalism, which worked so well until it needed a socialist bail-out you mean?"

    Not your field this BB, so if you're gonna comment you need to mug up a bit beforehand.

    There are strict capital ratios that banks, internationally, must observe. They vary from country to country, but that needn't bother us unduly.

    When, after reckless lending on the part of banks globally, the sub prime debacle sent the pack of cards tumbling, the banks found themselves with assets that were billions less than their book value.

    But the banks are required to 'mark to market', which meant that they suddenly found they were in breach of the said capital ratios - and this required them to shore-up their balance sheets. But the sheer scale of the fund raisings required a combination of private and public cash injections, unless - like Barclays and HSBC - the banks' mortgage businesses were relatively small.

    But both the state and private investors took their pound of flesh. In return for the funds, they were given shares at vastly discounted prices. So a bailout of sorts, yes, but not a socialist bailout by any stretch. Hard-nosed capitalism at its ruthless best, more like. The UK government is already sitting on a £2 billion paper profit on its investment in RBS, and that will almost certainly quadruple in the next couple of years.

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  65. I don't give a stuff about growing absolute wealth differentials. It might be obscene, but if capitalism delivers better, healthier, wealthier lifestyles - and it does, undeniably

    To whom is it delivering this Peter B? The ever growing armies of the poor and unemployed in what was the old SU and the battalions of work slaves in China?

    The millions in the US who not only have no health insurance but increasingly no jobs either? The disabled and terminally ill in the UK who will be made to work if they can manage three steps and lift a pencil?

    But none of that matters - you and others like you are ok - its doing well for you.

    You cannot call anything left wing that doesn't include solidarity and support for those who are less fortunate than oneself. So you may harbour the illusion that you are of the 'left' but in fact you are most emphatically not.

    Bitters - where were you? We were dancing all night and you weren't there....

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  66. When, after reckless lending on the part of banks globally, the sub prime debacle sent the pack of cards tumbling, the banks found themselves with assets that were billions less than their book value.

    So why aren't the people responsible, the banks, the speculators, the people who have made squillions on the back of all this, actually paying for it? Because they're not in any sense they will really feel. Why is it the increasingly villified poor, the 'scrounging untermenschen' who are going to carry the can?

    And do you think it's acceptable that a small group of unaccountable speculators can actually make decisions about an entire countrys economy that effectively ruins it? Greece for example. Or even a single individual like Soros back whenever it was?

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  67. Alisdair a book called 'Capital' defined it pretty well actually, written by that german chap - Karl Marx I think ;)

    'The left' is a deliberately vague term used by those who oppose socialism and those who say they believe that capitalism can be made fairer.

    It is actually therefore not capabale of definition. I am not 'of the left' I am a revolutionary marxist, I believe that we shall only get socisl justice when we get rid of class society within a democratic and economically egalitarian framework.

    This does not mean everyone gets the same, it means everyone has enough for their needs (but not for their greed). It means freedom from the sort of fear that many previously secure people are beginning to feel. Even I fear having to pay for my (life saving) medication as I almost certainly couldn't afford it.

    I am not alone there.

    To protect its profits capitalism (aka 'the market') would prefer that I died and all the non-productive elderly with me.

    'The market' is cold arrogant greedy and inhumanly cruel. The people who support it aren't of course ;)

    NB *winking*

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  68. Sitting on paper profits, Peter?

    Really?

    Like all the paper profits everyone else was sitting on until the crash?

    I don't give a shit whether it is my field or not. I am looking at the results of this fantastic Capitalist wheeze now, right this minute, which is this: tax money has been pumped into the banking system to shore it up as a result of bankers, directors and shareholders taking real money out where only paper profits existed in the first place. They have used that money to continue to pay themselves huge bonuses, have thumbed their nose at the government lending targets that were imposed saying "It would have been nice to have been able to lend more but, hey, we can't. Pity."

    The result is that there is nothing left in the coffers, and the very tax-payers whose money was given to them are the ones suffering by cuts in essential services, tax hikes, the grinding-to-a-virtual-halt of the lending system - especially for small businesses, who are the life-blood of this country in terms of the number of people they employ - and possible redundancy of hundreds of thousands of people because the money needed to sustain public services is in the pockets of bankers.

    No amount of telling me there will be jam tomorrow makes up for the fact that the bankers stole the entire jam factory, then "borrowed" our money off us so they could buy more jam today, leaving us with barely a stale crust in the mean time.

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  69. Bill Hicks on Rush Limbaugh

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6F7Q7BkAbCk

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  70. Going back to the beer fest now. I may be some time

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  71. Sheff
    There was a ska band at the beer fest last night who played til one we then went to an african bar and then I got turned away from the shittest pub in town at about three. Came back, drank wine. Too drunk to post.

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  72. john harris sounding vaguely left on any qs...

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  73. I know that, annetan. There are one or two Marxian scholars who have postulated that a practices that might conceivably fall into the broad-brush stroke category of capitalism might not be inconsistent with progress to revolutionary socialism or the proletarian revolution.c.f. the temporal single-system interpretation (TSSI) of Karl Marx's value theory,seeking to apply Marxist thought to the different, evolving circumstances and manifestations of capitalism since Marx's death .Most Marxian economists try to separate out the economic theory from the sociological and historical analysis, but some synthesise.
    This is worth a read.

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  74. Well, it's a paper profit until the stake is sold, when it becomes a real profit. My point being that the 'bailout' will deliver a return for the taxpayer. The money spent to keep the banks in line with regulated capital ratios is not lost; the taxpayer will get it back, and some more. You tend to overlook that fact because, clearly, it fatally flaws your argument.

    Now as for bankers bonus, I think you're right insofar as they were not structured to reflect the risks taken on which they were financed.And that needs to change, and is changing. But you're wrong to say that the bonuses were built on paper profits. They weren't, and that's clear from the billions paid out in dividends to pension funds (yours amongst it, probably - but, let's overlook that, er, detail, too - and in corporation tax to the government.

    Furthermore, you talk of the banks as if they employed only bankers. They don't. They employ hundreds of thousands of regular Joes and Joanies, who depend on them for their livelihoods.

    And as for your observations, sheffpixie, you need to pause for breath and imbibe this salient fact: living standards are rising. Period. And your citing China and the former Soviet Union in the manner you did is just economically illiterate. Their adoption of open trade, and the GDP growth it now sustains, is precisely why wages are rising and employment is growing in both arrears. I'm not saying that's the be all and end all, but it flatly contradicts the sensationalist picture you paint.

    Have a go a capitalism by all means, but don't argue it's making people poorer, die younger, or regress educationally. Because it's not. It is funding positive developments in each of those areas.

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  75. monkeyfish:

    "kicking the crap out of kiddy-fiddlers are another category entirely."

    Notwithstanding the fact that your obsession with paedophilia is a psychoanalysts dream scenario, it's interesting to see you're standing foursquare with the Iranian theocrats on this matter.

    Mr Moat, from your description of him, seems to be your kind of hero.

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  76. "The money spent to keep the banks in line with regulated capital ratios is not lost; the taxpayer will get it back, and some more."

    Yes. So you keep saying. Jam tomorrow.

    Unless, of course, another crisis comes along and soaks up all that lovely tax-payers' money as they continue to try and plug the black holes in their balance sheets. And the banks, who are still eating jam while everyone else is on bread and water, announce - same as they did for their loan undertakings - "Well it would have been nice to be able to pay back the money to the government the way we said we were going to. But we can't. Pity."

    And there would be fuck all we could do about it.

    "Have a go a capitalism by all means, but don't argue it's making people poorer, die younger, or regress educationally. Because it's not. It is funding positive developments in each of those areas. "

    What percentage of the population is actually benefitting from all these Capitalist wheezes today compared to, say, 50 years ago?

    If it is working so well, why is it that there are still children in this country going to bed hungry at night?

    And why have you chosen to live in a state that is far more to the left in its social and economic policy than the UK has been in 50 years?

    If it is working so well in the UK, why aren't you living here?

    Could it be that the education system, the health service, the provision in terms of sports and community activities in even the smallest towns are so much better there than they are here? Could it be that there is a social cohesion and esprit communautaire in France that we lost decades ago in the UK?

    Or is it really only for the weather?

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  77. Anyhoo, gotta go and do stuff. BBL.

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  78. Oh, missed one bit.

    Of course bonuses were handed out on paper profits. And commissions. That is what the whole crisis is about! Derivatives so cock-eyed and ephemeral that there was no actual capital worth an elephant's fart at the basis of it any more.

    Really must go. Stuff to do.

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  79. living standards are rising.

    Whose living standards are those Peter? Oh right, the likes of you and me in the 'comfy' western nations. But what about the rest of the world? The Niger delta? Congo? The Favelas of Rio de Janeiro? Moldova - an economic basket case? The townships around the world cup stadia in SA? The penny a day child workers in India (isn't Primark wonderful)?

    Have you ever been to any of these places? Well I have (not all cited above). The lives of those people is price we pay for this system you so diligently uphold. You might be happy to live with that but I'm not.

    Have a look at these and then tell me I'm being sensationalist

    Poverty facts and stats

    Even the bloody World Bank is saying the number of people at risk of poverty is increasing. And that "while the global focus on food prices has waned, domestic staple food prices in several countries have experienced double digit increases in 2009, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa".

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  80. Morning/afternoon all...

    13thDuke

    I particularly like Ferguson's efforts to develop a counter-factual history videogame.

    'That'll blur the lines in the minds of the kiddy-winks - mwahahahahah'!

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  81. #Notwithstanding the fact that your obsession with paedophilia is a psychoanalysts dream scenario#

    My 'obession with paedophilia'?..hmm

    You're the one with the back catalogue..maybe you could post, say..erm..just half a dozen posts I've made over the past coupla years on the subject? Shouldn't be hard to find, given the obsessional nature of my interest...I'm sure I go on about it all the time..no?

    #it's interesting to see you're standing foursquare with the Iranian theocrats on this matter.#

    Why?..do they assume you're a kiddy-fiddler too? ...I underestimated the scale of your notorirty..you're a bit of a celebrity paedo then..erm..well done bitey..I suppose.

    #Mr Moat, from your description of him, seems to be your kind of hero.#

    Can you actually read Mr Hand?

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  82. "I underestimated the scale of your notorirty"

    that should be notoriety...although notoririty kinda suits you somehow..."the notoririous internet pederast"

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  83. @Duke

    I remember Ferguson's thesis on World War 1, which was that the UK should have stayed out of it and kept the Empire - it would have made us richer, and if mainland Europe ended up as a Wilhelmine tyranny, then so what? After all, we've ended up with German tyranny over Europe thanks to the EU in any case.

    As an argument, that ignores so many realities of the international political situation in 1914 that it's staggering in its wrongness. Even leaving out the treaty obligations this country had.

    I'm not sure if Ferguson backed the idea of peace negotiations in 1941 using Rudolf Hess's defection - perhaps that was Andrew Roberts - but it's his kind of thinking.

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  84. By all means go and do something else, BB, because that last post of yours was pants.

    "Of course bonuses were handed out on paper profit." That's just just flat wrong. The investments turned a substantial profit when the bets came good. The problem was the bonuses didn't reflect the systemic risk that attached to them. And I agree, that must be addressed.

    And you need to understand what a derivative is. It's a punt on the future price of a commodity or an asset or a currency. Those things certainly are real, and nor did derivatives cause the financial crisis (though I grant you, they helped accelerate it). That was the product of the adverse financial contagion caused by the securitisation of debt - normally a sensible risk spreading financial instrument which, in the calamitous events of 2008, simply allowed the debt issues to infect the entire financial system.

    Now by all means rant wide eyed against faceless bankers and speculators - but at least draw one or two sensible conclusions from it.

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  85. Peter Bracken

    Perhaps ironically, your argument exhibits many of the characteristics of those I consider to be of the deluded right/capitalist school, namely because, you claim for capitalism, the credit of things that have happened despite a general adoption of it, not because of it.

    Because, thank Christ, we have never really lived under a truly capitalist system, and, in my opinion, any coinciding benefits have been brought about by mostly un-capitalist actions, policies and initiatives.

    So, when Capitalism was balanced by a strong union movement for example, there perhaps was a correlation between 'profits' and a more general increase in wages/living standards.

    However, when the union movement is weakened, this correlation also weakens.

    And when Capitalism is overseen by sufficient regulation, control, or effective taxation, there is some element of benefit, but, again, weaken any of the above, and the benefit transforms into risk/exploitation.

    And finally, the Capitalist system has been allowed to 'work' for so long, only because it is often, at least partially, underpinned by things like welfare, healthcare and social provision.

    Without these things, which would not exist in a truly capitalist system, most of the so-called benefits would evaporate as quickly as the imaginary billions of dollars held in puts, pushes, calls and whatever other fancy derivatives the capitalists have been dreaming up for the last 100 or so years.

    In fact, if you look back over history, the nature of Capitalism is tellingly cyclical, precisely because when it gets closer and closer to it's true state, it breaks down, and actions are necessary to 'rectify' it.

    When you remove the checks and balances from capitalism, checks and balances that are often anathema to true capitalism, it goes wrong.

    And very wrong.

    So when you argue that there have been significant benefits because of Capitalism, you have to define exactly what you mean by the term, because otherwise it's easy to co-opt other non-capitalist stuff into it where it suits you, and it's more than likely that these aren't in themselves, a genuine part of the system.


    Or, you have to hold said benefits up alongside a textbook definition of true capitalism, and then see if it still looks so promising.

    I'd argue, that, when you do this, the argument that Capitalism has achieved x, y and z looks decidedly less impressive.

    In my opinion of course.....

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  86. Duke:

    Ferguson is an excellent historian. The Pity of War, Empire - these are both quite superb, erudite and interpretively fascinating studies.

    His regret that the US is a reluctant superpower should not be lightly dismissed. Indeed, the contrast between the spirit-sapping jack boot of theocrats and dictatorships and the fundamentally sound support for freedom and rights that the US espouses should make us share his lament.

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  87. I'm sanguine with your caveats about capitalism, James. Regulated capitalism is the way forward. It always has been. The profit motive can't go unchecked, otherwise none of us would pay our taxes, corporations included. None of us would pay for the pollution we cause, or the monopolies we enjoy.

    The key lies in harnessing capitalism - through progressive taxation, wealth creation, technological progress and the like - so that it's benefits are spread as equitably as feasibly possible.

    That's a bit vague, but you get my drift.

    Meanwhile, I'll listen to a workable alternative.

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  88. "The key lies in harnessing capitalism - through progressive taxation, wealth creation, technological progress and the like - so that it's benefits are spread as equitably as feasibly possible".

    But the thing is though Peter, it's highly possible to read that equally as a rationale/soundbite/argument for Socialism and/or Communism, isn't it!?

    Just take out the word capitalism and replace it with a synonym, and it's sufficiently vague to argue for anything, without necessarily being a true representation of that thing.

    So if you remove the 'un-capitalist' stuff from the definition and success story of Capitalism, what are we left with?

    Can you still say, for example, that it's the capitalist bit that's the way forward, or the bit that needs preserving and pursuing?


    Personally, I'm not so sure.....

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  89. Ha ha I love it when capitalists get all technical:

    "The problem was the bonuses didn't reflect the systemic risk that attached to them...the product of the adverse financial contagion caused by the securitisation of debt - normally a sensible risk spreading financial instrument which, in the calamitous events of 2008, simply allowed the debt issues to infect the entire financial system."

    Truth is, not even the smartest economist can understand the system we live in, or predict it's future. Strange really, because greed has always been a constant. Maybe it's hard to know who's going to be the most greedy tomorrow.

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  90. PeterB

    Apologies, but something's come up, and I have to pop out for a bit!

    I'm not bailing because of fear, defeat or a dearth of argument, though, so I'm happy to respond to anything a bit later....

    Have a good afternoon folks!

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  91. @PeterB

    The Pity of War is the World War 1 book I was talking about. As R.W. Johnson described it, it is "an extended and argumentative tutorial from a selfconsciously clever, confrontational young don, determined to stand everything on its head and argue with vehemence against whatever he sees as the conventional wisdom – or, worse still, the fashion – of the time"

    Here are a couple of other reviews:Jay Winter
    V.S. Berghahn

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  92. PeterB,

    'The pity of War' is an appalling piece of work in which sweeping assumptions are made on the flimsiest of evidence.

    He makes note that a German Industrialist made a deal in Britain and takes from this, that as German Industrialists did not want war, the whole Marxist conception of the war as Capitalist conflict can be disregarded! As he says himself:

    "The Marxist interpretation of the war’s origin can therefore be consigned to the rubbish bin of history."

    heady stuff for an thesis based on one observation.

    He then goes on to contradict Fritz Fischer's "Germany's aims in the First World War" by arguing Germany's aims before WWI were not for global expansion, in direct contradiction to Fischer's main argument. Fischer's book was backed with such thorough scholarship and evidence that there has been little to no factual criticism of it since it was published in 1961.

    Where is Ferguson's evidence in support of his argument that Fischer was wrong? None.

    The entire book suffers from the desire to be iconoclastic and revisionist. Unfortunately for Ferguson, if you're going to be revisionist, you better have your evidence. Ferguson fails miserably.

    He then brings in his counterfactuals (as PeterJ noted earlier), that had Britain stayed out, an Imperial Germany dominated Europe would have prospered under the benign twin powers of Wilhelmite Germany and the British Empire. We wouldn't have had communism or fascism.

    Vive l'empire.

    As I said earlier, Ferguson is notorious for ignoring evidence that does not suit his ideological point of view whilst making sweeping assumptions based on the flimsiest of evidence.

    And he's been single handedly given carte blanche to rewrite the English Schools curriculum. Appaling.

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  93. Bracken claiming to be on the left conjures up an image of Vorster saying, "I hev notting aginst the blecks, bot..."

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  94. That's the English schools History curriculum I hasten to add.

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  95. I haven't read Ferguson Yr Grace but if you're right, having him oversee the History curriculum is horrifying.

    Bit like what they're up to in Russia at the mo - reinstating Stalin as a hero of the people!

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  96. But WW! wasn't an industrialist war, Duke. I'm reluctant to attribute long term causes to it, but if there are any they would reside in the militarisation of Germany during Bismark's tenure - though Ferguson is at pains to debunk even this aspect.

    It's no surprise (to me at least) that Lawrence Stone and Christopher Hill and others have been well and truly shafted by recent historians (John Morrill's brilliant Revolt of the Provinces, for example) by exposing the flatulence of the formers' ahistorical Marxist interpretations of the Civil War.

    As for WW1, the German military calculations - regarding a debilitating war on two fronts - probably contributed as much to war as AJP Taylor suggests. Which is a great deal.

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  97. @Duke

    You are correct at all points.

    The R.W. Johnson piece I quoted from the LRB is interesting, as it shows that criticism of Ferguson can come from honest right-wingers as well as from the left. It's not online, but I have a PDF I can send you if you're interested.

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  98. By the way, Duke - both EH Carr and Trevor-Roper are among my favourite historians. EP Thompson too, but what a pity he ventured into political philosophy.

    Also, if anyone can claim to know - and to have read - EP Thompson's only novel, I'll grovel on this wanton website for a week. A £100 nobody has, too.

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  99. @PeterB

    I remember The Sykaos Papers, although I had to look up the exact title and haven't read it. It looked like a misguided attempt at science fiction following Doris Lessing's abysmal lead, and I gave it a miss.

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  100. Peter B,

    But WWI wasn't an industrialist war, Duke.

    We could be here all night..... ;)

    I'm running out the door as we speak (my better half is glaring at me) but just a question in which I'll read your answer later if that's ok.

    What do you think about Ferguson's appointment to oversee the History curriculum single handedly? Bearing in mind that History is a discipline requiring assessment and synthesis of evidence not necessarily in line with one's ideological viewpoint and that all study should be undertaken in a fair and balanced manner.

    Do you think it should be left singlehandedly in a Historian's hands who is notorious for his approach to evidence not in line with his own ideological approach? Or do you think like me that it is an anti intellectual populist appointment designed to push a narrow agenda?

    I'm just interested as Ferguson appears to share the same ideological views as you on foreign policy, the US as a benign power and dare I say neocon agenda as yourself (or from what I have synthesised from your writing!)

    PeterJ,

    I would like to see that, thanks.

    I'll stick my email address on here later and when you've got it I'll delete my post, I'm literally running out the door.

    Fijn Avond.

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  101. Oh, you mean the The Sykaos Papers, Peter

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  102. PeterJ

    Didn't you like Lessings Briefing for a descent into hell? I loved it.

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  103. You serious, sheffpixie - you've read it? I'll honour my bet if it's true.

    (A pity you missed it PeterJ)

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  104. @Sheff

    I didn't mean that one; I meant the whole Canopus in Argos thing, starting with Shikasta. The ones that were entirely SF, although she pretended they weren't.

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  105. Don't dis Doris, she wrote "The Wind Blows Away Our Words", prescient knowledge of Afghanistan when the invaders were Russian. Nothing has changed much, by the look of things, just the colour of the invading flags.

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  106. Alisdair - interesting article - the 'democratic enterprises' described remind me of Tower coliery. What is missing of course is exactly how this system would be co-ordinated. Seeing as this could only happen if the capitalist state (which largely and increasingly supports the capitalists against the rest of us would be overthrown. Basically its the old Cause 4 part iv with an emphasis on and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service. 'Popular administration' being worker's control. The nationalisations of 1945 failed to implement this of course.

    BTW I have been puzzled by the term 'Marxian' for some time, I'm not an academic Marxist and can't find any explanation of the term - is its meaning different from Marxist? Many of the sites I've found by googling seem to equate the two, others seem to associate it with post modernism which makes me a tad nervous of it ;)

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  107. PeterB

    I knew a science fiction nut back in the 90's who put me on to Robert Anton Wilson, which I enjoyed (very funny). He had it - he was also a huge fan of EP Thompson and had actually met him.

    It was lying round the place for a while but I couldn't get into it, so no, I can't in all honesty say I've read it. I'm not really a big fan of scifi. Although I did enjoy Arthur C Clarke and Asimov when I was a kid.

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  108. Clearly not, sheffpixie. A google headline doesn't qualify.

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  109. Paul Gasgcoigne on Raoul Moat. Depending on your view, hilarious or tragic.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZHnWpLQtyo

    essentially-
    "Yeah, he was a lovely guy, sure he killed someone which is bad, but he was a lovely guy. What's the price for murder eh- 10-12 years?"

    as MF says, this Robin Hood view of Moat is gaining credulity, and a 'cult figure' like Gazza will only help spread it.

    Poor Gazza. Fallen star.

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  110. I have read EH Carr's What is History though - and have just dug it out.

    He says on p23:

    "Study the historian before you study the facts...When you read a work of history, always listen out for the buzzing. if you can detect none, either you are tone deaf or your historian is a dull dog. The facts are not at all like fish on the fishmongers slab. They are like fish swimming about in a vast and sometimes inaccessible ocean; and what the historian catches will depend on chance, but mainly which part of the ocean he chooses to fish in and what tackle he chooses to use - these two factors being of course, determined by the kind of fish he wants to catch. By and large, the historian will get the kind of facts he wants."

    It may be a truism now but it wasn't for me when I first read it. So its very worrying that those who control the school curriculum should put history education into the hands of one person with a particular agenda.

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  111. a google headline

    Sorry Peter, what do you mean?

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  112. I have just read Waddya, it is amazing Peter that wherever you turn up people seem to think you are smug and superior.

    If it was me I would be wondering if they all didn't have a bit of a point. ;)

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  113. Sheff

    I think he was just being dismissive.

    PeterB, I have never come across someone whose default position seems to be "condescending sneer". It's not pleasant and it's not necessary.

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  114. Not really, BB, we just time-missed postings.

    Yours is is an excellent example of the conclusions people with an agenda can deduce on the basis of scant knowledge.

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  115. BB

    Peter doesn't question and discuss, he pontificates. To paraphrase Foucault, he doesn't like it when:

    "the tranquility with which he is accepted is disturbed"

    Then he sneers - do you remember parrallax? He was very similar.

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  116. Peter, tres cher.

    I can only go by what I read. Same as everyone else.

    Anyway, it is too lovely an evening to be arguing with people. Just had some very nice home made bbq burgers and lamb chops, courtesy of my wonderful husband, and am now sipping some decent ale.

    Cheers! :o)

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  117. Sheff - good, gutsy hard-boiled French cop film on Beeb 4 if you have it, tonight at 10.00 - 36 Quai des Orfevres. Depardieu and Auteuil. Superb film.

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  118. BB

    Beautiful evening up here too. Just about to cook supper - have bottle of red to hand and am going to watch Le Serpent (dir Eric Barbier) this evening. I'm told its a bit spooky.

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  119. @ annetan. There is a big cross-over between Marxist thinkers and Marxian ones in many respects;they are not synonyms, but neither are they mutually-exclusive categories. It's still a useful distinction.Marxians are much more theory-centred(typically being academia-based) and I'd say try to apply Marxist thinking and analysis to the circumstances in we we now live, as opposed to at the time Marx wrote, focussing chiefly upon economics. They are more likely to pick'n'choose the elements of Marx that they feel are most pertinent to their analysis of today, making use of Marx's concepts but not necessarily adhering to all of his thinking.There is of course the cross-over mentioned, because of the rather large differences (often bitter) in interpreting Marx's thinking.Maybe Marxists argue more about doctrine and Marxians more about application...

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  120. BB - I've seen it - I do like French thrillers. I went through a Daniel Auteuil fest a while ago and must have watched his entire back catalogue.

    don't know what I'd do without LoveFilm.

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  121. Busy, busy, busy - as that funny little robot thing used to say on the television series, the name of which I have forgotten and as Vonnegut said the Bokononists say, although I may have mis-remembered that completely - so just a quick drive-by.

    Sheff and Wybourne - even my O level history teacher said, before you believe anything an historian writes, first check their agenda.

    It should be pretty obvious in the grown-up world.

    Of course, we could take everything at face-value and lock, stock and barrel if they are saying something we want to agree with, but it wouldn't be the most intelligent thing to do.

    Socrates had the grace and intelligence to say that the only thing he was sure of was that he knew nothing.

    A little recent quote about a politician, whose name also escapes me, but seems appropriate here:

    You cannot have a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

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  122. The sneering isn't mine. It's the pitiful presumption that most contributors here know how it is that's the sneering.

    So when you get a cuckoo in the nest your instinct is to flail. That's what this website is: an exercise in flailing.

    There's no guts about this site - only the incestuous pecking of featherheads, one or two excepted.

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  123. evening all...

    Haven't read down all the comments and I've been frying my arse off at work today..... it's fucking 32 degrees in London unbelievably hot.

    But this I did pick up on....

    PeterB:

    "the sub prime debacle sent the pack of cards tumbling, the banks found themselves with assets that were billions less than their book value"

    But they were happy to cream of billions in fake profits on the backs of lower middle class Americans on the basis of the sub-prime fantasy Peter. Not only this, but I understand that when millions of these sub-prime mortgages where in place, when the housing market remained static, people were so over-stretched, they automatically defaulted. The market didn't even have to fall.

    I wonder, whose great'idea' was it to sell mortgages to people who were at best a fragile lower middle class who had spent 3 or 4 generations becoming self-sufficient and solvent or who were at worst simply too poor to pay back a mortgage?

    You can't use the phrase "the banks found themselves with assets that were billions less than their book value" with a straight face.

    This was a project - the ultimate extension of the on-going neo-liberal economic experiment. The deliberate, calculated effort on the part of the banks and politicians to disenfranchise millions and millions of people who had, against all the odds had worked within the Capitalist structure and raised their heads above the paraphet to lead a decent, solvent life.

    The banks are 'alright Jack' - those who were tricked are living in a bloody wasteland which has reduced them back into the position which is, as far as I am concerned,one step up from slavery.

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  124. "There's no guts about this site - only the incestuous pecking of featherheads, one or two excepted."

    Never forget that this site tolerates pricks, Bracken... never forget that... In fact, I'd rely on it, if I were you.

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  125. Peterb

    It's the pitiful presumption that most contributors here know how it is that's the sneering.

    What on earth does that mean? Just another of your broad brushstroke statements that when unpacked is pretty meaningless, but mean spirited nevertheless.

    We all have views, including you. But some of us still ask questions, because we don't have answers - which when asked of you, I notice you fail to respond to. Certainly on here anyway. but maybe you think they're beneath you after all you only seem to want to talk theory with the boys.

    I know you have worthwhile things to say, even if i disagree with them, so why do you always let this patronising self importance get in the way?

    Its not as if I'm the only one saying this - just look at waddya and a lot of the response to your last piece atl.

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  126. You neither ask questions, nor do you have answers sheffpixie. And don't invoke the show of hands - I express myself on an antithetical platform, so of course I'll get the thumbs down.

    But I don't a give a stuff about the gladiatorial show you wallow in. My arguments are not diminished by a partisan mob. You think that they are, because all you seek is a cosy, unchallenged UT consensus.

    You're welcome to it.

    (with apologies to those that challenge the consensus - you know who you are)

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  127. What a truly bizarre, convoluted way of saying "people who don't agree with what I say should bloody well agree with what I say, and because they don't they are the ones sneering at me".

    Ho hum.

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  128. "people who don't agree with what I say should bloody well agree with what I say, and because they don't they are the ones sneering at me".

    The convolution clearly isn't mine, BB.

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  129. BB:

    La Reine Margot was/is still one of my favourite films. I love the old Queen best - and the Exectuioner/reader of entrails and her son the King - deranged and paranoid, poisoned by mistake by his own Mother .....can you imagine an honest portrait in British Cinema of the 'real' Royal Family even from 400 years ago, ever getting past the script stage? Never. Ever. Ever.

    Does anyone in this country make the leap about the machinations and murderous treacherous fabric of their grip on power which extends to the current day? re: the re-interpretation of History being currently proposed by the Current Tory administration - all that BogBag Monteflyscum and Ferguson shite being proposed? No connections made - what are kids in school going to be treated to - It's a Royal Knockout for GSCE? God, the Tories have only been back in the 'democratically elected' driving seat for 5 minutes and they're already implementing another version of Apartheid. Fucking, fucking, fucking fuckers.

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  130. Now I've just realised why I never liked Placido Domingo - great singer, shit actor - not a good enough stage animal to disguise looking for his cues from the conductor in Simon Boccanegra and too much fucking EGO!!!

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  131. And the stage fighting in the ROH chorus looks like a joke. People paid 200 quid to watch this..... the mind boccles....;0)

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  132. LaRit

    Re La Reine Margot - yup. Although it is fair to say that the French hold their former royals more in contempt than esteem.

    We on the other hand are still bowing, scraping and tugging our forelocks.

    Pathetic lot that we are.

    I wonder if people will be allowed to pull their kids out of History lessons for reasons of conscience, same way you can for RE?

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  133. I think that our inferiority is so entrenched - 200 years ago the French kicked the asses of the Aristocracy...... whatever the contradictions of French life these days - they had the guts to guillotine them all - that must give folk a sense of power...Look at our lot, still calling the shots.

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  134. PeterB

    There really is no talking to you is there? No proper conversation. You seem to delight in putting people down. Why is that?

    Why do you come to the UT, when it's clear that, apart from one or two "who know who they are" you so clearly despise us?

    This is a small pool. Why do you want to fish in it?

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  135. Where's all de white women at ?

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  136. BW - I've got freckles. Will that do?

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  137. BW
    this one is all at 6s and 7s - hot and bothered.

    How's you ?

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  138. "But I don't a give a stuff about the gladiatorial show you wallow in. My arguments are not diminished by a partisan mob".

    Just out of interest, PeterB, what do you think would or could diminish your arguments?

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  139. ...Drunk as a sailor stuck in the caribee thanks.

    Just listening to some awsome vintage thin lizzy right now, unfortunately, stupid fickin vista won't let me turn it into youtube file.

    So, meanwhile - check this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYLVM560Fok

    Cor - that's my kind of bastard.

    What's the difference between six and seven ?

    Less ice left.

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  140. Freckles rock for me. I have a mate in a "folk" band called "Old Speckled Men".

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  141. #"people who don't agree with what I say should bloody well agree with what I say, and because they don't they are the ones sneering at me".#

    I don't think that's fair. He's consistent, argues his case, believes in what he's saying and isn't put off by continual criticism/piss taking..I'd actually say he was a total mensch if I didn't think him so fuckin wrong...the tongue lashings he delivers..whether provoked or otherwise are efficiently reciprocated and so regardless of the original culprit , fair game..I'd actually go as far as to say I wish he was kicking in the right direction..I don't feel he is

    ..like I wish Nick Cohen and Hitchens hadn't crossed the border-not drawing a comparison btw..well maybe with Cohen. In fact I think it's a fair bet Mr Bracken has read and was animated by "What's Left?"..I'm guessing it resonated at some deep level..there's a lot in that book to agree with but a shitload which makes you think: "hang on matey..that's a step too far..that doesn't follow..whoah there"

    ..so that by the end you're looking at a diagnosis which has hit plenty of spots and a prognosis and prescription that deal in worst case scenarios, wishful thinking and kill or cure treatments based on a extremist veneration of US hegemony as the last great beacon of the enlightenment; and that frankly doesn't hold water.

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  142. PB:

    "But I don't a give a stuff about the gladiatorial show you wallow in. My arguments are not diminished by a partisan mob. You think that they are, because all you seek is a cosy, unchallenged UT consensus."

    I think your article was pretty heavily criticised by most people, not just UT posters. I think you lost them right about the time you decided to tar everyone with the same delusion brush and then crowned yourself the High Prince of Liberalism.

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  143. Peter

    i asked you something yesterday.

    The world of finance - banks, traders ec, is not y field.

    I have always been at the other end - seeing the results when it all goes wrong, which happens all to frequently. Living among and working with the casualties of the system means I view things rather differently to the current line being spun.

    Capitalism has always relied upon the welfare state to support the caualties - the sick , unemployed and eldely. Ithas always ben my impression tha capitalism relies upon welfare to keep peole alive during the down turns - keeping them fit enough to respond to te call when workers are needed again.

    I am interested in how we can redevelope a mixed economy - one tat produce things. The trade gap widened again according to latest figures. We don't make anything to sell anymore - how can we reduce this gap. Paper values don't sell too well just now.

    How do you suggest we care for and provide for the basic needs of those currently unemployed and those about to join them ?

    Somebody has to come up with a olution which pays of debt while sustaining life among all our citizens. Any ideas?

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  144. Alisdair - Yes thats what I suspected in a word they over intellectualise him. As far as I am concerned Marxism is precisely a tool to be used to interpret the times we are living through, a way f looking at the world if you like.

    I don't see the need to change the basic theory because we are in the 21st century not the 19th we are still living under the same economic system, its dveloped of course but the class relations are still basically the same. In fact I sometimes find that Marxist theory works even better today. Look at the recent developments in paleoanthropology. Engels, in 'The Part played by Labour in the transition from apes to man' theorises that the interaction between the development of the fully opposable thumb (giving greater powers of manipulation) and the brain is what caused the enlargeent of the human brain. In Engels' time scientists thought the large brain came first. We now from the fossil record that Engels was right.

    Marxism is not a set of rules to follow blindly but a method of analysis which can help us to interpret events. What it does not do of course is predict the future.

    The tragedy of the soviet union happened because it never achieved the 'dictaorship of the proletariat' (unfortunate choice of words that what Marx meant was that if everyone was a dictator over themselves no-one was a dictator!). What the Soviets got was the dictatorship, first of the communist party(not the whole class)and finally of course the dictatorship of one man - Stalin.

    marxism makes sense to me as a Biologist, just greater understanding of the mechanisms of evolution (e.g. genetics, DNA) have developed Darwin's theorey, so a greater understanding of human society has developed Marx's. In both cases the basic theory remains the same, its simply supported by more information.

    Thats my take on it anyway! :) But as I said I'm not an armchair(academic) Marxist - bit of a keyboard one these days but that can't be helped! The academics often over complicate matters and thats where the arguments come in. That and the understandable impatience of many supporters of the movement who try to show that the rveolution will start 'tomorrow' (I doubt that people are to scared at the moment) is the curse of the movement and the cause of many 'splits' - been through one of those - not a nice experience!

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  145. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  146. Niceley put MF, the comparisons with Hitch are flattering but nonetheless there - when I finally got round to reading it.

    For my tuppence I was wondering where's your evidence god dammit PB ? What your authority on this ? *That's* what gives a good polemic legs. It's about unnassailable conclusions made on behalf of the reader. It should be emphatic, not speculative.

    On another issue - lo - there was a reasonable version of the afforementioned Lizzy track on the web !

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsIubn5Pp6s

    (Nowhere near as good as the one playing in my little backroom of wrong right now though.)

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  147. What's that ? It's HOT ?? AGAIN ???
    Must be a heatwave

    Where's Hank ?

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  148. annetan42:

    "Engels, in 'The Part played by Labour in the transition from apes to man' theorises that the interaction between the development of the fully opposable thumb (giving greater powers of manipulation) and the brain is what caused the enlargeent of the human brain. In Engels' time scientists thought the large brain came first. We now from the fossil record that Engels was right."

    Engels was a Lamarckian then. That theory has been lain to rest. A limb or an organ or a brain might develop during the lifespan of an individual, but these are not inheritable characteristics in the evolutionary sense. It would be like saying that if you cut off your arm, all your children would have one arm. The opposable thumb and the sentient brain have developed by chance, and because they are desirable qualities, those individuals that have them have gone on to reproduce and pass them onto their offspring. The result is the same hut the process most certainly isn't.

    Engels wrote that in 1876 and The Origin of the Species came out in 1859. The latter was a bit of a slowburner (and widely ridiculed when first published) so you can't really blame Engels for the misunderstanding.

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  149. Yey! BW! Excellent! 'nother song I remember from growing up, when it was too hot to do much but languish.

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  150. Annett
    Why wouldn't that theory work now ? We know gravity works on an "old" set of scientific principles. We can determine where nodes of power lie and we can continue to indulge the pathetic socio-economic edifice that is our parliament, so we know also that if we knock someone down they get up again. Like that cunt Tony Blair.

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  151. heyhabib
    Brilliant tune you massive hippy ! Great stuff !!

    Here's some total toss from my childhood

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  152. Speedy

    Do you know the story of Kammerer the lamarquian biolgist ? Interesting.

    His work was generally discredited but carried on by Lysenko in the Soviet Union.

    Attempts to mix theories of inherited aquired characteritics with social theory persisted for a while.

    It is true to say that if, for example, you educate parents and lift them from ignorance and poverty they are likely to encourage their children to study. This is not the inheritance of aquired characteristics - it is about feeding children adequately, providing life chances and giving hope for the future.

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  153. Habib
    The best track on that SW album.
    (the intro is worth the entance fee alone)

    Used to play it in a soul band. It rocked like an OCD patient in a gale.

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  154. MF earlier

    I don't actually dislike PeterB. I just think he comes across as a pompous Rupert and gets all uppity and ad hom when his POV is challenged, which means I can't take him seriously at all.

    He has always been like that - it isn't something he reserves for the UT, but for anyone at all who has the temerity to disagree with him. It gets bloody boring.

    When done with wit and intelligence, ad hom can be really funny. There are a few on here, you included, who are brilliant at it. When PeterB does it, it just makes him sound petulant.

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  155. BW that toss was possibly the best/worst track you could have played. A bit spaced and bawling my eyes out. Soz!

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  156. Leni, hadn't heard that about Lysenko, but it doesn't surprise me - the man wasn't much of a biologist. I'm reading The Gulag Archipelago at the moment, and would have chuckled at this bit if it wasn't so fucking tragic:

    "In 1934 Pskov agronomists sowed flax on the snow - exactly as Lysenko had ordered. The seeds swelled up, grew mouldy and died. The big fields lay empty for a year. Lysenko could not say that the snow was a kulak, or that he himself was an ass. He accused the agronomists of being kulaks and of distorting his technology. And the agronomists went off to Siberia."

    Interesting to see that turning pseudo-biology into social policy wasn't exclusively the preserve of the Nazis.

    And of you're quite right about education. This is a form of 'cultural inheritance', and nothing to do with genetics. It's 'memetics', a theory we have Dawkins to thank for. While genetic information is 'selfishly' contained within families, the chance to inherit skills from the skillful is something that is, theoretically, open to anyone. Clearly you need a basic capacity to learn, but it is a measure of civilisation that we are willing to impart what we ourselves have learned to a wider population.

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  157. Classic Stevie btw, but lest we forget the horror...

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  158. SK
    No we think it works like this:

    Apes have small brains and can grip. They cannot touch each finger with the thumb (fully opposable).

    An ape develops a more fully opposable thumb (This would be a mutation).This mutation confers an advantage on the individual who is therefore more likely to breed, thus spreading the gene through the population. In time the whole population will have the gene as it will become more widespread with each generation. This called Natural selection.

    Early hominids like Lucy had small brains and fully opposablle thumbs.

    An early hominid has a slightly larger brain (again a mutation)enabling it to do cleverer things with its dextrous hands. The same process of natural selection occurs and you end up with larger brained hominids with dextrous hands able to manipulate the environment.

    The jarge brain on its own would not confer this advantage, its the interaction between the larger brain and the hand in the individual that confers the selective advantage.

    It couldn't happen the other way around. Whales have brains as least as large as ours but they do not have hands.

    I did not mean that we think the dextrous hands caused the larger brains, its just that the combination in one individual would give that individual selective advabtage.

    Sorry if my too brief summary caused confusion!

    Human success comes from having dextrous hands and a larger brain. The larger btain on its own will not give as good selective advantage.

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  159. Ha ha speedkermit, hardly like Lennon's words, but there's something quaint about that song. Here, have another cheesy one that I still love.

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  160. annetan42:

    "I did not mean that we think the dextrous hands caused the larger brains, its just that the combination in one individual would give that individual selective advabtage."

    In that case, I entirely agree. I think you must have been using that shorthand that biologists sometimes use where they talk about causation because it gets tedious to explain how natural selection works every five minutes. They also occasionally talk about how genes 'want' to produce a desired effect just because it's easier. I didn't realise I was rapping with a pro ;)

    Apologies to the memory of Engels also, even though he was mill-owning, capitalist bastard (hur hur)

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  161. Grim indeed speedo and habib

    But this ?? THIS ???

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  162. Ha ha ha ha ha Perfick!!!!

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  163. lol, it's a veritable festival of cheeese!

    Try this baby out, and tell me where Goldfrapp got her schtick.

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  164. BW

    I'm reporting you to the ICC for torture. Nobody should be subjected to such cruel and unusual punishment on a Saturday night.

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  165. Engels did not misunderstand Darwin, the work I cited quoted current work on Ape evolution as understood at the time and proposed that in fact the hand development must have come first (not the brain as was thought).

    BW Gravity works full stop! Always has, even before Newton! We still use the 'old theory' because for all practical purposes it still describes what happens quite adequately. The old theory starts going very pear shaped near the speed of light though! But I'm a Biologist you'd need to ask a physicist about that!

    Its got something to do with mass bending (or warping) the space time continuum.(I think!)

    This post is beginning to get very trekky!

    IMHO a lot of modern 'Marxist' theory is b*ll*cks. The point is to analyse events so that the working class can move at the right moment. We do know that upturns are better than down turns for this. For a revolution to take place there have to be enough people conscious of their own power to make changes. This involves not seeing yourself as stupid because you are working class, educating yourself in economic theory so that you become aware of the truly crass basis of capitalist society. You don't have to convince everyone, just enough - a bit like yeast working through dough.

    Changes like this do happen they happened when feudalism fell to capitalism, this was an improvement and humankind made great strides forward. But the system is now a break on progress we need change but its not a case of just rushing out on the streets as some socialist sects think. You have to build for it.

    More tomorrow if time, ceasing to make sense I think! (still clearing stuff out ready for move!) past my bedtime!

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  166. Speedo - awesome !!! I found that very same track a while back and was only thinking of it las Wednesday !!! Here's the bloke's popint of view

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4ls6puqdB4

    BB - I have only just begun ;-)

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  167. Euccccccccccccchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

    All cheese will give bad dreams!
    G'night!

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  168. Speedy

    single bed - one of the funniest things I/ve seen in ages.

    Was it meant to be funny ?

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  169. BB: "I'm reporting you to the ICC for torture. Nobody should be subjected to such cruel and unusual punishment on a Saturday night."

    A bit of light S&M (short of the Brown standard) never hurt anyone.

    [Actually, 'the Brown standard' sounds decidely iffy...]

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  170. Do you mean Gordon or R v Brown?

    Heh. :o)

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  171. I don't know what she was moaning about, a single bed is perfectly sufficient for rutting purposes. Unless you happen to be a whale.

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  172. She just thought it was an easier excuse than saying "Nah, bugger off, you're too fugly"...

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  173. @annetan. I was simply describing the difference, not approving of Marxian thinking per se. Some who adopt the tag are thought-provoking (like Wolff), some play so fast and loose that you wonder why they cling to the name, or seek to invoke Marx.
    This actually relates to Peter B's position. I believe he is genuine, forthright, bullish and calls things how he sees them. All actually admirable qualities, though the personal absolutism clearly irks many, and exposes him when situations are ambiguous, and he can assert more than he proves. What I don't really get is the self-description as being of the Left. Y'know, and many will find it incredible, there are Tories who believe that their policies are for the greater good, and they believe in the whole trickle-down/rising tide shebang (which usually ignores those who never got on to a boat, metaphorically). They are well-intentioned, and sincere, but wealth inequalities do not bother them. Where they might differ most with Peter is on the extent of state intervention, especially overseas. However in my book, being on the Left means being enormously concerned about wealth inequalities, which under capitalism (especially today’s brand) directly translate into grotesque power imbalances. On there being no right to not be offended (i.e. freedom of expression always trumps mere sensitivities) he’s bang on the money, on the pernicious influence of religion, dead right but I don’t see those as being anything like as intrinsic to the Left as wealth/power inequalities, on which his position to me seems incongruous with being of the Left.Still beats wittering on about sweating out toxins,and psychic fucking pets both of which appeared in CiF today.

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  174. Francis Wheen drew my attention to this little atrocity. They can keep fucking Ulster, just spare me my ears...

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  175. Anne

    We have to remember that the collapse of Feudalism was to a great extent fuelled by the Black Death. Shortage of labour gave the peasantry an opportunity to hire out their labour to the highest bidder. Catastrophe brings about more sudden and rapid change than political theory. You are right to say that revolutions are born from hope rather than despair. Hope promises new beginnings - despair often brings apathy and resignation.

    That's what I love about this site - silly songs, Marx , Feudalism and Lysenko all running around hand in hand.

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  176. BITTERWEED: Right. Now, uh, item four: attainment of world supremacy within the next five years. Uh, JAY, you've been doing some work on this.
    JAY: Yeah. Thank you, BITTERWEED. Well, quite frankly, siblings, I think five years is optimistic, unless we can smash the Roman empire within the next twelve months.
    BITTERWEED: Twelve months?
    JAY: Yeah, twelve months. And, let's face it. As empires go, this is the big one, so we've got to get up off our arses and stop just talking about it!
    REVOLUTIONARIES: Hear! Hear!
    ALAN RUSBRIDGER: I agree. It's action that counts, not words, and we need action now.
    REVOLUTIONARIES: Hear! Hear!
    BITTERWEED: You're right. We could sit around here all day talking, passing resolutions, making clever speeches. It's not going to shift one Roman soldier!
    JAY: So, let's just stop gaJAYing on about it. It's completely pointless and it's getting us nowhere!
    REVOLUTIONARIES: Right!
    ALAN RUSBRIDGER: I agree. This is a complete waste of time.
    bam
    ANNETTAN: They've arrested HANK!
    BITTERWEED: What?
    REVOLUTIONARIES: What?
    ANNETTAN: They've dragged him off! They're going to crucify him!
    BITTERWEED: Right! This calls for immediate discussion!
    REVOLITIONARY #1: Yeah.
    ANNETTAN: What?!
    REVOLITIONARY #2: Immediate.
    REVOLITIONARY #1: Right.
    ALAN RUSBRIDGER: New motion?
    BITTERWEED: Completely new motion, eh, that, ah-- that there be, ah, immediate action--
    JAY: Ah, once the vote has been taken.
    BITTERWEED: Well, obviously once the vote's been taken. You can't act another resolution till you've voted on it...
    ANNETTAN: BITTERWEED, for God's sake, let's go now!
    BITTERWEED: Yeah. Yeah.
    ANNETTAN: Please!
    BITTERWEED: Right. Right.
    JAY: Fine.
    BITTERWEED: In the-- in the light of fresh information from, ahh, sibling ANNETTAN--
    ALAN RUSBRIDGER: Ah, not so fast, BITTERWEED.
    ANNETTAN: BITTERWEED, for God's sake, it's perfectly simple. All you've got to do is to go out of that door now, and try to stop the Romans' nailing him up! It's happening, BITTERWEED! Something's actually happening, BITTERWEED! Can't you understand?! Ohhh!
    slam
    BITTERWEED: Hm. Hm.
    JAY: Oh, dear.
    BITTERWEED: Hello. Another little ego trip for the feminists.
    ALAN RUSBRIDGER: What?
    JAY: whistling
    BITTERWEED: Oh, sorry, ALAN RUSBRIDGER. Ahh, oh, read that back, would you?

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  177. AC: "Where they might differ most with Peter is on the extent of state intervention, especially overseas. However in my book, being on the Left means being enormously concerned about wealth inequalities, which under capitalism (especially today’s brand) directly translate into grotesque power imbalances."

    Peter's preoccupations give him away. UK foreign policy is generally only a concern for those who are quite economically comfortable. The most that many working class people care about foreign policy is the amount of foreign aid we give away, or whether the government is looking after the troops (mainly their children) in foreign theatres of war. These are, and will continue to be major issues. When the bills are paid, a person can start to 'self-actualise' and wax lyrical about issues further from home. The 'deluded left' issue is really just an elitist spat. Most of the 'left' worth the name are concerned about how far the Tories will go in dismantling the public sector and the welfare state.

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  178. Enjoy the Gulag archipelago Speedkermit. For a book with such subject matter it is remarkably funny in places. Solzhenitsyn was a master when it comes to using gallows humour.

    In another topic...
    For many transport services, trains, planes etc the cheapest way to get tickets is by credit card, usually online. Yet the poorest in society often have difficulty acessing either.

    That is the unacceptable face of capitalism. Say a dear old lady has a friend who dies somewhere else and has to travel tomorrow for the funeral. Then she can't save money by booking her tickets in advance. This is not fair.

    Communitarianism is better. It is more pronounced in Scotland IMO. It is a mixture of conservatism and socialism really.

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  179. Nice one speedo.
    It's a Weird thing how Wheen comes over as a bit of a smug cock when interviewed on broadcast media yet wrtes so brilliantly.

    My only yardsick on culture (being a massively under-read brethren) is music; Wheen reminds a little bit of Mark Lamarr- irritating on telly but genius in other media.

    Here's to Mark Lamarr: Trombone Shorty with Hurricane Season

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ge4g_n-l3YA

    get UP!!!!

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  180. That is very Nap, I often get £2 return tickets on the coach to London, even though I don't have credit I get one of my sisters to buy them for me.

    I have often ended up sitting next to someone who has paid full price simply because they don't even know about booking ahead.

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  181. @ SK. Spot on.
    @ NapK.Even worse is the premium you pay for having a keycard for your gas or electric (typically on poorer estates and/or when the household can't do direct debits etc) .You pay a higher unit rate for the utility, and most evilly it's a also a get-out clause for the utility firm. They are not allowed to cut off such essential supplies to people without going through strict procedures, but the loophole they've wangled is that if the credit on the card (remember it's more expensive anyhow) runs out, the householder is deemed to have cut themselves off.

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  182. Muthafickin rock and roll going on right here

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIMqeN1wW7I

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ku4oipyV44

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  183. BB

    Le Serpent is a pretty bog standard thriller. You know - innocent man fitted up by psycho bent on revenge. but its quite suspenseful, lots of heads roll and its nicely shot. i wouldn't bother shelling out for it if I were you though.

    Just caught the last third of 36 - which made me want to watch the whole thing again.

    Oh yes BB - I thought this might amuse you Serge sings one just for you

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  184. NAPK
    I know you think I'm a hooligan and diletente and a twat sometimes but this

    "Say a dear old lady has a friend who dies somewhere else and has to travel tomorrow for the funeral. Then she can't save money by booking her tickets in advance. This is not fair.

    Communitarianism is better. It is more pronounced in Scotland IMO. It is a mixture of conservatism and socialism really. "

    ... is exactly where you and I have a conversation.

    God bless ya.

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  185. NK:

    The internet is a huge money-saver in a great many ways, but it requires a certain amount of upfront investment which is beyond many, hence the 'digital divide'. I've spent many years trying to persuade my dear old nan that she could keep in touch and save a fortune a lot more easily if she got a laptop, but she refuses. I suppose you get to a certain age and these things just seem like witchcraft.

    Anyway, if there's stuff she needs we get it for her, tickets and the like (she visits my uncle's family in Wandsworth twice a year, but she isn't so mobile now). People like her rely on the High Street, but it's a fucking rip-off, christ knows how we still have one. I suppose people still want to try on clothes before they buy them and still like to get their own groceries rather than be arsed about by some online delivery service, but record store are now all but dead, book retailers are clinging on... It's bleak, but moving operations online makes good financial sense for businesses as well. Don't have to pay for rent and sales staff do they?

    BW:

    Yeah, Wheen does sound a bit of a cock, but he's bang on the money in print. He's public-school educated and never tries to hide the fact, but he's got a fantastic ear for bullshit, and always manages to find the best damn quotes out there. He almost made me like Idi Amin after relaying some of the shit he used to come out with to wind up other heads of state. When the UK was economically fucked in the 70s he sent a missive out saying that one of the regions had had a whipround and filled a truck with grain and could we send a helicopter out to collect it!! Priceless.

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  186. Sheff

    "B initials, B initials, B initials BB" \o/

    Superb song. Will have to dig out some of my Serge CDs now.

    I had forgotten just how good 36 was. I wonder if they will show it again soon? They often do on Beeb 4.

    There was a superb French cop series in that genre called Engrenages that was on Beeb 4 about 6 months ago, too. I think they do cop shows so much better than us or the States. They are so up front about corruption, beatings and bad practice.

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  187. @BB: just watched the movie you flagged up earlier on BBC 4.
    I was prepared for "hard boiled" but not that grim!

    Daniel Auteil was awesome, as were the rest of the cast and the photography was brilliant.

    As for the plot; well I'm not very good at following complicated plots so I missed some bits of it but great movie and thanks for recommending it.

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  188. SK

    Heh.

    He is also a natural ally of the eternally gorgoeus site "Butterflies and Wheels"

    http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/

    Always worth a look, and makes this place look like a barrack room. Which it is and always should be.

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  189. chekov - glad you enjoyed it. Yeah, it is pretty grim, but beautifully done.

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  190. BB, Sheff... saw a good French film a while back, 'The Child'. You seen it? Waster arsehole sells his newborn baby then has to try to get it back when the mother gets upset. Aren't women weird? Anyway, it's classic cinema verite stuff, if I can say that without sounding too pseud. Reminded me a lot of 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days, which is pretty much one of my favourite films of the last couple of years.

    Alltime favourite French film is Ridicule, total class.

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  191. "Boing!"
    "Time for bed," said Zebedee.

    Night night all xx

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  192. Sheff - forgot to ask you - what did you make of that Minghela movie - Breaking and Entering ?

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  193. Evening all

    @BW-agree with you about Mark Lamarr.Anyone who gives Terry Christian a slap can,t be all bad.
    Wasn,t so impressed with Dracula,s Daughter in your earlier link though.Methinks i could have 'mares about that.

    @Leni-LOL re your post on waddya!

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  194. chekhov

    Agree with BB - the French do thrillers really well.

    If you like Daniel Auteuil - see Hidden (dir Michael Haneke) - he's excellent in it and it's a brilliant film

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