This Mess We’re In

Teaching Children is Easy

Hong Kong has apparently been working hard at its efforts to integrate its multi-racial society a bit closer. This satirical jab from Hong Wrong on the statelet’s (sorry Self Governing Territory) efforts at educating the younger members of it’s society shows they clearly have some way to go.

The Trouble with Politicians

Speaking of Hong Kong, there was news this week that a politician born there was considering leaving Northern Ireland after more than 40 years…

…for good because of enduring sectarianism and now rising racism.
Lo, who represents South Belfast in the regional parliament, also cited first minister Peter Robinson’s support for a born-again Christian preacher’s depiction of Islam as “the spawn of the devil” as a reason for wanting out of Ulster politics.

Far be it for me to suggest that The North’s thin veneer of success following the end of the Troubles might be wearing thin, but I do* look forward to this month’s and next’s Parade Season to kick off. (* in the way that I look forward to a screaming baby at 3am).

A More Secure Commute

Meanwhile in Beijing qz is claiming they are now subject to Airport Security style searches before entering the subway, leading to massive lines. As one commenter mentions:

Surely “throwing a bomb into this crowd would be more lethal” than setting one off on the subway, noted one skeptic

Exactly, everything’s fine!

This Teenage Government

Our venerable Prime Minister today released an announcement ostensibly about the 70th anniversary of D-Day and upcoming visit to Canada and the USA. It contained such D-Day references as:

The Government’s Economic Action Strategy to lower tax, cut red tape and encourage trade will improve the competitiveness of businesses so that we can build a stronger Australia.
We welcome investment and we are making investment more attractive by scrapping the carbon tax and the mining tax, cutting 50,000 pages of red tape and ending the “analysis paralysis” on major projects.
Our international partners can see that our Budget is again under control, we are tackling debt and deficits and we are serious about building a strong and prosperous economy.

I’m sure the diggers and others who thought they fought to save Europe from tyranny would be surprised to know it was actually to protect Tony’s mates from Carbon Taxes. That they later withdrew the statement should only add to the concern the teenagers have left another mess for the adults to clean up.

This Mess We’re In

After that selection of mind-numbing news, I have to leave it the magnificent Polly Jean Harvey to remind us how much it seems to change, but never really does:

And I have seen the sunrise over the river
The freeway reminding of this mess we’re in

Lullabies: Five Pints 14 3

Science

I know I can sleep happily now they’ve finally solved the Mpemba Effect. Mind you, I thought you put boiled water into the ice cube trays because you could be certain the water was safe. You can tell I’ve been to Mexico and am not a Scientist.


People

Back in February Reza Berati, an Asylum Seeker from Iran, was killed at one of Australia’s Concentration camps for Asylum Seekers and Refugees which are scattered around the pacific islands. It took more than 8 days for an autopsy to determine the cause of death to be held. This past week a report into the events around his death was released.

The Australian Minister for Concentration Camps is clear about where the blame for Mr. Berati’s death really lies;

“There would have been no incident that night had there been no protests, I think that’s clear to say…”

What Scott fails to tell us is that there would have no protests if him and his political ilk treated people with a little more respect and showed a little more compassion.


Music

One evening recently I found myself lullabying my young boy with The Smiths magnificent Asleep.

You’ll be delighted to know he did wake up and wasn’t on his own the next morning.


Language

The internet has been a terrible cure for my infrequent bouts of homesickness. What with Skype and now FaceTime providing an easy avenue to see and talk with friends and family from afar and Facebook, Twitter et al connecting you with what those same people and others are thinking (and Liking) on a daily basis, it’s a lot easier than it must have been back in the day.

To top it off, there’s the People’s Republic of Cork website to remind me of the lilting tones of my own home place. In this story from earlier this year they can help you dear reader say Oiche Maith to me without sounding like a Scot.

If Commander Hadfield could do it on the ISS, why can’t you?


Entertainment

Speaking of Cork, I’ll leave you this time with a lovely little piece about the best part of that fine county, East Cork. And how Padraig Reidy (and I) totes agree that celebrity couple Kimye have chosen the best place in the world to spend their honeymoon this week.

Why Anywhere Else indeed!?

Five Pints 14 1

Music

"To call it Punk Rock is rather like describing Dostoevsky as a short-story writer"

A review of Television’s Marquee Moon by Nick Kent from the NME from 1977.

“…an album for everyone whatever their musical creeds and/or quirks…This music is passionate, full-blooded, dazzlingly well crafted, brilliantly conceived and totally accessible to anyone who has been yearning for a band with the vision to break on through into new dimensions of sonic overdrive and the sheer ability to back it up…"

One of my enduringly favourite pieces of music. Seeing them live last year was a joy and far exceeded the expectations one might have of a 70’s rock and roll band who might be on a superannuation tour.

Scients

In the Smithsonian Mag they give you Five Reasons Why You Should Probably Stop Using Antibacterial Soap. Apparently the US Food and Drug Administration claims antibacterial products are no more effective than soap and water, and could be dangerous.

evidence that children with prolonged exposure to triclosan have a higher chance of developing allergies, including peanut allergies and hay fever. Scientists speculate that this could be a result of reduced exposure to bacteria, which could be necessary for proper immune system functioning and development.

We use this stuff in our home, for the convenience as much as anything. Mind you if we decide to stop I wouldn’t miss the piles of it all over the sink from the litres used each time small children wash their hands.

Freedom of Information

Irish website The Story recently described how modernising legislation would Kill Freedom of Information in Ireland.

if passed, amendments to the FOI Bill 2013 proposed by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (mean) Freedom of Information is dead.

TheStory.ie will, in all likelihood, cease all FOI requests. And we will not seek funding from the public to support an immoral, cynical, unjustified and probably illegal FOI fee regime. We will not pay for information that the public already pays for. We will not support a system that perpetuates an outrageous infringement of citizen rights. The legislation was gutted in 2003 and it is being gutted again. More generally the number of requests from journalists from all news organisations in Ireland will fall as a result of these amendments, and the resulting efforts to shine a light on the administration of the State will certainly deteriorate. And secrecy will prevail.

The more politicians and the establishment lock information down, the more it makes some people curious to find out why. And yet, the politicians never learn in their quest for the perfect bureaucracy.

Technology

In light of the news that Neil Young’s Pono Kickstarter is more than fully funded, here’s a recent piece questioning its point.

Most instruments do not output such frequencies, and almost no microphones, speakers or headphones work significantly above the normal human audio range either.

I love Neil Young, but despite the Kickstarter success, I think he’s wasting his time with his Happy Cow device.

Football

Sure I’m dyed the red of Kenny Dalglish’s shirt since the time I saw him score the winner in the European Cup Final to bring old big ears home for the second year running, but this great piece about the challenges in a relationship across the Liverpool Everton divide from the website associated with one of my favourite podcasts is The Anfield Wrap, is great stuff for any football fan.

Warning, Don’t read if you happen to be married to a Liverpool fan

…and support Everton.


PostScript: I share a lot of links on twitter, but as with much to do with that platform, most of them get lost in the stream. I’ve experimented, with some IFTTT related disasters, using tumblr as a clearing house for more easy access. Shamelessly inspired by the recent launch of 5at5daily by Stilgherrian, I’ve decided to resurrect Franksting’s Five Pints to try and pick the best of these links and publish them here for posterity.

Link

You were the ones who saw something meaningful in what others considered stupid and superfluous. You gave Twitter “at” replies and short links and hashtags and everything else that made the 140 character limit just a little easier to deal with. You were the true innovators – not them. But your services are no longer required. Please pack your things and go.

via Curious Rat

Or as Tom Waits might put it;

twitter doesn’t want me today, but I’ll be back tomorrow to play.

 

30 years of Chronic Town

Aside

Next Month R.E.M.’s venerable debut Chronic Town turns 30.

Aside from the attractive gargoyle on the cover, the album contained the first mention of hipsters in modern music and was a welcome accompaniment to my morning coffee today.

I still get a tingle everytime I hear Michael Stipe’s little giggle at the start of Stumble. And despite it being all digital these days, I still hear it as if it came accompanied with the scratch of the needle on the vinyl which would accompany it in the silent part between songs.

If I were able to play my 22 year old Vinyl copy, I might again hear that for real.

Heroes.

Link

Inspired by listening this morning to The Cure song which made me a fan, I found this excellent piece on the recording of Seventeen Seconds album.

“Practically the whole album was mixed on the second-to-last day, and then the mix for ‘A Forest’ took up a good part of the final day,” Hedges recalls. “All things considered, that was very, very extravagant.”
“For some reason the original multitracks of that particular song were stored for a while in the Fiction Records offices and at some point they were lost,” he states. “The band therefore had to re-record the song.”

Sad to think that the original recordings of something so essential can be so easily lost.

No White Cliffs of Dover from PJ Harvey at the State Theatre

It’s not often I sit down to a rock and roll concert, but this week at the State Theatre in Sydney, we were obliged to do so for PJ Harvey’s Sydney Festival gig.

And, surprisingly, it worked. The muted, awkward, whoops and lack of desire to shake ones booty to the passionate tunes and pounding rhythms from Let England Shake was not just because the resident jobsworths would’ve swooped on us like a Cinema usher protecting a young couples virtue in 1963. The extraordinary lyrics, much heard this past year, in this new setting helped too.

Resplendent in robes, bodice and horns, Ms Harvey and her complement played with our emotions throughout, providing an excellent – yet not exactly mirrored – rendition of one of last years most celebrated albums. Yet another magnum opus from an artist who I think has previously presented at least three.

Moistening of the eyes was even encountered at the opening to Bitter Branches, On Battleship Hill, and In the Dark Places, but this wasn’t a sad concert. The triumphant nature of musical accompaniment provided an impressive counterpoint to the emotionally challenging lyrics.

One of the thoughts which came to me toward the end, especially as they will no doubt soon start preparing for the 100th anniversary of the butchery which influenced many of the songs, is Let England Shake should become required listening before the commemorations which will soon arrive. Remember what happened and why it happened that way, not what they would like you to believe about their wars.

As in Hanging in the Wire, there was no White Cliffs of Dover and nothing from perhaps her previous most commercial tome – despite one of the few contributions from the floor looking for some good fortune. But this was an uplifting concert all the same, and for someone who rarely gets to enough live music these days a more than fitting way to start 2012.

Keep it up Polly Jean, those who continually push the boundaries should always be celebrated. I’m already looking forward to the next time you visit Sydney.