They hadn’t invented self-pity yet:

Interviewer, in 1981, asks bloke with polio what barriers and problems his condition created for him.

Were it someone similar being interviewed today, there’d be an avalanche of self-important self-pity, a litany of micro-aggressions and a diatribe about able-bodied privilege.

Listen to Ian:

Brexiters blame the French for Brexit (again)

The Sanford Health website <notes that>:

Children 5-8 years of age will often push blame to another person in order to avoid negative feelings and conflict. It is important to understand this behavior and what you can do to encourage your child’s self-responsibility.

The page contains a few tips for managing such behaviour, but notes that “blaming is normal behavior for children 5-8 years of age.”

In Brexit-land though, there is no seeming age limit on this behaviour,

Faced with normal, and repeatedly predicted, holiday delays due to Brexit, the Brexiters are hopping mad, and have taken to (wait for it) “blaming the French”. Obviously, <not for the first time>, either.

And, I suspect with a sigh that all parents of 5-8 year olds will recognise, the French have pointed out that they are not responsible for Brexit:

But all the new Brexit red tape and Brexit delays are worth it – just look at how well the British economy is doing after Brexit:

Fear not though. Liz Truss (favourite to replace Boris Johnson – you know, the woman who struggles to find her way out of a room:

has promised that she will have a “bonfire” of all EU regulations, and, then, surely at last, Brexitopia will will come to pass:

Half-baked populist nonsense, of course. What is telling is that, 6 years after the Brexit vote, the Truss eejit can’t even name a single EU regulation that is “holding Britain back”, or why. Just have a big virtual bonfire, and dance around it, yelling triumphant slogans at the hated EU.

Does that activity remind you of any other foreigner-hating Brexiters with a fondness for bonfires lol:

And as Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC federation of trade unions, points out, Truss’ “cynical and reckless proposals threaten hard-won workers’ rights … holiday pay, equal pay for women and men, safe limits on working hours and parental leave are just a few of the rights underpinned by retained EU law. These are all essential – not a nice to have … let’s call this out for what it is – ideological posturing at the expense of ordinary working people.

Catherine Barnard, deputy director of the UK in a Changing Europe think tank, warned that greater divergence from EU law would just create further barriers to trade, both between the UK and the EU and between Britain and Northern Ireland:

The more divergence there is in practice, the more checks that the EU will want to impose … the more divergence there is, the more trade friction there will be.”

Settle back folks, the fun is only starting.

Negotiating with Russia is a liberal delusion

True to form, Russia is busy stealing and destroying Ukrainian grain. No surprises there.

And we should all condemn the EU and NATO for forcing Russia to do this lol.

This has grim implications for poorer parts of the world which depend heavily on such grain supplies.

Yesterday however, after 2 months of negotiations, a glimmer of seeming hope:

Today, more Russian humour in action:

How dumb are these people who negotiate with the Russians?

You do not waste time negotiating with Russians.

In the late 1940’s, Gunnar Myrdal, the Swedish economist and sociologist, predicted that the Americans and the British would make a mess of their diplomacy with the Russians, because they would assume that Russians are gentlemen, and that they would not make agreements which they would have no intention of carrying out.

What you can’t believe,” Myrdal said, “is what every Swede knows in his bones. The Russian culture is not a gentleman culture.”

Writing in 1985, the late Eugene V. Rostow, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs of the United States and Dean of Yale Law School, noted that:

The Soviet Union … is embarked on a policy of indefinite expansion fuelled by the practice of open aggression … And as a practical matter, the refusal to confront the profound differences between the foreign policies of the United States and the Soviet Union leads to all sorts of error and naivete in the formulation of Western policies … The Soviet Union is in the imperial mood of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as a distinguished British historian has remarked – the imperial mood which the peoples and governments of the West have long since given up with relief. And the Soviet thrust for empire now threatens the state system which has evolved through trial and error since the end of the Napoleonic Wars.”

Article here:

Tsars, Soviets, Putins – the lipstick changes from time to time, but the underlying reality is unaltered. For ideological reasons, liberal and left-wing Westerners have always glossed over the fact that the USSR was a “union” in much the same way the UK became a “union” – that is, a powerful country imposing “union” on its smaller neighbours, be they Celtic or Asian, respectively. Vis a vis the world outside its borders, Russia is the same imperial aggressor that it always has been.

Until the West accepts this fundamental point about Russia, then this well-intentioned foolishness will continue.

Tribal

I’ve often noted how, in previous eras, <pop music was tribal>.

When you were into a band, the sound was always political. And you could also easily discern the politics in a haircut or a garment.

At extreme levels, this is not too difficult, of course:

Putin fan-boy

At our local disco when I was a kid, out of pity for us gaggle of new waver young people, standing around in our winkle-pickers, long overcoats and half-blinded by our ridiculous fringes, the DJ would spin a few decent platters – New Order, Joy Division, Psychedelic Furs, Bunnymen, Cure, Talking Heads etc. We had the floor to ourselves, as nobody else would venture out onto the dance floor while “that shite” was playing. Then, as the venue filled up with mullets, big perms, stonewashed jeans, and puffy white boots, the jock abruptly would switch to playing vile soppy chart fillers, and we’d retreat to a corner, drinking and making sarcastic remarks about the music and the clientele. Such is youth.

Recently, I was amused to read how one of my fav early ’80s bands, the Cocteau Twins, started in a similar way:

In a community often characterised by modest expectations, Liz had assumed she would follow her mother’s path working in a local textile mill, whiskey distillery, chicken factory, or perhaps even become a waitress. Being a singer in a band certainly wasn’t on the list. The boys saw her frequently, dancing on punk night at a local hotel disco—The Nash at the Hotel International—where Robin would occasionally DJ. Liz stood out, not just for her dancing and fashion sense (jumpers festooned with chicken bones), but because she would stay on the dance floor when Robin would play The Birthday Party or The Pop Group. “Most people weren’t happy with my choices,” said Robin, “but Liz was, as she kept dancing. We struck up a bit of a friendship.”

See link <here>.

I tend to bracket Liz Frazer (of the Cocteau Twins) and <Lisa Gerrard> (of Dead Can Dance) together. Frazer was a working class kid, an outsider, an introvert. Of course I loved the music, but I always sensed, without ever needing to have it explained to me, that she was of our tribe. You do not need to meet someone to have a sense of them.

Here is the first track on their 1982 debut LP, Garlands. The track is called “Blood Bitch“. 40 years on, it’s still got it – there’s that inflection in her voice here, it’s one of those micro-moments in pop that I treasure. Then, as now, it made me realise that, this was a band that mattered:

And here’s Dead Can Dance, with Lisa Gerrard, with Dreams Made Flesh (they performed it under the name of the This Mortal Coil music collective, in 1984)::

Half a lifetime later, I don’t give a damn what I or anybody else wears. But I still feel strongly about bands like the foregoing. Music like this is divisive, hence tribal still.

A statement of social arrival

At college, there was the modern library, all tight bookshelves, remorseless strip-lighting and cramped desks. Then there was the old library, in a red brick building with soaring, vaulted ceilings, coloured natural light through the stained glass windows, and vast desks with built-in reading lamps.

Whenever I wanted to give my work a boost, I went to the old library. All that physical space seemed to open up rooms in my head.

Architecture matters.

Good architecture of course is a subject on which we all have opinions, and about which middle-class people can come almost to blows.

For what it’s worth, my 2p worth – 3 points:

  1. Good architecture primarily is functional. Form follows function. If you have a choice between making the functional elegant or not elegant, then opt for elegant, of course. But there should be nothing there which does not do a job.
  2. Good architecture should not have status anxiety or be pretentious or be concerned about impressing people. Anything done for show is a fail. See previous point about function. Often, anything which has no function is a pointless embellishment (like stucco) which is designed merely to impress.
  3. Good architecture should respect its geographical and historical context. Unfortunately, too many people debase that laudable principle by reducing it to a slavish stricture about churning out pastiche. Cue visually-illiterate nostalgic angry middle-aged blokes snorting about “hideous modern carbuncles” (ignoring the fact that some of the modern designs they fulminate about are over 100 years old). Hence 21st century buildings with Greco-Roman pillars (dictators love that nonsense). Hence painted-on fake Tudor beams on gerry-built houses in housing estates. 

Er, that’s it. Bear the foregoing 3 points in mind, and you’ll never go too far astray. 

The converse of course is architecture that is primarily decorative, pretentious and slavishly-derivative.

A friend of mine is a retired architect. 

A newly-rich business-man once commissioned him to design a new house.

But every design my friend did was turned down by the client.

Eventually, the architect began to see what the problem was. Over time, it became apparent that the client only liked any design details that were showy.

The penny dropped, and, exasperated, my friend said: “J____, you don’t want a house – you want a statement of social arrival”.

My friend intended this as a rebuke.

But the client paused, thought about it, grinned suddenly, and just agreed that, indeed, that was exactly what he did want …

The desire to impress comes from low self esteem. From Putin’s murderous antics to shitty architecture, the desire to impress is responsible for so much ugliness and evil in this world.

This is what Sunak is reduced to:

Aha, long after Britain has left the EU, there’s still British political mileage in attacking the EU.

Former Chancellor, and now front-runner for Boris Johnson’s role, Rishi Sunak has <attacked EU red tape>, and promises a big bonfire thereof. Sure, lol.

For 5 years, Brexiters like Sunak have been banging on about “cutting EU red tape”.  For 5 years, they have conspicuously failed to produce a list of the EU red tape they wish to cut, or why.  

Given that all this alleged EU red tape was a key reason behind Brexit, the biggest constitutional change to hit Britain in 50 years, one would have thought that they’d long since have published a massive list of the thousands upon thousands of “hated” EU red tape that they were banging on about, together with a detailed rationale for each cut and an independently-costed analysis of the massive savings to be made from such mighty cuts.  

So where is it?  

Where is your big Brexit-y EU red tape list then?

Sunak obviously is an intelligent bloke. 

Isn’t it sad though, that, in 2022, in the age of internet-fuelled stupidity, overweening ambition effectively obliges an intelligent bloke to talk unadulterated bollocks.  If he doesn’t talk bollocks, people won’t vote for him.  

Brexit was a vote for more, not less, red tape.  Unless Britain wishes to become like N. Korea and cease trading with its neighbours altogether on ideological purity grounds (and some of today’s British politicians are not far off being that barking), British companies must adhere to EU regulations.  Just as you need to adhere to US regulations when exporting to the US etc.  

Ou cannot have Brexit without having solely British product etc standards.  Otherwise, wtf was the point of Brexit? 

Brexit simply means that British companies must now cobble together a British equivalent of existing EU standards.  Inevitably, over time, these standards will diverge, in a piecemeal fashion.  In some places, EU and British standards will be identical.  In others, a bit different.  In others, very different.

A mess, in other words.

British companies, therefore, as a matter of simple logic, will need to produce goods which are compliant with differing, and occasionally sharply-divergent, standards. 

That, in anybody’s book, is “more red tape”. As the cross-party House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) <noted recently>, “UK trade is down and border controls have increased costs and added more red tape for business as a direct result of Brexit”.

None of that matters to a Brexiter. 

Sunak’s daft position – supporting more red tape, while attacking red tape – will help him politically, since Brexit essentially is an English nationalist cult which has nothing to do with making money or carrying out business with your neighbours in a logical and straightforward fashion. 

Cults merely seek performative commitment, not facts.

A Russian hero

He even made <room for the cat>.

All ordinary people, ordinary decent lives shot to hell at the whim of a short-assed insecure land-grabbing psycho thief with a string of failed relationships behind him.

All people who want to be leaders are a little mad in the head I think, especially nowadays.

I mean, leader of a party or of a country – what an utterly miserable job.  You literally couldn’t pay me to do it.

The dry nature of my legal work means that I live in a counter-cultural bubble, where facts, logic, the rule of law and the bottom line always are decisive considerations.

What somebody “feels” is irelevant.     

Whereas, in the Internet tower of babel age, lies, febrile irrationality and narcissism is the order of the day.

What somebody “feels” is the only thing that matters.        

Essentially, nowadays, you’d spend half your time trying to reason with people who are deeply stupid, deeply insecure – and, in consequence, utterly convinced of their unassailable rectitude, and always on the verge of anger. 

Who in their right mind would want to do that? 

I love a good old argument; but few nowadays even know how to argue, it’s become a micro-aggression lol – everyone retreats to their poxy safe spaces.    

Mind you, I’d be out in a month anyway, for saying something non-woke lol.  

See in England, for the Tory party fallout, one bloke, Wallace, had been tipped as a favourite, and he’s said he doesn’t even want the job.

Which probably means he’s exactly the kind of person who should be doing it.

Imperfect 10

John Peel once said that the idea of a top 10 of favourite tunes / songs was meaningless. It was always just whetever 10 you liked at any given time.

Of course, there will always be songs by The Fall and Joy Division that are engraved in stone for me by this stage, baetyli if you will.

That said, here’s a 10 I like right now, today (obviously, it isn’t even 10):

Prince – Jazz funk sessions 1977 (in which the 19 year old Prince shows what a gifted so ‘n’ so he was, and how this early evidence of sheer musicianship had to be kept hidden, as that much niche-sector virtuosity is not easily compatible with a record company plan for mere global pop chart domination) :

Curtis Mayfield – Freddie’s Dead (1972) (heard this a lifetime ago, always stuck with me):

Echo Beach – Meats (2021) (nothing special, but a nice little stomper):

Carl Perkins – Matchbox (1957) (short, energetic, no messing – fucking brilliant – you can see why so much original late 70s punk looked back to the good-time 1950s, not to the far-out-man 1960s):

Sarah Simpson – I Kicked The Habit (1970) (You want to know what funky means? Listen to this – sadly, she was barely even a one-hit wonder, but, my God, this is just un-improvable, even down to the essential half-tones element to her singing which gives you that wonderful jazz coolness / self-awareness that you won’t get with conventional singing):

Max Richter – November (2002):

Motörhead – Bomber (live) (1979) (the most authentic hell-raiser rocker, ever):

Tom Waits – Brother, can you spare a dime? (2001) (It’s the way he delivers “You were my pal” – really gets this song – good pictures too):

Rory Gallagher – Bullfrog Blues (live), 1972 (watch to the end – the fun these young lads have with stomping blues rock in an improbable setting is glorious):

Tom Waits – Goodnight Irene (2006) (Tom sings drunk-style better than anybody – he does the backing vocals here too):

The Trashmen – Surfin’ Bird (1963) (although this was one 1960s song that the 1970s punks loved, for obvious reasons):