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Jul 30 13

Cathleen Revisited

Cathleen Ni Houlihan

“many a child will be born and there will be no mother at the christening”

Cathleen ni Houlihan is the female personification of Ireland. She is depicted as an old woman, with her four fields (the provinces of Ireland) taken from her and left homeless. Yeat’s one act play tells of how she persuaded young Irish men to go off and fight for Ireland and become martyrs, “many a child will be born and there will be no father at the christening.” This ‘blood sacrifice’ rejuvenated Cathleen and made her young and alive again.

A female personification of Ireland today should show the blood sacrifice being made by many women in Ireland every day, in the name of the church’s opposition to contraception and abortion.

Apr 25 12

Ladies first but men before

There have always been some good feminist messages in The Titanic. An independent Rose defies her parents expectations, refusing to marry for wealth. She casts aside society’s class and gender restraints to dance in 3rd class. She doesn’t let Jack get too cling either. I’m not sure what to make of her dogging on the car deck, but the lady was nothing if not a free spirit.

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Apr 13 12

Burkas, Beyonce and Bedfellows

Feminism has grown comfortable with the bedfellows it has found in the socialist, secularist and LGBT movements. We share our opposition to elites, misogynistic religions and gender based discrimination. But when I make pillow talk about Burkas, I’m lying next to unexpected people. Beyonce may be a pleasant surprise under the sheets, but my aversion to the EDL and BNP means some duvet hogging is needed. read more…

Apr 13 12

Dettox style atheism

When I discuss peoples’ religious beliefs with them I frequently come across a behaviour which I can only describe as equivalent to sticking your fingers in your ears and drowning me out saying “LA LA LA LA LA”

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Dec 24 11

relationships according to silica chips

Social Network connection diagrams have always received a passing glance from me. Back in the days when facebook was more lax about security, I used to enjoy the ‘advanced search’ function, for example, “School: Methody, Religion: Atheist” or “Location: Belfast, Gender: Male, Interested in: Men” would always provide an interesting evening of facebook creeping.

This tool, providing mere pastime curiosity for me, was rightly scrapped after being used for brutal repression by others. Homophobic religious fundamentalists querying facebook for Saudi Arabian lesbians, such new technologies that had gone a small way to liberating these women, was turned and used to help their persecution.

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Dec 18 11

Chrismukkah

An Irish Nativity

Long time no postings, apologies to my regular readers (yes I mean you, Bolivian scented candle selling spam bots) Maybe I’ll find time over Christmas to write something about what I’ve been doing instead, if I develop code names for all the people involved and write things very cryptically. I should extend my traditional secular and politically correct christmas greeting to you all. Have a happy non denominational winter season of festivities celebrating the common human spirit of generosity as sometimes seen in the act of giving and receiving gifts which may or may not posess theological connotations. Of course we’re still closer to Hanukkah so I should choose a Seth Cohen style greeting.

All this talk of Cameron’s bull dog attitude has reminded me how thin advocates for the European Project are on the ground. Not only is defending the current state of the EU painful, but advocating further integration seems inconceivable. Not being prone to patriotism myself, much of the Euro bashing rhetoric goes over my head. Patriotism? Those who argue agaisnt further integration or even for complete withdrawal don’t seem to suspect patriotism is involved, no, the term ‘national interest’ has been bandied about quite a lot. The coalition government has from its formation depended a lot upon the argument “yes university fees are wrong, but sometimes in the national interest…”, ‘national interest’ features heavily in any discussion of economic policy, it is used to justify policy more often employment or recovery, becoming suspiciously synonymous with ‘the market confidence’. In the latest Europe spat, the national interest seemed suspiciously similar to the interest of the City. The deciding factor in Blair’s persuading the country to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan was also the national interest. (Suggestions that women’s rights would be protected appeared only retrospectively.)

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Sep 27 11

SPQR 2, the narrative of profligacy

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A few weeks before setting off to Rome I’d read a few amusing news stories about ‘gladiator fights’ happening outside the Colosseum. Apparently the gladiator impersonators had formed gangs and were using violence and intimidation against other would-be gladiators, as well as against tourists to force them to pay up for photographs.

In response, the Italian police sent in agents, undercover in gladiator costumes and togas. Sure enough, a ‘sword fight’ did ensue, other undercover police then stepped in to make arrests as reported by The Guardian and the BBC.
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Sep 25 11

a new post from adam curtis

Many people on my facebook have at some stage been on the receiving end of an Adam Curtis documentary link. I found Adam Curtis through a very short segment he did for Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe. In it, he used the example of Roy Jenkins, the Labour Home Secretary who legalised homosexuality, to show how politics in the past could be a force to lead change, rather than simply reflect the public opinion polls. Curtis suggests that we have become so inherently suspicious of ‘elitism’ that we have in fact led to a stagnant and less progressive society. Since then, I have been an avid follower of Adam Curtis various documentary’s and also his blog. The common theme that I would establoish across them is that Curtis feels the balance between “positive liberty” and “negative liberty” has been pulled too far towards the latter.

Curtis argues strongly against market advocates and figures such as Hayek, but does borrow from some of their analyses. The suspicion that Curtis feels holds progress back, he explains is in the fear of the language of “positive liberty” which is left over from it’s use by the Soviet Union. In the Road to Serfdom, Hayek’s fears of ‘positive liberty’ he explains derive from what he observed as the consequential rise of Fascism and Totalitarianism. The difference emerges between Curtis who considers it an over reaction, and Hayek who considers it a wise reaction.

I’d recomend any of Adam Curtis’ documentaries to anyone, agree or disagree with him, he can certainly link together a fascinating bundle of stories in a way that will make them seem so interrelated that it’s easy to underestimate the depth of perception Curtis displays to find them in the first place.

Sep 22 11

Senatus Populusque Romanus

I slip in the time to post here just in the gap I have between passing my Driving Theory Test and frantically starting to pack and prepare for leaving for university on the 2nd October. Perhaps before I launch into my ramble about my very Hepburn-esque Roman Holiday I will post some little fillers to videos, articles and other time fillers of the week.

What I’ve been listening to:

Tom Lehrer’s “The Vatican Rag” got me in the mood for visiting the real thing last week. 2-4-6-8 time to transubstantiate!

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Aug 25 11

the worst orchestra in the world

I take back all the jokes I’ve made about my former school’s Junior Orchestra and also violas in general.

The Portsmouth Sinfonia rightly deserve their title, take a listen to www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b013fj17/In_Living_Memory_Series_14_Episode_4/ for the history of it.

They had an impressive repertoire that they recorded multiple records with and even performed in the Royal Albert Hall. Their numbers ranged from pop hits such as “Satisfaction” …

To the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy and other popular classics.

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