March 31, 2014

Ian Knox cartoons and political correctness as censorship, Ctd

[DISCLAIMER: When I speak of loyalists I do not speak of all loyalists. I speak of a small violent minority]*

[DISCLAIMER: I am an equal opportunities adversary and I hold violent republicans in equal contempt to violent loyalists]*

It's well documented that Ian Knox draws loyalists and loyalist paramilitaries as knuckle-dragging empty-heads. It nothing new. He's been doing it for decades. By doing this he adheres to two codes. 

Firstly, he is adhering to the unwritten convention of the political cartoonist. It is their job to be cutting and incisive and even to offend. 

Secondly, he is adhering to speaking plain English. To calling a stone-throwing thug a stone-throwing-thug. And the beauty of political cartoons is that they're super-distilled plain English. As John Gilroy, creator of the Guinness posters, said:
"The man in the street has no time for contemplation. My posters are therefore, a kind of aesthetic meal-in-a-minute."

Glenn Greenwald - Privacy is necessary for creativity

In an article in Salon, "Surveillance breeds conformity" Natasha Lennard spoke with Glenn Greenwald. He explained why privacy the prerequisite to being a fully formed human being and the prerequisite to creativity. He explained this with two points.

Firstly, Glenn Greenwald said that the first value of privacy is the personal:
"I think the primary value of privacy is personal as opposed to legalistic or constitutional or political, by which I mean it’s essential to what it means to be human that we have a private life. We interact with other human beings as social animals, and live part of our lives in the public eye — that’s crucial — that’s why if you put someone in solitary confinement for 23 and a half hours a day like we do in U.S. prisons, it’s a form of torture. And it makes people go insane, because we need, as part of our human functioning, to be seen by other human beings and to be perceived by them and understood through the eyes of other people. 
Secondly, it's about being free to explore and express oneself creatively:

March 28, 2014

Glenn Greenwald - The problem with endorsing abuse of state power

Gore Vidal (at 17 minutes) said:
"Every president wants to be a dictator. It is the nature of power. You don’t accept limited powers unless you’re a very limited man."
Gore Vidal said in 1999:
"I don’t know where the Internet is going to go but I do know that the government is going to try and take it over. You can count on that." 
Glenn Greenwald (at 26 minutes) said there are lots of reasons why people should be concerned about civil liberties, even if theirs aren’t being infringed or abridged. He gave two reasons.

"The first of which, history leaves no doubt that, although civil liberties infringements begin in a very confined way - directed at the most marginalized minorities about whom people don’t care or to whom they direct their hostility – it is inevitable, absolutely inevitable that those civil liberties abridgments, once they are entrenched, will spread ; and they’ll spread far beyond their original intended targets."
He continued:

March 27, 2014

The great opportunity of new media journalism

This is for @otrjasona @Jason_A_Murdock @bartoncreeth @LyraMcKee and @dmcbfs. Please watch the video above.

Legacy media is moribund. Legacy media is on a journey of managaed and inexorable decline. It's steady as she sinks. Yes, the relationship between words and money is off. But it will be corrected.

The decline of legacy media isn't all a matter of money. The decline of legacy media is the making of two entirely avoidable circumstances.

One it has lost it's soul. It has capitulated to advertising and public relations. It has been co-opted by those who govern us. As George Orwell said:
"Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations."
Our press isn't this. Our press is flat, serving and servile. It isn't curious or courageous, partisan and adversarial. We need to fix that. Only a vigorous and voracious press will keep countries and governments honest. Our head of government, Peter Robinson wants the press to be more positive and cuddly. But if the press is accountable to Peter Robinson, who is Peter Robinson and our government accountable too?

Two, journalism has failed to iterate and innovate.

March 26, 2014

David Allen Green (@JackofKent) - The pointlessness of a law degree

David Allen Green wrote here about the pointlessness of a law degree:
"The one thing a law degree is not particularly useful for is the practice of law. In fact, it may well be the last degree one should do if the ambition is to be a practising lawyer."
"A law degree can even be worse than useless."
And so:
"Do not waste three years of your life on a LLB, for there is nothing in answering the clever questions of law academics that will get you very far in in a courtroom or with a client.
"The only thing an LLB contract course and typical contract drafting and negotiation have in common is the word “contract”."
He finished with a flourishing metaphor:
"But the academic study of law is like reading sheet music without an instrument: one can more or less make it out, but as with music, law only comes alive in its performance."
Leonard Duricic of Bechstein Piano also gave us a flourishing metaphor:
"If you only learn theory, it’s like learning to swim by reading a book - it’s not the same, so you need both."
 This is an example of the wishy washy carers advice they're giving out now that I got in 2005:
"Employers across the spectrum respect law degrees because they know law is a tough discipline that helps you to develop analytical skills."
It's bollocks. An employer does not want you to think like a lawyer. They want you to do it. David Allen Green in full here.

Richard Haass on the need to create a larger context

In my last post on Richard Haass here, we learnt one thing. Negotiations require you to look behind your adversary and to take into consideration what forces lie behind them. In the video discussion above hosted by Fareed Zakaria (@FareedZakaria), Richard Haass looked at the two main tensions in that can hold up negotiations.

One, was on the tension between passionate minorities and passive majorities. Richard Haass said:
"These passionate minorities in the full sinlight of public opinion can really lead to the unravelling of an agreement. So it's never enought to concoct a deal that has trade-offs that may make sense. You've got to always think, how do you prepare the world for it, so the [negotiating] individuals can sell it to their constituencies."
Two, concerned the tension between the politicians and their vocal minority base. He explained the need to prepare, explain and contextualise the dispute to the vocal base group on each side.
"We went to extraordinary lengths to try and shape the context [in Northern Ireland] and still it proved to be not enough... Even if you can get agreement among the experts... unless you've created a larger context, where they feel confident to be able to politically, not to mention physically, survive, then you haven't accomplished that much."

March 25, 2014

Will Social Media Change – or Even End – Journalism As We Know It?

[This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from]

"Social media are not so much mere tools as they are the ocean we’re going to be swimming in — at least until the next chapter of the digital revolution comes along."

- Geneva Overholser, for the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard

Social Media services and websites have experienced phenomenal growth over the last decade – Facebook and Twitter users number in the millions – and the impact of so many people from all walks of life upon the process by which information is shared cannot be overstated. And one area that has likely felt the impact more than any other is the field of journalism.

March 24, 2014

Irish racism, Ctd "incredibly dehumanising"

 As I said:
""[Britain]" is not in Ireland. There is no occupation. This language of "England Out" and British occupation is incredibly dehumanising. There are people, like me, who wish to remain in the Union with great Britain. As John McCallister said: "I am no settler. No colonist." I am one of 800,000 citizens who want "England [in]". This language is tremendously dehumanising. This the sort of debasing language which allowed the IRA to murder innocent civilians and serving officers. As Tom  
Hartley, Sinn Féin strategist, said:
"In a way we made them [Unionists] a non-people... We didn't even see them as part of the problem, never mind as being part of the solution."

Irish America is Protestant too

St. Patrick’s Day Graph: Irish in America are Protestant, not Catholic
On the matter I first noted Fintan O’Toole, who said:
"And – here’s a thing that is almost always forgotten – most Irish-Americans are Protestant."
Then Professor John P. McCarthy of Fordham University, who NY said:
"I must acknowledge Mr [Fintan] O’Toole makes a valid note, often unappreciated in Ireland, about the substantial portion of the Irish American population, including many of the presidents, who were Protestant."

March 22, 2014

Northern Ireland - A world of policy free politics

Since its inception NI21 has found itself under a shower of inverted criticism as opponents cat call the party for its lack of policies. The doublespeak and hypocrisy is simply breathtaking. Ventriloquising Mick Fealty, editor of Slugger O'Toole, the old-order parties in Northern Ireland practice a special and unique branch of politics: that being, "policy-free politics." As Mick Fealty said:
"Policy is little in evidence anywhere in Stormont. Nor has there been any clearly articulated ambition to focus on solving real world problems through new policy formation at the political level. The non arrival of CSI and a long promised anti poverty strategy from OFMdFM is indicative.

In the absence of meaningful content, politics is reduced to a series of controversies over Orange parades, the flying of flags, the naming of play parks. Unnoticed, and largely unrermarked upon, the intimidation of minority communities continues on a low level and out of sight of the TV cameras."
"The main act is a puppet show loosely themed around the politics of identity, which is both its greatest strength and a major vulnerability."
No policies equals no politics and deadlock at best, mismanagement and descent into conflict at worst.

March 21, 2014

Live Drawing - @RamorePortrush [Part 4]

On Friday 28 February I did a fourth evening of Live Drawing at Ramore Wine Bar Portush.Click below to see a full selection of images from the night.

Previous night of live drawing in the first of four evenings at the Ramore Wine Bar in Portrush (@RamorePortrush) here and here. Night of Live Drawing in Portrush in the Mermaid Restaurant here. With the Arts Council NI at their 2013 conference here, at the Pump House, Titanic Belfast with the Friday Night Mashup here, at the QUB Peace Journalism seminarhere, St Joseph's PS Christmas craft fair 2013 here, at the Thriftway Travel christmas party 2013 here, at the Civic Conversation 2013here. At a Christmas party (2013) here. At the DUP Conference 2013 here, and drawing the DUP politicians here. Doodling 6 guys in a pubhere. At Culture Night Belfast 2013 here. At the GEMS NI Conference here. At Funtastics indoor play park here. At John Hewitt here and here. At the Wickerman tourist shop here.

Live drawing in the Black Box with famous political cartoonist Ian Knox here. See my life drawings from the Loft Belfast at 99 North Street here, here and here. My thoughts on life drawing here. One of my favourite cartoonists Andre Carrilho talks about the challenge of caricature here.

The Cult of University, Ctd Val McDermid

Val McDermid (@valmcdermid) appeared on the Question Time of March 20 2014 held in Warrington and said (21 minutes):
"Young people who've been betrayed by the promises that have been made to them, who've gone off to university, got their degrees, run up a huge amount of debt and all they do is find themselves pushing a trolling up and down an inner-city train, because there aren't graduate jobs for them. These are actually the things that upset me, that I care about."
Yet university applications and entrants continues to increase. That is why I have said that 'University Is Now An ETHICAL Question.' And let's remember what Erica Buist said; she captured the betrayal of young people perfectly:
"The minute [young people] graduated, something switched in employers' heads. The same generation who had us sit... the 11-plus and the 12-plus... and mock GCSEs and real GCSEs and AS-levels and A-levels and BAs and MAs and MScs and PhDs decided education is an afterthought. Experience is what's really important."
Watch video here.

Glenn Greenwald - US violence is "noble" and "civilised" while Muslim violence is "primitive" and "without rational cause"

Following the murder of drummer Lee Rigby, bloggers Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan crossed keyboards and battled it out. The issue: Greenwald called it "a barbaric and horrendous act"; but fell short of calling it "terrorism". The premise being that Rigby was a soldier, not a citizen. Since America and Britain had declared the whole globe as a battlefield, the attack was a reaction to this. But as Glenn explained, by highlighting the cause, he does not seek to justify the act. As he said:
"People reflexively try to radically distort the argument beyond recognition in order to smear you as a Terror apologist, a Terrorist-lover or worse, all for the thought crime of raising these issues. To do so, they deceitfully conflate claims of causation (A is one of the causes of B) with justification (B is justified). Anyone operating with the most basic levels of rationality understands that these concepts are distinct. To discuss what motivates a person to engage in Action B is not remotely to justify Action B."
He then approached the related issue that the west has a boundless compulsion to depict others as the "Uniquely Primitive and Violent Evil." He said:
"Our violence is understandable, noble, well-intentioned, necessitated by their pure evil. By stark contrast, their violence is sub-human, senseless, and utterly unrelated to anything we do."

March 20, 2014

Live Drawing - #TweetUpNI



Hey Irish America! Arthur Guinness was a Protestant, a Unionist and Irish and British

'England get out of Ireland', St. Patrick's Day Parade 2014, via Long Island Catholic Examiner, Deirdre Haggerty here.
[This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post, here and includes a number of corrections and an update.]

(Update below)
Irish America needs to go buy a book and learn some history. They don't have a baldy notion. Here's some context.
March 17th every year, every where is the day to be Irish. To celebrate Ireland. To celebrate Irishness. But for many, being Irish is a very exclusive and static thing. Padriag Reidy (@mePadraigReidy) alluded to it in the Guardian and rightly slapped it down, saying that'"authentic" cultural events are for faschists.' But I want to take this further.
I'm like Padraig, I'm Irish. But unlike Padraig, I'm from Northern Ireland, I'm a Protestant and I'm a Unionist who sees himself as both Irish and British.

March 19, 2014

Christopher Hitchens - The anti-Columbus Movement

[UPDATE - Below, with Ann Widdecomb]

I previously wrote about the American Empire, citing Christopher Hitchens who said, "The big secret of the US is class and empire; Everyone knows there's a class system and empire, but it's not officially admitted." Glenn Greenwald wrote an article in the Guardian, 'Afghanistan and American imperialism.' Christopher Hitchens awrote against left wing opposition to American imperialism in

Cult of university, Ctd @ericabuist: "We've done what you asked,society! Release the jobs!"

Erica Buist (@ericabuist) is the founder of the How To Be Jobless blog and now works on the Guardian Digital Journalism Scheme. She wrote a fantastic blog 'Telling a young person to 'Just get a job' is like going to the Sahara and yelling 'Just rain!'.' She said:  
"Today's youth has spent years chasing qualifications no one ever asks us about. The notion that algebra would ever be useful seemed fishy, but the grownups insisted: education, no matter how apparently arbitrary, leads to jobs."
Money quote right here:
"The minute we graduated, something switched in employers' heads. The same generation who had us sit Sats and the 11-plus and the 12-plus and Sats again and mock GCSEs and real GCSEs and AS-levels and A-levels and BAs and MAs and MScs and PhDs decided education is an afterthought. Experience is what's really important."
Another great bit:

Why we hate, Ctd Solomon Northup

Master Ford with Solomon Northup in Charlie Brooker's film adaption of the memoir by Solomon Northup
Solomon Northup wrote about his life in Twelve Years a Slave, the story of a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the American South in 1841. In that he shared his thoughts about his slave master, master Ford:

"The influences and associations that had always surrounded him, blinded him to the inherent wrong at the bottom of the system of Slavery. He never doubted the moral right of one man holding another in subjection. Brought up under other circumstances and other influences, his notions would undoubtedly have been different."
My previous post on 'Why we hate' with Andrew Sullivan here. On hate and mistrust as the basic canon of Northern Ireland life here. On Daniel Hannan and cognitive dissonance here. And my article 'Why we hate in Northern Ireland' on here.

March 18, 2014

Being Irish is not about being not-British, Ctd

Taosieach Enda Kenny with the PSNI and An Garda Síochána (New York 2014)
For Saint Patrick's Day 2014 Gerry Gregg wrote an article in the Irish Herald, 'De Valera's dream is long dead, so why do we keep peddling it?':
"[Eamon De Valera's] vision of the Ireland he fought for and hoped to see was a fantastic description of a land and a people that never existed and whose like will never be seen...  Enda Kenny will march down New York's Fifth Avenue with men who still see Ireland through this prism of piety and patriotism. Kenny's vision of the "ould sod" is his gombeen pitch that we are the "best little country in the world to do business in"...  
This takes us back to 1943, to De Valera and that speech. Ireland was an oasis of tranquillity back then while Europe was going up in flames. We defined ourselves by one religion only, by our attachment to the land, and through our belief that, in some way, God was looking after us...  
National identity is all about agreeing on who "we" are. In 2014, the Irish are struggling on that. We are no longer automatically Catholic. We are also Protestants, Dissenters, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and atheists... We have even discovered there are gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender citizens in our ranks. That Ireland will not be on parade abroad, of course. The old stereotypes will be out in force." 
"Irish people are equally attracted and reviled by the notion of "true Irish" (fior Gael) that De Valera and others pursued. It's led us to weird places... "Authentic" cultural events are for fascists. Embrace your entirely made-up identity this St Patrick's Day.

March 17, 2014

Blogging has enormous depth, Ctd

I've looked at the US bloggers Andrew Sullivan (@SullyDish)and Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) and Christopher Hitchens who all talked about the depth of blogging. I also looked at what Paul Krugman had to say about blogging. I've also looked the the UK legal bloggers David Allen Green (@JackofKent) and Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1). The internet has had an incredible democratic and levelling effect. As Paul Krugman said:
"Academic credentials are neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for having your ideas taken seriously... if someone without formal credentials consistently makes trenchant, insightful observations, he or she has earned the right to be taken seriously, regardless of background."
All the above have attested to the depth, authority and veracity of the new medium. Daniel Hannan (@DanHannanMEPadded his voice to the debate:
"The separate categorisation of columnists, reporters, bloggers and interested readers is becoming meaningless. Every citizen is now a potential journalist. News and opinion are a conversation. We still hear occasional complaints from Leftie pundits that online media “lack quality control”. In fact, the dialectic element of blogging ensures a higher standard of accuracy than before. Mistakes are ruthlessly exposed and, because of the sheer number of outlets, a plausible new theory can spread with previously unimagined speed. 
Blogs have improved veracity, quality and diversity. They have not led to the segregation by opinion that many predicted: Leftists and Rightists argue online in a way that never happened when people took just one newspaper. It's true that bloggers, being human, are as prone to cruelty, stupidity and error as anyone else. But it has never been easier to go elsewhere: more people are reading more news and comment than at any time in history."
On what blogging is all about, Greenwald put it best:
"I began [blogging] without any plan to become a journalist or writer, but simply to participate as a citizen."

March 16, 2014

Glenn Greenwald on abuse of state power, Ctd

Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) explained how the whole history of the United States has been a story of abuse of state power. One that begins as the state targets, infringes and erodes the civil liberties of feared minorities, and from their expands and employs those powers on the rest of society. He said in the video here:
"After the 9/11 attacks, the American people became convinced that one of our enemies was Islam, and muslims. And there was lots of talk about how not all muslims are a threat, but nonetheless the fear of Islam and muslims arose and pervaded the country because of the blame that was cast on that group for the 9/11 attacks. And so when it came to the time for government to get the power to do things like put people in prisons without any shred of due process, without the opportunity to be heard in court, or to be charged with a crime, the people they targeted were muslims almost exclusively because of the expectation, which turned out basically to be true, that the fear levels that Americans had of Muslims would make most Americans indifferent to that targetting and would make a lot of other Americans actively supportive of what was being done.

March 15, 2014

Saint Patrick's Day - We need to end the identification of Irishness with monolithic Catholicism.

There is not such thing as a proper Irish person. There is no doctrinally orthodox and prelapsarian pure way to be an Irish person. It may exist as a demented ideal is some puritans, but these notions are racist, xenophobic and the most obvious bar to peace in Ireland. This is the Celtic nationalism that worked to make Irishness irrevocably incompatible with Englishness. It is a dangerously and wrecklessly conservative, idiosyncratic and reactionary view of identity. On par with the purist ideology of the BNP and EDL.
Éamon de Valera typified the little-Irelander mentality perfectly. Gearoid O Crualaoich explained that de Valera had 'a static conception of a "truly Irish" way of life.' De Valera and others cherished and pursued the "fior Gael" ("true Irish"). This was explicitly shown in his famous but loopy 1943 speech 'The Ireland That We Dreamed Of'.
It was the ireland of "cosy homesteads", the rural countryside, neo Gaelic, Catholic Arcadia. As J. T. Morahan said in 1931*:
"[English] culture is not the culture of the Gael; rather it is poison gas to the kindly Celtic people."
Taoiseach Éamon de Valera said in 1951:
"I am an Irishman second: I am a Catholic first and I accept without qualification in all respects the teaching of the hierarchy and the church to which I belong."
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said in 2013:
 "I am proud to stand here as a public representative, as a taoiseach who happens to be a Catholic, but not a Catholic taoiseach."

Act with agency, Ctd Jean Jaurès and Charles Péguy


The 100-year anniversary of World War One is also a time to remember the 1914 passing of two heroic Frenchmen - Jean Jaurès (above left) and Charles Péguy (above right). Two men remembered for their commitment to truth, justice and free expression in their fight against the virus of anti-Semitism. This they did in their defence of Captain Alfred Dreyfus (the the falsely imprisoned Jew) and in defiance of public opinion, military officials and an anti-semitism that was virulently rampant in France.

At stake were the principles of the French Revolution and the fundamental rights of man, as laid out in the Declaration of the Rights of Man of August 1789. Parallels can be drawn with Northern Ireland. We are torn by sectarianism and at stake in Northern Ireland is progress.

March 14, 2014

Live Drawing with Ian Knox at #TweetUpNI

On Thursday 14 March 2014 I spent an evening drawing and cartooning at the Slugger O'Toole event, 'Belfast's Big Tweet Up'. Above is a cartoon of Ian Knox and I. See below for a full selection of pictures of Ian and I cartooning each other.

My previous post on Ian Knox:

Ian Knox speaking with the Detail here. Ian Knox and I drawing together in the Black Box, Belfast in 2013 here. My coverage of Ian Knox's December 2013 exhibition,'Lifelines and Deadlines' here. A selection of photos of Ian Knox at work here. My article here on why an Ian Knox prize to encourage satire and political cartooning like the Herb Block foundation in America which rewards and encourages future talent.

Ian Knox speaks with The Detail

Barry McCaffrey (@Barry_TheDetail) with Ian Knox, in full here.
Barry McCaffrey (@Barry_TheDetail) interviewed the famous political cartoonist Ian Knox on behalf of the Detail here. I took a selection of screen shots from the interview which includes Ian at work and some of his cartoons.

Pictures of Ian and I drawing together here. My coverage of Ian Knox's December 2013 exhibition, 'Lifelines and Deadlines' here. A previous blog post with a selection of photos of Ian Knox here. My article here on why we need to do more to promote and widen the reach of the work of Ian Knox and why we need an Ian Knox prize to encourage satire and political cartooning; like the Herb Block foundation which is funded with $50 million to be bequeathed to:
"encourage the art of editorial cartooning and to support charitable and educational programs that help promote and support the causes he championed."
We need this in Northern Ireland and Ireland. Click below to see a selection of photos of Ian during his interview with The Detail:

March 13, 2014

Art is theft, Ctd

Look at the cartoon I did above left and here. Then check out the cartoon of Barack Obama above right by Andre Carrilho. You can see it's not a direct copy or replica, but you should be able to see that I have borrowed the lips and chin. Subtle but remarkable. I learnt how Carrilho does his Obama off by heart. By storing it in my memory bank of cartoons the visual vocabulary comes out in my work.

"Only those with no memory insist on their originality."
— Coco Chanel 

"Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery - it's the sincerest form of learning."
― George Bernard Shaw 

I looked at this process previously here where I explained how the work of Ian Knox comes out in my work.

March 12, 2014

The cult of university, Ctd Short-changed

Rob Behrens, chief executive of The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education
The Sunday Times (9.iii.2014) reported on a 2013 study of more than 17,000 undergraduates (commissioned by Which?) which found weekly contact time between students and staff had fallen from 14 hours and 48 minutes in 1963 to 13 hours 42 minutes in 2012. Some students shared their experiences:

Josh Vallance, a first-year history student at one university, said:
"I have seven hours’ contact time at the moment but that will drop to three in my final year. Some of the seminars are good, but there are just too few of them."
A first-year geography student who wished to remain anonymous, said she regretted going to university:
"As far as the university is concerned, I am non- existent. I could disappear for good and none of the academic staff would ever notice... When I’ve emailed my personal tutor about something, she just says she’s the wrong person to ask. I feel that I am wasting my time." 
This backs up my assertion that for many young people university is a giant holding pen. A student in her final year of an English literature degree at a Scottish university said:
"My last essay took two months to be marked, which may sound trivial but it’s impossible to know how you are getting on without feedback."

Act with Agency, Ctd Émile Zola

"La verite est en marche et rien ne l’arretera. Qui souffre pour la verite et la justice devient auguste et sacre... Il n’est de justice que dans la verite. Il n’est de bonheur que dans la justice.”

These are the words of Émile Zola. A Frenchman known above all else for his fearless defense of Alfred Dreyus, a Jewish officer wrongly accused of being a German spy. This was known as the Dreyfus Affair. A time of virulent anti-semitism in France. A monumental episode in world history. His sharp, committed and determined epistolary campaign effected huge change - Ultimately his letter, 'J’Accuse', led to the release of Alfred Dreyfus from jail with a full exoneration.

Christopher Hitchens wrote in his book, 'Letters to a Young Contrarian' (p.4):
"The figure of Émile Zola offers encouragement, and his singular campaign for justice is one of the imperishable examples of what may be accomplished be an individual."  

March 11, 2014

The cult of university, Ctd Michael Gove and Matthew Hancock speeches

Two speeches to look at. Firstly, Michael Gove's speech at McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, Surrey about the future of vocational education. Secondly, Matthew Hancock's (@matthancockmp) speech at the BBC's 'You're Hired' conference, launching the National Apprenticeship Week 2014.

Speaking at McLaren, where educational and technical innovation meet, his goal was to talk about the relationship between education and the world of work. He said:
"If young people are to be prepared for that radically changing world of work, we need a plan to change our education system - and to secure their future. In particular, we need to end the artificial and damaging division between the academic and the practical."
What Michael Gove called "the apartheid at the heart of our education system." More:
"And we need to ensure that practical, technical and vocational education is integrated with academic learning to make both more compelling for all students in our schools, and more valuable in the new labour market."

VIDEO - Plato's [Loyalist] cave, Ctd

"He who does not move does not notice his chains." 
— Rosa Luxemburg

My earlier post in the series with full analysis here.

March 10, 2014

An epistolary response to David McCann (@dmcbfs) and Barton Creeth (@bartoncreeth)

On Saturday March 1 2014 David McCann (@dmcbfs), Barton Creeth (@bartoncreeth) and I had a few drinks in a well known Belfast pub. The evening began with David and Barton discussing American politics and when I arrived later, we turned to Irish politics.

It was firey but good-mannered. I said I would respond in full. I'm not sure if this was heeded. But here it is. I've looked at a few things:
- Irish identity and being Irish.
- The sense of community.
- Pearse and how religion can no more be separated from Pearse than Pearse the person could be separated from religion.
- Catholic State for a Catholic people.
- Deport protestant unionists.


There is no single definition or model of what it is to be Irish. As I have tried to show in my blog series on Irish and British identity - 'Being Irish is not about being not British' - and - 'Being British is not about being not Irish' - too many people hold and push recklessly idiosyncratic, exclusivist, racist (my blog series on 'Irish racism' here) and ethnicist notions of what it is to be Irish. No man has a monopoly on what it is to be Irish. Being Irish is what you want it to be and make it to be. As George Bernard Shaw said:

Unhappy when working - unhappy when workless

John Gray is a political philosopher and author of False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism
The title is the contrast and tension that has struck me most in my adulthood. That people are ever unhappy when they're working. Just as they're ever unhappy when they're out of work. I have come to the conclusion that it's all an illusion - there is only now. Life is a struggle. It is no utopia and there is no utopia but chasing that illusion is what gets us through. There is only labour and laborious occupations and there is not getting around them. George Bernard Shaw said in Misalliance:
"The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure for it is occupation, because occupation means pre-occupation; and the pre-occupied person is neither happy nor unhappy, but simply alive and active. That is why it is necessary to happiness that one should be tired."
Or putting it another way:
"The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not." 

March 09, 2014

University feeds the skills gap, Ctd Northern Ireland

The skills gap has been described as one of the 'biggest' threats to the recovery and that careers education is palpably ‘failing young people’. Discussion has been healthy in America, growing in England in Wales, but silent in Northern Ireland.

That's changed. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in Northern Ireland has published a critical review of the outworking of relations between schools and employers. The Belfast Telegraph reports here:
"Too many young people are ill-prepared for the job market when they finish full-time education. Advice and guidance offered in the schools is sometimes not given sufficient priority in school activities."
And so:
"The CBI combines a series of critical comments on careers advice with a number of positive suggestions on the ways in which employers can, and should, be more supportive of the challenges faced by schools."

#IndyRef - Trainee lawyer James Wallace fights for voting rights of Scottish expats

Aidan O'Neill QC produced a legal opinion (formal advice commissioned by James Wallace (@james_wallace1)) on the legality of the independence referendum. The legal opinion returned with the conclusion that Scotland’s first minister acted illegally by denying expatriate Scots a vote in the independence referendum. 
Aidan O’Neill QC is an expert in EU law said the decision had “good prospects” of being overturned in a judicial review on the grounds that it violated Scottish expatriates’ right to freedom of movement under European law. James Wallace is sending the legal opinion to Salmond and David Cameron demanding they enfranchise the estimated 1.15m Scottish expatriates in order to avoid court action that could delay the referendum due on September 18. The Sunday Times reported that the current arrangement discourages out-migration and penalises those who leave. 
James Wallace (@james_wallace1), 26, is a trainee lawyer of transparent initiative and ingenuity, previously said to Reuters:
"It's ridiculous, quite frankly, that Scottish soldiers based in England, 10 out of 11 Scottish Olympians and international rugby players who played for Scotland all their careers, cannot vote," Wallace, 26, told Reuters.

Young versus old - "The real split in Ukraine" [and Northern Ireland]

I've previously wrote a post, 'The young people will bring change to Iran' where I cited Alec Ross, Senior advisor to Hilary Clinton 2009-2013 who said of young people in Iran and China:
"What is ultimately going to change China, what is ultimately going to change Iran are young people in these countries. There are half a billion people in china who us microblogging sites, 400 million of whom are under 25. That's what's going to change China. That's what's going to change Iran."
Christopher Hitchens spoke of "Iran's baby boomerang" whereby:
"Within the carapace of a theocratic state, an almost completely secular society is being created." Muslim mullahs sowed a baby boom whose children will reap their overthrow.
Christina Lamb explained this phenomenon in the Sunday Times also where trendy restaurants "are packed with young people drinking lattes and smoothies, smoking and texting on their iPhones as they plan their night out."
In Ukraine the recent clash has been a generational one. Julia Ioffe (juliaioffe) wrote an article in The New Republic, 'Eastern Ukraine Is Still Fighting Its Past - Life under Stalin's long shadow'.
"The younger a citizen of Donetsk, the more likely she is to view herself as Ukrainian. The older she is, the more likely she is to identify as Russian. And this is the crux of it all: What we are seeing today is the reverberation of what happened more than 20 years ago. This is still the long post-Soviet transition. And this is what it’s like to wander in the desert, waiting for the old generation to die off."

March 07, 2014

Live Drawing - @RamorePortrush [Part 3]

On February 21 2014 I did a third evening of Live Drawing at the Ramore Wine Bar (@RamorePortrush), Portrush. Click below to see a selection of cartoons from the evening.

Previous night of live drawing in the first of four evenings at the Ramore Wine Bar in Portrush (@RamorePortrushhere and here. Previous night of Live Drawing in Portrush in the Mermaid Restaurant here. With the Arts Council NI at their 2013 conference here, at the Pump House, Titanic Belfast with the Friday Night Mashup here, at the QUB Peace Journalism seminar here, St Joseph's PS Christmas craft fair 2013 here, at the Thriftway Travel christmas party 2013 here, at the Civic Conversation 2013 here. At a Christmas party (2013) here. At the DUP Conference 2013 here, and drawing the DUP politicians here. Doodling 6 guys in a pub here. At Culture Night Belfast 2013 here. At the GEMS NI Conference here. At Funtastics indoor play park here. At John Hewitt here and here. At the Wickerman tourist shop here

Live drawing in the Black Box with famous political cartoonist Ian Knox here. See my life drawings from the Loft Belfast at 99 North Street herehere and here. My thoughts on life drawing here. One of my favourite cartoonists Andre Carrilho talks about the challenge of caricature here. More cartoons below:

More Scottish went to Poland than to Ulster

Dr. William Roulston
In 'Tim McGarry's Ulster Scots Journey' broadcast on BBC Dr William Roulston explained to Tim McGarry that more Scots went to Poland and Scandanavia than to Ulster:
"We often think of the Ulster plantation and the movement of Scots across the north channel and to our own province as being the most significant event in Scottish history of that era. The reality is that more Scots went to Poland in the early 17th Century than came to Ulster. In fact more Scots went to Scandinavia in the early 17th Century than came to Ulster."
On Wikipedia it says on the out-movement of Scots to Poland:
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