The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Knowledge is liberation


If your heart is true and your instincts wild, a wolfblood pack will accept you gladly... #

5 July 2018
Scargill, Thatcher, May, and Europe

The question was asked,

I lived through it but wasn't really aware of politics at the time, but... How does May's stubbornness and seemingly blinkered approach compare to Thatcher's drive against the unions and miners in the 80s? Are the situations comparable?

The short answer: the government approaches are not really comparable. Thatcher was bringing in a policy that commanded broad support, that made economic sense, and made an effort to ameliorate the impact. May has deliberately chosen her policy, has never made a compelling argument to prefer it to the alternatives, and she appears to have no care for popular opinion.

(More: A long analysis of the mid-80s strikes, and present Euro-crisis)

There was stubbornness on both sides. Scargill saw it as his mission to bring down Conservative rule. Thatcher believed that coal mining was a net drain on society, and needed to be exposed to a free market. We can believe that, had the NUM been led by someone more pragmatic, the industry would have been wound down more gradually, without such damaging conflict, and with a much more helpful settlement. We can believe that, had the Conservatives been led by someone less headstrong, that the miners would have won most of their claim, and kicked the problem down the road for a later government to pick up.

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16 June 2018
Philip Lee and human rights

Notes on a speech by Dr Philip Lee, the Human Rights minister in the Lord Chancellor's office. Given to Bright Blue, 9.15 on 12 June 2018.

"Recognition of human rights is what true conservatism is all about." Dr. Lee began his speech with a tour of the history of social reformers within the Coservative party. Peel, Disraeli, Shaftsbury, Emmeline Pankhurst, Churchill. The Conservatives have a long history of social progress, and are perhaps a little shy of trumpeting their past achievements.

His speech then harked back to the speech Foxface gave when assuming office in July 2016. The one about not being held back, about building a great meritocratic society. The question he left hanging: What's she done about these problems in the years since? How is Foxface following in the tradition of Peel, Disraeli, etc?

There has been an absence of hope, a failure of integration. Society is not taking responsibility for itself. Seeing what's happened in Syria, Dr. Lee was worried that extremist elements might worm their way into the social fabric. Some of us might argue that they already have a platform on LBC.

Dr. Lee did not mince his words about the far-right headbangers who would roll back the ECHR. "Those colleagues are wrong. It is them who would turn back the tide of history."

Challenges were set. "We must pass something better to our children. We must care for the vulnerable. Humanity is the bond to keep us all safe... Wht do we, as a society, value? How do we engage with the world?"

Dr. Lee saw a need to recalibrate society. He saw it was necessary to regulate markets - the question was not if markets were regulated, but how this should best be done.

"Markets have their place, but they must work for humanity and dignity. Too often, people are sacrificed for the market." He compared this task with ending child labour in the 19th century - it was not done because it was profitable, but because it was right.

Th modern equivalent could be a strategy for women offenders. Dr. Lee is aghast that so many women are imprisoned because they didn't have a television license. Many of these women are vulnerable, out of abusive relationships. Is this the society we want to build?

Dr. Lee was scathing about the idea of bombing people into democracy. "You cannot bring freedom to people by high-tech weaponary." The military must be an adjunct, to create and defend human security.

And he did not like elections that offered no choice. "Votes need to be meaningful."

Dr. Lee concluded with a recap of his guiding principles: liberty, dignity, and justice.

And then there was a piece that hadn't been provided to the organisers...

The government, we hear, has a duty to protect its inhabitants. All of them, even when the majority opinion favours damaging society. He reminded us of hanging, the great debates over whether society could kill someone; it might be popular, but it is wrong.

When policy is detrimental to people, it is an MP's job to protect the people's interests. He will vote in favour of the Commons being able to instruct the Executive on negotiations with the EU. "In these circumstances, it will be hard for me to remain a minister," and Dr. Lee announced he was resigning from the government.

Dr. Lee then excused himself, as he had media to talk to. Questions to the minister were not taken, on account of there being no minister in the room.

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6 June 2018
Key stage 3

Piccadilly Radio 3.0 launched nationally. Here's a sample hour from 4.30 on Monday:

One Kiss - Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa [current]
Sober - Pink [2009]
No Tears Left To Cry - Ariana Grande [current, followed by ads]
Wolves - Selena Gomez ft. Marshmello [recurrent]
Paradise - Coldplay [2012]
Familiar - Liam Payne And J Balvin [current, followed by ads and news]
Breathe - Jax Jones ft. Ina Wroldsen [recurrent]
Fill Me In - Craig David [2000]
Shotgun - George Ezra [current, followed by ads]
Human - Rag 'N' Bone Man [2016]
Wake Me Up - Avicii [2013]

A-list tracks ("One kiss", "Familiar") seem to be on three-hour rotation. EMAP's house style seems to be go from a hit to the adverts, then come back with something familiar.

The playlist is mostly from the last ten years, a few spice tracks from the turn of the century. Not too different from Piccadilly 2.0, which stands to reason; but not really what we'd expect from a service calling itself "Hits".

The immediate question: how is this service different from the existing Heat Radio? It's a similar mix, mostly uptempo pop, perhaps a bit more modern. The longer-term question: will Hits give Heat a bit more space to carve a different path? Already, we see Heat giving space to "This is me" and Lady Gaga, both absent from Hits.

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31 May 2018
Football writings

Two football questions from Jack of the Online Writings:

If Rotherham win the play-off final, would that be the first time all three teams relegated from [Division II] have gone straight back up?

Rotherham did win the play-off final. To research this question, we've used this compact listing up to 2014, and RSSSF tables since.

"Yes" is the simple answer. Even when it was two-up, two-down, even when it was two-down, one-up-from-three-north, one-up-from-three-south, there's never been a time when all of the clubs relegated from Division II bounced back from Division III.

The trick was almost pulled in Division IV a decade ago. The sides relegated from Division III in 2006 (Hartlepool, Franchise, Swindon, Walsall) filled the top four in 2007's Division IV, but Franchise lost in the play-offs.

Am I right in thinking there will be no London teams in [Division IV] next season?

For the 2018-19 season, Barnet drop out from Division IV, and no London club replaces them. Sutton United failed in the play-offs, Bromley missed the play-offs.

In the last quarter-century, Barnet (most seasons from 1991), Dagenham and Redbridge (from 2007), and Leyton Orient (pretty much every season) have ensured London representation in Division IV.

Last time London didn't have a rep in Division IV was the 1993-4 season. Barnet spent their one year up in Division III, where they finished bottom. Fulham came down with them. Leyton Orient were a comfortable 18th in Division III, Dagenham & Redbridge finished 6th in the Football Conference (Non-League Division V).

(More: Full details of seasons when London had no Division IV teams)

This will be the eleventh season in 53 years without a London side in Division IV. Arsenal have been a permanent presence in (Non-)League Division I, and there's always been some London in Division II. Division III ran without a London side in 1972-3, and again in 1978-9; assuming we discount Watford, there was no London rep in 1979-80. There was no London side in Division V as recently as 2012-13, nor in 2008-9.

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2 May 2018
Not getting excited for tomorrow's ballot

Local elections tomorrow. We've had letters from some of the council candidates.

To be precise, we've had eight letters since the start of the year from Adrian Delaney (Conservative). He's gone long about how he cleans up rubbish. He stands by shops in the Approved Conservative Pose™, he picks up litter, and wants to bring back free garden collections.

The problem we have with Adrian Delaney (Conservative) is the (Conservative) bit. He stands with the most obnoxious racists we've covered since the BNP in 2009. He will not get our vote, because he stands with racists.

Carole Griffiths is the Labour candidate. We only know this because of her piece on a local website. We've had no leaflet from her. No-one from Labour has dared knock our doorstep.

We will not be voting for Labour. The party is in coalition at Westminster with the Conservatives, and chooses to betray all of its principles. Workers are suffering, and all to satisfy the hugemungously massive ego of its current "leader".

The manifestoes from the Greens and Lib Dems are sensible and relevant to the council's powers. A vote for either of these parties would also send a message to the real audience, the BBC and the newspapers. The message: we still don't want your stupid "breggsit" idea. We said no last year, and there is no mandate from earlier years.

(More: The yellow and green candidates)

In short:

Positions of the nationwide parties on Brexit-related issues. The question mark reflects Labour's insistence on "a" customs union but not "the" Customs Union.

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30 March 2018
Local Radio Times

With the clocks being helpful, we've been listening to North American local radio news, mostly in gobbets of about 20 minutes. Here are some thoughts:

VOCM (St John's) at 0530 local. Fifteen minutes of local and global news, travel, and local sport. Emphasis on local content, sober and serious and well-produced. Quite an old-style bulletin, but kept the pace up. Perhaps there's room in the market for something younger.

(More: CBC St John's, News 95.7, CHML, AM 1250 Steinbach. From south of the border: South Shore Radio, KFOR 1240, Shine All 9s KSHN, WDEV Vermont, WZBD, Newsradio WKOK, and WBAP.)

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19 February 2018
Really deep things

So there's this post and comment thread on Metafilter talking about Little Earthquakes, and describes the album as "music for weird high school theater nerds in the process of figuring out their sexuality".

Mmm, hello.

This blog was aware of Little Earthquakes on first release: enjoyed the singles, and added it to the nebulous list of "would like to get at some point, when we've got through more pressing stuff. And perhaps when it's cheaper."

And that's where it stayed for years. Until this blog started dating a weird high-school theatre nerd who very much was in the process of figuring out their sexuality. As regular readers may recall, this relationship ended messily; said theatre nerd insisted on turning the knife into a wound they'd made, and both of us may still carry the scars.

Said theatre nerd might have figured out their sexuality, got married, had kids. This blog hadn't, and likely still hasn't. Tori Amos has persisted throughout, a little bit of the divine, a few of the bonds that connect humanity and keep everyone together.

But it's the connections we treasure, that there are caring and supportive people who are united by meaningful popular culture. My So-Called Life was this blog's muse, Tori Amos for others, all things Titanic for the next cohort beneath, and then Harry Potter exploded. It's the same bonding as sports fans, for we who are not sports fans.

Who's treading these paths today? Lorde is the weird nerd vibe. Lucy Spraggan does the storytelling and emotional connection. The 100 and Stephen Universe attract various forms of outsider. All have rabid fanbases, and we hope to read about them in Metafilter circa 2042.

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24 January 2018
Popular in early 2002

Not Quite as Popular covers the top five singles on the CIN chart. This episode covers the first half of 2002. We move at the same speed as Tom Ewing's Popular project, which explains the eighteen-month gap between installments.

The new year began with a quiet week; the de facto two week Christmas break was now established. Sales were so weak that Hermes House Band hit number 1 in Scotland with Country roads. We can't blame that on drunken Scotsmen streaming all sorts of shite at Hogmanay parties; streaming had been invented, but not over dialup.

(More: With number ones for Aaliyah, George Harrison, Enrique Iglesias, Westlife, Will Young, Gareth Gates, Oasis, The Sugababes, Holly Valance, Ronan Keating, Liberty X, Eminem, and Junkie XL. Plus a superlative lyric from Ant and Dec.)

Nelly's Hot in herre (sic) only made number 4, but it's the most famous song from June. The track drips sex and sensuality from every fibre of its being. "The sauciest record ever," said the NME. Perhaps let down by relying on one musical hook, it's the breakthrough hit for rapper Nelly, and for his producers The Neptunes. More - much more! - from both as the century unfolds.

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