October 22nd, 2016

Some brief words on the LSE's "what the hell do we do now?" conference on 8 October.

Ash Sarkar and Zoe Gardner provided a one-two speech on how borders are futile. That was worth the price of admission. Owen Jones spoke with his usual passion, his usual eloquence, and his usual complete lack of substance.

Lots of politicians gave lots of speeches, long on bluster and anger, lacking in concrete ideas.

It became clear that the meeting was to plot for a socialist nirvana. This blog would rather take tactical steps towards a broad consensus goal, and shift that goal by small and imperceptible increments. The strategy worked well for the isolationists.

Puzzled Pint for September 2016

October 5th, 2016

The theme for September was rats. It produced a solid Second Class set of puzzles, and we found them all enjoyable. No particular weak spots, and a few highlights.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

September 22nd, 2016

Cursed Child. What's it like for people who don't know much about the Harry Potter canon? We'll answer that question. We'll also give some sizable spoilers, so if you don't want to know anything about the production, look away now.

Cursed Child is a "short" story by Jack Thorne. Like any number of fan fictions, it draws on the characters created by JK Rowling. Unlike any other fan fiction, it has been written with input from Rowling.

The story claims to be short. This is not true. It is, in fact, very long. You might think it's a long way to the end of the universe, but that's naught compared to the length of Cursed Child. Across its various parts, the play runs for over five hours.

More: We consider the production from all angles: effects, plot, stagecraft, acting, all the business of show. (2000 words)

Puzzled Pint for August 2016

September 2nd, 2016

Star Trek the theme with puzzles of very mixed quality.

Popular in late 2001

August 19th, 2016

In this half-year: we remember the So Solid Crew, pass judgement on Bob the Builder versus DJ Ötzi, and describe someone as "wants to be Donna Summer, but is more Done Autumn". But who?

With number ones for Roger Sanchez, Robbie Williams, Atomic Kitten, So Solid Crew, Five, Blue, Bob the Builder, DJ Ötzi, Kylie Minogue, Afroman, Westlife, S Club 7, Daniel Bedingfield, Nicole Kidman.

Sixes and sevens

August 18th, 2016

The seven sacraments of Harry Potter, life in a glass jar, punctuation, Romeo + Juliet, the Crass Spectacle, and which way is due up?

Puzzled Pint for July 2016

August 12th, 2016

Secret Societies was the theme; we reckon it was a Third Class set of puzzles, experiments don't always succeed.

Dixie Chicks lit

August 10th, 2016

In today's sixpack:

  • a long history of the Dixie Chicks and their relationship with Dallas.
  • disputing arguments against Irish passports.
  • wedding tips
  • teletext lives
  • sports graphics from 1972
  • a cheap air-conditioner

The New European, same as The Old European?

August 3rd, 2016

Comparing Archant's "pop-up" newspaper against Robert Maxwell's The European of the 1990s.

More Or Less United

July 28th, 2016

"More United", Paddy Ashdown's campaign group, was launched on Andrew Marr's show last weekend.

As we see it, "More Utd" asks candidates to support some milquetoast ideas. Nothing on the sample policy lineup is going to trouble a Sensible candidate from any tradition. Indeed, we can almost say that any candidate supporting these principles is a Sensible candidate, and anyone opposing them is a Silly candidate.

(Behind the cut: Useful contributions from Andrew Hickey, Caron Lindsay, Yellow Submarine, and Nick Barlow.)

Nick Barlow concludes with a "what if" argument,

Let's be prepared to reach out and play a role in building the common ground, instead of standing on the sidelines and complaining that we weren’t included when someone else builds it without us. The old ways of doing politics are dying all around us, and we need to have the courage to try and shape the new.

Stand about while other people speak for us? Down that road lies an unrepresentative group, Labour's problems.

The barrier to entry is low, and the possible gains are great. So this blog's supporting the group, in a nebulous "we support this group" way.

For now, that's all we expect to do.

What is a referendum good for?

July 18th, 2016

Reflecting on Danny Finkelstein's claims that It was simply right to ask people whether they assented and This was a reasonable way to make a difficult decision and A referendum is the right way to decide a narrow constitutional question, but not to determine broader national policy.

We don't believe that all three can be true at once.

Now That's What I Call a Topper!

July 16th, 2016

How many number one singles have there been this year? Depends how you define "number one single".

Are there any number ones on the new Now album?

Why were there none on Now 16, and where was this claim false?

What do they say about a can of worms?

You broke it, you fix it

July 12th, 2016

Daniel Hannan refuses to understand democracy, and pretends he has some sort of "mandate" to speak for us.

How I Could Just Hear A Man

July 9th, 2016

About a month ago, there was criticism of "RadioX". This station is owned by Global. It used to be the home of fresh alternative music, but changed last September to "blokes with guitars".

Stella Creasey (Labour, Walthamstow), noted that Radiox didn't promote its women presenters. Chris Baughen (music director at Radiox) didn't address Creasey's points, but indulged in ad hominem attacks.

(More: Recapping the argument between Creasey and Baugher. Then we bring in some facts, and compare against another alternative station.)

Radiox is the sound of Wetherspoons, bland and unoriginal and the proprietor is dodgy and we just know we can do better.

Our homeland is online

July 5th, 2016

Tumblr and the generation gap, Icelandic naming, the Livingstone formulation, Eurocomedy, Michael Gove and human rights, and fascists.

America's Greatest Hits

July 2nd, 2016

After eighteen years, Paul Gambaccini plays his American hits for the last time tonight. "America's Greatest Hits" was influential in its day. Here's how we'll remember the show.

When britain broke itself…

June 30th, 2016

The final set of points.
"I make no apology for expressing anger, lamentation and naming sin as sin where I see it."
"The nation state is not natural, it's not inevitable."
"Cameron knew his background. Even before it was fashionable, Cameron would check his privilege."

Destination data?

June 29th, 2016

Are we getting there? Don't know.

So shut up with your racist bullshit, stop attacking Napoleon in 1827, don't be Gregg Easterbrook, and beware of the absolute dishonesty of exiters.

Views from abroad

June 28th, 2016

Today's slew of notes and quotes has points from ABC Australia, the Irish Times, Irish Independent. We're grousing at Giles Fraser's unchristian attitude, and cheering for Laurie Penny.

Cries from the heart and head

June 27th, 2016

The first in a short series of daynotes.

John Brassey and Andrew Ducker go from the heart and head. Indy Voices forget that the best reason to make votes count is to make votes count. Andrew Neil loses his last shred of impartiality. Alistair C McGregor makes a series of good points.