Socialist Register Online

by Harry on May 22, 2006

I discover, via Chris Brooke, why my dad was able to pick up a full set of the Socialist Register for me at a Labour Party jumble sale. It’s all online now. Lots and lots of gems. To single out one, not at random, but for its interest to bloggers, try Norman Geras’s Our Morals: The Ethics of Revolution (pdf). I don’t know how it holds up today, but it had a big influence on me at the time (along with Geras’s Marx and Human Nature: Refutation of a Legend), showing why socialists needed a moral theory and glimpses of what it might be.

An Interview, By Timothy!

by Harry on May 22, 2006

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that BBC7 could have been devised just for me; no news, no music, no sport, no ads, just a lower-middle-brow selection of comedy and drama from the radio archives. I tape the classic comedies for the kids (ISIRTA, The Goons, and, a bit worryingly, Steptoe and Son, are top of the pops in our house, on which more another time) and listen to the dramas myself. The best part of the station finding its feet has been hearing the announcers grow into their material. Initially only Jim Lee seemed to know and love the classic shows (I gather he is considered eccentric for being a Clitheroe Kid enthusiast; I can’t imagine why). My favourite announcer was openly bemused — even a little mocking — when she first started presenting the Paul Temple shows, and it has been a lot of fun hearing her come to love them, a love which is sweetly on display in this interview with Peter Coke (pronounced Cook) who played Temple in the 50’s and 60’s. At 92 Coke is stunningly energetic and on the ball — I caught him misnaming Coronation Scot, but he was otherwise enviously youthful, and obviously delighted to have such a young fan. Example of Coke’s amazing shellwork here (John Q might want to take note); a picture of the great man himself here if you scroll down the page a bit (he was born the same year as Ted Grant!).

BTW, I’ve probably listened to all but one of the extant Paul Temple adventures at least 3 times each, having been introduced to them not by the BBC but by KCRW in the late 1980s. I have only found a couple of the books, neither of which I could struggle through; Durbridge might have been one of our greatest radio writers but it doesn’t work on the page. The quality gap between the books and the radio show is comparable only with the gap between Colin Dexter’s novels and the Morse series.

Update: after some trawling I thought I’d throw in this link to prove that others are nerdier about Paul Temple than I am.

Buruma on Ayaan Hirsi Ali

by Chris Bertram on May 22, 2006

“Ian Buruma in the NYT”:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/19/opinion/19buruma.html seems to me to get the Ayaan Hirsi Ali issue about right:

bq. Rita Verdonk was only a particularly extreme and unimaginative exponent of this new [anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant] mood. One of her wildly impractical suggestions, mostly shot down in Parliament, was that only Dutch should be spoken in the streets. It was she who sent back vulnerable refugees to places like Syria and Congo. It was under her watch that asylum seekers were put in prison cells after a fire had consumed their temporary shelter and killed 11 at the Amsterdam airport. She was the one who decided to send a family back to Iraq because they had finessed their stories, even though human rights experts had warned that they would be in great danger. This was part of her vaunted “straight back.”

bq. So when Ayaan Hirsi Ali told her own story of fibbing in a television documentary last week, Ms. Verdonk felt that she had no choice. If she didn’t investigate this case, and act tough, the law would not be applied equally. This was inflexible, and given Ms. Hirsi Ali’s value as a courageous activist who had already suffered a great deal, harsh. But it had nothing to do with her views on Islam.

bq. In this context, Ms. Hirsi Ali’s earlier remarks about the “terror” of “political correctness” have an unfortunate ring. It would have been better if she had taken this opportunity to speak up for the people who face the same problem that she did, of trying to move to a free European country, because their lives are stunted at home for social, political or economic reasons. By all means let us support Ayaan Hirsi Ali now, but spare a thought also for the nameless people sent back to terrible places in the name of a hard line to which she herself has contributed.

Via “Butterflies and Wheels”:http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/notesarchive.php?id=1377 .

Eponymous blogs

by John Quiggin on May 22, 2006

I’m reading Learning the World by Ken McLeod (available here) and it turns out that the title is that of a blog* written by one of the characters. This is the first time I’ve seen a novel named for a blog – are there any other instances.

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