Monday, 22 August 2016

more future forms - fantastically fun

How many future forms can you hear in the first ten minutes?
Upstart Crow S01E04: Love is not love| Full HD 30th May 2016 - YouTube
Upstart Crow S1.Ep4 - Love Is Not Love - 30 May 2016 - YouTube

Lots of other series and films talk about the future of course:
Back To The Future (1985) Theatrical Trailer - Michael J. Fox Movie HD - YouTube

And we can always speculate about what the future will hold:
List of films set in the future - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here's a great website for 'real English' - with very different accents:
ELLLO Views #1240 Big Picture

futures @
ELLLO Views #1173 Future Plans for Maria
ELLLO Views #220 Future Trip

Conditionals are also examples of the future form - here we have polite requests, solicitations and threats:
RSA ANIMATE: Language as a Window into Human Nature - YouTube


Saturday, 20 August 2016

sport and politics

Is sport simply a matter of winning - or losing?
Jay Doubleyou: winning or losing?

Is it just a 'zero-sum game':
BBC Radio 4 - Four Thought, Series 2, Dominic Hobson: Sport is a Zero Sum Game

Tell me the truth about sport:
Alan Watt - The Truth About Sports - YouTube
Alan Watt: How Television & Sports Are Used to Control The Masses. - YouTube
Noam Chomsky on the role of sports in propaganda-based authority - YouTube

The Romans and George Orwell had one or two ideas:
Bread and circuses - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Amusing Ourselves to Death - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jay Doubleyou: sport as poetry in motion... ?

And it's still a game being played today:
Thai junta: Let them watch football | The World
Lots of circuses, not enough bread: EM’s failure to reform and invest | beyondbrics
Jay Doubleyou: bread and circuses

Looking at the 2012 Olympics in London:

The Olympics have always been a bit fascist, Tracey

21 JUNE 2011
Tracey Emin's observation that vintage Olympic posters "look a bit fascist" is cannier than she knows

It was announced yesterday that Tracey Emin would be among twelve artists who would be designing posters for next year's Olympic Games. As she posed for the photographers, Emin said that she wanted her effort to look different from posters from previous Games, "because they look a bit fascist, to be honest". I have yet to see any footage of Lord Coe as he stood alongside her, but I've no doubt that he must have winced considerably. Whatever Coe's reaction, the fact is, Emin is right - the posters do look a bit fascist, because the Olympic Games themselves are a bit fascist.

Essentially, both Olympism and fascism are secular religions that venerate the human body and seek the triumph of the will. The Olympic motto of "citius, altius, fortius" ("faster, higher, stronger") is something that could have been dreamed up by Hitler or Mussolini. Indeed, throughout the 1920s and 1930s, celebrations of the Olympiads and fascist rallies grew increasingly indistinct. Both were quasi-religious experiences, complete with increasingly sophisticated rites and rituals, and adorned with striking iconography. Even their salutes looked the same. (Just check out the Paris 1924 poster.)

During that period, the Olympics and fascism also adhered to a cult of personality. The founder of the Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, was almost regarded as Christ, and the IOC president, Henri de Baillet-Latour, as his chief disciple. As I wrote in my book Berlin Games:

"[T]hese men were regarded as being infallible, because they embodied an idealism that far transcended the grubby quotidian strivings of humanity. It was a pagan idealism, its pageantry godless, but its chauvinist adherents were nothing less than fanatic, men for whom no other point of view was acceptable. If anyone obstructed their ideals, then they would be subjected to the most vicious ad hominem attacks."

Sounds familiar?

And then there is the notion of race. Although anybody watching next year's 100 metres final would be hard pressed to claim that the OIympics were today racially discriminatory, early adherents of Olympism such as the future IOC president, Avery Brundage, spoke about the Olympics in the 1920s in ways that sounded like Alfred Rosenberg:

"Perhaps we are about to witness the development of a new race," Brundage observed at a dinner in Chicago in 1929, "a race of men actuated by the principles of sportsmanship learned on the playing field, refusing to tolerate different conditions in the other enterprises of life; a race physically strong, mentally alert and morally sound; a race not to be imposed upon, because it is ready to fight for right and physically prepared to do so; a race quick to help an adversary beaten in fair combat yet fearlessly resenting injustice or unfair advantage..."

The Olympians and the fascists also regarded the success of a nation as the result of the physical health of its people. Admiring Hitler's programme of enforced physical education, Brundage observed that countries that performed well at the Olympics, such as Finland, did well in other arenas. "What pleases those of us who are interested in sports is that the Finns carry the ideals from the playing field into other relations," Brundage wrote. "At least little Finland is the only country that recognises its obligations to pay war debts." The idea that athletic prowess is linked to sound financial management was a curious one to say the least, but such views were taken seriously at the time, not least by the Nazis.

When the Games went to Berlin in 1936, the union between the two movements was blessed. In many ways, the Berlin Olympics were the ultimate Olympic Games, because the Nazis were the only people who really "got" Olympism. For the Nazis, Olympism and Nazism dovetailed so neatly that, in the words of a memorandum from the Propaganda Ministry from October 1934, "the Olympic idea is a cultural requirement of National Socialism, which concerns the entire German people".

The Nazis added many little flourishes to the Olympics that are still evident today, not least the torch relay, which was the idea of the Secretary General of the Organizing Committee, Carl Diem. It was Diem who was later to rally thousands of Hitler Youth at the Olympic stadium in March 1945 as the Russians assaulted Berlin. Diem called on the assembled teenagers not to capitulate, and to show some "Olympic spirit". (In case Olympic spirit was not enough, execution stakes were set up around the stadium, ready to be used if there were any displays of cowardice.)

Since the war, the whiff of fascism has always clouded around the Olympics, not least in the form of Juan Antonio Samarach, who was a member of the Spanish Falange. And the Olympic movement still carries on with its funny rituals at its opening and closing ceremonies. It will be interesting to see what sort of poster Emin comes up with. In a way, I'd like her to do something a bit fascisty, because - ultimately - that would be an accurate reflection of the type of mumbo-jumbo that accompanies a few running races and some women's beach volleyball.

The Olympics have always been a bit fascist, Tracey

London 2012 Olympics: leading artists unveil official posters | Sport | The Guardian

Not everyone agrees:

Britain's Olympic success and post-Brexit vim are cause for celebration, not cringe


Team GB’s performance in Rio is both remarkable and refreshing, a ray of sunshine in the relentless gloom surrounding not just the usual dire outings in international football, but fears over Brexit, home-grown terror, a dysfunctional Labour Party, childhood obesity, housing shortages, a collapsing health system, rail crises … the list goes on. Britain’s magnificent haul of gold and silver has finally given us something to shout about. Hasn’t it?

Sadly, for many, the answer is a sneering No. According to the arbiters of socially acceptable opinion, national pride can only be one of two things: a money-grubbing charade, or a show of proto-fascism. For the Left-wing grandee Sir Simon Jenkins, British Olympic pride in Rio is not only the result of a nasty, cynical government spending spree, but also evidence of both a far-Right and a “Soviet” sensibility. For Sir Simon, the BBC’s coverage of the Games has turned British success in Rio into something “close to a British National party awayday”.

That the Left seems confused by Olympic success – unable to decide whether it’s an odious capitalist stitch-up or a jingoistic harangue – is hardly a surprise. After all, vitriolic anti-Britain sentiment has been on full display among them since before the European Union referendum.

Some Remainers didn’t even seem to think Britain deserved to exist outside Europe. As one Cambridge academic told me: “I don’t give a –––– about this country, to be honest; I only care about Europe”. Others spoke of the regret that “idiots” (meaning people who live outside London and Brighton and are over 60) were allowed to vote.

Following the result, veteran Leftist Polly Toynbee spoke for thousands of doom-mongers when she wrote of “the dark place” that “Britain for the British” would become after Brexit.

Little wonder that the idea of a triumphant Team GB rankles with such people: celebrating the victories of athletes draped in the Union flag is intellectually impossible for those who believe any move by Britain to assert its national independence is by definition a backwards and morally dubious step.

Britain’s detractors will always find a way to blame the Tories, or Ukip, or capitalism, or stupid voters, for what they are convinced is the parlous state of the nation. But why do the naysayers live here – many out of choice – and not elsewhere? It’s because Britain has a huge amount going for it, including a culture of full and free and frank public debate that allows them to engage so vociferously in self-laceration.

The period since the Brexit vote – seen as the beginning of the end – actually testifies to this country’s dynamism. Out of chaos, our political system rapidly produced a strong new Prime Minister at the head of a stable and popular government. Then there were the predictions of economic apocalypse: instead, unemployment has gone down and retail spending has risen sharply. The property market Armageddon hasn’t happened either in most places. If London prices are cooling, they were overdue a correction anyway. And the predicted 3 per cent slowdown in property prices this year is hardly worth weeping over.

Such facts will, of course, cut no ice with people who decry British “neoliberalism” – namely market economics. They don’t fit the narrative of British decline, so they will be ignored. Likewise evidence that Olympic glory is boosting a country that – away from the chattering classes in their metropolitan ghettoes – actually cares about sporting prowess.

It’s never been the British way to celebrate our virtues too loudly, of course. We can leave that to the Americans, with their flagpoles on the front lawn and their odes to the star-spangled banner. But as we reach the end of an Olympic Games where Britain may well finish second only to the US, perhaps we can learn a small lesson from the Americans about how to deal with national success.

We don’t need to wear Union Jack bikinis, but should learn to give credit where credit is due. Taking pride in Britain and its triumphs should – at the very least – be as acceptable as doing it down.

Monday, 15 August 2016

free schools and free lunch

What do we mean by 'free schools'?

Pupils given detention because their parents cannot afford school meals

Children whose parents had not paid off lunch debts were made to sit in 'lunch isolation' away from friends and given substitute meals

A free school "Superhead" who was hailed as a shining example by education ministers is forcing children to sit in detention if their parents cannot afford to pay for school lunches.
Katharine Birbalsingh, head of Michaela community school in Wembley, London, issued parents with a letter threatening to punish pupils with “lunch isolation” if they lunch payments were not made on time. 
Parents were told their children would be given a sandwich and a piece of fruit in place of their hot meal and separated from their friends at lunch time until the debts were paid off. 

Fred Fox - Fuel for School
Ms Birbalsingh attracted national attention after speaking at a 2010 Tory party conference in which she was applauded for her criticisms of the school system. 
She lost her job in the backlash that followed, but became a poster figure for former education secretary Michael Gove’s education reforms and set up her own free school. 
A letter to one parent, posted on Twitter, said: “You are currently £75 overdue. If this full amount is not received within this week your child will be placed into Lunch Isolation”.
“They will receive a Sandwich and piece of fruit only. They will spend the entire sixty minutes period in lunch isolation.”
“Only when the entire outstanding sum is paid in full will they be allowed into family lunch with their classmates.”
“Family lunch” is the term referred to by Michaela School for the timetabled lunch break. 
The free school charges £2.50 a day for school meals, with payment required upfront. 
Dionne Kelly, a parent who received the letter, told The Daily Mail: “I found the letter quite threatening. Isolating children for their parents not paying upfront is degrading. It's embarrassing for poor families.”
Ms Kelly, an unemployed care worker, said she had already paid the money by the time she received the letter, but her 12-year-old son was punished regardless.
The single mother said she was in the process of registering for the free meals scheme when she received the written warning, and hoped to reclaim the money paid.
Michaela Deputy Head, Barry Smith, who is said to have devised the "lunch isolation" scheme, has described the school as having strict academic principles and a "zero tolerance discipline" system.
In a recent blog post, Mr Smith said: "You send your daughter to Michaela she won’t be sexually harassed by male pupils. Corridors and lesson change overs are silent. Pupils walk in single file."
"You send your son or daughter to Michaela and you don’t have to worry that they’ll dread lunchtime because they’re friendless. Every child sits according to the seating plan teachers have designed."
"At the end of the school day, there are lots of detentions," he added, "at lunch, there are lots of detentions".
Michaela Community School opened in Wembley Park in September 2014 and has an 840 pupil capacity.
The Independent has contacted the school for comment. 

Pupils given detention because their parents cannot afford school meals
Center for a Stateless Society » There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free School at Michaela Community School


Friday, 5 August 2016

beatles or stones

The Beatles rescued Western music:
The Beatles - a musical appreciation and analysis - by composer, Howard Goodall CBE - YouTube
Jay Doubleyou: music from the uk

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. 
See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly. 
I'm crying. 
Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come. 
Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday. 
Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long. 
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen. 
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob.

The Beatles I Am The Walrus HD - YouTube

The lyrics don't make much sense:

Lennon received a letter from a pupil at Quarry Bank High School, which he had attended. The writer mentioned that the English master was making his class analyse Beatles' lyrics. (Lennon wrote an answer, dated 1 September 1967, which was auctioned by Christie's of London in 1992.) Lennon, amused that a teacher was putting so much effort into understanding the Beatles' lyrics, decided to write in his next song the most confusing lyrics that he could.
I Am the Walrus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This was the song which closed the London Olympics in 2012:
Russell Brand Olympics Closing Ceremony - YouTube

Or the Stones?
Jay Doubleyou: music from the uk

But perhaps we should finish with the greatest pop musical festival in the UK - which finished a couple of days ago:
Glastonbury Festival | The Official Glastonbury Festival Website

Two years ago, the headline act was the Rolling Stones:
The Rolling Stones - Jumpin' Jack Flash @ Glastonbury [HQ] - YouTube

They were part of the original 'British Invasion' in the early 1960s:
British Invasion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
British Invasion II: The Rolling Stones | Rock and Roll: An American Story

Did you know that the Rolling Stones saved the Blues?
Giving America Back the Blues | Rock and Roll: An American Story

And that British Blues players are considered among the best?

Which brings us to some more controversy:
Jay Doubleyou: racial issues

Monday, 1 August 2016

brexit and history

An interesting programme on Radio 4 today:
BBC Radio 4 - The Long View, The EU Referendum and the English Reformation

Here's a time-line from the Economist:

In graphics: Britain’s referendum on EU membership: A background guide to “Brexit” from the European Union | The Economist

There are different views about what it's about:

Brexit as Nostalgia for Empire 

The run up to the EU referendum has shown Britain for what it is. Woodwork: the washed-up bracken of the British Empire, and the ugly flotsam of its legacy of racism.

Brexit as Nostalgia for Empire

Britain's history almost demands a Brexit happen


Britain's history almost demands a Brexit happen - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Selective Memory: The Brexit Campaign and Historical Nostalgia

Selective Memory: The Brexit Campaign and Historical Nostalgia – Imperial & Global Forum

With a short history here:

The History of the EU with David Mitchell - YouTube