שנה טובה ומתוקה‎

September 25, 2022


9/11 and the Death of Democracy

September 11, 2022

Forty-nine years ago, on 9/11 in 1973, the US-financed-and-organized plan to overthrow the legally elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile was put into action.

Crowds in Santiago celebrating the electoral victory of Salvador Allende

During the violent military assault, the President died (assassinated or committed suicide to avoid capture) and over the next few years of the vicious and inhuman dictatorship of US-supported Pinochet, thousands of Chileans were imprisoned, tortured, and killed.

allende

What happened in New York on this day 28 years later was also vicious and inhuman. However, it is about time for some reconciliation and regret for the extraordinary litany of war crimes the US has committed. If any US network or major media even mentions the Chilean anniversary during what will almost certainly be today’s spasm of Trump-like breast-beating, that would be a tiny start.


Happy Birthday Victoria!

September 9, 2022

Happy birthday to the most wonderful daughter a father could ever wish for, and a fabulous mother to our grand-daughter!


September

September 1, 2022

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“By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer.”

— Helen Hunt Jackson


To Be A Canadian

August 18, 2022

Thirty-six years ago today I became a Canadian citizen. perhaps the proudest and most satisfying day of my life.  In about two months from now, I will have lived in Canada, in Vancouver, for forty-three years — much more than half my life.

These lengths of time seem strangely enormous to me looking back because I had had a quite long and interesting life (with wives and children and a career) in England and Europe before I ever came here.  And that previous life — during the fascinating 1950s, 60s and 70s — now seems like a necessary and irreplaceable prologue to what my life became afterwards.

There were seriously important people and things that I left behind; but I don’t believe in regrets because they have no value. Even if I did, I cannot imagine that my life was anything but greatly enhanced by moving to Vancouver.  I am still a proud Brit, an unreconstructed Welsh Londoner, but I am prouder still of being — by choice — a Vancouverite, of being Canadian.


Remembering Hiroshima, 77 Years Ago

August 6, 2022

Today we need to remember the fate of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and their people, utterly destroyed by atomic bombs this week in 1945.

I spent my early life in Europe during the hottest days of the Cold War, worried every single day that these scenes would be repeated in London and Berlin and Moscow.

Let us continue to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and do whatever we can to ensure that such events never happen again.


Happy Tau Day!

June 28, 2022

I have for many years enjoyed celebrating each 14th March as Pi Day, in honour of pi = 3.14….  However, I have been persuaded that Tau Day is at least as important if not more so.

The value of Tau = 2pi and is thus celebrated on 28th June (6.28).  Why this is important is explained in this good short piece from ScienceNews.

“The simplest way to see the failure of pi is to consider angles, which in mathematics are typically measured in radians. Pi is the number of radians in half a circle, not a whole circle. That makes things confusing: For example, the angle at the tip of a slice of pizza — an eighth of a pie — isn’t π/8, but π/4. In contrast, using tau, the pizza-slice angle is simply τ/8. Put another way, tau is the number of radians in a full circle.

That factor of two is a big deal. Trigonometry — the study of the angles and lines found in shapes such as triangles — can be a confusing whirlwind for students, full of blindly plugging numbers into calculators. That’s especially true when it comes to sine and cosine, two important functions in trigonometry. Many trigonometry problems involve calculating the sine or cosine of an angle. When graphed, the two functions look like a series of wiggles, shaped a bit like an “S” on its side, that repeat the same values every 2π. That means pi covers only half of an S. Tau, on the other hand, covers the full wiggle, a more intuitive measure.”

So, Happy Tau Day to you all!


Happy Birthday, Son!

June 26, 2022

My youngest, Sam, is now 46.  Wow, that doesn’t make me feel old at all!


For Those Of Us With Long Memories …

June 17, 2022

Fifty years ago today, in a “third rate burglary”, White House operatives broke into the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate complex in Washington DC.  It eventually caused the demise of Pres. Nixon.

Twenty-eight years ago today, OJ Simpson brought the excitement of a low-speed police chase to prime time television.

Only in America, eh?


Bloomsday 2022

June 16, 2022

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Today we celebrate one of the great works of modern literature — James Joyce’s Ulysses which takes place on 16th June 1904.

I forgot in advance and so did not prepare my grilled kidneys for breakfast — maybe next year I’ll remember.


The Longest of Memories and the Highest of Mountains

May 29, 2022

everestToday is the 69th anniversary of the first successful climbing of Mount Everest by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary.  News of the success arrived in England the day of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and I remember my father, who was very excited by the news, telling me all about it.  For years thereafter Edmund Hillary was the greatest hero of my young imagination.

I have one or two memories about my brother and me that pre-date May 1953, but Hillary on Everest is the earliest I can recall anything outside the family.  I know from photographs that there were massive street parties I attended to celebrate the new Queen: I remember none of that.  But Hillary on Everest has stuck with me all these years.

The picture is of Tensing Norgay taken by Hillary.  There are no pictures of Hillary on the summit because Tensing didn’t know how to work the camera and, as Hillary said, the summit of Everest was no place to start teaching him!


Nakba Day 2022

May 15, 2022

On Nakba Day — the day of the catastrophe — we remember the millions of Palestinians violently displaced from their homes at the creation of Israel in 1948.

We remember this year with especial importance as the carnage continues in full force this week and every week, and celebrate the Palestinians who have survived almost 75 years of State-sponsored apartheid, genocide, and general brutality at the hands of a regime financed and supported by almost every Western government. and media organization


International Day of the Worker

May 1, 2022

 

In most parts of the world, May 1st is recognized as the International Day of the Worker and we celebrate it as such. Labor Day in September is a North American tradition, encouraged by President Grover Cleveland so as to distance American labour from socialists and anarchists.


To All Those Celebrating 420 Today ….

April 20, 2022

marijuana-420

… have fun!


Chag Pesach Sameach 2022

April 15, 2022


Night Music: Vincent

March 30, 2022


Nowruz Mubarak 2022!

March 20, 2022


The Paris Commune: 151 Years On

March 18, 2022

On March 18th 1871, the revolutionary, anti-religious, and radical socialist communards of Paris refused to accept the authority of the the French government, and for two months ruled the city in the name of the people.

The background to the uprising was the defeat of the French in its war against Prussia, the capture of Emperor Napoleon III, and a two month siege of the capital by the Prussians. During the siege, the city was defended by the local National Guard (not the regular Army). In February of 1871, the new French government signed an armistice with the Germans. In March, the French government attempted to take into their control the cannons that had defended Paris; they were rebuffed by local militia and the revolution began.

After a hastily arranged campaign, a governing Commune was elected on 27th March with a heavily-radical majority. The next day, in their first acts, the Communards abolished military conscription and the death penalty, and adopted the red flag rather than the tricolour. Over the following weeks, they imposed a policy of church and state separation, elimination of rents during the siege, and the right of employees to take over a business if the owners had fled. Canteens and orphanages were established throughout the city.

By March 20th the Thiers government at Versailles had raised enough troops (mainly returned prisoners of war) to start skirmishing with Commune forces on the outskirts of Paris. At the end of the month, the Commune decided to take the fight to Versailles, but their advance was quickly overwhelmed by French Army forces.

During April, the French forces pressed their attacks on Paris. The Commune established a Committee of Public Safety (the same project as operated the Reign of Terror in the 1790s) and arrests of suspected French allies began.

The final assault on the Commune by the forces of reaction began late in May. 60,000 government forces found a way inside the city and neighbourhood by neighbourhood they destroyed the communards. The National Guard had not expected the government forces to be able to enter the city and few barricades had been erected inside. The National Guard was greatly outnumbered and out-gunned by the government Army, and soon mass executions of Guard prisoners were taking place.

After a week of vicious street fighting, executions and counter-executions, the cemetery of Pere Lachese was the final holdout for the Commune. After a fight that lasted all day, the last 150 National Guard surrendered and were executed.

In the end, there were 7,300 casualties on the French Army side (of whom about 900 were killed), while the number of Commune defenders killed reached perhaps 10,000.

Anarchists played a large part in the activities of the Commune, and the subsequent death and imprisonment of anarchist leadership strongly affected the growth of the movement for decades thereafter. Marx, Lenin, Engels, Bakunin and others wrote about the Commune as the first great proletariat revolution.

The Paris Commune has been the inspiration for any number of later similar events, in Moscow, Petrograd, Shanghai, and elsewhere. The early Soviets adopted the red flag and called their Ministers Commissars in direct tribute to the events in Paris.


Happy Holi Day 2022!

March 18, 2022

Holi


Celebrating Pi Day!

March 14, 2022

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