Sunday, May 20, 2018

JON


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Jon Haworth lives in Jersey (CI).

He has threatened to kill a politician's landlord. He harasses victims of child abuse. He is a sick and twisted maniac.



Sam Mézec, States (Jersey Parliament) Member

This description of Jon issues from Jersey parliamentarian Sam Mézec.

Now you might think it a bit extreme. Jon certainly did and he made a formal complaint about Sam to to the Commissioner for Standards claiming that Sam had breached the Code of Conduct for Elected Members.



Paul Kernaghan CBE QPM
Commissioner for Standards

The position of Commissioner for Standards was established in Jersey in 2016. Previous to that the politicians investigated themselves.

The Commissioner appointed was Paul Kernaghan CBE QPM. Originally from Northern Ireland, he served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary before becoming Chief Constable of Hampshire. This was followed by a spell as Head of Mission for the European Union Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories and then as Commissioner for Standards for the UK House of Lords after which he ended up in Jersey.

Parliament already knew Jon's form and I take it that he thought he'd have a go with the new man on the block.

Now, that was Jon's big mistake, because Sam's description is true. The Commissioner effectively acknowledged that and so reported to the Jersey parliament which found that no further action was called for.

So the result of Jon's complaint is that both the Commissioner for Standards and the Jersey parliament have effectively endorsed Sam's description.

The Commissioner found as follows in relation to each element of the complaint:
‘I threatened to kill a Politician’s Landlord’

I am satisfied based on the newspaper coverage of a court case involving Mr. Haworth that he had been bound over to keep the peace in connection with a telephone call he made which involved a threat to the landlords of a Jersey politician. I find it significant that Mr. Haworth sought to explain his actions on that occasion, by stating that they were prompted by a social media exchange to which he objected.

‘That I harass Victims of Child Abuse’
I am satisfied that the JCLA letter dated 25 November 2015 provides justification for Deputy Mézec’s comment. I note that Deputy Mézec referred to other relevant evidence to justify his comment, but I felt it unnecessary to pursue these additional references.

‘That I am a sick and twisted Maniac’
Whilst one could deprecate Deputy Mézec’s choice of language in the light of the requirements of Article 5 of the Code of Conduct, I recognise that social media is a more informal media and that Mr. Haworth’s history, as evidenced in the report of the court case in 2011, may have led Deputy Mézec to feel his comment was justified. I do not believe it was malicious in intent.

There are two references in the above which need further elucidation, the 2011 court case and the JCLA.



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I couldn't find the official report of the court case. I have been told that the Jersey Evening Post have taken their original piece on the case offline. I am indebted to Ian Evans for the above copy of the JEP piece.

If you're interested you can hear what I take to be the phonecall cited in the courtcase here. Jon is threatening Stuart Syvret's landlord with death at the hands of Nurse M, a (so far, alleged) serial killer.

The JCLA is the Jersey Care Leavers Association which supports those adults who, as children, suffered abuse while in care. Their letter, referred to above, states that Mr. Haworth had made vitriolic attacks on the JCLA and claimed that he had said that victims of child abuse only wanted compensation.



Jon has since made a phonecall similar to the one above to a disabled Blogger who campaigns for Victims/Survivors of Child Abuse.

I must say, were I Jon I'd be very careful in attempting to pressgang a man as dangerous as Nurse M into service to do my dirty work for me. As we say in Irish Filleann an feall ar an feallaire. However, Jon seems to have survived this unscathed so far, apart from the court case.



Jon, in further phonecalls, has relayed threats against the wife of investigative journalist/blogger Rico Sorda. You can follow this up on Rico's blog.

In addition to all the above, the Jersey establishment is not above using disreputables for its own ends when it suits them. For example, Jon was used by former Jersey Data Commissioner (daughter of Bergerac) to bring, what I consider a spurious, case against Stuart Syvret which resulted in Stuart's blog being taken down.

I have to say that it gives me great pleasure to see Jon hoisted on his own pétard. He has threatened more than the one person cited in the report and he has harassed and trolled a number of people online, including myself. He is the sole reason I had to start moderating comments on my blog.

So I'll finish with the immortal words of Jon Haworth
addressed to myself at 9.39pm on 18 January 2017:
Yup, you're just one big thick Irish dickhead.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

BEST NIGHT EVER


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There I was, returning to the car park in the Botanical Gardens when something caught my eye beneath a distant tree. On a closer look it was a sculpture of two people linking arms. But it was something more. There was a flow to it and a sense of the ethereal.



Who were these very contented people? Two women clearly completely at ease in each other's company.



There was no indication of who they were, or what they might represent, or who the sculptor was. I googled around and found that while they had clearly appealed to more than myself and there were many photos on the internet, nobody knew anything about them.



Then, lo and behold, I came across my old online friend, Grannymar. She had sleuthed and come up not only with the title of the piece, Best Night Ever, but she identified the sculptor as Bob Quinn.



As she put it herself:
This wonderful piece has rather haunted me for quite a long time. At home in the Irish National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, it has no indication as to the artist. Eventually after months of searching and many visits through differing seasons I have finally discovered the secret.



It is indeed a haunting piece, full of movement and mystery.



I must ask the two contented ladies for their backstory next time I visit the Botanical Gardens.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

PARLEZ VOUS EU ENGLISH



There has been a lot of talk about the likely affects of Brexit on the status and use of the English language in the EU.

Ireland and Malta, have come under particular scrutiny as the two other Member States with English as an official national language, but who have opted to install other languages as official EU languages, viz Irish and Maltese respectively. The speculation has been that either of us will have to change our choice to English if that language is to remain an official EU language after Brexit.

I don't think that this is correct. The relevant Treaty article says:
The rules governing the languages of the institutions of the Union shall, without prejudice to the provisions contained in the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union, be determined by the Council, acting unanimously by means of regulations.
and the relevant Regulation says (Art.1):
The official languages and the working languages of the institutions of
the Union shall be Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian,
Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian,
Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian,
Spanish and Swedish.
and this can only be changed by unanimous vote of the Member States.

So unless a specific proposal to dump English as an official and working language is passed unanimously by the Member States English will remain an official and working language.

This means, at a minimum, that the Official Journal, Regulations and other documents of general application will be drafted in English (Arts.4&5), and that correspondence and documents originating in the UK may be in English as must the replies from the institutions (Art.2).

There is some wriggle room for the institutions, however, as the Regulation does not specify a language for correspondence originating with the institutions addressed to a non-Member State and Art.6 allows that
The institutions of the Community may stipulate in their rules of procedure which of the languages are to be used in specific cases.

No doubt there will be some diminution of the use of English over time as the French strive to recapture the status quo ante UK entry and the Germans take up the cudgel to increase the de facto status of German.

However, English has become the lingua franca over the years and is likely to remain so in the foreseeable future. President Juncker has stated that UK nationals currently employed by the Commission in the translation service will be kept on, though numbers are likely to diminish over time if there is not further recruitment of UK nationals.

In this event, whatever about its use, the standard of English is also likely to fall over time as it becomes largely the preserve of non-native speakers within the Union. Many of us are already familiar with the differences between American and the Queen's English. I wonder will we now have to add a category of Eurospek to our already rich vocabulary.



Thursday, May 03, 2018

WATERFORD'S REDMOND DYNASTY


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I could have titled this post "From Fenian to Blueshirt" but then I hadn't read the introduction to Pat McCarthy's book when I booked this spot for the post. To be fair to Pat he did spell this out very clearly at the launch where he introduced me to the term "Blueblouses".

And what's all this Waterford thing. I have been to Wexford and seen both the impressive Redmond Square with its memorial and the graveyard where stands Redmond's vault, then in fairly delapidated condition but now happily tarted up following the visit of Michael D. Remind you a bit of whole towns being tarted up in Britain for the visit of the Queen, or even dare I say it, Moneygall. And didn't John Redmond live in Wicklow.

Anyway, let's not trivialise this magnificent work which traces the Redmond dynasty, John, William and Bridget and its amazing symbiosis with Waterford. This was Redmond's political base and one which remained loyal to the family through thick and thin for over half a century.



The Three Musketeers

Standing ready to launch the book in the hallowed surroundings of the Members' Room in the Royal Irish Academy are the three actors in tonight's performance: Harman Murtagh, President of the Military History Society of Ireland, Michael Laffan, the foremost historian of the period in question, and Pat McCarthy, author of this fine and challenging volume.



Harman Murtagh

My connection with Harman Murtagh goes back to 1974 when he was editor of The Irish Sword and I had submitted a piece on a military survey of Killiney Bay in 1797 by a French major, Charles le Comte de Lachaussée. I had peppered it with derogatory references to the British authorities and Harman passed the text for review to GA Hayes McCoy, who, though he passed my text, took out all the derogatory references. I must say that, from my now more mature perspective, this did improve the text enormously and enhanced its academic respectability.

Harman was here on the evening to introduce the speakers and add some wisdom of his own to the proceedings.



Michael Laffan

Michael praised Pat's book both for its scholarship and its storytelling. While there have been various biographies of Redmond this book both treats the full political dynasty and minutely examines Redmond's dependence on, and interaction with, his political base.

Michael recounted a story from his own past when, in 1966, briefly and for the only time he was a member of a political party, he hitched down to Waterford to help with the canvas. One generous motorist who picked him up was Michael Hilliard, then Minister for Defence. As Hilliard was from the other crowd, Michael's mission promptly went undercover for that portion of the journey.



Pat McCarthy

Pat gave a vigorous and indeed humorous presentation of the Redmond dynasty.

He introduced us to the Ballybricken Pig Buyers Association. The what?, I hear you ask. Well, despite their anomalous sounding name this is serious stuff. This crowd were the backbone of Redmond's support in the area. You crossed them at your peril.

The pig factories, which were the predominant industrial activity in Waterford at the time, were not able to buy direct from the local farmers. The Association asserted its position as middleman and that with whatever it took.

Pat recounted the time, illustrated in his book, when the factories tried to import pigs from outside the area. The pigs had to be escorted by Peelers but the Association was ready for them, attacking from the side streets and driving both pigs and Peelers into the river. Pat reports the comment of one old lady: "the poor pigs, sure they could have drowned".

Pat told us that a suggestion had been made that the minutes of the Association must be a great historical resource. Pat had no problem dealing with this, reminding us that cartels do not, as a rule, keep minutes of meetings. Though I have to say that, in today's technological age, some of them have proved to have been very negligent, as shown by the results of various EU Commission dawn raids across the EU.



Pat recalled one of his memories from the the 1966 election in Waterford, already mentioned, where he observed the unique canvassing style of one, Vincent Browne. I'm afraid I'm sworn to silence on this one.

Another memory was from Garret FitzGerald relating to that same year and his introduction to Waterford city politics. Garret, wearing a big Fine Gael rosette, knocked on his first door. The lady answered, took one look at his rosette and said: "you needn't worry sir, we always vote Redmond in this house".



Anthony Tierney, Four Courts Press

Once Pat had finished there was a mad rush to buy copies of the book at the one-night-only knockdown price of €20.



Fortunately Anthony had come prepared and I just managed to snap this neatly wrapped reserve bundle before frontline copies ran out.



Then there was the second queue to get Pat to sign copies of the book.



Meanwhile, the other two Musketeers were mixing with the fans. Harman was clearly in laid back conversation.



While Michael was clearly seized of some important point which he was strenuously trying to get across.



Finola Kennedy

I spotted Finola in the crowd. The last I had heard of her was her advocacy of Frank Duff's name for the Liffey bridge which has now been named after Rosie Hackett.

Finola has written the definitive biography of Frank Duff, known popularly as the founder of the Legion of Mary, but a very rounded man with ecumenical views and independence of spirit.

She has also published a book on the Irish family which was reviewed in the following terms by Diarmaid Ferriter:
Not only historians, but economists, sociologists, lawyers, legislators and general readers owe a huge debt to Finola Kennedy who has researched and explored so many avenues and opened many new doors in this timely, fascinating, and brilliant book.

I have not met Finola but knew of her through her late husband Kieran who had started his career in the Department of Finance and was subsequently Director of the ESRI.


Martin O'Donoghue, Mel Farrell, Niamh Puirséil

Elsewhere the conversation was briefly interrupted to pose for the camera.

Martin is the Director of the Parnell Summer School, which at this stage has widened beyond Parnell himself and is responsible for some first class papers/presentations on a variety of themes often only gently linked to the person of Parnell. It is held mainly in Parnell's old house, Avondale, where I did once myself spend a French (wink, wink) weekend though I have regrettably never attended the School.

Mel has just published a path-breaking book on political parties in the Irish Free State which has just today got a "rave" review on the highly respected website The Irish Story. I attended Mel's launch in this very room and have blogged that launch. An element of Mel's book, not mentioned in the review, is his perceptive use of three of the cartoons of Gordon Brewster in whom I have an interest. I should say that he was pipped at the post here by Michael Laffan who used five in his Judging WT. This public recognition of Brewster, and his relevance to his time, after more than half a century of obscurity, has brought great joy to his family. You can see some of my blogging involving Brewster here.

Niamh is a historian and critic and I would have been familiar with her name. She was author of The Irish Labour Party 1922-1973 and she has an active presence on Twitter. Niamh told me that her latest book, Kindling the Flame. 150 Years of the Irish National Teachers Organisation, features a Brewster cartoon, though I don't yet know which one.



Mel Farrell, Felix Larkin

Where there is Parnell there is Felix Larkin. Felix was the Director of the Parnell Summer School for a number of years and was much lauded for is stewardship of that venerable institution. Felix is a friend and mentor and I have referenced him on my blog many times. We share an interest in cartoonists, particularly of the political kind. Felix is the author of Terror and Discord: the Shemus cartoons in the Freeman’s Journal, 1920-1924 and it was he who introduced me to the Brewster cartoons in the National Library.



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I leave Felix with this gravestone inscription which I'm sure he'll appreciate.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

FAKE


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I'm a sucker for science. It probably dates from when there was a mercury (airgead beo) spill in the science lab in school. And don't forget how they took that idea up in Terminator 2 so many years later.

Then there was the RDS. I can't remember if it was the early days of the Young Scientist Exhibition or something earlier still. But the magic of playing Xs and Os against the computer on an illuminated wall panel was something else. And later finding that this awesome simulation of human intelligence could be reproduced with a score of lines of SpectrumBasic code on my new ZX computer - more magic but a little disillusion as well at how simple it was.

The Petit Palais in Paris was mind blowing for its hands-on physics and much later the Cité des Sciences for an early experiment in voice control commands.

Now we have the permanent presence of TCD's Science Gallery in Pearse Street. From its Makeshop in Lincoln Place, now departing on a national tour, to its regular exhibitions in the Gallery itself. I have blogged an earlier one of these and have now gone in to the current exhibition on faking it, from which the above alien head is taken.

You can wander through all the exhibits from this page whence I have borrowed some of the commentary below. That commentary is shown double indented and in italic font. The remaining normal text is my own. You can also see better photos of the exhibits from the linked page but I prefer to use my own in the body of the blog post for the intimacy and atmospherics (and maybe a bit of showing off).

The alien head is a fake (of course) which was used in an attempt to discredit a film of an alien autopsy which was itself proved to be a fake but at a much later date. The background to all this is the usual Roswell alien stuff.





This virtual reality thing is really weird. I know I started just sitting on a stool and when I looked around me I was in an empty version of the upstairs of the exhibition hall but the exhibition space was empty.



Then the bloody stool started to move - backwards. I began to feel a bit sick and as the stool approached the stairwell I had an almost irrestible urge to jump off. Two things stopped me: (i) I thought I might hurt myself, and (ii) I just managed to persuade myself, against all my instincts, that it was only a simulation and that I was still sitting where I started.

So down the stairs we went, me and the stool, and all along the ground floor area, until we came to a stop at Nefertiti's head (for which see below).



Then, just before I took off the viewer I remembered to ask the nice lady to take a photo and that's what you're looking at now. Thanks Alex.





The cuttlefish is normally used as the prime example of nature's camouflage and the cuttlefish's ability in this area is extraordinary. However, there are limits. Adaptability is limited to the natural world where the cuttlefish is well able to fake it. But what of the "unnatural" synthetic world?
The cuttlefish's adaptive coloration was triggered by replacing natural substrates (sand, mud, seaweed, etc.) with computer-generated images of major 20th century paintings, photographs and video documentations.

This is one extreme from the set of results shown above. Here the cuttlefish fails to adequately camouflage itself but might just get away with it against a visually challenged predator.



I'm told blue is a colour that rarely occurs in nature and against this background the cuttlefish has drawn a complete blank.

Is this perhaps a metaphor for humans outside their natural environment, living in a man-made world where adequate coping skills have not yet fully evolved?





Nicking Nefertiti: 3D printing is absolutely amazing particularly at high resolution. That's what you're looking at above, I have explained this in my Makeshop link. The reference below to "Kinect" is to an Xbox 3D scanner add-on. The story goes as follows;
The Nefertiti Bust is an ancient Egyptian sculpture discovered by a German archaeological team in 1912; it is currently on display at the Neues Museum in Berlin. In 2016, artists Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles secretly scanned the bust using a hacked Kinect as a portable scanner. The artists released their data from the scan during the Chaos Computer Congress 32C3, and it has since been downloaded and shared countless times. The artists also 3D-printed a version of the data and exhibited the printed bust in Cairo — and thus Nefertiti was shown for the first time in Egypt.



Shanzhai Archeology demonstrates that the real innovation in mobile telephony lies not in the latest iPhone model but rather in mini-factories in the Chinese hi-tech hub of Shenzhen (where iPhones are produced). Set up as a typical sales stand, Shanzhai Archeology presents the product range of these mini-companies, which fuse creativity, copy/piracy/remix-ventures and self-taught skills to develop new products in a matter of weeks. Although often derided for poor quality, the stylish, high-end devices on show pose a serious challenge to the West’s hyper-standardised approach to technology and to the built-in obsolescence paraded under the guise of innovation.


A mobile phone allowing a Buddhist to pray while waiting for the other end to answer or while on ("we value your call") eternal hold.



And one whose main function is to act as a power pack.




Vapour Meat responds to a growing uneasiness with meat. The negative effects of meat industries have resulted in the rise of veganism, vegetarianism, ethical omnivorism and technological solutions like lab-grown meat, a.k.a. ‘clean meat’. Yet these responses result in an increasing distance between ourselves and the animal Other. Vapour Meat uses this scenario to posit a future in which we reach for the technological in lieu of the real.

That's all very well but I got the impression that there is still some real meat behind the vapour, so, vegetarians and vegans beware.





This exhibit is really an exhortation to read the label. Mind you, reading the ingredients in advance can put you off a fair load of stuff. You might even come to agree with Voltaire in Candide that to be happy il faut cultiver son jardin but then there's the weedkiller and, oh well.

To get back to the cheese on the wall.
The products here can be referred to as ‘cheese’ because they contain a minimum 51% cheese. Along with the level of appropriate ingredients, the food industry is also allowed to label a product as ‘cheese’ if accompanied by other words like ‘product’ or ‘processed’. Here, the other 49% is made up of additives that control its melting point, colour and texture, aiming to mimic organic cheese through stretching its most artificial characteristics. The exhibit changes constantly, as the initially vibrant colours of the slices begin to fade as they react to natural light. As such, the exhibit resembles a painting that gets modified by time.
And I gather the only difference between white and red cheese these days is a bit of colouring. But don't get me started on suggestibility and food.




FAUX Foodmongers is a deli where you can sample and purchase a range of food that might be considered ‘fake’ by some eaters. From krab sticks to vegan cheese, a lot of the products humans consume are something other than what they say they are. Is there something worth celebrating in the gastronomic poetry of chefs, food scientists and inventors who create these edible metaphors?




This is where the FBI/CIA can produce video evidence of you saying whatever they want you to. A bit scary but the defendant might just be able to get an expert witness to spot the flaws. To the lay person it looks quite convincing.
a visual form of lip-syncing, with a neural network trained on many hours of past footage used to convert audio files of an individual’s speech into realistic mouth shapes, which are then grafted onto and blended with the head of that person from another existing video.



In 2013, American filmmaker Errol Morris ran a study with The New York Times to find what typeface is considered to be the most believable. Baskerville was considered the most reliable. A typeface can influence us when it comes to believing whether a sentence is true or false. Bastardville, the font shown in this exhibit, is a response to this. Broken down until only the remnants of the Baskerville typeface remain to reflect the truth being eroded in the post-truth era, Bastardville is not made to be easily legible but for the viewer to struggle to read the content.
As a former letterpress printer I had an interest in this but at the end of the day considered it pointless.





This exhibit showed a load of slides of people in different situations but it was only when it was pointed out to you that you realised that there was alcohol, or a suggestion of alcohol, in every one of them. The idea here was to reveal subliminal suggestibility. Nothing as crude as those cookery books which make you hungry at first glance.





I'm not sure if this has been configured properly or if the problem is in the concept. It is very slow, very very slow. You don't really see any action and traces of past action are sparse. As against that the exhibition has a whole month to go and you don't want the whole thing to collapse on day one.

The official description is:
The centerpiece of the series is a pyramid of champagne glasses, connected to a change machine that breaks mined cryptocurrency into ‘quarters’.
And the idea is that the structure represents the flawed international financial system. The pyamid is fed from the top with melting money, resembling mercury, which contains a corrosive element, This trickles down and eventually the whole thing shatters. The feeding mechanism varies in different versions of the structure, as illustrated below. This version heats the "coins" in synch with the mining of bitcoin (whatever that means).

If you arrive before the dies irae you'll just have to use your imagination.



Official photo, not this exhibition



Official photo, not this exhibition




collection of designer hearts using a technique known as decellularisation, a biomedical process in which an animal heart is stripped of its cellular contents. This translucent 3D protein scaffold becomes a white sterile frame for building a new, personalised heart, repopulated by healthy human stem cells. The process creates the potential for functioning hearts from discarded animal organs, tricking one’s own body into accepting a dead heart from another organism by masking it with the recipient’s living cells.




Finally
A study of reflection, this light sculpture confronts the viewer with the duality of who they are and how they perceive themselves. The same object displays differently in the mirror’s reflection, as life reflects unrealised desires of the heart, mind and soul.
A bit pretentious in my view.




I have covered about half the exhibits in this post so there is still a lot more to see if you can get in by the end of the month.