Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bones Commission, culture and the MCERBTA 

The rules of any association (such as the LibDems) reflect cultural assumptions. Emotions as well as logic come into play. So as we drag into the next round of Bones, spare a though for the example of the Mudgeeraba Creek Emu Racing and Boomerang Throwing Association which include:

“The decisions of the judges are final unless shouted down by a really overwhelming majority of the crowd present.”

Remind you of the home life of any conferences lately?

This of course is in an Australian context so the following on use of language may need less vigorous emphasis in an UK setting (while useful reminders for bloggers at any time):

“Abusive and obscene language may not be used by contestants when addressing members of the judging panel or, conversely, by members of the judging panel when addressing contestants, unless struck by a boomerang.”

Back to Bones: A Liberal party needs Liberal rules. Lest see if we can evolve these sensibly.

(Hat tip to Len Fisher’s wonderful book ‘How To Dunk a Doughnut: the science of everyday life” for a lead to the MCERBTA. Read this book for insights into how scientist actually work, including using humour).

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As a Mudgeeraba resident I suggest you include the word "mythical" before "Mudgeeraba Creek Emu Racing and Boomerang Throwing Association".

There is no such thing
Is Lorin Hawes still around? The famous boomerang designer had the 'association' as one of his wacky projects, I thought. Perhaps if he is still in Mudgeeraba you could ask him, and get the word onto the nets one way or another
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Welsh politics for all of us 

The prospective struggle for the leadership of the Welsh Liberal Democrats is not the only Welsh-related development that may transfix the rest of the UK in the coming months. The Open University is weighing in with two (count them) courses on Wales and Welsh.

First up is an introductory course in the Welsh Language that begins presentation in November 2008. ‘L196 Croeso: Beginners Welsh’

Now this sounds very welcome, and my contacts in the OU say there is great interest outside Wales – people in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire for example are showing so much interest that local tutorial provision may have to be stepped up.

However I do wonder whether the OU planners have quite grasped what political hot potatoes may be found along innocent-looking byways of Welsh cultural politics. The OU in Wales is based in Cardiff and the Cardiff worldview may just explain this note in the prospectus.

The main teaching text will present a form of South Wales Welsh, but the website will give you an opportunity to hear speakers from different parts of Wales, and will provide notes on significant regional variations in the language.

South Wales Welsh? So this dialect of yr hen iaith y cymru , which has relatively limited spread as a living language, is being promoted by the UK Open University as the standard for new learners, leaving North Wales Welsh, (an actual living dialect upheld continuously by determined communities) as an interesting dialect variation. I suspect there are differences of opinion on this in Welsh cultural circles which some people may want to explore. I do hope the OU does not get too much flack though…

I wonder if this course discusses the Treason of the Blue Book? Oh look it up, and if you are in Welsh politics and are puzzled by the reference what are you doing not knowing about this?

Perhaps some light on these political currents will be found in the second OU Course A182 ‘Small Country, Big History: Themes in the History of Wales’. The course starts in April 2009 however, so not much use as a crib for our Welsh leadership candidates or others hoping to comment constructively and currently on events in Cymru.

Disclosure note: I am no longer an employee of the OU and have no financial interest in you signing up for courses.

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On history and narrives and Obama 

As we will be reminded often, today is the 45th anniversary of Marin Luther Kings ‘I have a Dream’ speech, a suitable coincidence of dates for the first Afro-American nominee for the US Presidency (by a major party) to make his acceptance speech.

Worth remembering how the ‘race issue’ tore apart the narratives of both ‘Major Parties’ in the USA. The Civil Rights Act (enforcing the right to vote for example) passed the US Congress with the support of half the Senators and Congresspeople of the then-ruling Democratic Party. And two –thirds of the Republicans voted in favour. Roy Jenkins attended the 1968 funeral of Martin Luther King in Atlanta, walking through the city streets in the company of a solid phalanx of Republican Senators, Governors, and Members of Congress, who linked arms and sang ‘We Shall overcome’. Nothing comparable was structured by Democrats at the event, it appears.

How ‘The Party Of Lincoln’ rejected this heritage and helped purge the Democratic Party of its racist heritage by taking over that constituency through the ‘Southern Strategy’ is a fascinating study in political narrative manipulation and the evolution of power bases.

So we now have a Democratic nominee embodying part of the Dream.

More history of the song than you ever thought you needed is here.

Lest hope that the burden of historic expectation does not crush Obama.

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Is Lorin Hawes still around? The famous boomerang designer had the 'association' as one of his wacky projects, I thought. Perhaps if he is still in Mudgeeraba you could ask him, and get the word onto the nets one way or another.

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