Identity, Offence and a Hitler Clock…

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This is my Hitler clock…

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Much like Nazism, it doesn’t work but is certainly striking to look at.  It was made by a French man so I think we can forget about puns about German efficiency…that comes later in this piece.

Of course if you are offended by this because you think it glorifies our little toothbrush-moustached Austrian (by birth) dictator then that is your business, I’m of the opinion it mocks him.

Then again some people are offended by the Swastika without appreciating it’s history and significance to others completely devoid of any relation to the Nazis.

 

I never knew either of my granddads but was always fascinated by the story of one of them and its relation to personal identity.

Walter was from Bohemia and he was fluent in 4 languages; German, English, French and Czech.

Bohemia (where the Rhapsody is from) is currently in the Czech Republic (formed 1993, or as Sporcle now insists its referred to as, Czechia), though during my grandfather’s birth it was part of Germany (making him German by birth) but then, from 1918, part of Czechoslovakia following the carving up of Europe after the First World War.  It was then part of the Sudetenland that was annexed back to Germany in 1938.

 

Then the Second World War happened.

 

Apart from being in the midst of the Nazi Empire my grandfather and his family also had the rotten luck of being Jewish.

 

Papers, please.

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Being of some standing and right before they were stripped of all their possessions, they were at least given the chance to get away with their lives, provided they could prove that someone (I assume in a then neutral country) was willing to support them and prove that they could, hence the document below.

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How and when my granddad left Bohemia I don’t know, I’ve heard via Italy but it isn’t really important other than the fact that rather than getting to America he wound up in England and joined the British Army.

Fun Fact: he helped teach media-baron in-waiting Robert Maxwell how to speak English (apparently Maxwell had a very good ear).

 

“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazism or Hitler approaches 1″.

– Mike Godwin, 1990 (Godwin’s Law).

The above “law” doesn’t just apply on-line, it is a go-to comparison of the mentally lazy who not only report & comment on the news but also those that lead countries.

We are currently living in a world where people are obsessed with defining themselves; be it gender, race, religion, sexuality, political leanings, class, nationality, diet, weight, height, general appearance, the list is as endless as the list of people ready to get offended at the slightest utterance of anything that seemingly disparages any of these things.

It is a world obsessed with itself, a world of narcissism. People so desperate to identify as something end up creating divisions in their own minds, thinking themselves open-minded, they really are as narrow-minded as those they think they are the antithesis of.

 

 

What you drink probably makes you Hitler too.

 

Hitler is/was, sadly, neither the be all or the end all of all that is or has been evil in the world.  These modern despots and murderous terrorists are so much of a world away from the person with an opinion or a comment you disagree with and the choice language that may come with it, that it is a sign of how laughable things have become that this distinction even needs to be made.

 

My grandfather was lucky in a way, reaching the UK and being able to start a family and have a relatively normal life up until his death.

Emma and Amalie lives however ended in Auschwitz, their names now in the list the adorns the walls of the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague.

 

For the record, my other grandfather was, at the very least, a descendant of an Orangeman, but that is probably another story.

 

Thanks for reading.

If Beer Was…

JAWS

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Beer in the shape of a Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) descends on the small, seaside town of Amity bringing confusion and panic to the locals.

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The local chief of police, Brody, does not know what to make of this new arrival, after years of complacency all of this just crept up on him.  He is aware that this force of nature can be harnessed but at the same time is also a massive threat to his way of life and to the status quo.

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Unsure of how to tackle this new foe he enlists the help of two men.  The first is the salt-of-the-earth Quint.

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Quint has been dealing with the tribulations brought on by sharks for decades.  Battle-hardened, wistful and with a lifetime of experience he can sometimes come across as a little insane and immovably stuck in his ways.

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Obsessed with taming sharks only by the use of barrels.

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Quint could possibly be accused being a bit too casual about sharks.

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The second man to come to Chief Brody’s aid is the quiet and university educated Hooper.

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Possessing a wealth of knowledge gleamed mainly from books Hooper is a man who is initially intimidated by Quint and is therefore prone to antagonistic behaviour.

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Which can sometimes be excused given how the locals of Amity seem blissfully unaware that different types of shark exist.  In trying to explain he realises he really isn’t going to convince everyone that he knows more than most regular, as he would call them, bozos.

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And later, when he find just how irrational Quint sometimes behaves, never listening to reason and ploughing on regardless.

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However Quint and Hooper do bond slightly when they realise that they each have something to bring to the table given their past dealings with sharks.

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Brody, the outcast between the yin-yang of Hooper and Quint’s knowledge of sharks seems more concerned about gas and always wanting things to be bigger.

 

 

For the sake of everything, these three men come together to try and get a grip on the shark and after some effective use of barrels it appears the three men may be victorious.  But the exertion of it all is too much and via a stray gas cylinder, Quint meets his fate in the jaws of the shark.

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Hooper, after one trick too many also appears to succumb leaving only Chief Brody left to do battle, which he eventually succeeds at, using another gas cylinder.

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As Brody surveys the scene of victory, of a shark tamed, he is startled then relived to see Hooper did in fact survive, and as they lament the passing of Quint they had back to the shore.

But as the credits roll it is not the two survivors but the rough and ready Quint, with his history evoking stories that linger in the memory.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

A word about the sequels:

Jaws 2: Something original always has inferior follow ups.

Jaws 3-D: The painful exploitation of that latest techniques and styles that quickly outstays its welcome.

Jaws, The Revenge: Horrible cash-in that only swells the coffers of a small few.

Brewing For A Beauty & A Beast

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This is the second Five Towns collaboration for the 2016 Independent Salford Beer Festival, the first one (The Secret Life Of Arabica) can be found here

I was supposed to help with that one, having suffered through being clean sober and getting to bed early on Friday 19th February I was woken, not by my alarm, set for 4am, but by a phone-call from Jim at 5am wondering where I was.  Having enjoyed my time at Five Towns for Art Decade – the 1st collaboration for the 2015 festival it pained me to miss out but the time had passed and it just wasn’t meant to be.  I drowned my sorrows on the Saturday night having cursed my alarm clock the whole day, then I went to bed.

My alarm clock went off at 4am Sunday morning.

Said alarm clock now makes up land-fill somewhere.

 

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Luckily a second collaboration was planned and I wasn’t going to miss it this time.  Memories of Leigh (Centurions, rugby league) losing to Bradford as we drove home after the Art Decade brew day were minimised by it being such a great day.  2016, with Leigh already promoted to Super League a couple of week prior meant that this brew day saw September out in style.

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Standard brewery hose porn.

Mash On…

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Not porridge, you don’t eat porridge on brew days in Wakefield you eat:

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Bacon, sausage and egg barms from across the road, followed by a chippy dinner from next door.

 

Sparge…

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The bittering hops were Centennial, the aroma from further hop addition of Centennial and Kazbek (Mohawk style).

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Given that this man spent a good 5 minutes inhaling ever hop addition with a satisfied glaze over his eyes…which was not due to the early start, long day (and night in his case) and 12 cups of coffee…it is amazing any timings were kept, like Gollum and the ring.

 

wp_20160924_016Adjuncts to this beer in the boil were Kaffir Lime Leaves, dried orange peel and soured orange peel.  An addition of dried lemon peel will be added at the fermenting stage, along with copious amounts of fresh oranges, lemons and limes.

 

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From porridge to curry.

 

Yeast is US05 if you are interested and after all that it should give us an IPA of about 8.5-9%

2016 is the year of many deaths of popular musicians, namely David Bowie and the name of the beer “Beauty & the Beast,” is the title of the opening track off his 1977 album “Heroes.”

There is some suggestion that this could be black & tanned with the aforementioned Secret Life…and given that that beer is named after the closing song on the same album it would be a fitting tribute and also to the final Independent Salford Beer Festival.

A review of the inaugural (2014) event

A review of the 2015 event

 

Is The Labour Party Finished in Manchester?

I was going to put “The North” but I’m sticking with my local area for rather obvious reasons.

I’m not exactly a massive fan of the system we call democracy in the UK as it currently stands, I’m more a fan of proportional representation (PR) than first passed the post (FPP) but then again as has been shown with the recent referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union, because the vote didn’t go the way of the “enlightened” then it clear indicates that some people shouldn’t even be allowed to vote, let alone the if PR was the system of voting in the UK, then UKIP would indeed have far more parliamentary representation than either the Lib Dems or the Greens.

A great many in the county of Manchester voted to Leave, 7 of the 10 boroughs in fact.  Because the referendum was reduced by some to Leave = right-wing, Remain = left-wing it came as quite a shock that supposedly a left-wing party, Labour heartlands would vote in massive numbers to Leave.  So much so that this somehow fell on the head of Jeremy Corbyn (to be fair the man has been against the EU most of his political career) and so now the Labour Party is tearing itself apart with a leadership election.

As the fallout between Corbyn and ABCs (anybody but Corbyn) continues in the Labour party, it is the face of Tony Blair that always looms large and this 3 consecutive victories (achieved regardless of numerous invasion follies) that are brought up as to why Corbyn isn’t a suitable leader and/or Prime Minister.

Watching spin doctor Alistair Campbell (ever so briefly) on Question Time banging on about how they won over Tory voters highlights what went wrong and what continues to go wrong.  Yes, you need to win over some of these voters but sadly they did it at the expense of their core working class vote.

Its a bit like the mob in the Christopher Nolan Batman film “The Dark Knight,” they had a problem with not having a grip on power any more (Note: any MP using the term “in power” should be viewed with suspicion) so turn to a force they did not fully understand, this brought some initial quick gains but they undercut themselves in the long-term.

Of course that analogy can be applied today, Jeremy Corbyn is no great cure-all but at least he isn’t a Liberal Democrat, a party akin to John Daggett, teaming up with the Tory’s Bane and then looking on in horror as to what destruction they have enabled while they themselves also end up destroyed.

Damn, if only I had a political analogy involving Ra’s al Ghul.

Locally the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), all Labour except 1, a Conservative of the Trafford Borough (which voted 57.7% to Remain).

My borough council, Wigan, voted 63.9% to Leave the EU, it is made up of 65 Labour seats, the other 10 split between local independents and the Conservatives.

Manchester City Council has 95 Labour party representatives and 1 Lib Dem (60.4% Remain).

I’ve blogged about local issues before locally in Atherton and around the borough as Wigan Labour systematically remove popular and necessary public assets for private profiteering.

About the loss of Manchester’s heritage as Manchester City Labour purge history from Manchester’s streets and most recently the evisceration of another historic part of Manchester so Gary Neville can build his own versions of Barad-dûr and Orthanc.

Of course should Labour lose seats not just in Greater Manchester but in its heartlands around the UK, then all the blame by those same MPs will be lain at the feet of Corbyn and the cyclical mess will continue, people will just get more disillusioned with politics and MPs will continue to feather the nests and prime themselves for big paying consultancy jobs when they are eventually gotten rid of, all this while conveniently forgetting about how Labour has been wiped out in Scotland by exactly the same behaviour.

On a national scale, the worst thing about all of this is that you have a new level of patronisation, especially when every Tory and anti-Corbyn entity try to sound magnanimous by uttering “we need a strong opposition to us/the current government in check and better,” and as every TV channel and news services continues to do special programmes about the end of Labour.  These programmes are solely from a political/media point of view and have absolutely nothing to do with actual support within the general public, highlighting the growing gap and level of contempt that both the media and the current crop of politicians have for us plebs.

Many in the media use the term Populism in a negative way, safe way to explain an apparent rise in “right-wing” (Trump, UKIP, Leave winning the EU referendum, etc).  As you can see from the link description the term populism can be ascribed to any side of the political divide and this is the problem, and if you’ve sat at home blaming “stupid people” and “racists” for everything that has gone on in the UK recently than you are just as culpable as those who blame “immigrants” and “Europe” – it is a political malaise but hopefully the tide is turning to something more positive and hopeful.

Thanks for reading.

Petition against Neville’s Vanity Towers

P.S.

As I always feel a blog should have one picture and to show that I’m not actually right-wing myself, I post my latest results from Political Compass

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Beerilingus

Subtitle: FellALEtio – What’s In a Cloudy Beer?

Taking care of beer (even cask beer) is not a massively difficult job, assuming that those in charge of cellars are also in charge of the most rudimentary functionings of common sense.

On a recent escapade to that there London it can’t have been remiss of those on twitter that I made a rather large deal about cloudy beers.  It could be suggested that being a Northerner we are led like a bull with a ring through the nose by other Northern beer bloggers that London can’t keep or serve cask beer properly, and for the sake of argument they also seem to struggle in brewing it (or at least conditioning it) properly too.

Whether the fault of getting a cloudy pint does indeed either lie with the brewery conditioning tactics (yes, yes, it isn’t just exclusive to London), with either a lack of training or more worryingly a lack of care during cellaring is moot in the realms of this piece.

I personally know from serving beer that I will give a warning that a beer is “hazy” – a more socially acceptable phrase for describing beer that isn’t as bright as a (insert your own simile) but isn’t that cloudy to look at.

You can try to explain about chill haze, hop haze and throw in words like clarity and turbidity and things being unfiltered, or you can just go for the tried and tested fob-off “its supposed to be like that”, and with the rise of hop-bomb fruit juices masquerading as beer it’s getting harder to justify the condition a beer (cask or keg) appears to be in.

My point is, why bother?

A cursory search of the interwebs didn’t bring up any list to described the clarity of beer and after a few random discussions in person and on twitter I settled on this:

Bright

Clear

Hazy

Cloudy

Murky

Sludge

Of course I could whack these words into a thesaurus and come up with a different set of words that would also give a witty acronym that would fit in with this piece…but I’m lazy and just want to publish this nonsense.

Point being, we may well eat/drink with out eyes first but we’ve got four (well you mortals have) other senses to discern if something is suitable for our consumption.

Lets be honest, human genitalia is not the most appealing thing to look at but a quick sniff and visual check for possible brie-like residual smeg and a quick flick for resonance should be enough to gauge whether or not its worth putting your laughing tackle anywhere near it.

Still, in the throes of passion or a drunken state sometimes the need to fulfil base desires sees all semblance of dietary discretion go out of the window.

As always, buyer beware.

 

Thanks for reading.