Thursday, 10 May 2012

News In Brief

Stories catching my eye recently Many of you will have heard Obama's statement that he has 'evolved' into someone who supports same-sex marriage, and publicly affirming his personal support for gay marriage. It turns out one figure surprisingly not yet mentioned on this blog, American VP Joe Biden (who is famous for gaffes, slips and plagarism in public speaking) appears to have precipitated the affirmation. The story goes that in a typical Biden blunder, he jumped the gun by making a similar statement off the cuff, thus forcing Obama to make his statement - arguably, a case of the off-message mis-speak of a loose-lipped politician making a little bit of history. The Slate analysis is archly titled The Audacity of Evolution.
“I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
This classic quote comes from an interesting post listing "political faux pas that will leave you in splits" from John Mark Ministries.

 Added to Blogroll: Sturdyblog, which has at the moment a post that does seem to conclusively prove David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, to be a liar!

Meanwhile here's a pre-emptive exposure of Cameron, courtesy of Armano Iannuci's Time Trumpet.

 Local councillors are so funny sometimes.The Right Ear has a hugely entertaining report on the twitterstorm created by an apparently pro-EDL councillor who, despite claiming not to have realised the EDL were racist in her subsequent apology, had previously tweeted such gems as 'if you don't like it here go back to where you came from' to someone on the basis of their funny foreign name. The post is valuable as an archive of tweets deleted by the councillor concerned.

And finally: a political parapraxis for French speakers.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Mayday Fire

Happy Mayday! The story of the origins of Mayday can be a contested one, anarchists and pagans claiming the festival as their own, attempting to wrest the festival away from its usage by the state. In the ancient pantheon, the Greek Maia, mother of Hermes, was identified with the Roman Maia, a figure associated with growth and the earthly. According to Wikipedia,
the month of May (Latin Maius) was supposedly named for Maia, though ancient etymologists also connected it to the maiores, "ancestors," again from the adjective maius.
Here's a representation of the Greek Maia, with Hermes:

Mayday as a workers day is dated by anarchists from the late nineteenth century, and is intimately bound up with the fight for an eight-hour working day, the Haymarket riots and subsequent martyrdom of several men executed by the state in the aftermath. 6 years go, Democracy Now talked about these events in some detail:
Watch the whole show.
So that's the origins of Mayday from a modern perspective. Taking a longer view, the festival is as ancient as agriculture probably, maybe older. As the year's mid-point between spring equinox and summer solstice, this time is known as Beltain when the light and heat in the North is halfway between equality with dark and cold, and supremacy. The vulgar right-wing journalism of our old friends the Daily Mail holds that:
May Day as a festival is thought to have originated as a day of Roman dancing on which youths would celebrate the coming of spring and pay homage to Flora, the goddess of fruit and flowers. Read more.
The Mail here seems to want to downplay any grass-roots origins of the festival, and thus any authentic association with a people's history, instead preferring the Roman Empire as the secret origin. It appears far more likely the Roman Floralia was added to the British Beltain. This process has been repeated over and over, the day repressed or co-opted by the state as time moves on.

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