Anti-Ukip beer mats in Britain

Anti-Ukip beer mats

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Anti Ukip beer mats brew up a social media storm

Thursday 15th January 2015

BEER mats mocking Ukip are proving so popular that organisers have had to order 100,000 to send to groups opposing the right-wing party.

The “Ukip put me off my beer” design is the brainchild of Erica Smith, who told the Star yesterday that what started as a local project from her home in Hastings, Sussex, has led to demands for the merchandise across the country.

News of the beer mats spread on social networks, and orders for them poured in.

An initial 20,000 order was increased to 100,000.

Ms Smith said: “We want to do 100,000 and have five deliveries of 20,000 each to critical areas around the UK.”

The idea was spawned after she invited 100 friends to her local boozer the Horse and Groom to pack the pub in order to prevent a planned Ukip function.

Many turned up but the licensee had cancelled the booking anyway.

However Ms Smith and her pals decided to do something else, sparking the beer mat project with a whip-round to pay for them.

The idea for a foaming pint and the slogan came because Ukip leader Nigel Farage promotes himself holding a pint and being “one of the lads,” she explained.

Ms Smith added: “We are working with ‘Protest at Ukip Spring Conference’ — a Thanet-based campaign group which is not party-political — and since South Thanet is Farage’s (desired) constituency, it has made sense to make links with them.

“We are promoting it through Facebook and Twitter, too.”

While not party-political, Ms Smith opposes Ukip’s racism.

See also here. And here.

South African cycling team in Tour de France, first time ever

This video says about itself:

Team MTN Qhubeka: An African Bicycle Dream Episode 1

12 April 2013

Team MTN Qhubeka are the first Pro Continental Cycling Team from Africa – this is their story. From South Africa to the rest of the world, the team have made their mark on the sport. Watch the first episode of An African Bicycle Dream here.

And this video is the sequel.

Today, the Tour De France organisers have said that Team MTN Qhubeka has been invited to participate in the race, as the first African team ever.

The Tour De France will start this year on the fourth of July in Utrecht city in the Netherlands.

One should hope that in Utrecht or in France, these cyclists won’t have the bad luck of their South African colleague Evan van der Spuy, shown in this video.

In Utrecht or in France, there is not much chance of this happening with an antelope. However, I am not that sure about dogs.

One should also hope that in Utrecht or in France, there won’t be hunters who don’t know the difference between cyclists and hares.

This video shows a report on a hunter like that.

Doctor Who TV series, militarism and anti-militarism

This video, inspired by the science fiction series Doctor Who, says about itself:

THE TIMELORDS / KLF – Doctorin’ The Tardis

1988 Music Video Featuring Ford Timelord (1968 Ford Galaxy) and “Daleks”.

By Bryan Dyne and Christine Schofelt in Britain:

Doctor Who turns toward militarism

9 January 2015

Christmas 2014 marked the end of the eighth season of the rebooted British science fiction television series Doctor Who (the program first went on the air in 1963). It was also the end of the first season for veteran actor Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It, In the Loop) in the role of “The Doctor,” the twelfth incarnation of the time-traveling humanoid alien.

The most recent season brought the military almost immediately into the foreground. Given the state of the world, this was perhaps not entirely surprising, or even inappropriate. But what is the program’s attitude?

Much of the focus is on Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson), a war veteran turned math teacher and boyfriend of The Doctor’s companion Clara (Jenna Coleman). Questioned as to whether he killed anyone in the war, Danny demurs, troubled by what he has seen and done. He disabuses his students of the idea that war is anything to be glorified or celebrated.

The issue of what it takes to be a “good man” dominates this season. The Doctor repeatedly queries Clara about this, trying to reconcile his role in the Time War, on the one hand, and his attempts to be a “healer” and “wise man,” on the other. Danny asks himself the same question indirectly, and tries to respond positively that he is a decent person. One started viewing the season with a certain optimism.

Given this motif, it is worth tracing the course of The Doctor’s relationship with and attitude toward militarism and war. In earlier episodes of the renewed show, there is an open hostility towards soldiers, guns and war. An arms factory is destroyed and replaced with a banana grove because “bananas are good” (in “The Doctor Dances,” 2005). Mechanical Cybermen are not defeated with force but by restoring their emotions, incapacitating them (in “The Age of Steel,” 2006). Intergalactic police are introduced as “interplanetary thugs” (in “Smith and Jones,” 2007). The shooting of The Doctor’s daughter is used as a lesson to demonstrate that killing, even in vengeance, should never be an option (in “The Doctor’s Daughter, 2008).

In one especially moving sequence, The Doctor is faced with the dilemma of saving Earth through committing genocide against the enemy. He hesitates and is tauntingly asked by the Emperor Dalek, “What are you, coward or killer?” He struggles, obviously torn by the question of just how far one should go, no matter how murderous the enemy. Ultimately he answers, “Coward, any day,” and refuses to take part in the destruction (“The Parting of Ways,” 2005).

Ongoing antagonists have been various Earth-based military forces, including Torchwood and UNIT, both vast and well-funded armed state agencies. By and large, they are portrayed as ruthless organizations The Doctor and his companions are obliged to resist.

And yet there have been some cracks. In one episode (“Doomsday,” 2006), the leader of Torchwood is “upgraded” (forcibly transferred into a metal body), but then saves The Doctor and his companions, declaring she “did her duty, for queen and country.” Is this retrograde sentiment the only one that might withstand mechanical brainwashing?

Despite such exceptions, the first four seasons of the show advocated a refreshing rejection of violence in general, instead using the abilities, equipment and even the life of The Doctor to save people.

In the fifth rebooted season Steven Moffat took over as head writer and show runner after the previous head, Russell T. Davies, stepped down. In considering the Moffat era as a whole, one is forced to reflect on the other works he has overseen, particularly Sherlock. In that show, whatever its strengths (including the participation of Benedict Cumberbatch), the main character is constantly glorified as a “high-functioning sociopath” who goes out of his way to assist British imperialism.

Moffat’s Doctor Who episodes reinforce this turn. Far more than previously, they are turned inward. While this inwardness is something the lead character deals with, especially given that he is “the last” of the Time Lords, it has reached an unhealthy level. No longer do the seasons culminate in some great potential catastrophe for humanity that must be opposed and defeated, but rather in some personal problem for The Doctor. One used to feel something beyond a vague voyeurism when watching the season endings of Doctor Who—there was a sense of shared struggle, shared destiny and ultimately hope. …

The Doctor’s relationship with UNIT, a military organization carried over from the show’s earlier days, comes to a head here. Kidnapped and forced into the position of President of the World by members of the organization, The Doctor is then given an army by his current foe, who declares they are more alike than not.

The Doctor then turns to Danny, who, as the Torchwood director in an earlier season, has been rendered into a Cyberman. His transformation is not yet complete, and The Doctor gives him control of the army, with which he is to embark on a suicide mission. Danny’s rousing pre-mission speech and his declaration that “This is not the order of an officer. This is the promise of a soldier!” are meant to rally the audience behind the idea of sending in the troops.

The scene in which The Doctor salutes a returned UNIT soldier—something he had refused to do in previous years—is a capitulation. For generations, he had not saluted because the military had nothing to offer but destruction. The Doctor’s rejection of aggressive methods and his frequent refusal to cooperate as long as guns were being pointed, his outrage at the needless deaths of even the most bumptious of aliens who had attacked Earth, all this appeared to be a thing of the past as he stood at attention to pay tribute to the Brigadier.

Moffat’s aim seems to be to gratuitously knock this hero down, as if to say, peace is all well and good in theory, but when push comes to shove, strike first and shoot. Something about the belligerent mood of the affluent middle class in Britain, the US and elsewhere makes itself felt here.

Talking about science fiction: this music video is inspired by Star Trek. It is called The Firm – Star Trekkin’.

Woman cartoonist BlueLou introduces herself

This video from Britain says about itself:

29 November 2013

An appeal on behalf of BlueLou for the upcoming 2013 vote for Political Cartoon of the Year.

By BlueLou in Britain:

A woman who’s quick on the draw

Wednesday 24th December 2014

The Star’s award-nominated BlueLou is the only woman cartoonist for any daily national paper. Here she tells how she entered this male-dominated career

I come from a working-class Northern Irish background.

Growing up, my mother used to let me stay up and watch Question Time if there were significant guests and a good debate in the offing.

My father read Private Eye and got a bootleg cassette of the Life of Brian for us kids when it was still banned there.

There was a stack of 2000 ADs that I inherited from my older brothers and I continued to buy it right up till comics such as Watchmen and Spiral Path by Al Davison turned up on to the comic scene in the early ’90s.

I went on to get a fine art degree, but my cartooning was like some dirty secret I kept to myself during that time.

My fine art was apparently too cartoony, too political and used humour, all of which were not fashionable in art college at the time.

After graduating I started to get back into cartooning and managed to maintain my art practice even when I found myself a young single mother in St Pauls in Bristol in the late ’90s.

I built an art shelf in my sitting room, where I kept my equipment and practised drawing standing up with a toddler climbing up my leg.

I got together with some other single mum artists to do babysitting cover for each other so we could work.

This grew into funding for a nursery and supported drawing classes and allowed one of the others to return to college.

I was finding more and more that my fine art work was starting to hybridise with the cartooning and I continued to self-publish.

I had a short-lived job turning on the tape machine at a Crown Court, and learned about the court artists’ methods of drawing from memory.

It is illegal to draw in Crown Courts as well as the House of Commons. The artists sit and observe then run to a special room to draw.

I found it a useful method to attempt when stalking MPs and I’ve drawn in riot conditions, such as local BNP marches.

I’ve also worked with teenagers who had dropped out of school to do “stealth teaching” using cartooning with computer programmes such as Photoshop, and I’ve worked as a play worker — mostly during this time stealing all the best ideas from the kids.

I then entered a competition for a political cartoonist exchange to South Africa. Our mentors were Steve Bell and South African cartoonist Zapiro.

I was picked by the South African Mail and Guardian to be published and was asked back to open the exhibition in Johannesburg.

When my second child was still under a year old, I got a call to have a go on the Guardian Showcase covering for Steve Bell and Martin Rowson during the August holidays.

I lived on a boat at the time and when practising for the showcase I often had a baby strapped to my back, standing up drawing in a very small area.

My first cartoon for the Guardian was done with a bag of frozen peas down my bra as I was still breast-feeding.

I’ve been contributing to the Morning Star for about 18 months now and one of my Star cartoons recently came third in the public vote for Political Cartoon of the Year.

There are no matching socks in my house unless my mother comes to stay.