Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dry hopping batch #4: APA

Thought I'd post a few pics of the process of dry hopping. This is for batch #4, which I'm calling an Addington Pale Ale (APA). Similar to batch #3, but with and increased amount of Cascade Hops instead.

So above, I've added my hop pallets to a plain, pre-bolied and sanitized pantyhose. There's about 1 oz in there, with the end of the pantyhose tied off at the very top to allow the hops to expand and dance. The pantyhose reduces the amount of sediment in the finished beer, and makes cleaning up easy.

I'm doing this 4 days into the fermentation process, and will leave it in there for 10 days. Removed the airlock, opened the lid, and had a wee peek. There's a bit of hop sludge from a few loose pallets I threw in on day one, but otherwise it's looking and smelling yum.

I dropped in the hops, and after taking these pics I gently submerged the hops with a sanitized spoon. Lid back on, airlock in, and now I'll leave it all for 10 days. The result: hopefully a very aromatic and flavorsome APA!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The importance of archives: British Government destroys records of colonial crimes

Hanslope Park, where the Foreign Office kept a secret archive of colonial papers 
Hanslope Park, where the Foreign Office kept a secret archive of colonial papers. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian
From the Guardian: Thousands of documents detailing some of the most shameful acts and crimes committed during the final years of the British empire were systematically destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of post-independence governments, an official review has concluded.

Those papers that survived the purge were flown discreetly to Britain where they were hidden for 50 years in a secret Foreign Office archive, beyond the reach of historians and members of the public, and in breach of legal obligations for them to be transferred into the public domain.

The archive came to light last year when a group of Kenyans detained and allegedly tortured during the Mau Mau rebellion won the right to sue the British government. The Foreign Office promised to release the 8,800 files from 37 former colonies held at the highly-secure government communications centre at Hanslope Park in Buckinghamshire.

The historian appointed to oversee the review and transfer, Tony Badger, master of Clare College, Cambridge, says the discovery of the archive put the Foreign Office in an "embarrassing, scandalous" position. "These documents should have been in the public archives in the 1980s," he said. "It's long overdue." The first of them are made available to the public on Wednesday at the National Archive at Kew, Surrey.

The papers at Hanslope Park include monthly intelligence reports on the "elimination" of the colonial authority's enemies in 1950s Malaya; records showing ministers in London were aware of the torture and murder of Mau Mau insurgents in Kenya, including a case of aman said to have been "roasted alive"; and papers detailing the lengths to which the UK went to forcibly remove islanders from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

However, among the documents are a handful which show that many of the most sensitive papers from Britain's late colonial era were not hidden away, but simply destroyed. These papers give the instructions for systematic destruction issued in 1961 after Iain Macleod, secretary of state for the colonies, directed that post-independence governments should not get any material that "might embarrass Her Majesty's government", that could "embarrass members of the police, military forces, public servants or others eg police informers", that might compromise intelligence sources, or that might "be used unethically by ministers in the successor government".

Among the documents that appear to have been destroyed were: records of the abuse of Mau Mau insurgents detained by British colonial authorities, who were tortured and sometimes murdered; reports that may have detailed the alleged massacre of 24 unarmed villagers in Malaya by soldiers of the Scots Guards in 1948; most of the sensitive documents kept by colonial authorities in Aden, where the army's Intelligence Corps operated a secret torture centre for several years in the 1960s; and every sensitive document kept by the authorities in British Guiana, a colony whose policies were heavily influenced by successive US governments and whose post-independence leader was toppled in a coup orchestrated by the CIA.

The documents that were not destroyed appear to have been kept secret not only to protect the UK's reputation, but to shield the government from litigation. If the small group of Mau Mau detainees are successful in their legal action, thousands more veterans are expected to follow.

It is a case that is being closely watched by former Eoka guerillas who were detained by the British in 1950s Cyprus, and possibly by many others who were imprisoned and interrogated between 1946 and 1967, as Britain fought a series of rearguard actions across its rapidly dimishing empire.

The documents show that colonial officials were instructed to separate those papers to be left in place after independence – usually known as "Legacy files" – from those that were to be selected for destruction or removal to the UK. In many colonies, these were described as watch files, and stamped with a red letter W.

The papers at Kew depict a period of mounting anxiety amid fears that some of the incriminating watch files might be leaked. Officials were warned that they would be prosecuted if they took any any paperwork home – and some were. As independence grew closer, large caches of files were removed from colonial ministries to governors' offices, where new safes were installed.

In Uganda, the process was codenamed Operation Legacy. In Kenya, a vetting process, described as "a thorough purge", was overseen by colonial Special Branch officers.

Implementation of the purge 

Clear instructions were issued that no Africans were to be involved: only an individual who was "a servant of the Kenya government who is a British subject of European descent" could participate in
the purge.

Colonial paper states that documents should only be seen by British subjects  
Painstaking measures were taken to prevent post-independence governments from learning that the watch files had ever existed. One instruction states: "The legacy files must leave no reference to watch material. Indeed, the very existence of the watch series, though it may be guessed at, should never be revealed."

When a single watch file was to be removed from a group of legacy files, a "twin file" – or dummy – was to be created to insert in its place. If this was not practicable, the documents were to be removed en masse. There was concern that Macleod's directions should not be divulged – "there is of course the risk of embarrassment should the circular be compromised" – and officials taking part in the purge were even warned to keep their W stamps in a safe place.

Many of the watch files ended up at Hanslope Park. They came from 37 different former colonies, and filled 200 metres of shelving. But it is becoming clear that much of the most damning material was probably destroyed. Officials in some colonies, such as Kenya, were told that there should be a presumption in favour of disposal of documents rather than removal to the UK – "emphasis is placed upon destruction" – and that no trace of either the documents or their incineration should remain. When documents were burned, "the waste should be reduced to ash and the ashes broken up".

Some idea of the scale of the operation and the amount of documents that were erased from history can be gleaned from a handful of instruction documents that survived the purge. In certain circumstances, colonial officials in Kenya were informed, "it is permissible, as an alternative to destruction by fire, for documents to be packed in weighted crates and dumped in very deep and current-free water at maximum practicable distance from the coast".

Order to destroy documents by fire 

Documents that survive from Malaya suggest a far more haphazard destruction process, with relatively junior officials being permitted to decide what should be burned and what should be sent to London.

Dr Ed Hampshire, diplomatic and colonial record specialist at the National Archive, said the 1,200 files so far transferred from Hanslope Park represented "gold dust" for historians, with the occasional nugget, rather than a haul that calls for instant reinterpretation of history. However, only one sixth of the secret archive has so far been transferred. The remainder are expected to be at Kew by the end of 2013.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The White Star Line: in a class of its own

Image from the Titanic Letterpress blog

The class differences on board the RMS Titanic have been pointed out before. Hell, even the movie Titanic focuses on this feature. But a little known letter that surfaced a few years back highlights the typical relationship between the RMS Titanic's management and their employees.

In 2008, a letter sent to Alexander Littlejohn—steward on board the RMS Titanic—from the White Star Line shipping company, was up for auction. The letter was sent as soon as news of the ship's sinking reached the company. While survivors were still struggling in the icy seas, the White Star Line 'sacked' all of its employees in order to save paying thousands in wages to survivors. Staff like Littlejohn, who were struggling to paddle life rafts of 'posh first-class ladies', were said in the letter to have 'disembarked on the high seas' on 15 April 1912—the day the ship hit an iceberg and sank with 1,500 people. 'Disembarked' was a polite company term to describe being thrown into the icy Atlantic.

In an ironic twist, the letter—designed to avoid paying out any money to the surviving workers—was valued at over £1m.

With all the hype today on the Titanic, I think it's important to recognise alternative narratives around this disaster, and remember its class element.

Titanic Letterpress...

With all the Titanic hype this week, there's even a book/blog about the Titanic's in-house printshop. Interesting revived typeface, but I like the linocuts the best... have a peek here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012)


From Icky at Justseeds: I just learned that Elizabeth Catlett died on Monday, at her home in Mexico at the age of 96. Catlett was an outstanding participant of the black arts movement in the US, as well as an early (and long time) member of the Taller de Grafica Popular in her adopted home in Mexico. She was a sculptress and a print-maker; and her masterful synthesis of line, form, and content exerted a huge influence on folks around the world, and especially on many of us involved in Justseeds. RIP

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Celebrate People’s History, an exhibition of over 50 international posters documenting radical moments in history

Katipo Books is proud to present Celebrate People’s History - an exhibition of over 50 international posters documenting radical moments in history. The exhibition will run from Monday 16 April until Monday 14 May in the Young Adults section of the Upper Riccarton Community and School Library.

Since 1998 the Celebrate People’s History Project has produced an amazing array of political posters by different artists from around the world, each highlighting a historical example of struggle for human rights, social justice, and freedom. From the Spanish Revolution to feminist labour organisers, indigenous movements to environmental sustainability, protests against racism to the Korean Peasant’s League — Celebrate People’s History canvases global movements in collaboration with a global network of artists.

Visually the posters are as diverse as the topics themselves. Screenprint, woodcut, linocut, illustration, line art and traditional graphic design all feature in full colour — employed to engage in much needed critical reflection about aspects of our history often overlooked by mainstream narratives. A seamless welding of art and social themes, Celebrate People’s History is sure to excite the history junkie, poster enthusiast, art student, adult learner, and activist alike.

There will also be a public talk on Saturday 21 April by local poster maker/historian Jared Davidson on his own contribution to the exhibition with the poster, Red Feds: the first and only People’s History poster about New Zealand.

Celebrate People's History

Monday April 16 - May 14, 2012

Open during normal library hours
  • Monday - Friday 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Saturday & Sunday 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Upper Riccarton Library (Young Adult Section)
71 Main South Road, Sockburn


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Labour History Project Newsletter 54: sneak peek

Here's a sneak peek at the cover of the latest Labour History Project Newsletter, featuring Miss Elsie Thorn of Christchurch dressed as the Maoriland Worker, 1911. Once again, it was a fun wee design job, and now that I have a grid it's a really quick job at that. Check out the LHP and past newsletters here.