Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Monday, May 31, 2010

It's not exactly rocket science....

I try to stick to me rule of only posting stuff about Uncle Jimmy when it's funny. Well here is something - admittedly fairly small - that made me smile. Jimmy has been banging on over the last few days about the resignation of David Laws. Fair enough, and most of what he's said hasn't been at all funny (indeed, much of it has been fairly reasonable, given their political antipathy). But I had to laugh out loud at this:

I suppose it won’t be long before some are calling for the economic equivalent of a Nobel Prize for Mr Laws. After all, he promised so much.

Hmmm. Now what might "the economic equivalent of a Nobel Prize" look like? Might it be, perhaps, the Nobel Prize for Economics?

Comment on Comment Is Free Is Free

From the comment thread for the Michael Mansfield post at keeptonyblairforpm:

Troy Says:
May 25, 2010 at 10:50 pm Reply

He acted for the family of Tom Hurndall?

Well, that puts his credibility beyond defence – afterall, what sort of a man would pursue some justice for the family of a man shot dead in an act that was found to be unlawful by both an Israeli military court and a British inquest?

You silly people. The Israelis refused more than a routine inquiry until high profile pressure by the parents forced the issue. To hold this mans part in securing rightful convictions of a murderer of a British citizen against him does your argument no favours.


keeptonyblairforpm Says:
May 25, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Troy,

You might have noticed that I used the reference to Tom Hurndall only as part of the article which I reproduced in full from the CIFWatch site. I did not express an opinion on any of their links or references.

The yeahs and nays of the good guys (Palestinians iinvariably, I imagine, in your mind – those who have been attacking Israel weekly for years) and the bad guys (Israelis, I imagine in your mind) is too complex for any of us ignorant bystanders to understand, it seems to me.

Let others decide on the BIG picture. One dead photographer does not an Enemy State make. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. Life and death. And realpolitik.

Btw, someone put this comment on the Ban Blair-Baiting petition recently:

The UK Guardian newspaper cannot call itself a newspaper any more. It has a manipulative
propaganda organ of the extreme disassociated anarchist left.

Of course you are likely to just discount it. After all, that someone was from Israel.

Observations:

1) Standard Operating Procedure for Uncle Jimmy: he begins by wriggling that the piece he's just quoted verbatim over four screensful of his blog wasn't meant to imply any kind of agreement with anything int it, oh no, any more than when he did the same for the piece that described Muslims as taking part in human sacrifices. No, Jimmy is a balanced blogger who publishes everything as a public service and never expresses an opinion. By quoting these things as masses of inline text with only an indication at the start or the end that it's not his own work, he allows the careless reader who approves to imagine he at least some of it, while being able to hold up his hands and say "I never said I approved of this stuff, I just linked it AND quoted the whole of it".

I suppose we should expect that from someone who admiringly displays in his sidebar Tony Blair's whiny :

"This terrorism isn't our fault. We didn't cause it. It's not the consequence of foreign policy. It is an attack on our way of life. It is global. It has an ideology. We will not win until we shake ourselves free of the wretched capitulation to the propaganda of the enemy that somehow we are the ones responsible."

"We....our....": you can tell Blair is feeling guilty there, because her NEVER shares responsibility for successes, only blame for failures. But honestly. "We" run around invading countries whose particular kind of murdering thug we dislike (while ignoring all the ones with murdering thugs we're pals with), and when they hit back it's not "our" fault. A big American did it and ran away.Though Blair is right about one thing: "we" (i.e. Blair) will not win. Since he was fired as PM for being a corrupt liar who had bled away most of Labour's votes since he arrived in Downing Street, nobody gives a pisspot for his opinion. Any winning will be done by those still involved. not by after-dinner speakers.

2) Then since he has no answer to the commenter's actual point, he claims it's all too complicated for little old him, and of course the rest of us. However, he seems to imagine he "understands" the commenter's views on Palestinians and Israelis. It isn't all too complicated for him to claim that the former have been "attacking Israel weekly for years", though clearly any comprhension that the latter have also been "attacking Palestine daily for decades" is far beyond his wee brain..
3) Regarding the murder of Tom Hurndall, Jimmy says "One dead photographer does not an Enemy State make. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. Life and death. And realpolitik."

Funny: when Theo van Gogh was murdered Jimmy seemed to believe that made an enemy of an entire religion. Is he going to revise his opinon now and say "One dead film-maker does not a conspiracy to take over Europe make. Sorry, that's just the way it is. Life and death. And neo-Nazi scum." ?

I'm not holding my breath.

4) Finally a quick plug for the petition got up by him and his fellow Blair-loving losers (I feel a Richard Farina parody coming on here... ) He quotes a comment (presumably to support his love of CIFWatch) to the effect that "The UK Guardian newspaper cannot call itself a newspaper any more. It has a manipulative propaganda organ of the extreme disassociated anarchist left." Then he says that Troy will probably discount the remark because the commenter is from Israel.

Let's pass over the casual (and oh-so-predictable) accusation of antisemitism in anyone who disagrees with him. Personally I'm more likely to disregard this work of genius because its author begins by emphasising that the UK Guardian is a newspaper (well strike me, and there I was thinking it was a nuclear power station) before saying it can't call itself a newspaper any more. Then he confuses "is" and "has". Perhaps the Guardian IS a manipulative propaganda organ of the extreme left: I wouldn't know (all too complex for me, and anyway since the anarchists disassociated they stopped inviting me to their meetings). The ones who HAVE manipulative propaganda organs are the lying wankers at the Ban Blair-Baiting petition site.

I don't know about Troy, but I couldn't possibly discount a comment which provided an excuse for such a gloriously apposite pun.

Tripping Up Trump

One of the few truly shameful things the current SNP government in Scotland has done is to over-rule the local planning authority and permit Donald Trump to build a golf course and associated tourist complex on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (see my post here in which I mention a few other gripes anent Apex Salmond).

So I rather enjoyed this news story, and wish the Tripping Up Trump group well.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

FFS

Given this story, it didn't take long for the first calls to appear for the Red Cross to be shunned as a terrorist organisation.

Before the loons, here is a more measured assessment of the ICRC's role in Afghanistan.

OK, bring on the droids:

Droid 1
Droid 2
Droid 3
Droid 4
Droid 5

Here's one who makes Uncle Jimmy look positively angelic - mind you, the presence of the BNP on his blogroll gives the game away.

Droid 6

Here's a nutjob who started accusing the Red Cross of supporting terrorists back in 2008:

Droid 7

"Of course it may be that Haddad is personally sympathetic to the Taliban's aims, and just wishes it was a little more discerning in its target selection – you've got to love her characterisation of mass-murdering religious fanatics as 'the armed opposition'."

Sorry - I suppose "the deposed government of Afghanistan" is strictly more accurate.

"And does she honestly believe that Nato and US forces need 'reminding' of their obligations under international law?"

Even in 2008 nobody seems to have felt the need to dignify that with an answer.

Here, also in 2008, is an article by the great Robert Fisk on exactly why the ICRC's provision of medical aid to both sides is so vital:

Robert Fisk

For more droids, try Googling "Red Cross" + taliban + traitors (if you want a sick laugh)

Question: how many, do you think, of the "disgusted" commenters on these blogs who are vowing never to contribute to the Red Cross "again" have in fact ever contributed to it in their sorry lives? And the ones who say they won't donate blood any more: how much of their (mostly American) blood do they think goes to the Taliban, and how much to wounded American soldiers? Nice contribution to American deaths, assholes.

Another comedy classic

Here are mp3 files of a classic Michael Bentine album. They're not all especially funny: "Freedom Of The Airways" and "The Tragedy at the National Gallery" are pretty good, but "The Concert" "The Toastmaster" and my personal favourite "Welcome Stranger" are timeless classics.

Booze, cigars, and nostalgia

Thinking of comedic blasts from the past (as in Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Uncle Jimmy) put me in mind of these classic Cinzano ads directed by Alan Parker and starring Joan Collins and the late, great, Leonard Rossiter. The airline one seems to be doing the rounds again right now.









And if we're talking about funny old ads, the Hamlet ones not only became classics but took on a life beyond the commercial itself: Brits of my generation still start humming the Bach and miming cigar-smoking when something disastrous happens. Here you go:











And a few of the best ones not in that anthology:




My personal all-time favourite (I think the potato does it for me....)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Arresting peaceful protestors is good, or bad, or...ooh, I dunno, work it out for yourself....

Here's Uncle Jimmy on the arrest of Brian Haw.

So let's get this straight. On the one hand, the arrest of a peaceful protestor against the Iraq war (sorry, an "eyesore who has polluted the green outside parliament") "made his day" and was much better than the "sanctimony" in Parliament about "civil rights, freedom, etc.". Then in the next breath he goes on to say, in his Simon Jenkins comment, "I expect Mr Jenkins will be the first to remind them that the Police never tried to move or arrest Haw when the Queen passed by before. Not in the previous NINE years he's been littering the place. NEVER."

Well, he's right that this is the first time they've moved him for the State Opening, but he's been arrested several times and, as he says back on his blog, "The law always came down on Haw's side. It surely will again." (Damn these pesky defence lawyers.)

But, er, if it's so great that he's been arrested why is NuLabour's failure to move him something to crow about? What? Tony Blair? Soft on terrorist sympathisers?

Jimmy reminds me of Glenda Slag, the spoof gossip columnist who used to appear in Private Eye. She would come out with some piece of obsequious nonsense about a public figure in one paragraph, then follow it immediately by totally rubbishing the same person.

So he's wrong: you could make it (and him) up. Private Eye made up someone as ludicrously inconsistent as him, and David Nobbs invented the original Uncle Jimmy. (I realised yesterday that P G Wodehouse invented an equally pompous cowardly neofascist idiot: Roderick Spode, in the Jeeves and Wooster stories.)

The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you're someone. You hear them shouting "Heil, Spode!" and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: "Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?"

—P. G. Wodehouse, Bertie Wooster in The Code of the Woosters (1938)

I note that when posting a comment in the Guardian our fearless fascist campaigner picked yet another fake name, to wit "ThisStinks". To quote a famous religious extremist executed as a terrorist, "Thou sayest". (Matthew 27:11, AV)

I'll stick with "Uncle Jimmy" for our nameless Blair-loviing buffoon, though. I have no way of knowing what colour Jimmy's shorts are, though considering how terrified he is of wicked Mooslims taking over our country I can hazard a guess.

P.S. As Jimmy is a American he probably won't recognise the reference in my post title to a classic Kenneth Williams sketch from my youth. Here it is:

There's a first time for everything

Another musical first for me tonight. I'm not about to change my assessment of Bruce Springsteen as the second most over-rated musical act on the planet (after U2, of course). But tonight on Radio Scotland I heard, for the first time, a Springsteen song that I thought I actually wanted to hear again. I see it only came out in 2007, and it wasn't a big hit so it's maybe not a surprise I missed it. Anyway, here is Girls In Their Summer Clothes:




A very operatic evening

Tonight began with a visit to Edinburgh's Lyceum Theatre to see Edinburgh Grand Opera's production of Verdi's Macbeth. Perhaps surprisingly given my love of opera, it wasnlt a work I was familiar with even on record, so there was the special pleasure of hearing a great opera for the first time. Hilary was playing clarinet in the pit which was another reason to go.

The production was fairly good: there were certainly a few places where it showed it wasn't a professional company, but on the whole the acting was good, and musically (under the bation of Neil Metcalfe) it was first-rate. The orchestra, while a bit smaller than what Covent Garden would use, were well up to the task: I bet there are provincial opera houses in, say, Germany with orchestras no better. the singers were all excellent as well. The production is double cast so tonight's Macbeth was Phil Gault, with Macduff Paul Featherstone: both very good indeed. Banquo (Hugh Hillyard Parker) and Lady Macbeth (Susan McNaught) were both stunning. It was being sung in Italian, which makes it more of a challenge to learn if you're not a full-time opera singer: these are big parts. Anyway, they were really good (though I suspect what may stay in my memory longest is the surtitle for what in Shakespeare is "Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined", which after translation and retranslation emerged as "The porcupine howled at the wind". (We have porcupines in Scotland? Why have I never seen one? They're cool!)

Then we came home to find our daughter glued to the BBC's televised Marriage Of Figaro, which she had been enjoying so much she hadn't yet eaten. While I have been recording various of the Beeb's Italian Opera documentaries, I hadn't recorded this as I thought it likely I'd be the only person wanting to watch it and we have a lot of DVDs. OK, mistake, and so Hilary was on the computer ordering the DVD from Amazon fairly quickly. Vanessa asked if she could order the DVD of Operavox for her while she was on. Operavox, I should explain, was a series of half-hour abridgements of classic operas with animation rather than live action. It was televised when Vanessa was maybe five or six, and she loved them. We video'd them all: there was The Magic Flute, Carmen, Rigoletto, The Rhinegold, The Barber of Seville and Turandot. All with different kinds of animation, all in English with spoken dialogue rather than recitative. Very child-friendly (though she didn't like Rigoletto much!) She didn't like Magic Flute either because she loved the Ingmar Bergman film version (we brought her up properly!) and felt the abridgement left out the best bits. (If you've never seen the Bergman Magic Flute, BTW, get it. When I bought the DVD it was only on Region 1, but maybe there's a Region 2 now. Whatever: BEST opera film EVER.) So we got talking about Operavox and ended up watched Vanessa's (and my) favourite one on YouTube. So here you are. If you're not hooked by the end of the overture, well, you're very different from me:







And as for the Bergman Magic Flute (in Swedish, BTW), it contains the only version I have ever seen, filmed or live, of the "Papageno/Papagena" duet which is not insufferably twee. This is how you do it:

Cordoba Centre approved - good

The sound common sense of this decision fills me with pride in New Yorkers. Though the opponents of the Cordoba Centre (the "mosque") ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, for booing a 9/11 rescue worker and trying to drown out someone whose son died in the Twin Towers. Now THAT is being disrespectful to the memory of the 9/11 victims. These people should admit that they're not interested in commemorating those who died in the WTC, just in attacking Muslims (of whom there are estimated to have been around 300 in the WTC at the time of the attacks). If you want to see the ugly face of American racism, look no further than Pamela Geller's "Stop Islamization of America" site. When I tried to comment that there had been Muslims in the WTC, first of all I was told they were only the ones flying the planes, then my comment was deleted, as seems to have happened to any other critical comment after a few hours. However, comments suggesting that Europe (especially Britain) is full of "Islamofascists", that the USA dropped the atom bomb on the wrong country in WW2, and that all Muslims should be expelled from the USA: these remain, along with enthusiastic "What a great idea" comments from the blog organisers.

However, New York is more than a few fringe Nazis and will survive their obscene actions with its spirit intact as it survived the plane strikes. Jo Polett is a great example:

Jo Polett, who has lived a couple blocks north of the WTC since 1995, said the strong negative reaction to the mosque was the best argument for why Cordoba House is needed. "It would be a significant and inspiring addition to the neighborhood", Polett said.

P.S. A similar Stop Islamization of England site (hey, what about Scotland?) describes SIOA as "one of America's foremost organizations (sic) defending human rights". It also recommends readers to support the English Defence League. 'Nuff said.

Kosher and Halal

This clarified the differences for me.

But people who decry Islam for its barbaric ritual slaughter and animal cruelty while saying nothing about Judaism's identical practices are simply hypocrites and bigots.

"The only democracy in the region" always puts me in mind of "The only gay in the village"

---and Israel's supporters' whining of "antisemitism!" whenever Israel is caught out doing something illegal, immoral, or embarrassingly undemocratic reminds me of Daffyd's scattergun accusations of homophobia. (And now I need a shower to get rid of the image of Alan Dershowitz in a rubber suit......")

See here.

And here.

More on the story of Israel's nukes

(I like the bit where in this so-called democracy "the chief censor, an army general, is entitled by law to block publication of anything that might, in the censor’s judgment, damage the state of Israel." Sweet.)

And of course the government can lock up indefinitely on trumped-up charges ("talking to foreigners" !) anyone like Mordechai Vanunu who blows the gaff on Israel's illegal WMDs. Even after he's served his sentence (shameful in itself) and supposedly been released. Isn't democracy wonderful?

CIFwatch loons

CIFwatch = bunch of crazy Zionists who spend 100% of their time monitoring the Guardian for perceived "antisemitism", which is to say any article of comment which fails to toe their acceptable line of craven acquiescence to every sentence of Israeli government propaganda. Here, for example, someone in an interview makes the scarcely novel observation that the British media are overwhelmingly biased in favour of Israel and that therefore their owners might have a pro-Israel agenda. Well, apparently this is a Jewish conspiracy theory and antisemitic.

All the commenters pointing out that it's no such thing are of course automatically racists by definition. QED. You couldn't make these CIFWatch people up. (But who would wish to?)

Actually I'm amazed they didn't start shrieking at the very idea that the BBC has a pro-Israeli agenda. When I said as much on Kesher Talk one time I was told it demonstrated that I was a communist antisemite.

Uncle Jimmy liked their post on Michael Mansfield so much he cut and pasted the whole thing. (Well, as we have seen, the only thing he likes more than demanding journalists be imprisoned without trial is encouraging his readers to kill human rights lawyers.)

You have to love their consistent wackiness though. Here are a few translations from Zioloonspeak into English:

"the Guardian has provided a platform for supporters of a terrorist organisation proscribed under British law."
equals
"the Guardian publishes articles by people who are aware that Hamas is the democratically elected government of Palestine * "

(* Elected in both parts but deposed by military force in the West Bank prior to the installaion of an Israel/US-backed puppet regime).

"Mansfield’s apparent blind spot when it comes to the civil rights of the citizens of Israel – in particular, the right not to be blown up – is adequately illustrated by his statements against the anti-terrorist fence."
equals
"Mansfield quotes the undisputed facts that there have been a number of UN resolutions concerning the Israeli occupation and that the ICJ in the Hague has declared the *separation wall illegal under international law."

(*If it is designed to prevent access to Israel by terrorists why is it miles outside Israeli territory?)

"No surprises there then; after all Mansfield has a record of acting for the Palestinians involved in the 1994 bombing of the Israeli embassy in London in which 20 people were injured, of defending Tahira Tabassum, the widow of the ‘Mike’s Place’ British suicide bomber Omar Sharif and of acting for the families of Tom Hurndall and James Miller against Israel."
equals
"We loathe the very thought that people we consider terrorists should have fair trials with lawyers and everything; we hate the idea that the government should be criticised for locking up the innocent relatives of terrorists in revenge for being unable to catch the terrorists themselves; and we consider it despicable that the families of civilians murdered by Israeli soldiers should be permitted to investigate their murders. What part of 'Israeli actions may not be judged by the same standards applied to other countries' does this guy not get? Applying the same standards to Israel that we apply to other countries is clearly antisemitic. As is applying different standards. Look, why don't you stop investigating Israeli actions at all?"

".....other such ‘objective’ figures as Mairead Corrigan Maguire"
equals
"Clearly a Nobel Peace Prize winner is going to favour peace over war, which is obvious antisemitic prejudice."

" ....the lawfare campaign against Israel"
equals
"Compliance with laws is for lesser nations, not Israel. Any suggestion that any Israeli action, ever, was not absolutely legal, justified, and a restrained response to murderous terror attacks is antisemitism."

"Let’s hope that Britain’s new leaders will work to rectify this situation because the fashionable casual acceptance of support for terrorist organisations is something which is bound to have detrimental effects at home as well as abroad. What a pity that the editors of a supposedly libertarian newspaper have not caught onto that fact either and instead allow the promotion of campaigns by the mouthpieces of holders of opinions and principles which are directly contrary to all that modern Western society stands for."
equals
"Toe the line, Guardian, or now our pals like William Hague and Michael Gove are in power we'll have you closed down along with all the other non-compliant press. After all, that's the sole reason for our existence."

Miscellaneous weirdness

Belfast policeman defuses trouble by playing "ice-cream van" music

I can't understand what all the fuss is about. It worked, nobody got hurt, the police car didn't have all its windows smashed. What's the problem? OK, I find ice-cream vans pretty irritating, but maybe my personal style - which would involve The Ride Of The Valkyries (I love the smell of raspberry ripple in the morning) would have been less effective.

I don't mind bureaucrats with no sense of humour, but when that affects how well they do their job I mind rather a lot.


Awwwww.

Just awwwwww.


"My mother gave me a breast fixation"..."If I gave her the wool would she give me me one too?"

My wife once had a book of patterns which included a knitted pint of Guinness. This sounds more fun though.


You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!


So much for the Pied Piper of Hamelin then

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Purity of Essence

It's funny how "Friends of Israel" always take umbrage at any comparison between South Africa's apartheid policy of systematic denial of rights to blacks on the basis of race, and its own benign denial of rights to Israeli Arabs on the basis of their race. Funny, because now we know that not only was Israel South Africa's biggest ally and trading partner on the apartheid era, but it offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons.

Imagine the outcry there would have been from Britain and the USA if Iran or Iraq had done that. If, of course, either Iran or Iraq had had nuclear weapons, which they have never done.

Still, I'm looking forward to a lot of wriggling over the coming months from all those FOI, especially when Amnesty Imternational declares Mordechai Vanunu a Prisoner of Conscience.

BlairSupporter outs himself as a fascist (yet again)

For those who may have forgotten, I christened the anonymous (but almost certainly American) BlairSupporter "Uncle Jimmy" because his outbursts about what Britain would be like in the future when it was run by Those Who Care reminded me of the character in David Nobbs's Reggie Perrin stories (and subsequently in Fairly Secret Army). That is, a saddo hoping for some kind of coup to replace all this democracy nonsense.

Occasionally Jimmy reminds us all how true that characterisation is. Here he is on Abid Nasser, the supposed al-Qaeda member released without charge because there was no evidence against him.

You have to love the way Jimmy criticises the Liberal Democrats as "slavish human rights protectors" as though protecting human rights is a bad thing. But then he chews the rug and spits:

Am I alone in suggesting this? –
Those who are found guilty of attempting terrorist acts or of planning, conniving or inciting others to do so must be exempted from human rights laws protection.


Yes, Jimmy, you're alone. Well, apart from your handful of Fairly Secret Army pals.

Not sure which is funnier really: that Jimmy continues to deny that he's any kind of a fascist, or that this hypocrite who demands that Tony Blair must not be described as a "war criminal" because he hasn't been tried and convicted (then insists that he can't be put on trial because WE ALL KNOW he isn't a war criminal) happily describes Abid Nasser as an "al-Qaeda" leader and implies that he was "found guilty" of terrorist acts, whereas he was never even charged with them. But hey, he's got brown skin and is a Muslim, so deporting him to be tortured must be a good thing, right?

Here by way of balance is Craig Murray (a blessedly unslavish human rights protector) on the case.

This fascist sicko (Uncle Jimmy, not Craig Murray!) then gives us the benefit of his opinion on the Labour leadership candidates. Unsurprisingly he favours David Milliband, a clone of Tony Blair right down to the support for torture. He lipsmackingly describes a suicide bombing in Baghdad, then says sarcastically "I suppose none of this would have happened if Blair had said “no” to Bush". Well done, Jimmy, absolutely right, none of this would have happened if Blair had said no to Bush (unless Bush had simply gone ahead and destroyed Iraq by himself, which of course he might well have done). Let's see, in secular Baathist Iraq if you were seen as any kind of religious extemist you were likely to wind up dead. You know, because of Saddam's police state and all that. There were no Islamic terror groups in Iraq until the Americans and British put them there. Yes, a great success story that. Turning Iraq from somewhere where being a political opponent of Saddam was unhealthy but being a woman doctor, or woman teacher, or woman engineer, was fine, to somewhere where being a political opponent of the corrupt US-backed government is unhealthy and being a woman means living indoors in a veil. All done in the name of women's emancipation too. And as for deposing Saddam for his brutal suppression of dissent while forbidding any criticism of Karimov, our Uzbek ally in the "War" on "Terror", whose record is far worse - David Milliband's hypocrisy on continuing the Blair line there is why he must never be allowed to become Prime Minister. But for Jimmy, "the battle over the Iraq war was fought in 2005. Blair won it." That would be why the Labour vote fell drastically, and why he useless creep got himself fired as a liability. Yes, that looks like winning.

Oh, and Jimmy: if you're going to reprint all the lyrics to Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat as well as linking to the film clip, it's normally considered good manners either to say what show it's from (Guys and Dolls), or even better to cite the author (Frank Loesser). Perhaps in your fantasy land where you've reinstalled Blair as dictator, torn up the Human Rights Act, locked up all the independent journalists and abolished trials as a waste of time, you pretend you wrote it yourself (the same way you pretend to be Scottish). Here in the real world, you didn't.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Result (bis)

Two excellent results on Saturday night: first, Danielle Hope won Over The Rainbow, and second, Inter Milan won the Champions League final.

Our family have been following Over The Rainbow for the entire series. It's a BBC show whose end result is the selection of a leading lady for Andrew Lloyd Webber's forthcoming West End production of The Wizard of Oz. It follows similar shows which selected a Maria for The Sound of Music, a Joseph (of the Technicolor Dreamcoat kind) and a Nancy for Oliver! There have been many times when we felt the candidates voted off by the TV audience were not the weakest at the time, in general the Saunders family agreed on a shortlist (there was some dissent over the matter of Jessica, whom neither Saunders child liked but both adults did - though we agreed she wasn't ideal for the specific role of Dorothy).

Anyway, we were all happy with the eventual winner. Hilary and I were playing in a concert at the time of the final so couldn't vote, but our children did the honours and contributed to Danielle Hope's win. While I doubt we'll get to see her as Dorothy, I look forward to seeing her in some future production (as no doubt we shall see many high-ranked losers).

Here is Danielle knocking everyone's socks off with Mambo Italiano in a previous round:



Meanwhile, Inter Milan were putting the ball into the back of Bayern Munich's goal twice, both times courtesy of Diego Milito. A fine way for Jose Mourinho to bow out as manager of the club, adding the Champions League to the domestic Scudetto and the Coppa Italia.

Here is a clip showing both Milito's goals. The second is positively jaw-dropping in the ease with which he evades the Bayern defender.



Though not quite as awesome as my all-time favourite goal which comes from Inter's great rivals AC Milan. Here they are playing Verona, and the mighty George Weah scores from a corner. the thing is, it was a Verona corner, and he ran the entire length of the pitch, evading (I think) 8 Verona defenders before scoring. A true classic:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No dodgy dossiers here

Just real, hard evidence of a Middle Eastern country with undeclared, uninspected, unregulated and utterly illegal Weapons of Mass Destruction. A theocracy whose government constantly threatens nuclear annihilation of its neighbours, and which has repeatedly invaded them and carried out ethnic cleansing. A country which holds the United Nations and all forms of international law in contempt, where civil rights depend on your religious affiliation, where peaceful protestors are shot dead, where gangs of religious extremists attack immodestly-dressed women, and which exports terrorism worldwide.

No, not Iran, though it does tick several of those boxes. No, I mean Israel, the theocracy Tony Blair loves so much he lives there (because somebody else is paying, duh!). It's funny really, Blair come out with cobblers like "Israel is a democracy ... There is freedom of thought and speech." and then the silly Israelis go and spoil it by doing what they do, which is locking up any dissenting voice (and then when he's served his sentence, keeping on locking him up, because what do courts know?) (Blair: "Citizens are governed by the rule of law") Dissenting voices from other countries simply aren't allowed in by the freedom-loving Israelis: toe the line or fuck off.

Blair on Israel: "I admire the fortitude of its people". Why not simply salute their indefatigability? While he stands there spouting crap about "Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons capability", a far more dangerous country already has nuclear weapons, and pays him handsomely to turn a blind eye to them. "Iran's regime is the biggest destabilizing influence in the region." Maybe that's how it looks from Blair's La-La Land. When did Iran last invade anyone? How any neighbouring capitals has Iran bombed? How many Iranian death squads are there touring round the world murdering political opponents?

Israel's supporters are forever whining that Western liberals judge Israel by different standards from those we apply to other countries. I couldn't agree more, and the sooner we stop the better. Here's Craig Murray on those hypocritical double standards.

More collusion in terror by the UK government

Craig Murray has a good post on evidence regarding the Israeli death squad in Dubai (the ones who pretended to be British and put us all at risk),

Funnily enough, although he accepts that the new government is totally Conservative-dominated, and notes that the "National Security Advisor" is a torture supporter and that this bodes ill for any improvements to civil rights, Murray supports the ConDem coalition. While I share his loathing of Blair and all his works I find it impossible to see this bunch of chancers as any improvement whatsoever. Now that the cabinet is stuffed with "Friends of Israel" (Clegg, Hague, Gove to name only the most obvious) the likelihood of any slackening of the phoney "War" on "Terror" panic is non-existent, and so of course is any chance of a foreign policy independent of the wishes of the USA. I expect Karimov will get an honorary knighthood soon.

Our partner for peace in the "War" on "Terror"

Once again our spineless government supports a murderous thug who runs one of the most vicious dictatorships on the planet. If he were a Muslim we'd have hanged him by now, but because he murders Muslims we love him.

As it's Karimov we're talking about here, Craig Murray is obviously on the case.

And this is our bastion against wicked Islamic homophobia? I expect Theresa May will love him.

A sad day for freedom

The decision of a judge to rule the British Airways cabin crew strike illegal on what really is a trivial technicality (apparently posting notice of 11 spoiled ballots - out of over 11,000 votes in all - on websites, via email, and on every available noticeboard does not count as "notifying the membership": one has to wonder what WOULD count?) shows that the attacks on trade union rights (and indeed public freedoms) to which we became accustomed in the Blair years are likely to get worse rather than better under Cleggeron.

See here. Also sound sense from Craig Murray here.

Elvis has decided not to enter the building

Excellent news.

Via

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Is this woman for real?

I always thought Janet Street-Porter had a raw deal. Famous for fifteen minutes in the late 1970s (though I'm buggered if I can remember what for - presenting a TV show?) she rapidly became remembered mainly for the wickedly accurate parody of her which Pamela Stephenson provided on Not The Nine O'Clock News. I always felt a bit sorry for her: after all, we can't help having protruding teeth and an irritating accent. (Though her accent always made me feel like Jack Lenmon's comment in Some Like It Hot on Tony Curtis's assumed upper-class accent: "Nobody talks like that".)

Until now. Now I am beginning to think her deal wasn't nearly rough enough. Because on Saturday she published a piece in the Daily Mail entitled Depression? It's just the new trendy illness!

I'm not sure where to start with this, to be frank. In her article she confuses stress and clinical depression, but as she considers both to be imaginary fashion accessories that is probably the least of her faults.

Wait! She says "I am not denying that clinical depression is a real mental illness, or that it can be debilitating for sufferers." But then she says "They're even dredging up dodgy statistics to prove that depression - assuming there is such a thing - is on the increase". So not denying very much, then.

And of course it's a class thing:

I am not denying that clinical depression is a real mental illness, or that it can be debilitating for sufferers. But let's take a moment to consider whether depression is common among the poor or the working class?

If you're a black South African woman growing up in a township, or a mum in a slum favela in Rio, or a supermarket shelf-stacker in Croydon, or one of the band of low-paid female workers who go to work at 3am to clean the offices of the wealthiest and most powerful people in Britain in the City of London, you probably aren't afflicted by depression. What you're more likely to be suffering from is poverty, exhaustion and a deficient diet. You will have bills you can't pay and a struggle to feed and clothe your kids.


My mum's generation didn't suffer from stress or depression. Instead, they just got on with the washing up, the ironing, their long hours in low-paid jobs, and - every Saturday without fail - they baked a bloody good Victoria sponge. The current load of depressives have cleaners, attractive kids at all the best schools, washing machines and spin-dryers, and enough money to buy readymade swanky cup cakes.

While it would be interesting to see the research basis for her statement that depression is uncommon among cleaners and shelf-stackers (and even more so if one extends that scepticism to include stress, as her article clearly suggests one should) it's her suggestion that middle-class or well-off folk don't really have anything to complain about so can't suffer from depression.

OK. Hand up for the most famous sufferer from depression (the "black dog") in the past hundred years?

I'd go for Winston Churchill.

Oh wait, he was a man. And Janet Omniscient-Pillock has no time for men who claim to be depressed:

Now, men are jumping on the depression bandwagon - bestselling author Tim Lott wrote a misery memoir The Scent Of Dried Roses. He says that GPs are not trained to spot depression in men, and one of the reasons more men don't own up to it is because they are routinely expected to be strong, and there's a massive stigma attached to admitting you can't cope....... At this point, I'm afraid to say, I laugh out loud. The idea of feeling sorry for a bloke with low self-esteem is, frankly, risible.

And Churchill wasn't even a poor oppressed immigrant!

OK, Janet, laugh at Winston Churchill if you like (and his bouts of depression were not merely products of his wartime stresses). Let's see how many of your Daily Mail fans think he was a risible sufferer from low self-esteem.

Of course there are plenty of people who cope with their lives, and I have nothing but admiration for them. If Janet Street-Porter is such a one, I salute her. This does not, however, give her the right to describe all those who are less well-adjusted as effectively (for she doesn't use the word) malingerers. One of the first groups to be identified with what we would now call work-related stress (which is not the same thing as PTSD) is the men and women who staffed the control rooms during the Battle of Britain. They were working crazily long hours, and any shortfall in their work quality would mean dead people. Funnily enough they got stressed out: and it didn't seem to depend on their socio-economic class.

Let me personalise this. There is a rule of thumb which doctors use for determining whether people have undergone stress-inducing events. They accumulate a score for things like "change of job", "divorce", "moving house", "becoming a parent", "bereavement", and so on. A long time ago now, various people had commented that my behaviour had become rather strange, and I went to my doctor. We totted up (over the preceding few years) two bereavements, an estrangement from a sibling, two house moves, a change of job, the arrival of a daughter and several other events calculated to cause stress. I wasn't depressed, but I was very definitely suffering from stress, and was referred to a therapist who was eventually extremely helpful. Other than for my various appointments, I didn't take any time off work. It never occurred to me to consider my situation fashionable: indeed the only people who knew were my wife and my immediate manager at work.

Perhaps Janet Street-Porter would have sailed through the situation in which I found myself without any self-doubt, any feelings of hopelessness or inability to cope. Well, bully for Janet Street-Porter.

JSP is caustic about the incidence of backache in the 1990s. She may have a point in that people who now own up to "mental" problems such as stress or depression were discouraged from reporting them in the 1990s, preferring instead to report more "physical" problems such as backache. So, we've become less judgmental about mental illness. Is that a problem, Janet? (And incidentally, we almost certainly have improved workplace ergonomics in the past twenty years. Thanks for the most part to lobbying from various trade unions. Eat that, Daily Mail readers.)

At the end of the day, JSP is spouting bolllocks with no scientific backing whatsoever. It's hard to see who benefits from her ill-informed wibbling. Well, apart from Janet Street-Porter. Ah.

rattus pingues et stolidus, forsooth.....

My daughter has just purchased (at a Christian Aid book sale) a copy of Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis. For anyone who has ever wondered how

Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow,
Turn this stupid fat rat yellow

would be rendered into Latin, the answer is:

miteque butyrum bellesque et lumina solis alloquor et precibus numina vestra colo.
rattum habeo pinguem et stolidum. vultisne colorem mutare in croceum? numina vestra colam.

So now you know.

A sheeple carrier, presumably

I liked this story.

I especially liked the sentence "Thieves herded the sheep through a pen and into the back of what must have been a large vehicle, police said."

Never has the phrase "No shit, Sherlock" seemed so apposite.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Trouble brewing

Here's a Peter Brookes cartoon from The Times this week:



The headline in this morning's Guardian is Clegg: we caused offence by joining Tories, but it's worth it.

Keep telling yourself that, Nick, because on 8 May 2015 you may feel rather differently.

Oh, and there's a problem with that date. What? The government's new minister in charge of constitutional reform can't read a calendar? Is incapable of forward planning over five years? Or perhaps, like Blair, thinks the Scottish Parliament no more significant than a parish council.

Definitely trouble brewing.

Let's try this again

For some reason the link to the piece on Tony Blair's lies and arrogance over Scottish devolution keeps breaking. I think the single quotes in the URL are confusing Blogger, which is housekeeping half the URL away.

So I shall do something I normally associate with Uncle Jimmy, and paste the whole article in here, along with its URL:

www.thefreelibrary.com/FURY+AT+BLAIR'S+'STAB+IN+THE+BACK'%3B+RANK+AND+FILE+ANGER+AT+DEVOLUTION...-a0110879684


FURY AT BLAIR'S 'STAB IN THE BACK'; RANK AND FILE ANGER AT DEVOLUTION BLUNDER.

Byline: CHRIS DEERIN;WILLIAM CLARK

SCOTTISH Labour MPs and activists yesterday accused Tony Blair of betraying the party's devolution commitment.

As he launched the Scottish manifesto in Glasgow the Labour leader revived fears among his own rank and file that he would water down his party's pledge to deliver a Scottish parliament with tax-varying powers, .

Mr Blair infuriated his own party by ruling out Labour raising taxes in a newly-created Scottish parliament.

He also claimed Westminster sovereignty over a Scottish parliament and compared its taxation powers to those of an English parish council.

One senior home rule activist said last night: `He seems to be backpedalling on tax and that frightens us all because we now doubt whether he wants a Scottish parliament at all. Yet again this is something forced on us that we knew nothing about. Yet another stab in the back.'

Mr Blair said yesterday: `Sovereignty rests with me as an English MP and that's the way it will stay.' He insisted it was a `constitutional fact' that Westminster would retain sovereignty, effectively giving London-based MPs the right to abolish a Scottish parliament.

But that flew in the face of a promise made by the Scottish Constitutional Convention, a body made up of Labour and the Liberal Democrat MPs, trade unions, councils and the churches.

The Convention, set up to draft a blueprint for home rule, drew up the Claim of Right signed by the late Labour leader John Smith and all but one of the party's 50 Scottish MPs.

It stated the Scottish people would be sovereign over the parliament. But Labour's Scottish manifesto reads: `A sovereign Westminster Parliament will devolve power to Scotland and Wales.'

And Mr Blair said yesterday: `The Labour Party is committed not to raise the basic or top rate of income tax, and so is the Scottish party. The Labour Party will not be raising income tax.'

The Scottish people would not be sovereign over the parliament, he said.

`What Scotland is getting is devolution and that means the local services can be run here in Scotland and rules and laws applying to them can be made here. It's not separation or the break up of the UK.'

John Major was quick to pounce on the blunder. He claimed Labour's plans for a Scottish parliament had collapsed in `total and utter chaos' with Tony Blair's decision to impose a veto on any use by Labour of a Scottish parliament's tax-raising power.

He ridiculed Mr Blair's position and said: `Scotland isn't a parish. It's a great nation, one of four nations that has made the United Kingdom one of the great influences on the world.'

He said a Tory government would fight to preserve the United Kingdom, `whatever the electoral cost may be'.

Mr Blair forcing his will on the Scottish Labour Party showed `staggering arrogance or total incompetence'.

Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth said: `The whole devolution fiasco is a mess of contradictions and deceptions - a dog's breakfast. The Scottish Constitutional Convention worked for six years and in six minutes Tony Blair has shredded its proposals.'

Sir David Steel, Liberal MP and chairman of the Constitutional Convention, described the Labour leader's statement as `gobbledegook'.

He said: `I'm afraid Tony Blair is very confused in his statements about Scottish self-government. Sovereignty resides with the Scottish people.'

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pinkwashing homophobia

Of course it isn't just Elie Wiesel who tells lies to make Israel look better than it is. We are all used to hearing the steady dripping of Islamophobes bemoaning the dreadful situation for gays in Arab countries. Which is true enough, but these same pink crusaders never seem to take equal umbrage at the treatment of gays in Israel (in the same way, they complain at the religious police who enforce Islamic dress codes on women while ignoring the similar thugs enforcing Orthodox dress codes in many parts of Israel). Here is Israel's ambassador to Denmark speaking at the "gay Olympics" in Copenhagen:

"Most of us take for granted the equality of sexual minorities and the struggle for their rights. Unfortunately reality is different for the majority of homosexuals in most other places in the region (the Middle East), where gays and lesbians suffer from persecution, violence, and murder."

Five days after that speech, two gays were killed and a dozen injured by a gunamn in a gay drop-in centre in Tel Aviv.

Read all about it.

As Israel's apologists are so fond of saying, Western liberals must stop judging Israel by different standards from those applied to other countries. Indeed we must.

Wiesel Words

It's always a delight when a loathsome extremist goes so far over the top he alienates the very people he claims to speak for. The vile Elie Wiesel's implacable opposition to Israel's making any kind of a move towards peace (not that there;s much danger of that right now) has resulted in an open letter from 100 Jewish residents of Jerusalem exposing his lies about life in their city (not that he lives there, of course).

Excise Duty

Nice to know I'm not alone in considering the disastrous ConDem pact as a prelude to the destruction of the Liberal Democrats as a serious political party at the next election. Lewis Baston in the Guardian has a good piece on it, pointing out that the could lose half their seats next time. Likely losses are: seats in Scotland, where opposition to the Tories runs very deep and the Labour Party is still popular; marginals where they got in on tactical LD voting designed to keep out a Conservative; and seats won from Labour in urban "intellectual middle-class" seats.

All kinds of good news there: my own constituency will presumably become less marginal for Ian Murray as the tactical vote the LD campaigned so hard for swings back to Labour, and as disillusioned LD voters (my daughter for one, plus a large number at work) desert the party. Right now the destruction of the Lib Dems looks excellent news and something to look forward to. But as Baston point out, the effect could be reduced if AV is introduced for the next Westminster election. So there we are. In addition to my strong desire to keep UKIP and the BNP (and for that matter the Greens) on the fringes of British politics where they belong, I now have a solid reason to vote - and indeed campaign - for the retention of First Past the Post voting if the proposed referendum comes about. And I bet there are plenty of other people thinking along similar lines. Time enough to consider voting reform when the last Liberal Democrat has been excised from the political scene.

See also here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Found In Translation




I'm not normally a fan of home-made Youtube covers, but this one has a certain charm:


Images from Malta

A few pictures I didn't post while I was in Malta, but which you may enjoy now.

First of all, from the Roman town house in Rabat, this mosaic was apparently the Roman equivalent of Jack Vettriano's "The Dancing Butler" - a hugely popular picture to be found in many houses.



This sign from a museum in Valletta speaks for itself:



Equal Pay is Equal Pay in any language, except when it's Paga Ugwali:



And finally, that well-known play by Peter Weiss with the enormously long title? The one abbreviated to Marat/Sade? Ever wondered what that title would be like in Malti? Wonder no more:



"Asylum" comes out rather splendidly in Malti, I thought.

Blair and BlairSupporter both in different ways display laughable ignorance about Scottish devolution

Sticking with ridiculous right-wing racists, Uncle Jimmy accused me of writing bollocks (oops, sorry, "*ollocks") in the comments box here because I had the gall to remind my readers of Tony Blair's arrogant perfidy over Scottish devolution.

I give you Exhibit A. 'Nuff said.

Oh, I've only just noticed that while lying about Blair's enthusiasm for devolution he claims that he also "provided AV" (the Alternative Vote system). In fact it was the Jenkins Commission that proposed AV, and Blair did absolutely nothing with its recommendations, which is why to this day no parliamentary elections in the UK are conducted using AV. For a supposed Scot, Jimmy seems remarkably ignorant of how the Scottish Parliament is elected. (Hint, Jimmy: the Additional Member system is an utterly different beast from AV.)

Jimmy accuses me of reading more slowly than he writes. Well, he might benefit from reading his own drivel sometimes, because when I checked the post he references he does talk about Blair and devolution but nowhere does he say that he provided AV.

So Jimmy misrepresents his own post as saying something it doesn't say, but which would have been a lie if it had, and which still shows him up as knowing f-all about Scotland. Jeez, Jimmy, if you told the truth every so often you wouldn't get in such a tangle. But then that's where Blair-worship gets you.

Update: broken link corrected.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Josef-295K Revisited

Revisiting Kerstein's blogger profile while writing the previous post, I was reminded of the piece of crappy pseudo-SF which provoked his intemperate droolings when I dared to point out the basic scientific howlers. But to Benjamin criticism is only constructive if he's doing it to someone else.

Anyway I had a skim through Josef6 again and of course he still hasn't corrected the bloopers. Read this chapter (I'm amazed to think I ploughed through 4 chapters of his turgidly unreadable prose) and anyone out there with standard grade physics will begin to giggle by the end of the second paragraph and be ROFLTAO by the end of the next.

For those of you without standard grade physics wishing to join in the fun, try Googling "absolute zero" then re-read para 2. Got that? Right, now Google nitrogen + "freezing point" to see how far his liquid nitrogen cooling would get him.

Kerstein loftily responded that it was irrelevant because it wasn't really science fiction, which is like writing a story that has New York on the Pacific seaboard and dismissing criticism because you're not writing geography.

To save you the bother of ploughing through any more of the drivel, Kerstein's big gimmick (cribbed from Agatha Christie, a far better prose stylist with an infinitely superior grasp of detail) is that the mysterious "Josef6" is actually (shock! amazement! yawn!) the author of the story. Wow. that saved you quarter of an hour of your life you wouldn't get back.

No wonder Benjamin had to go to Israel to get a college education. Of course, the reason nowhere in the USA would have him despite his self-evident (ie evident only to himself) genius was obviously institutionalised antisemitism. Duh. But Benjamin fought back valiantly, leading a demonstration at his brother's graduation. (The man clearly has serious issues of sibling rivalry to go with his obsession with mothers and vaginas.)

I assume that the reason he hasn't corrected his text is that he considers the laws of physics to be a wicked antisemitic plot and he's waiting for a new correct Zionist physics to validate his version.

P.S. I am aware that the concept of negative absolute temperature exists: but it couldn't apply to Josef6's nuclear waste store and you certainly couldn't achieve it with liquid nitrogen. Funnily enough if he'd had his micro-singularities themselves at -295K it would have been harder to rubbish the physics. But then that's all irrelevant when one is a genius.

Spot the anti-American

Here is Bernice Johnson Reagon (leader of Sweet Honey In The Rock among her other talents) giving the address at the ceremony where the late Howard Zinn received the 2010 Ridenhour Courage prize. A great address in honour of a great man.



And it's nice to think that the award will annoy the loathsome Benjamin Kerstein, who considers Zinn to have been anti-American. Presumably if he'd been more American he would have supported segregation rather than fought it: after all, the all-American Kerstein abandoned the USA years ago and buggered off to a country where segregation and denial of civil rights on racial grounds are daily facts of life. Such a patriot.

Top this

Prize for the most ludicrous political comment of the past few days goes to my former MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind:

“The idea that the two parties that suffered most in this election, that were rejected by the electorate, that in the case of the Labour party lost a hundred of its seats, should put together an illegitimate government, this is the Robert Mugabe style of politics,” says Conservative MP and former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind. “It’s exactly what Mugabe did you know, he lost the election and scrabbled to hold onto power.”

Meanwhile, here in Scotland where the LibDems and Conservatives came third and fourth in the election, we await Sir Malcolm's comments on the new government.......

Hypocrite of the week

Uncle Jimmy (who is more upset by the presence of the Liberal Demcrats in the new government than by the fact that it's a Conservative one - but then as a Blairite he just loves the Tories) says in a post on Gordon Brown's resignation:

Good luck, Mr Brown. It’s a tough job with our media after your blood 24/7.

Which is pretty rich coming from someone who has missed no opportunity over the past year to snipe at Brown for being an "unelected Prime Minister", a failure....oh, for not being Tony fucking Blair.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Both of the above

(Sadly dedicated to disillusioned Liberal Democrat voters, with apologies to Alain Boublil.)

At the end of the day you vote Clegg and get Cameron.
At the end of the day it's a pig in a poke,
And you thought you were being progressive,
And you thought you were voting for change,
Then you woke up today and you found it had all been a joke:
And you're governed by Tories.

At the end of the day you were sold down the river;
At the end of the day it's just more of the same.
And it's Cameron who's the winner
And the Liberal voters who lose,
While the fat cats are cheering the workers and poor have the blues
'Cos they're gonna be shafted.

At the end of the day it's a bloody farrago:
Clegg should never have been so naive and so dumb.
With the tax cuts and the job cuts
We'll be stuck in recession forever.
While the climate goes to pot
We'll be blaming it all on the Muslims
And there's gonna be hell to pay
At the end of the day.

Les Miserables, Edinburgh Playhouse

Hilary, Vanessa and I have just been for the second time to see the touring production of Les Miserables at the Edinburgh Playhouse. It is brilliantly done (I hadn't seen the West End one) and this time the cast had had a couple more weeks to get used to the space. Gareth Gates was a verygood Marius, and John Owen-Jones a quite outstanding Valjean. Earl Carpenter was excellent both times as Javert. The women were all good, but special praise goes to Rosa O'Reilly who played Eponine both times though only the understudy. Ashley Artus and Lynne Wilmot as the Thenardiers were also terrific, though some of the comic business worked better tonight.

Here is JOJ doing Bring Him Home 11 years ago, and he's still just as good, if not better. I could listen to him all night, really I could.

Now David Cameron has the nuclear codes. Duck and cover.....

So now it's official: vote for the Liberal Democrats, get the Tories.

When Margaret Thatcher was elected in 1979 I worked in a Civil Service office where we had a swear box (contents went towards office nights out). The morning after that election I remember walking into the office and wordlessly putting £5 into the box (to a good deal of laughter and cheering - well, it was a small room and there were no Tory supporters in it).

At least on that occasion the people responsible for the Conservative victory were Conservative voters. This time it's Nick Clegg, with a major contribution from Labour ex-ministers such as Charles Clarke, David Blunkett and John Reid who did their utmost (successfully as it turned out) to derail any Labour-LibDem coalition. (Reid, Clarke and Blunkett: it would be hard to find a more odious trio of Blairite toadies. Reid and Clarke aren't even MPs but still considered it their God-given right to protect NuLabour form being tainted with wicked socialism by a coalition. Better by far to have a Conservative government to continue the Blairite agenda. They must be so proud.)

I know some Lib Dem voters who have said that they won't be voting Lib Dem again, ever. And now even if I ended up in a constituency where they were the only opposition to the Tories, neither would I. The Tories are bastards but they're honest bastards who don't pretend to be social democrats, so why would I prefer the Lib Dems to them any more? And as for any referendum on voting reform, if the Tories grant Clegg such an unlikely thing: forget it. The main beneficiaries (apart from the BNP and UKIP) would be the Lib Dems, so I am minded to vote for a continuation of First Past the Post, thank you very much.

I confidently expect that this experiment will kill off the Liberal Democrats as a political force for the rest of my lifetime if not forever. I hope it will.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Video Fun - Games For May

And I mean the original Pink Floyd. Here they are doing Arnold Layne, recorded in Abbey Road at same time as Joe Boyd's other discoveries of the time, the Purple Gang, were in the studio next door recording Granny Takes a Trip. Syd Barrett famously said to the Gang "You can have Number Two and we'll have Number One". And if there had been any justice, they would, too. Sadly the public weren't quite ready for a song about a transvestite who nicked clothes from washing lines; nor were the BBC ready to countenance anything with "Takes A Trip" in the title, even if it referred not to LSD but to a train journey to an audition in Hollywood. Ah well.





And here is the first Floyd I remember hearing on the radio: See Emily Play.





And now possibly the only pop song ever inspired directly by a hexagram of the I Ching. Don't believe me? Here's Hexagram 24 of the I Ching. Here is a Wikipedia crib. And here are the lads:





And finally a wonderful period piece: a BBC arts programme, hosted by Robert Robinson and featuring music critic Hans Keller. Don't worry that the opening is from Pow R Toc H - the main event is a marvellous performance of Astronomy Domine. Hans Keller was in fact neither an idiot nor as humourless and "up himself" as this clip makes him seem, but to say that he didn;t "get" Floyd would be the understatement of the decade. Not sure about his views on Stockhausen (and I could easily be wrong*) but somehow I don't clock him as a fan of the Darmstadt Wunderkind either. Anyway, here is a little timewarp with Pink Floyd caught in it:





* but I wasn't.

But it's bad when Muslims do it!

A paragraph from the Militant Islam Monitor link in the previous post caught my eye:

Yet the one dark subject that Hirsi Ali's critics are really hinting at when they describe her "trauma" is the issue that she has now made a matter of policy in the Netherlands, which is to say, female circumcision. It is the issue that most offends Hirsi Ali's Muslim opponents; not because she has spoken out against the practice - plenty of Muslims have done that before - but because her critics insist that she has described it either as a universal feature of Muslim life, or one that is explicitly sanctioned by the Qur'an. Neither is the case. Rather, Hirsi Ali views it as a product of specific tribal practice combined with a broader cult of virginity, which is indeed upheld by the Qur'an (as it is by the Old Testament).

The question I always want to ask when people talk about female genital mutilation as an example of Islam's "medieval barbarism" is this.

Q: When do you think the last officially sanctioned female circumcision (ie clitoridectomy) for moral reasons took place in the USA? By officially sanctioned, I mean performed by a regular, AMA-accredited doctor with no secrecy? And by moral reasons, I mean not to remove cancerous tissue or to treat some disease, but to prevent masturbation?

A: 1959 or later





Also this (definitely NSFW).

Actually this page seems to suggest that at least one "official" female circumcision took place as recently as 1977, though in that case it was supposedly to cure the woman's "sexual insensitivity" and so presumably not involuntary. As she sued her doctor over it one assumes it was however unsuccessful in its aim. (The article is also interesting on male circumcision, which in the UK is mostly confined to Jews and Muslims unless there are medical problems with the foreskin. Not so, of course, in the USA.)

Anyway, this "barbaric", "medieval", "Islamic" practice was still being carried out by American doctors on young American girls when I was a small child myself. In the late 1950s, "medieval" America had a speace programme, nuclear submarines....and FGM. Oh, and this was a hit stage musical in 1957-8 (the film came in 1961):





I guess not every American girl was able to enjoy it quite so much.

The Daily Mail has Mel Phillips, but the Guardian has Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I know which Islamophobic creep I prefer (and it isn't Hirsi Ali).

Nearly threw up into my lunch earlier today as I opened the Guardian to find a massive puff piece by Emma Brockes for Ayaan Hirsi Ali's new book, complete with extracts, fawning interview and glamorous pictures of the professional liar.

OK, fawning may be taking it a little far, but she certainly pulls her punches (this is the Emma Brockes who caused such a fuss by faking questions and answers in an interview with Noam Chomsky a few years ago).

“..on the advice of a relative with knowledge of the asylum system, (she) took a train to Holland”. “Holland, she was assured, had one of the most liberal asylum policies in Europe.” “Two years later she left Holland following a controversy around her citizenship”.

Why not just say that Ayaan Hirsi Magan adopted a fake name, blagged her way into Holland as a bogus asylum seeker to grab all the money she could from these foolish Europeans who would believe anything, and then fled to America before she could be stripped of her citizenship as an illegal immigrant? Because that is exactly what happened. She pretended to be fleeing poverty and a forced marriage in Somalia. In fact her (Somali) parents had been living for years in suburban Nairobi (in Kenya). She had travelled to Canada to undergo an arranged (not forced) marriage (anyone ever heard of a forced marriage in Canada?), changed her mind, and skipped off to Europe. Once there, she wormed her way into the Netherlands, playing on the liberal sympathies of its officialdom. The Dutch paid for her education, and were repaid by her working with some of the most unpleasant members of its far right to deal out racist insults to other immigrants, many from far less privileged backgrounds than her own. Everything wrong in her life (her grandmother had her genitally mutilated) was blamed on Islam with no concern for truth or indeed credibility. She happily lied about being beaten by her teachers, lies which Brockes is happy to repeat. See here for a reasonably full account of Hirsi Magan's career, including the fabricated beatings.) And incidentally, that link is to an site not in general sympathetic to Muslims, which considers Hirsi Magan's lies, and her behaviour throughout her worthless life, to be a total own goal for the Islamophobes and a gift to Islamic radicals everywhere. She was elected as an MP for a far right party, and had to leave the Netherlands when her neighbours complained that having her around was making life dangerous for the rest of them, and wanted to know why their kids couldn't play in safety because of a racist bigot living next door? And at the same time (how unlucky!) the government began to wonder whether they should really have as a citizen someone who made no secret of having lied her way in with false papers, an invented backstory and a false name. So it was off again in search of the next free lunch, and of course she found a bucketful of them in the USA, where her brand of Islamophobic fiction was just what the Republican right wanted to hear, and more importantly, to repeat. Having a "victim of Islam", even a fake one, was perfect, and she secured a well-paid position with the American Enterprise Institute.

The interesting question is, why would the Guardian, supposedly a paper of the left and not one renowned for Daily Mail-type Islamophobia of the Melanie Phillips variety, give valuable space (six pages and the cover of its colour supplement) to this distasteful fraudster?

Flash! Bang! Wallop!

Uncle Jimmy's blog is of course mostly full of the election, still spinning against the Lib Dems though not as stridently as before (funny, that). Mostly it's tosh, Jimmy's normal fare of telling everyone else how wrong they are compared to his omniscience. He likes the First Past The Post system:

This is not to argue that the voting system is fair. On a pure numbers/seats analysis the result clearly does not reflect all opinions fairly. However, changing that voting system will bring more ch..ch..ch..changes than may as yet be evident. Its existence HAS at least relegated minor parties, such as the BNP and even UKIP. And it has walloped Alex Salmond’s Scottish Nationalists in a way I could only have dreamt of previously.

Nice save there about his own UKIP taking a thrashing. But the SNP being "walloped"? "In a way I could only have dreamt of previously"?

Ahem. First of all, the SNP received exactly as many seats this time as last time, indeed the same ones. Not a single Scottish seat changed party from the 2005 election to the 2010 one. Perhaps, the, the SNP's share of the vote fell? Nope, up by 0.1 %. OK, so it's undoubtedly not as good a result as the Nats had hoped for, but a walloping? Remember that in Scotland Gordon Brown is still personally pretty popular (in a way that Blair never managed), and Labour immensely so. Yet the Nats could still pull off results like Perth and North Perthshire, where former Runrig keyboardist Peter Wishart trebled his majority from last time.

Oh, and they're still the government up here, BTW. And doing pretty well as a minority administration, such as PR tends to provide. What's that Jimmy? You forgot there was working PR in Britain already? Tsk...and you a fake Scot too.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

If adversity makes strange bedfellows, Blair's war on freedom made stranger ones

A couple of recent Craig Murray posts worth passing on to as wide a readership as possible. First, an update on complicity in torture by the British Government. Anyone who reads that and can find any sympathy in their heart for Tony Blair or Jack Straw deserves to find him/herself in one of Karimov's jails.

Then an update on our "ally" in the "war" on "terror" Uzbekistan, and its enlightened policy of involuntary sterilisation.

I wonder whether anyone, given a free choice between living in Karimov's Uzbekistan and Saddam's Iraq, would choose the former? (They might I suppose choose it over the cesspit of theocracy, terrorism and corruption into which post-invasion "liberated" Iraq has been converted, though probably not even then.)

Parliamentarian Election Blues

A video here from Mike Whellans. I remember when Mike was the other half of a duo with the young Aly Bain, long before the formation of Boys of the Lough. I hadnlt heard anything from Mike for ages though, so thanks to Craig Murray for posting this. I can only echo his comment "There are few recent protest songs that you would listen to for the sheer musical pleasure of it. But here is one from bluesman Mike Whellans - and that's the great piper Mike Katz on guitar."