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

Friday, May 27, 2011

Le Tombeau de Ravel

Last Saturday I played in a concert which included the Finzi Clarinet Concerto (brilliantly played by the RSNO's John Cushing). It got me thinking about English clarinet music. Here is a piece my wife played sometimes in the days when she did more solo performing. It isn't heard much: partly I suppose because Benjamin is rather out of fashion these days, but also because it's one of the toughest pieces in the clarinet & piano repertoire (for both players).



It's the Perfect Mimosa



(H/T Aric Clark)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Queen shows insufficient loyalty to Tony Blair so may have to be abolished

Uncle Jimmy is pretty funny as well right now. Not only is he still fuming over the "outrage" of Tony Blair's not being invited to the royal wedding, he now insists that an even greater crime of lèse-majesté has been committed because on her state visit to Ireland the Queen failed to pay the proper homage to Tony Blair. Of course, this being Yankee Doodle Jimmy, not only is our antiquated royal family at fault but the beastly biased BBC is colluding in a wicked plot to prevent Tony Blair's key role in graciously permitting Her Majesty to visit from being aired.

Now those with long memories may remember Tony Blair. (Failed politician. Sacked as PM and instantly threw a tantrum and refused to represent his loyal constituents any more as they weren't offering to pay him millions of pounds a day to speak to them. Left country in disgrace and has hardly ever returned. Spends most of his time either hanging out with billionaires, or in Israel, or both.) Those who paid particular attention during the Blairite nightmare may have noticed that after years during which John Major had patiently brought the feuding parties in both the North and South of Ireland together and sketched out a peace process, Tony Blair waltzed into Downing Street, swanned over to Ireland, presided over a few signatures and then claimed the whole thing was his work alone. (Behaved as usual, in other words.) Not to bow the knee to the memory of this egotistical jackass, but to concentrate on the first visit to Ireland by a British monarch since the place received its independence (and no, Blair doesn't claim to have had a hand in that) - well, that's the evil anti-Blair press for you.

As befits a conspiracy theorist who believes that Barack Obama is a Kenyan Muslim and that Osama bin Laden's death was faked to improve President Obama's poll ratings, Jimmy believes that the royal family and the BBC are colluding in a plot to "destroy" Tony Blair. How - or why - they would try to destroy someone who no longer has any role in British politics or British life is supposed to be too obvious to need stating, but I think Jimmy imagines that the royal family are jealous of Blair's place in the nation's hearts. LOL.

OK not quite as funny as the sight of the BNI morons shooting themselves in the feet, but close.

Won't you rise for the hangman, his pleasure is that you should rise

And after that Fairport Convention clip, here is something of a rarity: an admittedly rather poor quality video from 1981 of a reformed Full House line-up plus Linda Thompson performing Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman for Granada TV.

Seventy Not Out

I never marked Bob Dylan's seventieth birthday a couple of days back, so here's a tip of the hat.

I found this article from Loonwatch rather disturbing though. I drifted away from Dylan during his religious phase, so hadn't realised that he had become a supporter of Rabbi Meir Kahane, which is to being Jewish what supporting Osama bin Laden is to being Muslim.

Nobody can deny Dylan’s lyrical talent and it may be premature to label him a bigot, but his support for Israeli extremism is certainly troubling.

Quite.

There are no useful clips to be had of Dylan singing his own songs, so here is a good cover version that deserves an airing.

Bare Naked Islam gets stung

First of all, this is hilarious. The spoof itself is funny, and the "Related Posts" at the end are if anything even funnier:

French Muslim women encouraged to try Groucho Marx glasses
French men set to lose their last redeeming feature
French petrol shortage forces authorities to introduce sheep burning rations
French workers left furious as striking age raised to 62
Striking French players to blockade all player tunnels


But oh, it gets better. Waaay better. I found this piece copied and linked on the Bare Naked Islam site, where it is copied and posted as though it were a serious news item, complete with sarcastic interpolations from BNI her/itself. Better still, there are 32 comments. The first one begins "Is this story a joke?" but makes it clear that the commenter doesn't think it is. There then follow 28 comments taking the piece absolutely seriously and berating Muslims and the French. At comment number 29 there is another faint glimpse of the possibility that they have been had "If this article is not a parody, then....." but again it backs away from actually cottoning on. Not even the link provided to the original post at Newsthump (a site like The Daily Mash specialising in spoof news) gave these morons a clue. To date we are up to 32 comments and still they come.

(BNI her/itself claims to have a degree in Japanese from a college in St Louis or thereabouts. Yeah, that seems likely. American education may leave something to be desired, but I can't see a US university handing out a degree to anyone quite that lacking in common sense. Or am I being naive?)

Here's the link. Go and have fun: it's one of the few posts on that site that will fill you only with mirth and not with a desire to vomit.

Update: On 2nd June, 8 days after the piece was posted, a commenter at BNI twigged that it was a spoof, whereupon BNI her/itself tried to make out she/it had known all along. Riiiiight,

Monday, May 23, 2011

The unspeakable in praise of the indefensible

I was moderately impressed by Barack Obama's speech last week on Middle East policy. Of course it remains to be seen whether he actually backs up the fine words with action, but if he does he might - just might - go down in history as the first US President since Eisenhower to stand up to an Israeli government rather than meekly following its orders.

I had to laugh, though, at Benyamin Netanyahu's response in which he described Israel's 1967 borders (i.e. Israel) as "indefensible". So after all the money the USA has poured into Israel's arsenal over more than sixty years, and after all the illegal WMDs they have developed with it, he's saying that the IDF are so incompetent at "defence" that they couldn't protect Israel if it had the borders which were good enough for it for the first nineteen years of its existence. (No wonder they were so keen to invade their neighbours and grab their territory.) The IDF's reluctance to attack without a collection of civilians (preferably children) to use as human shields is well-known, but I had imagined that they could at least do the basic job for which they are paid - protecting Israel's borders - without whingeing. I stand corrected.

What is it about 9/11 that brings out the crazies?

When I started looking for 9/11 stuff over at at Bare Naked Islam I found a treasure trove of revealing stuff from the commenters, usually with BNI her/itself nodding approvingly:

From the comments on a BNI post on Sept 11th 2009:

Exterminate Islam says:
September 12, 2009 at 2:51 PM

yeah yeah, there are alleged “good muslims” but I never hear them say there are good jews and christians!

I read online about Osama wanting to make a national day for sept 11th, but of course, not mention what his fellow MUSLIMS did on that day. I say we declare it National “Whack a muslim day!” You take a big club, and bash a muslim over the head with it! I went out of my way yesterday to make the two terrorists at my workplace uncomfortable. I felt so good when I left work!

barenakedislam says:
September 12, 2009 at 3:10 PM


Good for you, EI! What did you do to them?

Exterminate Islam says:
September 12, 2009 at 3:39 PM


oh lets see, we talked about airiplanes alot, (loudly) did impressions of the only muslim I ever liked, Achmed the dead terrorist.

Did their famous war cry followed by allah-aKABOOM!

Several of us made a point to bring pork and beans and ham sandwiches to work, and sat at the table next to them…even offering to share our lunch with them. (for some reason they left the cafeteria without a word, how rude)

Talked like Apu from the Simpsons when addressing them. (that really set them off)

Asked them if camels get more gas mileage than SUVS and or asked how their Uncle Osama was doing these days, still hiding in those caves

One of my co workers started talking about goats, I told him to keep quiet, certain people standing nearby may get aroused, and we dont have any 10 yr old virgins handy to appease them

Unfortuantley for them, one fo our other co workers was in Iraq in 91, and speaks perfect arabic. He overhead them muttering on the to the parking lot after work. “damn infidels have no respect for the superior race”

That remark is really going to cost them come monday.

We had a blast! Best day of work I ever had!

barenakedislam says:
September 12, 2009 at 4:11 PM

So sorry I missed it, EI. Well done!


The "superior race" comment seems really probable, don't you think? Because as these people love to remind us, Islam isn't a "race" but a religion. For the nigger-bashers at BNI, though, the religious bit is irrelevant: it's the skin colour that matters.

A year later, on Sep 11 2010 "AmericanMe" posted

...Our prez did not even go to or Ground zero today instead he went to the Pentagon, bloody coward)....

Because, you know, nobody died in the Pentagon on Sept 11th and deserves commemoration, right?

On the same day, "waterwillows" commented:

.....I was watching CNN coverage of the Memorial Service for 9/11 victims.

Here we have, some interviewer talking with one of the family members about the building of a mosque. Naturally, the family did not want this to happen at this site.

The brain-dead interviewer says; well we just can’t place what happened on over one billion people.

DUH……DUH? Does this guy live on Pluto? Of course we can do so. There is no reason in the world not to do so. Does it really matter if it were five thousand or one billion? ..... That was without a doubt one of the truely clueless statements I have ever heard a interviewer make.
I for one, have no intention of abandoning my reason just to suit the hate mongers of this world. (My bolding - LOL!)

Finally, we return to the first comment stream I quoted. Here is a true gem from "rebekah", exemplifying the mental state of the BNI cultists, their Fred Phelps-y religious craziness (I had hoped they would all have committed suicide when they weren't raptured, but no such luck) and their lack of grammar, punctuation, and any linguistic facility other than WRITING IN CAPITALS.

Today my heart and Prayers to Yahushua (Christ Jesus) are with all those who lost someone dear to them on that horrible day 9/11. I will not and do not intend to debate w/ anyone but I will try and warn all who will listen and heed what I am about to share. As even the Holy Word of Yahweh (Almighty God) has been so invaded that few even those who have been faithful and attended church every Sunday are not taught the truth. They are taught what the Illuminati, Freemasins, and those in high positions of the Vatican have wanted you to know. What we fail to do is to seek Yahushua ourselves asking HIM for truth in all things. Well in order to know one’s end they must first come to know the beginning. People tend to look for the Anti-Christ as if he will only come as one man. Yes there will be one satan in the flesh but look he does not work alone. He has an earthly and non earthly body of those serving him. Sadly they are not those you cross paths with going about your day although many are among us that appear to be human just as we are. They are not!! When someone has come forth with a story of the truth such as being abducted by aliens and seeing UFOs when throughout the years books and books have been written along with proof that there are underground covert bases with both aliens and military they have not been lying. The Illuminati is a bloodline a satanic bloodline, I know because after a lifetime of suffering satanic ritual abuse, abductions and missing pieces of time the LORD has revealed many things to me over the past three and a half years. These aliens as you call them are really fallen angels. I don’t care what they tell you they never have anything good in store for you. Islam is a religion created by satan. The time is drawing nigh and I pray I am wrong in what the LORD has shown me about the END TIMES. What I do know is they will be far different than what you are learning at your local church. We do not elect our government and haven’t for the past hundred years. It does not matter if they are Democrat or Republican they are Illuminati. Obama races forth at lightning speed to totally destroy this nation and bring all who live in it under Marxism. They are starting to put their agenda in your face you might say, they have intentionally and with laid out percision printed useless money as this is their way of bringing about one world currency and then we have the bringing into this nation Muslims who hate our way of life and NO! they have no intention of fitting in. Obama knows this as well. Actually they all know it from both Bushes, the Clintons, the list goes on and on people. Oh yes they do a couple of good things as this is only a front because if people knew what and who they worshipped behind closed doors it would do more than blow your freakin’ socks off. There are some good politicians I think but if so they are hard to see. Although my hat is off to Joe Wilson for having the balls to call Obama the liar he is. Sad for him as he really is no more than a puppet as he will find himself expendable when they have finished with him. They will all go to hell if they fail to repent and turn back to Yahweh. Soon they will want to micrchip every person living in the U.S. and they plan to do this by 2012. Actually with the flu vaccine which they intended to make mandatory until Praise the LORD enough people said, NO WAY!!! What is even sadder is people believe they can watch their local news and find out what is really happening in their world!!! Well I am sorry their is no truth more diluted than this. Do not take that killer vaccine. O h yes they will put some Dr. who has been bought on TV. to tell you it is safe and yet those who created the vaccine as they did the flu will not take it. Wake up!! People as you are being led to the slaughter and it is sad you go without more than a whimper. These evil and wicked people although I use that term lightly know that if they make things bad and hard enough they can get the sheeple to go anywhere. You are fighting for your very survival and the survival of your children. If you don’t fight you will die anyway and so I say it is better to die fighting. You think you are too smart for mind control yet you are so very mind controlled. The technologies they have for this are just too numerous to mention some of the simpler ones are what you watch, hear and see. The far more advanced ones you won’t be aware of all these towers going up with flashing lights on them and they tell you it is for the cell phones. You would throw yours away if you knew the truth. When you find yourself having to flee to the mountains and hide I suggest you do throw them away far from where you plan on being. Prepare stock up on canned goods, water ect. Learn what it takes to survive in the wilderness as soon those of us who refuse the NEW WORLD ORDER will have to be prepared. Resist even unto death as hell is a real place just as Heaven is. America is Babylon and if you understood symbology you would see the signs everywhere. Your dollar bill with the pyramid and the all seeing eye. satan’s phalice as a monument in Washington. There are many do some research and do it quickly as we are about to see the crushing of that freedom also. They deny the internment camps completed across this nation but if they are a lie why is there on the internet ads for the recruitment of officers to fill these positions. Know this I pray just like I said that I am wrong but I am not wrong as I was born into this satanic bloodline and sacrificed to satan and his fallen angels as a child. They have tried all my life to destroy me or better yet kill me. Yahushua has kept me throough all of it and bringing me out was not an easy task. Yahweh created the host of the heavens and most Christians believe that means the stars, moon and sun w/all the planets which is truth nothing is created outside of HIM. He meant it when HE said, “Woe unto the inhabitants of earth for satan has been cast down.” satan and his minions (fallen angels). And they looked upon the daughters of men and thought them fair and began simply put breeding w/them. This happened not only before the flood but after as well. Says it in GOD’S word KNOW that it is true. Why has the Bible excluded the Books of Enoch, Jasher and the list goes on? Because get this they did not want you to have this knowledge. Some of what has been written and rewritten has been lost in translations. FATHER told me one day while giving me a revelation that HE is a GOD of mercy not sacrifice. It is our choice, as I am tired of Christians who think we are all a bunch of cookie cutters. King David, Gideon, and throughout the word of GOD there were mighty warriors. Yahushua (Christ Jesus) himself is a MAN of WAR!! MIGHTY GOD!! WONDERFUL COUNSELOR!!! OUR PRINCE of PEACE that is a peace that surpasses all understanding meaning in HIM is our peace not lay down and let the forces of evil trample you to nothing. Now what caused me to share all this is not only that it is my sincere prayer for people to wake up but also when I checked my emails this morning there was a vulgar message from someone who reads this site and know that if you visit this site you are indeed being watched, followed and monitored. I have been all my life and I want the demonic freak to know your sick little message did nothing in frightening me.
Even satan if it came from you yourself!!!! FOR GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN ME than he that is in the world. Keep your sick little messages to yourself. One day we will not only be up against Islam as we are now but one day we will see UFOs (more of them) they will not be able to hide them behind some kind of disinformation and you will know that all I have shared with you today to be the truth. You will see them come from underground covert bases and what is so sad and frightening is right now as I type this several hundred thousand missing people mostly children are suffering torment and torture beyond the worst nightmares and yet over three hundred thousand pulpits remain silent. You can heed what I have told you today or you can call me a lunatic as this world is not my home I am just like everyone is only passing through. Do not believe these people that claim to have these galatic beings channel through them speaking peace they and these beings are liars and quite good at it I must admit. satan’s greatest trick was in convincing man he did not exist. Well he does and there are a slew of powerful, wealthy elite serving him. Ask Yahweh and Yahushua to lead you to the truth in all things stop believing everything some man or woman tells you from behind a pulpit. YAH it is my fervent prayer on this day that you will begin opening the eyes of a people cheated and decieved of YOUR truth. Have mercy FATHER, help and protect us. For all the atrocities satan’s minions have devised for the populous let them be sent back upon them seven-fold. In the PRECIOUS name of YOUR SON YAHUSHUA this I ask. Amen! Amen! Amen! Evil prevails when good people do nothing. Or when one says, ” I can only do little and does nothing.” If we keep our backs turned to GOD HE will be gracious and turn HIS back to us. It ‘aint Allah.


Wow. I mean, wow! Mind control, flu created by the Illuminati, alien abductions, internment camps across America..... and she claims to have been sacrificed to Satan as a child. Her brain, maybe.... I am prepared to bet she was really surprised no to be taken up to heaven in a spaceship last Saturday.

9/11 Hypocrisy from BlairSupporter and other American numbskulls

From a recent post by BlairSupporter (Uncle Jimmy):

Today President Obama laid a wreath at Ground Zero, four days after Osama bin Laden was killed. What took him so long? I don't mean 'so long' to kill bin Laden. What took him so long to lay a wreath or even TO VISIT Ground Zero!?

FIRST visit of President Barack Obama to Ground Zero. FIRST visit as President. I assume that he visited there prior to his inauguration almost two and a half years ago. Did he? In the eight years prior? Here he poses with officers of the First Precinct police station in lower Manhattan during a visit to the World Trade Center site in New York, May 5, 2011. (Picture from Voice of America)

How come the American President never managed to get around to visiting Ground Zero before today?

Well, let's take a look at President Obama's visits to 9/11 sites, and compare them with those of his predecessor.

But don't just take the word of a HuffPo blogger. Here are Barack Obama's visits to 9/11 sites:

2010 - Pentagon (as President)

2009 - Pentagon (as President)

2008 - WTC (during Presidential campaign)


The president, vice president, and former and current first ladies are all commemorating the anniversary at different locations.

Obama, Biden, Michelle Obama, and Laura Bush will appear at the three crash sites to commemorate the 10th anniversary. According to AFP:

US President Barack Obama will mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks at the Pentagon, and Vice President Joe Biden will be at the World Trade Center site in New York, the White House said Monday.

Officials had previously announced that First Lady Michelle Obama and former first lady Laura Bush would on Saturday mark the attacks in Pennsylvania at the site where the hijacked plane that did not reach its target crashed.

So last year, on September 11th, the president visited a 9/11 site Jimmy conveniently forgets about, in Washington. But he didn't visit the New York site after becoming President. Oh dear. Maybe he had more important things to do than disaster tourism: you know, like his job.

Clearly like a good little American birther, Jimmy gets all his news from Fox.

Meanwhile, in other news, Tony Blair has NEVER visited the 7/7 memorial in Hyde Park (commemorating the only deaths from Islamic terrorism in Britain during his premiership). Gordon Brown did.

He NEVER visited Lockerbie (site of Britain's other Islamic terrorist attack) , despite being Prime Minister for eight years.

So Obama has shown more respect for the victims of terrorism (Islamic terrorism, even) than either G W Bush or Tony Blair.

I suspect Jimmy, who thinks his beloved President is a Kenyan Muslim, is just cross that while Blair and Bush only managed to kill Saddam who had no connection to 9/11 (and slaughtered thousands of their own soldiers and hundreds of thousands of civilians in the process) Obama's administration actually carried out what they had boasted they would do: kill OBL. That's why Jimmy is so busy trying to deny that OBL is dead at all.

Meanwhile, Jimmy's white supremacist pal, the faux-Jew of indeterminate gender who runs the Bare Naked Islam site, reprinted this cartoon (you'll see why I reprint it myself in a moment):



It's interesting that the cartoon lists 2,996 people as having been "murdered" on September 11th 2001, as that figure is the total dead including the hijackers. So who "murdered" them? BNI's own response to a commenter making a similar point was:

...idiot, that number doesn’t include the people killed on the planes and in Washington DC. The 19 hijackers aren’t in the county because weren’t people. And it doesn’t include all the troops who were killed fighting you Muslim pigs.


Which just goes to show that these people for whom "9/11 changed everything" can't even get the death count right.

Incey-wincey spider......

I liked this report from the BBC.

I especially liked that one of the tarantulas in the experiment was the researcher's own pet.

I especially liked that it was called Fluffy.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Modified Rapture

Well, it didn't happen. Jesus didn't Hoover up all the Christian fundies leaving a more rational, kinder Earth behind. Still, the rapture-that-wasn't provided a number of good jokes, of which this one (taken from the Facebook page of Jonathan Schwartz) is my favourite.



And now I will have to dig out my copy of When Prophecy Fails and re-read it.

The past is a foreign country. This time it's Luxembourg

Thinking of Kathy Kirby (and last weekend's rather anodyne 2011 Eurovision Song Contest) I just noticed something interesting. I knew Luxembourg had won in 1965 with "Poupee de Cire, Poupee de Son" (beating Britain's Kathy Kirby into second place). I knew they had won again with a great song when the contest came to Edinburgh (the Usher Hall, indeed) in 1972. That year it was Vicky Leandros:



But in 1967 Vicky Leandros had had an earlier crack at Eurovision, again with a great song which went on to be extensively covered and very well-known indeed:



That time Britain returned the favour by beating her into fourth place with our "Puppet on a String". I think once again Luxembourg may have had the better song, but our entry captured the Zeitgeist better.

Returning to France Gall's earlier Poupee, you can tell what a great song it was from the fact that it's still getting covered:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

RIP Kathy Kirby

Any Brit of my age or older will remember Kathy Kirby. Always on the radio in the sixties. Came second in Eurovision 1965 to France Gall (she sang well, but the best song won). Had a huge hit with a version of "Secret Love", and another with "Dance On". Sang the theme tune for Adam Adamant Lives". And died on Thursday. there goes a little piece of my childhood.



Monday, May 16, 2011

We come in peace : shoot to kill

I was watching the TV without sound at the gym today, and saw in the scrolling news bar something along the lines of MIDDLE EAST: hundreds of protestors shot, some killed, by troops in ...... I fully expected the next word to be "Syria", or "Yemen", or possibly even "Iran". But no, it was Israel, that bastion of freedom and democracy in the Middle East.

I am aware that Israel needs to maintain law and order and to protect its borders, but one would think this might be possible for a technologically advanced nation without the need to shoot children. Just saying.

The most revealing quote from that report was from Benyamin Netanyahu. "He said that the "Nakba Day" protesters were not fighting for the 1967 borders as they claim, but were denying Israel's right to exist." because he'd know that better than the protestors themselves (unable to argue on account of, you know, being dead).

I am aware that later in the report the PM of Gaza called for the end of the state of Israel. However, I don't see Ismail Haniyeh among those marching at the Israeli border so what does that prove?

And as this article points out very cogently, ultimately what does it matter?

Meanwhile, consider the way in which the killing of protestors in Iran and Syria have been reported recently, and consider the media presentation of today's killings by Israel. Anyone still believe that the BBC or the British press has some kind of bias against Israel?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Share and Enjoy

I liked this.

Here are the scores from the German judges

I may be a Eurovision fan, but I thought this was splendid news.

Though if the Wagner opera had been Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg or Tannhäuser instead of Die Walküre it would have been utterly perfect.





And I can't omit the greatest song of praise ever addressed to a concert venue:

Superbia In Proelio

From 17 May 1966 to 10 May 2011, when another epoch-defining event took place in Manchester.

Yes, Manchester City qualified for the Champions' League.

UPDATE: Now with added FA Cup!

The Beauty Parlor's Filled With Bloggers

A few weeks ago I posted a guess-the-Dylan-songs-from-the-lyric-fragments (or, as Phil complained, "shards") quiz. Six of the fifteen songs were identified by my well-informed fans, which is slightly fewer than I'd hoped: I didn't want the quiz to be too easy, knowing that there are some major Dylan buffs out there, but had hoped to get about 50% answered. As I commented, being brutally honest with myself that's about what I would have got, and several of my favourite Dylan songs are in the list. Huge thanks to all who gave it their best shot.

Before publishing the answers, there is the little matter of what links them. Phil may have eventually given up on the lyrics, but with not too much hinting from me he did eventually twig that the fifteen songs in my quiz form the set list for most of Dylan's 1966 world tour, and specifically for the 17 May concert in Manchester's Free Trade Hall, memorable for two reasons: (1) someone in the audience shouted "Judas!" at Dylan (2) I was there.

As Phil pointed out, 17 May is next Tuesday. Perhaps more to the point, if you turn around and peer into the distance, it's nearly 45 years ago.

1. My very last piece of gum
Fourth Time Around (guessed by Phil)

2. Can I come home with you?
Baby Let Me Follow You Down

3. The hunchback of Notre Dame
Desolation Row (guessed by Lisa)

4. Leave your stepping-stones behind
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

5. The sidewalk and the sign
One Too Many Mornings

6. It was raining from the first
Just Like A Woman (guessed by Persephone)

7. Her skirt it swayed
I Don't Believe You

8. A walking antique
She Belongs To Me

9. Your steam drill
Tell Me, Momma

10. You’re invisible
Like A Rolling Stone (guessed by Phil)

11. On the D Train
Visions Of Johanna (guessed by Phil)

12. Like a mattress
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

13. The haunted, frightened trees
Mr Tambourine Man (guessed by Phil)

14. Go watch the geek
Ballad Of a Thin Man

15. If you’re lookin' to get silly
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues

Bloggering About

Yesterday, as well as being Friday 13th, was clearly International Blogger Is Currently Not Available Day. (Number 2 in a series of 2). Access to blogs was read-only:

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Blogger will be in read-only mode while we resolve some maintenance issues. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Posted by at 12:34 PDT

Friday, May 13, 2011

To get Blogger back to normal, all posts since 7:37am PDT on Weds, 5/11 have been temporarily removed. We expect everything to be back to normal soon. Sorry for the delay.

Posted by at 04:25 PDT

We’ve started restoring the posts that were temporarily removed and expect Blogger to be back to normal soon.

Posted by at 06:07 PDT

Blogger is back now. We're still working on restoring some of the data. For more details, see this post:
http://buzz.blogger.com/2011/05/blogger-is-back.html

Posted by Chang at 10:32 PDT

Thank you, Chang. Venti quadruple-shot skinny lattes all round.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

History Fail

Oh for God's sake.....

Uncle Jimmy is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the pretense that he's British.

On May 1st he was still banging on about the dreadful injustice of his idol's not having been invited to William and Kate's wedding here. He even moaned that the Wikipedia entry on the death of the Princess of Wales makes no mention of Tony Blair. Because we all know the whole of human history came to a point with the birth of Tony Blair.

Still, every now and then he comes out with some fantasy view of English history that utterly banishes the notion that he actually learned it in a British school, and convinces me that he's an American whose knowledge of Britain is gained from Fox News or children's comics. (Hard to tell the difference really.) Take this gem:

Oliver Cromwell was a prime mover in the execution of Charles 1st, since when other monarchs have dropped that unlucky name on ascending to the throne.

Leaving aside the "Charles 1st" solecism (those of us more used to monarchs use cardinal Roman numerals rather than Arabic ordinal numbers, dear), let's have a brief quiz. What was the name of the king who came to the throne after Cromwell's dictatorship ended? That is, the very next monarch to ascend the throne after the execution of Charles I. Was it (a) Henry (b) Albert (c) Osama (d) Charles ?

Oops.

And since then, how many monarchs named Charles have ascended the throne (and dropped the unlucky name)?

Oops.

Though if the present Prince of Wales inherits the throne before he dies he has said he will reign as George VII rather than Charles III. (I wish he'd gone for Arthur II, or Louis, personally. I mean, King Louis: how cool would that be?)




UPDATE: Fried mahooga has pointed out that however awesome it would be to have a King Louis, Charles doesn't have Louis as one of his names (Charles Philip Arthur George). I was mixing him up with William, who (as the nation was reminded during the marriage ceremony) DOES have Louis as a name. Maybe he'll opt for Louis I rather than William V.

Anti-semites living dangerously

Here is a delightful anti-semitic piece from Bare Naked Islam. Of course, attacking George Soros is OK because he's a "fake Jew" (says the anti-semite who thinks Jews should all eat pork).

Note that acc. to BNI George Soros "pushed people into gas chambers and said it was fun". Now Uncle Jimmy (a big fan) assures us that BNI "invariably links back to reputable sources", so where is her/its source for this? Ah, BNI's own post here which quotes Glenn Beck as saying:

Here’s a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps. I am certainly not saying George Soros enjoyed that, even had a choice — I mean, he’s 14 years old. He was surviving.

Quite. But for BNI whose hatred of Soros is perhaps greater than even her hatred of Obama, that just won't do. A fourteen-year-old boy trying not to be outed as a Jew and staying alive by handling property confiscated from Holocaust victims: pah, he might even get sympathy. Far better to make up a story that he not only enjoyed it but that he "pushed people into gas chambers". Again, for all her quotes from Soros and others, where does this "fact" come from?

Elsewhere in those two posts she praises Beck's list of Jewish contributors to the "Big Lie", as well as linking to a piece which decries Mark, Trotsky, Chomsky and Soros as "radical non-Jewish Jews". See how hard it is when you hate Jews but have to cover your ass? Like when you hate the idea of a black president but have to pretend he's a Muslim in the hope of not being spotted as a racist?

But what about George Soros's claim that the ten months of the Nazi occupation were the happiest time of his life? Well, let's read the whole quotation (linked here from an article critical of Soros's wartime exploits, in case anyone thinks it's been tidied up):

"I cannot be objective about this book. It deals with the formative period of my life. And it is written by my father, who was the most important figure in my life at that time...
"The Germans occupied Hungary on March 19, 1944. We were liberated by the Russians on January 12, 1945. During those 10 months, we lived in mortal danger. More than half the Jews living in Hungary, and perhaps a third of the Jews living in Budapest, perished during that time. I and my family survived...


"It is a sacrilegious thing to say, but these ten months were the happiest times of my life. I was 14 years old. We were in great peril, but my father was seemingly in command of the situation. I was aware of the dangers, because my father spent a lot of time explaining them to me, but I did not believe in my heart of hearts that I could get hurt. We were pursued by evil forces and we were clearly on the side of the angels, because we were unjustly persecuted; moreover, we were trying not only to save ourselves but also to save others. The odds were against us, but we seemed to have the upper hand. What more could a 14-year-old want? I adored and admired my father. We led an adventurous life and we had fun together."

How different it sounds when BNI hasn't simply taken a few words out of context like the lying anti-semitic swine she/it is.

Here is Soros himself on the issue:

Childhood

How did George Soros survive the Nazi regime during World War II?

Adolf Eichmann, the German Nazi in charge of organizing the mass deportation and slaughter of Jews in Eastern Europe, planned to kill 650,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.

In March of 1944 the Nazis invaded Hungary and began pursuing that goal. They occupied Budapest, home to the Soros family. George Soros was 13.

With other Jewish schoolchildren, he was summoned to work as a courier for the Jewish Council. His father, Tivadar, quickly realized the notices George was ordered to deliver were going to an alphabetical list of Jewish lawyers, and that they were being registered to expedite their deportation to death camps. He instructed his son to deliver the notices but to warn the recipients of their real purpose – and then to stop working for the Council.

Tivadar was also an attorney, and he understood it was only a matter of time before he received such a notice. (It was later found that more than 600 Jewish lawyers who responded to the notices were killed.) Having survived as a prisoner of war in Siberia during World War I, he began planning ways for the family to evade identification and deportation to the death camps.

By April, Tivadar had obtained false identities for each of the four members of the family. (George assumed the identity of a young Romanian man his age named “Sandor Kiss.”) They abandoned their apartment, leaving it in the care of Tivador’s secretary. Each moved to a separate location in or around Budapest. Tivadar and a friend built a windowless hideout in a building owned by his mother-in-law and lived there for the duration of the war. If family members needed to speak with him, they met him at a public bath. Tivadar continued to create false identities for other Jews and saved many other lives during this period.

Paid to hide George Soros

Tivadar paid an employee at the Ministry of Agriculture, Baumbach, to let George live with him in Budapest and pretend he was his godson. (Baumbach’s Jewish wife had found a hiding place in the countryside with Tivadar’s help.) One day Baumbach received an assignment from the Ministry to inventory the country estate of an affluent Jewish aristocrat who had given up his estate in return for permission to flee to Lisbon. Baumbach carried George along for the three-day project, unwilling to leave him alone in Budapest. George was watched by the staff, who accepted him as a young Christian named Sandor Kiss.

This is how Michael Kaufman describes the events:

Within days of arriving at Baumbach’s, George went for a walk into the Buda hills, where lost in a daydream he moved beyond the city limits. When he turned back, he was stopped by Hungarian gendarmes. “I remember it quite clearly,” he recalled. “I had just arrived at Baumbach’s…I had walked too far. I was frightened but nothing happened. It was the first test of my using a false name and I passed it.”

While he was living with Baumbach as Sandor Kiss, an event occurred that more than half a century later would become the basis of charges that George Soros, the international financier and billionaire, had somehow collaborated with Nazi occupiers of his homeland and had exploited his fellow Jews. The issue was raised in a bizarre television profile and interview of Soros aired on the CBS television program 60 Minutes in December of 1998. In the segment, Steve Kroft, the interviewed, noted with prosecutorial gusto that George’s father had “bribed a government official to swear that you were his godson,” and added that this survival strategy “carried a heavy price tag.” For, he continued, “as hundreds of thousands of Jews were being shipped off to the Nazi death camps, a thirteen-year-old George Soros accompanied his phony godfather on his rounds, confiscating property from the Jews.” Visibly dumbfounded by the line of questioning, Soros could only manage to say that he had no role in the seizure of property and was merely a spectator. To underscore Kroft’s point, film footage showed masses of Hungarian Jews being led away at gunpoint.

This is what actually happened. Shortly after George went to live with Baumbach, the man was assigned to take inventory on the vast estate of Mor Kornfeld, an extremely wealthy aristocrat of Jewish origin. The Kornfeld family had the wealth, wisdom and connections to be able to leave some of its belongings behind in exchange for permission to make their way to Lisbon. Baumbach was ordered to go to the Kornfeld estate and inventory the artworks, furnishings, and other property. Rather than leave his “godson” behind in Budapest for three days, he took the boy with him. As Baumbach itemized the material, George walked around the grounds and spent time with Kornfeld’s staff. It was his first visit to such a mansion, and the first time he rode a horse. He collaborated with no one and he paid attention to what he understood to be his primary responsibility: making sure that no one doubted that he was Sandor Kiss. Among his practical concerns was to make sure that no one saw him pee.”

(Michael T. Kaufman, Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire (Alfred A. Knopf: New York 2002) 36-38.)

After returning to Budapest he was recognized by a schoolmate living on the same street and had to be moved to another location.

By July of 1944 the Nazis had identified, rounded up and deported 437,403 Jews to the concentration camps.

Corpses Littering the Streets

On October 29 of that same year the Soviets began a siege of Budapest. This was a particularly chaotic and gruesome time. One day George passed two bodies hanging from a lamppost. Affixed to one was a sign reading, “This is what happens to a Jew who hides.” He spent most of his days carrying buckets of water to the new apartment where he was hiding.

The siege ended in early 1945 with the Soviets removing the Nazis from Hungary and establishing a communist government. The Soros family returned to their apartment. A bomb had destroyed the kitchen, so they cooked and ate in the living room.

In 1947, at the age of 16, George Soros left for London, where he would spend nine years studying and supporting himself as a waiter, porter and traveling salesman.

The Nazi’s persecution of the Hungarian population and the subsequent Russian occupation left him with an indelible impression of the threats posed by totalitarian rule.

It was in London that he began thinking deeply about the concept of open societies. He has since been quoted as saying, “Fascism and communism have a lot in common and both stand in opposition to a different principle of social organization, the principle of Open Society.”

The following resource is recommended for additional facts regarding George Soros’s childhood:

Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire, by Michal T. Kaufman (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002)


Given Mr Soros's willingness to sue for libel over a similar but lesser allegation (collaborating with the Nazis, not working in a death camp and pushing people into gas chanbers) I am attempting to find a contact via whom I can draw his attention to this particularly despicable slur. And I hope he sues BNI so hard they have to shut down.

Bless thee, thou art translated

I recently found this gem of translation on the Web.

Also this, which I must look out for as we're off to Mallorca in a couple of months.

Which all put me in mind of this wonder which I recall from my student days:

Important: Albadoro Cannelloni do not ought to boil.

1. Bring in cannelloni, as they are, a stuffing maked with beef, eggs, cheese parmigiano, papper or spices, as you like, all well amalgamated ad juicy.

2. Besmear a backing-pan, previously buttered, with a good tomato-sauce and after, dispose the cannelloni, lightly distanced between them, in a only couch. At last, for a safe success in cooking, shed the remnant sauce, possibly diluted with broth, as far as to cover the surface of cannelloni.

3. Add puffs of butter and grated cheese, cover the backing-pan, and put her into the oven, previously warmed at 180/200 centigrade degrees above zero.

4. Cook for about an half of hour at the same temperature without to uncover the backing-pan and after, to help at table.

My favourite part was always the "Centigrade degrees above zero" . Because, pace Heston Blumental, liquid nitrogen makes for lousy pasta.

Census meme - with technology

(Cross posted from my Live Journal page)

1961 - living in Droylsden, Manchester with my parents and big brother. I was five when the census happened. We had a telephone, which was on a party line with someone a hundred yards away. A black and white TV which only got BBC (and on which all the neighbours had watched the Coronation). A mains radio and a substantial Pye transistor portable. For transport we had a Hillman Husky which went with my father's job as a commercial traveller. Out in the big wide world, Yuri Gagarin would shortly make his first flight, and it would be two years before the first communication satellite relayed TV pictures from another continent.

1971 - we'd moved out to High Lane in Cheshire, and I was at Stockport Grammar School. We now had a telephone of our own, with an extension in my parent;s bedroom. When we first moved there in 1965 the phones didn't have dials: you lifted the receiver, pressed a button and waited for an operator to connect you. To call home you had to dial 100 for the operator and get connected manually. By 1971 we had dials, and it was around that time that we got an STD code so we could be direct-dialled from other parts of the country. The TV was still black and white, but bigger, and got BBC2 and ITV. We had a Marconi mono record player and a lot of LPs, mostly belonging to my blues- and jazz-mad brother, though we all had a fair number. My father had a car of some sort (we had an Austin Maxi by the time I went to Durham in 1973) and my brother had one of a succession of bangers (I think it was the Ford Popular at that point).

1981 - Married now, and living in a rented flat in Bromley, Kent. Hilary was living with her parents in Edinburgh and studying at the RSAMD while I stayed in London working for the Inland Revenue (programming ICL mainframes in COBOL on one-line-at-a-time printer terminals). (At this stage we were still expecting that the IR would transfer me to Cumbernauld, and round about census time we bought a bungalow in Stirling. The transfer fell through but we kept the house and I got a job later that year with Clydesdale Bank in Glasgow.) The flat had a black and white TV, and we had a stereo (not very hi-fi) and my by now large record collection. Also a cassette recorder and some tapes. A transistor radio completed the entrtainment suite. We had a phone, on which I used to get calls in the middle of the night from a dopey-sounding woman wanting to know if Ricky was there and who seemed incapable of handling the concept of "wrong number". No car.

1991 - Still married, but now with a daughter and living in Edinburgh in a Victorian end terrace. By this time I had learned to drive, and we had a car. At this time it was a cream-coloured Citroen 2CV which we all rather fell in love with. I was working for Bank of Scotland as an IT capacity planner, and studying part-time for an MBA at Edinburgh University. We had a colour television (not very large) with a video recorder and a fairly decent hi-fi, with a cassette deck, a tuner, a turntable and (state of the art) a CD player. We even had a modest collection of CDs to play on it, mostly classical. We had a telephone with an extension upstairs. No computers yet though.

2001 - Same house, wife, daughter, but now with a son too. Still working for Bank of Scotland though our jobs had just been outsourced to Xansa (formerly F International). Now I was back programming (I'd spent most of 1999 testing programs ready for the year 2000 - we did actually find a couple of faults so it wasn't all a waste of time). Not long after the census Xansa asked for volunteers to go and work in India for a bit, so I ended up doing that from Oct 2001 to Feb 2002. Still programming mainframes, now IBM ones, in COBOL and good old-fashioned Assembler for which I discovered I had an aptitude. Hilary and I had mobile phones now as well as our home one: I also had a work mobile because I was on call sometimes. I had a work laptop I used when I was on call to dial in via the phone line, so needed the mobile to be able to talk to anyone while I was working. I'm not sure what cars we had: our main car would have been a largeish Citroen, eithe a BX estate or an XM estate, and I think we still had the 2CV as a second car, though that eventually was replaced with a Saxo. (The 2CV was converted into a racing car: we all went to see it in action at Knockhill stadium!) And we had a computer: 3.25" floppies and not much hard drive, running Windows and with an Internet connection via the phone line.

2011 - Same house, same personnel. Cars now a Picasso and a Hyundai (each with radio/CD player)i. Fibre-optic cable bringing many TV channels to our flat- screen TV, as well as telephone service and high-speed broadband. Each family member has a laptop (plus my elderly work one) and connect to the internet via a wi-fi router. We all have mobiles (3 of us have iPhones). All except me have iPods. My son has a PS/3 games console and an old TV in his room, along with a DVD player. The TV has a hard-disk DVD recorder, the hi-fi has a twin-CD recorder/player and a minidisk recorder. Umpteen CD and minidisk Walkmans lurk in corners. There is a tape/CD/minidisk/radio system in the kitchen. We also have a flat in Ballater which contains a TV and DVD player as well as a CD player and wee speakers.

(The downside of all this connectivity was shown during my typing this post when I got a call from work, had to phone a guy in India on my work mobile, try to log in with my work laptop only to have it crash on me (I know what's up with it but can't fix it myself). So I'll need to go into the office tomorrow to do some work. At least I'll get paid.)

Thanks to Maggie for the meme.

Alpha Male - Update

I went to the hospital on Thursday to have my lungs fully examined so they could determine how much damage my A1AD has already caused and get a baseline by which to judge any future deterioration. So I spent Thursday morning variously blowing slowly into tubes, blowing quickly into tubes, breathing oxygen-helium mix at various rates, breathing Ventolin through a face mask, and being X-rayed. Then I went to see a chest consultant, who decleared my chest to be pretty much clear (within the healthy range on all the measures, albeit right at the bottom end on one, though the Ventolin seemed to sort that). My X-ray was clear too: so thus far, my problems seem to be mainly related to my being a fat slob rather than my being a diseased fat slob.

Which is good news, though it does mean that I have to blame my lifestyle rather than my genes for most of my health problems. A situation not unlike Alex Salmond's: after the good news of the parliamentary majority, the realisation that from here on there's nowhere to shift the responsibility for any failure.

Time to fire up that treadmill......

(Scottish) National Brotherhood Week

As you may imagine, I was extremely pleased by the referendum result in Thursday (well, referendum on Thursday, result on Friday).

I was also pleased, not to say amazed, by the phenomenal success of the Scottish National Party in the Scottish Parliamentary elections. It's funny: my own constituency had been viewed as a two-party contest between the Lib Dems and Labour, and I had dithered with the idea of voting Labour to ensure that the Lib Dem incumbent was removed, rather than following my heart and voting SP. In the end I went with the Nats, and evidently so did a lot of other people, as the Lib Dems were thumped into a poor third place as our seat (like all bar one Edinburgh seat) went to the Nats. I gave the Nats my second vote as well, though possibly if I'd realised Margo McDonald was standing against as an independent on the list I might have gone for her. Anyway, she got in.

Regarding the SNP and second votes, probably the defining moment of the vote counting (which was unfolding all through Friday morning and being followed on the BBC's live blog by most folk at work) was when - after gaining all ten of the constituencies in the region, thus rendering their list votes worth 1/11 of those of candidates with no constituencies already - the SNP picked up a list seat in North-East region (where I'm sitting now in Aberdeenshire). Jaws were being picked off floors as it sank in what that said about the solidity of the SNP vote round these parts.

Anyway, the SNP have a majority in the Scottish Parliament (despite, as everyone keeps reminding us, the PR system in use having been specifically chosen by Labour to render an absolute majority impossible to achieve). Hah!

This means that at some time during the next five years (Alex Salmond says it will be late in the term, which makes sense) we will have a referendum on Scottish independence. However that goes (and if held today it would lose) it will be a proud day for Scotland: one step closer. There are undoubtedly a lot of questions which folk need to have answered about an independent Scotland, regarding the economy, defence, nationality issues (my kids were born here, my wife has a Scottish father, but I'm an English immigrant since 1981: where do I stand?) and other things.

All in all, an exciting time to be a Scot (even an adopted one!)

I must confess to a slight pang of disappointment that George Galloway didn't get elected on his regional list. Not because I miss the presence of any real socialists in the parliament (I'd rather have had some SSP members now that they've put the whole Tommy Sheridan thing behind them) but simply because he would have brought a little colour to the chamber, like a more productive version of the Monster Raving Loony party. But hey, Scotland will get on without George, and George will get on without Scotland.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

A Jewish victim of political violence speaks out on Osama bin Laden

I happened to be watching TV early yesterday morning when the news broke about Osama bin Laden's death, and I posted on Facebook that while I didn't normally celebrate anyone's death I thought I might make any exception in this case.

I don't retract it: it was genuinely what I felt, and while with a little distance I'm not exactly celebrating, I do find it difficult to feel sorrow for OBL's death.

Still, you make a Facebook friend of a minister and you have Jiminy Cricket in your pocket. You may recall Aric Clark, purveyor of beat sermons. Well, on Facebook Aric has posted a couple of apt quotations:

"Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.” Gandalf to Frodo on Bilbo's sparing of Gollum's life.

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that" Martin Luther King, Jr.

He also linked to a great article at his blog. The line that really caught me up short - because when I stop to think (instead of reacting) it's very much how I understand the Gospel message, was:

We recognize that this is a scandalous thing to say, but Osama Bin Laden was a beloved child of God for whose sins Jesus the Christ died.

I suppose I shouldn't really be surprised that Christ poses more of a challenge to conventional thought than Gandalf, but as someone who frequently quotes the Gandalf fragment I must confess I'd never quite made the jump.

Well, I ken noo.

Ceefax Subtleties

I have recently begun going to a gym, and in this gym there are many televisions for you to watch as you walk up your artificial hills or cycle your imaginary itinerary. Of course, with the air-conditioning and the noise of all the machinery you can't hear the sound, so they have Ceefax automatic subtitling turned on, which can lead to some amusing bad guesses by the software.

For example, I was there on Friday, not long after the royal wedding, and there was a studio discussion about Kate's wedding dress. Someone said it had echoes of Alexander McQueen. "In what way?" asked someone else. "The embroidered Boris", came the reply.

Today was even better. Of course the TVs were all full of the late and unlamented Osama bin L. Well, Ceefax taught me something I hadn't discovered previously: that Osama was shot by an American counter-tenor unit.

Maybe that's why there's been so much Glee in the USA over his death......

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Now calculate the proportions of Bombay Mix and fluff.

A blast from the xkcd archive.

And now for something completely different

From the ridiculous to the sublime. Schubert's Winterreise is a song cycle comprising probably the greatest music he ever write. The final song in the cycle is Der Leiermann, or The Hurdy-Gurdy Player.

Well, the whole cycle was given last year in Schubert's birthplace by singer Nataša Mirković and hurdy-gurdy player extraordinaire Matthias Loibner. Not only is it an extraordinary piece of virtuosity, I think it shows how brilliantly Schubert wrote Der Leiermann in the first place.

He Knocked It Off

Memory is a funny thing. Today I found myself humming this song, which I had entirely forgotten. I didn't even like it much when it came out, and listening to it I can understand why. However, it clearly had some earwormish quality, and I see no reason to suffer alone:

No to AV on 5 May


On Thursday Scotland goes to the polls, firstly to elect members of the Scottish Parliament and secondly to vote in a referendum on changing the voting system for Westminster (UK-wide) elections. The Scottish Parliamentary election will take place under a form of proportional representation PR), where we each cast a vote for an individual to represent our constituency: this is evaluated using First Past The Post (FPTP). Then we have a second ballot for candidates from a regional list, list typically includes many more small parties. Members from the lists are allocated to top up the overall numbers in parliament so that it reflects the proportions of votes cast for each party across the region. We've had the system since we got devolution, and it seems to work fine.

Westminster elections are currently done by FPTP voting, and the referendum is for a change to the Alternative Vote system (AV), where you mark preferences. The lowest first-preference scorer is eliminated and her/his votes allocated among the remaining candidates according to the second preferences; the process is repeated until one candidate has more than 50% of the votes.

This is a little more proportional that FPTP but not much. Supporters of AV claim that it would remove "safe seats", but that is only true if the "safe" seat isn't very safe to begin with. Because only one candidate is elected from each constituency, as now, small parties still have no chance of representation (under the Scottish system we've had Greens, Scottish Socialists and various independents who could bever have been elected under either FPTP or AV).

The principal beneficiaries - probably the only significant beneficiaries - from AV would be the Liberal Democrats who proposed it (despite a manifesto commitment for many years to provide actual proportional representation). I suppose the Scottish Nationalists might pick up the odd extra seat on the back of second preferences.

Most people expect the Liberal Democrat vote in Scotland to collapse completely as a result of their disastrous coalition with the Conservatives in Westminster. Personally I hope it collapses so far that we never have any more Liberal Democrat MSPs, and as few as possible in Westminster under whatever voting system. Hence my intention to vote no to AV on Thursday.

Reason 1) If it were proper PR I would put other concerns aside and vote for it. However, AV is a compromise that looks proportional but isn't. The fact of having the referendum on AV at all has put back the cause of PR by a generation or so: if AV is actually implemented the chances of ever having PR nationally fall to around zero.

Reason 2) The main beneficiaries of AV would be the Liberal Democrats. Excellent reason to vote no.

Reason 3) Nick Clegg is already in trouble with his party for having watered down the commitment to PR to merely having a referendum on AV. If he is unable to deliver even on that, then his career is almost certainly over, especially if he is simultaneously faced with a total wipeout North of the border (and indeed in the English and Welsh local councils, also poling on Thursday).

Clegg has already managed to kill off PR probably for my lifetime. I shall be voting NO to AV to keep the possibility alive for the future, and to inflict as much damage as possible on the Liberal Democrats who have so thoroughly betrayed all they once stood for.