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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This one goes down to zero

Here is the piece my string quartet is working on at present.

A reminder that Schoenberg not only could write good tunes: when he was young he did. I especially like the variation in the third movement that begins at 3:56, but it's all good.

Michael Gove plays the Holocaust card

This story tells how Michael Gove, Education Secretary, awarded millions of pounds from public funds he controlled to an organisation which paid him as a consultant. And what is the response of this principled servant of the public to having his peculation exposed?

On Friday a spokesman for Gove said: "It is unbelievable to attack any politician for funding the protection of Jewish children. It is even more extraordinary and frankly offensive to do it on Holocaust Memorial Day."

That's right. It's unbelievable to attack a boondoggle such as providing security guards for Jewish schools (while other schools have to take their chances with crazies). And it's even more extraordinary and offensive for Michael Gove to hide behind six million dead Jews in an attempt to intimidate the media into ignoring it. Especially on Holocaust Memorial Day.

The man has no shame.

Because Wondermark is just as awesome as xkcd


And here.

Also here, because sometimes surrealism is the only answer.

It's Etymology Man!

Courtesy of xkcd.

Empty bookshelves, empty minds

The banning of books has been in the news recently, with the enforced cancellation of Salman Rushdie's video address to the Jaipur Literary Festival (The Satanic Verses is still banned in India, and Rushdie evidently touches nerves there, perhaps because he is an Indian himself).

Anyway, this story reminds us that the banning of books is not confined to India, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia. I gather that Arizona bans more books than any other state on the USA. I bet they don't put that in their blurbs for tourists.

The picture above, incidentally, is of the "Empty Library", a memorial in Berlin to an infamous book-burning by the Nazis. the memorial is an underground chamber with a small window in its ceiling) full of bookshelves, but empty of books. Ingenious and thought-provoking, if surprisingly easy to overlook as a tourist.

All feedback gratefully received

I just received a lovely email:

Hello Rob,

I'm from Austin, Texas USA, and my students performed After Juliet at the 2010 Fringe. One of my students' parents recently reminded me of your review of our first performance. I just wanted to thank you for the kind words. Our students were so excited to see the review when we returned from Scotland. It meant a lot to them. I was going to email you way back then, but the school year had already started when we returned, and we were off and running with rehearsals for the next show! I forgot, and time got away from me.

The trip to Edinburgh was truly amazing! From the friendly people to the gorgeous city (make that gorgeous Scotland), to the history and culture, we all just fell in love with your city and country. It is my hope that I will return some day.

Anyway, while I was thinking of it, I wanted to write this long overdue email to say thanks for attending our performance and for making a group of Austin teenagers feel appreciated.

Patty MacMullen

It was Don Marquis, of Archy and Mehitabel fame (and if you're not familiar with those books, I recommend you give them a shot) who likened authors who waited eagerly for reaction from their readers to someone dropping a pebble into the Grand Canyon and listening for an echo. The same is largely true of blogging, especially when writing reviews, so a reminder that one's work is both read and valued is especially welcome.

It may even inspire me (or shame me enough) to complete my reviews of the 2011 Edinburgh Festivals.

Cromarty - more than just a bit of the Shipping Forecast

I liked this article on the BBC website.

Hilary and I visited Cromarty last year: it contains, among other attractions, a delightful restored church.

...which contains some wonderful old box pews

with marvellous decoration

A hidden gem. Hidden in plain sight, but in a place people tend to zoom past on their way to other places.

Israeli "Democracy" hard at work threatening and intimidating any hint of opposition to the regime

Ah, democracy. In a country that never fails to remind the world that it's a democracy, even though it's clearly nothing of the kind.

BareNakedEndTimes loves it, of course.

"What did Israel think would happen when they allowed Muslims to serve in the Knesset?" I imagine they thought they might fool people into mistaking Israel for a modern democracy rather than the bolthole of a backward bunch of theocratic racists.

It didn't work, though.

Friday, January 27, 2012


You know what? I'm a trade unionist too. Deal with it.

Also my thoughts exactly: though of course in Britain "Liberal" refers to the old Liberal party, now the Liberal Democrats, the heartily-despised junior partner in the ConDem coalition government. So while in US terms I consider "Liberal" a badge of honour, I would find the term more alarming here. Though in the days before mergers and coalitions I regularly voted Liberal as a student - and I had plenty of opportunities to do so, as in the days of snap elections my first year of enfranchisement contained two general elections. Since the coalition sellout, though, when the LibDems moved from the upper to the lower half of the poster, I have happily done whatever it takes to hasten the permanent demise of the Liberal Democrats. (In Scotland it's pretty much a done deal already.)

My thoughts exactly


My very first thought on reading this story was of the episode "In Excelsis Deo" from Series One of The West Wing, where a homeless Korean war veteran dies and Toby Ziegler is contacted because the guy is wearing a coat Toby had given to a charity shop which had one of his business cards in it. Toby arranges a military funeral.

President Bartlett: Toby, if we start pulling strings like this don't you think every homeless veteran is going to come out of the woodwork?

Toby Ziegler: I can only hope, Sir.

Where Toby could only hope, some organisations are making it happen.

ButtNakedIntall - no atrocity too vile to be applauded

We've all seen Bonni Intall, aka BareNakedEndTimes, calling on her site for the beheading of leftists and the genital mutilation of female political opponents. We've seen her describing the murder of a Muslim baby as a "public service". She celebrates when 270 Muslim refugees drown, and cries "Hallelujah" when a further 600 die. Well, this week she cheers at the torture and disfigurement of a Canadian Muslim prisoner by a psycho. "Who cares?" that he has 50-70% burns over his body. And the comments from her bottom-feeding chums are for once even worse.

Oh, and one commenter accuses Saddam of having boiled opponents alive. Although this nbever happened, she knows it's true - presumably she can't tell the difference between Saddam and islam Karimov, Uzbek dictator and America's regional pal, who very definitely DID boil folk alive. All Bonni, credulous and ignorant as well as eager to watch anything showing Muslims being murdered, wants to know is where she can get hold of the videos.

How The West Was Ridiculed - and hilarious lies from an Israel-First nutjob

This is a fantastic piece on Allen West, or as we prefer to call him here, "unindicted war criminal Allen West".

The comments are also great, though the last one, from Robert Kunst, brought me to an abrupt halt. I'd read almost all of it before I realised it wasn't a Daily Onion-style parody but a genuine example of utter gibberish from an Israel-firster.

I especially like Mr Kunst's claim to have visited 31 of the Nazi death camps. That would be the 6 real death camps (Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, Treblinka, Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor) and 25 imaginary ones (staffed perhaps by Barack Obama and George Soros?) Doesn't this moron realise that it is exactly this kind of witless exaggeration - terming any kind of prison camp a "death camp" - that fuels Holocaust denial? I have personally visited one Nazi concentration camp, the one at Dachau near Munich. God knows it is a grim place redolent of suffering, and people certainly died there, but that isn't what it was built for. Dachau was fitted with a gas chamber near the end of the war but fortunately the opportunity for its use was denied by the Allied invasion. (It was apparently tested, and I'm not naive enough to imagine the Nazis would test it on canaries or mice: but the gas chamber in any California prison will have killed hundreds of times more people, and we don't refer to the California State Penitentiaries as "death camps". FWIW, standing in even that relatively pristine room is as creepy as fuck, and reduced my wife to tears.)

But where to begin with his comment? The Palestinians in the Intifadas were "aligned with Hitler"? (Who died half a century earlier.) Arabs deny the Holocaust existed: well, apart from the inconvenient fact that many thousands of them died in it. The "holyland" is 5000 years old, apparently. I'm not sure whether this is a Young Earth Creationist's idea of the region's geology: it can hardly be anything to do with the state of Israel, which will soon celebrate its 64th birthday. Clearly, as with "death camps", counting isn't Mr Kunst's strong point. (From his comment, neither is English, but then he IS a Floridian.) "Obama wants the Jewish holy sights (sic) to be under the control of the U.N." Actually, when Israel was founded it was stipulated in the text that Jerusalem would be a U.N. protectorate. That lasted precisely as long as it took for the Israelis to grab it, of course: so strictly speaking it isn't only East Jerusalem which is illegally occupied, but the whole city. A little less whingeing about a place to which you have no right whatsoever might be in order, but then the President of Shalom International is hardly going to cease whining as long as breath remains in his body.

"Those Jews who sold out their fellow Jews then were called 'Judenrats'." Er, no, actually that isn't what "Judenrat" means at all. Wow, such a Holocaust expert: understands no German and scarcely any English, denies the deaths of non-Jews in the Holocaust, claims to have visited camps that never existed. All he knows is that Israel had a right to the whole Middle East thousands of years before it was even invented, and that HIS President Barack Obama is a Muslim. Really, if creeps like this hate America so much and love Israel so much more, who the hell is detaining them? I'm sure there are flights from Orlando to Tel Aviv. Perhaps in November when Allen West loses his seat (as he is expected to do) and Pres. Obama is re-elected, Kunst will do the decent thing and head off to where his religious fascism will be better received.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A little night music

A few tracks which I've either been playing in the car or which have come to mind for some reason.

First of all, a wonderful song from the 1970s, from Mr Fox. Bob and Carole Pegg had a stormy relationship but artistically a very productive one while it lasted. I don't know how much of this was Bob and how much Carole, but both music and lyrics hold up very well forty-odd years on. The final verse always brings a lump to my throat: less really is more.

Richard Digance was a folk club stalwart who briefly hit the limelight on radio and TV in the mid 1970s. This song is extraordinary to listen to nowadays: while not remotely earnest or po-faced, for its time it was a remarkably sympathetic portrayal of transvestism. OK, it sounds a bit cliched now, and the ending is a cop-out, but apart from the Kinks' "Lola" it stood alone: and pretty much still does.

I tried to find a clip of Phil Harris doing "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens", but failed. So here are a couple of other favourites:

and I owned this very 78 as a teenager - the band are just awesome:

And I haven't heard this one for years, but loved it when it was briefly a minor hit in Scotland:

I first encountered the sadly under-rated Peter Nardini via this gem, which really is a dig-out-of-the-archives job:

And this one I have just found for the first time. Clearly Mr N is quietly going from strength to strength, though sadly his subject did not:

Let's end with something more upbeat - good for sitting in traffic queues with:

A long line of Farquhars.....

In view of Joe's trouble with the Doric in my previous post, I thought this (found in the Youtube sidebar) might help to ease him into it. As you can tell from the audience reaction, a Scottish audience knows instantly how the various names are spelled so are always a step ahead. There are various ways the chap could have spelled his first name: the spelling in the sketch as the same as that of my son. And I've been to Finzean....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

No...it disnae hae a trunk.....

That last post reminded me of the sketch at 40:46 here.

And then of course I had to post this one. The Ballater toyshop sketch (beginning at 8:06) is a particular favourite in our family, the toyshop in question being close to our Ballater flat.

Don't worry: when I first moved to Scotland I had trouble with the accent too.... Though of course the difficult words such as "futret" are spelled out.

Great chieftain o' the pudden race

Tonight is Burns Night, celebrated around the globe with haggis, neeps, tatties, whisky, and "an admixture of ceremony" as the Oxford Companion to Food puts it.

The Saunders family will be doing its bit, albeit with a vegetarian haggis. Also the opart of the mash will be played in this production by large potato croquettes still cluttering up our freezer from Christmas. The neeps, OTOH, will be neeps: so genuinely swedelike as to require restraint from bursting into "Dancing Queen" while being cooked.

Hands up those who think Frank Wuterich will redeem himself at the end like Darth Vader or Gollum. Anyone?

The main news story tonight was the end of the trial of USMC Sgt Frank Wuterich, the sole member of the Haditha death squad (which slaughtered 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in a revenge attack, including old men, women and children) to stand trial. (The other seven claimed they were only obeying orders, or some such clear mitigating factor). Wuterich admitted ordering the massacre, but was allowed to plea-bargain his charge down from crimes against humanity....murder.....manslaughter....criminal negligence.....to "dereliction of duty". You know, as though he'd turned up late for parade, rather than pulling an Anakin Skywalker on the people he was supposed to be in Iraq protecting. So this piece of filth, facing a MAXIMUM sentence of three months -roughly four days per corpse - is likely to serve no jail time at all. Oh, but he gets busted back to private and will have his pay docked. (And let's remember when considering his cruel and unusual punishment for doing nothing more than erase a couple of dozen Ay-rabs, that none of the seven brave Americans who joined him in the orgy of kid-killing will serve a single day, suffer any loss of status, nor have their pay docked by a cent. They won't even have to pay for the bullets and grenades they misused.)

What signal does this send to the world about America's armed forces? That they can commit war crimes and get away with it? That once they've invaded your country they can murder you if they feel like it, without fear of retribution?

Wuterich doesn't deserve to die - Gandalf was right - and maybe like Gollum and Vader he really will play a part for good in the future. But I fear that the lesson he will take away from his trial and ludicrous sentence is that he did nothing really bad. Darth Vader at least knew that he had gone over to the dark side.

Bonni Intall of BareNakedEndTimes naturally thinks it's dreadful that these poor dear heroes were victimised just for rubbing out a few "muslimes". Not surprisingly, she also supported the desecration of corpses by Marines in Afghanistan. (Interestingly, unindicted war criminal Allen West described their offense as "minor", which compared with his own staging of a mock execution perhaps it was.) And only last Sunday she described the murder of a three-month-old Pakistani baby as "kind of like a public service". (With many supportive comments from her coterie of knuckle-dragging survivalists.) What would we do without such folk to show us the superiority of Western values over those of the bloodthirsty Muslims, eh?

Always fun to watch Islamophobic nutters fighting among themselves

BareNakedIslam (or as it should now be called BareNakedEndTimes) is no stranger to giving offense. However, "Bonni" needs to learn that when she gives offense to bigger islamophobes with sharper teeth and many more readers she does so at her own risk.

Debbie Schlussel is a renowned Muslim-hating nut who reckons that Anders Breivik's victims got what they deserved for being leftists, and that Lara Logan deserved to be raped while reporting from Egypt. However, she doesn't like BareNakedIslam, no sirree. partly because as a Jew she finds BNI's relentless antisemitism irritating, but also because when CAIR (the Council for American-Islamic Relations, an organisation BNI purports to hate) mounted a successful lawsuit against her (for attempting to set up a company using CAIR's name) BNI supported them. Hoo boy. Ms Schlussel is well known for her take-no-prisoners approach to those she dislikes, so her glee when BNI was given its marching orders from Wordpress (for publishing the emails and IP addresses of critical commenters, and for incitement to genocide) her reaction was predictable.

What makes this interesting is the details she posted about "Bonni". As she posts so much antisemitic filth, and so many woman-hating posts, I had grave doubts as to whether "Bonni" was either Jewish or female. And "Bonni" seemed suspiciously close to "BNI" so I was unconvinced that it was her real name. But Debbie puts us right: apprently BNI (now BNET) is "New York based Bonni Benstock Intall, a complete nutjob and antisemite of Jewish heritage". As for those who complained about her eradication from Wordpress and banishment to the crazy-fringe of a Jesus-in-a-flying-saucer website, she says " Yup, this is the garbage that the ignoramuses and morons are whining over–a 60-something crotchety, low-class, old, hypocritical bigot who hates Christians and Jews about as much as Muslims and is quite clearly in need of medication."

From little acorns grow modest oaks, and armed with this basic information I can announce that Bonni Benstock Intall exists, is 61 years old, and lives at 1 BAY CLUB DR 19A, BAYSIDE, NY 11360. (Well, mine was one of the email addresses she was kind enough to publish so I felt I should return the favour. And no, I'm not stupid enough to have used any of my normal email addresses: I created one specially for use on her site.) If I'm ever in NYC maybe I should look her up: I always imagine her as being like Pink Floyd's "bus stop rat bag....hot stuff with a hat-pin, and good fun with a hand-gun". This is the person, after all, who takes pride in insulting Muslim shopworkers when out shopping, and who creeps round her apartment block in the middle of the night with a torch to find out where the horrible brown-skinned people she glimpsed in the elevator are living.

Keep watching the skies, Bonni.....

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

I liked this story. In it, Nigel Ely is described as a "former SAS soldier", though the article doesn't make clear whether that means he was formerly a Who-Dares-Wins member of the Special Air Services, or simply a Saddam's-Arse-Stealing soldier.

Either way, Thorpe and Ely reckon it's a bum rap.

Names Have Been Changed To Protect Wittier Stuff

A lot of attention has been drawn to SOPA and PIPA by the recent 2-hour blackout of many much-frequented web pages in protest.

Among all the information about the bills, a wonderful nugget has been largely buried. PIPA ia also known as the Protect IP Act. But it has now been renamed the Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation Act. Why the name change? Well, American lawmakers can no more resist a good acrostic than could Lewis Carroll: it spells out EPARASITES.

Len McCLuskey is right on the money over Ed Balls, and Milliband's support for him


What he said......

It is becoming clear that we only scorched the Blairite snake.....

The Parable of the Good Survivalist

I recently posted on the video of the unconscious guy in Israel shown at BareNakedIslam, and BNI's approving comments on how nobody was paying any attention.

Now BNI's regular commenters are a bunch who mostly seem to have skipped their medication for a while. Several of them talk tough about the need to overthrow the wicked liberal President they didn't elect (damn this democracy!) and about the caches of weaponry, food and survival gear they're building up. One such is "Ret. Marine", whose handle I have always imagined was an abbreviation of "Retarded Marine", and who certainly shows no support for the current armed forces of the USA. No matter: as BNI remarks in another recent post, even a stopped clock is right twice a day (if only that were still true in the digital age....), and Ret. Marine puts Bonni to shame in a comment:

Ret Marine January 17, 2012 at 5:46 am

Pretty sad when one thinks about it, this person could be suffering from anything, and who would know if they ignore him, and who would want that on their conscience knowing if they were to inquire and assist with getting him the help required, or chose to ignore, if he were to turn up graveyeard dead and they chose to do nothing, Damn people, I am just stunned at the inactivity of those around him. Are we loosing our humanity right in front of our eyes? I shutter to think of the possibility of having anything happening to me, and you chose to just walk routinly by as if, I see nothing, I see nothing. God forgive us all.

And how does Her BareNakedness respond to this display of humanity?

barenakedislam January 17, 2012 at 11:08 am

RM, as you know, I live in NYC, where before Mayor Rudy Giuliani cleaned up the streets, I would walk past homeless bums and crazies sleeping on the sidewalk all the time. Never once thought about stopping to see if they were OK, most likely because they stunk so bad.

So there you have Bonni's worldview in a nutshell. Her hatred and inhumanity have nothing to do with Muslims: just a right-wing elitist New Yorker who hates having to share the place with (yecch) poor people.

Hmmm. If the end times really did come today, as BNI's new backers proclaim, I suspect the spaceship would be leaving without Bonni on board.....

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


From the New Statesman, on Ed Balls' recent declaration that Labour would continue wth all the ConDems' spending and tax cuts.

Why would anyone vote Labour when they're now more than ever indistinguishable from the ConDems? It's not just one maverick: Ed Milliband has come out in support of Balls. See, THIS is what so many Scots want independence from: a political system run by the well-off to ensure nothing changes. Johann Lamont must be seething as Scottish Labour's chances of survival, never mind electoral gains, just went down the pan with a loud flushing sound.

So now I've got a hole in my sweater......

Yes we can

From here

A blog so dumb it spends several posts whining about an organisation while continuing to give it free advertising

You may recall I had my doubts about the proposed removal of the BareNakedIslam white supremacist blog from Wordpress, following its stay of execution.

Well, it has indeed been given the bum's rush, albeit after yet another delay to avoid hurting the poor dears' feelings. The blog is now being hosted on a server which "Bonni" tells us is in Israel, which will be interesting when she starts in on her liberal-Jews-control-the-world-and-were-responsible-for-the-Holocaust shtick. Actually the web address of the blog is now www.endtimestoday.com, in other words one of those sites which tolerates the Jews only because they will all convert to Christianity just before the world ends. I suppose it's difficult for open neofascists to find willing hosts: the intersection of Zionist terrorism and the lunatic fringe of Christianity is all they have left.

But Bonni is trying to be nice to her new hosts. Posting a video showing the shockingly uncaring attitude of Jerusalem residents to a homeless man lying in the street in sub-zero temperatures (though to be fair such behaviour could probably be found in many Western countries) she merely wonders whether the Israelis are avoiding him because he's a Muslim and they're scared he might blow up.

Her assumption that Muslims are all probable terrorists is hardly surprising, nor her ignorant belief that she could tell a Muslim from a Jew on sight. Her assumption that all those "passing by on the other side" (yup, Jesus ran this story a couple of thousand years back) are non-Muslims is interesting though. Perhaps she realises in her heart that no decent Muslim would behave in that way...... (:-))

Funnily enough, despite plenty of evidence that Wordpress's termination of BNI had nothing to do with pressure from CAIR or other Muslim groups but resulted from (a) incitements to murder posted on the site and (b) repeated publication of commenters' email addresses and IP addresses in contravention of Wordpress rules, "Bonni" insists that it's all the fault of the Muslims. In fact now she has invented "death threats" against Wordpress staffers (funny how she didn't mention those at the outset and Wordpress seem unaware of them). Oh, and it's all got something to do with Michelle Obama's campaign against obesity (no, me neither).

You know the funniest thing about all this? "Bonni" whinges and whines about Wordpress and its hypocrisy, and has had to move her blog to a different site (losing its lurid banner heading in the process), but the moron still proclaims "Proudly powered by wordpress.org" at the foot of every page. I wonder how many months it will be before one of the site's semi-literate regulars notices and alerts "Bonni". Start your clocks now.....

Friday, January 13, 2012

Of fifteen steps he has made but three

I found myself humming this at work today. Not sure why, but it's good to share.

God, I bought that record back in 1973? 74? It still sounds great.

Steve Ashley is accompanied here by the first incarnation of the Albion Country Band: Ashley Hutchings bass, Sue Draheim fiddle, Simon Nicol electric guitar, Dave Mattacks drums, harmonium, Royston Wood, tambourine

The images on this video are pretty dumb, but whenever I hear this song I get a really vivid picture of Lord Bateman's porter taking the message to his master in a state of utter confusion. Also of Lord Bateman's precipitate descent to greet his visitor.

Enjoy. You can ponder how much is traditional and how big a contribution was made by William Makepeace Thackeray who supposedly "collected" it. Not that it matters.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Contains crunchy raw unboned real dead mouse....

Where else but America would a soft drinks company defend itself against an accusation of a dead mouse in its product by claiming that the stuff is so corrosive the mouse would have been turned to goo? (Butch to Sundance: Are you kidding? The fall'd probably kill you!)

Non-UK readers can ignore this one

This survey is worth responding to. Maybe we can get the law changed to make it easier for teenagers in violent relationships to access refuges for battered women (or men). Maybe we can get the law to recognise that there are other kinds of abuse than just physical (husbands destroying their wives' possessions, for example). Get involved. Be heard.

A Whole New World

A lovely blog post drawn to my attention by Chip Clark.

I didn't see my first live opera until I was 16 (Magic Flute, and yes, it did knock me out). This little girl is very lucky to be starting early.


You have to love Scotland

We had some gales recently, resulting in bridges closures and restrictions. Including this:

Busy, busy, busy

Various things going on:

- building work at home (odd exterior repairs)

- getting my car fixed after a crazy Dutch lorry driver tried to take a number of tight corners in the industrial estate where I usually park and dented not only my car but two others

- preparing for the next concert of Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra: we're doing this

and this

- sorting out rehearsals for my string quartet, which has a new cellist whom we;re trying not to scare off! While we don't have any performances planned right now, we're working for our own edification on this:

and this:

with occasional excursions into this, just to frighten passers-by (and no, we haven't yet managed it with a straight face - it's the bit just after 6:30 that always kills us):

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

This aid isn't helping

A fascinating documentary on how European aid to Palestine - in its present form - is doing more harm than good to the Palestinian economy. Not to mention the way in which it underpins and perpetuates the Israeli occupation.

If Tony Blair were really serious about improving the Palestinian economy (the job for which, after all, he draws a gigantic salary) you would think he might have at least attempted to deal with some of these problems. Clearly he has other priorities.

The Palestinians desperately need help to restore their crippled economy. Allowing the illegal invaders who crippled it to control how donor aid is spent is never going to work. Paying to keep the Palestinians alive and unable to rebuild their self-sufficiency is never going to work. And unless the aid is spent on creating jobs rather than causing structural distortions which prevent job creation, most Palestinians are never going to work either.

R.I.P. Ronald Searle

Ronald Searle, cartoonist and creator of St Trinian's, has died. His surreal wit will be missed.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Not holding my breath for the good news

I was looking forward to posting the excellent news that the BareNakedIslam white supremacist site had been closed down by Wordpress for violating its terms of service (something to do with posting calls for the extermination of Muslims and the destruction of mosques). As regulars here will know, BNI her/itself frequently expresses the desire to see leftists beheaded or mutilated on Youtube, and despite a fiercely enforced gatekeeping policy for comments the odd few thousand calls for genocide of Muslims, Jews, gays and socialists (not to mention the violent overthrow of the elected US government) seem to slip through.

Well, the site is back up for now, though apparently "Bonni" has been given until 6th January to tidy the blog up and piss off. I'll believe it when I see it: if Wordpress has had no problem with the site's content for all these years, I don't believe it will suddenly have a change of heart. The resurrection of the site at all after its closure suggests that pressure has been applied from rich right-wingers.

Another Israeli who believes laws are for lesser people

I suppose when you believe you are racially superior to the rest of the world the planet divides neatly into two parts: countries which provide Israel with its vital drip-feed of welfare payments, and the rest which form a sort of enormous trashcan to be bombed, despoiled or whatever.

This Roten Singer imbecile admits that he set fire to 11,500 hectares of Chilean national park by igniting his toilet paper (maybe he was trying to light his farts). Fair enough, and nobody is suggesting it was deliberate, merely hugely negligent (can he not read signs about lighting fires?) But for his family back in Israel this is irrelevant, and he's being made a scapegoat (yawn....). After all, he can't possibly do anything wrong, ever, anywhere in the world, because he serves in a combat unit of the IDF. Gosh, if only he'd made that clear at the outset. I'm sure the Chileans would have been grateful that he only destroyed a few thousand acres of pristine woodland rather than machine-gunning a school or destroying a village's water supply. But hey, he's on holiday.

I had to smile, though at this comment from Accion Ecologica's spokesman:

"It would have been great to see a government as gifted at throwing water on the flames consuming our natural heritage, as they are (at shooting water at Chilean) citizens defending their rights," said activist Luis Mariano Rendon.

He's not wrong there....

Israelis Celebrate Dress-Your-Children-In-Stripes-And-Pretend-To-Be-Persecuted Day

It's ironic that in one of the world's most vicious theocracies there should be a highly visible demonstration complaining that the government is insufficiently religious. But there you are. Israel's ultra-Orthodox Haredi community (currently around 10% of the population but expected to grow to around 20% over the next twenty years because of its huge birthrate) protested against the "secularisation" of Israeli society. Basically the protest was a complaint about Haredim's being expected to obey the same laws as less devout Jews, and specifically against the arrest of Shmuel Weisfish, who could after all hardly be expected not to assault shopworkers selling MP4 players which were capable of playing non-religious materials. There was also another nutter arrested recently for verbally abusing a female Israeli soldier who refused to move to the back of the bus away from the men (and no, her name was not Rosa Parks). These persecuted dears, on the rare occasions when the Israeli authorities give a shit, consider themselves to be the victims of a new Holocaust, hence their fancy dress.

While Tzipi Livni, the leader of the opposition, spoke out against the demonstrators, as did the leading ultra-orthodox rabbi. But from the "secular" government? Only Ehud Barak seems to have had the courage to stand up to the religious crazies. After all, as one of the protestors said, “We didn’t come to demonstrate, we came to show our power, and that our power is forever.”

And of course much of the anger has not been at the ludicrous nature of the protest itself, but at its use of imagery from the Holocaust (TM) which has proved so valuable over the years to the Israeli state and its supporters.

Hungary hasn't tried this - yet

Barack Obama will be re-elected in 2012 simply because there is no credible alternative. While this is a good thing given the toxic state of the Republican Party right now, let's not kid ourselves. If there were any doubt before that he is the worst Democrat to occupy the Oval Office since before WW2, this new law of his permitting the indefinite military detention of practically anyone, anywhere, would remove it.

The Magyar for "jackboot" is "lovaglócsizma". This may come in handy.

Hungary's new constitution sounds deeply worrying. A purge of judges, government control of the formerly independent central bank, constitutional outlawing of abortion and same-sex marriage, increased media control, and moves which appear to be a prelude to the banning of the main opposition (Socialist) party altogether. Many religious denominations have also been outlawed.

I hope the EU will ignore Hungary's calls for financial support for its economy for as long as this disastrous constitution remains in force. For this is the first domino to fall in the resurgence of European fascism.

Happy New Year Everybody!

Saw in the New Year with friends in Braemar, then on 1st January went for a walk with them near the Quoich (getting only slightly wet but passing various patches of remaining snow). Yesterday (2nd) we got up fairly early to listen to a programme on Radio Scotland all about the writing/recording/etc of Fairytale of New York (entitled Behind The Fairytale). Then we went for a walk in Glen Tanar during which we were actually caught in our first snow of 2012 (very light).

On 1st we watched To Sir With Love in the evening, and last night we watched 9 to 5. Today is Dabney Coleman's 80th birthday: hard to believe. Here he is being ably supported by Dolly Parton (who in turn....(:-)) )


Nine to Five