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

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Murder most foul. But not terrorism.

Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian has an outstanding piece entitled Was the London killing of a British soldier "terrorism"? Of course the answer to that question (his as well as mine) is "Of course not", but sadly there are plenty of people happy to call (or not to call) any killing "terrorism" if it suits their purpose. But specifically targetting a serving member of the armed forces while taking care to avoid hurt to civilians (and indeed apologising to them for making them witness the murder) is no more "terrorism" than the Fort Hood shootings were. After all, deliberately targetting soldiers and avoiding collateral damage to civilians is what the IDF claim to do, though like Barack Obama's drone strikes they seem to be less good at it than the Woolwich killers or even Nidal Hasan (who killed one civilian who charged at him while he was murdering 12 soldiers, shot only to wound when confronted with an armed civilan policewoman, and deliberately avoided shooting several other civilians). Was this guy, who deliberately targetted a civilian, a terrorost? A war criminal certainly, but not a terrorist. And how about this chap?

There are buffoons in the US Congress (OK, no shocks there....) who believe that Hasan should have been charged as a "foreign terrorist". How a Virginia-born American is "foreign", or how someone who deliberately tries to avoid civilan harm when attacking serving US soldiers is a "terrorist", is presumably something they teach you on the advanced talking-with-my-head-up-my-ass course for new Congressional representatives. Some members of Congress believe that it is necessary to define the Fort Hood shootings as an act of terrorism, or Major Hasan as a foreign combatant, in order that the dead and wounded can meet the criteria for award of the Purple Heart medal. Well, I can at least understand why they might wish that, but wishing doesn't make it so. Hasan's victims were no more wounded in combat or by terrorism than anyone else whose co-worker suddenly pulls out a gun and starts shooting. There's a reason why Fort Hood has been described as "workplace violence", and that's because it's workplace violence. Hasan didn't even have a political motivation like the Woolwich killers: he simply didn't want to deploy overseas to Afghanistan. I don't have much sympathy with that view: you sign up, you take the money, you go where they send you. But it makes him a bad soldier, not a terrorist. (I must admit I am surprised that he's still drawing his full Major's pay pending trial, but the Army say they are treating him the same way as any other soldier accused of a crime (well, not as well as Allen West, but Nidal Hasan doesn't have powerful friends in Congress to pervert the course of justice).

To return to my title: Macbeth was a murderer, and had a political motive (he wanted to be king). But he wasn't a terrorist, and not even his detractors have tried to pretend he was.

It isn't dhimmitude when they're not trying to kill me

Nothing much of interest from Bonni the Holocaust denier this week, as her hate blog s full of how the Woolwich murder and our failure to exterminate all British Muslims shows that we are now an Islamic Republic, or something. Same old, same old Britain-hating stuff, including a few clips of passport fraudster Stephen Lennon (who goes under the alias of Tommy Robinson when he isn't trying to sneak into the USA, which had the good sense to ban him years ago as a terrorist sympathiser). She also quotes unindicted war criminal and disgraced ex-soldier and ex-Congressman Allen West, who reckons we had it coming because we hadn't kicked out all the Muslims. Personally I will sleep more soundly if I know that West is banned form entering Britain: unlike most British Muslims he is a torturer and killer who glorifies genocide. Oh, and he's a woman-hating bully too, but I suppose we can't keep him out for that.

I suppose we should expect the far right to be capitalising on what is after all the first act of "Islamic terrorism" in Britain since 7/7/2005. I put quotation marks because (a) there is nothing Islamic about murder and (b) I'm not convinced that targetting a serving member of the armed forces and killing only that person and nobody else can be classed as terrorism, whatever David Cameron thinks. Is it terrorism whenever an army sniper kills a member of the Taliban? Having your head cut off is distressing, but so I imagine is having it converted to an aerosol by a quarter-kilo of metal at two-and-a-half times the speed of sound. Murder, certainly, but far more targeted a killing than a drone strike.

Here is an excellent article on the real terrorists.

In other news from the far right, the EDL demonstrate that they are so "British" they can't tell Brighton Pavilion from a mosque. I'm sure any one of the actually-British Muslims they hate so much could put them right there.



And an Israeli government minister forgets that he's supposed to pretend that his regime hasn't adopted most of its policies from the Third Reich by absent-mindedly joking about striking dock workers beng ants who need to be exterminated. Well, this stuff is still made under license as "Uragan D2" in the Czech Republic.

Books, books, books, books, marchin' up and down again

After enjoying Joe's description of his grand-daughter's fun with her Kindle, I enjoyed finding these short films on Neil's blog.





While I love my Kindle (a present from my children last Christmas) and indeed just bought a book for it which Neil had enthused about, I have to say that real books are awesome. These days I tend to have a couple of real ones and one on the Kindle all on the go at once so I can read whichever I'm in the mood for. Current real books are this and this, while on the Kndle I'm reading this. Something for every mood there, then.

....and still more music

last night Hilary and I were playing for Edinburgh Light Orchestra in the Queen's Hall. It was a busy night for Edinburgh concerts: the Edinburgh Choral Union were doing the Brahms German Requiem in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh Players were doing Haydn's Creation in St Cuthbert's, Meadows Chamber Orchestra were playing Bach and Handel in the Canongate Kirk, and somebody was doing the Nelson Mass in Greyfriars. Meanwhile we were playing The Big Country and the like. A few fun bits and bobs: we did Shostakovich's arrangement of Tea For Two which is ace, and "Where Is The Life That Late I Led?" from Kiss Me Kate.





And while we were playing a selection from Phantom of the Opera the violins had a little figure in the overture that reminded me (out of nowhere, in the deep recesses of the memory) of this blast from the past (1967!)


Keith West - Grocer Jack by Franc_6

The weirdest thing about that is that as recently as 1967 there were still ordinary grocers who hadn't been replaced by supermarkets. God, I feel old.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Music, music, music

Fun musical times for the Saunders family. Working backwards:

1) Last night our son Ruairidh had his degree recital (his last performance at Edinburgh College before he moves up to the University of the Highlands and Islands in Perth for his honours year. He's a drummer, and had put together a 45-minute programm of five pieces, all linked by a theme of fusion and all showcasing various aspects of his drumming skill. I don't have recordings of the lad himself available, but here is one of the pieces he did, to give you an idea of the level of technique we're talking about:



Here is another.



And he finished the set with Franz Zappa's The Black Page, whose first couple of minutes is this drum solo (all completely notated, not improvised at all):



Ruairidh's performance, it's fair to say, was a triumph. I kept having two thoughts. One, remembering back to when I used to sit with him (when he was about eight or so) working through his book of rudiments with him, both of us learning to go taffa-tiffy-taffa-tiffy on the snare drum: and look at him now. And the second was like, namely this: "Congratulations, Mr & Mrs Saunders: it's a drummer!" I used to be proud of my daughter when she played in the violas in NYOS, but this was a whole different order (and she knows, she was there too). There are no certainties in the music industry, but if he doesn't make it it will be neither through lack of talent nor through an insufficient work ethic.

2) Last Saturday Hilary and I played in an Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra concert comprising Weber's overture to Der Freischutz, Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Weber, and Beethoven's Eroica Symphony. Hilary was only involved in the Hindemith, but as a violinist I was in everything. That too was a very successful concert, with more people than usual coming up to me afterwards to say how much they enjoyed it. Here is a clip of a different orchestra doing the last movement of the Hindemith, which takes some beating for hummability:



It was also a satisfying organisational success for me, as one of my duties with ESO is to arrange for percussionists (and percussion instruments). The Hindemith required six players (not counting the one on timpani) hitting something like ten different instruments, half of which we had to borrow. That's a lot of players to find, and I was very pleased to have fixed six people about four weeks before the concert: not so much when two of them had to pull out, however. Still, after much telephoning, texting and emailing I eventually got my six guys (OK, one was a girl called Sam). Not only that, but five of them could make a rehearsal before the one on the day of the concert. Now that really IS unusual.

3) And before that, back on the Tuesday of last week, the string quartet I founded a few years ago played a concert. (I was about to say I formed the quartet about five years ago, but then I realised it was actually almost eight years old - just like this blog). How time flies.) The lineup has changed a couple of times over the eight years: my left-hand woman is still the lovely Emma (who still resembles Calista Flockhart in my opinion at least, though with more feminine curves), but there is now another lovely Emma sitting on my other side playing cello, and a third beauty named Rebecca sitting directly opposite armed with a viola.

The concert was actually a slot in an evening at Edinburgh Music Club. We'd played there twice before (well, all except cello Emma). The first time we chose to do Hindemith's Minimax, an acerbic set of parodies of various kinds of Germanic music named after a popular brand of fire extinguisher: we played them pretty well, but the audience was divided over whether to find them amusing or not. The next time we stayed with unusual repertoire but played it a bit safer by doing Schoenberg's Chriostmas carol arrangement Weihnachtsmusik (abetted by my wife Hilary on piano). That seemed to go down a bit better. So, third time lucky, and we did a piece we imagined quite a few of the (pretty knowledgeable) audience would know, Fratres by Arvo Part. As it turned out nobody did know it, or very much about its composer, so I had the pleasure of introducing one of my favourite pieces of music to a whole new audience. I explained beforehand that although it was tonal, it was derived just as much from the operation of formulas as any tewlve-tine piece; that Rebecca and I had to tune down some of our strings for it; that we (and cello Emma) started out playing artificial harmonics (a kind of high-pitched whistling effect); and that poor old violin Emma got to play nothing but a two-note drone throughout the piece. As we started playing, one of the audience later told us she hadnlt been at all sure what they were about to get, but as the piece unfolded itself before them they all loved it. And I mean loved: we were surrounded afterwards by people wanting to know more about the music, and asking why we didn't come and play at the Music Club more often. We were given firm instructions to come back next season (we have an obscure Schoenberg quartet already under development for them....)

Oh, I forgot to mention that while the music club isn't at all formal or dressy, we decided to adopt a uniform colour scheme or "black with a dash of red". Cue much joking about how I'd be fantasizing wildly of any of the ladies showed uo with no red visible. Anyway, as well as various scarves, ties, jewellery etc someone pointed out that the three women had red shoes and I had red socks. Perhaps if we ever want a name we should become the Rossoneri Quartet: red and black, with fancy footwork.

Anyway, here is a different quartet (with a name, and the same gender balance as ours) showing how it's done.



Actually, I think we did nearly as well, which would be strange had we not been working on the piece intermittently for a year and a half. It was deeply satisfying in all kinds of ways. I got to share an underexposed piece of music; we pushed the boat out technically in what we could do in public; and we pulled off a real success with the audience.

Phew. Now there's just the concert of light music on Saturday and the Bach B minor mass in a couple of weeks' time.....

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bonni and her fellow Holocaust revisionists disrespect the World War Two heroes who turned the tide against Hitler in North Africa (which of course is precisely why Bonni hates them)

Bonni Benstock-Intall, the Holocaust denier who wants to see the Nazis back in Germany and has adopted Hitler's birthday as her own, is annoyed that a Frenchman has drawn attention to the contribution of Muslims to the liberation of France in World War Two (I guess she's still smarting at the defeat).

Here is a good article on the contribution of Muslim soldiers to Britaian's victories in both World Wars. (Here is another on World War One.) Let's remember that it was the bravery with which the Muslims of British India had fought and died in the early days of the Second World War that led Winston Churchill to prioritise the foundation of a mosque in London in 1940 (they were dying to keep us free years before the USA even entered the war). This article lists some of the heroism shown by these men, described by General Montgomery as the best infantry division in North Africa. And of course the rector and others at the Paris mosque saved countless Jews from being sent to Auschwitz by giving them false identity papers as Muslims, and even erecting fake gravestones in their graveyard to back up their stories.

Mind you, we've seen how Bonni still ignores the contribution of fallen Muslim heroes fighting alongside American troops, so why would she worry about the ones fighting in Europe when she can barely find the continent on a map (she thinks the Coliseum is in Spain, after all).

It was of course the Zionist terror organisations in Palestine who were the supporters of Hitler. They encouraged the Nazis' deportation of Jews because this suited their goals, they signed treaties with the SS, and they attacked and murdered British soldiers. Meanwhile, Bonni the Nazi and her goose-stepping sheep accuse the Frenchman of falsifying history: this from the person who believes that the Nazis didn't make the Jews wear badges and that the Third Reich didn't restrict sexual freedom at all. All this loose talk of homosexuals being gassed and of Jews being forbidden to marry non-Jews is wicked revisionism, as is blaming the Nazis for the Holocaust (which was all the fault of Jewish Communist traitors to the Reich).

DS Dunlap, one of Bonni's Nazi sheep who lives in Omaha and runs an anti-democracy blog (explaining why majority rule is bad), tells us that it's strange how he doesn't remember seeing many pictures of "Mohammedans" among the Allied forces. (Damn these pesky brown people who all look alike: if only they had MUSLIM stamped on their foreheads). This genius informs us "I recall Nepalese Gurkhas, Indian Sikhs and Hindus, Africans of the British Empire, and Canadians serving the Allied Cause for the British Empire and Commonwealth. Senegalese, Malians, and Gambians from French West Africa in the Free French forces." So the Indians he saw were all "Sikhs and Hindus", even though India at the time included the whole of modern Pakistan and Bangladesh and the Indian army had nearly as many Muslims as Hindus (and twice as many as all the Gurkhas and Sikhs put together). And what religion does he imagine those "Senegalese, Malians and Gambians" followed? (Senegal 94% Muslim, Mali 90% Muslim, Gambia 90% Muslim). So despite the huge number of Muslims he admits were in all those armies, " somehow, my studies of history missed the 'vital' Mohammedan contribution to the Allied cause." I'm amazed Bonni didn't ban him for pointing out all those Muslims in the Free French forces, which after all is precisely what Bonni's invented history seeks to deny.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

No point in trying to build the new Jerusalem when half of the old one is still under the jackboot of an illegal occupation.

It is with considerable pleasure, and indeed surprise, that I am able to report that the Church of Scotland has published its report on Israel and Palestine. You remember: the one that caused Israel's representative on Earth in Britan to stamp his pretty little foot and wail about how deeply hurt Israel was by this anti-semitic pandering to "extremist political positions".

My surprise and delight aren't that the report was published at all: not even the mighty Israel lobby would ever persuade the Kirk to keep a report under wraps forever. But it is wonderful to see that the "revisions" forced on the Kirk amount to no more than was in the report already, had the Israelis bothered to read it before making coded accusations of Nazism against its authors.

In particular, the Kirk remains (as it has been for many years) committed to the following principles:

That the current situation is characterised by an inequality in power, therefore reconciliation can only be possible if the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the blockade of Gaza, are ended.

The Church of Scotland condemns violence, terrorism and intimidation no matter the perpetrator.

The Church of Scotland affirms the right of Israelis and Palestinians to live within secure and fixed boundaries in states of their own.

The Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are illegal under international law.

The Church of Scotland should do nothing to promote the viability of the illegal settlements on Palestinian land.

That human rights of all peoples should be respected, and this should include the right of return and/or compensation for Palestinian refugees.

That negotiations between the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority about peace with justice must resume at the earliest opportunity and the Church of Scotland should continue to put political pressure on all parties to commence such negotiations, and asking all parties to recognize the inequality in power which characterizes this situation.

That there are safe rights of access to the sacred sites for the main religions in the area.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Black Label, Blue Steel

Posting the Grolsch ad reminded me of another beer commercial. Reviving this one this week is very appropriate as it's the 70th anniversary of the "Dambusters" raid.



Of course for British viewers it's full of self-deprecation in that back in the 1980s the England football team seemed to be forever losing to Germany in penalty shootouts.

When I was fifteen I went on an Air Training Corps camp to RAF Scampton, which was the base of 617 Squadron (aka the Dambusters). At the time they were flying Avro Vulcans like this, armed with what we would now describe as cruise missiles (with nuclear warheads, of course - or as the airmen called them, "buckets of sunshine"). Just like the one flying over Niagara Falls in this picture.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Motes and beams

Professional Islamophobes like Pamela Geller are forever banging on about the dreadful treatment of gays under Islam, and so are the paid but distinctly amateurish ones like Bonni the Hitler Fan, but if they really gave a damn about the persecution of gays they'd start closer to home. Read this post by Ed Brayton.

Consider also: treatment of gays in Christian Russia.

Treatment of gays in Christian Uganda (ably assisted by American evangelical Christians).

Treatment of gays in (mostly) Christian Ethiopia (again encouraged by American evangelicals).

And let us remember that when Israel invaded Jordan and stole the West Bank in 1967, a country which had legalised homosexuality in 1951 was being invaded by one where it would remain criminal until 1988. Gee, I bet all the poor oppressed gays in the West Bank were happy to be "liberated" into Israeli jails.

I'll just get my wrench out

Here is a classic British ad (for Dutch beer) from a few years back. As you can imagine (or if you're British, remember) it led to much use of the catchphrase ("Stop! this blog post isn't ready yet! Where is the video clip? And why is Rob wasting time typing when people want to watch it?")

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What are the Teapublicans covering up with their "Benghazigate" fakery?

The President seems to expect that the morons who drone on about "Benghazigate" will be interested in logic, or facts. Hello-o! These are the same illiterate Foxwits who still believe he's a Muslim "because he's never publicly recanted" (facepalm).



Tell you what: if you want to investigate delays and cover-ups, how come more than a week after a piece of aircraft undercarriage was found in a gap between buildings at the Park51 islamic Centre in NYC, the serial number we were told it bears has still not been matched one way or the other to either of the 9/11 aircraft? Could it be that it is in fact (shock!) unrelated to 9/11 and planted by opponents of the centre? Two aircraft, three set of wheels on each: how long does it take to check six numbers? And how did a piece of rope get tied to the wheels? And how did they get into a gap only an inch wider than they are with no damage to the wheels or the walls? How about a congressional hearing into Undercarriagegate?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Enemies within (three different ones) (with apologies to Pink Floyd....)

OK, hmm, let me see. A certifiable loon teaches members of the United States ammed forces that its enemies are not terrorists but Muslims. All Muslims: men, women, children, whoever. he teaches that the USA should consider killing as many Muslim civilians as possible becase the Geneva Conventions are no longer relevant. In fact, it should consider pre=emptive nuclear attacks on Mecca and Medina, those well-known hardened military bases, because... er, because.... well, because he read a book about Muslims once and it fwightened him. Yes, Matthew Dooley, I'm talking about you.

This gibbering tub of lard was rightly removed form his teaching position, but surprisingly allowed to remain in the service to bring further disgrace to his flag and his uniform. Then a week or so back the loon received the shocking news that the US Army (still paying this worthless layabout, please note) has declined hs application to lead a combat unit. LOL: as though we were qualified to lead anything. The guy should have been court-martialled for preaching terrorism and war crimes, but the US taxpayer is still paying for his beer and cable TV: so why is the privileged little whiner now threatening to sue the real soldiers who moved him to where he could cause no more damage to his country?

I note that Dooley's lawyers come from an institution which has on its board someone with considerable experience of war crimes, terrorism and disgracing his uniform. And sure enough, Allen West, disgraced ex-soldier and dumped ex-Congressman, who no longer has helpless civilians to torture or bigots to represent, has stuck his ignorant oar into this affair, as you will see if you can watch this interview without barfing. I am amused to note that Richard Thompson (Dooley's pseudo-lawyer, not the great guitarist) shares with G W Bush the misapprehension that "nucular" is a word. Apprenely Dooley is whining that after his bosses had tried to hide the filth he was spewing form DoD scrutiny, someone who saw him in action went and told on him. Woo-hoo! we can't have whistle-blowers protecting our constitution against people inciting war crimes! After all, he'd had all kinds of good reports before that. (Yeah, and Osama bin Laden had great feedback on his engineeering skills before 9/11. Clearly the Thomas More Law Center doesn't instruct its students, professors, fake lawyers of whatever kind, in the marsalling of relevant points.....)

Unindicted war criminal West believes that Dooley's calls for genocide of Muslims is defensible as "academic freedom". Gosh, so hitler could have defended himself from all those beastly accusations by just putting his ideas for killing Jews into a course and having it delivered to senior officers of the Wehrmacht as a lesson. Thompson reckons that the Muslim Brotherhood members who influence the Pentagon's decisions (oh, right, THOSE Muslim Brotherhood members.....edges away quietly) caused all this trouble to a poor wee soul who just wanted to be left alone and unidentified to spew genocidal hatred. "What do you think will happen to his career?" asks Thompson. The second thought that went through my head after "who the fuck cares? He's still sucking at the taxpayers' teat!" was that confessing to actually committing a war crime (not just inciting others to them) did Allen West's career no harm. He had to leave the military in a hurry of course, but there are plenty of well-funded people just waiting to throw recruit angry haters who feel agrieved that their entitlement to other people's money just dried up. I predict we'll see Dooley speechwriting for West or Bachmann or some other loon as soon as his lawsuit is flung out on its ear.

Still, West got one thing right. He said "We have to have courageous men and women that are willing to stand up and inform and protect the American people from this very dangerous enemy that has infiltrated into every aspect of our lives". Indeed so, Mr West, and its heartening to see just how many people are willing to stand up to inform and protect US citizens against America-hating filth like you, Dooley, and Thompson. It's a free country: you can all spout your hatred on Youtube or cable TV, but when you try to do it in uniform, at public expense, expect to have your worthless butts kicked out of town. because you're nearly a laugh but you're really a cry.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Little Red Bah!

Having become a bit lax about visiting Little Red Boat (the blog of the lovely Anna, s far as I know neither red nor little, nor, usually, boaty) I went to post a comment on her most recent post and found that sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

BAH.

Like the Windmill Theatre (though sadly with less of this sort of thing) we never close here at EKN, so it annoys me when other folk slam their cyberdoors in my face. Well, except for Uncle Jimmy, who became so embarrassed by the racist filth with which he filled his blog that when he moved on to a political career somewhere (Liberty GB? the Teapublicans? who knows?) he blocked access to it for anyone not already part of his inner circle. LOL. I would love to think I played a part in that embarrassment.

Anyway. I was going to comment to say that I like her idea of a play club. Also that I would have posted the remaining jigsaw pieces through the crack in the floorboards too. And that a border collie dog sitting on each foot is also an awesome pair of slippers.

Thst is all.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

More faux outrage from the Teabaggers who find Benghazi too hard to spell

There is a lot of guff going around about an Imam "cursing" US Navy SEALs at a ramp ceremony (funeral) at which (supposedly) "no mention of the Judeo-Christian God was allowed". Leaving aside the question of whether Allah and the "Judeo-Christian God" are one and the same, as Muslims would contend, it's bollocks. First of all it was a multi-faith funeral for the SEALs (presumably mainly Christian) and the Afghan soldiers and translator who died alongsidee them. Then we have the "translation" of the Imam's remarks. Here's what he said:

“Amen I shelter in Allah from the devil who has been cast with stones. In the name of Allah the merciful giver. The companions of the fire are not equal with the companions of heaven. The companions of heaven are the winners. Had we sent this Koran to a mountain, you would have seen the mountain prostrated in fear of Allah. Such examples are what we present to the people; to the people, so that they would think. Blessings are to your God, the God of glory of what they describe. And peace be upon the messengers and thanks be to Allah the lord of both universes.”

The video circulating widely now (several months after all this took place) shows only the Muslim part of the funeral, not the prayers by the Christian chaplain. it also has a few additions to the Islamic prayer in its subtitling. They are helpfully put in brackets so whoever came up with them can deny attributing them to the Imam:

“Amen. I shelter in Allah from the devil who has been cast with stones. In the name of Allah the merciful forgiver. The companions of the “fire” (the sinners and infidels who are fodder for hell fire) are not equal with the companions of heaven. The companions of heaven (Muslims) are the winners. Had we sent this Koran to a mountain, you would have seen the mountain prostrated in fear of Allah (mocking the God of Moses). Such examples are what we present to the people, so that they would think (repent and convert to Islam). Blessings are to your God (Allah), the God of glory of what they describe. And peace be upon the messengers (prophets) and thanks be to Allah the lord of both universes (mankind and Jinn).”

The additions to the translation have been approved, however, by none other than self-styled ex-terrorist and expert on Islam Walid ShoeBat. So that's alright then.

Oh, and it's all President Obama's fault. Whatever it is. Apparently.

UPDATE: Bonni "Bring back the Nazis to Germany" Benstock-Intall has jumped onto this bandwagon, though as you might expect she cocks it all up beautifully. Poor dear: all she was required to do was spew out the lies pre-written for her by Shoebat and the rest of the professional haters who fund her site. But she can't resist adding bits of her own that simply make it obvious that she hasn't a clue how to do the job they pay her for.

Bonni Balls-Up #1: "There was no Muslim who died in the crash"

Apart from the seven Afghan soldiers and the Afghan translator, that is. Oh, THOSE Muslims.

Bonni Balls-Up #2: "The Imam's prayer begins at 4:10"

Whoops, that's still in the middle of the CHRISTIAN chaplain's prayer, which starts at 3:54 and has been amateurishly cut at 4:00. Oh, Bonni, you weren't supposed to draw attention to the man behind the curtain: you had clear instructions to maintain that all mention of the Judeo-Christian God had been banned from the ceremony. When you're provided with a video which stupidly leaves some of the Christian prayers in after cutting the rest, you DON'T draw people's attention to it!

Tell me: who are the America-haters?

An attempt by an Arab to murder an American.

And the people who celebrate it.

An attempt to reduce bullying in American schools.

And the people who oppose it.

No easy walk to freedom

I have posted before about the struggle of Israeli women for equal rights. Their struggle continues, one step at a time.

At least in places like Iran they pretend to have trials before they do this sort of thing to people

All about priorities

My fellow-blogger Joe (In Vegas) can be duly proud of his state. This is from the Facebook page of "Rasputin Gregori Toporland" so should maybve be treated with caution, but it wouldn't surprise me. Anyway, go Nevada!

Move along, folks, nothing to see here, just another white "patriot" terrorist who is being investigated in connection with what may have been the biggest slaughter of American civilians snce 9/11

Is it not revealing that immediately after the Boston bombing the right-wing US media were all full of how it must be Islamic terrorism even though  it occurred on Patriot's Day and close to the anniversary of the Waco siege? And then when a huge explosion near Waco itself caused far more deaths and injuries than the Boston bombs everyone was claiming it was just an industrial accident? Because how could you pin it on Muslims? So it couldn't be deliberate, right?

So now it turns out that one of the first responders at the scene of that blast has been charged with possession of a pipe bomb (and if a pressure cooker is classed as a WMD I damned well hope a pipe bomb is, or is that a Muslim-only charge too?) we should be hearing loads of media speculation about domestic right-wing terrorism, right? (Listen to those crickets chirp.....)

Now even if the guy is a terrorist bomber it is far from proven that he was responsible for the factory explosion; and even if he did turn out to be responsible he might just be the kind of guy who likes causing exciting incidents to liven up his day as a paramedic. We don't yet know why the paramedic organisation that employed him fired him two days after the blast. It looks as though he's a nutty "patriot" bomber but for all we know he may never have actually blown anything up.

But compare the comparative lack of media interest with the frenzied speculation about the far less devastating Boston blasts, and it's hard not to feel that American domestic terrorism - which the FBI  accepts is overwhelmingly carried out by white males, many of them traumatised ex-servicemen - is totally invisible, and deliberately kept that way.

Meanwhile Bonni "Blame The Jews" Benstock-Intall distracts attention from the inconvenient revelations by calling on her tame thugs to desecrate the grave of Tarmerlan Tsarnaev. Because, as one of her commenters puts it, it's "just like this fiendish ideology" to give their dead a decent burial. Another moron reckons that the Muslims broke their own rules by allowing him to be buried even though nore than 24 hours had passed since his death. So presumably all those Muslim victims of 9/11 who couldn't be retrieved for several days should have been left to rot? Or the Muslims who died fighting for the USA? Sometimes you wonder whether these guys need carers to help them turn on their computers without hurting themselves or drooling onto the keyboard.

Friday, May 10, 2013

O brave new "Brave" that hath such people in it

Unless you live in a cave in Tora Bora you probably noticed that last year Disney/Pixar released a splendid animated film Brave. The heroine of Brave is Merida, daughter of a Scottish clan chieftain (voiced by Billy Connolly) who refuses to accept the girly role her mother (voice by Emma Thompson) wants her to fill. In my opinion Merida is one of the few Disney cartoon heroines who seems like a normal human girl, the kind your children could identify with. (OK, maybe Belle in Beauty and the Beast too.) She has red hair! And it's always a mess! She has a normal shape! She rides a heavy horse! And shoots a bow better than any of the local lads!



So when, in readiness for her induction into the pantheon of Disney Princesses, Disney released these pictures of how Merida had been reimagined, the shit hit the fan (or several thousand fans, in fact):



This blog post covers the issues pretty well, and points out the equal indignities visited upon previous Disney Princesses, but I am especially aggrieved for poor Merida, considering that the whole point of her character is that she is precisely NOT a girly princess.



OK, now trot over to change.org and sign the petition asking Disney to reconsider the makeover.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

It's clear why the BBC invariably caves in to Zionist pressure: but what on Earth did the foot-stamping little whiner Daniel Taub threaten the Church of Scotland with?

Last week I went to watch a documentary on BBC 4 about archaeological discoveries in Jerusalem. It was featured in the TV listings as one of the programmes of the day, so I was a little taken aback to find that it had been replaced at zero notice with a repeat of a documentary about the famous Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie.

It was always likely that a programme questioning one of the founding myths of the state of Israel would upset Zionists; and given the BBC's dogged and one-sided support for Israel and dismissal of any alternative viewpoints it was hardly surprising that this programme was pulled. A quick phone call from the Israeli embassy or one of its embedded BBC managers, and the programme vanishes as an "editorial misfit", never to be shown under any circumstances.

Well, it seems that it wasn't that exactly: the BBC never actually intended to show the film itself but only a censored version of it, hence the retitling (the original film was called Exile: A Myth Unearthed). When the film's director complained that he'd been given about three days to comment on the cuts (the BBC having sat on the film for six months) the BBC simply cancelled it for good.

At least in countries such as North Korea when the state broadcaster bows to government pressure it's from their own government.

Meanwhile, more locally, the Chiurch of Scotland has published a discussion paper to be debated at its General Assembly in a couple of weeks. The paper The Inheritance of Abraham? A Report on the Promised Land suggests that there is no biblical support for a divine right of Jews to the land of Israel. It criticises the illegal occupation and the contiuing expansion of the illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories. Well, duh. The report makes it quite clear that it does not question Israel's right to exist nor does it call for a boycott or sanctions against the regime.

Of course, there's no pleasing some folk. Israel's Ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub, described the report as "playing into extremist political positions" (read: we accuse anyone who fails to march in step with the Israeli regime of being a Nazi) and said that it "belittles the deeply held Jewish attachment to the land of Israel in a way that is deeply hurtful". I'm so sorry that Mr Taub's ickle feelings were hurt, but I'm sure he'll feel better after a few more Palestinian children have been extrajudicially executed for throwing stones.

Still, if you try to follow the link from that BBC report to the Kirk's report itself you will find that the link is broken, as is the link from the Kirk's own website. It appears that the report is being suppressed until editorial changes have been made to bring it in line with Israeli requirements. So if a Christian church is having its policy made by the government of a self-proclaimed "Jewish state", what will be the next demand? Crucifixion denial? Jesus wasn't killed, that's just an anti-semitic calumny that "plays into extremist political positions"? Scottish Christians' disinclination to be circumcised belittles the "deeply held Jewish attachment" to mutilation of babies?

I sincerely hope that if Scotland votes for independence next year we will not feel the need to invite Israel to send us a thug an ambassador of our own. There is no point in having diplomatic links with a country which despises diplomacy and scorns intermational law, and if we must be subjected to constant whining demands for special treatment by the Israeli regime let them do it from Tel Aviv and keep their filthy hands out of our press, our television and our churches.

Back To The ..... well, the Past actually

Bonni the Jew-hating New Yorker must live in some kind of timewarp, where stories from five years ago are reported as being from last Tuesday.

Bonni Benstock-Intall: winding back the clock to Kristallnacht, five years at a time.

Update: her most recent post is entitled From hijab to G-string, Sahara is England's newest Muslim porn star. Mostly it's a link to a short documentary video which is interesting but not only very definitely NSFW but not for the very shockable. However, describing Sahara (full professional name Sahara Knite) as England's newest Muslim porn star when she started her career in 2004, the video clip must have been made around 2006 (as that's when her family found out) and the guy who produces her videos claims most of his British Asian models are Muslim does seem to suggest that there is a time vortex hanging over Bayside Drive in Queens.

Still, the poor dear (Bonni, not Sahara) is none too bright in other ways. "From hijab to G-string": Sahar doesn't wear a hijab, and much of the time when working seems not to wear a G-string either. "Muslim men jerking off to her videos": What, only Muslim men? I suspect millions of American teenagers saw Sahara playing a hooker in HBO's Game of Thrones a couple of years back. Deal with it.

Dressed to Impress

I feel like doing a themed music selection. How about items of clothing?

Little Blue Number (Richard Thompson)



Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini (Brian Hyland)



Little Black Dress (Shock Treatment soundtrack, by Richard O'Brien)



Ah, memories of my childhood: Oh Soldier, Soldier, Won't You Marry Me by Diana Trask



This Pullover (Jess Conrad) - as featured in Kenny Everett's World's Worst Record Show



A famous song about someone who prefers other people's clothes



I was trying to find a clip of Satin and Silk from the Silk Stockings soundtrack, but no luck. So here instaed is Fred Astaire with Top Hat



And finally, moving from top to toe, so to speak, we have Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman (from The Avengers TV series) doing Kinky Boots, a promo spin-off



American readers will know Honor Blackman better as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger but over here she was already a star by then.

When the facts contradict the urban legend, bugger the facts and pour scorn on people who check them

Bonni Benstock-Intall the Holocaust denier is getting all excited at the thought that the dead Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev might be buried in Arlington National Cemetery because a USAF veteran called Julie Frein has offered to give up her own plot there.

I know Bonni refuses to have anything to do with snopes.com because she reckons it's run by Joooos, but she should have paid a little more attention to Snopes and a little less to random neo-Nazi bloggers calling themselves things like "Joe For America" and writing illiterate diatribes about how the only reason women were ever allowed in the military was a "social experiment". (Try telling that to a female Israeli soldier, Joe, and then count your teeth when you've picked them up.) Because as Snopes reasonably points out, Arlington plots are non-transferable, so whatever Ms Frein's wishes on the matter, Mr Tsarnaev won't be buried there. But Bonni would hardly allow a little matter of easily checked fact to impede a good story, especially when her batshit-crazy fellow-blogger attempts to implicate President Obama in all of this somehow.

Come ON, guys: if you're going to manufacture faux outrage over non-stories and fabricate non-existent linkes to your elected President shouldn't you be following the herd and mooing plaintively about "Benghazigate"?

UPDATE: it looks as though someone else has donated a plot which is fully transferable, so that Mr Tsarnaev can have a decent burial after all. No doubt the likes of Bonni and her fellow-employees in the Islamophobia Industry will be orchestrating death threats against Paul Douglas Keane and organising vandalism of the Mount Carmel cametery: because there's no better way to demonstrate one's commitment to American values than by trashing graves, right?

FURTHER UPDATE: Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been buried. Good.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Context: it matters.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

May the Fifth be with us

It was thirty-five years ago today that I asked Hilary to marry me. Actually the conversation had veered round to a number of our female acquantances who had recently become engaged to former students at University College, Durham ("Castlemen" - the college at that time was men-only). As I recall, I made a remark to the effect that if Hilary would like to consider herself engaged to a Castleman that would suit me fine. OKm so not down on one knee with a ring in a box, but then her response ("OK") wasn't exactly the stuff of Valentines either.

But here we are. We got married in September 1979, and we're still married. To each other. The scale of that achievement was only really brought home to me when I attended a school reunion a few weeks ago and was listening to pretty much all my old chums bemoaning the expense of their respective divorces. It hasn't all been plain sailing, of course not, and there have been times when things looked distinctly dodgy, but we're still together, and if not in the first flush of romance, at least still best friends.

This post would probably be more romantic if we weren't spending this weekend in different places. Hilary has taken advantage of the long weekend (Monday is a holiday here) to go up to the Ballater flat with her mother. I had commitments in Edinburgh (a hospital appointment and a rehearsal) so I'm sitting in our living room there thinking that if I don't get the housework done there may be no opportunity for a 36th anniversary post....

In the early days of our relationship we listened to Electric Light Orchestra a lot (Kenny Everett was a huge fan and played them all the time on his Capital Radio show). This one seems not inappropriate: Hilary introduced me to a lot of opera and I introduced her to a lot of rock. The subsequent convergence of our musical tastes is definitely some sort of metaphor for our relationship (let's not explore the possibilities of "dramatic" - or indeed "rocky" - in too much detail....).

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Delayed Departure

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
Questions.

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.

Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal.

Accentuate the positive

Yay! A step towards women's equality in Israel (the renowned "democracy").

But only a step.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Too darned hot

I was reading a post recently by Melanie Phillips, resident nutter at the Daily Mail, in which she wrote:

The theory of man-made global warming is nothing other than a scam based on dodgy computer modelling, misrepresentation of scientific evidence and outright frauds.

For the past ten years there has been no warming of the climate. It was warmer back in the Middle Ages. Hundreds of climate?related scientists, among them some of the most distinguished in their fields, have been saying for years that the theory is simply nonsensical.


I always thought that saying it was warmer in the Middle Ages was a poor argument: ten thousand years ago the site of my house was under 50 metres of ice. But f it's hard temperature data over 60-odd years you want, here is a great video from NASA (who know a thing or two about science).
Watch 62 Years of Global Warming in 13 Seconds (via Climate Central)

Don't Have Flash? Watch this video on your iPad or iPhone here From our friends at NASA comes this amazing 13-second animation that depicts how temperatures around the globe have warmed since 1950. You’ll note an acceleration of the temperature trend in the late 1970s as greenhouse gas emissions…

Read more »

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Extraordinary how potent cheap German cover versions are

So there I was on Facebook, trying to link a Youtube clip of Shirley Collins and the Albion Country Band doing Hal-An-Tow, it being May Day and all that. Apparently because of copyright issue this recording, made in Britain with British musicians, may not be viewed in Britain. Bah!

As May Day is also International Workers' Day I decided that an appropriate alternative version of Hal-An-Tow would be this one, performed by a couple of German chaps to celebrate their swimming club. You now me: never one to pass up the chance of a weird cover version. And this is definitely odd, yet somehow strangely appealing. Who said the Germans had no sense of humour?



(* Yes, I know Hal-an-Tow is the music for the Helston Furry Dance. Yes I know that takes place next Wednesday. Your problem is?)

Two memories stirring.... One is of a columnist in Folk Review back in the 1970s who dreamed of opening a folk club and calling it "Hal and Joe's Jolly Bungalow". Which would be awesome. (If you don't know the English lyrics of Hal-An-Tow, all is explained here.)

And the other is of a radio comedy series from my youth. Round The Horne was essential listening in our house (and many many others). It had several running gags from week to week: there were Julian and Sandy, the two outrageously camp entrepreneurs; Rambling Syd Rumpo, Kenneth Williams' folk singer with unintelligible but suggestive dialect lyrics; there were the elderly acting couple hamming their way through a romantic scene; and there was some kind of celebration of a national day such as today. Or not so much:

Another type of opening featured announcements about a particular event, e.g. Coat A Sheep in Raspberry Jam Week, Immerse an Orangutan in Porridge Week, Smear A Traffic Warden in Bloater Paste For Asia Day, or something equally bizarre. This would be the excuse for all sorts of happenings, such as the two-man inter-rabbi bobsleigh championships (to be held on the down escalator at Leicester Square underground station — weather and platform tickets permitting), Formation Goat Nadgering, Paso Doble Jockey Wagging, Floodlit Horse Massage, and Nark Fettering on Ice, and reports of the latest activities of the Over-Eighties Nudist Leapfrog (or Basketball, or Judo) Team.

I actually remembered "Smear A Traffic Warden With Bloater Paste for Asia Day", not to mention "Festoon a Gnome With Bacon Rind Day". They don;t write them like that any more.

Ugly Mugs



More on the Ugly Mugs scheme in this recent BBC report.

And some comments on the report here.

In which while looking for stuff on Islamophobia I find really interesting articles on the rise of the Taliban and on unionisation of sex workers

It's a funny old world. I was making my way via Google to Islamophobia Watch, a site I visit from time to time to see what the crazies are up to, especially the ones in the UK. I chanced upon a site full of a diatribe against IW by Edmund Standing, an oddball weirdo who has come on the receiving end of its criticism for denying that the British National Party is Islamophobic. (No, really, it's all just coincidence.) I the course of his raging against the "Marxist" who runs IW, he linked to this amazing 2008 article on the situation in Afghanistan. It's the best summary of how we got where we are (or more accurately, how the Afghans got where THEY were in 2008) that I've ever read. It explains why, after many years of a generally left-leaning regime in Afghanistan, there is now very little popular support for the left, for feminism or for secularism (Standing doesn't consider the Taliban right-wing, presumably in the same way that Bonni Benstock-Intall complains that Hitler was a far-left socialist). I hadn't appreciated that feminists and the left overwhelmingly supported the Russian invasion which led to the death or displacement of around two-thirds of the population. it's not hard to see how this would be unpopular, or how its unpopularity would take many years to overturn. Then this century the same factions supported the US-led invasion, ensuring that the Taliban would have pretty much unopposed popular suport for another generation. For Standing, of course, to explain how the Taliban's support came about is to support acid attacks on schoolgirls.

And while I was browsing around the International Socialism site I found this excellent article from 2010 on sex work and the unionisation of sex workers. Regulars will know that it's a topic dear to my heart (all the more so since I narrowly missed getting a job in an NGO campaigning for sex workers's rights internationally - the ones who run this scheme in fact.) So you won't be surprised that I found the article interesting, especially given my trade union history.

What he said