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

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Elephants In The Room

Here is a selection of wonders from the Texas Republican Party's 2012 platform. From a British, or indeed a European perspective, having one or two of these items in your party platform might qualify you as an extreme party, or even a slightly weird one. Having forty-five (and that's just the ones that leapt off the page at me as being whacked-out) debars you from being taken seriously in any political context whatsoever.

Yet people who genuinely believe that this recipe for Kandahar-on-the-Rio-Grande is the way forward are trying to replace President Obama with someone they hope will advance their agenda. Now that scares me much more than imaginary Iranian nuclear weapons, or "Islamic terrorism": more for that matter than climate change or global economic collapse.

Protection from Extreme Environmentalists – We strongly oppose all efforts of the extreme environmental groups that stymie legitimate business interests. We strongly oppose those efforts that attempt to use the environmental causes to purposefully disrupt and stop those interests within the oil and gas industry. We strongly support the immediate repeal of the Endangered Species Act. We strongly oppose the listing of the dune sage brush lizard either as a threatened or an endangered species. We believe the Environmental Protection Agency should be abolished.

Banning the Use of Red Light Cameras – We oppose the manner in which alleged vehicle violations are documented and fines levied against individuals without proof of their having been the driver of the offending vehicle and we call for the ban on Red Light Cameras in the State of Texas

American English - We support adoption of American English as the official language of Texas and of the United States.

Flag Desecration - Any form of desecration of the American Flag is an act of disregard for our nation and its people and penalties should be established for such.

Family and Defense of Marriage ― We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman....

Homosexuality ― We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle, in public policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.

Right To Life - All innocent human life must be respected and safeguarded from fertilization to natural death; therefore, the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We affirm our support for a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution and to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection applies to unborn children. We support the Life at Conception Act. We oppose the use of public revenues and/or facilities for abortion or abortion-related services. We support the elimination of public funding for organizations that advocate or support abortion. We are resolute regarding the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child ― We unequivocally oppose the United States Senate’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Foster Care ― We support eliminating bureaucratic prohibitions on corporal discipline and home schooling in foster homes.

Social Security ― We support an immediate and orderly transition to a system of private pensions based on the concept of individual retirement accounts, and gradually phasing out the Social Security tax.

Gambling ― We oppose the expansion of legalized gambling and encourage the repeal of the Texas State lottery.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) ― We demand the immediate repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which we believe to be unconstitutional.

Immunizations ― All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves or their minor children without penalty for refusing a vaccine.

American Identity Patriotism and Loyalty – We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive. We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups. Students should pledge allegiance to the American and Texas flags daily to instill patriotism.

Bilingual Education – We encourage non-English speaking students to transition to English within three years.

Classroom Discipline –We recommend that local school boards and classroom teachers be given more authority to deal with disciplinary problems. Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas.

Controversial Theories – We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

Sex Education – We recognize parental responsibility and authority regarding sex education. We believe that parents must be given an opportunity to review the material prior to giving their consent. We oppose any sex education other than abstinence until marriage.

Right to Keep and Bear Arms – America’s founding fathers wrote the 2 nd amendment with clear intent – no level of government shall regulate either the ownership or possession of firearms. Therefore we strongly oppose all laws that infringe on the right to bear arms. We oppose the monitoring of gun ownership, and the taxation and regulation of guns and ammunition. We collectively urge the legislature to pass “constitutional carry” legislation whereby law-abiding citizens that possess firearms can legally exercise their God-given right to carry that firearm as well.

Freedom of Access Act – We urge repeal of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Law. Those who assault peaceful protesters acting under the Constitution should be vigorously prosecuted. Picketing and literature distribution do not fall under the RICO Act.

Judeo-Christian Nation – As America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles, we affirm the constitutional right of all individuals to worship in the religion of their choice.

Safeguarding Our Religious Liberties – We affirm that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength. We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state.

Equality of All Citizens – We deplore all discrimination. We also deplore forced sensitivity training and urge repeal of any mandate requiring it. We urge immediate repeal of the Hate Crimes Law. Until the Hate Crimes Law is totally repealed, we urge the Legislature to immediately remove the education curriculum mandate and the sexual orientation category in said Law.

Capital Punishment – Properly applied capital punishment is legitimate, is an effective deterrent, and should be swift and unencumbered.

Child Abuse – We oppose actions of social agencies to classify traditional methods of discipline, including corporal punishment, as child abuse.

Federal Tax Reform – We recommend repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, with the goal of abolishing the I.R.S and replacing it with a national sales tax collected by the States.

Law of the Sea – Adopted by the UN in 1982, we still oppose the Law of the Sea Treaty

Government Restrictions – We support immediate removal of government barriers to free market solutions to production and distribution of energy including restrictions on:
- drilling and production operations on public and private lands and waters
- refineries
- electric power generation and distribution
- federal gas mileage standards (CAFÉ standards) and fuel blends

U.S. Department of Energy – We support the elimination of the Department of Energy.

Incandescent Light Bulbs - We support the freedom to continue to use and manufacture incandescent light bulbs.

Keystone XL Pipeline – We support the immediate approval and construction of the Keystone XL and other pipelines that will reduce our reliance on imported oil and natural gas from unstable or unfriendly countries.

Deep Water Drilling – We support immediate resumption of deep water drilling and production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Land Drilling – We support land drilling and production operations including hydraulic fracturing.

Ethanol – We support the repeal of legislation mandating ethanol as fuel additives and/or primary fuel.

Minimum Wage – We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed.

Federal Reserve System – We believe Congress should repeal the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.

Sound Money – Our founding fathers warned us of the dangers of allowing central bankers to control our currency because inflation equals taxation without representation. We support the return to the time tested precious metal standard for the U.S. dollar.

Sarbanes Oxley – We support the repeal of Sarbanes Oxley legislation.

United Nations – We support the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations and the removal of U.N. headquarters from U.S. soil.

Traditional Military Culture – To protect our serviceman and women and ensure that America's Armed Forces remain the best in the world, we affirm the timelessness of those values, the benefits of traditional military culture and the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service.

Birthright Citizenship – We call on the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of the United States to clarify Section 1 of the 14 th amendment to limit citizenship by birth to those born to a citizen of the United States with no exceptions.

Foreign Aid – We oppose foreign aid except in cases of national defense or catastrophic disasters, with Congressional approval.

International Organizations – We support U.S. withdrawal from the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank.

Israel – We believe that the United States and Israel share a special long-standing relationship based on shared values, a mutual commitment to a republican form of government, and a strategic alliance that benefits both nations. Our foreign policy with Israel should reflect the special nature of this relationship through continued military and economic assistance and recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths. We believe that the US Embassy should be located in Jerusalem. In our diplomatic dealings with Israel, we encourage the continuation of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but oppose pressuring Israel to make concessions it believes would jeopardize its security, including the trading of land for the recognition of its right to exist. We call on the U.S. to cease strong arming Israel through prior agreements with the understanding of delivering equipment to them to defend themselves in exchange for future diplomatic concessions, such as giving up land to the Palestinians on the West Bank. We support the continuation of non-recognition of terrorist nations and organizations. Our policy is based on God’s biblical promise to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel and we further invite other nations and organizations to enjoy the benefits of that promise.

They Don't Need No Education

The Republican Party in Texas has adopted as its platform for the next two years an education plan including the following:

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

So teaching children how to go about telling truth from lies (giving them a "crap detector", if you like) is bad. Because basing your life on facts rather than "fixed beliefs" and "parental authority" is just plain wicked. Oh,

I know the Republicans are saying that it was a mistake that that paragraph appeared in the final version of the platform, but it did, so it's a mistake they will have to live with. And if this revealing "mistake" costs them the votes of Texans and others who don't believe the promotion of ignorance and prejudice should even be on the education agenda, let alone written into party policy: then three cheers for that.

P.S. do read the whole Texas Republican platform. It's a belter. As a great example of the kind of policies that would be threatened by critical thinking, how about this:

Judeo-Christian Nation – As America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles, we affirm the constitutional right of all individuals to worship in the religion of their choice.

Or how about the combination of this

Foreign Aid – We oppose foreign aid except in cases of national defense or catastrophic disasters, with Congressional approval.

followed almost at once by this

Israel – We believe that the United States and Israel share a special long-standing relationship..... Our foreign policy with Israel should reflect the special nature of this relationship through continued military and economic assistance....

Republicans! Hate America but don't know where to go?

Following on from my recent post on right-wing American reactions to the upholding of Obamacare by SCOTUS, including a host of imbeciles who wanted to escape universal health care by moving to Canada, here is a post which suggests places where these fools could actually escape it.

Twinned with Burn of Qu'ran in Gainseville, FL....

On one of our visits to Ballater back in March, Hilary and I went in search of the Sheiling of Mark, of which there is a large photograph displayed in our favourite Ballater coffee place (The Bothy).

The Sheiling of Mark is a bothy run by the Mountain Bothies Association, and is located a few miles East of Loch Muick. There is a path of sorts from Glen Muick, though much of the time it's a case of following a stream (of which more in a moment) up to a small watershed and then walking down to where you know the bothy must be (it's completely invisible until you're almost on top of it). Or as one bulltin board has it, "this isn't a bothy you just come across".

Here is your correspondent, Buff wrapped around head to stop baldness leading to sunburn, heading up the burn. That's Lochnagar in the background, over on the other side of Loch Muick.

Here is the bothy, viewed pretty much from where you first see it.

And here is a closer view of the bothy with my wife alongside it. It looks like a pretty good bothy, clean, dry and well-maintained: though I gather that in heavy snow (such as we had not very many weeks before these pictures were taken) it can get quite deeply buried, as well as getting snow down the chimney.

The bothy's name comes from the Water of Mark beside which it is situated. There are other similar names: Glen Mark, Invermark Castle, and so on. So a name from an area rather than anything relating to a bloke called Mark. But what of that burn I mentioned, the one you walk up on the approach? Well, it's called the Burn of Mohamed, and you won't be surprised to discover that there are no similar placenames to that in the area. Or anywhere else as far as I have been able to tell. This placename seems to be a puzzle for everyone. I suppose it could be a corruption of something vaguely similar-sounding in Gaelic (McHaimaid?) but the bottom line is, nobody knows. I suppose those who want to look for evidence of creeping Islamisation of Britain will love this....

And here, finally, is a wonderful photograph of the Sheiling of Mark by moonlight, taken by Paul Mackie.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Nazi trips over feet: wicked conspiracy of Muslims, Jews, George Soros and Jimmy Carter to blame

Much as I love to laugh at Nazis like Bonni Benstock-Intall, it's not often I get to see posts that simply make me hoot with derision rather than also facepalming with despair. But this one is definitely a hoot.

First of all, the image of wizened old Bonni trying on five-inch heels brings to mind the good Scottish description "Mutton dressed as mince". Then the fool, unable to stand up in them, let alone walk, topples over (let's charitably assume she was sober). Well, obviously, this is bad, and if something is bad then someone must be to blame for it. Can't be Bonni herself of course, so...oooh, wait, here are a couple of Muslims. Their only connection to Bonni's episode of axial tilt was that they were in the same shop, and (get this) wearing burqas. Cue tirade of racist filth from Bonni until the other customers leave. Then Bonni notices that one of the cashiers is wearing a hijab, so pointedly ignores her and asks another member of staff if the store is owned by Muslims. When the shop worker, not unreasonably, wonders what the crazed old bag is on about, she puts on a funny accent (you know, because that makes it easier for brown-skinned folks to understand you) before announcing that she doesn't want to buy anything anyway and walking out. Wow, Bonni, that really showed them: no more time-wasting from mumbling vagrants for them. They probably just thought you hadn't brought any money with you to pay for the shoes.

Of course, in Britain and most other places, a possibly-drunk crazy hurling insults at customers would be shown the door (generally while flying through it at boot-point). One hopes Marshall's in Long Island have now banned the old fool and notified other neighbourhood stores to beware of her. After all, folk creating ludicrous disturbances are often doing it as cover for a shoplifting accomplice.

When you've stopped giggling, read the simian chatter in the comments box, all one-upmanship about the vile abuse they've handed out to customers and staff (or more likely that they've fantasized about dishing out). One can easily imagine how little any American store must care about losing the business of these whining imbeciles in order to keep that of their polite - paying - clientele, Muslim or not.

While I suspect there are very few folk in Edinburgh who would ever be as vile as Bonni and her Nazi crew, when I'm out shopping I always make a point of smiling at women in hijabs or niqabs when I can. And if I have a straight choice between a checkout line staffed by a hijab-wearer and one staffed by someone else, I go for the hijab-wearer. I have never had any comment, let alone problem, with my trolley full of pork sausages and vodka, and they have always been very helpful. But why would they not? I don't insult them and try to rip off their clothing.

When Bonni and her clones have eventually boycotted every checkout in every store, the rest of us can shop in peace.

Booking Ahead

Booked today for this year's Edinburgh Book Festival. Some good stuff: Neal Stephenson, Clive Stafford Smith, Professor Sue Black talking to Val McDermid about forensic science in crime fiction, this guy talking about his book, this guy talking about his, and a talk by Eddie Merckx's biographer.

Of course, if I am successful in my quest for a job between now and August there will be a conversation to be had with my employer to see if I can get any time off for the afternoon sessions. Neal Stephenson is safe though!

National Health

The main news story this week (unless you are a Rafael Nadal fan) is of course the upholding of the constitutionality of President Obama's healthcare plan by the Supreme Court. To most Americans, and practically all non-Americans (who have for years viewed with disbelief the USA's backward system of "healthcare for the rich") this was excellent news.

Of course, the American Right has been frantically campaigning against this extension of medical coverage to more poor people. Take this tasteful little example:

Now that they have lost their fight to keep the USA in the Dark Ages (or postponed it until November....) the Loons are showing themselves to be spectacularly bad losers. The Supreme Court decision....

.... is like the September 11th attacks

.... shows that Chief Justice Roberts's ability to make rational decisions has been affected by his epilepsy

.... is an act of treason to which the correct response is armed insurrection against the U.S. government

.... is a result of threats to Chief Justice Roberts's family

.... is a reason to leave the USA and relocate to Canada (where they've had universal healthcare for more than forty years).

Let's not forget that the man these buffoons all want to replace President Obama from January next year implemented a nearly identical plan in his own state of Massachusetts when he was Governor.

It really is hard to take these people seriously.

Easily overlooked

Like most folk, I first heard of Carole Bayer Sager when she had a hit with this song. I thought the lyrics were amazing:

Then, some years later, I began to notice her name on songwriting credits for other songs I liked, like this one, and this one which I'd known and loved in my youth (and which she wrote as a student):

Then there was this:


This one got her an Oscar:

I've always been especially fond of this one:

And finally, The Prayer. Best known in its Celine Dion/Andrea Bocelli version, but I prefer this one.

A truly amazing talent, and still under-rated. I'd forgotten The Prayer was one of hers until the credit came up at the beginning of that clip: hence this post.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Roll over Handel

It's easy to listen to the desperate attempts of creationists to avoid the facts, or the dogmatic insistence of Richard Dawkins that religion has contributed nothing positive to human development, and feel that science and religion are always and inevitably at loggerheads.

But it ain't necessarily so. Sometimes science can provide supporting evidence for disputed historical scenes in the Bible, such as the romance between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. See this New Scientist article. One mustn't read too much into it, but both the genetic and the linguistic evidence is striking.

Plus it gives me an excuse to link a great piece of music. When I need to blast music at high volume through my head to clear it, the piece I most often choose is the second movement of this suite, beginning at 8:00. God only knows what it must be like to sit in a concert hall when they get to the bit at 10:29....

Enemies foreign and domestic

Glenn Greenwald's article for salon.com draws attention to two spot-on op-eds in the New York Times earlier this week: one by Misha Glenny on the can of worms (sorry about the pun) opened by the USA's (and indeed Israel's) deployment of cyberweaponry (or if you're not an American politician, and given its indiscriminate nature, cyberterrorism), and one by Jimmy Carter on how the United States under successive presidents has forfeited any right to lecture other countries on human rights. Read Greenwald's piece, and read both the links. The Carter piece in particular nicely shows the difference between a president who received a Nobel Peace Prize for making real contributions to world peace (which have continued snce he left office) and one who received the prize almost as soon as he got the job and clearly took it as a signal that he need make no more efforts regarding peace and freedom, ever.

When you've read those, enjoy Bonni Benstock-Intall's, er, alternative take on the issues. Cyber-terrorism GOOD: human rights BAD. Her sarcastic comments on the Jimmy Carter piece show perfectly the kind of America she and her nigger-bashing survivalist crew want to impose. Torture, secret imprisonment without charge or trial, murder of political opponents, mass extermination of civilians: gosh, doesn't it all sound familiar? The most revealing comment of all is the one she uses to justify the murder of civilians not only in Afghanistan but in countries with which the USA is not at war (Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia), which is that "70% of Afghans and Pakistanis are inbred". Ah yes, that's what it's all about: mass extermination to improve the genetic quality of the remainder.

I used to refer to Bonni as a Nazi with tongue slightly in cheek. Not any more.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On

You have to admire the sheer poker-faced aplomb of the true professional here:

Anyone who has ever shared a desk with me knows how paranoid I am about page-turns, and in particular about just the problem in the video. I haven't yet been reduced to steam-ironing a part, but I have spent several minutes effectively "breaking the spine" of an especially recalcitrant one. Hey, if a page seems likely to fall out, you stick it back (using tape like stamp hinges). If all else fails you photocopy the second page.

But it isn't always alright on the night, and the Finn here has the emergency drill down pat. Keep smiling through, play something random and plausible, await rescue by conductor or colleague.

Would you Adam and Eve it?

With increasing urban noise pollution (traffic, aircraft, radios, telephones...) it's harder to hear church bells these days. For most of us that's a cause for slight sadness at worst, but for folk from the East End of London it is potentially disastrous. To be classed as a genuine Cockney you have to be "born within the sound of Bow Bells", that is to say within earshot of the chimes of St Mary-le-Bow. They used to be audible over much of East London, up North at least as far as Archway (where Dick Whittington heard them and turned again) and over the river as far as Southwark. Now, though, increased background noise means they are only usually audible in the City of London and Shoreditch. Which would be bad enough in itself. What makes it potentially catastrophic is that there is no hospital with a maternity ward within the new "footprint", and very few houses in which new Cockneys might have home births. Is there perhaps a gap in the market? Some enterprising obstetrician could purchase one of those big articulated medical trucks like the ones they use for mobile blood donation units, staff and equip it as a labour ward, park it within the Cockney Zone, and let people book themselves in to give birth. Even better in terms of predictability and reduced risk would be for people wanting to produce Cockney offspring to book in for elective Caesareans. That way you could control the birth times to maximise use of the vehicle too. Now all I need is a really good name for the enterprise. Peep-Bow? Bear With Me? There must be better ones I haven't thought of.

A good try

A good piece here by Tom Grundy, the guy who tried to carry out a citizen's arrest of Tony Blair in Hong Kong. He lists the various provisions of international law which were violated in the course of Blair's Iraq adventure.

I hadn't realised until reading the comments there that arrestblair.org offered a bounty for attempted arrests of Toe-Nibbler. Good: and good too that Grundy is donating most of his to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

Bonni the Nazi censors bits of the Daily Mail that her readers might not like

I am unfailingly amused by the way that right-wing loons post links to stories, then describe the story in terms which are flatly contradicted by the contents of the link, secure in the knowledge that the knuckle-walkers who comprise their fan base would never dream of doing anything so technically sophisticated as clicking on a hyperlink and reading its contents.

Take this piece in the Daily Mail where, as you can see from my excerpt below, a number of concerns are raised about e-books available from Amazon:

Amazon has been accused of making money selling offensive, racist and potentially dangerous ebooks on subjects ranging from bomb-making to drug growing.

The internet giant sells a vast number of ebooks, downloaded by readers from its website, some for as little as £1.

It allows anyone to upload an ebook for sale, without safeguards against content that would be refused by traditional publishers.

Examples include anti-Semitic prose, instructions on growing marijuana, and novels which apparently glorify dog fighting.

One ebook, Prophet Muhammad: Monster of History, includes images of a Koran being burned and a woman being hanged.

The author, Jake Neuman, says of its content on his own website: ‘The writings contained in this book are now illegal in most Western countries.’

But users of amazon.co.uk can access his work at the click of a mouse.

The Muslim Council of Britain has now called for Amazon to ‘take proper responsibility’ for the content of the books on its site.

They added: ‘Freedom of expression should not be unlimited, and publications that cause anti-Muslim hatred, anti-Jewish hatred or homophobic hatred should not be allowed.’

Sunday newspaper investigation also revealed an ebook entitled Reverend Rapist, which describes a priest sexually assaulting a young girl.

Other titles included TNT FAQ and How to Make Nitroglycerin, which provided instructions for making explosives as well as ebooks which were simply made up of personal attacks on members of the public - thought to be by disgruntled ex-spouses or partners.

Any potential self-publisher can use Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service to upload their ebook for sale, charging as little as 77p to potential readers. Amazon instructs self-publishers to adhere to ‘content guidelines’, stating, for example, that ‘we don’t accept pornography’.

But critics say the company does not go far enough.

Richard Mollet, chief executive of the Publishers Association, told the Sunday Times: ‘We see the same attitude from search engines - don’t blame us; we’re just putting it out there.’

He added ‘It’s time internet companies did start to take a better look at their practices and behaved more responsibly.’

Labour MP Paul Flynn said: ‘If Amazon is providing the platform for books that wouldn’t be published otherwise, it is responsible.

‘This is a cavalier attitude to inflammatory material.’

OK. So to recap there, the concerns are about books on bomb-making, books consisting wholly of libellous personal attacks, books which are Islamophobic or anti-semitic, or homophobic, books about paedophilia, books about drug-growing, and others. The complaints have come from a Labour MP, from the Publishers' Association, and from the Muslim Council of Britain.

Now when Bonni Benstock-Intall of BareNakedIslam decides to cover this story, she links to the Daily mail report. But how does she describe it? In a screaming headline, she says

UK MUSLIMS want to stop Amazon from selling e-books that tell the truth about Islam

...which she follows with

Muslim Council of Brtain accuses Amazon of making money selling offensive, racist, ‘Islamophobic’ and potentially dangerous e-books.

Dangerous to whom? Only those who write anti-Islam books.

She reprints the following (very selective) excerpt from that Daily Mail piece:

The internet giant sells a vast number of ebooks, downloaded by readers from its website, some for as little as £1. It allows anyone to upload an e-book for sale, without safeguards against content that would be refused by traditional publishers. One e-book, Prophet Muhammad: Monster of History, includes images of a Quran being burned and a woman being hanged.

The author, Jake Neuman, says of its content on his own website: ‘The writings contained in this book are now illegal in most Western countries.’(The truth should never be illegal) But users of amazon.co.uk can access his work at the click of a mouse. (We call it freedom of speech in the non-muslim civilized world)

The Muslim Council of Britain has now called for Amazon to ‘take proper responsibility’ for the content of the books on its site.They added: ‘Freedom of expression should not be unlimited (then it isn’t ‘freedom’ of expression), and publications that cause anti-Muslim hatred, anti-Jewish hatred or homophobic hatred should not be allowed.’ (CRAP! You only care about anti-Muslim hatred because it is Muslims who hate Jews and homosexuals more than anyone in the world)

Before he becamed so ashamed of his hatemongering that he closed down his blog and blocked access to it, BlairSupporter used to admire Bonni, claiming that while her posts were sometimes extreme they were always impeccably sourced. Well, this one is impeccably sourced, and impeccably edited to change the story  from one of British publishers and MPs complaining about bomb recipes and books glorifying paedophilia to one of Muslims complaining about Islamophobia. And when they also complain about anti-semitism, Bonni the Holocaust denier simply laughs.

But I agree with her: it's terrible when people suppress the truth about Islam (:-))

UPDATE: Hmmm, selective suppression of inconvenient news. I wonder where she got that idea?

Don't miss the hilarious comments under Bonni's post, BTW. I especially like the one from Tom, who suggests how Muslims can emerge from the Stone Age. (Bear in mind this is from someone unable to click a mouse and read English....)

(The comment from "Crusader Gary" cheering about the capsizing of a boatload of 150 asylum seekers off Australia is less funny, but then Australian Nazis are no nicer than American or British ones.)

George and the Giant Genome

Poor old Lonesome George has finally succumbed to age, boredom, loneliness: whatever it is that carries you away at the tender age of a hundred or so if you're a Galapagos Giant Tortoise.

George was the last of the Pinta Island subspecies, so from fourteen original subspecies we're now down to ten. But all is not lost. In addition to George's attempts to mate with other subspecies (and a military helmet!) there have evidently been other episodes of inter-racial canoodling in the past, or at least that's what DNA analysis suggests. There is Pinta Island DNA out there, and by selective breeding it is hoped to recover the Pinta Island subspecies. And who knows what might be possible in vitro in years to come?

Sharia...I've just polled a girl on Sharia...

Following my recent post concerning Bonni the New York Nazi and her interest in Gallup (or indeed Gallop) polls, I wonder whether she will be giving space in her blog to this one, which shows that women in Arab countries are as supportive of legal codes based on Sharia as men; and also shows that Arabs describing themselves as "religious" are much more likely than "non-religious" ones to support the initiation of divorce by women.

Just kidding: of course she won't.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lies, Damned Lies, and Suppression

While looking for something in the archives I was reminded of my white supremacist troll Black Sheep, and revisited his blog (I know, sick fascination...). I posted a few comments (a lot of what the guy posts is racist rubbish but there are a few innocuous bits where we can have some kind of conversation).

I was interested to note though that his responses to my comments fell into three classes: (1) print without much comment (2) respond angrily (to be fair, I had been impugning his reading skills in that one....) (3) suppress (where I had posted evidence that he was spreading lies).

Ah, I love the smell of suppression in the morning - Hell, that's where my "stalking" of Uncle Jimmy kicked off. I'm not going to start linking to all of Sheep's crazy posts, but the two posts full of lies are just the tip of an iceberg (two, actually: one Islamophobic and one homophobic), and it's the iceberg that needs to be blasted.

Sheep's first post I reproduce in full here:

You Have To See This
June 10th, 2012
This is great. Paladin found a true gem here. This is a video showing lots of people, cars, flags and signs in, in front of and around a gas station owned by Muslims who refused service to a young Army soldier in uniform, because he was in uniform.

The locals didn’t take real kindly to that, and they probably don’t much like having muslims in their communities anyway. The backlash and outrage of these people is a wonderful thing to behold.

Spread this around the Internet as much as possible. The rest of America needs to see what the muslimes are doing and how the people of Bogaloosa, Loisiana feel about it.

Now the link to "Paladin" is broken, so I suppose the post isn't doing too much harm. But the story is one that received a good deal of currency (just Google soldier+ refused+service+muslim).

OK, then, first up is Snopes.com, who politely describe the story as "probably false". Then there's the local Bogolusa Daily News, who can find no trace of the supposed victim, and Hayride, who point out that the gas station owners appear to have been Hindu rather than Muslim. The link I posted to Sheep's blog (can't find it now) described the whole thing as a classic example of a "story" spread via credulous folk on the Internet: i.e. in exactly the way Sheep encourages his readers to do.

The other post full of falsehood was one on a piece of "research" purporting to show that children brought up by same-sex couples fare worse in several ways than those brought up by heterosexual couples. Now Sheep's link is to a Fox News piece, and their link to the original research doesn't actually include any of the results at all, just a description of the methodology. Still, the methodology of the survey was such that the "children raised by same-sex couples" were in most cases nothing of the kind. See criticism here, here, or here.

Regarding the results, Fox reported "Those who knew their fathers had had a gay relationship were more likely to have been arrested, to have thought recently about suicide, to feel depressed, to report sexually transmitted diseases and to have experienced forced sex.

"Twenty-three percent of young adults who knew their mother to have had a gay relationship reported being forced to have sexual contact with a parent or adult caregiver, while only 2 percent of intact families with a mother and father reported such contact. For female young adults, that figure leapt to 31 percent (while only 3 percent of young women from intact heterosexual families reported this).”

Sheep then simply assumes that the "forced sex" and the "adult caregiver" don't refer to being raped while being bounced between foster homes or while sleeping rough, but to "molestation by a homosexual parent or adoptive parent. EXACTLY as I’ve repeatedly said happens". Ah, yes, because once you KNOW that homosexuals are all paedophile rapists then the evidence just piles up, even where it doesn't exist. Sheep rounds off:

Homosexuality should not be accepted as “normal” or “okay”. It isn’t. Homosexuals are a danger to children. They have a right to live their lives the same as the rest of us, but they do not have the right to be considered the same as the rest of us. They’re different, we know it, they know it.

You know who the biggest danger to children is? Lying swine they encounter on the internet who fill their heads with hatred, that's who.

Let's finish with a link to a piece in Scientific American (now there's a site I wish more children would visit) explaining why even if the Regnerus study were actually scientifically valid it should have zero effect on government policy regarding same-sex parenting.

Monday, June 25, 2012

It's Charley's Aunt from Tel Aviv - where the bigots come from....

OK, it's no surprise to hear about institutionalised racism in Israel. Let's face it, it's what Israel is about, its entire raison d'etre: giving preference to one racial group over another.

And the recent widely-reported surge in violence against African immigrants in Tel Aviv, with beatings, Kristallnacht-style destruction and looting of Africans' shops, blind eyes turned by police, and tirades of racist abuse from politicians: that raised an eyebrow or two for its brazenness - its chutzpah, if you will - but came as a shock to nobody.

But I have to confess that until I read this report I hadn't realised quite how bad things had got. I hadn't realised that the Netanyahu regime was proposing to ignore the Israeli Supreme Court and ban the immigrants from working. I hadn't realised that mass imprisonment in concentration camps was planned. I hadn't realised that the Interior Minister lied, and lied, and lied, about the immigrants' religion, about their criminal behaviour (actually the immigrants have a lower rate of crime than the local Jewish population), about their raping women and giving them HIV. And I hadn't dreamed that even in this grubby little theocracy, a member of the Knesset would deliberately incite the pogroms by referring to immigrants in overtly Nazi terms as "a cancer in our body"; nor that she would later apologise for the comparison, not to the immigrants but to cancer sufferers. Oh, and to Holocaust survivors: mustn't forget to apologise to them while doing your Stars-In-Their-Eyes tonight-Matthew-I'm-going-to-be-Joseph-Goebbels act. The sounds of breaking glass and breaking bones, and the sight of people being herded off into camps, might bring on distressing flashbacks: you must definitely apologise or they might become confused as to their whereabouts.

One refugee said of the Israeli government "They are forgetting their own history". Given the importance of what Norman Finkelstein termed the "Holocaust Industry" to Israel's sense of itself (to say nothing of its economy) that seems highly improbable. However, Marx observed that history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. Clearly the racist vileness which the Jews suffered under the Third Reich was tragedy, and on a much greater scale than even Israel has yet aspired to. However, the present riots most definitely bring the racism built into Israeli political life - and indeed the more general racism endemic in Israeli society - to the centre of the world stage. If Israel's endless claims to being a first-world country, a democracy, with human rights and the rule of law for all - if those claims are seen by the whole world to be utterly false, what then? We may yet have the edifying sight of Netanyahu trying to run after all his erstwhile supporters among real democracies as they turn away in disgust and take their bottomless largesse with them. And as the bloated whiner trips over his falling trousers while trying to cling to the departing billions; well, then the farce of a racist theocracy pretending to be a modern democracy will be laid bare. It will be no consolation to the Africans whose lives and families have been destroyed by their misplaced faith in Israeli justice, Israeli freedom, and Israeli society: but if the present cheap knock-off of Kristallnacht - "cut-glass night", perhaps? - leads to the replacement of the Likud regime with something closer to democracy, well then, perhaps the farce will have a happy ending after all.

On and On and On

I hadn't seen this performance by Abba before (and I really thought I'd seen most of the good live videos). It's from a German TV programme recorded a year or so after they stopped touring. They all look really happy to be performing: I mean, Benny always looked as though there is nowhere on earth he'd rather be than at his keyboard, but they all seem to be having a blast.

Knock, knock

The Darkness have a new single Everybody Have A Good Time imminently due out (but you can listen to it online here). It sounds rather good, actually, though my mind is already a-boggle at what the video will look like (on the strength of the trailer).

I found this clip which someone recorded at the band's second gig at the SECC in Glasgow. Ruairidh and I are in the crowd somewhere. All in the best possible taste (or the best possible when you're perambulating above a crowd in a gigantic pair of flashing breasts).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

They got an awful lot of artists from Brazil

You know every now and then you hear about something just after it's no longer available? Whether it's that film you just missed at the cinema. or the programme that just fell off iPlayer, or the tour by the band you like which played a gig in your town just before you heard about it?

Well this may be one of those things, as Largs is on the other side of Scotland and I'm not yet creared for driving after by brain haemorrhage. Still, you never know. It's exactly the kind of thing I like, and I'm amazed that in the five years it's been in existence it had never come to my attention. Heck, it evidently made it onto BBC Scotland's The Culture Show, though I admit I don't always watch that.

Here is a timelapse video of the artists creating the mural.

Galloping into irrelevance

I was just looking to see whether Bonni Benstock-Intall's head had exploded yet at the thought of an elected President in Egypt instead of the military dictatorship she preferred. The answer is no (at least not yet), but I couldn't resist sharing this post with you for two reasons.

Firstly, because it shows how determinedly she continues to keep on with the absurd lie that President Obama is (or ever was) a Muslim. Apparently the reason that hardly anyone still believes it is because of a media cover-up. Well, that's why nobody believes David Icke's idea that the world is run by giant lizards, after all.

One has to laugh at her spin on the poll result, which showed that over half (58%) of Americans, regardless of party, would vote for a Muslim presidential candidate if one were ever to be on offer. For Bonni, this means "Americans would vote for virtually anyone but a Muslim". Sorry, what? The poll shows unambiguously that most Americans are more interested in a President's policies than his skin colour, gender, sexual orientation or religion (and thus is genuinely heartening, though presumably not for Bonni). Only Republicans would be less likely to vote for someone because he was a Muslim or an atheist (and any Republican currently planning to vote for Obama in 2012 despite his party is probably bright enough not to be swayed by claims that he is a Muslim or a lizard).

But mostly I enjoyed the fact that in a post where the name of the pollster Gallup appears FOUR TIMES in tables she incorporates into her post, this illiterate moron (who pretends to have a university degree, in Japanese no less!) described it as a "Gallop poll". (Update: a commenter pointed her inability to read English out to her, and she has corrected it. The commenter remarked "Don’t give liberals any reason to try to disregard what our side says." As though the literacy problems of a Holocaust denier were anyone's main issue with the whole Obama-is-a-Muslim hoax.)

At last

Egypt has its first ever democratically-elected civilian President.

Just pause for a moment to take that in.

I shall move into glass-half-full mode, where hope triumphs over expectations, and hope that the army won't instantly decide that the first should also be the last. He sounds promising, though what sounds good to me may be anathema to an army used to running the place.

"There is no such thing called an Islamic democracy. There is democracy only. ... The people are the source of authority," he said.

Asked about the role of women, he vowed that "women's rights are equal to men."

And asked whether he would maintain Egypt's 1979 accord with Israel, Morsi answered, "Yes, of course I will. I will respect it provided the other side keep it up and respect it."

Not much danger of that promise ever being tested then  (:-))

A Nerd's A Nerd An A'That

There has long been an association between IT nerdishness and music, no doubt because of the mathematical underpinnings of both computer science and music. But I have to say that this piece of research scores 11 on my Weird-Shit-O-Meter.

Geiger is not the first to substitute an unusual technology at the base of a networking stack. In 2001, the Bergen Linux User Group used homing pigeons to network two computers located three miles apart. Another group used bongo drums to beat out a rhythm of 1's and 0's. And like these other whimsical approaches, IPoXP shows off the strengths of the Internet's design.

A fan of a notorious homophobe comes here to lecture me on gay rights. And he calls ME a moron

This post seems to have been better than most at attracting anonymous ultra-rightwing trolls. Latest in the series is "Anonymous" (duh) who comments:

What a stupid blog. You really are a clueless liberal moron, aren't you? And talking of being gay, guess which religion throws gays from buildings. Islam! Wake up. Also, Bonni is 100% correct on the Trayvon Martin case. Zimmerman is going to be found innocent, then you'll have to go crying to your shrine of Eric Holder and Barry Obama.

Taking Mr Anonymous's points in reverse order, just right now it doesn't look as though Zimmerman is going to be found innocent: repeatedly lying to police and changing your story rarely plays well with juries.

Talking of being gay (which we weren't really - the post was about the legality of firing someone because he had a beard - but let's go with this), which religion throws gays from buildings? Well, Anon, no "religion" throws gays from buildings: people do that. I will freely admit that Islam discourages homosexuality, in some cases with the death penalty (though Islamic countries normally execute gays by hanging or beheading). Eight countries have the death penalty for homosexual conduct, and all are indeed Islamic: Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia (though apparently the Saudis prefer flogging or imprisonment and tend only to execute campaigners for gay rights), Sudan, Yemen, and some regions of Nigeria, Gambia and Somalia.

Now Bonni and her fellow-Nazis are forever talking about the "57 Islamic hell-holes", and 57 sounds a reasonable count of Islamic countries worldwide. So that makes 49 where being gay may well get you beaten or locked up, but certainly won't get you legally executed. So "Islam throws gays from buildings"? Not in Egypt, or Libya, or Morocco, or Pakistan, or Indonesia, or Malaysia, or Tunisia, or Turkey, or Bangladesh, or ...... And same-sex activity is completely legal in Iraq, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories (where it has been legal for much longer than it has in Israel - did you know that? Bonni clearly doesn't.)

Of course, regardless of legal codes, gays get themselves murdered all round the world, and I don't need to go Googling to be pretty sure that every one of the countries I just listed will have had its share of lethal anti-gay hate crimes. But that is a phenomenon which is very far from restricted to the Muslim world. One of the worst places to be gay is Uganda, where much of the anti-gay hatred has been intensified by Christian activists from the USA. Horrific murders of gays happen in Scotland (not Muslim last time I looked outside my front door - though when I got married here in 1979 homosexual acts between men were still illegal). I doubt somehow whether the people who carved swastikas into the body of a murdered gay in overwhelmingly Catholic Chile were motivated by Islamic fervour. The US infantryman who battered Barry Winchell to death in his bed with a baseball bat wasn't a Muslim. Nor was the student who shot Lawrence King in the back in class. Jamaica is not a Muslim country. Nor is Israel.

So what makes me a "clueless liberal moron"? (Oh, and puh-lease: I'm not a "liberal", darling. I'm a socialist - or if you prefer, a Marxist - and proud of it.) That I understand that homosexuality is banned by law in a lot of countries that are not Islamic, and completely legal in some which are? That I know that whether or not it's legal to be gay, if someone hates you for your sexuality they will kill you just as dead as an Iranian hangman, whether you live in Cumnock or Tel Aviv? Anonymous Troll, if it makes you feel better to imagine that gays are only killed in Islamic countries, good luck with that.

Oh, and below are links to just a few of the openly homophobic posts at Bonni Benstock-Intall's Nazi site. You might like to complain about them to her, you being such a supporter of gay rights and all.

Here she equates support for LGBT rights in schools with paedophilia.

Here she says "Gotta side with the Muslims on this one", over the withdrawal by some Muslim and Christian parents in Britain from lessons promoting tolerance of gay and lesbian lifestyles. In case we didn't understand her properly, Bonni adds "Deviant sexual lifestyles should not be taught in school at all. Disgusting."

Here. In a comment Bonni clarifies her delightful views to someone who wondered whether her headline "I guess now that the Obama Regime has legalized sodomy for the troops, it might just as well go all the way in its efforts to win the hearts and minds of the enemy" was maybe a teeny bit homophobic: "Mark, like the USMC, I am opposed to gays in the military. I thought troops were not permitted to have heterosexual sex with each other in the military, so why the special allowance for homosexual sex in the military?" You know, because although straight soldiers can control their urges while they're on duty, gays obviously will spend all their time humping each other.

Sitting on a goldmine

I am glad to note that MSP Rhoda Grant's attempt to "fast-track" her bill to turn prostitutes' customers into criminals has been unsuccessful, and one hopes that common sense will prevail when it gets a full debate. Because dissuading customers from seeking healthcare, breaking down trust between sex workers and police, and lowering the barriers to violence against prostitutes (because if you're already committing an offence why not go a bit further and knock them around?) are all really sensible, right? FGS, these are economically disadvantaged women trying to scrape a living.

I recommend the SCOT-PEP site, incidentally, as a place to read sound sense on issues surrounding sex work. (The site of the umbrella body NSWP is also excellent.) Yes, sex workers are at risk of violence. Yes, they are at risk of exploitation, and not all sex workers are in the business voluntarily. But making an entire industry illegal because criminals become involved in it is like making armies illegal because in some countries children are forced to become soldiers. Most sex workers, while they may not enjoy their work much, are in the business because they need the money. And that, after all, is why most people, in most jobs, turn up for work every day. (And let's also remember that "sex work" is not all about prostitution, and not all about women.)

This film is also recommended for a lighter (though not trivialising) look at prostitution. I love the scene in the pharmacist's.

Missing him already

It would have been so delightful to have seen what BlairSupporter (aka Uncle Jimmy) had to say about the latest revelations from Alistair Campbell about the way in which the Sainted One prevented his Attorney General from giving proper legal advice to the Cabinet over the legality of going to war in Iraq. It was always fun watching Jimmy squirm when more evidence of his idol's incompetence, corruption or (as here) simple evil came to light.

Meanwhile, we can only hope that nice Mr Blair is indeed recalled to tell Lord Chilcot why he thought his Cabinet could not be trusted with, y'know, facts about the legality of Blair's proposed war. Jimmy isn't the only one whose squirming is fun to watch.

We came, we played, we conquered

On Saturday afternoon I took the train through to Glasgow to take part in this event, which was great fun (though over all too soon: we started at 1400 and it was all over by 1530).

The Vaughan Williams Concerto Grosso for String Orchestra was written to be playable by a mixed-ability ensemble. Each section of strings (Violin 1/Violin 2/Viola/Cello/Bass) is subdivided into three groups. at the front we had a "concertino" section who played the delicate soloistic stuff. Behind them came the "tutti" group (including me in the first violins) who provided the body of sound, and whose music was standard orchestral stuff. Finally we had the "ad lib" group. Conductor Matthias Pintscher reckoned that name made them sound too expendable so suggested instead that they be labelled fundamentals". "Rude mechanicals" might have worked too: these were the beginners, whose parts consisted of very simple notes. (Though as the Violin 1 ad libs started immediately behind my seat I noticed in at least one place they had a tune when we had off-beat pizzicati. Sometimes being able to play more complex stuff means playing accompaniments!) Each sub-group had a "minder" from the BBCSSO keeping them ion order and resolving any problems.

We rehearsed for an hour, then had a short break after which we played through the whole piece. It went pretty well. I don't know the exact count but there were more than a hundred players there (which made keeping the whole thing together quite hard). The beginners were extremely enthusiastic, as well they might be: playing proper music, in a proper orchestra, with a fairly famous conductor. It will be interesting to look at the group photograph when it's published to confirm my impression, but I suspect the orchestra was at least two-thirds female. Just behind me was a tiny girl in a party frock who was obviously having a great time. Another at the back of the seconds had a bright blue violin (as one of the professional players said, I'm jealous).

I hadn't known the piece before so enjoyed having the chance to play it. One wonders how they'll follow it up if (as they seem to intend) this becomes a regular event.

Here is a video of a performance combining the English Symphony Orchestra and Herefordshire schoolchildren.

Bare Naked Imbecile

BBC2 tonight has been showing George Clooney in Good Night and Good Luck, a film all about the bravery of the CBS News team who exposed the vicious smear tactics of the McCarthyite witch-hunters.

So this seems an appropriate time to draw attention to Bonni Benstock-Intall, crazed white supremacist and anti-semite, who thinks the only thing wrong with the McCarthy hearings was that they aren't still in progress.

Not that there was anything wrong with the McCarthy hearings, in fact, we should be holding them again, to expose all the Communists in the White House and Congress.

And one of her knuckle-walking acolytes adds:

Truthiocity June 21, 2012 at 2:00 am

Every single story about the the McCarthy hearings I was exposed to when growing up always neglected one tiny fact.

People DID name names. And that means, duh, that there were names to be named. There really was a communist conspiracy of influence and infiltration in America.

Because saying someone is a Communist makes it true (obv.). Well, these people believe that saying President Obama is Muslim makes that true, so why not?

P.S. For another example of Bonni's idiocy, look no further than this post exhorting her readers to support British fascism. That may be vile but it isn't stupid: what's dense beyond belief is her first few remarks:

(1) The British Freedom Party and the English Defence League are totally separate and independent organizations.

(2) Kevin Carroll, Co- Founder and Joint Leader of the EDL and also Deputy Chairman of British Freedom

(3) Tommy Robinson, Co- Founder and Joint Leader of the EDL and also Deputy Chairman of British Freedom

You have to ask yourself, does this imbecile understand English? Does she know what "separate" and "independent" mean?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bring me sunshine

And here is a picture (sorry, but the page wouldn't let me copy it) of an Ovaltine Show. These were annual variety shows sponsored by Ovaltine's manufacturers. The family always went to one (my Dad had to go and schmooze customers at the interval), but in the case of the 1968 show shown here we went to at least three: Morecambe and Wise were that good.

Over the years of going to the shows I saw Roy Castle, Ken Dodd, Kenneth McKellar, Sheila Southern, Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson, Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Trinder, Arthur Askey, Mike Yarwood, Arthur Worsley, Saveen, The Three Monarchs, Norman Wisdom, and of course Eric Delaney and his band. In that obituary picture Eric is bald: I remember over the years seeing his hairline recede until miraculously it regrew (he had acquired a wig).

This number was always part of Eric's set:

When you consider that over the same years my brother was taking me to see Dylan, Zappa, the Incredible String Band, Stan Getz, Ravi Shankar..... it's no surprise that my musical tastes ended up very broad indeed.

Swinging Runcorn

On the banks of the Mersey, over on Cheshire side,
Lies Runcorn, that's best known to fame
By Transporter Bridge as tak's folks over its stream,
Or else brings 'em back across same.
(Marriott Edgar)

The Runcorn Transporter Bridge was one of three such bridges built in Britain: the others were at Newport and Middlesbrough (the latter is still in use). Runcorn, though, was the first, and was the longest transporter bridge ever built.

When I was small my father was a commercial traveller (selling Ovaltine and associated products from A Wander Ltd), and sometimes I got to go with him on his calls. One such day I remember well involved a (return) trip over the Runcorn bridge. I think it must have been in 1960 or 1961 because I remember seeing the new bridge which looked complete. Going on the transporter was a real thrill: and why not? It would be a thrill today. I remember while we were in transit - actually we probably hadn't started moving, but we were loaded up - a ship did indeed pass on the Mersey. It was called the MV Baskerville, and provided a great illustration of why the bridge was built the way it was. I remember being fascinated by the barriers which stopped people falling in when the bridge wasn't there, and in particular by the piston affairs which lowered them as the bridge drew into its dock.

A fantastic experience, though at the time I didn't realise that the bridge would be demolished in a year or two. (Probably neither did my Dad.)


Today is Alan Turing's centenary, commemorated around the world by mathematicians, cryptographers, computer scientists, and those who decry the persecutuon of homosexuals. And by Google.

Here is the TV film of the wonderful play about Turing, Breaking The Code by Hugh Whitemore. I was fortunate enough to see Derek Jacobi starring in it on stage.

Grim Poodle Basher

Train of thought time.....

I'd been posting a Bollywood dance clip on Facebook, and was thinking about playback singers such as Lata Mangeshkar.....

then thinking about Asha Bhosle...

then found myself humming "Brimful of Asha on the forty-five"...

called up the video.....

Then found this rather good article explaining the song. Most of the explanation i already knew, though actually I hadn't realised that Lata and Asha were sisters. (I did know, however, that its Bhosle not Bhonsle!)

As for the references that escaped the writer, British readers wont have much trouble with the Bolan boogies. Jacques Dutronc,, OTOH, is French, and Ferguson mono is the kind of record player folk had back in the sixties (I had an elderly Dansette major mono in the seventies as a student: it was solid enough that I could use it as a seat when it wasn't playing!)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Quis favet ipso cultori?

Or "Who supports the Supporter?" (in the sense of "Who sucks up to the adoring fan?")

One of the problems when you have banned all your commenters for insufficient sycophancy is that nobody visits your site except to mine it for things to laugh at. Thus it is with <,a href="http://einekleinenichtmusik.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/uncle-jimmy-and-art-of-interior.html">Uncle Jimmy (BlairSupporter), who has decided to stop blogging.

Goodbye & Good Luck. Sorry.

As someone once said “it’s hard to let go”, but needs must. I need to earn a living and this ‘hobby’ is life-consuming.

Many thanks to all who have followed this blog for the last (almost) 6 years. But, priorities, priorities. My twitter account will also be closing. My apologies in particular go to Shane & the rest of the faithful Blairites (of all parties and none) that I have had the good fortune to have met online.

Once can tell that it's not simply a case of not having time, though, as one of Jimmy's last acts before bowing out was to mark the entire blog as "Private", meaning that it is inaccessible unless Jimmy has given you a password. (Nothing like keeping it to TrueBelievers, eh? That's why I haven't put a link to his site here: it would be of no use.) One might almost believe that Jimmy is ashamed of the vicious tripe he has written over the years, if shame were an emotion remotely familiar to a Blair acolyte. Fortunately, the magic of the Google cache permits posts to be read if you know how to look for them, so the last remaining point-and-guffaw post I had planned should still be achievable, if in a slightly more cumbersome way than if Jimmy had retained his toys in the pram before taking a nap. Watch this space.

For all that he has been a reliable source of ridiculous pomposity, hero-worship and utter brainlessness, I won't really miss BlairSupporter. Underneath the laughable outer layers was a thoroughly nasty individual who didn't believe non-whites could really be British, who considered his political opponents as non-human animals, who couldn't bring himself to condemn Anders Breivik for slaughtering "leftists" but who hurled abuse at anyone who showed insufficient regard for his favourite disgraced ex-PM. Someone who could obscenely defame a legal assistant for doing her job, and someone who equated socialism with homosexuality (and loathed both). Someone who hated democracy and the rule of law, and thought Britain would be best served by "right-thinking people" taking over the running of things. Someone who believed that freedom of the press meant freedom to lock up journalists, and that freedom of expression meant freedom to suppress all criticism.

If I believed for one moment that BlairSupporter was British (his ignorance of basic British history and his "birther" belief that President Obama was not born in the USA - a wholly American obsession as far as I am aware - make me highly sceptical of that claim) I would be ashamed to share a nationality with him. Simply sharing a species makes me feel vaguely unclean.

God knows what this sad simulacrum of a person will do instead of blogging, but I'm sure our gain will be America's loss. Or as Bonni Benstock-Intall, his favourite American neo-Nazi, would put it, "Buh-BYE!"

Sing when you're winning

I've been having a conversation over on Facebook about national anthems (someone was slagging off God Save The Queen, but I feel that any anthem which exhorts us - à propos Britain's enemies - to "frustrate their knavish tricks" can't be all bad). We were discussing the German anthem, which of course has the Haydn tune and used to begin Deutschland, Deutschland über alles. Nowadays they Germans use only the third verse (all verses shown below), which is a shame as the second verse is all about wine, women and song (literally). Now that's what I call an anthem.

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt,
Wenn es stets zu Schutz und Trutze
Brüderlich zusammenhält.
Von der Maas bis an die Memel,
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt,
|: Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt! :|

Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang
Sollen in der Welt behalten
Ihren alten schönen Klang,
Uns zu edler Tat begeistern
Unser ganzes Leben lang.
|: Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang! :|

Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Für das deutsche Vaterland!
Danach lasst uns alle streben
Brüderlich mit Herz und Hand!
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Sind des Glückes Unterpfand;
|: Blüh' im Glanze dieses Glückes,
Blühe, deutsches Vaterland! :|


Germany, Germany above everything,
Above everything in the world,
When, for protection and defence, it always
takes a brotherly stand together.
From the Meuse to the Memel,
From the Adige to the Belt,
|: Germany, Germany above everything,
Above everything in the world! :|

German women, German loyalty,
German wine and German song
Shall retain in the world
Their old beautiful chime
And inspire us to noble deeds
During all of our life.
|: German women, German loyalty,
German wine and German song! :|

Unity and justice and freedom
For the German fatherland!
For these let us all strive
Brotherly with heart and hand!
Unity and justice and freedom
Are the pledge of fortune;
|: Flourish in this fortune's blessing,
Flourish, German fatherland! :|

Just when you thought there was nowhere lower to stoop....

....Ayaan Hirsi Magan, infamous bogus asylum seeker and benefit fraudster who fled to the USA from the Netherlands (where she had amazingly conned her way into a seat in Parliament) makes a speech justifying Anders Breivik's slaughter of Norwegian teenagers. Apparently he "had no choice" but to gun them down because nobody was listening to him.

I remember this guy from when I lived in London. Nobody listened to him either but he didn't seem to feel that he was therefore obliged to gun down schoolkids. I guess he just had a better idea of what living in a democracy is about than Anders Breivik. Or, clearly, Ms Magan.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Will The Circle Be Unbroken

Somehow I managed to miss the recent death of Doc Watson.

My brother took me to see Doc Watson when he topped the bill (accompanined by Ralph Rinzler) in an afternoon concert at the Manchester Folk Festival in 1965(I think?). (A bill also featuring Cyril Tawney, Dominic Behan, the Ian Campbell Folk Group with Dave Swarbrick, and Phil Ochs on a rare British appearance.) A fabulous guitarist and singer whose contribution to American music was incalculable.

Here is Doc on the first Will The Circle Be Unbroken album, where country rockers the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band joined forces with their bluegrass heroes and heroines. One of the truly great albums of popular music (and followed up by two later collaborations).

An Everyday Story of Afghan Folk

I've been listening to a strange and amazing series on Radio 4, courtesy of BBC iPlayer. (I originally posted that this was only available to my UK-based readers, but apparently it's only TV replays you can't get from the BBC.)   It's An Everyday Story of Afghan Folk, five 15-minute episodes of a soap opera written and directed by Liz Rigbey. It's based on the hit soap Da Pulay Poray, which is broadcast by PACT radio to bioth sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

I'm not sure what I'd expected from a Pashtun soap: probably a sanitised version of Afghan life in accordance with what the Americans and British imagine they are leaving. In the event, I got a warts-and-all picture of life in a tribal area. The family around which the drama is based is headed by Akbar Khan, who seems to be the local organised crime boss as well as a tribal leader. His younger son is heavily involved in his criminal business, and the first storyline has one of the son's old jail companions turning up asking for refuge: he's murdered two men whose relatives are after him. As the series goes on we have the inevitable arranged marriage drama, the superstitious old granny and the devout older son who is too upright to take part in the family business. We also have another murder, and a loan arrangement by Akbar which is not just un-Islamic, it's like something out of the Beverly Hillbillies' Drysdale Bank. In all, the series resembles EastEnders as scripted by Quentin Tarantino. It makes no attempt to whitewash the dodgy stuff that goes on in tribal areas, but it does make it clear that a lot of the locals are scandalised by it, as I'm sure they are in real life. As would undoubtedly be the case with an equivalent soap from Yemen, it's all about tribal loyalties: family right or wrong. More Al Capone than al-Qaeda, more Godfather than God-fearing.

It is tempting to divide Afghans into religious fanatics (the Taliban and their supporters) and peaceful law-abiding civilians. This series provides a salutary reminder that the situation is more complex, and that the tribal lands in particular are full of what we would term gangsters, neither religious nor honest. And of course the latter group is fantastic raw material for drama.

Here is the link to the first episode. It will be available until next Monday (25 June), with the other episodes a day behind. I recommend it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy birthday, big man

Today is the seventieth birthday of Brian Wilson. Three cheers for one of popular music's all-time greatest talents.

Two great songs

Always on the lookout for interesting cover versions of favourite songs, I found this tribute by one great British guitarist and songwriter to another:

And because I have just booked to see them in Edinburgh in a month or so, I have been listening to my Manhattan Transfer albums again. Here is my favourite track of theirs ( a Serge Gainsbourg song)

It's not a war

Chris Hedges, saying what needed to be said about the Israeli genocide in Gaza.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Suffering suffagettes!

I had to share this one with you. In the comment stream under the post at BareNakedIslam I was laughing at here for its misogyny (and disrespect for US armed forces) there is this little exchange:

MUSLIMANIA June 3, 2012 at 9:04 am
Allowing women to vote is what ruined this country. What did John Wayne say to Katherine Hepburn?

“God Help Us!

barenakedislam June 3, 2012 at 1:21 pm
MUS, Mr. BNI agrees with you. And what may shock my readers, so do I. I would gladly give up my vote to prevent leftie women from voting themselves so many entitlements.

Ladies and gentlemen, the true voice of the American neofascist right. If you let women vote, it's a slippery slope that ends with women running the place. That may be good enough for Muslim countries like Pakistan or Bangladesh, but not for the USA.

Women voting? You mark my words, they'll have niggers in the White House if this goes on.

MORE: Opposition to votes for women and blacks is indeed becoming mainstreamed by the American Right. See this guy. (More on him here, especially his anti-Semitism.)

This call is being recorded for laughing purposes

I've been getting quite a few cold callers on the phone recently. Now we're registered with the Telephone Preference Service so anyone calling us is either foreign or a crook as far as I'm concerned (or so negligent I don't care either way). So my current habit is just to ask them to hold the line, put down the phone and get on with my life. If they call back later, well, rinse and repeat.

I try not to be actually rude to guys who are, after all, just doing a job, however crappy the firm they're working for. An ex-colleague once lost his temper with a cold caller from somewhere in India who had got him out of the shower and had his name slightly wrong: he told the guy to fuck off. A few minutes later, having finished towelling off, he got another call: same chap asking for the slightly wrong name. When he said it was him, the bloke said "No, YOU fuck off!" and hung up. I like to think the call was recorded for training purposes, because as my friend admitted, there's really no excuse for being that rude.

This guy, though, has the best anti-cold-caller approach yet, though you would need to have time on your hands.

The news is fake but the blood libels are real.

Bonni Benstock-Intall has a post about an Egyptian butcher who killed his wife and them sold her meat for consumption. I have no idea whether it's true or not, though the picture she uses to ilustrate it are clearly totally unrelated and chosen simply for offensive effect. (As of course is her sarcastic question as to whether human flesh is halal.) I would like to point out two things, though. In an earlier post of Bonni's linking to a story in the Daily Mail, the report contained a link to a further story of a Swiss politician who advertised for someone to kill his wife and eat her. Is it not strange that Bonni was untroubled by the idea of a white European encouraging cannibalism, but is outraged at the suggestion that an Arab might get in on the act?

And whether the Egyptian story is true or not, the story referred to (twice) by her commenters about the murdered Blackpool girl being put into kebabs is known to be simply a blood libel. The girl was presumably killed, though her body was not found: but only the professional Islamophobic bloggers suggested she had been put into kebabs. (They must have been misremembering the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.) the murder trial of her alleged killer collapsed because the police seem to have faked transcripts of tape recordings. I don't suppose the continuing harassment of the original suspect by the EDL and the girl's mother is improving the chances of any future re-opening of the case either.

Following up the original story, the only place apart from BNI in which it appears is NDJ World, the site from which Bonni has it. Wow, fancy that! Some obscure tabloid-type blog about which I can find no information whatsoever is the only news site in the entire world to pick up on a murder case in a major capital city. Just imagine. (I can find NDJ's editor, though, who is the author of such wonders as Making Money Online Couldn't Be Easier Than This! and a book (which I can't find) called "50 Amazing Headlines That Sell Like Crazy".


File under F for Fake, then. As well as B for blood libel (again).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Democracy - it's not for Islamophobes

For most people, the big story from Egypt is that the army (still loyal to successors of ousted military dictator Hosni Mubarak) made sure in advance of the election that it would retain most of the important political powers regardless of who won. Unsurprisingly, in the first free democratic election for decades, the "anyone but a Mubarak supporter" candidate won, to wit the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi.

"Grave setback for democracy and revolution," tweeted former U.N. diplomat and Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei. "SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) retains legislative power, strips president of any authority over army and solidifies its control," he added.

Most reports reckon that an effective military takeover in the face of replacement of army rule by civilian government is a bad thing.

For Bonni Benstock-Intall and the other crazies at HalfBakedIslam, however, the bad news is the democratic election.

ADHD June 17, 2012 at 11:30 pm
Israel had better immediately dispatch all Moslem “refugees” from its land post-haste and prepare for a flood of Coptic Christians – who, as the price of their freedom, ought to be required to help guard the borders against the Arabs.

Then, the very instant the Egyptians declare war upon Israel (as they’re now GUARANTEED to do!!!!), the Israelis should promptly invade and annex Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula (and also the West Bank) – and drive out ALL the “Palestinians” and others there, turn the Suez Channel and the Jordan River into the new frontier and put all terrorist groups on notice that ANY incursions into the new enlarged Israel will be met with the sternest possible measures against the Moslems’ holy-cities!! It also would do well to promptly renounce its membership in the United Nations and make it very clear that it will NOT be pressured by ANY of the UN’s “declarations”!!!

And after that modest proposal, Bonni herself merely hopes the army will add to its usurpation of power by murdering the elected president. (Something the HalfBakes wish would happen to their OWN elected president....)

barenakedislam June 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm
James, the Army hates the brothers. And they will do all they can to stifle his powers. If we’re lucky, they will take him out.


This newer post is even funnier in its solicitous concern for the poor Egyptian generals struggling to hold onto power in the face of tedious popular elections. And one of the commenters, as well as referring to William Hague as "that idiot with the stupid accented voice" (no dear, English is OUR language - YOU are the ones with the "stupid accented voices": deal with it) demands that President Assad be left in peace to slaughter his people (who are all just "terrorists"). We can't have democracy upsetting the smooth rule of military fascists, after all. The other comments are all just Loon Central conspiracy stuff: President Obama is a traitor/Muslim/Arab (funny, I thought he was supposed to be Kenyan?)/Marxist who hates America and Israel (say the so-called "patriots"). LOL. What will these guys all do when Obama is re-elected in November? Time to dig out my copy of When Prophecy Fails again, I think.....