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Saturday, April 17, 2021

THE WEEKENDER: Mighty Meaty Matey, by Wiggia

I came across whilst rummaging through the detritus one carries with one when you move house - why we do this is a subject for another day - but anyway, looking for some papers I came across an old menu from the Seventies from Berni Inns. Easy to laugh at such places now, yet going by the menu it offered better fare than many fast food outlets today, and you could get an alcoholic drink - no skinny lattes then, thank God.

So as one does I started delving into archives of old menus, from the cafe restaurants of our youth and before to those early fine dining establishments that we went to if we had the cash for a special occasion.

We soon forget, yet some things are very obvious in those periods, how the posh restaurants insisted in printing menus in French which hardly anyone understood and resulted in calling the waiter over and stabbing a finger at what one thought was a dessert to be snootily told it was a vegetable and then having to cringingly ask for advice on what was available in that section, only then for the waiter to, still snootily, repeat the offerings in French with an English translation for the proles.

When they started to put English translations underneath the French version it was the last throw of the dice in pretentiousness.

I remember well the first time I took my to be wife for our first proper meal, lunch at Rules, London's oldest (1794) restaurant:                                                                                                                                                                        

Having done my ‘homework’ I ordered the Châteaubriand and settled back on the banquette to peruse the wine list. I knew very little about wine in those days apart from my initiation into the intricacies of German wine labels, so when the wine waiter came calling I ordered the Rudersheimer Rosengarten and the wine waiter said ‘good choice’; a kindly man under the circumstances because it was anything but.

In those days fine dining was for the other people. We had the first signs of chain restaurants in the likes of Bernie Inns and others, it made a change from the plastic cheese roll under a glass dome cooking quietly on the pub counter.

I remember Woolworth had a rather good cafe, it was only when researching this I discovered just how comprehensive their pre-war menu was:

Apart from an early attempt at the bottom of the menu to garner feedback, the other item of note is the amount of meat products on the menu and ‘lobster salad’, in Woolworths!

Higher up the scale, this menu from Wheelers The Ivy gives another insight into how the other half ate in the Fifties, still clinging to the French language and a preponderance of meat and fish dishes. Good to see the old favourites up there, the potted shrimps and prawn cocktail, so derided since but making a comeback now:                                                                                                                                                                             

Menus from other posh eateries abound and none are posher than Buck House. A Queen's menu from 1906 shows nine courses and again plenty of protein; naturally at this moment in time the menu is again in French. Magnums, quite rightly, of champagne for Derby Day: they must have had a tip.

The great ocean liners that dominated transatlantic travel and vied for national pride with elegance and speed for those first class passengers and made sure they never went without during their voyage.
Eight courses at the Captain's table, I bet that went down well - I’ll get my coat...

All things are relative to the age but sometimes there are surprises on these menus in that what are considered delicacies today and have a price to match, were not so in days gone by. Oysters and foie gras were cheap and plentiful, as two examples; lobster as on the Woolworth's menu was available almost everywhere as were ortolans; today you struggle to find decent whelks.

The one below I actually remember. Although the fare is similar to the others a couple of items stand out: tripe and onions, and marrow bones; long time since I saw those two on a menu.

Today we are used to buying products that are cheaper than in the past because of modern big farming techniques and international trade, but not everything works that way. This wine list from a Cunard liner in 1927 shows the price for a bottle of Chateau Latour at 12/6; £1 then equates roughly to £44 today, making that bottle in today's money around £27 and that is a restaurant price; today a bottle of Latour retail would set you back in the region (depending on vintage) of £400-600 a bottle. You really could drink yourself to death in style for very little money then.

With all of the menus you can see there is an awful lot of meat, fish and game on offer. In today's world full of fatties and those same fatties being urged to do away with meat as are the rest of us, you do wonder why so few in those days were fat and yet today fatties are everywhere, and I don’t care if using that word offends, it should because there is absolutely no need to get in that state. 

Maybe McDonalds have to share some guilt in today's fattism: ‘buy them by the sackful’ is not very helpful when wanting to lose weight!

And when did you last see a seafood menu like this one? - and while you are perusing the menu, do not play with the candelabres:

But today those whole plates of steak have disappeared, we are presented with artistically arranged plates of very little for very much. At least the Argentinians know how to cook and present a steak - all vegans look away now…

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm !

Friday, April 16, 2021

FRIDAY MUSIC: Josquin des Prez, by JD

 Josquin des Prez (French: c. 1450/1455 – 27 August 1521), often referred to simply as Josquin, was a French composer of the Renaissance. His original name is sometimes given as Josquin Lebloitte and his later name is given under a wide variety of spellings in French, Italian, and Latin, including Iosquinus Pratensis and Iodocus a Prato. His motet Illibata Dei Virgo Nutrix includes an acrostic of his name, where he spelled it "Josquin des Prez". 

He was the most famous European composer between Guillaume Dufay and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, and is usually considered to be the central figure of the Franco-Flemish School. Josquin is widely considered by music scholars to be the first master of the high Renaissance style of polyphonic vocal music that was emerging during his lifetime.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Like a hot knife through PLO jibberjabber

Following Sunday's piece about disinformation re Israel, here's a stunning (literally - see the faces!) speech to the UN by the son of a Hamas founder, dynamiting the 'PLO good, Israel bad' narrative:

'Who the h*ll let this b*st*rd off the reservation?'

'If Israel did not exist, you would have no-one to blame,' says Musab Hassan Yousef.

Monday, April 12, 2021

GREEN ENERGY: It's a chill wind, by Wiggia

During the Covid crisis (?) there has been an undercurrent of activity around Boris’s ‘green deal’, not surprising really as without the distraction of the virus more of this would have made it into the news, in what form is another matter.

The Telegraph has put together a decent summary of all the snippets that have been leaked in the last twelve months, though it still leaves out other extra costs should this push to be carbon neutral by 2050 goes ahead as the Climate Change Committee insists it does.
Whether any of this is feasible is doubtful even if all the requirements could be met.
The DT had an article that for once was not blind to the pitfalls and obstacles in the way of achievement. It doesn’t go nearly far enough though, the costings of full implementation for the average household are enormous, and it's not clear how many of those people who are all for saving the planet realise how much they will have to pay; not many I would bet, and for what exactly? As with Covid we are only told what they want us to hear.
A good example of that is the news that we have today on the BBC website seen below.
Great Britain's electricity system was the greenest it had ever been at lunchtime on Easter Bank Holiday Monday, its operator has said.

Sunny and windy weather, coupled with low demand for power, led to a surge in renewable sources of energy, National Grid Electricity System Operator said.

It meant low-carbon energy sources made up almost 80% of Britain's power.

There was no coal generation on the grid and just 10% of power was from gas plants, the operator added.

The caveat is in there: sunny and windy weather. Without those there is no renewable energy produced; as on earlier days this month when Gridwatch showed wind producing just 0.5% on one day, that is a statistic you never see in a headline from those pushing the agenda.

Roger Harrabin the BBCs resident envoy for CC then says….”That will need much more energy storage than is currently available”. There is no storage available and no sign again of any means to capture energy that amounts to anything meaningful now or in the future as it stands.

I am not going to say any more about the failure to ensure sufficient base load for the future predicted needs, it has been well trailed with the National Grid predicting if all the proposals come into being there will be a need for a 60% hike in the base load available to fulfil the demand.

And there is no sign of anything that will make that possible on the horizon. Doubling the number of windmills doubles the amount of energy needed from elsewhere when the wind doesn’t blow, it is that simple.
Among the items in the DT article that have been aired are many of the obvious ones, this is the third article in the DT since October last year that has an air of disbelief that any of this can be achieved and still it is far too kind, but at least a querying voice is being raised along with doubts from the CC commmittee.

The image below shows what is being asked of the average householder; maybe not everything but the heat pumps are central to the Government's thinking.

What you can add to that is any property that needs these extensive works will also have to pay for all the usual home comforts that will be destroyed putting all this in: decoration, carpets, new electric instead of gas hobs, and the bigger radiatorss that are not included here as the heat pumps work at a lower temperature and to maintain today's comfort zone bigger rads will be needed.

Needless to say the official answer to lower temperatures is that it is good for our health and the air quality will improve. The next step will be living in a tent where the air quality will be even better, but you will have nowhere to hang a radiator; perhaps that is the end goal and all this is just flim flam, who knows any more.

Heat pumps have a big drawback: they work at lower temperatures, they can work at higher ones but become very expensive. With the high cost of electricity against that of gas it is going to make heat pumps a luxury, many will not switch and many will not be able to stand the cost of switching. Electricity is four times the cost of gas because of the costs passed on to the consumer from environmental programmes and social measures such as the Warm Homes Discount which gives some households cheaper energy bills. These extra costs are not added to gas bills.

Naturally some in government would like to see gas loaded with extra costs to ‘incentivise’ switching, which shows how much they live in a bubble: charge extra to get people to switch to something they will have to pay even more for!

The government's published plan to tackle climate change wants 600,000 heat pumps a year installed every year by 2028, but who wants them? Certainly no one who has thought it through; some eco zealots with deep pockets - remember, the government has withdrawn its grant scheme.

Ah, they say, the real costs as production of heat pumps increases will come down; by how much? They are so much dearer than gas boilers so they are never going to compete on price, and in that case who would be mug enough to pay for one now? Average gas boilers including fitting currently run in the £1000 bracket, depending on size and make.

Are the government's friends and backers in the building industry behind all this? Are they installing heat pumps, underfloor heating, triple glazing in the shoe boxes they call homes these days. Of course not: the building industry is there to make as much money as possible while spending as little as it can.

For decades, we have lagged behind many in Europe with our building regulations as to insulation, glazing etc. which means a large majority of the housing stock is below par in energy efficiency because successive governments have allowed it to be. Now the same government wants the general public to pay for that lack of foresight, though with the building industry the big builders have been quite happy to go along with sub-par regs as it means more for less.

In effect, the public are being asked to pay substantially more for housing. The government's response to that fact is that we should take out longer mortgages or extend current ones to pay for the upgrades; if I was in the last couple of years of a 35 year mortgage I know what my answer would be, and with average wages 20% down in real terms from 2008 who has the extra cash anyway?

People who can claim up to £240k in expenses from the public purse have no right to expect the public to pay for their fantasies, the same tax-paying public in the private sector that will also be paying for the billions required to upgrade social housing; or are the printing presses just going to keep on running?

I find it extraordinary that people like Bill Gates can lecture the world on how it should behave so as to save the planet when they themselves live a high maintenance lifestyle and don’t even justify why there should be a difference for them.

Bill Gates is not alone in being a total hypocrite but for the record he owns four private jets, a seaplane and a ‘collection’ of helicopters; he also collects Porsche cars and has the usual Mercedes and BMWs plus limousines. Recently he ordered the building of a yacht, the one omission he had in the billionaire class.

His various very large homes are supplemented by being the biggest private land owner in the USA. He currently owns 242,000 acres of prime farmland, why? He has never shown any interest in farming. It has all to do with power: land owners on that scale have always had power; it is also suggested that it is a tax avoidance scheme and probably is. Also, he was recently involved in the bid to be the largest private jet base operator; this comes as commercial jet operation slumps in the wake of the Corona virus and private jets take up the slack, for some, flying to destinations no longer being used by commercial airlines. Has any of this got anything to do with saving the planet. No, of course it hasn’t, yet, and I use Gates as a prime example, governments are in league with him and others of a similar ilk. It is nothing to do with climate change, it is about money.

Many of the big institutions and oil companies have seen the light: they are taking the easy way out of their’ dirty’ business. They see that governments and people of influence want to follow the climate change agenda, they see drilling licenses being withheld, oil exploration becoming uneconomic, so they diversify into sustainable energy. Why not? There are big subsidies awaiting them there and they spread out into energy supply and anything else that sees a government grant.

With banks and financial institutions now going green and refusing to support fossil fuel extraction the circle is almost complete.

All that is needed is enough celebs to tell us what is good for us, and we got it, a hundred signed a pledge, including Jude Law, Mel B, Cumberbatch et al and stated…

‘Like you...we are stuck in this fossil-fuel economy and, without systemic change, our lifestyles will keep on causing climate and ecological harm.’

‘Our lifestyles’: shurely shome mishtake!

There are hundreds of examples of double standards, this one by Elizabeth Warrenwho also has a problem with her ancestry takes some beating….

The one thing that comes out of all this is the fact that no one has voted for future impoverishment, no one has been asked their views as to the way forward or not on anything to do with climate change. It is all driven by vested interests, green lobbyists who only represent a small section of the population and front persons such as Gates and the doom goblin; all chant the same 'we are doomed, at the tipping point, we have only x years' and so on, it has all been heard before and nothing has come to pass, yet still billions are poured into something that we almost certainly cannot change if it does happen.

The predictions are all based on projections from the same sort of sources that projected the world was about to die from Covid, and like Professor Ferguson for reasons unexplained the same people, wrong before, are still getting a platform to spout the same garbage.

We are not getting the truth. Any dissenting views are from ‘deniers’ who are cancelled, sidelined or ridiculed for having a different view, for there can only be one way forward.

Unless some common sense is brought into the climate change debate we are all doomed, to a life of restrictions and deteriorating living standards, all at great cost. Our current economic situation says no to all this as it is not affordable even if it was necessary or desirable. Like many I am not holding my breath on this, there is something amiss and we are not getting the truth, and no one is demanding it.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

BUNG EYE: Fake News Is Real, In Palestine

Bung Eye is an occasional series focusing on
unconscious-to-deliberate misrepresentation
by the news media and other influencers.

Today we look at an extraordinary book alleging systematic antisemitism among news media, 'information centres', NGOs etc dealing with Israel and the surrounding occupied territories.

Tuvia Tenenbom, a USA-based writer who was brought up in an ultra-Orthodox (religious study only) family in Israel but rebelled, has written a number of books exploring hidden antisemitism in different countries (including, most recently, the UK.)

He is either the biggest liar and best fiction writer I have ever read, or he is telling the truth, in 'Catch the Jew!' (2015), his exploration of issues in Israel and the 'occupied territories.' If it's the truth the charivari of characters he meets is almost surreal; read and see for yourself. 

He is able to go where few other Jews can, because he happens to be a chubby Western-looking blond and can masquerade as 'Toby the German' when among the Palestinians and Bedouin - they love Germans and some tell him that the latter showed how to deal with Jews.

This attitude is hardly new. According to Mark Steyn, when mass-murderer Adolf Eichmann was captured in 1960 and brought to trial in Israel, a Saudi newspaper headline read 'Arrest of Eichmann, Who Had the Honour of Killing Six Million Jews.'

The most disturbing aspect of Tenenbom's forays is that they reveal not only merely the continuing vehement hostility towards Israel of her neighbours, but the foreign support for the latter that includes bias, misrepresentation and fakery by supposedly impartial observers.


Here is an example of the British Press at work, when interviewing a Druze villager in the Golan Heights at a time when it is feared a conflict with Syria may lead to the use of chemical weapons:

Do you have gas masks? - No.
Did the Israeli authorities supply you with gas masks? - No.
But in general, Israeli authorities supply Israeli citizens with gas masks, right? - Yes, I think so.
They give masks to their citizens but not to you. Right? - I think that they do.
The Jews get it but you don't. Interesting. - I don't know.
They didn't offer you any mask, did they? - No. I think they distribute masks only in the big cities, like Tel Aviv or Jersualem.
But do they or don't they distribute them to the locals here, the other people, the Jews? - Maybe. I don't know.
Is it possible that they distribute masks to 'them' but not to you? - Could be.
So they offer the masks to Jews but not the Druze. Really interesting!

At this point [says Tenenbom] the villager is totally confused. lights up a cigarette, and talks to another villager sitting by him. As for the journalist, he watches me looking at him and his face turns angry. He gives me a spiteful look and moves away. (pp. 233-4)


It seems they are not above pulling stunts, either. In September 2013,  a French diplomat called Marion Fesneau-Castaing was in a party delivering aid including tents to Bedouin in Khirbet al-Makhoul in the West Bank. Supposedly this is an example of Israelis brutally demolishing Arab homes, though Tenenbom sees no facilities there and the remains of the building look ramshackle and temporary; when he asks them where they live they indicate the surrounding hills. Fesneau-Castaing alleges that she was forced to the ground from her vehicle and says, 'This is how international law is being respected here.'

This followed an attempt at assistance earlier that week by the Red Cross. A spokesperson for the ICRC, Nadia Dibsy, says she was there at the Frenchwoman's incident and 'saw her being beaten with her own eyes.' When pressed, Dibsy changes her story and says 'I was not there on Friday.' 

An Israeli military officer tells Tenenbom that there is 'an "old custom" of European diplomats who join up with leftist actvists of all kinds on a regular basis and that they plan and plot their next moves together.' Tenenbom calls the French Embassy for official comment; they promise to call back within the hour; they never do. (The diplomat, filmed pushing an Israeli soldier in the incident, is later expelled 'without harming Franco-Israeli ties.')

Local officials?

On a later occasion Tenenbom asks a Palestinian official who oversees such matters about the incident. He is told that the soldiers punched Fesneau-Castaing first, she fell down and then punched them back when she got up. Pointing at his computer, the official says 'he can show me all this right now, since he has it all on video.' Unlike other journalists, Tenenbom goes further and asks to see the evidence; the Palestinian replies, 'We are out of time' and that he must leave right now.

Tenenbom finds an Iranian news site on his iPad and checks their edited version of the video:

'In it I see Marion in the driver's seat, cut to Marion on the ground, and then cut to Marion punching a soldier. How Marion got to the ground is not shown, which suggests that she might have gotten there on her own for the purposes of picture taking. In the image provide by the Iranian news site even the soldiers around her seem to be surprised to see her on the ground. Interestingly, in the BBC photo the face of the soldiers were cut from the frame. Great work of journalism.'

Eye witnesses and victims?

The writer goes to the village of Burin, where allegedly the Israeli army comes 'every second day' to burn houses and throw bombs. There is one smoke-blackened room in the house he visits, but when he asks to see other burnt houses the answer is no. Tenenbom asks for evidence rather than stories; the lady of the house says she took pictures of the event on her cellphone. It can all be proven! He asks to see the pictures; she comes back with the phone. Can he see the pictures? Well not exactly, reports the writer: 'The pix are gone. The phone, how sad, has broken.'

Film and documentary makers?

The theme of image-making leads Tenenbom to meet someone from the Israel Film Fund. In the previous ten years, the man tells him, there have been at least 25 movie co-productions between Germany and Israel, 60 per cent of which have to do with politics; none right-leaning.

Tenenbom goes to the New Fund for Cinema and TV to check funding for non-fiction documentaries. In their spokesman's estimation, '80 per cent of Israeli-made documentary films that are political are co-produced with Europeans, and when I say "European" I mean mainly the Germans, who on average fund 40 per cent of the cost per film.'

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)?

We've already seen a shifty assertion by a local ICRC spokesperson in the diplomat-punching episode above. There is also some question of being selective in their targets: the International Committee of the Red Cross - exclusively Swiss board members - has declared Gaza (from which the Israelis withdrew their forces in 2005) still to be an 'occupied territory,' but when Tenenbom asks them whether this is also their position on Cyprus and Tibet, they promise to reply later; in follow-up correspondence, they tell him that their legal reading is communicated confidentially to the conflicting parties but 'the ICRC could later communicate its classification publicly.'

Similar suspicions of bias arise, Tenenbom reports, with The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). One estimate of the number of Arab refugees from Israeli-occupied territory in 1948 is 700,000, but UNRWA appears to have turned to including in the numbers descendants not born there, bringing the total up to five or even eleven million; however, UNWRA say they don't have the figure for 1948.

There are swarms of NGOs involving themselves in the region. An Israeli army officer tells Tuvia that there are 300 organisations in the West Bank, excluding Gaza where there are a further 100. Israeli NGOs - mostly foreign-financed - number merely about a dozen. Money is pouring in from abroad, the main sources being first, the USA and second, Germany [as at the time of Tenenbom's writing this book.] The undercover visits Tenenbom makes to Palestinians and Bedouin do not suppport the narrative of miserable slum living - the houses he sees are generally very nice, inside if not always outside, and there seem to be many communal facilities being built and paid for by foreigners.

Now one may say that you find what you look for, and clearly Tenenbom's mission is to uncover the disinformation and foreign interference within and without Israel. I don't think he tells any untruths, but he's not concerned to go into details about the ways in which Israel defends itself from its neighbours.

Nevertheless one could argue that the outside world is being bamboozled by pro-Arab (if not anti-Jewish) PR, and the sums of money thrown into the area in this way are in effect providing aid and comfort to the anti-Zionists, possibly including terrorist organizations (as, it is said by some, Noraid for the IRA.) Also, has Israel been targeted for this pot-stirring because it is a small country and easier to subvert than Turkey or China?

US foreign policy is highly important in all this. Several previous US Presidents had promised to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and not done so; in 2017, Trump actually did it, and what a fuss that caused at the United Nations! Now, apparently determined to undo everything President Trump did, whether good or bad, the new incumbent (or his administration) is proposing to resume funding Palestinians directly and indirectly to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Tenenbom does not show to us a dislike for the Arabs he meets -  his disapproval is reserved for the 'self-hating' elements among the Jewish/Israeli left and their supporters. He concludes his book by saying that since Israel is divided internally on political issues, whereas her enemies are of one mind towards her and have powerful Western friends, then the country is unlikely to survive for much longer. Perhaps Trump's actions since this book was written have bought some time; whether that changes the final result remains to be seen.

One wonders what would happen if, magically, all the Israelis were suddenly transported to some other territory thousands of miles away. Would this actually be the answer to Arab prayers? If their foreign aid then dried up completely, and the American military-industrial establishment could refrain from bombing and subversion in the region, would this usher in an era of permanent peace and brotherly love on the Arab Street? Between Iran and Iraq, between Sunni and Shi'a?

Or is Israel not rather a convenient enemy?

Would there be more chance of a stable peace, albeit an uncomfortable one, if outsiders could stop building public perception and influencing international policy on a foundation of lies?

Saturday, April 10, 2021


John Hartford, Tony Rice Vassar Clements "Steam Powered Aereoplane" ( sorry about the poor quality but it is the only live performance I can find):

When I first heard this I thought it was another typical piece of whimsy from John Hartford.

Steam trains, steam rollers, steam ships I knew about. Even a few steam cars in the early days of motoring and, more recently, I’ve heard of steam bicycles but a steam plane? It seemed highly unlikely; how would it carry enough water for example? Water is rather heavy and it would need a very powerful aircraft to lift such a weight off the ground but then I came across these two stories:

"On 20th April 1933 William Besler took off from Oakland Airport, California in a steam driven aircraft which he and his brother George had designed andbuilt. It was the result of three years of work and secret experimentation in a machine shop in Emeryville, California.

“This blue machine, with William Besler at the controls, sped down the runway and climbed into the air without a sound except the low whine of the propeller and the hum of wind through the wires. Swinging back over the field at 200 feet, the pilot shouted ‘Hello!’ and heard the answering calls from spectators below.”

I had never heard of a steam plane before I came across that page on the web So I wondered if there might be film of it somewhere and I found some here (no sound):

There is also this promotional film made by the Besler Corporation which features the steam driven vehicles made by the company. I had heard of the Stanley Steamer motor car but as far as I know it could not reach the 85mph claimed for Besler's car!


* An earlier version of this post originally appeared at Nourishing Obscurity on 27/9/2011; that original post has been lost in NO's technical problems.

Friday, April 09, 2021

FRIDAY MUSIC: Lonnie Donegan, by JD

Lonnie Donegan was known as 'the king of skiffle' The name 'skiffle' was suggested by trumpeter Ken Colyer's brother Bill after the Dan Burley Skiffle Group of the 1930s. Donegan played, along with Chris barber, in Ken Colyer's Jazzmen during the early 1950s.

Colyer left the band in 1954 after which then became the Chris Barber Jazz band. During the intervals of their shows Donegan with Barber on double bass and Beryl Brydon playing a washboard, the trio would play American folk and blues songs by the likes of Woody Guthrie or Leadbelly, as they had done previously with Colyer's jazzmen.

Barber's first recording included the skiffle trio's version of Leadbelly's Rock Island Line which was later released as a single and became a huge success eventuall selling three million copies!

The rest, as they say, is history and Donegan was a major influence on virtually all of the rock or blues musicians who came to prominence in the 1960s.