Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Mince Pies

As most of us must know, mince pies are the point of Christmas. Admittedly Christmas has become tangled up with manic shopping and sentimental twaddle about a guy in a red suit, but that is merely fluff and nonsense. Mince pies are what Christmas is all about. Years ago there was some religious stuff too, but that seems to have given way to the powerful rationality of the mince pie.

Unfortunately our finest mince pie experience came via my late mother-in-law so now we have to make do with second best, but that does not invalidate the pie's primary role at this time of year. So far we have sampled the produce of Sainsbury, Tesco, Granddaughter's play centre and a Matlock cafe.

Obviously it is early in the mince pie season and we intend many more samplings but at this stage it is worth mentioning that Tesco Finest were not particularly fine. Too sweet and not enough spiciness.

Sainsbury's Taste the Difference were not bad. Good texture, not too sweet and moderately spicy. They were still supermarket pies though. 

Granddaughter's play centre pies were probably Mr Kipling with all that this implies. At least the coffee rinsed the gunk off my teeth.

The Matlock cafe pies looked as if they came from a local bakery and were pretty good. Good texture, not too sweet and quite spicy. They didn't look as perfect as machine-made pies which ought to be a good sign. 

So all in all not a bad early kick-off for the mince pie season, but it's a pity neither of us is an expert baker. Maybe we'll try Lidl next.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Blair & Co. - A Modest Proposal


I don't know who is more out of touch with reality: we who hope that the leaders of our various nations actually know what's going on and how to make the best of it, or those among them who think they do.

But some of them come back after their fantasy performance and want to do more. Mr Blair was the Saviour of Britain, then the Conquering Sword in the Middle East, then tried to be made President of Europania, then appointed himself Peacemaker in the Middle East, and now the Elder Statesman of the Labour Party and Last Hope of the Remainers.

He needs help.

Perhaps, instead of impeaching him or trying him at the Hague (together with George W Bush and a raft of other warmongers and war profiteers), we need to make him - and other deluded Great Leaders - a little faux-world fit for their view of it and themselves.

Private enterprise, bless it, shows us the way:

"For those who have forgotten who they are. For those who no longer count time. For those to whom love and care is all that matters. Dementia Village Advisors creates custom living environments for elderly people with dementia. No big anonymous buildings, but instead manageable and pleasant residential areas. Where it is comfortable for everyone to live. Where residents feel safe at home. Where they enjoy living out their final days, connected with family, caregivers and healthcare providers. Where they can enjoy the precious life they were used to and still want to lead."http://dementiavillage.com/

Patients gather in the Day Room

No more the grandiose Presidential palaces of Romania, Iraq, Turkey and so on - so often torn apart by foreign military bombardment and domestic insurgents. Instead, securely walled simulacra of Downing Street, EU buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg, the UN, Bohemian Grove etc. Safer, more luxurious, more soothing than the East German elite's compound at Waldsiedlung. And even with the best furnishings, food, wines and chauffeured limousines to nowhere, far less costly than the harm they would do to the world if allowed to wander about it.

I'm thinking crowdfunding - any better suggestions?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday Night Is Music Night: Strings Attached

JD presents a cittern selection...

Music from four of the world's finest guitarists.

"How to play the guitar":

I think you might enjoy that :)

Monday, November 21, 2016


JD comments on the outcome:

The dust is settling on the US election and, I am pleased to say, Frankie Boyle managed to insult everyone last night!


There have been other, not quite so iconoclastic, voices recently:

This was the day before the US election-

"Now is the time to change the global image of America into a land of well-being, wealth and ideal ways of living, rather than a source of war."

In contrast, Adam Curtis has produced this new documentary in which he sees how the modern world is presented to us as an illusion, a deliberately created confusion-


At almost three hours long, I am not going to watch it. Life is too short to sit through what seems to be an argument based on a false premise; who exactly is fooled by the falsehoods in the newspapers or the glamorous unreality of the entertainment industry, with its simple minded certainties?

It is very many years since I worked out that the newspapers and TV/cinema give a false view of the world: what I read in the papers bore no resemblance to my daily work or social life or that of anyone I know. What I saw on screen was an outright lie, whether it be 'Coronation Street' or 'Saturday Night And Sunday Morning' - people in real life do not behave in that way.

Curtis is guilty of looking at people as 'interest groups' or stereotypes instead of looking at us as individuals, an attitude he has in common with all of those he criticises. Two others have taken apart the Curtis film so I don't have to.


And the day after the US election, Sadhguru had this to say-

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Will Hammond's organ respond to the needs of women?

I hear Chancellor Philip Hammond plans to instruct his office to crack down on scams targeting pensioners

Will that include the National Insurance Fund, which is running a far-beyond-recommendation £22.7 billion in surplus* as WASPI women watch their State Pension retirement age fade into the distance?

* According to Wikipedia: "Levels of benefit and contributions are set following the advice of the Government Actuary, who recommends that a prudential balance of two months contribution revenue (about £8 billion) should be kept in the fund."

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Night Is Music Night: A Heart Full Of Soul

JD writes:

No it's not the Yardbirds but their song title is a good description of Sinéad O' Connor and the way she lives her life and sings her songs-

Sinéad O' Connor:

In memory of Veronica Guerin -

You said that people respond positively to what is delivered with great passion. Not many wear their heart on their sleeve the way Sinéad does and she is, in fact, a very fine singer.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Democrats Cannot Believe the Results

Jim in San Marcos comments:

Mr. Trump won the election and we have Democrats protesting out in the street even before he takes office. I remember when Obama won, and I sucked it in and said he’s our President now. What he did over 8 years irritated the hell out of me! To say the least.

I get the feeling from these protestors that Democracy is great, only if your candidate wins. And the sad thing is that most of the losers in this race were one issue voters; global warming or the woman President fulfilment goal. I get the feeling that the protestors are either incredibly stupid or have been brainwashed by all of the nonsensical ads about Trump. Many are students that were confused as to why they can’t get a job after spending big bucks on college.

The issue we have here, is that the present protests are over a candidate that has never held a political office and has not yet taken the oath as the next President. He has no political record to censure but yet these disrupters of our Democracy do not give a damn. They want him out before he has even been in.

What we really need to look at, is that we have Donald Trump, a dyed in the wool Democrat, elected as a Republican to be President. He did not fit into the liberal establishment of being politically correct. If you say something that the establishment doesn’t want to hear, you are labeled racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynist and so on. Most people in this situation, shut up and keep quiet. Donald in this case, said bring it on, it won’t stick.

We have come to a point now, where this politically correct police force is visible. Tell a black joke and you are a racist. Tell a religious joke and you’re anti-Semitic. You’re not graded on how funny the joke is.

The real joke is on the political system. It was too corrupt to select real people to run for office. The Democrats had morphed into socialists. Trump was considered harmless. He beat all the Republicans in the Republican primary, got on their white horse and then slew the Hillary dragon.

The one thing that really stands out, is that the news media failed us and showed everyone how manipulative they are as a group. The misinformation they fed us during this election, calling it news, was deplorable. Everyone thought The Donald was exaggerating and bashing the media unfairly.

The Democrats became the party of the rich with socialism for the poor, while the party ignored the middle class. The socialistic Democrats that voted for Hillary, didn’t see Trump as a Democrat. The Republicans were wondering what made Trump a Republican; they were satisfied with the fact that he wasn’t a “damn Socialist” and liked the second amendment. Sooner or later the people of this country will come to realize that the Republicans, without knowing it, put a Democrat into the Oval office.

The good thing is, we have elected a President with a lot of common sense that will speak his mind and is not beholden to the lobbyists in Washington D.C. Obama the politician can probably take credit for the Trump Presidency. He pissed off the wrong person one too many times. Obama, you're fired!!

The neat thing is that both parties won. The Republicans got the man they voted for and the Democrats are too stupid to recognize a Democrat, unless he's holding his hand out for a bribe. "Draining the swamp" just might cure that.

Editor's (i.e. Jim's) note:
I define a true Democrat as representing the middle class.

Original post at: http://greatdepression2006.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/the-democrats-cannot-believe-results.html

Monday, November 14, 2016

Voice Of The People

My old Principal was a former computer teacher who had been granted early retirement on account of partial deafness caused by the screeching of the old-fashioned printers. He was born and bred in Lancashire but had come to a school in the Forest of Dean, 140 miles further south and having a very different dialect. At his 65th birthday celebration in the Speech House his old headteacher told this story about (let's call him) Eric:

Soon after he had started at the school, the head was passing in the corridor and asked him how he was getting on. "I can't hear what the boys are saying," said Eric.

Later, after Eric had had a hearing aid fitted, the head asked him again. He replied, "I can hear what the boys are saying, but I can't understand what they are saying." Dean, in rural Gloucestershire and close to the Welsh border, speaks its own language.

Time went by and Eric eventually picked up the lingo. The head repeated his query, and Eric said, "I can hear what the boys are saying, and I understand what they are saying. But - I don't like what they are saying." Dean people, a tight community, are accustomed to running their own affairs and speaking their minds freely, hence their Speech House.

In 2016, after the RefEurendum and Trumpquake, this tale has a fresh resonance.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Last Trump, if this one fails?

JD follows up:

"Good morning America, how are you?"

This is worth reading (trigger warning! - Ed) - https://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=231656

What he is describing in small town America is similar to those areas of the UK away from the metropolitan south east; factories and industries closed and nothing to replace them. Thirty years of neglect, thirty years of despair. Denninger has his usual rant against 'the left'" and he still seems to believe in 'free markets' but instead of complaining about 'illegals' taking low paid (and tax dodging) jobs he should really be railing against those who employ the illegals.

What he is really describing fits the famous quote by Ted Heath over the Lonrho affair - "the unacceptable face of capitalism". If you were to play Monopoly long enough you would find that in the end there is only one winner and that is what the political consensus has been over the past thirty years, a giant global game of Monopoly!

Why did the Red States vote for Trump? I am reminded of a line in Kriss Kristofferson's song 'Me & Bobby McGee' - "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose". That is why the blue collar vote went to Trump and the metropolitan bien-pensants stayed at home.

I don't like or trust Trump but we can only wait and see. The reality of the job might sober him up and for the first time in his life he will find a genuine and equally determined opposition to whatever he wants to do and he will find that he cannot sack people as easily as he might do in the world of business.

During my working life in the construction industry I have met quite a few property developers and some of them were almost human. But mostly they are dedicated to a relentless pursuit of money. There was even one who bankrupted his company (as Trump has done four times) in order to avoid paying the architects, the other consultants and property taxes (that was a Swiss company planning a housing development in Spain).

Saw this on RT but nowhere else - http://www.neonnettle.com/features/601-george-soros-exposed-as-driving-force-behind-anti-trump-protests-

Now it has appeared on Breitbart- http://www.breitbart.com/live/2016-election-world-reacts-donald-trumps-stunning-upset-victory/moveon-protests-white-house/

Soros protecting his money you see - the unacceptable face of capitalism. Soros is the exact opposite of Andrew Carnegie.

Carnegie believed in using his fortune for others and doing more than making money. He wrote: "Man must have no idol and the amassing of wealth is one of the worst species of idolatry! No idol is more debasing than the worship of money!" http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/the_man_who_dies_rich_dies_disgraced/

If Trump were to emulate Carnegie then he will be a great President; if not then it is anyone's guess as to what will happen next.

Andrew Carnegie again: - “The day is not far distant when the man who dies leaving behind him millions of available wealth, which was his to administer during life, will pass away un-wept, un-honored and un-sung. (...) Of such as these the public verdict will then be: ‘The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.’”

Trumpquake: the aftershocks

JD comments:

When I woke up the morning after the US Presidential Election I switched on the radio and Radio4 were broadcasting Test Match Special live from India. So it was good to know that some people at the Beeb have their priorities right!

Anyway, a few random thoughts-

The other night on Beeb4 we had Rich Hall taking a very funny and cynical look at 240 years of presidents and campaigns. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0828lpl/rich-halls-presidential-grudge-match He concluded that the only president who did anything worthwhile was Jimmy Carter but only after he left the White House - http://www.habitat.org/volunteer/build-events/carter-work-project

Another programme the same night on the Beeb had Angela Scoular spending time with some unlikely Trump supporters- Milo Yiannopoulos, college students, African Americans, Latinos and some wannabe beauty queens. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p04d0tcl/trumps-unlikely-superfans

It was most enlightening because she made no judgment on them, just asked neutral and sensible questions but the best bit was when she looked at Trump tee shirts for sale and she asked "Where was that made?" It said Haiti on the label. "You had better hide that!" she said.

That last one is the one to keep an eye on. Trump promised he would create 6000 jobs with the building of his golf course in Aberdeen but only 200 have been created. And then there is this from 2013, but it is an ongoing saga- http://aberdeenvoice.com/2013/01/menie-estate-no-3-love-thy-neighbour-trump-style/

So when the honeymoon period is over and the promised jobs for the rust belt States are slow to appear............

Unfortunately the Hillary would have been worse; you have no doubt seen this from John Ward - https://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/clinton-spin-cant-hide-a-clear-present-danger-to-western-liberty/

And there was this also on the Beeb about Anthony Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin. As John Ward noted, having those two advising Madam President doesn't bear thinking about. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0828kwn/storyville-20162017-3-weiner-sexts-scandals-and-politics

If Trump decides to appoint Trey Gowdy as Attorney General, or to any other position, then life could become very interesting indeed-

And just to bring a bit of light relief to the madness - http://davidaslindsay.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/the-white-house.html

We live in interesting times :)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday Night Is Music Night: A Big Wad Of Cash

JD gives us a selection of the work of Johnny Cash:

This time it is The Man In Black who doesn't really need any introduction. The difficulty was wondering what to leave out!

And a fitting tribute to John Cash and June Carter in this song by Eric Brace-

Hope you like them.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Vigils and vanities


Political conflict has always been painfully divisive and the reactions of UK Remainers and US Clinton supporters to their tragic loss is an old game. Blame the referee, the other team for cheating, opposition flukes, anything but admit the simple fact of defeat.

Holding vigils in protest against Donald Trump’s victory is a typically self-righteous example, yet one is bound to wonder at the readiness with which people absorb political narratives into their personalities. If we are unwise enough to support a political party or political narrative then that is what we do, we sign over a chunk of our personality, our character. It is not an add-on, it is a replacement.

Which is why political supporters defend political parties, political actors and political narratives with such implacable determination. However ludicrous the narrative, however empty the promises, however flaky the actors, the degree of personal investment is difficult to understand unless we realise how personal it all is. As personal as a pound of flesh.

People do not invest part of their personality in a political stance; they give up part of their personality and replace it with political behaviour. Instead of mulling over political questions they acquire the tools for standard political answers which are almost always improvised but improvised around a core which cannot be modified.

As for the politically victorious, as well as the joy of winning there is also a sense of relief at not having lost, of not having to justify losing, not having to find excuses, not having to be angry. For now.

This is the fascination of political conflict. It exposes the shallowness of human nature, its dependence on imitation and past history, its indifference to reason. It highlights the contrast between observed behaviour and the complex, dangerously colourful myths with which we drench our political vanities. 

Friday, November 04, 2016

Friday Night Is Music Night: Bish Bash Bosch!

JD writes: A musical treat this week :)


After being pleasantly surprised by the music transcribed from the Heironymus Bosch painting I explored more into medieval music and found some wonderful music, some of it sounding very modern: timeless perhaps?

Hieronymus Bosch Butt Music

Troubadour love song by Arany Zoltán

Anonymous (13th Century): El Cant de la Sibil·la Provençal / M. Figueras & J. Savall

Durme, Durme (Traditional Sephardic Lullaby)

English Dance "13th century"

Beatriz of Dia - A chantar m'er de so:

The Comtessa de Dia (Countess of Die), probably named Beatritz or Beatriz (1140-1175), was a trobairitz (female troubadour). She is only known as the comtessa de Dia in contemporary documents, but was almost certainly named Beatriz and likely the daughter of Count Isoard of Diá (a town northeast of Montelimar in southern France). She was married to William of Poitiers, but was in love with and sang about Raimbaut of Orange (1146-1173). Beatrice's poems were often set to the music of a flute. Five of her works survive, including 4 cansos and 1 tenson. "A chantar m'er de so" is the only existing song by Beatriz which survived with music.

This is not exactly medieval but it is included because I love it as well as the story that a very young Mozart 'stole' it after hearing it sung in the Sistine Chapel-


I think you will agree that is something different indeed :)

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Brexit ruling: "trying it on"

JD comments:

Today's decision in the High Court serves to highlight the absurdity of the Law. What it does is give supremacy to the letter of the law over the spirit of the law.

As Dickens wrote "the law is a ass" but Steinbeck pointed out another more fundamental flaw in the law. In his novel Cannery Row (I think it was that book) he has his character Doc come back from a day in court just observing proceedings and he declares in astonishment that "both sides were trying to win!" 'Doc' had suddenly realised that in an adversarial legal system the Law is not concerned with right or wrong, it is not concerned with justice, it is not concerned with discovering the truth, it is concerned only with the Law; interpretation of statutes, the precise legal status of every single word or phrase within a statute and only then because there has been a legal challenge. And any legal challenge which comes before the court will depend on who employs the most eloquent and persuasive advocate. Or to put it another way, the winner will be the side who can afford the best lawyers.

I know something of how the law operates because I was involved occasionally in contractual disputes in the construction industry. The most important question we asked was "what did the two parties intend" in other words, the spirit of the law was a major factor in deciding if the contract dispute was 'vexatious' or not. In the vernacular that means- was one of the parties 'trying it on' or just being greedy for money, and I could list more than a few that were like that especially during the 80s.

Going back to the opening paragraph, the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law. It must be understood that a statute can be interpreted in more than one way because of the limitations of language. It is written in good faith and when it is passed into Law, there will be a consensus opinion as to the meaning which is accepted by everyone. In other words we all think we know what it means and abide by that law, abide by the spirit of that law.

The case brought against the Brexit decision was, in my view, vexatious and should have been thrown out. The plaintiffs were wrong and even the full weight of the law does not make it right.

There is a further complication here in that European Law overrules English Law in any and all cases. This was decreed by Lord Justice Laws when he declared that the 1972 European Communities Act was a Constitutional Act and, as such, he overturned the convention that Parliament cannot bind its successors. We are bound to the EU and all the talk of Article 50 is a smokescreen. The only way we can Brexit is by repealing that 1972 Act and that has never been an option, our Parliamentarians have no intention of ever leaving the EU and have no desire to do so.


I have been reading the summary of today's judgement.

The judge confirms what I wrote when he says - "This is a pure question of law. The court is not concerned with and does not express any view about the merits of leaving the European Union: that is a political issue" - as I said the law is not interested in anything other than interpreting the letter of the law.