Friday, March 31, 2023

FRIDAY MUSIC: Sam Brown, by JD

Something different - I know I'm always saying that but this time it really is different. 

Sam is the daughter of Joe Brown, one of this country's pioneers of 'rock,n,roll' who began his career in the 1950s alongside Cliff Richard and Marty Wilde and many more who are mostly forgotten. What makes it different is her ukelele orchestra. I've tried counting the players on stage and there are 35 I think but it is clear they are having a great time. Music guaranteed to raise a smile!
"Sam Brown is a musician, songwriter, performer and recently, ukulele teacher from London UK. She currently lives in Dorset UK.

Born in October 1964, Sam has been ‘doing’ music from the age of 12.

She has worked as a backing vocalist, song writer and lead vocalist and has sold in excess of 3 million records. In the 1980/90’s she had her biggest hit Stop which was in the top ten."

Sam Brown Horse To The Water 2002

Ronnie Lane Memorial Concert - Slim Chance with Sam Brown "Lad's Got Money"

Sam Brown - Tea

Sam Brown's Ukulele Club of Sonning Common play "Ace of Spades"

Pinball Wizard - The Fabulous International Ukulele Club of Sonning Common

MiLord - Sam Brown's International Ukulele Club of Sonning 
(Sam is here at far left conducting the 'orchestra' and playing her ukelele)

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

PandeMIC: the enemy above

My wife opened her email yesterday and found a recruitment ad from GCHQ - yes, really. She’s been retired for twenty years but this looks like a dream opportunity - she could ‘work from home’ simply by spying on me. For the system has become so crap and evil that it has radicalised me.

‘Crap’: all that cyber-snooping and GCHQ can’t analyse its data to see why my wife is not in the frame for a job with them! But then, how come two Russian agents were allowed to fly into the UK and wander around Salisbury in 2018 during Toxic Dagger, an annual military exercise themed around chemical warfare? And that narrative of the Skripal poisonings, which has more holes than a string vest! I thought our spooks were good at lying.

‘Evil’: it’s not just foreigners who study the technology of mass murder. The laboratory at Porton Down is less than 20 minutes’ drive away from Salisbury and has a long history of potentially lethal experiments both in-house on Service personnel and covertly on the civilian population across the country.

We have had a UN Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) since 1975, forbidding the development of such things; yet across the world, well-paid and -pensioned whitecoats are at work on them. ‘Oh, but we have to do this research, because of what the Other Lot might do,’ they will tell us. ‘This is for defence!’ But everybody can make that excuse; really, the whole lot of them ARE the Other Lot. Go back to the BWC and try harder, harder! Meanwhile, if only they could be rounded up and sent to some remote Pacific island, concocting their hellbrews in segregated valleys and constant mutual fear.

Actually, that may possibly have started already. Seven years ago the French opened a ‘biosafety laboratory’ in Tahiti, allegedly for research into mosquito-borne diseases. Oddly, the original announcement in Tahiti News has since disappeared and the laboratory is not on the main island but on a tiny two-square-mile atoll called Tetiaroa - hardly a convenient commute for the staff. Still, let’s try to believe it is what it says; at least it’s safely isolated.

There are four categories of lab biosafety precautions; Tetiaroa is equipped to NSB3 containment standard; good, but not the best. A microbiology facility in Beijing was also a Level 3, yet the SARS virus escaped from there, twice; presumably that is why China’s first NSB4 lab was constructed in Wuhan, 650 miles away and with a population a third the size of the nation’s capital.

Now the West is claiming that despite Wuhan’s top-level safety rating - the same as for the UK’s Porton Down - Covid was another lab leak. That is worrying, for as the Telegraph and Mail have reported, Imperial College conducted ‘gain of function’ research on the Covid virus last year in a lower, level 3 setting. Are our boffins definitely more safety-conscious, less fallible than the Chinese? They were combining elements of the original disease - one that is estimated to have killed 6.8 million people worldwide so far - with those of Delta and Omicron variants. What were they hoping to achieve? What if they had succeeded in breeding a new strain that was as transmissible as WuFlu but far more lethal? Was that the intention?

There are so many potential monsters of modern war under construction: biological (including genetic targeting of ethnic groups), chemical, atomic, drones, robotics, artificial intelligence… Think of all those clever people preparing a Hell on Earth, for nothing but money and power, things that they and their superiors can enjoy for only a blink of history’s eye. That is why I say the enterprise is evil: an irrational project to cause lasting harm for the sake of fleeting gains.

President Eisenhower warned us about the ‘military-industrial complex’ in 1961:
We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. . . . This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. . . .Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. . . . In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
How much do we invest in peace research?

In this context it is very interesting to hear what Tucker Carlson of Fox News has been saying recently. Leftists often dub Carlson ‘far right’, i.e. not a revolutionary Communist; yet unlike them he can confess to being mistaken and ashamed, as on the issue of his former support for the Iraq War.

Carlson now goes further, drawing a line between the murder of JFK, the defenestration of Nixon and the derailment of Trump’s foreign policy. What have they in common?
‘Elements in the federal bureaucracy… working to undermine the American system of government… Unelected lifers in the federal agencies make the biggest decisions in American government and crush anyone who tries to rein them in and in the process, our democracy becomes a joke.’
Peace initiatives like those the three Presidents above attempted are a threat to the Masters Of War whom we must seek to oppose. Quite possibly radical change - reform - may come not from the anarchic Left, but from the decent-hearted faction among conservatives: not the money-mad globalist British Tories, not the crush-the-poor American Rightists. It will take radicals like us, not ‘woke’ but disillusioned, who see emerging from Pandora’s box the last and only real gift: Hope.

Friday, March 24, 2023

FRIDAY MUSIC: Mean Mary James, by JD

'Mary James, youngest of six children, was born in Geneva, Alabama, though her family lived in Florida, a couple miles below the Alabama line. Mary learned to read music before she could read words and was an official singer/songwriter before she’d started her first day of kindergarten. 

'With the help of her mom, she wrote her theme song “Mean Mary from Alabam’.” The press immediately baptized her with this handle, and she’s been Mean Mary ever since. 

'Mary plays 11 instruments and has recorded 16 albums, her newest being Cold. There is not room here to tell the whole life story of Mean Mary, but if you would like to hear more of it, listen to her music—it is all there.'

The Sparrow and the Hawk - Mean Mary with Frank James

Mean Mary on fast banjo - Iron Horse

Mean Mary - Blazing

Dance of the Thistledown - Mean Mary

Mean Mary's Sweet Pickin' Balm (Medicine Show)

Mean Mary - Friend I Never Had

Mean Mary when she was a child (age 6) singing Long Tall Texan

Mean Mary - Trumbull County Antique Tractor Show

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Fake freedom: transport

Freedom is not simply a matter of personal choice.

Let’s take freedom of movement for example. Here is the unperson Laurence Fox being interviewed by the BBC at the 18 February Oxford protest against the Council’s ‘15 minute city’ proposals to limit vehicle movement:

The interviewer tells Fox it’s a choice: either allow the Council to promote clean air by these restrictions, or see motorists zoom around willy-nilly, polluting the atmosphere.

Fox points out that the fad for ‘clean air zones’ benefits the privileged who live and work in the expensive central areas; and that mothers dropping off their children at school will create more toxic emissions as they are forced to take the long way round via the ring road.

It’s a false dichotomy. Neither side mentioned the possibilities of public transport.

Years ago I visited a friend in Sheffield. At that time the bus system was generously subsidised so that one could travel into the centre for literally a few pennies - the onboard machine pressed the coins onto a paper ticket roll so you could see exactly what you used to pay the fare. The service was so regular and cheap that even car drivers used it instead, especially for an evening out to get full of Sam Smith’s ale.

Then came privatisation. Even now, some think every service would be better run as a business for profit; well, so are banks, and see where they have got us today. Nevertheless, the opportunities for the ambitious and greedy - and the friends they make in public office - are irresistible temptations to ignore the maxim ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

In Birmingham the system was well fixed when I arrived in the mid-Seventies. The Number 11 went 26 miles round the Outer Circle and was kept strictly to timetable by a ring of clocks on the route, into which the driver would insert a key to punch the internal recording roll at the right moment. We could forgive the driver his occasional stop at the pissoir on Hamstead Road, or nipping out for a packet of chips to put on the dashboard, or even his regrettable habit of leaving the bus door open in cold weather; the thing is, we got where we wanted to go, and arrived on time.

Then in the mid-Eighties such smoothly-run operations were disrupted by ‘deregulation’. Routes were cherry-picked and less profitable ones made less frequent. The Outer Circle clocks disappeared; and some directors made millions.

Now if public transport becomes more expensive and less regular, you are going to need and want a car even if you didn’t have one before. This becomes a feedback loop so that the bus service shrinks; and the social mix using it alters - the old, the poor, schoolchildren; it gets grungier and rowdier.

If cities want cleaner air and less crowded roads they don’t have to set up road blocks and charge for entry into ‘Clean Air Zones’ and fine people who forget to pay. Instead, they could run clean electric buses (and trams and trains) frequently, cheaply and at all hours. The cost of the subsidies would be more than covered by the economic and tax revenue boost as money saved personally by not needing a motor car could ‘fructify in the pockets of the people.’

Or is it that the hairy-eared tyrants in local and national politics prefer control, coercion and punishment? I fear it may be so.

Friday, March 17, 2023

FRIDAY: Music - and horse racing - for St Patrick's Day

This is a retread of a previous post which has been amended with a few additions and a few subtractions as some videos have disappeared and other references are a wee bit out of date.

St Patrick's Day once more so tonight's music offering is a celebration of all things Irish plus a few other non musical things.

The Dubliners - Whiskey in the Jar (best version!!!)

This is a song written by Dominic Behan who also wrote the more famous Mc Alpine's Fusiliers. Both songs were inspired by the many thousands of Irishmen who came to the UK in the postwar years to help with "Building up and tearing England down"...
A long time ago I spent a couple of years working for Wimpey and they did indeed have a lot of Irish working for them and they would all tell me that Wimpey was an acronym for We Import More Paddies Every Year!

Dave Allen on Death (funeral sketch)


"A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, on the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."

- James Joyce, 'The Dead'

So far we have had a taste of drinking and singing and dancing and death; another great passion among the Irish is horse racing andthis week there is the annual (temporary) emigration to England for the Cheltenham Festival, a week of racing at its best. Irish trainers and jockeys will, once again, win most of the races!

Among the leading jockeys in recent years has been Rachael Blackmore the first female jockey to win the Grand National at Aintree which she did in 2021. 

On Tuesday at Cheltenham she won a race in fine style on a horse called Honeysuckle and the reception she was given in the winners's circle was amazing. I have never seen anything like that before. There were so many people in and around the paddock she couldn't get the horse through it all. The Irish are very good at chaotic celebration!

Geesala Festival 2012

The Orange Rogue - Irish Harp & Hammered Dulcimer - Zekley

Nolwenn Leroy - Mna Na Heireann

Nolwen Leroy - Siuil A Ruin

Nolwen Leroy, by the way, is French but she is from Bretagne so that makes her a Celt. Bretagne's 'national' anthem is the same as the Welsh anthem but with different words.

The Irish...

Be they kings, or poets, or farmers,

They're a people of great worth,

They keep company with the angels,

And bring a bit of heaven here to earth


Galway Girl - Sharon Shannon, Mundy & Galway City

Friday, March 10, 2023

FRIDAY MUSIC: The Franklin sisters (Aretha & co.), by JD

I think most people will know of Aretha Franklin, often styled as The Queen of Soul. What is not so well known is that she had two sisters who were also singers, all three being daughters of the Rev C L Franklin who was pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit from 1946 until he was shot and wounded in 1979.

Franklin senior was known as the man with the "Million-Dollar Voice" and he and his daughters (as well as his sons) would sing in his church.

The recording industry is unpredictable such that only Aretha made a successful career in it; she would say that her elder sister Erma was a better singer and yet is relatively unknown.

So a brief selection from all of them including father.

Erma Franklin - Piece of My Heart (Video)

Erma Franklin - I Get The Sweetest Feeling

[Teenage] Aretha Franklin Sings Gospel!! 
(the backing singer here with the beautiful clear soprano voice is Cissy Houston, mother of Whitney)

ARETHA FRANKLIN "AIN'T NO WAY" (written by Carolyn Franklin)

It's True I'm Gonna Miss You

I Can't Help My Feeling So Blue

Aretha Franklin feat. Rev. Cecil & Erma Franklin

Rev. C.L. Franklin-Your Mother Loves Her Children

Monday, March 06, 2023

Cash for Ukraine: an alternative

Last year, the UK supplied £2.3 billion in military aid to Ukraine and plans to do the same in 2023. This is odd, because we have not declared war on Russia and Russia has not declared war on us.

It is also expensive. There were 32.2 million UK income tax payers in 2022 so for my wife and me those two years represent a compulsory joint contribution of £285.

That’s quite a lot for us and surely the money could be better spent on other official projects such as secretly euthanising my friends in hospital, employing the fascist 77th Brigade to spread disinformation on social media, and barricading urban streets to impede the free movement of the populace.

Please note, I call the 77th and their numerous ilk fascists because they are part of a system of oppression on behalf of corporate interests including not only the military-industrial complex but the government itself, which has become a monolithic corporation positively exulting in the nuisances it is able to visit on ordinary people - as we see from the Hancock Covidisaster emails recently leaked by Isabel Oakeshott.

Since killing Russians in Ukraine - and far more Ukrainians, to boot - is a sort of hobby or sport instead of a public necessity, it should be financed by its supporters on a voluntary basis: personal approaches by chuggers and churglars; internet crowdfunding; maybe even a telethon - ‘Fascists In Need’?

The spiel would be on traditional lines:
‘£x buys a bullet to fire into the femoral artery of a Russian prisoner of war; £y purchases a cubic yard of the concrete needed to block off fresh water to Crimea again; £z is the price of a roll of silk wallpaper to decorate a foreign bolthole for the former TV nudist comedian turned tyrant who is such a lethal ‘Servant of the People’ that he is running out of people to serve and has to send out gangs to forcibly recruit boys and old men.’
And then when they come along with GoFundMe we shall have the liberty to tell them to GoFu**Yourself.

Saturday, March 04, 2023

New on 'Now and Next': No Debate, No Democracy


'People who complain about the power structure call in aid the notion of democracy and the will of the people. There’s a hazy notion of ‘hey, let’s all get together and do X.’

'No chance. Quite obviously the people love to quarrel about the smallest things, as we can see every day on social media.

'New technology brings in new modes of action...'

- continued as per the above link. 

Friday, March 03, 2023

FRIDAY MUSIC: A musical miscellany, by JD

A miscellany of musical delights for your entertainment and pleasure!

Tico Tico, ティコ・ティコ

4 Non Blondes - What's Up (Official Music Video)
1,471,217,029 views 23 Feb 2011 #4NonBlones #WhatsUp #Remastered

Eddie Buchanan & Love Machine Dancing In The Nude 1976

Bob Azzam "Chérie je t'aime" Ya Mustapha!! (1960) FullHD/HQ

Springtime For Hitler; The Producers

Public Image Limited - Hawaii | The Late Late Show | RTÉ One

Rita Moreno - Animal - fever.avi