Sunday, June 30, 2024

SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT: Election special, the cynic's guide!

The Bonzo Dog Band - No Matter Who You Vote For The Government Always Gets In (lyrics)

Monty Python’s Election Night Special

Neil Innes - Lie Down and Be Counted, Innes Book of Records

This is from Neil Oliver's YouTube channel posted earlier this week in which he desribes the slow process of his 'political awakening' from being a trusting and somewhat naive or even gullible citizen and realising that he and we can no longer trust or believe our politicians nor any of our institutions such as the  NHS or the Post Office (as we have seen recently) and how those same politicians can only be regarded as our 'enemy' who wish us harm.

Neil Oliver: Buckle up - more psyops are coming your way!

I agree with Neil Oliver but my own awakening began much earlier, more than 50 years ago:

It was in the early Seventies and I was in a small department store in town when another customer came in with what appeared to be his 'entourage' his minions or hangers-on. This new customer had a very loud voice and all I could hear from him was "I thought I came across very well" From this I surmised that he had just come from the BBC studios which were just a short walk away. He was dressed not flamboyantly but, shall we say, unusually. He had a long Crombie style overcoat with  a large astrakhan collar and a hat to match. And large bristling unruly sideburns. "I thought I came across very well" he kept on saying as if to reassure himself. I later found out that he was Rhodes Boyson MP. My first encounter with a real live politician. I was not impressed.

My second encounter with an MP was many years later. I was coming out of my local newsagent with a clutch of Sunday newspapers and I saw somebody getting out of a taxi by the bus stop and I thought "That looks like our local MP" and indeed it was our MP. He then started walking and I followed on after him, not out of curiosity but because he was heading in the general direction of my house. "I wonder where he is going and why did he not get out of the taxi at his destination?" Very strange behaviour. He proceeded along the main road and followed it round a long bend and then it dawned on me... This was Remembrance Sunday and he was heading for our local British Legion Club. From there he would lead the parade of ex-servicemen, Scouts, Guides etc to the local Church for the service of Remembrance. Seeing such sly behaviour from my local MP. I was not impressed. Boyson was Conservative and my local MP, now retired, was Labour.

There have been other more direct encounters with local Labour Councillors in more recent years and they were even less impressive than the aforementioned MPs. In fact it is my opinion they are the most mean spirited and spiteful characters I have had the misfortune to meet!

Well, that's my opinion. You may agree or disagree as you choose.

"We Are About To Elect A Government Nobody Wants." 
- Dr David Starkey speaking earlier this month:

Friday, June 28, 2024

FRIDAY MUSIC: Colm Mac an Iomaire, by JD

"In a crowded field of outstanding Irish fiddle players and interpreters of traditional music Colm Mac Con Iomaire is unique. His voice is unmistakably his own and his music bears distinctive creative hallmarks which have as much to do with his personality and character as with his impressive technical mastery, musical authority and exquisitely expressive playing."
– Nuala O’Connor

Colm Mac an Iomaire - The Minbar of Saladin | Dorn San Aer do Rónán

Colm Mac Con Iomaire - The Finnish Line | #Courage2020

Colm Mac Con Iomaire ⚏ Bláth (Flower)

Emer's dream

Colm & Darrach Mac Con Iomaire & Frank Tate - 'Frailach' & gan anim

Just out of interest, has anyone ever seen a left handed fiddle/violin player? Or viola, cello, double bass?

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'

 Julian Assange has walked out of Belmarsh prison.

A lawyer has said it is a 'win-win'...

You may remember 'Catch-22':


In that case, we'll just have to send you home. Of course, there's one catch.

Yeah? What's that?

We will issue orders sending you back to the States and there's one thing you have to do for us in return.

What would that be?

Like us.

Like you?

Like us. You'll be surprised how easy it is once you begin.


Friday, June 21, 2024

FRIDAY MUSIC: The Basque Country (Euskadi) by JD

Continuing the 'tour' of the northern Spanish regions along the coast of the Bay of Biscay and their distinctive traditions. The Basque Country (Euskadi) is an autonomous community in northern Spain with strong cultural traditions, a celebrated cuisine and a distinct language that pre-dates the Romance languages. 

The Basque Autonomous Community (7,234 km²) consists of three provinces, specifically designated "historical territories":

Álava (capital: Vitoria-Gasteiz)
Biscay (capital: Bilbao)
Gipuzkoa (capital: Donostia-San Sebastián)

The Chartered Community of Navarre (10,391 km²)[12] is a single-province autonomous community. Its name refers to the charters, the Fueros of Navarre. The Spanish Constitution of 1978 states that Navarre may become a part of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country if it is so decided by its people and institutions (the Disposicion transitoria cuarta or "Fourth Transitory Provision").

ERRE ZENITUZTEN (Xabi Solano) - Bizkargi Dantza Elkartea

Basque Dances (Dantza zati bat Idiazabalen - Euskal Herriko dantzak)

HUNTZA- Buruz Behera (Official video)


Huntza - Aldapan Gora (Bideoklip ofiziala - Official video)

"Ikusi Mendizaleak" - Basque Patriotic Song

There is a lot more that could be said about how different it is from the usual stereotypical image of Spain. It is very very green for example and did you know it has the world's first transporter bridge built in 1893 -

I spent three months working there in 1985 and loved it!

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Are MPs up to the job?

Until July 5 we’re enjoying a blessed holiday from Westminster prodnosing - no Covid-era gaggles of MPs in meeting rooms giggling ‘Whatever can we make them do next?’

Actually, for some of that time they had interim arrangements that let them WFH. Insofar as they worked at all - nono, that’s not fair: many are grafters; but here is an extract from a 2007 study of MPs’ hours and expenses:

Who managed to get their Westminster hours down to four? Timothy Ferriss’ ‘4 Hour Workweek’ book also came out in 2007 but clearly there was at least one clever-clogs politician who had already cracked it. Was it the same one who held no surgeries?

Maybe it’s to do with the Party system. Vote the way you’re told (and even then, only if the division looks to be close) and otherwise you’re free to write books, hold down a handful of directorships and so on. You’ll have constituency workers to deal with all the rats-and-drains stuff if you can’t be bothered.

A safe seat, that’s the thing. Where I live I could vote for the man in the moon but I’m going to get a Labour MP, even now, I’d put money on it. The only time that changed in recent history was in 2010 when people were fed up to the back teeth with the Blair/Brown disaster and turned to the LibDems rather then have a Tory. It was also the one and only time I was visited by a couple of the candidates; the LibDem’s owlish face exuded contempt when I told him my hot-button issue was the EU, while the Labourite’s companion stifled a smirk at her apparatchik’s ignorance when he tried to tell me that the 1975 referendum had settled the issue of national sovereignty.

This time there’s a possibility that George Galloway’s Workers Party candidate could split the Labour vote here somewhat though many of our aspirant Asians are not so exercised about Gaza; but the Conservative support could split even more significantly, between those scared back into the fold by what Peter Hitchens has publicised about Starmer’s plan to perma-ruin what’s left of the Constitution, and those who now hate the Tory Party’s guts and want it dead and buried after fourteen treacherous and incompetent years.

Electoral Calculus is currently (14 June) predicting 461 seats for Labour, 23 more than Blair’s historic 1997 landslide. Yet whatever the margin, if the Reds do get in they will still have a legitimation problem: as with EU membership, constituency-based voting is not adequate to authorise what Starmer (with Gordon ‘that bigoted woman’ Brown) is planning to do to us. The voting system is so skewed that it cannot possibly be a fair representation of the settled will of the people on monumentally important matters; we must have a clear, thorough and unbiased discussion of such proposals. Not that we’ll get it… yet.

Nor do our leaders themselves always take the trouble to do the spadework. You may remember our then Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd on the day of the Maastricht Treaty (7 Feb 1992): ‘Now we’ve signed it, we had better read it.’ He might have been joking, but I doubt it. Perhaps it is typical of the posh Etonian work ethic: painstaking work is what you hire other, little men to do.

How many MPs read and understand the Bills on which they vote? How many listen to the debates? Look at the empty green benches when Andrew Bridgen delivered unwelcome news on Covid issues: our supposed representatives were careful to ‘shun the frumious bandersnatch’; lots of Jabber when it suits them, but no Wocky when it matters.

Maybe Parliament has forgotten the discipline of power. We have only been free of the EU since 31 January 2020 - just over four years. For 47 years Westminster increasingly delegated its responsibilities to Brussels; and under the Blair project domestic control was passed over to regional assemblies, new mayorships, secondary legislation (which Parliament struggles to supervise) and a host of ‘quasi NGO’ bodies. The latter are headed by a privileged class of nibblers-and-sippers overseeing such success stories as water companies and the Post Office; they seem largely above failure and hop about like a mob of quangaroos.

We have to repatriate power, not just from the EU, the ECHR, the ICJ and so forth but also from all the national loci into which government has dissipated its vital energies.

That is not going to happen in 2024. We have to plan not so much for the seemingly unstoppable incoming administration as for the one after it. It is like the 1660 Restoration after Cromwell, who not only killed the King but destroyed the royal regalia, dismissed the Parliament whose army he had led, and instituted an oppressive, joyless ideological reign that divided the country into ten regions each run by a major-general. We had to stitch the two halves of kingly rule together after eleven years of the Interregnum; that is how radical (or counter-radical) we were forced to be.

Those who love our country and the democracy enshrined in Parliament must now diligently toil to make themselves fit for power, against the time when freedom becomes again a possibility.

Friday, June 14, 2024

FRIDAY MUSIC: Bartók and Smetana, by JD

Music from Eastern Europe by Bartok and Smetana; orchestral interpretations of their country's folk music traditions:

Béla Bartók ( 25 March 1881 – 26 September 1945) was a Hungarian composer, pianist and ethnomusicologist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century; he and Franz Liszt are regarded as Hungary's greatest composers. Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of comparative musicology, which later became known as ethnomusicology. 

Bartok's own compositions are not atonal but they are not exactly melodic and are not easy to listen to. They are part of the twentieth century fad of appealing to the intellect instead of the emotions; for the head instead of the heart. Far more interesting are his collecting of 'ethnic' folk music and transcibing these for orchestra and a selection of these follow -

In an article on the influence of peasant music on modern music, Béla Bartók once declared: ‘The right type of peasant music is most varied and perfect in its forms. Its expressive power is astonishing, and at the same time it is devoid of all sentimentality and superfluous ornaments... A composer in search of new ways cannot be led by a better master.’

For Bartók, the ‘right type’ of music was not the sophisticated urban style of the gypsies, which Brahms and Liszt had mistaken for genuine Hungarian folk music, but the less refined traditional melodies that had been passed down through the generations in rural communities.

Muzsikás: Bartók: Romanian Folk Dances / with Danubia Orchestra

Víkingur Ólafsson – Bartók: 3 Hungarian Folksongs from the Csìk, Sz. 35a

Bedřich Smetana ( 2 March 1824 – 12 May 1884) was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style that became closely identified with his people's aspirations to a cultural and political "revival". He has been regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music.

Smetana (1824–1884) created a new musical identity for the Czechs, inspired by popular legends, history and countryside. Now Smetana is recognised as the vital force in establishing Bohemian music around the globe - and not even his successor Dvorak made his homeland such an indelible part of his musical style.

Vltava contains Smetana's most famous tune. It is an adaptation of the melody La Mantovana, attributed to the Italian Renaissance tenor Giuseppe Cenci,[9] which, in a borrowed Romanian form, was also the basis for the Israeli national anthem Hatikvah. The tune also appears in an old Czech folk song, Kočka leze dírou ("The Cat Crawls Through the Hole"); Hanns Eisler used it for his "Song of the Moldau [de]"; and Stan Getz performed it as "Dear Old Stockholm" (possibly through another derivative of the original tune, "Ack Värmeland du sköna"). Horst Jankowski played a syncopated version of the tune on his easy listening hit, "A Walk in the Black Forest." 

Smetana: Vltava (The Moldau) - Stunning Performance

0:00 The warm spring (flutes): the source of the Vltava.

0:29 The cold spring (clarinets): the two brooks meet and form the Vltava.

1:11 Vltava: the main theme.

3:15 Hunters' horns: the river passes through a forest hunt.

4:10 Polka: a village wedding dance by the river.

5:49 Rusalka: beautiful water nymphs in old Czech legends, bathing in the river by the moonlight amid the ruins of ancient castles. Muted strings, flutes, harps and horns. Calm yet mysterious.

9:04 Return to the main theme

10:03 Our river enters the raging St. John Rapids. Stormy and turbulent.

11:19 Main theme recap. Having cleared the rapids, now in a bright and cheerful major key.

11:45 Vyšehrad theme: the Vltava salutes the great castle, seat of the Czech nation. Cymbals. Goosebumps.

12:41 The music slowly fades away as our river says farewell and flows on into the distance, as it always has since time immemorial.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

It's in the eyes

In 1997 the Tories used a now infamous poster caricaturing Tony Blair as having a demon’s eyes. This was so over-the-top that it probably backfired.

Yet two years later I was asking friends if they thought Blair was mad. They looked at me as though I was; though perhaps they see things differently now. He was the reason that for the first time in my life I voted Conservative in the 2001 General Election - not that I expected it to make a difference in a rock-solid Labour constituency, but I had to make my little Horton-hears-a-Who squeak.

Such was the grip of New Labour on the media that it was years before I discovered that the adulating multitude waving Union Jacks outside Downing Street the day after the 1997 landslide were handpicked Labour Party workers and supporters corralled inside the security gates. It was a PR fake and I fancy you can see a slightly embarrassed tightness in the smile as Blair waves to No One.

Nowadays his blue eyes have a frosted quality, a defence against our using the ‘windows of the soul’ to peer into his mind. Clarissa Dickson Wright, who knew him when they were both young barristers said '‘He has psychopath eyes. You know those dead eyes that look at you and try to work out what you want to hear?'

His gaze had the inward absorption of someone on a mission; and what a mission it was! Peter Hyman, one of Blair’s former aides, told Peter Hitchens that the New Labour 'project' was 'infinitely more revolutionary than anything proposed by Jeremy Corbyn'; another said ‘You have no idea how extensive this project is.’

It’s not yet complete and if Hitchens is right Sir Keir Starmer is here to finish the job. Starmer has a similarly abstracted look, that of a man driven by a plan. He will say anything and its opposite, in order to get his hands on the levers of power; only then will we see his true intent. It may be that he himself does not understand where the Project is taking us, what is the final stop on the line.

Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin thinks he knows. Talking to Tucker Carlson, Dugin views the West as on a journey towards extreme liberalism, systematically cutting us off from any form of collective identity. The latest binding thread to be severed is gender; next is human nature itself, as (according to Noah Harari) technology helps homo sapiens evolve into homo deus.

What for? What will it help us if we know everything except who we are, and our society collapses into chaos, a Bedlam of squabbling minorities and individualists?

Once ultra-freedom has atomised us we will be nothing - and be treated as such. An all-powerful State can dispose of us wholesale in the pursuit of grand plans - think of Stalin’s mass deportations; and inhuman ideals - when Chairman Mao was told a nuclear war would kill a third of humanity he replied ‘Good, then there will be no more classes.’

Anyone who thinks ruthless fanaticism could not take hold here needs to read about Cromwell’s Protectorate; or indeed the wars of religion, in which sects wore their beliefs like rival football hooligans, forgetting how Christ himself summed up all the Law and the prophets in two sentences about love.

The same insane combativeness has characterised modern politics, so that New Labour reportedly saw unrestricted immigration as a way to ‘rub the Right's nose in diversity’ without considering the consequences. One of them is to have introduced a rival for the Left’s universalist nihilism in the internationalist religiosity of Islam, whose adherents in this country, though largely peaceful at the moment, are a gathering underbrush awaiting some spark to cause a conflagration. We shall see whether Gaza is enough to split Labour’s vote even as the backlash against Tory Party treachery threatens to destroy most of its MP base (leaving, one fears, the wrong rump in Parliament.)

We do not need fiery, fully-articulated philosophies that threaten to divide and harm us. Such peace and prosperity as we enjoy today depends on not miring ourselves in great controversies. We cannot right the whole world but we can tend our own country like a garden, planting practical improvements and weeding abuses without submitting all to a destructive big-picture buzz-cut. If we can turn from dogmatism to the Confucian principle of ‘jen’, human-heartedness, we can look at each other with clear eyes.

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Treat child behaviour with diet, not drugs?

Poor behaviour in children may be partly caused by dietary deficiency. In this YT video Patrick Holford says that there is a connection between lack of Omega-3 and emotional dysregulation.

Wikipedia is happy to trash Holford by superficial reference to his views on HIV and autism (‘not in line with modern medical thought and have been criticised for putting people in danger and damaging public health’) without giving links to expert analysis. On the other hand there is research tending to support what he says about Omega-3, e.g. ‘Omega-3 Fatty Acids Are Related to Abnormal Emotion Processing in Adolescent Boys with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’ and ‘Study reveals how Omega-3 can help the brain to regulate impulsive reactions to aggressive behaviour.’

I worked for years in an educational unit for excluded primary children where ADHD diagnosis was often treated with Ritalin, an amphetamine. Most of the children came from the lower social classes where less-skilled parents and a shortage of money were likely to have influenced the dietary choices in the family.

The video is much more wide-ranging - mostly focused on preventing dementia - and interesting on how our evolution from marine life has led to a continuing need for compounds found in fish and marine algae.

Btw Holford says our brains are some 20 per cent smaller than they were in prehistoric times and suggests this coincides with our progression from a marine diet to a more agricultural one. However the connection may not be a simple one of dietary intake: I note there is a rough correlation between body mass and brain size and prehistoric humans were more muscular - and perhaps more physically skillful - being hunters and gatherers.

Plenty of food for thought in this video.

Friday, June 07, 2024

FRIDAY MUSIC: The Blues, by JD

'The Blues' is a music genre and musical form that originated amongst African-Americans in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s. Blues music incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads from the African-American culture. The blues form is ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll.

It seems to have gone out of fashion in the 21st century for some season and is rarely heard on radio but the music has not died. And, as with all forms of music, it changes and evolves but the spirit remains. Judging by these recordings as found on YouTube it is as popular as ever (one of the videos below has had 119 million views) So herewith a selection of modern blues which are very definitely 'after midnight' in mood and style.

Detroit Blues Band - Tears From My Eyes

Daniel Castro - I'll Play The Blues For You

Tony Tucker - The Black Water Rose [Relaxing Blues Music 2020]

Chris Bell - Elevator To Heaven

Detroit Blues Band – Walkin' Out The Door


Detroit Blues Band

 Daniel Castro
“Daniel Castro is one of the most dynamic blues guitarists performing in theWest Coast.” --Willie Brown, President, Sacramento Blues Society

Tony Tucker

Chris Bell
Solo artist and bandleader, Chris Bell is a highly compelling singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer and teacher with roots planted in the fertile soil of American roots music! Without compromising authenticity and soulful integrity handed down from his North Carolina Mom and New York City Dad, he draws equal measures from traditional and contemporary Blues, Country and Rock.

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Ukraine: work till you drop

Ukraine is facing a crisis of pensioner poverty says Darya Marchak, deputy head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Social Policy.

She expects the country’s head count to fall by a third - from 38 million in 2022 to 25 million by 2050. The demographic imbalance means that in future a Ukrainian will have to work and save until ‘he physically cannot provide for himself.’

The dwindling population is not just because of war casualties - President Zelensky recently said they numbered only 31,000, though others have estimated much higher. Following the Soviet collapse in 1991 economic crises and labour migration had already slashed the population numbers from c. 52 million, and reduced the fertility rate to 1.4 per woman prior to the Russian invasion. Since then some six million have fled Ukraine (a fifth of those to Russia), taking their money and breeding potential with them.

Ignoring Zelensky’s plea for social security assistance, the US’s multibillion dollar military aid package passed in April stipulated that none of the money was to be used to pay pensions.

Is it Russia the Americans want to crush, or resource-rich Ukraine?

Sunday, June 02, 2024


Henry Van Dyke knew when he wrote 'time is not' (or alternatively 'time is eternity')


 The Symphony of Time

Featured in the video are, in order of appearance-

... and a transcipt of the video -

"Our experience of time is an illusion; there is no clock out there in the world.
No Clock, keeping time!
No Clock, out there in the world!
Space and time are tools of our understanding.
Time is just a concept, an illusion, a construct of the mind.
The concept of the time, creates what we call the self.
What is the I without time?
The only reason for time to exist is so everything does not happen at once.
Your mind has the capacity to put this together and add to what's going on.
Time is like a super glue keeping our story in order while we navigate the world around us.
While we navigate the world around us!
Science says that's space and time are these whole external objects.
What we need to do is readjust the way of thinking.
The concept of time creates what we call the self, what is the I without time?
The concept of time, creates what we call the self, what is the I without time?
For all human beings time is a matter of extraordinary importance and perhaps this is one of the principle ways in which we differ from animals.
Time drives every second of our lives in ways we can scarcely imagine.
Is one of the greatest mysteries in all of nature!
It's time that makes us uniquely human and it's knitted into the fabric of our being.
Time is also intimate. It comes from within.
From the journey of the Sun to the atomic clocks, we can accurately track the passing of time.
But what is time?
Did time have a beginning or has it always been. This is truly the unknown!
What time is it?
It's not even straight forward as you might think.
What time is it?
It's a problem that's confounded us to these day.
Our perception of time can change, time can speed up, time can slow down.
Time is just a concept, an illusion, a construct of the mind.
The concept of time,  creates what we call the self, what is the I without time?
The concept of the time, creates what we call the self, what is the I without time?
Time is like a super glue keeping our story in order while we navigate the world around us.
While we navigate the world around us!"


Above is the scientific view of time and this next part is the poetic view of time.

Shakespeare knew, of course. He had Harry Hotspur say with his dying breath-
“But thought’s the slave of life, and life’s time’s fool,
And time that takes survey of all the world
Must have a stop.”

 …..and the metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell (1621 - 1678)

“But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near,
And yonder all before us lie
Vast deserts of eternity.”

"Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable."

- [T. S. Eliot, in the Four Quartets]

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven — A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to tear down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing.

A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep, and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; A time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; A time for war, and a time for peace.

- [Ecclesiastes 3:1-8]

” Ah fill the cup – what boots it to repeat
How time is slipping underneath our feet
Unborn tomorrow and dead yesterday
Why fret about them if today be sweet!”

- Omar Khayyam (via EdwardFitzgerald) 

If you are finding it all a bit confusing, here is an alternative explanation of the mystery of time  by 'Professor' Terence Milligan - 

and who is to say this alternative is any more or less plausible than the 'scientific' one!

"Time is
Too Slow for those who Wait,
Too Swift for those who Fear,
Too Long for those who Grieve,
Too Short for those who Rejoice;
But for those who Love,
Time is not."

- Henry Van Dyke (1852 - 1933)


This story is sort of related and also shows how thinking about the mystery of time can make scientists become unhinged!...