Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cheesy ...

But irresistible. I found the toytown synth and nagging hook line of Lipps Inc's "Funkytown", which I've not heard for 25 years, at the top of my consciousness a couple of nights back. The kids are singing it now. The great glory of youtube is that pretty much anything from the last 30 years is there. Alas it gets barer as you go back - not much Conchita Supervia or Rutland Boughton about.

The next video is cheesier still - the old Motown song and dance routine lasted well into the eighties with some bands, before it became the thing for five black guys on a stage to flash gangsta signs at each other or clutch their pants in a justabouttoburst stylee.

But the music ! Pinched later by Will Smith for 'Miami', and featuring Scotty Scott's beautifully fluid, laid-back vocal, has 70s disco anything to show more fair ? The Whispers - And The Beat Goes On.

Don't forget that vixy is your one-stop shop for all youtube-related conversions.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Yazza - "lefties not cool any more, say BBC"

Yikes ! Yazza's not plat du jour with the Beeb any more !

Several BBC broadcasters tell me they are not interested in ‘Guardian and Independent’ points of view. We are passé, irrelevant, annoying, elitist, too middle class and soft. Fashion moves on, the culture is now noisy and intolerant and the Beeb follows, is too feeble to stand up to ugly populism.

Many of us have-beens are no longer invited on to the robust debates on programmes where intelligent political debate should take place. Belligerence is sought- bring on the alpha right wingers like William Shawcross and bombastic Jeff Randall. Soon a Jeremy Clarkson mascot will replace Pudsy ...

Now I wouldn't take Yazza too seriously on this one. As long as there's still plenty of room for the Mark Steels and Jeremy Hardys on the BBC, and Peter Allen's kept away from the Today programme, I don't think she need worry. I think it's probably a bit closer to home than that - I'm not sure that Yazza's infamous perfomance on the 9/11 Question Time is forgotten yet.

But there are a few tectonic plate shifts. The BBCs Top Gear is loathed by Guardianistas, both for its general un-green-ness and its defiantly anti-PC, blokeish presentation. But I doubt the BBC can ignore the stats. It's one of the few programmes that gets ALL my kids off Bebo and in front of the idiot box come 8 pm each Sunday.

The Beeb seem to be becoming aware of this - and the Top Gear producers are taking advantage. I must admit I was gobsmacked to see this item, complete with John Humphrys - Humphrys ! - stealing a car, and a sendup of a BBC diversity seminar.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Peel P50 microcar - and the BBC poking fun at itself.

If you fancy one, modern replicas start at £9,995.

Brits Out !

THe Brits are getting out - and everyone else is getting in.

Latest annual migration statistics show record levels of people leaving the UK - and records numbers arriving. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest 591,000 people migrated to the UK in 2006 while some 400,000 people moved overseas.

Because so many people emigrated the rate of population growth has been the lowest for three years. Just over half of those leaving were British, according to the annual report on long-term migration trends.

The options of former years - moving to Devon or Wales - are restricted by high house prices. And anyway, destinations "within the UK have become increasingly dispersed compared with previous years". Run, run, run - but you sure can't hide.

Those with the skills or the money are leaving Old England. And being more-than-replaced by ?

The largest group of new immigrants were from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, outnumbering those from Poland and other EU states. Work remains the most reported factor for immigrants, but those arriving to study for at least a year reached a new high of 157,000.

I'm sure all those are bona-fide students. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the source countries there.

Chain migration is looking pretty healthy, too. A record 98,000 arriving to "accompany/join" (Table 2).

And as ever, England is the destination. Look at Table 3 for 'incoming'.

England - 530,000. Scotland - 38,000. Wales - 15,000. I'm surprised Alex Salmond hasn't demanded his fair share.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Labour Leader Cleared of Sleaze ...

KIRKLEES Council still has no clear policy on how and when councillors can use council phones despite a leading councillor being investigated by a watchdog. Labour party leader Clr Mehboob Khan was cleared of any wrong doing in an investigation – but that has been dubbed a ‘whitewash’ by his political foes.

And officials will only state that “mechanisms’’ are in place for councillors to pay money back if they have used council phones, but have refused to say exactly what these mechanisms are and how they work.

Clr Khan had made personal phone calls totalling £1,321 from council offices to Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation. Clr Khan, ward member for Greenhead, made the calls between April and October 2006 and paid the bill – along with interest – as soon as he was advised to by a Kirklees Council officer and in line with terms suggested by Kirklees Council Chief Executive Rob Vincent.

But the Board’s investigator said: “Had Clr Khan alerted officers promptly to the personal calls instead of assuming that they would approach him and ask him to pay for them, he could have avoided any suggestion that he was not intending to pay for the calls.’’

Who would suggest a thing like that ? I often clock up four-figure personal phone bills at work without telling anyone. Doesn't mean I'm not going to pay for them, does it ?

“The ethical standards officer looked at the council’s policies and protocols on phone use as well as its custom and practice and concluded there was no policy on reimbursing the costs of private calls made on council landlines. Neither was there any established custom or practice for the use of such phones. Therefore Clr Khan did not breach the council’s policy or requirements and did not fail to comply with the Code of Conduct in this respect.’’

There wasn't a policy, so he didn't breach it, see ? Nothing could be clearer than that, could it ?

Council leader Clr Robert Light, said: “I am disappointed that the Standards Board have not take a firm line on the case put to them. I don’t think in any shape or form they have exonerated Clr Khan. What he did was wrong and he shouldn’t have used council equipment like that. Questions still remain unanswered about why he should see fit to use a council phone to make international calls and why he would see the need to be in a council facility at some of the late times at night."

A Simple Sailor

Life's too short. Let Chick Yog, the Times and BBC tell the sorry tale. It's funny how someone who can deal with a flaming ship can't handle a flaming Prime Minister.

"Being a simple sailor not a politician maybe I didn't choose my words well...Maybe my choice of words wasn't very clever."

Worth a try, Lord West. I thought you were meant to be advising the Prime Minister on security. Looks like he's actually the organ-grinder, and you're the hairy little chap with the tin cup.

UPDATE - I may be being a trifle unfair to the Jolly Jack Tar ... apparently he's on record as previously supporting a limit greater than 28 days. But his shenanigans yesterday were hardly in the best traditions of the Silent Service.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Guardian - Nazis "help democracy"

Fair do's to the old Guardian - they're digitising their archives and offering some free tasters.

So historian Ian Kershaw gets to look at what they thought of Hitler.

A week later, the newspaper dismissed Hitler as "dramatic, violent and shallow", and "a lightweight", seeing him as "not a man, but a megaphone" of the prevailing discontent, fronting a militarist reaction, which would mean the destruction of peace.

Wrong. Far from being the front man for the miltarists, Hitler frightened the Reichswehr to death with his risk-taking in foreign policy. They, well aware of their military weakness, were a drag on Hitler's ambitions right up until Munich convinced them of Western decadence.

The newspaper went on to claim, remarkably, that Hitler was "definitely Christian in his ideals".

No comment.

The Guardian thought on September 25 1930 that the exclusion of the Nazi party from Reich government, given its electoral success, was not in the best interests of German democracy and that their involvement would "in the long run ... help to perpetuate this democracy".

Just like Hamas, really.

They're so wrong so often it's a pleasure to read - were it not for the fact that their mistakes helped to almost disarm Britain during those crucial years.

"dramatic, violent and shallow", and "a lightweight", seeing him as "not a man, but a megaphone"
- isn't that what they're saying now about the President of Iran ?

UPDATE - on reflection, we weren't completely disarmed despite the best efforts of the Peace Pledge Union. We still had a Navy and (poorly funded) Air Force, although the Luftwaffe overtook it in quantity, if not in quality. It was the Army who suffered most. While Germany developed the Panzer and Tiger tanks, we did very little development in armour and guns. Most Brit weapons between machine guns and howitzers were outclassed by their German equivalents, and many were to die because of this failing.

Police Impound Koranic Toilet Seat Covers

And it's not even April.

The imam of the mosque in the town of Latina in the central Italian region of Lazio, Sheikh Yusuf, on 26 October heckled interior minister Giuliano Amato about the toilet seat as he presented Italy's new 'Charter of values, citizenship and integration' for immigrants' at Rome's Grand Mosque.

"This is an insult to the Muslim faith that we must react to," Yusuf called out to Amato, who reassured Yusuf, saying: "I would like to tell our friends from Latina that we have been informed of this matter and are taking action because it is offensive."

Frustrated by the Italian authorities' apparent inability to ban the offending toilet cover from stores in southern Lazio following complaints from local Muslims, Yusuf and other Muslims took their protest to the Arabic media.

Al-Quds al-Arabi reported that local Muslims are planning further non-violent protests against the toilet seat until it is removed from stores.

Imported from China and sold in Italy by the Orizzonte group, it is still in sale in six towns in the region, including Latina and Frosinone, many of them in local markets, according to the Arabic paper.

But according to local Italian media, a special investigative unit of the police had already begun probing the issue several days before Yusuf's verbal protest to Amato in Rome last month and seized 212 'Koranic' toilet seats from five supermarkets in the area, where they were on sale at 15 euros a piece.

A Couple of Jackdaws In the Curate's Chimney

The Shahid Malik libel trial, which I blogged here, has opened.

"Britain's first Muslim Government minister has launched a libel battle in the High Court over claims that he organised "gangs of Asian thugs" to intimidate voters in a local election. International Development Minister Shahid Malik is said to have "overseen and directed" up to 200 Asian Labour activists to help secure victory for a Muslim councillor.

Former Conservative councillor Jonathan Scott made the allegations in a letter to the Dewsbury Press newspaper after he was unseated as a local councillor. It describes how "Malik's ethnic entourage behaved no better than BNP thugs" on polling day in the Dewsbury South ward of Kirklees Council. The letter went on to claim that, "Malik convinced local Asian voters to vote for Labour candidates... on the grounds that those candidates were 'Muslim brothers'".

Malik said the letter was "his worst nightmare", and added: "In my line of work, if your integrity is damaged you have nothing left. "

Malik's lawyer Adam Wolanksi said the allegations were untrue and caused the 39-year-old MP for Dewsbury to be seen as "a racist and dangerous extremist who is unfit to hold public office"."

And Nigel "Enoch" Hastilow's contituency association has refused to accept his resignation. But he's doing the decent thing.

The former newspaper editor, who maintains his original comments were not racist, said: "I am very grateful for all the support I have received from my friends in the Halesowen and Rowley Regis constituency. Their backing has meant a great deal to me. However, I have no wish to be responsible for the constituency association finding itself at odds with the Conservative Party nationally. If an accommodation can be reached, then I would be delighted. But that is for others to determine. The constituency association must make its decisions in the best interests of the party locally and nationally. Halesowen and Rowley Regis is a crucial marginal constituency and what matters most is ensuring General Election victory here for the Conservative Party."

There's no way Cameron will compromise on this one, and no way Hastilow will embarrass him by clinging on. The constituency will have to either knuckle under or go it alone without him. We shall see.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Comet Holmes

Well, took a look last night and tonight - which is a beautiful clear night - but it's not a patch on the magnificent Hale-Bopp, which we drove to the Welsh Borders to look at ten years back, when it covered about a third of the horizon-zenith angle in a dark sky.

Comet Holmes looks with the naked eye like a small fuzzy round blob in the sky. With binoculars it looks like a fuzzy round blob in the sky, and with my mighty 130PM it looks like a fuzzy round blob with a centre. No tail, alas, because it's pointing away from us.

Photo - Sky and Telescope. At this time of night Cassiopeia is pretty much overhead with Perseus to the west of it.

Did You Know ...

Habeas corpus doesn't apply in Scotland ?


Poets are prophets. There's no way Kipling could have predicted the British cultural collapse, or the Imperial retreat that accompanied it. Yet he foresaw it.

God of our fathers, known of old--
Lord of our far-flung battle line
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe--
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
Or lesser breeds without the law--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard--
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard--
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord!

We're Not Having Kids Part 382 - Susan Greenfield

All the above she has done while remaining childless, which she does not appear to regret in the slightest. In 2004 she told an interviewer: “I told him [Atkins] that I did not want children.” Today she says: “My then husband made it very clear he didn’t want them.” Perhaps it’s irrelevant who didn’t want what. As Greenfield had been put off motherhood years before by another man: “My brother. He’s 13 years younger than me. I was shocked at the horror of having babies and the smelly nappies and the sleepless nights. All that came as something truly horrible. Although we get on very well now, it came at a time in my life when I could neither be a little mum nor a playmate.

Another intelligent, creative woman whose creativity and intelligence won't be passed on. Not having children certainly does wonders for the marriage - it appears to have been a question of dumping a stock when it fails to outperform the market.

Occasionally she has reason to drop people, notably her former husband. Peter Atkins, a millionaire chemist, believes that he was abruptly dumped in 2003 because, in his words, he had been “declared redundant”. She rebutted with the claim that, at the age of 52, she had “begun to question marriage as a necessary institution in the 21st century. It is important for all women to use their time in the best way they can, and when I thought about how busy I was with my public life, marriage to Peter no longer seemed the best way to spend any free time I had.

OK, so her personality won't be passed on. But neither will her honesty.