Don’t put that piano wire away quite yet…

Only a total fucking moron would think that after the exposure by the Telegraph of UK MPs’ expenses abuse, everything in the garden was lovely.

Not so.

Like distant thunder after a storm, scandal still reverberates and the troughing that the disingenuous thought was a thing of the past is still very much of the present.

My own view is that we let a golden opportunity to finally nail the parliamentary troughers, and really stick it to the greedy motherfuckers, slip by – along with a real chance to introduce accountability and measures to insure that the people whom we voted into power were finally our servants and not our masters.

In short, we should have put the fear of God into our so-called ‘representatives’ and we fucking blew it.

 

torches_pitchforks

 

Not that there’s a shortage of opportunities for pig sticking – especially if you approach the sport from a European perspective.

The Telegraph has exposed yet another expenses and spending scandal but it’s focused on the European Parliament this time.

MEPs have access to a fund which pays for members of their parties to go on what are:

ostensibly “study visits” to the European Parliament buildings in Brussels or Strasbourg, but the holidaymakers need spend only a fraction of their time at the parliament to claim the full subsidy, which can be collected in cash without the need for receipts.

736 MEPs are each permitted to fund such trips for up to 110 people of their choice from a pot of some £25 million with no accountability.

One such trip is described thusly by the Telegraph:

One subsidised trip to Strasbourg last week, promoted by the Labour MEP Peter Skinner, lasted six days, with only a few hours spent at the parliament.

The rest of the visit, according to a programme seen by The Sunday Telegraph, included a river cruise, a tour of the cathedral, a visit to the city’s Christmas market, champagne tasting, a battlefield tour in Ypres and sightseeing in Reims. Like most MEPs, Mr Skinner did not join the party, but hosted a free dinner for the participants.

Just under 30 people went on the tour, according to Mr Skinner’s office, staying in £100-a-night hotels in Ypres, Reims and the German spa town of Baden-Baden, near Strasbourg.

“After a buffet breakfast in the sunny Great Room, take your coffee on to the terrace to enjoy views of the picturesque Black Forest,” the Baden-Baden hotel’s website says.

"Stroll beside the meandering River Oos and admire the Belle-Epoque mansions on Lichtentaler Allee. Play for high stakes at the glamorous Spielbank casino, and unwind in the soothing waters of Caracalla Spa.”

Nice ‘work’ if you can get it…

One of those who went on the trip, Juan Leahy, who works for Mr Skinner, declined to comment when asked if it was mostly a “holiday”.

I bet he fucking declined…

And what did a spokesman for the European Parliamentary Labour Party have to say about it?

“We believe the public should have the opportunity to see their elected officials at work, and we do not want this opportunity restricted to the rich who can afford travel.”

Well, party activists – who seem to be the lucky recipients of many of these junkets are not elected in the first place and, what’s more, they should not be given holidays on the taxpayer – although it’s not a surprising view for a socialist to hold…

 

gobshite_pin_badge_button-p145867008244501590zvaz1_400

It seems that there’s still a general contempt for the mugs funding such profligate abuse of public money – especially when you hear this sort of self-justifying shite:

One BNP trip, in March last year, cost taxpayers €10,791 (£9,775) for 44 participants, an average of £220 a head. It was free for those who took part, according to the organiser, Mr Butler, and even made the BNP a profit.

“The subsidy is for a set amount,” said Mr Butler. “There is no provision to pay back what you don’t use. The organiser of the trip can use any residue for whatever he sees fit: this is quite legitimate.”

Mr Butler said he had donated the profits to the BNP.

Even more annoyingly, he continues:

Mr Butler defended the visits, saying: “Everyone had fun and it didn’t cost the party a penny. The trips are a good way of rewarding our activists for their hard work and dedication. Should we feel guilty for the Euro taxpayer? Certainly not.”

With no receipts required, such trips give carte blanche, to anyone with responsibility for organising them, to generate extra income for political parties, on top of allowing everybody to have ‘fun’:

In a report last month, the Court of Auditors, Europe’s spending watchdog, criticised this aspect of the scheme, warning that “the procedures in place do not require groups to provide evidence of travel costs, resulting in a risk of overpayment as most groups use cheaper collective transport”.

The subsidy for the journey from London to Brussels amounts to £85 a head, but Eurostar offers a return ticket for £69, and travelling in a privately hired coach can cost as little as £25.

From Edinburgh to Brussels the travel subsidy would be £225, but a return flight with Ryanair costs as little as £49.

The meal subsidy is set at £30 a person, but since no receipts are required visitors can buy cheaper meals and pocket the difference.

According to the Court of Auditors, 78 per cent of the payments to trip organisers last year were made in cash. This “limited the possibility of applying internal control procedures”, the watchdog warned.

Now, I wouldn’t give the BNP the drippings from my nose, but that’s not the point here.

What is at issue is the fact that taxpayers are funding not just a Euro jolly-up for a privileged few, but also contributing towards political parties’ funds – whether they want to or not – via a totally unaccountable system.

In its way, it’s worse than the UK MPs’ expenses scandal, in that it is even less regulated – ie not regulated at all – and wide open to the abuse by parasitical cocksuckers of allowing political parties to be funded by the back door.

This is one case where party affiliation should be disregarded totally and the essential corruption and abuse clearly exposed across pan-party lines.

OK, £25 million is small beer when compared to the billions wasted in other ways by the European Parliament.

However, when we have our elected representatives and their minions coming out with insulting and condescending platitudes about people having ‘fun’, such ‘fun’ not costing their party ‘a penny’, such junkets being made not just available to ‘the rich’ and then any surplus moolah being trousered for party funding, then it’s clearly high time that the poor fuckers who fund all this should say that enough is enough.  

 

pigs_trough

 

I was unaware that all this was going on and I don’t think that I’m alone in this.

Which begs the question…

…how else is taxpayers’ money being flagrantly abused?

Time to get out the piano wire that wasn’t used last time we had the chance, methinks…

St Dave and the iconoclast

It takes a very special type of imbecile to provoke such seemingly contradictory feelings of utter boredom and total annoyance, but David Cameron has managed to take up the mantle with this latest batch of pontifications.

I didn’t think it was possible to spout so many cliches in quite such a confused way, but Call Me Dave has pulled it off with aplomb:

Describing himself as a "committed" but only "vaguely practising" Christian, the PM admitted he was "full of doubts" about big theological issues.

But he staunchly defended the role of religion in politics and said the Bible in particular was crucial to British values.

So…although he describes himself as a believer, but not a practising one, he has lots of doubts about major issues…

Well, that sounds as if he’s really got the Christian faith all sorted out for himself, doesn’t it?

Perhaps that’s why he now feels qualified to state that:

We are a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so

and that a revival of traditional Christian values is needed to counter Britain’s

"moral collapse"

So, this ‘weekend’ Christian sees religious faith – not that he has much if he’s assailed by so many major doubts – as the country’s salvation.

I wonder what the empirical basis of this belief is?

It’s no good, of course, waiting to see what the prominent writer – and atheist – Christopher Hitchens would have made of this, because he died yesterday at the absurdly early age of 62.

However, using a few choice Hitchens quotes, it’s not difficult to imagine…

“Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.”

“The governor of Texas, who, when asked if the Bible should also be taught in Spanish, replied that ‘if English was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me.”

“To ‘choose’ dogma and faith over doubt and experience is to throw out the ripening vintage and to reach greedily for the Kool-Aid.”

“Organised religion is violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children.”

“Jesus is Santa Claus for Adults”

I think it’s fairly safe to say that Cameron’s latest verbal arsegravy would have been roundly kicked into touch by Hitchens.

Christopher Hitchens will be sadly missed.

Which is more than fucking Cameron will be…

Nationalist Francophobia

With anti-European sentiment running high at the moment, it really should come as no surprise to find that social networking sites such as Facebook are vast repositories of such views.

(Or should that be suppositories?)

However, some comments really stand out, such as this one (on an English Nationalist page) which tackles the current hot topic of Sarkozy and Merkel trying to shore up the Euro:

  Sarkozy is keeping up the famous French tradition of collaborating with the Hun.

Looking at the writer’s profile, they appear to be well-educated but there’s so much wrong with what they say, that I have to say that whoever awarded them the degree they claim to possess needs fucking sacking.

In one short sentence, they manage to cram in so much xenophobic feeling that you can almost smell the bigotry.

A 10 minute car journey from where I live will take you to a disused quarry where 27 French resistance fighters were executed by a German firing squad. Yes, of course there were French collaborators, but there were also many, many brave men and women who tried to keep France free and make life difficult for the occupying Germans.

Then there were the majority of ordinary people who neither resisted or collaborated but who just tried to get on with life as best they could whilst surrounded by deprivation and the constant reminders of the horrors of war.

People like this Facebook poster seem to forget that one of the main reasons that the Germans never invaded Britain was a purely geographical one.

Britain is an island and this was what saved us from being overrun like France was.

However, if Hitler had been successful and invaded us, then I have no doubts whatsoever that along with British resistance fighters, there would have been British collaborators.

The Nazis did, in fact, occupy British soil during the Second World War – the Channel Islands.

And yes, there were collaborators there, too – British ones.

Indeed, Facebook (and the same source) offers yet more anti-French ‘goodies’ which have emerged since I broke off writing this entry.

Here are a few examples:

"France; a beautiful country inhabited by swine…."

"The biggest trouble with France is it is completely overrun with the French."

"Lol I love France, just can’t take the arrogance of its inhabitants!!"

"I’m pro English, not anti-French. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. hang on a minute – that’s the same thing, isn’t it? LOL"

"I have just started using the French version of Twitter.
"Its exactly the same except it retweets really quickly.:-)"

My…they’re a fucking riot, aren’t they?

And so self-congratulatory and amused by themselves.

Well, having lived here for nearly 2 years, I can quite honestly say that the French we’ve met have been nothing but friendly, kind, helpful and welcoming.

Still, that’s some English Nationalists for you…

Xenophobic, intellectually-stunted and petty-minded.

 

english-bulldog-dog-muzzle-leather-dog-muzzle-bulldog_LRG

Or, to put it rather more succinctly, shit for fucking brains.

Plod plodding again

One of the bigger stories of the day is this.

 

Woman-making-racist-comme-007

 

Yes, regardless of one’s views on immigration, etc, it was a disgusting spectacle as this mother’s ignorance was on full display for all to see.

But what’s this?

Police launched an investigation after the video was brought to their attention on YouTube and Twitter. A spokesman said: "At present it is not entirely clear which tram stops the offence took place between and when it occurred.

"As a result, we need anyone who witnessed this incident, or with any information that could assist our investigation, to contact us."

What the fuck does Plod need?

Or is it just another case of the police wanting the public to do their work for them?

A woman has been arrested for allegedly making racist comments to other passengers on a packed tram. The incident was filmed and posted online, prompting police to investigate.

‘Allegedly?

They’ve got the woman on video for fuck’s sake.

I despair, I really do.

A musical Damascus moment

As I hope this blog makes abundantly clear, music is – to quote Frank Zappa – ‘the best’.

Consequently, I type this surrounded by my guitars, recording equipment, amps and shelves and shelves full of recorded music.

Several years ago – when I had hundreds of cassettes and vinyl LPs (remember those?)  – I once worked out that I could play my collection for several weeks and not hear the same track twice.

Now, it’s several months at least…there’s music on MP3 CDs, MP3 DVDs and hard disc drives.

We’re not talking mere gigabytes here – it’s terabytes of the stuff…

So, there’s a shitload of music here – and of all kinds, from classical to avant-garde jazz.

Indeed, to coin a phrase, from Abba to Zappa.

My current tastes have been steadily with me for a few years now. I find myself listening to a lot of blues, some country and a hell of a lot of jazz.

Heh…I suppose I’m in a bit of a rut – albeit a very, very pleasant one.

However, I’ve just had my musical world totally fucking rocked by what’s probably the most refreshing and involving album I’ve heard in years.

It’s giving me major goosebumps right now listening to it, and I think I could quite happily get marooned on a desert island with nothing but this beautiful music to keep me company.

Basically, it’s an album of Steely Dan songs sung by two Swedish women with minimal accompaniment – mostly piano.

It’s this:

fire-in-the-hole

It’s called ‘Fire in the Hole’ and it’s by Sara Isaksson and Rebecka Törnqvist – although they don’t look like the cover seems to suggest they do.

Here they are:

 

rebecka-sara

 

That’s better, isn’t it?

Here’s the Dan songs they cover:

  • Rose Darling
  • Barrytown
  • Gaucho
  • Green Earrings
  • Your Gold Teeth
  • Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me)
  • Don’t Take Me Alive
  • Josie
  • Do It Again
  • Fire In The Hole
  • Pearl Of The Quarter
  • Midnite Cruiser

What surprised me was that if someone asked me to list a dozen Dan songs I’d like to hear covers of, very few of the above would have made it to my list.

However, Isaksson and Törnqvist make the songs their own, and, with minimal accompaniment, the songs are stripped down to the essentials – melody, harmonies and chord changes – and then sung in such a way that each one becomes a small jewel of dazzlingly radiant beauty.

They’ve made me aware of subtleties in songs that I very often skip through when listening to the original albums on which the tunes appeared. I just know that I’ll revisit the Dan versions with fresh ears now.

Their voices are simultaneously plaintive, vulnerable and sensuous but with an inner strength that supports a format of basically two female voices and an acoustic piano.

Yes, there are other instruments – occasionally you’ll hear a mandolin, a sax, a clarinet, an acoustic guitar, a synth, an electric piano or a kick drum – but it’s basically kept very simple and these other instruments just used for texture and seasoning.

Even the voices reinforce this simplicity, with solo and unison singing used when appropriate, and so the glorious harmony sections are made to really stand out .

Some of the instrumental lines – such as the guitar figure in ‘Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me)’ – get sung in a vaguely ‘scat’ way, although what could have been a ‘jazz’ album gets elevated to a sort of a melodic purity by dint of the clarity of the singing and an overriding urge to display the inner lyricism of the tunes.

It’s an absolutely fantastic piece of work.

Fortunately, I can share it (sort of) with you on here.

YouTube has a couple of live versions which are almost as good as on the album.

Here they are:

 

The album’s not a work of genius – it’s something a bit more unique than that.

Just as the planets will occasionally align, the sun will be eclipsed and you get a phone call from someone you were thinking about a minute before the phone rang, it just happened – because it did.

The two voices came together on a few pieces of music and something just happened – something so unique that it became more than just a series of circumstances or a fortunate situation.

Call it serendipity or coincidence, but whatever it was, it all gave rise to some of the most beautiful music I‘ve ever heard…

PS I’ve just read this on a blog regarding this musical gem and I agree 100%:

The fact that it even exists gives me hope for the future of humanity.

 

 

Those academic shitheads strike again

‘Strewth…

It appears that those two academic shitheads of the decade – Cohn and Linzey – are at it again.

Yes, the God-bothering Cohn and chinchilla-wearing Linzey aren’t just whining like bitches about being misconstrued…

In a press statement this week on the journal’s Web site, Linzey and Cohn say their manifesto was distorted to imply that they were arguing that the word “pets” is “insulting” to the animals “which is of course absurd because animals cannot be insulted in the way in which human beings can be. Neither did we say that calling animals ‘pets’ affects their behavior, as some reported.”

But such distortion, they continued, was “itself a sign of how difficult it is to say something challenging about animals without risking hostile comment, even ridicule.”

…but also unleashing some fresh twaddle upon the public:

…(in) another editorial provocation: Linzey and Cohn question the assumption that caring about human suffering should self-evidently take priority over abating animal suffering. Among their contentions: For decades “evidence has steadily accumulated that a world in which cruelty to animals goes unchecked is bound to be a more unsafe world for human beings.”

A little digging around revealed this about the publication – the Journal of Animal Ethics (JAE) – that allows Linzey and Cohn to propagate their unique brand of idiocy.:

Bob Barker.

We’ve got a guy who did the Price Is Right for God-knows-how-many-years kicking in for a journal that wants to tell us not to call our pets pets because it’s demeaning?

So, who is this Bob Barker – one of the ‘honorary fellows’ of the the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics – who lends his support to Linzey’s lunatic campaign?

This is what the ‘Centre’ says about him:

Multi Emmy award winning television personality, philanthropist, and educational pioneer, who has graciously endowed animal law and ethics courses at major US universities, including Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Northwestern, Duke, Georgetown, Virginia, Columbia, and Drury.

Wikipedia has this little nugget about Barker who has also had some unsavoury allegations made against him:

In March 2010, PETA announced that it received a $2.5 million donation from Barker to help establish a new office in Los Angeles.

PETA…?

Ah…them again…

Remember this?

And what about this?

Yes, Barker gave $2.5 million to PETA.

Here’s the excellent Penn and Teller on PETA:

 

A quick google will net many similar condemnations of PETA.

Yes, PETA – supported by Barker who, in turn, supports the work of Linzey and Cohn.

PETA – acts of direct action lunacy under the guise of ethical concern and the people who want fish renamed ‘sea kittens’.

PETA – supporters of ALF, which is engaged in the persecution of genuine academics and scientists through terrorist activities.

PETA – now ‘blessed’ with a degree of academic respectability through the actions of idiots such as Linzey and Cohn.

Terrorism – now legitimised by these two misguided people?

But perhaps that last statement was a bit of a reach?

Well, not really:

  • Linzey works with Cohn.
  • Cohn heads up the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics (OCAE).
  • Barker is an honorary fellow of the OCAE and undoubtedly known to Linzey – especially if he’s opening his wallet for the Centre.
  • Barker funds PETA to the tune of a cool $2.5 million.
  • PETA is linked to the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
  • The ALF carries out a form of direct action which includes arson, fire bombings, personal harassment, and which constitutes terrorism.

Not a long chain of links and it seems that all the links are very much aware of each other.

Why all the fuss about Muslim terrorists when we have the enemy firmly within?

‘Strewth…

Amishing you already…

Dame Fortune is a contrary old biddy.

Who’d have thought that in a week when Channel 4 had this scheduled, that this would hit the headlines?

Yes, it’s those zany Amish characters cropping up all over the fucking place in the media.

The big news is in the US and concerns a bizarre case in which some Amish decided to disgrace some other Amish by cutting off their hair and beards and there’s also talk of people being imprisoned in a chicken coop.

Oh yes, there’s sex, too.

This attractive character…

 

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…who goes by the name of Samuel Mullet – and that’s worth a cheap laugh in itself – has been

taking married women into his home so that he could "cleanse them of the devil with acts of sexual intimacy".

Yeah, right…

My money’s on him taking these women into his home just to get his dirty little end away, but I’m no religious expert, as regular readers know full well.

Well, that’s the hard Amish news, but what’s this over on Channel 4?

Why, it’s yet another variation on the reality TV idea of putting people into a bizarre situation that they have never been in before and watching them react to it – and hopefully suffer some sort of mental trauma that we can laugh at.

So, we have this televisual delight gracing our screens tonight:

Eton College student George, Cambridge University undergraduate Siana, spoilt 18-year-old Charlotte, media studies student Jordan and 17-year-olds Hannah, a Christian, and James, who lives in a London hostel, join Amish communities for six weeks to learn about their way of life. They begin at Middlefield, Ohio, where they meet a family who want to teach them that, despite the lack of material possessions, life can be equally fulfilling.

Fucking yawn…

Oh well, if it’s good enough for the BBC, it’s good enough for me, so I really feel I must state that:

other piles of festering goat wank are available for your viewing pleasure.

G’night, all…

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