Thursday, 31 October 2013

Trick AND Treat

This creepy song reminds me of why I have never been keen on trickery – which is why I detest this American idea of the similarly-named 'trick or treat' activity that we seem to have permanently imported into Britain in recent years, especially for this particular day of the year.

As in this item, there is always the threat ('treat' with an 'h' added, notice!) of something nasty being done by someone who has temporary power over you, whether on your doorstep or having drugged and then blindfolded you deep in the forest. Follow the subtitles to see what I mean.

I am reminded by this kind of scenario of the advice that the lady who jointly ran Byker Grove youth club with Geoff would say to her female charges: "Never let anyone put you in a position where your choices are taken away from you".

This jolly-sounding but actually quite ominous song is a good showcase for the Kagamine duo in its own right, so can be enjoyed on that level. Just don't forget the underlying message carried within it...

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


This is such an unusual item that it needs to be shared, so here is Ur-Style -arbitrary style-(I kid you not) featuring the lovely Saboten model of fairy Lapis. Just look at those eyes, and you know it's Saboten's.

The stage is also interesting in design, in distinct layers, front to back, each with its own character – and demonstrating considerable depth. We've seen such deep stages  before, but entirely outdoors, rather than looking out on them from inside as is done here. The arch-like structure reminds me of the Wall's Ice Cream logo(!)

Even without English words (which, in this case, would I suspect have little significance, as becomes evident as one goes through this) it makes for a pleasant and absorbing diversion for just under two and a half minutes...

Galaco's Last Day

Unless the campaign to save her has succeeded by now, at the end of tomorrow Galaco will be deactivated so that it will no longer be possible to use her in new projects that require codes from her 'parents' (Internet Co Ltd).

Fortunately there are a number of videos of performances by her, and these of course are stand-alone so can remain as a memory of this perhaps under-appreciated vocaloid, who was rarely used for original material so has given an impression of not being valued by users. My understanding is that it is this, as well as some hacking associated with her voicebank data, that has prompted the decision to deactivate her on 31 October 2013 (i.e. tomorrow, as I post this).

Here is a reminder of the cute character that was designed for Galaco in a video of the full version of Galaxias! with a particularly nice model. I showcased a different video of this three months or so ago, but this one is even better, and the subtitles even include a few English words (as they appear that way in the song). If you understand French, you can follow the whole song via the second line of subtitles..

It is not clear from the YouTube page whether it is Galaco herself singing this, or her voice provider performing it directly (it sounds like the latter to me, one Ko Shibasaki, but I could be wrong) but there is little apparent difference in practice...


This in our local newspaper makes for interesting reading.

This borough, Medway, remains at the numerical top of the the table of Kent boroughs/districts for fly-tipping, as a result of a recent sharp increase in reported incidents – incorrectly termed 'sites' in the article's text, but correctly cited as reports in the table there. Many of the reports will be for sites already cited in other reports. Notice that three other areas have had greater percentage increases than Medway over the same period, in two of those cases much higher percentages.

The two reasons for this stated in the article agree with my own local knowledge and intelligence sources: (a) the Kent County Council (KCC) decision to stop taking commercial waste at its household waste site, and (b) the improved reporting made easier by the Love Medway 'phone app. The former is bad news, whereas the latter is good as it means that more such dumpings are being cleared up and faster as a result. I think we all want that.

How to solve it remains a significant issue, and one that probably has no realistic prospect of being solved any time soon – merely discouraged as (hopefully) more of the perpetrators are caught and prosecuted. I suspect that Medway will one day decide that it would be better to make its own provisions for taking the commercial waste that is no longer being accepted by KCC's own site.

Even that won't get rid of the problem in Medway, but it should significantly reduce it and leave less of an incentive to fly-tip here.

Why here anyway? I suspect that it's largely down to the easy road access to so many of our more secluded spots, especially on the peninsula. Although other parts of Kent obviously have many locations of the same type, I have noticed in my travels around the county that at least some of these are not so accessible, especially to larger vehicles such as those that could carry some of the dumped materials shown in the photos in the linked article.

.Another point of interest regarding the Medway figures is that they are both a fair amount lower than what is called the 'baseline' figure from 2005. Even this past year's big number is still 29% down on the 2005 figure – which goes to show how easy it can be 'manufacture' headlines that are misleading. Perhaps the article's table ought to covered a wider time period...

Regardless, it's still quite a big problem everywhere in Kent and, no doubt, just about everywhere else in the country. It will disappear only when matter-to-energy conversion technology is developed (as it should by rights have been decades ago) so that need be no more waste to dispose of, ever again.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Honey – Yukari and Friends

I haven't featured  any of those multi-performer videos for a while, but this one is actually quite well thought-out and fairly well executed. The motion isn't the most natural, but it's better than many and most of the pitfalls seem to have been successfully avoided.

Here, then, is Honey, with Yukari taking the singing solo lead, and it's switchable to High Definition too.

The performers are, left to right in the following order for most of the track (and no, I hadn't heard of the little UTAUloid on the far left either): Nana Haruka, Lapis Aoki, SeeU, Yukari Yuzuki, IA, CUL and Akikoloid...

Babylon 5 Re-run

Successful fan-pressure has resulted in the entire Babylon 5 series being run, from the beginning, on Watch TV, starting on 4 November 2013 at its new regular slot of 5 pm.

This year, the fireworks come to Britain a day early!

There are five seasons of 22 episodes each (i.e. 110 in total), plus six movie-length specials. I expect these to include The Gathering (the programme's pilot, hopefully the re-worked version which is much better), In The Beginning, Thirdspace, and A Call To Arms (the Crusade pilot), but I can only guess what the other two are to be. One could be the Legend of the Rangers pilot, and the other perhaps The Lost Tales – but I do not (yet) know.

We shall just have to watch and see....

Mark Reckless MP in the Aviation Debate

Here is the very good if somewhat hurried contribution (as the speaking time limit had been cut from the original seven minutes to just four) from local Medway MP Mark Reckless in the Aviation Debate on 24 October...

Monday, 28 October 2013


Well, this is just so far beyond ordinary cute, and it's performed by a human (known as oNYANNo) vocally, and another (known as myuchuu) visually!

This short-ish item is known as either Gwiyomi or Kiyomi (it's probably as much a regional accent thang as anything else, is my guess) and has English subtitles...

Romeo and Cinderella by Miku

As we're probably all stuck indoors this morning, because of the storm...

I have featured this doriko song only once before, some nine months ago, and that was by Rin. This version features Miku in a really amazing and highly detailed outfit (view in High Definition to best see what I mean) and on that very distinctive stage – and with the equally distinctive microphone-onna-stick – that seem to be exclusive to this song.

This video has no English words, but I don't consider that a shortcoming in this case, as (I am told by those who understand these things) they are not entirely 'wholesome'. This is perhaps a bit surprising for doriko, when one considers some of his other works, but there it is.

For now, then, just enjoy the spectacle and the music in a kind of Yuki Kajiura way (remember: that lady devised a pseudo-language to convey emotions without the distraction of understandable words) and remember to switch to High Definition if your system and connection can cope...

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Short Story – Queen of the Road

This is the story from which I was writing the lyrics for a song, when I had to have some of my medication upped in dosage for a couple of weeks and could no longer concentrate on the task in hand. Not letting the backing music go to waste, its composer has now had Japanese lyrics written for it, so this probably means that mine will no longer happen.

Here then, instead, is the fuller story of the lady whose tale is sad but probably less untypical than we might realise, in today's hectic world...

Queen of the Road

My fare (as we call our passengers) is silent, as most are, I have found. Usually they either gaze out the windows, watching the world skip by, or – nowadays – they often sit there working away at a laptop computer or tablet.

I always offer them a chance to engage in conversation, right at the start, and judge from their response (if any) whether to press on. Many reply to my greeting and follow-up – which is usually about the weather, or anything that happens to be hot news that day – almost dismissively, and I know they have no wish to talk during the drive.

Even the longer journeys to one or other of the London airports tend to be like that. The ones coming back from the airport tend to be jet-lagged and sleep most or even all of the way...

I am convinced that it's at least partly because the traditional 'London cabbie' has been a man, and this also tended to be the case out here in the collar of counties surrounding the capital. There still aren't more than a handful of us women cabbies here in this part of Kent where I am licensed to pick up fares in the street (my taxi is known as a 'Hackney Carriage') as well as when someone 'phones the taxi firm and they radio the details to this box of tricks mounted under the dash. Oh, yes, that button on there really does say 'squelch', by the way: it's a technical term, I gather.

Anyway, my stint ends soon, so I shall do the usual Friday evening stuff half an hour from now: get something tasty and filling, if not actually all that nutritious, from the drive-in takeaway I frequent, ring Brad again and hope that this time he'll answer rather than getting his voicemail, and head over to his place on the near edge of the peninsula for a romantic evening.

Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you who I am. I'm Ginny, coming up fast on forty years old (though I've always looked much younger than my actual age), and I've been doing this job in the Five Towns and the peninsula for nearly half of my life. Eighteen and a half years I've done this now.

I have the full 'knowledge', so was able to get a full Hackney Carriage licence after just a couple of years as just a 'phone-in cab. I am very proud of my 'top box' (the For Hire sign on the car roof), the plate at the rear with its 'H' (for Hackney carriage) number, and the two side panels, all magnetic so that they can be taken off when I'm not on duty.

Anyway, I hope Brad will be at home this evening. It'll be good to get out of this car for more than a few minutes, which is like when I'm visiting the ladies' room at the Services on the motorway, or filling her up with petrol. Yes, that's 'petrol', not 'gas' as they say on the other side of the Atlantic, or pond as we Brits often like to call it. Words are funny things; and who but the Americans would call a liquid 'gas', especially when there's already a distinctive and non-confusing word for it? They can be a funny lot, sometimes...

Words can be odd, but names can be the strangest words of all. My real name is Virginia, but it really doesn't suit me. It sounds too upper class, and has a Finishing School air about it. I can hardly be thought of in those terms! So, Ginny it is, which seems appropriate as I have to admit that I do like a few gins when I'm not on duty...

Now, my fare is shuffling about on the seat behind me. That usually means he knows he is getting near his destination and is probably checking his trouser pockets for any coins he can give me as a tip. It's easier than trying to work it out from the change from the fare, which sometimes is just a few pence. Regular taxi users tend to get the tip ready first, then pay the fare from notes out of their wallets. I've learned to recognise the signs, and the muffled chink of trousered coinage being disturbed...

Passengers usually think you don't notice them, as they are behind your back and they expect your entire attention to be focussed on the road and driving the cab. They are partly right, but we do notice things. Don't get me wrong: I am a very safe driver, and I'd say I'm better than most of the other cabbies I know; but I can still tell much of what's going on back there.

And we cabbies need to know! Anything could be happening in what is, after all, our vehicle. I once got a faint whiff of weed, and had to pull over and chuck the middle-aged couple out, without even stopping to take their money. I left them in a road that was just garage access, but close to 'bus routes and main roads, so when they came to their senses they'd have no great difficulty getting where they were going via other means.

Took me two hours to clear the pong out of my car, and I parked in another garages-only road (there are quite a few of them around these parts) near Tramways, with the windows and doors open. I had to radio in to the firm's office to tell them I couldn't take fares for a while because I was having 'starting problems' with the car. I certainly wasn't risking having the local Boys (or Girls) in Blue even getting a whiff (literally!) of an idea that I might be involved with any kind of drugs..

My takings were well down that day, and I was not best pleased!

That's the problem with this business. Whatever your passengers do to your car, you are the only one who will have to deal with it and cover the costs. Sure, there's insurance, and I have that; but it's not cheap and there's a fair-sized excess before they'll start paying. The paperwork is a bind as well, and there just aren't enough hours in the day to deal with all of that. Most of us just shrug our shoulders and live with it, without claiming and bearing the costs ourselves – unless it's something really serious and expensive to get fixed.

It's nowhere near as easy making a decent living at this game as most people probably think. It's no great surprise that some of the others add to their incomes by ferrying what I'd term 'suspect packages' in their cabs' boots, as that pays better and doesn't involve people damaging or puking in your pride and joy.

I think the cops are well aware this other business goes on; which is why I am so sensitive about being squeaky-clean myself: I know they'd probably home in on me, at least when I am not 'For Hire' – as those other cabs spend most of their time also being. That fact at least means more legit business for the rest of us who are available, though, so there is a silver lining to that cloud.

If they recognise my cab then they'll usually ignore me, as they know very well that I'd never get involved in such activities myself. But if all they see is a white car with a top box they'll assume I am just another possible drug-ferry. I'm always hoping they'll notice the doors, but usually they're behind me or in front so can't see them.

When they pull me over, it's too late to do anything but go through the motions, as these days all their activities are logged and recorded somehow (I don't know the details) so they have to follow-through.

Anyway... Y'know, it's a funny old way to view the world, from in here, inside this taxi. The people on the pavement outside don't notice me, and they certainly can't see me through the slightly tinted windows. I had the tinting done to enhance passengers' privacy, and they often seem to appreciate it. I can see the pedestrians outside, but I can't hear them. It's like we're in two completely different worlds, meeting along just one edge where each world gets a very small glimpse of the other....

Another strange thing: I haven't seen the inside of my flat in nearly two weeks – again! Sometimes I'm away for even longer, just because of this life of mine that keeps me in the car and all too often away from this area overnight. I am good for airport journeys, see, so I tend to get a lot of those radio'ed through from the office. It's gotten more this way in the last two or three years, so most nights I now spend sleeping on the back seat, parked in a lay-by not far from one or other of  the big airports.

I miss my flat...

Tonight, though, it'll have to wait again, as I really need the warm embrace and comforting conversation that Brad provides, so I shall head out to his place on the off-chance that he'll be there.

Brad. Now that's another funny name-word. He tells me it's because he was born in Bradford (and he does still have a residual West Yorkshire accent) and it's supposedly short for that. If I mention a certain famous actor with the same name, he always refers to him as 'Pitt the Much Younger' – a reference to Pitt the Elder, and Younger, from history. I suppose technically he's right: the Hollywood Brad is a lot younger than the others...

Right, it's now the end of my duty period, so I'm off to the fringes of the peninsula, to the west and north, to Brad's place. I've already tried ringing him, just a minute ago, but got the voice-mail again. I know all the timings of the traffic lights from here to there, and how to beat the system by racing through much of the journey, where there are lots of signals fairly close together.

Don't worry, I am very safe. After a car crash took out both my parents, and I miss them terribly to this day, I vowed always to be ultra-safe on the road and have never let that slip. I have an acute awareness of all that is going on around me, even in my peripheral vision, and can calculate all possible scenarios if any other driver were to do something stupid.

I was chatting to one of those rare passengers, one who'll talk to you, who turned out to be a psychologist, about this very thing. He said it might mean my brain operates in 'free association mode', whatever that is.

Whatever, it serves me well enough, and I've never been in an accident myself.

Watch those heads turn as I pass! This always happens when I pass pubs and such places where the smokers congregate on the pavement outside. My sleek all-white (apart from the shocking-pink doors) sports-saloon Manta Ray whipping past at speed always gets the boys' attention. They just know there's a lady driver – the pink gives it away, of course – and most of them would like to have a car like mine.

Okay, okay! I know the pink doors aren't officially acceptable for a Hackney Carriage in this council area; but it's not a big deal, especially as many cab doors are completely covered in multi-coloured adverts anyway. Even the council official who licensed me chuckled at my doors and said that, exceptionally, they'd let it go – but that I wasn't establishing a precedent for others to follow, no sirree! I still smile at that memory...

These still quite new cars have really taken off in this part of Kent, and many cabbies around here have now switched to Mantas, though they always play safe and go for the ordinary saloon or hatchback models. I have the only sporty model, which – by very clever design – looks like an ordinary saloon when parked or at in-town speeds, but somehow  takes on a different look at speed. I have never managed to suss out how they've managed to do that...

Okay, there's Brad's modest but really quite pleasant detached house. He got it, he says, so that he'd never disturb the neighbours through the wall if he was up in the night – which, with his job, is a frequent occurrence.

There is just the hall light on, from what I can see as I approach the drive at the front, and his car isn't there. It could be being serviced, of course, but my hopes aren't high as I trudge up to the front door and ring the bell.

And nearly a minute later I ring it again.

And once more, for (hoped-for) luck.

No: no response. He's out again, probably off somewhere in the south-east region, flogging those supposedly remarkable machines to plastics companies on his patch. It's quite a step up from door-to-door selling, which is where he started; but he has the 'gift of the gab' and can sell anything to anyone, or so it often seems. He even 'sold' himself to me, and that's no easy task, I can tell you...

I look around at a peaceful night-lit scene. This back street isn't a Close, so cars do pass through here every now and then, but it is calm and quiet overall. There are no front fences or walls here: the front lawns lie right next to the footpath (what Americans I have had in my cab call the 'sidewalk').

I can see the line of trees behind the houses that I know border woodland. I have stood on his rear balcony late at night and heard the barking call of a fox from those woodlands, and it sent a wonderful cold thrill down my spine and literally made my breath catch in my throat.

It's amazing! Here, at the border between a new urban growth and the countryside that has been here more centuries at least, is a magical world in which we can share. It's a privilege; and I think it was up there on that balcony just then.that I first understood the true meaning of the word.

Not tonight, though! As I head back towards the heart of these Towns, already going over in my mind the bars, clubs and dives that I know will be open now and for the next several hours, and especially those that admit females free of charge, I know I shall have a good night anyway, Brad or no Brad. It will also get me out of this metal box on wheels for a while, something that is far too infrequent for healthy living, I often think.

One day all this will change. Hopefully it will be better: at this stage of my life I feel it needs to be. For now, though, although I think of myself (with some justification!) as the Queen of the Road, I am also the Woman in the (metal) Box. A life on wheels is fun for a while, especially when you're young, but one day we all need to grow beyond that.

I just hope I shall be able to find a way to break out of this box and settle down to a less crazy lifestyle. I think I've earned it...

Mystic Ed and his Crystal Balls

Quite a clever little video (it's just a minute and a quarter in duration) showing how 'Red Ed' Miliband's predictions on the economy and related matters have all proven to be valueless.

Not that this is any surprise of course, especially with the other Ed (Balls) involved as well; but it is handy to have them brought together in this reminder of what was claimed versus what has transpired...

Teto at the Airport

The song is Tricolore Airline (sounds like a kind of fusilli pasta, but there you go) and is actually sung by Miku, but three models of the UTAUloid Teto – all created by one Reyama, with whom I am as yet unfamiliar – perform the dance in the various settings, or 'stages'.

There's the standard Teto model, an Append model, and a School model, and they are all really lovely with what seem to be excellent physics and allied here with a very good motion. I think the School model  (complete with GUMI-style garter!) has to be my personal favourite...

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Coming Back

I have been repeatedly asked by some, for a long time now, whether I'd consider standing again for election to Medway Council. The answer remains 'no', mostly because I am no longer well enough to campaign and act to the level to which I am accustomed.

I am aware that there are others who have proceeded despite having their own, not dissimilar, limitations – but (as will come as no surprise to long-term readers here) I set myself very high expectations, probably higher than the majority of others who are or have been involved in this business. Therefore what others do (and often seem to get away with) does not change my personal stance.

Does that mean that I believe that those in such a position are incapable of being of value? No: far from it. It's more to do with the fact that there are far fewer human resources available on the ground to expect one's campaign to be implemented mainly by activists, so there really isn't the luxury of 'carrying' previous or potentially good elected representatives who aren't able to put in the effort on the doorstep, or whatever is required of them during the formal campaign.

If, though, there were one day a 'miracle cure' devised for my heart condition – and, ideally, for my sight problem as well – then the picture might very well change. If it did, where would I choose to stand? The easy option would be in my old ward or somewhere similar – but I prefer the idea of somewhere more challenging, and ideally somewhere that is better than it sometimes knows and just needs the right kind of person to enable a community to aim higher.

Now, to anyone who knows medway, this will probably seem strange indeed; but my favourite ward of the twenty-two we have here would be (wait for it!) – Strood South. This is, on paper, a most unpromising ward that includes roads with among the worst reputations in the whole Medway area, and probably beyond. Yet I have grown quite fond of Strood South in recent times, and have visited (and walked around) several parts of the 'patch' on various occasions.

Only yesterday I was walking down Bligh Way and Darnley Road (both of which form much of that 'dodgy' area I just mentioned) soaking up the ambiance, as I do, and encountering a few people on my travels. Like Wayfield, Strood South is one of those places that, overall, is seeking to better itself – and it is that element that I can feel dominates there, despite the opposing factors that are also present.

It has to be said that, under different personal circumstances, I'd be so very pleased to offer myself to aid in the lifting up of this area. I know that current councillors for the ward are doing good things there, but they are essentially routine without an overall vision. One cannot blame them for that; but perhaps the time has come when more is needed. That will need a markedly different approach in the future, and I can't see that happening, which is a real shame.

What the place needs is a genuine visionary, with the experience, intelligence, patience and strategic planning ability to do for Strood South what it really desires, once one gets under its population's skin sufficiently to be able to feel and understand its true will. Although I am probably no longer able to fulfill this need myself, no doubt there are real community leaders there who could.

The place now deserves a chance to go beyond mere station-keeping and routine patch-ups, and move forward as a truly developing and maturing community. Early signs are already in place, with the Leisure/Sports Centre, Rede Common (about which I shall be writing separately) and the impressive-looking new Academy school. The journey is just beginning...

Dan Hannan at CPAC 2012

This is a very good twenty-something minutes of Daniel Hannan MEP addressing the CPAC 2012 event, in which he warns Americans of the dangers their nation is facing by pursuing the path they have been taking under Obama and Congress as it was constituted at that time (there have been elections since).

It's worth watching this, and then reflecting on what has happened on that side of the Atlantic in the eighteen months that have elapsed since the event in this video...

Friday, 25 October 2013

Weekly Political Digest – 25 October 2013

I didn't feel up to doing one of these digests last week, mainly because of my temporarily increased medication, and because it came hot on the heels of my Council meeting report, so some of what had been lined up for that week, but is still current, has been included this week...

Capitalism is Popular

Or so says Fraser Nelson – and I think he's right. People with a clue about how and why things work, and what makes our nation (and others) great and what makes them falter, tend toward the capitalist end of the political viewpoint vista. Fraser's point here, though, is to get the Prime Minister to more fully grasp this reality and act on it more strongly than has tended to happen under the Coalition Government.

It's an important discussion that needs to be held with Conservative party strategists; and indeed a manifesto structured primarily on such a tenet, along with truly radical Conservatism, could well bring as much second-term success for David Cameron and his team as it did for Margaret Thatcher and hers, back in the 'eighties. We're looking at an even more highly probable overall majority for the Blues than ever.

More Unhealthy News

As I promised last time, if something significant added to the NHS cover-up story I featured then were to appear, I'd link to it. This in the Mail concerns Furness (i.e. yet another area) and what seem to have been possibly avoidable baby deaths. That in itself is concerning.

The crucial point here, though, is that Labour's Health Secretary at the time, Andy Burnham, denies any awareness of the problems there, yet there are documents that show he was briefed on it, and then just a few months later the hospital was given a clean bill of health. This was just before the May 2010 General Election.

I leave readers to draw their own conclusions after reading the linked article and, if you choose, any other sources on this matter you might find elsewhere. It doesn't look good, though...

Polling Gap Continues to Close

The trend I have been touching upon a couple of times in recent months is confirmed by handy graphs at Guido's site. Labour's lead has almost bottomed-out for the time being, in the week or so since then, and seems to be about 3 or 4% when all results (not just the Ipsos MORI ones for those graphs) are taken into account.

With the very promising economic news of the past day or two, I suspect the decline in Labour's narrow lead might recommence, and it is even possible that the Conservatives will take the lead soon and consistently. Although this is good news for the country, it is coming a little early if anything, which means it might not last out in the polling by the time we reach the May 2015 election.

However, with what I believe is yet to come, during the next eighteen months, there should be plenty to give fresh boosts to the Conservatives, and also to take away from Labour's figures, in advance of Election Day.


In a moment of perhaps surprising honesty and apparent support for David Cameron, the BBC has debunked the contrived and false story about David Cameron apparently advising people to wear jumpers rather than turn on their heating. Not that it would have been bad advice if it had been true, as health professionals and some charities advise us to wrap up well in the colder times of the year, to some extent even when indoors; and it is notable that even MPs themselves are often filmed at home wearing a jumper or a cardigan.

Anyway, it was an attempt to manufacture a story that would suit Labour's agenda – and indeed they are still putting it about as if it were true even today, a full week after this BBC piece that showed it wasn't true. It's another timely reminder that Labour aren't interested in truth, only in smears.

UKIPper Knocking

Now that sub-heading can be read at least three different ways (think about it). What I mean here, though, is that UKIP will be knocking the Conservatives out of their seats in a number of marginals if they campaign all-out in those seats, and the voting public do need to be aware of the danger. Windsor UKIP have wised-up to this fact themselves, as this very useful piece from Mark Wallace reports..

Unlike local Labour activist (and now councillor) Tristan Osborne, who bitterly resented the Left vote being split in the council elections here two years ago (it's on his 'blog), I have no problem with having a range of parties vying for the same batch of votes. Therefore I continue to have no objection to UKIP, the English Democrats, or any Right-wing Independent candidates in any election.

All I ask is that the voting public be informed of the consequences of supporting them. After that, it's up to them, the voters, to decide which way to go, properly informed.. I think that most will realise the dangers and won't risk handing the seat over to those they actually oppose; so I thinking the Conservative vote will hold up in the marginal seats. Disapproval can be registered in (say) Surrey or Tunbridge Wells, where a reduced majority will send a message without making a fatal error!

Left Shoe Shuffle

The fallout from Ed[ward] Miliband's latest reshuffle has generated some significant rumblings within the Parliamentary Labour Party (i.e. the Labour MPs including Whips and Shadow Ministers) as Labour Uncut reveals. Their headline regarding 'fear and loathing' within the PLP is very telling on several levels, and it gets ever more interesting as one reads through what is a slightly lengthy but quite detailed piece.

This is quite a powerful, and very public, disclosure from the 'inside track', so to speak, and reveals a lot of Ed-M's tactical and strategic thinking that seems to have been the driver of who went where – and who didn't, for that matter.

For example, the positioning of Tristam Hunt as what is termed in the linked piece the 'anti-Chuka', and the redefining of Yvette Cooper's portfolio (by shifting the equalities brief to someone else) are clear indicators of the Labour leader's desire to protect his own position and to ensure a 'suitable' (from his viewpoint) chain of potential succession. He's certainly thinking ahead, but only of his own interests it appears.

John Rentoul also has some useful stuff on Tristam Hunt as a possible replacement party leader, and how he has been performing, which is well worth a read.

Medway Maritime Hospital

The two big issues that have been in the news recently concerning my local hospital – over-stretched Accident and Emergency and failings within the Maternity Unit – are being tackled, as one would expect.

The former – caused by an ever-expanding population within its catchment area resulting in an annual intake considerably in excess of that for which it was designed – is being alleviated by an injection of significant funding by central Government. What is to be done makes for quite interesting reading, actually, and gives an impression that they will crack this one. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be available on-line. Perhaps it'll appear later.

.As for the maternity issues: I do not know, and am not exactly the best-qualified to comment anyway. Project Reboot at the Medway is covered here in the Nursing Times, which publications paints a rosy picture but doesn't quite ring true somehow. When I checked out the comments I found that others seemed to agree with my assessment (okay, there are a load of Lefties in there, and it shows; but they still understand the job). Therefore do not accept that article at face value: we shall just have to see how it turns out in reality.

New Council Housing

Finally for this week, also in my home area of Medway, is the news that new council housing is to be built here for the first time in some fifteen years. Over sixty new council homes have been agreed, and there could well be more to follow.

There is an oddity in Medway, in that the two councils that merged to form the Unitary Authority, coincidentally also fifteen years ago, had different situations regarding council homes. On the Rochester and Chatham side of the borough, including the Hoo Peninsula, all their former stock was by then being administered by Housing Associations and the like. In Gillingham, Twydall and Rainham, their council still owned and looked after such properties.

That anomalous situation remains to this day, so the new properties are all to be located within the Gillingham etc part of the borough, as will be the potential additional units if they should come to pass.

This whole initiative has become possible only because of the national Government's exchange of an old, restrictive policy for something far more useful. It is notable that during the Labour years in government, virtually no new council homes were built. I once read a figure of just 300 such homes for their entire period in office, for the whole of England.

The way things are going, Medway alone might well be able to surppass that figure in a noticeably shorter time period...


It's about time we had this by itself again, with English subtitles once more (the earlier subtitled video vanished from YouTube a little while back, as I recall). It's the 'Intense singing' part of Miku's disappearance sequence: the other part is the Dead End song, which I find rather sad and don't like very much.

This, though, is always excellent, especially this live performance at Sapporo which features what I gather is known as the 'Infinity' dress, and wonderful curly-wurly hair. These were discarded for Kansai, so this older version is actually better and truer to the original concept, as I understand it.

Useful tip: it helps if you can read fast, otherwise be ready to pause the video frequently when you are trying to read the words. I suggest listening through uninterrupted once first, and then read the subtitles, pausing if and when necessary, on a second play-through. It's also something of a challenge (he writes, as the master of understatement) to attempt at karaoke...

Thursday, 24 October 2013


Letter-names are what I call names that can be said by pronouncing typically two-letter (occasionally three) combinations by those letters' names. These names are usually female, I have found. It is a little like that Benny Hill sketch from years ago where the entire dialogue was written in this way.

On this occasion, rather than try to describe this idea further, a selection of examples should make it clear, even if the pronunciations are (rarely!) slightly off, and sound a little Australian...
  • D.N.R. – Deanna
  • E.V. – Evie
  • F.E. – Effie
  • L.C. – Elsie
  • L.N. – Ellen
  • M.E. – Emmie
  • P.R. – Pia
There are the obvious single-letter names, J. (Jay) and K. (Kay); but don't count M.N.M. (Eminem) as his stage name was contrived from 'M&Ms' in the first place, so it becomes circular.

Sometimes this technique can be applied to surnames too, such as B.T. (Beatty) and M.R.E. (Emery, as in Dick Emery), but the forenames are a better challenge, I think. Feel free to add others in the Comments thread.....

Miku does Miley

Now that Miku English has been out for a few weeks, all sorts of songs are being given the Miku treatment. Although there are clearly some issues with aspects of the English voicebank's pronunciation of some sounds, by and large it is proving to be a success.

One interesting effect is that people who have no history with Vocaloid fandom are commenting on these new productions or 'covers' as they are called, often saying that they dislike (or worse) the original performer, the original version of the song, or even the video that went with it, but now "have a reason to like it", or similar commentary. Thus it is with this (originally by Miley Cyrus) number Wrecking Ball.

It's an old truism in the music business, that no-one can spoil or even ruin a good song like an over-hyped and overly self-aware performer. It is the removal of such elements from the long path from composition to public release that the Vocaloid technology addresses; and here I think we can witness a good example of the benefits of this approach.

Although it's just a still image (with the lyrics subtitled) it's a lot better than the original, with Miley (who seems to have modelled her look on Marie Fredriksson of Roxette) swinging on what seems to be a real wrecking ball...

Yume Has Cat Ears Too

As is common with Japanese anime-style characters, Synthesized Reality Productions' mascot Yume has her own cat ears (nekomimi), in her case as part of a hooded outfit.

Here we see her rather nice 3-D model – complete with whip-tail hair (as I'm calling it!) – dancing to (appropriately) Nekomimi Archive, singer as yet unidentified. The motion is generally very good, though with the occasional 'sliding feet' anomaly I have mentioned before that detracts from the naturalness of the motion, and breaks the spell, if only momentarily.

There are no English words provided (and I think that SRP are going to have to bite the bullet of making it a policy to always providing them for non-English songs, as their primary market is the USA) but it's still fun to watch...

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Yume and Friends

This dance has been prepared for Synthesized Reality Productions' (SRP) concert already planned to be held at Kami-Con next February. That event has two mascots – Shio and Kosho – and SRP has their own mascot, Yume, whom we have encountered previously.

Here all three of them dance to Gravity=Reality, sung by vocaloid Luka, in a nice dance with very good motion – though it is a little disappointing that all three do exactly the same actions in perfect sync through, including eye movements. Perhaps between now and the event a little more realism (okay, pseudo-realism) might be introduced by tweaking the three motions individually a little.

If not, it's still very enjoyable as it is, with (|left to right) Shio, Yume and Kosho. I have to admit that I do like the design of Kosho's skirt. Within the action itself, one just has to hope that Yume's hair braid doesn't whip the others as they dance...

The Poppy Girls

This is a good idea by the Royal British Legion: produce a song for this year's Remembrance Day. The full story is in the Mail here. The song will be released on Monday 11 November 2013.

Here, then, are the Poppy Girls with that rather special song The Call (No Need To Say Goodbye)...

Klingons do Rick Astley

There are no words to adequately describe this parody of Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up. It's certainly 'different'., though helpfully provided with both Klingon and English subtitles Qapla'...

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Name of The Doctor

It took this young lady about three hours, with a lot of chalk, to construct The Doctor's name in Circular Gallifreyan, here speeded up into just five minutes or so.

There is no easy way to tell if it is accurate, because (a) no-one in the universe – apart from Steven Moffat – knows that name, and (b) the Time Lords' writing that we encounter within the programme is either Modern Gallifreyan or Old High Gallifreyan. There is a Circular Gallifreyan alphabet 'out there' in the world, though, so it could be spot-on for all anyone can tell...

Rain of Dreams

This Dr.Yun song, written for SeeU as per his usual pattern, is here performed instead by the recently-released second Chinese vocaloid Yan He (which means 'Say Peace'), whose icy cold appearance does not prepare the listener for what is a clear and emotionally warmer voice.

This video has English subtitles (there are versions of the same clip without), those words having been provided by the video's uploader who is known as shiwarabbit. The resolution isn't all that high and it isn't quite as clear as I usually require before posting an item – but it is just about adequate, and it is interesting enough to offer to visitors here...

I Knew You Were Trouble

This is Miku English having a go at the Taylor Swift song I Knew You Were Trouble. The consensus is strongly that this is better than the original, and indeed it is very well done.

There's a degree of controversy about the degree of reverb (I don't think it's excessive, myself, though perhaps at the top end of the 'sensible' range) but apart from that it is thought soft, sweet and very easy to understand...

Monday, 21 October 2013

Last Night, Good Night

This is from the Magical Mirei 2013 concert from eight weeks ago, and is another kz (livetune) classic, Last Night, Good Night, performed by Miku as one might expect with this song. It suits her voice better than just about any other.

There are no English subtitles yet, but I think just watching this (and it includes lots of close-up shooting) will be quite enough for now. It is a very good performance, really quite moving, in fact.

I'll post a version with English words once it becomes available (and I find it, of course!) ...

One Up on Batman's Signal

Projecting Miku onto clouds – now that's new! Obviously it's early days yet so isn't as clear as it might one day become, and it will also (probably always) require the right kind of weather and lighting conditions – but this short demonstration shows that it can be done.

The music is Night on the Galactic Railroad by Isao Tomita; but I think an old Beatles number could be re-written specially for the first actual concert done this way: "Miku in the Sky is Diamond"...

Tell Your World – in Spanish

A very good effort here, fully translating the kz (livetune) classic Tell Your World into Spanish and having new Spanish vocaloid Maika perform that version. Once one has accepted the 'different' voice, it seems to suit her remarkably well; and I foresee more of this type of exercise to complement the native tongues (Spanish and Catalan) songs.

It's an interesting video as well, with several sections as it goes along, and is very enjoyable overall...

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Letter Song

The very beautiful Miku from the Kansai concert earlier this year performs a soft and gently emotional number for her encore, Letter Song, about her letter written to herself to be read ten years hence. It's nice, and especially fitting for this time of the evening, here complete with English subtitles...

Mark Reckless MP on BBC Daily Politics

This is very good, with Andrew Neil quite firmly quizzing both Mark Reckless (the MP for the constituency just a hundred metres up the road my home) and Atul Hatwal (Director of the Migration Matters Trust) on the subject of immigration and its employment-related effects.

It's a useful eleven minutes, so I present it here in its entirety, for your interest...

More Maika

To complete this hat-trick of Maika songs, here is No habrá nadie en el mundo by Concha Buika. This is nice and light, with an acoustic guitar-based backing, and shows how musical the Spanish language can sound: it is well suited to this medium.

Incidentally, there are other Maika songs on YouTube (and no doubt elsewhere) in addition to the three that I have featured today, but these are the best that I have selected. One of the others has a fuzzy image and an overpowering and intrusive bass line, for example, so wasn't good enough for here: I am quite picky!

Incidentally, it is interesting to read in the comments to this video that some think of Maika as sounding like IA. Clarity of voice-wise I'd agree, but beyond that there are quite marked differences, so I think those views are a little off the beam. Let Maika stand in her own right: the lady deserves that...

Maika Song

Following hard on the heels of my previous post, here is a Spanish song sung by new Vocaloid Maika. This has a gentle, cool jazz mood, and is very well done musically, with an extremely good job of mixing. In fact, the mix here is one of the best I have so far encountered in the Vocaloid world of music.

The song is called Cruz de Navajas, and was written by someone known as 'Mecano', and apparently well known at that – at least in Spain. The logos on the video's main image are for Voctro Labs, who created Maika, and BlancaNegra ("White-Black") whose involvement doesn't seem to be explained anywhere...

New Spanish Vocaloid

This is Maika, whom I have briefly mentioned before as (at that time) being 'on the way', but this bilingual – Spanish and Catalan – Vocaloid is now with us.

The demo song in this video is Fantasia, by Manu Guix (real name Geronimo Stilton – but I suppose that sounds too much like what you'd call out when launching a parachute-equipped English cheese from an aeroplane).

If you listen very carefully and follow the Catalan subtitles, you'll find that the pronunciation doesn't always seem to match, including the same word from one line of the song to the next. I gather that this is just a part of how Catalan is pronounced, and I suspect there is also a little bit of artistic licence in the mix as well.

Maika has a very clear mature voice, by which I mean full adult, not middle-aged(!) I'd put her at late twenties or early thirties, age-wise. No doubt an official pseudo-age will be announced for her when fuller details (including perhaps the usual back-story and favourite food, companion and/or toy) appear at the Vocaloid Wiki and elsewhere...

Friday, 18 October 2013

Medway Council Meeting – 17 October 2013

Well, that was a slightly different style of meeting of the full elected Medway Council (apart from a few absentees, as usual), though with the familiar ingredients thrown in for good measure. I suppose it wouldn't have been the same without them...

A minor difference from the norm was that no-one was mentioned by the mayor as attending from the independent members' conduct panel (or whatever it is currently called). It has been a long time since that last happened.

The first noteworthy change within the agenda itself, which I had already realised from the published  documents, was the public questions item. Although there were more than usual these days (twenty in all, most with a supplementary question, as we found out on the evening), they were mostly genuine questions rather than the usual 'manufactured' ones.

There were a couple of those – where the unpublished supplementary question was blatantly politically-loaded – most were not. We did have several questions regarding the Rochester Airport plan, but this has come about as a result of deliberate scaremongering from those who have for many years intended that the airport be closed. Again, a couple of those were politically-loaded in the supplementary questions, so it wasn't as 'clean' as it ought to have been.

On that issue I again recommend to the doubters about the council's plans for the airport to check out what has happeed with other small airports who have already followed a similar path. Do they have concerns or complaints? I think they'd find that, even in leafy Surrey (try Fairoaks), the answer is near-enough 'no'...

The Council Leader's report covered education and employment opportunities, economic development and growth, health and well-being, so-called payday lending, children’s services improvement and of course there was provision to debate the decisions made by the Cabinet in its three meetings since the last Full Council.

I shan't go through all of these, and will mention only the economic growth which is a real success story in Medway, where we have become the focus of interest for a number of other councils in this region. As with the Thames Gateway regeneration, where other councils adopted the Medway Model, so it seems other councils are again possibly considering learning from our success and how we achieved it.

Later in the meeting, the Cabinet member for this area of work briefly listed nine successes from around the borough, with their increases in turnover (amounts and percentages). This was derided by the Labour members (and that was cheered by their sycophants in the public gallery) by labelling it as 'profit', showing their complete lack of understanding of where job creation comes from in the case of existing employers. More turnover means expansions which broadly means more employees. There are now more jobs in Medway now than before – a lot more!

Anyone with even the beginning a clue understands all of that – but not the dimwit Lefties, it seems. Once again, they have shown how completely unfit they are to handle the grown-ups' world, making even a pair of short planks look like Twiggy by comparison, so they must never be able to re-take control of either this council or national government. All voters, take note!

Overview and Scrutiny activity was largely unremarkable this time round, and there was nothing that really stands out in my mind as having separate significance to what was dealt with elsewhere within the agenda and during the meeting.

Questions from members was also relatively low-key; and this was especially surprising as there were two members of the media at the Press table, along with (as usual) an appropriate council officer. The questions from Labour members were obviously politically-loaded, but they gained no traction and were handled deftly in the responses, pulling the metaphorical rug out from under the Labour folk.

Of course councillor Tristan Osborne tried to make his supplementary question a party political broadcast, but he does that every single time he speaks at Council, so it became boring a long time ago, and most of us just switch off our attention for the duration. That way does at least avoid the embarrassment of watching a once-promising young activist waste his chances of being considered suitable for greater things in life.

That's not the way to be a good and useful councillor. For comparison, no-one ever switched off when I spoke at Council, though it didn't stop the 'usual suspects' within the Labour group hectoring and heckling me (as they were afraid of me and knew that my concise and authoritative contributions had traction: cause-and-effect) which just goes to show that it can be done well.

The reports included additions to the capital spend programme (there nearly always is at least one of those at any Medway Council meeting) and special urgency decisions during the sort-of summer recess. Here there was a match-up regarding a £2 million spend taken from the Housing Revenue Account. Labour didn't like this, even while understanding the (exceptional) reason for it. making a lot of noise over how this account was rent money that should go into the repairs and maintenance of Medway's remaining council-owned housing in the Gillingham and Rainham end of the borough.

If that were all that the account handled, that would be a reasonable and understandable stance – but, rightly or wrongly, it is more complex than that. In the end, it was accepted even by Labour's councillor Harriott (who managed to use his favourite word "disgrace" which, along with "disgraceful", features in at least one contribution to each Council meeting, and – you will see if you check – local newspaper interviews as well).

Most of the other reports went through largely undebated at any significant level – though it is to be noted in passing that Labour group leader councillor Maple three times called the Independent Renumeration Panel 'renumeration'. To be fair, so did council leader Rodney Chambers for a while, but a quiet word alerted him to it and he has got it right ever since. Hopefully this write-up will result in the same thing happening in Vince's case...

In the case of the three Motions, the first went through without an amendment to include a couple of other categories of those to be covered, but only after the legalities of the proposed amendment were (unsuccessfully) considered by the Monitoring Officer (the council's head of legal matters) and the Chief Executive. In the end, it was – correctly, in my view – decided to go with the original Morion, and for the Labour Group to augment it by submitting a formal proposal well enough in advance of the next Council meeting to have any legal loopholes or other issues sorted out before finalisation on that meeting's agenda document.

I was unable to work out exactly what happened on the second Motion, but that was largely because I couldn't understand what the proposer was saying. Thus I have to leave that one there.

The third Motion was the usual political beating-stick (and obviously so), proposed by the most usual of the 'usual suspects', councillor Mrs Murray. Yes, it had all the regular hallmarks, including the "sending a message" line that is always a complete give-away that this is being done purely for party political reasons.

This time it was what Labour call 'the living wage' to be applied to the council's staff who are currently paid below the outside-London rate that Labour have decreed. They stated that many other councils had already done this, citing by name Brighton & Hove and Islington. Big clue there, then...

Of course, with a fixed pot of money, this (originally costed by Labour at £170,000 per year, but councillor Brake spotted a planned expansion of the scheme that would take it into the millions) scheme would of necessity result in loss of posts.

It is the wrong way to do it; and the predictable sob stories from the proposer didn't make a great deal of sense, especially when one realises that it was the former Labour government that made life that much less affordable anyway – as I illustrated on this 'blog only a day or so ago (prices of bread and eggs). Some of what was being claimed, such as difficulty with retention of staff, was and is nothing to do with the pay level as such, and certainly not an erosion of pay set against costs.

For one thing, the councils in the 'collar' around London have long had difficulty with both recruitment and retention of (especially) staff such as social workers and planning officers because the London boroughs, easily commuted to and from, paid thousands of Pounds (not just a few hundred) extra in London Weighting, for which they receive additional central government grant to cover its cost. That has been know about for decades, and I learned of it soon after being elected to this Council some thirteen year ago. It's not new, and it's not relevant.

The real problem has been Labour's hiking of taxes of one kind or another, including their abolition of the 10p tax band. It is to the Coalition Government's credit that they are regularly raising the tax threshold, taking millions of low-paid workers out of tax altogether and significantly reducing the amount of Income Tax paid by those in other lower-income bands. Now that is the correct approach!

Unsurprisingly, the Motion was voted down, to cat-calls from the disgusting Labour group, as thye always do. I don't know whether they are just dim, but most people aren't really fooled by these entirely political, manipulative end-of-agenda Motions. Only their own cheerleaders in the claque they bring along to every Council meeting give the impression that they too haven't a clue, and go along with all the Labour group's guff. The rest of us live in the real world...

Lansdowne Studios

One of my all-time heroes, Adrian Kerridge (recording engineer and orchestra manager), looking distinctly middle-aged, takes us on a tour of the Lansdowne Studios premises, and tells us how it was in the early years.

Adrian was one of the best recording engineers I ever encountered, producing clean, clear tracks that simply did the job, and did it right, without fuss or mess/noise, and yet just as good in any respect you'd care to name as anyone else's in even one of those respects. His understanding of an orchestra, and how to mike it up (i.e. how to deploy the microphones), was second to none; and it is no surprise that he wrote a feature on that latter subject for Studio Sound magazine some years ago, which I consider one of the true reference works in the industry.

The Harpenden-based Lansdowne Studio was also known for being less of the 'cocktail cabinet and comfy seating' variety and more a 'mug of cocoa on the ancient sofa' type – but that just didn't matter! Many of those who knew would go to Lansdowne as their studio of choice; and perhaps the short video at this page (that unfortunately I cannot embed here) provides a little of the flavour of the place and of the time.

I fear that most of the flavour of that time has now gone, never to be fully recovered for posterity – although at least their works will endure. My own connection began when they recorded the tracks for the four albums of the delightful vocal group Design, for whom I had considerable affection. I first encountered them in a South Bank special musical programme on ITV, then their guitarist (Jeff) came into the shop where I was working at the time and we struck up a friendship.

Amazingly, Adrian knew of me and recognised who I was when I met him at a professional recording studios' show (APRS), which really took me by surprise. I think this must have been because of a recording I made at Whitgift School (in Croydon, Surrey) a year or so earlier that  generated a stir within parts of the recording industry. It's a long story...

It was altogether a special time, in what was already something of a golden era, back in the early 'seventies and beyond.. With my current Vocaloid involvement, although it isn't the same and I am again the newcomer to the scene, at least it feels like I am back on my home turf – even though that turf isn't the same as that upon which I stood all those years ago.

Lansdowne Studios was one of those outfits one looked up to in those days, if one knew enough about the business. Without the likes of them, many of us wouldn't have come so far along the right road to dealing with what we now handle in today's digital age.

Cost of Living

When the 'cost of living' meme sprang up, emanating from the Labour party's policy and publicity arms, it was immediately recognised by a spread of commentators as a diversionary tactic from the economic arena, which Labour had been chronically losing and had finally recognised this as a permanent feature of the political battleground.

They were never going to succeed in that policy area, so they did what Lefties always do in such cases – apply a diversionary tactic, seeking to manipulate the debate and, thus, public opinion. The result was the out-of-the-blue 'cost of living' strategy.

It isn't really working, as – apart from the very youngest of voters – most of us have lived through the Labour years in government as providers and shoppers, often catering for whole families (though not forgetting childless couples and those who, like me, live alone).

Our shopping costs rocketed during the Labour years, and have settled down somewhat since they went. Remember: I worked at ASDA and was very familiar with the everyday prices, such as (say) bread and eggs. When I was working there, back in 2001, a branded (e.g. Kingsmill or Hovis) sliced loaf, 800g, was 75 pence. By 2010 it had shot up to £1.25 and is now £1.30. Note the minimal difference since the change of national government.

Similarly, six large free range eggs (which is what I regularly bought) were 69 pence back in 2001, but are now £1.40. This has remained essentially unchanged during the past three years: the huge rises occurred entirely during the Labour years.

No doubt external factors will be blamed by some for all of this, but those are facts that I have noted over the years as someone with perhaps a more 'professional' interest in the subject (once in the business, one never entirely switches off that mode of thinking!) than most.

Although this isn't in and of itself conclusive, it does provide a strong indicator that fits in so well with what has traditionally happened in other countries with Left-wing governments. For example, it was a standing sort-of joke during the Soviet Union years that a ticket to the (heavily subsidised) Bolshoi Ballet was cheaper than a loaf of bread. The way things were going here in Britain, if it hadn't been for the change of government back in May 2010, we could have ended up with a similarly acutely humiliating situation.

The bottom line is: recognise Labour's approach for what it is – an obvious attempt at diversion away from the economic argument that they have at last realised they cannot win – and also understand that, despite all the Goebbels-like Big Lie that they are putting about, Labour are just as seriously untrustworthy on the 'cost of living' platform that they are seeking to shape and manipulate purely to suit themselves, not the country.

We are now all sufficiently grown up, I hope, aided by what I and a number of others have been divulging over these past several years, to see through all of that.

Interestingly, the whole topic was mentioned only a couple of times, and then only in passing, by Labour at last night's Council meeting here in Medway. I rather gained the impression that, although it is a card that they need to play, locally Labour don't have much confidence in it as a vote-winner for them...

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Formless Song – With English Subtitles

Again from this year's Kansai concert, and now with English subtitles, here is doriko's Even Though My Song Has No Form (sometimes translated slightly differently, but I believe that to be its correct title).

The song is preceded in this clip by Miku thanking the audience for coming, and it is all done in the stunningly beautiful outfit that is associated with this song in particular, and certainly at the concerts (different outfits sometimes appear in other places).

It really is a heart-achingly lovely song, and is a box-of-tissues job, so I recommend you have some handy...

Iroha Song – With English Subtitles

As I have promised to do, once I find a version of something I posted which didn't then have English words provided appears with the translation, I re-post it. So it now is with Rin's performance of Iroha Song at the Kansai concert earlier this year, as such a version was recently uploaded, and here it is.

I always think Rin looks so nice in this outfit, and the catchy song also suits her very well. It's an irresistible combination, even if the song's lyrics turn out to be a little 'odd'...

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

PMQs – 16 October 2013

I don't usually feature the Prime Minister's Questions sessions these days, as they have become somewhat predictable (and generally boring) political knockabout with little actual value.

Today's exchange between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Official Opposition was sufficiently interesting, and fact-laden (though needs proper attention paid to it, as both sides were perhaps too soundbite-conscious so missed out explanatory notes that would have nailed their claims) to warrant putting up, on the basis that an occasional airing helps us keep our thinking correctly calibrated. It seems to have been a day for wagging fingers, but one can put that aside.

Therefore, courtesy of the BBC (on one of those still all too infrequent occasions when they allow embedding of their videos, though even now it involves a huge block of code, necessitating a lot more effort than it should have done to switch off autoplay and make the player size more sensible!) is today's exchange – nearly nine minutes of much hot air, but some interesting facts and figures in the mix too...

Galaco says Hello, How Are You?

...The rest is in Japanese!

I haven't featured this song in almost nine months – and this version is quite distinctive, featuring a new Galaco model by the video's uploader, Danna Akasuna. It's a very good model, with an excellent (and quite expressive) face that is more human-looking than many Vocaloid characters' faces have tended to be.

The motion is really good, though not perfect, and with a couple of technical glitches in the middle section of the video. Also, despite having standard-level High Definition capability, the source isn't sharp enough to take advantage of the HF setting, which is a shame: this deserves it.

With just over two weeks to go before Galaco looks like being permanently deactivated, this seems an appropriate time to post this here, as a (hopefully permanent) reminder of what Galaco was and was capable of becoming, given the chance...

Have I Got A Noose For You, Mehdi

Labelled in some quarters as 'the most vacuous' of political commentators/journalists (indeed, one has claimed to "have a Thermos flask less vacuous"), Mehdi Hasan has been caught out in his duplicity and, frankly, hypocrisy, as I mentioned just recently.

It looks like Hasan has managed to make a noose for himself, in reality...

Inevitably, the tale came up in this week's Have I Got News For You, but despite its predictability it is still worth airing the short clip of it here, lasting just forty seconds (which comes courtesy of Trending Central who have kindly allowed it to be embedded). Ouch indeed...

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

SeeU says Bye

This isn't the same as the very catchy Goodbye, but an entirely different song – and very nicely done here, despite being at a somewhat low resolution for the current era. Typically (sadly) there are no English subtitles or other sources for words we can understand, so again it is really just a visual and musical experience – though that is plenty to be going on with!

As usual for a Chori-produced SeeU video, the motion is top-notch, feminine and graceful. One cannot escape the feeling that he must love SeeU as much as I and many other fans do, to put heart and soul so obviously and fully into these wonderful works...

SeeU's Umbrella

This is a nice, light song with a snappy dance routine that would almost put Gene Kelly to shame. The model is the oOlchibiOo SeeU (no, I don't know why these creators give themselves such odd monikers!) of which I was aware.

It's a generally very good model, though it does suffer a little from GUMI-like legs which are similarly unrealistic and not a patch on the tourbux models which have superb limb sculpting (if that's the right term for it).

This is a delightful short video nonetheless, and it is great to have SeeU models that can be used by the animation software that most creators have and know...

Junjou Fighter

I might as well admit it: I am at present looking for examples of good SeeU models that are in a format usable by the MikuMikuDance and AniMiku animation software. The tourbux models are not, so we need others to create their own models in the appropriate file/data format.

Here we have a school model (on the left) and winter (right) and they both seems very good, as this quite decent motion illustrates. I'm not sure about the voice: it just has to be someone else singing this time, but I have not (yet) discovered who it is.

Again, as with the previous SeeU video, no English words are provided, so just enjoy the sound and the spectacle – especially an indoor snowstorm with giant snowflakes! Well, it's original...

One Moment Of Perfect Beauty

This clip from the second season episode of Babylon 5 'There All The Honor Lies' is very special, and shows how even Kosh the Vorlon has aspects that we never realised before.

The Gregorian Chant is Introitus – Puer natus nobis est, which I gather is the Gregorians' Christmas canticle, and here is in fact sung by the monks of Santo Domingo de Silos, a monastery in Spain, rather than (as one – flawed – theory has it) that it was the Pak'Ma'Ra...

Monday, 14 October 2013

Kisaragi Attention

This is a nice performance by the SeeU 'stroll' model, of Kisaragi Attention. This just a visual and musical feast, as I have no English words for it or know all that much of what it's about. I do know that it's the seventh song of the series 'Kagerou Project', and it has the alternative title The Story of Snatching Your Eyes. There is more information here.
The stage seems to be slippery surfaced, which is distinctly unusual.

The dressing of the model's hair is interesting – if anyone were to do the same, I imagine it must feel like walking around permanently in a kind of archway. It also swings around quite sharply and occasionally seems to slap her in the face. Still, it's soft stuff, so at least it shouldn't hurt...

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Oppan Klingon Style!

Well, I suppose it had to happen, sooner or later. At least we get English subtitles, so one doesn't need to understand the Klingon language. Qapla' !

Friday, 11 October 2013

Weekly Political Digest – 11 October 2013

There has been so much going on this week that I have had to miss out a few of the less interesting topics; but there's plenty of good material available via the links below, and hopefully my accompanying notes will be useful too. I am doing this with a less-than-clear head, so it might not come out quite right in places, but I'll do my best...

Covering It Up

Probably the biggest story of the past week (and more) has been the ongoing revelations about just how much trouble within the National Health Service (NHS) was kept hidden by the then minister Andy Burnham, especially toward the end of the previous decade because of the electoral damage the truth might well do to Labour in the May 2010 General Election.

The Standard has a useful item on Basildon and Thurrock hospitals, and of course we already knew of the mid-Staffs scandal. There are no doubt others, as the sheer numbers of reports of issues seems to keep growing by the day, from scores to hundreds, and now (apparently) thought to be somewhere around a thousand, plus or minus. In fact, no-one seems to have reached the end of the trail as yet, so that number is likely to continue to grow – unless it is suppressed, that is.

The whole contention that has inevitably been propounded is that the NHS was not safe with Labour, and certainly wasn't fit for purpose. Anecdotes from several trustworthy sources I know personally reveal a true catalogue of poor practice and, frankly, idiocy in many areas. It would be embarrassing to the decent NHS staff to have these revealed here, tempting though it is to use a few examples to show that this is all genuine.

I could provide at least another half-dozen links to good, useful articles on this topic; but I don't think they are needed at this time. If that should change, I'll post additional links (probably updated or new) in the weeks to come.

As I have mentioned before, the NHS model is not a good fit for today's world and its needs and capabilities, and the NHS is regarded by many with knowledge of other countries' medical services to be considerably inferior. That's why it needs a proper reform exercise, to bring it up to a standard fit for the twenty-first century. These issues are fundamental and can no longer be metaphorically swept under the carpet: they need to be tackled, and now.

It's A Gotcha!

As regular readers will by now have got the message I keep exemplifying, Lefties tend to be dishonest, manipulative and hypocritical. Indeed, I have never in my (fairly long) life met even one that hasn't been at least one of those, and most have repeatedly demonstrated at least two of those traits.

The truly ghastly Mehdi Hasan has been caught out in respect of his attitude toward the Daily Mail, switching around completely from one occasion he has reason to mention them to the next. See Mr Steerpike's post at The Spectator, complete with a short clip from BBC Question Time on which he appeared last week and where the hypocrisy became evident.

Now, there might be a little leeway one can allow, bearing in mind that a job application was one side of this picture and the first part of story dates to a couple of years or so ago; but this was way beyond what could be allowed for in that context. Read Mr Steerpike's post, also this by Guido and this at Trending Central, and then think about how it would be if you were in the same position. It's a good little exercise to try...

On the topic of Question Time, this from The Commentator illustrates yet again just how blatantly biased the BBC is, with yet another heavily-slanted programme in the series, as most of them are now. I have to confess I no longer bother with it: as I am no longer a moderator for the old LiveChat for the programme (because CoverItLive broke their 'it'll never cost you a penny' promise and made it untenable) there is no compelling reason for me to sit through all that carefully-engineered Socialist propaganda and manipulation – so I don't.

Press Freedom

Another big issue that is still rumbling around Westminster, because a Bill about it is coming up, is press freedom-vs-regulation post-Leveson. Lord Justice Leveson has this week appeared before Members, but gave bo answers, evading replying instead. The whole thing is in danger of more-or-less freewheeling into  something like how the old Soviet Union worked, with the government effectively dictating what could and could be said, and how it was to be presented.

We do not need a Pravda/Izvestia type of media scene in Britain! The criminal law as it exists already covers all angles, so there is no need for any new regulations. Perhaps Fraser Nelson has the best approach to tackling the issue once and for all: by enshrining media independence and freedom (within the law) in a Bill of Rights. Otherwise it's going to pop up again and again, whenever there is a media scandal, rather than correctly applying the relevant existing law or laws to deal with it properly and to most if not all people's satisfaction.

Shuffling the Deck

All three major parties have been having a re-shuffle of their ministers/shadows this past week. Labour's was most notable for keeping Andy Butnham, despite all the revelations as I mentioned above. A junior shadow minister for health has been moved instead. Either Burnham 'knows where the bodies are buried' as the saying goes, or Len McCluskey told Ed[ward] Miliband to keep him in post as shadow health secretary.

I can't think of any other likely reason; but it makes Ed-M look weak by not having what it takes to get him out of the shadow cabinet. Overall, it does look like a McCluskey-driven set of changes, as any Blairite members (such as Jim Murphy, Stephen Twigg and Liam Byrne) are now out, and hard Left types are in. It has been a true lurch to the left by Ed-M, as many pundits predicted and have also recognised once the news came out.

The Lib Dems' reshuffle was fairly low-key, and doesn't really warrant further mention. For the Conservatives, David Cameron made some interesting changes to some junior appointments, but (as expected) left the front-bench team untouched. There was no secret made of this plan, though it seems to have surprised one or two commentators...

Guido ran a rolling 'blog of the reshuffle details as they came in, and the completed record is here. I find it convenient because of its colour coding that makes it easy to concentrate on one party at a time if desired, or to simply go through it chronologically if that is preferred.

 Energy Price Fixing

?The Labour leader's big new populist policy is to rig (i,e fix, or dictate if you prefer that term) energy prices for 24 months if he should become Prime Minister in 2015.

Sounds good, doesn't it? Well, it was supposed to. Of course, those of us with experience of Labour governments trying this sort of stunt in the past well remember the blackouts because the power supply couldn't be maintained to all customers at all times.

With the decay in our own power station capability, EU directives closing down perfectly serviceable power stations and a lack of any proper energy provision for the future during Labour's previous thirteen years in government, the situation is likely to be a lot more severe this time than it was back in the 'seventies. I still have powerful and enduring memories of those times, and it was not good. Price fixing will mean insufficient funds to invest in whatever is required to meet future need.

The National Grid is already warning of blackout risk this winter, although that shouldn't happen in practice as other sources are available to us.

Not that Ed-M cares about that: all he wanted was something attractive that he could 'sell' to enough of the less alert sections of the electorate, simply to help him win the next election. That was and is his only consideration, and it is obvious with a couple of moments' thought. As this at Trending Central indicates, several major energy providers already offer fixed-price tariffs for even longer periods, as well as providing other information to show that this 'policy' is in reality essentially a con-trick – and it will cost us all a lot!.

Communism Kills

Actually, all forms of Leftward politics ends up killing people, as oppression and fear are the only way they can maintain their steely grip on the citizenry. The fabled New World Order of which James (a.k.a. Gordon) Brown spoke so often is to be a totalitarian dictatorship, and is largey in place in key chunks of the world.

Often the Left-wing régimes we have encountered during the last century or so have been mass-murderers as well, though trying to ascertain accurate numbers is difficult for various reasons, from lack of record-keeping  to artificial famine in areas without accurate census data, and suchlike.

I don't have all the information – though longer-term readers of this 'blog will recall that I have posted a table showing recorded and estimated numbers murdered, by date, country, régime and event. The middle column of that table seems to be borne out by a new book that seeks to document it all as authoritatively as possible. That number was around a hundred million.

The third column in the table I posted showed what it might have been in reality – more than founle that number – but this will almost certainly never be possible to verify or refute. The bottom line is that Communism (or Socialism, which is essentially the same thing, as the likes of Stalin and Lenin have both attested) is in that business and does not care how many it kills.

The iron grip, reinforced by fear, is all that counts with the evil that is all Leftism, without any exception. Those who claim otherwise are either being dishonest or just aren't bright enough to understand the overwhelming and unambiguous concrete evidence that is easily found in general terms. For the closest to accurate figures, though, Stephane Courtois' Black Book is probably the best source currently available.

The Cancer Called Labour

Not my words, but Sean Thomas in The Telegraph. Although he tends to lay it on a little thick, he is correct; and this also follows on neatly from my previous item in this digest. The contention is that the Blair/Brown government was 'the worst ever' – which is very much a judgment call, though I'd agree without hesitation that it was one of the very worst, and one of the most evil, too.

 Beyond that is hard to be definitive on, but Sean could well be right. Anyway, it's not all that long and worth going through, if only as a reminder of some things that might have slipped our minds with the passage of years. The section on education, toward the end, is a sobering reminder, expressed in stark terms, of just how bad we had become.

And that's it for now. I have some other quite usable material, but this is starting to become long again, so I shall stop here. I might do a supplementary digest after an overnight think: we shall see...