Saturday, 30 November 2013

Tangible Control of Miku and Others

This is an interesting piece of tech', whereby a sort of bendy figure made up of what look like the sides of Zelda's fighting cubes from Terrahawks allows direct control of Augmented Reality (AR) characters.

You'll see what I mean as soon as we get past the opening shots in the video, which depict a few examples from the wide range of Miku designs there are around now.

I cannot yet perceive a practical application for this, but usually when something like this appears it isn't long before someone does, and the rest of us (well I do) react with a "why didn't I think of that?" For now, it's a concept looking for a purpose, so the more people who watch this the more likely it will be via such crowdsourcing that something will spring to someone's mind.

In this regard, I don't consider the very last action in this video to be the right direction in which to aim one's thoughts...

LOL – Lots of Laughs

That's the title of this three-voice song. I don't know what they're on about, but it frankly doesn't matter all that much! This is one of those enjoyable items where it is actually probably better not to be distracted by the words anyway, and just enjoy the spectacle and sound 'texture'.

This is a very nice trio vocal, performed by three Lat models independently choreographed (though there are short sections where they act more-or-less together). I always appreciate when a video's creator has taken the trouble to make each character individual, rather than simply copying one motion to the others. I'm not certain about the singing, though, so it's best not to assume anything: I'm treating this simply as a visual with 'some kind of sound backing'.

Here we have the lovely CUL, for whom I have to confess I have a bit of a soft spot, plus pink-haired Aika and Kaishi Orahi who are UTAU, not vocaloids, and both new to me. Those two are edited versions of the Lat original models, which I hope the creators sought permission to do as Lat models aren't usually permitted to be changed. Anyway, they are nice jobs, so hopefully all is above board with them...

Love Coloured Ward

Now, Arkwright (from Open All Hours) might have had a thing for District Nurse Gladys Emmanuel, but if I ever had to make a late night emergency call for medical assistance, I think I might perk up immediately and permanently if this nurse were to turn up and look after me thereafter. I might become literally a 'love-coloured Ward' myself...

I Sing For You

Thus sings the spectacular Snow Miku from 2011, on this very chilly morning here in Britain, in the song Finder by kz of Livetune (actually, the remaining half of Livetune as the other member of the duo has now gone on to other things).

The song's title refers to a viewfinder, through which the world – or any part of it – can be observed. It'll all become clearer as you listen to this, set in a variation on a stage we have seen once before on this 'blog, though almost unrecognisable in this somewhat atmospheric interpretation...

Snow Miku 2014 Tram

Yes, they call it a 'train', but it is of course a tram (or 'streetcar' across the Pond). This is the new Magical Mirai style Snow Miku for the coming (in Japan) winter. We see how the vehicle is decorated – which, though simple enough in execution, requires precision planning, as one can readily appreciate from what is shown here.

I don't recognise the background song playing here; but in any event be prepared for yet another of those 'cuteness overloads' in which I seem to specialise these days...

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The PMX 2013 Concert

As better quality video has been promised, I had hesitated to put up the interim (lower quality) videos here; but it is getting a little long for me to not post anything substantial from the Synthesized Reality Productions (SRP) Vocaloid Concert at PMX 2013 earlier this month.

Therefore I have relented, and here is the first part of the concert (starting at 2 minutes 50 seconds in), with the four other parts easy to follow on to from the end of this clip.

The first part of this six-part suite of clips was all pre-concert, so I have gone straight to part 2. It does give a fair idea of what happened.

As it starts with GUMI, and the first song is by Mitchie M (Freely Tomorrow), and Miku's first song is Neutrino, I strongly suspect a neutrinoP influence at work, though I could be wrong and it's all just coincidence that it's his favourite performer and favourite producer right at the start.

For some reason, Rin sounds especially nice in her opening duet with Len, Remote Control.  I felt quite 'awww' toward her, yet again!

If you don't mind your jaw dropping, just wait until you get the Wonderful Nippon trio, including CUL and Lily (I didn't recognise the amazing lady in the middle, but probably should have). I doubt anyone in the audience was expecting anything quite like that!

It was great that Miku was in her Senbonzakura outfit for that closing song – though I don't envy the person who had to sweep up all those cherry blossoms afterward(!)

One oddity is that Yukari seems somewhat anorexic, and is also mirror-imaged, as is Gumi (note which side the former's hair adornments are on, and the latter's garter, also Miku and the others' waist straps). Saddo that I am, I notice these things. Hopefully it is only this video that is (apparently) back to front, and the concert was presented the right way around...

Fire! Endless Night

Here's the cute CUL – the Lat model again – performing the song most commonly associated with GUMI, title here changed subtly to CUL CUL Fire! Endless Night.

I think it works better here than in any other version I had previously encountered, and I am sure it is a combination of voice and the actions in this motion. CUL is just so very good for certain things, helped by that wonderful outfit and a very assured posture (or so it often seems to me).

This lady is both feminine and very much female in her portrayal, and is definitely one of the more interesting of the lesser-known Vocaloids...

Look CUL's Way

The delightful Lat model of CUL (far and away my favourite of her) excels in a very well suited motion of Look This Way Baby! Such a commanding and assured presence: it just works so well, I really can't think of anything to add.

The video is topped and tailed by stuff from the uploader – a kind of trade mark, in effect. Don't worry when this starts: it is the right video...

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

New Maika Track

Just up on YouTube today, here is Ni Una Sola Palabra ('Not A Single Word'), performed by new Spanish vocaloid Maika, ahead of her imminent release. There are no English words, so this is also an exercise in how good your Spanish is (or isn't!) though understanding isn't vital for enjoyment of the track.

Once again, the editor is shown as it plays through the song, behind Maika's image – said image having been provided by artist Noriko Hayashi a.k.a. 'Noririn'.

The song itself is not new, having been released in mid-2006 and performed then (and many times since) by Paulina Rubio, who among others is formally credited within the video.

It has been a while since we last had something from Maika, so this is very welcome. Her voice is one of the clearest I have encountered – although I admit I am having to assess this is Spanish, which isn't straightforward though eminently possible even for me...

Conflate and Confound

I see that Medway Labour continue to peddle the (frankly desperate) line that our council's investment in Rochester Airport somehow relates to perceived effects on front-line services. Like other dishonest propagandists, they are hoping that most of the public will not understand how (and why) these things operate, so will be taken in. Several vital points show the (deliberate? Almost certainly) falsity of local Labour's message...

1. Capital has nothing to do with revenue

One-off capital investment in projects, especially with existing council-held assets that are in danger of losing the council money through degradation, is encouraged by all parties in government – including the previous Labour government, for one notable example. Indeed, Medway Council's then finance spokesman, councillor Glyn Griffiths, often pushed this message even more strongly than the Conservative Administration of the council did – and we were no slouches on this ourselves.

2. Legal matters

Capital funding comes from a separate fund from ongoing 'revenue' expenditure – and it is illegal to use one fund for the other, though there are occasions when certain seemingly revenue items (usually only very small amounts) are able to be 'capitalised'. We here in Medway have seen this with recycling sacks, for example, which – as they are an alternative provision to the decidedly capital-spend recycling boxes – do fit the profile, though are a slight anomaly and don't quite fit either category. Still, the auditors were happy with that...

Whatever happens, the funding stream is separate, including government grants for specific projects that have nothing to do with the revenue provision. Often, capital projects will be partly or (sometimes) fully funded from capital funds raised by the disposal of old assets that are no longer required. An example that springs to mind from my own time on the Council was a pair of houses in The Tideway, Rochester. All sides agreed they needed to go anyway...

.3. Capital is once-off, revenue is not

There is no point in taking capital funding for revenue purposes anyway, even if it were legals to do so, as it comes as a single amount (though sometimes spread over a period, as appropriate to the specific project's needs) and then that's it. Revenue spending goes on year after year.

Medway Labour has been caught out by their woolly thinking in this regard several times in recent years, and still they don't seem to be able to 'get it'. What's wrong with them? The rest of us can understand this from our own budgeting, even though we don't necessarily have separate accounts for (say) shopping and bills, and one-off purchases.

We know how and why it works, and we apply our own sense to such things. It is hardly surprising that auditors (especially the independent firm and the National Audit Office) apply a rigorous policy along the same lines to our councils. Only Labour seem to think it doesn't apply to them – which no doubt helps to account for the numerous stories of financial mismanagement that emerge from Labour-run councils on an almost regular basis.

4. The airport plan is nothing new

Labour always wished to close Rochester Airport, against the wishes of many thousands of residents. Take it from someone who helped with the severely time-limited campaign to lodge objections to the relevant policy (S11) in the then Deposit Local Plan, back in August/September 1999. There were thousands, just from the Davis Estate (which was all the Residents Association covered), and hardly anyone did not wish to support the airport's retention. They knew!

The plan that is now being opposed by Medway Labour – and the claque they regularly bring to Medway Council meetings – and they are trying to suggest that public opinion has suddenly turned to face the exact opposite way. Well, over the years, on the doorstep and elsewhere, I have consistently found ongoing support. especially when I explained to residents (including those living in Cloisterham Park) what the intended changes would do. After all, it is almost the same as what was being proposed a good decade ago.

Briefly: the paved runway allows 'planes that can use it to take off sooner so that they are quite a lot higher by the time they pass over residential areas, and their effect therefore much quieter than ever before. Secondly, modern mini-jets will be able to use it, and they are quite a bit quieter than the propeller 'planes. Thirdly, the same has been done at other small airports already, producing these very benefits; and it is easy enough to check what the views of residents in those airports' vicinities have noticed since the changes were made there.

In conclusion

Thus it is actually not exactly difficult to (a) debunk the emotive non-story that Medway Labour are putting out, and (b) allay fears about what the planned changes will mean in reality. Scaremongering is for those who have no real credibility: the rest of us just have to wise up and see it for what is is. Don't ever let Labour manipulate your and your thinking – it only encourages them to do it again and again...

UPDATE at 2135 hrs: local Labour councillor Tristan Osborne has unintentionally (through his lack of understanding) bolstered my position considerably. The Twitter conversation can be followed here, and I think it is self-explanatory.

He is trying desperately hard to 'manufacture' something, including (glaringly obvious) diversionary tactics, as usual – but it's not working. Watch how the wriggling and squirming progresses as this goes on: it'll no doubt be entertaining to observe... It was; and he finally gave up around 2200 hrs.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Ah, It's A Wonderful Cat Life

This slightly jazzy song is quite popular with Vocaloid audiences, and it works particularly well as a duet. Here we have the male Vocaloid known simply as 'VY2' leading the singing, with the delightful Mayu coming in a minute or so into the song.

It's quite good, but alas there are no English words provided, so best to treat it as just a pleasant musical diversion – it works well that way...

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Reflection In The Snow – Take 2

The ever-excellent Mr Neutrino has managed to fix some problems in Kaito's English voicebank, so here is the re-mastered version of the new song.

Incidentally, the reasons for both the title and the perhaps unexpectedly sudden end are that we decided to leave out the last four lines of the lyrics, so it isn't quite as I originally wrote it. It has also lost some of the punctuation in the transcription to the lyrics provided in the video, but that's very much a minor matter.

I've left the original version on the 'blog to enable comparison; and if you did so you'd notice quite a few improvements in clarity in this new version, and previously almost-missing sounds now pronounced properly...

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Reflection In The Snow

The latest song for which I wrote the lyrics (and the title this time!) is now up on YouTube. It's been made into a nice duet featuring Gumi and Kaito – though the latter's English is somewhat lacking in some respects. Fortunately Mr Neutrino is very good at 'tuning' pronunciation, so it comes out well despite that quirk...

Friday, 22 November 2013


Thinking about Mayu a little earlier this evening, I had been pondering the fact that we usually encounter only the standard model of her, with the same outfit and everything else. Most other Vocaloid characters are known for having different designs, outfits and other variations (Lapis being another exception).

So I was now on a mission to discover any other Mayu models 'out there' – and I found a couple!

Even better, here are all three together: the standard Windows 100% magazine model (Saboten), the Tda Append model (by princessayw), and a School model (by creinie). From watching the three models together, particularly their hair, I suspect that the Saboten model hadn't had the physics patch applied when this was produced – but it's still good, if not quite as natural-looking as the others.

There are no English words provided, but I suspect most viewers will be too occupied with the delightful visuals to be overly concerned about that...

A Lie And A Stuffed Animal

Now that's certainly an unusual title for this song by no less than Dixie Flatline, but when one realises that it features Mayu and her toy Usano Mimi – who puts in a brief character appearance early on – it becomes a little clearer.

It might have been clearer still, as there are subtitles – but they are in Italian(!)

It's still definitely a delight to watch, despite that, with a really good Mayu model (by one k2kyano, with whom I am not familiar) and excellent motion, very feminine and it seems so right for Mayu...

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Crusade – The Long Road

As something of a treat, I thought this hugely enjoyable episode of the Babylon 5 spin-off Crusade might brighten up yet another dull and dreary November evening.

So, here we have The Long Road, featuring father and son (in real life) Edward and Peter Woodward – the latter in his permanent role in the series of Galen – playing a pair of one-time Technomages who know each other very well.

There are the customary serious messages in among the fun and the occasional golden dragon, but overall it's a comparatively light-hearted episode. Note in particular how the long-experienced Edward handles the material: he has a master's touch, and it shows very clearly here, though only if one actively studies the performance. Not for the first viewing, which should be fun, but a repeat viewing should make it almost jump out at anyone who watches for such things...

Who 50th Trailer

There has been a raft of fan-made 'trailers' and other stuff appearing in recent weeks, but this short collection of snippets is probably most of what we'll get officially ahead of Saturday's Big Event. Yes, the BBC has put out a couple of other short videos, and they too are of value – probably more than the speculative montages by others – but my gut feeling is that it's best just to wait now.

As David Tennant says here: "Of course you're going to watch it!"

On top of what follows below, last night's One Show was very Doctor Who heavy, including sofa guests John Hurt and Janna Coleman (the 'Louise' was dropped from her professional name a few months ago, it seems). While that programme is unlikely ever to rise above its set-the-bar-as-low-as-possible style, there is enough in there to be worth spending the time on it if you are that keen. I have gone through only part, myself, and it seems to be enough for now, at least for me.

As always with the BBC, my apologies for the small viewer, imposed owing to the Beeb's insistence that I may not 'tweak' the default embed code. Switch to full-screen view for best effect, though...

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Viva Happy – Dance Trio

Well, it starts out as a dance duet, but stay with it and see what develops. This is Mitchie M's Viva Happy, which I have featured recently, though not like this.

The young lady with Miku is Adelaide Bliss, who keeps up with what is quite a fast routine needing considerable agility and accuracy.

It's very well done; and it's fairly obvious that a separate performance by the same lady was used for the Miku performances via 'motion capture' technology (MoCap) – it must have been a separate 'take' because there are a few small differences here and there. Churu chu chu...

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Weekly Political Digest – 15 November 2013

This is being delayed a little, owing to some tragic news that has come in this week, but will be dated Saturday instead of Friday. I might also delay its release beyond that, while I am checking a couple of points. As is often the case, there is a fair amount to cover this week too. As usual, I shall start with national matters and end with local (Medway) topics...

Boom Today

Misquoting Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5, I admit, but the mini-boom (as I prefer to think of it, being perhaps more cautious than some other commentators) is not only confirmed in various ways and from numerous sources, it is also continuing to be awkward for Labour.

First, here's the Treasury's statement regarding (mainly) inflation, the deficit, and jobs.

As James Forsyth writes here, it is now very difficult to argue against this 'boom' assertion. It is no surprise that Labour has recently been trying divert attention onto other topics, realising that they have been rumbled and their messages on the economy have (yet again) been shown to be false and misleading. Not that the two Eds are in agreement over how their party should present itself regarding the economy, as leaked emails have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt (and most of us knew anyway)..

Awkwardly for Labour, their tacking-away efforts are also coming back to bite the, as they have been clearly and unambiguously shown to be the architects of what they are now calling the 'living standards crisis'. I recently alluded to some of that on this 'blog. This graphic taken from their own manifesto for the last General lection (i.e. 2010) even shows that their policies are exactly the ones they are now attacking the coalition for implementing. I cannot see any wriggle-room with this either: it's an open-and-shut case.

Who Is Right On Immigration?

This perennial question is perhaps better answered from Douglas Carswell MP's angle, as he seeks to shed some light on an issue that, inevitably, suffers from a lot of misinformation, some deliberate, some from ignorance of what is a perhaps surprisingly complex subject. Take it from someone who has worked in this area: me!

The week before, Douglas had already looked at the topic from the point of view of our apparent reliance upon – and reverence of – so-called 'experts' in the field. I find all this a refreshing take on a difficult and (frankly) little-understood topic. It's only part of the learning one needs in order to be able to formulate a sensible and coherent view, but an essential part, I venture to suggest.

Incidentally, the only time I met Douglas was at a fund-raising social event here in Chatham, when he asked me to give him clues on local issues for his speech to the dinner gathering, later in the evening. It went down very well...

Falkirk Falsehoods lead Faltering Labour to a Fall

There is now too much evidence to let off any of the Labour party players in the Falkirk selection scandal and ongoing fiasco, right from the top of the party, for them to be able to protest innocence. Dan Hodges has looked first at Ed[ward] Miliband's own involvement, and the next day at the party leader's perceived lack of trustworthiness from inside the party; while Guido focuses on Labour's General Secretary and the part he played in all of this. It makes for very interesting reading; and the cat is now well and truly out of the bag!

As for Unite aspect of all this: although, as is said, they have some reason to be miffed at Mili-E's new-found negative stance, their own attempts to take over the Labour party during the past two years hardly afford them the moral high ground.

Spare Room Subsidy

This is another all-but-dead horse that Labour are still trying to flog, despite voter opinion remaining strongly in favour of the Coalition Government's stance on the issues. It's a full two-to-one ratio! Especially bearing in mind that the wording of the question tends to point toward responders feeling mean in doing so, they are – as in previous surveys – majorly behind the Government on this.

Labour are having an increasingly difficult time gaining traction on any of a wide range of topics they are pushing, which has led to near-desperation that has produced the seemingly scatter-gun approach they have been taking increasingly in recent months.

They are all over the place – and the clues are all there for anyone who cares to analyse what they have been doing, especially when compared to previous periods. It has happened before when they have been in a similar position, and not at other times, showing empirically that their approach is driven dolely by their own party political-driven agenda.

Social Housing

I am pleased that FullFact have looked at the question of who built more social housing (to use the in vogue generic term), Mrs Thatcher or New Labour? Although they try to slant it more toward Labour than they should, they are with validity bringing the Housing Association sector into the equation.

While there is still no doubt, in the final analysis, that there was much more of this type of housing created during the Thatcher years, despite a slow tailing-off over the years, it is overall a more balanced appraisal of the whole subject than some of the headline writers have been suggesting, on both sides of the political divide, for quite some time now.

Overall, it is a valuable source of data, provided one is just a little cautious regarding the (admittedly less than overt) attempted slant, which isn't difficult.

Behind this is the reason why this perhaps unexpected turnout has come to light. For those who truly know, rather than merely soak up the lines they are fed, Conservatives – for all their faults – have long been the best party to support and provide for the poorer end of society, while simultaneously encouraging self-reliance, dignity and wealth creation. They are now so one-dimensional as the political Left tend to be, whose aim is to dominate the poor and keep them that way: both poor and dominated by the Lefty 'élite' via the vast State machine

Kipper Rippers

Long-term readers of this 'blog will be well aware that I have been saying for some time that UKIP aren't a properly structured party (or words to similar effect) and their popularity would not endure. Both aspects of that are now being proven, not only with their opinion poll ratings having already slipped back part of the way toward where they were before all the protest votes without another home defaulted to their support, but also with the party's own structural deficiencies creating big problems.

Alex Wickham, better known to many as WikiGuido, and thus hardly a friend of the Conservatives, of all people has felt compelled to disclose the degree of rot inside UKIP, and how any dissent with its leader's views can have severe repercussions on one's prospects within the party.

Now, all parties have some level of discipline requirement, but the mainstream parties tend to be more of the so-called 'broad church' outlook. While this can encourage division into factions, it is not only much healthier on general principles but more accountable and less dictatorial than the alternative. Within UKIP, it's essentially a dictatorship – as, to be fair, several members and former members have been warning was on the cards for a few years now – in fact, ever since Nigel Farage again became the party's leader.

The party is now essentially a one-man cult, and is also one-dimensional, certainly as far as the public perception of them is concerned (there's plenty of evidence for that, for anyone who wishes to pursue this aspect), as always happens when a party is dominated by an individual. George Galloway and Robert Kilroy-Silk are two obvious other examples (and there and have been are others) that spring to mind in just this nation's own recent political history.

They are slowly dying as a party; and only if they get rid of Farage and 're-imagine' themselves (to borrow an expression from Hollywood) will the party be able to survive as a truly viable operation for much longer, preferably under a new name – and they have changed their name before (they were once the Referendum Party), so it could be done. UPDATE: Mark Pack has the graph that shows a consistent trend of decline in support of Nigel Farage's leadership, which just goes to add to my assertion that he needs to go if UKIP are to thrive again.

 Naturally, I have modelled future scenarios for each way this could go, as I always do with my forecasting and public predictions (most of my findings are never made public, by the way), so I have no axe to grind on this. Either way will work out, one way or another...

A and E Pressures

As this is in the news again, especially locally, I thought it worth referring back to the hard data (using The Telegraph's own term) from a few months ago that shows A&E visits increased quite suddenly and dramatically, during Labour's second and third terms in government, beginning around 2004. The number rose by almost fifty percent (14 million when they came into office in 1997, to 20 million when they left), but has since flattened out under the Coalition.

Note that although from a year before that the columns in the graph were made up of two separate figures for the different types of A&E units, the total is still as accurate as when they were simply counted together. I know that's obvious, but Labour are trying to claim the graph 'misrepresents' the true picture, which obviously it does not..

The body of the linked article gives some explanation of what was happening, and deserves to be read fully to comprehend the full context and the multiple causes; but there is not the slightest doubt that the Labour government of the time caused much of it and triggered part of the rest through their policies, such as the 2004 contract that resulted in many GPs dropping their out-of-hours care provision.

No Khan Do

As I predicted last week, local Labour's newly-selected candidate for Rochester and Strood, Naushabah Khan, has changed her Twitter account to be publicly readable. The interest there is not so much in what has been posted there recently, but what went on while the account was 'protected'; and it is worth those who are sufficiently interested (and I can think of a few!) spending time going back through that period.

While most of it is of little interest, there are a few gems that no doubt some of us will have saved out on our own local hard drives, long before they might be deleted by their author....

As for offering a serious challenge to Conservative Mark Reckless: the section subtitle I have given this says it all: 'no Khan do'. It needs much more than a lightweight with no real substance to take on Mark – and I have the strongest feeling that even if that were to happen, he still will not be toppled, nor should he. It would be bad for the constituency, and ultimately bad for Britain if he went. Fortunately, I cannot see even the remotest chance of that happening: it remains broadly a Conservative-supporting constituency.

And that's it for another week!

Go West, Young Meowth!

One of the best of the television Pokémon episodes, telling the sad back-story of how the rascally Meowth we know from Team Rocket became the way he did. It is near-enough impossible not to feel for the poor cat after watching this...

Friday, 15 November 2013

Isao Tomita and Miku

This sequence of excerpts is from a concert by the legendary Isao Tomita, and features Miku in all but the first piece, which I gather is from Symphony Ihatov. It is actually quite nice, and the items with Miku are reminiscent of a Parisienne or similar Bohemian place and time from a bygone age.

There is a full orchestra and choir, and it was clearly quite a significant event, from almost a year ago. The video uploader has incorrectly labelled this as being from THE END – the Miku opera – but it isn't, so just ignore that...

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Promise, by Miku and Rin

I featured this once before, ten months ago now (where did all that time go?) but in that video the same duo were wearing their standard outfits.

This time, Miku and Rin are wearing their ultra-cute puffball dresses that we saw in Colorful Melody; and even without the English words, this now quite famous song – Promise by Samfree – is a delight to watch and enjoy.

For the enquirer who asked me about the specific modules from Project Diva for these outfits, they are Colorful Drop (for Miku) and Cheerful Candy (for Rin)...

The Half Mile Train

Freight trains can sometimes be very long; and this one measures around half a mile in length – 2,526 feet, or 770 metres – with some 46 (count 'em) wagons and a Class 66 diesel locomotive at each end. These are highly-reputed locos by the way, and can operate in France as well as the UK.

The wagons are interesting, with an end-to-end-slanted design to most of them and a few custom vehicles also in the mix.

Here it all is pausing at, and presumably well beyond, York station for a change of the train crew, and then it sets off again with a fair amount of 'thrash' to get that huge mass moving. It takes quite a lot of effort, even for two Class 66s which have a combined traction of more than four and a half Megawatts.

The video creator poses the question: Is this the UK's longest train? The answer is no – there are longer MRL stone trains, and the 'Octopus' that passes through Leicester is around the same length, for a couple of examples – but it is certainly among the longest...

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


Not quite like those old Max Bygraves record albums, but another example of the same Lat-style Miku model we saw yesterday (version 2·3, which seems to be the favourite of all her models for amateur Augmented Reality experimenters), this time singing and moving to match the piano playing.

How it is done is shown and explained, and it a good example of how the Vocaloid technology can operate in either direction. At a concert the band have to synchronise with the performer, but in this case it's the other way round. Of course, the pianist has to keep proper timing otherwise it's going to come out rather strangely, but apart from that it seems to be a logical development.

It certainly works well here, even if Miku gets a little nonplussed if certain actions are made too repetitive...

All The Doctors

In this (edited, I notice) twenty-minute BBC programme An Evening With Steven Moffat, the man and his host, Boyd Hilton of Heat magazine, run through the Doctors from William Hartnell to Matt Smith. Some clips are included in the programme, though these don't always feature (or even include!) the Doctor of the moment. It's a bit weird.

Still, it's a nice little one-off, and otherwise works quite well, with a (non-participating) audience as well. I suggest switching to full screen viewing for this: I am not allowed to modify the player size (hence its smallness) under the BBC's rather extensive Terms and Conditions...

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Starduster, from Kansai

I was surprised to find I hadn't featured this heartachingly beautiful song for more than five months. It is ideal for this time of the evening, especially with the darker nights we now have in this part of the world. One can look up and see the stars from ten thousand light-years away...

This time, it's from the Kansai concert, again with English subtitles, also featuring an a capella section added onto the original version. Listen carefully and you can hear the audience joining in with that – a little bit of magic, it seems to me.

The song was composed by JimmyThumbP, and is performed by Miku, as always...

Dancing on the Table

Now, I've heard of table dancing, but I have a feeling it does not conventionally refer to what Miku is doing in Augmented Reality (AR) on this table.

This is a relatively early application of AR to Miku, and features the really nice Lat-style model of her. Apart from (minimal) 'sliding feet syndrome', it is very good indeed. The motion is from a performance by a 'Yumiko', apparently: I hadn't heard of that name in this context before.

At this time (earlier this decade) there were at least two popular AR programs/systems around:OpenCV and ARToolKit. From viewing several of each, I do gain the impression that the latter was the better quality, though no doubt everything has moved on a fair amount in the intervening two to three years.

The song here is Tell Me!! The Magical Lyrics...

Miku's THE END

The video below comes courtesy of Fuji TV, who have kindly permitted its embedding.

This Vocaloid Opera is fascinating; and although I have some reservations about it, there is no doubt that this new opera has opened up to modern-day creative minds the possibility of transforming what might now be considered by many to be an old, stale musical and stage format into nsomething suitable for and appealing to twenty-first century cultural society.

?It is often by showcasing something unexpected that potentially creative minds are shown that they too might well have something to contribute after all, following a life in which they might have felt they could never contribute to any artistic genre. I know from my own experience how true that can be.

Here, then, is a short (five minute) feature on the opera, including short excerpts and some brief interviews with its audience at one showing. It is next to be staged in France tomorrow and again two days later UPDATE: It has sold out, so a third performance has now been scheduled...

Monday, 11 November 2013

VocaJazz – After-School ChocoCup

I meant to set up a weekly reminder to post a VocaJazz item every Saturday evening until Spring, but didn't – so here it is tonight instead.

Miku here performs After-School ChocoCup, which lyric-wise seems to be in the same broad vein as those occasional Manhattan Transfer nonsense songs, as the supplied English captions show (note: captions not subtitles, so you'll need to ensure that player option is left switched on).

The YouTube page for this says that it was composed by Chae-P (music) and Ryootai (lyrics); but another version says it is from OSTER project, whose former name was Fuanari-P, so there is some confusion here. The song does appear in the OSTER project entry at the Vocaloid Wiki, at number 34 in the song-list there, under the slightly different title After-School Chocolate Cup Show. It is the same song, though, without the opening count-in in that other version.

It is difficult, by the way, to find VocaJazz videos with an English translation provided, which is why (for example) I haven't yet featured any Meiko items. Meiko's mature voice is good for jazz, so I shall keep looking.

In the meantime, this is pleasant enough, quite relaxing in fact, and a good choice for this rainy day. Who couldn't do with a choco-cup right now?

A Flavour of Magic

Here is a video of a couple of very short snippets from each of the songs performed at the recent Magical Mirai 2013 concert, featuring all six Crypton Vocaloids in solos, duets and one trio.

It gives an idea of what the event was like, a lot more broadly than just one song – even though the one I featured here a few weeks ago was the jaw-dropping staging of Ryo's Odds and Ends. Here we have the lot, sampled, and topped & tailed with the aid of some nifty graphics.

It comes as no surprise that the range of models, costumes and some new (to me at least) songs raised the bar yet again, along with the extra-wide screen (just how wide is that thing?) and some completely new motions even for established songs.

On top of that, we once again get to realise, however briefly, just how good the Vocaloid composer/producers are, their material easily up there with the best in the conventional music arena, more often than not. Remember: it hasn't been tampered with by publishing agents, session musicians (though the live band here won't be quite the same as the original released version), recording engineer, studio acoustics and effects, or a human lead performer (or two, or three).

These works are essentially straight from the composer's thoughts and intentions for his or her creation to the audience – which is perhaps the single strongest reason why the fan community is so dedicated without (except in a few cases!) too 'fannish'. Here we go...

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Viva Happy, by Miku

This is what is taken to be the official video of Mitchie M's recent release Viva Happy, which is a lot of fun, and ideal to brighten us all up on this wet and dreary Saturday morning. The new Mitchie M album came out a few days ago, by the way: it's a must-buy for his numerous fans in Japan and all around the world.

It's quite fast-paced, especially some of the rap, so you'll need to be a quick reader of the subtitles in order to keep up throughout. Alternatively, just listen the first time, and then go through it a second time, focusing on the words and ready to pause and unpause as necessary(!) It is worth it, though that second run-through can be done at any time, really.

Anyway, let's all 'Viva Happy', even when the world isn't easy. Chu lu chu chu...

Friday, 8 November 2013

Weekly Political Digest – 8 November 2013

It has been yet another busy week, so again I shall have to limit what is included and try, where sensible, to keep my comments fairly brief...

They're Watching

Well, of course they are, and often for very good reasons, for example with the (successful) goal of thwarting intended terrorist attacks within our nation. The danger comes when this (or anything else) is used as a justification for ever-increasing surveillance and snooping of various kinds.

The latest is as reported here regarding the EU's proposal to monitor any EU citizen merely suspected of being what they term intolerant. Now there's a word with almost unlimited potential scope, rather like offensive. Anyone can be 'offensive' to someone sufficiently determined to be offended – and there seems to be no end of the 'professionally offended' in today's society.

More significantly, this is an easily-decoded attempt to introduce one of the key elements of totalitarianism that we have long known is the EU's (and others') ultimate aim. Its first purpose is to ensure that no-one can oppose whatever the EUrocrats decide to impose. This is a very dangerous move, and must never be allowed to apply to our nation. Perversely (for the EU) it might end up being the single most powerful weapon for the Better Off Out campaign, which is ready for the planned In/Out referendum...

Free Speech, Free Press

Continuing on the same broad theme: the ongoing saga of the post-Leveson legislative outcome rumbles ever onward. I think most of us by now realise that the whole exercise, and especially the Hacked Off campaign group, has ended up being what those behind it always intended: a Left-wing plot to bring the press under State control, as in the former Soviet Union and other places where the press's main business is in promulgating State propaganda.

Fraser Nelson had a useful piece on this in The Mail a few weeks ago, worth reading again now.

As I and others have touched on already, this is also one of the big goals of Common Purpose. There is a somewhat removed supposed link between the Prime Minister and Common Purpose, via a third party organisation, as The Telegraph reports. I can't see that there was any deliberate connection here: indeed, the PM wouldn't have done it this way (if at all, and I suspect probably not) if he had known of the link between the charity of which he is patron and Common Purpose. It just doesn't ring true, to me – but isn't all that significant, in and of itself, because of what might be called the 'extra-stage remove'.

Unfortunately, the failure to declare that patronage for a year – stated to be an administrative oversight – makes it look worse than it almost certainly is. That was not well handled by David Cameron's office!

Guido has all you need to know re Hacked Off's admittedly partly circumstantial political connections (and Medway-based readers might also like to note the semi-direct connection with Medway Labour and their candidate Tristan Osborne) – but there's enough for anyone to recognise the tone and nature of that common ground – and a further clue is the Guardian's support for the proposed regulation, as reported by The Commentator.

Ultimately, any new regulation planned to be imposed by the State needs to fail before it reaches the Statute Book, and instead existing laws should in future be applied properly in situations where there are grounds for believing that the law has been broken. That is the correct approach; and if done properly will work well as both a corrective and a deterrent.


Not some weird (and, frankly, ugly) dance oddity by the likes of the equally ugly Miley Cyrus, but what the mental child Russell Brand has been doing lately. No doubt buoyed up by his return to more positive-sounding (if only just) headlines since the Andrew Sachs affair with Jonathon Ross, he has been putting himself about, at will, on what looks like as many occasions as he could physically manage. Perhaps that's just an illusion...

The no-nonsense Alex Massie has said what I suspect most who have bumped into any of this are already thinking, including that Brand is a 'twerp'. It's enjoyable to read, and on this occasion I really need to add nothing to it here...

It's Alimentary, My Dreary Watson

Although that sub-heading might be a little contrived(!) it does perhaps remind us of the level of activity long associated with Labour's Tom Watson. It has often resembled the lower end of that canal, especially the machinations also involving the likes of Damian McBride and Derek Draper. The Mail has some very interesting revelations from the inside track (or tract!) on Watson's involvement in the Falkirk alleged selection-rigging.

Now, there might be some sour grapes from the eliminated candidate, but there is sufficient detail to indicate that it's probably substantially true. I have personally witnessed some of the same practices in selections here, so I do recognise much of what is being reported. Also, it had become an imposed all-female contest at the short-listing stage, so he couldn't have been chosen anyway (as he is not Jack Dromey, Harriet Harman's husband, who did somehow beat an all-female requirement).


This report by Guy Bentley about his attendance at the CLASS Conference (he explains what that stands for) is illuminating. Old Hands such as myself find none of it at all surprising, having had our own experiences of similar events in decades past – but for the younger generations it's quite eye-opening.

Especially as this event included the likes of Owen Jones and (equally ghastly) Mark Serwotka, it shows much of the true nature – and ignorance-or-dishonesty (probably both) of some of the current high-profile players in Britain's political left-wing. The really sad part is that there are still so many gullible folk around who will just lap up this stuff, despite modern facilities that allow just about anyone to discover the reality quite independently – something no previous generation could do so conveniently, if at all.

On the same day, this puff piece in our local (to me) newspaper appeared for Labour's newly-selected candidate for the Rochester and Strood parliamentary seat, Naushabah Khan. Two big laughs for me on one day!

This is the almost-invisible lady who, when faced with a real challenge (me, for example) runs away and hides when losing the argument. The next thing I know, her tweets are now hidden from public view. No doubt that will change for at least the latter part of the election campaign before reverting back later in May 2015, but her true nature is already known to me and others.

Meanwhile, apart from a few examples of doorstep campaigning with other Medway Labour folk, Ms Khan has no political profile whatsoever, and no personal achievements here that I have been able to discover. Perhaps I have missed something...

When her prime opponent, Mark Reckless, stood in the seat and won it some three years ago, he already had a track record on numerous issues from rail fares and services to saving Rochester Airport, and lots in between. He has built up a very strong record of personal achievement and, in particular, representing his constituents (either all/most of them, or the vast majority where views differ).

This selection does beg the question, though: do Medway Labour really have nothing better to offer? Are their (admittedly not very well attended) selections so starved of even reasonable material that they set the bar so low? In this case, as Mark Reckless' position is near-enough unassailable, it could be that they just wanted a 'paper candidate' who could do with the practical experience of standing, ready for something more serious (probably elsewhere – like Bill Esterson, also from Medway, who went to a safe Labour seat in Merseyside.

I perceive something of a parallel to Labour's Harriet Yeo in the Police and Crime Commissioner election here in Kent a year ago: Labour came third; and I think they might well end up with a repeat performance in Rochester and Strood in May 2015...

Well, I do have more, but I think the above is enough for one week!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Perfectionist Complex, by Luka

You can accept yourself as you are, even though you're not perfect.

Luka explains why (with English subtitles provided by the uploader) in this song, which also has an excellent backing arrangement and a simple style of movie (by yonoP, based on another's image), which is all it needs. Indeed, it works better this way than in any of the other forms we usually encounter, I think.

I have been unable to find a non-Japanese form of the composer's name, but – from the Hiragana characters – it looks like 'Yamikuro'...

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Getting There

Today's Oricon (Japanese) album daily chart has (somewhat predictably) Lady Gaga at number 2, and Avril Lavigne in third place. Just behind them, at number four, is Mitchie-M's The Greatest Idol, featuring Miku!

I think that is quite an achievement, and Vocaloid is really starting to become mainstream. Next, the west..

Deep Sea Miku

This song is about Miku letting herself sink ever deeper into her sea of emotions. There's really no need to worry about the actual words (I'll re-post with them if they appear in English one day), and it is best just to enjoy the spectacle of this rather nice if a little sad song, just as it comes, at least for now...

A Guide to Question Time

For years, the BBC's Question Time political programme has been scrutinised, ever since its apparent left-wing bias became sufficiently obvious to make the more attentive viewers sit up and take notice. It has been worsening ever since, and now considerably larger numbers are commenting on its ever-strengthening leftward slant.

Several people have not only been watching it all closely, but a few (most notably Beeb Bias Craig) have laboriously documented all manner of interesting statistics – such as numbers of interruptions of each panellist by the programme's host, David Dimbleby – and a whole range of other factors.

Here, then is a guide to what is done and how it is done...

The Panel

Usually five members, the odd number so that it can be made lop-sided by including someone who has no relevance to the political scene at all, and is usually a Lefty comedian or similar showbiz figure (this week it's a 'poet and author').

The panel will nearly always have at least three members from the political left (or allied to it, as in the case of the comdian or whoever is in the fifth seat), and they try to specialise in hetting one of the more left-of-party Conservatives on the panel, as often as they can. The same names crop up repeatedly. There will often also be a journalist among the five.

The solitary exception (as far as I have been able to ascertain) is that, once per season, they have it round the other way, to 'prove' that they are 'unbiased' and 'even-handed'. No-one is fooled by this; but it makes it impossible to do anything about it. Smugly, they continue as ever.

The seating arrangement is planned to suit the programme-makers' agenda as well. For example, in this short clip, we see how Labour's Harriet Harman got David Dimbleby to interrupt Conservative Iain Duncan Smith, which was oh-so-easy to do because of how they were positioned...

The Questions

These are, of course, chosen by the BBC production people from the many submitted – which is why the topics they cover are so predictable that at least two websites run a regular contest for their visitors to predict what will come up. Typically the actual subjects will allow for maximum bashing of the Right, will play to the Labour/Green member(s) of the panel, and will echo the BBC's own agenda.

This is why important matters that don't suit their agenda are omitted, and less significant ones can be debated for an inordinately long time. It is not unusual for more than a third of the programme's air time to be taken up dealing just the first question. They always ensure they make time for the frivolous 'final question', which someone in the audience has conveniently provided, without fail every week.

It seems likely that it is either scripted by the producers, or guided by them, in advance. No-one in the audience is going to waste their one chance to ask a question on something lightweight and (often) trivial, after all.

The Audience

These are predominantly public sector workers and students. They are largely brought in on coaches from other areas – which explains why so many called to speak don't have local accents. Certain ones, vetted by (perhaps even invited as personally known to) the producers will be made known to David Dimbleby, who will make sure they are called.. Usually, despite many people indicating are not called at all, one, two or three of these will be called upon twice, though occasionally the second time follows their first speaking bit being to ask one of the chosen questions. Perhaps that's thought to be less blatant..

Somerimes there are a few seats right at the front of the audience seating area, in front of the longer rows, and these are for 'those who must be called'. I think they also provide an occasional steer to David D on something (via gestures or hand signals), off camera but plainly visible to him.

The Chairing

The chairman specialises in selective interruption, attempting to derail any Right-winger on the panel by butting in just after they've started, and repeatedly interrupting. This tends to be done to the Lefties much less. He doesn't usually dare do this too much ro the non-politicians, though, such as David Starkey, I have noticed.

There will also be cutting-off if a Right-wing replay is making too good a point, directly counter to the BBC's own preferred message, if he can get away with it.

Generally, there will be an obvious (i.e. it's easy to see it being set up) ambush, prepared in advance, on any Conservative MP (or equivalent) panellist. Sometimes there are two; but it's easy to spot what is going on, once you have watched a few of these programmes, and to work out how it was devised.

In Conclusion

There is a lot more, but the above gives the flavour, and some detail. It will certainly make some of the more puzzling aspects of the show (and it is a show, literally) more understandable, when one realises that the whole purpose of it is to promote the BBC's own political agenda, and that is its sole purpose. That includes helping Labour, Greens and the like look good, giving them a relatively friendly platform, 'Tory-bashing', and messages on such matters as public spending vs 'the cuts', Israel/Palestinians, and lots of others

It's all obvious when you pay attention to what they are trying to feed the viewing public. It works; so the formula has remained the same for years – though the degree of bias has continually intensified, as it has throughout the Corporation's news and politics departments, and probably elsewhere as well.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Puzzle, by Luka

For Luka fans, here's the magnificent lady performing Puzzle in a city centre – but with no audience. They must all be at their workplaces, otherwise I'm sure there'd be a crowd watching and listening. The clock shows 1:25, so lunch break is just about over, and it's looking like rain might be on the way as well, from those dark clouds. The people have all gone now. We've got her all to ourselves!

This really benefits from being switched to High Definition; so if your system and connection can cope, it's something I'd recommend...


This is one of the components of that complex tapestry that comprises the totality of a nation's economic and employment success (or failure), but because of the significance of several other aspects, it tends not to come into the public consciousness to anywhere near the same extent.

By 'underemployment' is meant those who are in work, but for fewer hours than they'd desire. Usually it refers to part-time workers who wish to go full-time. There is a simple graph covering the years from 2000 to the present (2013); but as I don't know its copyright status I am just providing a link to it.

The figures are interesting, though, especially when separated out into those for the Labour years in government and those from when the Coalition took over during 2010. As the majority of that was in the Coalition period, I am including that year's figure in their table below. Note that, for fairly obvious reasons, there is a lag between a government's actions affecting the nation's economy and its impact on underemployment (among other things it affects).

UPDATE 6 November: the lag effect also shows clearly in the employment percentage data, as this graph covering the best part of three decades shows. When one puts in mental markers where the government changed, and checks the trends leading up to those points, it all drops into place.

Here, then, are the figures (in millions of employees) for the Labour years from 2000, thus starting at what I understand was the tail-end of the reduction in underemployment levels inherited from the John Major government...
  • 2000 – 2·1
  • 2001 – 1·8
  • 2002 – 1·9
  • 2003 – 1·8
  • 2004 – 1·8
  • 2005 – 1·8
  • 2006 – 1·9
  • 2007 – 2·0
  • 2008 – 2·1
  • 2009 – 2·7
Note the rocketing upward at the very end of that list.; and as we now know from the 'boom and bust' history of that period, no doubt it was set to continue to rise (along with a number of other negatives) once the impact of 2008 has really bitten.

Now for the Coalition Government years, to date...
  • 2010 – 2·7
  • 2011 – 2·8
  • 2012 – 3·0
  • 2013 – 3·1
Yes, it has actually slowed instead, and perhaps more or less halted. We might even see a period of reduction again, now that our economy is in what I am calling a 'mini-boom'..

This is really good news, as this is perhaps underestimated as an economic indicator. While not at big as the headline-grabbers, it should nonetheless be heeded and not pushed largely out of the national awareness.

I for one shall be watching this in future years, and periodically noting trends and progress. The present change not only of trend line but of 'gut feel' is what expects under a Conservative government, even one in coalition, so all this isn't exactly a surprise. It is, though, still a valuable ingredient in building up one's mental picture of how our economy is shaping up and where it is heading.

Voice, by Snow Miku

This is an interesting video, featuring not only the regular Miku but also (and as the lead character) the full size Snow Miku from 2011, which is the year this was produced. The most observant will notice straight away that, although the song is Voice, the stage and motion have been 'borrowed' from Depression of Cybernetics.

No English words have been provided; but this is so stark and visually arresting a video that it's worth viewing just as-is: the song seems to complement the imagery perhaps surprisingly well...

Monday, 4 November 2013

Miku and Friends at Gateshead

This is all but the first few songs of the Gateshead concert put on by MikuUK (or 'UK39' as they now prefer to be called), video-ed from within the (somewhat chatty at times) audience. Yes, the focus drifts from time to time, but it gives a good idea of how it went.

Actually, for a fan-based vocaloid concert, it's quite good, and some is really good. Rin and Len at the start are rendered extremely clearly, brightly, and do have a three-dimensional appearance that is getting on for as good as one gets at the official events.

The motion is generally good quality, if a little unambitious much of the time (these aren't the 'official' motions for these songs) and in a couple of numbers Miku appears to be rollerblading (that 'sliding feet syndrome' I have discussed before), but overall it's a good effort. More motion capture would make a world of difference, rather than trying to create motions by bone manipulation(!)

The live band is welcome, and are quite good, though unsurprisingly not in the league of the now-legendary 39s who performed at several of the big concerts in Japan in 2011 and (I think) early 2012. The sound mix is nearly always excellent, unusually well done, I'd say. It is clear that the whole team has put a lot of hard and dedicated work into their events, in fact, breaking new ground for us here in the UK.

Anyway, here's 35 minutes of the Gateshead event, which I hope you'll enjoy despite the technical issues of focus and audience chat in places...

Screen Captures of the Day – 4 November 2013

This is a new occasional feature to 'snapshot' instants from the music videos I might (or might not) have featured on the 'blog. The reason for doing so is to allow us to more fully appreciate the costumes, models or whatever else stands out, without having to cope with an ever-changing and move sene.

Today I have for you Miku from doriko's Romeo and Cinderella, and SeeU from Dr.Yun's Star. Clicking on an image will, as usual, display it at full size...

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Some Survive

Pubs, in this case. I have just been reminding myself (in Google Street View) or where, years ago, I'd sometimes encounter some cats in a particular road in Wimbledon. This is (and was then) Merton Hall Road, which comes out opposite the hospital where I was born – the Nelson Hospital in Kingston Road.

On that junction was Ye Olde Leather Bottel; and the pub' is still there, or at least it was the last time the Google camera car passed that way last year, so it's probably a safe bet. Its updated but less stylish name signs now say simply 'Leather Bottle', so in a sense it has both changed its name and kept it the same!

Turn right into Kingston Road and carry on along to the railway bridge at Wimbledon Station, and just beyond, on the left, is a less happy story. The Emma Hamilton is now boarded up. It was still there, and obviously running as it always had, when the camera car had passed that way before, as I could tell, having known the place from the outside since my youth – and inside from when I was eighteen, back in 1967.

It was old then, so had been able to keep going for many decades.

The primary reason being cited for pub' closures is Labour's somewhat ham-fisted smoking ban, and no doubt this was the cause here too. It took some places longer than others to finally give up after trying to keep going one way or another, and it has to be said that the 'Emms' (as we locals knew the place) did well to last this long – but now it's gone...

I have said before, on more than one occasion, that when a country has a corrupt law that treats some of those people or things it is deemed to cover in a different way from the others, any change to other laws, regulations, taxes or whatever will be almost certain to generate perverse effects. Tobacco products should have been included with all the other drugs many, many years ago; then this and other oddball results wouldn't have been on the cards in the first place. There wouldn't have been a need for a selective (i.e. in certain places only) smoking ban at all.

Similarly to the Emms, the Britannia close to Chatham Station and not far from my present home has also been struggling for some time. The previous landlord tried introducing all sorts of innovations and tweeted the (necessarily brief) details. Then he went a few months ago – but now it too is closed and looks as though it might be permanent, so his replacement obviously wasn't successful either.

The world is always moving on, of course; and interestingly – back at the Leather Bottle – the restaurant on the opposite corner was once a Tapas Bar. That lasted only a couple of years or so, and it has changed a few times since. It is currently Thai cuisine.

A few doors down was Sagar Tandoori. Sagar sold the business to Shamas who ran Zayka in Ealing, and it became the second Zayka. I advised Shamas and supported his excellent eaterie strongly, including getting no less than Fay Maschler to visit and write a review in her regular newspaper feature.

Again, like the Emms, after a long innings – almost twenty years by my reckoning – Zayka in Wimbledon has closed, similarly between the earlier visit of the Google camera car and its latest sweep through the area. Intriguingly, it is now, of all things, a Tapas Bar!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Doctor Who Proms 2013

As this embeddable video of excerpts from this year's concert has remained available for more than two months now ( I have been watching), it seems that it is safe to post it here.

It is actually very good indeed, especially after around forty minutes in, from which point some very good material fills the second half of this recording. You really won't want to miss this, especially if you remember the classic series.

As Matt Smith might say: "Trust me: I'm the Doctor!"

VocaJazz – Stamp by Gumi

We've never had Gumi in the VocaJazz slot before, so although there are no English words with this, it's just so pleasant and relaxing that I think most people will enjoy it just as is.

There are some small images that appear from time to time, but I have no idea how they relate to the song(!) Perhaps one day I'll find out and be able to explain it all...

Friday, 1 November 2013

Weekly Political Digest – 1 November 2013

It has been another of those busy weeks, so I'll have to be selective or this will end up too long for comfortable reading – not that the content necessarily makes for comfortable reading, of course, but I try to temper it with my own thoughts and experiences...

A Knock for Nick

Actually, several over the past two weeks; but this from Guido shows the Lib Dem leader's apparent dual standards when it comes to his own education as against his public stance against Michael Gove's education reforms. It's that question of 'unqualified' teachers – in reality, those not indoctrinated into the politically-driven 'training' style of the (as is now widely known) Lefty 'profession'.

That's what this whole debate is really about: it has nothing to do with standards and quality, only about control by political interests, as generations of unqualified teachers have shown. Nick Clegg himself is an example of the outcome of that freedom. There are times when qualifications are of value, but this turns out not only to be one of the exceptions, but also to be long-established.

While we're looking at hapless Nick, just a few days earlier Fraser Nelson was looking at this and other aspects of the Lib Dems and the behaviour of that party and its leader. It's Fraser in his telling-it-as-he-finds-it mode, and well worth reading throughout.

On a Lib Dem related matter, also in the Speccie on the same day, James Forsyth considered what David Cameron needs to offer Nick Clegg in order to keep the minor partner in the Coalition on board.

Now, if they had done what I outlined a while ago, this wouldn't be an issue for much longer, and the remaining programme of joint work should be well established. Remember: I (and a few others) thought that the two parties could start to separate into more distinct entities in their own right, starting from the recent conference season. Indeed, we have already seen fairly strong signs of that happening.

The idea is to reach a point whereby all the pre-election initiatives and legislation are either now complete or are currently going through the necessary stages, from now on, and nothing brand new (except for emergencies) should suddenly appear at this relatively late stage in the parliamentary five-year term. I'm reasonably confident that this is exactly how it has all been set up, behind the scenes, by the two party leaders.

Expect the separation to be made decisive and unambiguous by next year's autumn conference season, by when only tidying-up and minor (uncontroversial) legislative matters should be all that's left to be done before the May 2015 election. Meanwhile, as James says, the Conservatives in particular need to construct their manifesto – and it looks like it's already well in progress...


In the ongoing saga of the UNITE Union, news of the intimidation techniques used by their so-called Leverage Team has reached the public awareness. It is noteworthy that they feel fully justified in applying such techniques, and have all the excuses ready. Of course, as the civilised world realises, only the lowest of the low would even contemplate such tactics, and only absolute trash would put them into practice.

The term 'Commie filth' didn't come about as a nasty insult devised especially for that purpose: it came into being from experience of what such types do in pursuance of their own agenda, here and anywhere else in the world. Put yourself in the position of someone on the receiving end – or, even more pertinently, one of their children.

There is no excuse in the Universe for that behaviour; and I think it might need to be treated as a much more serious offence than it is at present. Society should not be in effect encouraging this through a light-touch penal code.

I don't know how many members have now left the Union as a result of this (and all the other nasties that have been going on for years), but here's the story of one. Clearly noone with a shred of decency can now be a member of such an outfit – which tells us something about those who still are members and who have no plans to even consider leaving. Although I have no wish to turn the tables on them, it would be interesting to know how they'd respond if that did happen. Boot on the other foot, and all that...

The ongoing Falkirk candidate selection row continues this week with another delightful inside-track piece from former Labour member Dan Hodges. A batch of leaked emails has told much of the real story anyway, and it fell to the likes of Dan to write-up their significance, along with all the rest that has been going on during this unhappy (and hugely embarrassing, mostly for Labour) saga.

He correctly deduces, from the evidence now before us, that it is Ed[ward] Miliband whose personal reputation stands to take the greatest hit, rather than his party or even the Union that seemingly tried to rig the selection. As someone who has personally encountered selection rigging, I am very much alert to and cognisant of those methods described and other tactics used (only!) by the corrupt with their own agendas.

During all of the above, the ever-wily Jack Straw MP tried distancing himself from that Union, as this short video clip shows. Not that he was telling us anything we didn't already know, of course(!) Whether anyone believes his new-found stance is a matter for conjecture; but it's useful to have this on the record from a long-standing Labour MP, no matter how dubious his true motives!

Newman is the same old (Labour/Commie) man

Red Ed (Miliband) will continue to be unable to shake off that description while he is still subservient to the likes of UNITE's Len McCluskey, and also while he is ineffective at dealing with the numerous hard left (indeed, Communist) types firmly embedded within the Labour party and including both current elected members and those selected to stand in 2015. This is the story of one of the hopefuls.

To be blunt I have to say that it differs in no practical measure from those I have seen non-stop appearing within the Labour ranks and being picked as candidates, often getting elected (typically in safe Labour seats, but not only in those). Labour has, throughout most of its existence, been a Communist-style party with a very cleverly-manufactured public face to make it less obvious, and that certainly hasn't changed in the nearly forty months since Ed-M took on the party leadership.

Indeed, it has become the norm once again, and not even as well camouflaged as in earlier times – although that isn't helped by modern technology: it is much more difficult to conceal such truths nowadays, so it isn't necessarily down to poorer standards of deception. The example of Andy Newman will be just 'more of the same old Labour' to seasoned veterans like me; but might be more shocking to the younger generations who didn't live through the Foor/Scargill/Wilson (and the rest) years.

To anyone in that position, I can assure you that we've seen it all before, and it is and more-or-less always has been the true face of Labour, despite the veneer of seeming respectability and moderation they try to slap over the red rot to hide it from public view. They are just as totalitarian in nature as those running North Korea right now, and Labour-run governments have always headed in a similar direction, as is nowadays a lot better documented – and more easily publicly visible – than it was in my younger days..

Don't squander the advantage this generation has over mine: learn the lessons and learn them well! Today's world has not only better prospects of understanding the reality, but also has no real excuse for not doing so.

Completely Up The Poll

Jusr a brief mention of this very useful post from Dr Anthony Wells about misleading headlines to reports of and discussions of opinion polls. Long-term visitors to my 'blog will already be aware of how I always play it straight with everything I write, including polling news. The message here is not to be lulled into believing that all others act with such integrity when dealing with the same topic.

The good Dr Wells (whom I have met and talked to at some length) puts the record straight on a couple of recent examples of misleading headlines, and in the process reminds us to be sufficiently alert not to be taken in by such practices.

The Tommy-Knockers

It has been standard big media practice to 'knock' the English Defence League (EDL) and its founder Tommy Robinson. When said Mr Robinson decided to quit the EDL they media hacks and editors must have been in paroxysms of ecstasy: their boat had come in!

In reality, the EDL for all its many faults was never anything like the outfit it was portrayed to be, and some have cited considerable evidence – sometimes backed up with hard-to-challenge photographics records of what actually did happen at EDL meet-ups – that reminded one of the anti-Israel reporting that has been thoroughly documented in other 'blogs for years (I have studied much of that material myself).

Despite all of that, the EDL was known to attract the less idealistic and more thuggish elements of society – I'm sure not by design, and it was just an unfortunate side-effect – so there is some valid criticism of them 'out there'. Much, however, plainly isn't justified. I have been watching the scene for a couple of years now, so have become reasonably well clued-up on what is and what isn't accurate in the various reports I have encountered.

Daniel Hannan MEP has his own take on what he perceives to be a symbiotic style of relationship between the EDL, the Islamists (often a..k.a. Islamo-Fascists or, in the Hannan piece, Islamo-nutters) and even the ironically-named Unite Against Fascism (UAF) folk. By appreciating how all sides act at times, Dan paints what I think is not only a more comprehensive picture of this whole sorry business, but also a more helpful one than others tend to offer.

As for Tommy Robinson's departure from the EDL, this was recently covered in a BBC documentary. Ah, I can already hear alarm bells ringing in my readers' heads! Yes, you are right to be suspicious, though the BBC did a generally good job. However there were other aspects that need bringing to people's awareness – and Douglas Murray has done just that. As one might by now expect of Douglas, he covers not only all you need to know about the programme and its main Islamic participant in typical thoroughness, and then goes on to look at deeper questions.

It's fairly long; but I think you will find the time reading it through time well spent and 9as with Dan) helpful; and that is what we need most in regard to a topic that is somewhat sensitive and prone to misunderstanding and misrepresentation, including of its most media-visible players.

On The Record

Coming closer to home, I usually like to feature at least one item from my local area and (more often than not) its council. This week, it is the initiative by Eric Pickles to allow the public to record Council meetings in sound and/or video, perhaps including committees as well..

Of course, this will not become law for a little while, owing to parliamentary and legal procedures, and at this early stage no-one knows what will even be proposed, let alone finally passed into law or equivalent. Therefore it is hardly surprising that Medway Council did not permit recording by the public of a recent Overview and Scrutiny meeting.

This has infuriated local Labour, who (several weeks ago, a full three weeks before the policy proposal had even been announced) were planning to make and use such a recording for purely party political reasons (as everyone realised at the time, apart from any dullards if indeed any were present), and they are – predictably – having a go at the 'wicked Tories' for refusing such permission.

It also has to be said: if Labour now say "it’s wholly wrong for people not being able to record or film in public meetings", why did they do nothing whatsoever about this during their thirteen years in government? It has taken the Coalition Government just three years (barely a quarter of Labour's tenure) to come up with such a proposal: one that Labour clearly never actually wanted – at least until they could see a way of turning it to their own political advantage.

As always but always with Labour, what is dressed up as being in the 'public' interest is in reality pushed by them only when it is in their interest – nothing to do with the public at all...

Honey Sweet

Now that the clocks have been changed (here in Blighty, anyway) and Hallowe'en is over for another year, it's time to resume my VocaJazz programme for these dark, atmospheric evenings.

Here is Miku with Honey Sweet, which suits her voice quite well – though if I were doing the sound mix I'd raise her voice channel about four decibels. Sadly there are no English words with this, but it is still very enjoyable just as a musical experience, and to get us all back in the mood for the new season of VocaJazz...

Trick OR Treat

As I have been reading that there are still folk going out this evening, trick-or-treating, here's my own treat for y'all. It's Danceroid with a most apt (multi-vocaloid) song and routine.

As a bonus item, we also get to see them play musical chairs, if you leave the video running after the song has ended...