Monday 29 December 2014

Pre-Election Coalition Divide

As I (and a few others) have been saying for a year or more, once the autumn party conference season was over,the coalition partners have been going their own ways in the run-up to next May's General Election. Thus it comes as no surprise to find 'big name' Liberal Democrats putting out their party's lines, and indeed it is what I'd expect them to do.

There are, however, difficulties inherent in this approach if it isn't handled well – and it seems to be being poorly managed, at least in places. There is one glaring example of this that has come to media notice and which could be very damaging for the party's chances in the election – and their hopes aren't exactly high as it is.

This is the case of David Laws, the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury who was compelled to resign from that position owing to what might be termed 'expenses.irregularities'. It is not a good idea to deploy him so publicly in the first place, as his past will be brought up in hostile reporting, but even worse when he has to trot out his party's lefty-at-heart lines about 'the cuts' to public expenditure.

What he has apparently been saying completely contradicts his (very public) stance while he was in that former office and, then, in a position to know the reality. He isn't now, except second-hand from his replacement, Danny Alexander. He will now be perceived as two-faced, and putting party dogma above truth and the interests of the country. This will also most likely curtail his political career.

I'm sure Lib Dems reading this will try to find ways to disagree; but if the boot were on the other foot and they were aware of someone in another party doing exactly the same, their attitude would suddenly be very different. That, I believe, is more-or-less the dictionary definition of hypocrisy.

However, apart from David and Danny, they have no authoritative-seeming voices on economic matters; and if they tried to push this topic onto another member of their senior team it'd come across as odd and with less 'clout' – so they are rather stuck!

Of course, if they were to grow up as a party and throw out the Lefty dogma, then this issue vanishes – and they can still maintain their essential differences from other parties on a number of important issues, which is healthier for British politics as well. I can't see this happening, sadly, so again they are going to come across as a party of deceivers and will fare badly next May, probably losing a number of parliamentary seats in the process.

The national approach is also likely to harm the chances of local council candidates who are standing this year, including in my own home borough of Medway. They are already down to three members here, out of the 55 councillors we have – easily their lowest proportion (below six percent) of the available seats since the current council was created (and first elected for) in 1997.

They could be wiped out by their party's national perception caused by their campaign methodology for the General Election, doing a disservice to their local members, candidates and supporters. We already saw very recently, in the Rochester & Strood by-election, just how few votes they are now get, even when fielding a long-experienced candidate who has been the leader of their council group for years.

Once they gofrom the Council, if that does indeed happen, it will be very difficult to come back in future: it is essentially a one-way street to oblivion. Only they can do something about that, by I don't think they will.

Thursday 25 December 2014


My (long time ago) acquaintances Steeleye Span are probably best known for their Christmas song Gaudete ('Rejoice'). Although  there are a few minor 'oddities' in the Latin, the meaning is clear enough – and here we have it all translated into English as if it had been written entirely correctly.

I can still recall the moment in the artistes' bar at Brighton Pavilion, listening to Maddy Prior's then unborn child in her tummy, just minutes before the six went out onto the stage to perform. That child must have had a wonderful time, having Maddy's superb, clear voice vibrating through her in the womb, being regularly treated to something that the rest of us would have encountered live like that only rarely, if ever...

Saturday 20 December 2014

Learning the Lesson

As I am fond of saying, there are essentially two ways to learn something: the easy way, and the hard way. I prefer the latter, as it hurts more so gets learned good and hard, rather than lasting only a short time and then the same mistake is repeated.

Despite that, I'd still save people all of that if they'd learn to accept what I write and say (as the majority do), even if it takes them outside their 'comfort zone' and causes them to re-appraise their own thinking. Those with fixed personal and corporate agendas usually cannot do this, or at best are so unwilling to do so that there is no point in pressing the matter, whatever it might be.

If I wanted to show how 'clever' I have seemed to be in recent years, I could easily list a whole range of statements, predictions and other pracle-like pronouncements I have been making consistently, and we could now easily see just how many of them have already panned out and others are obviously heading toward doing the same. Undoubtedly there are a few that didn't (such as the Lib Dem polling recovery after the 2014 Party Conference season – though there are signs, if too late to be very useful, of that now starting to happen) but it all goes to show that anyone with sme insight and a decent brain can work out what is likely to happen next, and why.

But no: the people always know best, and even I have been labelled as 'biased' (waits for everyone to stop laughing) if I dare to suggest anything that doesn't fit their worldview.

Thus I have been working mostly on getting people to think more for themselves, rather than (one might think) spoon-feeding them on this 'blog. What I have done here over the years was necessary, in order to lay down the proper foundation ahead of the period that is so soon to come.

That I did in considerable detail, but – as long-term readers will recall – wasn't with slanted, manipulated or fake materials to push a preferred view, but as openly as I could, so that readers were in a position to evaluate a situation for themselves. I might have guided the style of thinking, but it wasn't my way, by and large, to steer people's thinking in a specific, fixed direction. Occasionally there was a single, important issue that needed to dominate, but not often.

It was thus that, for unrelated reasons, I considered taking down  older material. The world had moved on anyway, and some of what was in that huge number of political posts was no doubt by then out of date in some specifics. Ultimately, though, the time had come for my readership to move on too – and, to be fair to them, they have done so. If they ever truly needed me at all, they certainly don't now – not in the way I had been posting. They've grown up...

So, where does that leave us? Should I still post the occasional political post here? I think so; and it is important to keep that option open. Others in this area, and elsewhere, are continuing to provide their own insights and experiences, and that has improved noticeably in my home area over the past two years – which is one reason why I have been happy to take more of a back seat approach over that period.

Folk are going to have to learn their own lessons, as in practice they always have when it comes right down to it, and it is as I have predicted: that those who have tried to fool us with easy and convenient 'sales pitches', when Police and Crime Commissioner candidates or upcoming political parties, these and others are coming unstuck and greater public/media exposure is revealing to the masses what some of us have known all along.

In the final analysis, all will be well...

Saturday 29 November 2014

UKIP Are Knocking

Yes, that title sounds like an old song...

I don't write about UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) very much, partly because I don't like to give them the oxygen of publicity, but also because I am fairly relaxed about them. I know that their time will pass, as it generally does for cult-of-personality parties (those revolving around, and dominated by, their leader and that leader's personality) such as Robert Kilroy-Silk and his defunct Veritas party, and George Galloway and his vestigial Respect party.

Eventually people wake up to the fact that they have been duped by a clever 'sales pitch' – as has been happening (exactly as I predicted all along) with the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, and is happening with UKIP converts, such as James Delinpole. He was one of those I expected to wake up to the truth before too long: I gave him two years, but it actually took him less than a year to turn against his new political home, at least for a while.

Here, in Rochester and Strood, it has taken much less time than that for the rot to set in. Just days after being re-elected as MP, this time as a UKIP candidate, Mark Reckless started to learn one of the many truths about UKIP that some of us have known for years. The following was in regard to immigration...

Mark Reckless (Tuesday 18 November 2014)...

"In the near term we'd have to have a transitional period, and I think we should probably allow people who are currently here to have a work permit at least for a fixed period."

Nigel Farage (Wednesday 19 November 2014)...

"We believe that anyone who has come to Britain legally has the right to remain."

Mark Reckless (Saturday 22 November 2014)...

"Until Nigel changed it on Wednesday, the policy of the party was everyone can stay for the transitional period, no doubt about that, that there would then be a permanent arrangement which would be part of the EU negotiation. The policy changed on Wednesday and I'm a bit sore about how I came out of that."

Interesting: Nigel Farage's on-the-hoof statements are immediately accepted as the party's policy. Not that this is anything new: Farage is on TV station video stating that the party's previous general election manifesto was "complete drivel", once again demonstrating who serves whom in UKIP because of that one person's dominance. This is the way dictators come into being, as history illustrates all too often.

Inevitably, UKIP turns out, at its core, to be a largely left-wing party. (and was created by a left-winger, Alan Sked) though this is camouflaged to some extent by having oft-changing policies that – if they were at any moment to be plotted on the two-dimensional Political Compass diagram – would produce a 'scattergun' effect all over the chart.

The only party UKIP continually attack is the Conservative Party – only token (and rare) attacks are made on any other parties specifically. They are also especially nasty, particularly their 'agents' (supposedly ordinary party members, though I do wonder sometimes) on social media and comment threads at newspapers and the like. It is all very reminiscent of the paid 'trolls' that Labour employed to do the same thing – and probably still do, though I haven't seen the classic ones such as David Dee and Hazel Tree for a while now.

I have previously discussed how UKIP is essentially a party of 'posturers and deceivers' as I usually put it, giving it all the yakkety-yak but not interested in doing the work. One UKIP MEP has what I suspect is the lowest attendance record in the European Parliament of just nine percent, while even Nigel Farage – who uses it primarily as a personal platform – has just a 37% record. They are, however, very good at just one thing – and that is taking money from the public purse.

Fortunately, attendance and voting records (and UKIPpers, when they do bother to vote – which isn't all that often – tend to vote against Britain's interests) and their allowances/expenses claims are all on the public record, so can be easily checked.

So, why have UKIP been on the rise during the past two or three years? Are people really that gullible?

As history will show, it was the appointment of Ed[ward] Miliband as Labour party leader that indirectly produced UKIP's rise, because when the more influential anti-Conservative sources realised that it meant that Labour now had only a very small hope of winning the next General Election, they came at it from the opposite direction.

They tried to find someone who – with a lot of active promotion and generalised 'bigging up' – could deprive a number of Conservatives of their seats. I could name names here, those I have observed doing just that, completely disproportionately, trying almost desperately hard to create a self-fulfilling prophecy regarding UKIP. Well, they succeeded – for now. It cannot and will not last...

The basis/background of all of what I have written here has been known to me for years. Ever since UKIP came head-hunting me, and I thus had the opportunity to find out more about them than they have ever realised, I knew the truth. Being me, I naturally modelled all future paths I could imagine were feasible, depending upon the likely fortunes of UKIP in the mix, and found that they will converge at a point a number of years in the future.

UKIP's time will pass, and their long-term impact on the British political scene will turn out to have been of no real consequence.

Thus the reality is that old scenario of the two ways to learn a lesson: the easy (and usual much quicker) way, or the hard way. The UKIP by-election win in Rochester & Strood shows that, yet again, the voters have chosen the hard way – but the benefit of this is that, when they finally do wake up to reality, they will learn that lesson good and hard, and won't forget it in a hurry!

Thursday 27 November 2014

Press Matters

Here and there over the past couple of years I have been encountering complaints by opposition councillors on Medway Council regarding the bi-monthly magazine that goes out to our households in the borough: Medway Matters. They have even referred it to the Secretary of State (SofS), claiming it is in breach of what is called the Publicity Code for Local Authorities.

Now, I am no expert on that code, but – although I have long-standing concerns with the publication – I doubt that it is actually in breach, and even if so, only marginally, which could be easily remedied with specific guidance from the SofS's office.

I do believe it to be, in parts, a little too close to being a Cabinet-dominated vehicle for that select band of councillors (just ten of the 55 elected members), as an inspection of a couple of recent years' worth of issues will reveal. For anyone with the time to spare and sufficient interest, I'd suggest going through all of the back issues for, say, the last five years for a more complete assessment.

However I do see that one charge thatis being made, if not strongly, is that because it takes in-house (i.e. the council's own) advertising – which helps fund it by the way – this is connected with the plight of our local press. This is specious, as the reason both local and national printed media are losing circulation is because more and more people are reading their news, sport and the rest of what appears in such publications not in print form, but on-line. This applies all around the country, not just here in Medway, where it has to be said all three such local news print outlets run busy websites themselves.

Although the graph at this page is a good year and a half out of date, the trend for all national UK newspapers is clear and has continued since, as Guido and others have periodically reported.

For example, the Kent on Sunday is still going strong, but it long ago dropped most of its YourMedway type publications, which were editorially identical to the Sunday product anyway, apart from pages 1 and 2 which were the only pages covering the specified area. I soon bored on reading mainly about what had happened in Maidstone or Ashford or Dover. The only other newspaper that was then still available was Your Tunbridge Wells(!)

The point here, though, is that almost all other areas in the county were similarly affected, thereby taking the Medway Matters element completely out of the equation: it is a red herring. Different, but not dissimilar in this core point, stories apply to the Messenger and News, the latter now publishing on-line only, and in a joint 'Medway and Maidstone' form.

If one looks at the amount the council 'spends' on its advertising in Medway Matters in a recent year, it's around £20,000 – which represents a drop in the ocean relative to even a local newspaper's annual advertising revenue. In fact, the council still advertises some things in the local press anyway (because it is more appropriate, for legal reasons, or something else that requires it), probably much more than the above amount, so the effect of 'Matters' is even less pronounced than might be assumed at first glance.

No: the real reason the opposition councillors don't like the council's magazine is because they don't have any editorial control over it. As we know from all left-wing régimes, and even many Labour-run councils, they are always dependent on propaganda in order to get any votes from outside their core activist and support base.

This is why, when the boot is on the other foot in such councils, there can be a much more serious issue with council publications and related matters (of which there are a fair number, by the way: it's not just magazines) and I have learned of quite a few of these. I might be quiet on this 'blog nowadays – though that might change soon, as we have local as well as national elections coming – but I am never idle, and my sources feed me all manner of solid evidence about what (usually) Labour-run councils are up to, in many ways.

Thus the months to come could again be very interesting on these pages – but I haven't yet decided how to play this January-to-May 2015 period of activity here, or even if I shall participate at all. By the end of the year I should have a clearer idea on that; but in the meantime this post is a reminder of my traditional myth-and-spin debunking style that many will well remember...

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Reckless Abandon

I have deliberately been reserved (though not completely silent) on the matter of Mark Reckless's defection from the Conservatives to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). With what has happened since, and pressure from a few to put something on the record 'lest I be perceived as fudging it', here is the complete scenario in several parts. It will be quite long, but I hope will make for worthwhile reading. Let's start at the beginning...

Was it a surprise when Mark Reckless jumped ship?

Not really. Once his good buddy of many years, Douglas Carswell, made the jump, I immediately surmised that Mark would follow after Douglas had checked out 'the lie of the land', so to speak. Indeed, I suspect they had been planning all of this for some time.

Thus, when I was out that day to pay a courtesy visit to an event in the Lower Lines Park in Gillingham, and local Labour councillor Adam Price came up to me and announced that Mark's jump was just then being rumoured, I simply said to him 'So there goes another one!" as casually as you like. It was no great surprise to me.

Was he ever a true Conservative?

Probably not. The Spectator realised this back in 2005, when they supported all but one of the then Conservative candidates – the exception being Mark Reckless. They even wrote an open letter to the the Labour incumbent Bob Marsahall-Andrews, saying that he was 'more of a Conservative than Mark Reckless.'

I was never taken in either. Although I didn't know of that letter at the time (in fact, not until a few weeks ago!) when I was involved in the final three rounds of the candidate selection process for the 2010 General Election, I never once voted for him. Too shifty and calculating, his body language and voice spoke volumes to me...

Why was it timed thus?

The crucial factor was calling the by-election; and within six months of a General Election (either anticipated, or now – with fixed Parliamentary terms – a near-certain date) it is not required to hold a by-election, so it had to be at least a little over that time.

Fortunately for him, this fitted in well with the UKIP conference dates, so he was able to sneak off to Doncaster and make his announcement there, while still just over six months before the scheduled General Election date.

Why have a by-election at all?
It costs a six-figure sum and causes disruption and inconvenience.

There has been no real answer provided to this. There has certainly been no compelling reason offered to show why this suddenly became 'necessary' or even desirable. The correct way to have handled it would have been for Mark Reckless to resign the Conservative whip and sat as an Independent MP for the remaining six months, stating his intention to re-stand next May but for UKIP.

That would have been the honourable thing to do.

Failing that, he could have taken the same route as he has, but letting everyone who needed to know in advance. Instead, as several sources have reported (and it is easy to deduce from events) he lied to people's faces, and simply walked away from his constituency business, leaving those with enquiries and other matters with his office completely in the dark as to what was going to happen.

I had a few of those on to me, asking if I could intervene (a lot of people around here don't know that I am no longer active in the party or on the Council) in order that their business could be handled – but Tracey Crouch picked up the pieces and has taken over all that casework. With some advance warning, Tracey might have had a chance to recruit additional staff to help manage this doubled workload for the duration, but that obviously never came into the Reckless consciousness. He had simply abandoned them...

As far as the by-election per se is concerned, Mark could hardly avoid it once he had decided not to just resign the Whip, as Douglas had already gone the resignation/by-election route and it would have been really awkward for Mark not to do the same. The precedent had been set.

Why did he do it?

We might never know the true, full answer to that; but from what has happened, how it was done and his behaviour both before and after, we can deduce far and away the most likely reason. This also fits in with what Douglas Carswell did, and that was probably for exactly the same reason.

When you're out here in the constituency, you are the 'big fish in the pond'.
 When you get to the House of Commons and are surrounded by hundreds of others in your own party, you feel much smaller. Now, many of those are getting promotions while you are being left behind.

As well-reputed 'rebels' Messrs Carswell and Reckless will obviously have realised that they were consigned to careers spent entirely on the backbenches while they remain in a party where they are considered to be 'malcontents' or similar, and where there is plenty of choice to fill vacancies on promotion.

As the same-size fish in a tiny pond, they will now have much greater prominence (assuming Mark gets re-elected, which might well happen, at least for this six-month spell) and will be their new party's official spokesmen on this, that and everything else. Even if there should be an influx of UKIP MPs next May (unlikely, but not impossible) they will be entrenched and established. They will keep their positions.

Thus we can see why they took this particular route. If they had not been specifically 'UKIP MPs' until next May, they'd be vying with any other new UKIP electees for position. Thus the bottom line is, and always was, personal ambition. Principles probably never really came into it, apparent from perhaps incidentally, despite the hype. I'd say this scenario is a near-certainty, and the way they handled it shows this very clearly, once one takes a few moments to analyse it all.

Will he get back in?

Possibly. The local electorate still haven't yet fully woken up to the error they made with the Police and Crime Commissioner – though, as I have mentioned before (and confided to several people for more a good two years) that is happening. I suspect they'll make exactly the same mistake again, falling for the easy and oh-so-convenient sales pitch and the (pseudo!) 'non-establishment' line in particular. Of course it's all nonsense, but the public-at-large don't get it – not yet...

So, why are UKIP doing so well in polls and various elections?

This one is easy, but it needs some recent historical knowledge within the punditry to fully understand.

Once Ed[ward] Miliband became the Labour party leader, everyone and his dog immediately realised that Labour were not going to be able to win the next General Election on their own mettle. It was therefore around that time, realising that the Liberal Democrats were now a spent force and seeing their ratings plummet, that those with a specifically anti-Conservative agenda started looking for an alternative approach.

Shortly after, some influential sources started pushing UKIP very, very hard – and some of us noticed this at the time and since. I could name names here, but will merely drop a hint to one such: 'PB'. It is obvious that these pundits and similar were building-up UKIP a long way beyond their actual standing at the time or their unaided future prospects.

The reasoning was simple: they were purportedly right-wing and anti-EU (yet they had, and have, plenty of MEPs blissfully taking all the allowances and expenses they can get their hands on, while putting in little if any effort – one of their MEPs has a 9% attendance record, and even Nigel Farage's figure is just 37%) though much of this is deception. As if to point that up, they are also almost exclusively anti-Conservative: they very rarely have a go at any other specific party.

Thus they were an ideal choice for those with a suitably meshing agenda, especially those sources purporting to be 'non-party supporting', and the rest has become history. It is all very easy to see in retrospect, of course, when one analyses what has been going on under our noses.

And there we have it: there is more (a lot more, in fact) but this is long enough, I think. No doubt I shall get 'Kipper trolls doing what they always do – but they are transparent. I have operated on facts that are in the news and on the record. They are going to have a hard time with this, as they will know that what I have written is either essentially or entirely correct. I shall not be passing any comments that are either diversionary or seek to demean the messenger (i..e. me) as they are the two most common methods of the dishonest. No-one honest ever uses either approach!

Friday 31 October 2014

Circle You, Circle You

Here is a scary music video for Hallowe'en, performed by Ashe (a.k.a. "ashestoashesjc"), featuring images of Vocaloid avatars.

It's quite effective and really needs no further introduction or explanation from me...

Song of the Carcasses

It's time to kick-off this Hallowe'en evening's musical journey, while the young 'uns are still awake. Essentially carcasses and a mythical type of unpleasant creature, the Rakshasa, are what this creepy song is about, as told from a child's perspective and dressed up in a light and upbeat arrangement.

This is the live performance at Kansai of Hold, Release, Rakshasa and Carcasses (though also known by variations of that title), performed as it should be on the upper stage, and the video below comes with English subtitles.

I have to say that the band's backing here isn't quite as good as the 39s at Sapporo a couple of years earlier, but it works well enough overall...

Thursday 9 October 2014

Bieber vs Miku

This ten-minute video is actually quite instructive about the two sides of the popular music scene – human and virtual. It also covers ground that doesn't tend to be mentioned very often, and could even be helpful to former 'Beliebers' who have recently gone off their former idol. Here, you might find out why it all went wrong for him, and many others before.

As always, it is important to remember that Vocaloid does not replace human performers, but merely adds to choice in the marketplace. There were those, years ago, who bemaoned the arrival of piano-keyboard type synthesiers, fearing they'd supplant guitars. They did not, but augmented them instead. Now it is commonplace to have both, whether on record or at live performances.

This video, though, concentrates on the actualities of the two methods and what effect they can have on the person or the product. It is a useful reference work...

Monday 22 September 2014

Zero Zero

We are lucky to be living in an age of musical composing/performing geniuses. We have the likes of Yuki Kajiura, Jean-Michel Jarre and Joe Hisaishi, for a start – and we have Mike Batt. Now, Mike is often criticised simply for having written The Wombling Song – but that is as silly as having a go at Neil Innes for doing A Way With Words or Ralph McTell for Tickle on the Tum.

One of Mike Batt's masterpieces is Zero Zero, which he devised, composed the music for, performed in and co-directed, back in 1982. It had (and has) many prophetic elements, and was very well formulated. If you pay really close attention to the song lyrics, you'll probably be startled to discover a lot of material meshed-in with the underlying story that will get you thinking anew. I bought the album more-or-less as soon as it came out, and it is here with me today.

Mike has generously posted a video of the entire performed work, on his YouTube channel, and permitted it to be shared – so reserved forty minutes or so, and let yourself venture into the world of System 605 and Zero Zero...

Saturday 20 September 2014

'Secret Police' by Miku

This is the Project DIVA version of Secret Police, given the googoo888 treatment – so expect top-notch quality, English subtitles and lots of costume changes. This definitely needs to be viewed full-screen and in as high a resolution as your system can handle.

Although this song is, as always, a sheer delight, and is great fun if taken as a parody, it does also carry a powerful message and might make you think. That I'd count as being A Good Thing in itself; but for now, simply enjoy this excellent performance...

Sunday 31 August 2014

Star Trek Continues – Episode 2

I filed this away a few months ago, unsure whether the series was really continuing, and (mainly because of my health issues) failed to follow it up. Episode 3 has appeared, some weeks ago, so it looks like 'Continues' continues!

The second of these Vic Mignona stories is again in the vein of the original Star Trek, with Vic's Kirk being near enough spot-on as before. Even the story, and the way it is handled, are classic Trek in nature and treatment. There are a couple of omissions, such as what happened to the other ship near the end, and it is a little heavy-handed on the slavery aspect; but overall it's still very good Trek for those who are fans of the original series...

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Telling Your World

Place Miku on a stage with a (modern) piano, let the audience in with their glow-sticks, and see what happens.

This isn't a real concert performance, but has been presented as if it had been, and even without English words will touch the hearts of many. This piano version of Tell Your World is very soft and 'close up', and here has been rendered near enough to perfection. I gather that the video is an entry in this year's MD Cup contest, and I do hope it wins or is runner-up.

For all the flashy stuff (much of which is fun) that is entered into this annual event, sometimes it takes something as straightforward s this to show just what can be done simply by playing it completely straight. You'll want to switch this to full-screen view...

Thursday 7 August 2014

Concert at SkeCon

This is the video of the concert by Synthesized reality Productions (SRP) at the recent SkeCon event in Sweden. It's a single fixed camera, which could have benefited from being zoomed in a little, but it will do. It isn't shaky, unfocused, distorted or any of the other audience-recorded efforts' failings, and is of high video quality.

The event starts off with SRP's Yume introducing the show, in English, followed by Miku and 'Viva Happy'. Later, Gumi, Rin and Len appear – all three at once for one item – also Luka for 'Just Be Friends'; and near the end we also have Miku's now famous 'Senbonzakura' in her correct outfit for this song. The show is rounded out with Yume re-appearing to dance with SkeCon's own mascot Rosu to dance to 'Happy Synthesizer'. Plenty of goodness is in there for just about any fan!

The whole video is almost an hour long, but I found it better to view in three or four 'chunks', simply because of that fixed, slightly distant viewpoint from which I needed to take an occasional break...

Saturday 26 July 2014

Ramping up the Rhetoric

One of the trends I predicted long ago (but have scarcely mentioned to anyone, just a couple of people) has been local Labour's ever more brazen attempts to manipulate the political agenda for their own benefit. Of course, this has been dressed up in a way that the less-than-perceptive will not recognise and who will no doubt fall into the perennial trap of believing what has been so carefully presented to them.

More fool them! Through their reactions they merely encourage those who seek to 'con' our people, who will ramp up their efforts in the same vein.

Indeed, this is exactly what has been happening here in Medway, particularly at meetings of the Full Council, for several meetings now. I predicted this would happen, largely based on the fact that without having me on the Council to act as an inhibitor for their wilder excesses (I always made them come off worse if that tried it on when I was there) they were now free to act without that corrective, and several damaging stories that do not hold water have appeared in the local media.

I'd have made sure there was no usable story, as I did five times during my years on the Council. As I have said before, there's no value in having a two column-inch retraction on page 38 of the following week's newspaper: the damage will already have been done. It has always been essential to kill the story off before it can even become a news story.

Nowadays, though, we also have the regular claque in the public gallery at every Council meeting. Labour claim they are 'nothing to do with us', but several of their party members (including the odd former councillor) have suddenly started coming – I have even been on the same 'bus to such events – and sit within the claque's ranks. My instrumentation records all this stuff, permanently...

This is being cranked up as the Council meetings come and go, with the express purpose of disrupting what is, after all, business affecting a quarter of a million residents (plus employees and visitors here) to manipulate, control and dominate these meetings for the benefit of a political faction. That is the truth of it, as anyone with the perception to take the step back that I often advocate and see what is really going on will spot very easily.

For their part, the Conservative administration of the council has been less than fully competent in handling itself and the council itself, still being bogged down in the officer-run Cabinet system that operates against the public interest, and certainly against local democracy. Indeed, it depends on having most of that local democracy having been stripped away, so that most elected members no longer have any right to vote on most policy matters. That too was Labour's doing, by imposition as usual for them.

Thus we have a rubbish council system, easily interfered with by organised groups with their own agenda, and achieving relatively little (it has been declining for years now). It's an old story in many (other) places, but it has to be nipped in the (belated) bud here.

All of it is, of course, to do with next May's all-out council elections, and an increasingly desperate Labour party locally, seeing the trend of the past fourteen years, has become bolder in its desperation. They know they cannot achieve any significant gains without playing it very dirty indeed; and the filthiest party in British politics has long been Labour, by a comfortable margin. They have no qualms about behaving in any way they feel they need to, in order to achieve at least some kind of vistory next year.

In fact, the present ploy is quite a clever one, as they know that the local media reporters have to report what happens, rather than interpret its true meaning and motivation. Thus they merely need to control the 'what happens' aspect and they have their favourable media coverage – which is the primary aim of the game. Even if reporters in attendance realise what is going on (and most of those over the years probably didn't, I mention just for the record) there is nothing they can do about it. They are pawns in the game, effectively powerless to present a balanced report, let alone explaining to their typical readership what was really going on.

Thus the battle is fought, and the ante will continue to be upped during the next nine months or so. Most of the public will fall for it; and indeed this will be a sharp test for the Medway electorate, who – along with others in Kent – have already started to realise the folly of going along with a slick sales pitch and 'manufactured' scenarios, as a result of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner election less than two years ago.

Indications are that one lesson has been partly learnt, but that won't stop many from falling into exactly the same kind of trap next May. It is embarrassing to have to admit that an awful lot of humanity are just plain gullible – but there it is. After all, if it weren't so, there'd be no point in all this being set up and executed: it'd be a wasted effort – but it does work, so of course they keep doing it....

Thursday 3 July 2014

Miku Expo Documentary

It has been some time since we have had a new and sufficiently interesting video from this instantly-recognizable source that I could justify posting – but now we can see why it has been a while!

This narration-free documentary lasts nearly 35 minutes, but is thoroughly engrossing – and obviously took a lot of time and effort to put together, as did the event itself for that matter. It tells the literally amazing story of how the first Miku Expo was put together and how it all went in Jakarta, Indonesia, a month or so ago. I say 'amazing' for good reason: even I was amazed at some of what came out in this, such as the audience's passion and that they made the floor shake!

Reserve half an hour in your day and have a go through this. I doubt you'll be disappointed...

Saturday 28 June 2014

The Full Original PokéRap

Years ago, I was quite good at a number of these – but things have moved on and the only one I can guarantee to get a hundred percent right is the (shorter!) last part.

Ah well, it was fun while it lasted, and this is a good reminder of the entire sequence of the original 151-'mon rap...

Thursday 19 June 2014

Coming Right Atcha!

A very odd behavioural characteristic I have noticed around our town centre in particular is the practice of someone coming toward me aiming straight at me – not to pass, but seemingly intending to collide. This is almost always in places with plenty of passing space (I avoid crowds as a matter of habit, so this is not surprising).

They often do not break off until the last moment, by which time my defences have already switched from normal to standby, ready to go to alert if necessary. Automatically, the scene is being recorded externally to me whenever this happens, and certain details taken from that – so yes, the evidence is on record.

My usual technique when one of these is coming at me is to side-step, whereupon some of them carry on and miss, whereas others immediately bend their path to aim toward me again. This has happened so many times (literally hundreds) that I know it isn't an erroneous perception on my part.

Therefore, if any of the practitioners of this odd behaviour happens to read this, or a reader knows someone who does this, I am issuing fair warning. Don't!

The Girl From Ipanema

A truly excellent (though deceptively simple) rendition of this most famous of Brazilian songs by the outstanding Maika. The Brazilian-Portuguese lyrics are included, which I found useful in brushing-up on my (admittedly rather limited) knowledge of the language.

This will probably turn out to be useful if I one day revisit the Care Home I went to yesterday, as one of the residents there speaks only Portuguese...

Wednesday 18 June 2014

How to 'Panda' to a Need

In China, when the Changa Benni car maker needed a mascot, they chose vocaloid Luo Tianyi. Back on  25 March this year, Tianyi's first concert was held in Chengdu province, where there is a Panda centre.

Below is a seven-minute video touching on the Panda Centre, and featuring the opening number from that concert which launched this new status as mascot. The video was uploaded only this month, and discovered (via one of my sources) just today, which is why I didn't post it before now.

Although I don't think the model on stage looks right, overall it was quite a good production from what we see here (and I am looking beyond the snazzy effects for this, without ignoring them), and it is pleasing that the whole concept is becoming a more widespread kind of event nowadays.

It seems to me that the market suddenly 'grew up' in regard to projected stage performances and virtual divas, as the last year has shown – most recently with THE END opera and the Lady Gaga tour.

The cosplayer featured so much in this video seems to have been a good choice as well...

Saturday 14 June 2014

Male Vocaloids

There is a natural tendency, at least by those not as deeply involved in the vocaloid world as some of us are, to gain the impression that they are nearly all female. In fact, although there are nearly three times as many females as males, the fellas number around twenty. Most people are probably aware of only Len, Kaito and Gakupo.

Here, mostly from memory, are the ones of whom I am aware, listed alphabetically, just to show that there really are that many...

  1. Big Al
  2. Bruno
  3. Gachapoid (a.k.a. Ryuto)
  4. Gakupo Kamui
  5. Kiyoteru Hiyama (Yuki Kaai's teacher)
  6. Kyo (Zola Project)
  7. Len
  8. Leon
  9. Lui Hibiki
  10. Oliver
  11. Piko Utatane
  12. Ritsu Namine
  13. Tonio
  14. Ueki-loid
  15. USee (a.k.a. SeeWoo)
  16. VY2 (codename: Yuma)
  17. Wil (Zola Project)
  18. Yohioloid
  19. Yuu (Zola Project)

I think I have missed one, because when I did this as a mental exercise a week or so ago, I counted nineteen and there's a new one in the above list so there ought to be twenty, I think. If I think of him, I add him as an update.

Friday 13 June 2014

Producing a Miku Track

The vocaloid producer known as '40meter', or 40mP for short, yesterday uploaded this eight-minute video showing something of how his new track Love Trial was made. It covers band rehearsals and takes, vocal editing, and even how the promotional video (PV) was illustrated. What little commentary there is (hardly any!) is in Japanese, but it's easily ignored.

If anyone is in any remaining doubt that producing a piece using Vocaloid is any less of an effort, or any less professional and talent-driven (and resourced) than traditional forms of music, this should drive the final nail into that myth's coffin! We already knew much of the truth from the concerts I have featured here over the last eighteen months, so regular visitors will not be surprised by much if any of this, but it's still interesting to spend a few minutes watching 40mP and his colleagues at work...

Tuesday 10 June 2014

More Miku Expo events this year!

The first Miku Expo, in Indonesia, was a great success. Just announced are two more Miku Expo two-day events, one on the eastern side of the USA and the other on the western side – but let this short video tell the story...

Thursday 5 June 2014

Miku in San Diego

This is a good quality, closer-in video of Miku's opening set for the Lady Gaga artRave tour, this time from the San Diego event. Both the sound and the visuals are good, and I think this is perhaps the best such recording from the tour to appear online to date.

I recommend switching to full screen and a decent resolution (it does go to full HD but there is no apparent advantage over 720px)...

Friday 23 May 2014

Dr Caligari's Council Cabinet

Very few people – especially those with any truly valid reason for disliking how their local council is run politically (apart from mere party preferences) – seem to have any idea why the 'Cabinet-plus-Scrutiny' model was imposed on councils above a certain size a dozen or so years ago.

The clues were there from the outset (as they usually are, to the more perceptive among us), though I waited for events to play out in order to have solid evidence rather than supposition and logical deduction alone.

The single biggest clue was that it was devised by Whitehall 'mandarins' and implemented ('sold') through a Labour government. Immediately this should get anyone's mental alarm bells ringing. Secondly, the Cabinet agenda everywhere was required to include a number of strategies and plans that were fevised by, and tightly constrained in format and content by – yes, you probably guessed it: Whitehall.

We probably all realise that Civil Service Mandarins' greatest ambition in life is to expand their empires and extend their control over our country, and the only way left by then was to take over local democracy, by proxy in order to preserve the appearance of what is called 'localism'.

Thus a scheme was devised by senior Civil Servants that would be easy to get a Labour government to implement, via the right 'sales pitch', but which in reality meant that a huge amount of the local policy agenda would be dictated far more closely by themselves. That's why, if you look down any Cabinet agenda for any council in the country, this fact will shout out to you after just a few such scans. It is glaringly obvious.
In practice, what all this has meant was that most (all but nine or ten) of a council's elected members immediately lost their policy voting rights on most topics, these now falling under the direct and exclusive control of the Cabinet. Some matters have to go to the Full Council to finally decide, but only after the Cabinet has already had first dibs at debate (a one-party debate at that) and it is their documentation that goes to Council... although the entirely powerless Scrutiny Committees (made up of the non-cabinet councillors) can also make 'recommendations'.

Here in Medway, the only 'local' agenda items for Cabinet are the long-standing Recruitment Freeze (a nod-through every time) and contract awards – which do not need to come to Cabinet. If you're paying a portfolio holder that much, and with a huge officer corps behind that person as well, there is really no need to make those decisions as 'Cabinet acting collectively'. A competent portfolio holder will almost always be able to handle that directly. It's not as if there is even any public interest in those agenda items...

Just like the Cabinet of Dr Caligari, the elected members that form local council cabinets are, in reality, under the control of another: in this case, Whitehall – though I suspect that many of them haven't even now, after all these years, cottoned onto this fact. If they have, they are complicit in the deceit and are not serving their electorate, however much they might try to deceive themselves that they are, because of, er, this and that (I'm sure they could pluck such things out of the air if challenged). Those ones are not fit to hold public office, ever. The others are too gullible to be entrusted with such office either – but all of that is for the electorate to decide, of course, when they come up for re-election.

Thus is was refreshing when the change of national government resulted in Eric Pickles offering councils the opportunity to revert to the former Service Committee structure instead of Cabinet-plus-Scrutiny, but without having to scrap any genuine benefits that the new system had brought (there have been a few, though more minor than they were trumpeted at the time they were introduced).

I asked a 'public question' at our local council (Medway) at the time this was being prepared at national level, asking if Medway would take up this offer once it was made. As I had expected, I received an evasive and (frankly) arrogant response – and the proof of the pudding is that (surprise, surprise!) they have not done so.

This has singularly resulted in an unstoppable trend that I had noticed over the years since the system was introduced in October 2001, continuing and worsening further. That is the disconnect between the public and their elected representatives, as it is portfolio holders who are invariably addressed by public questions, and they really don't handle it very well.

Now, a lot of what goes on is (predictably!) party political manipulation and dominance of the public questions item on the Council agenda – but even so there are glaringly obvious bad practices by most portfolio holders. I find it all acutely embarrassing – not because they are bad people, they really aren't, but because they have drifting further away from the public-at-large for so long that it has become all too easy for their opponents to label them 'out of touch' and gain a huge amount of (undeserved) political capital as a result.

The only way, in the whole of creation, that this trend can be halted and reversed is by scrapping the Cabinet system, and by having brand new committee chairmen who have never been portfolio holders. Frankly, there is no other way; and if the nettle isn't grasped soon it will mean that Whitehall will be able to strike the final few nails into the 'localism' coffin before very much longer, killing off actual local democracy Caligari-style, as has obviously been their intention all along.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Going Completely Gaga

...Or similar wording!

This is the complete Miku set from the Lady Gaga concert in Cleveland, Ohio, roughly mid-way through the tour that is to include sixteen opening performances by Miku. This was taken from within the audience, so technically isless than perfect but generally very good. There is an issue with one of the audience-facing lights causing an apparent loss of the stage image by the camera, though I gather the lights didn't interfere with the audience's view.

So here it is, at last: the full 24-minute opening act for Lady Gaga, no less! Miku's six-number set comprised Glass Wall (in English) 2D Dream Fever, World Is Mine, Story Rider, Yellow, and Tell Your World as a fitting finale.

Despite most of those present really not knowing what this was all about until it happened in front of them, the response was very good once they had warmed to he – somewhere around the middle of the second song, I judge it.

History has been made by these concert openers, and a new chapter of the western world's chronicles starts right here...

Monday 19 May 2014

NicoNico Mega Party 2014

This year's Chokaigi (Mega Party) event was really good much of the time, with some very good and audience-grabbing DJ-ing. It was, though, the Vocaloid concert that was the highlight for many, myself included – and then I forgot to post it here!

Well, thanks to a memory jog a few minutes ago, that is remedied now. This year's concert was just half an hour long, but with so much (thirteen songs) crammed into its almost non-stop format that there is plenty for everyone, including original staging, new band arrangements, and Luka playing the harp (very accurately!)

Lots of vocaloids were featured, as is the norm at this event, including the four Crypton Character Vocals (Miku, Luka, Len and Rin), IA, Gumi, Gakupo, Lily, Teto and more.

This is best viewed full screen, and listened to via headphones if possible...

Thursday 15 May 2014

Bohemian Vocaloid

Now here's something rather special, to which I was guided this evening by one of my sources: Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, performed by every (current) English voicebank there is, from the original Leon, Lola and Miriam right up to Miku and Kaito English versions. It has just gone up on YouTube today, having been carefully put together by a producer known as v3xman2.

Although some of the models in the video might not be to everyone's taste, the whole thing does work really very and has the 'feel' of the story as it unfolds within the song. Give it a try...

Sunday 11 May 2014

Happy Twentieth Birthday, RiscPC!

The Acorn-designed RiscPC computer celebrated its twentieth anniversary since its launch back in May 1994, with a two-slice RiscPC-shape cake that ended up being many more slices (lietrally!) than that, at the annual Wakefield RISC OS Show. Here's a three-minute video of the event, courtesy of Riscository.

The chap in the red shirt is the estimable Andrew Rawnsley of R-Comp – and for all of you who thought that 'Andrew Rawnsley' is a political journalist at The Observer who has a semi-regular slot on the BBC's This Week programme – I counter that for those of us 'in the know', this is and always has been the real Andrew Rawnsley, and of much greater actual value to the world.

I have three working RiscPCs myself, though two have been starting to struggle during the past few months after working more-or-less flawlessly since I first bought a two-slice in August 1995...

For Mothers' Day

This is for all those who still have their mother (I do not) on this special day, and all year round. It's long but you really do need to go through to the end. All will become clear...

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Political Racism

Readers of this might recall that I have recently listed 'The creation of racist offences' as not only among, but the very first of the Frankfurt School of Cultural Marxism's eleven primary policies for demolishing a nation and its culture. The intention was, all along, to devise a convenient way to easily interpret a wealth of existing material, and much of what was to follow, as being able to be challenged in court – and thus to restrict free speech.

Now, I am not one to encourage atual racist language or behaviour: my history on this stance (though not well known as it wasn't an issue back then) extends a long way into the past, and for complex reasons that would be near-enough impossible for me to explain here. Suffice it to say that I tend to have a better perspective on the real issue(s) than most – and it has nothing to do with legislation.

Since the creation of such offences, though, and other similar-style offences for other specific groups (which, incidentally, shows that they were always devised with the intention to divide us, regardless of how cleverly that was disguised within their wording), they have become very convenient 'tools' for dealing with political groups, specifically those whose underlying emphasis runs counter to that of those (Marxists) promoting this agenda.

Thus we see labels such as 'racist' being applied to those of the political Right and those of indeterminate political placement who are conspicuously opposed to the Left, even if they embrace some of their thinking.

Thus we see the rather too convenient labelling of UKIP as 'a party of racists' (note: not 'a racist party') or something along those lines, based on what a few of its (admittedly often quite prominent) members have betrayed concerning their own views.

In reality, UKIP obviously isn't in and of itself a 'racist' party – but its positioning and public recruitment image are currently bound to attract that type. Picture the scene: if you are one of those who (incessantly!) post comments here, there and everywhere about the so-called 'LibLabCon', equating all those parties as being the same and only the commenter's own (invariably, and blatantly, UKIP) stance being 'different', what does that tell the rest of us?

The only way one can perceive obviously different entities as being 'the same' is to be so far away from them all that they cannot be distinguished one from the other. Yes: you have to be at the extremes. This, though, is what anyone who has been following comment threads on newspaper websites, Guido's site, ConHome or any number of others will have witnessed for a few years now. The back-history of this trend is solidly established, and cannot be denied.

Thus we see that, regardless of intent, UKIP has gathered to itself a horde of extremist activists who give themselves away all the time. I know the (multiple) reasons for this – too lengthy an explanation to go into just now, though I might write a separate post about it sometime – but it isn't directly the fault of the party. I don't know whether there is a lot they could do about it....and for the time being, they probably have little desire to do so anyway.

The bottom line is that UKIP may be many things, most of them undesirable in respect of useful government both nationally and in Europe, but these 'labelled' issues come largely as an unintended side-effect of their posturing (they are essentially a party of posturing, not of action, as their track record clearly shows) rather than as anything they set out to do or to be.

Smearing them with all-too-convenient labels is not helpful – but it is still useful to have a mental 'handle' on from where their members are coming, politically speaking. Learning that lesson can also help calibrate our thinking (as my brother usefully puts it) elsewhere in the political arena as well.

Friday 2 May 2014

IA Rhythm Game

I have been keeping an eye on the emerging rhythm game that is obviously designed to be an alternative (or addition in one's collection) to Project DIVA. In this, we get only the one performer, though that is no less than IA (a.k.a. Aria on the Planetes) – but it looks to be quite good and fairly comprehensive, as the following promotional trailer shows.

It's a bit tough to enter the market when the various Project DIVA games are already so well established, and offer the six Crypton vocaloids as performers, as well as a few guest performers in the latest releases; but I wish IA/VT-Colorful every success. Perhaps others will follow, such as Anon and Kanon, or Lapis and Merli, or even one featuring all the BPlats-marketed vocaloids, one day. It's a thought...

Arnie on Boris and Cameron

This isn't acting. In under two minutes, 'The Governator' enthusiastically gives LBC his views on London Mayor Boris Johnson, and also some words about David Cameron when the question of the Prime Minister-ship arises. It's a delightful little clip, actually, and covers a lot of valid (as anyone who has ever been close to governance will recognise) points...

Wednesday 30 April 2014

Beyond the Big Three Parties

There are many people who dislike (or worse) the three traditionally classed as main national political parties in mainland Britain, and the predictable outcome is that they are switching support to the smaller, minority parties or not voting at all next time. The other side of the latter coin is that previous non-voters are now considering supporting one or another of those smaller parties.

This is, in general terms, a healthy thing – and should also result in the Big Three sharpening-up their own acts, so is to be welcomed in that context. It is, therefore, disappointing that, even after many years of existence, none of them has knocked itself into a professional shape that has genuine credibility – though a relatively small proportion of the electorate will no doubt be misled nonetheless.

Let's look at the best known players alphabetically...

The British National Party (BNP) seems now to be a spent force; and in this case, this is almost certainly a Good Thing as most people would agree. They are still around, and make a little noise here and there, but hardly anyone ever hears anything from them nowadays. Attempts to de-toxify the party's public image have completely failed, despite considerable efforts over a number of years, and for all practical purposes they are now just about completely 'out of it'.

The Greens are still going nowhere; and even their only Member of Parliament looks to have a real battle on her hands to retain that seat at the next General Election (and those pundits who have published their opinions on this seem to concede the point). At council level their presence remains small overall, and it is thought by some is likely to fall, possibly even losing control of the odd council they currently run.

Again, they are not presenting a professional image, and are often (correctly!) seen as posturers and meddlers, more concerned with their ideology than being beneficial to society. Their posturing nature is frequently glaringly obvious. For example, earlier today they posted a photograph to social media of nineteen party activists (I don't know how many were actual candidates) in Bristol – all of then white ethnic Brits with zrto 'diversity', despite the party's claims and (for that matter) its policy demands in that respect. I'd post the image here, but I do not know of its copyright status – but it can be seen here. It's a typical Lefty 'do as I say, not what I do' stance in their policy...

The English Democrats were once a party for whom I had some regard and respect. After all, their basic point was and is essentially valid: when the other parts of the UK have their own devolved governments, at least in some (varying) parts of their governance, why shouldn't England have the same? Sadly, over the years, their position has become more extreme, to the point where the only matters on which they post tend to be about 'England' as the be-all and end-all.

Yes, they have some tick-box policies (probably knocked together in an evening at the pub', just for the sake of having something) but what proportion of their writings, in any forum, discusses any actual policy? Perhaps two percent, if I am being generous, probably less in reality. They are now true 'little Englanders' and are frankly embarrassing. It is small wonder that their former candidates have left the party wholesale – two became Conservtives within a year or so of each other, here in Medway alone, and a third (a former blogger) seems to have gone completely silent in recent years. They are another dead end.

The Socialist Workers Party could one day be a replacement for Labour, and the Communist Union leaders are well aware of this. To date, they have been bubbling away below most people's perceptions – but if the Unions decide to switch their financial and political support to the SWP that could change in a big way. For now, though, they are doing little regarding cultivating a public image, so need just a weather eye kept on them until and unless the situation changes.

Trades Unions and Socialists Coalition (TUSC), the extreme Left outfit that has made no impact whatsoever, is till around but continues to have this blinkered attitude that Brits like their kind of politics. I have known a couple of their candidates, and there is nothing they like better than to devise new schemes where they get to set whole rafts of rules to impose on others. As always with Lefties, they are by nature the totalitarian types who (quite rightly) frighten off voters with their personal attitude, and again with their collective policy stance. Perhaps they'd fare better in North Korea, except that's a one-party State...

Finally, we hve the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP or Ukip). This remains a cult of personality; and just like the others (Robert Kilroy-Silk's Veritas, and George Galloway's Respect) who can name any other public figure from any of these? UKIP is riding high at the moment, thanks to huge pushes from certain influential quarters that I could name and some clever posturing – but, as Alex Massie points out, it's phoney.

Many people won't realise this until they have made the mistake of supporting UKIP – but they will learn the lesson better for that, just as many are now doing in the case of Kent's Police and Crime Commissioner. Thus whatever happens in the next year or two will almost certainly be be end of a slightly prolonged flas-in-the-pan phenomenon.

They have a 'front' that makes them look something like a 'real' political party, including (again) a set of tick-box policies – a list of policy topics (probably taken from another party's manifesto) with, in effect, a 'for' or 'against' attached to each, dressed up with a few words. It is not a coherent policy platform, but of course they hope that no-one will challenge them intelligently to show up the flaws. The Alex Massie piece, though, does put some meat on those bones: he isn't being fooled any more than I ever have (as long-term readers of this 'blog will well remember).

The bottom line is that, as matters stand, there is no realistic form of challenge from any of the lesser parties, despite the current UKIP flurry. This is a genuine shame, and needs to be tackled. Sadly, none of the present contenders is fit to do so, though the English Democrats were once, not so many years ago, as I know from my own dealings with their members and activists whom I'd meet occasionally in the course of my own political activity at the time.

One day the situation might well change, but at present I cannot even see it on the horizon, and British politics is thus less than it ought to be in terms of proper and competent variety and choice.

Monday 28 April 2014

New Rochester Station

The new railway station for Rochester is already under construction, as the short time-lapse video below shows. This illustrates how the new underpass was assembled on the site, the gap prepared for it, and then the whole thing was slid into place on a cushion of compressed nitrogen gas.

The new site, in Corporation Street, will serve both the existing community and also connect to the new Rochester Riverside development that is also being constructed right now, and which is starting to look very promising at the Doust Way end which is partly complete. I had a little wander around there recently, as well as a look at the rail station work from the top deck of a No. 141 'bus on my way back from a Strood South walkabout (yes, another on!)

It is at times like this that I can really 'feel the future' even without my abilities as a Sensitive – though I have done so in years gone by and felt it back then too. As with other instances I have mentioned before, here and elsewhere, it has been quite a powerful feeling to re-live, in real time, experiences I previously only felt as yet-to-happen.

As with those others, it is a very good sense indeed that I have of the transformation of old, tatty areas that had been there since before I moved into the area in 1997, into high quality, modern townscapes and riverscapes. There is a sense of new life, what some might call 'green shoots' growing out of the old now-dead landscapes of yesteryear.

The old Rochester station is, bluntly, a ghastly place, especially from the street coming up to the platforms, and is now in the wrong place. This new station will be such an improvement, and it too has started to happen...

Thursday 24 April 2014

Reading the Signs No. 3 – The Grasshopper Party

Although of necessity all serious political parties need to have a broad base of policies, covering every aspect of (especially national) government, the practice of jumping around between unconnected and disparate policies is in itself a useful sign for the alert among us.

The obvious example here is Labour – although it becomes even more apparent at local level than nationally – whose succession of completely disconnected policy initiatives shows not only a lack of a coherent and consistent policy manifesto, but betrays its true motives if one is watching all that they are doing and not just (say) the one item in which one has a particular interest.

The advantage of local government is that it exists many times over, so one can spot themes that are popping up all around the country: these turn out to be mostly Union-driven. They are dressed up to look local, such as "there are X Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in (for example) Medway" and "Medway has Y problem gamblers" – but if you look around, you'll find that exactly the same is happening elsewhere, with the place name and figures substituted to suit those places. The same happens time and again.

So, what is the common ingredient, the one and only common factor shared by all these 'policies'? It is purely and simply that they can all be used for party political advantage by Labour. The immediate clue is that they always but always end up as a way to 'bash the Tories'. Thus one can readily understand why these particular (often oddball, out of left field) matters have been chosen. They also need to be able to be 'sold' to the (largely compliant) local and – ideally – national media, for maximum impact. Labour are usually portrayed as 'the people's champions' against the 'wicked Tories'. It works as an easy sales-pitch, even though a lot of folk realise it isn't exactly being straight!

If there is no party political advantage for Labour in an issue, they will ignore it. If the reality reflects badly on their own previous record, they will sideline it and even attempt to re-write history, falling back on the oft-heard/read line "Isn't it time that old line were laid to rest?" or similar wording. Evasion is the last refuge of the guilty, as Mayor Salvor Hardin might have put it...

The important 'bottom line' here is that the clues are all there (as usual) for anyone paying proper attention; and the perpetrators of all the evasion, denial, manipulation and political maneuvering count on the (sad) fact that most people don't bother, and are content to be fed plausible-sounding lines from 'comfortable' sources such as The Guardian and the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

I have spent years, here and elsewhere, getting people to think that bit more for themselves, so that they are at least a lot less likely to fall for the trickery It has been broadly successful; but recent developments affecting issues in which I was quite deeply involved, have shown how volatile it all is when some well-orchestrated scaremongering is perpetrated upon local residents.

In my days on the Council, the local folk would have been kept fully up to speed and given facts, not scare stories, things they could check for themselves, independently of me. now they have turned completely around and are being conned. The consequences of that will almost certainly be felt in next year's local council elections as they impact my former ward (incidentally, as I hinted at during the candidate selection some four years ago – but that is another story) and I don't think anyone is complacent about that outcome any longer.

This evening's Council meeting should reinforce that...

So: watching for the signs is the best way to be alert to what is really going on – but the vote of each of the ignorant is worth just as much as the vote of anyone who does have a real clue – and they are many more in the former category than there are in the latter.

No wonder a self-serving party like Labour specialises in their techniques: they know they will work for them. They wouldn't bother with them otherwise, and that is perhaps the biggest clue of all. As soon as you spot one of their manipulations or whatever, from then on the switch has been flipped and you know – for all time!

Acute, Extreme, Perfect

This is a video of actual game-play from the rhythm game Project Diva Arcade F2. The song is Acute, the setting is Extreme, and the score is Perfect(!)

On top of all that, lucky Kaito gets to perform this with both Miku and Luka, the latter again showing her sheer stage 'presence' which is unequalled. The motion is as close to perfection as current technology permits; and if (more likely 'when') the play-only version of this without the game-play appears, there is no doubt in my mind that it will become one of the top Vocaloid demo pieces, raising the bar yet again...

Monday 21 April 2014

Reading The Signs No. 2 – The Slanted Poll

Ever since Yes, [Prime] Minister we have all learned just how easy it is to structure and present an opinion poll that is likely to deliver the answer that is wanted, and not necessarily the answer that is true...

There are many techniques involved in slanting poll results, though I am not going to explore them in detail here. Just an example or two should suffice. Actually, just one, as the 'Mittens Romney' poll (don't ask!) I also had lined-up for this turns out to be full of so many holes that, on deeper research, it has been difficult to explain just how that one seems to have come about. However, the mere fact that someone commissioned such a poll is in itself indicative of a specific intent.

Anyway, moving on...

Just recently, a local newspaper in my home county ran an online click-on embedded poll on one of its news pages regarding the forthcoming Euro elections. For which party would you vote? was the single question, and one simply clicked on the preferred choice from a bullet list and then clicked Submit. All standard stuff for this kind of thing; and they had taken basic precautions to prevent multiple voting (I always test this in cases such as this).

So, what was the problem? It was that the article talked almost exclusively about UKIP, and the full-width photographs were of the UKIP leader. No other party was thus featured, merely mentioned in passing. You can of course guess the outcome of the poll: a 'resounding' victory for UKIP.

I saw it coming; but cast my own vote anyway, so as not to be able to be accused of 'allowing' that result but not foing anything to help prevent it. Incidentally, the psychology behind this particular slanting, and in particular why it works, is a little more subtle than most. With a little thought, and by realising the somewhat obvious nature of the local rag's readership, it becomes obvious, but isn't so immediately.

The bottom line is that it has no value, and it also shows up the newspaper for its bias – and I for one have learned that lesson and will never trust them with anything again. That trust has been destroyed for ever – and it is entirely their own fault.

For all reading this, the message is stark and clear: be careful and don't be taken in, no matter how authoritatively something is presented and from which source. In reality there are very few of us without a hidden agenda and who always 'play it straight'. ou know one such already (if you've been paying close enough attention over these years I have been blogging!) and I am being pulled toward the conclusion that I might have to do more in the field yet again – though I'd rather not have to, as I now have other, equally engrossing, interests.

It's all enough to drive one up the 'poll'!

Reading The Signs No. 1 – Do Policies Drive Elections?

This is the first in a short series, looking at how we read the various signs and indicators that abound in the political arena. I have covered some of the ground before, so do not intend to go over the same ground in that kind of detail, more to just mention as necessary.

Two columns this past week have prompted this particular post, as they both come from informed sources yet come to completely opposite conclusions. Dan Hodges believes that Ed[ward] Miliband's policy vacuum and mostly lacklustre personal performance mean that Labour cannot realistically win next year's General Election. He has a point – in fact, several very good points. In a sensible world, based on merit, he'd be right.

Sadly for him (and us) the reality is more likely to be what David Herdson – for whom I have considerable regard – carefully explains as the political landscape on which that election will be contested. Idealism gives way to realism, as it so often does in this flawed world,  and David is, no doubt unfortunately, likely to be closer to the truth that May 2015 will reveal.

As we now know, the supposedly 'acceptable face of Conservatism' presided over by Tony Blair turned out in reality to be nothing more than a superficial cover for the eleven-point plan devised by the Frankfurt School of Cultural Marxism designed expressly for the purpose of destroying a nation and its culture – yet he won three elections in a row with hardly anyone realising 'New' Labour's true agenda. Presentation, rather than the actual policies, secured those election wins; and it is a lesson worth learning and never forgetting!

However, I think that neither view should be taken in isolation, and there is still time to go, so nothing is set in stone. Personally, I have a feeling that the UKIP bubble is about to burst, and that in itself will not only return a number of former Conservative voters back to their roots, but also some of the other now-UKIP supporters might well turn rightward, as a result of having been immersed in an ostensibly tight-wing agenda and finding that they supported it after all, despite where they had been politically before making that switch. It happens to people...

Whether Labour get back into Downing Street next year or not is thus far from a certainty either way. I have made my own plans for either outcome, and for several 'hung' and other variations (no surprise there!) so am as ready as it is possible to be for whatever result transpires.

The one and only advantage of a Labour government, if that should be what we get, is that current generations will learn what that truly means – from personal experience. It is sometimes better to go through all of that just so that people won't make the same mistake again for at least a generation. I wonder whether that will be the real legacy that next year's election will leave?

Meanwhile, keep watching the signs, but with intelligence...

Thursday 17 April 2014

Miku Goes Gaga

The big Vocaloid news yesterday was the announcement that Miku is to be the opening act at sixteen of Lady Gaga's upcoming tour events. Although that is only a quarter of the 67 programmed, it is still a significant turning point in the western world's live music scene.

Of course, it isn't as one-dimensional as it might at first appear. Here is what I wrote on Facebook a few hours ago...

While I have inevitable reservations about this, it was likely (I think almost certain) to happen sooner or later.
For the organisers, promoters and performers, it is probably being seen primarily as a gimmick, to 'up the ante' relative to others' concert tours – but there will be at least some percolation of Miku's performance and general 'aura' into the audience's consciousnesses.
This will have little immediate effect, as those attending will be there for Lady Gaga, first and foremost; but the idea of 'sowing seeds' is a useful one, and during the weeks that follow will, I think, start to pay dividends – especially if one or more complete concerts end up for sale and/or on-line.
I have been saying for a while now that it is my belief that 2014 is going to be the turning point in Vocaloid going global: this series of events looks like being perhaps the single biggest part of that (much broader) transformation.
There are those (and I am aware of at least two, probably three) who will say that this 'going mainstream' will mean the end of life as we know it – or words to that effect. I know that this will not be the case. At this stage, I have no idea what Miku will do: some of her usual material, in Japanese, some new material in English, or one or more Gaga items.

Perhaps there will even be a duet at the end of her (presumably quite short) set, which would make an excellent handover from the support act to the main feature. It would be almost a world first – though SeeU has done this with GLAM several times, and there have been others. The novelty factor with thiese audiences, though, would be quite something, if this were attempted.

Whatever comes out of this, I remain convinced that it will help the Vocaloid concept and sheer quality to seep into the western collective consciousness. The real global future in the genre starts here...

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Sing and Smile

It's about time I posted another nice video with good motion, so here's something new: Sing and Smile by Re:nG, featuring an 'all-star' cast of the six Cryptonloids (including the Sakine version of Meiko) along with Teto, Haku Yowane and Neru Akita, all of whom appear in Project DIVA Arcade future tone, from which this derives.

The motion is really good, and Rin's outfit in her initial appearance in the video – starting at 1 minute in – though simple in design is particularly appealing, I thought.

By the way: I have been spending so much time on social media and domestic matters that I haven't been able to keep up with other matters (in case anyone was wondering) – though I have been monitoring a lot of things going on, especially in the local and national political spheres. I shall no doubt comment on at least one or two of those in due course, but for now let's stay with the lighter and more enjoyable world of Vocaloid/Utau...

Sunday 6 April 2014

New Lapis Song

Heart Shooter (nothing to do with Black Rock Shooter!) has just been uploaded to YouTube today, obviously as part of the fairy's second anniversary celebrations. It's quite good, and suits her distinctive voice fairly well, though it isn't outstanding.

Despite a lack (so far) of an English translation of the lyrics, and the video comprising essentially just a still image (though a very appealing one) with ocasional 'pop-ins' of a second Lapis, it is certainly worth giving this one a listen, I feel...

Fairy Anniversary

Yes, today is fairy Lapis Aoki's second anniversary, having been released on 6 April 2012. Here is a nice song and an alternating-slides video to go with it, to help us celebrate...

Saturday 5 April 2014

Motes and Beams

Something the 'dodgier' political types frequently do, I have noticed, is to gloss over their own (often huge) shortcomings in a particular area of work, typically ignoring them altogether, and using what more often than not turn out to be relatively minor instances of the same thing by their political opponents as a diversionary tactic as well as a stick with which to beat them. I suppose this is quite normal in some politicians' eyes, though anathema to me, as one might expect.

Many of these are Trades Union driven, via local Labour councillors and (where they have them) MPs, so suddenly the same supposedly 'local' issue crops up everywhere in the country – or, at least, everywhere with a non Labour-run council. Thus my tendency to focus on Medway Labour might be being a little unkind, as they usually turn out to be just one of many such Labour groups doing precisely the same thing, so it isn't really their fault at all: they are merely complicit.

Anyway, the latest Labour 'initiative' here in Medway is (don't laugh) 'fixing our streets'. All of a sudden they have developed an apparent interest in having our roads repaired. Of course, as always with Labour, it will turn out to be almost entirely a party political rant against 'the Tory-run council' – which is the only reason it has suddenly, after many years of not even being on Labour's radar, become one of the issues du jour. Anyone who decides to keep a weather eye on how it plays out will, I have not the slightest doubt, find that this is exactly what will unfold – just as it does with every other t'new' opic they periodically highlight.

The irony is (as long-term readers of this 'blog will already be well aware) that Medway Labour have never been all that interested in having roads fixed even in their own wards. I have in the past highlighted my own findings, using personal observation on my walkabouts, Google Maps and Street View (which are all dated) and such facilities as the one-time ELGIN to check whether a particular location was scheduled for such work.

Those readers will recall what I reported about Eastcourt Road in Twydall – in an unchanged bad state in several places for quite a few years. There have been others that I haven't covered here, but naturally have complete records as proof.

Those readers will also recall the work I had done here in Chatham central, from having a trip hazard at a busy road just outside a primary school repaired to a number of other street scene hazards and other matters. I posted before-and-after photographs, as some here might recall, showing that I was doing more in just a year or so than all three elected Labour members had done between them in half a decade.

I might have concentrated on the area near my home, but I was also aware of how the rest of the ward was faring – especially as I had had the opportunity to inspect it all during a leafleting exercise throughout most of the ward shortly before I moved here.

Thus we can see that Medway Labour's apparent initiative is yet another of their sham activities, serving only themselves and their political prospects, with any peripheral benefit to the community being merely coincidental. No change there, then.

In reality, Medway's roads are in a better state overall than those of just about any other council area in Kent, and have been for years. We have a good record on repairs, though imperfect, and even places one might expect to be in a bad state tend not to be. Google Maps and Street View are useful here, for anyone with some time to kill and who'd like to take a look – but keep an eye on those diaplayed dates, as some parts of Medway are (currently) dated May 2012 and others are dated 2014 but appeared last December.

As always, it pays to be informed of the reality, rather than feel an idiot upon realising that one has fallen for the Goebbels-like propaganda of Labour. Believe me, it feels so much better to be in the know and immune to their con-tricks!

UPDATE: As expected, this and every other topic local Labour is covering at the moment is in reality nothing more than an anti-Conservative purely party political manouevre (see their new Rochester East newsletter) – well, apart from promoting their own parliamentary candidate, anyway!

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Gotta Google 'Em All!

I am assuming this is not an April Fools' joke...

Happy Teto Day

The first day of April is known as 'Teto Day' to fans of the 'joke' UTAU who became so popular that the lady is now a permanent member of the female Vocaloid/UTAUloid sisterhood.

I don't tend to play April Fools' jokes, and prefer instead to find something more positive if I can. Here, then, is Teto with the powerful but sad Yoshiwara Lament in a very classy performance from last year's NicoNico Mega-Party, complete with English subtitles...

Saturday 29 March 2014

Strood Library

Earlier today the 'usual suspects' within Medway Labour went on a march under a banner to 'Save Strood Library'. Anyone would think the library was under threat of closure, especially after reading tweets from one of their number that started off saying precisely that.

This, of course, was typical Labour deception, as the plan by Medway Council is to move the library to a a more central (and, probably, better) location than where it is at present, somewhat tucked away. In reality, it is Labour councils that have been those most liable to close libraries, including the recent case by Brent where a 'pop up' library was closed, demolished and the books dumped in the street.

When I mentioned this to that Medway Labour tweeter, her (lame!) reply (not actually written as a reply to me, but I found it anyway) was simply that 'we are not in Brent' – and, I have to say, we can at least be extremely grateful for that!

Labour's contention is that 'the people don't want the library to be moved' – and I wonder how true that is. At meetings of the full Medway Council, a regular army nowadays invades the public gallery, as I have mentioned in my reports on those meetings. These turn out to be what is known as a claque, comprising those who are one or more of (a) Labour party member/activist; (b) public sector worker; (c) trade unionist.

They seem to have had at least some level of rehearsal prior to the meeting, but have been known to surprise a Labour councillor when speaking by missing their pre-arranged cue on occasion. The face of the speaker and his/her body language at such moments is something to treasure...

Thus those making a lot of noise (as they do: a mob-handed rabble, one could say) clearly cannot be said to represent 'the public view'.

Okay, so how about the petitions handed in at these meetings? It's hard to say; but it depends on how the petitions were 'sold' to those they were asking to sign them. We already know that Medway Labour have been trying to portray this as a 'closure' and thus a loss of the facility altogether, as their banner and tweets show very clearly; but I also have on file first-hand accounts from those among my network of 'eyes and ears' of how they have been getting signatures for petitions in the past.

All political parties use petitions from time to time, by Labour really love them as they can be used to give a misleading impression of public opinion to Labour's advantage. For example, some years ago when the then Labour government required significant changes to adult residential care facilities, necessitating large-scale rebuilding work, the unavoidable move of residents brought out the local Labour petitioners.

They were 'selling' those moves as a full closure of those places, as (I kid you not) the elderly and handicapped/disabled residents would be 'thrown onto the streets'. I could name three former Labour mayors who were all witnessed making that claim. Therefore I cannot automatically accept as valid any of their petitions or even others where they have been scaremongering through their perennial dishonesty.

Indeed, looking at the present and proposed locations for Strood Library, I cannot see why it  should not be welcomed by the public. As I have observed over the past decade and a half, the High Street where it is intended to go is a healthily bustling area (in fact it's one of my favourites in the Medway Towns, because of the sheer life there) and with sveral 'bus routes stopping close by. That is not the case where it is now.

I anticipate increased footfall at the new location, should the move go ahead, and the concept of having it as part of a 'community hub' – which has worked well elsewhere – is a good move too, aiding its long-term viability even in the Information Age when libraries are struggling to justify their ongoing existences as stand-alone operations, shouldering all their overheads alone.

Although any move of a facility in a heavily built-up, predominantly residential area is inevitably going to result in winners and losers, my own familiarity with the area (especially after years of campaigning, walkabouts and other visits to both the north and south halves of urban Strood) strongly indicates that what is intended by the council will not only be a way to make the library's future more secure in these difficult (for libraries) times, but will be significantly better overall. Better 'bus access, much more parking, and many people will already be in the vicinty routinely – what's not to like?

Medway has been very good with its libraries, especially the modernisation plan devised by former councillor Wes Hollands and his (political and officer) team some twelve years ago, and I have visited a number of them and been present at the opening of a few (most notably Chatham and Thomas Aveling School) – I even ended up taking the official mayoral photographs at one when the mayor's camera developed a fault on the day(!) I know how good we are here, in this arena, and so do the real public.

Now, based on discoveries made at other council-owned facilities in the past, and other attempts to use specifically Strood for party political purposes, I have my suspicions about what this opposition to the proposed move by the local Lefties is really all about, and why they are so keen to maintain the status quo – but that is something for another occasion...