Archive for November, 2013

A winter afternoon in Farnham

November 30, 2013

A cold winter afternoon in Farnham, even colder as I made my way home early evening.

Farnham Christmas Fayre in Gostrey Meadow

Farnham Christmas Fayre in Gostrey Meadow

Farnham Christmas Fayre main stage

Farnham Christmas Fayre main stage

A Christmas Fayre in Gostrey Meadow by the River Wey. Tacky, but packed. I was surprised how large the main stage. Looking at the play list, it appeared to be mainly local schools.

er no, not traditional hot chestnuts on  a gas-fired barbecue

er no, not traditional hot chestnuts on a gas-fired barbecue

Last night, I was thinking of hot chestnuts, and how you do not seem to see them any more. Hot chestnuts. But not as they should be, roasted on hot coals. These were being roasted on barbecue, a gas-fired barbecue. I did say the fayre was tacky.

As I was early, I found the bread shop in Downing Street open. First time I have found it open. £2-75 for a loaf of bread, that did not even look appetising. Er, no thanks. Not even a good wholesome wholemeal loaf.

I prefer Celtic Baker, on the Guildford farmers market.

Last time I was in Farnham some weeks ago, I gave a friend The Alchemist. She could not thank me enough. She said she had really enjoyed reading it. She said even her boys were reading it. That in itself amazing, as all they do is play computer games. I gave her a copy of Eleven Minutes.

I told her the The The Alchemist was published 25 years ago, that there was a limited edition 25th anniversary edition and that last week, marked 278 continuous weeks in the New York Times best-seller list.

The Parish Church had a flag flying. Not something I have seen before. Then I realised, St Andrew’s Day, this being St Andrew’s Church. At least I assume that to be the reason why.

Candles lit for friends.

The church dark and gloomy. As a medieval church would be in winter.

Farnham very busy. Whether the Christmas Fayre, or coming up to Christmas, I do not know. More people in Lion and Lamb Courtyard, than on the streets of Aldershot, as I passed through. Not that that is saying a lot.

late lunch in The Barn

late lunch in The Barn

Late lunch in The Barn. As always, excellent food.

In The Barn I mentioned the free wifi scam in Farnborough, that is expected to bring the punters into Farnborough. They questioned why would anyone go to Farnborough when free wif everywhere? They questioned why would anyone wish to go to Farnborough? When I said it was costing the taxpayers money, that it was scam to obtain personal data, to spam users with e-mails and text messages, they were appalled.

The Barn is one of the few places I have ever seen the Transition Free Press. An experimental newspaper for a year. Inside an article on recycling money within the local economy, figures quoted from Brixton. Well worth a pound. Only I foolishly forget to pick up a copy.

An evaluation inspired by the Reconomy Project of the potential to ‘relocalise’ Lambeth’s economy … switching just 10% of the borough’s supermarket food spend to local retailers would release £37 million (and “money spent in independent local businesses can create 2-4 more times as much real value as money spent in chains”), and retrofitting housing stock with solid wall insulation could payback in 15 years and generate £100 million of local employment.

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I was worth 50 sheep

November 29, 2013

In Afganistan, women are chattels, to be bought and sold.

Sabere was only seven years old when her father died in war. Her cousin inherited her, and following a long-practiced tradition in Afghanistan, he sold her when she was 10 years old to Golmohammad, a man in his 50s and a member of the Taliban. Over the next six years, she became pregnant four times, miscarrying each time. The cause may have been her youth, or the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband. On a trip to Mazar-e sharif, Sabere managed to escape and make her way to a women’s shelter.

Meanwhile, Sabere’s mother needed to remarry quickly to avoid bringing shame on the family with her widowhood. According to tradition, ownership and betrothal of a widow transfers to the deceased’s cousin. So Sabere’s mother marries the cousin, and gives birth to a daughter named Farzane (Sabere’s half-sister). The family struggles to make ends meet, so when Farzane is 10 years old, her father sells her to a man in western Afghanistan. Her price: 50 sheep and a piece of dry-farming land. As a kind of installment plan, the buyer pays Farzane’s father 10 sheep per year, and will take possession of her when she is 15 and the full amount has been paid.

After six months of searching, the women’s shelter tracks down Sabere’s mother and her stepfather and invites them to the shelter for a meeting. When they discover the deal to sell Farzane, the shelter’s managers realize they not only need to help Sabere, but Farzane as well.

I Was Worth 50 Sheep is the tale of these two sisters and their struggle for human dignity and freedom in a war-torn country caught between ancient traditions and a modern world.

It begs the question, why has the US and UK sacrificed many young men for these evil people, men who sell-off ten-year-old girls to be raped.

The Bookseller of Kabul describes similar treatment of women and girls.

A few years ago, at an international film festival, I asked a young Afghan film-maker who had gone under cover in Afghanistan to film, one advantage of wearing a burka, she explained, I asked her if what I had read in The Bookseller of Kabul, was a true reflection of life in Kabul, the treatment of women. She said no, it is far, far worse.

This is not Islam, it is what fundamentalists practice as Islam. In The Koran, women are granted rights.

Jobs for the boys

November 29, 2013
Sussex countryside

Sussex countryside

The chairman of English Nature, the official body charged with safeguarding our natural heritage, one would expect to be someone who knew something about the subject, someone who has a proven track record in fighting to save our natural heritage. Jonathon Porritt, for example.

Er, no, not when it is the evil ConDem government who is doing the appointing, not when it is Environment Secretary Owen Patterson who is doing the appointing, a man who every time he opens his mouth simply demonstrates his ignorance of the environment, a man who attacked environmentalists for opposing genetically modified crops.

The man chosen has to be seen as an insult, Andrew Sells, a venture capitalist, whose only credentials as far as the evil CondDem government is concerned, is that he is a major donor to Tory Party coffers. In addition to being a venture capitalist and major Tory Part donor (£111,250 to the Tory party in 2010-2011), Sells is also or was chairman of property developer Linden Homes.

English Nature approve the killing of badgers, even though it was recognised as a mindless, pointless exercise.

An example of the crass stupidity of Owen Patterson, is that he wants to introduce what he calls biodiversity offsetting, to enable house builders to destroy pristine sites. Biodiversity offsetting is an oxymoron. You cannot destroy a wildlife habitat and recreate it elsewhere. Effectively this puts our natural heritage up for sale.

Conflict of interest? Chairman of English Nature a property developer.

Conflict of interest? Sells is co-founded venture capital group Sovereign Capital. Sovereign Capital operates in the private healthcare sector, promising high returns for investors. The evil ConDem government is trying to sell off parts of the health service to the tune of £2 billion.

Note: Picture of Sussex countryside courtesy Georgia.

Tea and cakes in Istanbul

November 28, 2013

Tea and cakes in tiny tea shops in old Istanbul

 tea and cakes

tea and cakes

One of the things I liked in Istanbul, was in the old part, down very narrow streets, tiny tea shops with the most delicious cakes.

Best with a friend, then you can sample more of the cakes and share.

The tea is red, served in a glass, and sweetened. I would not usually drink tea with sugar, but when I tried without, I found it to be very bitter.

What the tea is, I do not know. I asked, but the communication gap was too wide to be bridged.

The cakes, I do not know what they were either, other than they were delicious.

Marston pub sell off

November 28, 2013

The death of the English pub continues apace. Marston has announced the sell-off of in excess of 200 pubs in a £90 million deal to NewRiver Retail.

NewRiver Retail is a property developer that specialise in trashing pubs for retail.

Expect more unwanted Tesco, Co-op, Sainsbury’s, McDonald’s.

The pubs are in the main leased, expect to see more pub landlords kicked out of their homes, their businesses and livelihoods destroyed.

Ever single one of these pubs needs to be identified, they are mainly in the Midlands, and an application made to the local authority for status as an Asset of Community Value. This will give the local community the opportunity to buy, and six months in which to raise the money.

Had any of these pubs already been listed, they could not have been offloaded to NewRiver Retail to be trashed. They would have had to be offered to the local community. Something that should be checked.

Marston although a brewery, is anther zombie pubco. It is £1.2 billion in debt. The sum raised by the sell-off is less than 10% of the debt.

Marston brews Pedigree and Hobgoblin. Maybe a boycott of Marston beers.

Dancing with the Moonlight

November 28, 2013

Dancing with the Moonlight, latest song from Scorpions, performed live during the summer at their concert in Athens.

The car becomes the composer …

November 27, 2013

… with the driver the conductor.

VW drive music

VW drive music

VW developed the concept of the hot hatchback, the GTi, a favourite of boy racers.

They have now developed something very, very, clever, though not necessarily wise.

They have taken revs (rpm) and drive speed (mph or Km/hour) from the on-board computer, combined this with location, acceleration from accelerometers, gyroscope and GPS on an iPhone, to produce or at least control music. All happening in real time.

As I said very clever, but wise?

We already have cowboys driving around with music thudding out, aggressive driving to match, and the equivalent effect on the driver of consuming a couple pints of beer.

If the driving is influencing the music, how is this going to influence the driver to influence the music?

All of the data collected is filtered and smoothed before use.

The application makes use of the musical programming language PD (Pure Data) to generate the music and effects live. So you create unique music with your drive in real time.

This is similar to what Imogen Heap was developing for her jogging app.

In the late 1960s, I developed something similar, only the music was influencing external effects. I took the frequency, the loudness, and used this to control lights. At the time novel, not done before.

Edited version of a slightly longer post on Medium.

How Long Will I Love You

November 27, 2013

Wonderful recording by Kristina Train.

I do not though like the fall off the end of the cliff at the end. Bad editing.

Recorded at Annie Lennox’s London studio with her good friend and solo artist Joe Robbins.

What a pity Kristina Train has not released anything on bandcamp.

Thanks to Steve Lawson.

Lightning strike

November 27, 2013
lightning strike

lightning strike

An incredible long exposure shot of a lightning strike hitting a tree.

How was the camera in the right place, at the right time?

Note: Picture from Globe Pics.

Hannah Barrett

November 26, 2013
Hannah Barrett

Hannah Barrett

Hannah Barrett, an amazing blues and soul singer. When she sings she puts her heart and soul into what she is singing. An incredible voice for a girl only 17-years-old.

A girl with talent, someone who had no need to degrade herself by appearing on X-Factor.

People are sold a lie, that it is all about success, a record label.

It is not, it is about performing the music you enjoy, slowly slowly getting known, spreading by word of mouth.

The chance of what is called success is a lottery, with about as much chance of success, as winning the lottery.

The best thing Hannah Barrett could do, is get some recording time, crowd source if need be, then release an album on bandcamp.

But she has already probably been tied up in knots, signed papers she did not understand, a condition of degrading herself on X-Factor.

Music is not X-Factor, a tacky contest between winners and losers. Music is putting your heart and soul into something you love doing. Music is creating something that others love listening to. Hannah Barrett is pretty good at both.

Hannah Barrett has been subjected to racist abuse on twitter, told she is ugly, cannot be a singer if she is black.

Trolls on twitter, block and report for abuse, never reply or engage. I hope as well she has handed a dossier to the police.

Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Tina Turner ….

Top Story in The Musical Express (Wednesday 27 November 2013).