Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday, 31 August 2005

I'm doomed - if you believe this nonsense!

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Seventh Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)High
Level 7 (Violent)Very High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Divine Comedy Inferno Test
(thru The Council of Lemurs)

North Ossetia (Russia) Terrorist Outrages - one year on

Tomorrow sees the start of the siege at a school in Russia which will lead to an horrific denouement, a few days later, in the deaths of several hundred of the children held hostage by terrorists. Russia's recent history has been, and continues to be, rather traumatic but few events of recent years illustrate that trauma better than the events which commenced one year ago tomorrow. (Links to memorial pages to this tragedy and to other recent terrorist outrages are available from the 'Memorial Pages' link in the column at right)

Friday, 26 August 2005

Peter Mandelson - 'Protectionist of the Month'

Congratulations to fellow-gay Mandy for reminding us once more just how idiooic is the socialism in which he seems to believe. Protecting uncompetitive producers may well be popular with a certain kind of voter, and may even 'work' in the short-term, but I doubt very much if in the longer-term this latest madness by the EU, courtesy of friend Mandy, will serve the genuine interests of European textile producers and clothing manufacturers.

Thursday, 25 August 2005

Great news - 'The Religious Policeman' blogs once more!

I've been struggling these past several days to work up much enthusiasm for blogging (call it a case of a blogger in his fourth year of blogging becoming somewhat jaded, probably temporarily), but I just learned this evening that The Religious Policeman has started to blog again since the beginning of this month. This is excellent news, specially since his special brand of common sense, cynicism and excellent writing, all from a uniquely Islamic perspective, liberally dosed with good humour, seems to remain undimmed. 'Alhamedi', as he styles himself in his blog, is now UK-based, a factor which he says now allows him to feel reasonably secure about committing his thoughts to 'bloggiedom' once more - a happy circumstance for him, of course, but equally a very welcome one for people such as me. As my own guidelines for linking to blogs have changed since he last blogged, I have now added The Religious Policemam to my blogroll; it's both a worthy and a welcome addition.

As I said to him, in a comment in his blog:

baytee baytak

(My home is your home)

(thru David at The Cabarfeidh Pages (Highland Warriors) )

Monday, 22 August 2005

Nairn Highland Games - Saturday 20th August 2005

The 128th Nairn Highland Games took place here on Saturday. The Games this year were blessed with clear blue skies the whole day. As I was entertaining ten people for a buffet luncheon on the day, I did not have time to take many photographs of the event, but here is an image of the massed Pipe Bands I did get a moment to take:

- click here for a larger image of the massed Pipe Bands.

Apart from the Games, my luncheon party was to celebrate the five years I have resided in Nairn:

Wednesday, 17 August 2005

If it's a slow August newsday, let's do a story about sightings of 'Nessie'

Every year there's a variant on this theme. This time it's a story about filming for a show to be screened on Five later this month. No doubt this is good for the tourism industry in this part of the country, although I expect there were few 'locals' other than those in that business who were on hand to view the apparition.

Monday, 15 August 2005

Service will resume shortly ...

... I have been otherwise engaged, or away from my PC, for the last week and a half. I returned home today, but shall most likely be quite heavily occupied until the end of this coming weekend, preparing for and receiving guests (the Nairn Highland Games take place this Saturday). Although I shall try to post a few comments over the coming days it is inevitable that blogging will continue to be 'light' until after the weekend.

Thursday, 4 August 2005

Gerry Adams and Irish Gaelic

I've just been watching (on BBC News24) Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, speaking in front of 10 Downing Street where he has just arrived (along with Martin McGuiness) for talks with the Prime Minister. He began his remarks in a language other than English which I assume will have been Irish Gaelic. I do not speak either Irish or Scots Gaelic, but I have heard fluent speakers using those languages many times before. Listening to Gerry Adams speaking Irish Gaelic reminded me of hearing/seeing the late Edward Heath speaking in French - not done particluarly well, although one is surprised it is done at all. At least Edward Heath, when he chose to attempt his very precise (and grammatically accurate) French he was doing so before a largely French-speaking audience. Gerry Adams, on the other hand, was merely 'granstanding' in front of the media whilst attempting his precise and, one imagines, equally grammatically accurate Irish Gaelic - nothing new there, then.

Wednesday, 3 August 2005

Spotted in the carpark at Inverness Tesco today ...

... Peter Peacock MSP, a resident of Balloch, no doubt on his vacation from his toils at Edinburgh, driving a very battered-looking 4WD. I hope the former 'Independent' councillor for his Balloch/Culloden ward has a relaxing holiday from his toils on behalf of New Labour at Holyrood, where I am absolutely positive his role as Minister for Education and Young People is most assuredly vital to the wellbeing of his fellow Scottish residents. Or not, as the case may be.

Tuesday, 2 August 2005

Conservative council in Bromley refuses to conduct Civil Partnership ceremonies

More than 100 protesters forced the closure of parts of Bromley in Kent last Saturday. They were protesting against the council's decision (a Conservative-led council, unfortunately, but naturally) to bar same sex ceremonies at register offices in its borough, when the Civil Partnership legislation takes effect later this year.

The Conservative Party regularly tries to tell us that it has 'changed' and that it is open to everyone. I would love to believe this, because I support a lot of what the Party stands for, but whenever I hear of yet another of these own goals that the Conservatives regularly inflict upon themselves, well I just decide they can go hang if they ever expect me to vote for them again!

Monday, 1 August 2005

What's 'love' when you have a pet?

I've been tagged by Alan on two of these round-robin thingies, this time the topics are 'Love' and 'Pets'. Let's see what I can say about these two:

1 - What does Love mean to you?
Trust. Selflessness. Affection.
2 - What does Marriage mean to you?
For me very little (I am gay), but luckily I grew up in a home with happily married parents. Whilst a number of friends seem to be very happily married as well (good for them!), many others have been through at least one divorce. Marriage, it seems to me, comes with both privileges and responsibilities, but the focus is always upon the former, specially pre-marriage. Many of my gay friends who are in long-term relationships, in some cases spanning several decades, would I suspect make fine married couples if the law permitted. In summary, I am somewhat cynical about the motives of those who say they wish to protect the institution of marriage.
3 - Do you believe in love at first sight?
Love should not be confused with infatuation, which can certainly occur at first sight. I doubt very much that true love can.
4 - How many children would you like?
Probably irrelevant.
5 - If given the opportunity, what song would you sing for me on my wedding day?
For whom? For a partner I'd probably spare him the sound of my singing voice and instead offer up a favourite piece of music for the flute by J S Bach.
6 - What is your favorite holiday destination?
In the UK, Perthshire. Elsewhere, somewhere warm, but not excessively hot. Ideally out of the range of mobile telephone signals.
7 - What are three qualities you would look for in a Woman?
In a partner I would look for intelligence, common sense, physical attactiveness.
8 - What are the three qualities and three bad habits that you have?
Pluses - analytical, plain-peaking, irreverent;
Minuses - Me? Minuses? I don't do those! But seriously - Sloth, plain-speaking, over-caution.
9 - Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Good health permitting, someplace agreeable, perhaps where I am now, perhaps elsewhere. More than that I couldn't say - life is to be lived.

1. What is your favorite type of animal that you have had as a pet?
I've had (and have) two types of pets - dogs and aquarium fish. I enjoy both and hope I have been a responsible pet keeper, but I would not put one kind before the other.
2. What is the strangest/most different name one of your pets has had?
Neither animals, not indeed children, should be given the ridiculous names that some people seem to consider 'cute'. Dogs I have had have been called 'Whisky', 'Sandie' and (the current one) 'Tara'. I have never given names to my fish.
3. Describe something bizarre that one of your pets has done.
Dogs are intelligent creatures and my dog often seems to have a roguish glint in her eye.
4. Have you ever eaten dog biscuits? (or other pet related products?)
Yes, I've tried a little of a dog biscuit out of curiosity, and indeed I've tried some of my present dog's 'complete dried food' for the same reason. The biscuit was rather nice, the 'complete dried food' less so - rather oily.
5. Have you ever let your pet sleep with you?
In or on my bed? No, never. Occasionally in my bedroom though, in her basket.
6. Do you take your pet on vacation with you?
Every year to Perthshire. Taking dogs abroad from the UK on vacation is now theoretically possible, but remains inconvenient for most people because of our quarantine regulations.
7. Have you held memorials for your pets?
As a child, for a budgie and for some newts I had once. Not more recently, though.
8. Have any of your pets worn clothing?
No, not that I am aware. Do they have a clothes-fetish of which I am unaware?
9. Do you feed your pets before you feed yourself?
I usually prepare breakfast for myself first, although I normally feed the dog (and the fish) before actually eating my own breakfast.
10. Does your current pet resemble you physically or temperamentally?
Others may be better able to evaluate this than me, but I think not.

Now, whom should I 'tag' in turn? Well, I rather think David, Charlie and Mike might, if they choose to follow it up, make interesting comments.

Hoon 'ponders passport checks', but talks about ID cards

I'm late with this, but it is necessary to echo what a number of other bloggers have already said - what is the point of another level of so-called security, in the form of ID cards, if we are not making use of the perfectly good method of identifying people we already have, passports, when they leave the country?

This Labour government is obsessed with the trappings of security and announces with tedious regularity the necessity of introducing further 'regulation', but seems unwilling to implement legislation already in place. If the comment by a Eurostar official is accurate, that 'there is no permanent point manned by UK officials, but checks are implemented at times of heightened security', whereas there is a 'permanent passport checking point, manned by French officials, in place at Waterloo Station', then I should be very interested to know just what, in the fantasy world occupied by Mr Hoon and his New Labour colleagues, contstitues a period requiring of heightened security?

Labour's basic instinct, even in the guise of so-called 'New Labour', is still to control with lots of stick, but very little carrot, but they are so incompetent that they confuse grandiose declarations of intent without being willing to follow-up with action where it matters. It is tabloid politics of the very worst kind - trying to appeal to the voters who read the Daily Mail, without offending their core Daily Mirror-based support. But neither group can be fooled for ever, surely? Labour's real skill, as with many socialistically-inclined parties, is in the dissemination of propaganda rather than the efficient execution of their own, never mind more sensible, policies - so it could be some time yet before the British public finally grows tired of these flim-flam artists.