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

Thursday, 26 August 2010

A96 Inverness-Nairn dualling - design consultant appointed

The Scottish Executive (aka 'Scottish Government') has appointed a design consultant to look at "preferred solutions" for the dualling of the A96 Aberdeen-Inverness highway between Inverness and Nairn, to include a Nairn bypass. The funding for this is 500,000 Pounds.

How soon the funding might be found to do the actual road-works is anyone's guess, but I suspect it may be some years away, considering the budgetary problems in the whole UK and of course in Scotland, too.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

If you believe in Liberty ...

... consider taking The John Galt Oath:

John Galt is the main and mysterious character in the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, read more about it here or buy it here. Re-evaluate your life and what you want out of it; throw off the blinkered thinking that most of us have grown up with and consider what is really important in your life.

The music on the video-clip above is an excerpt from 'Liberatio' by the German group Krypteria (it is sung in Latin indicdentally); some of the proceeds from sales were dedicated to helping those who suffered following the Asian Tsunami in December 2004. Objectivism is not about ignoring the needs or interests of others, but it is about rethinking how one lives one's own life and how one interacts with others. You can listen to the whole track here, or buy it here - I purchased my copy from German seller SLC Music and found their service very rapid indeed and completely satisfactory.

Monday, 23 August 2010

New York and its Islamic Center ('mosque') controversy

Amidst all the nonsense I've been hearing from the US about whether a 'mosque' should be permitted at 'Ground Zero' or not, it is a profound relief to have someone like Keith Olbermann come out and say clearly (and as usual quite loudly - that man should watch his blood pressure!) that the US should be a defender of freedom, not its oppressor. Mind you, I've been railing for years about the US's recourse to what most civilised people consider to be 'torture' and 'extra-judicial incarceration' in its response to events since '9/11', a stain upon American deomocracy that will take many years and probably decades to erase. To be clear, the so-called 'mosque' is not a mosque at all, but a multi-purpose cultural centre and although it will have a prayer room it will also have sports facilities, nor is it 'at Ground Zero', but several city blocks away and will not be visible from the old World Trade Center site. Anyway, watch this subject being aired in Keith Olbermann's unique style; incidentally he points out that a small Islamic Center has been operating nearer to 'Ground Zero' without incident since 1970, before the World Trade Center was even built:

(thru Chicken Yoghurt)

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Another of those political test thingies ...

It's a few years since I did one of these quizzes designed to evaluate one's place on the political spectrum; this one is very US-centric, though, so a number of the questions are irrelevant in a British (or indeed I'd say European) context. Just as one example, the question about capital punishment is pointless because it will never be reintroduced in the European Union (it's a basic condition of membership that no member state have a death penalty) and I am pretty comfortable with that. Capital punishment is just state-sponsored murder - and murder is wrong.

Anyway, here are my detailed results:

You Are 70% Conservative, 30% Liberal

Social Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal
Ethics: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Having said all this, I think it is probably reasonably accurate, specially the part about fiscal issues. I tweeted about this here.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Seventy years ago today ...

(Prime Minister Winston S Churchill's speech to the House of Commons on 20th August 1940 was not recorded at the time, but re-recorded by him some years later - after the end of the conflict, I believe)

Apart from the dramatic content of this speech, what is so wonderful about it and so many others of his speeches is the sheer quality and elegance of most of his writing; a veritable masterclass in the use of the modern English language.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Thirteen Years of Labour Lies, Deceit and Mismanagement

Watch this video-clip compilation to remind you just how awful was Labour's most recent tenure in office. Just 101 days ago this shower of shysters was the government of this country:

- Point of information: this video-clip is indeed a 'propaganda piece' put together by the Conservative Party prior to the last General Election, but that in no way detracts from the absolute truth of everything shown in it.
(The idea for including this video-clip here is 'filched' without shame or apology from an article in the excellent Guido Fawkes blog.)

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Orthodox Christians attend historic Mass at Turkish monastery

Although I am in no way religious I was really interested to read this article in the Deutsche Welle website as the Sumela Monastery was one of the places I was determined to visit during a visit thirty-three years ago to the Trabzon (Trebizond) Province of Turkey on the north-east Black Sea coast of the country.

When I visited in late-March 1977 it was way off the route that most visitors to Turkey followed - I arrived in the town of Trabzon after a 3-or-so-day trip on the coastal ferry from Istanbul, basically so I could visit the monastery, built into the face of rather vertiginous cliffs. Then I hired a car with driver for a day so he could take me up into the hills on a rather treacherous mountain-side road to visit it, with so far as I recall a 10 or 15 minute walk up a very disused track to the monastery itself. Although by that time the monastery was fenced off by the Culture Ministry in an effort to control access and halt the vandalism that had taken place there since the monastery was abandoned in the 1920s (read more about the Sumela Monastery here - click on the photographs there to see enlargements; the first in particular can be clicked a second time to view a very large high-resolution photograph), with most of the faces on the frescoes throughout the monastery having been defaced.

There are some excellent photographs of the service at Sumela Monastery this weekend in the BBC website here.

During my time in eastern Turkey, although the trip was very enjoyable and interesting, I did develop severe stomach problems (from unpasteurised yoghourt I think) so I got out of there after 3 or 4 days and flew to Ankara (a rather dreary modern city by my recollection) where I spent a few days in a very good hotel, to aid my stomach on its way to recovery, before flying on to Rome in time for Easter, during the penultimate year of the Papacy of Pope Paul VI. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article I am not religious, nor therefore am I a Roman Catholic, but being present in St Peter's Square (fairly close to the obelisk from the Circus of Nero in the centre) in the Vatican City on Easter Sunday was a memorable experience, even if the Pontiff giving his Urbi et Orbi blessing was just a tiny figure in the distance up on the balcony.