Wednesday, 31 July 2013

It's So Hopeless for Gakupo!

On Samurai Gakupo's 'birthday', it seems appropriate to post this funny cartoon-illustrated tale of woe, set to the tune of Mozart's Rondo Alla Turca.

It was done by OwataP some four years ago, but there is an important message for mobile 'phone (a.k.a. 'cellphone') users everywhere that is just as valid today. Read the English captions and enjoy the story...

Backing vocals are by Miku and Rin, and it all works rather nicely, in a fun if slightly tragic way, and with a neat twist in the tale...

Music Girl Miku App in English

This is becoming available during this coming day (it's all about local timezones 'when' it will appear). See here for the details and link to this app for Apple's iOS; and below is the Japanese demo video: there isn't yet an English version of this.

Miku dances to music you play on your iPhone or iPad Touch, and you can interact with her in several ways, from getting her to watch your touch on the device to answering simple quiz questions. The more of this you do, the more goodies become available for download, such as different outfits.

It actually looks like fun, and I'd certainly get it if I had an Apple 'phone or tablet. There is a nominal cost of $4 (less than £3): it is essentially free anyway, just needing a small charge to cover the overseas admin...

Eden by Mayu

This is an unusual song, and again it does not include English lyrics, but once more is interesting enough for me to include in today's short run of new-to-the-'blog Mayu items. It was originally performed by Miku, but suit's Mayu's voice style rather well, so this 'cover' is a good idea.

It's one of those worth playing through once – but perhaps not quite compelling enough to warrant a second play, at least not for everyone (it's growing on me). Some will, some won't, I suspect; but this is the time for the first go...

Mayu's Eyes

I don't know what this song is called except in Japanese characters, nor do I have English words for it, but it is quite captivating – especially if one also watches Mayu's eyes closely. That is easy as there are several lengthy close-up shots of her face. Note too the pulsing hat, which is a new one on me.

It was all written and produced by one 'Konig', including playing the Fender Stratocaster, as stated the credits at the end (much of it in English). The motion makes a change from the norm as the performer really just stands on the spot rather than the usual dancing around we get in these productions.

Also the camerawork isn't the often dizzying perpetual moving and switching style, and I for one generally prefer this, though I can understand why it is done for other works. Overall it's a good outing for Mayu, whose voice seems to suit the mood of this song – whatever it is...

Love and Joy

This is a very good Mayu version of Love and Joy. There are no English words provided, sadly, but Mayu is just so nice in this, and her voice has been very well tuned with good pitch bends and all the rest of it, that it is actually quite heartwarming to watch even without knowing what the words mean.

The lovely Saboten Mayu model is, on this occasion, a slightly outdated one: an improved 'patched' version has been available for a while. It's good enough, though, and once again shows how graceful and feminine Mayu can be, as we have seen a couple of times recently.

The only significant thing wrong with this is that her mouth doesn't move, which is a little odd but I suppose isn't overwhelmingly important, though I have no idea why it wasn't done on this occasion...

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Project DIVA Arcade Teaser

This short video was uploaded by SEGA just yesterday.

Nice long flowing dress for Miku in the first segment, then the wonderful Deep Sea Miku in the second half. It doesn't get all that much better than this...

Monday, 29 July 2013


It's actually a Pokémon-themed train, but our (Australian?) guide continually refers to it as a 'Pikachu train'.

The commentary is interesting, though, including comments on the 'usual' immaculately clean and graffiti-free nature of Japanese trains – which is something of which we in the west might like to take note.

Although this might well have been painted onto the vehicles, a 'wrap' applied to the surface is another technique that has been used in such exercises in the past, so I'm not going to say whether the commentary is correct on this point: it might be, or it might not...

Trans-human speed Singing

I promised that I'd bring proof of at least one successful attempt by a human to sing Miku's Disappearance at full speed, and here it is.

The video is not of brilliant technical quality, and I do not know the name of the performer; but it's worth sticking with this (it's only two and a half minutes long) and marvel...

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Puppet On Len's String

Long-term visitors to this 'blog with equally long-term memories will recall that I sussed out the Ed[ward] Miliband leadership situation right from the off. I said then that his job was to make the necessary party policy reforms that would give the big Communist-controlled Trades Unions the power and freedom to do more-or-less what they want, and then he could be discarded or bypassed.

Ed-M must surely be well aware of his position; so if he has any hope of continuing to hold the leadership of a significant party, he knows only too well that he has to do what Len McCluskey demands, dressing it up in a way that he can sell to Labour MPs and party member. Otherwise either he will be removed somehow, or the Labour party will be sidelined by UNITE and its fellow-travellers in the Union movement. Scylla or Charybdis?

In these past few weeks, as I have covered in my weekly digests, this has indeed been coming to pass, and at roughly the time I had originally envisaged – especially in relation to the 2015 General Election. It was obvious then, and is even more so now, that this scenario was planned for all that time ago, and is now being played out.

Sometimes it is very satisfying to see one of my predictions (shared by few t the time, I might add) come into being, but this one provokes only sadness in me. However, it is gratifying that the Lefties continue to be so predictable, well in advance, so the wise and influential can take appropriate precautions and be ready when the time comes.

Although my original posts have gone from here, anyone sufficiently interested will no doubt have little trouble locating them at one or more of the Internet cache sites.

I remain pleased that I made that break by deleting my former (older) political posts, knowing full well that they had been archived elsewhere as always happens, because the time to come will be of a different nature. the McCluskey/Miliband business looks set to be probably the most significant part of that upcoming time...

Galaxias! by Galaco

That title sounds odd, doesn't it? Galaco is quite an interesting Vocaloid of whom we hear little, and who is under threat of deactivation by her creators. I do not know the full background to this or what her exact status is, beyond the fact that she was given away free, which is unusual in itself. Only UTAUs are free, normally..

Although her typically rather 'flat' but clear voice benefits from careful tuning (such as that done by one AbstractCactus), it would be a shame to dismiss her and then to lose her in the coming weeks. There is a petition to try to save her, here. and I have now signed it.

For now, let's listen to her full version of Galaxias! (as distinct from the more common 90-second short form of the song) which I think works reasonably well...

Happy Birthday, Papa GUMI!

Another simple but brilliant song from neutrinoP to which I was privileged to contribute some of the (short) lyrics, which is a very kind gift from 'neutrino' to Noboru Murukami, head of the company that produced the vocaloids GUMI, Gakupo, Lily and CUL, all of whom are featured here. Murukami-san turns fifty today!

If the widget fails to appear, force a page re-load: there seems to be a bug in the widget's code that sometimes needs this...

We actually produced this song yesterday; and although it has been publicly visible since then, I thought that in my own case it was better to wait until the man himself had heard it, which has now been confirmed.

If you hover your mouse pointer over the little lilac square (you might need to click on the sound widget's background first), you'll find someone's comment displayed; and you can add your own comment as well if desired...

Friday, 26 July 2013

Weekly Political Digest – 26 July 2013

I have held this week's digest back while clarifying something, so it will not appear until Saturday...

Unite If You Want To

Carrying on from previous weeks, the McCluskey (UNITE the Union) vs Labour feud continues, as Iain Martin shows here. Don't read just the first paragraph in isolation or you'll get the wrong idea! This is typical Martin style, which he does in places such as Twitter as well, so one does need to pay if anything greater attention with his writings(!)

 It isn't all that long; but for those in a rush I can say that it is the second paragraph in from each end that one really does need to read. They tell most of the story as we all need to know it, and it is telling about the ranting 'big shouty sneering man' that McCluskey (predictably enough) is, and (for those reading between the lines of McCluskey's actions) is making his real intentions to take over Labour – or perhaps from Labour – and run the country himself, either directly or via a puppet Prime Minister.

From there he could (and would, I am certain) transform the nation into a totalitarian Communist-style state in comparatively short order. This makes Iain Martin's headline even more pertinent than it might at first have appeared...

Crosby, Steals and Gnash

This from Guido is one of those (numerous!) object lessons in how the media can and do manipulate stories to suit an agenda.. In this case, it is the Lefties' much-hated (because of how effective he is) Conservative Partys' hired-in campaign director Lynton Crosby, and it is The Guardian (no doubt in collusion with others) who is being targeted.

Selective and seemingly at least partly falsified (in subtle ways, but they still count) reporting has manufactured a story that clearly doesn't exist, and shows the depths to which some will descend – nearly always those on the political Left, no doubt taking their cues from the bad old days of Pravda in the era of the old USSR. Even the 'leaked' document (of which only a few of its dozens of pages were quoted) wasn't a leak after all, and wasn't from the stated source.

However much the chip-on-shoulder 'Socialists' (i.e. Communists in sheep's clothing) gnash their teeth at even the thought of Crosby, he is here for the duration – and both sides know that he could very well be instrumental in securing an overall Conservative majority in 2015.

The Agony of the Ecstasy

This is an interesting article regarding the street prices of drugs and whether it is still sensible to keep them criminalised.. It is fundamentally flawed in conflating alcoholic drinks with drugs (they aren'tL: they are beverages; and tea, coffee and carrot juice amongst others can and have been abused as drugs, so it's a separate subject) but the key social points remain.

That is: if illegal drugs are becoming more affordable in the overall marketplace (i.e. including the black market and the rest) then the present policy appears to be failing. Incidentally, a short-term change in the market dynamics doesn't imply that the extant was policy is or was wrong, though it might have been: it simply shows that the issue needs looking at anew and the short- to medium-term future projections checked, updated where necessary, and re-evaluated in case some kind of change of approach is now needed.

It's always a difficult one, this, and cannot avoid the clash between the nanny state prononents and the out-and-out libertarians. The key should be the reason those drugs were outlawed in the first place, whether that still stands (it almost ceratinly does, as human biochemistry hasn't changed materially in the interim) and the impact on society as it is today and will be (as best we can perceive) in the next few decades.

The only change I'd definitely wish for is a correction of the corruption that excludes one hard drug – tobacco – from the legislation that affects all other out-and-out drugs (i.e. excluding normal substances that can be abused). Now that there are so many readily-available alternatives, there is no reason not to have a global ban on tobacco products, making the law consistent at long last.

Fears of contraband can be dealt with by rendering all tobacco on the planet useless as a drug, which is actually quite simple to implement and irreversible. It would be a one-way street, with no going back; but it could be done and the scourge would be gone for ever.

Subsidy vs Sub-standard

This interesting story shows how the reduction in the scale and breadth of subsidising spare rooms to those who do not actually need them is already reducing overcrowding in at least one area, even this early into the new policy's implementation. That was always the real point, or one of the key points behind the changes. Instead of the selfishness of some resulting in the deprivation others in real need, aided and abetted by a deliberately flawed policy from years ago, this is now being corrected..

Perhaps now all the honest people in this country can begin to understand why this move was necessary: some of them already did, but others have been caught up in the 'bedroom tax' lie and were fooled for a while.

Incidentally, this is one of those cases where a policy that is to do with one subject (benefits) has a positive influence on a different topic, in this case housing. Contrast that with the manufactured 'connections' between unrelated subjects such as identifying one area of expenditure and then saying how much 'better' that sum could be spent on [insert one's own favoured topic] of which we always get plenty at Council. On which subject...

Medway Council Meeting

Last night's meeting of the full Medway Council was typical: long, with an excess of public questions, mostly from one lobby group (and its tame followers) on just one topic – which, as always in such cases, soon becomes repetitive and boring – along with a huge amount of party political 'broadcasting' (almost entirely from the Labour group) and ending in the inevitable Motion on national policy that was (very weakly) make it appear to have local relevance.

Not that, even then, it had any local council relevance, in terms of the purpose of the council. These are usually Trades Union originated and go to many if not all councils where there is any kind of Labour presence...

It is interesting to note that not even the local media reporters are falling for this tactic any longer, and are well up to speed on what is really going on. That card has been played too many times, and has become something like the boy who called 'Wolf!'.

The main topic of debate was the modernisation of Rochester Airport and a comparatively modest investment in it, over time, in order to secure a strong ongoing return. The Labour (and others? probably) organised flooding of the public gallery and the public questions session was full of the usual class war claims about 'a few millionaires' and where everyone and his dog would rather spend the money.

There was also a false recoupment period based on today's rent, whereas anyone who understands these matters and had studied the proposals would know that the rent will become market-level and there will also be business rates from the to be developed area.

What most people won't know is that this Masterplan is essentially what was looked at as one of the possibilities for the airport's future a number of years ago. I know: I was there! It has just been an inordinately long time coming, but is now going to happen.

The standard Labour Plan B, having failed to shut Rochester Airport a decade or so again (which they denied had been their aim, but I have all the documents that prove it), is a delaying tactic, which they sought by means of an amendment. I am pleased that the Conservative Administration of the council saw right through that – as of course had I, straight away – and defeated the cleverly-worded (but dependent upon most people's ignorance of these matters) amendment, and the original proposal was agreed.

That's it for this week!

Tora-Con 2013

This is the official Tora-Con AniMiku event, uploaded by Re:Vb himself (creator of the software) and with embedding enabled, so there is clearly no problem with my posting it here. The event was on 23 March of this year. I thought I posted this before – I certainly intended to, but it wasn't already on the 'blog when I checked. I've now sussed it out: this is very similar to the NekoCon event I posted previously, but quite a bit better in several respects. The other event had only Leaving Donna by SeeU, and the shading didn't work as well throughout, so this video is definitely a worthwhile view!

The AniMiku animation and rendering engine has really come along in the past year or so, and this is an ideal showcase for the quality of its rendering in particular. I have to admit I am impressed with the clarity for stage projection, the shading, and other characteristics of what was by this time version 3.9 (beta) of the software. It has been carefully designed to simulate a holographic projection, and it does seem to at least partly achieve that – in fact, probably just about as well as can be done with non-holo systems.

It lasts just over an hour in total, and features (alphabetically) CUL, GUMI, Miku, Rin and SeeU, performing songs from nine producers/composers. The Rin model looks a little sad, and I must admit I'd have chosen a different one myself.

Even if all you watch is the opening number, I think you'll be pleased you did; but I hope that many visitors here will go further than that, especially for SeeU's choreography and animation (both by tourbux, no less, which explains the top-notch standard) and CUL's song...

JapanExpo in France

The French have been holding these expos for over a decade, and this report comes from this year's event in Paris. It is actually quite interesting, particularly the panel – but also to see the number of French fans and cosplayers there are, a sprinkling of whom spoke to camera (along with a couple of Japanese people).

It is a clear illustration of what I have been saying for a while now: that culture is spreading throughout the world in this way, and we in Britain are if anything behind the curve these days but slowly cottoning onto it all...

A Song Idea

This came to me this morning, and I wonder whether it might be made into a song. There's only one person I know who is likely to make a good, from-the-heart full production of it, and I shall be pointing him to this shortly...

I stood all alone in the bustling street
Going nowhere and with no-one to meet
Everyone else was going somewhere
On the sidewalk, the cars, a 'plane in the air.

Surely my life couldn't have come to this
To all fall apart: I must have been so remiss
Perhaps all it needs is a fair maiden's kiss
And I'd be living once more.

It happened! And now when I go to that street
I meet my fair maiden, whose embrace is so sweet
And now it seems that the world's in a freeze
While we flit* along, like two leaves on a breeze.

( * - or 'float')

These lyrics are my copyright; and apart from myself only neutrinoP currently has my permission to use any, part, all or none(!) of the above...

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Back on Facebook

Earlier this week I reactivated my Facebook account, which had lain dormant for over two and a half years. This was not something I did lightly, remembering how much time it tended to consume before and being aware of the security issues raised when the way it worked changed at that time, which was the reason I suspended the account in the first place.

However, with so much of the Vocaloid world operating via Facebook to a greater or lesser degree, and my being unable to comment, contribute or even 'Like' items from the outside, I relented, really for this purpose alone. The formation and launch a few days ago of Synthesized Reality Productions was what finally flipped that switch of decisiveness – hence the timing.

I have changed a few settings, including switching the Chat option off, at least for the time being while I get my bearings with the latest incarnation of this often-changed facility.

Old memories are already coming back, as I get comments that end up in effect compelling me to participate in lengthy exchanges, but fortunately most of the time it is what I might term quiescent: it's not dormant, but there are few (and rare) notifications, and my comments tend to be merely Liked, not often responded to by anyone.

Therefore it is manageable, at least for the time being, and I shall see how it progresses, while still keeping a close eye on Twitter and blogging at a reasonable rate. In between all of that there is normal life to lead as well, including shopping, cooking and the rest – especially the rest, in both senses of the word!

'My Time' at Taiwan

Miku's rather sweet song, that is, at the Taiwan concert, complete with English subtitles, though they are a bit 'Engrish-y' in places and not uite as easy to follow as they might have been. The song's Japanese title is Watashi no Jikan.

When this is performed at a concert in Japan, Miku usually wears one or another Yukata (either the blue one or the pink one), but perhaps for cultural reasons it's the standard Miku outfit on this occasion.

It's a nice self-referencing number, even containing a mention of the famous Nico Nico Douga video website in the chorus. Miku is at her most beautiful with this kind of material, both voice-wise and in its stage presentation, and it is hard not to go all soft and jelly-like, so I suggest (at least for the fellas) sitting down for this one, with a hanky or some tissues within easy reach...

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Coming Together – and Coming Soon!

Miku English is on the way, as I have mentioned before.

Below is a short demonstration track: part of Coming Together, which was written by someone named as 'bsc a.k.a. kuni', which doesn't help me much(!)We see the notes on the editor, and we have the lyrics in case of need. Commenters so far (this was uploaded just yesterday) have been mixed on that point: some have been able to understand without looking at the words, others have needed them here and there.

Therefore it isn't perfect, but my trained ear suspects that this is at least partly down to the producer being non-English and therefore not necessarily knowing the exact pronunciation. Combined with what no doubt is an attempt to make it appeal primarily to Americans rather than Brits like me, it ends up with a slightly odd and very occasionally clipped accent.

Once producers in the UK get their hands on Miku English (which also sees the porting to Vocaloid 3 from her original V 2, alongside the Japanese original) and learn how best to tune her for 'proper' English pronunciation, I think we shall find some really good material appearing. The sheer clarity of her voice in this demo gives a strong indication that the potential really is there.

Perhaps this is what we need to open up the Vocaloid world to a largely unaware Great Britain...

A Matter of Pride

Here's one of my favourite clips from the original Star Trek, most of it between Kirk and Scotty after a fight between the Enterprise crew and some Klingons.

It works very well, and Bill Shatner handles this just about flawlessly (no doubt aided by top-notch direction) including pacing, inflection and facial expressions...

Japan Mode

This comes across as a very good series, in English, about Japanese culture in various locations. It is genuinely interesting – to just about anyone I should think – and is presented by Danny Choo for whom I have considerable regard. That name alone meant that I was definitely going to watch what turned out to be a highly professionally produced and well-researched programme.

Mind you, Aya seems to get the better end of the deal, both in and out of the studio...

Why this first upload is episode ten I have no idea; but Ginza is certainly interesting, from sweets to tea and even kimonos. The following programme (which I hope will also be uploaded) is in Roppongi, which regular visitors here will recall I recently 'visited' on the 'blog for a Miku Augmented Reality experience.

Do stick with this even if you're not particularly interested in Japanese culture and tradition: I think you'll agree that it was worth it...

Who is that? Donna or Lauren?

Here's a fun Comic Relief sketch featuring David Tennant (as 'Mr Logan') and Catherine Tate (as her famous character Lauren Cooper) with a sharply-written script and the odd twist in the tale...

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

It's Green – The Original

In this wonderful character-driven excerpt from the Star Trek original series episode By Any Other Name, Scotty speaks the immortalised line that re-appeared in The Next Generation as I recently showed here.

This is such great fun, especially Jimmy Doohan's acting which is a sheer delight. The universe would have been poorer if this had never been placed into the public consciousness: it is one of those 'once seen never forgotten' scenes...


I lost this in the Big Cull a number of weeks ago, and that needs correcting. Therefore, here (again) is Erik Satie's Gnossienne No. 1, as it was played in the film The Painted Veil.

I have known this tune since the 'seventies (possibly from a little earlier than that, I can't pinpoint it precisely) and didn't know what it was until comparatively recently. It's very special, and you'll feel it pull at your heart-strings...

Monday, 22 July 2013

A Pair of Wintery Winds

Well, that's how it's been written at the video's YouTube page, though I'd have opted for 'Wintry' myself. The Japanese title is Tsugai Kogarashi, it was written and arranged by Shigotoshite-P, and was originally performed by Meiko and Kaito.

Anyway, this is a traditional style of Japanese song, well performed by the Kagamine duo in a very appropriate setting with some delightful action and scenery.

Although the up-loader has not provided English words, a link to them has been supplied, and it is worth following that link sometime to get the flavour of the song. It doesn't need it at first viewing, but is probably useful before a subsequent view...

Ed Balls Gets Lucky

Well, at least he apparently performs Get Lucky in this spoof video, found via Political Scrapbook.

It is very well done on the whole; and it is of course appropriate that one of the Eds is on drums, which he really can play (as I have shown previously).

How long you can put up with the sound track is up to you; but I managed to get through the whole thing without having to mute it part way through. That option remains, though, for those unprepared to stick it out, and you could hardly be blamed...


I think we've all felt somewhat melted down in the recent heatwave, but Rin has to take it a stage further, and think about diving into a fusion reactor(!)

This live performance of Meltdown has English subtitles, so it's easy to follow the story of this potentially tragic tale. Thankfully much of it turns out to have been only dreams.

Notable here are the audience's immediate recognition of the upcoming song from the piano prelude, and – after a lengthy intro – the almost wild enthusiasm when Rin appears. They have excellent taste, those Japanese...

After Vocalekt Visions

In recent weeks it became known that there were difficulties with Vocalekt Visions, the concert-mounting and song-writing team that were also tied-in with a group of cosplaying live action performers.

Both the most famous names behind that enterprise have been having difficulties, as came out into the public domain during the past month or so, and earlier this month the outfit was in effect suspended while this was being resolved one way or another.

It now turns out that Vocalekt is apparently no more, and a new group has been formed by some of its people (neutrinoP, Wolf Neve and Alfred Parish) along with others (most famously EmpathP, plus Ruchii-P and Apparatus). I have to admit to not having heard of a couple of those before, but I have a feeling they will from now on become better known to the public.

The new set-up is called Synthesized Reality Productions, which is a bit of a mouthful so no doubt they will be known colloquially as 'SRP'. Here is their Facebook page, which looks like it is going to be well worth watching.

Although it is sad to lose Vocalekt, this does look like it could turn out to be a really good development as my gut feeling is that the new group will turn out to be stronger and thus better equipped to handle the challenges of what is now becoming a burgeoning market for what they will be providing. No longer will it be small room-fuls of hard core enthusiasts with fuzzy images projected onto walls as we have seen in the past: the next phase of even fan-based concerts will need to be of higher technical quality than that.

To meet the new challenges, the new SRP could well be what is needed to make it all possible, raising the bar as they have already hinted. I do wish them well in their endeavours!

It is...Green

This clip is taken from the excellent Star Trek: Next Generation episode "Relics", where Scotty appears and the Enterprise-D is pulled into a Dyson Sphere style of artificial world.

This part, between Scotty and Data and set in Ten-Forward, echoes Scotty's own line "it is green" from the original Trek episode "By Any Other Name". It is very well played and is great fun. I am strongly tempted to use the same line whenever I am asked to describe what something obscure might be...


Although we have seen this 'stage' (as it is called) before, with the little sliding block patterns hovering near the walls, that was for a different performance.

This is Innocence (not 'Innocent' as it says on the YouTube player), composed by kazu-p and performed by Rin, and is quite attractive, even without English words provided, as here (unfortunately). It is also, by the way, well suited to Lapis' voice, so I might well feature that version one day.

Rin is very fetching as always when in her 'puffball' dress with the big front bow and complementary (though not quite matching in colour) flower-like hair adornment, and her gentle swaying motion is very feminine. It's a worthwhile addition to this Rin series I am compiling during these few days...

Sunday, 21 July 2013

End of Solitude

Rin, playing a mean guitar, is accompanied by Len on bass guitar, in a quite tuneful rock song End of Solitude.

It works well, and shows something of the versatility of Rin (here with a dark bow for a change, and six hair clips instead of the usual four), which is no bad thing.

Vocaloids can become typecast just as much as human actors and other performers, so it is a good idea to stretch them in non-customary genres. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't – but it is nearly always worth making the attempt...

Iroha Song – Live

Although there are no English subtitles, this catchy tune that I have featured before is here performed live on the upper stage at Kansai by Rin in a delightful outfit that really works well for her.

Although I showcased a Dreamy Theater version of this less than two months ago, this live version deserves to appear here, especially as I have decided to feature Rin for the time being anyway.

Incidentally, I wonder if any other Vocaloid character has drawn as many "awww" type comments as Rin. I think only Lapis comes anywhere near. I seem to have encountered hundreds of 'em for Rin at least in my on-line travels, probably more...


The Kansai video of this has now been taken down (I gather there was a copyright issue after all, despite the precautions the uploader had apparently taken beforehand), so here is an earlier live performance of Melancholic, composed by Junky and performed by Rin, complete with English subtitles, from the Taiwan concert last year.

It's such a delightful song, and Rin is of course ideal for it (though I'd have used a more natural-sounding voice from her voice-bank myself) because of her characteristic lightness and sweetness. It's near-enough impossible not to like this, as commenters at various YouTube pages have consistently attested...

Saturday, 20 July 2013

New SEGA Vocaloid Games

SEGA's mysterious Project 575 has now been unveiled, and it turns out that it comprises two separate games: Song Builder 575 for the PlayStation Vita, and Song Reader 575 as an app for iOS as used in Apple mobile/portable products. The latter will be out within the week, but the Builder will not be released until next year.

The idea of being able to write one's own lyrics for the Vocaloid characters to perform using their built-in voice-banks is the next logical step in using the technology within the gaming genre, so now a version of the Vocaloid software forms part of the game code so that instead of merely punching buttons in time to a pre-written song, one gets to write at least some of the words for the two (typically cute young ladies) performers to sing for you.

It was such an obvious concept to me, that I thought it might turn out to be a damp squib; but the demos below suggest that it could in fact have sufficient appeal to be a runaway success, especially in its home country of Japan, as it is very much in tune with their mainstream culture. Here are the (short) demos: meet Azuki and Maccha...

I don't know whether, like Project Diva F, this will one day make its way to the west in either version (or perhaps both), but with Diva blazing the trail here any time now, perhaps it might become a knock-on demand-led success here as well, one day. It would certainly be good if our characteristically violent games market leaders were to be supplanted by something that much softer....

Alas Smith – and Jones

Alas we have today lost the excellent Mel Smith, owing to a fatal heart attack. He was not just a comedy writer and performer, but also tackled serious acting parts with considerable acclaim. UPDATE: Here is a very informative obituary.

Here, though, is the character he made most famous, along with his wonderful 'foil', the Griff Rhys-Jones character in one of their head-to-heads for Not The Nine O'Clock News all those years ago...

Now This Is Truly Epic!

I have been noticing 'epic' space battles and montages of such battles from various series or movies, sometimes both. They all have something – I haven't yet spotted a poor one – but in reality it all started some twenty years ago, with Babylon 5.

Although the complex (and highly intelligent) story arc was the key ingredient to this five-year series, and some of its spin-offs (a couple weren't good enough and were starting to look like a cheap'n'easy franchise), it has to be said that the space battles, when they happened, were a vital and genuinely nail-biting core ingredient in the overall production.

Those who know the original series in particular will recognise so much of what happens in this ten-minute compilation: I can place the majority of the scenes straight away, though a few are from later straight-to-video work that I had never seen before, so I am stumped on those.

Here we have everything from Shadows and Vorlons, via White Stars and Centauri and Narn ships, down to lowly Vree saucers and the ultra-manouevrable Starfuries (a brilliant design), also taking in regular and 'advanced (i.e. with Shadow tech') Earth Force destroyers, the Babylon 5 station itself and a few others for the eagle-eyed to spot.

This is the original, folks: there was never anything quite like it before, and almost all that has followed has generally felt like just an imitation to those of us familiar with the B5 original. The technology might have advanced hugely in these past two decades, but that's not really what it's about: it's about storytelling...

Anime Expo 2013 Report

This is from AX2013 in Los Angeles, and includes a demo of Miku English (though the producers of this video apparently weren't allowed to include any of the actual singing here) to which the reaction seemed very favourable.

There are two new Miku songs featured as the background tracks to this video: "Fate" by Circus-P (whose work I have been noticing recently) and "Closure" produced jointly by Kenji-B (who is also known as 'nostraightanswer') and EmpathP.

Some of the camerawork here isn't as good as it should have been, especially the fast back-and-forth panning; but it's all interesting nonetheless. Besides the original purposes of the event, I see this also as a continuation of the move toward Europe (including Britain) that the Japanese companies involved are anticipating for what I'd guess will be two or three years in the future...

Friday, 19 July 2013

Weekly Political Digest – 19 July 2013

There is again a lot to go through this week, but I shall, as always, attempt to keep it fairly brief...

First, following up something covered in my last digest, it's worth noting that UNITE's Len McCluskey has, as expected, welcomed Ed Miliband's proposal regarding union affiliation fees that will give the unions more of the money they will continue to collect, while making Ed-M seem responsible and competent in the eyes of those who don't realise what a sell-out it really is.

How Much Tax?

The Daily Mirror ran a typical front page headline that tried to suggest that the Coalition Government was placing a higher tax burden on 'the poor' than on 'the rich' – standard Lefty class warfare. Of course, they got it wrong, on two counts in fact.

First, as Fraser Nelson reports, there has already been a significant shift of the tax burden away from the poorer end of society and toward the better off than was operated under the previous government, or indeed any previous government.

Second, the real or effective tax level for some at the lower end can be as high as 84%, not the 36% that the Mirror splashed over its front page; and Fraser has provided the data to back up this claim. Some could even be paying 95% in effective tax.

As he says, the real issue is the slow reform of the welfare system that really needs to move on apace, as the reality of Labour's system and how it was structured was (as some have been saying all along) to trap huge numbers of people within a system that was always intended to make them dependent upon the State and be economically unable to find a realistic way out of in as many cases as James (a.k.a. Gordon) Brown in particular could devise a way to hold onto.

Not that Labour has stopped there: in order to restore and expand on that whole policy, they are secretly planning to make claiming benefits a kind of 'human right', so that it becomes a permanent and unshakeable burden and a trap for even more of us than ever before.

Again, the solution is (as with so many inadequate outcomes since 2010) a Conservative overall majority in 2015. Not only would this release their MPs and Ministers from the compromises and blockages that they are currently having to tolerate – and I have considerable inside info on this, provided to me in confidence – but it would also remove the excuse of the Lib Dems, for those who like to perceive it as such.

As I say, I know more of the truth than to fall for that easy attack line myself, but that doesn't stop others, especially UKIPpers, who seem to have made a career out of it.

Fantasy Politics

Lord Ashcroft has an enormously respected record of extensive and detailed opinion polling, and among his latest commissioned work has been the result that a lot of ideas being floated by some within the Conservative fraternity, including some MPs, is just fantasy politics that has little if any public support. He has been looking specifically at what has been labelled The Alternative Queen's Speech: it is the speech that is different, not the Queen, I hasten to add(!)

As the Noble Lord. says, those policies are not the way to a parliamentary majority in the next General Election. Although there is no harm in looking at these side issues in private (they make for useful mental exercise, especially in terms of inventiveness and thinking outside the box), but it isn't a good idea to promote such ideas in public.

However, now that this had been done, it did at least afford Lord Ashcroft a suitable opportunity to teach us the hard-knock lesson of life regarding such things, so I suspect this is the last Alternative Queen's Speech we shall encounter from this government...

Beeb Traps Itself

Charles Moore looks at the BBC this week, and finds all manner of interesting things, some of which I and others already knew. It is worth going through the whole piece. The most striking conclusions, inescapable though they are (in more than one senses of the word), are that (a) the Beeb has, in effect, trapped itself into reporting only what suits its people's own outlooks, and (b) employing only like-minded people.

This seems to be irreconcilable, no matter what anyone tries to do, so almost certainly cannot be solved in any way that leaves the BBC essentially intact. As a number of commenters and observers have been saying for years, it has to be broken up and sold off as a commercial enterprise that will in future need to compete directly in the marketplace, not hold a privileged position outside and above the real marketplace. The licence fee (in reality an anachronistic stealth tax) must then go as well, and rightly so!

Medway Maritime Hospital

Our local hospital – the one where I was taken when I had my 'incident' a couple of years ago – is one of the fourteen that were looked at specifically in the recent inquiry, and of which eleven have now been placed in so-called 'specisl measures'. Whether or not the media were right to latch onto the 'excess mortality rates' as the single big factor is challenged by FullFact, with some justification, though it shouldn't be dismissed as a measure, having considerably validity nonetheless.

The Keogh report contains a number of colour-coded tables to show the level of quality at each of those hospitals in various areas and a range of aspects of each. It has to be said that the Medway came out not all that badly overall, but a moderate number of areas needing attention did get highlighted.

In a sense, all this is good news, in that it had been going on for years yet nothing was being done about it. The previous Labour government treated the NHS almost as a kind of sacred cow, and it is known that the then Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, refused to countenance dealing with any complaint and instead preferred to hide it all away and pretend that all was well.

That has been documented in several places, though with differing numbers of formal complaints, so there isn't a single source I can quote with a hundred percent confidence on that particular aspect. The 'NHS as a religion' meme is covered very well by Rev. Dr Peter Mullen at Cranmer's 'blog, and helps one understand just what it is like to some and what that means in practice.

It will come as no surprise that Lefties treat the NHS as an entity as the be-all and end-all, and that (as always with the Left, as I have reminded readers numerous times) the individual has no value. Paul Goodman covers this in his piece for ConHome.

When the subject was aired in the House of Commons, perhaps inevitably – and certainly predictably – it became something of a blame game. Now, there are those who don't like that in politics, and I tend to go along with that view myself as an ideal; but if one doesn't realise and understand how we got to a particular point and why, and especially if some are spreading misinformation, then it becomes difficult or even impossible to find a proper and lasting solution.

Take it from an old hand in the public sector who has seen it all before...

Indeed, as Douglas Carswell MP reports, Labour MPs were far more interested in making it out to be about them than caring about the multiple deaths and other ills at the hospitals. Self-serving to the end, their 'phoney rage' (as Douglas puts it) attempts to divert attention away from the actual issues.

Meanwhile, local Medway MP Mark Reckless welcomes the support that the special measures will apparently provide to Medway Maritime Hospital. We shall have to wait and see what this will turn out to be in practice, but Mark's words in the linked article do make for illuminating reading about how the three Medway-based MPs have approached the matter of our local hospital and its deficiencies and needs.

Igniting the Midnight Petroleum

English idioms can be such fun when taken literally...

The Day The Earth Smiled

Starting at 22.27 hrs tonight (as I write this) and lasting nearly three quarters of an hour, the Cassini spacecraft will take both wide- and narrow-angle images of Saturn and (in the wide-angle views) its entire ring system (after whose between-rings division the craft was named) during an eclipse of the Sun.

Our own home planet will also be in shot, near the rings, though at too great a distance to show even in the narrow-angle views, I suspect. Further details are here.

Today is being called the day the Earth smiled, as in 'smiling for the camera' presumably, and no doubt the images will arrive here on Earth, then be processed and (hopefully) made publicly available in due course. I shall try to watch for that...

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Follow the (Vocaloid) Money

While visiting me here at the Flat au John  yesterday, my father asked how anyone in the Vocaloid part of the music business made any money out of it.

It was a good question, and one that I had pondered before, coming to the conclusion that there are several money-making avenues in this part of the market though they are not necessarily all that easy to explain on the spur of the moment, owing to the significantly different shape of that market area.

It is a lot more fan-driven than the traditional music markets – though, as I personally witnessed during my years involved in that business, it was always a significant part of it – yet still very professional, with lots of scope for contributors to make at least a partial living from it, and some can do even better than that.

First, there is the Vocaloid software itself, which is sold by Yamaha – so they do quite well out of it, to the extent that they have been actively developing the technology for over a decade now.

Then there are those who produce the Vocaloids themselves, such as Crypton Future Media, I-Style, Internet Co, SBS (Korea), and a fair.number of others including geographical areas and convenience store chains. Most if not all of these sell their creations to composers/producers, generating income for themselves.

When it comes to those composer/producer types, the same basic rules apply as in the more traditional routes to music publishing, but without any of the hurdles that have always beset that market – as I well know from my years as a tech' provider to the players within it. The names I could drop...

The producers of the music are now able to get their work into the public arena via the Internet, which in the first instance is a freely available source of (often) very good material, much of which I have showcased on this 'blog during the past six months or so. By showcasing their talents thus, these producers can then be commissioned by commercial outfits to write (paid for) material for something they are doing – and there are a number of instances of that happening.

Others gain such a reputation that they are able to place full or extended versions of their work on paid-download sites such as iTunes, and even release CDs or (with impressive and memorable videos) DVDs, such as Tripshots' Super High Definition videos that I have mentioned here before and embedded reduced-resolution versions.

Then there are the character designers such as Lat, Tda, Saboten, Mamama and tourbux, whose designs are often made into figurines by the likes of Good Smile Company and Max Factory, including Figma and Nendoroid types. Whether the original designer is paid is per-sale royalties or a one-off licensing fee I do not know, but for copyright reasons it has to be one or the other.

There is plenty of other merchandise available as well, from costume play (cosplay) outfits and accessories (everything anyone could need from wigs to leeks!) to magazines.

On top of all this are the live performances, where ticket sales, merchandise and glow-stick sales provide ample scope for the entrepreneurial types to do well.

Overall, it's a big market, though not 'shaped' in quite the way we tend to see in the west. It's more Forbidden Planet than (say) Lady Gaga in style and form, so not that easy to explain to someone unfamiliar with the way this works in much of the rest of the world, having largely passed Britain by, to date.

Nevertheless I hope that what I have written here gives at least a flavour of what is a large (and growing) part of a market area that is big in the world, though not – yet? – in all countries. There's money to be made by those who understand the nature of the genre and, most importantly, its fan-base...

Now I'm Sixty-Four... seems appropriate to play the Beatles classic, so here it is, complete with the lyrics – though they aren't always correctly timed or laid out. Nevertheless, it's near enough that you'd get the idea even if you didn't have English as your main language, I think...

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Birthday Treat – For Me!

If anyone can 'strut her stuff' without losing her essentially femininity, it's SeeU. I still consider this lady (even not 'real' in the conventional sense) to be the most feminine stage performer in the world, even though here in PapaRoach her style is of necessity a little more like the human female performers of recent years.

PapaRoach is a play-on-words, likening the papa[razzi] to [cock]roaches, really as a result of much of the media's negative reaction to vocaloids in general a while back. Along with the (very touching) I=Fantasy, it shows SeeU's dedication to defending the vocaloids against that onslaught and any others that might yet surface.

The real world is better and broader than the limited subset favoured by those too deeply entrenched within what was the sum total of the music business up until a few years ago – and I saw enough of what can happen to an industry that clings to the past without embracing the new, when I was right on the edge of this very same industry, all those years ago when I worked at R.E.W. in London's Charing Cross Road.

Anyway: this is the version with a jaw-dropping tourbux model of SeeU and an invisible microphone(!) but it certainly merits a second airing after all these months since I first featured this video here...

Happy Happy Birthday to me

I uppose I should be playing When I'm 64, as that is now my age; but instead I'll take this rather nice GaGain song performed (some in English, though with a bit of an accent!) by SeeU...

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Miku in Roppongi Hills

This Augmented Reality (AR) event is running from today until 21 July, with a performance every ten minutes of the song Packaged (by 'kz livetune', who is most famous for Tell Your World).

So, if you are lucky enough to be able to get to Roppongi in Japan, and have an Android device or a PlayStation Vita, you can download the app, go and point your device at a specific building (the Metro Hat), and get the performance on the evenings of these six days.

Oddly, the specific hours it works aren't related to any specific transmissions, as one might have thought, but are taken from your own 'phone/device's closk(!). Here are the details of the event, complete with a download link for the app.

For the rest of us, this video (in rather a noisy location, so the sound isn't clear – but you'll get the idea) will probably have to suffice, though I now learn (at 0600 hrs on 17 July) that this image of the building can be used as a substitute...

Everything's Gonna Be All Right

The above line is among the English words sprinkled in among all the Korean, as performed from SeeU's Korean voicebank which does include a range of English phonemes. With no subtitles, it doesn't really help one understand what it's all about; but it's such a delightful song – named Shining Star – that I couldn't resist having it here. Well, okay, I did resist it for a few hours, but relented in the end!

The still image is very appealing too; and her eyes in this are almost as good as in the Tourbux model used in I Like That!, which I have featured here before. So, to quote again from the song, what are you doing now? You should perhaps, I think, be listening to this...

View of Silence

I think it's time for some more of Joe Hisaishi  (at the piano – where else?) and the nine 'cellos we have seen before, in a multi-part arrangement of View of Silence, from Joe's album Pretender.

It's typical Joe material, with an almost understated emotional current running through it; and if you liked the other works of his that I have featured here previously, you are certain to like this one too...

Ever Green

This song, Ever Green by Dadie MSP, is the latest outcome of the Miku/Domino's tie-in. I don't have any real detail on its history, but it is very enjoyable anyway – though with no English words as yet (apart from the words 'Ever Green'!)

Interestingly, only this past weekend it came out that western electronic music star Skrillex had just added a Miku image (with small Domino's logo at the side) to his Twitter avatar, so it's not just in Japan that this link-up is having an effect.

The outfit design, by okp, is really colourful (but slightly subdued, never garish) and feminine, especially the overall cut and the sleeves in particular. The model itself is Mamama's ApiMiku, which is the first time the video's director, wakamuraP, has used a non-Lat model. I for one am happy with that decision: I am quite taken with this extra-cute Miku design ensemble!

The song's style is typical Vocaloid electro-pop as its basis, and features some high-pitched vocal passages (though not quite as high as in, say, Melt), yet is original and also quite soothing...

Monday, 15 July 2013

Bad Apple – in English

This is really good: Bad Apple, sung by humans (these two are known as Ashe and rockleetist) with full English lyrics. It's interesting that the duo have their own anime-style avatars, though I don't know if they are original images. I certainly don't recognise them from anywhere else.

It's definitely worth at least one listen, and I suspect that, like several commenters at YouTube, you might well play it numerous times over time...

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Sunday Slot – 14 July 2013

First, a post-script to last week's Sunday Slot. Astute readers who have known my writings for a long while will no doubt have realised that there was a specific purpose behind that post, and that was to eke out some Lefty Christians (I'll let the apparent oxymoron go for the time being) and read their 'justifications' in their comments and tweets.

It took a few days before anything happened, but then the word got out and the page-views for that post suddenly shot up during Friday, continuing to rise but at a slower pace on Saturday. That seems to have now come to an end, as I expected it would after such a period.

In the end, there were only three tweets and a single comment here from one of those three. They tended to be of the 'proud to be' type and offered no attempted counter to what I had written. Of course, there isn't any possible counter, and they must all have realised that.

To be fair to them, they must think there is some merit in being on the 'wrong' side of the political spectrum, and I imagine it doesn't prevent their doing good works; but there are two big issues this brings up...
  • If they are easily misled and deluded, how can they be trusted as any kind of spiritual guide?
  • Some of their behaviour and attitudes really are heading in a bad direction.
The second of those merits a little more inspection. I checked the tweets of those who had sent me – or at least referenced me in the third person – in those few tweets, the comment I mentioned and other relevant contacts. I am hoping that one will turn out to be a spoof, as the tone taken by one purporting to be a church minister in a number of recent tweets was really not consistent with holding such a position and having that position stated in one's Twitter profile, whether 'personal opinion' or not.

Another instance was of a minister (and known by me to be so) who was searching for a 'politically correct' version of the Bible. Now, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, this whole concept means the re-writing of God's Word into (essentially, falsified) men's words to suit an agenda: instead of Joseph Smith this one would be Cultural Marxism (which invented and promotes political correctness).

I'd have grave concerns about anyone pursuing such an avenue in my church's leadership, and so should all real Christians everywhere. Watch out for this: my senses are certainly now more alert!

Justin Welby

The current Archbishop of Canterbury is creating something of a stir; and this interview by Charles Moore is very valuable indeed, as James Forsyth at The Spectator acknowledges when looking at the 'Bish' from a political viewpoint..

Although it is still comparatively early days, my own feeling is that he will make a very fine replacement of Rowan Williams, and I also think that he will communicate in a way to speaks to the people-at-large much better than his predecessor often tended to do, and will be perceived as being more 'of the people' as well.

I like this man, and wish him well. In an age where – probably partly because of the perceived out-of-touch nature of our churches, some of which might well stem from what I covered in what I wrote above – church attendances are continuing to diminish, perhaps that decline might now start to be reversed. Little by little, this new Archbishop could have such an effect in Britain.

I wish him well...

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Lady Penelope Rescues Virgin!

Although Wales has its own legislative Assembly, I'm not sure this is, strictly speaking, an International Rescue, but it is certainly the case that Lady Penelope – in the form of locomotive Class 57 number 307 – rescued this nine-car Virgin Trains Pendolino, here seen in Wales after being hauled from Euston, and also its departure back there. Oh, and you'll love the plaque on the locomotive's side!

It might be ever so slightly over-stating the case that "Pendolinos are Go!" – but it certainly applies to this one...


This is the unaccompanied song from the closing credits of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (which I have just watched again in its entirety, and it's just as great the second time) , performed by Yuki Nagato's voice actress Minori Chihara. The song's Japanese name is romanised as Yasashii Boukyaku. I know that Yasashii means 'gentle', but that's as far as I get.

I am not sure of the correct English name for it, as there seem to be several attached to different videos, so just for the sake of having something in this post's title I have taken the one from this video.

It is a haunting theme, and stands as it is, even without English words and with just a still image of Miss Nagato throughout..

Vocaloid Lip-Synch

If there is still a remaining significant deficiency with the Vocaloid characters, it is their rather limited mouth movements. Much of this is caused by the character designs typically having a rather small mouth, and a lot of the videos being of somewhat limited resolution. At live events, most of the audience will be a moderate distance from the stage.

Those character designers who have experimented with making the mouth bigger have generally turned their creations ugly as a result: it needs a lot of care to make that work. Also, the range of mouth 'shapes' and the frequency of updating tend to be unhelpful.

In the final analysis, it will be only when a deaf person is able to accurately lip-read a Vocaloid as easily as doing so with a human that the requisite standard will have been reached to be able to say they are then as good as the 'real thing'.

A good step in that direction has been taken by producer AkiGlancy, whose initial trials with lip-synching one of the two Miku parts in this short clip is a lot better than what we have seen previously, and without falling into those traps I mentioned above. The song is an excerpt from Story Rider.

Here, the larger mouth looks fine, is updated fast enough to be quite convincing, and the mouth has enough shapes to enunciate the range of sounds very well. It also helps to be in close-up and available in full High Definition resolution...

Miku Live In Your Hand

Readers of this who remember Lapis at Vocafarre and the Domino's Pizza live performing Miku on the pizza box will recognise this latest use of the same Augmented Reality (AR) technology to do much the same as (especially) the latter of those two, but at a specific location rather than anywhere you take your pizza box.

Because of that, again it isn't something that we here in the west can (yet) have; but it reminds us of what can be done these days with a smartphone or tablet that shows the scene via its built-in camera. Note that there are laser and glowstick effects added into the scene as well...

Website Design

I have, over the years, received a handful of comments regarding this 'blog site's design – nearly all complimentary, I probably out to add, just in case anyone jumps to an erroneous conclusion. It has occurred to me that a few lines of explanation of my policy on this topic could be of value, so here goes...

First, although I don't wish for things to get stale, by and large I don't fiddle with the design of thew site. There have been occasions when new templates have been worth implementing (twice in more than five years) and many more times when they haven't. My on-line user names and website addresses remain constant, as does my email address.

All this is so that the customer (for want of a better term)  is not expected to cope with bewildering changes in design, having to amend email address book entries or bookmarks – or anything else. It is born out of respect for the user, rather than (perhaps) satisfying my ego by showing how clever I am, or whatever.

The only part of this site's design I have changed for several years now is the banner, and that remains essentially the same with just detail changes to reflect shifts in emphasis over time.

On the subject of the banner, note how small it is relative to those of many other sites, in particular its height. This is deliberate, as far too many sites I know and access regularly have such a big banner that one has to scroll down a page to get to any actual content. Now, I don't know about you, but when I visit a website, it tends to be for content, usually new material, not a screenful of the same old banner image that was exactly the same last time and that I do not need (again!) to tell me what the site is about.

Notice that my modest banner – which no doubt has its faults, I do not deny – conveys all that even a first-time a visitor here might wish to know before reading anything I have written, but in a much more modest space. I don't go in for the in-yer-face egotistical style of site design, but still do the job. I'm sure the end result is far from perfect, but it always but always places the visitor's needs above those of the site author. Regulars here will no doubt have noticed the same attitude manifested in numerous other ways as well.

Y'see: the effort I put in impacts only one person, but can save dozens, scores, or (occasionally) hundreds of others having to make an easily avoidable exercise – and this is why I have consistently over the years made that effort, and I think it shows!

Friday, 12 July 2013

A Silent Moonlight Night

Miku is a (very fetching) harp-playing mermaid for this relaxing song, that's almost like a lullaby. A commenter at YouTube has likened it to Jigglypuff's song from Pokémon, only better in the lullaby department(!)

The video has been rather well done, with the harp playing fairly accurate and with English subtitles too; though it is at a low-ish resolution, probably because of its age (four years, all but a week) before we really had High Definition as a standard. It's still good enough, even in full screen display, if only just suitable for that mode...

Who's Who?

This 85-second clip (I'm being very specific about that number) features David Tennant and Matt Smith talking being The Doctor. This has been around for a few weeks, but an instinct prompted me to post it today, for some reason.

It's actually quite intriguing, especially the last (slightly mysterious) bit...

Weekly Political Digest – 12 July 2013

There is a fair amount to cover this week, even after my whittling down of an admittedly busy week into a manageable amount of material...

(With) UNITE We Fall...

The big national political story of the week was, without any doubt, the Labour ties with (and dependence upon the financing by) the UNITE Union. The only way Labour leader Ed[ward] Miliband was going to come out of this at all well was by appearing to stand up to the Unions in general, and UNITE in particular.

He has managed to pull off this trick, thus deflating the Conservatives' taunts of 'weak, weak, weak' as their current description of Ed-M.

The truth is, though, that by limiting the opt-in change to just the Labour party affiliation fee, nothing really changes apart from the unions keeping some of that money rather than passing it on. Zero change overall, in fact, as the Financial Times' Jim Pickard has sussed out. Indeed, the Miliband proposed change stands ready to give the unions more power than they have now.

This leaked UNITE briefing note is helpful in calibrating our thinking regarding the outfit's true motivations and intentions.

Labour's past keeps the party stuck in the 'what once was' era, meaning it can never really be a true part of today's world, no matter how much posturing and clever wordplay they apply to their public messages. As Matthew D'Ancona has realised, Ed-M's handling of this tie to the past is absolutely crucial to his and his party's future. So much hangs on this, which is something that very few people seem to realise...

Royal Mail

Should the Royal Mail (as distinct from the Post Office, which is a separate organisation) be privatised? City-AM's editor, Allister Heath, not only believes this Coalition Government move is a good one, but thinks it should have been done some twenty years ago. His arguments for this appear to be sound.

It is certainly demonstrably the case that the delay in so doing has left the outfit a lot less able to cope in the market, whereas if the John Major Government had managed to see this one through during their time the situation would be vastly better for the organisation.

Locally, Labour have expressed their (predictable) opposition to the currently planned change; but they are wrong to do so. It might be late, but it is something that really must not be left any longer, as the rapidly-changing market (mostly toward parcel deliveries, especially same-day services) will get even further away from the Royal Mail if it remains in the market's wilderness for much longer.

More Bona Than Jonah

Followers of Guido's anyone but Gordon series of posts, largely featuring Gordon Brown as a Jonah-like character who seems to be able to spoil any sporting types' chances of success simply by his meeting or just mentioning them, might have noticed that the same does not apply to Brown's successor at Number Ten, David Cameron. Instead, Cameron is bringing a genuine involvement and interest with him, such as at the Wimbledon tennis recently, as this tale explains so well.

Yes, Dave is a tennis player himself (and a good 'un, apparently)  and is interested – and he didn't put the mockers on Andy Murray either. Lefties are hating this, and a number of their disgusted reactions have been spotted in the usual social media. The colour of envy is green, but their raging faces were no doubt more like red...

Suffering From The Trots

Poor local Labour candidate Tristan Osborne, having been likened (only visually) to the young Leon Trotsky, has been featured in one of the Kent newspapers trying to lay this spectre to rest.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

It isn't easy, when in fact there is indeed quite a close resemblance, as this public photograph of the young 'Trot' shows...

Thursday, 11 July 2013

How to Park a Mini

In these two short clips (each less than a minute long) we see how Mr Bean does it...

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

NicoNico Party 2013

Six months ago, almost to the day, I brought you last year's so-called MMD multi-Vocaloid concert, (the 'MMD' standing for MikuMikuDance, the famous character animation software).

This year's has been up on YouTube for over two months, so there appears to be no problem with having it there, and embedding is allowed. Therefore I feel I can safely place it here.

It is much the same concept as last year's such event, and its full title is NicoNico Cho Party – by now you can no doubt suss out where the 'NicoNico' part originates, as I've mentioned that website a few times in recent months.

The very start is slightly unorthodox(!) but leads onto the trade mark (for these partyicular events) Miku sitting on a crescent moon supported on two ropes, like a swing. The sixteen songs this time come one immediately after another in most cases, and we have twelve Vocaloids and UTAUloids this year – one up on last year's eleven. Alphabetically they are: Gakupo, GUMI, IA, Len, Lily, Luka, Meiko, Miku, Ritsu, Teto and two others I haven't yet been able to identify, though I am fairly sure that one of them is the UTAUloid Yowane Haku.

There are good solos for Teto and IA (and watch the latter's eyes, by the way) and an interesting version of World's End Dancehall, with different choreography and some other variations, by the Kagamine duo.

As before, because the character motions are produced in MMD, which is designed for display on computer screens and PlayStations rather than for life-size projection, the quality isn't as good as the SEGA in-house professional software used for the what are usually referred to as the 'official' concerts. It's still good, though, and some is very good indeed, including the motion quality (which is variable, but never poor). The stage is superb too!

Anyway, this is a good way to spend forty minutes, probably best once the sun has gone down...

Tuesday, 9 July 2013


This is, unusually, the full-length version of Galaxias! – most videos of this song are just ninety seconds in duration.

This one features the lovely Lat model of CUL, along with two pansy model Mikus (designed by one Atakinomon) with CUL's voice. CUL is named thus as part of the word culture, and there is also another reason that is a bit obscure to us in the west so I shan't try to explain it(!)

There are no English words provided here; but this is really best enjoyed just as a spectacle with music: it works best that way. CUL is one of my second-favourite Vocaloids (along with IA and Rin), and perhaps visitors here might be able to see why, after watching this...

Bird's Poem

Actually, literally 'Bird's Song', but when this song Tori no Uta was first recorded by 15-year-old Lia, some thirteen years ago, it was destined to become known as the 'poem' version of the title.

Some years later, the now grown-up – and very successful in the music business – Lia became the voice artist for Vocaloid IA's voicebank. IA (pronounced "Ee-Ah"), also known as Aria on the Planetes (yes, that is the correct spelling, 'planetes' being our version of how the Greeks spelled the original word for planets, or wanderers) also sang this song, and here it is in a nicely made video, lasting under three minutes. Her excellent voice (IA is known as 'The Diva with the Crystal Voice') is here expertly used to convey the feel of the song very well.

There are no English words provided, but this is worth just listening to as is the first time anyway, I have found. Later, if it turns out to be popular, I'll see if I can find either a version with subtitles/captions or the English lyrics separately...

Monday, 8 July 2013

Memory (from 'Departures')

This Joe Hisaishi composition, here performed by (I believe) the London Symphony Orchestra and – of course – Joe himself both conducting and playing the piano part, is yet another of those excellent works of which most Brits have never even heard. Well, now's our chance to get acquainted with it! The original (Japanese) title is Okuribito.

Showcasing material that is relatively unknown here in the west is one of those activities in which I specialise, and am blessed with typically more pageviews than for most other posts I have ever written here during these past five years plus. It seems to be something that is well appreciated...

Inevitably, because of the language differences, a simultaneous interpretation system had to be put in place for this performance (and its rehearsals, no doubt) which explains all those headphones worn by many of the musicians and even Joe himself – something I have not encountered previously with him, because he usually performs with Japanese orchestras and soloists.

Here we have a very good featured 'cello part as well as Joe's exemplary (as ever) piano playing, so it is a treat indeed...

Where It All Started

The Vocaloid era for me, that is: it started with the Sapporo 2011 concert, and I have just gone through it again. It genuinely was brilliant, helped a lot, I think, by the lighting that brought out the performers much better, brighter and clearer than in some other events of this nature.

I previously featured this here last year, so it merits a reprise – deliberately without the distraction of captions or subtitles as this is an event to be enjoyed as it stands. You'll understand as you go through it.

High spots for me, now that I am more familiar with the scene: Miku's wonderful blue yukata (and check out the back of it!), Rin's equally wonderful blue eyes and wavy bow in her hair, the sheer emotion in Time Machine and Even Though My Song Has No Form, Miku's a-capella section of the beautiful Starduster, and the fun stuff such as the 'Ohayo hayo' bits in Hello Planet and the upbeat, happy Yellow and Melancholic.

Do have a go at this, even if just for a short way in, or broken into chunks over a period rather than all in one go. The purity of the direct connection between composer and audience is something that no human performer can ever equal or even approximate – except possibly those who compose their own material, and even they are bound to have a 'performing ego' that can get in the way, as I suspect at least some of them would readily acknowledge.

I still find this familiar (to me) event makes my heart melt even more than ever, and all those hundreds of 'I love Miku' comments on YouTube become less surprising as time goes by. No wonder this is one of the very biggest phenomena in the sphere of music worldwide that there has ever been...

Miku Wants to Find You

In practice, this is Miku's creators and associates trying to find out where her fans live, or at least the nearest major city to which they could travel, in order to work out where best to hold events and sell their products.

This is all part of the 'coming to the west' drive that has already begun with the Project DIVA-F game and the Los Angeles Mikunopolis and other American continent concerts that first happened some two years ago. Now they are looking toward the UK and Europe as well.

I have registered my 'location' as London from the UK cities provided, at this Web page, and I recommend any Miku/Vocaloid fans to do the same, to help build up a comprehensive picture of where we all are and how strong an interest there is here, rather than (say) France.

There is nothing ominous that I can perceive in any of this, as we will by now have realised from Crypton and the other players' track record within this strongly fan-driven market. We just need to show that it is worth their while mounting an official concert here in Britain one day, and marketing their merchandise here as well. There is even a draw for what look to be at least two prizes. Pass the word!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Sunday Slot – 7 July 2013

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

I have mentioned before, not only here but elsewhere, how we need to be on our guard against false ideologies, especially those dressed-up to look authentic. The devil knows the forms to use, so is very much able to construct an authentic-looking alternative faith. In fact, he seems to have created dozens: essentially, everything that isn't either Judaism or Christianity, though I accept that there might be a few exceptions in the mix. I am not sufficiently expert to be able to separate those out from the rest.

Inevitably, and entirely predictably, there are many people within the Christian churches who are not truly Christian at all, though they tend (on the whole) play the part reasonably convincingly. Only the most alert will initially spot their falsity. A big clue is Lefties, as the political Left is demonstrably and implacably against Christianity and usually the jews (and especially Israel) as well, no matter what their stated views might suggest. Words are cheap, but attitudes tell the real story.

In my home borough we have a (very) few highly suspect so-called Christians, and I am known for my testing of their true attitudes. One I have caught out before has this past evening expressed – without any prompting from me – his preference for Harry Potter (i.e. witchcraft) over "those CBeebies creatures" (i.e. Buddhism, as it's a clear reference to Waybuloo, on which I have previously expressed my own limited reservations, by the way) expressed in a way that is clearly an attack on me as a consequence of what I wrote in my preceding tweet..

After all: why bring that up, of all things? Think about it... Note also that this is not a personal matter regarding an individual: it is simply a quotable example of an attitude and a style of self-conduct that I have encountered a number of times now, and which happens to speak volumes.

The accompanying 'smiley' emoticon doesn't change the underlying message in this particular context.

Remember: my own church, the Salvation Army, sprang from a Methodist (William Booth), so I do have some idea of what that earlier church is about. Indeed, it wasn't so many years ago that I went on a coach-and-walking tour of the path of the origins of the Salvation Army in London's East End, and have the photographs to prove it.

Overall, then, the Twitter encounter I have just recalled is merely an example of the wolf in sheep's clothing for which we always need to be alert. Do not assume that someone wearing a dog collar (or whatever other indication suggests 'holiness') is necessarily truly of the faith, and remember that no Lefty ever can be: the two are directly opposed, everywhere in the world, always have been and always will be.

The political left is essentially a creation of the devil anyway, and obviously so if one looks at what it really means (State dominance over citizens/oppression, mass murder, civil rights violations, control of information and propaganda, and all the rest of it). No true Christian could ever support any of that, and – unless they were completely thick – must have realised that it is a worldwide characteristic of all Left-wing régimes on Planet Earth and always has been.

From North Korea to the former USSR, from Zimbabwe to China under Mao in particular, and any other country you care to name, they are all the same, either already at that totalitarian point or still aiming toward it. They are ALL corrupt, murdering garbage either in fact or still merely in intent at this stage, Satanic filth, causing most of the organised harm and misery in the world. That alone is absolute proof why NO Lefty can EVER be a TRUE Christian, and those who claim to be are liars – or completely pig-ignorant, which in practice is just as bad for the rest of us.