Saturday, 29 March 2014

Strood Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 28 March 2014

Colourful IA

It had to happen sooner or later. The success of Project DIVA has shown that a vocaloid-based rhythm game for handhelds is a considerably more popular concept than it might have seemed, viewed from competitors' desks.

Thus is born this new game with distinct similarities to DIVA and its sister game Project MIRAI, featuring IA (a.k.a. Aria On The Planetes), for the PS Vita; and this one-song video gives an idea of what is in store when the game is released at the end of July this year...

Monday, 24 March 2014

Permission to Panic, Captain Mainwaring

One of the (I suppose relatively few) good things about at least two or three of the 'big' Labour 'blogs such as Left Foot Forward and Labour Uncut is that they can be both serious and honest enough to admit – in effect publicly – to failings, problems and potential crises within the Labour party.

This at Labour Uncut, by its editor Atul Hatwal, is a particularly frank and open post about Labour's current near-crisis state, and the three signs that will indicate when the crisis is coming or, indeed, has arrived. It's a little long, but well worth going through in its entirety in order to gain the full flavour of what is bubbling up – and has been, in some cases, on previous occasions, including relatively recently.

It is certainly refreshing to see that Ed Balls is seen as a major liability – although I'd also include Andy Burnham in the same category as his incessant dishonesty and revelations of his manipulations when he was a minister are now too well known to be brushed off as insignificant. He sours the public's taste for Labour too much now; but I doubt they'll act and will end up taking the electoral hit next year.

We have already seen, in public, examples of the warning signs; and the post points to others that are not (or were not until now!) in public view. This is thus a timely piece, no doubt intended first and foremost to alert all those who might start or continue down one or more of the paths outlined, in the hope that they will think carefully before acting. It is not a Dan Hodges type of post, despite some seeming similarities in places.

Whether it will achieve much will just have to be seen – but unless the party leadership can really start to get a proper two-handed grip on the party tiller, my reckoning remains that it will not be sufficient for a Labour outright victory – or (probably) even a coalition situation of their own – in May 2015.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Bump of Chicken

I have no idea why they call themselves tha (they've been around a long time, though: this is from their seventh album, titled Ray); but here is Bump of Chicken with a remix of their titular song, this time featuring Miku in the cylindrical display system that I showcased here yesterday. The song is quite good, though I'd say nothing special in itself. I gather than kz(livetune) prepared the Miku track alongside which the fellas perform live, and it all works very well.

The only comments that I'd make – and others have already said the same – is the new Miku model's eyes are a bit odd, and her voice is a little too quiet in places. These, though, can be dealt with easily enough. Especially for a first effort with this technology, it is a good result overall, though there aren't any English words provided. I suspect they will follow in due course, as I have a feeling that this could go viral...


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

New Miku Development

This is interesting, and one can see where we are heading. Indeed, it is something I have been anticipating would  happen soon, and the future idea of not needing a screen is only a logical extension of the 3D in-water mini-concert we saw at Yokohama Bay.

Projecting onto air particles directly is definitely on the cards – and one day will replace the screen on mobile 'phones so that they can be built into a watch (a prediction I first made quite a few years ago). This, though, is where we are today...


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Climbing the Greasy Polls

Labour's year-long decline in polling ratings appears to have bottomed-out recently – at least for the time being.  The party's polling lead regarding general election voting intention seems, if anything, to have recovered a little, and now looks to be around five or six percent. It had dropped to around four-and-a-half percentage points when aggregated over the previous short time period.

So, what has changed? Has there been anything in the news that might have afforded Labour an opportunity to gain public/voter support? Not that I have noticed. Things have been happening, but not conducive to material changes in voting intention.

What remains, then? The only change I have been able to determine is an almost complete absence of the Labour leader from the public eyte in recent weeks. He still pops up occasionally, though usually only when he has no real choice, such as at Prime Minister's Questions and when a major international issue arises.

Apart from that, he has been absent from the public gaze, or at best unnoticed, and it has allowed his party's polling malaise to begin to hel. I can't help wondering whether this has been a deliberate exercise conducted precisely to discover whether this would indeed happen under such circumstances.

Now, what does that suggest to you is perhaps coming next...?

Monday, 10 March 2014

Catwalk Envy

Continuing from my previous post... Also at Matsuri Da Diva 2014 were some familiar numbers, and this relatively new one, Catwalk Envy. It's one of those that has so much in it that one cannot help but wonder how it all fitted in to just four minutes straight.

Old hands here will probably recognise the Miku model and even more fluid motion than previously that we first encountered at Magical Mirai 2013, and it just keeps getting better by adding to the repertoire of such high-quality stage performances that is building up thanks to events such as this...

Diva Desu

The latest event was, of course, on Miku Day, held in Tokyodome City Hall, and was essentially a concert called Matsuri Da Diva 2014, that had not only the Crypton Vocaloids on stage but their voice providers too. Although this meant that each part was shorter than would have been the case with just one or the other, it was still a good event, I hear from trusted sources.

Not all of those sources were present, as it was being live-streamed to NicoNico users who had paid a modest amount for the privilege. I didn't, as I never know if I am even going to be awake at the appointed hour (because of my medication) so it could easily have been a waste. Because f its nature, and I didn't know whether any of it might appear in public, I didn't mention this before.

Anyway, the opening 'summoning to the stage' item is now up on YouTube, lasting exactly three minutes, and it is called Diva Desu...

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Miku Day 2014

Although little if anything official happens on this day, the 9th March is considered, in Japan, to be Miku Day, after the '39' convention I have explained before, and as some countries inexplicably place the month before the day (it's like measuring in feet, inches and yards).

Grey Otaku has kindly assembled a list of his favourite tracks on video at this Facebook page, and as a separate visual treat here is a nice free-to-use/share (Creative Commons licence) Kitty Miku image from this page...

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Reading On The Lines

There is a very old saying about 'reading between the lines' – but if one is paying attention, there can be a wealth of information that is already on the lines, and more that can be readily deduced from that without resorting to too much speculation, just a little intelligence.

Just as a comparatively simple exercise, I am going to look at a single Mail Online article and show just how much information is contained within this medium-length piece. Do have a full read-through before continuing here, if you can, but don't take too much notice of the headline and straplines: just concentrate on the content...

The core issue is the removal of half of UNITE's funding support to the Labour party unless their (Communist) leader gets his own way and in effect controls the party's policy, including reversing all trades union reform legislation and restoring the Labour party's traditional relationship with the unions. Okay, so far, there's nothing new or unexpected here.

As the biggest single donor to Labour, UNITE was always going to be the one to call most of the shots anyway – but their rationale is that only half their members vote Labour anyway. Now, that's an interesting statistic, especially as an admission by that union, and very public. Does that mean the rest vote Conservative? No: many don't vote at all, others will vote Lib Dem, UKIP or Green, or even Socialist Workers Party (where they have a candidate) – and yes, there will be a aignificant Conservative vote, though not huge.

The UNITE leader has also stated that he will "no longer tolerate those who welcome our money but don't want our policy input." Now, if that isn't a declaration of intent regarding who runs things on the political Left in this country, I cannot think of what might be. Notice my wording here: in effect, all this is saying to Labour that either they do what McCluskey demands, or he'll find another way to achieve it, putting the union's money and other resources into that instead of Labour. There is no other possible interpretation.

Notice some of their policy 'demands': the reversal of all government spending cuts, the scrapping of anti-strike laws and the introduction of a (wait for it) 75 per cent top tax rate, no less. What has any of this to do with even a predominantly public sector trades union's business?

It is a big revelation, and made in public so that Labour party leader Ed[ward] Miliband is forced to act and declare which way he is going to jump (and, one might reasonably expect, 'how high' as the common saying puts it in such situations). The immediate reduction in funding (despite the purported five year phasing-in period) sends the message: "do what I say, now – and to show you I mean business..."

It confirms what I have said before: that 'Red Len' intends to run a future Left-wing government, though of course no-one will ever have elected him to do so. He will be the puppet-master, and in effect already is. It is yet another danger of letting Labour in next year...

In practice, it would mean a faster route to the totalitarianism that has long been intended for Britain, even faster and more direct than the Frankfurt School policy programme that was being pursued by Blair and Brown during their 13 years in office at Number Ten.

There are several more items of information that one can find in that article, but I eave that as an exercise for the reader. Please feel free to post your own findings in the comments if you so wish. I have taken just a few key ones, so that this post didn't end up longer than I had intended. It's good mental exercise, and helps one see things more clearly and completely than casual readers of newspapers and the like generally do.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Romney and Palin on Ukraine and Russia

Thanks to Guy News, this short clip (a minute and a half in duration) reminds us of who was right and who was wrong about the Russia/Ukraine scenario that is now playing out...