Saturday, 29 August 2009

Gaelic Poetry 1 - Aeòlus

excerpt from Aeòlus by Dòmhnall Ruadh Mac an t-Saoir/Donald MacIntyre with translation by Bill Innes:

Neptune a' brosnachadh armachd,
Neptune exhorting his armies,
A chuip mun earball is mun ceann,
His whip about their heads and tails,
'S a chridhe sracadh le farmad:
His heart bursting with envy:
"Carson a bhiodh Albainn ann?
"Why should Scotland exist?

"Cuim' a dh'fhanainn air mo chrìochan?
"Why stay within my bounds?
Cuim' nach leudaichinn mo ghart?
Why not widen my estate?
Cuim' nach buannaichean an saoghal
Why not take over the world
Is gun tèid daonnan neart thar cheart?
When might will always conquer right?

"Cuim' nach dìrinn chun a' mhullaich?
"Why not climb to the very top?
Cuim' a dh'fhuirichinn nam staid?
Why should i stay within my place?
A' chlach as ìsle san ursainn,
It is the threshold's lowest stone
'S ann oirr' tha 'n cudthrom air fad.
That has to carry all the weight.

"Cuim' nach leanainn prìomh lagh nadair-
"Why not follow Nature's first law -
Am fear laidir a thoirt buaidh?
That the strong will always win?
'S ann le càch a chur gu h-ìseal
It is by subduing others
A gheibh mise dìreach suas."
That i will get to climb above."

Ge b'e dh'èisteadh guth nan tonn,
Whoever listened to the waves
'S e siud am fonn a bha nam bial
Heard in their voices that refrain
Is iad a' dearbhadh rùn an seanchais
And they proving their words' intent
Mar a dheargadh iad le gnìomh
As they could with their deeds.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Friday, 14 August 2009

The NHS is to politicians what shit is to flies.

NHS attack by MEP 'unpatriotic'

Health secretary Andy Burnham: "Mr Cameron looks rattled today"

Health Secretary Andy Burnham has accused a Tory MEP who attacked the NHS on American TV of being "unpatriotic".

Labour has stepped up its criticism of Daniel Hannan, who waded into the debate over Barack Obama's health bill.

They claim his view - that the NHS is outdated, unfair and should be scrapped - is shared by many Conservatives.

But David Cameron said Mr Hannan's view was "eccentric" and accused Labour of making a meal of the row, stressing that the NHS was his top priority.

I don't hate the NHS, but nor do i make a sexual fetish out of it like many. However there is something absolutely repulsive about seeing the likes of Andy Burnham accusing others of being 'unpatriotic' for criticising it. This from the Labour scum who have run the armed forces into the ground and are happy to leave soldiers dying due to lack of armour, lack of properly armoured ground vehicles, lack of helicopters and then try to deny them any proper support and compensation if they're badly injured?

'Scum' barely does justice to these people. Criticism of the NHS is no more 'unpatriotic' than defending it blindly is inherently 'patriotic'. Grow the fuck up.

A highly recommended blog - please check it out.

Now i read a hell of a lot of blogs. The nature of my work (BBC Researcher) as well as personal interest means i have plenty of opportunity and cause to read through all the major and many minor blogs. And while i have a decent sprinkling of science/technology/economics/language/religion based bloggers on my list the great majority i follow are political in nature. However i recently, and quite randomly, stumbled across this site:

Now i have quite an eclectic range of interests and this is the first site/blog i've ever seen where the author probably outdoes me in terms of the sheer range of topics they find interesting. Whether it's the bizarre use of Scottish Gaelic in the new GI:Joe movie, a detailed look at the Scandinavian languages and why Norwegian is the easiest language for English speakers to learn or why Persian is a far easier language to learn than most people think.

Scientific and technological pieces looking at the use of web censorship technologies in the USA, Iran and China, manned missions to the moon, mars and asteroids to a video imagining the size of the universe or a piece on the necessity of "grit" in the learning process.

From in depth analysis of the ongoing post-election crisis in Iran to the fact that more Iranian grad students are moving to Canada. From the recent discovery of a 14,000 year old map in Spain to the revealation that Jewish groups in Germany want Mein Kampf to be published once again or that the Cash for Clunkers programme might be expanding to Canada.

The range of topics covered is quite incredible and the depth and intelligence of the analysis is very, very impressive. Quite simply whatever you find interesting, this blog will interest you. Check it out now.

Monday, 6 July 2009

USA and Russia agree Nuclear Cuts

US and Russia agree nuclear cuts

US President Barack Obama: 'The US and Russia must lead by example'

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have reached an outline agreement to cut back their nations' stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

Even if the Russians genuinely had any intention of following through on this - and they won't - seriously, who the fuck cares?

No Pasaran quite succinctly shows this non-event for what it is here.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

More of the same from the IRB

England set to get 2015 World Cup

The Springboks wait to receive the Webb Ellis trophy
South Africa beat England to win the 2007 World Cup in France

England are close to winning the right to stage the 2015 Rugby World Cup after organisers recommended their bid to the International Rugby Board (IRB).

The IRB council will make their final decision on 28 July, but the decision of Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) to back England is a key development.

England are up against South Africa, Japan and Italy for 2015, with Japan being recommended as hosts for 2019.

I can only sigh at this news. Being not only a rugby fan but a Scot, im well aware of the capacity for short-sighted incompetence which seems to be the prime qualification for holding a position at one of the various governing bodies within the sport. The SRU have all but murdered the sport in Scotland and quickly overturned one of their few decent acts since the sport turned professional in 95 when they made absolutely every effort to fuck over Alex and Bob Carruthers who made the outrageous assumption that, having taken over Edinburgh and invested their own money in it, they might have some measure of control over the franchise and the money it earnt through taking part in the Celtic League and Heineken Cup.

The IRB seem similarly set on making every effort to stop rugby growing internationally and maintaining its status as a minor sport played by a small and exclusive club of original nations. There was quite rightly an outcry when the 2011 World Cup was awarded to New Zealand over the favourite bidders, Japan, with the latter damning the closed club which makes up international rugby. It now seems certain that the coming world cup in Kiwiland is going to come and go suffering a massive loss (hardly surprising given the size of stadia available) with the NZRU struggling to pay for it and as a result the IRB seem to have decided that it is absolutely essential that the next one should guarantee a profit.

With this need for cash prominent in mind it is hardly surprising that a major nation should be favourite for WC 2015, even if this would be a very short-sighted decision, but the seeming inevitability of England rehosting the competition is still depressing.

Given that Italy, unlike Japan, is now (in theory) a major nation, most certainly a nation where the sport is growing and where the both the massive sporting infrastructure (thanks to football) and government guarantee of financial support is in place one might have hoped that the IRB would have the ambition and foresight to take the greatest showcase for rugby outside the traditional heartlands and help spread the sport. As it is we'll be lucky to see the sport extended to new territory (new for this level) by 2019 if, as seems likely, that world cup is awarded to Japan. With the SANZAR unions being typically selfish and blind to any potential for growth in their humming and hawing over whether or not to admit Argentina to the Tri-Nations it looks like we'll find ourselves approaching the third decade of the 21st century with the sport still restricted to the same top-level countries as the amateur era.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Thursday, 21 May 2009


David Starkey is one of these fantastic characters who will moan furiously about a pet gripe in a manner which shows him to be emphatically guilty of the very flaw about which he is complaining. For a man who carries on, and on, about the petty nationalism of the Scots and Welsh he is incapable of talking on the issue without showing himself to be the most preposterous hypocrite and nationalist with his fervent waffling on the glories of England (which was put out of existence by the last monarch of the Scottish Stewarts in 1707) while belittling the 'Celtic' nations.

Now i'm not saying that Scotland and Wales couldn't do with a little belittling - in fact they could do with plenty - but to do so while acclaiming ones own nation when every glory achieved by it came under the rule of Welsh (Tudor) and Scottish (Stewart) monarchs (not to mention the Norman French previously) is, well, daft and evidence of an intellect incapable of maintaining some consistency of thought on a topic when evidence goes against ones preferred reality.

Anyway, moaning on one of my own pet gripes aside his appearance on This Week tonight was well worth seeing. He talked with great sense and passion on the need for reform in the Palace of Westminster and his deep knowledge of the political history of the UK was apparent. It would not surprise me if the changes he proposed - and which have been put forward by others on QT earlier - were implemented gradually over the coming decade.

A very important edition of Question Time

A great lineup on Question Time tonight and one worthy of such an important occasion. Usually there's at least one panelist on the show who can be relied upon during the course of the hour to talk such waffling, inanity ridden nonsense (think Hazel Blears *shudder*) that you are left wanting to put your fist through the television. While Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has made a career out of talking (often virulently racist) nonsense she cannot be accused of being a dull minded waffler. William Hague, Martin Bell and Vince Cable can be relied upon to talk with eloquence and intelligence while Marta Andreasan is a perfect addition for the times having experienced first hand the kind of corruption and thieving that is rife amongst career statists.

If the audience are anywhere near as furious and feisty as they were last week this should be memorable viewing indeed.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Frank Skinner on Question Time

Is there a more repulsive statement in the English language than "I've been a Labour supporter all my life." ?