Monthly Archives: May 2017

Remotely Interested

Explicit content warning[1]

Quad 77I have a sort of love-hate relationship with the remote control for my Quad 77 audio system. I will come back to that in a moment, but first of all, a word about hi-fi generally.

A while ago, I was walking my dog in the park, and chatting to someone who, until recently, was in the hi-fi business. He said that the business is now very largely dead, for two reasons.

First, pretty much everyone who wants a hi-fi system has already got one, and what is available on the market now is really no better than what they have already got. I challenged him about this: surely the quality of sound that one gets from the new generation of tiny speakers is pretty amazing, and he agreed that there had been significant improvements at the bottom of the market. But in terms of the best that is available, technology has really not moved on for 20 years or so.

Secondly, he remarked, young people are not interested in hi-fi. They have been brought up on lo-fi MP3 music and often feel rather uncomfortable with hi-fi. And what they stream from the internet is very lo-fi.[2]

Now, if you are reading this, and you are a hi-fi nut, please do not reply to this saying that Continue reading

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Julian Out for Summer

Happily, Sweden has just dropped its nonsensical rape charges against Julian Assange. JA should now be able to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

The Metropolitan Police say:

Whilst Mr Assange was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for an extremely serious offence, the MPS response reflected the serious nature of that crime. Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence. The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence.

So, he still has to answer for jumping bail. But no more risk now, it seems, of being sent to Sweden, which has a terrible record of “extraordinary rendition” to the USA.  Hopefully, there will be a decent street party for him when he comes out.

The end of a disgraceful chapter in Sweden’s history.

ArdinThere will be no party, presumably, for his one-night stand Anna Continue reading

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Filed under Manners, Politics, Uncategorized

The Trump effect

Donald Trump is obviously not entirely unintelligent. By the same token, not even his biggest fan could deny that he frequently says things that are, to put it kindly, maladroit.

But here is the thing. Every time he says something that makes us think, “Hey, that’s not right”, his political opponents come along and say something even worse.  This week, for example, he said, “No politician in history, and I say this with great serious, has been treated worse or more unfairly”

Mandela sadIt was a remark which demonstrates an extraordinarily distorted view of himself. And it prompted this picture on Facebook, showing Nelson Mandela behind bars, looking sad (as he would be) but with a wistful and tolerant half-smile. The implication, of course, is that Nelson Mandela was a politician who had been treated worse or more unfairly, and that it was really dumb of Donald Trump to forget it.

But Mandela was not sent to prison as a politician. He was sent to prison as a terrorist. We will probably never know quite how many people Mandela killed, either directly or indirectly. Some reports put it at about 200 deaths, and many others injured. Like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness (also mass murderers), he is one of these people for whom the past has, in some sense, been erased by their subsequent efforts towards peaceful resolution of broader conflicts. The families of all their victims are required to relinquish their anguish. And there is some sense in that, for Continue reading

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Eurotrash

portugalIt is Eurovision Song Contest time.

Now, how the hell would I know that? You might ask, since I live on the far side of the world.

The answer is digital radio, and in particular SBS4. Normally, this excellent digital radio station quite simply streams the BBC World Service. I listen to it often, both at home, and in the car (which, rather surprisingly, has a digital radio facility). Except this month. During May, the SBS4 stream to BBC World Service has been cut off, and instead replaced by endless Eurovision pap.

It is no surprise that Australia loves the Eurovision Song contest. After all, this is the land of Continue reading

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Wrong, wrong, wrong

Unhappily, I am going to have to admit that I was wrong about Brexit.

I and many others well informed about UK and European affairs, took the view that effect of Brexit on the UK would be relatively marginal. The EU is a relatively small proportion of the world market, and the UK is going to continue to trade with the EU in any event. Happily, the UK never joined the Euro, and so the problems that being yoked into that currency has caused countries like Greece were not going to affect the UK anyway.

We expected, of course, some whingeing from whichever side lost the referendum. If the country had voted to stay in the EU, there would have been some predictable moaning in the pub from the Brexiteers. And the lovies were hardly going to be happy with a vote to leave.

But what we wholly underestimated was the sheer volume and persistence of the moaning from the Europhiles.  It is at a level that is causing real damage to Continue reading

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