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NHS funding

Below is a letter I just e-mailed to my MP. I find it disgusting that HM Government spends far more tax money on welfare and healthcare than defence at a time when we’re allegedly under grave threat from terrorism. Yes, I sent it through the leftist 38Degrees, but only for convenience’s sake.

Many believe the NHS needs more funding. Being of a more libertarian persuasion myself, however, I do not believe in additional taxation but of a decrease in wasteful spending instead. So I’m getting in touch to see if you could attend the debate on health and social care on Monday afternoon.

I know this is late notice, but it’s an important opportunity to start working on solutions for NHS and social care funding. Having recently received an overview of how much of my taxes is spent on welfare and healthcare, I would welcome advocacy for more balanced spending priorities. I do not believe it is right to spend disproportionately more on welfare than on defence at a time when the government claims we are under severe threat from terrorism.

I believe the government needs to be much more stringent in clamping down on NHS abuse by non-entitled persons such as tourists or high wealth residents. There also appears to be room for a reduction in coverage for non-essential procedures. NHS spending should be based on sound principles, not political expediency!

On the more Labour flavoured side, 38 Degrees have produced some research laying out 28 different policies that could help get the NHS the money it needs. They can be found here: https://link.38degrees.org.uk/HealthSocialCareFundingPolicy

If you aren’t able to attend the debate, please could you write to the Chancellor about how we can run the NHS more efficiently, or talk to your colleagues about the policies?

Thank you.

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Concert Reviews Featured Media Music

The Stone Roses at Etihad Stadium, night 1

Having been to and enjoyed every post-reunion Stone Roses gig in England, I decided to continue my streak and go to Manchester for their four night run at Etihad Stadium. This is review one of four.

I definitely enjoyed that concert. While I stood some ways back, there were enough moments when I could tell that Ian was definitely more in tune than during past post-reunion gigs and that this was not a band only in it for the money. If anything, they enjoy reveling in their status and doing giant gigs because they can. If they only wanted money, they’d tour the world and play the records note for note. Instead what you have here is four great musicians exploring their work and bringing pleasure to thousands.

There were a good number of moments when they musically moved me by ever so slightly changing a few bars or inserting an extra few notes here and there, like a penalty goal in slow motion. I hope I wasn’t the only one to notice the new approach to Elizabeth My Dear, for example. Either way, as I’ve said before on Twitter, the genius of John Squire is in the details. You have to listen carefully to notice when he improvises or elaborates.

Instead of going with preconceived notions, trust that they’ll deliver something worthwhile and then listen with an open mind. I enjoyed it a lot more once I stopped anticipating note for note reproductions of records (if you want that sort of precision, don’t go to a gig).

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Featured History Media News Politics

Patriotism is not a dirty word

Today’s tragic events in Brussels once again demonstrate what can happen when a country engages in foreign adventures unrelated to their national interests and at the same time fails to integrate foreigners. EU nations would do well to learn pretty quickly that patriotism is not a dirty word and that insisting that new arrivals integrate and assimilate is neither xenophobic or nationalist, it is plain common sense and very much necessary for a country to remain secure.

Say what you will about banking, Switzerland is the perfect example of how to be both proud of you identity and welcoming of others at the same time: By remaining neutral, staying out of other people’s affairs they have become a prosperous and very secure nation, and all without succumbing to police state measures or excessive “nanny-stateism”.

By remaining a true nation state (as opposed to a mere region of a super state) and therefore remaining in control of who can enter the country, they can afford to integrate and support new arrivals. In return, they expect that those newcomers will assimilate and assume Swiss values. As a result, there are no terrorist attacks on Swiss soil. Funny how this works…

In Switzerland there are no muslim ghettos, no no-go zones, no shanty towns and no troops on the streets.

And don’t say “banks”. Switzerland is proof that by minding your own business, taking care of your own and acting in your own interest as opposed to those of the Washington cabal you can be safe and prosperous and do so irrespective of how much your neighbouring countries whore themselves out to foreign interests.

Don’t be afraid to, as a nation or culture, know who you are and take rightful pride in your accomplishments. The world will notice, pay attention and leave you alone in return.

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Academia Featured Media Politics Religion

David Icke: So What?!

In case you’re not familiar with David Icke, Google can tell you plenty. This article should still be here when you return. 😉

Having read and heard a good amount of David Icke’s theories about our reality, I am forced to ask: So what?! It’s one thing to state what’s wrong, but quite another to say what should be (whether he’s right or wrong is largely immaterial in this context). He succeeds in the former but fails in the latter.

What Icke seems to suggest as the answer to society’s ills seems to be the age old hippie philosophy of “if we all just love one another it will all be cosmic”. Bad news, Mr. Icke, that too is bollocks. Replacing one world order of unity through norming with another that centers around blind love isn’t helping matters, it’s merely another version of the same old bait and switch that our politicians are so well known for. Don’t decry religion wholesale by suggesting and by fiat establish a new age faith, speak reason buttressed by facts, for, as the educated know, you can have your own opinion, but not your own facts.

A revolution in consciousness, greater free speech, more diplomacy and liberty to all, sign me up, but please, just devote some time to suggesting how this might be accomplished. Dreams are great, but a man with a plan is far more powerful.

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CWQTPY Featured History News Politics

Imaginary Phobias

The media and socialists everywhere like to accuse people with values of all sorts of phobias these days, with “Islamophobia” and “Homophobia” being just two of the most popular.

As I, unlike them, actually know what the word phobia means, feel I should point out that all their shouting is a mere expression of their cowardice and furthermore an admission of repressed guilt. If you need details, actually read Ann Coulter’s books from start to finish before talking. She’s funnier than Rosie O’Donnell before breakfast.

Just because some of us subscribe to Christian values does not automatically make us afraid of homosexuals or muslims (rationally or irrationally). All it means is that there are people who disagree with what certain members of those two groups stand for, period. And if it wasn’t for the immature and the mainstream media, their very own echo chamber, that would be it.

But because it’s sexy to claim that Islam means peace (it means submission) and to throw yourself at Christians and force them to abdicate their beliefs, that somehow makes it a grave offence to not participate in their grand illusion.

Disagreement is not the same as fear. If it were, how on earth could deputy PM Clegg disagree with the PM on surveillance policy? Granted, he probably doesn’t really, but if he were honest and not some left-wing B’stard, that example would stand.

It is insulting to intelligent people to prevent debate on important issues. What western society needs is not “respect” and “tolerance”, but vigorous debate and education from multiple points of view. Understanding grows from seeking information, not from mindless subservience to vacuous words.

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We’re not anti-Brand, we’re anti-stupidity

In recent days, the usually awake alternate media have been promoting the idea that “the British establishment is hunting Russell Brand“. Not only do I share the latter’s opinion for a change, but I also object to this being portrayed as class warfare, one of Brand’s pet subjects.

What we, the establishment as well as clear thinking, mature adults in Britain object to is Brand’s immature, infantile and naive thinking. His so-called fresh perspective is nothing more than yet another re-hash of the same old communist class warfare tripe that has been exposed and debunked by thinking people for ages. Brand is not only not original, he is also just the latest tool being paid to promote social democracy and all the evil that comes with it.

Brand is unoriginal, embarrassingly bland, and yes, is in it for the money. So it’s not “the establishment hunting Brand”, it’s grown ups trying to educate a child.

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Concert Reviews Featured

A triumphant return

Mon 13 Oct – Flying Colors

As with any event that involves Mike Portnoy, a great time is almost guaranteed, and this one was no different.
John Wesley was a great choice as opening act as he is neither metal nor prog but some very enjoyable amalgamation of the two. It is also worth noting that until I’d seen his current band I never thought I’d ever see a bass player more modest than John Myung (not even special stage pants!).
With the tour almost over and the pressure of the DVD shoot behind them, Flying Colors clearly enjoyed themselves and gave it all in spite of the end of tour sprint of dates (all hail the cucumber!). While it would have been interesting to see what a changing setlist would have looked like, the new songs are still new enough to deserve repeated airing and I suppose only the band and their inner circle know how easily the tour could not have taken place.
I loved seeing Casey feel more at home in the group and being even more a star this time around. With his range from in your face rock, going past Jersey melancholy worthy of The Boss himself to moods paying tribute to Jeff Buckley, he definitely was an excellent choice for frontman.
If I had to nitpick, which is all that band can leave you with, it’s that Rich Mouser is no Jerry Guidroz when it comes to live mixing and perhaps the lights could have been a bit more on point, but in the midst of it all, this didn’t really matter. The crowd was a pleasantly loud London crowd that almost matched northern ones at times, but also respected the band for the music and craftsmanship’s sake as well.
I think it’s likely that Flying Colors’ third coming will arrive before The Stone Roses‘, and I’m definitely looking forward to that!

…read more

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A tale of two worlds

In the wake of the MH17 tragedy, the awake amongst us have once again been able to contrast Russia’s mature, statesman-like and simply rational response with the West’s childish name calling, lying, slander and propaganda consisting of fabrications.

Compare their fantasies with Russia’s detailed, illustrated and bilingual presentation. No sane person presented with both sides would side with the West. Unfortunately, most voters cannot deal with the slander bombing undertaken by Western media (and they in turn dare not report truth or on reality) and thereby acquiesce and simply parrot the fiction spread by “their” media.

I am not Russian nor brainwashed by the FSB or RT and RIA Novosti. I am informed.

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Featured Geeky Humor Media TV

Monty Python at the O2 – musings

So I just got back from the O2 where I saw and met the Pythons, which was nice.

Before I let my impressions marinade, here are a few fresh from the bush:

For a whipper snapper like myself, this production was a godsend. As I was born quite late in their career, I’d never thus far had the chance of seeing them live. Good thing I’m a Swiss wage earning whipper snapper, ’cause that ticket was expensive!

When they say you should never meet your idols, they’re kind of right. Just like with my musical favourites, Motörhead’s Lemmy, one thing to keep in mind is that the stars are senior citizens now, so you won’t get a carbon copy of the record anymore. That said though, Eric Idle organised one fine show for us.

Although they could have gone a bit lighter on the musical type interludes, it was a privilege to see the five remaining Pythons and Carol Cleveland in the flesh, doing it all one more time. To see those sketches live and alive was amazing. Younger actors may have more vigour, but it’s always best to see the writers and original performers.

The irony of the whole thing about age, by the way, was that the most seasoned performer is still the best performer. Although he’s the oldest of the five, John Cleese was in great voice and shape and I for one am very glad he wanted to be there.

Meeting them afterwards was surreal. I usually have lots to say to my idols, but somehow with these whom I’ve admired for a lot longer than some of my musical favourites, I had far less to say. But sod it, all five in one room and me and 100 others too, that’s a pretty good crowning moment to an evening.

To finish with an aside on legends, Motörhead is still amongst the best in the value for money department, by the way. If there was a next time Monty Python should ask VIP Nation to do the meet and greet.

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Concert Reviews Featured

Like a reunion

Fri 27 Jun – Motörhead, Gloria Volt

Gloria Volt, the support band, provided a great warm-up and restored my faith in Swiss rock. They are what Gotthard once were, a band devoted to rock. True, their music was as formulaic as Krokus‘ has become, but they made me a bit proud to hail from the same canton as a band that good.

Some time after 9pm, we finally got to hear that famous rumble of Lemmy’s bass again. And for once, even a Swiss crowd was able to come alive and show the band that they’re appreciated. True, this time we did have the extra incentive of being one of the only few make up gigs for the canceled Fall 2013 tour, but I guess it is also true that there is no sort of liking Motorhead. You’re all in or far away.

The setlist was the same as it has been all year, but the selections were top notch, so I certainly appreciated hearing an evolved setlist.

I must admit, I was thrown by the slower pace of many songs (Overkill was a bit underwhelming, for example), but the fact is that Lemmy looked healthy and he was here. Like the banner some fans made and threw on stage said “Thank you Lemmy, god of R’n’R from 1945 to eternity!”. Also thanks to Tim for wedging it into Lemmy’s cabinet.

Nitpick as I may be tempted to do, I have to conclude by saying sod it, I had a fantastic time, and I can’t wait for the next tour!

…read more

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BBC ignores UK far-left

Russell Brand ‘Con-Dems’ MSM blackout of 50,000-strong anti-austerity march

One critical observation absent from the “debate” on this issue is that, just like Occupy Wall street, this “People’s Assembly Against Austerity” is, true to its name, a far-left / Labour / social democrat / communist organization playing into the elite’s hands.

Russel Brand has become a tool in the hands of the elite, who, as they have for ages, rely on a repeated cycle of Hegelian dialectic to extort the population.

The entity commonly known as the UK government has for decades overspent on buttering up miscreants and assorted lefties with excuses for laziness in the form of oversized benefits. Now that funds are nearing depletion, they have to institute austerity measures, as of course paying for the exploitation of anyone not in the elites comes first. Now in order to legitimize the next phase, they’re creating this false outrage to have a reason to extort even more money from the honest and decent among their people in the name of “helping the poor” or some other nonsense.

Just like with other celebs, Brand would be better of focusing on what he’s best at (and even there he’s crap), being a comedian. He has now definitely proven that he knows sod all about how politics really works.

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Bucket list item

Sun 1 Jun – The Rolling Stones, The Temperance Movement

Having known the Stones for almost all my life through my dad’s preferences for music from their heyday, and having seen them on the event of my dad’s birthday, I’m still not sure about the concert.
It’s definitely something to have seen. Despite them being old men in tights (h/t Liam Gallagher), their effortless performance of a greatest hits setlist lasting two full hours has to be seen to be believed. In spite of the great stage design and video inserts, I’m also not sure why the various versions of their current stage need to be so huge.
Last but not least, it is true that the smugness of charging an arm and a leg for even the worst tickets is not a friendly move, but then you never know how long they’ll still be touring for, so there may be no better time than now to go see them.

…read more

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Proof that Ukraine conflict is about natural resources

For weeks if not months, the enlightened observers of the Ukraine conflict, including myself for some time, have been pointing to the causus belli of the supposed “conflict between Kiev and Moscow” in Ukraine: natural resources, or in other words, the hydrocarbon basins located below East Ukraine and the Crimean Republic.

The Dnieper-Donets and Azov-Kuban hydrocarbon basins essentially cover much of east and south Ukraine as well as the Crimean peninsula, as this USGS report proves.

The rest of the puzzle, as of today, is a doddle, as Del Boy would say: The main licensee of those basins is Burisma Holdings, whose board has appointed none other than United States Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, as director.

The US oligarchs thought they had the situation under control after their “Nazi” puppets seized power earlier this year. Then the Crimeans pre-empted the realization of their control by leaving Ukraine for Russia. Now they really had to up the pressure to keep Donetsk and Luhansk from doing likewise, so they sent CIA director Brennan over to personally green light the fratricide we’ve been witnessing for the past few weeks.

While it is true that given their historical background, the entire eastern half of Ukraine has a greater tendency to feel a greater connection to Russia than to the EU, this is all mostly a grievance cleverly exploited by “the West”. Poland is under EU, US, IMF, etc. control, so if the Lviv region wanted to join Poland, for example, there would be no problem whatsoever.

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Up and close, thank goodness

Mon 28 Apr – The Flower Kings, Karmakanic

Whether it was because it was a Monday night or whether it was the absence of the crowd pulling power of Mike Portnoy, a much smaller than usual crowd assembled at the Z7 for an evening of excellent Swedish prog.

Karmakanic, Flower Kings bass player Jonas Reingold’s side project opened the evening in place of the sadly still out of action Daniel Gildenlow. They appeared in a lighter line-up (without Erikson, Jonsson or Agren) and played a good cross section of their original material. Felix and Roine, also from The Flower Kings joined them for a few songs.

After the set break, The Flower Kings played a near 2-hour set comprised of a setlist similar to their recent tours (Tower ONE, Numbers, early days medley, etc.) and rocked as always. It was another set that made me think that they should not be a second rate categorized prog band, but really among the top of modern melodic prog. Unlike other bands in the same sub-genre there is no wasted noodling or atmospheric belching, just solid suites of well written songs. It of course helps to have Hasse Froeberg as a superb counterweight to to Roine, but they’re just one major part of what makes the entire band a very relevant one.

So as usual, go see them and fill those venues, because the Z7 sure wasn’t. Neither it being Monday or there being no Portnoy should have counted. Those who support Mike should also logically support the bands he has promoted.

…read more

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Russia is not the enemy

In the unfolding conflict in the Ukraine, I have for the first time been forced to rely on Russia Today for balanced and truthful information. While RT usually is mainly useful for the sort of background information you’d only find on the Internet away from mainstream outlets, they are now proving to be an invaluable source of insight into what is happening, as opposed to what the EU and the USA want you to think is happening.

While I am well aware of RT’s allegiance to the Kremlin (heck, Eduard Shevardnadze’s granddaughter is one of their figureheads), they are nowhere as loyal as the allegedly free media out here are to the official storytellers of “the west”. Even if you filter out their storybook portrayal of Russian officials, you’re still left with more balanced information.

Take this piece of NWO propaganda, for example, or this “analysis”, also from the allegedly unbiased BBC:

  • The BBC keeps referring to “Pro-Russian separatists” to imply that somehow those residents active in the eastern Ukraine are somehow Kremlin loyalists and not patriotic Ukranians.
  • The same article, in line with guidelines for Western media, calls the junta in Kiev “the central government”, refusing to ever mention that they are illegitimate and to a great extent made up of neo-fascists the Russian media refers to as “Neo-Nazis”, either way right wing extremists who are doing the EU’s bidding by fighting against the Ukraine’s own interests.
  • The “analysis” states: “Some 40,000 Russian troops remain massed on Ukraine’s border. Military drills are under way.” While that may be true, it never mentions the US troops present in Poland and NATO troops also present in the region, both doing the exact same thing they claim Russia is wrong to do. Even if that were so, at least they’d be Russian troops massing on Russian soil, not American and western European troops massing just west of the Ukraine.

This crisis has highlighted western hypocrisy like I’ve rarely seen before. John Kerry has been the worst. The man who once prided himself on having led protests against the Vietnam war, now beats the drums of war against Russia, disingenuously claiming that what the US does never constitutes invasion or conquest. What are Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya if not nations conquered by US forces? The only reason we can’t call those three annexations is because they don’t share land borders with the contiguous 48 states.

Say what you will about the Russian government, but remember that the oligarchy that calls itself the US government and which already over half of Americans realize does not represent them, commits vastly more crimes outside its borders all the time than Russia may have when they invited the Crimean peninsula to join their federation.

The only reason why the US and the EU installed a puppet junta in Kiev in the first place is the prize they’ve got their eyes on now: natural resources in the eastern Ukraine. Just as in every major conflict of the recent past, it’s about oil, drugs and minerals.

No one side is innocent in this conflict, but the allegedly impartial European and American media are certainly guilty of hiding the truth and disseminating the propaganda written for them by the western oligarchy.

Once again, the blending of “their” version and “our version” results in the truth. Dare to consume foreign media if you’re strong enough!

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Boston: martial law testing lab

Quite apart from its hegelian aspects, the bombing at the Boston marathon last year started the transformation of the greater Boston area into what I’d term a martial law testing facility. Already in the aftermath of the event last year, residents got to experience a DHS and militarized police orchestrated lockdown. Now we’re seeing the use of a smart grid surveillance system and further conditioning of people to accept overbearing authority.

Just like security checkpoints were once confined to airports and then expanded to ports and roads, this year’s marathon sees yet another increase in the use of false security on the form of checkpoints for both participants and spectators. Quite apart from the fact that terrorists wouldn’t bother to strike twice in the same place, having such all encompassing security is not a manifestation of “Boston strong”. “Boston strong” would be to hold the event without pretending that the sky was about to fall.

Realize that both the premise and the conclusion are wrong in this instance. The DHS has not prevented terrorist attacks which would not have happened in the first place had it not been for the disastrous US foreign policy of the last 50 years (at least) and unless they’re stopped, they will be ratcheting up the mistreatment of ordinary citizens until they can’t live without some form of federal dictatorship permit any longer.

The Boston marathon should be about athletic achievements, about being able to run where otherwise you couldn’t. Boston would be strong if its citizens refused to continue to be abused as a DHS sandbox.

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A long awaited return

Wed 5 Mar – Transatlantic

Although individually, most members of Transatlantic have visited Switzerland frequently since their last concert in 2010, this was the first time since then that they were here again (same venue even) as Transatlantic.
Unlike some who will not be mentioned, Transatlantic know how do a proper “an evening with” event. Counting everything, they provided 3 hours of prog bliss, playing Kaleidoscope (entire album), a Whirlwind medley, All of the Above and more. You can tell when Mike Portnoy has been let loose on a tour’s setlists.
The crowd may have been paying attention, but I was once again very frustrated by their overly reserved attitude. I was only giving it half a Barrowland attitude measure, but I felt out of place, as though I was the only one who knew the pieces, lyrics and at least some of the melodic parts. As if being a big fan was not popular in Switzerland. With a setlist as balanced as last night’s, yes you can keep going for three hours.
Maybe DF concerts should get them to Glasgow on the next tour. They’ve earned it.

…read more

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Stagnant, but entertaining

Fri 14 Feb – Delta Machine World Tour

I can’t shake the impression that the DM brand has grown stale these past few years. Tonight’s show was like watching a Bluray on a giant screen. Great show, slick visuals and great songs played live, but only just.

Maybe I’ve gotten old, but somehow I miss the days of yore, even only 20 years ago. Where are the explosive statements of Songs of Faith and Devotion, Violator or even Ultra?

Depeche Mode now is still good, their Martin and Dave still write great songs, but somehow there’s too much art and too little graft.

Suffice to say that I will not be in a rush to see them again anytime soon. Oh, and next time you wanna do five songs on your own and skip Somebody, especially on valentine’s day, do a solo club tour please Martin.

…read more

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Switzerland to remain independent

To anyone who thinks today’s referendum had anything to do with racism or xenophobia, you might want to consult a dictionary. Non-EU citizens have always been subject to immigration restrictions. There is no other reason for why most professional immigrants are European when there are millions of talented professionals beyond the EU.

Also, it wasn’t even a vote to end immigration or to cut it down to a trickle. We the, the Swiss people, gave our govenment a mandate to find a better solution to our situation. Ideally, foreign nationals would come here to work and live and integrate like they used to, but the open door policy the federal government agreed on with the EU has created a situation where not only have valuable immigrants arrived too fast for the integration system to work properly, there has also been a wave of benefit cheats and deadweight type migrants entering Switzerland. One can hardly blame them considering the attractiveness of a wealthy state. But we, the citizens of this nation, can ask our govenment to better control these developments. And that is all the referendum was about!

Ideally, an open door policy would work. But just like open plan offices, it hasn’t. It is unfortunate that it had to come to this, but this vote was necessary to protect our way of life, and to a greater extent, our liberty. We Swiss have always been very proud of our independence and the riches it has brought us. We were among the richest on the planet before the EU, and we’ll remain so even if the unelected buerocrats in Brussels want to take their proverbial ball and run crying to their parents.

Like the prisoner who has come to love his cell, many outsiders seem to have forgotten, that this is what self-determination looks like. It’s OK to be jealous if it leads to improvements elsewhere.

Last but not least, when was the last time the Swiss Federal Council implemented a referendum exactly the way the fear mongerers thought? We Swiss do very well at negotiation and compromise, so untwist your panties and calm down!

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Featured Music Personal

Tracklist for a Mike Portnoy solo album

Yesterday I got a retweet and responses to a tweet on the need for a Mike Portnoy album, the former even from the man himself!

So, here I present, my suggestion for already “pre-approved” tracks for “Heavy Metal Blue Beard Tattooed Jew”:

  1. Conquistador (Transatlantic)
  2. Fool in my heart (Flying Colors)
  3. Crazy Horses (w/ Neal Morse)
  4. Best of Times (Dream Theater)
  5. Repentance (Flying Colors version)
  6. Indiscipline (Transatlantic version)
  7. Money (Is Pure Evil) – BigElf
  8. Medley: Take The Time (Dream Theater) / “Growl” /  You Never Give Me Your Money (Beatles) / Shine (Transatlantic)

And here is the petition to make the project happen: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/mike-portnoy-solo-album

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Open letter to Dream Theater

Dear John, John M, James, Jordan and Mike M,

September 8 2010 started with a shock. The future of the band I had come to love intensely over a few years was uncertain. The chief architect and informal leader said goodbye. Full speed into a brick wall, yeah, I felt that too, as much as a fan could anyhow.

When details surfaced, I blamed Frank Solomon. I did not believe that you would be so inconsequential on your own. Little did I know that I had probably misplaced my blame entirely.

When the documentary came out and Mike Mangini was introduced, I felt some excitement. How could you not, the Mangini vibe is infectous (“not just the pattern, but the tooone…”). I was mad at what I saw as your great disrespect for the warning bell Mike Portnoy had rung. He knew his baby was sick and he could no longer stand idly by. But I try not to judge, especially when I don’t have all the facts. I was willing to give you a fair shake for the new era. Twice the magic, I thought.

“On the Backs of Angels” was a disappointment, but then “A Rite of Passage” was a poppy single too, so that seemed alright. When the not-so dramatic turn of events was released, I found songs and passages I liked, but already I was missing the emotional radiance of the likes of “Count of Tuscany”. I came to both Swiss shows and even traveled to London to see you as that was the first concert announced for that cycle. I welcomed Mike Mangini with everyone else, and seeing members of your families at the Zurich concert was a special bonus.

At the end of the first Mangini album cycle, I was disappointed but hopeful. I was willing to chalk up the weaknesses of the album on the time during which it was written and I eventually forgave you for only having two minimally differing setlists on the second EU leg.

“The Enemy Inside” proved to be an ominous sign of things to come. An even weaker pre-album single. But still I did not give up. I wanted to like you so bad I bought the deluxe boxset and a VIP ticket for the concert. Gullible me. Your self-titled album should really be nicknamed “MK II”, for that’s what it signifies. A band that has lost its way, a group coasting along on laurels forged from past successes. I thought it would grow on me, and I have grown to like weirder stuff, like Billy Corgan’s voice. But I could never listen to that album all the way through. That wasn’t just you and your signature sound, that was you repeating yourselves and selling vinegar as new age vodka.

By that time I had already bought a VIP ticket for the current EU tour and the deluxe edition of “Dream Theater” was mildly rewarding until some idiot put the video from the USB stick on Youtube. Thank goodness for online resale sites.

I liked “Live at Luna Park”, but only because it contained so much old material, and even then the regret was not complete until the 360 app came out, with a photo gallery very telling of who the boss is in DT land these days.

In the intervening weeks, I struggled to admit the obvious: I’d had it with you. And then a a few days ago when I learned that you’d completely violated the original purpose of the “An Evening with” format by simply playing more of the same unimaginative running order, and playing the very same setlist every night, I knew the camel could walk no more.

Tonight I decided that I could not face you in good conscience and pretend everything was fine and that I liked you. It isn’t and I don’t, not anymore. I now know that I was a fool to think a bad tree could produce good fruit. Shame on me, because that was very cunning of you and / or Frank to use Crowdsurge as a last nail in the coffin (no refunds).

Dream Theater MK II is like a sick dog and I want no part of it anymore. Call me when you decide to see a doctor, I’ll be waiting, the fool I’ve been.

Sincerely,

Fabio, ex-fan

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Another puppy protest

Reddit, Mozilla, rights groups to protest online snooping in memory of Aaron Swartz — RT News.

Whenever leftie groups start efforts as cute as that one, I can’t help but think of peacenik Rimmer.

Don’t get me wrong, something ought to be done, but what those puppy protesters need to learn is that governments don’t care about us. Cruel but true.

All such puppy protests accomplish is to motivate governments to rebrand their efforts and do a better job of hiding them, sort of like thieves have to necessarily perfect or revise their methods whenever law enforcement catches on.

The question is, as it has been for ages, who’s holding the gun? Right or wrong don’t matter when (deadly) force is on your side.

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Senator Rand Paul and window dressing

(US) Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has made a name for himself in part by calling for an audit of the “federal reserve” (which in truth is neither federal nor possesses any reserves whatsoever). As noble as his goals may be, please take care not to be sucked into his game.

Even if the Senator succeeds in getting an official audit off the ground, which is already very unlikely, sort of like his father ever becoming President, remember how terrible a record the US government has on so-called official investigations.

Be it the JFK assassination, Iran Contra or 9/11, no US government investigation of the past 60 years at the very least has ever been interested in uncovering truth. On the contrary, all of them did everything they could to write fictional history and bury truth beyond the reach of any law or ordinary citizen.

Always remember that first and foremost, politicians are, in the words of Lemmy, “lying and thieving bastards”!

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My 2013 in review

As we enter another new year, it is once again time for me to recount some of the highlights of my 2013.

  1. Meeting Arthur BrownIn early December, I tendered my perk from his Zim Zam Zim album PledgeMusic campaign, by seeing him in concert and meeting him after. It is important to note that this was not your usual M&G, heck, most people nowadays couldn’t appreciate Arthur Brown enough anyway, irrespective of when they discovered him. 😉 This was more like an audience with Arthur Brown, a very cool experience!I first saw Artur and his Crazy World (of) band at the High Voltage festival in London in 2011. Like many others I only knew the “Fire” tune from the suite of the same name, but I did make it a point to go see him play. That day I first experienced the great natural high the man can produce. I had a huge smile on my face, and I was 100% sober!

    CWOAB is theater, prog, rock, soul, funk and entertainment of the classic variety in one. Brown also still sings, dances and acts just like in his younger days. Before I knew of his connection to Lemmy (Kilmister of Motörhead), I sensed that Arthur too was one of the originals, old enough to remember before there was rock’n’roll and intact enough to tell us young ones about it.

    Like Lemmy, Arthur Brown is very wise but also charming and amusing, and he too would rather tour with a small circle of trustworthy friends than top the charts. One one hand’s side, it’s a massive shame that he’s not getting the attention and respect he deserves (massive influence on the likes of Alice Cooper, for example), but on the other hand’s side him and his band are like a secret shared amongst true lovers of musical art.

    Unlike Lemmy, however, Arthur Brown has a beautiful female lead guitarist on his right, a big talent much better looking than ol’ Phil.

  2. “See youse at the Barras”, 2013 editionAnother recent and very memorable night was this year’s Shed Seven concert at the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow, Scotland. This too seems to be a secret gem of the music world that I would argue any true fan of real music would be a fool to miss.The Barras, as it is known locally, is a venue that has everything. Atmosphere, great sound and a great view of the action, everywhere. And although you’ll be one of under 2000 people in there even on sold out nights, it might as well be just you and some mates you never knew you had. And the gig will start where most other venues will end them, i.e. with energy, sound and noise at 11. At the Barras all of the main act’s set is the encore, it’s that powerful. The bands love it and play at their best, and the crowds know that and too bring their A game, thus creating this unique energy feedback loop that will only be extinguished some hundred odd yards from the venue, when you can’t hear anyone sing into the night anymore after the concert.This atmosphere there I think comes closest to what Liam Gallagher calls being “mad fer it”. So prepare to be intimidated if you don’t already love the band you’re going to see there. 😉
  3. Mike Portnoy 

    This was the year I declared myself a Mike Portnoy fan, and not only because I got to meet him twice in 2013.I have liked his work a lot for quite a few years (apart from the A7X pop, that was unnecessary), but it was this year’s flaming bag of poo sold to the masses as chocolate biscuits by his former colleagues that sealed the deal. Portnoy knows why he participates in the projects he starts or joins and will not put his name on something that isn’t of his high standard.I suppose Portnoy has a bit of the older generation mentality in him. Like the generation of Lemmy and Arthur Brown, he won’t sign off on mediocrity and will work overtime if more fans get to enjoy more of his work.

    I’ll refer you to my previous Portnoy related posts and remain by saying that I really look forward to Progressive Nation ’14 and more Transatlantic, Flying Colors and Winery Dogs after that. I also can’t see Neal Morse taking a year off, so I’ll probably get to enjoy at least two Portnoy related concerts in Switzerland alone this year too.

  4. Lemmy 

    Not only did he lead Motörhead to the top with yet another masterpiece in the form of Aftershock, he also, true to his ethos, rescheduled the entire fall tour when he realised he couldn’t deliver. While it’s of course sad that he’s had to slow down, it’s much more important to remember that, as Neil Young sang, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.

  5. The Stone Roses 

    Thanks to my fast fingers, the first TSR event of 2013 was the premiere of Made of Stone in Manchester. Not only was it the first premiere I’d been to (and first of two in 2013), but it was also very exciting to be able to be at THE event, not some screening for plebs, but the same one that the band, their friends and the crew attended.After the monumental experience at Heaton Park in 2012 I naturally had to attend their Finsbury Park concerts as well. Like the bearded mega fan said in the film, there’s just something indescribably exciting about the band, and to me it’s an excitement that just does not get old no matter how many times I hear the same songs.

    The only Roses thing that’ll top that now is the hotly anticipated third album. As with my other top events of the year, I’d also advise them to do it properly or leave it be. Their successors from the Britpop scene have proven this. It is in that sense a good thing that there’s not been a new Blur or Oasis studio album but instead several smaller side project releases.

  6. Not Another Happy Ending 

    Almost a year after visiting the film set in Glasgow, I finally got to see the finished product at the commoner premiere of the film in Edinburgh. I call it the commoner premiere because the true premiere was earlier the same day and only upper class people were allowed at that one it seems.
    I enjoyed seeing the actors and crew members again, even if only from afar this time, and the movie remains one I can only recommend, in spite of my bias.

  7. HMV survives 

    Although I do prefer independent stores, I am very glad that HMV survived and has started to justify its own existence again. I’ve enjoyed seeing HMVs in all the cities I visited this year making a greater effort and wanting to be relevant again. My biggest thanks go to the Newcastle branch (and probably Universal) for arranging the Megadeth signing session where I not only got to have my copy of Super Collider signed (which I’d purchased at the Indie down the street) but also, by means of a snapshot, won an autographed poster too. This helped considering the terrible acoustics at the venue later that day.

  8. The Inspiral Carpets 

    I’ve got to add this as only their internal politics would merit an exclusion from this list.I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them live, and in their hometown of all places. Steven Holt is a surprisingly good singer, much better than he is sometime given credit for, and the band, much like Shed Seven, still play as well as during their heyday period.

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Lazy journalism at The Daily Dot

The Daily Dot – In the U.S, its a crime—in Canada, its the best political prank of the year.

I don’t usually bother pointing out flaws in online journalists’ reasoning as the likelihood of there being many more of such erroneous conclusions is just far too high.

Just for fun, however, I’ll be nice and tell Lorraine Murphy where she went wrong. But not too nice. Presumably she can fill in the rest eventually.

The difference in this case is not between Canada and the US. (The alleged differences between the two countries are largely myths and elements of state sponsored propaganda anyway.) The difference between Andrew and Kevin is that the former exposed information that a concerned party had a reasonable expectation of being private, whereas the latter merely did a bit of URL hacking on a PR campaign, thereby exposing the laziness of the agency creating the campaign.

“Weev”‘s mistake was to publish the information he had gathered. Unlike Kevin, his act was not that of a mere Nelson “haw haw” finger pointing, it was something approaching extortion, an act a competitor such as Verizon might commission if they were criminally inclined. What could have resulted in at worst a suspended sentence if he had simply notified AT&T instead of publishing the data he had farmed, instead has resulted in a much harsher sentence.

So in sum, Ms. Murphy, no, this is not a difference between the US and Canada, it’s the difference between a benevolent and a malevolent hacker. It’s like the difference between telling a man his fly is open and posting a picture of whatever is showing for everyone he knows to see.

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Concert Reviews Featured

Legendary, again!

Thu 12 Dec – Shed Seven, Mark Morriss

Those who know the Barras and Shed Seven needn’t read on. You know what you get when you combine the two.
Those who don’t, listen to See Youse At the Barras and you’ll get some idea.
I write this still buzzing from the unique energy loop that is characteristic of the Barrowland Ballroom. The crowds are mega and the bands know this too and bring their A game every time.
For a band who’ve not released (much) new material in over ten years, Shed Seven are in top form, kind of like the Inspiral Carpets, but with the original singer. And for them too, it doesn’t matter because the songs remain fresh and innovative.
I don’t know if there is a second generation of fans, but we’re young still, and compared to the “class of ’68”, so are they. So for them, as well as for others, I can’t wait to see youse at the Barras again!

…read more

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The genuine article

Fri 6 Dec – The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown

Like others of his generation and career path, most notably probably Lemmy, Arthur Brown is one of very few left, who have always crafted originality from where there was only raw material. Both promoters and spectators don’t know what they’re missing out on by passing on booking or seeing him, he’s that great.
Having probably lived a somewhat healthier lifestyle than others, Arthur Brown can still perform as animatedly and loudly as ever. He performed a good mix of songs from his latest album as well as classics, including of course the Fire Suite.
The current lineup of his band too did not disappoint. Both tools in Brown’s arsenal as well as functioning as a well oiled machine, those guys and gals truly proved themselves worthy of backing a legend.
So do yourself a favor next Spring and go see Arthur Brown. Where but there do you get original music, poetry, dance and a radiant female lead guitarist all in one set? Brown will have the good sense to retire before his time on stage expires, so run along and go see him, I know I will!

…read more

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Celebrating lyricists

Thu 14 Nov – The Bad Shepherds

Better than any compilation and miles above cover bands, Adrian Edmonson and his Bad Shepherds reinterpret songs to highlight their message. You needn’t be a folk fan to appreciate them, but it sure is helpful if you know the original versions. There may be many punk bands out there and many “proper” folk bands, but none demand that you listen to the words quite as well.

Ade will have to be careful to not outstay his welcome though. TBS is a great act, and there sure are lots of worthy songs to cover, but in the end us the audience still do want him to regularly collaborate with his wife and / or Rik Mayall. To put a lid on the 20th century coyotes is to hypocritically let one part of the past gather dust while highlighting the other.

…read more

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Yesterday’s DTforums Google hangout

I tuned in to the newest marketing hour with Dream Theater (should use quotation marks I think) on Youtube yesterday to see if perhaps I could catch a glimpse of what went missing when they threw the captain overboard and under the bus and put dictator-light Petrucci on a pedestal.

Fat chance. It was just over an hour of backslapping and PR friendly statements, with all questions carefully screened so as to not upset their highnesses. This is the band that won’t shake hands out of germophobia and conceitedness, and I suspect that John Petrucci may have received an endorsement from a grill manufacturer to boot.

What hurt most was their utter disdain of their years of glory. They all stated they hated medleys, and I’m sure they would have slapped the moderator for asking about pre-2011 YTSEjam bootleg releases if they’d all been in the same room. You should’ve seen James switch the topic to their “fantastic” last tour, where they had “special moments”. I presume he was referring to that same tour where the only difference between the only set lists, A and B, was ONE song.

Like I said, they’re denigrating their history and former identity and selling the resulting piss in beer bottles.

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Dream Theater – s/t (album review) (*/*****)

Having heard the whole “too-lazy-to-find-a-title” album in high quality after the two preview singles and the album preview, I can confidently give Dream Theater’s self-titled new album a 1/5 star rating. If it were an output of writing sessions or some other tentative collection of songs I could live with it, but considering what I’ve heard are final mixes of a final product, I can’t help but feeling like I’ve been had. Petrucci, Myung, LaBrie, Rudess and Mangini are collectively laughing at all the morons buying piss thinking it’s beer!

As a drummer, I’ve always admired the drummer before every other member, and I’ve stood in Mike Portnoy’s camp for the last three years. Now at last I feel vindicated.

“A Dramatic Turn of Events” was by comparison a considerably stronger album. Even the weak parts there could be chalked up to four non-drummers coping with an actual dramatic turn of events. But now I can truly appreciate what Mike Portnoy brought to Dream Theater. DT without Portnoy is like a ship without a captain. Sure, the crew know what they’re doing, but they have no idea of how to do it well. So long as the ship keeps moving they’re happy. But that is not good enough! Looks like 1/27/14 might be my “so long!” to DT. And yes, I would tell them to their face (to get back to work).

Some notes on the songs:

  • “False Awakening” indeed. Dream Theater no longer know what a suite is unless slept in. Charlotte Pike, show them how!
  • Yes, even DT could learn from Lemmy, who always wastes no time being artsy and delivers instead. “Enemy Inside” does not! As far as pre-album singles go, “A Rite of Passage” was way better and that was weak. The only marginal excitement in it is Mangini’s dominant hand.
  • “Enigma Machine” sounds like a jam on old songs with an A7X Nightmare reference thrown on top. Is that really the best they could do?
  • “Along for the Ride” is DT for the ladies. Was there an actual divorce?
  • “The bigger picture”? DT have lost their way.
  • “Illumination Theory” may be an epic, but even that lacks direction. It’s their “Hey, let’s throw everything in, no matter how raw, those suckers will buy anything!”, DT-Lulu if you like.
  • The hidden track expresses my opinion well. There are some good bits, but all in all, it is sadly a pathetic turd.

Today, it seems like “Après moi, le déluge” should be Mike Portnoy’s motto. He may not be the best technical drummer, but he triumphs above all when all aspects are looked at as a whole and he sure is the most fun & original pinball! As I said after seeing him with The Winery Dogs last week, “As always, if Mike Portnoy is on board, great music and fan treatment will come forth. Constant motion pays high dividends!”

I am a Mike Portnoy fan, and needn’t justify this to anyone anymore!

EDIT: Clarified qualification of technicality in drumming. This is something I think Portnoy has acknowledged, so it is no criticism.

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Three juggling instrumentalists

Tue 17 Sep – The Winery Dogs

Considering their line-up and previous concerts on this leg, a great gig was as good as guaranteed.

The opening act, The Sixxis, were a big surprise. Their brand of prog metal made for the ideal warm up as they both had well written rock songs as well as the prog metal streak that has characterized many aspects of Mike Portnoy’s career. Look them up, they may be big soon.

After a longer than usual set change, The Winery Dogs finally came on stage just after 9:30pm. Playing the tour set of their album interspersed with a few covers and solo spots, they could not have left any serious fan disappointed. As alluded to by the title of this review, those three could literally juggle with their instruments and still sound good.

Billy Sheehan left me wondering whether he either plays a very sturdy bass guitar or whether he carries several spares as he truly covered all bas(s)es, playing every spot that could produce a tone.

Mike Portnoy played on what must be the smallest kit he’s ever played outside of Yellow Matter Custard, having only some of his more modest quirks in his setup. He may be a toolkit drummer, but boy does he use it well!

Richie Kotzen, the man with the ironic last name, too did not struggle and hit every note and bluffed many scales out of his guitar. He even made the Poison cover fun.

So go see them if you can, especially if you too miss Black Country Communion but can cope with the absence of a full time keyboard.

…read more

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Al Jazeera America Promises a More Sober Look at the News

Al Jazeera America Promises a More Sober Look at the News – NYTimes.com.

However much bias some will think Al Jazeera America has, it will certainly have no more bias than the “domestic” US media. In a landscape so harshly dominated by the mainstream media, a.k.a. Red Barry’s mouthpiece, Russia Today and Al Jazeera America are vital voices! If healthy debate is the sign of a healthy democracy than the US badly needs Dr.s RT and AJA!

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Has Bono grown up?

The Beacon: The Blog of The Independent Institute.

From the article above, it would seem that at long last, and about 35 years too late, Bono has finally grown up. Gone seem the days of standing with Bob “give us the f*cking money” Geldof and conspiring with Rothchild junior on plundering the wet liberals.

Capitalism, when unrestrained by government, IS the answer, especially for poor countries, but for wealthy ones too!

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Draft for women – equal rights, equal duty

Think women exempt from draft? Think again.

Unlike the previous gender mixing efforts, this possible gender related change is a positive one.

For years I’ve been hearing women wanting equal rights. Now finally the consequences may be brought to bear. Equal rights should, in society as they do in nature, come with equal responsibilities. Until women’s rights groups and feminists acknowledge that due to the biological differences between men and women they can never be truly equal and that thus rights and duties ought to differ, forced equalizers such as the idea of a gender neutral draft are necessary.

And while we’re on equality, by the way, this should next be extended to racism. If racism really is evil, the NAACP, the Congressional black caucus and La Raza should be declared illegal. Either all race based benefits are racist or none are. The very idea that “minorities” can have racist associations due to some long gone discrepancy does not mean that they can now be granted exclusive benefits. Reverse racism is still racism. Equality means to be color blind, not to favor one color over another.

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Golove strikes again

I’ve been getting into experimental music and Krautrock recently, so “High Voltage!” seemed like a fitting compilation to point me in some new directions.

On that playlist I found Telstar, the true beginning of the British invasion. Not until I heard it did I remember how long it had been since I last heard it and how much I loved that song. It was there I realized that Golove had struck again.

Many years ago, probably ten years ago now, I took one of the most important courses of my college career, Rock Music, taught by Professor Golove. Over the course of a semester, he introduced me and the 100+ other students to a plethora of music genres, artists and influential songs. Every now and then, I come across some artist or song and remember that I’ve known it for many years, often thanks to that class. I was into music beforehand, but I still learned a ton. So even if you’re a music geek, do it for listening to Megadeth in the pursuit of academia! And if classical music is your only muse, remember, many famous musicians didn’t know the style that would make them famous until they branched out.

So undergrads, UB students and prospective UB students, if there ever was a class you had to pick a particular university for, MUS 265 is it! And if that’s not enough, there’s always Dr. Colon’s Anal Chemistry.

Success won’t find you regardless of your efforts, it will find you because of them. So if you’re willing to apply yourself outside the classroom too, I can still only recommend my dear Alma Mater.