måndag 30 november 2015

Doro - mobile phone to avoid

Doro produces mobile phones which are supposed to be for people who want a simple device. I have had one since August. It must be the worst mobile phone I have ever owned. The model I purchased was a Phoneasy in gloss red with a camera.
  • The message facility is awful.
  • Very poor predictive text with limited vocabulary.
  • Cannot change language without closing and changing Settings, and it is difficult to find.
  • It takes EIGHT key presses to delete each and every message.
  • Calendar fixtures cannot be copied to another day or time.
  • The online backup facility did not work.
  • Battery life not good considering it is just a phone.
  • Microphone aperture is in the corner exactly where it will be covered when holding the phone.
  • Very poor build quality.
  • Squidgy keys - have to be pressed on exactly the right spot.
  • Red lacquer scratches easily and has started to wear through to the grey plastic underneath.
  • The back detachable cover has started to split at the corners.
There is more but that is enough to be getting on with.

It was not a bargain price and I am already looking for something to replace it.

söndag 29 november 2015

Unwanted children nature's mistake

Following the recent shooting, I got involved in a discussion on the Guardian's web site.This was the response I got to my question about when does a clump of cells become a person.

"At conception. However, being a person does not provide the right to use another person's body. Born humans can't demand the use of other people's organs - even those of their own parents, even if they will die without them. Why should unborn people have more rights than anyone else?"

This raises an interesting issue. If we laid eggs it would make matters so much simpler. They could be kept in the fridge or sold on ebay. Or eaten.

It is something for genetic engineers to get working on. They could try inserting a few chicken genes to see what happens.

torsdag 26 november 2015

Swedish "open door" slammed shut

Sweden has now closed its "open door" to refugees and people who purport to be refugees. The details are not clear yet but this is obviously a complete about-turn. It is an admission of a gross error of judgement on the part of the Swedish government.

There is a lot to be said in this kind of situation for the robust style of British parliamentary debate. In a similar situation there would have been several minutes of booing and jeering the the Commons.

It would have been well deserved. The Swedes can be too polite. There are times when it is necessary to be forthright.

söndag 22 november 2015

Who is bigoted?

It is amazing the number of people who apply the label "bigot" to those who try to warn them about the essentially intolerant nature of Islam. They will have to learn the hard way.

The Syrian refugee crisis has brought this to the surface. There is a genuine desire to extend feelings of compassion, expressed in the phrase "what would Jesus have done?" The majority of the refugees - at least 90% - are Muslims. Surveys suggest that between 20% and 40% of Muslims take their religion seriously, This means that there is always a reservoir of individuals who are radicalised or could become radicalised. That risk continues from generation to generation as relatively few from this group assimilate by intermarriage; in the UK, the radical Muslims are the grandchildren of the original immigrants. Radical Muslim is a misnomer, for these are nothing more than individuals who take seriously one of the fundamental tenets of Islam - Jihad. Thus, an open-doors policy is exposing future generations to risk of the sort of civil unrest and violence that is daily fare in the Middle East.

Of course one should help everyone in need so far as possible, irrespective of their religion, but this does not mean that one is obliged to put our families into danger by inviting enemies into our homes. Jesus never told his followers to do anything like that. There are other ways of providing help, and one might also ask why the forty or so Muslim countries are not offering help to their co-religionist brothers?

There is an irony  in being labelled bigot for wanting to resist the influx of an army of bigots.

tisdag 17 november 2015

Brass neck

Even after the Paris bombings, people are still going around in public with clothing which marks them out as Muslims. Have they no sense of shame at all? Do they lack any sensitivity? Or do they quietly approve of the massacre?

What a display of brass neck. Have they failed to notice that Islam has become a toxic brand?

torsdag 12 november 2015

The left's love-affair with Muslims

The other evening I had a long telephone conversation with a left-wing friend. This is what she did not want to hear.

I am shocked at how the left in general are welcoming an influx of people who espouse the most reactionary, racist and illiberal views circulating on the planet.Antisemitism is embedded within Islam.Committed Muslims worship a man who personally ordered the massacre by beheading of 600 Jews and the enslavement of their wives and children. In the Koran, Jews are referred to many times as pigs who need to be killed.

Objecting to this kind of thing is not racist, but they should no more be welcomed than one would welcome an army of Waffen SS. It is a continuation of the process which began with the ethnic cleansing of Christians and Jews from the Saudi-Arabian peninsula in the seventh century.

The first victims of this, are, as always, the Jews. Both in Malmö and here in Gothenburg, they face constant harrassment, violence and threats of violence (including death and arson threats) and school bullying. It is coming from Muslim immigrants. It is not coming from white power nuts or Breivik types. Half the former 2000 strong Jewish community has fled. Mostly to Israel.

This comes to the second issue, the demonisation of Israel. It is, for a start, a highly selective matter because there are dozens of oppressive regimes about which the same people utter not one word. There is plenty to criticise Israel about but when the spotlight is put on this one country to the exclusion of all others, is has to be concluded that the motivation is nothing other than good old antisemitism. It is a disgrace that the left has gone down this path.

One of the lies that gets put about is that Israel has come about as a result of European Christian antisemitism. That is only part of the truth. More than half of the population of Israel are refugees, or descendants of refugees, from Muslim Arab antisemitism.

This tracks back to the Palestine dispute. There had always been Jews in the area that later became known as Palestine. When the land was conquered from the Byzantine Empire in 637, both Christians and Jews were treated as second class citizens. They were forced to pay special, and very heavy taxes, forbidden to repair their buildings and made to wear distinctive clothing. Both communities suffered periodic pogroms, at least once a generation. This was their condition until the end of the Ottoman Empire, by which time the number of Jews remaining was several tens of thousands.

Arab attacks on Jews in Palestine began in 1920.right at the start of the Mandate period. At that time, the prospect of a Jewish state was next to nil, because the vast majority of Jew were not in the least bit interested. Thus it was based on nothing more than the ingrained hatred of Jews by Muslims, plus paranoia.

There were pogroms in Palestine many times during the 1920s and 1930s, including one which drove the ancient Jewish community out of Hebron in 1929, following a massacre.

During WW2, the Palestinian leader and war criminal Haj-amin el-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and uncle of Yasser Arafat, met Hitler and the Nazi leaders and encouraged them in their good work in pursuing the Holocaust. On his way, he had visited Baghdad and organised a pogrom in which hundreds of Jews were killed (that was in 1941), and afterwards he went on to organise the Bosnian Brigades, who terrorised the Serbs, thereby stirring up the hostilities which led to the tit-for-tat massacres in the 1990s. They did not pop up out of nothing and nowhere.

The unlovely Hungarian government can also be explained by the historical background. The country was not freed from the brutal Ottoman occupation until 1686. Thus, the fear of the Muslim threat from the east is part of the national folk memory. Remember also that the Ottomans remained on the borders of Hungary and were not dislodged from most of the Balkans until the late nineteenth century. We need to understand why they are jumpy. It is not for no reason.

The same goes for Austrian and Poland. Vienna was besieged for months by the Ottomans in 1683 and was only saved at the last moment by the arrival of the Polish army. Had Vienna fallen, there would have been a slaughter of civilians on the scale of that which took place in Constantinople in 1453.

It also needs to be remembered that the break-up of the Ottoman empire and the establishment of modern Turkey was accompanied by the genocide of a total of at least three million, possibly four million, Greeks and Armenians. These events are only just beyond living memory and not forgotten.

This brings us to the present situation in Syria and Iraq. We should stop blaming the troubles on western intervention. It is an obstacle to understanding the nature of this problem. Western intervention has not helped matters but the region would still be a catastrophe. The problem can be traced directly back to the Muslim Arab invasions of the seventh century, referred to earlier. It is a bitter legacy. Syria, Lebanon and Iraq are a witches' cauldron of ethnic and religious animosities. The Ottoman Empire and its predecessors kept the lid on that cauldron. The architects of the post-WW1 carve-up did not understand that. Politicians all the way across the spectrum still do not understand that. Until they do, all interventions are doomed to failure.

Unrestricted immigration from the area is merely spreading the conflict. It begins elsewhere as gang warfare. In the past couple of years it has escalated to the point that immigrant-dense Gothenburg has the highest rate of shootings of any city in Scandinavia.

Should we ignore people in need? No. But the help needs to be given to people on the spot, in fact, where it is most needed and most useful. As to whom is allowed in - they need to be checked and permission given before they start their journey, so that they are not tempted to make cross the sea in toy boats.

onsdag 11 november 2015

Merkel the Ossi

It is not generally known that Merkel was brought up in East Germany. This could explain quite a lot. Here is part of the Wikpedia entry.

Like most young people in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Merkel was a member of the Free German Youth (FDJ), the official youth movement sponsored by the ruling Socialist Unity Party. Membership was nominally voluntary, but those who did not join found it all but impossible to gain admission to higher education. She did not participate in the secular coming of age ceremony Jugendweihe, however, which was common in East Germany. Instead, she was confirmed. Later, at the Academy of Sciences, she became a member of the FDJ district board and secretary for "Agitprop" (Agitation and Propaganda). Merkel claimed that she was secretary for culture. When Merkel's one-time FDJ district chairman contradicted her, she insisted that: "According to my memory, I was secretary for culture. But what do I know? I believe I won't know anything when I'm 80. Merkel's progress in the compulsory Marxism–Leninism course was graded only genügend (sufficient, passing grade) in 1983 and 1986.

At school, she learned to speak Russian fluently, and was awarded prizes for her proficiency in Russian and Mathematics. Merkel was educated in Templin and at the University of Leipzig, where she studied physics from 1973 to 1978. While a student, she participated in the reconstruction of the ruin of the Moritzbastei, a project students initiated to create their own club and recreation facility on campus. Such an initiative was unprecedented in the GDR of that period, and initially resisted by the University of Leipzig; however, with backing of the local leadership of the SED party, the project was allowed to proceed. Merkel worked and studied at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin-Adlershof from 1978 to 1990. After being awarded a doctorate (Dr. rer. nat.) for her thesis on quantum chemistry, she worked as a researcher and published several papers.

In 1989, Merkel got involved in the growing democracy movement after the fall of the Berlin Wall, joining the new party Democratic Awakening. Following the first (and only) multi-party election of the East German state, she became the deputy spokesperson of the new pre-unification caretaker government under Lothar de Maizière. In April 1990, the Democratic Awakening merged with the East German CDU, which in turn merged with its western counterpart after reunification.

tisdag 3 november 2015

William Smith of Durham

 A pleasanter subject altogether - the Presces and Responses by William Smith, Cathedral organist at Durham.

Lone refugee "children"

There is a flood of what are described as "lone refugee children" arriving in Sweden. Most of them are male and appear to be in their mid-twenties. Some of them have undoubtedly been through the mill, but whatever else they are, they are not children. One must also ask where are the girls?

This is not to say that they should not be given refuge but to describe them as children is misleading and destroys trust in the the authorities and media who persist in using the term. One wonders what else is being hidden. Who is a refugee and who has been sent to form part of a terrorist sleeper cell?

It is not as if it is difficult to establish someone's age if they are between 14 and 20. X-rays of wrists and teeth, and a dental examination will reveal how old they are. Some of these "children" have receding hairlines which means that it is highly improbable that they are not at least 25 years old.

Skallliga ensamkommande flyktingbarn

Titta på bilden av detta "flyktingbarn" Artikeln i Metro beskriver honom som 18 år gammal. Hans historien är visserligen hemsk, men värför beskriver honom som "barn"? Detta är löjligt. Den vikande hårfäste och skrynklig pannan gör att killen ser ut som om han är 25-30 år gammal. Stackars barnet börjar bli skalligt!

Ålder kan konstateras genom röntgenering av handled, tänder och undersökning av tänder. Stoppa denna påstående att unga män är "barn". Folk är inte idioter. Och var finns flickorna, förresten?

söndag 1 november 2015

Turkey sliding into a bad place

Turkey's election result gives the lie to the claim that Islam and a liberal democracy are compatible. If only they were. The root of this is the religion's theology and the relationship between man and God - slave and master. That is not conducive to democracy in the way that the Trinitarian Christian concept of God is - the Christian God becomes man and in doing so, humanity is divinised.

So different are the two concepts of God as to make nonsense of the claim that "we worship the same God". Sadly we do not.

The result is also bad for Turkey from another point of view. Erdogan is a committed anti-semite; this follows logically from the numerous statements in the Koran that Jews are variously pigs, or descendants of pigs. Anti-semitism can be regarded as some kind of mental illness, or a symptom of mental illness, that either affects the sufferers' inability to think rationally, or is a symptom of a general inability to think rationally. Anti-semites make terrible decisions as a matter of habit. It is not good for a country to be ruled by one.

A Gregorian chant repository for Sweden

Swedish texts have been set to Gregorian chant both for the Catholic and national Lutheran churches, as well as for religious communities, although there are important gaps. There is no setting for the Creed, nor for the Entrance or Communion antiphons, or the Alleluia verses.

All of the settings appear to have been written in five-line notation instead of the four-line neum notation which was invented for Gregorian chant. This gives rise to difficulties.

(A) With five-line notation the lines must be closer together. It is more difficult to see a note on a four-line stave than a five-line one. In most cases the upper line, and often the two upper lines, are redundant because Gregorian music does not normally extend over the range provided by a five-line stave.

(B) A five-line stave with clef mark indicates an absolute pitch, whereas the four-line Gregorian notation has a doh or fa clef and indicates relative pitch, like tonic solfa notation. This allows choirs to decide where to pitch their doh, by agreement between them, depending on the state of their voices and the weather, etc.

(C) Neum notation more clearly indicates the shape of the music phrases in Gregorian chant. This promotes a livelier style of singing, as well as making it is easier to recognise music and phrases within the music that singers have performed.

(D) Modern notation occupies more space, and also spreads the text out along the lines in separate syllables. It is then no longer possible to apprehend it as text. Singers then lose the sense of the text, which should not happen in given that it is the text that is important and the music is essentially ornamentation of that text to give emphasis to certain words and phrases.

The lack of compactness means that scores do not always have all the music written out for every verse of a strophic hymn, when each verse may have adaptations to fit the text.

(E) Gregorian notation better preserves the flow of the text instead of breaking it all up into separate syllables and spreading them across the width of the page.

A further difficulty arises due to the format of Cecilia. With 1300 pages, it has had to be printed on extremely thin paper which makes it difficult to handle. The typeface in the standard volume is only 2 mm high ie just over 8 point, and the typeface which appears to be Palatino is light in weight, making it hard to read. Due to its size, Cecilia is also an expensive book – three times as expensive as the average English hymn book from Kevin Mayhew, and it is important to minimise wear and tear to maximise their life.

Cecilia includes a selection of Ordinaries of the Mass as well as a collection of the better-known Latin hymns but these are also in five-line notation. There are also some discrepancies between the music in Cecilia and that in the standard Solemnes editions. This usually does not matter because congregations normally sing the Solemnes version, presumably because that is what they remember. However, it sometimes becomes noticeable when young musicians sing from Cecilia; the Kyrie from Missa de Angelis is an instance of this.

2 AIM
In the light of the above considerations, the aim is to make available clearly legible musical settings, in neum notation, of those Swedish and Latin Gregorian chants in most common use.

It is suggested that a web site be established to serve as a repository for work which has not been included in Cecilia but which would be of use in the Diocese of Stockholm, and to anyone else who wished to make use of it. The site would be moderated by a committee of musicians and subject to quality control and agreed standards.

A model would be the work done by the “Church Music Association of America”. This has music for both the Novus Ordo and Usus antiquior.

The scores made available on the web site would be produced as copyright-free A4 sheets and A5 booklets, available in PDF format for downloading and printing as required. This would reduce wear-and-tear on Cecilia. At some time in the future the work might be compiled into a printed and bound book or separate volumes. The very useful and comprehensive collection in “Plainsong for Schools” would probably have a wide appeal since it fills a particular need.

As part of this project, Gregorian settings to Swedish texts would be prepared, of the Entrance Antiphons, Alleluia and Communion verses, (“Propers”) also in neum notation; in addition, it would be desirable to make available musical settings of texts for special occasions, such as the Maundy Thursday foot-washing.

3 PARTICULAR CONSIDERATIONS

THE PROPER
As regards the Proper of the Mass, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal says In the dioceses of the United States of America there are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from The Roman Missal or the Psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple Gradual; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the diocesan Bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the diocesan Bishop.

Does the same instruction apply in Sweden? It is not altogether clear how this might be approached, because the texts from the Roman Gradual are not always those in Cecilia, which are presumably taken from the Swedish Missal. Some of the entrance antiphons are so short that they would not allow sufficient time to process from the sacristy to the altar.

A possible solution might be this. The texts from Graduale Romanum are taken from the Vulgate. They might be replaced by the same scriptural passages from a Swedish bible translation. However, it appears that there is not an approved Swedish bible approved for Catholic use. One option might be to use the 1917 translation, which is widely appreciated for its literary quality. Given the present practice of replacing the Proper texts with hymns chosen with considerable freedom and usually of Lutheran or Anglican origin, any attempt to follow the texts of the Gradual Romanum more faithfully must be more in accord with the principle of Liturgiam authenticam.

The aim would thus be to set these texts to the same Gregorian psalm tones as are used for the Latin settings of the Proper in Graduale Romanum, as well as the complete chants for the Alleluia.

THE CREED
The lack of a musical setting for the Creed needs to be addressed. In the absence of one, people mumble. Neither the Credo I or Credo III settings are suitable for use with the Swedish text without adaptation. The less ornamental Credo I is in Mode 4 which makes it difficult to sing. Credo III is in the easier Mode 5 which is close to a normal major key but the ornamentation, with many porrecti, makes it even more difficult to adapt. One option would be to sing Credo III at all sung Masses. Everyone seems to know it and it can be taught to children. Another possibility is to use the tune used in some Swedish Orthodox communities.

4 PRACTICAL AND LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS

Most of the Latin texts can be scanned from Liber Usualis or Plainsong for Schools. These books appear to be out of copyright. It is usually necessary to carry out some work to the scans so as to ensure clarity. The originals were printed by a letterpress process and the quality of the impressions is variable.

New work can be written out using an ordinary word processor with one of the Gregorian fonts from St Meinrad. The text font should also be standardised. News Plantin is a good font for this purpose. It is a heavier type than Times Roman and makes for better photocopies. It is also slightly condensed compared with Palatino ie it takes up less space, though not as condensed as Times New Roman. It must be purchased from Monotype, however, and the appropriate license would be required.

The Power of Silence by Cardinal Sarah

Cardinal Sarah is the Guinean cardinal who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship. He is also the author of The Power of Silenc...