Tag Archives: Europe

Badarbunga

Transatlantic flights might just get a little rare shortly. Badarbunga in Iceland just went to code red. Just hope the Europeans don’t completely shut down their airspace like last time. Although this is a possibility, as expert opinion is that this Icelandic crustal burp might just turn into a biggie. Right on the flight path to Europe with a 200 nautical mile exclusion zone around the volcano.

Local Webcams are up and down like yo-yo’s because of server overloading, not much to see anyway apart from monochrome, even at four in the afternoon local time.

If you want the real skinny on what’s going on under (or shortly through) the glacier, visit Jon Frimanns site or the Vatnajokull seismicity page of the Icelandic Met Office.

As for flight disruption, all my old resources have gone all touchy-feely and no longer provide the information required. Which is annoying. Travellers don’t want to know how wonderful and sparkly the CEO’s latest marketing wheeze is. They want pertinent information so they don’t have to lie around making extra work for the cleaning staff in brand new sparkly airport termini, waiting for flights that may not arrive. Especially when the airlines won’t help, or tell you anything worthwhile if your long haul flight is cancelled due to weather or in this case, a volcano. Guidelines for Europe are here. The Irish IAA have a page with useful updates here.

Update: One of the things you don’t hear much of in the lamestream is that magma from Badarbunga has been travelling to another volcano some forty kilometres away called Askja. Although Badarbunga has been downgraded to flight status orange, Askja has been updated to yellow. This could get real interesting, real fast.

Update 2: Just started to get interesting. Glowing lava visible on webcam here.

Taking the piss

Taking a break from packing the kitchen, I popped over to the Barclay Brothers Beano for a chuckle, and came across this story. Apparently the EU has spent two hundred million on its Ukrainian ambitions without checking its pockets or down the sofa of waste for loose change. Now it’s got the begging bowl out to the UK for an extra three point eight billion quids. Ostensibly for ‘youth and employment’, or maybe old politicians and unemployment. Blood and sand.

The expansionist bureaucratic monster that is the European Union needs to be told to fuck off in very short order. Permanently.

Back to packing.

Excuse the number of updates, but my subconscious was spluttering with incredulity more than I was.

The Purple Gang

Interesting watching the European Election results coming in yesterday afternoon Pacific time. I was haunting a Barclay Brothers Beano comment thread and monitoring the BBC and Guardian coverage. One thing struck me, as the humiliation of the big three political parties went on, there was a distinct lag in communications between polling stations and media outlets. Even though announcements had been made almost half an hour previously. Sometimes by as much as forty five minutes.

The sequence would go like this; an activist would post results on a comment thread, then half an hour later the Beeb would trundle around to waffling the poll result, and they did waffle. Odd that. Almost as though they had to consult. Some ‘live’ coverage, eh? The Groan was almost an hour behind at one point. As for the Tellytubbygraph, enough said.

Anyway, nice to see Big Nige and the purple gang dishing out political hurt to the mainstream parties. Unfortunately I don’t think they’ll be able to do much, as on 1st November 2014, legislation comes into effect devolving yet another tranche of UK Government to EU level. Control of borders, immigration and a few other juicy items to name but a few. However, the ‘message has been sent’ and according to old Slaphead, received and understood. The French sent a similar message to their wannabe Euro overlords.

What the new legislation means is there will be more of England sold by the pound. Or should that be to the European project? Time for some Genesis methinks.

Little boxes

We’re getting all boxed up for the move. The house is an absolute tip. Where did all this junk come from? We’ve only been in this suite three years. Where did that come from? I don’t remember buying it. These are the questions you ask when rummaging through your drawers for the stuff you want to keep. Never mind. Tomorrow the office gets wrapped up and steam cleaned before we close it up. The whole idea being to reduce our living space gradually down to three rooms until we walk out and hand over the keys, leaving a clean place and our damage deposit intact.

While we’re packing we’re half watching the UK Euro MEP elections and hoping like hell the big three political parties get a bloody good scare thrown into them. Let’s face it, Labour, Tories and the Limp Dems have been taking the electorate for granted for far too long and deserve a good fright. Maybe even kicking out of power altogether. There’s hardly a wet fag paper to stick between them, the only difference being that the Tories are marginally less incompetent than Labour. Hell, they all got their PPE Degrees at the same universities anyway, so it’s scarcely any wonder.

The Barclay Brothers Beano and all the other broadsheets of late have been populated with anti underdog hit pieces, but it’s the comment threads that are the most telling. You can tell the trollsters are worried that their cushy little sinecures are at risk and the penny is only just dropping that the best way to recover votes is not to tell Mrs & Mrs Public that they’re a bunch of morons. Mr & Mrs Public don’t like that, and have been saying so. With the occasional bit of moral support from the expat community.

If challenged on this point with a threat to vote for Nige and the Purple Gang, the big three will tell you there’s no room for a fourth major political party. Ooh no, they say, there’s no need to vote for anyone else, vote for us again you suckers and we’ll promise you the moon. You won’t get it of course. No way you peasants. No referendums, no choices and you can jolly well put up with what we decide to take off you. We’ve been to Uni and know better than you of the great unwashed. By the way, we’re putting taxes up again. Got to save the world from you lot. How will we fund our Business class travel otherwise?

You know what? From what I hear and see, I think Slaphead, Minutely Bland and Clogg are genuinely frightened. Trouser fillingly so. You know what else? I really do hope they get the scare they so richly deserve. They know the mob are threatening to storm the ballot boxes and the metaphorical tumbrils look like rolling. Maybe. I genuinely want to believe there’ll be a change, but my natural English bred cynicism won’t let me.

Not that it will make any odds to the EU. Nige and Co have been taking the piss out of Brasso and Van Nonentity for several years now and little has changed in the Euro Parliament. Apart from the EU trying to expand into Russia itself. Which will all end in tears as the last three attempts did. The Russki’s have done a deal to sell gas to the Chinese (as predicted), and India, the other regional Superpower in the making, will no doubt follow. Then when the Ukraine and Europe is freezing in the dark there will be another long retreat from Moscow. Canada will get its pipeline to sell oil to the other side of the Pacific despite all the machinations from US and EU funded pressure groups, and the great decline of the West will continue. No Nukes required.

Talk about predictable. At least we’ll be warmer in Victoria.

A thought experiment on referenda

Ballot boxThis mornings cerebral peregrinations hit a big ‘what if’ as I was giving my usual cursory scan to Zero Hedge. Specifically this story about the pending referendum in the Donetsk region of Ukraine.

First thought was “Who are the organisers?” Is it really a free vote?
Second thought was “1.7 million ballots?” That’s a lot of counting.
Third thought was “What would give the result legitimacy?” Would it be binding? Certainly by the winners, but how about anyone else?
Fourth thought was “DIY Referendums. What an intriguing concept.” Instead of waiting for the vested interest owned politicians to ‘call’ one, why not have a privately sponsored vote on something like ohh, lemme see now, membership of the European Union for example. Which begs the question; how would you get such a privately sponsored referendum recognised by the Electoral Commission?
Fifth thought was “If a bunch of broke Ukrainians can do it, why can’t others?” I mean, what do you need? Voters list? Available publicly. Hell, if every telemarketing company can access the voter rolls, why not? For voting purposes hire village / community halls on a specific day. Cheap enough. Recruit volunteers, assigned randomly for each locale to act as voting officers. Download each voting ward onto a simple spreadsheet, crossing off each name as they vote (Insist on voter photo or signature ID). Each vote goes into a sealed steel box which has a unique serial number, just like regular voting. Hire local couriers to pick up the ballot boxes at close of voting and transport to volunteer vote counters. Count vote. Announce result. Yay. Power to the people and all that stuff, yeah? That’s without sorting out any type of Electronic voting via the jolly old Interweb.
Sixth thought was “But who’d help pay for what is effectively a private referendum?” You could probably do one on a local scale with volunteers, but on a national? I believe there are departments of the United Nations who would just love to help. It could even be crowd sourced.

Of course there are a million things that could go wrong. Like Icelands attempt at crowd sourcing a new constitution. The powers that be could just decide to ignore the result, get their media poodles to militate against it, or organise a Police swoop on the crowd sourced, volunteer manned polling stations and effectively steal the results and ballot boxes. Politically motivated ‘Hacktivists’ could crack electronic voter results and play les bougres idiot with them. But that sort of thing only happens in third world countries doesn’t it?

Yeah……

How many more times – it’s a bad idea

Look, we know big Government is broke. The all conquering Godzilla flat busted and continually bleeding from a million leaking capillaries, fed on by an army of bloodsuckers which infest its scabrous hide. The more it’s fed, the more it bleeds. So perhaps it needs to go on a serious diet?

While my thinking errs of the side of the low tax, small Government faction, I understand that there is a need for some form of regulatory framework. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone outside of a few specialist lawyers really understand the current tangled mess but what I do understand is that if your boat is sinking, the last thing you do is load it down further.

Yes, chums. The EU have pushed for, and got, a ‘Robin Hood’ or more accurately a ‘Tobin’ tax on all Eurozone financial transactions. Again. Why do they need the money? They’ve got all the sparkly buildings, inflated salaries and expense accounts avarice could dream of, yet like a junkie their spending habit is never done. Not until they go cold turkey, OD in some dank little bedsit somewhere, or prematurely slide out of this life as their vital support systems (A.K.A. the taxpaying public) fail one by one until nothing is left. Which is currently where things are. Some serious liposuction on the bodywork is called for, followed by a very large tummy tuck, not more sugar frosting on their doughnuts. Yet in 2016 this tax will be enacted in France, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Austria, Belgium, Slovenia and Slovakia. Which will have a knock on effect in the City of London. Or more likely the City Financial Markets will do what they always have, pass the cost onto the Poor Bloody Investor.

For some people, this will simply prove another vehicle for the many EU Carousel frauds, like those continually afflicting the farcical ‘Carbon trading’ markets. Five billion lost at the last count, and that’s with a flatlined marketplace.

Robin Hood is upsetAs for ‘Robin Hood’, well a very large raspberry to that. If he were still around, our eponymous outlaw would be rightly affronted by such a reference, perhaps dropping a couple of bodkin points or hunting broadheads into the greedy breasts of our worthless modern day political leeches. Like the medieval churchmen of old, an encounter with the real deal would leave them with their purses stripped, and forced to go whining to the Sheriff wearing peasants rags. There’s an intriguing notion; EU Commissioners being forced to walk barefoot from Strasbourg to Brussels after having their assets stripped, or maybe even impaled with cloth-yard arrows? Which, knowing the sexual predilections of some, might not be quite the kind of impaling that they were hoping for.

They’re joking, right?

There are signs around town that state ‘Nanaimo is a Nuclear Weapons free zone‘ I kid you not. As if Nuclear weapons could read. Maybe if it all goes pear shaped over the Ukraine, our one hope is that maybe the Russian targeting officers can’t pronounce the towns name and cross it off their list.
Hey Boris. what about Nana-whatever? This place here?
Ivan, if you can pronounce it we’ll nuke it.
Nanna-e. Nyet! Naimimimo. No. Nonnimio. Bugger it Boris, lets just bomb Campbell River instead.”

Seriously, there’s EU hawks getting their knickers in a twist about the Ukrainian situation. Talk of European troop deployments in a place that I always remember as part of Russia. The Crimea has decided it wants to be part of Russia, and the EU are crying “Foul! Ref!” Over the referendum. Although it’s odd that there were so few shooting incidents. In the same time frame, there were actually more reported gun related deaths in Vancouvers gangland. You’d think there would be quite a few if the situation were as bad as some of the Western media would have us believe.

I grew up during the Cold War, when Nuclear midnight was often only ‘minutes’ away. It was the reason so many of my generation went ‘off the rails’. If you’re going to fry in a nuclear fireball anyway, why not have a continual party to see the dear green Earth off with a nicer type of bang? When it all came to an end in 1989 I was left feeling rather pleased, but with a string of epic hangovers reaching back to my 18th birthday. It’s worth noting that anyone under the age of 18 does not get hangovers, strange but true. However, this is besides the point.

The western media has been busy spray painting old Vlad Putin as the cold tyrant of a gangster republic. Which he’s certainly got the eyes for. Oo, and didn’t those eeevil Roosians jail some crap girl punk band for desecrating a church? Gosh, dwahleegs, the Russki’s are so naughty. Russian ‘defence’ spend is up 18%, so yes, they’re expecting trouble. They have forces on the Eastern Ukrainian border, just in case anyone tries to get funny. There’s talk of mercenaries inside the Ukraine, but no one seems to be quite sure whose.

It is worth noting, back in the Cold War, Russia had the Warsaw Pact countries acting as a series of buffer states between it and the rest of Europe. Which is quite understandable. Russia does not trust Europe for two good historical reasons; Hitler and Napoleon. The memory of the German invasion of ‘Operation Barbarossa‘ and Napoleon in a burning Moscow are both still raw wounds in the Russian psyche. Not to mention that messy business back in the 1850s. Read Johnathan Dimblebys Russia. We have a copy. Quite the eye opener.

Yet most of the war talk is coming from within the EU. I am seriously concerned that if some of the Euro Hawks get their way, NATO will get dragged in, and with it Canada, which I’d really rather not see happen. I mean call me an old fussyboots, but seeing a shooting war blot out half of the world is not the kind of legacy I want my kids having to deal with. Over the next few years I want to travel this little planet some more, and I would be quite delighted if it wasn’t a radioactive wasteland.

As an addendum; as poignant now as when it was first released in 1985.


Update:
Good news. Putin has told Europe to pay the Gas bill, and everything will be fine. The Eurocrats appear to have backed down. Until they can work out another devious ploy to keep the political ponzi scheme that is the EU expanding.

How stuff works, a song

Oh Grandpa’s a wealthy land owner
And Uncle makes windmills that spin
My Aunty she sells Carbon Credits
My God, how the money rolls in!

(Chorus:) Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in, rolls in!
Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in!

Oh Daddy’s a Parliamentarian
Raising tax on the singlemost whim
Every night he’s out schmoozing accountants
My God, how the money rolls in!

(Chorus:) Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in, rolls in!
Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in!

Oh Brother he works out in Brussels
Saving gorgeous Hungarians from sin
He’ll save you a blonde for ten Euros
My God, how the money rolls in!

(Chorus:) Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in, rolls in!
Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in!

My Mother’s a Harley Street Doctor
Gives pills to the famed with a Gin.
She owns a renowned rehab clinic.
My God, how the money rolls in!

(Chorus:) Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in, rolls in!
Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in!

*Sung to the tune of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”

What do they do with it all?

There’s been a fair bit of whining in the UK press by various jackboot apologists complaining that various parties don’t pay ‘their fair share’ of tax. Yet as I recall, even when we lived in that beknighted part of the world, I calculated that sixty percent of all our joint outgoings went into the massively inefficient state sausage machine. Sure, we got a little back in child benefit and odds and ends, but when we had to spend it, tranches went in paying tax on those necessary purchases like stuff for school, clothing, food etc, so we were really no better off. Proportionately speaking, our overall disposable income shrank, year on year.

Let me essay an example here; say you want to send a Christmas present to friends or family to and within the UK. Base cost of purchase will invoke various taxes including VAT, yet every component on your heartfelt generosity is already stained with the patina of tax. Raw materials are taxed, the employees are taxed, employers / employees NHI, property taxes / business rates, tax on energy and energy usage, it all mounts up. despite tax breaks, there is no such thing as ‘revenue neutral’. On anything. The taxman bites everywhere. Argue all you want. Dig a little, and the levels of taxation become obvious.

Like a leech, the tax take affects everything, even indirectly by putting up a manufacturers or distributors costs. The price of gasoline (Petrol) increases, so does the proportionate tax. Therefore the cost of anything that needs to be transported or made goes up and inflation increases. This is economics kindergarten, or 101 as they say over here.

Okay, so that’s established how thoroughly the UK is taxed, both directly and indirectly. Only barter between neighbours and growing your own from your own seed remains untouched. For how long this state of affairs continues is anyone’s guess, considering the current desperation of the UK taxman.

So; my heading question remains. What does the UK Government do with your hard earned? Well, there’s the basics. The NHS, which currently employs about 1.18 million people (1.1 million of whom are classed as “Non clinical” Official figures for August 2012 from here). In 1995, the total health budget came in at 46.1 Billion. 2000 was 49.6 Billion. 2005, 82.9 Billion. 2010, 118.2 Billion. 2011, 121.3 Billion. figures from here, which are culled from official sources.

What else? Lobbying itself via certain QUANGO’s and NGO’s which are basically jobs for family and friend to pay off, or buy political favours. Spends it on unnecessary things even the most bling obsessed shopping junkie might say “Whoa, that’s a bit pricey, innit?”. Like IT projects to monitor everyone’s movements / financial transactions / Internet use. Gets the country involved in expensive wars, then lets the enemy in through the back door and can’t or won’t chuck them out because of their ‘ooman rights’. Wastes it on boondoggles. The list is almost, but not quite infinite. Not to mention having such a complex compliance culture that everything, including Nietzsche’s ‘raising of the wrist’ costs multiples of it’s base cost. Which the taxpayer has to stump up for. Even then they will rarely get it right.

Which rather answers a couple of questions; “What do they spend it all on?” and “What cuts?” The figures speak for themselves. Yet they want more? Crazy. What happened to the ‘Bonfire of the Quangos? Amongst all the other promises.

Thou shalt…not

Since we’ve been in Canada, Mrs S and I always get a shock to the system every time we skip back across the water to visit friends and family. Canada may be one of the more highly regulated places this side of the world, but there’s none of this nitpicking day to day micromanagement that goes on in the old country. Apart from the various smoking bans in restaurants and bars, which everyone fails to get too stressed about. You want to smoke? Sure buddy, over there. Just not here, okay? I’ve yet to see any of the hand waving hysteria that gets reported in the UK.

For example, no self respecting coffee shop over here would dream of not offering cream with coffee simply because it’s suddenly become ‘company policy’ for some strange and arbitrary reason (EU regulations. no doubt).

Pharmacies over here don’t refuse to sell non prescription items, even if they aren’t usually on the shelves. To be succinct, I’m on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet regime to shed a few pounds. 1) Because I like it, and 2) Because it guarantees the weight loss without the cravings. Now one of the little monitoring tools used to regulate this diet are called Ketostix, reagent strips used to measure ketones in the urine. Ketostix are not a drug, they won’t hurt you even if you chew through an entire package, and they are only used as a urine monitoring device, rather like a pregnancy test kit.

Last time we were in the UK, despite their non-prescription status, several large outlet ‘pharmacists’ (Unqualified minimum wage shop assistants in white coats) refused to sell Ketiostix to us, stating that it was ‘company policy’. “Yes, but who will you sell them to?” We asked.
“Diabetics.” The answer came back. “If they have a prescription.”
“But Ketostix don’t need a prescription, and how do you know we’re not diabetics who’ve left our documents at home?.”
“Ah, but it’s company policy not to sell them to anyone but Diabetics with a prescription.” Said the pharmacy assistant.
“Why?” I asked. “What else do you refuse to sell because it’s company policy?” I snarled as a parting shot, and did not wait for an answer before wandering round the corner to a more traditional pharmacy where the request; “I’d like to buy some Ketostix.”
Was met with a cheery. “Here you are sir.” And money changed hands for goods. Sorted. All smiles. Job done.
Yesterday I was in Wal-Mart and couldn’t find what I wanted on the shelves, so I asked one of the Pharmacy Assistants. “Sure. Have an awesome day.” She said, handing over the Ketostix. Big genuine smile, friendly eye contact. You don’t get those in the UK either.

We don’t have the silly 16 tablet pack maximum restrictions on Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen (Paracetomol) either. I could go on, but upon reflection the majority of you voted for Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, and the EU, and will keep on voting for the same old, same old, so you’ll get no sympathy from me.

At this point the line from Tommy, the Who’s 1969 Rock Opera pops into my head;
“You’ve been told many times before,”
“Messiah’s pointing to the door,”
“But no one has the guts to leave the Temple………”