Tag Archives: Europe

Digging my way out

Snow shifting over the last two days. Two 10kg bags of snow melt and a kilo of salt later and last night there was still a big lump of packed snow and ice on the drive. Then I found out that there’s another tranche incoming of up to six inches overnight. Bloody hell. I’d only just dug us out of the last lot. This is Victoria in British Columbia for heavens sake, not Nunavut above the Arctic circle, reputedly the place where Canadian brass monkeys come from. Fortunately it’s only a Summery two Celsius outside my window at the moment, I can tell because our Hummingbird feeders are no longer frozen. After getting rid of half the two foot deep berm of snow on our deck I’ve elected to leave our deck garden covered because the snow acts as an insulator and stops our delicate little plants freezing completely. It’s even worse at the Great lakes, we’re talking 49.3% ice coverage with Ontario completely frozen, which is not unusual, but the historical data for the last 3 years says we’re in a cold spell as of 2018 & 2019. See Screengrabs below.

Fortunately my best Lemon Tree plants are sitting aloof from all the white stuff on a nice warm window ledge indoors. They will survive. I’m not too sure about the other plants we left outside. Our Hummingbird feeders are being visited by some copper throated and green backed species, so they’re all right.

Back in the old country I see Theresa May has snatched defeat from the slavering jaws of victory, yet again. My wife thinks she’s being very clever and manipulative. I disagree. She’s clearly out of her depth. Her prevarication have cost the UK dearly due to the uncertainty her government has created. Had they just said to the EU “Bye chaps, we’re off at the end of March 2019, toodle pip. Thirty nine billion you say? Don’t hold your breath.” everyone in business would have known where they stood and made provision accordingly. Instead May and cohorts tried to do what their sponsors and lobbyists told them, which was betray the spirit of a democratic vote. She’s still trying to get a last minute deal when that time is long past. The EU wants what it wants and boo sucks to everyone else. Which will be it’s ultimate downfall. The French protests continue, with their ‘leader’ on trial for ‘carrying a stick’ at one of the protest flashpoints. Over in Germany, the AfD are gaining ground. Hungary is still being a real dog in the EU’s manger and let’s just not talk about Italy. Overall, things do not look good for the EU. When the UK leaves, the implosion of the EU will accelerate. Trade will continue and the world will still turn. A lot of worthless mouths will have to relearn some job skills. Or starve.

Youngest reports that it’s been snowing in the great metrollops, but not much else. She’s too busy sorting the legal fallout from other people’s foolishness. Oh well, all makes work for the working lawyer to do I suppose. She’ll never be short of remuneration.

Then there are the reported five thousand children who went ‘on strike’ to ‘save the planet’. Manipulated by activist teachers no doubt. In reality their ‘strike’ probably increased emissions by forcing the held up traffic they created to idle their engines. This is why the voting age should not be lowered. Children should be allowed their childhood, not used as pawns for the ideologically blinkered and fanatic.

Not that the activists actually look at what’s really happening in the big wild world (See above screengrabs). They live in their own bubble realities of victimhood and delusion and when the worst happens are not equipped to survive. Those of us who pay attention simply douse the outside lights, barricade our doors and ensure the larder is full. The howling activist mobs can freeze and starve. They are the authors of their own undoing.

Advertisements

Snowflakes falling

What can I say, we’ve had snow here on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Not a great deal, not enough to trigger a ‘snow day’, just a strinkling for decoration. No biggie. Just make sure you have your cold weather tyres on and turn up as usual. Well I would if my desk required a commute. Which it doesn’t. Which at the moment is nice. The only downside is that you have to be really careful about how many hours you work. It is very easy sometimes to work over seventy hours a week if things get a bit hectic. Fortunately work is quieter at present and the powers that be less demanding. Maybe they’re hibernating? No matter, I just keep my head down and graft until my scheduled tasks are done and decline any further workload. On the grounds that I’ve got enough to do already. Besides, my ambitions have shifted away from being purely employment focused. It’s safer that way.

One thing occurred to me while I was watching a fine snow fall Sunday and Monday was all the talk of Martial Law floating around circa a no-deal BREXIT. It’s almost as if Theresa May et al are looking for a way to not deliver, which I personally wouldn’t put past her and her remainer cohorts. There’s an air of not so quiet desperation about the remoaner faction. It’s like they’re planning to act like a spoiled six year old on the losing side of a game, who runs away with the ball so no-one else can play any more. I have this awful suspicion they’re going to welsh on the British people, or try to provoke a violent reaction so they have an excuse to keep the UK firmly in the EU’s clutches, because actually getting on with running a country is such hard work don’cha know. Not that the alternative is any better. All Labour ever achieved for the UK was ‘managed decline’ and the Tories (and the country) need another Thatcher. Or at least something or someone the economically productive can feel secure about, because when they feel good the money flows, investment rises and unemployment drops. Which is good for everyone but extreme lefties in academia and those in the public sector.

Having worked in both public and private sector institutions I’ve come to prefer the private. Working for the public sector puts too many constraints on you as a person, far more so than in a large corporate. The work may be much easier in the public sector, but where’s the fun in that? Where’s the challenge, the adrenaline rush?

This worker has seized his own means of production like we all should and has learned ways of moving his resources rapidly, just in case the jealous beast of big government casts envious eyes upon that small fiscal redoubt he has built outside of the banking system. Because even banks can fail. Yes they may have all the money, but as in the case of BNP Paribas, the biggest French bank by market capitalisation, has had to retrench recently. Trading losses forced it to make cuts of almost half a billion quid. This is symptomatic of a general malaise across European investment banking. Nothing for customers to freak out about yet, but certainly a sign that the uncertainly about BREXIT and unrest throughout Europe is being felt further along the European financial food chain. A clean break would be far less painful. I’m moving my money out of continental Europe until the dust settles in five or ten years time. Covenant-lite loans will be Europe’s next downfall. The Euro is already down and has further to go. Which will be good when the big money finds a new safe haven in Sterling and the US Dollar.

While contemplating the above I took a time out to inspect our little Winter deck garden, I was amused to see our Snowdrops and Crocuses have punched their way through a thin crust of ice and snow to provide a little colour other than white everywhere. When the clouds part, the Crocuses have their petals spread wide in a huge YAAAY! to great the thin warmth of a Winter sun. Life is perennial like that. There might be snow and rain, but there will always be the odd flash of sunlight to lighten the gloom. Those are the moments to live for.

What else? Oh yes, never mind his state of the union triumph, Trump has by executive order escalated the trade war against Canada. Is it being reported? Not so much. Very little. In fact a crucial detail completely slipped under my radar. The FT missed it completely, despite the the relevant executive order being on the official White House web site. Canadian companies being given the big shut out from the USA? By the way, Obama did exactly the same thing back in 09, but our then PM Stephen Harper, had enough savvy to negotiate a Canadian exemption. Trudeau’s incompetent bunch of snowflakes are too focussed on feel-good virtue signalling than doing what’s right for employment in the great diverse North. He was even caught slagging off Canadian blue collar workers last year. If he wins the 2019 Federal election I’ll know something is amiss because he is not a popular figure right now. Only a concerted bought and paid for media assault can help him. What’s that Sooty? He’s given taxpayer dollar to that cause already? Well stap me vitals. Who would have thought?

Anyway, it looks like being a lively discussion on Friday when I finalise my buying picks. There may even be a significant opportunity. Canadian pipeline companies are looking interesting because they have just upped their prices at contract renewal time. This is because Trudeau’s Feds won’t let them build any more pipelines, a move which paradoxically means higher dividends for no additional infrastructure costs. True, the price of the shares won’t go anywhere fast, but the way my tax sheltered investments are structured, I automatically reinvest any share dividends, increasing holdings and thus boosting the income from a relatively limited outlay. Despite all the deluded wibbling about ‘renewable energy’, there is no ‘low emission’ power generation technology mature enough, apart from Hydro-Electric or Nuclear (both ideologically unpopular with the Greens, Liberals and NDP) to cover the energy needs of Canada’s growing population. In spite of what all the talking head prophets of doom say, ‘Fossil’ fuels aren’t going to run out any time soon.

Liberum oratio non est oratio odio

Well, we’re back to BC in a day or so. Just for a chuckle I’m posting translations of the above Latin blog post title in all the languages of the countries we’ve been visiting in Europe this year. Just not necessarily in the right order.

French; “La liberté d’expression n’est pas un discours de haine.”

Danish; “Ytringsfrihed er ikke hadefuld tale.”

Dutch; “Vrijheid van meningsuiting is niet het aanzetten tot haat.”

… and finally in English; “Free speech is not hate speech”

To which I would add (if challenged); “Tua sententia est impertinens.” and tell them I have a terminal case of eleutheromania, an archaic term that has fallen out of use and no longer listed in the current online OED. Perhaps this long dormant Chestersonism is due for a quick trip down to the word lab to see my crew of loyal Igors throw it into the electro-dictionaries and give it a few thousand volts up the wossnames to bring it zinging back to life. Freedom within reason of course. So long as you don’t burn other people’s stuff down or get them kicked out of their job.

For my own part I just had to cough up an extra fifty four Euro’s after I got flashed by a speed camera a few days ago while traversing the Vercors. I got the notice, decided not to fight it and took the early payment discount. Can’t have been going five km/h over the fifty limit even though I missed the initial speed warning (Rappel) sign in heavy rain, but what the hell. I hate speed cameras as much as the next guy, but I’m not going to waste my time over fifty seven quid (About sixty four Euros. Forty five Euros for the fine, nineteen for the hire company processing fee). I got snapped, end of. Of course I was annoyed but at least there’s no points on my licence. The French Ministry of the interior have had their money, the car hire company have taken their processing fee, but do I care? Non. Life is too short. That too is irrelevant.

We were going over to Hyeres near Toulon tomorrow, but Mrs S found out British PM Theresa May is down in that direction having talks with Emmanuel Macron, so we’re not going. We do have some standards.

Nothing left Toulouse

A quick reboot from the long lost days of my murky past. Love this tune, particularly the chorus line “If it’s all the rage to be insane, let me play the fool…” Very me. Listen to the whole thing below;

So where have we been? Or in the words of Blackadder’s Lord Flashheart “Where haven’t I been!” For one, seeing more of the rural French road network than I’d bargained for, courtesy of our hire cars satnag, although driving along the plane tree lined single carriageways winding through vineyard and Hectares of Sunflowers has been very pleasant indeed. Even though we almost ran out of ‘Essence’ (Gas, Petrol, Joy juice etc) the other day when the little electronic tinker elected to take us on the longest rural short cut I’ve ever been on. Seriously, we were running on fumes when we finally found an open filling station. I swear the fuel gauge needle had been resting on the stop yawning for at least ten kilometres before we finally found fuel.

Historical note; the planting of the Plane trees along most of Frances D and N routes was begun not because they look nice, but to shade Napoleon’s troops as they marched from battle to battle. A couple of years ago there was a disease scare, but in the region of Languedoc and Haute-Girond, many of these trees form cool green corridors in the heat of midday. Which if you were one of Bonaparte’s heavy infantry would be far better than fainting in the sweltering months of Summer when his nibs packed them off to kick some rebellious peasant arse. For the trees lost to disease in 2012-5 there is a replanting programme, so the little Emperors most worthwhile achievement will not be lost to posterity.

All the way to Toulouse via Carcasonne, the impressive fortress town once home to the Albigensians or Cathars as they were otherwise known. The Cathars of this area having been massacred repeatedly in the early 13th century, one particular bout of mass killing giving rise to the quotation “Kill them all for the Lord knoweth them that are His”, often paraphrased as “Kill them all, God will sort it out.” attributed to the Abbot of that time. Nice people, not.

Lots to see and do in Toulouse and an architectural treat to wander down some of the narrow medieval city streets. This is a town that has been around since before Roman times. There’s a fair bit of brickwork that looks like recycled Roman tiles. In our current hotel our inside bedroom wall looks like Julius Caesar and friends only packed up and left last year. Not quite as hot as it’s been, but warm enough for me to agree to visiting several shopping malls on a daily basis(!), just for the air conditioning.

I see from the FT and Times that Juncker and Trump have been holding trade talks, which is good but it does leave one question dancing through my frontal lobes; How did they keep Juncker sober enough? Answers on a mucky French postcard somewhere else please.

Heading off east now toward Monaco and Monte Carlo tomorrow. I may not break the bank, but I’ll restrict myself to a short drive around, just to say I’ve been there. Abientôt mes vieux.

Space oddities

One thing I’ve been looking at around during our sojourn in the ‘Dam are the odd looking little gadgets the Dutch use to get around their highly populated little metropolis. The huge amounts of sit up and beg style of bicycle common to this part of Europe for example. I’ve had to grab Mrs S between seven and nine times today to yank her out of the path of one of these speeding velocipedes. They don’t brake. Well they don’t want to and most of them expect you inconvenient pedestrians to get the fuck out of their way. I’m reliably informed the only thing that can stop a cyclist from the ‘Dam is one of the cities many trams and buses.

However, the psycho cyclists aren’t the whole story. Although only a tiny minority wear helmets and we have yet to see one person wearing spandex. Not one. Everyone cycles in ordinary street clothes. There are no Lance Armstrong impersonators. Also helmetless and spandex deficient are the majority of moped riders who speed along the bicycle lanes without a care in the world. In addition curious little four wheeled two seaters like mini smart cars occasionally whizzing through traffic like manic scalextric toys. One model is called a Canta, but there are others not listed on wikipedia. They exist because I’ve seen them. Parked at the end of a row of mopeds, scooting down bike lanes and scattering pigeons.

A word to the wise regarding hop on and hop off tours of Amsterdam; the boats are best. Failing that, trams and buses. The rest of the time walk. Forget trying to drive in Amsterdam. The buses won’t even get you close to where you want to go. Indeed, the one way system can only be described as Byzantine and the delays mean that it takes you three times as long as in any other city to get anywhere. And the best bit is that there are no bicycles on the river, just pedalos whose unskilled drivers veer all over the bloody place and annoy the tour boat drivers and passengers.

Anyway, we’re moving on now on the third leg of our European Beano to the Sarf a France to sample the liquid delights of Provence, Languedoc and Gascony. Game plan is to fly in, unpack, have a shower and several large glasses of the local vineyards finest before collapsing into a well deserved somnolence. The rest is all day trips out to Carcasonne, Toulouse and maybe a breeze down the Corniche, whichever one of the three that takes our fancy.

Amusement today was found in a Times op-ed about certain companies refusing to allow meat on expense paid for lunches. There’s a simple way round this restriction known to any exec worth his salt. Ask your friendly restaurateur to alter your bill to show a vegetarian meal for the price of a nice steak and glass of red for you and your client. I’ve done it a couple of times back in the day and no-one batted an eyelid.

Oh, and I’ve decided what to nickname our two girls. ‘North’, previously known as Youngest and ‘South’ previously called Eldest. Sounds okay to me, hemispherically speaking.

Hot and not so bothered..

Walking the markets and streets of Amsterdam in the continuing heat wave, finding shade where we could. Rather reminds me of 2003 and previously 1976. Lots of sunbathers out this Sunday afternoon as we made our way back to Amsterdam Centraal. “Don’t they look like seal haul outs?” I observed to Mrs S at the piles of tumbled human flesh adorning various canal side platforms. Some nice looking, most not. Plenty of bad tattoos, excess bulges, lobster skin and cellulite on show, which was less than entrancing. Although I suppose it is one way of chilling after a long hot day.

There were even people swimming in the canal water. Which might not be such a wonderful idea unless you’ve got your Tetanus and Weils disease vaccinations up to date.

As we went to get a spot of Tiffin, we saw notices about the forthcoming gay ‘Pride’ event in early August which spurred my good lady wife to remark. “Why are they so proud? What about? Their sexual preference? And why do they need to march to show it off?”
“Probably their insecurity. Does sound rather narrow to define your whole identity by a sexual preference.” I replied. We both shrugged. Not our problem. Then we moved on.

Amsterdam

Back in the ‘Dam again after a few years, enjoying the heat, feeling vaguely embarrassed by bozo Brits behaving like, well, bozo’s. It’s why being a dual passport holder can spare my blushes when faced by the offensive behaviour of idiots who are only there to get stoned because it’s all they know.

Frankly I think that marijuana should be legalised, licensed and taxed everywhere because it would cut the legs out from under the illegal drugs trade and take money away from organised crime. Not only that but it would cut the user base, because the illicit thrill of doing something naughty would be taken away and it wouldn’t be fun any more. Can’t stand the sickly smell of the stuff myself. The stuff in BC is less sweet smelling and is a bit more skunk like. My own drugs of choice are alcohol and caffeine and nowadays I’m modestly abstemious about those. At least until we hit the sarf a france to make a spirited attempt at draining the notorious wine lake. Then all bets are off.

On a walk up from Dam Square to our Tram stop we encountered a group of about thirty (Possibly less, I didn’t count properly) purple t-shirted women shouting and singing about women’s rights, leaving me to think that Mrs S and I have done more than all these shouty types, having raised two successful and independent daughters who are making their own way in the world, which is a better kind of feminism than all the ‘third wave’ dogma currently being touted by activists. A silver haired photographer was dancing ahead of this annoyingly loud group, taking pictures from a high angle that would make the thirty shouters look like hundreds. News management in action.

The big state is nobody’s friend…

When a parent can be jailed for temporarily leaving their child in a ‘safe’ location, then that child’s life destroyed by whisking it away into ‘care’, what kind of world do we live in? It seems that no-one cares. At least as far as an impromptu straw poll of Danish Museum visitors is concerned.

Went on a tour of the Danish National Museum yesterday, trailing dutifully after our tour guide. A fresh faced girl barely out of her teens who was waxing lyrical about the benefits of the big state. I got a little annoyed at her drivel, which had little to do with the exhibits, so slunk off for what North Americans tweely refer to as a ‘comfort break’. I came back to find Mrs S seated with a dark expression on her face. “What’s up love?” I asked.
“Let’s leave this group.” She said.
“Okay?” I was a bit puzzled but agreed. It was a little warm and I was looking for a place to cool off.

What my wife then recounted from the tour guides spiel actually shocked me. She told me that the tour guide had spoken approvingly of a woman being jailed for leaving her baby outside a store. Jail time? For thoughtlessness? I thought. That’s a bit excessive isn’t it? The baby was then taken away from her mother, permanently. Something, Mrs S said darkly, which met with our guides whole hearted approval.

“You know what bothers me most Bill?” My wife said as the rest of the tour group moved on.
“What?” I knew where this was going.
“No-one challenged her. No one at all.” Mrs S is a fine and expert teacher who cares deeply about her charges. She’s seen first hand the damage ‘social services’ do when families have been broken up for seemingly trivial reasons. I get that children with abusive parents need to be taken into the care system, but not for a single instance of foolishness. Besides, when I was a tiny tot it was customary for my mother to leave me outside a shop in my pram or baby carriage. In the middle of our local High Street no less. She could see me from inside the shop, and the only risk I ran was from elderly childless spinsters occasionally pausing to coo dribble all over me. Maybe times have changed, but jailing a Mother for something so frivolous? Now there’s a scandal.

As for taking the child away from it’s Mother permanently, in the UK there has been a longstanding scandal about forced adoptions as documented by Daily Telegraph Journalist Christopher Booker. Turns out there’s an adoption racket going on which the Family Court system are unwilling to address because they form part of the problem.

Yet stupid people like our tour guide wax lyrical about big state intervention at every level of life. Giving her ‘free stuff’ without a thought about where the original resource came from. Or how much this additional resource grabbing inflates the cost of the stuff she is ‘given’. Perhaps she will think differently when a moments thoughtlessness puts her in jail. But by then of course it will be too late.

Only then will she learn that the big state is nobody’s friend.

Back in the UK again

Well there I was. Back in the UK. Did the necessary family visits and with the backdrop of England’s recent World cup run, have been to the smoke for a long weekend in the fleshpots and museums before heading over to Copenhagen.

One thing made me stop and think; All of my relatives were parroting the same lines and stopped dead in their tracks when challenged. Everything they said was from the television. The idiot box, the boob tube. I was made aware how much this blaring boombox dominates their lives. Never even switched the cursed thing on in the hotels I stayed at, it was either full of the world cup or other crap.

Everyone talked about the insulting ‘Trump baby’ blimp, not that Trump will see it, he’s directly off to Chequers (Or has a deal been done at Blenheim, which is not London, it’s Woodstock near Oxford FFS!) when Air Force One touches down, then Scotland for a round or two of golf. What should he care about a country that’s doing like the UK football team? Specifically an early small success (Brexit leave vote) followed by a complete screw up (The current Brexit negotiations), but nowhere in the mainstream UK media was the news that another blimp of that ilk is being crowdfunded. One satirising the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, for his crummy downmarket virtue signaling support for the Trump blimp and presiding over a massive upsurge in crime? No doubt the cameras will be pointed away, provided the Police don’t actually prevent it’s inflation.

Perhaps a similar blimp could be crowdfunded to satirise May as the PM that betrayed the British people over Brexit? Or is she, as my wife has suggested, merely playing the EU, seeming to give in to their demands and all the while setting up to crash the UK out in March 2019 with no deal, simply refusing to pay the EU any more? The latter seems unlikely.

Although I’m reserving judgement until after Trump’s UK visit because, and here’s a thought to annoy remoaners and the left wing whiners. Maybe Trump will offer May a bargaining chip against the petty Euro overlords. An out so that if the Eurocrats do take it to the wire and there’s no decent European deal available, US markets will open their arms. It’s an interesting thought. And it would work for US interests. The US needs markets on the edge of Europe, so perhaps he’ll throw dear old blighty a bone or two.

Who knows?  Update; Well we do now.  Trump has dropped any hope of a US deal because May wants the UK as a vassal state to the EU with her Brexit in name only approach.

Oh what the hell.  Copenhagen is still warm and we’re here until the middle of next week, working our way up the street breakfast by breakfast. Youngest hits town tomorrow and we’ll be squiring her around. Poor thing has been going through a rough patch of late, the dreadful mathematics of the actuarial tables has come to play Danse Macabre in her social circle so she’s feeling a bit vulnerable. I know how it feels to watch your friends fall around you and will be playing the non-judgemental parent while she’s with us. It’s a bloody hard road and I shall be doing my best to keep her cheered up.

Copenhagen

Arrived in Copenhagen last night after running the gauntlet of lift failures and the vagaries of London Underground. Notwithstanding a false positive scan at airport security resulting in a fruitless second scan and mildly annoying and pointless body search. Frankly I was too wiped out by the heat over the last few days to even care. Go on you bastards, I thought. Prod, poke all you want. There’s nothing to find. I don’t bloody give a damn.

Arrived in Copenhagen and almost found myself locked out of our accommodation with the rain beginning to fall. It was only by the happy accident of me leaning back on the wrong doorbell that found us the right means to contact our keyholder. An hour later we were all settled in and sorted.

By the by. Copenhagen as a capital city has to be the most bicycle friendly city on the planet because it was designed to be so. A major expansion during La belle epoque led to a street design of broad boulevards and sweeping corners best suited to the antiquated sit up and beg velocipede design of human powered two wheel devil machines. But no Spandex. The sensible Danes have chosen not to adopt such outlandish modes of dress, preferring ordinary street clothing.

Lots of willowy blonde girls about, smiling and looking relaxed. There’s also a male counterpart with a physique I can only call ‘Viking’.

Still tired but recovering. First impressions of Copenhagen. Expensive but very pleasant. A cross of the heritage and modern. Wide cobbled streets. Untouched 1800,s architecture. Complex cupolas and spires of copper and lead. Like a nicer version of Paris.

I’m a tourist, get me out of here….

The news that US President Donald J Trump is to visit the UK at the same time as Mrs S and I has come as a bit of a shock. We book our tickets six months ahead and just when we’re due to arrive the UK political left decides to have a collective hissy fit, with planned riots (Not demonstrations-riots, these anti-Trump people are frothingly insane) and tube strikes (Why? Is he going to use the London Underground? I don’t think so). Flying facile inflatables above Parliament and other idiocy. Just because they don’t like him. And they think this is somehow moral, somehow justified? Dozy lot. That’s like burning down your own garden shed just to spite the guy with the mansion at the end of the street.

Personally I don’t get all the ‘Trump is Hitler’ bullshit. And it is bullshit. He’s doing no worse, and some would say far better, for the USA than any previous president. I’m just happy he’s diverting media attention from the most embarrassing Canadian Prime Minister ever. At least this way I can safely wear a Maple Leaf badge on my lapel in public.

If, as the flappy-hand pantywaisters contend, Donald J Trump is ‘literally Hitler’ he’s going about creating a Fascist state entirely the wrong way. True, he bullshits a lot and comes across as blunt, nationalistic and simplistic but; he’s presiding over a shrinking state, pro-business, pro-employment environment. Oh, and reducing the threat of Nuclear war. Unlike his predecessor, who with the previous three (Four?) presidents got the world into the tangled mess we’re in. There’s also the thought that if Trump were ‘literally Hitler’ he’d be increasing the state, controlling business, increasing legislation and telling people where they had to work, who for and for how many hours. And I get the impression he’s more an old fashioned jingoistic patriot than an overt nationalist. That may be hair-splitting on my part but it has the ring of truth. He’s not particularly bothered about what skin colour you are or what your sexual preference is either. And despite all the bloviating to the contrary he’s not anti-immigration. Just anti-illegal immigration. So why the two minute hate every time his name is so much as mentioned in conversation? Apart from a reflexive anti-Americanism. Honestly, even the mildest praise of what he’s doing is often responded to with a gnashing hysteria more often associated with some form of violent psychosis. It’s so, well, disproportionate. So unhinged. So, pointless.

Fortunately we will probably miss most of the surrounding security circus as we’re heading off to Copenhagen for most of the time he’s in the UK, so if he wants to drop by and say “Hi Bill” We’ll be elsewhere. In a Copenhagen bar drinking over-taxed beer. Drinking coffee. Sightseeing. Wandering around town or maybe taking day trips. I will not be paying any attention to any of the histrionics surrounding his visit apart from viewing the possible damage with a jaundiced eye and thinking “You did all this to yourselves. Just because you didn’t like someone paying you a visit? In-fucking-sane.”

The law of unforeseen consequences part deux

A few further thoughts about the EU’s heinous Article 13. This time on the possible downside. For the EU and those businesses pushing the proposed new copyright legislation. The law of unforeseen consequences, as I’ve pontificated about before, is waiting eagerly in the wings, ready to steal the scene with a big fat grin.

The gist of article 13 and it’s evil twin, Article 11 is to make it illegal to post any portion of a previously posted copyrighted article, soundtrack, photo or video without payment to the copyright holder. There appears to be no place for fair use or critique in the proposed legislation.

The thought occurs that all this reposting of content, either for parody or criticism acts as free marketing for the big media companies. How many sales of back catalogue items are down to snippets of music or video posted on YouTube for example? Does anyone know? I don’t, but what I do know is having watched stuff on Youtube I’ve subsequently gone to Amazon or the music store or the movie theatre to pay to see a movie or buy a new CD of a half forgotten favourite. The memes, parodies and critiques are free marketing on a massive back catalogue of stuff that actually does make money for the copyright owning companies. That’s right, the criticism and fandom, at least partially, is a source of profit. Kill that, or restrict the ownership and the market shrinks. The copyright holders are then left with the equivalent of a massive archive that generates little or no revenue. Like with the National Film Archive in the UK. A movie, book, or piece of music that is not shown is a missing piece in the jigsaw of existence.

As for the media companies and the link tax, if someone who critiques news coverage or a movie has to pay a fee to do so then they won’t. They will simply paraphrase, allude to and analyse without linking, developing their own credibility en route. Like with ‘professional’ Youtubers. They are the ones who help generate a word of mouth ‘buzz’ that is one of the most effective means of marketing ever. Not some ‘journalist’ working for a publication pushing it’s own agenda. There isn’t enough space in a web browser window for the needed advertising to drive content. And with everything paywalled, well, see that big toe? Ready, aim, fire!

Which prompted me to revisit an old childhood favourite;

The mainstream media sat on a wall,
Article 13 caused a great fall,
All the Zucks Farcebok and all their fake tweets,
Couldn’t get their content back out as repeats.

Why? Because as has been amply demonstrated ‘fake’ is so pervasive throughout the mainstream that anyone associated with it is tainted. According to Mark Twain a lie can run around the world before the truth can get it’s boots on, but the corollary of that is once the truth does get going it can, and often does, give the falsehoods a serious kicking.

Personally I have only one opinion on content sharing; links and commentary are fine, but the words are mine. Non-profit sharing is cool.

Have you seen this, Bill?

Sometimes you wonder where all the bullshit comes from. Seventy four years ago on the 6th of June and for the next few weeks, my Dad was having a whale of a time (He told me he actually enjoyed being under fire during his wartime service on Minesweepers and Landing ships) as an Ordinary Seaman Signals on the run in on the second wave of D-Day to a place called Juno Beach, Normandy. Today Mrs S sent me the link to this document on agriculture which is a BREXIT consultation paper doing the rounds in Wastemonster. My response; well, fuck me rigid. Are these people proposing what I think they are?

1. Once the UK leaves the EU, the Government plans to incentivise methods of farming that create new habitats for wildlife, increase biodiversity, reduce flood risk, better mitigate climate change and improve air quality by reducing agricultural emissions.1 It intends to do this by leaving the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and implementing a new system based on paying public money for public goods.

I read the first paragraph with a massive WTF? “implementing a new system based on paying public money for public goods” (sic) Like the old and failed milk, egg and potato marketing boards? Not to mention the clusterfuck of the Department for the Elimination of Farming and Rural Affairs, as DEFRA is known in fishing and farming circles (And Private Eye).

I look at this proposal this way; if the Eurocrats put the screws on, as those bitter petty tyrants are likely to do as the UK exits the EU, dear old blighty will need to ‘dig for victory’ in every square inch of their back yards. Because despite all the media hoo-hah about ‘climate change’ (a.k.a. the mythical man made global warming) the astrophysicists are pointing at a deepening solar minimum, reduced magnetosphere, increased cosmic ray radiation in the upper atmosphere resulting in increased cloud cover and albedo. And an overall global climatic shift and cooling. At least if you think that Henrik Svensmark has gotten his sums right.

Now if the folk pointing at a cooling phase of the global climate are right, productive growing areas will shrink and there will be less food overall for UK government policies to create famines from. On the upside this will mean be more marginal land for grazing, so more Lamb, Pork and Beef can be raised. More hedgerows for fences, so more havens for wildlife in the cold times. Which might be no bad thing.

Now I, as my one remaining reader will attest, grew up on home grown food with all it’s benefits and drawbacks. At school we learned about how to grow stuff. Indeed I began learning at my Mother’s knee because she was a born a farm girl and even if you’re a Jazz piano player at heart, you never lose the earth under your finger nails.

The other shocker is that from 30th March 2019 all the EU regs on UK airlines cut off. Which means flying a UK airline or with UK licensed pilots or aircraft might just get a bit problematic. If a flight, pilot, airline or aircraft is only certified in the UK then it can’t enter European airspace. No doubt all the major airlines already have plans in place to get dual certification. Unfortunately this state of affairs, if push comes to shove, may result in a tit for tat where transatlantic aircraft originating in Europe are refused entry to UK airspace. Which will be awkward for all those long distance flights into Amsterdam, Paris or Frankfurt, requiring extra fuel loads or Icelandic layovers. Just watch the video below of flight paths and take a look at how all the most economical flights to and from the US and Canada to Europe cross UK airspace.

This could be fun to watch.

Unlucky for some

The EU’s notorious Article 13 vote made it through the first stages of the legislative process recently. Which is another bloody good reason to hate that corpulent bureaucracy. The overweening state. That detestable cancerous growth of unearned, undemocratic privilege.

Yet I see hope. Not merely in the voter backlash but ensconced in history. In 1501, Pope Alexander VI, one of the notorious Borgia family (The father of Cesare, Giovanni, Gioffre and Lucrezia), issued a Papal Bull against unlicensed printing presses (Not listed on Wikipedia but is referenced in the Foreword of the 1993 “Dictionary of the Printing and Allied Industries” by F.J.M. & E.F.P.H. Wijnekus). However, like so many Papal Bulls, it failed. It failed because the papal position was weak. Rather like the modern EU, weakened by Brexit, threatened by secession by the Italians and overt non-compliance from Poland, Hungary and other of the ex-Warsaw pact Eastern European states.

Indeed, the comparison of the Borgia popes to modern day EU commissioners holds true. The EU commission is overtly corrupt, greedy and more than willing to use their power to serve the agenda of the rich and powerful.

As with the persecution of printers during the late renaissance and later reformation, this fight has a long way to go. Ultimately this conflict also has a foregone conclusion. The EU will lose. But not until after repeated battles. Which means all of us who care will have to prime our dictionaries and .303 eloquence and keep on fighting in the war for cyber-freedom. Because the power-junkies of the EU will never be satisfied if we don’t.

Let us hope that Article 13 will prove terminally unlucky for them.

Uscitalia

News is surfacing that the Italians have finally got themselves a Government after EU-appointed President Mattarella caved and allowed the appointment of a Prime Minister. Which means they now have an actively anti-EU administration. What with the Spanish threat to exit, the Brexit negotiations might just become unnecessary because there will be nothing left but the ashes of a fragile Franco-German alliance.

Just a thought.