Tag Archives: Europe

Who told you that?

Which is an exceedingly good question to put to the anxiety prone hand wavers one comes across from time to time. Who, with any real credibility, is saying that the world is going to burn up in eighteen months and what is their agenda. And who says leaving the EU will lead to everything in the UK grinding to a sad and inevitable halt? ‘Activists’ who are all sound and fury, the idiots who have become their own tales, that’s who.

Mrs S and I were discussing this today on a short drive out to the mall. The consensus between us was that all the “We’re all doomed!” faction are a bunch of ignoramuses who believe all the cultish nonsense they’re fed. I believe that no force on earth can stop a man with a true righteous hunger (a.k.a Deus impeditio esuritori nullus), and hunger is what these milquetoast radicals lack. All they have is the vapid echoes of clickbait media releases funded by rich bastards who feed off the stock exchange instabilities the activists create by blocking streets and wasting everybody’s time. The fact that some of these activisty types have been raided by the Met, who have reportedly taken some pink cushions into custody, indicates that these few nonsense merchants have peaked. Especially after that hilariously mismanaged incident with the decommissioned fire engine (See video below).

They’re not only wrong, they’re completely inept as well.

Notwithstanding the above, we were both getting a touch of cabin fever after almost a week without seeing the outside of our little domicile. We also haven’t had a real holiday since last year and need some different air to stay sane. The rain has been enough to keep me out of the saddle and the speed traps have been out in force over this last week. So, instead of picking up speeding tickets, we got out of the house to do a little peoplewatching and see what the rest of humanity in our little corner of BC was up to. To which the answer was, not a lot. Just the usual.

I’m all packed for London and will be making contact with friends and (gasp!) family while I’m there. It’s absolutely true. Two of my family members are actually deigning to travel down to the smoke to see their cousin and sibling (Me). Good gravy, whatever next? What are they really up to? Normally they wouldn’t even cross the road to piss down my throat if my lungs were on fire. Something is up. As in balloon going. I know my clan, to paraphrase the words of Edward Young “They ne’er take tea without a strategem”. I have a suspicion I’ll need my lawyer on speed dial. Might not be such a bad idea to put a London brief on retainer.

Which only leaves me wondering as follows; will BREXIT really happen on time like Bojo the suspiciously unclownish UK Prime Minister says? Or will the Scottish courts go on obstructing, creating legislation on the fly? BTW; Scottish law is slightly, but markedly, different to English law. Which is something the Blair-created ‘supreme court’ seems to be forgetting. Ho hum, less than two weeks to the nineteenth. Tick tock.

As for here across the pond, I think the Canadian populace knows what it needs to do on the 21st, but whether they will kick the corrupt and hypocritical Trudeau and his Liberals far enough out remains to be seen because Scheer, the Tory leader is so damned wet and cut from a similar cloth. Will the conservatives upend the vote, or will the Greens and PPC make inroads? I see few clues. Locally there are few, if any lawn signs on private properties in our neighbourhood and the political doorknockers haven’t yet wheezed up the steep bit of the hill where we live. although my vote is already promised to the local PPC candidate. Can’t speak for Mrs S, she’s always been her own woman, although I suspect she’ll be voting blue.

Dear Remainers

Hello My dear BREXIT remain campaigners,

Just a little missive from over the pond to say hi and point out a few things. If the UK does not leave the EU on the 31st October 2019 you are all screwed. Not just you, but the Brexiteers as well. In fact the whole population of the dear old UK. As an expat, my funds have very little exposure in Europe at present, but yours. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. You are so totally fucked. Not because of BREXIT itself, but by the continual uncertainty and delay you have caused.

Why do I say this? Well a few reasons actually, and they’re not hard to see from my moderately lofty viewpoint. If the UK bends the knee to the EU, either as a vassal state or still within that bureaucratic morass, I have seen hints that the next decade won’t be much fun for UK Plc as a whole. In fact you’ll only think it’s fun if you’re really into sadomasochism in a big way. This includes all those small to medium sized businesses struggling to compete in an environment ever more skewed by the EU to favour the big corporates.

Point of order here; you Remainers might think that you are on the side of ‘democracy’. Yet any effective democracy will die if the UK stays within the EU. Because the EU as now structured has about as much democracy as had the old Soviet Union. Don’t take my word for this, the documentation is all on the EU’s web site. All the legislation. All those regulations that will begin to tighten around the UK like a seventeenth century hangman’s noose. One that slowly constricts and strangles whilst the feet of the condemned dance in the air. Slow and painful. The economic punishment beatings of austerity will forever be your lot. See Greece.

You see, all the bad things that will follow a failed Brexit will be for your own good. Also to serve as an example for any other bumptious little country with ideas above its station who dares to even think of leaving the glorious EU empire. Also like Greece, your constitution and a thousand years of law will be torn into tiny little shreds. If you have the ill fortune to find yourself in a court of law, the onus will increasingly be on you to prove your innocence against fairly flimsy evidence. Think that’s easy? I could cite the examples of the UK Family courts where most fathers are considered guilty upon the most paper thin allegations. Like the so-called Canadian court of human rights where evidence for the defence can be (and often is) dismissed at whim. You’re there so you’ve got to have done something? Right? Think Twitter hate mobs are bad? These will be worse. Not only that but not falling foul of the rising flood of legislation will be an increasingly more difficult task. You will have lost even the pretext of innocence before the law. The process will go like so; allegation, automatic charging, show trial, conviction, sentence. Defence? Oh dear me no.

By the way, did you know that although the EU does not officially have a death penalty, there is a law on their statute books that allows for one to be imposed should you ‘insult’ the European Union? Go look. It was there when I last checked. So wrongthink might take UK citizens to whatever execution device the Eurocrats deem fit. Be that a bullet in the head or the horror of the Fallbiel. Even if at first it is only those filthy Brexiteers who literally get it in the neck. Don’t think that these self-serving Eurocrat bastards won’t consider mass murder to keep themselves in positions of power and privilege.

My brother in law, a staunchly typical remainer, has indicated that he would be more than happy to fill mass graves just for the ‘privilege’ of remaining within the European Union. So don’t say that it’s all paranoia. Remainers have left those on the pro leave side of the fence with no illusions on associated matters and what they’ll do, given half a chance. So give the pseudo moral outrage a rest. You’re only fooling yourselves.

Add to that, in case of civil unrest I hear that there are plans to deploy non-UK Police personnel and non-UK military personnel on UK territory. Think I’m talking from an orifice not normally used for that purpose? Go look it up. All within the EU’s web pages. The EU Army we were told was an febrile illusion invented by a deluded pro BREXIT faction? That’s there too. Ever closer union? Now we learn that was always the way this was going. The Eurocrats have been working toward that goal since day one. A new German empire with it’s own patrician class that you won’t be able to get rid off.

Free person or modern day serf. Ask yourself this; do you really want to be at someone else’s unfettered beck and call all your life? The EU will make you all slaves to a self-selecting elite. Think it’s bad now?

Oh and the European Central Bank is in serious financial trouble. The printing presses are rolling and ECB interest rates are sub zero. If you haven’t pulled your funds out, do so now. As a small investor I took this step a couple of years ago.

Now there is, however, one bright spot in all the imagined gloom that the remainer pundits endlessly (and tediously) predict. If a ‘no-deal’ Brexit does go through on the 31st October, at least you won’t have to hear another EU Parliament speech from Nigel Farage ever again.

See you in mid-October,

Stay safe.

Bill

P.S. I may be outside Canada when our Federal elections happen, but there’s a thing over here called ‘advance voting’ so Mrs S and I can get our anti-Trudeau ballots in the box before we board our plane.

Don’t panic

I mean it. My own life has taught me that the biggest killer out there is panic. Flailing or running around and shouting will not help. So don’t do it. Trust me on this. A cool head will get you through more scrapes than being a drama queen and expecting other people to take up the slack. Indeed I have found my own personal policy of walking softly and taking a step back when faced with the unfamiliar and occasionally dangerous has often gotten me out of a tight corner.

In this vein we’re having to think ahead with regard to Elderly Friend. Her rapid slide into dementia has both us and the care home thinking that she’s not long for this world. She may even die while we’re in London. So. Funeral home fees and arrangements have to be checked, funds set aside for end of life care, nursing etc. All that stuff you get the joy of as power of attorney. However, this is the job we signed up for and it has to be done. The grunt work of signing off on those details like funeral services and ensuring the right ashes go in the right urn. Just in case.

However, a little foresight has often proven useful too because it’s of limited use being cooler than liquid Nitrogen if the ground is literally crumbling under your feet. Having a fallback option, just in case, isn’t needed that often, but I like them as they are very reassuring. Doesn’t have to be much, just simple stuff. For example, on road trips, I carry enough first aid stuff to be able to suture moderate wounds and stop bleeds whilst being able to provide some form of pain relief or sluice out a dust afflicted eyeball or contaminated cut. My credit cards are kept separately in case I get my wallet nicked. We always have double travel insurance and I never enter a place unless I already know where the best exit is. Mrs S often jocularly chides what she calls my ‘paranoia’, but despite the odd minor faux pas it’s been a long, long time since I was caught properly left footed.

We’ve gotten lost in the wilds of Ontario with dwindling fuel, but not unrecoverably so. We’ve lost money on investments, I lost five thousand dollars on three particular stocks last year, but more than made it back on others and spent a meagre two fifty on advice of how to set the loss against tax. Then made all my money back and then some on the same stocks by June this year. We try to invest across a wide spread, never put all our fiscal eggs in one basket and try not to panic if there’s a short term drop in the market like over the New Year 2018-9.

Because having at least one alternative is way better than being caught with your financial unmentionables around yer ankles. So it is with a WTO or ‘No deal’ Brexit. Now being a suspicious sort when it comes to news media, reading all the “Noooo! We’re all going to DIE!!” nonsense being peddled even in the FT. I really am thinking of cancelling my subscription. Fortunately I have my own sources. So I did a little digging.

Here’s what I found; imports will not grind to a halt. There are structures already in place to allow imports without delays at all major UK ports. Same for exporters. If you don’t already know, then you haven’t been listening. The tax authorities have been ready for a no deal scenario for over two years. I got that via Pinsent Mason (Major UK law firm who deal in international law by the way). Also from the guy who has just transferred out from being in charge of the port of Dover says they’re ready for ‘No deal’. HMRC have set up 190+ ‘pop up’ customs posts, in addition to the normal ports facilities who deal with clearing import and exports. The only problems will be from EU customs, so you’re more likely to run out of Cheddar at Calais than Brie and Avocados in Birmingham. Besides, where in the EU grows Avocado’s for heaven’s sake? Oh yes, France and Spain. The Netherlands are a major distribution hub and exporter, but don’t actually grow any. The major growers range from Israel to Mexico, New Zealand to Kenya, then there’s Colombia, Morocco, South Africa and the USA. Can’t get your Dutch Avocado? Fine, there are plenty more sources out there with produce to sell. Cut out the EU middle man. Ship direct from the growers, and don’t think there aren’t deals already being cut by the buyers for Messrs Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose and Sainsbury.

Even if the EU embargoes all imports to and from the UK, remember this; they need the UK markets more than the UK needs the EU. Never mind not getting a GBP39 billion payday, if they tried cutting UK Plc off without a cent they’d bankrupt a large proportion of their own internal economy. According to a financial report I read 12th September 2019, the European Central Bank is going to cut interest rates and start printing money, a failed policy by the way, which has already hit the Euro. Internally, they are already in trouble.

For expat UK pensioners in European countries (No names, no pack drill) this drop in the Euro means their UK pension will be worth more as the pound sterling will buy more. Expats I know they have been hit badly because of all the Remainer panicmongering driving the value of sterling down at least twelve percent lower than it should be. It would be nice to see them better off.

Me, I don’t put my faith in state pensions, mainly because I like to know where my money is and what it’s up to. As well as the payout of any given state pension being less than likely to support me in the style to which I wish to become accustomed in my forthcoming frail dotage. Also because I don’t trust politicians, any of them, not to plunder public coffers for their own short term gain. They can buy votes with someone else’s dime.

Oh yes, and I’ve finally bowed to Mrs S over buying a new cell phone so she can keep tabs on me, investing in a dual sim Samsung A20 with case and armoured glass.

Looking ever more forward to London, when I will be trying to console those of the Remain faction I encounter by speaking soothingly and gently holding their hands to reassure them.

Why specifically hold their hands? Just to make sure none of the nasty little sods manage to take a swing at me. Like I said, foresight.

The politics of fear

There’s a movement of the entitled currently making nuisances of themselves on London streets who call themselves by the grand title ‘extinction rebellion’. These silly frightened people worship a teenage girl as their prophet and claim we’re all doomed if we don’t dismantle society and stop doing anything any time anywhere within the next twelve years, or according to some sources, eighteen months. From what I can see, a lot of them are anti-BREXIT as well.

They rather remind me of the current dementia-driven outpourings of our elderly friend. Who makes wild claims about her belongings being rifled through by her care home’s facility staff when she’s too befuddled to find them herself. Even after she’s been physically shown the item that she has been ‘lost’, two minutes later she’s swearing blind that it’s been stolen. Which can get a bit wearing.

Like her, extinction rebellion are unable to accept reality, which is that unless a bloody great asteroid impacts the Earth in the next century, it’s going to be more or less business as usual. The Earth will not boil, making life unsustainable. Even if everyone in the entire world buys an SUV to do their daily errands. Most of us will get up, go to work or whatever, earn a crust to pay the bills and then go home. The fact that post BREXIT some people may have to pay more for their BMW spares will pass us by, unless of course you own a BMW, Skoda, Mercedes or Volkswagen.

As for their claims of man made climate doom, they are just that, unsubstantiated claims. From massive temperature peaks to sea level rise and dead Polar Bears, there is very little hard science behind them, and despite forty plus years of clinging desperately to the CO2 climate driven theory, no-one has actually established a positive link to any catastrophe. All the prophesies of climate doom have been overblown and proven false. Don’t take my word, or that of anyone else. Go look for yourself and you will find what I did. That the major driver of Earth’s climate is about 93 million miles away and very hot indeed. The climate models the portents of doom are based upon rely on only one measurement for the sun’s influence, that of TSI, total solar irradiance, and make little allowance for variables like cloud formation or variances in the sun’s electromagnetic fields, which have direct impacts on Earth’s weather. It has been proven that when the fields weaken, as they have been doing for the last fifteen to twenty years now, a cooling phase begins. Educated guesses are that this period will probably really get going in 2020 and last for about thirty plus years. It’s why the jet streams are playing up.

As for the claims of “hottest year evah” I would point my last reader to the early to late 1930’s. Temperatures, tornadoes and heat waves were all greater then. The newspaper reports of the time will confirm this. Unfortunately, not all this information is listed online. so is not immediately accessible to the casual reader, although Tony Heller does a decent job of pointing out the falseness of these overblown claims. At least for the USA. He has the resources to dig through old newspaper archives and retrieve information that might otherwise be flushed down the memory hole.

The hard science is out there and can be empirically demonstrated. The only drawback is that the interactions between the Sun and Earth are highly complex, cannot currently be influenced by humans and are therefore not taxable. Which is why the climate cultists like extinction rebellion will dismiss them out of hand. They have made themselves so frightened that essentially their higher cognitive functions are seriously diminished and so are unable to process newer and more credible information.

That seems to be the mood in the old country right now. Everybody has worked themselves up into such a lather that no one is thinking straight. The lamestream media likes fear because it sells their product. Many politicians like the fear because it can drive votes and thus power their way. If only people would actually stop for a moment, take a breath, do some proper research outside their immediate comfort zone, they might stop panicking and be able to have a bloody good laugh at how ridiculous the situation became.

Then again, that’s probably just wishful thinking on my part. Experience tells me that most people would rather panic than actually think. Hi ho. Off to the asylum we go.

You’re going to like this

…but, to quote the old Paul Daniels catchphrase “Not a lot”. Rather than get drawn into the same old “Oh! we’re all doomed if there’s a no-deal BREXIT” that the remoaner commenters have been tediously banging on about, I’ve been watching the European markets with interest. After all, one mans downfall is another’s opportunity. Germany is especially vulnerable. If the markets for their heavily manufacturing based economy undergoes serious shrinkage, as is likely, they will have trouble. This is despite shipping cars over to the North American market via Nanaimo BC, Canada. That’s right. The small city of Nanaimo BC, Vancouver Island (Where I lived for five years) is Canada’s major port of entry for BMW’s, VW’s etcetera. This is into a near-saturated market you understand. We in Canada have the pick of the world as far as vehicles are concerned so it’s a highly competitive environment. Some people like BMW’s etc, I don’t, but then I have my own, highly personal reasons for this choice.

Today I’m stuck in the office, gearing up for an increase in work. It’s wet out, and nowadays I’m a confirmed dry day only rider. Might get a tootle in tomorrow before sister in law comes down for the weekend. Which means I have to go and get a few things before me and the mutt go out to play.

Anyway, back in the old country the paperwork on leaving the EU is all done and dusted and the date is set. 31st October it is. Mainly because the EU has refused to negotiate any further. It was their way or the highway. So it’s time to stop talking and get walking. Seventy one days and counting at the time of writing. I know we’ve been here before, but this time it’s on. No returns, with knobs on.

Equipping the RN with a few lightweight fisheries protection vessels might not be such a bad idea. Arm with two anti-shipping missiles (Buy a dozen Harpoon RGM 84’s from the Yanks, or maybe even use up some surplus Anti-tank stuff) and a 20mm Oerlikon should be enough firepower for the interim with some line cutting gear, at least until the EU fishing fleets get the message.

That means with the UK’s contribution to the EU about to disappear with a now-inevitable no-deal BREXIT, the Germans will be left holding the larger part of the EU’s fiscal baby, which is bad news for the Eureaucrats. From a simple business perspective, you simply can’t just lose such a major element as the UK in a continent wide cashflow without a major restructuring. Or even in extremis a European economic collapse if the Russians decide to apply a little judicious pressure via their gas pipelines. The whole renewables thing the Germans relied on for power is collapsing, so power prices will rise, much to the chagrin of the poor German public and the disadvantage of German industry. The French have their own major economic issues and will have to look a bit slippy if they aren’t going to end up carrying Brussels can as well. The EU has been going round signing trade deals with a lot of other countries of late, extending their circle of influence, but that won’t do them any good if what their member nations produce becomes too expensive.

As for the other nations, Italy won’t hang around when things go pear shaped, nor I think will the French. The Hungarians, Poles and Czechs may well split off into a mitteleurop trading bloc of their own taking a few of the smaller Eastern European nations with them. Thirty nine billion pounds (43 Billion Euro’s or 48 Billion US Dollars just disappeared ne’er to be seen again.

So a number bloated bureaucrats may well find themselves jobless with nothing but a depleted bank account and several expensive mistresses to provide for (Or in Junckers’ case his wine cellar). Spare a Bentley for an out of work Eurocrat guv? Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people. This could be fun.

Update:  The UK is purchasing twenty six all weather drones for fisheries protection.  I wonder if any of then will be armed?

In the muddle of a jingle

Happy weekend everyone! It’s almost the end of May. Well it will be this June and not before time. On the domestic front our deck garden is starting to look a little crowded, in a colourful sort of way. My six Lemon plants are now living outside full time enjoying the fresh air, the Pansies are still going strong and I’ve recently picked my first radishes. Very nice they were too. Any fresher and we’d have had to put chastity belts on the Beetroot. Serves me right for planting French radishes.

Old gardening jokes aside, I’ve been watching the UK political scene and actually looking forward to the EU election results. Privately I think the powers that be in Europe have finally woken up and actually read the writing on the wall. Even if belatedly. People the world over are seeing the globalist threat for what it is, a naked attempt to strip them of even the most basic of civil liberties, like the right of ownership and freedom of expression then install a top down doctrine which has never worked.

I’ve seen this ugly political mechanism in operation and it is never anything but corrosive and destructive. Got to fall in line comrade, can’t get a job if you don’t pay your union subs. Strike when you’re told, can’t negotiate for yourself you know. What are you? Some kind of maverick? Sorry mate, shop steward can’t help you if you don’t do him a favour first. Been there, done that. The closed shops (Union only workers) of the late 1970’s were no fun to work in. I hated them because they dragged everyone down to the lowest common denominator and always gave unwarranted power to the equivalent of the playground sneak.

The good news is that the political pendulum is beginning the long swing back to some form of sanity and proper democratic representation. The bad news is that we’re not there yet and a lot can go wrong. When people once more have the courage and right to express what is merely an opinion without being harassed out of their jobs by activists or even arrested by the Police, then we should call this a win. But not until then. And even then with a weather eye out for the evil to rise again. The lesson here to the mainstream politicians is that sometimes you just have to do the job you were given to do. Never mind if your so-called clever mates don’t want you to do it. The job is the job. Deliver or be brought down.

Of course the remainers won’t be happy, but I have the feeling they never are anyway, so, a no score draw there I feel. However, once the path to BREXIT is more certain, business can plan and invest accordingly, the pound will regain its value and I look forward to seeing another tearstained departure on this side of the Atlantic as Trudeau too is shuffled off toward a richly deserved political obscurity, except as a footnote as Canada’s worst ever Prime Minister.

Are they mad?

Over here in BC we’re watching the farrago of BREXIT with a heavy sigh in our hearts, all I can do from this side of the pond is shake my head in astonishment and quote Malvolio from Shakespeare’s 12th Night:

My masters, are you mad? Or what are you? Have you no wit, manners, nor honesty, but to gabble like tinkers at this time of night? Do you make an ale-house of my lady’s house, that you squeak out your coziers’ catches without any mitigation or remorse of voice? Is there no respect of place, persons, nor time in you?

This is how the current shenanigans of the UK Parliament look to me. There is no rhyme or reason to the remainers antics. They, like my Brother in law, are behaving like a bunch of spoiled brats. If they cannot have their way to stay in the EU as their corporate masters dictate, then they will abuse every parliamentary tactic at this late stage of the game to throw spanners in the works and thwart the democratic mandate.

The EU has done a great deal of damage to blighty over the last forty years, from the decimation of UK Fisheries and Agriculture to hamstringing certain areas of commerce and continually attempting to move the major banking centres in the UK over to places like Frankfurt. The European Union post Maastricht and Lisbon devolved into one long slow motion car wreck. Not to mention the selling out by the Major, Blair and Brown administrations.

However, minded as I am to look on the bright side, as my deck garden is doing well, we do indeed have germination.

One thing did strike me today as I looked south to the vast snow capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains. I am beginning to look at the current period of populism and overturning of the old order as the dawning of a new enlightenment. Like in the late 18th and early 19th century. Maybe we’ll get a better form of democracy. Not discredited old ideas like Socialism, but something better, which prevents usurpation by NGO’s and vested interests. A less easily manipulated media. The parallels, at least to my mind, are out there if you look. Or is that me being hopelessly naive?

Oh what the hell, you can call me a dreamer… Sounds like a song lyric, doesn’t it?

Looking forward

Am I optimistic? Well probably yes and then possibly, definitively no. We have in laws visiting us in April, however, this means both of my wife’s sisters will be descending upon our doorstep for two weeks. For a delicate sensitive soul such as myself, this is not a favourable scenario. So I have offered to make myself scarce for a few days to allow for a little sisterly rebonding. All they’ll want to do is shop and gossip and my small talk is next best thing to non-existent. Ergo, I would be a constant brooding presence, resented by all. Better to make like a banana and split. Yes, I’m a coward. Next!

A downtown Victoria hotel room beckons for a few days while all three are together. The current plan is for me to take a couple of books and perhaps enjoy the rooftop bar at the Sticky Wicket. Mrs S has kindly offered to pay for my accommodation as recompense for my exile. I might even treat myself to tea at the Empress. They do an excellent Kenya blend there.

Current reading is Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France and The Great Degeneration by Niall Ferguson. I like Dr Ferguson’s writings, he has a fluid, eminently readable style and is frequently bang on the money, as it were.

On a broader front I’m hoping that the EU rejects the UK parliaments’ request for a BREXIT ‘extension’ and the UK can simply slip it’s moorings to sail away and let the whole shoddy faux-empire collapse. Let’s face it, the Italians don’t want it. France is too busy with the Gilets Jaunes protests and the Germans don’t want to have to carry the economic can for the entire bloated bureaucracy. Could it be ‘game over’ for the EU? Maybe more sensible minds will come to the fore and propose winding back the idea of the EU to a simple free trade zone, although that is rather unlikely. Even if they do, the French farmers and fishermen won’t like that. They’re too prone to riot if they don’t get their way.

Am still rather looking forward to sending all my UK email contacts a “Happy freedom day” email on the 30th March. Depending upon the EU’s final response, BREXIT may still happen on time despite the remainer MP’s frantic treasonous backpedalling.

Good luck everyone. Nil Desperandum.

Planning for Lahn-dahn

The crocuses and snowdrops have surfaced from under the snow and we’re currently travel planning for an Autumn sojourn in dear old Lahn dahn as some of the locals call it. No, that’s not a place in Vietnam or Thailand but the estuarine pronunciation of London, capital and Metrollops of the dear old dis-united kingdom. We’ve sorted out where we’ll be staying in Earls Court and looking at places to eat and drink while we’re sauntering around the various museums and cultural icons. Top of my list are the National Science and Natural History Museums. Mrs S will be bimbling around the V & A and suchlike while I have a thorough geek-fest in Kensington. We plan to take in a couple of shows while we’re there too.

It will be interesting to visit a post-BREXIT Britain. I’m almost tempted to send all my UK contacts a ‘How does it feel to be free?’ greeting when the UK finally wrests itself loose from the choking tendrils of the EU. Hopefully in the next month. Thinking about it I haven’t been into Harrods or Selfridges Food Hall in a Donkey’s age. Which I’m quite looking forward to. It’s not so much the range of produce as the cornucopia of smells of a properly kept Fish and Game counter that tease the old olefactories. To a country raised boy like me it’s almost like going home. Even if where I once called home is over a hundred miles away. Now it’s several thousand and over ten years, but we are where we are and there’s an end of matters.

There’s also another small matter of yet another fence to mend. This time it’s the other party which will have to come to me, or at least down to the Smoke. I’m not spending good money hiring cars and booking hotels visiting someone who may not appreciate any olive branch I hold out. However, I’m jumping the gun a little. Best to hold my tongue and extend the hand of reconciliation. Even if none of the parties involved can be bothered to cross the pond to visit me. I know they can afford it.

However, I do so enjoy the old country in controlled small doses. It also pains me to see what it is becoming. Likewise Canada, increasingly divided and all in the name of ‘diversity’. Misguided ‘Hate speech’ laws creating privileged minorities. Police investigating non-crimes, all the while prioritising ‘thought crime’ like rogue tweets and off colour facebook posts over real crime, like burglary, criminal damage and assaults. Prediction; this will come back to bite the rule setters and enforcers. Very hard indeed. They depend on the public trust to operate successfully, and the current value of that trust is so far below zero it resembles the state of the Great lakes, which when I checked this morning had over seventy four percent ice cover. I’ll also say this; Laws which dictate thought rather than deed pave the descent into a really dangerous form of totalitarianism.

To wax poetic; boils like prejudice and hatred only heal after they have been properly examined, lanced, drained and debrided, if you’ll forgive the medical simile. To extend the metaphor, such poison is always best treated with free and honest debate. Shutting people up only lets matters fester until the only certain cure is high amputation. Which is a tactic tried by many totalitarian regimes, always failing at the cost of many innocent lives and eventually the ruling regime. It also destroys trust in the Police who are supposedly protectors, not persecutors of the general public. It is not their job to check someone’s thinking. Or is that just me being horribly naive?

Notwithstanding, say you think that Justin Trudeau is metaphorically a Weasel, Socialism is a murderous doctrine or that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with western democracy. Regardless of whether anyone finds those statements ‘offensive’ they should be considered and examined to see if they are true. Which they are. Even the most cursory reading of the facts will highlight the realities. If the law of the land is changed to suppress such opinions, what happens when these views become mainstream once more? Will the laws put in place to protect those opposed to such views be, like any captured weapon, be turned against their erstwhile abusers?

This is the danger of criminalising opinion. Opinion is mere fashion. It changes, and the mob it is meant to drive changes with it. The mob can turn in a heartbeat. When it does, you don’t want to be in it’s way.

Idle thought for my single US visitor; I think Bernie Sanders bears a strong resemblance to a deceased British far left politician from the 1970’s and 80’s, Michael Foot. See what you think. Well, it amused me.

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.

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.