Tag Archives: Europe

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.

Soros is right

Bloody hell Bill! Have you gone over to the dark side?

Actually no, but this money quote comes from arch villain and Hedge fund manager George Soros. Seen in this morning’s Financial Times (Behind subscriber paywall) “The EU is in an existential crisis. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong,” He has been quoted as saying. “it needs to reinvent itself.” Well bless my soul! This is something a lot of Brexiteers have been saying for a long time. Indeed the push to ‘ever closer union’ has been the prime mover behind the UK’s push to exit the EU. As a pan-European trading bloc the idea of a United Europe has merit, but as a political entity, no. Europe’s regional cultures are too diverse for that.

He points out that the Euro is a ‘problem’. Well, no shit Sherlock. He also points out the need for the top down governance of the EU to ‘engage’ with the grass roots. This too is a case of stating the bleedin’ obvious. Hashtag hefinallygetsit. Because the EU as currently structured is an unaccountable top down model that tries to force a series of one size fits all policies on places that are very different, even incompatible. Like say London and Yorkshire. Or Paris and the rest of France. Or Berlin and say, Bavaria. Or Ottawa and the rest of Canada. If you’ve visited both country and city in various countries and spent serious time there you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about.

Side note: what form of ‘engagement’ he’s talking about, at least from the article, isn’t clear. Maybe it’s a case of “Shut up peasants, we’ll tell you what to think.” Which ain’t democracy. Indeed it’s the very antithesis of the concept of citizen representation. The main problem is that these NGO’s tend to leech onto a minor issue and blow it up out of all proportion. Like with the EU, these institutions also need a serious downgrade.

What Soros omits to say is that a number of the NGO’s he funds are one source of the problems the EU is beset by. His Open Society Foundation, for example, acts as an enabler of the ‘migrant crisis’. Indeed it’s gotten to the point where Hungary and a number of ex-Warsaw pact Eastern European states / newer EU members are openly hostile to his various NGO’s manipulations. They think, and I’m inclined to agree with them, that he is part of the greater problem.

Of course Soros is not the only market manipulator who funds the offending NGO’s and pressure groups, he’s just the most publicly visible.

Gardening leave

Not much happening right now. Well not here, apart from an increase in personal gardening activity. A new Rose bush, Lilies, Honeysuckle, Junipers, Indonesian Lime, germinating Sweet peas and casting Nasturtiums hither and thither. I’m even having a go at germinating Avocado, Lemon and Orange seeds.

Anything really new? Well, Justin Trudeau is still the most cringeworthy Canadian Prime Minister ever. So no change there. Apparently that darling mop top is rather upset about all the mean (and well-deserved) comments coming his way. Although I’m sure some fuckwit might construe saying that as a ‘Hate Crime’. No idea why, but that’s their problem, not mine.

What else? We at Maison Sticker are keeping a weather eye on the Hawaiian situation. An explosive steam event is on the horizon, although how big that will be is anybody’s guess. Am checking in on the USGS pages for Kīlauea and half way listening for a far off low grumble that means Oahu has gone up in smoke and a big Tsunami is on its way. But that’s a few days away if it happens at all. Besides, even a ‘mega Tsunami’ caused by a massive Hawaiian land slip won’t touch us, we’re too high up and looking down on the rest of the neigbourhood (Damning the rest with faint praise and patronising the remainder.) Besides, the possible slip zone points are South and east of Oahu.  Meaning the focus of any Tsunami will be pointing right at Cali-forn-aye-a.  So much for beachfront property eh?

Liking what Sargon and friends are up to re free speech in the UK. I’m actually hoping that we’ve reached peak PC and some sort of grand ‘oops’ moment will cause various Governments to scale back on the current tidal wave of repressive legislation. Not that either the EU or the UK seem to be free of the insanity. The UK is considering jailing people for up to six years for ‘hate crime’. six years? You don’t get that for manslaughter FFS! (Current guidelines for an unlawful killing are 2-10 years) Saying something critical of the Religion of being blown to pieces can get you jail time? That is so coming back to bite the pollies who put and let these things stay on the statute books. Apart from being a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Which will create deeper and more permanent cultural divides. This is notwithstanding the EU’s latest directive on the topic. Dissent has, like in the old Soviet Union and other Communist and other extreme right and left regimes, become a crime, threatening to drive millions of otherwise moderate citizens right into the political arms of some destructive reboot of Fascism. Especially as voicing or publishing a dissenting point of view is now a ‘hate crime’. Unless, according to the latest proposed EU guidelines, you’re a service provider.

Wonder what happened to ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me‘? Gone the way of all flesh it seems. Every privileged minority seems determined to find something somewhere to get excited about. The rest of us look on at their antics with a certain astonishment. Especially when the perpetually offended get all vocal about a cause they aren’t directly affected by.

For my part I consider myself on unofficial gardening leave because work has tailed off and there’s bugger all to do apart from write and run errands. I’m still getting paid, so what the hell. Serves me right for being so efficient over the last few months.

After we get back from Europe in August, think I’ll join one of the local archery clubs so I can use their shooting range and get some new shafts made. Might be worthwhile keeping my eye in, just in case I get an invite to go bowhunting up country again. In the meantime, my roses are budding, Lilies trumpeting their heavy pollen to the skies and multiple seedlings straining to be set free from the confinement of the soil. Could be worse.

Business as usual

Summer trip is mostly booked. London, (For Mrs S) UK Midlands (For me) then on to Copenhagen for the second week in July followed by Amsterdam and a little town not far from Beziers, South of France. Flights and accommodation are all paid for and I’ve just put the credit card in the freezer to let it cool down a bit.

We’re planning also to go back to Australia next year for a probable wedding of Eldest and current boyfriend. He’s a steady lad, Engineer by trade working long term in Oz. He can even cook and has a green thumb. He’s Irish too, so that’s a quadruple plus. Tell you the truth, we knew about Eldest and Boyfriend as only parents can when we were in Sydney over Christmas. It was fairly obvious because when two people have decided, even unconsciously that they’re right for each other, there’s a look in the eye you can’t really miss, their faces shine and they’re so relaxed and unselfconscious whenever they’re together. So, that’s settled then. I hope.

Anyway, that’s for the future. This Summer we’re off to visit Youngest in jolly old Londinium while I do some long overdue familial fence mending oop norf of Brum. There are conversations I need to have to straighten things out while the opportunity still remains. It’ll take three days, no more. There’s also a legal matter to round off that I can only do in person. Family business, you know how it is. It’s an emotionally charged situation and I just have to man up and do the necessary.

Talking of business, I see Farcebook shares are in a steep nosedive, losing over 5% of their hyped up value following the Cambridge Analytica allegations. Facebook share price fall to 23rd MarchMy broker suggested I invest in them last year, but I gave him a firm ‘No’. Like with Bitcoin, if you weren’t in on the ground floor, don’t bother. The price is no good for any significant buy in, and Farcebook, at least from this investors perspective, is going nowhere, fast. Their market share and user base is stagnant and shrinking. Even a fool like me can read the writing on the wall. My personal account has been dead and deleted for over seven years. Twice. And I have always resisted linking any of my other personal and professional data to Farcebook. So any data ‘mined’ is out of date and therefore worthless. I am not the only one. My kids have moved on and no-one seems to use it but spammers and the hopeless.

Elsewhere on the Interweb there are issues raised over privacy, boredom and even prosecutions (WTF!?) for rather lame jokes that ‘offend’ people. Look, if you’re that easily offended, step away from the keyboard. Don’t watch YouTube. Go out into the world and do something useful. Hashtag #growapair. As for the UK Police, oh for heavens sake, don’t you have any real crime to deal with? Yes you do. Chasing down all these petty complaints is just wasting Police time.

Personally I think that with the recent conviction of a notorious YouTube prankster for a spurious ‘hate crime’ there’s been a real case of perverting the course of justice. Which is as good an argument as I’ve heard for repealing the hate crime legislation passed by the idiotic Blair Government. Same as over here with M-103 and C-16. Policing what people say or think (Providing they don’t belong to a protected and therefore ‘privileged’ group) is idiotic. Slander and libel are civil matters which are sufficient to cover insult. Making them criminal offences just pisses many people off because no-one can tippy-toe round another’s imagined petty grievances all the time. It’s corrosive to the spirit to duck every time some bonehead with a large plank on their shoulder turns around. Better that they should fix their own inner problems and get on with life instead of looking for slight and insult around every corner.

In closing, trying to read between the lines of all the BREXIT op-eds in the FT is making me a bit twitchy too. The ‘negotiations’ seem to be giving away far too much to the undemocratic Eurocrats and securing too little in return. However, Sterling isn’t doing so badly, so I’ll have a look at the state of play at the end of the month before making further commitments. At this moment in time, Sterling is on the up so I’ll hang with it until there’s a possible shift in the market.

Hey-ho. Business as usual.

I’m puzzled…

… by the behaviour of Madame Tracy over the BREXIT negotiations. First there was Florence, which was essentially seen as a climbdown, now in this morning’s FT I read of yet another backpedal where Juncker et al are demanding more and more to leave their exclusive little club. Whose cookie is beginning to crumble further around the edges in Austria, Poland, Catalonia and Hungary.

My own suspicion is that this is a bargaining ploy, a delaying tactic to keep the markets stable and see how far the Eurocrats will go to try and up the Ante before telling them to get lost and open the doors to other nations, who if they’ve got any sense already have their own low level negotiating teams in setting up trading deals for when UK Plc drops off the edge of Europe. However, I may be completely wrong and this may only be a ploy to feed to the Brexiteers that “Oh my God dwawleengs it’s too, too difficult to get out so we’ll have to stay in. Sorry, just not poss…etc.” But that would bury the Tories for a generation and leave the poor old UK to drop headlong into the hands of the weird and definitely not wonderful Corbynista’s and subsequent economic free fall. So what is going on?

The Catalan situation seems to be bubbling under, with two separatist leaders under arrest for ‘sedition’, also two Police Officers for getting in the way of the Guardia Civil riot Police. See the France24 video below for the situation as of 17th October. Can’t say I like the smug look of the Spanish deputy PM as she stepped up to the podium. There’s a cat that’s got first lick of the cream and no mistake.

Then there’s the Austrian election results. Which has the Eurocrats rattled. We’re told that the results are a victory for the ‘extreme right’ but how ‘extreme’ is not wanting to import unspecified numbers of welfare dependents for which the Austrian taxpayer will have to foot the bill?

As for ‘rising extremism’, how extreme is doing what the Americans call “Voting your cheque book”? Which is what electorates around the world are beginning to do. For example there’s a widespread view that the EU is a monster which has grown too large and needs to go on a serious diet. Same for the US Government. Too big, too much power, too intrusive and rapacious.

In Canada we’re still on the upslope of that statist bell curve with the Federal Government changing the tax regs to prevent ‘Income salting’ (Sharing tax allowances between family members) which will hit working families with stay at home mums the worst. Not the ‘rich’ like that idiot fop Trudeau in Ottawa says. Even Mrs S and I have been forced to formalise our business relationship so that everything I buy or do for her business is logged and subject to detailed internal invoice. Which is a pain, but these are the toothpaste tubes big government forces everyone into. Should they try and throw my invoices out, I will simply stop the forty or so hours a month I put in on my wife’s business’ behalf and close my ears to all the cries for help from the next door office because I don’t work for nothing.

I know those streets


…the streets of Barcelona. It’s one of the jewels of continental Europe and now the ground zero of the Catalan secession movement. I’ve sat and drunk coffee in front of the main cathedral, listened to the chatter around me, navigated the nearby flagstoned alleyways and peoplewatched the other tourists being startled by the dozen or so living statue mime artists that make a living at the foot of the Cathedral steps. It is one of my favourite European cities, one with a cultural identity you could bend rebar around. Like Seville, but not so much Madrid.

Now the Catelonians have voted for independence in a referendum the Madrid government and probably the EU, didn’t want them to have. The actions of the National Police riot squad have become global news which the Madrid government has totally mishandled. See this report from CGTN Africa below.

Regardless of whether the referendum itself was illegal, riot police beating up old ladies people for no better reason than they wanted to vote is like pointing a loaded gun at your foot, pulling the trigger and wondering why it hurts so bloody much. There is no way that is protecting anyone’s rights, or any form of justice, as claimed by the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, save that of wielding naked power for it’s own sake. Reporters on the ground say even the local city cops or ‘Mossos’, got in the way of the cruise shipped in riot police when ‘unofficial’ polling stations were raided. See the France24 video below and the linked story on RT.

And you thought that BREXIT was a big issue. Think of it this way, the Catalans are getting a dose of what the Spanish authorities have been doling out to the Basque since before 1876. This time however, the ‘rebels’ have tried to do things the right way, the peaceful and democratic way, yet the heavy hand of the Spanish authoritarian state has fallen upon them. As many libertarians and those who have fallen foul of any government department would say; “The State is not your friend.”

Update: After reading around and doing a little historical background I note that this is not the first ‘illegal’ referendum on Catalan independence.  The last was 2014 and before that smaller versions throughout 2009 to 2011.

Here’s a post referendum interview from Vlogger Tim Pool of expat journalist Simon Harris who is based in Barcelona.  Very enlightening insider perspective on Spanish political attitudes.

 

1971 Redux etc.

I see the current situation with student unrest somehow reminiscent of the early 1970’s. I don’t know if it’s just me, but seen through the Hollywood mirror there are a lot of similarities. The banners, the language, the shouts of ‘Fascist’ at every less that extreme left wing view. Which were forgotten when the instigators ran out of other people’s money and had to get real jobs. As happened in the early 1980’s and into the 90’s, when stuff settled down and people stopped shouting about all the ism’s and we all just got on with things. Regardless of skin colour or sexual orientation. We learned to joke about ourselves again and not worry too much.

Until of course the next generation forgot the lessons of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Or at least some people forgot, or more like never learned that it is wrong do what the hell they like to hurt others, regardless of political views, just because they think they have some nebulous moral ‘right’. To them, the slavery that stained the 16th-18th century West is still real, but instead of moving on, go full retrograde and act as though slavery of the African descended importees to America were a real modern issue. All the time ignoring the real slavery of non-Western states like India (14.3 million), China (3.2 million) and Pakistan (2.1 million) to name the three biggest offenders. Map here. All the bleating is a cheap ‘give us your money’ con trick because the people who really need help will never see a penny piece while their ‘leaders’ will have pockets so full they’ll need weight training to hold their trousers up. Twas ever thus.

In the 90’s most people got over all the fuss and worked as part of a team with whatever colour skin your workmates had. No-one even asked about religion, because the question never arose. Of course there were minor frictions, but if you were good at your job and paid attention, who the hell cared? Tolerance was more widespread and opinion was less polarised than at present. Sometimes I feel that if everyone nowadays wound their collective necks in and went back to a more relaxed live and let live attitude we’d all be miles better off.

The rot seemed to set in in the late 00’s on the run up to the US Presidential elections. The Messiah was to become the US President and all the people dispossessed by the financial crash, ironically caused by an attempt to legislate ‘fairness’ by the Clinton Administration, coupled with the financial sectors solution to all the dodgy debt it created, thought that their chosen one would magic up money and make all their problems vanish. Only their problems didn’t. They got worse. Then we got all the divisive rhetoric to go with it. Here in the late 2010’s race relations are dropping through the floor because no one seems to understand that the solution to all Bear problems (Racism) is to stop prodding the fucking Bear! (and in the process giving the real racists ammunition). The answer is, as Morgan Freeman said so succinctly; “Stop talking about it.” But no-one seems to be interested. They just want a fight.

Speaking of which, looks like there’s going to be a scrap over the forthcoming Catalan referendum. If you thought there was a fuss over BREXIT, the powers that be are gearing up for some serious fun. A whole cruise ship full of armed riot Police have been brought in, just in case the election rigging doesn’t go the right way. While the EU bureaucrats look like they’re relying on Tessie May to cock things up so Britain comes back to the EU fold with tail tucked tween it’s legs, they must reckon those rebellious Spaniards will only be cowed by a sound public whipping. After all, they’ve stepped up raids against those angling for independence. Tomorrow’s vote in Germany will probably keep Merkel in power by the look of things. But polls have been wrong before. As have bureaucrats.

Meanwhile, back on the topic of BREXIT I have a hunch that May’s Florence speech was a bluff, or at least a form of damage limitation. The UK’s credit rating has been marked down, which she probably knew was coming, so her seeming to give way might just take the pressure off the city despite the fast recovering value of Sterling (Up seven cents against CAD since last Friday by my reckoning). A lot is going to happen politically and economically over the next month or so and I’m going to hunker down, financially speaking, and see what happens. This could get real interesting real fast. For a given value of ‘interesting’. P.S. I’ve sold all my Euro’s.

Update: Re the two ships reputedly full of riot Police currently docked in Barcelona. Each has a passenger complement of around 1,760. So that’s a possible 3,520 riot Police, a small army in anyone’s books. Could of course be more, as I recall tales from drinking mates who went on a little ‘Pussers holiday‘ back in 1982, and how tightly they were crammed onto every berth they could find. So the total capacity of these two ships could be over half as much again. More, if they’ve taken over all the crew cabins.

Another thought occurs; are all these riot Police actually members of the Spanish Guardia Civil or CNP, or are a few on loan from other parts of the EU? Enquiring minds etc. My, this is getting interesting.

Another Update: Merkel has held onto Germany for a fourth term, but her pro-open door immigration policies have given the extreme right a doorway into power with 13% of the vote. This is also very interesting. We’ll see what the markets say on Monday morning.