Tag Archives: Historical precedent

YouTube and other matters

There are a great many interesting channels on YouTube. As a resource for information it currently has few peers. Every day people put up informative and enlightening content which is both entertaining and amusing. Some of the content providers have what’s called ‘Patreon‘ accounts that you can contribute to in order to fund their work.

Forgotten Weapons dot comOne of my particular favourites is “Forgotten Weapons” run by the iconic figure of Ian McCollum, or ‘The Gun Jesus’ as he is also known. Now Ian regularly travels to visit private collections, public museums, auction houses and examines their antique firearms in detail. Recently getting into a spat with YouTube over displaying the Nazi flag on the front page of one of his videos, which has resulted in him migrating his better and more up to date content to a specialist video streaming service at Full30.com. Compared to YouTube, the quality is a quantum leap improvement.

Now before anyone clutches their pearls in horror and faints (Noooo! The Nasty flag! Oh my ears and whiskers!), I might point out that Ian’s channel has always been about historical accuracy, and he likes to establish both the provenance and historical associations of every firearm he examines. As part of this process he displays the historically correct flag of the nation each firearm came from on the front page of each video. So for an American Civil war piece he will have the then flag of the Union or Confederacy or even the State of the firearms origin. For a firearm produced in Germany during the late 19th Century to 1918 he will display the flag of Imperial Germany, for Italy, the correct Italian flag for the period, the Red Flag of the Stalinist USSR, and of course the 1933-45 flag of Nazi Germany. Which fits in with his ethos of establishing the correct provenance for each weapon, including in many cases how to field strip most of them. Apart from the real antiques like a 16th Century revolving flintlock pistol.

If you are into antique firearms and the subtle mechanical evolution of a device for spitting out a piece of metal at high velocity, then Ian’s your man. He’s very good indeed and as a researcher takes great pains over his work.

Now YouTube are ‘demonetising’ channels like his that do not have ‘acceptable’ or ‘advertiser friendly’ PC content. Which is a shame. Not that there’s any benefit to being ‘monetised’ unless your channel attracts millions of viewers. However, some people make money at it and good luck to them say I.

It’s ironic really, that the people who campaign for the kind of censorship on display fail to understand that nothing in it’s proper context is that bad. Yes, the Nazi’s were an evil bunch and had to be put down hard, but that was years ago. We should have matured enough as a society to be able to examine their symbols openly and understand the connotations and contradictions of Nazism and how said symbols are now of mere historical interest. And learn the lessons that history can deliver rather than get all hot and bothered like Vampires faced with daylight and a crucifix.

Now what this ultimately means is that if YouTube drives some of their best content away is that the platform itself may wither on the poisoned vine of political correctness, and, this being the Internet, be replaced with other, less censorious video streaming services. Which no doubt the YouTube people will lobby to try and shut down or get blocked. Good luck with that. The cat is out of the bag, the Hydra of public opinion has many heads, and legislators will always lag light years behind the cutting edge because that’s heading away from their petty grasp at warp 9 and accelerating.

Will YouTube go the way some of the old mainstream has already gone? Losing the public trust and thus it’s target market? I think that process has already begun, and YouTube will only have themselves to blame. However; their gaff, their rules. Even if these rules will lose YouTube a great deal of business.

Public opinion is a fickle thing.

Update: The always interesting Sargon of Akkad on the curse of YouTube scepticism and its consequences with “The Curse of the YouTube Socratics”

Oh, BTW ‘Trigger warning’ he’s smoking. Chortle.

….and a word or two

…from the writings of Winston Churchill. Specifically from chapter two of ‘The River War – an account or the reconquest of the Sudan‘ Fate of the Envoy, which describes the circumstances surrounding the death of Gordon of Khartoum.

“All great movements, every vigorous impulse that a community may feel, become perverted and distorted as time passes, and the atmosphere of the earth seems fatal to the noble aspirations of its peoples. A wide humanitarian sympathy in a nation easily degenerates into hysteria. A military spirit tends towards brutality. Liberty leads to licence, restraint to tyranny. The pride of race is distended to blustering arrogance. The fear of God produces bigotry and superstition. There appears no exception to the mournful rule, and the best efforts of men, however glorious their early results, have dismal endings, like plants which shoot and bud and put forth beautiful flowers, and then grow rank and coarse and are withered by the winter. It is only when we reflect that the decay gives birth to fresh life, and that new enthusiasms spring up to take the places of those that die, as the acorn is nourished by the dead leaves of the oak, the hope strengthens that the rise and fall of men and their movements are only the changing foliage of the ever-growing tree of life, while underneath a greater evolution goes on continually.”

Busy with teeth grindingly frustrating family financial matters at present. Will post something a bit more interesting and closer to home in a day or two.

That Brexit business

I’ve been reading some interesting history about the causes of the American Civil war recently, with more in depth contemporary sources from both sides of the Atlantic. Civil war Bill? Isn’t this post title about the UK leaving the EU? Okay, bear with me. All will become crystal in due course.

Now the US Civil War was fought over slavery, right? That’s what we’re taught in school. Erm… wrong! It began because of taxation. Ever hear of a thing called the Morrill Tariff? Those guys in Fort Sumter that got fired upon, kicking the whole thing off? Tax collectors, there to ensure the collection of said Washington imposed Tariff, which hiked internal Federal import duties for the Southern states from 20 to 47%. Yikes! Much to the annoyance of the Southern states and also the British, who were a major trading partner at the time.

Journalist and anti-slavery campaigner Charles Dickens (Yes, that Charles Dickens) wrote a number of scathing articles criticising the imposition of this tariff increase by the US Federal Government. Which of course went down like a lead balloon with our cousins in the north-eastern USA after they’d feted him in a grand tour. Myth, is it? Don’t think so.

As an aside, I’d never really realised what a nasty piece of work old Abraham Lincoln was. He actually gave orders to instigate the war. Other secret orders followed; orders for executions of civilians. A bizarre mass execution of 38 Minnesota Indians. Carte blanche for rampaging troops to burn and pillage. He wasn’t a lover of non-whites either, preferring to ship them back to Africa and suchlike after the war. Slaves might be freed by the Civil War, but they were definitely unwanted by the North.

As a history buff, I’m often amused by the way people keep on trying the same old games with highly similar results. History never exactly repeats itself, but you don’t have to be a towering intellect to understand that applying the same old answers to the same old questions always ends in tears. So, I’m given to think, will be the results of the breakup of the EU.

Now here’s a scenario. Say the ‘leave’ contingent of the electorate get their way and there is a massive vote to ditch the bureaucratic monstrosity that the EU has become. The UK begins the process of leaving, to which the EU’s response is a demand for a massive ‘penalty’ payment. To which the UK, quite rightly and like the Southern states did in 1861, says “F**k *ff”. The EU then imposes punitive tariffs on exports to the UK, and for a couple of months the Brits can’t get parts for their Fiats, Peugeots, Mercedes or BMW’s for love nor money, and they have to import their wine from Chile and Argentina. Amongst other things. Until said tariffs are circumvented by the simple expedient of shifting the paper trail of European imports via Norway. Norway’s economy booms with this new trade route, much to the chagrin of the Brussels bureaucrats.
Brexit
Unless of course Brexit is the first step in other major contributing countries deciding that the EU is more trouble than it’s worth. France for one. Some of the old Warsaw pact states and of course bankrupt Greece. The whole project could fold if Germany decides it’s not going to keep the whole shebang going on its own. Which would present challenges, but also many opportunities. As well as being one in the eye for those who think that Government always knows best (It doesn’t). Who will not like it, not one little bit, and will take measures of all sorts to make life difficult for countries who want out. Up to and including bullets and bombs. A close study of history teaches us that this is so.

As for slavery? In the mid 1850’s it was an institution that was on its way out, at least in the West. Allegedly.

Now I’m fully behind the idea of the UK leaving the EU, which was sold as a free trade area, but has turned into a massive greedy bureaucratic leech. One that is bloated, well past it’s sell-by date and needs a good rinse and spin to shrink it down to size. Unfortunately, too many useless mouths have got, in the words of my forbears “Too damn cosy with other people’s money.” But they will fight tooth and nail to maintain their lives of privilege and air conditioned offices. In their eyes ‘Brexit’ is a major threat which may require force. Rather like the US Civil War.

My final word on the topic (for a given value of ‘final’) Leave, but be prepared for a fight. Just in case.

Stuff I didn’t know

Road trip again. Ignore me if I’m beginning to bore you with my heretofore unexplored positivity. It’s not that I don’t care about the latest terrorist outrage in Brussels, because all I feel is a sad certainty in my bones that the situation is all too avoidable and a bit of a cultural own goal. If it were down to me, the politicians who laid the groundwork by supporting mass immigration from a hostile culture would be made to write out ten thousand times; “I must stop importing voters from incompatible cultures” and “I will not sell out my own people to gain short term political power” before being sent to their rooms without any supper. Permanently.

Nonetheless, Nashville is all booked, our ‘America the Beautiful’ National Parks pass has arrived and I’m avidly examining our options for the trek back westbound across the great divide. One thing I didn’t know about the USA is that up until the mid 1300’s it was home to a thriving culture. A civilisation that began to die out at the end of the Medieval Warm Period.

Called the Mississippian culture, it appears to have been of Mayan in origin (because Mississippian art has distinct similarities to middle Mayan, look it up) and spread north up the Mississippi and it’s tributaries from 600AD onwards to far as agricultural practices of the time would support it. Then as the global climate began to cool in the mid-14th Century prior to the Little Ice Age, this culture began to disintegrate, the population largely abandoning their ‘cities’ as their political structures began to fail along with their crops. Three to four hundred years later European settlers began to arrive in the area, finding only hectares of grassed over mounds and the mainly nomadic descendants of the Mississippians. The best example of these mound cities being the Cahokia Mounds near St Louis.

Now as I’ve said before, Mrs S and I are avid history buffs, she covers the more academic side, and I have instincts trained by years of tramping the English countryside and it’s plethora of Deserted Medieval Village sites, with all their lumps, bumps and crop marks punctuating otherwise deserted pastures. Which is why we’re spending an extra day on the eastern side of St Louis. She reading the books, me spotting the landscape and map reading then discussing our respective findings in the evening over a long drink. Because up until last night we’d never come across this culture, being brought up on the limited narrative surrounding the ‘wild’ (and some argue, mild) west. Which tends to pointedly ignore the French and Spanish influences in these lands (De Soto expedition and subsequent Spanish colonisation, the Louisiana purchase which the French had nicked off the locals whilst fighting British claims in the not so frozen north) before the main tranche of northern European settlers arrived. Which is all absolutely brand spanking new to me. There’s still this narrative about how wild and uncivilised North America was, yet for long periods North America was relatively civilised and colonised. Until it all fell apart in internecine warfare and crop failure from around 1350AD onwards. Which is stuff I previously didn’t know anything about. Well, not really. But which I’m quite looking forward to finding more out about.

Anything else? Well over at the professional pilots forum there’s talk of more debris, possibly from MH370 washing up on the South African shoreline. Which confirms that it went down in the Southern Indian Ocean. Although that’s a big deep piece of water, perhaps too big and deep for even the modern wonders of sidescan sonar to explore with any accuracy. I did once ask a respected Oceanographer about the definition of sonar at those depths. His answer surprised me. At the depths and densities of water found at 3000 metres, sidescan sonar definition can be as much as ten metres between contours. No wonder the search teams are planning on giving up in June this year.

Just a thought…

While I was meandering through the Internet this morning, checking out the news and looking for interesting stuff not to miss on the Texas phase of our road trip, I kept tripping over news of disruption at political rallies by various catspaws.

Here’s the question that popped into my head. If a foreign funded organisation funds disruption and / or voter intimidation, does that qualify it as a ‘terrorist’ entity? If the answer is yes, then moveon.org, change.org etcetera which are known to be Soros funded, along with all those protest groups that indulge in ‘direct action’, within any democracy, are by definition ‘terrorist’ organisations. Presuming of course that we define terrorism as violent direct action upon a given target, be that a person, group or a structure associated with them. The definition of ‘Violent’ to include attempted intimidation, to strike or disrupt with fist or other weapon, be that club, bullet or bomb. In that case, should not the funders of such groups be subject to the same RICO-type seizure laws as drug barons or other criminals? Unless of course they publicly disown the terrorists and defund them immediately.

I’m also moved to consider that beating, or worse still, blowing up people with a differing opinion to you has the teensiest tendency to piss them off. Permanently. Because it’s a fundamental truth that it’s very hard to change anyone’s mind after they’ve had their brains beaten or blown out. Unless of course they were in receipt of the other kind of blow job.

Just a thought. I do have them occasionally.

Back again

I see Igor and pals have been keeping up their end of the bargain, bless their patchwork little hides. For my part I’m feeling a little down, the muscles of my sarcasm feel a little weak and overstressed. As kind of an antidote I’ve gone back to the best rhymer ever, Rudyard Kipling, for a little dark relief.

Back in pre Interweb days, I contracted a life threatening condition. No known cause, just bad luck. A form of cancer which required major surgery resulting in six months of constant pain despite heavy medication, the post surgical injuries still giving me the odd twinge twenty years on. All the time I was rendered immobile or feverish I picked up my dog eared paperback copy of ‘The complete works of Rudyard Kipling’ and repeatedly read it cover to cover, until it finally fell apart in my hands. Now I simply go to an online source and read quietly. I even have downloaded copies on my little Samsung for those odd moments.

To my mind he’s the greatest poet of all time. Not merely because his work was consistently good, but because he was a master of literary form. Technically he rarely fell below brilliant. Double and even triple rhyme schemes that scanned and bounced merrily along, unlike so many other poets I can think of. It was Kipling that taught me the value of learning the nuances of cadence, iambus, pentameter, hexameter and the Norse Saga form. Kipling who spoke simple truths, even though his meanings have been twisted over the years and unfairly deemed ‘right wing’, ‘racist’ and wallpapered over with unjustified dismissal. As far as those particular slurs are concerned he was a man of his time, and his works should be viewed more as historical and social documents. Not in terms of accuracy, because he was first and foremost a newspaperman, but containing a very strong flavour of how many people thought during the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. His work preaches a sort of pragmatic wisdom, which lays out the alternatives and says “If that’s what you want – this is the price.”

That has stuck with me ever since and seen me through some very tough times. I’ll leave you with my favourite lines from “The Mary Gloster

“The things I knew was proper you wouldn’t thank me to give,
And the things I knew was rotten you said was the way to live.”

Watch the dramatic reading in the video below.

Making an end of it

In Russell Books downtown yesterday, I was meandering around aimlessly while Mrs S was picking up a couple of extras for our bookshelves and whilst waiting for her to make a decision, idly perused a book about how to stop repeating history (Of which, maddeningly I have forgotten the Author and Title), one of the sections being about how terrorist attacks finally came to an end, from the Sicarii in ancient Judea, Assassins of early Medieval times through to the Anarchists of the mid to late 19th century, and more latterly the current Jihadist crop of murderers. With regards to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, it seems there is little new under the sun.

That evening, all the facts and figures cited in the work buzzing around in what passes for my brain, I googled “How to stop terrorism” and came up with How to Stop Terrorism: Seven Ways to “Drain the Swamp”. There are actually eight, but the eighth involves mass genocide as practised by the Romans (amongst others), therefore is not a palatable solution to the current crop of terrorist problems.

Another school of thought is argued by the Rand institute, part of which is opening a dialogue with the Terrorist faction (Get a download copy of “How Terrorism Ends”here). But seeing as the current crop of Islamists are demonstrably a bunch of crazies who like to practice human sacrifice by crudely beheading their victims on video, I don’t hold up hope for any meaningful dialogue beyond ‘convert or die, infidel’. Even if we were to stop all military action in the Middle East, the likelihood is that attacks like those in Paris would continue. The crazies’ love of death being sometimes stronger than all other forms. We are not dealing with people who will say “Oh that’s all right then, home for tea and medals.” and neatly hand over their guns and other weapons when the need to fight has gone. ISIS (ISIL, whatever) have proven themselves too steeped in blood for reason to prevail.

The only national leader who seems capable (At least to my mind) of ending the current crisis is that big bad bogeyman of the Western media; President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation. No matter what else you think of him, he is both intelligent and ruthless, both qualities lacking amongst many Western leaders, wedded as they are to the politically correct idea of at least appearing ‘nice’ and therefore electable. The Russians I feel, are a little more realistic. For us, being ‘nice’ or ‘moral’, at least for a given value of ‘niceness’, and morality being the movable feast that it is, only seems to open up more cans of worms, politically speaking.

Right, what can we do? Cut off the money supply to terrorists? Easier said than done. So far the regulations intended to cut off the terrorist money supply, which I believe do not apply to the Islamic system of banking, or various ‘Intelligence’ agencies and other covert and not so covert Government offices known to fund terrorists, have proven ineffectual. When alliances shift and morph like fog, murdering fantasists will always find one agency or other more than ready and willing to fund the proxy wars of their political masters. Gosh, is that my cynicism? I was wondering where I left it. Said regulations are a pain in the bum for the law abiding, that much I do know. For those of us needing to legally transfer money between institutions, I think the phrase “Buggers muddle” seems appropriate. The levels of disclosure are quite incredible.

Having said all this are we any closer to a solution to terrorist attacks? I really don’t know, but the lessons of History, palatable or not, are out there for those who would read.

You know, if the UN really had the nerve, instead of faffing about with imaginary problems, it could spend far less and really enforce the outlawing of funding terrorist groups by nation states and their intelligence organisations. Although whether the various powers in question would comply is moot.

Old jokes, a disambiguation

Following a little transnational cultural mistranslation in the comments of yesterdays post, I would like to offer a little clarification. Here at the Bill Sticker Institute for the preservation of old jokes, japes and facetiousness, our single becobwebbed researcher has been moved to lift his weary Jesters cap off the pages of the ‘Bumper Compendium of Auncient Fooleries‘ by Geoffrey Chaucer (1st edition). A venerable vellum tome which we alone own the copyright to, and have the last extant copy of. So there. It’s even got the one about the ‘Last goose in the shambles’. For any connoisseur of English humour, this should be a clue to it’s comprehensiveness.

One of our helpful customer service IgorsHowever, the jest in question is more recent than that, I merely mentioned that we have a copy of such a rare volume to demonstrate how seriously old jokes are taken around here. Notwithstanding, our researcher has been despatched, capering into our catacomb like archives with a jingle, a hey nonny-nonny and a blow ’bout the cheeks with his inflated pigs bladder (Which we hope is not a permanent condition). Not to find anything out, we just want him out of the way so our trusty crew of Igors can do the real work.

What they have come back with are the references to late Victorian music hall routines, where a comic actor or actress would make the statement “And my case comes up next Tuesday.” as a throwaway punchline. The focus for this line is a mockery of the various obscenity laws then being enacted, where any heretofore innocent act would reputedly result in the perpetrator being arrested and subject to trial in the various Police or Magistrates courts. Having one’s ‘Case come up’ means that one had been summonsed to appear before the magistrates on some unspecified charge of obscene conduct. The date of the appearance to be set by the teller of the joke. To wit; “My case comes up on Tuesday” is a statement that one has been accused, and a court appearance has been set for the following Tuesday. The ‘Tuesday’ is a random variable, and has no effect on the jests efficaciousness.

Therefore; “Embrace your inner Englishman.” Made as an exhortation to behave in a given fashion, would be met by;
“I did, and my case comes up on Tuesday.” To imply that embracing one’s inner Englishman, presumably in public, was a public decency offence and having a degree of obscenity sufficient for the forces of law and order to become involved. The subtext being that the exhorted would not be complying with the requested standard of behaviour.

This particular joke has largely fallen into disuse since the 1960’s and 70’s, when its last recorded use on UK nationwide Television was on the Morcambe and Wise show. Other notable users of this specific joke are Tony Hancock and the entire ‘Carry on‘ team. Researchers have also recounted how it was also a favourite of Benny Hill.

There are those of course, who will become outraged and scream like demented toddlers that such a statement is ‘anti (Insert cause here)’ because the use of said phrase implies that their chosen cause is an offence against public mores and morals, which in retrospect is probable. But these are people who take themselves and their opinions far too seriously. Therefore we should be cautious, and approach such topics only when heavily armed. Just in case.

For those of you who don’t give a fig for trendy causes, we are pleased to announce that our playlist of young ladies getting their kit off in an artistic fashion is an ongoing project, with videos being added at least once every day or two. We are happy to add that most are definitely not safe for work.

We hope the aforementioned has been of assistance.

As an appendix we would like to introduce, at least to lovers of satirical Country music; Miss Shirley Gnome.

Can we move on now?

Seventy years ago, the Japanese surrendered to Allied forces after they were finally convinced of annihilation if they didn’t. The Fascist regime that perpetrated so many abuses against other humans is no more, yet it is felt modern Japanese politicians should apologise for the atrocities committed by that regime. As if mere apology was enough to make amends for the ill treatment of prisoners of war which included starvation and forced labour, brutal executions made routine, experiments on live human subjects which included dissection while alive. Yet I will argue that the modern Japanese are not responsible for the actions of their forefathers. I would also argue that the A-bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary at the time and saved many more lives than they took. The alternative would have been complete annihilation of Japan because the culture of that time was to die for the Emperor. And they would have done so, in their millions. Small scale examples of this mindset were demonstrated with civilians on Saipan and Okinawa leaping to their deaths rather than ceasing resistance to the allied forces. Which some contend were forced by the Japanese military. Shinzo Abe has it right. Enough with the apologising already.

Like with 17th and 18th century slavery, the time has passed, and no matter what anyone says, Western culture alone cannot be held responsible for the actions of the slavers. Those responsible are long dead, so why is there this ‘blame culture’ prevalent in modern western society? The fact that slavery still exists in non western cultures to this day seems to be conveniently bypassed. In the 17th and early 18th century Moslem Corsairs raided South western English and even Icelandic villages and towns for slaves. A Barbary raider even sacked Baltimore in continental North America, June 20, 1631. Is the Ottoman Empire available for comment? Don’t be silly. The same as I am not responsible for the outrages committed by Medieval Crusaders on the town of Acre or the Catholic Church’s grand inquisition. We are not they. We’re not a bunch of fcuking knuckledragging hillbillies who can’t forgive or forget. Society has moved on.

What I’m driving at here is that whilst we should never forget the brutality of our (and their) ancestors, the reason for remembering things as they happened should be? Yes, I’m talking to you at the back there. Why should we never forget the horrors inflicted by people on their fellow humans? So we don’t make the same mistakes ever again. Good. Lesson learned. The idea that the sharp edges of history should be somehow smoothed over in case the fine detail ‘upsets’ the thin skinned and hypersensitive is ludicrous. Can’t handle the facts? Aww, poor diddums.

What irks me most about all these apologies for every single bad thing done by people who might, or might not be in my, or anybody else’s line of ancestors is that they are counter productive and only serve to renew the resentment. Vengeance can only be relevant when the perpetrators of the original evil are still around. If those who did the wrong are dead then vengeance cannot feasibly be justified. The principle in law being that their debts and evil die with them. Harming someone’s offspring for a wrong perpetrated by their parents simply restarts the cycle. Likewise insincere apologies. Rinse, spin, repeat, but you’ll never be rid of the blood.

Hells bells, it’s Dragon Boat weekend, and I intend to be downtown in an hour or so with my (Japanese designed with Chinese and Korean made components) Nikon Coolpix 520 camera. Watching the Canadian sponsored dragon boats, maybe joining in the fun, perhaps popping into the Bard and Banker or the Irish Times pub for a beer and chicken wings. I do not wish to be apologised to by any visiting Japanese, nor will I feel obliged to apologise to them for acts committed before either of us were born. Life is too bloody short.

Still here then?

Well, we’re back. Enjoying a nice cool breezy day or three after the all-encompassing heat of the last seven. Mrs S and I are indulging our new found tastes for things like ‘Moscow Mule‘ cocktails. The ingredients for which are Vodka, lime juice and Ginger beer (Not ale, not enough Ginger). Very quaffable. Mrs S does like Cosmopolitans, but we didn’t have any of the right liqueur (Cointreau) in house, so I had to adapt and improvise with Stolichnaya. On its own, Ginger beer with a shot of Roses lime cordial over ice is very nice, but add Vodka and a generous squeeze of real lime and well, you’ll have to try it for yourself.

The various global crises keep grumbling on. The Greeks constantly wanting more money to pay their old age pensions, then shifting the bills onto someone else continues. The Chinese economic woes. Iran getting nuclear technology so they can build atomic bombs (That’s not going to end well). A surprise medical bill for four thousand Euro’s that should have been paid by our insurance company which has led to several frantic phone calls. Pension paperwork coming at us from all directions. Oh what jolly bloody fun. I’m not even of pensionable age yet, and they’re going to change the rules yet again. Good job I won’t be relying on a pension then. Hey ho. We’re taking it all in our stride.

Well, we’ve had a thoroughly nice time in the USA, apart from a few navigation hiccups on Saturday because our SatNav had a minor nervous breakdown caused by all the roadworks off the I-5 into south Tacoma. We had a wander around the American Car Museum and saw these. American 1930s classics Which cost the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of modern dollars in their day, such were the costs of hand coach building, even during the height of the American depression of the 1920’s and 30’s. Oh yes, and from the triumph of hope over experience department, these examples of Electric vehicles; Electric cars from the 20th century Their modern descendants only possible because of massive subsidies. While electric cars are superficially economical, they will always remain a fringe technology until the fuel / refuel issues can be fully addressed, or failing that, a small molten salt nuclear reactor, hydrogen or other non battery technology becomes practical for personal transport. You can probably hear the sound of my breath not being held from half a world away. Until a long time hence we’re probably stuck with the reliable(ish) Internal Combustion Engine. Seven litre Chevvy CamaroWhich on the plus side, has given us beauties like this Seven litre Chevrolet Camaro. It couldn’t match something like a Porsche on European roads of course, but on North American highways, it has the legs and legroom to just eat up those endless miles.

For those who protest about how much energy those naughty Gringos use, they forget the large distances between towns. You can walk down to the store to get the groceries, but that walk will take a long, long time. They also forget that continental North America is a bloody big place, and therefore tends to suffer from more extremes. Everything is bigger over here. Weather, distances, trees, and also the average fast food restaurant customer. We are talking three hundred pounds and upwards.

Anyway, back home in the more environmentally friendly land of British Columbia, I’ve just been given about twenty pounds of fresh figs which I have to find a use for. Do I make some preserve? Chop a few then soak in Vodka? Make Fig rolls (yum). Put a few out to ripen in my office? Apparently there’s a trick with a dab of Extra Virgin Olive Oil which hastens ripening. See these posts on a gardening forum. Treating figs with motor oil, we have been assured, does not work. At least if you want something vaguely edible afterwards. I may do all these things. There may be a progress report.

Bye for now.