Tag Archives: Historical precedent

Apples and Rosemary

Yesterday Mrs S and I went to see Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’. A very powerful film. One for the video collection. Also today our landlord, a man with an accent more English than my own, gave us half a dozen apples and some sprigs of fresh Rosemary. For which I have duly thanked him. Both the gift and Mr Nolan’s rendition of the story of Dunkirk have touched something at my core; tweaked a nerve of a collective subconscious I’d only been hazily aware of, but has roots wrapped deep around my heart.

As an archer, and an English one at that, I grew up with a particular mythology, a semi conscious stream of stories that plugged deep into my own self image. From the medieval fictions of Arthur and Robin Hood through their semi-legendary counterparts of Adam Bell, William of Cloudesley and Clym of the Clough to the half starved and dysentery-stricken remnants of Henry V’s army at Agincourt who defeated a better equipped and numerically superior force.

Dunkirk is part of that mythology. Of the outnumbered underdog being soundly whipped but refusing to be beaten by a tactically, technologically and numerically superior enemy. Of costly retreats and last stands now only thought legend by those who live today. This is the tradition of my youth and part of that which makes me, and I suspect a good number of my fellow expatriates and Scriblerus contemporaries, tick. That never-say-die bone headed refusal to lay down and surrender to the forces of darkness and conformity. It is with pride that I account myself one of that mongrel breed, of Irish, Welsh and various other northern European parentages that dares to flout the so-called ‘moral authority’ of rule by an unaccountable elite.

No matter that we Northern Europeans have fought with each other like cats in a sack for centuries, one thing has always characterised us. A sense of identity steeped in our legends, forged on the anvil of wars by the repeated hammer blows of injustice. An identity so strong that it might as well be made of Titanium Steel. This is what lies at the core of everyone whose genetic heritage marks them out with pale skin. The biggest, most Machiavellian sons of bitches out there have tried to make us knuckle under since before the Romans invaded and we’re still around. Maybe not the same, but stronger, tougher and despite outward appearances, indomitable to the core. Although I appreciate that there are exceptions. For every half dozen or so unconquerable heroes, there are four times that number of cowards, many of them the same individuals. Each with a need for their own space, their own independence which brooks no interference and detests officialdom. This is also the drive behind what brought the USA into existence and keeps memories of the confederacy alive.

The places and names are not important as such, only to the people that claim to call them home. I dare say the native tribes of Afghanistan feel the same way about their own homeland. It is theirs, and they will fight to the last to hold it close. No matter how many of them are killed. They have their own legends and mythologies, with bloody memories and heroes fresher than our own.

Such are the forces that drove the need for BREXIT and those that voted Trump into the White House. Nothing to do with racism, sexism or anything else but a dogged snarling refusal to give in against the awful blandness and subsumation of corporatist and collectivist dogma’s native to the bureaucrats of the EU and Washington DC. When push comes to shove, those born on the sceptic isle of my birth have been famous for their refusal to lie down and go quietly. Like many French, Germans, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Danes et al with whom we share similar cultural heritage.

Yet this is the attitude that has fought off totalitarianism time after time and obtained and destroyed empires in the process. The English and more generally the British are a people you can say what the hell you like to and not get much of a rise out of, yet just try to take their home from them, no matter how small, and you will have the fight of your life on your hands. You’ll find the same attitude common in many Dutch, French, Germans, Czechs, Austrians and just about any other nation that can stand on their own two hind legs.

This is why the forces of collectivism take issue with our myths and legends. In order to install their own utopias they must first destroy and discredit the pride of nations and the sense of belonging that being part of a nation bestows. Which means that they who would rule these utopias need to say, “Silly little people – what you believe in is not real, they are only stories for children. These things are not relevant and they are wrong. Now do what we tell you and we’ll have no more of this foolishness. Hand over the fruits of your labour so that we might live in the luxury we deserve.”

But Dunkirk is not a myth or legend, it was real. Nolan’s film only focused on small parts of the story, which are inaccurate in detail, but generally representative of what happened. What I do know for certain is that about 198,000 British, 140,000 French and Belgian troops were evacuated from that awful place. Many by the ‘Miracle of the little ships’, small seagoing cabin cruisers, trawlers and barges who ran the gauntlet of blitzkrieg to help their fellow countrymen. It was a tale well told.

The home grown apples we received were bred in English orchards. The heady scent of Rosemary tripping off a whole series of pleasant memories and associations somehow reconnecting with a certain sense of self and belonging. Including those tales I grew up with of Agincourt, Dunkirk and my fathers own stories about D-Day and the liberation of Europe. My mother never really spoke of her evacuation from France after being kicked out of Italy when Mussolini declared war, but from all accounts she was evacuated in the early stages of operation Aerial, the sister operation to Dynamo at Dunkirk. These are things I am certain of. The collectivists cannot take that from me. They might as well try to stop the world turning.

To conclude this ramble I’d say each person within a nation, or as Desmond Morris described it in The Human Zoo a ‘Super Tribe’ has it’s own mythology, threads that bind all members as a group. Decry that set of ideas and you become no longer part of that grouping. Cast out. Alone. Subject to the attractions of dangerous iconoclastic totalitarian cults like Fascism, Marxism or Socialism. Which were ironically the very political forces that brought Dunkirk about.

Anyone else see the irony?

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Never work

Well there’s a probability that I will be dead before this piece of idiocy comes to pass and just as well. A proposed UK 2040 ban on sales of all Diesel and Petrol engined vehicles. Oh dear, there are so many things wrong with this proposal that I’m having trouble enumerating them all.

Now Diesel, yes, I can see the utility from that, given the ‘known’ link between Diesel fumes and cancer. Well, at least according to the most recent IARC report. Worse than smoking, by all accounts. But that’s by the by. But petrol and diesel? Hmm.

The problems with the proposed ban on internal combustion engines begins, as the source article says, with the necessary upgrades in generating capacity that going over to a predominantly ‘renewables’ based power grid as mandated by legislation will entail. When the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine there won’t be enough batteries in all creation to power the UK’s energy needs, especially if millions of electric vehicles are all plugged into the grid. Even if every spare hillside is covered in bird killing wind turbines. So investment in Nuclear seems like the obvious solution. Thorium seems the safest option, as the end product can’t be used for bombs. However, that technology need to mature. As for fusion? Well given the current rate of progress, that is at least fifty years away. Especially if the focus remains on the ‘bang in a bottle’ Tokamak based designs. Research has been focusing on that branch of technology since the 1960’s to my recollection, but the goal of sustainable nuclear fusion reactions remain just as far away.

The next issue is grid capacity. I haven’t actually done the sums but even a back of a fag packet guesstimate means that the UK grid will need at the very least triple the current infrastructure. Given twenty plus years, this isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility, however, expect lots of brown outs and power rationing. Then you can triple the number of pylons marching across the landscape. All the scenic views will be interrupted by cables and wind turbines. Don’t even mention hundreds of thousands of substation upgrades, and extra diesel powered backups. No, sorry, no more diesel backups. Everyone’s electrickery bill will be through the roof. Not to mention the price of everything because transport costs will rise as all those Diesel powered trucks which tow containers of food to supermarkets will go out of style.

Here’s my argument; there will be around 75-80 million people in the UK. This estimate is based on the demographic boomer dieback that is in progress. Yes, all those post 1940’s and 50’s born folk will be going away leaving fewer descendants and many more immigrants to pick up the slack. Incidentally, all that finger pointing and blame attribution (“It’s all the boomers fault!”) won’t do a spit of good when the following generations haven’t picked up the slack. So, a less productive population demanding more from Government and services. Including electricity. Which is going to be a bit of a bugger when Winter comes. Considering a lot of solar physicists are predicting global cooling from around 2030. There’s also a possibility that coal and wood stoves will get banned along with the ICE. People are going to have to learn to wrap up warm. Just like I had to do as a boy. And get used to walking a lot more. Used to do a lot of that, too.

As for all of the UK owning electric vehicles? Never work. Even an enhanced grid couldn’t take the strain of thirty plus million vehicles (Number of vehicles currently using UK roads) probably fifty by 2040, slurping an average of 17.6 kWh (Average) each for a 62 mile journey from the grid, every night. More if the daily commute is over 40 miles each way. More if owners (As they are wont to do) leave all their vehicles on charge when not in use. Even more if someone can make battery technology work for trucks. Although some form of diesel electric would work. Diesel running at peak efficiency to power generator and thus drive electric motors, like one of these. Although if you scroll down and read, the uphill and top speeds are hardly on a par with modern Diesel trucks. Very stylish though. But if diesels do get banned, what then?

I’m all for cleaner air, but you can’t eat it and it won’t keep you warm in Winter. Anyone got any better ideas than a ban?

Update: It seems that there are few good solutions to the particulates issue, although there are some interesting but economically non-viable Electric power devices being mooted.  The electric vehicles Achilles heel remains, after over a century of development and taxpayer dollar being thrown at it, range and refuel times.  Not to mention the generation capacity and infrastructure resilience of the supporting electricity grid.  No, I think the EV is doomed to remain little better economically speaking, than Lohner-Porsche’s 1900 model, The Baker 1901, Anderson’s models from 1907 and Edison’s 1912 attempt.  Source here.   Yes, the Hybrid concept goes back to the early 1900’s.

As for banning ICE powered vehicles; there is an idea that will be quietly dropped when EV’s fail, as they did around a century ago, to provide a viable alternative.

Corbyn is a moron

Winnipeg today. Just passing through and trying not to break our suspension. Only a relatively short hop, which means that I have the opportunity to catch up on what is going on in the old country. At least in terms of politics. I’ve been amused at the antics of the current Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and having watched his performances on TV and elsewhere have come to the following considered conclusion; he’s a fucking moron.

Whilst his ability to hang on as Labour leader inspires, if not wonder, then at least a kind of awe, Jeremy Corbyn does not come across as all that bright. Certainly from a Historical and Economic standpoint. Nor do those who think he’s some kind of towering intellect. Particularly as he seems determined to crash and burn the entire UK Labour party. Especially as he’s probably going to try and ‘purge’ Labour of the ideologically impure by insisting on mandatory reselection. A process which will allow embedded party activists to get rid of troublesome backbenchers who can’t be trusted to vote the party line and instead, the bastards, defy the sainted St Jeremy by voting against it. Those class traitors who have even talked of walking away and forming a new political party. Christ on a unicycle and juggling! It’s like listening to one of those room temperature IQ’s that make up the Socialist Worker’s Party.

Unilateral disarmament? When did Britain last try that? Me, sir, me sir, I know! I know! The 1930’s. Allowing the military build ups that led to World War Two. Peace in our time? Like hell.

All of the hard left policies he’s proposing are left wing failures dug up from a political time capsule from the 1940’s 60’s and 70’s. Nationalisation for one. What happened there? British Rail was a joke and a very bad one. British Coal and British Steel died long and painful deaths, sinking without trace (Apart from the name, British Steel, which has been reborn as a private concern) Oh and British Telecom, previously part of the GPO? We used to joke that their technicians retired the moment they qualified. 90 Day waiting lists to get a new phone put in were the industry standard in the 60’s and 70’s. That’s right, ninety days. Almost three months. British Leyland, later Rover? National Freight Corporation? Every single nationalised industry; fail, dead, fail, fail, dead. Mortis portalis tintaculum every single one. At least until sold off, restructured and recapitalised to emerge blinking and stammering into viable commercial life. Agriculture wasn’t nationalised because even Socialists can remember what happened to the Ukraine in the 1930’s.

Ah, then there’s ‘Soak the rich’ (Actually ‘tax the rich until the pips squeak’-aimed at those who speculated in property) a Labour policy that lasted less than a week after being announced in 1976. In the USA it was tried back in 1935, reinforced in 1937 due to tax evasion, but quietly dropped when all the smart money simply vanished from the US economy and went off to play where it was more welcome. Some of which almost certainly financed the rise of Fascist regimes during that time as a counterbalance to Bolshevism.

What lefties like Corbyn don’t seem to be capable of understanding is this simple truth; money is not a thing, it’s a process, the means of exchange, the very gasoline for the many everyday economic engines that keep people fed and paid. Simply confiscating it and spending it on non-functional unproductive parts of society is like cutting the fuel line of said metaphorical engines or draining their tanks. As the Venezuelans are finding, eventually the economy stops running, splutters, dies and you get riots in the streets. Money must flow to power the working economy. That is its function. I’m no towering intellect and even I understand this simple principle.

As Corbyn doesn’t understand any of the above, there is only one possible conclusion; he must be a moron. Quod Erat Demonstrandum. I rest my case, M’lud. Take away the fool, gentlemen. Or go with him to the garbage can of political history.

Icebergs and Vikings

Well there’s a turn up. I’ve seen my first iceberg. Only a grounded tide-rolled growler less than thirty metres across about a hundred metres offshore, but more than enough cold stuff to chill a million Martinis. Oh all right, officially it was a ‘Bergy bit‘ but it was cold and made of ice, so in my book it counts as an iceberg. So there. There’s actually a web site that tracks them, here. Cute or what?

Today we’ve sighted enough ice to keep Vancouver nicely chilled and am still blown away by the sedate blue green majesty of these berg cast offs. On the way back to our hotel we saw a Catalina PBY on display. Right in the middle of a tiny Newfoundland town. And the two Moose on the roadside. One of which stayed still long enough to let Mrs S catch it’s image before doing a lolloping high step into the brush and swamp at the roadside. Pictures will follow as soon as we’re home to my photo-editing software.

Well this is the area first settled by Northern Europeans in the 10th Century AD. At least the first evidence thereof. Other suspected sites have been found further North on Baffin Island and South at Rosee Point, Newfoundland. Indeed, Norse sagas specifically describe three lands; Helluland (Baffin Island) Vinland (Newfoundland) and Markland (Labrador). And if you read this article, a 10th century Norse coin was found at a North American Indian settlement as far back as 1957. Nineteen fifty seven? Sixty years ago and no one’s made a big deal out of it? Bloody hell. That’s like being told the Holy Grail actually exists and gets used as a toothmug by a Mrs E.Thrigg of Acacia Avenue, Watford, UK who picked it up at a bring and buy sale.

Mind you, I can see why the Vikings picked up and left after only a decade. This part of the world is a desolate place, despite Corner Brook & the northern tip of Newfoundland being rated as one of the most beautiful drives in Canada, at least according to the Canadian Book of Lists. Yeah, right. The bumper crop of potholes might put a crimp in that experience. We passed salt burned, stunted trees with blackened trunks, salt marshes and acres of rocks with little or nothing growing. I also hear tell the Norsemen kept on getting into spats with the local tribes over trade, so in the end the Vikings simply called it a day and buggered off back to Iceland and Greenland. Why? Because even in June it’s cold as a witches tit up here in the Northern finger of Newfoundland, with piles of snow still hanging around from Winter, even after solstice.

While I was asking some of the locals about why it was so unseasonably cold and damp, some elderly woman opined, quite seriously, that it must be caused by ‘global warming’. Sorry, but I almost laughed out loud. Some people are so brainwashed and ignorant that they’re inadvertently quite funny. Especially when the there’s more ice in the bay than usual. So tomorrow we’re doing like the Vikings did. Getting the hell out to warmer climes and stuff the scenery.

Bear fifteen

Another Black Bear sighted legging it across the road a scant two hundred metres ahead of our speeding metal box in of all places, Newfie-land. Or rather Newfoundland. A spectacular place in the early morning light. At present drying out like an old time British rail sandwich, but not quite curling at the edges.

Crap overnight ride in on the ferry with no air conditioning. Even in our cabin we almost found it too hot to sleep. The weather has turned summer in a single day, as it is wont to do in this part of the world. The air heavy, like warm wet silk on your skin. So much so that after the morning fog lifts it’s almost suffocating. Scenery a bit like the nicer parts of the north west of Scotland. With even less habitation and warmer weather, at least in Summer.

Watching the UK news in the comics can make you shake your head in despair. Buildings with cheap ‘green’ insulation going up in flames, all to save two squid a square whatever. So much for eco-friendly, eh? Not the Tories fault, more the housing association and local functionaries from what I can make out. Shonky upgrades made the building vulnerable, so with Grenfell the worst has happened. Rather like with Ronan Point in the 60’s.

This is the thing about the state taking responsibility for more and more. Eventually you get total wankstains like Corbyn blaming the party in power for anything and calling for a ‘coup’ just days after his party failed to gain an electoral majority. Oh the faux-outrage, oh the virtue signalling, oh the posturing. Makes you want to vomit.

On the BREXIT front, the Brussels mafia have scented blood in the water and are going to offer less acceptable terms from their kamikaze negotiating team. Seriously, if May hangs on in there and is forced into a ‘Hard’ or no deal pull out, the EU will be hurt ten times as much as the UK. But that won’t matter to the Eurocrats. Their global ambitions have been snubbed and pride wounded by the rebellious Brits, so they want to punish those perfidious albionites. Someone should remind them about the meaning of a pyrrhic victories. Frankly the story is this; in the case of a ‘hard’ BREXIT the UK can simply set up shop as a free market and offshore banking haven right on Europe’s doorstep and the money will flood in. If Madame Tracey has the guts to do it. Short term pain, long term, big gain.

As for that bloke from Wales giving back what has been dealt out by radical Islamists, like the radical Islamists he went for the entirely wrong target. Colour me un-surprised. The radical Islamists take it out on UK civilians and everyone acts all surprised when there’s a backlash? Don’t they understand the nature of the native British? Britain, like most European nations, is a seething pot of low level resentment. Give them enough of a sting and they’ll turn on you. Of course running down people in the street was a stupid act, but so were the terrorist attacks that gave him the idea. Quid pro quo, Clarice. Quid pro quo, said he in his best Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter impersonation.

The remedy of course is in the hands of ordinary Muslims. They must be more active and vocal in outing the radicals. Same as any other minority group must be. Disown the radicals publicly, turn in the crazies to plod and in turn assimilate. Which means no more calls for ‘Sharia’ law etc, if they want to live under that regime there are plenty of hard line Muslim states to move to, or they will burn in the resulting inferno. And that fire will burn worse than Grenfell Tower.

The rewards for assimilation are great; the penalty for irritating a host population greater. Hey, but I’m just a blogger. An over fifty with a keyboard and a set of hard formed opinions. No one’s going to bother to listen to someone like me who bothers to read history and has seen a lot of this stuff before.

Stuff it. This morning we’re off northbound to the turnaround point on this epic road trip. Into the land of Northern Lights, trees, sea and yet more Bears. Of which, in the words of Otto Hairybreeks, Skald to Leif Ericcsson when they first set up in this neck of the woods; “But boss, there’s bugger all here but Cod and Skraelings, and too much seafood brings me out in a rash.” Ericcsson’s reply is not recorded.

Interesting times

My, my. We do live in interesting times. Niall Ferguson argues in his “Five ingredients for a populist backlash” talk about why we are where we are using history, from 1873 onwards;

While he doesn’t give any definitive answers, he does give a broad brushstroke picture of what will result. Which for small time investors and currency speculators like me are useful straws in the wind. I like Niall, he’s not afraid to admit when he gets it wrong, especially over BREXIT. Unlike so many others in academia.

What I’m hearing about is political and economic forces similar to those which resulted in ‘la Belle Epoque’. There will be a few hiccups along the way, but as the EU collapses because that organisation is correctly observed to be little better than a hollow bureaucratic shell to fund lavish lifestyles for European ‘elites’. I foresee a new, more localist optimism driving economic growth, and the fading of many bugaboos like the anti-human notions of man made climate change and similarly pointless divisiveness of identity politics. A new liberalism of less government, greater individualism and wealth awaits over the next decade or two for those who are willing to embrace this nascent trend. Those that do not face obscurity and the scratching pens of scholars trying to work out how ‘progressive’ politics got it so badly wrong. The ‘elites’ amongst them. Word is leaking out that they’re beginning to lose big, and like Soros and his ilk, are doubling down on political interventionism while billions leak out of their back pockets.

There’s a lot going on out in the big wide financial world with talk of Marine Le Pen’s bid for the French Presidency and possible ‘FREXIT’ vote. Not to mention the possible Italian ‘Uscitalia’ (Thanks Peter) I’ll also be keeping a close eye on the proposed Catalonia referendum vote scheduled for late 2017. As well as the Chinese doing a possible deal with the US over Alaskan oil. Which will spell yet more pain for the politically hobbled Alberta oil sands. Which are some of the reasons why I’ll be going short on the Euro and Canadian Dollar but long on the US Dollar and Sterling.

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.