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June, 2012:

Oh God, not again!

 Following on from the spectacular successes of our interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Egypt, it is now reported we have troops in Syria* (sic).  What the fuckety-fuck?  Who the hell in their right mind thinks this is a good idea or anything at all to do with us?


If true, just about everything is wrong with this.  First off, there is no actual vote in parliament, just a few tossers sitting in Downing Street** sending people to their deaths and of course to kill others.  Then there is the small matter of yet more meddling to no good purpose.  Can we possibly afford to become embroiled here? Can we honestly object when some third party starts unilaterally meddling and let’s be honest, killing in our country if we do so in theirs?    


And last but not least there are reports of Syrian tanks massing on the Turkish border to repel any Turkish attack; meanwhile the Saudis are apparently on high alert to occupy Jordan and parts of Southern Syria as some kind of safe zone.  This is almost certain to piss the Russians off in the extreme (this is how the Syrians got the Turkish jet, with modern AA missiles supplied by Moscow).  And the Iranians are more or less certain to wind up the militias in Southern Iraq to have a crack at the Saudis destabilising them.


So with this utter nightmare possibly about to kick off what are the UK media reporting?  The news that Tom and Katie are to divorce. 


No, really.    


*   Hat tip to the redoubtable Trooper Thomson for the website link. 


** I find it almost impossible to believe that of troops have been deployed, the PM did not authorise it.

Two World Wars and One World Cup (and the Americans).

This is a gem of idocy from Walter Ellis of the Telegraph…

Most of the world, China now included, views football as the number one team game. You had only to turn on your television or pick up a newspaper in England’s final days in Euro 2012 to realise that, for the English, beating the Germans at Wembley in 1966 was at least as important as beating them at El Alamein in 1942.

Generations of Brits have grown up with only the haziest notion of who the heroes of the Second World War might have been. But they know who made the grade in 1966[...]

So, basically, a Russian* linesman and some footballers are of greater macrohistorical importance than Monty and the 8th Army… Well, it’s a new take I guess. I suspect it ought to be on Michael Gove’s new O-Levels or something. Or maybe taught at Sandhurst. Along with penalty kicks. Perhaps we ought to challenge the Taliban to a game of footie? I mean they are honourable men (so The Khazi thinks) and shall surely abide by the result. we could even use that same stadium they used to hang people from the goal posts! Home fixture for them – they can’t complain – but no IEDs around their penalty box – that would not be sporting!

I despise with every fibre of my being any attempts to equate sport and war. This was the nadir of course…

And they, “Think it’s all over…” The British press clearly don’t – still. Perhaps the fact that too many people here regard a football match as morally equivalent to a battle (and a battle long ago) is why we have done so badly at footie for so many years. Either that or we field a collection of over-paid prima-donnas who aren’t that good really. Yeah, that might be it too.

The gist of the article though is about sport in the USA and suggests an insularity about sporting attitudes in the USA which is just not true and an insularity about Mr Ellis which is true. Basketball is a truly global sport, baseball widely played. Ellis skates over ice-hockey because I think even he knows it can hardly be seen as a US only game. I mean has he ever spoken to, say, a Russian of Finn or Canadian? He has silly things to say about golf, tennis and motor-racing as well. He ignores things like the gee-gees and swimming, running, jumping and chucking stuff in order embarrassing his own incorrect thesis.

Ellis is basically talking utter rot and nasty rot at that. He claims football is more important than titanic battles and gets snidey about the “fatness” of baseball players as well as strongly implying US xenophobia. Oh, he’s pulling all the Little Englander levers isn’t he? Is it just me or is The Telegraph really going into a death-spiral locked in mortal struggle with The Mail for the most Blimpish of Middle England?

And to write that a couple of days before The Queen unveils the RAF Bomber Command memorial is unforgivable. Ellis and his masters at The Telegraph ought to be utterly ashamed of themselves.

*Actually an Azeri.

What is the foreign office for?

 I ask this as a serious question because I am genuinely unclear.  I understand that in the days of empire, the politicos might have enjoyed pointing gunboats at small nations and battle fleets at larger ones.  But that’s more or less over.  Nowadays we just seem to scurry along to whatever dump the UN or NATO or the Yanks want to send us to. 


Well what about consular assistance?  I don’t have much experience of this; all I see are adverts telling us not to break the laws in foreign countries because you are, more or less on your own.  Don’t even start me on the asymmetric nature of the extradition agreement between Britain and the USA. 


Travel advice?  This is usually mindlessly obvious.  Just look at any one of half a dozen news websites and decide for yourself whether or not it is safe to go there.  Hint ~ Afghanistan, bad; France, kinda Gallic snooty but okay.  You get the point. 


Foreign aid is now widely recognised as destructive to the recipient countries and we don’t have any spare money anyway, so it can’t be that, (although I accept both the politicians who give it and the politicians who receive it benefit personally to an enormous degree, possibly why it doesn’t die a natural death).


So it must be a credible and intelligent foreign policy to ensure stability and friendly relations with countries in strategically important areas?


Well I’ve been off the radar for a week and I came back to SKY news doing a very friendly clip of the Syrian rebels.  They were more or less a rag-tag bunch of AK waving, masked men chanting Allah-Akbar.  I am unclear how cheer-leading for this crew is in some way better than having Assad in power?  Elsewhere I see the Muslim brotherhood elected in Egypt; can anyone imagine any problems with that?  Wouldn’t Mubarak have been a bit more friendly?  In Libya we helped bomb-out a thoroughly tamed Gaddafi and have replaced him with a group of unknown thugs who desecrate British war graves and in Afghanistan, after ludicrous and thoroughly unaffordable costs, plus many deaths, we have the electoral fraudster Karzai heading up a temporary cleptocracy, almost certain to collapse into anarchy come tribal rule about ten minutes after we leave.  The destruction of the Iraqi ba’ath party and the Taliban in Afghanistan has annihilated the two serious challengers to Iran’s military supremacy in the region and Iran itself is no way more confident and influential than before.  And it’s not even like we are consistent.  The machine-gunning of unarmed demonstrators calling for democracy in Qatar by Saudi security forces goes more or less unremarked upon.


So really, is it time to close the book on the FCO?        

Something for the weekend…

This is awesome…

This is 55kV of tamed lightning…

I gotta build a Tesla Coil.

“Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers. Lightning, my pilot, sits; In a cavern under is fettered the Thunder.”

- Percy Shelley.

Alan Turing

Today would be Alan Turing’s 100th birthday. Alas it never transpired. He died in still debatable circumstances when he was in his prime. Was he a great pure mathematician? Yes, I’d put him almost as high as Gödel and that is like comparing a footballer to Pele. Both of course were not normal men. Turing had some fairly odd ideas and Kurt Gödel starved to death. Gödel was paranoid and refused to eat any food not prepared by his wife, then his wife died. Now Gödel was a nutter. Perhaps everyone who scales such (literally) infinite heights is going to be a bit unusual. It is hard to say what killed Turing. It has entered the popular consciousness that he was a sort of gay martyr (the statue of him in Manchester is in the gay village and not where it ought to be – in front of the University) and this is possibly true. He was convicted of “gross indecency” for having sex with another man. If there is a great villain here it is the law. My understanding is Turing had sex with Arnold Murray in his own home in Wilmslow and it all came out when he reported a burglary by his shagging partner. I fail to see how anyone can be “indecent” in their own home.

But it is possible the cyanide coated apple was a mere mistake. It has been mooted. Certainly Turing (a pure mathematician not schooled in lab discipline) was new to the game. And trust me as a physicist I have worked with lethal things and I wouldn’t trust a mathematician in my lab. Mainly those lethalities were in the sense of serious voltages and radioactive stuff and not any biohazard or poison*. So maybe? Who knows! Who cares! I am typing this on a Lenovo S205. That is what matters. It is certainly possible that the female hormones Turing was ordered to take after his conviction that caused him to grow breasts outraged him because he was also verging on being a world-class long-distance runner or following his conviction (not unrelated to the Cambridge spies) he lost his security clearance (for being gay – unlike the Cambridge spies he was not a KGB agent, just gay) or even the fact he was only a reader at Manchester because the security about Enigma/Lorenz had left a “black-hole” in his career. A fundamental thing here is that we were moving from Empire at the time and gave as a parting gift Enigma machines we’d snicked from the Germans but we didn’t want them to know we could break the code. Sneaky? Brilliant! But it meant nobody involved with Station X or Ultra got the credit. You can compare and contrast with Manhattan. Of course that was for obvious reasons much harder to keep on the QT.

There are people who define centuries. Roughly the Stephensons defined the C19. The C20th was invented by Nikola Tesla. Our time belongs to Turing. If you are reading this you are reading this on a Turing Machine. Much the same as the Turing machine I am writing this on. I got my first Turing machine (a 48K Speccie) in 1984. I felt like a king – I had a computer and they had been huge things maintained by fit librarian-type birds in lab-coats with clip-boards and owned by Bond villains in Mao suits and cats. I wrote a game even – it was very poor – but hell’s buggery – I wrote a game! I learned maths and drew fractals from outlines of programs from Scientific American my Dad nabbed from work. Alan Turing made it so. The game BTW was called “Orc Fighter” and was truly dreadful.

So fill your cups for Alan Turing. He made us. We have a category here called “Transformative Technologies”. Turing is certainly up there. He is up there with George Stephenson and the Wright Brothers. He is there in the pantheon with Tesla and Newton. And I don’t say that about many folks.

*My final university experimental project was… Well I built a magnetometer out of bits. It worked down to very few fractions of a Tesla. Nano Tesla I think. It annoyed some profs because I had proven data of car movements in the car park… Not everyone was actually clocking in or out at time. But that was not my original scheme. Oh, no I wanted to play with magnetotactic bacteria as a model for certain solid state systems. Three problems. A budget of GBP35, the fact these buggers come from New England swamps and thirdly nobody in the physics department having the slightest idea on the H&S issues. The magnetometer was built in the end with scavenged parts for about a tenner. God knows what happened to it.

Thanks Fred!

This morning I stumble out of bed and out the house to buy some ciggy-wigs. Upon my return my wife has found a jiffy-bag from Suffolk pushed through the letterbox (which by the way is like Arkwright’s till. It contains some CDs and a letter from commentator Fred Thrung (not his real name)). So thanks Fred! This is what I shall do. I shall attempt to fix the XP system. If that goes pear shaped I shall do a clean re-install by also by the means of the disk. I shall appoint a HD with XP on it and use that to access the drive with like all my wife’s stuff (including billing details!) and then re-install the full caper including Office. Thanks again Fred! As every computer I build is builded Raskolnikov doesn’t have a single drive so that ought to be doable. It will mean crawling under a desk with a posidrive and trying not to ingest dust-bunnies but that is my life. And I love it. Oh, I complain (of course I do!) but I love it. To me the most beautiful sound in the world is the Windows opening jingle because it means my work is done and I can watch Doctor Who.

Machines I have built:

First was Urania (there was also Urania II and I think III – Urania I died from the click of death a fault common to IBM drives of the time), a computer for my father in law (forget the name – not his name!), then Thalia (a stormer with twin WD RAID Raptors that set the fucking twilight reeling – she sounded like a form of apocalypse – it was fast as the cunting fuck) Calliope and Astarte and ultimately, via ifs and buts, Hekate – aka “The Deathstar” – faster than any cunting fuck imaginable this side of tachyons (I pity iPad users – I really do – the suckers of Steve’s mummified Jobby that they are). And so many others… They all have names (mainly classical and female – you grokked my trend?) and they all exist. They are the best of me. They are what I do when I am at my best. The rest of the time I’m a grumpy git railing against half-wits like Ed Balls or Michael Gove but sometimes I build things that count. I build universal machines and give them classical names because they deserve it. I dare not name a machine “Alan” though if I do be very afraid. Because if I dare build an “Alan” it will have to make HAL-9000 look like a pocket calculator.

Anyway, cheers Fred. It has not gone unoticed that was Special Delivery.

PS. My wife is delighted! She reckons you a capital fellow.

Caption Competition of the Week.

Friendship: The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader also urged Charles to carry on his work

Get stuck in y’all, you know you want to! Smile

The State of Independence

No, not the song.

I like to keep an occasional eye on the local anti-fracking activists.  One particular group, Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF – featured here) puts a lot of store in what an engineer called Michael Hill has to say about regulating the fracking industry.  Since these activists are comfortable with the notion that a suitable go to person on fighting Big Frack is an ex-BBC journalist now working for Al Jazeera, I wondered about the provenance of Michael Hill.  Here is what RAFF have to say about him.

Mike Hill is an independent engineer, with drilling experience, who has been Technical Advisor to RAFF since last year. Those of you who have been to any of our public meetings will have heard him speak on the lack of any regulatory framework surrounding the shale gas industry.  He has also answered numerous technical questions that we all have as we try to get to grips with fracking technology.

A grass roots group with its very own technical advisor?  Well it’s not unknown.  He is obviously held in high esteem by the group because they seem to promote his views on fracking industry regulation and safety at every opportunity.   I don’t have much of a problem with that providing regulations are rational and practical rather than oppressive and over-precautionary.  What interests me about Mr. Hill is that he has drilling experience yet he has become the technical advisor to a bunch of post modern Luddites.  So who is Michael Hill and what does he know that we don’t?

Michael Hill B.Sc. C.Eng. MIET.

Chartered Electrical Engineer

Ex-oil and gas (wireline and seismic)

Fylde Borough Council Technical Advisor to Task and Finish Group Shale Gas

Local resident in the key U.K. shale gas zone

Fylde Borough Council has apparently appointed an activist for a shale gas technical advisor?  No conflict of interest there then.  He’s also a local.  He styles himself as an independent expert who commenced an investigation into shale gas regulation in the UK in December 2010.  Here is what he has to say about his independent status.

Self funded to remain independent. Cost is presently approx. £17K. Passionate I am. Study has told me what regs are needed and how it should be implemented.

Mr. Hill has dipped into his own pocket to the tune of seventeen thousand pounds in order to fund his investigation.  Passionate indeed.  Unfortunately he doesn’t give a breakdown on how the seventeen grand was spent.  He has been busy though.

On what basis: Freedom of Information Act responses (FOI), site trips, meetings, speaking at conferences, letters, mails and calls.

With the DECC, EA, HSE, BGS, Cuadrilla and Select Committee – DECC, IGEM, United Utilities, Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering

Mr. Hill’s main area of concern in his report seems not to be micro-earthquakes but rather the disposal of flow-back fracking fluid and the risk of aquifer contamination.  These are sensible concerns.  His main target appears to be the government rather than Cuadrilla, the company who owns and runs the Preece Hall fracking rig at Singleton.  He wants what he views as lax government practices tightened up and lists the areas of most concern to him.

8 site inspections all unannounced in 12 months – changed to 8 site inspections – all announced.

Taking Mr. Hill at his word, spot checks are not really spot checks if you tell the checkee you are going to pay them a visit.  Given the fear and suspicion surrounding fracking, being too close to Cuardrilla is not the best way to put the minds of locals at ease.

Fracking chemicals missing off ‘determinand’** list.

It would have been helpful if Mr. Hill had listed the chemicals he claims are missing from the determinand list.

No verification of quantity of flow back water (even though it is subject to a permit)

I do not know enough about this issue to comment.  I can say, though, that so far the borehole has been fracked twice, the last frack being over twelve months ago.  Drilling came to a standstill to allow a British Geological Survey investigation into the cause of the micro-earthquakes.  Cuadrilla has since been busy installing seismic sensors all over the Fylde.

Water found to be 10 – 90 times EA*** max permissible limit. Permit required since 1/Oct/2011.

I’m not sure what Mr. Hill is trying to say.  First he claims there was no verification and now he’s saying it’s grossly over the permitted limit. Ten to ninety times the maximum permissible limit is vagueness on steroids.   Either the figures exist or they do not.  Mr Hill does not supply evidence within the report to underpin his claim.  Guesstimating, which this appears to be, isn’t an acceptable substitute for verifiable facts.

RIA**** now required. Assessed dose to receptors accounting for accident.

Clearly Mr. Hill is at odds with DECC (Dept. of Energy & Climate change), the EA, H&SE and Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all who decided a RIA was not warranted.  Perhaps he’s right.  Perhaps he isn’t.

Recycling of flowback – illegal (London) – not clear – Preston.

United Utilities will be supplying the water required to frack the Preece Halle borehole.  Presumably they will ultimately be responsible for the disposal of the contaminated flow-back fluid.  It seems that Mr. Hill is uncertain whether or not the flow-back can be legally recycled in the North West rather than stored as non-recyclable hazardous waste.  Why he feels it pertinent to mention London is anyone’s guess since it is hardly likely the flow-back will be trucked all the way to the Big Smoke thus leaving a big fat hazardous waste contract going begging oop t’north.  Mr. Hill has time and resources, perhaps he should press UU harder for an answer?

Resource issues – Coping with any ramp up in number of wells in Lancashire.

An issue that certainly needs addressing.  Not so much supply of water but the safe disposal of millions of gallons of flow-back.

So Mr. Hill appears to be a philanthropist prepared to spend his own money collating information for a report in the name of safety.  Seventeen thousand pounds in two years is a lot of money.  Clearly Mr. Hill is comfortably off.  I certainly wouldn’t be able to dip into my pockets so deeply, not even for a cause so close to my heart.  Neither could anyone I know.  Mr. Hill promises to:

…continue as an independent engineer to push for regulation.

RAFF were very lucky to find him.

What’s that I hear you say?  Am I going soft on anti-technology greenies Scammelling up our energy security?

Nah, of course not.

Most people who have money to burn and want to push for regulation tend to lobby the government directly.  Or, if they are in a hurry, bung enormous bribes at corrupt politicians.  I’m cynical enough to wonder if Mr. Hill has an angle so I went trawling but where to start?  At the foot of each page of the report is © Michael Hill – GCAL.  GCAL could refer to Glasgow Caledonian University.  It also refers to this.

Gemini Control and Automation Ltd (GCAL) make bespoke filters for industrial centrifuges – Heinkel centrifuges in particular.  This company is based in Lytham, not a million miles from Preece Hall.  One of the uses for Heinkel centrifuges is in the fracking industry, specifically servicing flow-back.  By amazing coincidence a bloke called Mike Hill is associated with Gemini Control and Automation Ltd.

Well knock me down with a filleted kipper!

It’s possible that Michael Hill B.Sc. C.Eng. MIET has no connection with Gemini. If he is not associated with this GCAL then I apologise in advance for thinking him less of a philanthropist and more of a mercenary.  I also apologise to Gemini in advance if this is nothing more than a very weird coincidence.

However, if Michael Hill B.Sc. C.Eng. MIET is indeed Mike Hill of Gemini Control and Automation Ltd I can only speculate about why he is playing technical advisor to an anti-fracking pressure group and lobbying government for more regulation. Any resulting regulation will have the potential to give a niche market company like Gemini a handy advantage if fracking takes off on a commercial scale and centrifuges are used to process back-flow.  As for his independent status, if we are dealing with one and the same person, it begs a leading question regarding where the money for the report is coming from.  Is Mr. Hill using his own private funds for the sole purpose of promoting safety in the fracking industry (honourable) or is the money coming out if a company slush fund in the hope the company might gain future benefit if Mr. Hill is successful (Machiavellian)?  Or maybe something in between?

Now don’t get me wrong.  I find the idea of an industrial company using a group of anti-fracking activists to drum up business for machinery that can be used to service the fracking industry both creative and amusing.  What I don’t find so amusing is the possibility that this same company may be engaged in a strategy to lobby for new regulations that will affect the whole industry, using a greenwash veneer to impress the morons at DECC, in anticipation of expanding its order books.  Would Mr. Hill be as keen to open his wallet if he worked for/owned a company that manufactured electrical domestic appliances?

Is this all a coincidence?  I don’t know.   The circumstantial evidence suggests…well what do you think?

**A determinand is a substance that may be or is known to be hazardous to health or the environment – usually associated with the water industry

***Environmental Agency

****Regulatory Impact Assessment: The role of a RIA is to provide a detailed and systematic of the potential impacts of a new regulation in order to assess whether the regulation is likely to achieve the desired objectives. The need for RIA arises from the fact that regulation commonly has numerous impacts and that these are often difficult to foresee without detailed study and consultation with affected parties. Economic approaches to the issue of regulation also emphasize the high risk that regulatory costs may exceed benefits. From this perspective, the central purpose of RIA is to ensure that regulation will be welfare-enhancing from the societal viewpoint – that is, that benefits will exceed costs. RIA is generally conducted in a comparative context, with different means of achieving the objective sought being analysed and the results compared. [Wiki]


I’m in a bit of schtuck. I need…

A CD of Windows XP (both of mine are scratched beyond recovery) and I would like Office 2000/2003/2007. Obviously with keys. Much love will exude from me to anyone able to provide either.

Now, I know this is strictly speaking illegal but I simply haven’t been able to buy these items legally. I am strictly legal otherwise. Vista, Win 7, Linux etc.

Climate comprehension – you’re doing it wrong.

Brian is at it again.

The Prince of Wales has warned of the “catastrophic” consequences of inaction on issues such as climate change, at a UN sustainability conference in Brazil.

Trans:  Brian’s mummy failed to fall off her Thames barge and drown step down in favour of her idiot son rightful and deserving heir.  In the absence of gainful employment he’s going to continue making sure the lives of hoi polloi become as intolerable as possible by escalating actions to price them out of the essential living commodities market.  Meanwhile he’ll be doing all the things he’s insisting no one else should (and most can’t afford to) do – living in massive houses with humongous carbon footprints, flying around the world delivering sanctimonious speeches, driving a fleet of grossly expensive, fuel guzzling cars and having an unhealthy interest in tampons (shome mishtake shurely? – Ed).  It’s what hypocrites do best after all.

Prince Charles said he had “watched in despair” at the slow pace of progress on the “critical issues of the day,” in a pre-recorded video address in Rio.

Obviously the issue of a fast paced growth demographic of Her Britannic Majesty’s subjects falling into fuel poverty and risking death by hypothermia during the next harsh winter (despite warmist insistence that snowy winters are a thing of the past) isn’t critical enough.  Meet your future monarch, folks.  He cares more about apocryphal global catastrophism and endangered slime molds than he cares about you.  Alternatively he could be as mad as a box of frogs on speed.  Or maybe both.


The government is going to save the economy, film at eleven.

 Or rather, the government had decided there is a problem in that small businesses are struggling to gain access to capital.  Certainly the people I talk to seem to confirm this.  Therefore something must be done.  This is something.


We must therefore, do it.


Yep, dear old Mervyn and George have decided to throw more cheap money at the banks in the hope that gets ‘em lending again and before you know it, everything will be tickety-boo.    


Only it won’t.  Just as the ill-fated project Project Merlin failed (centrally set targets not proving effective, who knew?), this to will no doubt be hailed a success, but in reality it is conceptually flawed from the very start.  Here’s why.


First, there is no confirmation where all this extra ‘liquidity’ will come from.  Either the bank/government will issue more bonds thereby pushing up our national debt still higher, or the magic money tree of QE will be visited again.  The traditional idea of banking whereby people defer consumption (in the form of savings) allowing capital to be allocated to investment rather than consumption seems to have been thrown away.  Of course, quite why anyone would save money in the bank at the moment when RPI is officially 3.5% (but probably in reality it’s a bit higher) and savings rates are barely in positive territory is unclear.


So straight away, there is the very clear chance of a misallocation of resources leading to the next boom/bust cycle.  Von Mises explained this one hundred years ago. 


Then the bank is apparent insisting that the retail and high street banks themselves bear the risk of all this lending, not the taxpayer.  This is doubly stupid.  Whilst it is reasonable in principle to ask people to bear the risks of their business decisions, the tax payer IS on the hook for this because if the loans go bad it may well impact on the liquidity or even solvency of some of the weaker banks, and they won’t be allowed to go bust after all the bailouts so in effect we are back to moral hazard again. 


Finally, along with the new liquidity ratios, it seems not to have occurred to anyone that whilst the government is hoovering up about £12B a month of credit, it is simply crowding out the small business sector.  If you were a banker, would you lend to a small company or a large government with coercive powers to extract money from anyone at will?   


What George should do is announce no more QE ever, sack the MPC and let the market decide what rates should be and slice about £12B a month off the national budget, (thus no more borrowing) thereby freeing up the banks to lend to wealth producing commerce again.  And no, this does not “take money out” of the economy, it simply allows it back into the productive sector of the UK.


Sadly there is no chance of this and the cycle of recession, dopey policy announcement, more recession and more bailout seems doomed to continue.  But it can’t continue for ever; the end is coming for fiat cash and the debt-financed government and sooner than our masters realise. 

Don’t tell him Pike!

Why do I feel in my water that this is only a quarter of the story?

“Whistle while you work

Hitler is a twerp

He’s half barmy, so’s his army

Whistle while you work

Well that got Private Pike in trouble with the Thought Police, the German thought police circa 1940.

Being a pre watershed massively popular British comedy programme the above rhyme was substituted for the real one which my parents and grandparents happily sang even as German bombs were raining down on them in London, Cardiff, Coventry, Bath, Bristol, Manchester Birmingham and Glasgow, causing death and destruction on a scale not witnessed in the British Isles since the Norman Invasion. And the original ditty, sung to the tune of Colonel Bogey was…

Hitler only had one ball

Goering had two but very small

Himmler has something similar

But poor old Goebbels had no balls at all!

That is British wit and grit, laughing in your face even when you are sticking a bayonet into our guts!

But now we mustn’t mention the War because we might offend the old Aggressors! Well let’s be honest here, Germany, France and Italy have airbrushed their history so thoroughly, kids today in those countries (and even ours for chrissakes!) might not know that WW2 ever happened, or if they do (exclusive reference to Nazis = evil not Soviets = evil, they wuz our allies right?) they will never be told their various Nation’s less than salubrious part in it, and think it was a European Civil War, and all a bit of an unfortunate misunderstanding. No it wasn’t, it was a deliberate insane invasion by one country (Germany) that had only been a unified country since 1870, but suddenly believed they were destined to be rulers of the world. Until Germany can look that straight in the face, then there is really no redemption for them.

So back to Haworth and the WW2 re-enactment  Society, for that is what the unfortunate thin skinned delegates from Hamm twinned with Bradford encountered, just doing their own thing re-enacting, oblivious to their presence. They were not “greeted” at all!  Did the Germans come for the re-enactment  or for the other, and much more obvious reason that everybody else has gone there, including me, being home of the Bronte sisters?

A few years ago, the wife and I took a cottage for a week in Haworth. We were 2 minutes walk from the Bronte vicarage and ten from the Heathcote moors. There were already bloody loads of Windmills on the hills and it was all very far from romantic at all, being in the main quite industrialised in a low key way since the late 1890’s

We were woken every morning around 5 am by the dawn chorus, not of Nightingale and thrush, starling or Robin, but busloads of Japanese tourists warming up their cameras and clearing their throats. The Japanese seem to have an utter passion for the Brontes! Even the bloody signposts in Haworth are bilingual, and the main other is Japanese. Deliberately offensive? What Haworth!

London, prepare to become the laughing stock of the Universe.

We knew it was going to be Naff didn’t we? From the very moment the London bid was successful, we here at CCIZ have been putting the boot into the Glorified School Sports Day that is the London Olympics. From the massive public money overspend, the fact that 90% of the sports wouldn’t exist without sponsorship and subsidy, because no-one would pay to see them without all this goddam fuss, to the Zil lanes, and the clusterfuck transport chaos, right down to the rocket batteries on the roofs of council flats.

But at least we thought we might get the opening ceremony right. After all we are good at Ceremony and Pageant  aren’t we? Irrespective of how many medals we win, we Brits can put on a Spectacular better than anyone else on Earth.

Remember the Beijing Olympics 4 years ago? Heh! we would piss all over that eh?

Nope. What we are getting is One Man and His Dog, The Archers on ice, a bucolic vision of our Green and Pleasant land that has either long past or never existed. And boy doesn’t it look like it will move well? Sheep shearing contest anyone, or something more arrestable?

There is going to be Glastonbury Tor down one end of the arena, minus the ruined by earthquake church on top, a worldwide icon that is easily recognised, so why has Danny Boyle substituted an Oak tree instead? Absolutely no idea except it may be a sop to our multi cultural society, Christians being in a distinct minority these days in the good  old UK. Don’t want to offend anyone (you know who) do we?

But you know what? I think this is not so much a vision of our Green and Pleasant Past , but a vision of our future, and fairly immediate future at that, when the lights go out in good old England. Danny is being cool and prescient here! This is supposed to be the LONDON Olympics, LONDON the most magnificent wonderful inventive and creative city on the face of the Earth. But maybe he thinks it’s going to have cows and sheep roaming it soon? Oxcarts instead of 4X4s, row me down the river instead of riding a silver bird into the stratosphere and foreign climes.

Well Broadsword to Danny Boyle… Broadsword to Danny Boyle… Stick this utter crap up your arse and give us back the Commission money!

You don’t need their blessing

I kinda feel the need to apologise for this one. I don’t watch TV news programs very much these days, nor much TV at all come to that, but I happened to walk past the TV when Mrs SAoT was watching SKY news.

Now if it’s lightweight, fluffy dross you want, SKY news is your thing. There are some decent correspondents ~ Tim Marshall in particular on the foreign affairs stuff is very competent and one or two of their defence analysts aren’t bad, but the studio presenters ~ oh dear. The morning show has the generic cliché blonde airhead and Eamonn Holmes. I think Viz have an interesting take on him.

Anyway, they do newspaper reviews (news commenting on news?) with the publicity-seeking lightweight D-lister making comments of such inanity that to call them shallow vastly overstates their depth. They are kind of media pond-skimmers, never really breaking the surface, making no waves at all.

Today’s commentary was about the Church and gay marriage. The celeb, perhaps not wanting to bite the media hand that feeds him, was predictably in support.

First off, Mr celeb didn’t seem to think the bible had a position on gay relationships one way or the other. Now if you are going on TV to make some points, here’s a hint. Have at least a remote, sketchy grasp of what you are talking about. It makes you look a bit less the twat. It seems to me difficult to argue that the bible is silent on the issue. By all means point out inconsistencies, say they are metaphorical, allegories for a simpler age if you want, talk about Constantine and the Nicene creed if you must but know the basic text.

But more significantly, why on earth would gay people want the legally enforced (and therefore surely utterly meaningless) blessing of the established church? Personally, I couldn’t care two hoots of the church find Mrs SAoT’s Muslim faith makes me an infidel, or whether they regard me as unmarried in the eyes of God. If they don’t want to marry me, so be it, it’s their belief system, not mine.

I do not require their blessing, their validation or any forgiveness. They can damn me to hell for eternity if they see fit. Nor in fact do I need the approval of the state. I see the argument (such as it is) for equal treatment before the law, though such an argument is simply an argument demanding equality amongst tax slaves, but okay.

So guys really. You don’t need people who believe in highly unlikely bronze-age stuff to say you are okay. You don’t need the government either; they are just a gang of coercively violent criminals. Live the life you want to live in freedom and happiness, just don’t try to use state violence to coerce others into declaring they believe something which many of ‘em patently do not.

You are trying to replace discrimination with thought-crime if you do that. As my mum used to say “just ignore them”

Peter Hitchens – Miserable Sod.

Pop goes the Monarchy: The Queen listened to Paul McCartney – and I heard the end of the Royal Family

- So says Hitch.

The worst moment of all was the Buckingham Palace concert, where the poor Queen pledged allegiance to the vile new culture of talentless celebrity. Any institution that has to suck up to Grace Jones and Paul McCartney to get down with the kids has plainly lost the will to live.

Sir Paul McCartney and “getting down with the kids”. Where has Hitch been these past fifty years? Did he go into some form of stasis when Lord Reith retired? “The kids” parents weren’t born when the lovable Scouse mop-tops were first storming the charts. I would agree mind that Grace Jones hula-hooping was a bit odd but then Ms Jones is a bit odd – so what? Entertainers tend to be. Quite a fewer “classical” composers of yore were barking.

It is a measure of how bad things have got that Her Majesty has to pretend to like the cacophonous, semi-literate, musically trite rubbish that seems to have invaded almost every space in this country.I bet she loathes it, really.

But you don’t know do you Hitch? Or has the Mail hacked Her Majesty’s iPhone? As to the rest of Hitch’s tirade against popular music. Has he actually listened to any of it. Oh, and as an amusing aside does Hitch know the origin of the word “cacophony”? It was coined in a review of the premiere of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony.

Actually, though it is almost dangerous to say so, there are still quite a few people who actively dislike pop music, not just because of its ugly intrusiveness but also because of the sort of people who make it, and because of the message it ceaselessly spreads through millions of loudspeakers and millions of headphones clamped to millions of heads.

The sort of people! Wow!

Its songs are the hymns and anthems of the modern religion of The Self. Self-pity. Self-indulgence. Drugs. Loveless sex. They are the exact opposite of the Queen’s pledge, made on her 21st birthday in 1947, that ‘My whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service’.

That isn’t so much a shark-jump as a triple salko over a great white. And the comparison Hitch makes is bizarre. A pledge of allegiance is one thing. Pop music is just about fun. Get over yourself Hitch! You sound like some deluded quasi-feminist railing against pictures of models in Cosmopolitan.

I really do wonder how all the complacent commentators, who have praised the Monarch for trying to live up to this pledge, can square this with their equally gushing praise for the concert.

Oh Gods! Where to start…

The Britain celebrated last week was one which laughs at ideas such as duty and service, and which has jeered at the Queen for most of her reign precisely because she stands for these things – which it regards as stuffy and outmoded.

Only by treating her as a harmless, meaningless old granny, to be simultaneously indulged and ignored, can the Beatles generation bring themselves to clap along to a funky electric version of God Save The Queen. It’s them she needs to be saved from.

It goes on but I just can’t.

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