Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


I welcome your comments, so do please write. Please note however that all comments are moderated prior to publication. Whilst I fully appreciate that life can be frustrating, nevertheless, abuse, SMS language and illiteracy will not be tolerated!

Saturday 28 February 2009

The Pariah

I wish that I could find the words to express my disgust and loathing in connexion with the repulsive individual pictured below.

His well documented behaviour indicates that he is quite clearly mentally deranged - either that or he is not human.

"Dr" Robert Mugabe, the black Stalin (though not as bright) with another nasty-looking bum behind him
Picture: Daily Telegraph

Will no-one rid the world of this pustule? I am no hero, just a blogger, but if the USAF would care to lend me a "Predator" drone, I would cheerfully press the "button." even at the risk of "offending" his Chinese friends.

Until the next time.

Politicians? How I laugh at them

With bankers around the world being generally in bad odour as they are, probably correctly, being held responsible for the economic and financial crisis, there has arisen a superb opportunity for politicians to score, as they see it anyway, a few points.

A perfect example is that dour, unimpressive failure, British Prime Minister, Mr Gordon Brown. Mr P.G. Wodehouse wrote that "It is never difficult to distinguish between a ray of sunshine and a Scotsman with a grievance."

It is never difficult to distinguish between a ray of sunshine and Mr James Gordon Brown MP.

Given the staggering losses amassed by the Royal Bank of Scotland over the past year, and its subsequent "bail-out" by the British Government (taxpayer) Mr Brown is very upset that the erstwhile chief executive of the bank, Sir Fred Goodwin, is receiving a very large pension. Mr Brown, typically playing to the gallery, feels that Sir Fred is not entitled to this pension and says that he is investigating legal remedies to "claw back" Sir Fred's pension. Mr Brown , according to this BBC article, said "The behaviour in the Royal Bank of Scotland, where very substantial additional pension awards were given, is something that makes me angry and will make the public of the country angry," (playing to the gallery of course).

Sir Fred Goodwin
Picture: The Sun

Could this be the very same Mr Gordon Brown, who as Chancellor of the Exchequer, sold off a substantial part of Britain's gold reserves resulting in staggering losses for the country (i.e. the taxpayer)? And was it not Mr Brown who arranged matters such that the bankers were able to proceed with the risky practices that now (not in 2007...) attract such opprobrium? And how was this stupendous demonstration of incompetence punished? Why, they made him Prime Minister! If he is not a hypocrite, Mr Brown will no doubt understand when I state that I consider it entirely unacceptable that failure should be rewarded in this way and that I call on him to resign without delay and of course, sans pension.

Mr Spike Milligan of Goons fame once said "People in glass houses should pull the blinds before removing their trousers." Step forward Mr Brown - or on second thoughts, perhaps not.

A final word concerning Sir Fred and the bankers. During his time as chief executive, Sir Fred built up RBS into the world's fifth-largest bank; the bank was very profitable for some years. Sir Fred also built up a very large pension fund for himself, the last contribution to which, he claims, was authorised by the government last year. The pension fund is therefore Sir Fred's money. He will have used the money to buy an annuity. By what perverted interpretation of justice the government proposes to expropriate him of his personal assets I cannot imagine, but I should watch your wallets if I were you. And it is worth remembering that if Sir Fred pays standard UK income tax, the exchequer will receive something like £250,000 annually, just from the pension income.

Compare Sir Fred's career with that of the disastrous Lord Simpson. Simpson took over from Lord Weinstock as chairman of one of Britain's beacon success stories: GEC. Within five years his brilliant plans had turned this success story into a bankrupt ruin. No doubt he enjoys a fine pension still... (I am guessing but I'll bet I am correct!)

I hold no particular brief for bankers: whilst I accept that banks are necessary I consider them largely as robbers. Nevertheless, better ten Goodwins than one Brown (or Simpson!).

Until the next time

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Surveillance (Again) & Civil Liberties

Yes, we are back once again to the "Big Brother" stuff I am afraid; well after all, you didn't expect that THEY would forget about it I hope?
We begin with criticism from a high quarter of British Government policy. This story was reported last week by the BBC, and most interestingly for a certain type of conspiracy-theorist includes some quotations from Dame Stella Rimington who was head of Britain's internal intelligence service, MI5 from 1992 - 1996. Dame Stella accuses the British Government of exploitnig the fear of terrorism in order to restrict civil liberties; she is quoted also as saying:

"It would be better that the government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism - that we live in fear and under a police state."

Good for Dame Stella I say, based on these quotes, obviously a decent Briton in the best traditions of Englishness!

The article goes on to report a study carried out by the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ) and includes the following:

Former Irish president Mary Robinson, the president of the ICJ said: "Seven years after 9/11 it is time to take stock and to repeal abusive laws and policies enacted in recent years.

Next reported in The Register today we have the story that the "authorities" are becoming increasingly concerned about the privacy accorded to the criminal classes by such service providers as Skype, whose system of encryption prevents the "Blue Meanies" listening-in to communications. Something called Eurojust (obviously another over-staffed, over-paid and superfluous "Euro committee" of which, of course I am deeply suspicious) is apparently working on the issue. The following comes from the pîece:

Following a meeting with the authorities in Milan, Eurojust Italian rep. Carmen Manfredda said: "The possibility of intercepting internet telephony will be an essential tool in the fight against international organised crime within Europe and beyond. Our aim is not to stop users from taking advantage of internet telephony, but to prevent criminals from using Skype and other systems to plan and organise their unlawful actions."
"Eurojust will make all possible efforts to coordinate and assist in the cooperation between Member States," she added. ®

So in other words, the plan is presumably at vast cost, to establish another enormous organisation staffed by overpaid parasites whose job will be to record everything we say. I have of course, already reported the British Government's plans in this regard, here.
"Our aim is not to stop users from taking advantage of internet telephony" Well she would say that wouldn't she?

In summary, my usual complaint: Too much government, too many busybodies, far too much expense. The EU would be better off in these straitened times, investigating the staggering waste and corruption that prevails in its organisation - remember, at OUR expense.

Until the next time.

Sunday 22 February 2009

A Rare Occurrence

For the first time ever I have rejected a comment; this concerned my piece about Prince Harry.

As a comment, someone wrote "disgusting brit."

I have not rejected the comment because I disagree with the sentiment (which I do whether it concerns either the Prince or me).

I invite the individual, Mr/Mrs/Miss A.N. Onymous to read what I have to say about comments.

First offence is the lack of capitalisation; the second is the use of the appalling Provisional IRA expression: "Brit."

I will have none of it; as I wrote in the piece about the Prince, since it is not politically correct any longer to abbreviate "Pakistani" (or even "Japanese") I for one am not prepared to tolerate the abbreviation of "Briton."

Until the next time

Saturday 14 February 2009

Barack Obama and Winston S. Churchill

Today, the Associated Press has an article covering President Obama's success in getting the U.S. Congress to pass his $787 billion economic stimulus package.

The President is quoted as saying: "This historic step won't be the end of what we do to turn our economy around, but rather the beginning..."

Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph reports that President Obama has returned to the British Embassy the bust of Sir Winston Churchill (by Sir Jacob Epstein) that was loaned to President George W. Bush in 2001, the loan being extended for the duration of President Bush's second term in office.  The Telegraph article suggests that President Obama is more likely to draw inspiration from President Abraham Lincoln than from the former British Prime Minister and wartime leader.

The bust of Churchill by Sir Jacob Epstein
Image source: here

Now I cannot imagine that President Obama - or even any of his advisors - reads my blog (!) but I should like to use this platform to draw attention to a quote from Churchill (that so-frequently quoted man).  The quote comes from late 1942 following the second battle of El Alamein, in which British and British Empire and Commonwealth Forces commanded by General (later Field-Marshal) Montgomery defeated Generalfeldmarschall Rommel's Afrika Korps.  Churchill said of the victory: "This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Regardless of his feelings concerning Churchill, the President may wish to reflect on these words in regard to his economic stimulus package.

Until the next time.

Friday 13 February 2009

Please suggest a title!

Mr Geert Wilders. Source here

I am undecided so please suggest a title for this piece. Words that have occurred to me so far have been "cowards", "poltroonery", and "appeasers."

I am referring to the case where a democratically-elected Dutchman, Geert Wilders, was refused entry to the United Kingdom on the grounds that he might stir up trouble, because he has unfashionable views about Islamists. The Islamists showing their usual disregard for historical accuracy, or indeed any kind of accuracy, have labelled Mr Wilders a "fascist" which personally I do not believe he is. He has been accused of religious hatred. Actually whilst I wouldn't say I hate religion, I would be inclined to say that Religion of nearly every persuasion leaves me distinctly underwhelmed, based as it is on pathetic superstition. As the Marquis de Montaigne so wisely observed, "Man is truly stupid: he cannot make a worm, yet he creates gods by the dozen."

These events have shown the United Kingdom in a very poor light indeed - showing that there is a distinct lack of what the military used to call "moral fibre."

The Government in the form of Miss "Jacqui" Smith, Home Secretary, has been quick to criticise Mr Wilders. Unfortunately it is not long since the self-same government buckled under to the United States over the case of the British Guantanamo Bay prisoner , Binyam Mohammed who has said to have been been subjected to appalling torture with, if not the connivance of MI6, at least with the knowledge of two or perhaps more of its officers.

With this in mind, the British Government is in no position to attempt to occupy the high moral ground it seems to claim in the case of Mr Wilders. It should, for a start, ask itself whether it is responsible for running the country, or whether this important function is henceforth to be carried out only after seeking and obtaining the approval of the Islamists who perhaps represent 5% of the population.

Poltroons indeed! Apparently, "The Government remains committed to the principle of free speech."

What a joke.

News links here , here., here and here

UPDATE:  Here's a well thought-out piece on the subject from Charles Moore at the Daily Telegraph.

SECOND UPDATE:  Today the BBC has another story on this subject.  The key paragraphs are:

Lawyers acting for Mr Mohamed have campaigned for alleged evidence of his torture to be made public.

Last week, judges refused to order the disclosure of a summary of US reports on his detention, citing a threat to US intelligence-sharing with Britain.

Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones ruled that some parts of papers referring to Mr Mohamed should remain secret, following the threat from the US to halt the sharing of information on terrorism.

However, they said Foreign Secretary David Miliband believed there was a "real risk" that the potential loss of intelligence co-operation would seriously increase the threat from terror faced by the UK.

Mr Miliband later insisted there had been "no threat" from the US. 

And still more stinky stuff has come to light; this will run for a while I think.

Until the next time.

Saturday 7 February 2009

President Lincoln's 200th Birthday

Image source: Wikipedia

The United States are gearing up to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of their most famous presidents, Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln was born on 12th February 1809 in Kentucky. Whilst he was young, his family moved to Indiana and later to Illinois. Nevertheless, many states are claiming their own special association with the great man as this article discusses.

Lincoln, a founding father of the Republican Party, was undeniably a great and good man: he spent nearly all of his adult life fighting against slavery. And in office running the the Civil War, he proved to be a fine commander-in-chief. One small example: he replaced General Meade with General Ulysses Simpson Grant (later a president himself of course). There was plenty of jealousy and backbiting amongst the Union generals and complaints reached the President: "Sir, he [Grant] drinks!" someone told Lincoln. Lincoln replied "Find out which brand and send a bottle to each of my generals."

The Lincoln memorial. Image source: here

The International Herald Tribune is one of my favourite sources, as my readers may have noticed. I should add that I have great respect for American journalism; the "dumbing-down" of English newspapers is quickly put into sharp relief when one takes the time to read any of the great American papers - the IHT, Boston Globe, Washington Post, New York Times etc., etc.

This article from the IHT, beautifully written, gives a superb overview of Lincoln, and from an attractive angle: the piece, credited to the Associated Press is centred around the Lincoln Memorial.

Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States of America, has been mentioned quite often recently in connexion with the election of the 44th President.

As the French say, nous verrons.

Until the next time.

Friday 6 February 2009

At least his business should grow

As the old English saying goes "It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good."  Even in the worst recession for 80 years some people can make money it seems.

The Daily Telegraph has a story about one Takayoshi Urakami, whose speciality is helping people to disappear.  I do not mean this in the sense that it might be understood by the Camorra or Al Qaeda.  No, these people are "up against it" and simply have to vanish.

According to the article, Urakami accepts that disappearance is not really a satisfactory solution, but then if one does not want to commit  hari-kiri  then what else is there?

Until the next time

Sunday 1 February 2009


Sorry for the recent lack of activity. I am posting this from a friend's computer ,as at present I have no Internet connection. Those of you who have experienced this disaster will know that it is rather like losing a limb.

The reasons are twofold: first I was foolish enough to depend on somebody, which was a mistake I shall probably not repeat and second the inefficiency of my French Internet provider, laughingly called "Free" which has not yet restored my connection after over a week.

This is akin to banks taking days to transfer money - for which there is absolutely no excuse; we all know that all it takes is a couple of clicks on a keyboard.

This last point is superbly illustrated by events at Google yesterday, where a slip of the finger of one of its staff resulted in chaos worldwide for an hour or two. - a Google googly! Of course with no connection thanks to the useless "Free" I missed it, but you can read all about it in French on CM's excellent blog, Jour apres jour.

Until the next time, which I hope will be soonish.