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Friday, 31 December 2010

Another year draws to an end ...

One way or another it's been quite a year. It began with heavy snow and a battle to reach an airport so I could go to Tehran and earn some much needed cash and it seems to be ending with even more snow as I sit and type this in my new home in Germany. OK, so now I'm technically a "house husband" and pensioner, but I'm still engaged in writing a new technical book and in lecturing in my field when needed. I may even visit Tehran again in the coming year, but certainly not for six months again.

Moving to the Taunus was a big step. My German was almost non-existent and is still pretty basic, but it is making some progress now. At least I can make sense of the newspapers and do some basic shopping! At least I'm now settled, my study is great and Mausi and I have settled into our new routines quite easily. Even Madam Paddy Cat has settled, though she can be demanding - especially as she has got into the habit of demanding her breakfast at 05.30 sharp!

Looking back, there have certainly been some interesting new ventures, not least being republishing The Enemy is Within! and publishing Their Lordships Request. Will they make me millions? Probably not, though one can dream, and frankly I'll be happy if I just have some steady sales and people enjoying them.

On the subject of books, I also managed to get to the London Book Fair and to the bigger Frankfurt Book Fair. They were certainly educational and eye opening. I was interested to learn at the second of these, that even the "A List" Authors feel a little excluded and there on "tolerance" - a necessary evil in case some buyer actually wants to meet them. It hasn't put me off writing, but it has made me realise that I need to sharpen my writing, my marketing and my selling skills! It has also made me realise that the e-book market may be the best way to go for now. Now I have to explore Kindle, iPod and all the other versions.

It will keep me busy in the coming year, of that I can be sure...

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Modern mythology ...

Some while ago I began to make the effort to read up on the facts behind the frequently repeated charges by secularists and humanists against the Christian faith. I have now read Carl Sagan, a brilliant astonomer, parts of Lecky (Sorry, but his Victorian prose was more than I could cope with, especially as his 'facts' are not factual...) and even Diane Purkiss' book on feminism. It all started when I began reading Philip Samson's "Six Modern Myths" ISBN 0-85111-659-0 some time after watching the very one sided "debate" on BBC World which asked the question "Is the Catholic Church a force for good or a force for evil in the world?"

On one side of the debate was the Archbishop of Nigeria and an ex-MP and convert to Catholicism and on the other Stephen Fry and an author who was almost foaming at the mouth as he trotted out all the myths and legends about Roman Catholic Missionaries killing those who would not convert, destroying whole cultures and waging a genocide campaign in the Americas. Both he and Fry were passionate, erudite and utterly convinced that they alone were telling the truth. Sadly, they were not, but their passion convinced the audience ... When asked to vote, the audience were swayed by the emotive declarations and, lacking the truth and the facts, voted that the Roman Church was evil...

Richard Dawkins and his Atheist cohorts must have been dancing for joy.

The truth is always the first casualty in any propaganda campaign, and the secularist/humanist 'war' on Christianity plays the full orchestra of haf truth, twisted facts and outright falsehood. I heartily commend Samsons book to everyone interested in the truth behind the Witch Burnings, the supposed Missionary 'Rape" of cultures, Galileo, Darwin, Human sexuality and the abuse of the environment, animals and our fellow man. Fry and his colleague made much of the Inquisition's supposed pursuit of witches and suppression of the native American populations, but the myth is not supported by fact. In direct contradiction of the myth, the Inquisition almost invariably dismissed charges of witchcraft and even where they did accept them, recommended 'schooling in the gospel' rather than death. It is fact that the countries where the Inquisition held sway burned far fewer 'witches' than the supposedly Protestant countries - yet, even there, the Churches usually argued against the charges and against the imposition of the death penalties. Almost all the major witch burnings were ordered by Secular courts and magistrates - frequently in defiance of opposition from clergy and theologians.

Samson has done his research well and I can certainly attest to at least one of his references being absolutely accurate. What a pity this book will not receive the wide reporting it should. It is certainly an even greater pity that it will not get the TV treatment it deserves or which the myths get at every opportunity from the likes of the BBC.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Revised version of "When I'm Cleaning Windows..."

Nothing to do with Microslosh either. The original song was sung by George Formby, a 'singer' with a rather strange high pitched nasal voice and a strong Lancastrian accent, very popular in the 1930s and 40s. I have always considered him an unlikely pop-star and I guess his voice and the ukelele he strummed are acquired tastes. That said, Darryl Ashton has provided me with this rather amusing 'alternative' version which fits a more recent 'star' to disgrace our nation and TV screens - none other than the Prime Minister who thought he was the next President of Europe. Mind you he also thought he was the President of the UK...

President Blair has been spotted doing impressions with his Ukulele of George Formby's; "When I'm cleaning windows," in the Bahamas.

Lay-deez and Genn-ul-men, it goes something like this.

(Feel free to sing along)

Now I go taking freebies,
To save a tidy sum,
With Cherie and the kiddies
And Endora, her fooking mum.

We stay at least a fortnight,
We always eat our fill,
We swim, surf and sunbathe,
But we never see a Bill.

We had to ban the papers,
It simply isn't right,
For them to print those pictures,
Of Cherie's cellulite.

She's still a handsome woman,
She's big on Human Rights,
And back in our cabana,
It's five times every night.

We like to take our freebies,
On the Caribbean sea,
But if Cliff's got other guests,
We'll go to Italy.

The cares of office melt away
When the sun is on your back,
And when i'm taking freebies,
I'm a long way from Iraq.

I know the bombs in London Town,
Give you the Heebie - Jeebies,
But i'm well out the firing line,
When I'm taking freebies.

There's nothing like Barbados air,
When you're living like a millionaire,
Miles away from Connaught Square,
When i'm taking freebies.

In my profession I work hard,
I have to take a break.
So why should you expect me,
To pay the going rate!

BY

DARRYL ASHTON

Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas Crackers...

My thanks to Darryl Ashton for this swipe at the PC brigade...

CHRISTMAS CRACKERS!

As councils all over Britain have pulled the plug on Christmas trees, mangers, crosses and Santa Claus. Worst still, in St Andrews they're even putting on a play depicting the Virgin Mary as an alcoholic and Jesus as a homosexual.

Well, as part of Darryl's save Christmas campaign, here's my revised arrangement of Away in a Manger, the 12 - inch version.

(Please feel free to sing along).

Away with the fairies, no brains in their head
The little dictators say Christmas is dead.
The clowns in the town halls look down as we pray
And rule that the manger be taken away.

In Birmingham's Bullring poor Santa is banned
His sleigh and his reindeer, and elves have been canned.
In Bury St Edmunds they've turned off the lights
In Suffolk, Lord Jesus offends human rights.

They want our donations down at the Red Cross,
But no celebrations they don't give a toss.
And even Saint Tony, has tried really hard
Not to mention the C - word in his Christmas card.

In Luton, Tower Hamlets and old Camden Town
The Christmas decorations have all been torn down.
Pray, celebrate Diwali and Ramadan praise,
It's only Christianity they want to erase.

There'll be no more memtion of our Lord and Saviour
So God bless Saint Tony, remember, Sod Labour!
So, come back Guy Fawkes, and do what we please,
You can do it this time - and do it with ease!

BY

DARRYL ASHTON

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas

There is really not a lot to say to my readers today except -

Merry Christmas to you all, Mausi and The Monk wish you all a great Christmas, a safe Christmas and, if you're snowed in as we are, a thaw to help reduce it! I'd post a photo, but I'm also helping cook ...

At least we made it to the Christmas Mass last night in Wiesbaden, but the big disappointment this morning is that we cannot watch the Eucharist from Tewkesbury Abbey because, for some reason only the BBC knows, we are told that all the Online broadcasts are "Not available in your area."

I hope someone has recorded it and can let us have a copy.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Night Before Christmas

A different take on a well known poem. Once again Darryl Ashton has produced an amusing reworking of the original...

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the flat,
Not a creature was stirring-
Just me and my cat.

Then up on the rooftop
There came a big bump,
A rattle, a clatter,
And then a great thump.

Then what to my bleary
Old eyes should appear?
A sledge and beside it,
A troop of reindeer.

Then in rolled a figure,
In a red - and - white suit,
A happy old Santa,
As tight as a newt.

He hiccupped and grinned
Said: "I'm really quite merry,
And so would you be
At your ten - thousandth sherry.

Now if you can help me
To locate my sleigh,
I'll call up my reindeer
And get on my way."

I helped the old fellow
Back up to the roof,
Though the smell on his breath
Was 90 per cent - proof.

I managed to get him
Stuck into his sledge,
While the reindeer were happily
Munching my hedge.

He mumbled; "Oh, sugar!
I've mislaid my sack,"
Then giggled and gave
With his whip, a great crack.

"On Dixon! On Nixon!
On Bush! And on Blair!
I've forgotten your names but
I really don't care.

I vaguely remember
That one of you's Dancer,
Oh, just giddy up,
If your name rhymes with Chancer."

I stood and I watched
As they rolled through the sky,
While a chorus of burping
Echoed down from on high.

Then the sleigh faded out,
But I heard the last call:
"Thank heaven for SAT-NAV,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all!"

DARRYL ASHTON

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

An anniversary

My grandmother rejoiced in an unusual first name - for a woman that is. Hector Mary Heron nee Hopkins was born on this day in 1899 at her parents farm near Harrismith in the then Boer Republic of the Oranje Vrijstaat. Her parents though, Richard Vaux Hopkins and Gertrude Hopkins (nee Bowes), were British through and through and owned one of the largest farms in a large country. On the day my grandmother was born, General Hector MacDonald drove a Boer Commando out of Harrismith and began a campaign to secure the Eastern Orange Free State of Boer Forces which would ultimately lead to the capture of Bloemfontein and then the advance into the Transvaal Republic.

Ironically her future father in law was with the army advancing from the Cape. Colour Sergeant James Heron was with his Regiment, the Royal Irish Rifles, having left at home his wife Susan, two year old daughter Mabel and infant son, Henry Nelson. Twenty-two years later Hector Mary and Henry Nelson would meet in Johannesburg, and in 1925 they married.

They died in 1977 within six months of one another. I remember them with pride because they played a very large part in my childhood and, without doubt, gave me the values I still hold to today. And, in case you were wondering, the 'hero' in my books, is named after my grandfather. When the fourth book finds its way into print you will meet Hector Mary as well.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Interesting Visitor

Ever get that feeling you're being watched? I had it earlier today and when I looked up I found I needed tolook down. My easy chair is next to a large window onto our patio which I had earlier cleared of snow. This still leaves a wall of snow around 500mm (50cm or 18 inches!) in height. Sitting calmly on the patio, between the snow wall and the window was a Pine Marten.

Bold as brass, the little fellow was watching me watching him and not even phased by Madam Paddy Cat who, also aware of him, was staring back - a totally different response to her confrontation last night with a large black and white moggy who'd had the temerity to walk through 'her' garden!

Of course, as soon as I moved to get the camera, the Marten departed. Still, the camera is now ready for when he returns as I'm sure he will. We seem to have provided a neat little highway for Martens, cats, rabbits and sundry other wildlife across our garden and giving access to next door's wood store and dense shrubs that have become home to quite a menagery.

A nice boost

I have to say thank you to my friend "Krylon" who has posted a great piece on my latest book at his blog, New Book Releases.

And a huge thank you to all those who have supported me in this project and to those who have bought it and will buy it. For the record, it is also available through Waterstones and W H Smith and I believe it can be found at Barnes and Noble and other bookshops.

Monday, 20 December 2010

The Red Cross

The Politically Correct Directive of the UK Red Cross management to their staff that they may display nothing that celebrates Christmas or the "Christian Story" in any of their shops is, as far as I am concerned, the final straw. They have given as their reason, that they do not wish to "upset Muslims."

Fine. But apparently they think they can offend Christians and still rely on our support.

Well, not mine. I hereby give notice that the Red Cross will never again get even a brass button from me and I sincerely hope that every other Christian will take the same action. Enough is enough. It may come as a surprise to the morons who now infest the "management" of these charities - all founded by Christian philanthropists who would be appalled at this sort of behaviour - but Muslims also celebrate Christmas!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Book News

My latest book, Their Lordships Request ..., has finally made it into print. Some of you may already have spotted it in the side bar! At present it is linked to the Author House, UK, bookstore, but can be found on their US Bookstore as well. It will be on Amazon in a few more weeks, it takes a while for Amazon to catch up. Those of you who enjoyed my first, will, I now, enjoy this one - it even has a Glossary to help with all those nautical terms ...



It will soon be available through Amazon but is already obtainable direct from the Publisher. I am rather pleased with this one, a prequel to Out of Time which introduces Harry, Ferghal and Danny Gunn. It is, essentially, a 'rite of passage' for them, following their adventures and development as they voyage on the "74 gun" HMS Spartan, to Australia and India. Like Out of Time, it is two stories in parallel with the introduction of the ship they find themselves joining involuntarily in Out of Time, and Harry's "descendent," her Captain.

This brings to three the number of books I have published in this series. The Enemy is Within! (See the sidebar for the link to where it and Out of Time can be purchased) and I hope that they bring some fun and pleasure to my readers. A fourth, with the working title at present of On The Run, will, I hope, be published in the New Year.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Expectation Bias

"Expectation Bias" is a rather fancy way of saying that I have made up my mind on something and will henceforth only see the evidence that supports my view and ignore anything which may suggest there is another view. This is something that investigators are made very aware of during training - indeed, some of us who train investigators, deliberately plant "evidence" to invite students to go the wrong way as a part of their learning experience.

It is a problem in many legal cases, and much of the legislation that now dictates methodologies, acceptable evidence gathering techniques and evidence handling and processing arises from failures by investigators to eliminate their biases from the process. If, as a fire investigator, I go into a fire scene with a predetermined conclusion, I will find only the evidence I expect to find - and misinterpret or discount everything which may point to a different conclusion. It is something researchers studying human cognitive behaviours are very aware of as I was reminded reading an article in the Scientific American recently -

The past few decades of research in cognitive, social and clinical psychology suggest that confirmation bias may be far more common than most of us realize. Even the best and the brightest scientists can be swayed by it, especially when they are deeply invested in their own hypotheses and the data are ambiguous. A baseball manager doesn’t argue with the umpire when the call is clear-cut—only when it is close.


The problem is, the more senior, the more experienced and the more 'acknowledged' you become as an 'expert', the less likely you are to admit to bias or to having made a mistake! This is certainly the case in the scientific field. It also led to one of the most tragic series of miscarriages of justice in the last decade - all because a very respected and emminent Doctor developed a theory, unsupported by any research, that allowed him to declare an enormous number of children were being 'abused,' destroying their parents - many mothers went to ail merely on his evidence of 'abuse' - and sending the children through a truly abusive process of examinations, fostering, being declared delusional when they refused to 'confess' or 'admit' they were being abused and finally removal from their families and friends. The doctor in question got away with it despite mounting evidence that he was totally wrong and it was not until enough of his colleagues got up the courage to stand up in court and show why and how he was wrong that it came to a stop. But the damage has been done and many 'lay' people still believe that garbage this man put forward - because they do not have the expertise or the knowledge to unravel what the press fed them and has singularly failed to correct. Again this 'bias' among senior 'experts' is well known -

Scholars in the behavioral sciences, including psychology and animal behavior, may be especially prone to bias. They often make close calls about data that are open to many interpretations. Last year, for instance, Belgian neurologist Steven Laureys insisted that a comatose man could communicate through a keyboard, even after controlled tests failed to find evidence. Climate researchers trying to surmise past temperature patterns by using proxy data are also engaged in a “particularly challenging exercise because the data are incredibly messy,” says David J. Hand, a statistician at Imperial College London.

Two factors make combating confirmation bias an uphill battle. For one, data show that eminent scientists tend to be more arrogant and confident than other scientists. As a consequence, they may be especially vulnerable to confirmation bias and to wrong-headed conclusions, unless they are perpetually vigilant. Second, the mounting pressure on scholars to conduct single-hypothesis-driven research programs supported by huge federal grants is a recipe for trouble. Many scientists are highly motivated to disregard or selectively reinterpret negative results that could doom their careers. Yet when members of the scientific community see themselves as invulnerable to error, they impede progress and damage the reputation of science in the public eye. The very edifice of science hinges on the willingness of investigators to entertain the possibility that they might be wrong.


The more I have learned about the edifice that has been built around Global Warming, the more I become alarmed at the fact that the scientists behind it seem to be very selective in their "evidence" and in their "models." I fully understand the desire to find the solutions to the very complex problem that climate change presents, but I cannot escape the feeling that there is now a huge amount of "Expectation Bias" at work in the IPCC, Greenpeace, East Anglia University and other "Climate Research" bodies. Data is manipulated in ways that are simply not acceptable in my field at all - and would be thrown out of any court if presented as 'evidence.' But that is the problem, the only 'court' looking at any of this is one stuffed with 'believers' who would not dream of questioning the 'expert' or challenging his view.

Sadly, unless this changes, science will ultimately be the loser as the Scientific American article says.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Stormy weather

You know that a storm is going to be a bad one when someone 'names' it. The one that passed across Germany last night and yesterday, was named 'Petra' and she certainly made an impact. For the second time I could not get to my language course, the wind was drifting snow across the road to Bliedenstadt and even 4x4s were struggling.


The view from the patio doors after I had dug my way out through them ...

Petra dumped a huge amount of snow across Hessen, though we seem to have got of relatively lightly. This is the dry powdery stuff and I have to say, it does look pretty - but then I don't have to fight my way to work through it any longer. It is certainly looking more and more as if we will have a "White Christmas" this year. If so, it will be my first ever.

Something to look forward to I think.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Kalt, kalt, kalt ...

At minus 6*C at 11.00 in the morning with the sun out - believe me, it's cold! It's a dry cold though, rather pleasant if you are well wrapped up, but the ground is treacherous, with a layer of ice hiding in the snow. The birds are busy at the bird feeder and make an interesting mix, with Robins, Tits, Jays and Chafinches all arguing over the bounty our neighbour puts out on a table and we hang from the eaves.

The snow shows the tracks left by rabbit, cat, mice and something else, possibly one of the Pine Martens.

As for Madam Paddy Cat, she has adopted her 'Cold Weather" pose - nice warm spot on the sofa, nose covered by the tip of her tail and her paws well tucked in. There is almost an attitude of wake me when it's warm again ...

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Dazzling white ...

As I sat watching more snow waft gently onto my already snow covered drive, garden, street ... I found myself pondering a brief note from the internet provider Nachrichtendienst. I have to say it wasn't supposed to be snowing just then. That is supposed to happen tonight. Mind you, bang on schedule and as predicted, on Montag, it began to snow and by yesterday morning had dumped another 100mm or so - on top of the layer of ice left from the last fall...

OK, my German is still not that good, but reading this news item, dictionary in hand, I had to blink once or twice. Here was an item saying that a scientist from the German Meteorological Service is suggesting that the run of extreme cold and this year and the previous three very cold winters - getting worse according to his data - suggests we could be shaping up to a Mini Ice Age. After mopping up my coffee spill, I wondered how long he'll keep his job. After all, according to the German Green Party, to say something like this is the equivalent of Holocaust Denial.

Then I had a funnier thought. I began to wonder what the AGW mob would say and do if he's right. No, I don't think I'll publish my thoughts on that just yet.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Something to ponder carefully ...

BBC 4 recently broadcast an animated look at statistics which show how national economies have converged in the last 200 years. It makes fascinating watching, but it also demonstrates just how easily some of the policies now being pursued by western socialists and by the "Green" lobby who demand de-industrialisation and totally unrealistic reductions in energy use or such expensive replacement technologies we cannot remain competitive, can destroy the wealth our forebears have built so skillfully.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Student Fees ...

The Gorse Fox has written an outstanding piece on the problem of the perception in the UK that everyone, regardless of ability, has a "right" to Tertiary education. I think his analysis of the problem and of the unrealistic expectation the previous government created (Interestingly they must have known they would need to raise the fees themselves!) in the minds of many school-leavers is spot on.

Having grown up in a country where the privilege of going to university depended on your parents being able to afford it, or your doing well enough at school to "win" a bursary from a prospective employer, I have never considered this a right. It is a privilege and I was delighted in 1996 to be accepted (Aged 51!) for a work based degree. It was awarded in 1999 and I undertook a Masters the following year. Neither were "free" and both, though "work based" were hard work - especially as I had to continue my normal work programme as well as study, research and write papers, reports and assignments.

Watching the riots and the "demonstrations" and all the rest of the appalling behaviour I would, frankly, like to see those involved ejected from their universities and barred from higher education for at least five years - some of them perhaps for life. Any re-application should be at full cost only.

General education, as The Gorse Fox says, is a "right" but tertiary education is not. Nor should it be - the vast majority of people in any given population do not have the skils or the mental capability - or sometimes the maturity - to cope with it. And here I will freely confess that I do have a slightly above average IQ and had it when at school - but I lacked the discipline and the ability to deal with the University system when in my teens and even in my twenties. That was a skill I gained slowly in my thirties and forties - hence my late entry into the university education. I know I am not alone in that - in fact, I think I am possibly representative of a very large slice of the population.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

A thought on the "Student" protests...

Many of those causing the violence during the London "Protests" over Student Fees are, in my view, not students. They look like the usual "Socialist Workers Party" rent-a-mob. It is going to be tough for those having to pay and I agree that it is unacceptable that a Scottish student pays nothing, while an English student, whose parents taxes are paying for the Scottish student, pays. This is yet another of Liebore Party's disasterous outcomes arising from Blair's tampering with the Constitution. But the truth is that far too many of the "degrees" offered since Blair and Co decided that universities were too "ellitist" and had to make space for a disproportionate number of school leavers - most of whom struggle to cope with the university style of learning - are of no value at all in the market place for jobs. The "balance" in the UK is still far to heavily slewed in favour of "Arts" and not enough on Technical or Science based degrees.

But here is my thought for the current government and for the "Loyal" Opposition...

An assault on the person of the Sovereign or the Heir to the Throne is an act of Treason. It says so in the law, not that anyone in the Liebore Party would recognise it of they fell over it. And here is the next thought. Treason is still one of only two criminal acts in the UK for which the Death Penalty is allowed. Perhaps a Treason Trial will give some of the layabouts, Socialist 'Workers' Party activists (Socialist Worker has to be the greates oxymoron ever!) and many of the Liebore Party members who take the Oath of Allegiance with their fingers crossed (As Lord Prescott of Pucka Pies did) and every intention of committing treason as the opportunity arises, pause for thought.

Hanging a few of them on Tower Hill will send a much needed message I think.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Snow fun



One of us had to do it. Mausi beat me to it. But then, she also has much more practice at building snowmen...

Friday, 10 December 2010

More snow ...

The Freiwilliger Feuerwehr Station in Watzhahn.
The back of our house - note the Gazebo roof load!
Our back garden - the snow cover is pretty deep.
The snow stopped briefly overnight, but it looks close to 40 cm - around 15 inches for the non-metric. And there is more promised for tonight. Having shovelled the drive twice yesterday, Mausi attacked it last night and removed another 50 - 80 mm, but I still had to clear another 75 mm before she could get the car out to collect her colleague and go to work. Our neighbour's trees have suffered - the one next to our gazebo has collapsed under the weight of snow and another has split, but the Freiwilliger Feuerwehr has been busy all yesterday with accidents and today with more trees down and blocking roads.

Could be an interesting winter at this rate.

Thursday, 9 December 2010





And it's still snowing. It was about 20 cm from yesterday afternoon to this morning, and the way its coming down at present suggests I'll have to clear the drive again this evening so Mausi can get in! I somehow doubt I'll get to my language course tonight!

I wonder where the IPCC and EAU, NASA and Greenstrife are actually measuring this Global Warming? Venus perhaps?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Words of Wisdom

Over the years I have had to listen to a variety of 'experts' - usually expensive 'consultants' - telling me that "bigger is better" or talking about "economies of scale" while ignoring the waste that usually arises when organisations get too big. So it is pertinent at present to consider the problems when an organisation becomes to large or answerable only to itself. FIFA is just such an organisation and so is the ICC. Then you have organisations like Greenpeace, Frieds of the Earth and Earth First, to name but a few who feed into the epitome of corrupt and unanswerable organisation - the UN.

The early American President, Thomas Jefferson, had it right when he commented -

Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government. Public servants, at such a distance, and from under the eye of their constituents, must, from the circumstance of distance, be unable to administer and overlook all the details necessary for the good government of the citizens; and the same circumstance, by rendering detection impossible to their constituents, will invite the public agents to corruption, plunder, and waste.


As soon as the 'people' begin to feel they have no voice and no say in the direction or organisation of a state or even a company, they become detached and it isn't long before the functionary begins to feather his or her nest and play the 'rules' to their own advanatge. The chances of being caught are remote - since usually the 'management' have no idea of what is really going on below their ivory tower. Nor do they care, as long as it appears to be operating smoothly and their own expensive tastes and coffers are constantly in receipt of their 'perks.'

If this is true of a single people, connected one to another by language, culture and history, how much truer is it of gigantic multi-national units?

Aristotle noted:
“To the size of a state there is a limit, as there is to plants, animals and implements, for they can none of them retain their natural facility when too large”.


History has proved his words more than once - and our own age has a long list of proofs -

The UN and all its "agencies"
The EU bureaucracy
Washington's bureaucrats,
Whitehall and its legions,
Beijing and its Central Organisations,
Moscow ...

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Revealing the lack of "concensus?"

I finally tracked down an interview on CNN that brings one of the "hide the decline" scientists (Who incidentally is quick to accuse everyone who disagrees with his Man is Causing the Planet to Die view of being in the pay of "Big Oil" while raking in the taxpayers money for their indefensible stance on the leaked emails and other sensational claims for their "models.") up against one of the scientists who disagrees. The sad thing is that the disagree lobby has proof that there is something fishy about the EAU CRU and IPCC claims, but they are being ignored and sidelined by the Greenpeace/Fiends of the Earth controlled "Climate Community."

The claim by the NASA apologist that the "quote 'hide the decline' and 'Nature trick' are taken out of context" is pathetic. I've read the relevant email in full. It is not out of context, it says exactly what they meant. The "Tree Ring Proxies" they had constructed their entire case on, had shown a different trend at an "inconvenient point" and caused the model to show something other than what they were wanting - so the "trick." Simple, exclude the data you don't like and run the model again until it shows what you want to see. Sadly, what no one seems willing to admit is that almost all the "data" they use comes from an ever decreasing number of actual weather monitoring stations, almost all of them in heavily built up areas and therefore subject to background warming from buildings (In one case the exhaust fans from an airconditioning plant for a very large building), tarmac and 'concrete canyons' in which they are located. OK, so they claim they "know" how much extra heat is being measured and compensate for it in their model. Really? How do they do this? With real measurements taken in a more natural setting?

No. They 'calculate' it... Now, I'm no mathematician, but one thing I do know, to make any calculation give an accurate and reliable result, you need all the factors to be accurate measurements - not numbers pulled from thin air...

Worse, they 'interpolate' data to fill in gaps for places they don't have data from directly. So, for a place you may have data showing an upward trend from - say - forty years ago, you average the rise and add this to 'plot' an extension to the graph. This 'extrapolation' of data allows you to fill in the gaps, but it is, at best, a good guess, not fact or 'hard' data which is what you get from actually going out with the instrument and measuring whatever it is. But in the CRU/Greenpeace world it is taken as fact and tweaked until it shows the 'right' trend. Viola! The upward trend continues, even though it may not be doing anything of the sort in reality at the actual location.

There is quite a discrepancy between the actual surface measurement of temperatures and those taken by satellites (and no one is exactly sure what the satellites are actually measuring) so one set shows a "flat line" since 1998 and the other shows anything but a clear picture of either increase or decline. So the answer for the AGW mob is simple - add in anything which can be claimed to show an "increase" and spin it and hype it up - but watch out the skeptics don't get a chance to show just how unreliable your Bristle Cone Pine Tree Ring evidence is. And when it doesn't do what you want it to show - exclude it.

The climate is changing, it has been since the last Ice Age and yes, it is speeding up slightly, but wedon't know whether this is due to western society's emmissions (Which have been reducing steadily since the 1980s) or to something else. Yes, we do need to keep looking, but if you look a little wider than simply trying to destroy western culture with punitive transport policies, taxation and driving industry abroad so we can all go back to subsistence farming and a pre-industrial culture, you find that before the last Ice Age, the climate warmed suddenly and quickly.

Maybe our early ancestors caused that as well... With Greenpeace's lunatic fringe 'science' I'm sure it won't be long before they 'prove' that in an IPCC report.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Saint Nicolas

Saint Nicholas, Sinta Klaus, Santa Claus, the old Bishop of Smyrna has certainly gathered names and legends, and, sadly, become confused with a number of pagan figures and legends along the way.

Today is his feast day, and the day on which, traditionally, gifts were given and exchanged - until the great captains of commerc discovered the gold mine and turned acts of love and charity into opportunities for excess. Yes, I know, I'm sounding curmudgeonly, and I've no desire to spoil anyone's fun, but I'm getting very tired of the constant attempts at this season to 'take Christ out of Christmas' and replace His feast with "Winterval" or some other meaningless reason to 'celebrate' spending vast amounts of money.

This came home to me last year amid the dire predictions that "High Street Sales figures were down and showed that profits would not recover..." Christmas is not about 'profit' it is about the birth of a baby who, whether you believe the Gospel or not, has shaped the history of the last two thousand years. Even Muslims celebrate His birth, though, in their canon, He is named Isa and rated a mere 'Prophet' - something the Politically Correct ignoramuses of our society do not know - and if they do - don't understand.

So, today, I will remember the real Saint Nicolas, Bishop of Smyrna, benefactor of the poor. His anonymous gifts to those in need are the foundation of our tradition of giving and exchanging gifts with friends and family. Perhaps we should consider a return to a simpler way of marking this season. It might make a difference to the attitudes of the ignorant and the greedy.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Advice to our Leaders...

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."
- Cicero - 55 BC

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Cancun - the desperate dance of lunacy?

I managed to find a copy of the Executive Summary for the Mexican proposals for the latest Anthropomorphic Global Warming funfest. (It's embedded and difficult to read ...) It would be funny if it weren't so serious. Several bloggers have already picked up some of the more extreme utterances and policy demands, and so have a number of the mainstream news media. Several things stand out to me as being the ultimate in lunatic or authoritarian proposals. The debates can be found by following this link. I'm afraid this is little more than the usual "Blame the West; they have to go back to the Stone Age so everyone else can have everything they have at present."

The theme in this summary seems to run to "Since people no longer believe us, we have to take desperate measures and impose our will." Frankly I can't see any democratic government - at least any government that isn't dominated by left-wing "internationalist" champagne socialists living in total isolation from the effects of their decisions - falling for some of these proposals. Mexico falls into a different category, but just looking at their proposal to reduce CO2 output by 50% in an unbelievably short time span, the equivalent of removing all traffic from Mexico City for four and a half years according to their own figures, is not just utterly impractical, it's economic suicide. An item on the Daily Telegraph Blog probably sums this up better than I can even though it is a spoof, it is based on what is actually being said at Cancun...

Then there are proposals for the introduction of rationing (Actually only one complete nutter - but he's a 'scientist'...) of resources to the developed world. I'm sure that's a huge vote winner anywhere that claims to be democratic. In fact the response by a teacher who has had enough is a must read! But it gets better, there's a proposal to forcibly relocate "populations at risk" - a way to overcome the voting problem I suppose, just relocate a whole bunch of people to an area that is resisting the "save the planet" juggernaut in the polls. Of course, what that is also likely to do, since they seem to be admitting at last - at least the Mexicans are - that overpopulation is part of the problem, is simply move the pressure off one ecosystem and push it onto another.

Reading up on archaeological studies of the Pueblo culture in the US, one of the things that killed it off was the ecological change caused by a massive expansion (reatively speaking of course) in the population once they began a settled agricultural life. The farming practices they used, coupled with the need to feed an expanding population and linked with the changing climate as the ice retreated, caused contamination of their water supply, impoverishment of the soils and ended in famine, civil war and ....

Probably more worrying are the hysterical demands from the German Green Party and the former East German Communists, now called "Der Linke" (The Left) for the punishment of scientists who "dare" to question AGW. It suggests that, as usual, the left wing and the ideologically driven fanatics, having failed miserably to convince the populace that they are the "Saviours of the World" are restorting to the usual tactics. If we can't persuade you, we'll bring back the nasty guys in Black Shirts and skull and crossbones badges - and make you do as we demand. Though the German Greens are being public about it, Greenpeace, Fiends of the Earth and all their surrogates and supporters are no less draconian in their visions f the "Utopia" they wish to create - and even less open about it.

I think the blog, Watts Up With That? has possibly the best set of comments and links on this subject.

Personally, I'm enjoying my mini-Ice Age here on my mountain top in Germany...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Working Harder

My language course has finally started. It is putting a new perspective on language learning as the group is about as diverse as you can get! Three from Turkey, two from Afghanistan, one from Kryzkistan, one from Poland, one from the Cote d'Ivoire, one from Kenya, one from the US, one from Colombia, another from Ukraine, a lady from the Czech Republic and myself... All at different levels, with different learning styles and different cultural behaviours.

It is proving interesting and, though challenging, I feel I might be making progress. I guess time will tell...

In the meantime I had better go outside and break up the ice in the water butts and make sure they don't burst. It's currently minus 7*C outside and the wind is getting up from the North - not a good sign. More snow is predicted for tonight and I'll post a picture when I get around to downloading the camera!

Monday, 29 November 2010

And down came the snow...

Got to hand it to the German Met Office, almost on the minute they predicted. Now it's still snowing and the radio is talking about traffic problems on all the major routes around here. I'll Believe it, the snow must be around three inches and still mounting here on our mountain top. And tonight is the first session of my many times rescheduled language course. Of course.

Getting down to Wiesbaden this evening could be entertaining to say the least, but the effort must be made. In the meantime, as soon as this stuff stops falling, I have to get outside and shovel it off the drive...

Yeah, I know, finger in the dyke ....

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Colder yet, and colder ...

We have had snow since Thursday and the temperature is still falling. Moresnow is promised for tomorrow and really heavy snow for Monday - which will be interesting as my language class starts at 18.15 in Wiesbaden. Getting there could prove challenging. The temperature last night got down to -6*C up here and hasn't managed to get above 0*C all day.

I'll confess that I am amused to see the UK Met Office has stated that the trend is currently for colder and earlier winters in future...

I wonder which of the CRU datasets and computer models they're using for that?

Friday, 26 November 2010

Pardon?

This was sent to me by a friend, I have no idea where he got it from, but it is really worth sharing. Every one of these puts a different slant on things we all say ...

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. Check out the following for examples:

Ø If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong.

Ø I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.

Ø Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Ø I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

Ø War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

Ø To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

Ø I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Ø Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but always check when you say the paint is wet?

Ø Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

Ø You do not need a parachute to skydive. You definitely need a parachute to skydive twice.

Ø The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some darned good ideas!

Ø Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.

Ø To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

Ø Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Ø Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Thanksgiving

I'd like to wish all my American readers a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. It seems to me an eminently sensible thing to do - to set aside a day on which to consider the good fortune one has enjoyed through the year. And we in the western world do have much to be thankful for.

Though we may not always appreciate it, and there are certainly those living in our society (and enjoying its benefits) who feel we have 'stolen' everything we have from some 'victim' of their choice, but we do enjoy a degree of freedom and security most of the world does not. Even those of us who are currently unemployed receive some support, perhaps more so in Europe than in the US, but there is still a safety net which is non-existent elsewhere.

No human society is ever perfect. No human society can ever be Utopia simply because one man's vision of heaven on earth, is another's vision of hell. Ours suits us and our belief in the freedom of the individual, in our belief that each of us is free to choose his or her religion, lifestyle and, yes, our own road to hell. We should give thanks for it and be prepared to defend it - there are many who loathe that choice and want to restrict it or suppress it.

The western societies also enjoy a greater distribution of wealth than almost any other. In most of the world the real wealth rests in the hands of 5% or fewer of any given population group, in the west that figure is higher and so is the size of the group perhaps best labelled 'Middle Income' earners. Many of the countries I have visited have a much narrower division of wealth - those who have everything and those who subsist - the middle class "middle income earners" are almost non-existent or invisible.

Yes, we have a great deal to be thankful for. We should join our American friends and give thanks for it.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Attempted Snow ...

Looking out of my window I can see that I got the last leaves raked up this morning just in time. It is now raining - sort of - and snowing - sort of...

Big white flakes descending in amongst the rain drops. Wierd, I think is the best description for it. So far the snow is not settling, but if it gets colder tonight, it is after all only around 2*C at the moment, it could tunr our roads into skating rinks. Time to find a few bags of "Struwlesalz" I think.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Korean Flashpoint?

The news that the North Koreans have apparently launched an unprovoked attack on the South should concern us all. Officially the war in Lorea has never ended, though a "truce" was agreed in 1954. The North Koreans are a rogue state in anybodies terms, but with their "Beloved Leader" clearly deranged and a military that is equally clearly flexing its muscles, it seems to me that it must be only a matter of time before they do something that will escalate into a full on war.

If ever there was a state and a government that proves the point you can't negotiate peace with some mindsets - Kim Il Jong has to be it.

The artillery fire today was not a 'rogue' commander, it will involve people all the way up to Kim himself. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that his chosen successr - recently 'promoted' to General without any known military background at all - hadn't decided to see what would happen if he gave the order. When the Chinese, just about North Koreas only real allies, express serious concerns over this act, something is seriously amiss.

I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens next. One thing is for sure, no power in the West has the apability to do what we did in 1950 - 54.

Monday, 22 November 2010

First snow

Yup, I looked out of the window just in time to see it. The first snow flakes in amongst the rain. It has been drizzling - a sort of misty rain - most of the morning, but then it started to rain in a slightly more meaningful way, and that turned, briefly, to snow. It hasn't settled, it's probably still too warm to do so - at 2*C - but it bodes well for the predicted snowfall later this week.

In the meantime it is cold outside - windchill - and damp. Madam Paddy has found a nice warm spot, out of drafts and where she can monitor the approaches to the kitchen and her food bowl. That apart she seems to have decided on hibernation...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Old Catholic Church

Six months ago we joined the Old Catholic Church - or, perhaps more accurately, they accepted us as members of their congregation at the Freidenskirche, Wiesbaden. The name means, "The Peace Church" and the building was erected and dedicated in 1900 -1901. Recently we celebrated the 110th anniversary of its founding with a full church for our Eucharistifeier.

But who, I can hear you ask, are the "Old Catholics?" Are they some sort of "super catholic" church with Latin, Orders and all the bells and smells? A branch of Rome that makes Rome look liberal? The simple answer is no. The Old Catholics are a Synodical Church which follows the traditions of the church pre-1054 when the Orthodox Churches split and refused to recognise the sovereign leadership of Rome. It is a church that holds to the doctrines of Nicea and of the "catholic" or "universal" church.

We are an Ecumenical Church which has links and full communion with the Anglican Church, the Lutheran or "Evangelical" Churches and others.

The Church has a history which goes back to the Reformation and the subsequent struggles by Rome to suppress dissent and reform. The Diocese of Utrecht, which, since its founding had elected its own Bishops, broke with Rome in 1723 when Rome tried to revoke that constitution. In 1873, the German Diocese came into being when a large number of German Catholics found they could not agree with the change of what had been "dogma" into "doctrine" by the First Vatican Council - which declared the Pope the sole arbiter of authority on Earth and that the incumbent Pope was "infallible."

I'm afraid it is easy to see where that "doctrine" has given rise to the abuses the Roman church is struggling to deal with today.

Examining the liturgical traditions, I have found that the Old Catholics follow a modern version of the Liturgy Anglicans would easily recognise. Like the Church of England's "Common Worship" it contains elements of the earliest "English" Liturgy - the Sarum or Salisbury Rite. Like Anglicanism, it has a wide range of liturgical practice, from very relaxed, through to the full traditional Mass. Again, like Anglicans, the single unifying factor is the belief in Christ's presence in the Eucharist.

For us both, it has been, and is, an enriching experience to worship in this congregation and tradition.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Living on misunderstanding...

Well, my German, though coming on, is still subject to misunderstanding in both directions. I ventured out alone today to buy some essential supplies. First call to the Metzger - butcher to those unfamiliar with the term. Our local butcher is the butcher equivalent of a Cordon Bleu Chef. An artist, a maestro ... you get the idea. The meat is utterly superb, the wurst, a dream and as for the "Suelze" ...

I did OK, ordering Suelze to my taste, Salami for Mausi and me and Kalb Leberwurst. Then I decided to get adventurous. Spotting what I took to be Pork mince, I asked for 500 grams. A flicker of surprise crossed the lady's face and the gentleman next to me assured me that the "Mett" was excellent, a purchase I would not regret. I agreed, the mince meat I have enjoyed from this supplier is always first class. The real deal, and not as so often elsewhere, the scrag ends of anything left over. Except that "Schweinmett" is finely minced raw pork, intended to be spread on bread. It's a delicacy from the Ruhr area ... So now I have to figure out how I can cook it ...

Suffice it to say that Mausi is highly amused at my mistake ...

Thursday, 18 November 2010

How can I trust the science?

A presentation to the US Congress by a "scientist" pushing the alarmist message sums up quite a bit of why I don't believe the message these people are pushing. This supposedly 'respected' scientist made two statements (among many) that are particularly worrying when they are uttered by someone who should, one hopes, know better.

Her first utterance concerned the influence of 'climate change' on 'weather.' According to her, if we do not act immediately the climate change will "work its way into the weather and, once its in the weather, it's there for good." Now I may be merely an ignorant member of the public, but climate IS what drives weather. "Weather" is a part of "Climate" whether we like it or not. Climate is a long term, over arching driver. It is what makes it rain in winter, but not in summer, or vice versa. Within that is the day to day weather, driven by atmospheric pressure changes, water vapour levels and ocean temperatures.

The second thing she pronounced was that sea levels will rise by 3 feet (90cm) by 2100. That is a full foot more than the most extreme prediction by the IPCC and a huge leap from the actual increase at preset measured at 3mm per year... With 90 years to go to her chosen date, even I can work out by simple multiplication that this means that in 2100 the average sea level rise will have been 270mm - less than 1 foot or 30 cm.

I have no doubt that the world climate is shifting, what I take leave to doubt very strongly is the 'science' which is presented as 'final' and 'settled' when it is not. The scientists involved have no better idea of what is driving the climate change than the average reasonably educated and informed member of the public. They have a lot of data and some fancy computer models, some good PR people who know just how to misrepresent the science so that it scares the ignorant and convinces the politicians to throw money at 'research' and that's about it.

To my mind, the sort of wild statements uttered by Greenpeace, the sort of scientist who makes these wild predictions and the intense tree huggers who swallow this garbage, prove the point. "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Congratulations

Are, I think, in order for Prince Wiliam and his fiancee, Miss Kate Middleton. I note that everyone except the Republic Society, who want to have an elected w*nk*r as Head of State (presumably one of their members), have expressed their delight.

I sure that the young lady will find the experience of living in a gold fish bowl with the nosey, intrusive press and those who seek to hiighlight every little mis-step and unguarded moment to ridicule or belittle, difficult. I know it is not a life I could live or enjoy. It does take a lifetime of breeding, conditioning and eventually, I suspect, a finely balanced sense of humour to survive it.

I wish them every happiness and success, and I look forward eventually to seeing them on the throne as William V and Queen Catherine.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Fire in Shanghai

The news that a twenty-eight storey apartment block in Shanghai has burned out must be pretty worrying for everyone involved in hight-rise structures. For years those who believe they can 'risk assess' or 'fire engineer' away the problem of fire in these structures have clashed - it must be said with the tacit support of civil servants and politicians - with those of us who have actually had to try and deal with fire in them. It is often argued that the "Societal Costs" of putting in sprinklers and other defensive measures outweigh the "Cost/Benefit" to the occupier and owner.

Let's try telling that to the crews who had to try and fight this latest fire, to the 53 (and rising dead) and the several hundred people now homeless because this building didn't have any fire defences. It was being refurbished as well and the fire seems to have started externally, then spread rapidly up the scaffolding and into the building. To any fire fighter, the sight of fire service personell trying to direct jest of water from neighbouring buildings into burning floors well above the height of any sensible high-reach appliance speaks far more loudly for the installation of sprinklers and fire barriers than any accountants claim that it is a waste of money.

Let's hope that this fire turns out to be the same sort of wake-up call that the Joelma Building, Summerland and others were in the 1970's.

Monday, 15 November 2010

The Climate Change Scare is Dying ...

That is apparently the conclusion of a writer for the Daily Telegraph. I found this information at Watts up with that, a blog written by a climate scientist who doesn't concur with the "settled science" of the IPCC and Greenpeace et al. In fact, most scientists, even the "warmist" ones, have trouble with the way the IPCC and Greenpeace, Fiends of the Earth and the warmist lobby abuse their work.

The UK government has, in the midst of the greatest ever debt crisis, passed the most economy destroying piece of legislation of all time - how they think they will pay for it is a matter for conjecture. The Climate Change Act is nothing short of ecnomic suicide. One wonders where those who voted for it have their nest eggs, investments and future employment lined up.

Not in the UK, obviously.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Volkstrauertag

Is the name for Remembrance Sunday in Germany.

Though it is not marked with Parades, poppies or any other special events, it is a day on which churches see an increase in attendance and other small acts of remembrance. Everyone here lost brothers, parents, cousins and other family members, Mausi's mother lost two of her brothers and her father lost close relatives as well. In fact, they lost far more than many of us outside of Germany perhaps realise, since the family had farms and lands on the former Polish border and which are now in Poland.

The division of Germany also split families and destroyed generational links. The Allies lost many and no family remained untouched by either of the great world conflicts, but I think we lost sight of the victims among the German people themselves of Hitler's ambitions and evil philosophy. Sadly, we allowed a worse tyrant to dominate in the land east of the Iron Curtain in our desire for revenge.

It has been an interesting experience to see the German side...

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Phew.

Well, the examination went smoothly. It confirmed that I have diverticulitis, but the good news is that the original infection and inflammation has cleared up and there are no other problems lurking. I'll confess that they knocked me out quickly, efficiently and then woke me up as easily twenty minutes later when it was complete. Now I have to watch my diet, but that isn't difficult - and they want to look again in five years.

Phew.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Remembrance Day

Was yesterday, though it is not marked here in Germany, perhaps for obvious reasons.

That said, I did make the effort at 11.00 (UK Time) to stop and remember.

Up periscope?

Now in the final stages of preparation for having my diverticulitis examined. Hungry, glued to the toilet and wondering when it will stop....

Oh well, in anther three hours or so, it will all be over.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Interesting Scenes ...

Yesterday's demonstration by the National Union of Students was a perfect demonstration of why I do not believe in demonstrations as a legitimate means of exercising the right to express an opinion. Clearly many of those attending the demonstration had what they consider to be a legitimate complaint. Trebling of the tuition fees is a cause for concern and will cause hardship for a lot of students. Particularly as the last government has devalued the whole qualification system to the point where employers find that a Degree may not be worth a great deal at all in terms of indicating what an applicant may or may not know or be capable of doing.

As a former marker for a university or two, I frequently had difficulty actually making any sense out of what was written in answer to examination questions. It wasn't so much that the students often had only the vaguest grasp of the subject, but that they simply couldn't write a coherent sentence, much less express a cogent argument. Coupled with that, the disasterous bit of social engineering by Blair and co to push 50% of school leavers into universities meant that many of these establishments had to search around frantically to offer degrees and courses these often ill-equipped products of the socialist "(In)Comprehensive" education system, could actually cope with.

Traditionally the British intelligentsia establishment regards the "Arts" (Mainly the esoteric, theoretical, subjects such as Literarture, Philosophy, Divinity, Sociology, Music, History, etc.) as being "superior" to the "Industrial" disciplines such as Engineering. The result is that many of the degrees now on offer are focussed i the "Arts" and include the infamous "general" management degree, the Master of Business Administration, which purports to equip someone with the ability to manage anything from a Hot Dog Franchise to a Space Programme intended to put men on Mars - but without any need to know how either are actually achieved. The trouble is that this is just the most visible of the Degrees on offer which actually equip the holder to deal with very little. There are reportedly people with Bachelor Degrees in Philosophy, and other "Arts," working as 'Fry Cooks' in Burger Bars.

One has to question the value to the Taxpayer of supporting such a degree - and obviously, the value to the student of paying for it. Perhaps this begs a larger question, one which, so far, everyone seems to be dodging. Is it realistic to expect every school leaver to be able to find a place at a university? This was the stated aim of Mr Blair's government. The second, and perhaps more important question is this; Are the degrees on offer, what is needed in the new world order that is emerging? Should we insist that only the "technical" qualifications will be supported in future, and the "Arts" relegated to a lower priority?

Returning to the demonstration itself, it was obvious that the police did not provide a proper analysis of the potential for this o be highjacked by the usual crew of "Social Workers Party" rentamob and layabouts who regard the taxpayer as a personal support for their idle lifestyles. Big deal, the police finally managed to arrest twenty-seven rioters - but if the BBC footage is anything to go by, there are about three or four hundred others who got away with it. They are clearly seen escaping through a glass wall, in full view of the police, their faces covered by scarves and 'hoodies' and they vanish into the mob to the cheers and laughter of their 'friends.'

As someone who grew up in a society where only those who excelled at school and won a 'bursary' or whose parents could afford the cost of university education, I have always believed that a university education was a privilege and NOT a "right." I have two degrees, earned the hard way and very late in my career. In fact I earned my Masters degree only four years before I retired and I still think it was a huge privilege to be able to do so. Frankly, in my view, there is only one reason to attend university. To earn a degree which qualifies you for a role in a workplace. It is not some sort of "social" creche - three years funded by the taxpayer for "students" to have fun, learn to take drugs, confirm their socialist brainwashing and sharpen their civil disobedience skills.

Universities should now begin culling their student populations - raise the pass marl from the laughable 40% and refuse to allow anyone patently not putting in an effort to gain a useful degree to continue. Further, the "Politburo" Soviets of the National Union of Students needs to be reigned in. From what I have learned in recent years about the conduct of these bodies there are some serious questions to be asked about their status as "charities" and a lot of real abuse of electroal processes and misuse of funds.

The sort of behaviour seen yesterday in London is unacceptable in a civilised society and the really worrying thing is that these "students" will, no doubt, soon be seeking to be elected or to join the political classes to become the governors of the future. That should concern us all.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Demonizing labels

One of the most frightening aspects, to me at any rate, of the current political scene in the western world, is manner in which the left/liberal propagandists label anyone who disagrees with them a "Fascist" - often without actually knowing anything at all about Fascism. This was brought home to me quite recently when I discovered a list, dreamed up by a Dr Lawrence.Reading through the 14 points he claims "define" a "Fascist State" I confess that I found myself wondering about this man's background and credentials.

What emerged is that he is a sociologist, holds some very socialist views and follows the humanist/secularist philosophy according to several sources. That he was rabidly anti-George W Bush and is anti-capitalist is also apparent. What is troubling is that many on the left of the political spectrum have adopted these 14 points with delight and are now claiming they "prove" that capitalism, and more specifically religion (In the form of Christianity in the US) are "Fascist."

So what are these 14 points and how did he arrive at them? To answer the last part first, he studied Hitler, Mussolini, Suharto, Franco and a number of South American Dictators. Anyone spot the obvious omissions? You may when you read the fourteen 'proofs'...

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
4. Supremacy of the Military
5. Rampant Sexism
6. Controlled Mass Media
7. Obsession with National Security
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
9. Corporate Power is Protected
10. Labor Power is Suppressed
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
14. Fraudulent Elections

The timing of the release of these was significant, they came out just before the last Presidential elections, the inference being that to vote for the right, was a vote for fascism as defined above. You may say that the last is hardly a defining characteristic of the US electoral system, but many Democrats still believe that GWB won the Florida election - the key state that put him in the White House - by fraud. That despite all the recounts, examination of 'hanging chards' and several court cases.

What is worrying about this is that the list is currently being promoted by such organizations as the 'Liberty Forum,' the 'Humanist Secularist Society' and every left wing political organization as 'proof' that anyone and everyone on the 'right' is a Fascist.

Let's take another look at the list. If you know your political history, this could define any and every 'socialist' and 'communist' state of the last hundred years. In fact it is a far better description of those political systems than it is of the capitalist states it is aimed at. But that is the skill of the propagandist, vilify, demonize and make sure that no one checks what you are not telling them - and when they do, stifle debate by screaming epithets and labels to drown out their argument or present it as "immoral" or "Fascist" .... Since the media are today controlled and managed almost exclusively by left wing owners and staffed by left leaning journalists, one wonders at his point number 6 in the context of western society.

While the west has cut back on the military, and rising crime suggests that not enough attention is being focussed on criminal activity, we find that in the socialist world, the opposite is true. As for No. 11, this list and much of the touchy-feely ideology that bedevils our society stems from giving the groups mentioned in No 11 far too much say - the vast majority of them don't live in the real world or face the very real challenges and problems almost everyone outside of that group do. Plus, again, this is the very group that Chairman Mao and Joe Stalin tried to suppress - so were they actually 'Fascists' in disguise? And how about the suppression and tight control of Labour Unions in the Socialist/Communist countries? Maybe they were actually Capitalists in disguise?

Number 5 on the list is almost equally adrift, looking at the Socialist and Communist states the good doctor apparently wants to emulate, we find fewer women and even fewer 'gays' in positions of real authority. Personally I find No. 8 on this list about sums up the lack of proper analysis. Hitler, the architect of Fascism in its most evil form, was a Humanist/Secularist. Stalin, an avowed Atheist, unashamedly ordered the opening of churches he had closed and stripped and then ordered the priests and bishops he had sent to Labour Camps, to support the people's need for religion with prayers for Mother Russia. No mention of that on the secularist websites promoting the idea that conservative politics equals Fascism and Christianity is a Fascist philosophy - as identified in No.3...

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Blogoversary

This month marks the beginning of my Blog, originally at "The Gray Monk" and hosted on the now defunct "Guruinternational" domain run by Catholic Down Under, also known as Ozguru. I started keeping a blog at his suggestion back in 2003 and it has become a feature that has encouraged me to explore all sorts of subjects and thoughts and to share a few of life's little pleasures, and a few knocks, with whoever stumbles upon it.

I'd like to think that The Gray Monk's Scriptorium or its predecessor, might have influenced the shape of the future or of some decisions made by politicians and the movers and shakers of this world, but I somehow doubt any of them ever read it. So, now its been up and running for seven years, at times frustrating trying to think of something to write and at others fun. I've learned a lot in the process from others who blog and through looking up things to write about.

Thanks to all of you who bother to read it!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Getting closer to release ...



Is my latest story in the Harry Heron series I am creating. The cover is now finalised, the Galley Proofs are needing four small corrections, and the book will be ready for publication by the end of the month - just in time for Christmas!

This one tells the story of Harry and Ferghal's voyage to Australia and India, but it also tells the story of the future they will be forced to join. It is essentially a story about coming of age and learning to be responsible. Resourcefulness, creativity and sheer courage is what was needed to survive a life in the old "Wooden Walls" that kept Napoleon and other enemies at bay, but honour, trust and friendship are also essentials.

Harry joins the navy a child and reaches adulthood the hard way, watched over by Ferghal and the men whose trust he has earned in the process.

I hope you'll keep an eye open for this and enjoy it.

Friday, 5 November 2010

The Gunpowder Plot

Bonfire night is here again for the UK. Poor old Guido Fawkes, probably a bit of dupe in the sense that he appears to have been set up to take the fall when it all went wrong. The older I get the more sympathetic I am toward his intention, perhaps it is just that as you gain more experience you come to realise that blowing up the politicians and their civil service cohorts is probably the only way we'll ever get to restore some sort of democracy.

I was amused, watching the BBC World Service, to hear an apparently eminent 'expert' on democracy pronouncing that democratic government is extremely rare. Now tell us something we didn't know! Please? The truth is that most of our democratic systems are deeply flawed. In the "first past the post" system, whoever gets tha largest number of votes is elected, fine, if everyone eligible to do so votes and providing there is no 'manipulation' of the voters roll or ballot stuffing... The problem is, in that system, the 'elected' representative very often does NOT represent the majority. Blair and Labour are a good example. Around 51% of the electorate voted in the election which 'swept' him to power. He got 40% of the total ballot caste - which actually equates to 28% of the TOTAL electorate. Had the other 49% voted, it might have made a different outcome. The great flaw with this system is that the 'dissenters' now have no option than to stage demonstrations if they want to be heard - and government's ignore those anyway.

Proportional representation has its attractions, at least it makes sure that every vote counts - but it also means that the 'Party" decides who represents you. So, how about a hybrid system? IN Germany you vote for an individual and place your vote for a party as well. As it is a form of proportional system, you get the candidate with the majority elected, plus the Party may appoint a number of others according to the support they enjoy. Less than 5% support and you drop off the list entirely. Other systems combine this and transferable voting so that your preferences are always counted - but here you run into another problem - called "The Party" - and whoever you elect, they end up votong the Party Ticket, regardless of what they may have said to the voter on the doorstep. Add in the Lobbyists and their campaigns, and the voters opinion counts for almost nothing.

There is probably no perfect system and one of the greatest weaknesses in our supposedly democratic society is the "lobby" system. Those who can afford to hire expensive lobbyists, get heard, those who cannot, don't. If our politicians were truly interested in restoring the peoples faith in the political system, this is the one thing they would immediately ban. This is how pressure groups can impose their minority view on the majority, they hire a lobbying company which doorsteps MPs, orchestrates press campaigns and makes sure that any counter voice is immediately neutralised.

The sad thing is that if this continues, one day we will see another Guido Fawkes make the attempt to blow away an entire government and all its hanger's on.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

American election

It has certainly been a whirlwind of sorts and it looks as if Mr Obama won't have such an easy ride for the next couple of years.

What has stuck me throughout this election campaign is the amount of negative briefing against candidates. It seems to me that these days politics has descended to telling the voter why they shouldn't vote for someone, rather than what voting for the other candidate will bring. Perhaps it's because neither party really know what they can deliver, or perhaps it's just easier to be negative than to try and sell what you believe in yourself.

It is a sad reflection on our society that major issues are reduced to simple sound bites, often negative, often lacking in fact and frequently simply name calling. Not a good rationale for choosing someone to govern...

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

All Souls

Today is the commemoration of All Souls, the day we remember the departed from this life and their influence on us, our society and our faith. Traditionally it is marked among the catholic traditions with a Requiem Mass at which the names of those the congregation would like to remember are read.

The news of the attack on a Christian Church in Baghdad on the eve of All Saints shows that, far from being free from threat and secure in our faith, Christians are still subject to attack and intimidation for their faith. While those in the Middle East, living among non-Christian nations are more likely to suffer this sort of outrage, even those in Europe may soon find themselves open to similar assaults as our secularist 'masters' continue their assault on faith.

Perhaps, as we pray for the soulds of the departed and those 53 killed in Baghdad so recently, we should also pray for the strength to face the enmity of the atheists, humanists and secularists who seek to drive faith out of our society.

Monday, 1 November 2010

All Saints

Today being the feast of All Saints, Christians everywhere will be remembering all those who history has labelled "saint" in the life of the church. We should not forget that all Christians are, in perhaps less public ways, saints. It is our calling as Christians, to live in the example of the Gospels and to follow the teachings of Christ. We are called to live our faith and to behave toward all our fellow travellers in this life as He would.

Today is the day we should, perhaps more than any other, remember this.

Sadly, on this day, we must also remember in our prayers those fellow Christians attacked last night in their worship by extremist gunmen in Iraq. This is something far too many Christians face daily and something we should all give thanks we do not have to deal with in the west.

For all the Saints, who from their labours rest ... is the opening line of the hymn sung at services on this day, but let us also remember each other and pray for the strength to hold to our faith and show it in our lives, day by day.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Six months and still learning...

Toady I have been in Germany exactly six months and I'm now feeling quite at home. The topography is starting to make sense, and I find I'm understanding enough of the language to make sense of what is said around me, on the radio and even on the TV. It's still quite a challenge and I set aside time each day to do my language lessons. It would be great if I could have joined a class of course, but the take up seems a bit low, so now I'm waiting until the end of November when there is another class I have booked for. Hopefully this one will run.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Religious decline

I had a very interesting discussion recently with a former ministry colleague who moved to north England to work in a very difficult parish and diocese, one now in the heartland of the area now populated by Islamic immigrants. It was a very working class area, one deeply and possibly irreparably affected by the power struggle between militant unionism and government in the 1980s. Trying to make a church, much less the message of the Gospel, relevant to people who have seen their communities destroyed, their way of life changed irrevocably and who now must compete for wealth with people of a different culture, with different expectations and different desires for the future, makes life for a vicar difficult to say the least.

My interest was really fired up though, when he mentioned that their muslim neighbours are more friendly than the supposedly Christian ones and certainly more generous when it comes to helping those in need. But, when we came to discussing the young people and their attitudes to religion I was surprised by his statement that Islam faces the same decline in the UK as Christianity. For most young folk, it is a 'folk religion.' Young people now only attend the mosqes regularly if they want to make a point, but for most, its the religion their parents follow and they just tag along. In his view, Islam is perhaps twenty years behind Christianity before it starts to decline dramatically. Clearly the strife between the fanatics has begun to appear as stupid as it is to the youth - who aren't that gullible or stupid!

Even more interesting though is the news that a recently published sociological study identifies an interesting trend. While religion is in decline in Europe, it is on the rise in every other continent. What is also identified is that it is changing, with less growth among the 'traditional' structures of church or mosque and far more on the fringes among small groups, communities and even totally individual explorations. No one seems to know why Europe is bucking the trend. Are we ahead of the rest? More aware of the scientific debate? Or are we actually behind the curve and the rest are onto something our thinkers and educators have not yet spotted?

I think this will be a very interesting area to watch in the coming years. It will also be a challenge to the churches to discover why it is that the traditional dogmas, doctrines and strutcures are so unappealing. Interesting times ahead I think for those who still hold a faith and practice it.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Ploughing ahead with the new textbook

Progress with the new textbook for the Insititution of Fire Engineers is slow, but steady. Lot's of it is already there in a sort of framework, but there are a few gaps, moreexpansions of information and a lot of words still to be checked, edited, sometimes taken out and replaced and so on.

Deadline is early 2011...

Back to the grindstone.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Slow Progress.

My German lessons are progressing slowly. I seem to make progress only to get myself completely tangled in a simple sentence at the first opportunity to try out my language skill. Pronunciation, tenses, articles and the personal pronouns all get muddled as soon as I try to string them together. Still, most of those I deal with are understanding and try to help.

I'll get there, perhaps its just that patience has never been my strong suit.

Brilliant explanation of Climate Skepticism

Found a fascinating video of Climate Skeptic The guy is a young college and university graduate and a skeptic of the "Global Catastrophe" the Global Warming lobby are trying to promote.

I heartily recommend visiting his site and watching and listening to this explanation, particularly those who have young kids who may be being fed the Al Gore/ Mike Hansen version.

I wish guys like this could actually get aired on the mainstream media. Unfortunately, they are all controlled by the AGW propagandists.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Sleepless in the Taunus

Madam Paddy has a bladder problem and had a bad night. So did we.

This is a recurrence of a problem she had in January and we had a bout of it last week. Last night we noticed she seemed to be showing the same signs and sure enough, found she has a problem again. She is now 20 years old and I suppose is entitled to a few health problems. The bigger problem is the vet is in Bad Schwalbach and it needs a car to get there.

So this evening she has another visit scheduled. Hopefully this one will contain the problem.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Differing responses

I have watched with fascination, the different responses to the austerity measures being announced around Europe. The French Unions seem to be in open rebellion over their government's attempt to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and the Greeks went wild over an attempt to move theirs from 55! With people in Britain having to work to 65 and in a few years to 66 to reach Pension age one does wonder how some of these State's expected to fund the early ages they originally set.

Perhaps the answer can be gleaned from a statement I caught earlier, from the spokewoman for the CGT in France. She declared that raising the retirement age of existing workers harmed the prospects of school and university leavers seeking work. Her argument seemed to be that by allowing older people to stay in employment meant that jobs would not become available for those starting out. This has echoes of the socialist pipe-dream of "Full Employment" so much trumpetted by the chattering classes who tried to seize the assets and investments of individuals in their "Nationalisation" programmes of the 1940 - 1970 period. The idea was that by centrally "managing" commerce and industry you could create job expansion programmes and ensure that there would always be jobs and everyone would be employed somewhere.

This is, of course, why they never allowed for investment of Pension Contributions and continually collected money for this and the health services which was then spent on social engineering schemes in all sorts of wasteful and now failed projects. And now that the population who paid for a pension would like to receive them, thank you very much, there is nothing in the bank.

Full Employment was a dream of the Communist planners and it works, assuming you can keep factories running on out of date machinery, producing goods no one wants to buy and which end up being recycled endlessly to make new appliances which end up being recycled... This is the sort of thinking which led, in the 1970's, to ports in the UK having to employ a "stevedore" to sit in the cab of every straddle carrier at container berths. He didn't do anything, there was nothing for him to do anyway, but why pay a man who could have retrained to do something economical? The same thing happened in the UK's shipyards, with demarcation between Unions which caused disruption and delays to new building and maintenance of ships to the extent that buyers went elsewhere. Apart from anything else, the Unions wouldn't allow the introduction of new building techniques - because these required fewer workers. One by one the Yards closed ...

The same happened in the mines culminating in the Thatcher years which saw mines, that had the ability to be viable and productive, closed, because the Union refused to allow any modernisation and the losers are still bitter and resentful - but they misdirect their resentment. It is the Union that destroyed thier jobs, not the government. Had the Miners Union allowed the modernisations and been less embedded in Soviet style thinking, many would now still be mining.

The French have evaded addressing these and other problems for several decades now. It may be too late, it may already be heading toward and fullscale civil war and that will be bad for the whole of Europe.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Trafalgar Day

Today is the day that Admiral Lord Nelson broke forever Napoleon's hope of invading and conquering England. As I write this, he lay dying in the orlop of HMS Victory. The battle itself set the Royal Navy as the dominant Navy for the next hundred years and even in 1914 it's fleets numbered more ships and spread across more oceans than any the world had seen before or since.

Nelson, Collingwood, Rodney, Howe, Hood and all those who made Britain great must be turning in their graves at what the nation they fought and, in Nelson's case, died for, has been reduced to.

As one Admiral is on record as saying, the Navy's greatest enemies have never been those they fought, but those at home in Westminster who will sell their soul's and everything the nation has, in order to hold onto power. They will discover soon that without the means to back it, it has a way of slipping out of their grasp.

It cannot escape the notice of those who study the great sweep of history of nations, rather than tiny segments, that Britain ruled a worldwide empire with half a million soldiers and sailors and just three thousand civil servants. They now have no Empire, no armed forces to speak of and five million civil servants.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Hefty cuts

It looks increasingly as if Mr Cameron is going to make some serious cuts to Whitehall, and many would say, not before time. Whitehall seriously needs pruning, one of the major problems in the UK is that, under Labour, the Civil Service has expanded to a size and been given powers it should never have reached or had. The UK Civil Service employs more than one fifth of the UK workforce. Since they are paid by the taxpayers, they are almost now reaching the point of being self employed.

The attempt to 'save' £83 billion will be unpopular, but is the inevitable result, as it was in 1974, of the Labour Party penchant for spending way beyond the National income. As one commentator has put it, the annual cost of debt repayments Gordon Brown has committed the UK to for the next generation, would pay for three aircraft carriers (Probably to be deleted in this review), several hundred schools, hospitals and even the teachers and medical professionals to staff them. It would fund some real growth and some real investment in the future of the country.

The problem I see coming for the UK from today's budget is that it will have been prepared in Whitehall by the same vested interests that created this mess and have a vested interest in protecting their power base. That means that the armed services, police, fire services, ambulance services and real jobs will be lost while the non-jobs such as Equalities Monitoring Units, bureaucrats shuffling paper and never accepting responsibility for their failures, more social engineering and more waste will continue unabated. Companies like KPMG will earn even bigger profits and even more senior civil servants will find comfy homes and offices in the KPMG, Price Waterhouse and other "consultancy" businesses.

Its all in the nature of the beast. Only one thing will stop it - kill it completely.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Medical visits

Today has been 'interesting' as Madam Paddy had a small medical problem last night and had to spend the night shut in the bathroom, in her travelling box, with a soil tray. Given that earlier in the evening I had been diagnosed as having Diverticulitis and have been in a little discomfort now for several days, I needed a little sleep as I prepared to face the Gastrologist today...

Madam got first go, with the vet. She accepted our ministrations with reluctance and a slew of bad language, fortunately all in English Cat so the Vet wasn't that offended. Then we whipped Madam home, gave her a treat and the dreaded 'pill' the vet prescribed, and dashed into Wiesbaden for my appointment.

The Gastrologist proved to be very friendly, did a brief examination and discussion and declared that I needed an endoscopic examination but that I first had to get rid of the infection so she could do it without risking further damage. Then I had some blood samples taken - and confess to thinking of the famous Hancock sketch "The Blood Donor" in which he declares, "A pint? That's almost a whole armfu!" I think the irony was lost on the young lady taking the samples from me though...

Now I await the new antibiotics and have to start taking an 'interesting' drink which is supposed to 'flush my system...' Quite.

And all for a bit of a pain in my side... At least Madam Paddy seems to be making a swift recovery!