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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Barbque weather ...

At present we are enjoying - if that is the right word - some really warm weather, even here on our mountain top. It is sweltering in the Rhine valley round Wiesbaden and promises to get warmer by the weekend.

Barbeques out in the evening, supper in the Gazebo. Just how much better can life get?

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Discussing our faith

Had a visit from our new Vikar last night. Fr Klaus is a very nice man and a super priest. Our discussion was fairly wide ranging, including why we want to join his congregation of "Old Catholics" as opposed to the Episcopalian Congregation or the Roman Catholics. Essentially it boils down to our having found a welcome in his church and congregation that was overwhelmingly the Holy Spirit at work in them and us. In the process we learned that he had left the Roman Church himself, as a priest, in order to marry and have a family.

As Rome cannot admit a married priesthood - ironic, since the unmarried priesthood is fairly recent, as in 14th Century, imposition - he faced a choice. Give up his future wife or his ministry. The Old Catholic Church does not make that distinction, so he was welcomed into their ministry and offices and is now happily married, with a wonderful wife and children. And his services are truly spiritually inspiring.

Our discussion explored a number of things both in doctrine and practice. There is almost no difference in fact between the stance of the Anglican Church (My tradition) and the Old Catholics on almost everything. And where there are differences, they don't matter. My Licence as a "Reader" has stirred a lot of interest, since they do not have this type of Ministry, but it has culminated in my being asked if I would like to explore a ministry in the Old Catholics. Naturally I have said yes, though probably not until my German is a great deal better than it is now.

Seems, the Lord may work in some interesting ways to keep one in his service...

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Gardening and other pleasures...

Getting a garden under control when you have an infestation of field mice, rabbits and probably other critters, can be entertaining. Madam Paddy Cat has detected the mice, but so far has done little more than investigate their hiding places. We are hoping that her presence will deter further incursions and colonies.

There has been an explosion of the mice population this year, thought to be the result of people's efforts to feed the bird population during the very harsh winter. Naturally what the birds scattered and spilled, the mice shared and thrived.

One amusing tale from this week, is the fact that Mausi's staff had to use a company car to go to court in Limburg. The car started, got a short distance and then all the warning lights started to light up. A careful return to the HQ and a check by the Mechanic on site revealed that the car had been visited by a Martin. These cuddly "minor bears" are family of Badgers, Bears, Racoons and so on. At this time of the year, for some inexplicable reason, they get under the bonnets of cars and eath the wiring, the lubricating hoses and coolant pipes. No one knows why, because the rest of the year, they ignore them completely...

Ce la vie, with the rabbits having eaten a couple f plants, some of our creepers not having survived the winter, and the Bind Weed that tries to strangle everything as soon as you turn your back, its been a challenge, but we're winning. The awn is recovered, the shrubs have recovered and the flowering plants are getting into their stride. Still a lot to do though!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Waitting anxiously

I'm waiting anxiously for a response from two publishers currently considering my books. Both are mainstream, both are, I hope, seriously considering them, though one is looking at the "Harry Heron" series and the other is looking at my life of St Patrick.

These things take time, which, for someone as impatient as I am, isn't good.

I feel a bit like Hancock as he waited for the news to arrive on a boring afternoon...

Of the two, I'm most anxious to have the St Patrick Book accepted. This is a specialist publisher and the book is a special one to me. Hopefully my writing and their catalogue will coincide at some point along the way.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Now this is Comedy.

I lifted this from One Happy Dog Speaks....

Some of us may remember the old Jewish Catskill comics of Vaudeville days, they even appeared on Radio Shows in SA when I was young..:

Shecky Greene, Red Buttons, Totie Fields, Joey Bishop, Milton Berle, Jan Murray, Danny Kaye, Henny Youngman, Buddy Hackett, Sid Caesar, Groucho Marx, Jackie Mason, Victor Borge, Woody Allen, Joan Rivers, Lenny Bruce, George Burns, Allan Sherman, Jerry Lewis, Peter Sellers, Carl Reiner, Shelley Berman, Gene Wilder, George Jessel, Alan King, Mel Brooks, Phil Silvers, Jack Carter, Rodney Dangerfield, Don Rickles, Jack Benny and so many others.

And there was not one single swear word in their comedy. Here are a few examples:

* I just got back from a pleasure trip. I took my mother-in-law to the airport.

* I’ve been in love with the same woman for 49 years! If my wife ever finds out, she’ll kill me!

* What are three words a woman never wants to hear when she’s making love? “Honey, I’m home!”

* Someone stole all my credit cards but I won’t be reporting it. The thief spends less than my wife did.

* We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

* My wife and I went back to the hotel where we spent our wedding night; only this time I stayed in the bathroom and cried.

* My wife and I went to a hotel where we got a waterbed. My wife called it the Dead Sea .

* She was at the beauty shop for two hours. That was only for the estimate. She got a mudpack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off.

* I was just in London ; there is a 6-hour time difference. I’m still confused. When I go to dinner, I feel sexy. When I go to bed, I feel hungry

* The Doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn’t pay his bill so the doctor gave him another six months.

* The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, “Mrs. Cohen, your check came back. ” Mrs. Cohen answered, “So did my arthritis!”

* Doctor: “You’ll live to be 60!” Patient: “I am 60!” Doctor: “See! What did I tell you?”

* A doctor held a stethoscope up to a man’s chest. The man asks, “Doc, how do I stand? ” The doctor says, “That’s what puzzles me!”

* Patient: “I have a ringing in my ears.” Doctor: “Don’t answer!”

* A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says, “You’ve been brought here for drinking.” The drunk says “Okay, let’s get started.”

* Why do Jewish divorces cost so much? They’re worth it.

*Why do Jewish men die before their wives?
They want to.

*The Harvard School of Medicine did a study of why Jewish women like Chinese food so much. The study revealed that this is due to the fact that Won Ton spelled backward is Not Now.

*There is a big controversy on the Jewish view of when life begins. In Jewish tradition, the fetus is not considered viable until it graduates from medical school..

Q: Why don’t Jewish mothers drink?
A: Alcohol interferes with their suffering.

Q: Have you seen the newest Jewish-American-Princess horror movie?
A: It’s called, ‘Debbie Does Dishes’.

Q: Why do Jewish mothers make great parole officers?
A: They never let anyone finish a sentence!

Q: What’s a Jewish American Princess’s favorite position?
A: Facing Bloomingdale’s.

*A man called his mother in Florida , “Mom, how are you?” ”
Not too good,” said the mother. “I’ve been very weak.” The son said, “Why are you so weak?” She said, “Because I haven’t eaten in 38 days.”
The son said, “That’s terrible. Why haven’t you eaten in 38 days?” The mother answered, “Because I didn’t want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call.”

A Jewish boy comes home from school and tells his mother he has a part in the play. She asks, “What part is it?” The boy says, “I play the part of the Jewish husband.” “The mother scowls and says, “Go back and tell the teacher you want a speaking part.”

Q: Where does a Jewish husband hide money from his wife?
A: Under the vacuum cleaner.

Q: How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: (Sigh) “Don’t bother. I’ll sit in the dark. I don’t want to be a nuisance to anybody.”

Short summary of every Jewish holiday:
They tried to kill us. We won.. Let’s eat.

Did you hear about the bum who walked up to a Jewish mother on the street and said, “Lady, I haven’t eaten in three days.”
“Force yourself,” she replied.

Q: What’s the difference between a Rottweiler and a Jewish mother?
A: Eventually, the Rottweiler lets go.

Q: Why are Jewish men circumcised?
A: Because Jewish women don’t like anything that Isn’t 20% off.

You know, the funny thing is that it is still funny. It isn't PC and it isn't smutty, it is barbed, but its also clean. And the Jewish folk I know still tell jokes like this...

Maybe we should learn something from them?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Goofing off - again...

Just been watching a large Red Kite, one of several nesting around here, soaring and skimming over the fields next to the house. It appeared to be carrying grass, leaves and twigs in its beak though it was flying a hunting pattern. The local sparrows, black birds and other small stuff went absolutely beserk, setting up a terrific row, but starngely, the magpies that have been watching a particular nest decided to decamp fairly smartish and so did the several large woodpigeons or doves who usually inhabit the area.

Watching the Kite was fascinating, it seemed to make no effort at all as it circled and slid through the air, only the feathers at its wing tips making any movement as it banked and soared in the updrafts. I suspect the field mice, cats and other small animals were all in hiding.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Taunus Views...


Living in the Taunus does give access to some stunning countryside, like the view above from the top of the highest mountain in the Taunus. It is crowned by radio and telephone masts and a small hunting lodge. There is also a Birds of Prey collection with some stunning birds, all of them raised in captivity and some of them very attached to the owner. The picture above gives an idea of the veiew towards Frankfurt am Main.

The two year old Eagle Owl in this picture was hatched in the Aviary, the adolescent chick of a pair who are now nearly forty years of age. He has formed a strong attachment to the owner as can be seen from the posture adopted by the bird. Probably all the more remarkable for the fact that he can crush bone with his beak. The most remarkable thing however, is the silence of his flight.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Some quotes from "Green" Advocates...

HERE ARE SOME QUOTES FROM LEADING GLOBAL ENVIROMENTAL ACTIVISTS:

1) “The Aids epidemic, rather than being a scourge, is a welcome development in the inevitable reduction of human population… If it didn’t exist, we environmentalists would have had to invent it.”

- Dave Foreman, the founder of the environmental group EARTH FIRST!

2) “Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society.”

John P. Holdren, (President Obama’s current science advisor!), Ecoscience 1977.

3) “Adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods is a suggestion that seems to horrify people more than most proposals for involuntary fertility control.”

John P. Holdren, Ecoscience 1977.

4) “In order to stabilize world population, we must eliminate 350,000 people per day. It is a horrible thing to say, but it is just as bad not to say it.”

- Jacques Cousteau, marine enviromentalist, UNESCO courier

5) “I believe that human overpopulation is the fundamental problem on Earth Today” [and] “We humans have become a disease, the Humanpox.”

- Dave Foreman, Sierra Club, co founder of Earth First!

6) “If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels.”

- Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, founder of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

7) “A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal”

- Ted Turner, founder of CNN.

8) “My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with it’s full complement of species, returning throughout the world.”

- Dave Foreman, US environmentalist and co-founder of the environmental movement Earth First!

9) “The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable but would be a good thing.”

Christopher Manes, Earth First!

10) “The first task is population control at home. How do we go about it? Many of my colleagues feel that some sort of compulsory birth regulation would be necessary to achieve such control. One plan often mentioned involves the addition of temporary sterilants to water supplies or staple food. Doses of the antidote would be carefully rationed by the government to produce the desired population size.”

- Paul Ehrlich, intellectual, enviromental advisor

11) “Childbearing should be a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license. All potential parents should be required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.”

- David Brower, first Executive Director of the Sierra Club

and last but not least, not a quote but a scary summing up of these radical enviromentalists plans for humanity:

12) "During a speech to the Texas Academy of Science in March 2006, Dr Pianka advocated the need to exterminate 90% of the world’s population through the airborne ebola virus. The reaction from scores of top scientists and professors in attendance was not one of shock or revulsion – they stood and applauded Pianka’s call for mass genocide."

- One such individual who embraces the notion that humans are a virus that should be wiped out en masse for the good of mother earth is Dr. Eric R. Pianka, an American enviromentalist and biologist based at the University of Texas in Austin

Still think voting green is a good alternative?

Friday, 18 June 2010

Climate anomalies

The discovery of hundreds of Lion's Mane Jellyfish along Cornwall's beaches is interesting for several reasons, one being that these large Jellies carry a sting capable of causing paralysis and death in humans. The second is that they are normally found much further north. Essentially they love cold water, hunt in cold water and would normally not migrate this far south.

So whay are they in the Gulf Stream around Cornwall and probably Southern Ireland?

It appears that our very cold winter has chilled the sea sufficiently for them to venture south, probably in pursuit of their normal food which also normally only occurs farther north. It may also be an indication that the Gulf Stream is running rather slower than usual. That in turn means that the "Atlantic Conveyor" is slowing down and that means ....

INvest in some REALLY warm winter woollies.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Gaza Blockade Runners

I note with interest that the "Free Palestine" Organisation is now using FaceBook and YouTube to post their anti-Israel propaganda. Having just watched a short piece of this garbage I must say that these morons need a reality check. These publicity stunts, like that which has just led to the death of 19 "protestors" armed to the teeth and ready to attack anyone attempting to stop their "peaceful" blockade break attempt, are the cupable criminals here.

Israel is a sovereign state, whatever the pro-Palestinian Left think, say or do. No, I don't like what the Israelis are doing on the West Bank and I'm not that happy about that fact that, sixty years on, they still refuse to compensate those Palestinians who lost their homes and possessions back in 1947/8. But we must not forget that in the case of Gaza, it is ruled by Hamas. Hamas has declared war on Israel. Therefore a state of war exists between themselves and the people of Gaza. Under those conditions Israel has the right, just as these same idiots would argue if Cuba or Venezuela declared war on the US, to enforce a blockade and to prevent anyone from running that blockade. If necessary by sinking, burning and destroying everything and everyone that attempts to do so.

The Israelis have arrested ships, confiscated cargos and repatriated the crews and the socalled "peace" protestors that Hamas has duped into acting as shields for their gun running. Humanitarian aid? That may be what the idiots supporting this and spreading their poison on YouTube and Facebook call it, but you may be sure that there are a fair old range of "harmless" bombs and other weapons tucked in amongst it.

Labelling the Israelis as "pirates", "hijackers" and "kidnappers" as the YouTube video claims is not just insulting, its intended to incite the Israelis into a response. Hopefully they will refrain, but equally hopefully all the bleeding hearts leaving comments of sympathy and support on that and other sites will get a reality check. Hamas are TERRORISTS, backed and funded by Al Qaeda and Iran. If you support them, you support Al Qaeda and Armedinejad.

I think the US Homeland Security people need to check on that!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Confused Climate?

I am amused to read that the abnormally cold winter we have just suffered is due to Arctic Warming. Yup, I had to pick my teeth up and put them back in as well. Now we have the media and the Research Funding community screaming that this year will see a 'record reduction in Arctic Sea Ice'. Since the data on how much sea ice is, to say the least, conflicting, I'm not at all sure who or what to believe on this.

Yes, there is less ice cover than twenty/thirty or forty years ago, but since 2007 it has apparently, according to the Russian Navy and the US Navy, been thickening in some parts of the Arctic Ocean. This last year saw a greater extent of sea ice in the Arctic basin than for the last ten, though some of it has actually already melted. The media screams that the Arctic is going to see the vanishing of the ice to a record low this summer (Everyone seems to quote 2007 as a sort of benchmark) because the temperatures in the Arctic have been 2 degrees above normal for the whole of May. They fail to mention that they are now back to 'normal' for the region and the ice melt appears to have slowed...

What is interesting is that the Southern Hemisphere, South Africa in particular, has just had the httest summer on record and is now having an exceptionally cold one. It snowed yesterday in Bloefontein. This is quite rare, even though the night-time temperatures there can fall to -10*C. From what I hear, the drought in other parts of the country has also broken with exceptionally cold weather bringing rain.

So is this just a weather cycle, or climate? Personally I don't trust the 'science' any longer because so much is excluded, not included or simply discarded because it doesn't fit the desired result. Now that politicians and civil servants are involved in the reports that simply means that the conclusions will be what they want people to think and will have nothing whatsoever to do with reality, truth or science.

As Admiral Tovey once snarled at his Meteorological Officer who had just told him that the gale they were currently battling through was clearing - "The trouble with you damned boffins is you refuse to look out f the damned scuttle!"

So a warming Arctic is going to mean wetter summers and colder winters...

Now where did I put my dried seaweed ...

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Green strife...

The news has had a number of items recently concerning various groups taking "direct action" against something or someone they don't approve of. As I have commented here before this, there is a very fine line between protestors taking "direct action" and terrorism. Its merely a question of the level of violence in some minds, but in fact, they are looking at the wrong measurement. The level of violence is immaterial, the damage and the cost of that damage, done by the action, should be the measurement.

For instance, an action which causes a ship to be damaged or destroyed, but which does not employ arms or weapons of any sort, is generally considered "acceptable protest action", provided only property is damaged. But is this really true, or is this just another of the left-wings propaganda myths the legal profession and the media now foist upon us? In my book, the damage to the ship may run into millions of Pounds/Euros/Dollars for the expenditure of a few hours of obstructive and threatening behaviour by the protestors. If the "intent" was to cause that damage, then it is clearly terrorism, regardless of the force/weapons used. But proving "intent" in any court of law is a very tricky business and subject to wide ranging "rules" of evidence which render it almost impossible for an authority to prove that the protestors set out to destroy or damage the ship.

This came to me as I watched the latest Greenpeace "action" against tuna fishing and farming in the Pacific. Frankly they endangered the ships, they endangered the crews and they caused an enormous amount of damage and financial loss in the process. So why are they not prosecuted? One reason, I'm told, is that they "do not profit" from their actions. Therefore they are not pirates, second, they do not intend to overthrow a state, therefore they are not terrorists. Now I would argue that they are, because their actions cause damage to national economies and a visit to their website or a reading of their literature confirms that they DO intend to bring changes of government by their actions.

Ergo, they are terrorists.

But there is a second more insidious set here. They are in the White House and sit beside the American President. This is the group campaigning to get all drilling for oil shut down. They have succeeded in ramming through legislation "protecting" the land environment and preventing onshore drilling for the huge reserves of oil that lie under the North American landmass. But the US is an oil hungry country, it cannot exist without oil, so they developers and producers have to look elsewhere. The South American oil states charge an arm and a leg for their oil to US buyers, because men like Chavez have picked up the "Destroy the US" theme song and this is an easy way to do it. So firms like BP, Shell, Texaco and others are forced to tap into the deep water offshore wells to supply the demand in the US.

So now we face the idiocy of the White House blaming the producers for an accident that even the producers foresaw and warned would be difficult to control, while offering no assistance of any sensible sort. Yet these same eco-warriors in Washington will not allow the drilling on land of much safer sites, using much safer technology - while still demanding oil at the lowest possible price.

Now I find myself asking an important question here. Just who is really responsible for some of the eco-disasters we have experienced recently?

Let me list some: -

- Wild Mink destroying local fauna in the UK - result of "direct action" against Mink Farming.

- Rivers silting up and becoming unnavigable in the UK - result of decisions made under presssure from "Countryside protection" groups (Mostly city based and ignorant of the management of eco-systems) to "preserve" habitats which are now vanishing.

- Piling up of nuclear waste at sites in the UK, US and Europe. - Direct action and virulent campaigning by "pressure" groups such as CND to block any form of processing.

- The Brent Spar debacle - Greenpeace claimed it had "thousands" of tons of oil and radioactive "waste" aboard. Result, it was eventually broken up on land revealing that it did indeed have around fifty tons (50) of oil and some drill mud from the seabed itself which was mildly radio-active. But this was naturally radio-active material, not, as claimed, "nuclear waste". The result has been a long and extremely costly clean-up onshore which created many more hazards than would have arisen from simply sinking the damned thing.

The time has probably come when the Western World needs to stop pandering to the disaffected and frequently misguided idiots who embark on "direct action" as a means for achieving their vision of Utopia. A spell marooned on an island somewhere fending for themselves may just cause a change of attitude. That, or we have to start taking a really close look at their funding, the sources of their information and the "science" they claim to be informed by.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Contrast

OK, I'm not a football fan. The 'Beautiful Game' as far as I am concerned is simply a different kind of tribal warfare, a spectator version if you like, but one that attracts membership of a particular 'tribe' - sorry club - and engenders the sort of loyalty that used to be reserved for one's blood relations. And sometimes the sort of behaviour these 'fans' display, is anything but civilised.

At present it is almost impossible to avoid having to watch the various 'national' teams perform in SA and some of it is pretty close to the sort of tribal skirmish the Britsh Empire put an end to in many parts of the world. That said, I did watch the England versus the US match, and frankly England failed utterly in my view to look like a team or to perform like one. They scored early and then fell apart. I know the Red Top gutter press is busily blaming the goalkeeper for letting in a goal he caught and then dropped to allow it to trickle past him, but that was only one symptom of the whole.

By contrast I could not fail to be impressed by a German team that outplayed its opponents in spectacular fashion. The played like a team, they looked like a team and they went ahead and conducted a determined assault on the Australian goal. If they maintain this performance all the way through there is a good chance they will take the cup. By contrast, the England team has a no chance at all unless they stop behaving like a bunch of individual 'stars' and play like a team with a purpose. To win.

Otherwise they should stop embarassing themselves and us.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Idstein Jazz Festival

Today we went to Idstein, famous for a number of reasons, not least being the burning of 167 "witches" in the 16th Century, but more recently famous as a centre for Jazz each year in June. It is a wonderfully preserved medieval town, the buildings beautifully preserved, the timers decorated with carvings and bright paint, cobbeled narrow streets, now pedestrianised, and a number of open squares - once market spaces - where large stages can be erected and the various bands perform without clashing.

Ever heard Jazz played on Alipine Horns? No, neither had I until today, and it was a fabulous sound. The range of these massive "Horns" in the hands of a skilled player (Or probably rather, under his lips) is absolutely amazing and so is the fact that they can play a full cromatic scale, though it beats me how they do so without any valves!

One of the best performances we heard was the "Junge Big Band der Musiek Fruende Idstein". The trombone quartet was beautifully balanced by the trumpoets and the full range of saxophones, bass, drums and keyboard. They did a number of "traditional" jazz numbers including Tuxedo Junction and a whole range of other great numbers. The finally had the trombones showing off - a great way to end a session.

We left after the Alpine Horn trio after a very pleasant afternoon and some fine ice cream (Mine was a Walnuss Becher! Diet starts tomorrow...) to get to the evening Mass at our church in Wiesbaden, the Old Catholic Parish of the Freidenskirch. A great way to end a really good day.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Stormy night...

Last night we had a repeat of the storms that swept across Hesse the previous evening. It broke directly overhead on our little mountain just after midnight, and it lasted for perhaps two hours. The lightning was amazing, the thunder shook the house and the rain was almost solid jets of water from the cloud.

Fortunately there was no repeat of the tornados that hit Baden-Wurtemburg (South of us) the previous evening, and being high up, we have not suffered the flooding they had in Frankfurt and elsewhere.

The lightning burned overhead in the most spectacular display I have seen for some time, the thunder was almost simultaneous and I had to get up to unplug various aerials - just in case. There were definitely some strikes around here, but thankfully, not on us! The garden has survived the rain, but tomorrow, hopefully will be drier - the grass needs mowing.

One compensation, all our water barrels are full now, so the garden will be well provided for.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Climate Science on Trial?

Interesting to note on Watts up with That? a piece identifying the fact that, under legal scrutiny, a number of flaws show up in the "proved" case for "Climate Science". A highly qualified Professor of Law has examined the climate science arguments and concludes that it would not stand up under cross examination in a court of law. His paper entitled Global Warming Advocacy Science: A Cross Examination, makes interesting reading.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Paranoia Rules?

The trend in government – certainly in the UK – is to try to legislate for every eventuality. In recent years we have seen a plethora of legislation regulating aspects of our lives that a generation ago were considered matters of “common sense”. I’m not referring here to the rafts of “Health and Safety” legislation but to such things as the legality of driving and eating, or drinking water while driving, ownership or possession of “offensive weapons”, “rights” and let us not forget the avalanche of legislation governing any work with children. Then there are “vulnerable adults” whom we used to be allowed to say were below average intelligence, or suffered some disability, mental or otherwise, which precluded their being able to fend for themselves. Added top all that, there are or any number of things deemed “offensive” to minorities, Muslims or atheists, but, notably, nothing to protect Christians from offense by any of those groups.

Under this tendency, the usual safeguards of the law – that you were presumed innocent until proven guilty – have gone out of the window. It is now sufficient to be accused of one of a raft of offences related to children for you to be deemed guilty even if the state can’t prove it or you prove conclusively your innocence. “Registers” of offenders – particularly sexual – are now the norm and they have no expiry date. This affects even your children and their children since, being the child of someone on such a register means the authorities immediately assume that you are “at risk” of being a sexual offender yourself. Even if you are cleared of the offence and removed from the "register" - you go on another "register" that says you were on the first. The whole thing is driven by the paranoia whipped up and sustained by the Press and other media. Certainly there are some terrible people out there, but they are not the entire population which is what is now assumed in legislation.

This paranoia is blighting lives, communities and everyone associated with it is equally paranoid. I realised this after being “Criminal Records Bureau Checked” for the umpteenth time even though I had no regular contact with young people or “vulnerable adults”. I had to go through this performance simply because “I might have contact with these groups”. It made me realise that I was now vulnerable to the possibility of having my entire life, my reputation and my career destroyed by a single misinterpreted gesture. That, in turn, made me very wary of undertaking certain tasks and duties and I am relieved that I no longer have that threat hanging over me as I have now withdrawn from that ministry and work altogether. Years ago I was a Sea Scout and then a Scoutmaster, we had none of these legal constraints – in fact, aged 22, I was looking after seventy boys on my own for the most part – and had a huge amount of fun and never a single problem.

Recently I was approached to do this work again. One look at the “rules” and I decided there was no way I would place myself in such a position. Yes, you could say that I have become paranoid, and you would be right. But with reason, I have seen too many teachers – some of them friends – destroyed by false accusations made by malicious and undisciplined brats. Even when these have been proven false, the whispers and rumours – and the Education Authorities “rules” – have precluded a resumption of a career on too many occasions.

This is but one aspect of the problem. Health and Safety has become the major reason for curtailing activity, preventing change or even preventing progress. The threat of being sued terrifies managers, so they hide behind “policy” and “procedures” many of which, if followed, would mean the job could not be done. Again, the paranoia of the employer is driven by the paranoia of the politicians and their paymasters the Unions who are, for the most part, work-dodgers (At least in my profession!) who demand ever tighter restrictions on 'safety' grounds for any activity you care to name. In some Fire Services, the Officer (Sorry! Manager!) in charge must complete a WRITTEN “Dynamic” Risk Assessment of the event before committing his (or her) Firefighters. First of all, a written assessment is not dynamic. To be dynamic it needs to be under constant review – but having it on paper means that when things go wrong you can say “But my risk assessment covered that, and the men didn’t …”

Likewise, Chief Fire Officers now issue Standing Orders for fire crews insisting that they must wait until all despatched appliances are in attendance before committing anyone to any action other than writing your risk assessment. That tells me that these new managers are so lacking in experience that they do not understand the mood of the crowd who want to see action, not people standing around watching while things burn down. It also tells me that they do not understand the first principle of effective fire fighting, summed up neatly by William Shakespeare –

“A little fire may be quickly trodden out, which, being suffered, rivers cannot quench.”

All too often small fires involving one room are engulfing the entire property now by the time the first arriving crews have complied with all the ’elf an’ safey procedures, meaning all that is required by Health and Safety Regulations. As a fire fighter in the bad old days, I can recall that we had a total of three people killed in my region in twenty years service. Two were stabbed by bystanders – put that in your risk assessment – and one (NOT in my Brigade) was crushed when huge rolls of paper broke loose during a fire in a warehouse. In the UK, where the average deaths in service was one per year, you might have thought that this was pretty good and needed to be addressed through further training or perhaps a thorough going review of what was actually to blame here. Instead, Blair, 'expertly' advised by civil servants with no qualifications in fire fighting, and the Union with their 'Anti-militarism' ideology, decided that the system of training which had, up to then, served us very well, needed to be replaced by a “clone the clones” system. This makes use of photocopiers, assessment centres which measure little or nothing about the actual work and focus entirely on such really important things as “racial attitudes”, “gender orientation”, “equality” and that blanket catch-all 'fairness'.

At the same time, of course, with reducing the practical experience of everyone in the service and allowing completely unqualified “managers” to parachute in at all levels, the quality of service and the death rates have climbed steeply. Deaths in service are no longer rare. Where is the paranoia about this?

It manifests in a number of different ways, such as managers employing legal advisers to vet, review and reword standing orders and procedures so that the victim can be blamed for his/her death. This manifests itself in many different ways in a range of other fields as well. Taking photographs of your children and allowing a “photolab” to process them has become a high risk strategy and one with the potential to get a visit from the police or the social worker (or both!) just in case the photos are potentially 1) for use by a child porn ring, 2.) child exploitation, or 3.) have other children in them, not your own, who may not have given their (or their parents) consent to be in the photograph.

The “Food Police” are another manifestation, with “inspectors” rushing about checking fridge temperatures in busy restaurants and hotels and then trying to prosecute the chef because his fridge, during rush hour, is one or two degrees above the “Code of Practice” temperature. Warning labels on food is another case in point. I fully accept that there are people who need to know what is in certain pre-prepared foods. Nut allergies, sensitivity to certain colourants and allergies to gluten are perhaps not so obvious, or as frequent as the media make out, and they are serious. But why do the major supermarkets then have to stick a label on a packet of nuts “May contain nuts”? For heaven’s sake, who, with a nut allergy, is going to pick one up and ask, “Does this contain nuts?” Frankly, if they were that stupid, they deserve what happens if they eat the damned things.

The same goes for “Best Before” dates on packages. I know people who get into a right old twist if they find a package in their cupboard two or even three days past the “best before” label. Anyone would think the Black Death had arrived for another round the way they carry on. Simple diseases which we all used to carry some immunity for are now labelled “killer” and panic and paranoia ensue. I am amused to see that in Germany all the milk I buy is homogenised. It stays fresh longer and it tastes as good on day one as it does on day five. Yet, in Britain, mention Homogenised and the Food Police go into mass cardiac arrest. According to them, homogenising allows the manufacturer to pass on out of date milk, or milk that might not be “pure” or “safe”. But the same idiot will happily drink “Long Life” sterilised milk, not realising that this is how the dairies use up the diseased and really out of date milk!

Food that has been frozen on the day it was bought does not need to be used by the “Best Before” date – the damned stuff will keep for as long as you like as long as it stays frozen solid. “Best Before” is a device for the shop manager to allow rotation of stock and the canny among us always root around at the back of the display for the really fresh stock! Watch Mrs Islington Coffee Circuit though, she will carefully examine and note every “Best Before” date in her basket and then make sure she uses it before the date. She’s also the one who will go to a restaurant and ask the waiter or the maitre d’hotel endless questions about the ingredients for everything on the menu before ordering. Utter paranoia, usually she doesn’t have a thing wrong with her, but is terrified that she might have.

This paranoia is fostered by the chattering classes that infest Islington and inner London, by the media who can sell more news this way by scaring the living daylights out of people who haven’t the brains to wonder how their forebears survived before all the super hygiene nutters got on the bandwagon and turned common sense into an industry. It’s really about control. If I can make you afraid of your own shadow, I can control how you think, what you eat and where you go. That is the bottom line.

I love the German butchers, bakers and grocers. They display their wares openly, handle them carefully and are always spotless – yet I can hear the UK Food Police screaming in horror every time I visit my local Schlachter for some Sulzer, Wurst, Schweinfleisch and the rest. I watch with pleasurable anticipation as the great slabs of meat are lifted from the display, carefully cut and wrapped and not a plastic glove in sight! The same at the baker and the grocer has his produce so “Frisch” it’s still wet and has earth attached. No one gets e-coli from it and no one suffers from listeria or any of the other “killer” bugs that the media and the Food Police tell us lurks in every mouthful. Of course these diseases are present and they occur, but not in anything like the numbers the media reports suggest.

Britain is a paranoid society and, sadly, I think its terminal.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

History repeats itself ...

What Have We Learned in 2,065 Years?

"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

Evidently nothing.

Ignoring history and failure to pay heed to its lessons is what condemns us, again and again, to repeating the mistakes...

Sunday, 6 June 2010

D-Day

Today marks the 66th anniversary of D-Day, the landings in Normandy that set in motion the freeing of Europe from the Nazi scourge. It marked the start of some desperate fighting, enormous sacrifices on both sides and tremendous suffering - but it also marked the beginning of the end for Hitler and his henchmen.

We should not forget those who gave their tomorrows, for our today.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Summer is a comin' in...

Sat o the patio, music playing, digesting lunch and enjoying the beauty of the day. Birds singing, bees buzzing, cat sunbathing... What more could a man ask for? Self mowing grass? Maybe, that's the job waiting for me now and I'd better get going on it before the sun gets too warm.

Sorry cat, I'll have to disturb your sunbathing spot!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Corpus Christi

I'm not used to this being a holiday, it wasn't in SA and it certainly isn't in the UK, but here in Germany, it is. At least in Hessen it is. I rather like the fact that all these religious feasts are kept here, Ascension, Corpus Christi and all the major feasts are marked along with all the secular ones as well. Even better, by law, the shops don't open, there is no noisey gardening allowed and you can simply relax in the gazebo or the patio and enjoy the sounds of nature.

Our little mountain top village is too small to have a church, so the nearest are in Bleidenstadt or Born, about 4 km either way. So, we have settled our creepers, breakfasted in the gazebo and plan a short run to a nearby mountain top site where we should be able to get some stunning views across Wiesbaden to the Rhine. But that's for later. Right now there is a nice breeze and a lovely dose of sunshine to be had.

Lunch postponed to 17.00....

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Anniversaries

Yesterday marked the one hundredth anniversary of the Act of Union, not of Great Britain, Scotland and Ireland, but of the four "Provinces" that made up the former Union of South Africa. THe Union held from 1910 until 1961 when South Africa formally left the Comonwealth under the leadership (One could say dictatorship) of the Afrikaner Nationalists, and became a Republic. I doubt many people marked the occassion, certainly not many outside of South Africa would have remembered it and I think probably the British would have good reason to forget it, since that Act of Union, written in London by British Civil Servants and British Politicians, contained the seeds of Apartheid. It allowed for the "Tribesmen" to be represented by "Commissioners" and to not have a direct say in government. It was probably a reasonable and sensible approach in 1910 since it was the basis of such "Acts" all around the Globe in an Empire then at its zenith.

I find it fascinating that todays "liberal" generation sees only the outcome of such an important moment in the history of western civilisation. They see only the "suppression" and ignore the hardships and the heartbreak of the settlers who went to places like South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and the Americas seeking opportunities for themselves and their descendents denied them in their home countries - frequently by the forebears of the very same intelligentsia that today brands them "murderers, vandals, oppressors" and worse. They ignore the contribution these men and women and their descendents made to the wealth that allows Britain to give "free" health care, education and "benefits" to a population no longer interested in enterprise or in the freedoms their fathers and grandfathers fought so hard to gain. Just "gimme my giro and let's go get a skinful down the pub" for the largest part of the "working class" while the Islington "chattering classes" rewrite history, reinvent their own families and line their pockets on the wealth they calim the settlers "stole" from the "natives" elsewhere.

Today marks another anniversary that will probably go unnoticed by the masses and the media, but I would hope not by the successors of Nelson. Today is the anniversary of Lord Howe's great victory over the French at sea in 1794, just as yesterday was also the anniversary of the Battle of Jutland in 1916. What a shame to think that the fleet which served the British nation (and protected the very wealth the rewriters of our history now live off) is likely to be reduced to no more than a coastal defence force. The two great Aircraft carriers are ikely to be scrapped before they are even launched in the desperate scramble to "save" money so the Civil Service can continue to expand and waste it, the Fleet is likely to be reduced even further as the argument goes that "we can't afford it" simpy because the money is to be wasted on social engineering and the :arts" not on science and engineering.

Kiplings famous lines of 1897, his poem titled Recessional, was a prophetic piece of work, worthy of reading on dates such as these.