Monday, 27 June 2011

Fate of the €uro?

The Greek economy is a major cause for concern. If it collapses completely, the €uro would be torn apart - or so say the experts. It is, I note with some sadness, mainly the UK anti-European minority who want to see this happen. What, I think, they fail to recognise, is that if the €uro collapses, the British Pound will be hit as well.

Why? Quite simply put, most British Industry and Commerce is now European or other 'offshore' nation owned. Even the majority of the High Street Banks are EU owned, if not based. Much as I love the UK, I find the blinkered approach and the selfish self interest which drives the Unions, the Civil Service and the various pressure groups that bedevil the debate on anything from Defence to Integration, language or religion, tiresome and unedifying. For one thing the last thirty odd years have seen the UK become so dependent on membership of the EU that they can no longer stand alone. I suspect that this is why all the major Parties refuse to allow a Referendum - if they lost it they know the UK will become a third world basket case overnight.

My reading of history suggests that the €uro will survive and, sadly, because my pension is paid in Pounds Sterling, it will eventually become a far more attractive and stable currency than the Pound. The example from history is the US Dollar, once almost a joke, but since the dawn of the 20th Century, the biggest alternative 'investment' currency for any investor. That is changing and the Chinese, the Oil Sheiks and others are investing in the €uro. Every Yuan, Dinar or Shekel they put into the €uro makes it stronger against the Pound and a stronger €uro will mean jobs moving out of the UK and into Europe - whether the Eurosceptics like it or not.

I do not believe the Greek economy will be allowed to collapse. They falsified the books to get into the €uro and that has now caught up with them. I suspect the Greek Government will have no alternative but to bow to surrendering the control of their economy to the IMF. Failure to do so will see them expelled from the Euro, or, alternatively, the stronger economies will shift to a New €uro (Perhaps renamed as a €urodollar?).

As I see it the economic power has shifted - in fact shifted sometime in the 1970s - from London to Europe. Like it or not, the €uro in one form or another is the currency of the European States - and it is here to stay.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Fly Screens etc ...

I have spent a large part of today assembling a "fly screen" for our bedroom window and will continue this work with one for my Study tomorrow. The 'destructions' - in German of course - were far from clear even to Mausi, so it required a little FRS style ingenuity in the end. But the result is satisfactory.

The screen fits the window beautifully and will confound all the little flying insects - especially the flies and mosquitoes - that like to invade our bedroom as soon as we open the window and retire for the night.

Now to bar the flies from my study ...

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Fool Britannia ...

Is the title of a book I am reading at present. It is an obvious swipe at Blair's Nu Liebor "Cool Britannia" and is a compilation of stories about the way in which "Political Correctness" is slowly but steadily imposing upon the law abiding citizens of Britain, a Soviet Style state in which officials, neighbours and Quangos have the power to enter homes, restrict speech and impose fines and penalties for beaching some of the more than 1,000 pieces of legislation Liebor imposed in the last 13 years they were in power.

Did you know that redecorating your home while expecting a new baby could get you onto a Councils Child Protection Register? Well it can. Council "Inspectors" have the right and the power of entry to check a persons home - once protected by Magna Carta from the intrusion of the State on any grounds save a criminal offence and then only with a Warrant from a Magistrate - for any one of several hundred "offences" including keeping pot plants improperly!

Blair and his PC "Luvvies" have created almost 1600 Quangos, answerable to no one but themselves and handed out powers to every petty official that intrude and impinge upon the freedom of the individual in ways that, in most countries, would have people out on the streets hanging officials and beheading politicians.

The Stasi in East Germany would have loved to have the power Blair has given Town Hall nobodies. I commend to everyone the book, "Fool Britannia," published by Pen and Sword Books. I have no doubt it will enrage, amuse and instill feelings of utter despair ...

Friday, 24 June 2011

Corpus Christi ...

Yesterday saw the Feast of Corpus Christi well and truly celebrated in Germany. Certainly in those parts where the Catholic Church influence is strong. For most of the Lande it was a Feiertag - a public holiday and many of the cathedral cities also marked it with a special Mass followed by processions through the streets.

It is nice to see a country that is still proud to celebrate the contribution of Christianity to its development despite the problems and the negative issues arising from the abuse scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church. Much is made of the various high Holy Feasts here and it is good to see the children being given a prominent part in these celebrations.

The Feast itself marks the institution of the Eucharist as the physical representation of Christ Himself in the bread and wine of the Communion we share, an institution He commanded at the Last Supper. For the Roman Church the Bread and Wine become in the Transubstantiation, the physical Body and Blood, for others the Host and the Wine are an outward symbol of a deep spiritual grace. However Christians see it, the Eucharist of Bread and Wine should be celebrated as often as we can - it is, after all, what sets our Faith apart from all others most visibly.

We meet in His Name; we share His gifts of the Body and Blood and His eternal peace and hope.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Book News

I have just signed a contract with Abbots Press to publish Harry Heron Number 4 - On The Run.

This is quite exciting as the book will also be available as an eBook and in the usual formats of Paper Back and Hard Cover. Now begins to hard work of getting it ready for print and there will, undoubtedly, be some editing and rewriting necessary to get it absolutely right. All I can say at present is, 'watch this space' and do visit my Website (See the side bar!) from time to time.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Longest Day - Shortest Night

And it's overcast and raining...

Well, it is here anyway, so I can't get the lawn mowed and will soon need to hire a couple of horses to eat it down. To think its only a week or so back that I was worrying that we hadn't had enough rain to make it grow at all.

Did I mention it's also cold? Well, for the season anyway, let's face it 15°C is pretty warm for some parts, but considering we are supposed to be experiencing 20°C plus, plus ...

Oh well, the housework beckons.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Entertainment unlimited ...

Last night we saw my brother and his partner off at Frankfurt-Hahn Airport after a great five day visit. They were delayed getting here because a volcano in Eritrea had blown its top and sent columns of ash and muck into the atmosphere, and arrived at Frankfurt International twelve hours later than planned. Still it has been busy, but huge fun.

As they are both terrific artists, we took them to Würzburg to see the "Residence," once the palace of the Prince Bishops of Würzburg and now partly a museum and partly a part of the University campus. The incredible baroque paintings on the ceilings is just one part of the places stunning features. The artist, an Italian named Tiepelo, are 3-D and utterly amazing. Equally amazing is the hand created stucco work on ceilings walls and even fireplaces - all hand created by another Italian artists.

A trip on the Rhine allowed them to see the natural wonders of this part of Germany, and, of course, the many Rhine Castles.

The trip out to Frankfurt-Hahn was quite a trek, but again, it is good to know that they arrived in Montpelier, France, safe and sound and on schedule courtesy Ryanair. For those not "in the know," Frankfurt-Hahn is nowhere near Frankfurt International or even Frankfurt am Main... In fact it's the other side of the Rhine, in the Rhineland-Pfalz and used to be a USAF Airbase, now run for Ryanair ...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Volcanoes and flying ...

My brother was due to arrive for a short visit on Tuesday evening. He didn't, and there was little indication of why until yesterday morning when I discovered an email, sent from an airprot waiting area, to say that they were delayed by a day because of a volcano in Eritrea ...

Funny thing, when the volcanoes in Iceland blew their 'stacks' and European and US airspace was affected, it was headline news with updates on the hour.

The volcano in Eritrea has been going off boom for over a week and so is another in Chile and apparently one in New Zealand as well with several more rumbling away. Any reportage of them or the CO2 they're blasting into the atmosphere? No, I thought not. Eveidently if it isn't somewhere some member of our political classes can make election points in - it just isn't happening ...

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Pfingster Sontag - Pentecost Sunday

Today the Christian Churches celebrate the "birth" of the church - the coming of the Holy Spirit upon those gathered in the Upper Room in Luke's account in the Acts of the Apostles, or who were "breathed on" by Christ before He "left them" to carry on the ministry He gave them. (St John, Chapter 20.)

The Holy Spirit is the third member of the Christian Trinity, the constant presence of God in our lives and in the world.

We celebrated it wel this morning in the Friedenskirche in Wiesbaden, with a Eucharist and baptism and followed by coffee and cakes. Pentecost is a big event here in Germany and tomorrow is a holiday to mark its importance.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Public Information versus "News"

A discussion on a forum I frequent has got me thinking on the manner in which the media reports any sort of crisis these days. Often it appears that the first casualty is fact.

From experience I know, to my cost, that often what is said, is 'filtered' by the media - not I hasten to add with malicious intent - because they have 'X' number of words to tell the story in, and this is where the 'Chinese Whispers Effect' sets in. What I may say and what a reporter hears me say may be the first step in 'message' drift and it becomes particularly acute when you are faced with a media scrum all shouting their questions and sometimes interpreting your not being able to provide the answer in a 'negative' way.

Communication is a major problem for all Emergency Managers, it becomes even more acute when, as happens in many countries, the professionals are told to 'brief' a senior bureaucrat or politician who then confronts the media and spins or edits the original without understanding the technicalities or the implications.

I've had to stand by fuming in frustration as this happened on one occasion. The message that went out, as a result, was disaster looking for a moment to happen. Fortunately, it was retrievable in that instance - but only because the media twigged there was something adrift in what they were being told and came looking privately for facts.

It is even worse when you have an outbreak like the present E-Coli/EHEC outbreak in Germany, where the causitive agent is not identified immediately and the media and populace must be told. What to say and what not to say becomes a major problem. It gets even more complicated when the media start rushing about trying to get interviews and reports from 'people close to the source' - which can mean the company Janitor if no one else can be persuaded to say anything.

I may say that the media and political handling of the Fukushima crisis typifies the problem.

The Greens and Greenstrife, Fiends of the Earth and all the anti-nuclear crowd have had a field day spinning and twisting fact with sheer fantasy. There isn't a single German Nuclear station built on a major earthquake fault line or anywhere it could get hit be an earthquake and a tsunami, but the Greens have demanded they are all closed down and nuclear banned, in case one is. They've bussed people from one site to another, they've mobilised their troops and even insist that a 9-11 style attack on one will result in a 'nuclear blast.'

Fukushima itself is presented as 'proof' that nuclear reactors explode, when the reality is that it was a hydrogen build-up in the buildings housing the reactors and not the reactors that blew. That has been said again and again, but Greenstrife et al insist it is a 'nuclear explosion' and the fear raddled foot soldiers have taken up the chant.

The result is the German government have set a nuclear plant shut-down deadline which will see the German's either buying their power from someone else, our turning off the lights in alternate cities in 2020. All of this the result of poor communication.

I'm sure there's a doctorate in it for someone.

I'm equally convinced that our 'Information Age' should be renamed the "Age of Mass Hysteria and Misinformation."

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Government ...

Came across this quotation today and it's worth pondering.

To be governed is to be watched, inspected, directed, indoctrinated, numbered, estimated, regulated, commanded, controlled, law-driven, preached at, spied upon, censured, checked, valued, enrolled – by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so.

But probably the best quotation is one from an economist -

"The supply of government currently exceeds demand by a considerable margin."

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Global Warming ...

The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer, and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consul Ifft, at Bergen , Norway .

Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions
report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes.

Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm.

Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well
known glaciers have entirely disappeared.

Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old Seal fishing grounds.

Within a few years it is predicted that due to the ice melt the sea will rise and make most coastal cities uninhabitable.

I'm sorry, I neglected to mention that this report was from November 2, reported by the AP and published in The Washington Post.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Sweet Justice?

You have to love the story from the US where a Bank (Bank of America) fouled up a property purchase which didn't involve a bank loan or mortgage. Somehow the bank 'lost' the homeowners payment - purchase price and fees paid in full on date of purchase - and then, some months later tried to foreclose on the property for non-payment of a non-existent mortgage.

The owner's attorney won the subsequent court case and the court ordered the bank to pay the family's legal costs - as you may imagine, quite a substantial amount. Several months later, the bank had still not paid the fees.

Top marks to the attorney, he foreclosed on the bank ...

What a great advert for a bank to have the bailiffs show up with a court order to seize the banks furniture, fittings and the cash in the cashiers drawers for non-payment of a debt. Apparently the manager was visibly shaken and "felt intimidated" by the experience. I bet. Now I guess he and his superiors have some idea of what they do to the folk they put the squeeze on when they're having a rough time financially.

I'd put this one on the top of my list of "Justice: Seen to be done."

Monday, 6 June 2011

D-Day and all that ...

As I showered this morning I was thinking of the men who disgorged from the LCIs, LCTs and other assorted craft as the sun rose on this date in 1944. The beautiful sunrise here was nothing like what those troops and men experienced as they walked ran and fell along the beaches of Normandy 67 years ago today in a hail of shell fire, bombs, machine gun bullets and booby-traps.

It is to them that we owe our freedom today, not that our current crop of worthless bureaucrats and politicians care, nor have we done with that freedom, what our fathers and mothers fought, died and hoped for.

I commented once before that the Normandy landings were also the beginning of freedom for the German people as well as for Europe. Not all Germans were Nazi supporters and not all French, British and Allies were anti-Nazi. As ever the truth is a somewhat mixed bag and the allies certainly faced an uphill and bloody struggle as they pushed the troops ashore and advanced by inches marked in wounded men and deaths.

It is probably the greatest moment in the history of western civilisation.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Heat and thunder ...

It has been hot today, and the dryness of the last few weeks made the arrival of humid air from down south a little unpleasant until the body adjusted. But now we've had rain, not a lot, but some. It settled the dust, slaked the ground and the thunder was more of the 'promise' of the storm kind.

Still, the weather forecast is for more tomorrow - "Unwetter" in fact. Heavy rain, thunder, lightning and possibly hail. They can keep the last bit ...

Friday, 3 June 2011

Here is food for thought

Affirmative Action
" South Africa is the only country in the world where affirmative action is in the favour of the majority who has complete political control. The fact that the political majority requires affirmative action to protect them against a 9% minority group is testament to a complete failure on their part to build their own wealth making structures, such that their only solution is to take it from others."
London Times

I have argued from the beginning that any form of Affirmative Action is merely a new form of Apartheid "Job Reservation." Yet it is now the preferred tool espoused and enforced by those who, less than a generation ago, where waving placards outside South Africa House to abolish it.

There isn't a lot more I can say.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Glorious First of June...

Today marks the first great naval victory over Revolutionary France by the Royal Navy. Admiral Lord Howe led a fleet of British ships of war to victory four hundred miles into the Atlantic at roughly the same latitude as Cape Ushant in 1794, making this the 217th anniversary of that battle. While it was, tactically, a resounding defeat for the French, strategically it failed. The French convoy carrying vital grain to stave off a counter revolution stirred by the famine the Revolution had brought, escaped and was successfully unloaded.

As a result the Revolutionary Council remained in power and the war which became known as the Napoleonic Wars continued.

It is always interesting to note, that this and other great sea battles eventually put Britain in possession of the largest empire the world has thus far seen. Even more interesting is the fact that the Navy which created it possessed some 300 - 400 ships at its greatest extent and employed 400,000 men. The Civil Service of the day never exceeded 3,000 office bearers, the majority appointed on a 'friends and favours' basis which nevertheless saw 'Jacks-in-office' swiftly expelled if they failed to deliver what they had been appointed to do. There was certainly corruption and nepotism - but it got things done.

A sharp contrast to the modern Britain, divested of an Empire, its Military pared to the bone and still under threat from the politicians and civil servants, yet boasting the largest Civil Service in existence. 21% of the total UK Workforce of some 20 million people (An ESTIMATED 5 million paper shufflers and paper clip managers) and the Armed Forces no number in total less than 100,000 in all three services - but there are 9 paper shufflers in the MoD for every fighting man and woman.

One has to ask; why?