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Thursday, 21 November 2019

Transgression

Possibly the most important piece of news of the day is easy to overlook. Our hero is no high profile politician or media personality, no minor royal with the emotional intelligence of a lump of mince, no virtue signalling pop star but a previously unknown 53 year old former policeman called Harry Miller. The story is featured in today's Telegraph

You will know me as a pretty laid back and socially liberal sort of blogger; if male readers choose to browse the internet dressed as Eartha Kitt or wearing outsize Victoria's Secret undergarments, I really don't care. I really, really, don't care. Being libertarian in outlook means so long as you're not harming anyone else, you can do as you like. However, I fundamentally believe that there are only two human sexes, biologically, and anything else can be classed as either make-believe or a psychological disorder. Now you may not have realised that writing that may lead to this blog entry being recorded by the police under their Hate Crime Operational Guidance (2014). Something similar led to plod banging at the door of Harry Miller -
Mr Miller, a married father of four, was investigated by Humberside Police earlier this year after a Twitter user complained that he shared a 'transphobic limerick'. Even though no crime was committed, his sharing of the limerick online was recorded as a 'hate incident' and he was described as a "suspect" in police reports, the court heard.

Mr Miller, who was previously an officer for the Humberside force, accused the police of "creating a chilling atmosphere for those who would express a gender critical position".

"The idea that a law-abiding citizen can have their name recorded against a hate incident on a crime report when there was neither hate nor crime undermines principles of justice, free expression, democracy and common sense," he said.
Mr Miller has succeeded in putting the police guidance before the courts for judicial review. The case continues. We must not only wish him every success but be ready to support the costs of an appeal should the case continue in the higher courts.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Baying at our power and booing democracy

On 6th November I wrote a piece that included
The events are designed to show how powerful and important are the broadcasters, and how trivial our political leaders. Silly little bar stools, demeaning sets and intellectually inadequate presenters with little understanding of democracy and frequently an inability to chair either effectively or impartially the debate make the things a spectacle like those in which secret incestuous caravan-park relations are revealed before a studio audience. TV debates are all about the broadcasters.
Well, last night was absolutely everything I hate about these staged spectacles. The set was taken from a game show, the vacuous presenter would perhaps have served to interview a minor royal with the IQ of a slice of bacon but for nothing more challenging, and the audience bayed and booed. The broadcasters have yet again insulted the gravity of our democracy with jejune malice and have turned a leaders' debate during the most important election in a century into an episode of the Jeremy Kyle show.

We must ensure that this is the last time the broadcasters insult our democracy, devalue the power of our vote and belittle our electoral process. A ninety-minute studio debate without an audience chaired by Andrew Neil would serve - but this lurex spangled game show must end.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Hong Kong - are the protesters losing support?

Am I detecting a change in temperature in support for the Hong Kong protesters? When they were waving union flags as an un-ironic symbol of freedom and metaphorically standing in front of the tanks, there was a groundswell of support for their courage and commitment to values we like to think we gifted our ex-colony.

However, things have turned ugly. Molotov cocktails and crossbows, violence directed at the police, beatings of those inclined to reason. In a week they've seemingly gone from victims to Boxers, to the extent that my sympathies have actually shifted towards the beleaguered police and even to China's (puppet?) ruler Carrie Lam, struggling both to restore control and keep the PLA out.

Or are the protesters just ramping up their response to a more aggressive and violent police tactics? In any event, this is becoming, in my perception, a shades of grey thing.

Maybe Peking has learned a thing or two since Tiananmen Square - now thirty years ago.

Monday, 18 November 2019

Water, water .....

One of the upsides of having a main residence in a place in which 2m of Winter snow is not unusual and the entire landscape is trying constantly to go from 45° to horizontal is that everyone is well prepared for it. Every village has its volunteer firefighters and a pump or two (and who are now finally ditching their disconcerting WWII German coal scuttle steel helmets) and council vehicles are short, powerful, high wheelbase trucks. Consequently, the biblical deluge of the past two days is treated as serious but normal; stuff happens. As scores of roads are closed by landslips, floods and fallen trees - find alternative routes. As 200 train passengers are trapped by blocked rail lines and fallen power cables - put them up in hotels and guesthouses, now empty in the off-season. Houses flood, cellars fill with water, schools are unreachable - get the people out, send the pumps in.

As the trickling bachl at the edge of my meadows has turned into a roaring torrent I have been watching the local news carefully, as one does. Never once have I heard anyone blaming it on the government, never once have I seen exploitative interviews with tearful victims. No one cares right now whether it's climate or weather. The whole approach is incredibly stoical. It shames me to say it, but it puts the sensationalist, unbalanced and virtue-signalling whining of the UK media to shame.

In fact, the Austrians have me chuckling. Breakfast TV here is 'Good Morning, Austria!' in which the presenters take their caravan around rural Austria and interview local cake-bakers, costume makers, cider brewers, men with big moustaches and so on between serious news pieces. Today they're broadcasting from an area of the Tyrol stricken with avalanches, mudslides, floods and closed roads and they have segued seamlessly into interviewing firefighters, disaster co-ordinators and experts in making your own candles from earwax ... judge for yourself; the first three minutes are enough.


And here is a matter-of-fact information list of local closed roads, so one may plan one's journey. I'll bet SatNav hasn't caught up yet -

Kärnten
  • die B80, Lavamünder Straße, bei Lavamünd. Nur für PKW gibt es eine Umleitungsmöglichkeit.
  • die B81, Bleiburger Straße, in Lavamünd.
  • die B98, Millstätter Straße, bei Feld am See und zwischen Afritz und Feld am See
  • die B81, Bleiburger Straße, in Lavamünd. PKW werden örtlich umgeleitet. LKW können nur großräumig ausweichen.
  • die B85, Rosental Straße zwischen Finkenstein und Pogöriach
  • die B88, die Kleinkirchheimer Straße, zwischen Radenthein und dem Kirchheimer Graben
  • die B99, Katschberg Straße, zwischen Lieserbrücke und Trebesing, zwischen Leoben und Kremsbrücke sowie zwischen der Autobahnauffahrt Rennweg und dem Katschberg
  • die B100 Drautal Straße zwischen Greifenburg und Radlach
  • die B105, Mallnitzer Straße, auf der gesamten Strecke
  • die B106, Mölltal Straße zwischen Mühldorf und Flattach und zwischen Stall und Latzendorf
  • die B107, Großglockner Straße, zwischen Döllach und Heiligenblut und zwischen Winklern und Iselsberg
  • die B110, die Plöckenpass-Straße, zwischen Mauthen und dem Plöckenpass sowie zwischen Oberdrauburg und Kötschach
  • die B90, die Nassfeld-Straße, zwischen der B111 und Tröpolach
  • die L65, die Hochrindl Straße zwischen Ebene Reichenau und Hochrindl
  • die L26, Egger Straße zwischen Paßriach und Latschach
  • die L103, Waidischer Straße im Ortsgebiet von Ferlach und Zell Pfarre
  • die L3 Amlacher Straße in Greifenburg
  • die L5 Baldramsdorferstraße zwischen Spittal Draubrücke und Gendorf
  • die L19, Innerkremser Straße, zwischen Innerkrems und der Kremsbrücke
  • die L32, die Stockenboier Landesstraße, bei Zlan
  • die L38 Krastal Landesstraße zwischen Treffen und Puch
  • die L37, die Ferndorfer Straße, bei Ferndorf
  • die L113, die Diexer Straße, zwischen St. Ulrich und Gretschitz
  • die Apriacher Straße (Gemeinde Heiligenblut)
  • die Verbindung Winkl – Schlatten
  • und auf der Innerfaganter Straße die Zufahrt zum Mölltaler Gletscher
In der Gemeinde Mörtschach sind einige Straßen wegen Lawinengefahr gesperrt. Und zwar die Ortswege nach :
– Oberstranach
– Pirkaberg
– Rettenbach
– Stampfen West
– Asten
  • In der Gemeinde Großkirchheim sind alle Ortschaftswege gesperrt.
  • In der Gemeinde Winklern sind alle Güterwege Richtung Penzelberg, Oberzwischenbergen und Unterzwischenbergen gesperrt.
  • In der Gemeinde Rangersdorf sind alle Güterwege zu den Bergortschaften gesperrt.
  • In der Gemeinde Stall im Mölltal sind alle Straßen gesperrt.
In der Gemeinde Dellach gesperrt sind:
Nordseitig (Gailtaler Alpen)
– Stollwitzweg (mit Oberstollwitz)
– Goldbergweg (mit Hofzufahrt Obermonseller, Hofzufahrt Knaller und Hofzufahrt Rüben) Wieserbergweg (mit Gurina und Sigile/Schrocker)
Südseitig:
– Hofzufahrt Urban
In der Gemeinde Kötschach-Mauthen:
  • Plon – Buchach
  • Lanz – Dobra
  • Vorhegg – Kreuth
  • Kreuth Ödenhütte (Maierle)
  • Sittmoos, Nischlwitz und Zufahrt Huber
  • Kosta
  • Moser – Trattenschuster Weg
  • Strenge
  • Krieghof
  • Kronhof
  • Gratzhof
  • Dolling
  • Kreuzberg zu Lamprechtbauer und Krieger
In der Gemeide Kirchbach, die Bereiche:
  • Schimanberg-Tramun
  • Staudachberg-Hochwart
  • Wassertheurerberg
  • Stöfflerberg
  • Forst-Straße
  • Kattlingberg-Lenzhofstraße
  • Rauthweg
  • Oberbuchach
  • AAW Stranig-Goderschach; Unterbuchachstraße
  • Verbindungsweg Fitschweg
  • Reißkofelbad-Straße von Grafendorf und Reisach
Wegen umgestürzter Bäume gesperrt ist:
– die B95, die Turracher Straße, zwischen Predlitz und Turrach
Ost-Tirol
In Osttirol sind zahlreiche Straßen gesperrt nach dem starken Schneefall. Auch drohen immer wieder Bäume umzustürzen.
Gesperrt sind
– die Felbertauern-Mautstraße von Mittersill bis Matrei
– und die B108, die Felbertauern-Straße, zwischen Matrei und Huben (zwischen der Hofstelle „Strimitzer“ und der Brühlbrücke)
Weiters gesperrt:
– die B107, die Großglockner Straße, zwischen Iselsberg und Winklern
– die B111, die Gailtal Straße, zwischen Rauchenbach und Kartitsch
– die L24, die Virgentalstraße, von Obermauern bis Hinterbichl
– die L25, die Defereggental-Straße, von Huben bis zum Staller Sattel
– die L26, die Kalser Straße, von Huben bis zur Ködnitz-Brücke
– die L74, die Rajach Straße, im gesamten Verlauf
– die L273, die Villgratentalstraße, zwischen Heinfels und Kalkstein
– die L324, Pustertaler Höhenstraße, in mehreren Abschnitten zwischen Oberburgfrieden und Abfaltersbach
– die L325, die Tessenberger Straße, zwischen Fronstadl und Hintenburg
– die L326, die Winkeltalstraße, auf gesamter Strecke
– die L358, die St. Veiter Straße, im Bereich Frezgraben
– die L359, die Asslinger Straße, zwischen Thal und Oberassling
– und die L388, die St. Justina Straße, zwischen Mittenwald und St. Justina
– sowie sämtliche Ortsstraßen in Inner- und Außervillgraten

Saturday, 16 November 2019

CorbynNet - just wrong on so many levels

I pay about £17 a month for unlimited interweb at a consistent speed of 30MB - plenty for me, with Netflix, a couple of internet radios on all day and normal browsing. And neither a strand of copper nor a whisper of fibre optic in sight - it's all LTE 4G mobile, my router having a SIM card slot rather than an RJ11 socket. I don't need 5G, and as I don't own any sort of huge screen I don't need faster speeds. I don't even watch Netflix that much - last night, with the fire playing in the stove, I sank into the comfort of  a Portillo rail journeys DVD, an early one, before he started to camp it up for his considerable gay fan club. I don't think I'm untypical of the older internet user.

Clearly I think Labour's £100bn nationalised internet offer was aimed at the young, but to my mind it's mistaken on at least three levels. Firstly, is the UK seriously proposing to dig up all those streets and roads again to lay fibre into dwellings, rather than just into junction boxes which use copper for the final connection? Isn't this a bit, erm, steampunk, when the entire sparsely populated alpine region of Europe gets 4G using mobile?

Secondly, an anyone who has ever compared internet tariffs will ask, what does 'free' and 'fast' mean? Is it 10MB speeds for up to 2GB a month? Or 67MB for unlimited use? You see, Mr Corbyn clearly doesn't quite understand that demand for something free is pretty well infinite - which is why we have to ration free stuff like the NHS. And St Greta will not be pleased - the interweb already takes more than 10% of our power consumption.

Thirdly and most importantly, what sort of morons would vote to voluntarily hand control of their internet access to an overweening nanny government department? One journalist asked at Labour's press conference yesterday whether national CorbynNet would ban porn - and got a weaselly answer about controls to prevent harm to users. That means censorship. Now the young generation I know uses stuff like Tor, bitstreaming, online gaming, the greyer bits of the web where we olduns never venture and, I am pretty sure, lots of porn. Everything in fact that Labour's authoritarian illiberal nannies would want to ban. They'd have us all watching documentary films about cheese-making co-operatives.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

End of Empire

With a monumental lack of irony, Donald Tusk claimed yesterday that Brexit marked the true end of Empire, as though anyone thought that such a terminal event was a bad thing. This utter lack of self-awareness amused me hugely on two grounds. The first was that Brexit will mark the end of Britain's subjugation and restraint by his own nascent EU Empire, the second that Britain's rejection of the role of military muscle that the EU had planned for us will almost certainly curtail the EU's own dreams of a European empire to rival the US and China. He knows so little of the UK, or has been so deluded and gulled by specious Remain propaganda, to imagine that there's anyone at all on the Brexit side who yearns for Empire. Since 2008, not one single comment on this blog has even mentioned it. It is, as the psychologists say, Projection.

China, too, having hardly laid the first belt-and-road asphalt, is already experiencing the pains and costs of Empire, and I don't mean just Hong Kong. The hundreds of billions invested in African ports, transport infrastructure, mines and natural resources will be increasingly at risk; from forfeiture if ever the bribe taps to the ruling elites are turned off, or at the hands of an emergent new kleptocratic elite seizing them for the new regime. Either China uses military force to secure the assets, or loses the vast investments - a dilemma that every ex-colonial power has faced. Long lines of communication means a low ratio of teeth to tail, something that the US, with 1.3 million persons under arms only a small fraction of whom are tasked to combat duties, has already found. And internally, China is at the stage of millions detained already in detention camps - universally the precursor to regime change.

I have published before a map of Tusk's imperial European ambitions which I find simply strategically unbelievably stupid. Turkey doesn't even have to start a tank - just to release 3m migrants launched into the EU's soft underbelly. A NATO without boots on EU ground can shorten supply lines and constrict all sea routes to the EU if required, closing the Med up like a boating lake.

So thank you, Donald. Trebles all round, I think.   

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

The fight is not over

This election is round one in an existential war to win back popular democracy. Ranged against the people of Britain are the globalist powers of the deep state and their dags who have infiltrated and taken control of our national institutions. 

The strength of the people has always been made manifest through the actions of what Robert Nisbet called our intermediate institutions - the little platoons that Burke found foundational in creating a national identity. Nisbet locates the chief cause of the feeling of lostness in modern man in the weakening of the intermediate associations that stand between the lone individual and the State; without our local bodies, our little platoons, our guilds, churches, watch committees and town councils, we are hugely vulnerable to the depredations of the central state. This is why I am so committed to Localism. The battles against the deep state globalists are not to be won in SW1 but in our parish halls and meeting places, in places real and virtual, by physical or remote contact. Popular democracy needs local moots.  

One of the most sustained assaults on popular democracy since the middle of the last century has been by the central state on our intermediate institutions. Many have been destroyed beyond any hope of resurrection - but our future lies not in replicating the past, but in creating new forms of local identity using the tools and relationships enabled by technology. Localism need not be limited by geography, defined by place but by purpose. This blog is also valid as a local moot. Your own family is an intermediate institution, and a powerful nexus of a belonging, an allegiance, a strength that the central State cannot defile.  

Robert Tombs in the Telegraph today also delineates the battles ahead;
All across the democratic world, more and more power has shifted away from elected national governments towards non-elected bodies – international organisations, law courts, treaties, quangos. Governments have voluntarily surrendered their own authority. But in doing so, they have limited democratic choice: voters are told that there are things they cannot do, choices they cannot make.

This has gone furthest in EU member states. A void has been created between rulers and ruled. Two networks of power, influence and patronage have grown up: one based on domestic politics, the other based on the EU institutions. These two networks – two establishments, one national, one trans-national, which include politicians, civil servants, academics, business lobbies, non-governmental organisations – overlap in every EU country.
It is those virtues that the technocratic elites claim as liberating - individualism, egality and the supremacy of central or supranational authority - that Nisbet found destructive of popular democracy;
What is often overlooked, as Nisbet points out, is that in making individuals independent of each other and of society, Rousseau would also make them dependent on the State. The State would ensure the individual's equality and liberty. But "liberty" in Rousseau’s terminology, of course, means submergence of the individual will in the General Will. The citizen will be "compelled to be free." He will be protected from the discriminations of society; the State, in Rousseau’s mind, is to be the great protector of the individual’s rights. But, in turn, the individual must be willing to relinquish any of his own wishes that conflict with the dictates of the General Will. There would be no room for rebellious intermediate associations. In Rousseau’s would-be State, even "religion must be identified, in the minds of the people, with the values of national life, else it will create disunity and violate the General Will." Thus does freedom become identified with obeying the guidelines of a central authority.
The struggles of the past three years to re-assert the supremacy of popular democracy are not the end of it. This election is but one battle, with a struggle ahead. All those who have fought so hard for UKIP or The Brexit Party have not fought in vain, nor are their efforts ended. That commitment to the powers of the people of this nation under democratic norms is still needed. Democracy doesn't always mean winning, as Tombs concludes
Democracy is not a system for discovering the "right answer" to political issues: we can rarely if ever 
be sure what the right answer is. Democracy, rather, is a system for creating consent and solidarity by allowing all to have an equal vote. For making people feel that the way they are governed, though not perfect, is at least one in which they are fairly consulted and their voices listened to. So that, even if they do not get their own way, they accept the outcome without trying to sabotage or evade it.

That is what we have come perilously close to losing. Next month we have the chance to regain it, with all the opportunities and risks that democracy entails.