Friday, 9 November 2012

Back to Europe

Back to the only subject that really matters - the EU. All is quiet on the Brussels front; the arguments being presented on whether the new Commission budget should be plus or minus €10bn are a sop to press attention, disguising the real issues about trillions. Draghi's machinations have secured silence in the MSM and the markets are thereby also quited. The filmed clips of Greek petrol bombs on the news are getting shorter and before long we'll be completely desensitised to them - it will be a half-unnoticed half-minute of nightly riot news just before the sports reports. Voices such as those of Ambrose Evans-Pritchard are saying
We are not dealing with rational people. We are dealing with a religious order, and these monks are becoming an increasing danger to Europe’s societies and democracies.
But few are listening. If you've never come face-to-face with one of these Euro fanatics - lean, humourless, Godless polyps hard with arrogance and righteousness, drawn from the same human stock as selected for hard, dirty duty by despots everywhere - you can't realise the depth of their almost psychopathic idealism, or the extent to which they are willing to endure the suffering of others for their political ends.

They must be defeated. We must defeat them. For our own good, and for that of all Europe.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Sorry, just stitching myself together again

No post today - I was dragooned into visibly supporting the sort of mission statement / corporate song mindless dross I rant so strongly against. After watching a series of videos - 'A celebration of Quantity Surveying in the 21st Century', 'True Grit - Quality in Aggregates', and 'NEC3 contract clauses - the new Chaucer' I endured a retarded nincompoop telling me to find a fourth dimension in CAD drawings. 

The effort was too great. Just when I thought I could endure no more and my left palm was bleeding from being stabbed with a 4H pencil to keep my mouth shut, my suit crotch fissured loudly, giving me an unassailable excuse to abandon the madness. Thank you, Saints Felix, Edmund, Audrey and Botolph.

Roll-on retirement.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

EU wants to ban pink bedrooms for girls

The genetic imperative in young girls for pink is hard-wired; for the past ten thousand years almost every girl has been unable to resist mixing red and white, whether to smear pink handprints on a sleeping-niche in a cave or paint every surface in a suburban bedroom. Permitting them to do so is, in the view of FEMM, the European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, to encourage gender stereotyping. From 2014, all girls' bedrooms should be painted in EU standard colour RAL7006 Beige-Grey.

Well, not quite. But their latest draft report on eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU amounts to almost this; they call for an end to all 'gender discriminatory' TV advertising, which means showing ads of boys in pink clothes playing with Barbie and ads of girls in lumberjack shirts firing plasma lasers from Destroyer Deathship IV. Any school text depicting traditional families should be banned. Fire brigades should impose a quota for lady firemen, and refuse should be scattered on our garden paths by lady binmen in equal numbers. And so on.

If you thought this sort of wasteful gumph had passed its sell-by date, not in Brussels, apparently. And now they're all off to Tunisia on a freebie fact-finding mission and to persuade Tunisian women to take up their AK47s and leave the men by the cooking-fire to make dinner.

The end of that hopey-changey thing

So Obama gets his second term, and the hopey-changey thing that sprang up in the hearts of America's Republicans is extinguished. If there is one factor from this election from which we in the UK must learn lessons it is campaign costs. As Mary Riddell writes in the Telegraph "Voters were repelled not simply by a campaign in which billions of dollars were ploughed into disseminating negativity, but by the lack of humanity they discerned in a contest that pitted Mr Romney, who did not much like poor people, against the glacial Mr Obama, who did not much like people of any sort."

The effect of those billions of dollars of campaign spending was nil. Few Pepsi drinkers switched to Coke, and just as few Coke drinkers switched to Pepsi. Brand loyalty won out; blacks and hispanics voted Obama, white folk put their cross in Romney's box. They could have saved the money and the result would have been exactly the same. 

In winning his first term, Obama allowed his supporters to believe that he was genuinely a candidate springing from the grass roots, that he would restore power and democracy to electors. Four years of bitter disappointment followed. US politics, like UK politics, is still all about a small, powerful, political class exercising power and control from the centre. Another death for that hopey-changey thing. 

The calls are coming from our own Coke and Pepsi for more tax money to fund their private clubs, to pay for election campaigning. This US election provides even more evidence, if it were needed, why we should oppose this with every fibre of our ability.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A 'living wage' in the pea-fields?

Growing up in the country, unregulated employment opportunities would arise in the fields around one's home each year; hand-harvesting of agricultural crops. By the age of 15 I was something of an expert - at least of those crops coming to ripeness during the hols. Peas were hard. You learned to choose your field, one where the haulms were crisp and unwilted, the pods fat with moisture, rather than the sun-dried ones. Since you were paid on weight, picking water was profitable, being heavier than pea. Then you had to claim your row; you were looking for a fat, even drill of laid over plants with no thin or patchy areas. To get a good row you had to be there at 6am, in competition with large itinerant women with forearms like Parma hams. Your own bucket was essential, and it took around three buckets to fill a 'net'. Once you had a couple of nets, you carried them over to the trailer to be weighed and paid in coin, then back to picking. Your bucket reserved your row. It was tough, back-aching work, and as soon as I was old enough to have a holiday job as a pot-washer in the local hotel I abandoned it gratefully.

Of course, had anyone challenged the farmer whether he was paying a 'living wage' equivalent to £7.45 an hour he would aver that your average Suffolk Stakhanov could earn it with ease. At my peak I guess I managed the then equivalent of £5 an hour - and I was young, fit, intelligent and used every advantage short of trying to hide stones in the nets. 

The real failures were the doleys - the unemployed who would try to supplement their benefit with a bit of pea picking. They'd turn up at 10, when only the low-yielding scabby rows were left, without the essential bucket, and were slow and inept. They'd take an age to part-fill a net then anger as they were turned back at the trailer for not making the weight (it was good to go to the trailer with excess weight - the surplus would go into a new net, so that sometimes you went back to your row with a quarter-net already filled). I doubt they managed to earn more than the equivalent of £2.50 an hour.

Of course, it's all about productivity. To warrant paying an office cleaner £8.55 an hour in London, she'd have to service an entire office floor - bins, vacuum, wipe-downs, toilets and kitchen clean - in that time. Employers will seek staff who can do so - and they will be young, intelligent, fit, Poles, Romanians and Bulgarians rather than slow, inept, wheezy 50-something natives.

That's just the way it works.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Voters also lie

You'd think there would be some comment on the latest Observer / Opinium Poll that puts labour on 41%, the Tories on 30%, UKIP on 10%, the LibDems on 9% and others on 10%. But no. And one of the problems with the figures is that voters aren't always honest about voting intentions - sometimes they're trying to tell the pollsters something that isn't being asked. 

So Labour's poll result could mean "George, you need a 'Plan B'", UKIP's may hold up at the EP elections then vanish at a GE and the LibDems may be even more dire than predicted. Voters still don't trust Labour on the economy. And they're becoming increasingly sensitive to the EU; so could 2015 be the election that's all about schools, hospitals and Europe?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Footnotes from history No 346

As Angela Merkel arrives this week to stay at the Ambassador's residence in Belgrave Square no doubt she will be comfortable enough. It's unlikely that anyone will remind her that Germany's previous Embassy and Residence at 8 - 9 Carlton House Terrace was seized as war booty by the British government in 1945 and subsequently given to the Royal Society, or that the foul champagne salesman Ribbentrop ripped out Nash's innards to create something in the Teutonic baronial style, that Speer visited to design a staircase constructed with marble supplied by Mussolini, or that Hitler relied utterly on the assurances from Germany's last Ambassador to London in 1939 that Britain would never declare war over Poland. Today the pompous and overblown interiors are inhabited by gentle old buffers obsessed with beetles and Japanese youngsters with rucksacks and cameras. 

Ribbentrop was preceded at the Court of St James by a NaziSceptic, von Hoesch, who died prematurely aged 55 in 1936. His Swastika-draped coffin was carried down York Stairs to the Mall by bare-headed Guardsmen; the Horse Artillery fired a salute in the park, and he was driven on a gun carriage escorted by the diplomatic corps in Swan feathers and court dress, the Guards' band and the RHA to a waiting German destroyer to convey him home. A spiteful Hitler had him buried as a nobody, with only a single foreign ministry representative present. 

Former German Embassy at 8 - 9 Carlton House Terrace
von Hoesch's cortege moves down the Mall, 1936

Ribbentrop's pompous interiors replaced Nash
Albert Speer's 'Germania' style in Carlton House Terrace