Friday, 5 January 2018

Raw Water

I never fail to get a chuckle here when I describe my old drinking water supply in London; through a series of sewage treatment works and reservoirs from Oxford to Heathrow, down the Thames Valley to the Great Wen. "They say" I usually conclude "that London tap water is very pure, having been filtered through the kidneys of seven people before one drinks it". Not only pre-owned, London's drinking water also bears the traces of nitrate fertilizers, and of the Oestrogens used as cattle growth promoters as well as the ubiquitous Flouride. Many folk are suspicious of Flouride, including a very sane econometrist of my acquaintance. 

Well, in the US the public revolt against the chemical soup of urban tap water has lead to a craze for 'Raw Water' - and with all the attendant health industry shouting crazed warnings that everyone will die of Cholera

Well, to a point, Lord Copper. Here water and sewerage are managed by the local council. We have our own little sewage treatment plant that deals with the output of some 2,500 souls and our water comes from the 'moss slopes' collected in two small concrete tanks with sand filters half way up the mountain. No further treatment. It comes out of the taps at about 9 bar with no pumping. It is pure Raw Water, absorbed from winter snowfall by the moss layers and slowly released. 

However, things get even better. Our valley is a geological anomaly. On the south side, where the water comes from, are acidic schists, giving the wonderfully soft 'gemeindewasser' excellent for washing and brewing. On the north side, where we live in the Sun, is magnesian limestone, giving me hard water from the two sources or quellen on my land which is better for watering plants and fine for livestock. This can also be drunk raw, as it runs from the earth pipe. So not only do I have running Raw Water, but a choice of hard or soft. Knowing that septics are paying €6 a litre for it makes me feel all the luckier. 

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Lamont: Blair's argument "completely fraudulent"

Pilots will correct me, but I think the speed / runway distance during an aircraft's take off at which it is no longer possible to abort is termed 'V1' - once reached, the only possible course of action is to continue the ascent, even if an emergency landing is made immediately afterwards. The question facing us all is whether Brexit has reached 'V1'.  

There is a concerted remainer media offensive this week; AC Grayling continues his painful public meltdown and so is deemed unfit to face the camera or microphones, but Andrew Adonis has already delivered a rather hysterical and disconnected plea on the 'Today' programme to abandon Article 50, and today on R4 the Great Dissembler, Blair himself, did his utmost to advance the several specious arguments that remainers use to justify reversing the referendum result. Not only did Humphrys do a reasonable job of taking these apart, but Norman Lamont, the poor badger in the Treasury when Soros mounted his financial assault on Sterling, demolished as fatuous and risible Blair's arguments, concluding that his reasoning was 'completely fraudulent'

When I read what remainers want to reverse and return to it is the EU as it was before 23rd June 2016. This was eighteen months ago; if a week is a long time in politics, a year is an eternity. The past is a different country. Even if Article 50 were reversed, it is simply not possible to go back to 2016. The EU has already moved ahead; the EU army that remainers poopooed is in formation via PESCO, sweeping presidential powers are in preparation, an integrated Finance Ministry is gradually winning German acceptance, Macron of France and Schulz, likely soon to be in coalition government in Germany, agree that a United States of Europe should be the goal within eight years. If we seek to return now, not only will we lose the budget rebate but Brussels will demand that we adopt the Euro. It is simply not possible to go back to the way things were in 2016. 

All of which suggest to me that we have already reached V1. There is no longer a 'remain' option - only an option to join anew a completely different EU.

  

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

The right to insult

In 2008 when visiting an agricultural show, the then President of the Fifth Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, was refused a handshake by a French farmer. Rather than just shrugging inwardly and passing on, the foul-mouthed little head of State snarled back "Casse toi, pauv’ con". I wish my quadrilingual nephew were here to check my translation - the closest I can suggest is something like "Fuck you, dickhead".

It might have ended there had not M Herve Eon, some six months later, held up a placard bearing these same words on the route of a presidential procession in Laval. Eon was arrested by plain clothes police and charged and convicted of insulting the president, under a French law of 1881 that also criminalises insulting hordes of other establishment members, including foreign heads of state. After refusing to apologise to Sarkozy to reduce his penalty, Eon managed to get this appealed at the ECHR - and though the ECHR would doubtless have dearly loved to have upheld such penalties against lèse-majesté, the court felt obliged to avoid international ridicule by declaring that M.Eon's declaration had been satirical, and was therefore permitted.

In France it takes a whole bench of judges to tell the difference between an insult and satire. And satire itself is seemingly only protected when it not too vicious or biting; cartoon or distorted images of protected fat cats can all too easily be termed insulting.

France of course is seeking only to implement fully the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), effective from 1976. Luckily it already has an earlier 1881 law that does so. The ICCPR is an appalling piece of treaty-making; as is often the way with such things, it authorises suppression of free speech to a greater degree than it protects freedom of expression. In particular article 19 (3);
The exercise of the [right to freedom of expression] carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
And there you have it. Governments may freely introduce laws to protect the reputations of others from insult. And you can be sure that the 'others' that many governments will have in mind are not us ordinary folk but those for whom reputation is vital - such as ministers, politicians and members of the establishment.  

The EU has taken the lead in seeking to implement across the EU its own interpretation of the international convention, to which all 27 are signatories. Many EU nations can already lock their citizens up for insulting politicians - but thank God the UK is not amongst them:-


M. Herve Eon was also fortunate in that France only fines those that insult its establishment figures, rather than locks them up. The fines, though, can be up to €45,000 - on a scale greater than anything the UK's summary courts can impose for a whole host of serious criminal acts. In Austria one also has to be careful what one writes and says - 


Now one can begin to understand the sort of legal changes that Yvette Cooper and others of her parliamentary cohort are seeking, and why they are so keen to adopt the EU standards on the criminalisation of insult. We must all fight this with every fibre of fortitude; British politics has always been a robust and forthright process, where political insults are freely traded and politicians expected to have thick skins. 

Provided that my frequent reminders to Mz Cooper of her pledge to house a migrant - a pledge that neither she, Lily Allen nor any of the fatuous virtue signallers have fulfilled - can remain as satire, provided that I never descend into encouraging violence, harassment or intimidation (which I absolutely counsel and extort against - whether directed at politicians, migrants or any persons). So here again is that clip from the Telegraph on the 'flipping' of Mz Cooper's two homes, either of which is doubtless capacious enough to accommodate a migrant or two - 

Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 Roundup part 2

Worthless distinctions
The honours system has been irredeemably befouled and corrupted by undeserved honours given to politicians and civil servants. The public seem to support the recognition of sportspersons, artists of all kinds, the talented, the selfless, the gifted and armed services personnel - but their proper achievements are being beshitten by risibly unwarranted 'honours' to loathed and unworthy political failures and civil service time-servers. Why the hell should the goon in charge of procurement at the MoD, the idiot that's wasted billions of our tax money on the poorly managed buying of stuff that doesn't work, get anything other than a clock from his chums and a curt 'goodbye'? Why should hysterical little fools such as Andrew Adonis, with no real world experience and no achievement whatseover, enjoy the same status as distinguished scholars and academics of international repute?

Of course we should recognise the few worthy political recipients such as Patrick Cormack (he of "Country, constituency, party. In that order") but perhaps there should be a new honour created - say an order with a membership limited to fifty, with no seat in the Lords, and only ex-elected politicians eligible. But we must cull all the politicians and the civil servants from the British Empire orders, the Bath and Michael and George. Or they will be lost to those who really deserve them.

With each year, twice a year, the public clamour against political honours grows. Let's hope the establishment hears those voices. 

Democracy at risk
With Labour still blocking any reform of our deeply corrupt constituency boundaries, the UK remains shamed by an Electoral Quotient (EQ) below third world standards. We're not even close to the +/-5% of the second world, let alone the +/-3% of advanced democracies such as New Zealand. 

We're not well served by the current Electoral Commissioners, fat and complacent placemen unmoved by indignation at Electoral inequality and mired in a stasis that prohibits action. A clear-out of the Commission in 2018 is well overdue.  

The young are also far less defensive of our democratic absolutes - such as universal suffrage and the secret ballot- than those of older age cohorts, and a Remainian elite still smarting from the Brexit result are pushing all sorts of alternatives to the majority vote to seek to re-establish their political dominance. I was joking in June 2016 when I parodied little Owen Jones as complaining "The wrong people are using democracy" - but this is now a joke becoming true. Many of them actually believe it. 

The Electoral Commission also needs to get its collective head around non-member issue-based campaigners such as this blog and Twitter account, with no discernible spend. Online it's not about parties and financial structures but millions of ordinary people manning their keyboards. The utterly trivial impact of Russian postings during the referendum campaign was due to the utterly massive scale of engagement of the rest of us. I'm not sure that many of the existing Commissioners have ever actually used a computer, let alone know what facebook is.