Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Keyboard Skills

The site "Some Assembly Required" had as a word for the day, "Agnotology", that I was not familiar with, Wikipedia did have it. It refers to culturally induced ignorance, which may explain why I did not know.

If nothing else the circus of the last few weeks, now that the clowns and ringmasters have departed, has reminded us that not only are so many of the ordinary people afflicted by this "ology" but that the political class is as well.

They claim to know more than us and moreover are capable of some understanding, so that in any major matter we should follow them.  Sadly, their ignorance was such that many more than expected came to the view that they should follow us.

One area of debate was how much change might there be and how might it affect us.  We were being told this or that was certain when the world is full of uncertainties.  Many of them we are blissfully ignorant about never mind their consequences.

Yet we live in a world dominated by supercomputers and their minders.  But that might be about to change.  Much of our financial activity as well as other things at present relate to large or even "super" computers.  What are the implications for radical and rapid change in these fields?

This article in E Science is titled "No Need In Supercomputers".  So looking at my own laptop now, I wonder what I could get up to that may have been amongst my wildest, or maddest, dreams.  It means that almost anyone can do anything anywhere.

I wonder if I can get into The Treasury hardware via the local council website on refuse collections?  Or perhaps that of one of the very big banks via a dog breeding service.  A great many things could be changed if I had my way.

Strange things have happened in the past.  Once there was a man who thought if you could put a steam engine on a frame with wheels it might have possibilities for moving coal and slag around an iron works.  Sadly, the rails were not strong enough, so it was put to one side.

But then other people picked up on the basic idea and tried it with better rails.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

More Bad Losers

So the wailing, hair tearing, sackcloth and ashes and the rest begins.  The Icelanders played well and were worth their 2-1 win over England.

It is my fault, I should not have watched the match, it is my theory that I have a curse on the England team, when I watch they lose.

Anyhow, each of those with much in the of Atlantic Isles descent will have Vikings in the ancestral attic from around a thousand or more years ago.

We have had this before with Icelanders, notably in what came to be known as Scotland.  Their battle songs were not a lot of laughs, even a couple of minutes are a long time.

The Viking lady above lived in Jorvik, or York as we know it.  I suspect she was not a neighbour to argue with.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Any Regrets?

Last Thursday, the 23rd, we had the critical Referendum vote on the EU that was a complicated and serious business.

Now, all sorts of people are popping up to say things like "gosh" "ooyer" "well I never" "wow" "what have I done" "I voted Leave and look what happened".

Kelvin MacKenzie apparently is one of them, perhaps it was senior moment.

Yeah, well, that's the way it goes.

There is only one answer but is two minutes well spent.

Old And Bold

Among the several fall outs from the EU Referendum has been the contrast reported in the vote for the youngest groups being most to Remain and In, whereas the older voters, "The Greys", were most for Leave and Out.  It was compounded by relatively fewer of the young actually casting a vote.

It is argued that this is unfair in that the young are the future and the old will soon be in the spirit world paying for their many sins. What is a point, not lost to some, is that many of The Greys had voted on 5 June 1975 in the first Referendum which delivered a substantial majority to the In vote.

I have not seen the age breakdown for this, but suspect that in 1975 the younger voters were for In and in large numbers.  It means that The Greys in 2016 who want Out are in many cases the ones who voted for In back in 1975.  If so, this is a major shift of opinion among those who have a long life experience of the EU, the way it is run and the consequences.  On Saturday 18 June in the post "Europe And All That" my tale is told.

I was not a young voter in 1975, already with a growing family, most of the way through the mortgage and the first hint of grey in the thatch.  At that time the membership of the EEC was ten with an agreement with Norway whose government had applied to join but a Referendum in 1972 was against it, 53.5% to 46.5%.

Four of the ten, Germany, France, Italy and the UK were the larger states.  At the time there was still customs etc. on entry and leaving.  The one between France and Italy, both members in the south was especially bad, see "The Day Of The Jackal".  The one between France and Spain, then outside, at Irun was a shocker.

You will imagine with family in the car, a large camping trailer and a long way to drive the idea of a customs union and open entry around the EEC seemed a very good one especially given the comparative pricing of wines, spirits and other commodities in the different countries.

Then we had governments who still had effective control internally and in Europe there were capable statesmen who kept a watching brief on Brussels and would not be inclined to meekly do what the officials told them to do.  Moreover, the Foreign departments were largely staffed by experienced professionals and pandered less to the media.

In 1975 the EEC appeared to be an economic alliance, which had a secretariat to liaise and work with the national civil services, much as NATO and other bodies did in defence and United Nations matters.  Its affairs seemed routine if the democracies of Europe did manage between themselves to do the job and agreed sufficiently on key issues.

The date of 5 June for a vote had significance in a time only thirty one years since the Normandy landings.  Between then and 1975 there had been continuing European and international dialogue aiming at mutual understanding for the most part.  So to have a trading alliance fitted in with the pattern of the times.

Today we have a different breed of politician, largely jobsworths for hire who have done little and know less served in their own states by officials who are one of a politicised group advised by corporate placement and lobbyists.  In 2016 these groupings find it easier, quicker and a lot cheaper to go to Brussels to seek and give favours, now the common currency of government.

More to the point we did not have then the types of mega finance and globalised huge corporations who are now the effective controllers of our politics, economies and working lives.  There were big finance and important money men, but not in the same way.  The scale of modern corruption and fixing had yet to come.

The EU now is a vast and complex political entity which is said to be federal but is not.  A federal state has representation and laws that enable some kind of political balance.  As it functions the EU is a dominant elite unchecked, uncontrolled and secretive.  This is very different from the EEC we voted for in 1975.

Then we were free voters, but on 23rd June we voted to be rid of the  serfdom that has been imposed by people we do not know who are controlled by those who do not want to know us.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

The Job To Be Done

The Prime Minister we need is someone who will buckle down to the hard work, grasp the detail and get on with the job accepting that this is one of the biggest challenges in history.

Cameron, the shape shifter who has resigned but intends to stick around a while is not such a man and no is longer fit to stay in post and pick his own time of going.

It is like asking a mechanic who cannot deal with the windscreen wipers to change the engine.  Can someone in the Tory Party rise to the task?

If there is no senior or highly placed person in the Tory Party to force the issue it is not good enough to let Cameron stay and fiddle about with long weekends, holidays abroad and in between determine the future for his friends and financial backers?

It is my view that Her Majesty in the present situation would be right and constitutionally justified to dismiss him forthwith.

I did suggest that if the vote were to go to Leave the reaction of Cameron and his cabal would be to delay, compromise and try to adopt a scorched earth policy where the object was damage, the thinking  spite and what they would then hand over would be a far more difficult situation than that of the present.

Boris Garden Bridge Johnson, another Bullingdon shape shifter, cannot be trusted and more to the point nobody he has to negotiate with will be able to neither trust him nor have any certainty that what he is doing is motivated by anything other than narrow self interest.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Leader of the Opposition ought to take the opportunity to gather some credibility and respect by telling Cameron to get out now.

The difficulty is that his kind of Left thinking has a preference for chaos and disaster.  Who is there on the Opposition Benches who can take a lead on this?

Cameron should hand over immediately to a lead group consisting, perhaps, of Gove, Hammond, May, Fallon, Mundell, Cairns, Villiers to manage the job in the interim and he should do it now.  What was it said by Leo Amery in The House of Commons on 7th May 1940?


"We are fighting to-day for our life, for our liberty, for our all; we cannot go on being led as we are. I have quoted certain words of Oliver Cromwell. I will quote certain other words.

I do it with great reluctance, because I am speaking of those who are old friends and associates of mine, but they are words which, I think, are applicable to the present situation.

This is what Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation: You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go."


Cameron must go and now.

Doktor Merkel I Presume

You may have seen this one from the German newspaper Bild from before the vote, but it is quite funny.  A translation is given.  It is funnier if you believe that Prince Charles' ears reflect his Germanic ancestry.

Word has reached me from the Daily Express semaphore station that to the astonishment of Europe, Doktor von Merkel of Mecklenburg who set out to discover the source of the River Simeto in Sicily has by an error of navigation located a large land mass called Africa across the great sea beyond.

Enquiries made in the locality have caused her to believe it is very large and with many peoples.  Indeed it is said to be part of the same land mass as the Cape of Good Hope.  Deutsche Bahn, who sponsored the expedition have announced that instead of a Berlin to Baghdad Railway, they will invest in a Berlin Cairo Cape one.

The discoveries mean a much greater market for German goods and produce and at the same time enable millions of surplus African men to come to Germany.  These will allow German men to retire at the age of 40 after a long and arduous life employed as EU officials since leaving university at 25.

If more than expected arrive the opportunity has arisen to divert many to a new state to be in Europe, Scotland, look for it in the north of Britain but only on maps in the Mercator Projection rather than a global map of Earth; a matter of great sensitivity.

I think the SNP will want to ban all such maps and globes from use in schools.  In addition the Doktor agrees with them that the possession and display of all maps showing the South Pole at the top and the North at the bottom should be a criminal offence punishable by transportation to Australia.

The Scots will be allowed to borrow unlimited amounts of Euro's from the Deutsche Bundesbank to provide social housing, for the newcomers who will be needed.  The law providing a named person for each child is to be extended to adults.  Doktor Merkel has suggested this should be managed by a Scottish Total Adult Supervision Institute (STASI), a matter in which she has had great experience.

As the intention is to more than double the population of Scotland it is time to make use of the resources of all the land available.  A new high rise city called Bennevisburg is planned on one of the many large areas of waste lands in their highlands along with others.  All will have a central plaza with a large statue of the Doktor and a ceremonial Peoples Kilometre leading to it.

To enable this to be done efficiently, the midges will be removed and deported to England.

Frau Doktor does not see any difficulties that cannot be overcome, she has ways of making you agree.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Farewell To Arms

There is a lot to be said, but I do not know how to say it.

This comes to mind if only my old friend, the late Joe Melia, who appears, was able to make his comment.

As for Mr. Cameron, what, I wonder, will history make of him?

If anything.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

One Last Question

A key issue in the whole Referendum debate is how to persuade the young to come and vote on matters close to their interests.

I think I have the answer.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

I Have A Song

As a last comment on the Referendum vote before the day, I think I will leave it to William Blake and his words for the hymn "Jerusalem".


And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land


As postal voters, ours have been in for a few days now.  If you want to join the Euro and be ruled by the Bundesbank and Berlin vote Remain, if not vote Leave.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Noblesse Oblige

The term "Noble Idea" has appeared in the media recently to give a category for the views of many people.  I have had some down the years, not all have turned out as I might have hoped.  History is full of them.

What may start as a Noble Idea in its time can become a doctrine, dogma or fixation that in turn becomes perhaps a nuisance, a cause of unintended consequences or real difficulties  or even a major liability and in some cases seriously damaging.

In the Atlantic Isles between say 1550 and 1950 we had many noble ideas about religion and power. Sadly, there were profound disagreements as to the exact doctrinal packages which led to war, bloodshed, empire building and many adverse effects that have left their mark into even the 21st Century.

The matter of Empire brings us to the idea of "Open Doors" in its current form.  While many think that this is recent and the Left now regards it as its property it has been around for some time.  Back in the 1840's Lord Palmerston with his "Civis Romanus Sum" policies on British citizenship referred to ancient Rome, which we are told was open and very diverse. While it lasted.

Stanley Baldwin in his last speech as Conservative Prime Minister in May 1937 made an impassioned plea for the peoples of Empire, this version is quite short Baldwin Speech but it is the spirit of free movement. It was in this period that many people were crowding into London and other major towns from depressed areas of the UK, Eastern and Central Europe and Italy.

What has changed?  The world is not as it was in 1937 since when world population has tripled, see Wikipedia on the subject and for more information.  This does not mean that movement has trebled necessarily, it suggests only that the potential exists for more movement than there has been.

Whether it does or does not occur is another matter and even then what movement there is, to where and for what purpose are other things.  Has there been a proportionate increase in movement or a lesser one although possibly still meaning increased numbers?  Is it in fact more, arising from internal pressures in many countries either lacking in resources or other factors?

There is the theory that immigration is necessarily good for the economy.  Part of this is the "trickle down" thesis, or in the case of the lower paid "trickle around".  If you import additional people into states with extensive welfare systems and state subsidised services the more state money is needed to provide them and this will add to the trickle factor.

This extra money being moved around necessarily pushes up the GDP count which is a money figure.  So growth is claimed despite reductions in real incomes for many and a major decline in manufacturing.  Our younger generation faces financial difficulties.

What is little mentioned is the "trickle up" factor.  This financial activity must benefit somebody.  So the added monies being pumped in by state spending, often with borrowed money, with rising household debt from consumer spending and booms in property prices, and therefore more housing debt leads to more "trickle up".

This helps to explain the rising inequalities and concentration of wealth for the few at the top and the elite liking for immigration.   Part of the money go round has been to keep interest rates very low but at the cost of savings.  So as well as high debt there  are lower savings, in short costs deferred.

In addition, there are all the extra services required, drains, water, power, schools, medical, road, transport etc.  Many costs are often obviated in practice by shanty towns and slums but the creation or allowing of these means other costs, history suggests law and order among them.

At present it is claimed that our power supplies are close to the margins as is water during dry periods.  So where will the new power stations etc. be or the big new dams or the desalination plants on the coasts?

Rapidly increasing population means rapidly increasing demands.  In recent decades we have managed to supply a good many of those demands through technology and other advances.  Whether we can cope with major rises in migration is a key issue, in the past when such demands could not be met  serious problems have arisen.

Noble Ideas are usually easy answers or simple solutions offered to matters which are highly complex, difficult to work out or understand or have potentially unpopular features.  Often offered as a moral question, on inspection the questions arises moral for who?  Go to 2Wives dot com for marriage guidance.

Around the world politicians all like to have the easy answer and avoid the difficult questions.  Religions were once a main source for answers but recently, we have become attached to political philosophers of one stripe or another or celebrities.

As for migration, we are only at the beginning, Open Doors may have been a noble idea when I was young but I am in a different world from then and it is changing again and quickly.  It's day has gone and it is going to be very difficult to deal with.  But all we seem to want is the easy answer.

But this five minutes with The Dubliners will tell you, it never was.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Europe And All That

The intention was to give a full background for saying anything about Europe, but it would be long so it is brief.  By chance I was in Paris in 1951 as a young teenage tourist when the Schumann Plan discussions (photo above) were taking place that led to the signing of the Treaty of Paris; but my interests were in other things.

Since then there has been military experience, national service after basic training in and around Germany and many other visits for various purposes, rugby tours, EEC meetings and conferences, travelling on the ground rather than the air in many parts, camping and seeing provinces and cities as well as the seaside. The upshot was being in many places and many countries.  You name it, I've tried the local beers and wines.

Three of my uncles were there, Dunkirk, Normandy and Italy, Austria and Germany.  So was grandfather 1915-1918 and then Germany into 1919.  A couple of my elderly grandaunts born in the 1870's, lovely devout ladies of religion and fluent in French and other languages decided in 1940 to provide facilities and shelter for French seamen and others stranded by the outbreak of war. They were thanked by General de Gaulle.

In theory I ought to be a Europe fan or even fanatic and once could claim to be as virtuous an internationalist and sympathiser with the concept of European union as any.  But as well as living the history, I also studied modern history along with other things.  History does not tell us what to do, what it can tell us is what, how and why it all can go wrong and what the consequences might be.

On 23 June we are voting for the future and not the past and what our place in the future may be.  Our start point is the now and while the politicians and others rattle on about their great ideas and principles and what has been they are reluctant to admit to us what the now is and it is not good.

The EU of the now is bust and a major part of that is the currency it created, the Euro, is bust as the inevitable result of botching the design and management of this new financial instrument.  They believed that political decisions taken at the top would prevail whatever the markets or other economic movements in play were doing.  The EU would direct and the money would follow.

It would not, it did not and it will not, especially in a globalised world.  The EU, which began in 1951 in the belief that Europe might once again control the world economy, is now a backwater and for some of its activity only a subsidiary body for international agencies.  From being the coloniser it is now one of the colonised.

Instead of the European democracy that I hoped might develop, a unifying elected centre working with other governments in law making and policy we have a closed bureaucracy of the worst kind that apes that of some of the most ruinous and incompetent of history.  Like them it tries to deal with this by uncontrolled expansion along with centralisation.

One question is when did it begin to go wrong?   This is arguable, perhaps in the late 1980's as memories of the past faded and were overtaken by other interpretations.  Then there was the reunification of Germany along with mechanisms such as the Exchange Rate.

Also, there was a new breed of Eurocrats and a new network based on Brussels rather than the capitals of Europe. Later, in Britain we had Major and then Blair with their cronies, and in other states a number of other self interested second or third raters as leaders more concerned with their own affairs rather than national one.

What none of these understood was the pace, nature and implications of the changes taking place around the world in many ways and the rapidity of that change.  This is why the EU is a sclerotic, malign, incompetent organisation that is trying to preserve a past system.  It assumes it can control, but it cannot.  It can only meddle, muddle and mess.

The sooner we are out the better and making our own history rather than being the prisoners of a defunct empire whose future will be one of failure and despair.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Chew Over This

There are and have been very many interesting and learned theories about how mankind developed and to what purpose and how this might have led on to later civilisations.

But we have not been alone and our transition from hunter gatherer bands into settled groups and later tribes etc. has been in company with various forms of animal life.  This article tells us about the goat factor.

Dogs are much favoured and cat lovers etc. will always argue their case, then there are the cattle and horses.

But what if mankind's progress in the early millennia in fact depended on goats and pigs and their domestication?

Food for thought. 

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Where Goes The Vote?

The handling of the EU Remain campaign seems to have run into a bit of bother.  The proneness to error has brought to mind this story told by the author Evelyn Waugh, below.

The Earl of Glasgow in question was the 8th Earl, 1874-1963 who succeeded to the title in 1915.  A naval person, his politics, far to the then Right, led him to be out of favour in 1942, although by then he was 68.

I suspect he could be a distant relation to one or other of the present Government.


Evelyn Waugh writes to his wife Laura, 31 May 1942;

No. 3 Commando was very anxious to be chums with Lord Glasgow, so they offered to blow up an old tree stump for him and he was very grateful and he said don't spoil the plantation of young trees near it because that is the apple of my eye and they said no of course not we can blow a tree down so it falls on a sixpence and Lord Glasgow said goodness how clever and he asked them all for luncheon for the great explosion.

So Col. Durnford-Slater DSO said to his subaltern, “have you put enough explosive in the tree”.

“Yes sir, 75lb.”
“Is that enough?” 
“Yes sir I worked it out by mathematics it is exactly right.” 
“Well better put a bit more.”
“Very good sir.”

And when Col. D Slater DSO had had his port he sent for the subaltern and said, “Subaltern better put a bit more explosive in that tree. I don't want to disappoint Lord Glasgow.”

“Very good sir.”

Then they all went out to see the explosion and Col. DS DSO said you will see that tree fall flat at just that angle where it will hurt no young trees and Lord Glasgow said goodness you are clever.

So soon they lit the fuse and waited for the explosion and presently the tree, instead of falling quietly sideways, rose 50 feet into the air taking with it 1/2 acre of soil and the whole of the young plantation.

And the subaltern said “Sir, I made a mistake, it should have been 7 1/2 lb, not 75.”

Lord Glasgow was so upset he walked in dead silence back to his castle and when they came to the turn of the drive in sight of his castle what should they find but that every pane of glass in the building was broken.

So Lord Glasgow gave a little cry and ran to hide his emotion in the lavatory and there when he pulled the plug the entire ceiling, loosened by the explosion, fell on his head.


Things really are going with a bang.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Green Grow The Retailers Ho

The latest about Sir Philip Green, erstwhile premier retailer, goodbye BHS and pension fund, is that he feels hurt about comments made by Frank Field, the Labour MP who chairs the joint Parliamentary committee looking into the collapse of retailer BHS.  Sir Green cries bias and shan't attend, so there.

This might not be so much about Frank Field, it might be more to do with the questions that might be asked by the committee.  "Private Eye" this week, as well as a splendid cover on the England soccer team, has a long piece in the "In The City" section at the back about Sir Green that suggests what might be asked about which matters.

It makes grim reading and not just for those who have lost their jobs, their futures and possibly most of their pensions, never mind those who followed the Green dream and lost out.  Among them appear to be most of our current media experts on finance and business.  You name him, Peston of the BBC etc., and they are there.  Reputations and more are at stake.

Along with Blair and Cameron, their fellow politicians and other "experts", they all knelt starry eyed at the feet of the master of retailing, hoping for a cut of the deal as well as for pleasing the media and their friends.  Just who, we may ask, has benefited from a little help from Sir Green at key points in their careers?

One of the staples of disagreement about tax matters is the fine distinction between "avoidance", when you can cite a legal reason for moving money that way, and "evasion" where it is argued that there is no legal basis or at least a questionable one.  Go the web and read a few million words on the subject.

If you have real money, then hire a team of crack lawyers to make your case and take care of the detail.  Better still, much better, is to assist leading members of government and their immediate support echelons to arrange tax laws in such a way as to favour your preferred methods of operation.

This has been part of Sir Green's skill set.  The trouble is he seems to have lost sight of the detail and BHS went bust in a way that was bound to attraction attention.  The question then is, is this an extreme and rare case or is it more common than we think?

Worse is that it is not simply common, but as so many money men like their golf, par for the course and maybe typical?  It appears that as you look around the more recent arrivals in the House of Commons , then who are selected as candidates number many about whom there are questions on financial matters.

Given that both the Conservative and Labour Party have imposed increasingly central control over the listing and choice candidates financial and other probity seems to have slipped down, if not off, the list of required qualifications.

I think it was Mrs. Thatcher who sixty years ago struggled to get nomination for parliamentary candidacy who complained that unless you had a good MC (Military Cross) and the right other medals on your chest it was hopeless in the then days when constituency parties did the choosing.

Sir John Nott, formerly Royal Scots and Gurkhas who served in the Malayan Emergency with distinction and later in Mrs. Thatcher's government had stopped his subscription to the Conservative Party on the grounds that Cameron's utterings on the EU Referendum are specious and unwarranted, that is untrue and grossly misleading.

More to the point, after the Army he then went into banking and finance and did well.  He also points out that the national membership around the country of the Conservative Party has gone down from two and a half million to 250,000 or so.  So if the national party is not paying the piper any more, the Gurkhas have an excellent pipe band, who is and to what purpose?

The electorate may be becoming shy of the two major parties because it is now seen that they have been bought and it is becoming more widely known who are the people who did the buying and now expect the parties to pay the price, both in terms of tax easing and use of power.

It is not the UK alone that has been bought, it is integral across Europe and especially in the halls of mirrors in Brussels where so many have vastly profited with so little benefit for the rest of us.

The result is not simply an ongoing financial and taxation crisis, coupled with serious and increasing debt risks, it is a constitutional crisis that does not bode well for either sensible decision making or sound government.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Calamity Cameron Strikes Again

How does he do it?  Almost everything he touches turns to dross.

This article from FE News tells the sorry story in the West Midlands, in that the new system may cause a major reduction in apprenticeship opportunities.

The West Midlands was once part of one of the heartlands of British manufacturing industry, people in the area talked of carrying the UK on its back and were not far short of the truth.  Now it is very different.

The link comes from someone in the training provision field and his comment is:


Not so long  ago there was a hoo haa about the apprenticeship system being abused by providers having people complete in very quick times.

A major supermarket chain was putting existing staff through apprenticeships very quickly, as well as colleges bucking the system with apprentices not even having an employer and attending classes full time.  Apprentice hair dressers who’d never actually cut hair etc.

So, the Govt response was put a minimum time condition of a year on apprenticeships. An approach not unlike fishing with explosives.

Now, In my humble opinion, what we’ll get is the big companies who have to pay the levy, spending it on upskilling or skill confirmation of existing employees and SME’s, who have to cough a substantial amount, reverting to how it was in the 90’s when everyone wanted trained staff but weren’t prepared to invest in training.


The longer history of all this is complicated and the upshot seems to be that the more the government fiddles and meddles, almost invariably on the basis of out of date information, the worse it becomes and still we have chronic skills shortages in key areas.

Just what are all those untrained youngsters going to be doing in the near future and who will take the jobs that are going?

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Have You Got Time?

One advantage of the web nowadays is that instead of sweating over a hot typewriter or lurking in libraries you can write pick up information very easily.  Which is why link blogs are popular.

We all need sleep so we all have an interest, hat tip to one of the family.  This longish item from slumber wise may tell us why so many do not sleep well according to the conventional way of our times.  It claims that sleep patterns not so long ago were different.  Our modern practice may not be the best.

Most of us travel and this one from Simon Jenkins of The Guardian, under the heading of The Long Read, hat tip Orphans of Liberty, is about the history and politics of the HS2 project.  This blog has serious objections to the project as an occasional railwayman of the 1950's along with near eighty years moving by train.

What is striking is that it is not just an article dealing with the issues of transport and what may or may not be best.  It is a major example of how our politics and governments function these days and their preparedness to lavish money on high profile projects and activity at the cost of basic activities or less media friendly ones.

One aspect of such projects is that almost invariably the future running costs, maintenance, interest charges on debt are not considered.  The consequence is loss making activity that has to be met by debt, taxes, or pricing in the future.

There are risks unwanted in life and all those with a pensions interest either now or in the future do not like risk.  But Frances Coppola reminds us that life is not like that and that being risk averse is counter productive.  The present situation is getting worse.

What is the point of a Referendum is as the BBC suggests, hat tip The Slog, Parliament may decide to take no notice and indeed frustrate the wish to Leave the EU?  This blog on 27 May last under "Hanging Parliament" suggested it was possible for the Government to effectively block our exit because in Parliament most members at Remainers.

Now is it time for a kip, or a trip, or to check the bank account or to deal with the postal vote?

Monday, 6 June 2016

When The Boat Comes In

The recent debates which are causing tempers to be lost tell us much about our masters.  The former Prime Minister John Major emerged from his prime property investment to cry "Deceit, deceit, they've all got deceit for me!" (see the film "Carry On Cleo") about the Leave campaign.  This is rich coming from someone unable to give a straight answer about anything during his term of office.

One of the quibbles he has is about the migration issue.  For our politicians this is a game played by people who have trouble with any numbers, especially if there are complications or calculations with a need to be very careful about assumptions.  Truth might be found in numbers but only if they are the right ones.

My take on migration is to look at the long historical perspective as well as the numbers.  One of the advantages of the net is that out there is a great deal of information that is useful, if not for, certainty, then at least hinting at where to look and what questions to ask.  At a personal level there can be very many "what ifs".

One fascinating site is Norway Heritage dot com which deals with the large scale migration from there across the Atlantic in the past notably the late 19th Century.  A great deal of it was carried by British ships and the site has extensive records of these and their sailings.  If you have an interest in maritime history it is a treasure trove.

One example is this of the SS "City of Berlin" of the Inman Line, on the Liverpool run.  A great grandfather was in the boiler room for a long period of time and later might have been in charge.  A younger son, he migrated from Co.Wicklow to Liverpool.  It appears that other family connections were involved.

Some of them and their families went across to stay.  Why didn't he?  He lived in a place which was almost a transit camp of peoples at times.  He was crewing on a ship that evidently carried many migrants.  He had the opportunity etc. but he did not.  Perhaps he may have been particular about his beer.

As well as the Scandinavians, who in general were welcomed, during the late 19th Century there were many others.  In the 1870's the USA was adamant about its open doors policy for reasons much the same as we claim today.  Some of their early peoples disagreed but after the US Cavalry had done its job had to accept the economic changes.  Yes, I have marched to "The Garryowen".

The new peoples of later years, however, were not quite the same.  There was large scale movement from Italy, a nation created only by the 1860's, with confused politics, much poverty and economically weak, what changes?  Also, there were many of the Jewish faith driven out of the Russian Empire, which then encompassed Eastern Europe.

But then came others in numbers from the Far East.  This had the potential for large scale mass migration with the relevant demands.  Yes they brought their labour and what money they had, no they did not have the same belief systems or cultures. It was soon after their arrivals that the US began to introduce limitations and later legislation aimed at control.

This was all very recently.  I can recall talking to people born in the 1860's and 70's.  Yet we seem to have forgotten what was really involved and do not understand what is possible.  For large scale movements of the longer past we know and understand even less.

At present, there is small hope of any of our leaders having a grip on the implications or even understanding some of the basic numbers.

Back to the boiler room.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Short And Long Breaks

The Drama Channel on the satellite is running the 1990's "Cadfael" series about an old monk being the Sherlock Holmes of Shrewsbury Abbey back in the good old days of the 12th Century when men were men and women were domestically busy.

The original running time for each episode was 75 minutes in a slot of one and half hours programming; leaving 15 minutes for the ad's and beginning and end clips.  The present screening has divided each episode into two one hour slots meaning 120 minutes for the same story time and many more ads'.

The plots are complicated with a number of characters, sub plots and mysteries difficult to solve and predict even for the knowing viewer.  So the number of ad' breaks now not only disrupts the actual telling of the story, you begin to lose track of what is going on. If you find the 12th Century difficult you could find it impossible.

Crucially, what had been one programme is now split into two with a week's break.  We have avoided this by boxing both parts and watching them successively. This works up to a point because rather than being slumped back just watching it all happen, I am now clutching the remote to hit the buttons on the breaks to fast forward to get on with the viewing.  At least I "get" the story but not with the enjoyment I might have had.

Yes, I know, I should have bought the DVD's. But that is an added cost and having watched once, or say twice, they just go into the pile of discs never to be watched again.  Also, I know that without the ad's I might not have the TV since it is the marketing that provide the service as well as my sub's.

Those reading this will not need me to say much at all about ad's on the internet.  What I find intriguing is that when having done a search for something to buy I go onto a popular news site and in the content of that site appear ad's for those very things.  Spooky.  But again as the pop up's asking about my ad blocker say the ad's pay for the deal.

Then there is the attrition in the print and the "legacy" media which is happening.  I am sorry to lose them but have to confess that while at one time my local newsagent's bill was a big one now it is zero, so I am part of the problem.  Some of them are going down or online and the shop has closed to the ruin of the nice lady who ran it.

One key issue here in the media is that the marketing men have moved their spend drastically cutting the revenues for print and legacy sectors.  That together with the loss of circulation due to people going online has pushed the margins too tight.

What is strange that while the ad' men and women seem to be gaining control and access to a degree never imagined and are now impossible to avoid, other things are happening.  If incomes and consumer spending is now shrinking in many sectors it may explain why the ad's are becoming shriller, louder and more "in your face".

This post is prompted by A K Haart's one of Thursday, 2nd June on "Branded Dreams - The Future Of Advertising".  The deluges of ads have become tiresome and things to be avoided if possible but if not you just close down mentally and think, if not of Empire or spending, but of any distraction or fantasy that comes to mind.

The BBC in theory does not have ad's but the number, time and content of its own "in house" puffs are beginning to rival the ad's of the commercial channels, but at least at present not at the level or in the breakup of screening.

An effect is that we may now have a population, especially in the younger generations, with reduced attention spans and a brain functioning in a more detached mode most of the time.

On the other hand, perhaps I need to read more, but the bookshop in town means awkward parking, so I have to go online.