Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Lord Reynard and the LibDems

The thing that most struck me about the Lord Reynard affair is that these mature women who hoped to be parliamentary candidates, didn't do something at the time. What hope would we have if they were MPs and a real crisis arose?
Both my daughters have faced sex-pests at work, dealt with them themselves, and came out well from the encounters.
One, sitting next to her boss at a meeting when he kept fondling her leg, (as claimed by one of the women in the Lord Reynard case), simply remarked, in a voice that could be heard by those adjacent to them , that it would be appreciated if he put his hand on the table rather than trying to get it up her skirt. She made no formal complaint, but the word obviously got back the personnel manager, who moved her boss to a post elsewhere in the company. As his deputy, she took over and was subsequently promoted into the job.
The other favoured more direct action, and slapped the person concerned across his face. Being into martial arts, she has a strong right arm and I'm sure he felt it. She was hailed as a heroine by other women in the office, nothing more was said and life continued more or less as usual.
The fact is, women invariably win from such encounters. Personnel departments hate the thought of claims for sexual harassment or constructive dismissal, particularly when it seems likely that other women within the organisation will give them support, and do everything possible to avoid such actions.
So why didn't these mature women do anything at the time?

Wednesday, 22 January 2014


I've been reading, with some amusement, about the young couple who absconded from their school and went for a holiday in the Caribbean.
I personally blame their absent parents who seemed to have believed that money solves all problems, when what the youngsters really want is their parents.
It brought back to mind the time when my youngest daughter was about 12 or 13. She had a close girlfriend who had everything and my daughter was somewhat jealous that she didn't have a TV of her own and plenty of money to spend.
But one thing this girl didn't have was her parents. Her father was near the top of some multinational company and was always away and her mother spent her time being "charitable", being involved with almost every local charity, and was invariably out most evenings. An au-pair kept the house and cooked meals for the girl and her younger brother.
As a result, she often came home with our daughter and spent a lot of time talking to my wife. Even when the two girls fell out, as teenagers do, the girl still continued to call to talk things over with my wife, and indeed my wife helped her through what is probably the most difficult time of life for an adolescent. I think it did make my daughters appreciate the fact that money isn't everything and that the family matters. My daughter lost touch with her when they moved a couple of years later, but at least my wife has the satisfaction of having tried to help someone at their time of need.

I suspect that is what happened with the young couple who eloped to the Caribbean. They had no adults (other than teachers) to talk to, and whilst the school may provide an excellent education, it can't make up for absent parents. I wish them all the best.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Peterborough Sex Attacks

A couple of comments, late at night.
1. The BBC's website and news bulletins were the only news media outlets not to mention that those found guilty were Roma.
2. Amongst the many costs of the trial, which lasted two and a half months, was that of three interpreters who worked full time during the case, at a cost of over £30,000.

Today the Office of Budget responsibility announced that we need immigrants as they provide a net financial gain to the country - I wonder if they took this sort of thing into account, including police costs, imprisonment costs as well as the trial costs?

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

"I'd rather be poorer with fewer migrants"

For years, those supporting immigration have argued that we couldn't do without the immigrants and that our public services would collapse without them. Many economists link higher immigration to stronger growth and increased personal wealth.
But today, a different argument was offered by Nigel Farrage of UKIP when he said:

"I'd rather be poorer with fewer migrants"
“If you said to me, would I like to see over the next ten years a further five million people come in to Britain and if that happened we’d all be slightly richer, I’d say, I’d rather we weren’t slightly richer, and I’d rather we had communities that were united and where young unemployed British people had a realistic chance of getting a job.
“I think the social side of this matters more than pure market economics.”
This is a different approach from that of most mainstream politicians, who automatically assume everybody wants more money and base all their actions on that assumption. But being better off economically is not the same thing as being better off personally, and during my lifetime, there have been occasions when I felt quite well off, although financially I was almost stony broke. Politicians generally think that money is the solution to everything, whereas "Quality of Living" to most people is defined by much more than money. Politicians can't understand the concept that it is possible to be happier with less money.

A friend of mine is an accountant and worked for one of the top city firms when he was younger, no doubt earning the high salary that such firms pay. But now he is working in the west country for a small local accounting partnership, certainly earning far less than he could have done in the city, and yet he is far more content with life. Why? Well he can jump in his car and be at work within 15 minutes or so and not face an hour or more commuting each way. He can afford a home which is probably comparable with that which he would have been able to afford near London, but at considerably less cost. There is not the hassle of clients as with city firms, nor does he come home late each evening as a result of having to work late. In exchange for money, he has a family life, fresh air, along with countryside views and walks;  both he and his family are able to lead less pressurised lives and have time to engage in other activities.

 This illustrates the very point which Nigel Farage is making, that probably most of us would be quite content not to be slightly richer if it meant we could cut back on immigration, especially as, unlike my friend, they have never had the extra riches in the first place.

Nobody has ever asked the British people what they want, politicians always assume it is money or state provided services. Nigel Farage appears to be the first politician to question this assumption.

Friday, 3 January 2014

The Antarctic Rescue Saga continues

The saga continues.
The "researchers" have been transferred to the Australian ship, the Aurora Australis, but the Chinese ship with the helicopter is now stuck in the ice, and the Aurora Australis has been forced to remain on station as a precautionary measure. The result is that some real scientists at the Australian Carney base have not yet received their expected supplies and equipment forcing the Australian Government to consider air lifting urgently needed items.

The Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy is not an ice breaker, as reported in some media, 
but merely "ice hardened".

Jo Nova's blogs continue to be a worthwhile read
Akademik Shokalskiy: were those careless risks in dangerous but foreseeable conditions?
Australian taxpayers will pay $400,000 cost for climate scientist’s ship stuck in ice. Total cost “millions”.
I also rather liked this tweet:
"Could the Queen not rush through a knighthood for Chris Turney for services to global warming scepticism?"

However you look at it, this saga is far more entertaining than most soaps on TV!
As might be expected, the BBC has not reported the latest developments.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Rescue in the Antarctic

I continue to be amused by the situation of the "Global Warming" experts who were marooned by ice aboard a vessel in the Antarctic and have now been moved by a Chinese helicopter to an Australian Rescue ship.
Their aim had been to follow the route and repeat scientific investigations made by Douglas Mawson and his team between 1911 and 1914 to track how quickly the Antarctic's sea ice was disappearing.
Amongst those on board were reporters from the BBC, ABC and the Guardian along with Australian academic Chris Turney who apparently organised the whole thing.
One of the interesting things to emerge was that the expedition didn't include a meteorologist amongst its members, probably because such people deal with what is actually happening rather than what they would like to be happening. They had to seek weather advice by radio from Australian and US based forecasting organisations!
This whole rescue is going to cost a fortune (at least in my terms), helicopter operation doesn't come cheaply, nor do ice breakers and similar vessels. It seems that the Australian taxpayer is going to have to pick up the tab, I hope they are happy with the idea. If I was in charge, I'd have left them there until the ice melted or the ship sunk, forcing them to make their way to civilisation using sledges as Douglas Mawson and his team would have had to do a hundred years ago.
I suggest that before any more "cruises" like this are allowed to take place, the Australian Government should insist that they have adequate insurance; judging by what I am quoted for a fortnight's cruise in the Caribbean, that might bring these costly, but pointless activities to an end. An H&S risk assessment by an independent assessor also wouldn't come amiss!

Full details in "Watts Up With That" - Ship of Fools Rescued at Last
and Jo Nova's Blog - Rescue ship stuck too, climatologists asks skeptics Coleman & Watts for weather-info

The BBC and ABC now prefer to refer to the ship being on a cruise rather than an expedition and are toning down the whole affair as their reporters will not now be able to return triumphant with the news that the sea ice is melting fast.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The New Year

I've been trying to come up with a review of the past year and thoughts of the future, but not very successfully. On a personal front, nothing much seems to have happened other than the fact that we, and our family, are all a year older, and our grandson has started school.
Because I was feeling unwell part of the time, we didn't get a worthwhile holiday. Feeling somewhat better, we considered a cruise in the Caribbean, but quotes for holiday insurance for a fortnight's cruise, in the order of £1000 for the two of us, made us think again. So this year it looks as if any travel will be restricted to Europe, although we still would like to go and visit friends in Australia. Other friends of ours went this year and didn't bother about insurance; cruise ships demand details of your insurance before you sail, airlines don't. But it is still a bit of a risk!

Outside the home, on the political front, very little seems to have happened. There have been a considerable number of "storms in teacups", loved by politicians but ignored by normal people. OK, the economy is said to be improving, but many might put it down to luck rather than any specific government action. Indeed, most actions taken by the government seem to have been of the "fire fighting" type, forced on them by circumstances rather than choice. The government still seems to be spending as if there was no tomorrow, almost every week, there is an announcement that the government has "found" a few millions to spend on this, that or the other, usually desirable but not essential expenditure.
What's happened to the "Bonfire of Quangos"? They all still seem to exist, and those that don't were effectively either merged with another or brought back into a government department. Where are the cuts? The deficit is still rising, and cuts aren't so much cuts as reductions in budgeted increases. We still have threats to build the HS2 in spite of the country being broke, but in areas that matter, like electricity generation, nothing seems to be happening in spite of warnings from the experts that we could face major outages. Paying companies not to use electricity between certain hours is not a viable long term solution, merely an unnecessary waste of money.

Apart from events like the death of Margaret Thatcher and the birth of Prince George, there were two highlights on the political front, if that is what they can be called.
Firstly, Parliament awoke from its normal inert state to prevent us getting involved in any form of war in Syria and secondly, the only government action that seems to have been taken from choice rather than from necessity, the introduction of "Gay Marriage", which is hardly likely to be a vote winner amongst Conservatives.
And as for the EU, promises of a referendum remain just that, simply promises hedged in with so many "if"s, "when"s and "but"s as to be totally meaningless.

I'm sorry, but nothing that the government has done is enough to dissuade me from voting for UKIP, something which I fully accept could land us with a Labour government.

I wish a Happy and Prosperous New Year to my select band of readers.