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?"

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Keep Rhodes

Protesters with nothing better to do are demanding that the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, Oxford, is removed on the basis that Rhodes was racist. The leader of the campaign is one Ntokozo Qwabe, who himself has benefited from the Rhodes scholarship, funded by a legacy left to the college by none other than the "racist" Cecil Rhodes.

One notices that he didn't turn down the scholarship and was happy to avail himself of funds left by this "racist imperialist". If he really believes Rhodes was so bad he should refund the money immediately and so 'putting his money where his mouth is'. But of course he won't and will no doubt have some convoluted excuse for not doing so.

Let's take a quick look at colonial Africa. When the British and other colonial powers went there, the population was a fraction of the present day population. The inhabitants, who weren't killed by constant inter-tribal warfare generally died of disease or starvation; the life expectancy of most of them was in the order of only 30 years. The colonists stopped the tribal warfare and helped establish agriculture along with basic education so that by the time that Rhodesia became independent, life expectancy was approaching that of many European nations. It interesting to note that life expectancy in modern Zimbabwe has now fallen back to the early thirties over the years since it was given self government and at the same time its education standards have tumbled for all except the privileged few.

I'm no mathematician, but I would suggest that if it hadn't been for the colonial nations, the probability of Ntokozo Qwabe even having being born, let alone surviving to his twenties would have been quite small. It was the "racist colonists" like Rhodes who are indirectly responsible for him actually existing and enabling him to be educated to a standard allowing him to attend Oxford.
He should shut up and give thanks for the colonists who changed Africa from a primitive tribal civilisation to, what was until independence, modern countries.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Oscars

Someone (whom I have never heard of) is complaining about the Oscars being 'too white'. This surely isn't the fault of the Oscars, which can only be awarded to those in the film industry who have achieved something, but of the industry itself. You can't give an award to a black actor if there was no black actor available to qualify for selection.

Are we now reaching the point where the Oscars and other similar awards are not going to be given on the basis of talent, but on the basis of ethnicity. This is already happening elsewhere with so-called positive discrimination and is a failure more frequently than not. Those who are good at their jobs and have ability get on regardless of their race or sex and rarely need special treatment.

Personally, I've reached the point were I now have zero interest in any of the awards in the Film, TV, music or radio industries. First we have all the hype about the nominations for the Oscars, then, some time latter we have the Oscars themselves. We have Golden Globes, whatever they are, along with British Academy awards, Pop awards, Radio & TV awards and others too numerous even to remember; no sooner is one over than another fills our TV screens. On the television we see under-dressed females, intent on showing as much as they can and sometime more than they expected.

Every time it's the same self-serving group of people in the industry busily telling us how good they are. They are paid extremely well to do what they do, I just wish they would get on with that and stop filling our TV screens with their self-advertisements.

Friday, 15 January 2016

New Years Eve - Cologne Cathedral was Attacked

Whilst the mass attack on women by Muslims in Cologne has received a small amount of coverage in the UK media, I can't recall seeing anything about the Cathedral also being attacked. However the 'Frankfurter Allgemeine' reports that firecrackers and rockets were directed at the Cathedral during the New Year's Eve Service and that the German police did nothing.
The report is in German but Google Translate does quite a good job.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Foreign Criminals

According to the BBC Web Page

"Germany has announced plans to make it easier to throw out foreign criminals and strip sex attackers of refugee status."

As both the UK and Germany are signatories to the same European Convention on Human Rights, how comes it that they believe that they will be able to do this when we rarely succeed in doing so? Surely the same Human Rights rules apply and they can't be sent back to any country where their lives might be in danger.
Or is it that the German State doesn't fund human rights lawyers to make numerous appeals on behalf of the criminals that they wish to deport?

The other possibility is that Justice Minister Heiko Maas is simply making a statement concerning 'plans' in order to try to placate those demonstrating against the fact that Chancellor Merkel has allowed these criminals into the country in the first place, but that he has no intention of doing anything because the EU Human Rights rules won't allow him to take such action.

Certainly, if he does succeed, many people here will be asking why we can't do the same.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Drink Less Alcohol!

It is hard to find any real science in the latest recommended alcohol limits produced by the UK's Chief Medical Officers. Bringing the 'allowance' for men down to that of women simply smacks of the desire for sexual equality.

The obvious question is as to the accuracy of the research. To establish the mortality or disease rates of people according to the amount they drink (or drunk if they are dead) is not one of the easiest tasks. Research elsewhere suggests that when patients discus alcohol with their doctors, the majority understate the amount they drink and it was concluded that on average, a drinker would understate what what he/she had drunk by at least 50%. My mother used to claim that she rarely drunk alcohol, only on special occasions; she didn't count the glass of sherry she had every day with her evening meal; that was medicinal, to help her digestion.

Did these medical officers take this research into account? Did they assume all the alcohol claimed to have been drunk by individuals was correct? Probably they believed what they were told, because if they had doubled the amounts that people claimed to drink, it would probably have produced higher, not lower 'allowances'.

But my main complaint about the figures, and the cancers that they are claimed to produce, is how they managed to decide that the cancers were produced by alcohol and not one of the other numerous possible causes such as traffic pollution. We've recently had the scandal about emissions from diesel engines and the 'extra' risks to which we have been subjected due to the falsification of records. Others claim that red meat can be a cause; how long before we get our weekly meat allowance? And what about obesity, which was recently claimed to be one of the biggest threats to this country; where does that fit into the equation? Suppose we stopped drinking beer and had a pint of coca-cola instead, which would do the most damage?

Then they rubbish the suggestion, among other things, that a daily glass of red wine can be helpful against various ills. Lots of carefully documented research by various well respected doctors and institutions world wide on the beneficial effects of moderate alcohol consumption are simply swept away for no reason. The Harvard School of Public Health has produced a number of studies, this one in particular being of interest in that it weighs up the risks and benefits of alcohol.

Many people drink alcohol for stress related reasons; it might help them to relax after a hard day's work or a stressful journey. Suppose they gave up alcohol, would they in due course be turning up at the doctor's or hospital with a nervous breakdown? When I have problems sleeping, a tot of whisky before bed is an enormous help; my GP knows about this and has given me some pills. But I've failed to get a simple answer, whether the long term use of alcohol, or the long term use of the pills would do me the most harm? Remember that in spite of all the claims made about the safety of medicines, Aspirin was being sold around the world by 1899, and that even today, they are still finding both new uses and new problems with it. So how safe is something that has only been available for a much shorter period?

I believe these new limits will be totally ignored and indeed could make things worse. I don't consider myself a heavy drinker compared with most of my friends; I probably kept within the existing limits most of the time. The problem is that by setting them so low, many will go over the figures, and then adopt the attitude "In for a penny, in for a pound" and totally ignore them altogether.

I intend to continue as at present. I am aware that alcohol could shorten my life, but then so could numerous other thing that I do during a normal day. If I tried to have a life devoid of any avoidable risk, where even crossing the road entails some degree of risk,  I would probably then die of boredom.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Private Sector and Public Sector Resignations

In the private sector, shareholders expect results and if they don't get them, heads usually roll.
Yesterday, it was announced that Marc Bolland, who became chief executive of Marks and Spencer in 2010 will resign in April following poor results, partly brought about by a slump in sales in the womenswear division.

But across at the Environment Agency there was no similar announcement. Although the public would expect resignations following the floods, unlike the private sector, things just continue as if nothing had happened. The Chairman, Philip Dilley, was holidaying in Barbados during the crisis, and didn't think that it was necessary to return. The chief executive, Sir James Bevan, said that it was "heartbreaking to see what has happened to those communities". His heart doesn't, however, seem to be sufficiently broken for him to think it would be appropriate for him to resign.

Senior officials in government posts are now earning salaries and get benefits of  the same order as in those executives in major companies and should should be treated in the same manner by being made to resign if they fail to meet their objectives, in  this case carrying out work to  minimise floods.

No doubt both will blame  'climate change', the M&S chief because they stocked up for the wrong weather, the Environment chief, because of 'the heaviest rainfall since records began'.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Also in Zurich

Since writing my last post, it has emerged that similar events occurred in Zurich on New Years Eve, although on a smaller scale.
Several women have complained to the Zurich City Police of sexual harassment and rape by men "with darker skin colour."
The story continues . . . . . .

Report from "Tages Anzeiger", in German.

More reports from Austria in the Blog "Gates of Vienna". 

Germany - More detail of the attacks by migrants slowly emerges

News has been slow to emerge in both the German and British media concerning the events in Cologne on New Years Eve. At first both the BBC and Sky seemed to be in denial about the events as did the local German media. But now, at least German public broadcaster ZDF has apologised for delays in reporting the sexual assaults, after it emerged they had details of the story for 24 hours before they broadcast them.

But now far more facts are slowly emerging and they are not very nice.  Spiegel International gives quite comprehensive details in which it is admitted that German police lost control of the situation.

It is also emerging that similar attacks have been reported in other major German cities as well as in Austria. In most cases there appears a deliberate attempt by the local authorities to minimise what has taken place. Breitbart mentions attacks in Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Dusseldorf in addition to those in Cologne.

The (female) Mayor of Cologne who is on record a welcoming migrants has said:
'It is always possible to keep a certain distance that is longer than an arm's length, 'need to be 'better prepared' for such incidents. Speaking on live TV, she said women should be 'more protected in the future so these things don't happen again'. 'This means they should go out and have fun, but they need to be better prepared.'
In other words, if you are attacked, it's your own fault, not that of the attackers!

Breitbart also reveals that the interior minister for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, within which Cologne is situated, has said people of a right wing persuasion discussing the mass sexual assaults on New Years Eve online are equally “awful” as the attackers and rapists. At the same time the German government is trying to have anti-immigration speech banned from the social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

These politicians seem to be totally out of touch with reality, as do the local police chiefs.

A number of anti-immigrant organisations are planning protests in Cologne on Saturday, it will be interesting to see how the authorities handle the situation.

Not being a fan of the seaside, Germany has always been one of my favourite countries for a European holiday, but it now looks as if most of mainland Europe is now totally out of the question as far as holidaying is concerned.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Over a 1000 immigrants assault and rape women in Cologne

1,000+ Migrants Brawl, Rape, Sexually Assault, And Steal At ONE German Train Station On New Year’s Eve 
I would have thought this would have been a major item of European news which would be in the headlines in this country, but for some reason it seems to have been largely ignored or downgraded by the UK media.

The BBC, for example, on their on-line news front page, merely has a small paragraph discretely titled  "Germany shocked by Cologne New Year gang assaults on women", whilst the Telegraph reports, way down the page that "German women report string of sex attacks on New Year's Eve by gangs of 'Arab and North African men' ".

It seems that the media has given up reporting news from Europe concerning migrants, unless one of the migrants happens to be a victim. For news of what is happening abroad one has to turn to 'Breitbart' or the 'The Local' for news from Europe.

The most disturbing fact, apart from this being largely ignored by the UK media, is that officials said at a press conference on Tuesday that the Police in Cologne have "no leads" on the perpetrators behind the dozens of sex attacks committed against women in the western cathedral city on New Year's Eve.

How soon before this becomes commonplace, not only in Germany but here in Britain?


I'm starting with two picture of Lambeth Palace which is situated on the south side of the River Thames, almost opposite the Houses of Parliament.

The first, a painting from about 1750 shows the palace alongside the Thames, quite close to the water's edge with maybe a footpath between the river and the palace wall.

This second picture is taken from Google Maps and shows a recent aerial view, but with one big difference, the is now a main road, some gardens and the embankment footpath between the the Palace and the river. Whilst it is impossible to be exact, probably the river has been narrowed by some fifty feet in the couple of hundred years since the artist painted the first picture.

This is just one example of how our waterways have been narrowed, further down, near where I used to work, the embankment road had been diverted under the north arch of Blackfriars' bridge, narrowing the width of the river by 'half an arch'. This has happened all along the Thames and I've no doubt that the same has happened to rivers elsewhere around the country.

There are numerous other old paintings which prove my point, the one showing the frozen Thames is of interest as there is no way that the fast flowing modern river is ever likely to freeze; not due to global warming, but due to the fast movement of the water.

The net result of this narrowing of our rivers is that the water not only flows faster, but when we get very heavy rain, there is now insufficient capacity to cope with the extra water and the river overflows up stream. This of course was never a problem in the past, if it happened, the water went into low lying fields adjacent to the river with little inconvenience to anyone except possibly the farmers. But now, these water meadows are disappearing; a builder looking for land sees them in the summer as good flat building land and fills them with nice houses with a river view. The trouble as their owners have discovered, it's a nice view in the summer, but far from nice during a wet autumn when the water is lapping around their ankles or even reaching their windowsills!

Of course, not all houses are built on such land; many are built on higher land. Generally the owners have no problems as they busily concrete over their drives and build patios, but every bit of land that is covered is that much less land to absorb the water when it rains. Where I live, most of our tap water comes from the underground aquifer, where water collects in the porous sub-surface strata from which it can be pumped. But in spite of all the rain, this area is having problems of water shortage because as a result of the building, less water is soaking into the land and instead is pouring down drains and going into the nearest rivers.

These, of course, are not the only problems; there are others such as the lack of work being carried out to dredge the rivers for so-called 'environmental reasons'. If we are narrowing the rivers and sending more water into them, the only way to cope is to make them deeper which means regular dredging.

Of course there is a large lobby which wishes to convince the public that the floods are nothing to do with building or the lack of dredging, but that they are due to climate change. The Met Office, aided by the BBC are keen to convince us that the recent rainfall is the highest since 'records began', but are very careful to avoid telling us when that was! We also saw what happened last year when the Somerset levels were flooded; the official line was that it was not due to lack of dredging of the local rivers, but again to abnormal circumstances resulting from climate change.

According to the BBC's web site, Sir James Bevan, the Environment Agency's chief executive has said that "People will always come first" in the battle to defend the UK against flooding, ."If we have to choose between people and wildlife, we will always, of course, choose people".

I'll believe it when I see it!