Friday, 24 November 2017

Perpetual Poppy

On the approach to Remembrance Day we are increasingly starting to see all manner of designer poppies - even the Royal British Legion does a rather handsome enamelled one. However, isn't the production of a perpetual poppy a tad self-defeating, in that it while it may give a short term boost to revenues, it could result in fewer people buying the old paper and plastic poppy in subsequent years? Also, it opens the market to private individuals who may have bugger-all to do with the Royal British Legion's poppy charity.

Just a thought. 

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Remote Democracy

Hay's dad brought over a new TV remote yesterday that he was having problems opening in order to insert some batteries. I managed to open it without much difficulty - he merely wasn't pressing hard enough on the battery compartment lid - and then inserted the batteries. Now I've never know a device that doesn't use an even number of batteries; 2, 4, 6, etc., but he gave me a pack of 5. Can't understand why batteries can come as a pack of 5. It can't be to get you to buy more of the same, as you could just as easily buy some more of a different manufacturer. Answers on a postcard, please.

We were watching a programme on TV the other night about Greek city states of the 5th century BC (the one where Boris was waxing lyrical about how the Greeks invited immigrants to their cities to increase their vibrancy, culture and wealth - how times change). The programme went on about how the ancient Greeks contributed to the democracy of their cities in almost every respect. It struck me that it would be a good idea in our culture to have a system of National Service, but rather than it being military, it's 2 years of public service.

Mind you, there won't be much of public service left if the Conservatives have their way. They seem intent on selling everything off to private enterprise, which ends up demanding huge subsidies, despite cutting the wages of their staff. It's strange how politicians want to eliminate the public services to cut taxes and shrink the state, but taxes are never actually cut, as the private companies that run the public services seem rather adept at siphoning money from the taxpayer, requiring even higher taxes than when the services were in public ownership - but that's a story for another day.

I haven't the vaguest idea who Aaron Brown is, by the way, but the image just links TV remotes with democracy.

Off up north today for No.1 Daughter's birthday party in Accrington. We've got our passports ready, as well as a phrasebook in the local dialect. No.1 and No.2 Sons are looking after the house in our absence. Not sure which part of the weekend I have more trepidation about.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Drinking Illumination 2

Took delivery of the chandelier frame yesterday from Amazon, ahead of schedule.

Loaded it up with the polycarbonate, frosted wine glasses, but they looked hideous - looked more like ordinary glasses smeared with vaseline. They were sent back.

Going to give this a bit of thought - coloured wine glasses perhaps, a different colour per tier. Or frosted Christmas baubles for a festive theme. I have found a pack of 24 genuine frosted wine glasses, but at £60 it's a bit on the steep side. Will keep an eye out in the charity shops.

How about 21 frosted wine bottles? Could be a tad heavy though...

Watch this space - we'll have something sorted by Christmas.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Drinking Illumination

While in Amsterdam last week we dined at a restaurant in Badhoevedorp called La Bouche. I was struck by a couple of chandeliers made of frosted wine glasses - one large and the other small. The meals were excellent too and the restaurant is highly recommended if you're in the area.

I so loved the chandeliers that I'm determined to get one - making it if necessary - for positioning over our kitchen island. It would look brilliant (literally) hanging from the oak beam.

I managed to obtain a similar hanger from Amazon for about 25 quid, which has room for 21 glasses; however, 21 frosted wine glasses come in at quite an expense (about £70 or more), so Hay found some polycarbonate ones on Amazon, but I don't think they will give as crisp an effect - they almost look dirty.

The hanger contraption won't be delivered till next week, although we've already had 24 polycarbonate wine glasses delivered. Inspection of the plastic wine glasses has confirmed my suspicion that they won't be as good as real glass, but I'll provide an update when the hanger is delivered.

I do, however, have a Lidl sand blasting attachment for my compressor - may make my own frosted wine glasses...

Monday, 20 November 2017

Remembrance Day

I drove past the village war memorial yesterday on the way to pick up the Sunday papers and it was resplendent in swathes of poppy wreaths. This got me thinking; has Remembrance Day had its day? A contentious subject, perhaps.

Remembrance Day was instituted in commemoration of the dead in WWI and was then extended to those who died in WWII. Since then it had been modified again to include all the dead in all wars, but it nevertheless remains rooted in WWI - the war to end all wars, which didn't

YouGov did a poll a short while ago concerning whether people participate in any way in Remembrance Day and I was surprised to discover that almost 2/3rd of the UK population don't participate at all. Given there's no past figures, it's hard to say whether it's a declining institution.

Many say it helps us remember our history and prevents us making the same mistakes, which is clearly tosh - we learn nothing from history and continually repeat our mistakes. We are taking into wars by politicians and for a variety of reasons, some of which have to do with cementing their own names in history.

I don't personally know anyone who died in any war, and I'm 62. I would guess that goes for the majority of people alive today in the UK and that's reflected in the YouGov poll. Yes, there will be people alive today who lost comrades or fathers in WWII, but they're a fast declining number.

We don't commemorate the deaths in the Wars of the Roses, the English Civil War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War or any war prior to 1914 - they've simply left the folk memory due to the distance in time and the fact (with the exception of the aristocracy) that we don't even know whether any of our ancestors took part in them. Yes, we have Waterloo Day and Trafalgar Day, but they're events that are generally restricted to the Army and Navy, are regimental and celebrate victory, as opposed to remembrance of the dead. There's also the fact that many who participate in Remembrance Day, especially from the right, undeniably use it as a form of triumphalism, which was not the original intention.

Then there's the fact that Remembrance Day is not exactly ecumenical, despite the large number of Empire troops who died in both world wars. The cenotaph was designed by Edwin Lutyens to commemorate all Empire dead and is devoid of any religious iconography; however, the CofE appropriated it and Remembrance Day has ever since been an affair with heavy CofE overtones. Recently some poor vicar tried to make his church's Remembrance Day event ecumenical, but was howled down by more vocal members of the British Legion.

I can't help feeling that, within 20 years or so, Remembrance Day may die out - unless we have yet another massive war. We already have the relatively new institution of Armed Forces Day, which honours living servicemen and women - perhaps it will become amalgamated with that at some stage.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Retiring Green Birds

Spotted in Lidl by Hay a few days ago:

Wonder if they're a bit stringy and if they provide a cage.

I keep hearing from Brexiteers about us having the lowest unemployment for ages and this being attributed to a booming economy. No-one seems to have paid attention to the fact that more people than ever before (the Baby Boomers) are retiring from the workforce and those numbers have to be replaced from a smaller pool just to keep up - it's nothing to do with a booming economy. It can't be when productivity is declining.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Headless Concorde Cheeses

There was something on the local news last night about the Concorde that's been opened to the public at Filton. Good to see it's finally set to turn a profit for someone, even though not in the way it was designed to.

I see Gregg's has come under fire for using a sausage roll to replace Jesus in a nativity scene. I'd have thought they'd use Baby Cheeses. What with all these calls for banning the hijab, I'd challenge anyone to find an image of Jesus' mother, Mary, without one.

That mad Italian scientist who wants to perform a live head transplant is crowing about a recent success, but on a corpse. To be fair, just using Superglue would work on a corpse. You wouldn't notice any difference.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Newspaper Russians

Spotted this yesterday, and I fully agree. Newspapers no longer reflect their readers' viewes, they formulate them. All the newspapers owned by these five are 100% pro-Brexit, print misleading, anti-EU propaganda and, most. importantly, desperately want to avoid an impending EU-driven crackdown on tax havens.

Seems the Russians not only want to destabilise the west through interference in cyberspace, but the use of their UN Security Council veto in the Syrian chemical weapons investigation extension will have the effect of prolonging a civil wart which is the main cause of refugees entering Europe in their droves.

I'm starting to join the dots and conclude that Putin is doing everything in his power to destabilise Europe and the USA.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Russian Leaks

All this Russian interference stuff - Russia is one of the most corrupt countries on earth, being the result of capitalism on steroids (and a warning to those who would let business run a country), yet it's somewhat strange that WikiLeaks publishes almost no Russian leaks. It's almost as if WWIII has already broken out, but in cyberspace, and Russia is winning.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Double Dutch Newspapers

Spotted this sign at the exhibition in Amsterdam yesterday:


Given the others I'm with had decided to attend a few of the parties that surround the event and I wasn't in the mood, I decided to walk back to our digs (getting a taxi at a show this size is impossible). A nice, 2 hour walk through various districts. Some enterprising person had set up a Christmas stall in their drive.

Before anyone mentions it's too early, don't forget that the Dutch have Sinterklaas on the 6th December.

Some more photos from my wander back.

What I like about my home country is that the people are very egalitarian. You may be better off than someone, but it's not something that you rub into their faces. The houses are all very similar and decorated is the same cosy style - conspicuous consumption and envy (and corruption) play a much smaller role in defining people here than in the UK.

I see the owners of the Daily Telegraph. the fabulously wealthy and tax avoiding Barclay twins, are keeping up the pressure for Brexit, and avoiding a planned EU crack down on tax havens, by resorting to bullying.

It's strange (and I'm being ironic) that newspapers owned by millionaires, such as the Times and Sunday Times, the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Express are all in support of Brexit and are doing their utmost to spout negative propaganda (and in some cases outright lies) about the EU. They very obviously don't want their owners' taxes investigated too closely. As usual though, much of the British public can't see further than the ends of their noses and are willing to be led like sheep by newspaper proprietors who prey on their insecurities and prejudices.