Friday, 3 July 2015

Kayaks Away for Greek Perspective

Here we go! The yaks were delivered Wednesday - £400 worth of plastic.

Despite the yaks being identical, the oars supplied with each one are very different - one is big, black, butch and blokey (that'll be mine) and t'other is yellow, dainty and effeminate (Hay's). However, there were no wing mirrors supplied!

Not exactly stackable, but small enough to be lifted by one person. Now to solve the carriage problem, as we don't really want to be taking the trailer all over the place. The problem is that it's almost impossible to find roof bars for sports cars, especially antique ones.

Hay has just discovered that this hobby is more expensive than she thought - there's the issue of waterways licences. Is that her I hear tapping away on the keyboard to sell two second-hand yaks on eBay?

Spotted this building near where I had my business meeting on Wednesday - they've monkeyed around with the perspective in the design to dramatic effect - it appears to loom over the viewer:

Greece! It can't survive in the Euro, nor can it survive outside of it - where's the money going to come from? The EU has basically been bankrolling all their pensions and infrastructure developments, and now it's pay-back time. Imagine if you borrowed heavily and then said you can't pay back - if everyone did that we'd have a financial crisis on our hands and a possible global melt-down.... oh, hang on - we had one of those for exactly the same reason, didn't we?

It's Greece's politicians' fault, as well as that of the ideologically-driven idiots who allowed Greece into the Euro in the first place - and to break every rule in the book. The words 'too big to fail' come to mind. So long as you have nations willing to do nothing but take and others willing to give in the name of a blinkered ideology, the Euro is a doomed project. It can only be accomplished through a union of like-minded nations with similar economic dynamics and full political integration.

Whereas ISIS's aim is the creation of a global Ummah by the destruction of borders, nationalities and cultural identities through terror and warfare, the EU's aim is exactly the same, but through the creation of the Euro-Zone and using somewhat more democratic means (unless violence breaks out in Greece). Analyse and discuss.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Hijab Phone Accessory for Facebook

I was standing waiting for a colleague at Old Street tube station in London yesterday prior to a business meeting and spotted a Muslim woman in a Hijab with one hand full of shopping bags and the other hand trying to restrain two small children. All the while she was talking on her mobile phone, which was rammed into the side of her hijab. Novel use of a hijab, if you ask me - never seen it used in this way before.

I can see all British women wearing hijabs soon as a mobile phone accessory. Mind you, would it be classed as hands-free if used while driving?

I'm getting really depressed with Facebook - it is becoming a hate-filled medium where nonsense is peddled as fact and statistics are misrepresented in the most mind-bending manner to justify some or other ultra-right (predominantly) or ultra-left political stance. It seems few people are prepared to do even the most rudimentary research on the stuff peddled on Facebook - people are naturally gullible when it comes to things that reinforce their prejudices or preconceived and ill-considered judgements.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Keeping Cool With BT Broadband Grexit

A relative in the Netherlands posted the image on the left on Facebook yesterday and a friend posted the image on the right, which raised a smile:

Saw an advert for BT Superfast Broadband last night:

Now that 17.33 Mbps was the fastest I got on my BT Superfast Broadband during the test - it was more like 12 Mbps for the majority of the time. Not exactly Superfast!

Grexit - will it happen, won't it happen. It's like a Greek tragedy. Yes, the Greeks are to blame, but so too is the EU itself for feeding a dependency and not calling a halt much earlier to flagrant violations of its own membership rules. When the recession happened in 2009 we were very quick to blame the banks for doling out too much cheap money; this is a very similar situation.

Got a day in London today - not looking forward to 33 degrees in the tube system.

Monday, 29 June 2015

WCs, More Kayaks and Glasto

Is it only ever male public toilets that are closed due to vandalisation? It certainly seem that way.

Had a good long weekend in Fowey - met up with No.2 Son in Truro for the first time in some 8 years; a great, if somewhat brief reunion. On the basis of the kayaking stint we did on the River Fowey on Saturday, Hay bought a couple of sit-on kayaks from eBay yesterday - seems I'm destined to get a bit more active on future trips to Cornwall, but now to figure out how we transport them using one or t'other of the sports cars - neither are capable of accommodating a roof rack and I'm reluctant to put a tow bar on either for the trailer.

Didn't stay up to watch The Who's Glasto set (they never were really one of my favourite bands), but did watch Lionel Richie - marvelous! Heard the sad news that Chris Squire of Yes died yesterday. Yes' early stuff was among the soundtracks to my youth - specifically Yes Album.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Gregg's, Fowey, Kayaks and Kanye

Ever been to Exeter Services on the M5? The roundabout there is a bloody nightmare - I defy anyone to negotiate it without losing their direction and having to go round twice. Stopped off there on the way down to Fowey on Friday and I take back everything I ever said about Gregg's - £3 for a bacon butty and a drink (and both were excellent), whereas Costa Packet do just a coffee for £3.

We passed a lorry with a sign on the side saying "Peter Green Chilled". Well, that goes without saying. He spent most of the 70s and 80s like that.

Hay and I hired a couple of sit-on kayaks yesterday afternoon and spent 3 or 4 enjoyable hours paddling round the creeks. Stopped off at the Old Ferry Inn for lunch, but my shorts were soaked and I had to explain that sit-on kayaks have lots of holes in the bottom and it wasn't me just being of a certain age. Hay now wants to buy a kayak or two from eBay. At last, something I can use the trailer for.

Hay was watching some Glasto on TV last night while I dropped off to sleep. I awoke to rather a lot of swearing coming from the TV - Kanye West, apparently (never heard any of his stuff previously). I asked Hay to turn it off - if the bloke can do nothing but swear while singing, then I don't think that's in keeping with Glasto. The bloke is an utter prat.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Fighting the EU

Apparently the Queen has said the EU is worth fighting.

Oh, hang on - she said the EU is worth fighting for....

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Radio Free Sodbury for Rebel Glasto

Overheard last night:

Chairman: "What are you doing? I was going to finish making the dinner myself!"

Hay: "Frying the pork steaks - like I told you."

Chairman: "No you didn't!"

Hay: "I told you three times, and you said Mmmm!"

Chairman: "And what exactly do you think 'Mmmm' means?"

Hay: "That you heard me."

Chairman: "That was your first mistake. 'Mmmm' means no more than I heard you say something, but I haven't a clue as to what it was, as I was otherwise occupied. It's a bloke noise. To hear you I have to be physically looking at you."

One hears (not in the above sense) that an ex governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, has said the Confederate flag doesn't offend him at all. That's hardly surprising - he isn't black and his antecedents weren't slaves.

A couple of years ago Hay converted an old stone chicken shed into a 3m x 2.5m office for her to use while working from home. A change of job rendered it superfluous to requirements, but she decided to rent it out to recoup some of the investment. She was lucky and Malcolm, who runs a local carpet cleaning company, rented it for a year at £200 a month. It was just somewhere his accountant could use for a couple of days a week to do the books. She loved it, as Hay's dad would often come out to chat to her and bring her loads of tea and biscuits.Unfortunately, Malcolm started another business over in Thornbury (he's a serial entrepreneur), which came with plenty of office space, so he vacated it a couple of months ago, since when it's been difficult to get anyone else to take on the lease.

I suggested we target taxi companies, as I could easily give it that air of seediness that private taxi firms seem to attract. The only problem is we'd need to stick a bloody great transmitter on the roof and expand the parking area into a full parking lot. My next thought was to advertise it as a pirate radio station - Radio Free Sodbury. But again, we'd need a whacking great transmitter on the roof.

Talking of music, we're going down to Cornwall for the weekend (Fowey, if you must know), but realised earlier this week that it's Glasto weekend, so the M5 is going to be a total nightmare going on Friday and coming back on Sunday. Not perhaps the best weekend to choose. As if Glasto wasn't big enough already, they've only gone and installed another Pyramid Stage on Ceres.

Here are Hay's instructions to her sister for looking after the house (the cat with wings is obviously Cat, but it looks somewhat evil to me):

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Recruitment Speak

Have you noticed the number of job adverts for "Project Managers", as the recruitment industry calls them?

When I was a project manager it involved complex scheduling, allocation of nonexistent resources, critical path analysis, extensive monitoring, producing reports that no-one read until the project was late and countless, interminable meetings to ensure the project was on track, all with the aid of some pretty nifty software which took at least a year to master.

If you read today's adverts in depth you discover that the requirements of the role are no more onerous than being able to make a shopping list or order some printer ink. Not a mention of proficiency in Prince II or even MS Project.

Another much misused word in the recruitment industry is "Director". Whereas it used to mean someone on the board of a company or at the very least running a department, it's now invariably a sales person.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The End of Cat

Cat is no more. She died on Sunday evening. I say died, more killed - by a neighbour's dog.

Gerry was out walking his elderly greyhound when Cat, who was on her last legs anyway and very frail, wandered across her path. Dogs being dogs, and greyhounds being greyhounds, the inevitable happened. It was all too much for Cat, who expired on the lawn aged 17.

Hay was distraught, Gerry and Anne were distraught. All-in-all, everyone was distraught. There was a lot of distress in evidence.

Last night we went round to Gerry and Anne's to tell them not to worry - these things happen. Hay used it as an excuse to tell them that the only way her anguish could be assuaged was for them to show her around their new house (like us, they built their own house - yet another contemporary, oak-beamed, barn-style thingie - in a plot next to their old house and moved in earlier in the year). 

Barn-style buildings are now becoming the norm in our little enclave and we have forged a tradition that never existed before we came on the scene (we had planning problems when we first put in for permission, as the planning department didn't consider a barn-style house as in keeping with the locale).

Three large glasses of wine each and a couple of hours later, we parted as if nothing had happened. Life's too short to have a grudge against neighbours. I told Gerry that the only way my deep anguish could be assuaged was for him to arrange a drive in Dave's E-Type Jag for me (Dave being Gerry's neighbour). Doubt that will happen.

Gerry and Anne were particularly distraught, as they have previous in this respect. A couple of years ago another dog of theirs got into Geraldine's house and ripped Geraldine's parrot apart. Geraldine was not as forgiving.

The burning question of the day now is whether Kitty gets promoted to being called Cat.

It's like Peyton Place round here....

Monday, 22 June 2015

The Down Side of Democracy

The nights are drawing in!

Been thinking about democracy over the last few days and have reached the inescapable conclusion that it only works within a relatively homogeneous population.

Democracy, where the majority rule, will invariably produce a tyranny of the majority and the only way to reduce the detrimental effects of that is for everyone to be much the same so that needs are aligned as much as possible. Where there are large differences within a population, be that socio-economic, racial, etc., the tyranny of the majority will be most divisive. 

The object of government therefore must be to reduce large differences wherever possible, but that is not possible while a tyrannical majority exists - it has no vested interest in eliminating differences as it is those very differences that result in power, and all governments love power. It can only be achieved by the electorate voting in a party dedicated to the eradication of large differences - and these are few and far between.

I believe that, despite what people say or political correctness or groupthink dictates, every one of us is a selective categorist at heart - be it based on the family, the tribe, the village, the football team, the political party, the class, the sexuality, the gender, the nation, the religion or the race. The more the person referred to is like ourselves in one or more of the afforementioned categories, the less the anxiety we feel in their company.

When the anxiety is based on race we call it racism and are told it's bad, as race, like gender or sexuality, cannot be changed. However, I would contend many are almost as unable to change their political view or religious philosophy as they are their race - the decisions are not necessarily based on logic, but something deeper and fundamentally forceful, such as culture and parentage, which are extremely difficult to overcome. At the nation level we call the anxiety nationalism and it's at the root of all nationalist movements, from the SNP to the Kurds - and unscrupulous politicians with a naked desire for power prey on it.

The feeling we get from belonging to something greater than ourselves is a powerful drive within humans - we're a social species, but to a limit. We feel most comfortable living in societies comprised of people just like us. That's why immigrants gather in ghettos and why indigenous people feel threatened by an influx of immigrants into their neighbourhood. The further one gets away from the family in terms of social unit, the less the feeling of belonging and the greater the anxiety.

Trying to create one big melting pot of racial harmony is, in my opinion, misdirected. It goes against the natural human instinct to stick with people like ourselves and is doomed to failure because of this essential human condition.

While immigrants are in a distinct minority, the drive for them to assimilate is powerful and differences are thus reduced - they become more like us - but when immigrants become the majority in any one location, the drive to assimilate dies through lack of need and differences proliferate, resulting in societal tension between different groups.

For democracy to work effectively, immigration policy must be directed toward reducing differences, not encouraging them. Multiculturalism is a naturally divisive policy. So too is the EU objective of a single European nation - it cannot work, much as some would like it to, as the natural cultural differences prevalent within pre-existing boundaries or regions (and I mean particularly the cultural differences between the Teutonic/Protestant and Latin/Catholic regions) cannot be eliminated and integration of the population into one homogeneous, undifferentiated nation where tyranny of the majority is minimised is basically impossible.