Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Maritime Dictatorships

New Police Powers Mean End to Football

Powers to restrict the movements of people accused of gang membership have come into force in England and Wales. Gang members will be prevented from going into rival gangs’ territory and wearing their gang colours.

This obviously, and to the relief of millions, means these ‘GANGBOs’ will spell an end to football matches.

In an effort to obtain candid comment from within the world of football, the voice mail of Sir Alex Ferguson was hacked, Unfortunately the only person to leave a message was Kenny Dalglish, which resulted in a totally unintelligible message.

Pundits are unsure as to whether wars will be outlawed as a consequence.

Shock as Microsoft Says Internet Explorer Open to Hacking

Microsoft has said that its Internet Explorer browser has a flaw which leaves it open to attack by hackers.

This is a total shock to the computer security fraternity, who thought that Microsoft products, and especially Internet Explorer, were now totally secure – especially given the literally thousands of chances and the 15 years in which Microsoft has had to get it right.

Egyptian Riots Over Football Transfer Costs

Egyptians are expected to come out in force today to demonstrate over the ridiculously high football transfer costs being set this year.

Some more serious comments now.

Autocratic governments around the world have shown unequivocally that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It’s also true that, like it or not, the most effective form of government is undoubtedly an enlightened dictatorship. The tragedy is that there are very few people who are capable of being an enlightened dictator - and the succession will always present dangers. Enlightened dictatorships don’t stand the test of time.

However, deciding whether to replace a corrupt dictatorship with an autocratic theocracy is like comparing apples with apples. The words ‘back to square one’ come to mind.

It seems to me that all Egypt’s Mubarak has to do is to sit tight for a bit longer (if he can) and the democracy protesters will inevitably splinter into irreconcilable factions – as it is already appearing to do following the Muslim Brotherhood back-tracking on its support for ElBaradei as a transitional leader. If granted popular power, the MB is showing the early tell-tale signs of becoming an oppressive regime itself.

I do wish people would stop and think before commenting on certain stories which are designed to inflame. Yesterday there was an article in the Daily Express concerning EU plans to force EU shipping companies to pay all their crews European wages. The story was dressed up in jingoistic language stating that the UK’s red duster (the ensign) was under threat from Europe, naturally causing the superficial and facile readership of the Express to huff and puff with righteous indignation at the EU riding roughshod over little old Britain and our proud maritime heritage.

Now for a number of years – in fact centuries, British ships have used cheap non-EU labour – such as Filipino, Indian, Chinese, etc. for the simple reason that they are cheaper than UK seafarers. Certain officer ranks must still remain British in order to qualify as a British vessel – such as the captain. This has gradually led to the British Able Seaman becoming an endangered species, as they cannot compete with 3rd world labour.

All the EU wishes to do is bring jobs back to EU seafarers, which is laudable. The only problem, however, is that UK ship owners face unregulated international competition, are not noted for their philanthropy and will doubtless flag out their vessels to Panama or Liberia in response.


  1. Million man march on Redmond to kick Steve Ballmer out? nah, no one uses IE any more anyway.

  2. That stuff about maritime crews is interesting .... (not that the rest isn't interesting, it always is, it's just that the stuff about maritime wages is more interesting than usual, even if the usual height of the interest bar is way above average interest and well into the realms of very interesting, that latter bit would have to have a new level of interest which would have to be called extremely interesting.....)

  3. Steve: You've lost me. Steve Ballmer?

    Alan: Interesting!

  4. Alan: PS - interesting is as interesting does - whatever that means...

  5. Chairman of Microsoft, been there since 1980 (i.e. 30 years) and they can't get rid of him - I thought the parallels with Egypt were amusing.

    PS I remember reading once that there were 22 different nationalities aboard HMS Victory, strange but true.