The Warped and the Woof: a doggy shag story… The Demeaning of Life… Christmas is so over!… Another unwanted pres(id)ent… GW: Roasting Matilda. Your New Year edition of the BogPo starts here!

The BogPo and our friends over at The Pumpkin would like to wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2019.

But we just can’t.

 

“Is that you Melanka? It’s Donald Trump here. I’m in some kind of forest, there may be rain. Can you call whoever is my Chief of Staff today to come get me out?”

The Warped and the Woof: a doggy shag story

“Britain’s dogs are becoming less fertile. Researchers who have systematically examined canine sperm over a span of 26 years say that overall sperm quality has been in decline. Environmental chemicals are implicated. And the study may throw light on the fertility changes in male humans.” (BBC Science report)

At one and the same time we are reminded, are we gnotte?, of the futility of existence.

On the one hand, you may say, there are too many people in the world. A decline in fertility, that has been noted – the average human birthrate globally is now only 2.4, not far off the point of non-replacement of populations – possibly due to plastics and their chemical emissions, may be seen as both a good and a bad thing. But worth researching.

On the other, discovering that your fate as an adult, having spent perhaps 20 years in fulltime education to emerge with a Doctorate of Philosophy specializing in biomedical science, is to be employed for 26 years to masturbate dogs and minutely examine the outcome; to know this, is more than a non-scientist can bear.

There surely has to be a higher purpose, as well as a statistical number, to existence.

 

The demeaning of life

And we find it, seemingly, in utter uselessness:

“The crash, at about 10am GMT, caused Amazon customers to complain about not being able to play festive songs, turn on their living room lights or get cooking instructions for Christmas dinner.”

Yes, throughout Europe no-one expanding until the surplus flesh consumed their sofa was able to put on the radio, recognize a light-switch and grasp its primary functions, or stick a fucking turkey in the oven with a fistful of packet stuffing and some cranberries up its arse.

Not without their little virtual assistant, whose circuits had become overloaded owing to the population of Alexas now exceeding that of the entire useless human race, reduced to complete helplessness as this little fucker cheerfully plays ‘We Built This City on Sausage Rolls’, this year’s Number One hit in Britain (yes, thanks to Brexit we have gone collectively crazy), while secretly sending messages back home to the big computer that works out what to sell you next, because you’re so glutted with stuff you no longer know what you want or need or are good for, financially. But that’s okay, here, have some more credit.)

I have tried not sneering at friends and relations who admit, with a little wiggle of shame and some suspicious coloration of the cheeks, that in their innocence and confusion they have already acquired one of these pernicious advertising devices, without realizing that this little tabletop fucker reports every fart, groan of pleasure or expression of disgust for the TV Christmas schedules back to its masters in California, even when it’s off.

But that’s okay, because it’s so useful to have a personal thing that can tell you to take an umbrella out in case those big lumpy gray things up there in the sky might contain water that could fall down and ruin your hair extensions.

You might want to look over on The Guardian website this morning, Boxing Day, and read about Amazon executives collaborating with the US security service in designing new systems for surveillance, and pause for a moment to wonder if there might be a connection?

Amazon and its evil owner, baldy Jeff Bezos, the world’s second-richest 1970s Dr Who villain, have enslaved the workforce everywhere, turning desperate workplace drones into abysmally paid bio-automata strapped to timing and management devices; having to pee in bottles to avoid sanctions for timing-out.

They’re doing the same to you in your home. You think Alexa is the robot? Think again. It’s you.

Already we’ve had the first instance of an Alexa advising its owner to kill his mother-in-law. A survey by NBC TV showed that 20% of Alexa owners ask for advice on boiling an egg.

I’m having none of it, myself. I can switch on my own light, thanks.

When I can afford it.

“We’ve got another one coming in, says he’s the Home Secretary and he’s missed his flight.” (Photo BBC/Lewis Morris)

Christmas is so over!

Speaking of selling us things, isn’t it just excessively aggravating on Boxing Day* to get a continuous trickle of pleading emails from retailers who spent £millions on trying to sell you stuff at bargain prices BEFORE Christmas, still pathetically wheedling the day after that it’s not too late to reconsider your decision not to buy anything from them, now that prices are even more affordable?

I accept that people have to make a living somehow. However, if you have ever visited parts of the world like Cairo or Marrakesh or New Delhi, you will know the misery of being constantly pursued through the bazaar by packs of barefoot street-Arabs with their grimy hands out, pleading for baksheesh; while indigent and portly carpet salesmen grasp at your clothing and try to hustle you into the Stygian gloom of their overstocked emporia, smelling badly of goats.

It’s all just a bit… undignified?

I have a modest proposal: ban all internet advertising on 26 December.

Just calm down, dears. Accept it:

It’s over.

*(for Americans, the day after Happy Holiday was when tradesmen in olden days would go around collecting small gratuities from their regular customers for the staff Christmas Box. It was in the days when shops used to deliv… er…, right.)

 

(Guitar bore alert)

Getting the Lowdown

And talking of dogs, the little cat, Cats, has instantaneously developed a relationship with my new guitar. What is that about?

I wrote a few days ago about how I dropped a chair on my old Taylor. I was being facetious, I didn’t ‘drop’ it exactly, the desk chair tipped over as I stood up painfully to pee (catchup: I pee by painful contraction into a bag attached to my leg, in some ways it’s quite handy) and the guitar was on its stand behind me where I can reach it easily, and the back of the chair… it’s a bit horrible to relate, actually.

Anyway, for some reason the price of guitars has crept up and up in recent years, it’s like the guitar industry is competing to see who can charge the most for a chunk of wood, a stick, some gloss paint and some wires. You’ll be expected to pay six or seven grand even for a solid-body Gibson Les Paul Custom ’59 these days. They only make thousands a year and they still haven’t conquered the neck-straining weight problem.

So I had to pitch the insurance company to cough up £500 more than I paid for the guitar three years ago, as that is the price of a new one today, if you can find one – the world of luthiery moves on. With their blessing, I took the opportunity to upgrade, and paid the difference to acquire at last one of the many guitars of my dreams – a Lowden.

This would be, I thought, a rare and fabulous thing, an instrument made and blessed by the great George Lowden himself – until the shop I bought it from followed yesterday morning’s exciting delivery with an email offering me a choice of 59 more they have in stock, just to remind me of how very not special I am; as if I haven’t spent my life knowing it.

It makes for well over 100 I have now found online

After scouring the internet for one I could afford, I now realize George is in the business of cashing in on his reputation for excellence by flooding the market with mass-manufactured guitars, albeit ‘hand-crafted’, which will undoubtedly affect the resale value should I ever need to sell it – which I usually do as I’m always running out of money.

My appreciation of the fabulous tone and sheer playability of my new Lowden, that are not really in doubt; my desire not to resell it, to hang on to it at all costs, has become sullied by mere commercial considerations. Happy New Year, George.

But Cats has no such apprehensions. Never a lap-cat, the moment I took it from its case and started appreciatively strumming a chord I know, she jumped up on the sofa beside me and tried to get onto my lap, pawing at me with a strange light in her eye. Fearful of another accident, I took the guitar back to its case and lovingly replaced it – it’s still a tight fit.

And since then I find her sitting speculatively on the lid of the case, which for reasons of space is lying flat across the arms of the armchair I never sit in, in the corner behind the door.

It could be the mildly pungent, not unpleasant smell of the new wood, the cedar and the rosewood, the mahogany, the varnish, combining to create a sort of musical catnip, I don’t know.

Whatever the reason, I got up late this morning and there was no sign of Cats, who often breakfasts at several houses across the dangerous road before trotting home to breakfast at hers.

I worry when she isn’t there by the time I’m dressed, she has a magical ability to sense from wherever she is in her world that I’m up and about and ready to feed her, and comes hurtling in through the bathroom window. She has invented a game where she stops on every step going downstairs, and I have to pretend to tread on her squidgily. One day she’ll break my neck; a fitting end, I sometimes think. But not today.

Anyway, coffee made and cooling, after carefully washing my hands I take out the guitar and start to play through the circle of fourths, whatever, and moments later as if by magic Cats appears in the doorway, a little barrel-shaped audience of one. Over in the corner, Hunzi balefully ignores us, the only things standing between him and his morning walk.

Patiently putting the guitar away again, together we go in the kitchen and open another packet of catfood and, as usual, she looks at me pityingly, as if to say, is this muck the best you can do? I get Beluga catviar across the street; and stalks off, tail twitching provocatively.

I guess if I serenade her, she’ll come back to finish it.

Little flirt.

 

And the Lowdown on Persuasion

An article in The Guardian by George Monbiot warning us of the dangers of advertising, as if Vance Packard hadn’t done that fifty years ago, offers a possible explanation for the seeming idiocy of offering me 59 more guitars, many like the one I just spent a barely affordable fortune on the previous day but several seductively planted among them, that cost twice as much.

It’s called ‘FOMO’, Fear Of Missing Out, and it’s a psychological technique designed to plant in my brain the worry that if I weren’t so inadequate I might have done even better, which will linger for months or years until I dissolve into a puddle of angst that my brilliant Lowden guitar is maybe not quite the best thing since hot buttered toast, and round we go again.

But George, that’s half the fun!

 

Oh, shit

Thinking of The Hidden Persuaders, there were two other seminal books warning us of the choppy seas our civilization was heading into, that came out at about the same time in the 1960s and early 70s.

Rachel Carson in Silent Spring drew our attention to the fact that the agrochemical industry was poisoning our world and shredding the web of life. EF Schumacher proposed a theory of Green economics, Small is Beautiful: ‘As if people mattered.’

Totally prescient, spot-on, and we’ve paid no attention whatsoever, and now thanks to neoliberal capitalism and the cult of the shareholder we’re in the shit up to our desperately pleading eyeballs.

 

Another unwanted pres(id)ent

The Pumpkin writes:

Mr Trump and the First Lady, who seems to have had a payrise recently as she no longer looks so miserable whenever she has to be in the same room as her everloving faithful-to-other-women hubby, descended with little notice on a Marine base in Iraq for festive selfies and another astonishing outburst of self-aggrandizement aimed at keeping his dumbfuck voter base happy while Mueller tightens the noose.

Not only did the gurning orange lunatic insist on posing for the White House TV channel with a supposedly clandestine bunch of Navy SEALs, completely uncensored, easily identified by unit and not even pixellated – thanks for the gross breach of normal security protocols, that could get them killed – claiming modestly that only since he became President has IS been defeated, which everyone is trying to tell him it hasn’t been – but he also told the assembled grunts that thanks to his persuasive charm they’d be getting a 10% – no, make it more! – payrise, the first raise they’ll have had in ten years!

Except that according to the fact-checkers they’ve had a payrise averaging 1.8% every year for the past thirty years, and 2.6% voted through already for 2019….

He is totally shameless.

And as he was terrified of leaving the security of the US base (not for himself, you understand, but for the safety of the First Lady – a creature made from sharpened iron nails, unlike ‘President Bone Spurs*) – the Iraqi Prime Minister refused to meet him on the grounds that visiting a US military base at Christmas was not a good look; while various local warlords, unaware of the visit in advance, are hopping up and down, threatening to throw the Yankee imperialists out of their country.

Well done, Donald, you and your gut sure know how to conduct foreign policy.

*As you know, back in the 1970s a chiropodist got him a draft deferment on grounds that he was afflicted with bone spurs on his feet. TYT has just reported, the late doctor’s daughters have confirmed that he had told them many times how Donald’s dad had paid him to make the diagnosis up.)

x

Norman invasion

French toll-roads operator Vinci has bought a controlling stake in Gatwick airport for £2.9 billion, adding to their collection of 46 airports around Europe, from the American investment fund owners, GIP, who appear to have lost on the deal as they’ve spent £2.9 billion over 10 years just on redecorating.

The deal comes as something of a disappointment to your Uncle Bogler, too, who has been suggesting for some time – ever since Boris Johnson as Mayor of London thought of creating an island in the Thames to get round the problem of where to site Heathrow’s third runway –  that Britain could lease a part of the otherwise pretty much useless but temptingly flat Pas de Calais to build another airport for London, only 90 minutes away by Eurostar train.

Too late now. Instead, we have another French company owning a major capital asset in the south of England, and Paris gets its sixth airport. Welcome to post-Brexit Europe.

UB sees too that Vinci owns Lyon St Exupèry, where he had one of the weirdest experiences of his life, having to persuade the staff to call out an engineer at 2 a.m. to free his mobile phone from a charging booth, only to realize with a frisson of horror that his (identical) phone was still in his pocket, and spending the rest of the night hiding under an overpass until his flight was called….

 

The 2019 Pointless Endeavor Award goes to M. Jean-Jacques Savin, a 71-year-old Frenchman and former paratrooper, who has set off in a bid to become the first person to float freely across the Atlantic in a ten-foot wooden barrel.

One off the bucket-list.

 

GW: Roasting Matilda

Australia: A “Christmas heatwave continues to sweep across the country, with a near record-breaking 49C (120F) forecast for Western Australia, and fire danger, health and air quality warnings issued across the nation. By 8.40am on Thursday (20 Dec) Marble Bar had already recorded 43.4C, with the worst of the heat to come. It later hit 49.3C. Temperatures in the south are 10C to 14C higher than average, the bureau said on Wednesday.” (BBC News) “Catastrophic” fire conditions are anticipated as winds pick up.

And who would want to live in…

USA: “Two powerful winter storms were moving across the country Friday, one bringing blizzard conditions to the northern Plains and Upper Midwest and a second spreading heavy snow from Arizona to the Texas Panhandle. The heaviest snowfall is likely in central and eastern New Mexico, with up to 2 feet in the highest terrain. Strong winds will accompany the snowfall, bringing the possibility of blizzard conditions.” 2 dead.

“In the Southeast, as of late Thursday almost 50 million people were under flood watches. Widespread rainfall, locally heavy at times, will continue to spread north and eastward from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Mid-Atlantic. Flooding and flash flooding will be a threat throughout Friday.

Saturday: Rain and thunderstorms are drenching areas from the northern Gulf Coast to the eastern Carolinas. Clara, Mississippi, recorded 11.5 inches of rainfall. (The Weather Channel) Six eastern states had their wettest-ever year, Mount Mitchell in North Carolina receiving just on 140 cm, 55 in. Climate change? Meteorologist Bob Henson writes: “…rainfall amounts in some places were larger than anything produced by natural variability in the last hundred-plus years.”

“Severe thunderstorms that could spawn tornadoes were also forecast in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and western Tennessee late Thursday. Storms were also possible for parts of Iowa, western Illinois and northern Missouri. (from USA Today)

“Stanford Earth System Science Professor Noah Diffenbaugh stated that atmospheric conditions for California wildfires are expected to worsen in the future because of the effects of climate change.” Wikipedia concludes: “The 2018 wildfire season (was) the most destructive and deadly wildfire season on record in California, with a total of 8,527 fires burning an area of 1,893,913 acres (766,439 ha).” Human cost: 98 civilians, 6 firefighters. (USA Today)

A report in Scientific American proposes that there have been two civilization-ending ‘megadroughts’ in the West and northern Mexico in the past 1200 years, and the past 19 years suggests that a third is in progress. The region has warmed by 1.5 degrees in the past 120 years and the resulting increase in transpiration means what rainfall there is has less effect in the soil – a classic feedback loop.

The Philippines: “More than 60 people have died after a powerful storm struck the Philippines (29 Dec.), with locals reportedly taken by surprise by its strength. Storm Usman hit the Bicol region southeast of capital Manila on Saturday”, triggering landslides. “At least 17 people are missing and the death toll is expected to rise.” (BBC) More than 40 thousand people have been displaced by flooding.

Indonesia: “The death toll from a landslide that crashed into a hilly village on Indonesia’s main island of Java has risen to 15 after rescuers found 6 more bodies buried in the mud on Tuesday.” (Guardian) 30 houses were buried. “Seasonal rains” have triggered dozens of landslips and caused extensive flooding.

Iceland: Against the average daytime temperature at this time of year of 36F, 2C, Reykjavik yesterday was enjoying a balmy 48F, 9C. Many people in parts of Canada are also complaining that it’s still up in the 50s. It’s been mild here in the west of the UK too, under a gray blanket of cloud we haven’t seen the sun since the day before Christmas Eve.

Observing the isobars over the shoulder of the BBC Weather presenter, Louise Lear, as she summarises the prospects for the New Year week ahead, what they are clearly not talking about are the atmospheric rivers streaming up into the Arctic, and the intense lows – three of them – pushing warm water and high waves up past Greenland. What used to be an east>west flow of winds now seems almost permanently south>north; as evidenced by the relentless storm pattern in the eastern US – while a view of the circumpolar jetstream, presented in a voice betraying no alarm or even curiosity, shows it forming huge, lazy southward loops and breaks betokening even greater weather contrasts and stormy arctic conditions for the eastern USA.

Europe: A powerful cyclone is bringing very windy conditions and high waves to Finland and the Baltic states. The storm has been cited as the probable cause of a railway accident in Denmark that killed 6. More significantly, a ‘Sudden Stratospheric Warming’ event up in the polar region in which temperatures in the  frigid upper atmosphere may rise 60C above normal in a few days is likely to cause a lengthy spell of very cold weather in northern Europe and a warming trend in the Arctic from about the third week in January. (Severe-weather.eu).

And…

Yellowstone: The Steamboat geyser (biggest in the park) – The Blessed Mary Greeley reports eruption number 32 since March, on Christmas Day; crowning an excessively active year. The previous record year saw 29 in 1964; however most years get only two or three and several in the record none at all.

Cartoon of the Year

An unwanted present… We are the rulers of the Queen’s na-vee… Internetanyahoos… Pal Joey… Head in the sand… GW: ‘I’ve got my hoodie to keep me warm’… Conservation news.

A Merry Xmas to all our reader.

An unwanted present

Wearing my house slippers, I took some bread out to the bird table for their Xmas brunch and the opportunity to slip a belated card through my neighbour’s door. Feeling a squishy moment underfoot, I looked down and realized that I had stepped in a present her little dog had left in my front garden.

Slightly fuck Christmas.

And a Merry Christmas to everyone. Donald and Ivanka. Melania.

 

Democracy inaction

“This rat-infested, weevil-ridden government, this coffin-ship of benighted fools is intolerably odious. It must be sunk, without trace.”

“We are the rulers of the Queen’s na-vee” (after G&S)

“When Raquel Rolnik, the UN’s special rapporteur on housing, called on the Government to rethink the ‘bedroom tax’, arguing that it eroded the right to adequate housing, the then housing minister Kris Hopkins labelled her report a ‘misleading Marxist diatribe’.”

The callousness and refusal to face facts of the present government is surely shown in no harsher light than in its mendacious and diffident responses to successive reports by United Nations rapporteurs on the effects of its social policies, that amount to an egregious breach of the basic ‘human rights’ of British citizens to decent treatment and a roof over their heads.

Every international advisory report is projected by ministers as a spiritual attack on British values; every inconvenient expert opinion politicized as the work of ignorant, external enemies – untutored foreigners – bent on undermining ‘our way of life’. But, of course, they also choose to rubbish expert reports from our own institutions as well, when it suits them; flat-out denying what is staring the rest of us in the face. Expediency being the name of the game.

When Professor Philip Alston ended his two-week fact-finding mission in November by accusing the government of inflicting ‘great misery’ on its people with ‘punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous’ policies, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd “used her first appearance following her return to frontline politics last week to attack a UN inquiry into poverty in the UK for its ‘extraordinarily political nature’.”

As if hunger, homelessness, mental illness and a rising suicide rate are fit subjects for political grandstanding. What else is Government for, Ms Rudd, other than reducing its citizens to a state of abject deprivation?

These excerpts are taken from an article on the Open Democracy website today, 12 December, by civil rights lawyer Michael Keller; who points out that, despite our treaty commitments, the UN’s view of what constitutes a proper compact between the State and its citizens is legally unenforceable in the face of an intractable and intransigent administration determined to redistribute wealth to the richest section of society at the cost of its poorest.

As we prepare incompetently to quit the European Union, in breach of our longstanding commitments to our allies and trading partners, and cast off into the big wide world on our own again, the BogPo is reminded of the appalling conditions and brutal regime imposed on sailors of the early 19th century by a lofty and overbearing naval officer class; where even a 12-year-old junior ensign held almost unlimited power over the ordinary able seaman.

Not even the disabled escape. “In 2016 when the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Disabled Persons found that the government was guilty of ‘grave and systematic violations’ of disabled people’s rights, the government responded by refuting the committee’s findings and its ‘offensive’ view of disability’.”

What, a view that says disabled people deserve fair treatment? Offensive? This rat-infested, weevil-ridden government, this coffin-ship of benighted fools is intolerably odious. It must be sunk, quickly and without trace.

The problem, according to Keller, is that while other rights are relatively easy to pin down, a generalized ‘socioeconomic’ right to a decent life is nebulous and without legal definition. “While the Government continues to pay lip service to its treaty commitments, any criticism based on socioeconomic rights will be branded ‘too’ ideological or political.”

It all comes down to the conflict between “human rights’ commitment to individual freedom … (and) neoliberalism’s commitment to the market, property rights and suspicion of the State.”

There is nothing that will shame these comfortable and complacent bilge-rats of the neoliberal wing of the Conservative tendency into adopting an even remotely compassionate policy towards the sick, the old, the disabled, the workless, the mentally fragile, the homeless, the refugee and the poor. Every crutch is to be kicked away; every social service bled white; every ‘assessment’ rigged, every minor infraction of the Byzantine rulebook harshly sanctioned, every minority minimised, nothing let to go unprivatized, in favour of the more convenient Protestant work ethic.

These layabouts and scroungers must work, work, work and work yet more for the good of the stockjobbers, the bond traders, the hedge fund managers, the investment bankers, the IFAs, the bent global accountancy firms propping up organized crime, the estate agents and the commodities brokers – the whole money-breathing cartel.

Wheelchairs? Mental health facilities? Meals-on-wheels? Decent, properly run care homes? Schools with roofs, that foster learning? Functioning hospitals and reliable, affordable public transport? Affordable homes and loans?

Fuck ’em.

‘Arbeit macht frei’, as the Germans put it – over the gates of Auschwitz.

Work for your freedom. Or die in the process.

We don’t actually care.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/mickey-keller/in-fight-against-austerity-human-rights-is-not-answer?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=2c9a0c5f0a-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-2c9a0c5f0a-408090269

 

“And there’s this little switch you flick to turn it on…”

Internetanyahoos

Calling for widespread revenge on a Palestinian who shot dead two Israeli soldiers, the son of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing-down potential corruption charges, has been temporarily banned from Facebook after a series of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian posts the social network said broke its rules on hate speech.

This deeply unpleasant, gormless little racist fucker, the overprivileged, overentitled son of the mafia sockpuppet, has been kicked off Facebook – for just 24 hours!

“A Facebook spokesperson said: ‘Yair Netanyahu posted several posts which included hate speech – this clearly violates our community standards. Due to that, this content was removed from our platform, as we would do for anyone posting similar content about any protected characteristic. Following this, Yair Netanyahu decided to share a screenshot of a removed post and called people to share it – which is the same as writing the hate speech all over again’.” (Guardian)

Meanwhile 1.5 million Palestinians, whose past generations from AD 70 until 1947 were the majority Semitic population of Israel and whose rights are supposedly protected under the founding constitution, continue to barely exist in the blockaded Gaza ghetto, dying from a shortage of medical supplies and economic opportunity.

Not to mention from the frequent punitive Heydrich-inspired* incursions by the overwhelmingly superior Israel military, arrogantly heedless of the charges of war crimes their abuses provoke from an enfeebled UN, that greet their paltry acts of resistance. The United States is complicit in so much hideous brutality.

Personally speaking, I am just sick of this. It began in the year before I was born and still there is no resolution to it. I’m well aware of the history. But it’s none of my business, I’m not Jewish.

Fuck that. I don’t care what names you call me.

Seven THOUSAND Palestinians have been shot and wounded by Israeli border forces in the name of ‘security’, using live ammunition against unarmed teenagers staging mostly peaceful or stone-throwing protests from behind the barbed-wire fences separating them from settler territory – open farmland. More than 200 have been murdered; many seized by Israeli snatch-squads and disappeared into the system. 70 per cent of Under-25s in Gaza are unemployed. The suicide rate is devastating.

Yet far from all of them are supporters of the more belligerent wing of the democratically elected governing party, Hamas; branded for political reasons as a ‘terrorist’ organization..

For some reason, a substantial section of the Israeli population – not all – have decide that the Holocaust did not enhance their claim to humanity.

Palestinians just think they deserve the same chance at life as you do, and prefer not to be blown to bits periodically by a bunch of cowardly racist bullies in Tel Aviv with overwhelming force at their disposal and connections to the Russian mafia, who have learned their brutal politics of repression from Putin in Chechnya and, before him, the Nazis in Poland.

This situation will continue as long as dumbfucks in America go on imagining that it is the Palestinians who are the terrorists and the Israeli occupiers the tragic heroes. And that Trump’s admiration for the genocidal C19th president, Andrew Jackson is somehow laudable. I’m afraid just being white doesn’t cut it.

The UN for decades has passed resolution after insouciantly ignored resolution attempting to regularize the situation. But when the crook, Netanyahu can moan about Australia recognizing Israeli West, and not Palestinian East, Jerusalem as the de facto capital of Israel – something all Christians should be shouting about – as the fatuous and ignorant oaf Trump has done, to please his slimy little plastic son-in-law Kushner and the millennarian Evangelical dumbfucks, a tickle on the wrist from Zuckerberg’s underwhelming ethics department is calculated to do absolutely nothing to halt the ongoing crime against humanity that is the Gaza ghetto.

Sorry, and all that.

*So, here I mentioned Reinhard Heydrich, the “Butcher of Prague”, just once in the aforegoing text, and lo! A documentary film about him has just popped up in the suggestions sidebar on YouTube. Do we think this is just coincidence? Of all the murderous Nazi gauleiters in all the web pages in all the world, he has to walk into mine…

 

Brexit, the Movie…

“Sandra Bullock plays a lone mother with two young children, battling an unseen force which compels you to kill yourself if you see it.” (Guardian Culture review)

 

Pal Joey

I’m most impressed.

For some unaccountable reason, four people in the past 24 hours have been visiting a long-running Page I began Posting about six years ago, cataloguing my jazz CD collection in as much technical detail as I can manage. (I haven’t Posted anything to Pages in a month of Sundays, so how people are attracted to them I don’t understand.)

Even I have trouble finding it, buried away in the mountain of solipsistic verbiage that is The Boglington Post‘s 7-year archive.

But I do try to keep the listings up to date. I have about 400 jazz CDs now, my limited shelf space has run out and they’ve started to occupy boxes on the floor, always a bad sign. As nothing, compared to an astrophysicist I vaguely know, whose entire downstairs floorspace is covered with stacked boxes 3-ft high of his jazz CDs. Then, he’s not living on the State pension.

I seldom even play them, other than the most recent, that might get the odd repeat run-through. The idea was to transfer them to my li’l laptop for portability and convenience, which I was doing steadily until I lost my cool one day and beat it to death with my great clunking fist. They can be annoying, laptops. But the new one has no CD-tray; they’ve gone out of vogue. So I had to start again, but by a more circuitous route, and I’m not bothering – it’s technical.

And in recent months I’ve pretty much stopped ordering CDs, my Kenny Wheeler phase having drawn to a satiated conclusion. I tend nowadays more to browse for my jazz listening pleasure on YouTube, where great variety if no sound quality is to be found.

Until last night when, having discovered the extraordinary pianist Joey Alexander, and listened raptly to him all evening, I flipped and ordered two of his CDs from up the Amazon. Do you know him?

He’s the 15-year-old kid from Bali who turned professional at the age of 10. And, to be honest, I think he was the better player then.

You see, most ‘awesome’ child prodigies on YouTube are the victims of pushy parents or have just superficial talents that can be spun into a short, compelling narrative and promoted to their five minutes of fame as lucrative clickbait. Joey is definitely not one of those ‘X-Factor contestant’, one-shot wonders. No Sir.

Aside from his self-taught mastery of pianistic technique, which is widely acknowledged, his jazz ‘chops’ are such that grown musicians are visibly in awe of him. His improvisational skills, ability to build compelling solos, knowledge of form and structure, maturity of touch and feeling, his exciting chord logic and every other area of his playing – even his unbelievably deep knowledge of the jazz genre – are positively surreal, in a swotty-looking little kid with a lopsided grin and Harry Potter specs.

By 12 he had already been nominated for two Grammy awards, performed by invitation at the White House for the Obamas, given concerts at the Lincoln Centre and at the top festivals around the world. His ridiculously young age – usefully he has unusually large hands for a child – has never seemingly been a barrier to his career. And it is in every sense, a proper musical career.

He has played with many of the stars of the jazz world, who are won over in the first few seconds by his infectious charm, confidence and seemingly instinctive professionalism, whether on stage or in the recording studio, and give their all for him; humbly accepting his musical leadership. They know what they’ve got. People have likened him to Mozart; although his compositions are really nothing compared with the genius of Leipzig, who composed his first symphony at the age of six – the age when Joey first sat down at a piano.

Perhaps the only fly in the ointment will be that, as he grows up – he is 15 now – he will grow into another jazz musician: brilliant, exceptional, even ground-breaking; but nevertheless no longer having the status and curiosity value of a prodigy. The world is often not kind to ex-child prodigies. He will need good and careful management to guide where he goes next.

Who could resist chucking another £25 at his recording company, anyway?

Everything confuses me nowadays. It probably helps to be 10, rather than pushing 70. So much more certainty!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plTPRr7B4ns “Over the Rainbow” – Joey, age 10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1liUart72g “Over the Rainbow” – Later, maybe age 12?

 

Head in the sand

A newly discovered, but already endangered creature with a burrowing habit, resembling a miniature slow worm, has been officially named after Donald Trump.

What the poor thing has done to deserve the name Dermophis donaldtrumpi, The BogPo shudders to think. One can only hope it may survive the coming extinction to evolve into something better.

“The name was chosen by the boss of a sustainable building materials company, who paid $25,000 at an auction (in aid of the Rainforest Trust) for the right. The small legless creature was found in Panama and EnviroBuild’s Aidan Bell said its ability to bury its head in the ground matched Donald Trump’s approach to global warming. (Guardian Green Light)

Given that the Abominable No-man just called for a court to investigate the long-running Saturday Night Live TV satire show on grounds he believes it to be a Democrat party-funded plot against him, I doubt he will see the amusing side, or even – as most of us might, however ghastly – be flattered to be immortalised in this way.

Paranoiacs are never satisfied.

 

For a tolerably amusing SNL Cold Open skit on the UK’s most popular Xmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Trump”….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdQl7SxOHek

 

I’m just watching alumni of UCL and Reading University competing in a semifinal round of University Challenge. And wondering how it is that I seem to be able to answer twice as many questions in less time than these now well-paid professionals in their fields? Gven that I never managed to get into a University?

 

GW: ‘I’ve got my hoodie to keep me warm’

India: 120 k/h “Cyclone Phethai, which made landfall on Monday afternoon, caused havoc for the people along the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. The cyclone, which was accompanied by strong and gusty winds, has resulted in heavy showers across the state and claimed two lives.” 11,600 people were evacuated as their houses are yet to be repaired after Cyclone Titli in October. There is another cyclonic circulation over the Bay of Bengal moving northwestward that may pose another threat for southern India.

“One occurrence that seemingly amused people was a strange phenomenon, which locals are calling ‘fish rain’, that happened after the cyclone. A video that has been going viral on social media shows several fishes either dead or thrashing about in the puddles formed after the rains.” (The News Minute/Al Jazeera)

Phethai is the 7th named storm of the 2018 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, the most active since 1992. (The Watchers)

Tropical Cyclone Kenanga is 800 miles SW of Diego Garcia in the southern Indian Ocean, and close by is Tropical Cyclone Cilida, that has rapidly intensified from the Invest 92S GW reported two days ago to reach the verge of a rare 150 mph Cat 5. Neither looks like making landfall anywhere soon.

Australia: “A cyclone that was predicted to wreak havoc across Queensland has been downgraded to a tropical low, after unleashing 17cm (6.6in) of rain in two hours across the north of the state. “Halifax (near Ingham) received 681mm of rain in 24 hours” – records were broken. Winds reached 170 K/h. One person was drowned. Authorities warn that Cyclone Owen could still re-form offshore on Monday. Severe weather and flood warnings are in place.” (BBC/Floodlist)

The town of Woy Woy in New South Wales is trashed by chunks of ice the size of “tennis balls” (BBC) The repair bill for damage caused by the “catastrophic” hailstorm that struck Sydney and other parts of NSW on Thursday is expected to exceed AU $125m. Insurance company stocks plummeted on the news. The Bureau of Meteorology called it the “worst hailstorm in 20 years.” Meanwhile Brisbane is sweltering through a 36 deg. C heatwave. (Guardian)

Thailand: Heavy rain between 16 and 18 December caused flooding in several southern provinces. Local media report that 1 person died and 1 is missing. Flooding and heavy rain affected 377 villages across 17 districts in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province. Soldiers and rescue workers carried out evacuations in Muang district. Schools have been closed in affected areas.” (from: Floodlist)

USA: A heavy snowstorm swept through US south-eastern states, killing at least three people and leaving hundreds of thousands without power. A state of emergency was declared in North Carolina, with some areas reporting as much as 0.5m (18.5ins) of snow over the weekend. One man died after a tree fell on his car. A search is under way for a driver whose vehicle was found in a river. Thousands of flights were also cancelled across the region. (BBC)

Another powerful storm hit Seattle on the west coast, bringing several inches of snow and knocking out powr to 300 thousand homes.

A warning of potentially deadly surf has gone out along the entire California coastline and up as far as Washington State, pushed by a succession of powerful storms out in the Pacific. Harbors have been closed. National Weather Service warned breaking wave heights could reach 40 feet, affecting beach parking lots and walkways. It could also lead to beach erosion and damage to coastal structures, the NWS warned. (The Weather Channel)

Wunderground reports, Dr. James Elsner of Florida State University finding an increase in the destructive power of U.S. tornadoes averaging 5.5% per year since 1994. Although annual numbers have remained constant, they’re getting bigger and lasting longer.

Bolivia: “Heavy rain and a severe storm caused serious damage to homes and power supply in the town of Mayaya in La Paz Department on 13 Dec. Parts of Larecaja province saw further heavy rain during the following days. Local media reported  flash floods in Larecaja Province between 17 and 18 December. (Floodlist)

UK: Storm Deirdre brought rain, ice and several inches of snow to the north and parts of Scotland at the weekend, with gale-force winds affecting most of the west coast. Homes were without power in Wales and fallen trees blocked icy roads.

Not much COP

Poland: As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise alarmingly across the globe, the extended UN COP24 climate conference in the Katowice coal-mining district packed its tents on Sunday, as 10 thousand weary delegates flew home following the signing of a toothless, watered-down commitment by global governments to provide more ‘transparency’ on carbon emissions, in line with the already out-of-date, 3-years-old, ‘1.5 degrees’ Paris accord.

Yellowstone: the Blessed Mary Greeley records that the Steamboat geyser, largest in the park, has erupted for the 31st time this year. In a normal year you might see two or three eruptions. She is also reporting hugely increased groundlift and a large volume of magma getting closer to the surface. Could be an interesting Christmas.

Emissions: Largely ignored by COP delegates and governments alike, methane continues to pour out of the Arctic from the twin sources of thawing permafrost and seabed clathrates. Arctic-News reports levels on 09 Dec. as high as 3050 ppb. The El Niño event identified a few months ago continues to slowly intensify, with sea surface temperature anomalies up to 10C above baseline in the Atlantic. At the South Pole – height of summer – it’s about 10C to 15C warmer today, 19 Dec, than even the warming average over the past 18 years.

Promotions: In a shakeup following the departure of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, under investigation on 17 counts of ethics violations, the department has been handed on to Zinke cronies: Deputy Secretary Bernhardt, a former oil industry lobbyist, who has appointed a former employee of agrichemical giant Monsanto to head the bureau of Fish and Wildlife. The service has already re-permitted the use of a banned bee-killing pesticide, made by….

With coal-industry lobbyist Andrew “sixteen” Wheeler at the helm of the EPA, your Auld Gran is evermore convinced Trump’s presidency is just one gigantic pisstake. He hates America because they laugh at his absurd combover, that he can’t take out in the rain. This is his revenge.

Conservation: A new study by marine biologists at Dalhousie University in Canada reveals that fish are worse off owing to unlicensed trawling inside Europe’s Marine Protection Areas (MPAs) than in the areas outside. “99% of the MPAs had no information on no-take zones … and half had no management plan.”

Meanwhile, Japan has reportedly withdrawn from the International Whaling Convention and proposes to resume unrestricted commercial whaling.

The sooner the human race is extinct, the better.

 

The deaths of small towns… 9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by… Postscriptum: the outcome…Something’s got to give… The Hallelujah Chorus… GW: Maybe the weather isn’t over, after all…It’s all blowing off… Trust us to lead you.

Thought for the Day

“Were I, or anyone, able to somehow get hold of a cosmic vacuum-pump and suck out all the uneventful, blank bits of our lives, like evacuating all the air from a Bell jar; and heat the rest up over a Bunsen burner, how much of a brown powdery residue of achievements and adventures and excitements would be left in the bottom of the tube?” – Uncle Bogler, in a previous Post.

 

“For God’s sake, Boris, come down and stop showing off, the bus has gone!”

The deaths of small towns

(A message to Brexit boobies)

“(Crispin) Odey, one of the most outspoken of the Brexit-backing hedge fund managers, holds a short position in Intu – the owner of shopping malls – that represented £33m worth of shares in the company at the end of last week.

“He also holds a position against struggling department store Debenhams that is worth £5.3m. The firm also appears to be betting that Britons’ appetite for cars will fall … The firm has short positions against Lookers, a large dealership chain, and Auto Trader, the online used-car directory.

“In total, his hedge fund, with headquarters in Mayfair, has taken out £436m worth of declared short positions against British companies, of which nearly £150m are consumer-facing entities.”

Why is the billionaire Mr Odey doing this? Because of the lovely lucrative uncertainty you have brought about by your incurious nonsense. It’s exactly what these money-breathers – and Vladimir Putin – have been hoping for. Hedge funds stand to make billions out of uncertainty in markets.

But before you voted you’d never heard of hedge funds, right? No idea what they do? What ‘shorting’ means? Well, think of an each-way bet on the gee-gees. You hope you’ll win more than you’ll lose, or at least get back some of your stake, if your horse doesn’t come in first. (Generally, the bookies win.)

But just the act of betting enough money against those companies’ shares going up will help to drag them down. That’s when the hedgers cash-in. Hedge fund managers are punters; but they’re also the bookies: the odds are 101% stacked in their favor. That’s why they’re billionaires and you’re not.

That’s why they invested £millions in supporting the Leave campaigns; the lies you fell for. Because disrupting the relationships between trading partners is the ideal way to create uncertainty in the markets.

Wait, there’s more….

“At the same time, Marshall Wace, one of the UK’s largest hedge funds with $35bn (£27bn) in assets under management, holds declarable short positions equivalent to just under £1.4bn – more than any other investor in Britain.” (Guardian Business)

You get the idea? They’re betting huge sums of money that more of our high street stores and other British businesses listed on the Stock Exchange will go under as a result of Brexit chaos.  Money you will never see back. Stores you will never see back. Jobs you will never see back. Boarded-up shops – the deaths of small towns.

You think they care?

Meanwhile, clever old George Soros, the everso liberal-minded philanthropist frequently accused of plotting with his Jew friends the Rothschilds to control the world, who in 1992 nearly pulled down the entire British economy on “Black Wednesday” by betting against the pound, is holding a £10 million side-bet that WH Smith, the venerable High Street stationers’ shares will fall.

What do you tragic clowns who voted to leave the relative safety of the European Union because you were miserable and wanted to “send a message” think was the prime mover behind the Leave campaigns: your sovereignty? Your shabby, disempowered, drug-ridden, hopelorn former industrial communities? Ha ha ha. Fooled you.

Well that’s just gone by the board as Theresa May has abrogated the power of Parliament to even vote on the leaving agreement she herself has negotiated, so afraid is she of losing the vote. What now?

More lovely uncertainty. And as stock markets plunge, thanks to the uncertainty created by the greatest disruptor of them all, Santa Trump, hedge funds will be raking it in this Christmas.

So much for your ludicrous, Union flag-waving ‘sovereignty’, you’ve voted to live in a dictatorship. How many times in history has a promised Parliamentary vote been cancelled because a hopelessly divided Government has no confidence in its ability to win it? …er, possibly at the start of the Civil War? This is a major constitutional crisis you’ve unleashed, in your ignorance.

You poor fucking turkeys have voted to cancel Christmas, for the foreseeable future. But nobody was listening. Chip-chop….

Well, not you personally, BogPo readers, safe here in our cozy filter-bubble, or whatever the current expression is, as outside the anarchic working-class dons its yellow vests and prepares to fight for the hedge fund managers.

I’m preaching to the converted. This message is for those who aren’t reading it:

You’ve been had, and you’re fighting the wrong enemy.

“Any minute now I’m going to take off this latex mask to reveal… Underwoman!”

9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by

I realized with a start about half an hour ago that today is Tuesday.

Who knew?

Instead of trolling idiots on The Guardian website, in my usual day-long haze of viciously barbed self-righteous indignation punctuated with coffee and mince pies and duty-walks with Hunzi, I should have been a) at an early practice and b) going on to sing carols with my old choir at the old folks’ drop-in center in town.

I’d have missed the early practice anyway as I didn’t get up until gone 10.00, having already forgotten about it, despite receiving a reminder the evening before.

The days go by here, I no longer know what they’re called; they’re all the same.

I had agreed to do those things to help out, and once again failed. I hate myself, I am always doing it, it shows my isolation and that I probably just don’t care enough.

This is a choir I sang with for many years, but which had drifted in a direction of which I disapproved, away from robust World Music to hippy-dippy shit: moons and stars, feminism and futile appeals for peace; Zulu campfire songs, as I call those three-line chants with crunchy harmonies and untranslatable lyrics (repeat until you hyperventilate) that “Natural Voice Practitioners” learn in wimmen-only summer camps then fan-out far and wide to spread the gospel to community choirs made up of doughty veterans of Greenham Common and CND; and never the same stuff two weeks in a row.

It also had begun to irk me considerably, that a “training choir” originally for people who thought they couldn’t sing had so many long-time members who after years still had no confidence, who still had no idea about harmony, who still had no knowledge of basic musical notation and who still held the other sections up endlessly while they giggled and nattered and faffed about, pretending it was all too difficult, oh dear.

Why was I always the only one who would volunteer to take a solo?

Now I have a hospital appointment for next Tuesday, apparently, to have this desperately uncomfortable and inconvenient catheter removed, connecting my bladder directly via my elderly feller to a bag strapped to my leg, that sometimes brings on contractions, and leaks so that I have to wear a nappy.

Over time, my house has begun to smell of a curiously medicalized smell of fresh pee. “Trial Without Catheter”, they’re calling it. TWOC actually has its own printed leaflet. Although I have come to appreciate that not having to dash to the nearest loo or find a handy tree, wetting myself on the way, has been a bit of a boon, this damned tube is always pinching and snatching, sitting is hell, while putting on shoes is a trial….

The tube was inserted in an emergency back in July, but such is the nature of the National Health Service that appointments for anything inessential are often months away. My trial was not until the end of February next year, but this morning the hospital phoned with the offer of a cancellation, so naturally I grabbed it: this damn thing is the main reason I wasn’t going to visit family over Xmas as a 6-hour drive there and back the next day was not going to be pretty.

My worry now is, it’s another Tuesday morning – 9.00 am.

And 9.00 am and Tuesdays always pass me by.

Postscriptum: the outcome

So I made it on the dot for my TWOC (Trial Without Catheter – apparently, it’s a thing). I sat for an hour and nobody came. There was only one other person also waiting; the hospital seemed curiously deserted; the staff well trained to avoid eye contact.

Eventually I approached the receptionist to ask why I was there, and an elderly male charge nurse popped out through a doorway behind Reception, most apologetic, all the operating theatres were full as they had to clear the backlog of delayed surgical cases before the holiday.

But I don’t need an operating theatre! It’s just a simple procedure, a nurse could do it! Yes, but that’s what’s been booked, so that’s what we have to do, and we haven’t got the availability. We’re ever so sorry, can you come back at the end of January?

Since then my widely distributed family whom I am not now going to see at Christmas have been bombarding me with giftwrapped parcels from up the Amazon, so maybe it’s not such a bad outcome after all.

 

Something’s got to give

Do you want the good news, or the bad?

Well, they’re the same. USGS has announced the find of a huge 20-year reserve of oil and gas under the New Mexico desert, stretching across into Texas.

The specter of mile upon mile of nodding derricks intruding on the dramatic upland desertscape is appalling; but inevitable, as the vile Trump administration trumpets America’s noble self-sufficiency and low gas prices forever, while going all-out to drain its resources to the profitable lees as quickly as possible – before the planet burns down.

The only hope is, this is another load of oil-industry bullshit and it’s not as exploitable as they’re pretending. It was probably known about for years already but had been consigned to the 10% of “maybe someday” reserves. The argument for leaving this stuff in the ground is overwhelming; but not as overwhelming as the shareholder greed that will see it exploited by hook or, more realistically, by crook.

Yesterday there was a halfhearted intervention at the UN climate conference in Katowice as the US delegation got up on its hind trotters and began once again preaching the benefits of Trump’s fatuous “clean coal” fantasy. The Polish police have been notably successful in muting protest. It’s estimated, subsidies to the fossil fuel industries will soon run into the trillions of dollars in the effort to keep Exxon-Mobil, Koch industries and all the other ecocidal polluters afloat.

You can try and put a yellow vest on energy taxes, but you’re still paying in a roundabout way through your income tax and – the most regressive of all – VAT. M. Macron has announced a $114 a month raise in minimum wage to assuage the anger of the French “gilets jaunes”, the voices of the disempowered and the disappointed “squeezed middle” of provincial France, but that’s only going to increase the proportion of the tax take that gets passed on to the energy sector; meanwhile, lower fuel prices raising demand.

Something has to give, and soon.

 

Hallelujah chorus

Women in Guatemala are only one vote in parliament away from facing from five to ten years in gaol if they cannot prove in court that their miscarriage was a natural event. Otherwise it will be assumed they have behaved irresponsibly, or have had an illicit abortion.

Same-sex marriage is about to be made illegal, as are civil marriages. Any kind of “promotion” or teaching in schools and even universities on the subjects of homosexuality or gender identity – any lifestyle “incompatible with the human being’s biological and genetic features” – is to be outlawed, and acts of discrimination against the LGBTQ “community” legalized.

The country will also withdraw from any international conventions aimed at protecting the rights of minorities identifying as non-heterosexual or having transitional genders: “We are preventing Guatemala from engaging on any convention on gender diversity, says MP, Elvis Morena, who is pressing for the changes to the constitution.

The vote is currently postponed, owing to wrangling over the budget bill.

What it will effectively do, if passed, is to seal the growing power of the Evangelical Christian churches in Guatemala, where their pernicious form of far-right “Christianity” has been gaining a death grip.

As Diana Cariboni writes on Open Democracy:

“Bill 5272, proposed to ‘protect life and the family’, “is the first bill drafted by the evangelical churches in Guatemala”, said its drafter, Elvis Molina, a lawyer and pastor with the Iglesia Cristiana Visión de Fe (Christian Church Vision of Faith).

“It was introduced in Congress last year as a popular initiative supported by 30,000 signatures, and was immediately endorsed by 22 legislators led by Aníbal Rojas, a member of the evangelical party VIVA (Vision with Values).

“The draft law was then approved by a constitutional committee in Congress and passed two reading sessions on the floor. It’s now just one plenary vote from becoming official legislation.”

Welcome to Evangelical Disneyland.

And consider this: hugely wealthy Evangelical churches and their billionaire fellow-travellers in the US and Russia are bidding to gain the same kind of power over legislatures around the world – in the USA, where poor agnostic Mr Trump is obliged by his Evangelical Vice-President Mike Pence to endure a hand-waving, breast-beating, eye-rolling prayer service every Sunday at the White House, thanking God for extreme corrupt Republicanism – in Africa, especially, where in some countries same-sex relations carry the death penalty; in Russia, where Mr Putin is an enthusiast; and even in Britain, where the sanctimonious, sweaty-fear aroma of US and Russian Evangelism has been detected in the funding of the Brexit “Leave” conspiracy.

You have been warned, these people are vicious, arrogant and dangerous; seeking, in their most extreme manifestations, to impose their own patriarchal version of Sharia on a world reduced to mute, barbaric incomprehension and Biblical subjection to the most atavistic, superstitious belief in the non-existent Sky God and his imaginary Son.

Intolerant, authoritarian, controlling, loveless and fixated on the transfer of wealth from the very poorest to the very richest, this Millennarian death cult is not a version of Christianity recognized by many Christians.

But it’s coming our way.

Alle fuckin’ lujah.

GW: Maybe the weather isn’t over, after all

Indonesia: Heavy rain caused flooding and landslides in several provinces of Indonesia, leaving at least 9 people dead. Damaging floods were also reported in West Sumatra. It’s not been a good year. A government spokesman acknowledged that between 01 January and 10 December 2018, there had been 2,374 disaster events across the country. As many as 4,211 people are dead or missing, almost 7,000 injured and 9.95 million people displaced or affected. (Floodlist)

Vietnam: “at least” 2 dead as flooding and landslides have damaged roads and railway lines. Schools have been closed in some areas. Further heavy rain of up to 200mm in 24 hours has been forecast for central areas. (Floodlist).

Cyprus: At least 4 people died when their vehicle was swept away by flooding near the city of Kyrenia on 05 Dec. Damage was also reported in the capital Nicosia and roads and schools have been temporarily closed. The flooding was triggered by heavy rain that has fallen since 04 December. (Floodlist)

 Israel: Heavy rain from Wednesday 05 Dec. caused flooding in several areas, including Tel Aviv, Yavne and Rehovot, where dozens of children had to be rescued from their flooded preschool building. No injuries were reported. (Floodlist)

 UK: The Met Offfice is warning people to stay home and watch old movies tomorrow, Saturday 15 Dec, as unusual freezing rain is expected to make conditions treacherous for Xmas shoppers. Up to 40 cm of snow is expected in the Scottish highlands. Then on Sunday it’s all going to warm up again. (BBC)

 Canada: Flash flooding on 11 Dec. caused severe transport problems in parts of Vancouver. Emergency crews responded to at least 30 flood-related emergencies. Between 30 to 60 mm of rain fell in a few hours in parts of Vancouver. Port Mellon, 35 km NW of Vancouver, recorded 77mm of rain in 24 hours. Heavy snow is forecast for British Columbia.

 USA: Another storm over California and mudslides shut down parts of the Pacific Coast Highway, prompting evacuation orders in wildfire-scarred areas. Severe flooding was reported in the city of Costa Mesa. Downtown LA recorded its highest amount of rain in one day (06 December), 1.9 inches (48mm) beating the previous high of 1.01 inches (25.65mm) set in 1997. Heavy snow forced the closure of Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley. (Floodlist)

Preliminary research by precipitation expert Dr. Kenneth Kunkel of the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, has found that the three highest-volume rainfall events in the U.S. in the last 70 years have occurred since 2016. (Wunderground)

 Australia: Destructive “zombie cyclone” Owen with 200 K/h wind gusts is bearing down on the north of Australia with coastal residents being told to brace for the worst if the system reaches Cat 4 today. The “very destructive and severe” cyclone continues to increase in strength as it heads back towards Queensland, promising to deliver a deluge in its wake.

It comes as the southern end of Australia receives record-breaking levels of rain in Victoria and flash flooding with authorities warning “it’s not over yet”. People have had to be rescued from the roofs of their cars. 100 motorists are stranded close to the freeway at Wangaratta while the State Emergency Service has received 400 calls for help. (News.com.au

 

 It’s all blowing off

Prof. Paul Beckwith, a renegade Geographer semi-detached from Ottawa University who has devoted his life, his intricate website and Facebook page to explaining climate change issues and interpreting the latest research, has done his own investigations into warnings posted recently by other, less qualified satellite watchers, and confirms

“The unrelenting increase in global levels of atmospheric methane (this autumn – even today) went literally off-the-charts used to display methane for the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS)

“Methane levels were so high that they swamped out the colour scheme used in the map legend, causing saturation in large red blobs with little detail. The colour legend was shifted by 100 ppb to more clearly show the detailed structure of where methane was being emitted

“Methane release in the Arctic from thawing terrestrial and marine permafrost, and from methane clathrates on shallow continental shelves are a huge and ever increasing risk.

Just so you know.

Because the recent, watered-down reports from IPCC and others giving “urgent” warnings that aren’t urgent enough, are mainly concerned with warning governments about CO2 emissions from human industry and don’t emphasise the main danger, from natural methane emissions exacerbated by runaway Arctic warming.

But of increasing concern, are rising methane outputs over the Himalayas – India and China. So far, those very high readings are unexplained.

 Endispeace

Trust us to lead you

Borderline insane, avowed racist and homophobe Senator Steve King of Iowa, returned in all his seedy glory by dumbfuck redneck yippee-ki-oh voters at the midterms, was in a session questioning Google’s high-powered CEO, Sundar Pichai about various conspiracy theories to do with the internet – whatever that is.

In addition to demanding a list of Google employees broken down by religious affiliation, presumably to prove his theory that they are a Godless bunch, the good Senator brandished an iPhone and demanded to know why it was showing his 7-year-old grandaughter his picture.

Google of course has nothing to do with iPhones.

Taken with the Georgia Republican senator who last year expressed the view in a hearing on climate change that sea-level rise is caused by rocks falling into the water, you finally realize, the age of extremely dangerous dumb is upon us.

Many of these clueless, uneducated legislators don’t believe anything that isn’t in the Bible.

And that’s God’s honest truth.

Hi everyone, your Uncle Bogler here… The Boglington Post: a History Lesson…Er, where was I? Oh yes, CO2… Dear Amanda Donaldson… Money to burn?

I keep forgetting to Save these half-finished Posts in Drafts, and out of habit hit the Publish button in my enthusiasm. Sorry for the early publication. Heavily redacted copy, Monday 10 December.

 

Happy Birthday!

Greetings to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 70 today! (Monday, 10 Dec.)

European Court of Justice rules Britain can cancel Brexit. (photo: AP)

Hi everyone, your Uncle Bogler here.

To be honest, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to identify the kinds of tripwire stories we like to explode here on the BogPo, and even more so in The Pumpkin. We have a great record of identifying emerging news and currents in the global matrix before the professionals do, but events are becoming so swirly and the mainstream media is waking up to so many more important trends we’ve been covering for years that we’re finding it hard to make an original contribution. Sometimes, Guardian op-ed writers are only hours behind us.

I’m also finding it tougher to recall words, numbers, dates, historical precedents, people’s names – I waste half my time Googling references, and a lot more time going back to correct mistakes in recent-past Posts. Hell, I’m 70 next year and pissing into a bag. If I’d earned a penny from these coming-up 750 Posts over seven years, I’d be thinking of retiring. But when I read now that a 7-year-old kid is the top YouTuber, with an income of $22 million he gets from reviewing toys, I start to weep into my nappy.

Having said that, the viewing numbers have been increasing a little lately – we’re averaging about 12 a day now, sometimes we have up to 35, which is great, although there are many days when it looks like I’m still the only reader. And it’s less the depressing case now that the only Posts people are looking at are the ‘Comex 2’ and ‘Stately home’ articles I wrote nine years ago. The odd View even pops up for stuff I’m still writing – it’s a dynamic process, nothing is set in stone until I’m bored with (not ‘of’!)  looking at it.

Eschewing Search Engine Optimization (SOE), whatever it is, I’d been looking forward to achieving posthumous fame, and maybe that can still happen. But I’m going to try to discipline myself and Post less, as I have some other projects I’d like to get done before it’s too late. I probably won’t, but if I do, now you know why.

Thanks for Following me, if you still do.

UB

PS Oh, and in case you were wondering, the Granny Weatherwax column might be late as there doesn’t appear to be any unusual weather this week, anywhere. (Although Winter Storm Diego looks promising). Strong evidence there of climate change in action.

 

The Boglington Post: a History Lesson

People often stop me in the street or approach me violently in Mexican restaurants, inquiring who and why this ‘Uncle Bogler’ person is.

Having time on my hands, I explain as follows:

There’s a web thing made of journalism, called The Huffington Post. (I suppose we should start according news blogs italic type, like newspapers.)

At the time The Boglington Post was brought to birth in February 2012 with the aid of one of my then-teenagers, an unlikely millennial now married, in a decent job and with her own house, no thanks to the bankrupt Bank of M&D, The Huffington Post, or HuffPo as it’s familiarly known, was mired in controversy.

The writers had downed quills, loudly moaning that the owner, millionaire Arianna Stassinopoulos-Huffington, was not paying them a solitary bean for their valuable contributions. (She does now.)

One of his better days: BogPo’s Economics editor, Sterling Pound (#longliquidlunch).

And so I came up with the dreadful conceit that The Boglington Post, the ‘BogPo’, was at the heart of a massive empire owned by elderly media-mogul, Sir Thanatossios Boglopoulos; son of a Nicosia hairdresser and shooting partner of the Duke of Edinburgh; a fellow Greek Cypriot exiled abroad.

Not long after, I killed him off. Well, he was 94. By coincidence, it was on the same day Margaret Thatcher passed away, which is probably why you’ve never heard of him. Unfortunately he didn’t benefit from a State funeral, as the Co-Op had run out of money burying the notorious former PM.

Editorship-in-Chief of the BogPo thus passed to his nephew, Herr Professor Doktor Ernst von-und-zu Bogl, a German plutocrat and ardent Remainer with a penthouse in Boglington-on-Sea, a superyacht in Boglèry-sur-Mer, and an agreeable schloss outside Boglheim-am-Rhein. As you can tell, this theme was becoming a trifle obsessive, but never mind.

Seeking a day-to-day editor for the paper, Ernst found his halfwitted ‘Uncle Bogler’ lurking by the water cooler and, keeping it in the family, instantly promoted him from the Kiddies Fun Page, where he had labored unsung for years, to the newsroom; which explains some of the curious editorial features you’ll find here within.

Distinguished contributors include heavyweight economics expert, Sterling Pound; Politics editor, Wee Laura Facebook, Portuguese midfield supremo and guest football pundit, Boglinho – and Showbiz Editor, Polly Wood. It’s a fiercesome team of top talent, I’m sure you agree.

Now, carry on. If you must….

 

“…to judge by the astonishing sight of the Mother of Parliaments degenerating into a terrifying contumely of divided and quarrelsome MPs making absolutely no sense … you would have to conclude that there is something about the air in London SW1 that poisons the brain.”

Er, where was I? Oh yes… CO2

“Raised carbon dioxide (CO2) in poorly ventilated workplaces is known to make workers sleepy and slow — a factor in sick building syndrome. Such CO2 levels could affect the entire atmosphere by the end of the century, driven by fossil fuel burning, according to a University College London (UCL) team.” (The Times)

I vaguely heard someone talking about this item on the radio this morning, and thought, hang on, wasn’t there a Chinese study reported a few weeks ago that said pretty much the same thing? That air pollution can knock a year off the educational advantage for the average 60-year-old?

UB: “What is this thing and why is it making strange noises?”

Now, if you Google “CO2 making us dumber” you come up with many pages going back years, of the press reporting on similar research; so clearly there’s an effect somewhere.

Where the story is slowly developing is that earlier studies focused on pollution in closed spaces. A US Psychology professor reported in 2012, for instance, in Psychology Today, on a British study showing that office workers were slower at responding to things in buildings where people smoked.

Which moved me to slowly observe inside the dwindling rational faculty center where I haltingly talk to myself, that nobody has been allowed to smoke in an office building in Britain for about the past thirty years. It had taken rather a long time for this US Psychology professor to absorb what is now long out of date information, but that’s self-explanatory.

And indeed, to judge by the astonishing sight of the Mother of Parliaments degenerating into a terrifying contumely of divided and quarrelsome MPs making absolutely no sense, squabbling over what seems to the rest of us like angels dancing on the head of a pin: backstop this, EFTA that, with Norway++ thrown in, crashing the traditional party divides in their increasingly atomized efforts to resolve the irresolvable issues arising from the UK having voted in its oxygen-deprived befuddlement to leave the European Union, which few of them really want to do, you would have to conclude that there is something about the air in London SW1 that poisons the brain.

Where the research has moved lately is to note that rising CO2 in the atmosphere might be having the same effect outdoors as it does in: sick planet syndrome.

In the mid-18th century, at the dawn of the Age of Steam, so scientists calculate from ice cores, tree rings, muddy lake beds and chicken entrails, in 1750 the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 285 parts per million (ppm). In 2018, after 268 years of burning coal, and then oil, the annual average at the 9,000-feet-up Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, where this stuff is officially measured, was declared to be 405 ppm, although the daily quotient had recently risen as high as 413 ppm.

The UN climate conference in Katowice, home to Poland’s extensive coal-mining industry, has just been told that, after flatlining for three years in the global economic recession, thanks to burning more coal and driving more cars, average CO2 emissions (it varies from place to place and at different times of year, this is all a matter of informed conjecture) rose by 1.6% in 2017, and will have risen by a further 2.7% in 2018.

Two point seven percent of 405 ppm translates as 10.9 ppm, an astonishing increase; more than three times the annual average rate of increase we have previously experienced since 1750. I’m hoping my brain is so stultified with breathing air that I have miscalculated, but we could be headed for more than 420 ppm by the spring of 2019.

Back in the nineteenth century, scientists worked out that a doubling of the CO2 concentration could lead to an extinction-level 5C of global warming. (This stuff is not new, you see, which confounds the deniers’ irrational attempts to make it go away.) While we are still a long way off that 570 ppm,  nevertheless we should consider that CO2 is not the only ‘greenhouse gas’ out there; methane, water vapor, CO (lethal carbon monoxide), NO2 and SO2 are all increasing, while CO2 is being measured locally as a result of wildfires at concentrations approaching 1,000 ppm.

Not only that, but as CO2 increases, more useful atmospheric gases are being replaced. Like, for instance, oxygen. Oxygen levels in some of our burgeoning megacities are falling to dangerous lows; while one of the effects of rising CO2 is to kill off oxygen producers, like phytoplankton in the oceans, that have absorbed the majority of the warming effect to date.

We are being slowly suffocated; stewing in our own juice.

I seem to remember having mentioned before, that as I walk li’l Hunzi in the exurban space that passes for our local park, I’ve started to feel I’m no longer getting the same nutritional value from the air we breathe, despite being so close to the sea. It’s probably psychosomatic. Age and the nightly fix of Cabernet Sauvignon are clearly factors; but as I write, I find I have trouble keeping a grip on the metatextual narratives behind the stories; as well as losing words, dates and names, I’m rapidly losing the plot.

It’s frustrating. I can no longer follow complex ideas, such as the rapidly changing nature of political discourse; or the instructions for how to operate technical things. It seems that the old tropes of class war, the distinctions of ‘left’ and ‘right’, of capitalism and collectivism, definitions of old-style liberalism, libertarianism and neoliberalism – modern fascism – are entering frightening new dimensions, but I can’t quite put my finger on how, why, when and what are the implications.

Just as I sometimes espy a glimmer of light, it rapidly slips away. My ability to make sense of things, to follow an argument to its logical conclusion is diminished; and I observe, yours is too! Everyone’s is. Alternative truths, moral relativism and holding to two contradictory opinions at the same time are not characteristics unique to Donald J Trump. They are instead, symptoms of increasing cognitive impairment in the human population.

(Sometimes, I have previously commented, it feels like the Earth on its grand sweep through the cosmos has entered a region of space where there is a real “cloud of unknowing”!)*

It may be wilful oversimplification, a need to find firm ground, but I’d say, our deteriorating atmosphere might well be a prime candidate, to go along with the unexplained increase in ADHD and the intellectual (most often sub-intellectual) chaos of internet discourse, where the inchoate and often violent opinions of unlettered and irrational idiots are given equal prominence and weight to the more thoughtful pronouncements of those who study matters from an informational perspective; yet who themselves sometimes seem to be blundering about in a hall of mirrors.

I was going to conclude with an illuminating observation on all this, but no, it’s gone.

Something or other.

*An anonymous medieval Christian work proposing an interesting heresy, a kind of Zen mindfulness: that you should stop looking for God, as he is nowhere to be found and nothing to see, but just BE God.

x

“JK Rowling’s husband has branded his wife’s former personal assistant a ‘liar’ and accused her of ‘stealing from sick and dying children’ amid claims she wrongly spent thousands of pounds on shopping sprees for luxury items.” (Daily Mail)

Dear Amanda Donaldson

May I say how sorry I am for your situation vis à vis the Rowling woman and her husband?

I myself spent nearly seven years ‘in service’, working as general factotum for an absentee businessman and his trophy wife, battling mostly on my own to care for a deserted and decaying C18th-century mansion he’d rashly bought without a structural survey. Wealth is not always proof of intellect.

Some entrepreneurs are what I call ‘water-cooler’ employers. They imagine they can just push the first body they meet in the corridor that doesn’t appear to be doing anything better into a role for which they may be totally unadapted.

Luckily, I’m omniscient and omnicompetent.

Hired as the maintenance man, within weeks there was a change of business plan (he’d done no market research either) and I was told I had to promote and manage the place, described by the local fire chief as a ‘death trap’, virtually singlehandedly as a licensed guest house and wedding venue.

On the maintenance man’s salary.

On-call 24/7, I took no holiday for five years. With no budgets for anything and obliged to pay casual workers illegally in cash I was permanently under suspicion of pocketing the profits (having invested not a penny in the business, living eight thousand miles away, he couldn’t understand why there weren’t any). Because I’d had no option but to use it to feed the guests, he took away my company credit card.

I confess to knocking off the odd bottle of wine he’d paid for while freezing alone on a cold winter’s night in the empty bar when, halfway through the month, under pressure from the Child Support Agency my tiny paycheck would regularly run out; assuming they’d remembered to pay me. I often lived on leftovers from the meals I’d cooked for guests. Nevertheless, I managed to obtain grants and financial concessions that more than covered my salary.

I imagine your problem is probably more the breakdown of trust than the pocket-change Joanna’s husband is meanly trying to extract from you, for what look to me like curiously inflated expense items. I assume she loves him.

And I must express some doubt that all Harry Potter fans are sick and dying, although I should not be surprised. If items of merchandise you allegedly didn’t send out really cost £400 apiece, then I’m wondering who is ripping off the sick and dying children?

The normal procedure in these cases is for the employer just to draw a veil over the affair. Move on. I suppose the moral is, try to work for people with a bit more class.

Chin up!

(This article is an edited version of one that appeared a few Posts ago. UB.)

 

Training program

The answer to Britain’s problems with its dysfunctional, costly privatized railways arrived in my inbox just now, courtesy of the rail booking agency Trainline:

“A new way to travel with us – coaches!”

I’m hoping Transport Minister, Chris Grayling gets the message.

 

Move over, starling

How big are starlings supposed to be? There’s one outside in the garden now, happily pecking away at the large breakfast I’ve compiled, that was supposed to feed the entire bird population for a day. She’s about the size of a decent meal for one.

Two crows – I think of the jackdaw variety – have now arrived and chased her off. They’re a lot bigger, I’ll grant. But this starling, a regular, is absolutely enormous. Am I doing good, if she can barely fly?

Last night I watched as a big cloud of starlings performed their astonishing aerial ballet on the way home from feeding higher up the valley to their roosts under the pier. The town is famous for them.

But I seem to recall winter evenings on which three or four similar sized waves of birds would fly over. In vain, I wait for a second one.

 

Geological News

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser #30.

 

GW: Normal weather is SO abnormal

USA: The big early winter storm affecting North Carolina and Virginia over the weekend, Storm Diego has produced up to 20 inches of snow cover. Near blizzard conditions are persisting. Half a million homes are without electricity.

 

Money to burn?

An unlikely troop of cavalry may be galloping over the hill to the rescue of the planet.

Unnerved by reports of the urgency with which things must change, investment managers representing some $32 trillion of pension funds and government bonds and your savings and mine have piped up at the Katowice conference, demanding an end to fossil fuel subsidies and a bunch of carbon taxes.

Their warning is in many ways more terrifying than that of the watered-down maunderings of the IPCC last month.

‘Investment firm Schroders said there could be $23tn of global economic losses a year in the long term without rapid action. This permanent economic damage would be almost four times the scale of the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis. Standard and Poor’s rating agency also warned leaders: “Climate change has already started to alter the functioning of our world.'” (Guardian)

We should perhaps be mindful of the news that, in the wake of the deadly Camp Fire, that incinerated the entire town of Paradise, Ca.:

“State regulators are taking over Merced Property and Casualty Company because the company can’t pay out all the expected claims from the massive fire. “It completely overwhelmed this company, looking at the number of claims that they would have, and it left them insolvent,” said Nancy Kincaide of the Department of Insurance.” (Sorry, I’ve lost the reference to this report.)

How long before Lloyds of London starts to moan that their Names are feeling the squeeze? (Fuck ’em. See previous Posts re fraudulent trading.) Fires in California this year may have cost $200 billion in insured losses, enough to rake a lot of floor.

Your Old Granny muses that this concerted appeal from the money-breathers will make not a jot of difference to the illiterate posturings of the White House Monster, a creature bought and sold by the geriatric Koch brothers, the Mercers and their filthy co-conspirators.

Although coming from the money industry, maybe something might shift. It’s hard to tell, as increasingly even the superficial research on which the BogPo thrives is being closed off, site by site, through the erection of paywalls, zonal barriers and the abuse of the new European data protection laws to demand access for advertisers, not just displayed on the page but to mine the deeper layers of visitors’ computer systems.

 

RIP Roger ‘roo

“Roger, the beefcake boxing kangaroo who came to fame when a photo of him crushing a metal bucket like a paper cup went viral in 2015, has died at the age of 12. The death of the male kangaroo, who weighed 89kg (14 stone) and stood more than 182cm (6 feet) tall, has sparked an outpouring of grief from his 1.3 million Facebook and Instagram fans.” (Guardian)

Maybe social media isn’t all a total disaster.

 

Trump in the dock… On the up. And then the down… We believe this job may be of interest to you… GW: Ain’t nothin’ but a whole lot of somethin’ goin’ on… Old King Coal.

Quote of the Week

“…you can’t expect people to think about the end of the world when they are worried about the end of the month.” – Guardian Comment on the riots in France.

 

“The number of people in England aged 45 and above admitted with a drug-related mental and behavioural disorder has soared 85% over the last decade.” (BBC)

And you thought we baby boomers were such squares!

 

“If you’re going to kill people, Mr Salman, I wish you would do it more discreetly. Can I recommend a program of benefits reform?”

 

Trump in the dock

STOP PRESS: “Maryland and Washington attorneys general have armed themselves with more than 30 subpoenas approved by a federal judge, and everyone will find out how the president has profited or potentially profited personally.” – says one independent, probably not very reliable web source tonight, 05 Dec.

No-one else seems to be reporting it but we do know the Southern District court of New York has been pursuing lines of inquiry suggested by the FBI’s trawl of documents and recordings taken from Trump’s bagman, Michael Cohen.

The subpoenas can force the evidence to be produced in court, relating to Trump’s egregious breaches of the Emoluments clauses, whereby his businesses have profited from government patronage during his tenure; into his illicit foreign business ventures, and into widely reported financial abuses involving personal use of his and family members’ charity Foundations.

The stony faces of former Presidents and their wives as they took their places along from the Trumps at the funeral of that old monster, George Bush, spoke volumes. And, in the wake of the heavily redacted account of General Flynn’s 19 sessions with the Mueller team, recommending he be not imprisoned*, Fox News contributor yesterday admitted, wide-eyed, that there might be “something in the Mueller investigation” after all… And nobody on the panel contradicted her.

The ex-CIA man, Bush had at least managed to look and sound like a grownup President while he was laying the foundations 33 years ago for the Nicaraguan migrant caravans today, laundering money through Iran to arm the Contra rebels, promoting the cocaine trade and slaughtering possibly 3 thousand Panamanian civilians just to remove his own embarrassing drugs mule, General Noriega.

While to Bush we can owe the ludicrous belief Trump clings to, that tackling climate change will cost American jobs.

May he rot, quite frankly.

 

*I can’t help wondering if the different treatment Mueller is recommending for Flynn, a former 2-star general, whom he has said need not go to jail; and Cohen, a street-fighting mafia ‘soldier’ for the Trump family, who he thinks should get three years, both of whom co-operated, is purely a piece of snobbery from the Purple-heart decorated former marine?

 

On the up. And then the down.

Many science reporters with perhaps a less than dedicated calling or much understanding of the facts are still giving the false impression that carbon dioxide emissions somehow stopped between 2013 and 2016, giving us pause for relief.

Of course they didn’t! The rate of increase may have slowed owing to the global recession, but we continued adding 37 billion tonnes to the atmosphere during those 4 years; the average rate of increase in concentration remained constant at 3.6 parts per million per annum.

Now, it seems, CO2 has come roaring back in 2018, with emissions set to increase this year by 2.6%. That’s another 10.6 ppm – THREE TIMES the average annual increase!

“The rise is due to the growing number of cars on the roads and a renaissance of coal use and means the world remains on the track to catastrophic global warming. However, the report’s authors said the emissions trend can still be turned around by 2020, if cuts are made in transport, industry and farming emissions” – Guardian.

What utter piffle! The trend cannot be “turned around” in a little over a year without somehow sucking billions of tonnes of carbon out of the air and sea at a rate greater than the amount being added. The gas remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years: another 2C is already built-in. Cuts are not going to be made, quite the opposite! an increasing number of governments have just decided, fuck it. The dead can’t vote.

The reporting betrays a complete inability to understand the mechanisms that are threatening abrupt climate change: a phrase that in itself conceals a greater truth which nobody seems to want to hear.

Mercifully, car sales in Britain are 7% down this year. Smoke, however, is up. (Evocative image: Michel Euler/AP)

Other reports at the UN conference in Katowice suggest that in the three years since the Paris agreement was signed, financial institutions have invested more than $478bn in the world’s top 120 coal plant developers. Emissions from China (4.7%), India (6.3%) and the US (2.5%) have led the increase. The Paris accords, according to a University of East Anglia paper, will not keep warming below 3C. A drop in particulate pollution due to cleaner industries may trigger a runaway warming effect as skies clear.

The BogPo remarks that a more immediate threat still may be species co-collapse. We have lost 60% of wild mammal populations and 78% of insect populations in forty years. The same causes are already affecting human populations, according to the WHO; and are only tangentially related to the threat of warming. If human extinction is the powder keg, the fuse is already alight.

 

A colony of 1mm-long nematode worms (Caenorhabditis elegans) has had to miss the trip of a lifetime, aboard the international space station. Owing to a day’s delay in launching the SpaceX rocket, caused by the discovery of some mouldy food, the worms are now “too old” to be of experimental value.

I know just how they feel!

 

We believe this job may be of interest to you:
Live-in/Live-Out Nanny in St John’s Wood, London
Location: UNITED KINGDOM, St John’s Wood
Salary: Not specified

Now, there is a reason, believe it or not, why this popped into my mailbox today, after months of inactivity on the labor front. And it’s not to do with the release of the Mary Poppins movie remake.

I was, for several years, in what you might call domestic service. In the latter part, when I anticipated redundancy on completion of a project to convert the haunted mansion I rattled around in into an upmarket hotel, I put my impressive CV and references about any number of specialised agencies employing dreadful, lazy Australian temps in snooty parts of London, looking for similar work.

The likelihood of finding a job in which the employer expected someone to do everything from gardening and maintenance to business planning, financial management, making beds, serving at table, clearing up sick after functions and cooking for guests seemed pretty slim. Indeed, I seldom bothered to apply, not being a “couple”, the arrangement the wealthy prefer.

So after eight years of fishing entirely unsuccessfully for what is nowadays quite well-remunerated work, often with free accommodation in agreeable surroundings and the chance to drive top-end expensive cars and shiny red lawn tractors, I gave up the unequal struggle and retired to my tiny cottage on a main arterial road in the thunderous outskirts of a busy seaside town, to await Death’s final knock.

As the years have sped by, just one organization has continued from time to time to send me little reminders of what I’ve been missing: the 168-hour weeks, the underlying suspicion that I’m embezzling the expenses; such as the note above, enquiring after my interest in situations they regularly advertise, and that is The Lady magazine.

And I have quite lost count of the times I have emailed back, pointedly asking them to desist.

You may imagine, I am not really interested in working as a nanny in St John’s Wood; even if the lady of the house could be persuaded to take on a 69-year-old single man with no relevant training or experience (beyond raising two kids of my own) and a large dog with strange amber eyes at heel; someone who, to judge by his current situation, grizzled beard, appetite for wine and state of dishevelment, is probably on an offender management program.

He isn’t, but you know what I mean. I several times encountered baffled hostility when applying for domestic “couple” jobs: no mere male could possibly cook, clean and wash-up, or cope with delicate fabrics – and at the same time be trusted to clean the gutters, maintain the boiler, unemotionally shag the mistress from time to time and drive a Bentley.

And, of course, yet again, I receive no reply or acknowledgment of my request. To them, I don’t exist. I am a ghost in the machine: a randomized pick for the occasional, totally inappropriate position.

There’s a peculiar form of reverse snobbery: as I am, I should possibly mention, quite posh myself, although from the “wrong side of the blanket”, determinedly Socialistic and latterly fallen on hard times – something they hate as it reminds them where they may end up themselves one day.

 

God’s thumbprint? Or an unusual energy ripple – such as have been reported recently emanating from Mayotte, an island off the northern tip of Madagascar, travelling at 900 mph all around the world at a depth of 6.2 miles?

GW: Ain’t nothin’ but a whole lot of somethin’ goin’ on

The final statistic from the two major California wildfires last month, the Camp and Woolsey fires, is 91 dead, with 25 still missing in the Paradise area; 18,800 homes destroyed, a total bill of around $18 billion. 15 of the 20 largest and most destructive fires on record in California have occurred since 2002. Wunderground estimates, this year’s fires in California have pumped an extra 15% more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the state usually emits in a year.

USA: And it’s back to Arctic conditions for the eastern seaboard and midwest through into next week. “In areas from the mountains of North Carolina to parts of Virginia, this will be a major storm with the potential for a foot or more of snow,” according to AccuWeather. Further south is expected to receive a coating of dangerous ice, bringing down power lines and disrupting schools and transport.

China: Accuweather reports, a corresponding “surge of arctic air will dive southward across eastern Asia in the coming days, bringing the coldest weather in nearly 10 months to parts of China and the Korean Peninsula. A mild autumn and start to December will come to a bone-chilling end on Thursday as bitterly cold air descends on Beijing and northeast China.” (Accuweather)

Australia: the brutal Queensland heatwave has been temporarily distracted by heavy downpours from ex-Tropical Cyclone Owen, threatening to drop between 2 and 8 inches of rain on coastal areas between Cairns and Mackay. “Strong winds, coastal flooding and rough surf will batter the Queensland coastline through this weekend, creating hazardous conditions.” (Accuweather)

India: Accuweather reports “Air pollution continues to be a major concern across New Delhi and other locations across northern India as little improvement is expected into next week. Despite efforts to limit pollution emissions such as heavy truck bans, reducing construction projects and shutting down power plants, pollution levels have continued to climb across the region and pose a serious risk to millions of people.”

Turkey: a slow-moving low is expected to dump up to 30cm (10-in) of rain, locally maybe more, over southern Turkey, Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean over the next three days, to Friday night. Extensive flooding is anticipated. A casual glance at the Google homepage for “Turkey rain” shows at least three extreme rainfall events with damaging floods already this year.

 

Old King Coal

Katowice: Bob Henson, of The Weather Underground, has a sobering essay on the contribution of coal to global warming in 2018, pointing out:

“The irony is running thick this week as coal—the most climate-unfriendly of fossil fuels, and an energy source in decline—finds itself in the spotlight. The 24th annual United Nations Conference of Parties (COP24) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is meeting this week and next in the city of Katowice in southern Poland, a region where coal remains a dominant force in the local economy.

“And on Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose loosening regulations for new coal plants, at a time when global demand for coal is sagging year after year. In his opening remarks, Polish president Andrzej Duda struggled to reconcile the fact that coal use is at loggerheads with a world moving toward carbon-free energy.”

http://www.wunderground.com/cat6/Coal-Fights-Life-UN-Holds-Climate-Meeting-Polands-Coal-Country?cm_ven=cat6-widget

“…the world has yet to fully grapple with the enormous pressure to use fossil fuel reserves that are already far more than enough to push the world well beyond 2°C of warming over preindustrial conditions, which would raise the odds of catastrophic climate-change impacts”, writes Henson, who goes on to point out that only two carbon capture and storage – “clean coal” – experimental sites are working anywhere in the world, but instead of storing the CO2 it’s being used to pressurize nearby oil wells!

And, of course, with a former coal company lobbyist in charge at the US Environmental Protection Agency, the cynical Trump administration is going all-out to maximise the role of coal in energy generation. As Henson says, “Just when leaders from around the globe are meeting in Poland to hash out a path for implementing the Paris Agreement, it’s hard to imagine a more perverse, or paradoxical, message for the U.S. to send to the world.”

Actually, I can think of a few more.

 

That sinking feeling…

Some parts of the city of Tehran, capital of Iran, are sinking into the ground at the alarming rate of 10 inches a year, according to scientists at Potsdam university. The problem appears to be overextraction, causing the roof of the water table to collapse.

Subsidence could become an increasing problem for large conurbations like Mexico City, your Gran supposes, as increasing drought in those latitudes dries out ground and agriculture requires more water for irrigation.

 

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 71: The strange crime of Paul Manafort… Lax financial regulation… Ha!… GW: Has it all blown over yet?

“Er, Houston, we have a problem… (bleep) stowaway on board… (bleep) says his name’s Musk…”

NASA successfully lands InSight probe on Mars

 

“Donald Trump has apparently succeeded in scamming the supposedly cast-iron Purple Heart ex-marine, Mueller; a minor victory that will undoubtedly give him great satisfaction as he shuffles bald-headed to the latrine to empty his night soil, avoiding the gaze of large negroes.”

The strange crime of Paul Manafort

Just when you thought the Trump presidency was running out of the most appalling words and deeds and mispunctuated Twitter characters, and the Orange Panda was losing touch with reality as the Mueller investigation closes in on him and his family, comes time to think again.

There is no bottom to the man.

The most astonishing twist yet in the whole “collusion” saga has emerged in the last three days, when NBC News reported that they’d received a bunch of papers, apparently authentic documents from inside the Mueller investigation; which, to date, has been as tight as a duck’s ass when it came to leaks.

(You may wish to regard this entire narrative as imaginative fiction, since I’ve certainly been putting together the twos I have been gleaning from the American media today to make five, and then some.)

The papers were an informal survey of potential indictments and a prospective plea-bargain relating to the minor crimes of one Jerome Corsi, a peripheral bit-player in the campaign saga, another self-publicizing has-been-or-never-was, but a claimed contact of the reptilian Republican party fixer and longtime Trump dirty-tricks specialist, Roger Stone.

Corsi had it seems agreed to become a Mueller “grass”, compromised by Mueller because he had information that Stone was in frequent contact with Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, in London during the months before Wikileaks published the missing Clinton emails, that were hacked by Russian intelligence; and that Stone had tried to intercede on Assange’s behalf with the Ecuadorian government.

(Shitsplaining: Self-promoting whingeing narcissist Assange is in voluntary incarceration as an inconvenient political refugee in the basement of the Ecuadorian embassy, where he’s been holding court to the global disruptor community (and the foolish Pamela Anderson) for the past six years.*)

It was possible evidence linking Stone both to Russia and to Trump.

But suddenly, last week Corsi seems to have changed his mind about spilling everything he knew to Mueller, and instead made public the details of his arrangement with the FBI – and, more pertinently, the questions and issues that he knew from his interrogations that Mueller was most interested in. A move said to be unprecedented in US legal history.

It was information that has apparently already gotten back to the White House via Corsi’s and Trump’s lawyers, enabling Trump to lean on a few minor facts in order to tweet evermore furiously the story that the Mueller investigation is in disarray and fake news and a WITCH HUNT and all the rest of the cheeseburger-flavored smoke he’s been generating for almost two years, to try to make the horrid bad man go ‘way.

Who ordered the papers to be leaked so openly to NBC – Trump’s supposedly least favorite failing fake news channel? And why?

So, anyway, now it gets murkier still.

You’ll have heard the name Paul Manafort, in the news. Manafort (69, tall, confidently bulky, dyed hair, self-satisfied pug-eyed expression, expensive suits) had for a couple of decades involved his PR consultancy with shady political campaigns in Ukraine; being responsible, among other dirty tricks, for the demonization of former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko – gaoled in 2011 on probably trumped-up corruption charges – and the election as President of the now-deposed Putin crony and massive kleptocrat, Viktor Yanukovitch.

He was also deeply embedded with organized crime figures and other Putin oligarchs in Russia, billionaires seeking influence and the lifting of personal sanctions; and was paid many millions of dollars for his work, which seems to have involved a lot of money laundering and sheltering of illicitly obtained funds through offshore shell companies.

And Manafort was also present at the crucial 09 June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with the Kremlin lawyer Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump Jr, Kushner and two other Russians, both with connections to money laundering and Russian intelligence. Shortly after which, Trump referred for the first time at an election rally to Clinton’s missing emails, and openly called on Russia to find them. Then, in July, Trump appointed Manafort as chairman of his election campaign – later claiming he barely even knew the man. (The FBI is now looking into a trove of “late-night” phone calls between the two.)

That was a lie, wasn’t it.

Seeking to establish connections between Trump and the Kremlin, Mueller and the FBI zeroed in on Manafort, and earlier this year indicted him on many charges, including failing to declare the income from his work in Russia, and bank fraud – the latter relating to a $10 million loan Manafort obtained from an obscure bank, on a promise that he would persuade Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and Senior White House advisor, to appoint the manager of the bank to the lucrative post of Secretary for the Army. (It was a con – he didn’t. And he never repaid the money.)

The loan was ostensibly for the purpose of repaying other money Manafort had previously offered to invest on behalf of a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska – a Putin crony with suspected links to organized crime. Instead, Manafort had pocketed the money to fund his expensive taste in “ostrich-skin jackets” and his collection of apartments in New York.

All this emerged from the first of two scheduled trials, at which Manafort had unexpectedly pleaded not guilty – even though Mueller had him bang to rights, as they say. The jury duly deliberated, and found him guilty on eight counts – enough to put him away for the rest of his life.

Manafort then cheerfully entered the prison system to await sentence, where he’s being kept in solitary confinement for his own protection. But soon seemed to drop his tough-guy “no co-operation” stance and agreed a plea deal with Mueller to make the second trial go away and the possible life sentence be reduced in exchange for spilling everything he knew about the Trumps, Russia, Wikileaks and collusion.

Two days ago, however, a furious Mueller wrote to the court demanding the judge now execute the sentences for the original guilty verdicts and bring about the second trial, as (after giving him 10 days to rethink his statement) he had concluded that Manafort had been telling the investigators a pack of lies.

Warning: Here we enter the realms of speculative fiction.

Why would Manafort have spent two months pulling the wool over Mueller’s eyes, knowing that if found out, he would spend several more lifetimes behind bars? Lying to the FBI and obstructing justice are serious crimes in America.

Mueller has so far indicted some 32 co-conspirators, including a number of Russians he can’t get at; nevertheless, he has enough detail in the case to be able to compare notes and tell when someone is feeding him a plate of rotten fishheads. Surely, Paulie was living on borrowed time?

The key prosecution witness had either gone crazy, commentators said, or there must be a deeper motive.

Look at it this way.

Trump has the power of issuing Presidential pardons, but he’s mentally a mobster, basing his business methods on bad stuff taught to him by his mentor, the mob lawyer Roy Cohn. He may not really be a “made man”, as they call members of the mafia who come from outside the tight-knit crime families; nevertheless he’s done bidness with a few, and likes to behave like a mob boss himself.

Such a man would rather murder, than pardon anyone who snitches on them. So we can conclude that he would not even be considering pardoning the crimes of Paul Manafort if he believed for one second that Manafort had really spilled his guts to the FBI about Trump’s collusion with the Russians.

The only way Manafort could get out of his extreme predicament would be by serving the interests of the mob boss in the Oval Office: doubling-down on his many crimes by flim-flamming the Russia investigation; pretending to hold a weak hand; presenting a reasonably convincing false narrative to his interrogators, misdirecting them and causing as much delay and confusion as possible; ensuring he would be kept close to the team.

You know how a Lapwing evades its predators, by feigning weakness?

As a prosecution witness, by that “not guilty” plea and then the guilty verdicts making himself seem vulnerable and open possibly to turning informant, Manafort had cleverly managed to insert himself on the inside of the tightly controlled Mueller team, and – like Corsi – his plan was to feed through his lawyers, information about the investigation back to the White House, earning himself a full pardon for his crimes.

In fact, it was Corsi’s recantation of his plea bargain and the release of the documents that put the media onto the possibility of a connection with Mueller’s letter to the court, rescinding Manafort’s protected status. Was it the same plan? And have the written answers Trump gave last week to Mueller’s written questions possibly conflicted with something Manafort might have said?

The question now becomes: was Trump himself personally in on the act? How much did he know, and when? Was this his plan, to scupper the tightly controlled Mueller investigation by planting a man on the inside; making Mueller believe he was open to a juicy plea bargain? Well, as yet Trump has not described Manafort as “weak”, which is Trump code for “disloyal”, and applies in spades to “very weak” Cohen. We can take that as a clue.

Trump’s business history is littered with cleverly plotted scams that have reportedly netted him and his family millions of dollars over the years from so-called “pump & dump” schemes. The MO has been to schmooze the media throughout his career, to build a gilt-edged reputation for the Trump brand: the billionaire playboy/successful business mogul image, complete with a pumped-up blonde on each arm, that convinces his “marks” they’ll be adding value to their criminal money-laundering enterprises with a Trump or two on board.

These scams seem usually to be perpetrated in the so-called emerging nations; especially the former Soviet republics and other countries known for their corrupt politicians and businessmen, where the Trump brand of rackety glitz and bling is still regarded with some awe, still given currency by third-rate gangsters; where the Trump name on a hotel, casino or a leisure complex still guarantees the right kind of trade: punters willing to be fleeced!

Somehow, at some stage the projects all go belly-up and the Trumps walk away with the profits, protesting their complete innocence of any involvement beyond merely “licensing” the Trump name and sales of branded merchandise – for which he is also paid $millions by gullible local sleazeballs eager for the smell of Trump-flavored money to rub off on them.

But that’s just the small change. Without putting their name to the property deeds, the Trumps nevertheless “partner” the developers up until the point at which they walk away from the bankruptcy proceedings as beneficial owners of the company’s cash, which will have been long gone. But the deals always have total deniability. Funny, that.

Trump hustles, basically, crooks. He knows they’re the easiest marks; and that nobody much cares if he stiffs them. He doesn’t care where the money originally came from: in the case of a Trump-branded hotel in Baku, that never opened, it’s reported the source was a proscribed terrorist organization, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. A lot of his “partners” in these scams seem to wind up in gaol.

Here, however, the lifelong grifter had succeeded, albeit temporarily, in getting inside the Mueller camp to find out just what was going on, what evidence the squeaky-clean, poker-rigid Mueller has on him and his feral kids. And still it looks like his involvement may not have touched the sides: his legal team may carry the can. Weird old Granny Giuliani already appears to be in complete meltdown.

If it could be proved, though, it would … well, obstruction of justice barely covers it. It would be Trump’s Watergate moment multiplied a hundred times: a President of the United States conspiring with a convicted felon to sabotage a legally constituted Special Counsel inquiry into collusion with a foreign power to steal an election, abusing the presidential power of pardon to induce a witness to lie under oath? He would die in gaol; unless he in turn could count on a pardon from his Vice-President, Mike Pence – who is also reportedly now under investigation.

Trump has already been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of his former lawyer and bag-man, Michael Cohen, over misuse of election funds to bribe women to silence over affairs with Candidate Trump. Some of those funds are directly traceable to lobbyists for Russian business interests; other money came from corporations tricked into believing they were paying for privileged access to the Oval Office.

Cohen has pleaded guilty to everything. He’d like to see his kids again in this lifetime, and has spilled his guts to Mueller, principally about Trump’s already well-known business connections in Moscow, presumably the Agalarovs, and confirmed what we’ve all known for years, that Trump had an ambition to see his name on a Moscow hotel tower – but Putin has been blocking it. But is he lying too, for a pardon down the road?

Strangely, this story has come out today and is blocking further interest in the far more serious Manafort case. Overwhelmed with news, the US media is running around like a headless chicken with ADHD.

Not to mention, the New York Attorney-General’s office subpoenas alleging corruption within the Trump Organization and financial irregularities involving the Trump Foundation: none of which is in the power of the President to pardon.

The Manafort case however threatens to detonate a thousand barrels of gunpowder under the White House.

The insertion of a spy into the Mueller camp in this extraordinary way is the mark of a master con-man, used to strategizing the fraudulent acquisition of large sums of money by both quasi-legal and contra-legal methods. Donald Trump has apparently succeeded in scamming the supposedly cast-iron Purple Heart ex-marine, Mueller; a minor victory that will undoubtedly give him great satisfaction as he shuffles bald-headed in leg-irons to the latrine to empty his night soil, avoiding the gaze of large negroes.

But Trump surely cannot now pardon Manafort, Corsi and Cohen without revealing his tiny hand as a pervertor of the course of justice; has Paulie miscalculated? To protect himself and his grimy family, Trump’s only out now will be to let the former campaign chairman he barely knew rot in gaol – where he’s probably safest anyway, with so many angry Russians on his tail. But that will risk Manafort at some stage recanting his recantation….

Is Trump now completely screwed? It may be the return of Christmas, which the made-for-TV president promised his dumbfucks, what seems like a lifetime ago.

But don’t count your turkeys.

 

*Former CIA man, Malcolm Nance entertainingly describes how Assange has been hacking the computers of the staff at the embassy even while the Ecuadorians have been monitoring all his visitors and communications through British IT contractors. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgwegB34cGc It’s like the cartoon strip in Mad Magazine – Spy vs. Spy.)

 

“Why have I never made a penny when it seems so easy?”

Lax financial regulation

Company A and company B are both owned by Company C. Company A “borrows” $1.5 million from Company B. Company A “fails” to pay the money back and is sued by Company C.

Meanwhile, Company B borrows $1.6 million from a genuine investor to cover the loss and the loan is guaranteed by Company C which will pay when it gets its money back through the court, where a case is pending. (The odd $100 thousand goes to whoever as useful expenses, presumably. You know, brokerage.)

But when the investor politely requests the return of the loan, Company B is in liquidation. So the investor sues Company C. And the court finds that as there is a prior unresolved case between Company C and Company A, over money owed by the bankrupt Company B, the investor cannot sue Company C, which then makes off with the money.

Simples? Especially when the owner of Company C, and hence presumably Companies A & B, is linked with a business partner of Ivanka Trump.

Those Trumps, a magical name yet so unlucky in their business partners. I put it down to them being quite poor judges of character.

The Pumpkin is neither an accountant (he can’t afford one, either!), nor a grift specialist, thus he apologises profusely to everyone concerned, or unconcerned, if his simple take on some bad business that is described in much greater detail by Ben Shreckinger in GQ Magazine is confused and unhappy.

However if things are much as outlined above, it would be a classic “pump & dump” confidence trick.

Wouldn’t it? Oh dear, why have I never made a penny when it seems so easy?

In the meantime, GQ readers have also learned from Mr Shreckinger, a court acting for the Emirati-owned Commercial Bank of Dubai has quietly issued a subpoena to a company called Madison Avenue Diamonds, which traded until recently as Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, alleging that they may be unwitting accomplices to a fraud. Quite a large one, actually.

It seems that $100 million of diamonds may have been bought from a dealer in Israel by a pair of Dubai oil traders to conceal financial assets they owed to the bank, passed through various offshore shell companies and made into jewelry which – the inference is – may or may not have passed through Madison Avenue/Trump Fine Jewelry, obviously without their knowledge or permission, obviously, and then been sold and the money returned to the borrowers sparkling clean, stiffing the bank: a classic case of money laundering, it’s said (I wouldn’t know, at my age I don’t wash very often).

The director of Madison Avenue Diamonds is a real-estate developer called Moshe Lax, who happens to be the friend who introduced Ivanka to her shiny husband, Jared Kushner. How so? because he was Ivanka’s business partner and thought the couple would be perfect for each other!

Things, as they say, eventually went sour, and Trump parted company with Lax just last year, many months after she took up an interesting but somewhat vague position as an adviser to her father in the White House; where she and Kushner are alleged to have made over $80 million together during President Trump’s first year in office, although how is not explained.

Lax, as I have poorly understood these matters, is or was or is somehow also connected with Company C. Or was it A? Or B? I’m so easily confused, it’s lucky I have no money to invest.

Now, I hope I’ve understood that right, because I’m not an accountant or a diamond specialist; although I once had a client in the costume jewelry business and she was as bent as a paste brooch clasp on a clumsy Edwardian dowager. It appears, anyway, that the diamond dealer had spent time in prison a few years ago on an unrelated matter. Sorry if I have misunderstood, it’s quite complicated. Actually that doesn’t seem all that relevant, I think they threw it in just to add to the general air of criminality. Sorry, where were we?

Now, Trump herself is apparently not accused of anything untoward, as she merely “licensed her name” to Lax’s company, a family – sorry, familiar – story, and no longer runs Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, which seems to have gone out of business, although she probably did at the time the $100 million disappeared into the global laundromat. (Where in connection with Trump Organization, I wonder, have we heard that before?) Lax himself has been accused of involvement in all sorts, extortion and so forth, but no-one is saying anything.

Except that a house in New York owned by someone or other connected with the deal got torched the other week, NYPD is “investigating”, and nobody will say anything about that either.

All v. mysterious.

Look, if you’re really interested, here’s the link: http://www.gq.com/story/ivanka-trump-jewelry-business

And good luck understanding it, because I may not have got it at all right and have been foolishly jumping to conclusions. Sorry, and all that. I never was any good with money.

 

“An old dog, me, but a tricksy one!”

Ha!

Matthew Hedges, the British student, has arrived back in England after being released under an Independence Day blanket pardon by Crown Prince Mohammed of Dubai; a stroke of good timing, as (much to the consternation of the Foreign Office) Mr Hedges had just been handed a 25-year sentence for spying.

I hesitated to put the word student in inverted commas, because I don’t want to be accused of churlishness or anti-British feeling so near to Christmas, but certain facts in the case as reported in UK media do rather suggest that Mr Hedges is as much a student as Jamal Khashoggi was a “journalist”.

In other words, while writing a PhD thesis about the Arab Spring and a monthly column in the Washington Post’s mid- section might qualify both men for the descriptions, the terms “student” and “journalist” probably tell only a small part of the story.

Yesterday, in his alternate persona as The BogPo’s UB, The Pumpkin wrote:

“Was there some tiny hint of a possible suggestion there, then, that Hedges was hoping to find out what, if any, shift in policy there may have been towards the UAE favoring China as a future trading partner, or some such possibility? Just speculatin’.”

Because it seemed to me that there wasn’t much else worth spying about, given that the UAE buys all their top gear from us and the Americans anyway.

And today, highly paid experts at the BBC write:

“Crown Prince Mohammed … has also developed his relationship with both Russia and China. The UK is in danger of losing its favoured status in the UAE unless it can demonstrate that it is both a useful and reliable ally.”

Ha! An old dog, me, but a tricksy one!

Now look, I am not going to fuck-up somebody’s life chances by slinging speculative assertions around, so don’t take this the wrong way, but Mr Hedges doesn’t look to me entirely like a student, if one is any judge of character. He looks quite grown-up, and two “facts” about him, mentioned by a spokesman for the Emirates on the BBC yesterday just as the formalities for his release were being tied-up, were that he is a) also a “businessman”, and b) he spent much of his earlier life living in Dubai.

Whether those facts are necessarily correct, or grounds for concluding that British foreign intelligence might consider someone with those three strings to their bow as a potential asset, either permanently or merely opportunistically, I have no idea. His wife says he doesn’t speak Arabic. I find that hard to believe. As a PhD student – a very advanced educational level – with a speciality in Arab affairs, and having lived in the UAE “off and on” from the age of 8, so we are told, it seems, well – shall we say – less than likely. Although my son gave up learning the language, finding the writing too squiggly.

But I’m just an old bloke sitting in a chair, the cold rain teeming down outside from a leaden sky, a fitfully gusting wind, still strapped to a bag, a hard plastic tube pressing uncomfortably on my grumbling prostate, who can’t get an appointment to have it looked at for another three months; becoming increasingly testy as another Christmas on my own hoves into view. (I’ve already bought my present.)

Pay no attention.

Oh, though, if I may be permitted one small observation:

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe remains incarcerated in an Iranian hellhole after more than two years apart from her young daughter and British family. One wonders, had she really been spying for MI6, might she too have been sprung by now?

 

It’s not happening

The Godfather of Pump ‘n’ Trump schemes, as Inside Politics kind of dubbed him, is meanwhile blithely denying that there is a word of truth in the 1,400 pages of a report legally commissioned by his own administration from fourteen government agencies and compiled by some 300 climate scientists, painting a bleak picture of a future powered on continuing high-octane fossil fuel production.

Quoting the catchphrase of the great Victor Meldrew, of “One Foot in the Grave” fame, Trump trumpeted:

“I don’t believe it!”

That supine old fanny, the BBC thus informs us that Trump “cast doubt” on the report.

WTF? Trump is such an ignorant fucking pig he couldn’t “cast doubt” on whether the crap in his gold toilet is his or some other orange asshole’s. You actually have to know something to “cast doubt”, and he knows nothing at all. Nothing. His – and our – problem is, he’s so stupid, he doesn’t know he’s stupid.

Flat denial is not a doubt-casting argument. But the BBC is so mired in fear for its future it cannot any longer maintain even a semblance of objectivity when it comes to any story whose fair reporting might put it in bad with the hard-Brexit politicians who hate it and could come to power if May’s government collapses.

Those, that is, who haven’t clocked that Trump has also today poured cold water on prospects for a US-UK trade deal post-Brexit, something they are desperately relying on to justify the banality of their evil.

Remember his “beautiful” steel tariffs? Well, they’ve just cost 14.5 thousand General Motors blue-collar Trump-voting workers their jobs, with another 18 thousand “voluntary redundancies” in the pipeline, but who’s noticing when he comes out with stuff like this? Everything he does or says is calculated to cover-up the last dumb thing he said or did. The man literally farts a cloud of cheeseburger-flavored lies wherever he goes, that swirl about him and hide the truth:

He’s mentally incompetent.

As evidenced by what he then went on to say, which was that climate change was not the fault of the USA, which was “record clean”, but of all the other countries that are signed to the Paris accord, which are not.

In fact, while India and China have higher aggregate emissions, because they have four times the population, the US has the second highest per capita carbon footprint of any nation, behind only Saudi Arabia.

A record of cleanliness – a “clean sheet” so to speak – to be proud of.

But this is the moron who believes “clean coal” means you wash it before burning. And that raking the forest floor will prevent wildfires. Who chucks paper towels and frankfurters to please hurricane victims. Who doesn’t know how to operate an umbrella, or that the President is expected occasionally to show respect to dead US soldiers. Who often doesn’t recognise his own wife. A six-times bankrupt man with skidmarks on his golfing pants and toilet paper stuck to his fucking shoe.

So, from what he says, abrupt climate change is both real and it isn’t. That’s increasingly the binary universe Trump is weaving from quantum entanglements, a kind of “both…and” Heisenbergian uncertainty in which two opposing propositions can be equally true at the same time.

The President, among whose very first actions in office were to issue a series of executive orders removing controls on polluting emissions to air, land and water, permitting drilling in nature reserves and banning the publication of climate research, later gutting and defunding the agencies responsible by putting unqualified energy corporation lobbyists in charge of the environment, has forgotten all that. It never happened.

He finds no contradiction whatever, has no embarrassment at all in announcing to the assembled media gaggle (after, as he says, reading “some of the report”; The Pumpkin concurs that the title page may often provide a clue to the contents):

Right now we’re at the cleanest we’ve ever been and that’s very important to me. But if we’re clean, but every other place on Earth is dirty, that’s not so good.

“So I want clean air, I want clean water, very important.”

Do you sort of get the feeling from that, that he didn’t really make it past fourth-grade? He certainly hasn’t read the report, as the cartoon version is yet to come out. It’ll be on the Christmas books pile when it does. He doesn’t believe it. Only he does. It’s a hoax, only it may not be, “some differences”….

It’s the method-acted Presidential certainty with which he makes the most illogical, inarticulate and uninformed pronouncements that really grates, knowing his dumbfucks will lap-up any smelly brown substance that dribbles from his rotting brain.

So now, go back to my fourth paragraph and take back your “I say, steady on! He IS the President of the United States after all… He must know what he’s talking about…. Let’s have a return to civilized discourse, old chap….”

Fuck that, matey. He’s a monstrous cretin, a deranged criminal ecocide, a caricature Mussolini and phoney game-show host, a lifelong business confidence trickster and serial adulterer beloved of slimy Evangelical Christians, who has to be removed from office immediately, before he kills us all with his ignorance, his stupid and fatuous lies.

If you have to pay him money to go, just do it. It can’t cost more than he does.

 

GW: Has it all blown over yet?

30 November sees the official end of the Atlantic hurricane season. The total of three Category 4 or greater hurricanes making landfall in the continental USA in the past two years is an all-time record. Michael was among the four strongest in history. Hurricanes seem to be changing their patterns and tracks, too. “Hurricane Leslie maintained hurricane status … to a location where no hurricane had ever been observed: just 200 miles west of Portugal. 3 hours after being declared post-tropical, ex-Hurricane )70 mph) Leslie made landfall on the coast. Damage was over $115 million, making Leslie one of their costliest wind storms on record.” (Wunderground)

USA: Winter Storm Bruce brought bone-chilling temperatures to parts of the eastern half of the United States over Thanksgiving last week. Once again the anomalies look kind of weird, it being much warmer than normal again over the far-western half with a sharp gradient inbetween the two systems. At least 21 low-temperature records were broken (CEWN #146), prompting Trump to ask what had happened to global warming? A stupid question he trots out every winter. Monday 26th, Chicago was locked-in by a fierce snowstorm: O’Hare was closed, and traffic became gridlocked as far west as Kansas City.

01 December: hundreds of households in burned areas of California are being mandatorily evacuated and roads closed as torrential rain causes flash-flooding and dangerous mudslides. (The Weather Channel)

Saudi Arabia: Powerful storms have once again brought flooding to the desert kingdom, with Mecca especially badly hit on 24 Nov. These countries are always in the news but you never hear about the many extreme weather events affecting the Middle East this year. (CEWN #146)

Greece: Reporting a bakeries federation warning that bread prices and other flour-based products are about to rise by up to 6.5%, a local source states: “Unprecedented weather conditions in Europe and America, combined with high temperatures, prolonged drought and heavy rainfall, have led to a large decline in the production of agricultural products such as grains… The daily adds that price increases of 20% have been already recorded in bread and goods based on flour in some European cities.” (Keep Talking Greece website)

Which is odd, because most wheat growing areas reported bumper harvests and lower prices this year. Except Australia, where the harvest was slashed by 50% owing to the long drought. Late soya harvests in the USA have been severely hit by the early onset of winter. Russian moves to close the waterway through the Azov sea could affect up to 2 million tonnes of grain exports from Ukraine. (AgriCensus)

Australia: two days after being covered in orange dust blown in from the outback, “Sydney has been deluged by the heaviest November rain it has experienced in decades, causing flash-flooding, traffic chaos and power cuts. Heavy rain fell throughout Wednesday, the city at one point receiving its average monthly rainfall in two hours. At least 2 deaths have been blamed on the storm.” (BBC News) The first week of December sees over 100 fires burning in Queensland, where temperatures are expected to be up in the mid-40sC, +100sF. A cyclone is possibly forming off the coast: the State premier has warned people to “expect anything”. (Guardian)

The sands of time… Our Vanishing World… There is no hope whatever of surviving this…GW: Slip sliding away

Quote of the day:

“The man who was Brexit secretary until 10 minutes ago now reckons the Brexit deal is worse than staying in the EU. Yes, mate. The great spectacle of the past two and a half years has been watching allegedly very clever people realise this incredibly slowly.” – Marina Hyde, writing in The Guardian

 

“Is this rain, Jerry? You have rain here too? You know I melt in the rain. Is this the umbrella guy? Are there burgers? I like to give burgers. They like me to add a little tomato sauce. Where are all the people? I usually have people…. (etc.)”

 Rain Man visits Paradise, Ca.

 

The sands of time

Matthew Hedges, the British PhD research student gaoled for a minimum of 25 years in Abu Dhabi on espionage charges, has been offered the possibility of “clemency”, following a fairly robust intervention by the new British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

Update, 26 Nov.: Mr Hedges has been granted a “pardon” in the upcoming National Day list of prisoners to be freed and is expected home “once formalities have been completed”. This is far from the end of the story, however….

The BogPo suggests he was lucky Boris Johnson is not still the Foreign Secretary, the useless and lazy gumboil who sank the chances for release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British national imprisoned on trumped-up charges by the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, blurting out in Parliament that she was probably doing exactly what she was accused of (i.e. teaching Iranian women how to become citizen journalists).

A pardon from the Emir would of course require Mr Hedges to confirm the court’s perverse ruling that he is guilty, and presumably require him to sign an NDA on any mistreatment he has suffered.

Mr Hedges, attached to Durham University, was arrested while leaving the country, where he has lived on and off since the age of eight. Perhaps unwisely chosen, his research thesis was on the Arab Spring, to which end he had interviewed participants who might be seen to be controversial.

It is frankly quite easy for a noted conspiracymonger such as the BogPo to imagine that this story seems rather convenient, but we’ll press on….

After six weeks of enhanced conversations, allegedly, Hedges was held for six months in solitary confinement and is in delicate health. During his time in prison, under interrogation, he was forced to sign what turned out to be a confession.

The document was in Arabic, which his partner says he does not read. It’s the oldest play in the shithole countries’ police entrapment book. He was denied the benefit of a translator, or legal representation. The court in Dubai last week sentenced him to life after a five-minute hearing at which, again, he was allegedly denied representation or the right to make a defence; although he now has a court-appointed lawyer; and with international media interest generated by his partner, has come the FO’s belated intervention.

Dubai is not on the list of countries the British government likes to upset by confronting them over their pretty rank human rights record.

Any normal human briefly considering the case might conclude that someone who does not speak Arabic is not going to make a very good spy. These primitive desert dwellers are still entirely dependent on Western technology, so what exactly Mr Hedges was supposedly sent to spy on is not clear, given we’ve already got more of whatever it is than they have.

The Foreign Minister of Dubai has described the abysmal proceedings as the fair exercise of justice, but says the Emir might look favorably on an appeal. Frankly, we should lock up their ambassador and pull his toenails out. But that’s not how we do things: we just extract their oil money instead.

My advice to anyone thinking of visiting this luxury tourist trap – lots of shiny skyscrapers, flood-prone artificial island estates for Western celebrity taxdodgers, air-conditioned golf courses and indentured slave labor; nevertheless still home to tribal societies barely out of the Stone Age – country is, don’t. Why go, when you could summer in Margate? Don’t give them the satisfaction of your interest, your money.

Only, the fans of Manchester City have. Britain’s most up-and-come Premiership soccer club followers have reportedly rallied to the flag, the flag of Dubai that is. So happy are they about the scads of oil wealth that have pumped up their formerly failing kickabout enterprise with a plethora of hugely well-paid immigrant talent, that doubts are being raised on their Forum or whatever about Hedges.

It appears from what they are saying, that he must have been a spy after all.

And indeed, that is what the Emirati are saying. An official described Hedges as “50% PhD student, 50% businessman and 100% in the service of British intelligence”, claiming Hedges was trying to get information on the uptake of technology in the state – odd, since presumably one only had to look at the shopping lists they regularly send us.

Was there some tiny hint of a possible suggestion there, then, that Hedges was hoping to find out what, if any, shift in policy there may have been towards favoring China as a future trading partner, or some such possibility? Just speculatin’.

Anyway, the BogPo has detected one curious anomaly. In Hedges’ supposed “confession”. The BBC reported, he had claimed to be “a captain in MI6”. MI6 of course does not operate a system of military ranks, unlike the Russian GRU. Was this perhaps a piece of false information Hedges had inserted before disappearing forever into a Dubai dungeon, to draw attention to the absurdity of his statement and the compulsion under which it was made?

I doubt we shall know, as the detail has not subsequently been much mentioned, other than on the trite satirical BBC panel show, Have I Got News For You. Which I am sure is watched by many MI6 officials.

For a more cogent briefing on what to expect if you fall foul of the Emirati, go to:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/23/justice-uae-dubai-british-academic-matthew-hedges

 

Our vanishing world

Let’s pause for a second to pay tribute to John Allen Chau.

Okay, second over. This brainwashed American booby bribed some Indian fishermen, now being held in custody, to ferry him within kayaking distance of the shoreline of North Sentinel, one of the Andaman islands now owned by India. He stepped ashore brandishing his waterproof bible (the pernicious evangelical movement has thought of everything), singing hymns, and began immediately trying to convert the natives to Christianity, proferring gifts of a pair of scissors, some fish, and a soccer ball, according to his diary – all his grieving mother has left of him.

Was ever Jesus bartered so cheaply? Mr Chau wrote: “Lord, is this island Satan’s last stronghold where none have heard or even had the chance to hear your name?” And that, after 200 years of occupation by the British! These awful prodnoses not only need their heads examining, they need to be taught a little history.

The Sentinelese, as the tiny community of aboriginal tribespeople are called (because nobody knows what they call themselves) enjoy special protection, their numbers having been decimated by years of contact with the trigger-happy, disease-ridden Raj. Outsiders are forbidden by law from landing on the island. The authorities are now pondering what to do about collecting the remains of Mr Chau, perfunctorily St Sebastian’d with arrows and buried on the beach.

The Twittersphere’s verdict? Basically, good riddance. Retailing the tragic story, however, the Washington Post reminds us, Mr Jair Bolsonaro, the newly elected fascist President of Brazil, and a dead-ringer for Rudolf Hess, the Nazi war criminal, has a manifesto commitment to tear up the agreements permitting Amazonian tribes – roughly 100 are left – protected access to their reservations, as he licences more vast areas of the rainforest to be cut down and burned to make space for his business cronies to grow more soybeans to sell to China.

Mr Bolsonaro’s religion is, of course, money – lots of it. He was elected on a platform to end corruption. Why do voters fall for this bullshit every time? It is the best argument I know against extending the franchise to the common people, who do not, as the theory goes, possess even one ounce of native wisdom or percipience when it comes to the horrible bastards they regularly put in power in the pathetic belief that “strong leadership” will save them from the hopeless condition in which they are kept by the very same lying politicians they noisily support at election time.

It’s acknowledged to be one of life’s mysteries, why they do that.

 

Okay, BBC, get over it.

So you’ve discovered women.

Not only is veteran newsreader and Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce slated to take over from Dimbleby at Question Time, and the entirety of Radio 2 being presented by Zoe Ball and Sarah Cox, we now have perky standup, Lucy Porter “guesting” on R4 as presenter of The Now Show in place of Hugh Dennis.

But behind every successful woman there’s a little man, they say… the main writer’s credit still goes to Steve Punt.

 

“The efforts of King Cnut spring to mind.”

There is no hope whatever of surviving this

Anyone fancying that we can change our way of life just in time to prevent the coming Age of Extinction events needs to imagine that they are Mr Andy Southern, a resident of Bath Spa.

An elegant, compact Georgian city in the West of England, Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is being eaten away by pollution. Laid out long before the arrival of the horseless carriage, it sits in a hollow depression, where trapped traffic fumes contribute to a noxious atmosphere in which thousands of residents are suffering from asthma and other lung conditions. And Bath is a traffic nightmare.

The surrounding topography makes the construction of a bypass problematic. Solutions such as tunneling under the city are ruinously expensive. And so, on the direction of central government, that has legally binding emissions targets to meet, the council has proposed introducing a £9 a day charge; creating a low-emissions zone for diesel vehicles, just as there is in London, to help cut down toxic Nitrogen dioxide and micro-particulates; also, the pernicious Sulphur dioxide which, when combined with rain, is eroding the soft sandstone out of which the city was made.

Naturally, there is massive local oppostion to the proposal. Quoted in The Observer, one interviewee among many to voice similar sentiments, Mr Southern says:

“I have a diesel car that will fall foul of this. It’s going to cost me £2,200 a year. I agree we need to improve air quality but this scheme will hit families like mine.” (Guardian)

I agree we need to improve air quality but this scheme will hit families like mine… precisely encapsulates the irresolvable dilemma that is condemning the majority of species on earth, including our own, to extinction; certainly within 100 years, although the process has already begun, is fast speeding up and no-one knows how quickly the web of life and human society could collapse. Some scientists give it less than the next decade.

If you agree we need to improve air quality – I imagine Mr Southern has children – then what the fuck else does he suggest we do, than force diesel car drivers off the road? I’m sorry he can’t afford to switch to a car that runs on unleaded, I can’t either. Even that is not going to save us. He and I need to stop driving altogether and switch to public transport (I can no longer sit a bicycle saddle, thanks to an enlarged prostate). You do too.

But we won’t. Not until we’re all dead.

Bizarrely, in Washington the Trump administration is frantically backpedalling on its own 1400-page report, compiled from contributions from over 300 government scientists, that points in great and specific detail to ever-advancing environmental destruction, food shortages and huge economic damage from chaotic weather patterns and rising seas, toward a 2100 timeline for the end-time.

The response from the White House?

“The White House said the report – compiled with help from numerous US government agencies and departments – was inaccurate” (BBC News). A Trump person spokesplained that it fails to take into account the as-yet unproven assertion that technology will provide the solution just as long as we go on exactly as we are.

Having met with some skepticism toward Lyin’ Sarah’s version, the WH later amended its opposition to claim that the report’s conclusions were based on a worst-case scenario. They weren’t. Quite the opposite.

Meanwhile Trump continues to double-down on his fatuous denials, hailing the sharp arrival of winter in the eastern United States last week as evidence of his theory that climate change is probably a hoax, and if it isn’t it will soon reverse itself. This is a story that is apparently believed by 47% of Republican voters.

A “hoax” that was presumably therefore perpetrated way back in the 1880s when atmospheric warming by CO2 was first demonstrated and has persisted in secret among tens of thousands of scientists from many different disciplines and in many different institutions in dozens of countries, who have been warning us ever since, to no apparent purpose.

The efforts of King Cnut spring to mind.

With these petro-cretins in charge – the claim that the report is “inaccurate” is based on no evidence whatsoever, let alone scientific evidence – and with the prevailing social attitude – also evident in France, where popular riots have followed a proposed increase in fuel duty – that: “I know we have to change, but it will hurt me personally so I’m not going to”, there is no hope whatever of surviving this.

 

GW: Slip sliding away

Vietnam: Typhoon Usagi is just crossing the Vietnamese coast, Saturday 24 Nov., headed for Saigon. To the north, Typhoon Man-Yi is weakening as it approaches the Japanese islands, but the Philippines is threatened by a frontal system bearing torrential rain.

USA: Death toll in the Camp Fire that incinerated the town of Paradise now standing at 84, with 475 still unaccounted for. 14 thousand homes were destroyed. Torrential rain has turned the ash to sloppy concrete making the search for more bodies difficult. Warnings are out for mudslides on steep slopes denuded of tree cover. The fire is now 95% contained; the Woolsey Fire around Malibu to the south of LA is also nearly out, 1100 people still under evacuation orders and 3 confirmed dead.

Update 25 Nov. : the Camp Fire, deadliest in California’s history, is finally out.

This weekend marks the 68th anniversary of the great Appalachian snowstorm that dumped 64 inches over Coburn Creek, Pennsylvania between 22 and 28 November, 1950. Winds in New Hampshire gusted to 110 mph. The temperature in Pellston, Michigan fell to minus 23 F (-30.5C). “A curious extreme occurred in Virginia: the state’s monthly high in November 1950 of 90° at Buccs Island Dam on the 2nd and low of -3° F at Burkes Garden on the 25th were respectively the hottest and coldest temperatures ever measured during November in Virginia.” Between 160 and 350 people died. (Christopher Burt, Wunderground historian, proving that extreme weather is not always the product of a changing climate.)

Australia: “Australia’s east is facing a weather double whammy with both an unprecedented heatwave and flooding rains as two systems roll across the country. Cairns sweltered through its hottest day ever recorded as the mercury peaked at 41.3C. The forecast comes as bushfires punish Queensland with … an out-of-control “monster” blaze focused on the state’s central coastal area. Hundreds of residents have fled their homes.” (News.com.au) Meanwhile an atmospheric phenomenon, known as a gravity wave, has appeared over Melbourne. 100 mm of rain is anticipated in central New South Wales.

Bangladesh: Village women on the coastal margin too poor to afford the bribes to obtain building plots further inland are suffering a higher rate of miscarriages which, researchers believe, are caused by increasing salinity in their drinking water as rising sea-level displaces their fresh water sources and pollutes their crop-growing areas.

Europe: “Excessive” rainfall was again forecast for parts of SW France, Italy and the southern Balkans over the weekend. 4 tornadoes were confirmed touching down around Cortone in Calabria and up into Puglia on the afternoon of the 25th, video showing they were alarmingly large, causing significant damage, and produced several “big hail” events.

UK: A revised forecast from the Meteorological Office suggests that by 2070, summer temperatures across Britain will range from 0.9 to 5.9 degrees hotter, with a 1-in-2 chance of a summer as dry and hot as 2018. Average summer rainfall is predicted to be up to 47% lower. It’s amazing what you can come up with while playing pin the tail on the donkey.

Dust: What’s your preferred color? A huge wall of gray dust has engulfed the city of Zhongye in northwestern China, driven off the Gobi desert by strong westerlies. Sydney, Australia was choked with orange dust from the outback at the weekend. More red dust is to be found on Mars, where the latest NASA mission, the Insight Lander, was due to touch down Monday evening (26 Nov.)

The price of extinction… A footnote to history… It’s the reel thing… GW: sifting through the ashes of Trump’s conflagrated brain

From BBC News website, 20 Nov.:

“People trapped in a falling lift in the US city of Chicago thought they were going to die as they plummeted 84 floors to the ground. Those aboard screamed, prayed and cried, reports said.

“You may also be interested in:

  • Mystery of wombats’ cubed poop revealed”

 

The air is so hot ahead of the fire that palm trees burst into flames like torches in a Malibu garden as smoke darkens the daytime sky and the Woolsey fire bears down on an expensive villa property. (David McNew/Getty, with apologies again) Is this where we’re all headed?

The price of extinction

Even as thousands of Extinction Rebellion protestors link hands to block London’s bridges and are carted off to choki by the dozen, another protest tells a different story on the other side of the Channel.

If proof is needed that there is no possibility or even a glimmer of a possibility of a hope that the human race can be persuaded to change its way of life along with the climate, before the refugees are throwing themselves on the razor wire under the machine-guns and the food riots are breaking out amid empty supermarket shelves, it is surely this.

One protestor was killed, hit by a car, and many injured in other incidents acrosss France, as 120 thousand people wearing yellow safety gilets took to the streets to block traffic in protest at an increase in fuel duty proposed by the Macron government. All the injuries were caused by furious drivers pushing impatiently through picket lines. One 71 year-old man is in a serious condition.

The price of a liter of diesel in France is still 6p lower than it is Britain (except on our famously expensive motorway network, where you will pay greedy petroliers a 12p to 15p/l premium). Crediting AFP, the BBC reports:

“The price of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in French cars, has risen by around 23% over the past 12 months to an average of €1.51 (£1.32; $1.71) per litre, its highest point since the early 2000s. World oil prices did rise before falling back again but the Macron government raised its hydrocarbon tax this year by 7.6 cents per litre on diesel and 3.9 cents on petrol, as part of a campaign for cleaner cars and fuel.”

The protestors are up in arms about a further 6% increase Macron has proposed for January, claiming the price of oil has fallen; although actually, it’s been going up. (Oops, no, it’s just plunged 7% again today and the markets are jittery.) They’ve called on Macron to resign as he “doesn’t have the interests of the people at heart”.

A new report in The Lancet meanwhile suggests that the developing lung capacity of urban children is reduced by 5% when they are exposed to daily levels of NO2, the main pollutant gas from diesel fuel, higher than the WHO standard, as children are in most European cities; and that this will shorten life expectancy, leading on to lung disease and a generally unhealthier population. It also impedes brain development. A recent Chinese study revealed too that CO2 can reduce cognitive ability in 60-year-old adults by about a year’s worth of schooling. The CO2 burden in the atmosphere at more than 405 parts per million has not been this high in the last 1.5 million years.

But no, M. Macron doesn’t have the nation’s interests at heart. No proud freeborn Gauloise-smoking Beaujolais-glugging Horse-chewing Sitting-around-in-cafes-discussing-philosophy Accordion-squeezing Stripy-top-and-beret-wearing Frenchman is going to be told he has to breathe cleaner air.

 

Daybreak

Today is World Toilet Day (19 November).

 

A footnote to history

Three unusable water cannon bought by Boris Johnson from the German police when he was mayor of London to control potentially riotous crowds have been sold for scrap, at a net loss of more than £300,000. (Guardian)

The 25-year-old vehicles cost £85,022 each in 2014, but were found to be riddled with faults and required expensive modification to make them roadworthy. It then turned out, it was illegal to drive them on London’s streets as they did not meet emissions standards.

After struggling for months to find a buyer meeting the original contractual conditions of the sale, i.e. that they were not to be sold to a repressive regime (such as the Johnson government to come?), after it appeared that not even an oppressive regime would want them, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, who promised in his election manifesto that he would donate the sale money to children’s causes, has given up the unequal struggle.

The ageing vehicles fetched a total of £11 thousand for their scrap value, but the money falls far short of the cost of maintaining them for three years.

The BogPo feels there is comedy gold in this story, if anyone cares to write it. Just the thought that this blundering, bloviating incompetent oaf could be our next Prime Minister fills an entire nation with dread, on whichever side of the deepening political divide you stand.

Another footnote:

UKIP’s latest leader, the preposterous Gerard Batten has appointed the pseudonymous “Tommy Robinson” (aka former English Defence League führer Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) to advise the party on Muslim grooming gangs, several of which have already been sentenced this year to lengthy terms in gaol; and on prison policy, which (having considerable experience) he regards as an abuse of his freedom to speak out against the “replacement” of the white race by Muslims.

Batten – who has compared the publicity-hungry midget to Gandhi – said: “I have appointed Tommy Robinson to be a personal special adviser on two subjects which he has great knowledge (sic). It is not necessary for him to be a party member in order to assist me in this role. I am looking forward to working with him.”

“Robinson has convictions for assault, drugs and public order offences, and has been jailed for mortgage fraud and for using someone else’s passport to travel to the US. He is awaiting a decision on his contempt of court retrial, which was referred last month to the attorney general for review.” (Guardian)

Of course, people can change. Not always for the better, but hey.

Batten raises shades of PG Wodehouse’s ludicrous character Roderick Spode and his “Blackshorts”. Having been dragged somewhere to the right of 1930s Germany’s National Socialists, too toxic even for founder Nigel Farage, the former party of middle-class protest, UKIP is surely a busted flush.

It is, isn’t it?

Please say it is.

The seaside town of Mexico Beach on 17 Oct., after Hurricane Michael’s 165 mph winds raised sea level by 18 feet. (Wunderground – Scott Olsen/Getty, with apologies) 45 residents died after refusing to evacuate.

 

Out of his 668 days in office, Trump has spent 159 playing golf, and over 250 visiting his own properties with a full security detail, at the taxpayers’ expense. He later claimed he was “too busy” to attend the annual Veterans’ Day ceremony at Arlington cemetery. White House officials later confirmed that he feared the effects of the heavy rain on his complicated combover.

 

“I just wish eBay would stop emailing me five times a day…”

It’s the reel thing

So, I waited four days and fourteen something hours, and to my surprise got home to find I was the beneficial owner of an Akai 4000D reel-to-reel tape recorder. Throughout that time, no-one had been bidding much near to what I reckoned might be an okay maximum bid to work from; but when the second bidder came up short my bid was dropped £10 and I’d won.

I’ve never bought anything on eBay before; and to be absolutely honest, after I’d missed the previous item I’d bid for, I’d just stuck in a bid not expecting to win, on the very next machine to come along – without realizing quite how many more fish there were in the sea, many of them more advanced and desirable and with reasonable buy-it-now prices.

Still, it’s been completely refurbished, and comes with a supply of tapes – mostly used, I gather – so my doubts and fears about buying stuff unseen this way should hopefully come to nothing. Secondhand reel-to-reel tape recorders mostly date from the 1970s and the moving components and record/playback heads are generally worn-out, you have to be careful. But the list of things the vendor had replaced and the technical description gave me confidence.

I just wish eBay would stop emailing me five times a day, inviting me to bid for more reel-to-reel tape recorders. I’ve already got one now, thanks! How many fucking reel-to-reel tape recorders can anyone use? (No, sorry, “unsubscribe” doesn’t work, it only encourages them.)

So, why do I need a reel-to-reel recorder in the digital age, when I have an excellent Zoom H4N handheld recorder that can make professional quality stereo recordings? It’s one of those stories. Reduced to its essentials, a) I’ve been wanting to make an album of songs, but with that slightly imperfect but warmer quality with greater bandwidth you got in the old days. Days when, b) I used to work as a producer using analog equipment and now have no faith in my ability to operate digitally.

For it is a truth sadly told, that I am unable to find on this machine, whatever it is that I have just recorded.

An Oldie rants

Everything digital and Smart is a gross mess of overcomplication, taking weeks or months to learn. I can’t be bothered. I imagine teams of marketing people and designers sitting around an endless conveyor-belt of off-the-wall, blue-sky ideas, to include this useful feature and that, another and – just in case – ten more.

It’s called “product differentiation”, the joke being that everyone has the same winning ideas, so that you end up with loads of virtually identical products to choose between, all replete with this and that user-friendly add-on or bundled apps you will never use, or a settings menu you really don’t need, whose obscure terminology you don’t understand.

I don’t understand what nine-tenths of the features do. Record-Rewind-Playback is all you need, with a volume pot. The rest of your balancing and mixing and splicing and special-effects and pitch-altering trickery can be done in studio, if you must. Why clutter your portable handheld machine with editing facilities no-one over 50 can understand?

In my view, industrial designers ought to be forced to live with their products for a year before companies are allowed to sell them. Free psychiatric support would be provided. Designers would soon realize that those ironic little postmodern touches, like disguising the on-off switch as a piece of the casing, can actually drive anyone over the age of 50 round the bend; reminding us of our irrelevance in the modern world.

Last year’s must-have feature on the iPad, for instance. No headphone jack! And this year, no Home button. My favorite of all time however is the Alfa Romeo 156, a saloon car whose rear-door handles, to make it look like a really cool 2-door sports coupé, were hidden in the roof trim.

Form should follow function, is my motto.

And if you imagine fingerprint and facial recognition are there for your security, you’re living on another planet. They are there to save wasting scarce police resources.

But what to make of the increasing volume of importunate demands for money?

From the Washington Post, with its $90 no-free-options paywall; Accuweather, that offers you a choice: take the ads or pay for the content; to the Guardian, whose owners are sitting on a cash pile worth £800 million and is in line to make £1 million profit this year, absolutely plastering its main menu and every story with long-winded explanations for why people should send money by the sackload, to every petition-mongering charity that hooks you with an innocuous request for a signature over some injustice and immediately hits you with a funding appeal…

Your Uncle Bogler would propose to investigate setting up a Patreon account, were it not for the strange fact that almost nobody reads this stuff, even though it’s good – and free.

Postscriptum

He did investigate a Patreon account, and immediately got dragged into a terrifying vortex of overcomplication. He only wanted a simple donate button and a secure page to feed the money into his account; instead he got six trial business plans and many levels of membership with incomprehensible benefits. He will in future stick to PayPal, thanks for donating, btw.

As if to emphasize the fact that joining Patreon is the equivalent of being sucked up in a Roswell alien tractor-beam, I have received an email just now, exhorting me to “customize your onboarding process”. Wtf, is all I can say.

 

Leavers on the line

A mass survey by the University of Cambridge and YouGov found that 31% of UK “Leave” voters believe there is a government plot to replace the British population with Muslims. 15% think the world is run by a secret cabal.

 

Unholy row

Suing Netflix for $50 million, the Satanic Temple organization has agreed undisclosed damages for copyright infringement over an image of a winged goat that appears in “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”, a reboot childrens’ TV series.

Satanic Temple, which claims 100 thousand followers, recorded a huge increase in applications in the weeks following the election of Donald Trump. The group holds Satan as a symbol of “opposition to arbitrary authority”. (BBC News)

Paradise, Cal. after the Camp Fire swept through, killing at least 79 people and destroying 7 thousand homes. The terrifying speed of the fire-spread was described as “one football field every second”. 700 are still missing.

GW: sifting through the ashes of Trump’s conflagrated brain

USA: With the discovery of more charred remains, the death toll from the Camp Fire that swept over the town of Paradise, Cal. (pop 27,000) last week has risen to 79. 700 people still remain unaccounted for, although authorities are hoping many were simply dispersed and have not come forward. Thousands too remain in temporary shelters and camps, refugees in their own country. The fire is still only 80% contained, although said to be burning now “in pockets”. 9 thousand firefighters continue to battle fires throughout the drought-stricken state. The death toll in the Woolsey fire in Ventura County has risen to 3. (BBC)

Meanwhile Trump is on the stump in California, still blaming the forestry service for the fires (apparently, he saw some firefighters on Fox News raking out brushwood and fulminated that they should have done it earlier, the way Finland does (the Finnish president has denied telling Trump any such thing). His administration last year slashed $633 million from the budgets of the responsible departments to pay for tax cuts for the rich, while many of the areas worst affected come under Federal agency management, not the local forestry service. But you can’t tell him anything; he’s too stupid to even know when he doesn’t know something.)

Sacramento, California had the worst air pollution of any major city on Earth on Friday. On Saturday, the anti-honor for most polluted city went to Oakland. Cooler, rainy weather arriving yesterday has handed the honors back to New Delhi and Beijing this week. (Wunderground) The increasing heavy rain has forced many fire evacuees living in tents to seek shelter anew. The total damage could be as much as $20 billion.

In the east, near-record cold temperatures are expected to put a dampener on Thanksgiving Day celebrations. 5F below was the coldest in New York since 1871. Blizzards are forecast going into the weekend. (Accuweather)

Canada: There are still some 30 fire ‘hotspots’ showing on the current map, all in British Columbia where they had a record fire season again, with a few more south of the border in Washington and Oregon (just checkin’). Getting up-to-date information is difficult, however: Canadians are a famously logical, plodding race of people, and when they say the fire season ends at the start of October, it ends – the information websites shut down and the firefighters go home.

Otherwise the east coast has been suffering record low temperatures for November; around one and a half meters of snow has blanketed Quebec, according to one report – other reports claim 15 cm.

Peru: Flash flooding and mudslides in mountain districts have killed 1 person, following heavy rains affecting San Martín, Huánuco and Cusco regions, for the third year in a row. Many rivers have burst their banks; at the 133m level the Huallaca river in San Martin is on Orange alert and around 500 homes have been evacuated. (Floodlist)

Vietnam: “On the heels of deadly Tropical Storm Toraji, a budding tropical storm will bring a renewed risk of flooding and mudslides to Vietnam later this week.” (Accuweather) At least 13 people are dead after landslides destroyed homes and buried victims in mountain villages near the resort city of Nha Trang on Sunday (AP). 4 others missing. 380 mm (15 inches) of rain fell in 18 hours on 18 Nov. There’s been extensive flooding too in southern Thailand, with 3 confirmed dead. (CEWN #145)

Philippines: 1 dead confirmed in landslides and flash floods from Tropical Depression Samuel.

Australia: Parts of drought-stricken northern New South Wales were affected by a massive red dust storm yesterday, 20 Nov. Another huge dust storm is threatening the cities of Canberra and Sydney. In New Zealand, a large tornado touched down near Canterbury, on the south island. There were no casualties.

Iceland: While the rest of Europe appears to be cooling down after last week’s exceptionally warm spell in the north, and the weather has started to look remarkably normal, albeit with “significant snowfall” expected for large parts of southeastern and eastern Europe over the next several days, with extremely heavy rain over lower-lying areas to the south of it, posing a flood threat to parts of Greece, Iceland remains this weekend at anything up to a disturbing 18 degrees C, with heavy rain forecast. (Meteo World/Severe-weather.eu) The extreme warm anomaly is expected to persist over Greenland and across to the far north of Scandinavia, anything up to 30C above normal, for several more days.

Italy: Heavy snow in the north of the Balkans, Austria and the Alps being balanced by “excessive” rainfall in southern Balkans and central Italy, with “enhanced risk” of flooding. (Severe-weather.eu, 19 Nov.) A huge “unusual” waterspout came ashore in Salerno, on the SW coast today (20 Nov.) but little damage was reported.

Spain: “Locally intense storms will produce persistent torrential rainfall, resulting in locally 100+ mm of rainfall over the next 48-72 hours.” (Severe-weather.eu, 19 Nov.) These intense storms extending down into North Africa have been characteristic of the past three months in the Mediterranean region. In Catalonia, 1 person has died and many were injured when a landslide caused by heavy rain derailed a train. “Heavy rain over the past few days in the north of Spain too has caused flooding and landslides. A woman died on Sunday after a river flooded in the north-western Galicia region.

On Saturday, 20-foot ocean waves swept through the city streets of La Palma, Tenerife, flooding ground floors and tearing away the balconies of a seaside apartment building. (Guardian) Forecasters warn of torrential rainstorms to follow later in the week, with possibly as much as 7 in. of rain over the weekend. Southern Spain too is on Yellow alert.

UK: “sleet, hail, strong Easterly winds and snow will strike Britain this week, marking an end to the unusually mild start to November.” (BBC Weather) Up to 4 inches of snow could cover the Scottish highlands. Wintry weather is expected to last into December with temperatures at night falling to -5C. (The Sun) Boglington however continues dry and sunny.

Turkey: Intense rainfall brought extreme flooding to the city of Bodrum, in southern Turkey, on the 17th, with damage to property and cars. (CEWN #145) A damaging waterspout hit Marmaris, Mugla province, southwestern Turkey, 21 Nov. The waterspout impacted the marina, overturning, lifting and displacing yachts and cars. No injuries have been reported.

Middle East: Footage emerges with an extremely belated Climate & Extreme Weather News #145 of a terrifying storm that inundated Kuwait City in the UAE on 06 Nov., of flash flooding in Jordan that killed 13 people around the ancient rock-carved canyon city of Petra, and of flooding in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital, on 09 Nov..

Pollution: 4 in 10 parents of school-age children in London have moved house or are contemplating moving and/or changing their children’s schools as a result of local air pollution monitoring surveys, according to Mumsnet. A report in this month’s Lancet finds that city children on average lose 5% of their potential lung capacity when fully grown to damage caused by Nitrogen dioxide and particulates from diesel fumes, leaving them exposed to higher rates of lung disease.

Habitat loss: The Labour-controlled Welsh Assembly is reported to be on the verge of approving a £2 bn motorway bypass for the congested M4 around Newport. The preferred route of the new road, being justified on the grounds that it will enable more EU freight traffic to transit the country from the Channel ports to the Irish sea crossings at Milford Haven and Fishguard, not benefiting Wales in any way, will devastate the Gwent Levels, a habitat-rich wetland area of unique species diversity in Britain. (Guardian Green Light)

The decision is being taken in flagrant disregard of last week’s UN report warning that, in addition to a growing number of total extinctions that threaten to tear apart the web of life, 60% of the populations of most vertebrate species on earth have vanished since the 1970s, and recommending that world governments take immediate, urgent remedial action to restore and protect lost habitat. Wake up, Cardiff Bay.

A report on the Arctic News website refers to new research showing that rapid species collapse could begin by September 2019 owing to an El Niño event creating up to 5C warming. The research indicates that the majority of plant and animal species cannot survive at a temperature of more than 23.7C (10C above 1750). It shows too that rapid extinction is accelerated by “co-extinctions” of interdependent species, however hardy they may be. Record methane levels are once again being detected over the Arctic, even as winter advances.

 

The Big Bang

Yellowstone: Did we mention Steamboat #29 before? Losing count. The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, Yellowstone Lake area is showing its highest uplift level ever.

The giant Fuego volcano in Guatemala has erupted for the fifth time this year.

Book choice: “Brexit daze” – a BogPo Longish Essay

Book choice: A BogPo Longish Essay

“Peter Shore MP, the most persistent Labour party critic of Europe, during the 1975 referendum took up this theme: ‘What the advocates of membership are saying … is that we are finished as a country; that the long and famous story of the British nation and people has ended; that we are now so weak and powerless that we must accept terms and conditions, penalties and limitations almost as though we had suffered defeat in a war.’ It was a masochistic rhetoric that would return in full force as the Brexit negotiations failed to produce the promised miracles.”

Brexit daze

I believe I can safely recommend a new book I have read only in a lengthy extract today (16 Nov.) on the Guardian website.

Heroic Failures, Brexit and the Politics of Pain, by the brilliant Irish Times journalist Fintan O’Toole, cleverly analyses the mentality behind the Brexit vote as a peculiar form of British national paranoia, arguing that many Britons see the EU perversely through a special kind of lens as a symbol of the defeat we didn’t suffer during the Second World War. A war whose filmic and literary tropes we seem entirely bound up in still.

Many masochistically wish we had lost – or, despite the bumsqueaking victory, wish we had more nearly lost, allowing us the opportunity to gloriously resist the invasion that never came – an opportunity of which treacherous British collaborators with the European Project have since deprived us by surrendering to economic forces, that are so easily confused in the din of war with force of arms.

The outcome of the war for many was insufficiently decisive, leaving a lingering resentment that has wormed its way into the national psyche. As I have occasionally mentioned, we seem to be getting bored with too much peace.

Judging by Comments on the many news threads that dribble towards the bottom of thousands of pages of more considered analysis – even the idea of consideration seems to infuriate these people – “Leavers” tend to see the EU as the ultimate triumph of the Third Reich, constantly referring to Hitler, the war, and how “we won it” to justify their obtuse facial expressions. Britain’s accession to the Treaty of Rome in 1973 was a betrayal of British values and a thousand years of history; in terms of what many refuseniks at the time called an “unconditional surrender” to German dominance in Europe; the British always seeing any move towards European unity through the wrong end of the binoculars, as some kind of dangerous conspiracy against us. And now, here we are, crushed under their heel. It’s too bad!

It doesn’t appear to have occurred to Leavers that 27 other European nations (as defined by geography), all with their own national mythologies, separate cultures and histories, all proudly declaring their own sovereignty, blood and soil, seem perfectly happy to be part of something greater than themselves. Even the Greeks and the Italians, the Irish and the Portuguese, at the mercy from time to time of ruthless German bankers and Euro-based capital flight, busily electing hyper-nationalist governments behind the barbed wire, have nevertheless declared that whatever the pain, they are better off in than out.

Yet here we are, doing okay, mostly, deliberately damaging our national interest for generations to come – if the climate allows any. Why?

Of course it’s not perfect. It’s only been going for 60 years, two generations. That’s not even a history. And every economy has its ups and downs. How easily we have forgotten that during her reign, Margaret Thatcher presided over two damaging economic recessions of the government’s own making.

This bolshy “We saved you in the war, so don’t think you can tell us what to do”, “put the kettle on, mother”, backs-to-the-wall, Dad’s Army, music-hall monologues nostalgia is, however, nothing new. During the brief pause between the two halves of the Civil War, in the mid-1640s the Levellers, a proto-socialist movement, and more specifically those who came to be known as the Diggers, campaigned vociferously against what they saw as the Norman yoke – the Normans having conquered Britain all of 600 years previously, they argued (while rebelliously, like Corbyn, planting vegetables in protest on newly privatized land), had nevertheless established a kind of supranational foreign dominance alien to the true culture and values of the Anglo-Saxon laboring man.

(Even 800 years has not been long enough to persuade a section of the Welsh that the conquest by Edward 1, having imposed an unjust colonial settlement by the English, is not still to be resisted, if only on the rugby pitch. Living here, but without a trace of correct DNA, I have several times been accused over some innocuous remark of being a colonialist, having patently refused to master the convoluted native tongue. Maybe they’ve got a point….)

Interviewed in a sidebar story also in today’s Guardian, some shopworkers in a Shrewsbury organic fruit & veg store perfectly illustrate O’Toole’s thesis. On the basis of absolutely no evidence of their irrational prejudices, and being as they are at least two, possibly three generations removed from the fighting, they nevertheless trot out all the old, familiar tabloid newspaper, comic-book tropes, such as:

“I voted out in 2016 and I’d vote out again if it came to it. I don’t know many people who would change their vote (polling shows Remainers are now in the majority and 20% of former Leavers would prefer to Remain… Ed.). We pay out too much money to the EU, we should be running our country ourselves.” And: “We’re better off leaving. There are too many foreigners around here. They are taking our jobs, getting the houses. That’s one of the main reasons I voted for Brexit.”

Time and again, such beliefs – founded apparently in perfect ignorance of the actual relationship between Britain and the EU – have been countered by a welter of facts and statistics, to no avail. European communautarianism is not taught in our schools.

If our opinion was ever sought, and valued without insult and cacophony, a Remainer such as myself might argue with those simple shopgirls as follows:

At the end of the war, that we so nearly didn’t survive, much of Europe lay in ruins. Seven million internally displaced German refugees were on the borderline of starvation, women selling their bodies for Hershey bars. Barely any women east of the Rhine under the age of 70 had escaped the Russian army’s campaign of mass rape. Millions more were in camps and in need to resettlement.

The European Union, a development of the original Coal and Steel Agreement, that in 1957 under the Treaty of Rome became the European Economic Community of six nations, was founded by eleven postwar visionaries, survivors of the Nazi occupations; among whom can be counted our own Winston Churchill. It was never a “German plot” to take over where Hitler had failed! An agreement for economic co-operation, the founders – Jean Monnet, Robert Schumann, Konrad Adenauer and others – intended that never again should the dominance of any one European nation descend into armed conflict; such as a war in which, some estimates suggest, as many as 80 million people died.

That aim of preventing the rise of any one nation over its neighbours through the checks and balances of economic and legislative union has always sat uneasily with the British, who naturally regard ourselves as the superior culture, forever maintaining the balance of power across the channel – by force, if necessary – sorting out the kids in the playground. We resent bitterly, the notion that we pay taxes to a supranational entity of garlic-munching foreigners, over whom we perceive we have too little or no control; although whose fault is that?

Under the American nuclear umbrella, that arguably threatens us with annihilation in the event of war with the Eastern powers, a two-edged sword, the Union has helped to maintain peace and stability and occasionally faltering economic prosperity in Europe for over 60 years. If Germany has become the controlling power in the EU, it is only because we have relinquished that role through the reluctance of a tendency of stubbornly nationalist politicians in Westminster to co-operate fully with the institutions of which we have been a member since 1973.

As members of the community we still run our country ourselves, within a framework of improving co-operation with our European neighbours – who still run their own countries themselves. No member country (apart from Belgium, obviously!) is in any sense “ruled” from Brussels by “unaccountable” bureaucrats, many of whom are British civil servants. Elections are held to a European parliament, but it does not “rule” the UK; it governs the affairs of the community as a whole, in conjunction with the Council of Europe. There is no real impetus towards a federal European “superstate”; even M. Macron’s idea of a pan-European defense force to back-up NATO and relieve the burden on America is viewed everywhere with alarm.

Our membership fees are calculated proportionately to our annual GDP, ensuring we can well afford them. What is causing too many Britons to go hungry is not the EU, it’s the sovereign will of the Tory government. Half the fees are returned to us in the “rebate”; and we benefit from added-value arrangements such as regional development grants, the much-criticized Common Agricultural Policy, that supports British farmers; and from automatic memberships of many scientific, industrial, academic and cultural co-operative organizations. Those will not be available as benefits of the kind of external trading alliances such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the World Trade Organization that Brexiteers talk about joining, once we leave. For British scientists, academics and even musicians, our departure is a disaster.

We may see an end, too, to co-operative projects such as those that have benefited us, along with everyone: Airbus, Concorde, the Channel tunnel, Galileo GPS, the European Space Agency. Our proposed withdrawal from UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural organization, will double-down on our isolation from the currents of global thought and research. Brexit is a dangerous, go-it-alone project with no certain future, dreamed up by ambitious politicians and City gamblers who financed the Leave campaign and stand to profit from it. The indications are, too, that Russian money may have been behind it, as Mr Putin seeks to destabilize Western institutions.

When they talk about “sovereignty”, they mean theirs – not yours or mine.

We still do make our own laws (Blair’s three governments introduced over three thousand new laws), our courts still rule on them; the vilified European Court of Justice is only a court of last resort, British judges sit on it too, and 95% of its decisions have gone in favor of British higher and Supreme Court judgements. Are we arguing that British courts can never be wrong? Or that they should be the final arbiter when issues of wider EU law apply? The ECJ really does not prevent us from expelling foreign criminals and jihadis without good legal reason! We have, or had, full representation and a respected position in the courts and councils of Europe. That’s now being thrown away.

Many of our own laws have been imposed (benignly, one hopes) vice-versa on our European partners, by mutual agreement. The EU has agreed rules. We’ve accepted product standardization, to the benefit of our industries, enabling more inward investment; quality and safety regulations and environmental standards, to the benefit of British workers and consumers. The City of London is pre-eminent: a vast hive of international financial trading. That position is now threatened. Our trading agreements are mutually beneficial: the EU does not prevent us from trading with more than 60 external “third” countries, under a framework of rules and tariffs that gives British exporters better, more risk-free access than other, global frameworks ever will.

Under President Trump, a rogue agent with close ties to Putin, our American “allies” meanwhile are busily seeking to dismantle the very international trade organizations and treaty alliances our Brexiteers hoped to join, in order to protect their own industries and services; removing banking regulations, for instance, that were imposed after the global financial crash they triggered in 2007; overinflating the dollar and instigating a damaging trade war against China. That’s not looking good for us, unprotected as we shall be outside the European Union. With its 450 million consumers, Europe is by far our largest market, where we can trade freely and without customs barriers we will now have to reimpose.

The vast majority of migrant workers and specialists from Europe who come here under the civilizing influence of free movement, one of the so-called “four pillars” of the community, are vital to the running of a successful UK economy, as our population is ageing. There is no evidence whatever that European migrants take our jobs away, enjoy privileged housing and other benefits or somehow dilute our British racial stock. Freedom of movement has also enabled millions of British workers, managers, specialists and retirees to live and work and travel and marry freely in Europe.

That’s another privilege we’re losing, to our great detriment and theirs. Many people, especially the younger generation, now consider ourselves “European British” by nationality, and bitterly resent the narrow, nationalistic, majoritarian Leave vote that is arbitrarily and without authority or legal standing – without asking us – depriving us of our identity and citizen privileges outside the UK. Leavers, I suspect, will soon feel unhappy queuing to get in and out of the country at non-EU transit channels. They will have become second-class citizens just 26 miles from the White Cliffs of Dover.

We have not “lost control of our borders”; an idiotic Eurosceptic “meme”. We are not signatories to the Schengen agreement, which guarantees open borders within the EU. We impose tight restrictions on non-EU immigration under what is being viewed by many in view of appalling Home Office excesses as an unfair and oppressive visa-based system that has led to absurd anomalies like the growing shortage of doctors and nurses in the NHS; or the deportation and non-readmittance of many Caribbean postwar “citizens by invitation”, who were given no papers to prove their right to remain when they arrived as much-needed labor in the 1950s and 60s, who settled and have British families.

Immigration numbers are cruelly distorted by Theresa May’s dogmatic insistence on counting-in the hundreds of thousands of foreign students, who bring much-needed additional revenue to our universities, as immigrants – even though the vast majority return to their home countries. Numbers are already falling as a result of Brexit, which seems to have licensed more violent attacks and abuse against non-native speakers. Are you happy about that?

Non-EU migration is not affected in any way by our EU membership. So if you object to seeing black or brown people in our streets, leaving the EU is not going to change anything. Even for EU arrivals, many of whom have been here for ten or twenty years, obtaining British residency or citizenship is increasingly difficult and expensive. Visas are already subject to ludicrously high bars – I have never in my life earned as much money as you would need to be earning before you could apply for a Tier One visa as a skilled worker.

The border is tightly controlled, both externally and internally, with much bureaucracy and multi-stage supervision of passport ID – not supposedly necessary within the EU. Border Force operations are conducted against “illegals” who, unless granted asylum – increasingly difficult, as application is expensive and legal aid no longer available – are automatically deported. Asylum-seekers are not allowed to work and must remain in hostels, living on £37 a week – and so cannot be taking British jobs and housing. We have one of the most sophisticated and intrusive State surveillance systems in the world to keep an eye on everyone.

How on earth our “borders” (there is only one!) could be more tightly controlled is never explained. It is only code for “We want you to think there are too many foreigners in the country”. But without them, the economy would be worse off.

“Brussels. It’s worse than Nazi Germany”…. Boris is talking out of his expansive arse. The history of the Second World War doesn’t really show that Britain “stood alone against the Nazi menace”; rather, it took a huge co-operative effort by a loose alliance of resistance fighters, exiles and volunteers and free national armies from all over Europe, Asia and the Commonwealth, plus massive military and industrial interventions by the USA and the USSR, to simultaneously defeat a resurgent Germany and an expansionist Japan. It was a “world war”, not one confined to the heroic defense of Walmington-on-Sea. No one is doubting anyone’s courage and endurance in that grim endeavor, not even the enemy’s; but the fantasy of British exceptionalism is a damaging national myth we would all be better off without.

All water off a duck’s back. If the girls in the fruit section had their way, the British resistance would have people like me shot as collaborators.

O’Toole quotes a Thatcher friend and minister, Old Etonian Nick Ridley, interviewed in the Spectator in the 1980s that the European monetary system (the Euro) being introduced by the EU was “all a German racket designed to take over the whole of Europe … I’m not against giving up sovereignty in principle, but not to this lot. You might as well give it to Adolf Hitler, frankly … I’m not sure I wouldn’t rather have the shelters and the chance to fight back than simply being taken over by economics.”

You see, for many people our relations with continental Europe are still defined entirely by the war. Thatcher herself, O’Toole reminds us, spoke of the Falklands conflict in terms of restoring Britain’s greatness, giving new life to the metaphors of retreat and invasion.

“We have ceased to be a nation in retreat,” she said, implying that the nation had been precisely that for a long time. “Why,” she asked, “do we have to be invaded before we throw aside our selfish aims and begin to work together … ?”

Sentiments echoed many years later by the fatuous oaf, Boris Johnson reminding Britons of how we stood alone against the devilish European unifying forces of Hitler and Napoleon. And to remind everyone, “we” hadn’t been invaded! The Falklands conflict was touch-and-go, just like every other war involving the under-prepared British, the government and the media propaganda machine having made of the Falklands a fragile microcosm of halcyon prewar British society (flag-waving, English-speaking white-skinned cabbage-boilers with a village-green culture and red post-boxes), and not an occupied group of wind-blasted islands off the coast of Argentina, with more sheep than people.

There too, in that limited small-scale conflict we came within a hairsbreadth of defeat by a vastly inferior foe backed only by the logic of geography; near-defeat and the triumph of improvisation being absolutely necessary to the myth of historic British actions.

Significantly, as with Suez the Americans didn’t want to be dragged in, any more than we’d wanted to get involved in Vietnam. So much for the Special Relationship.

It’s frankly bizarre, a Jingoistic fantasy, a distortion of history, but it seems unlikely that a section of the British public in their race memory will ever get over the disaster of the Second World War. A disaster, because we were on the winning side at a time when we were already losing an empire and our dominant role in the world. The Commonwealth was scant consolation; a bunch of uppity, inferior black countries we’d once ruled over, who didn’t appreciate us any longer.

Winning the war left us weakened and economically – psychologically – unable to compete with the Marshall-plan-aided German Gewirtschsaftswünder when it came. The aim was to avoid the dangerous resentment of a defeated people whom we had seen after the First World War turn to a resurgent nativism based on violent racial myths. (Co-operation was not an option, apparently!)

That that was precisely where our US allies wanted us to be – and still do – is never much considered. Nor is the parallel, enormously successful economic experiment the US constructed with their erstwhile enemy, after the even more bitter Pacific war against Japan; an example of trust-building which we failed to follow in Europe; to our detriment.

Exulting in our insularity, a certain section of the British public clings to our brief moment of triumph in 1945, all the tropes of survival against overwhelming odds lived over and over again as a vindication of our furious impotence in the modern world. For a nation built on trade, we still look to force of arms and an indomitable, churlish spirit as the primary British virtues. But we couldn’t even hold on to Basra.

Instead, the 21st-century reality is that we are a relatively prosperous, settled, multicultural, middleweight nation like many another, still with useful influence in the world, but without the responsibilities and heartless brutalities of Empire. Successive administrations increasingly dominated by technocrats and money-breathers have wound down our manufacturing capacity to the detriment of traditional communities, and tend to ignore our real strengths in the cultural and innovations industries in favor of their friends in the City, who can magically breed money from money.

Pretending that the 20th century never happened and that England’s glories are merely waiting to be stirred anew is a minority pastime. It’s a myth propagated by cynical huxters that too many people from the industrial heartland who have been effectively sidelined, diseducated and beaten down with doctrinaire “austerity” are allowing themselves to believe in; although we should remember that austerity comes only at the end of a long period of stagnation and the near-collapse of capitalism, from which no lessons were learned, except that the guilty men can get away with it and hope to do so again.

That these people, mainly Leavers, still vote Conservative despite the economic wasteland around them, the food banks, the homelessness is evidence, not of loathing and despair of the government’s austerity program, but of their approval of it! This bleak devastation is how things should be, when we’re losing a war with our backs to the wall, shoulders to the wheel, noses to the grindstone, all pulling together and fighting the foreigners on the beaches.

We seem to be getting bored with too much peace.

Heroic Failures: Brexit and the Politics of Pain by Fintan O’Toole, is published on 22 November by Head of Zeus.

Brexit: the day war broke out… On entering the lobby…. Wanted, dead or alive… Clawing one’s way up the ladder… Feeble Brexit joke… I Spy, with my little i… The ultimate hack-proof account…GW: A flippin’ and a floppin’ like a fish out of water

Prelude

8 pm, Wednesday 14 Nov.

After a stormy five-hour meeting, Theresa May has won the backing of her cabinet for a Brexit withdrawal deal already approved in principle by the EU commission.

So that’s that then? We can start trade talks?

Until, of course, one remembers how she got the “backing of her cabinet” for the previous draft, the so-called Chequers agreement, only for the swivel-eyed hard-or-no Brexit lunatics to renege on it three days later, and for Boris Johnson to resign as Foreign Secretary; which, tragically, he can’t do twice.

Presumably the change of mind – I can’t say heart – came after Aaron Banks’ clandestine moneymen had got to them.

The odds are still on a No Deal Brexit, or I’ll eat my stash of tinned sardines!

Oh, zet’s so sed, Theresa! Vot, ze kebinet chust agreed to beck your plen? Vot vill you do now, stay on as PM?

The day war broke out

10.15 am Thursday, 15 Nov. 2018

I’m struggling to organize my departure from a holiday hotel in somewhere like Switzerland, up a mountain, only I’ve left a trail of my possessions at various points between the hotel and the departure terminal below, a great glass hall; things I have put down and forgotten to collect on the way: a blue suitcase; clothing; my cat; her lead, without which I cannot take her anywhere.

The train is due to leave at three, and it is now gone half-past twelve; but the station is somewhere further on and I still have to get there. As I hurry through the bustling hall, its tables and chairs and potted palms, trying to find things, someone beside me is lecturing me in a voice of calm reason about classical antiquity; a history I know I once knew but have forgotten.

I find the information desk – the lecturer is now a bitter woman I once worked for, whom I didn’t like – where the unhelpful young man tells me there is possibly a bus I can persuade to take me back to the hotel, only it may have closed by now. He goes back to chatting indifferently with his colleagues.

I don’t speak the local language; and in any case, I realize, I now have no shoes on and set off in search of them. Eventually I find them on a chair, but time is running out and I can no longer remember what it is I need to go back and collect, or why. What was in the suitcase? Do I really need it, whatever it was? Couldn’t I just leave it behind? I sit down and start to weep piteously: “I can’t do this on my own anymore!

I wake up. On the radio, Melvyn Bragg’s guests are discussing the agreeable Roman poet, Horace, unaware that war has broken out.

*

The 15th of November dawns a stunning day in Boglington-on-Sea, the sun is blazing once again out of a clear blue sky, it is T-shirt warm and the Shadow Brexit Secretary, Kier Starmer has just signalled in a radio interview to the Brextremists in Theresa May’s treacherous cabinet of incompetent plotters that Her Majesty’s Opposition will also oppose the draft treaty she has negotiated with the EU Commission.

Without a bad deal, there is to be No Deal. Negotiations are all-but time-expired.

The neolithic Ulster Unionists and the Scots Nats have also expressed their disappointment with the terms of withdrawal, that commit us to, essentially, remain within the Customs Union indefinitely, under the control of Brussels, with separate status for Northern Ireland – a Protestant red line.

Due to address the Commons at ten o’clock to present her rapidly unraveling triumph, the Prime Minister is now very far from achieving a majority and may be forced to resign, triggering a general election. Jacob Irish-Mogg of the “European Research Group” cabal has already written to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee, calling for a vote of No Confidence. Only 47 more letters, and a vote will be triggered.

Having only last night agreed (apparently unanimously) to back her plan, starting with some junior plotter no-one has heard of, but spreading like a California wildfire, led by the Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, one by one while the 10 o’clock news is still on the air her ministers have started to stick it to Mrs May again. Before the bulletin ends, we learn that the rebarbative liar and arch-grinder of Britain’s poor, the Workhouse and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey is second in line with the carving knife; while that pathetic little attention-seeker, Michael Gove has announced that he can’t decide whether to stay or go.

The tragedy is, by voting in numbers to leave the EU, Britain’s downtrodden masses have voted to maroon themselves with this ambitious, expedient cow and her strident calls for British nationalist independence in charge; along with the exultant hedge-fund manager, Rich-Mogg; baboons Johnson and Gove; Eival Duncan Cunt; Russian Farage, Money Banks and the rest of the neoliberal superheroes, as the pound lurches southwards again.

It is a coup d’état.

Civil war.

How we prosecute a civil war in 2018 will of course be very different from 1640. There may be no citizen armies mustered, armed with agricultural implements, to hack their Royalist opponents into pieces; no small-arms fire from the private militias of the nobility, no Roundhead cannonballs thumping into the walls of late-medieval castles under siege.

How we will do it I don’t know. Maybe by lethal Tweet. It’s only just beginning.

This coffee is too strong.

But it’s a lovely day outside. I just thought you should remember that.

 

 

On entering the lobby….

(This item has been moved here from Issue 70 of The Pumpkin owing to extra Trump news)

Within days of a well-received memo emanating from Head of News Fran Unsworth, freeing BBC editors from the responsibility to put up unqualified lobbyists as spokesmen for the non-existence of man-made climate chaos in the holy name of balance, Mr Myron Ebell popped up on a Newsnight “extinction” special to peddle his usual noxious brand of Exxon-sponsored denier bullshit.

The same Mr Ebell who, in 2005, was the subject of Parliamentary questions after a notorious appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, in which he attempted to make out that Professor Sir David King, the UK’s chief scientist, was not qualified to speak on the subject. Mr Ebell’s only qualifications being a bidness degree, and the lots and lots of lovely money he makes working as a freelance scumsucker for US energy corporations.

It appears that the Establishment and its mouthpiece are unashamed of the way they are carrying on, openly flouting norms of decency in the battle to manipulate public opinion in support of some grim new realities.

Given that this kind of thing is still going on, it’s perhaps not surprising that there are elements within 10, Downing Street who felt no shame at outing an inconvenient Brexit whistleblower as gay, a Muslim man with a family, thus causing him to lose his job with The Taxpayers’ Alliance, now revealed as a phoney front operation for shady, dark-money interests.

That doesn’t stop them from being regularly invited onto BBC programs as experts on whatever, tax. Paying.

The Alliance, which reportedly shares an office address in Muston St, W1 with half a dozen other false-front political lobby groups posing as educational research charities, or “think-tanks”, startled the legal profession last week by fully owning up to a massive smear campaign against Shamir Sanni; including a possibly libellous attack on him on the BBC by Matthew Elliott, head of the Vote.Leave campaign. The Guardian reports:

“The alliance has accepted all the allegations Sanni made during his action claiming unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, direct discrimination and ‘dismissal by reason of a philosophical belief in the sanctity of British democracy’*. Significantly, it has also conceded that it is liable for what Sanni’s lawyer, Peter Daly of Bindman’s (solicitors), describes as ‘extreme public vilification’.” (13 Nov.)

Mr Sanni was behind the revelation that the Vote-Leave campaign had massively overspent its permitted budget during the referendum, deliberately hiding the overspend through creating – I have to use the phrase again – other false-front groups on the pretext that they were each operating independently and hence, within financial limits. He was later vindicated by the Electoral Commission. Criminal investigations, sat on by Downing Street for five months, are finally groaning into gear at the National Crime Agency.

The supposedly independent Alliance has also owned up to operating Mr Elliott’s website for him, and other dodgy dealings.

Why?

Well, it seems there are two strands to these astonishing admissions. One is that the Taxpayer’s Alliance is affiliated to the Institute for Economic Affairs, parent of the European Research Group, a nasty little Westminster claque to which a number of prominent Brextremists in Parliament belong, including the Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab; and two, by freely confessing to sins that are certainly going to cost them a lot of money by way of compensation to Mr Sanni, his case against them falls away and there is no chance they can be pressed under cross-examination to reveal the secret sources of their funding.

So, the hunt for the money goes on. However, it appears increasingly that for whatever reasons – possibly to prevent civil unrest, or to mask its role in the grotesquely incompetent pantomime of the Brexit negotiations – the Prime Minister’s office has been fighting a rearguard action to prevent the truth coming out about how the referendum was hijacked by a coalition of neo-Thatcherite and Christian Right elements, probably with Kremlin backing, to destabilize the EU and open the way for neoliberal authoritarian anti-abortion governments to assume control.

*”dismissal by reason of a philosophical belief in the sanctity of British democracy”! WTF? I know, I was once sacked for not being Welsh enough!

“48 letters” Irish-Mogg: the tragic, faux-aristocratic loner many working-class Brits yearn to touch their forelocks to, seein’ as ‘es such a toff an’ all, contemplates a pile of ham sandwiches and thinks of his colleagues in the ERG.

Wanted, dead or alive

Following the news that a Republican candidate and convicted pimp has won November’s Congressional election in Nevada, despite having died in October, come the equally disturbing outcomes of two legal cases in Romania….

Where a higher court has ruled in a case brought by police, that a man who had successfully appealed against a speeding conviction should have his license returned, even though Mr Valerian Vasiliu died just days after the original verdict.

And where another court has ruled that, although he has turned up alive after an absence abroad of several years, Mr Constantin Reliu, 63, must remain officially dead, having been declared as such when his estranged family obtained a death certificate for him.

A non-person, he is now unable to obtain benefits, rent a home, or hold a bank account or passport.

Taken with the unreconstructed Thatcherites in the UK cabinet, we are increasingly living in a world of quantum relativity, where zombies roam. (Except that Mrs Thatcher was entirely in favor of the European Union, as long as they let her be in charge of it.)

On the subject of speeding, a 15-year-old boy in Cleveland, NE England, has had six points deducted by magistrates from his driving license for speeding on an electrically assisted push-scooter and other infringements amounting to reckless driving under the 1854 Highways Act.

In case he ever gets a driving license; the legal age for which is 17.

A police spokesman warned that virtually no-one is aware of the law regarding the use of personal light electric vehicles (PLEVs), which are becoming increasingly popular among young adults. (Guardian)

 

Clawing one’s way up the ladder

A pictorial biography on the BBC website to mark the 70th birthday of the still uncrowned Prince Charles records that he was “educated at home until the age of eight”.

Wrong!

As well I know, Charles was the first royal prince to be publicly educated outside the precincts of the royal palaces. From the age of six-going-on-seven, he attended Hill House pre-preparatory school in Knightsbridge, London, before embarking for Cheam.

I know that, because I was there myself, at the time.

In fact, I was very probably the first – but almost certainly not the last – commoner to physically abuse the royal personage; kicking him hard on the shins and running away, after he had told me somewhat imperiously to “shut up”!

Charles at 8, in Cheam uniform. But this was not his first school!

I confess, I had been nastily guffawing at him when he fell over while trying to kick a football during afternoon sports time at the Duke of York’s barracks, in Chelsea. Footballs in those days were made of thick leather with an inflated pig’s bladder inside and practically immovable in the wet. My Republican mother had inculcated anti-Royalist sympathies in my skinny breast, although I have since come to regret my actions and would like to take this opportunity to apologize to HRH Prince and his friends, the trees.

Also, I was personally resentful that I had worked my ticket up the classroom hierarchy all the way from the first form to set 6B, only for this privileged interloper to arrive with a media fanfare and his own personal detective in the set above me. It didn’t occur to me at the time that he was – and is – ten months older. It was no consolation when my doting mother remarked that I was probably far cleverer.

The rest of the day we did Latin and stuff under the firm tutelage of the redoubtable headmaster, Colonel Stuart Townend, who was still running the place when he died in 2002 at the age of 93. Hill House boys were a familiar sight, trooping in crocodile formation along Hans Crescent in our rust-brown uniforms and baggy, Don Bradman caps. (Things have changed a bit: popstar Lily Allen is an alumna, I believe.)

Many years later, a curious incident occurred in the daytime.

In 1997 I was working as an editor, part-time, for a measly £8 an hour: correcting copy, ghostwriting and typesetting humdrum paperback books about business management and finance, slaving away on a burned-out computer in the alternately freezing and baking attic of the home of a morose Old Etonian micropublisher somewhere in darkest Gloucestershire, when I took a phone call.

It was a reporter from the Daily Express, who had by some devious means known only to tabloid hacks tracked me down at work. He wanted to know if I had been at Hill House with Prince Charles? Cautiously, I admitted to it, and he asked me if I remembered a certain individual who had featured in a news story a few days earlier?

This person – whom I was sure I had not known – had thrust himself forward at a charity reception, and introduced himself to the prince as “a homeless man” who claimed to have been at Hill House with him; the idea of anyone from such a privileged background being homeless seeming somewhat unlikely to the editor of the Express, a populist rag for the caravan set.

Intrigued, I asked the journalist if he had contacted anyone else from our year, and he mentioned several familiar names. I asked if he knew how they had all fared in life, as I certainly had not kept in touch, and was mildly surprised to learn that not one had gone on to become anything out of the ordinary; about the best of us was an architect.

The idea that a posh education automatically opens doors denied to any hardworking pupil from a humbler background has always seemed a trifle invidious. As literate as I may be, familiar with the classical tropes of Times crossword-setters, I never got to university. I’m a retired domestic caretaker living almost entirely on the State pension.

I wonder, if Charles hadn’t been trapped in The Firm with his tedious life mapped out for him by courtiers, what he might have made of himself?

(Photo pinched from the BBC archive, sorry)

Fully occupied

In case you were wondering what life is like as you approach 70, what you do with your empty days, the answer is quite simple:

You spend them looking for your glasses.

 

Feeble Brexit joke:

What is the masculine form of Vaseline?

Vassalage…

(I was pleased to see that the comedian’s comedian, Stewart Lee, latched onto this joke for his weekly Observer column. I’m still waiting for the money.)

(Returning to this Post weeks later, I realize future generations reading this bit will not get the reference. Brexit secretary Dominic Raab referred to the likely state of Britain should Mrs May’s Brexit deal be passed, as ‘vassalage’ to the European superstate.)

On ice

An American oil company hoping to take advantage of the greedy Trump pig’s rollback of the defense of the nation’s remaining pristine wilderness and protected ocean reserves, has hit an unexpected snag.

In order to drill in the Beaufort Sea, Texas-based Hillcorp Energy requires a stable and reliable ice platform from which to begin operations. Which they have now had to cancel.

The ice has all gone.

 

I Spy, with my little i

Hi, you may have read one or two moans I’ve indulged in about the increasing breaches of client privacy I’ve been detecting on various web platforms? If that’s what they’re called?

Like when I’ve discussed making payments in an email, Google offers me an auto-reply about money transfers?

And how I think that goes too far, given the generally confidential nature of personal financial transactions and natural concerns one has about banking security.

So, I just went to YouTube and there, right up front, I’m being offered some video of a Joni Mitchell concert in which she sings “Both sides now”, which is curious, since most of the recommendations I get are based on my obsessive interests in US politics, climate change and modern jazz.

But of course, two weeks ago I quoted from the very same Mitchell song on this, muh li’l bogl.

Welcome to my readership, secret Follower.

Even though he or she spells their name in Cyrillic text.

дмитрий куприянчик

(You might like to send them a cheery message of greeting.)

 

If you have a spare moment, go kill these assholes

Also, please send a message of Christmas cheer to the environmental health department of Kansas City, USA who (for hygiene reasons) sent officials out to pour bleach over the food offerings of charities running soup kitchens to help the homeless, if they didn’t have an official permit.

I am honestly struggling not to put a fake news sticker on this story from TYT/Ring of Fire. Really?

The home of Charlie Parker?

 

The ultimate hack-proof account

Dominic Raab, the newly resigned Secretary of State for standing by and watching Theresa May’s officials scramble together the Brexit deal, attracted scorn and ridicule the other week when he confessed he had no idea that 16% of all Britain’s trade passes through the port of Dover.

Karen Bradley, the newish Northern Ireland Secretary, admitted she had so little idea about politics in the divided province that she did not understand the historic relationships between religion and voting preferences. Why were Catholics mostly  Republicans? And why wouldn’t they vote for the mostly Protestant Unionists? She wanted to know.

Surely, their naivety and inexperience pales into comparison with Mr Yoshitaka Sakurada, 68, the deputy Japanese minister in charge of cyber security, who has “provoked astonishment by admitting he has never used a computer in his professional life” and had no clue what a “USB memory stick” was.

“Since the age of 25 I always had a secretary to do that sort of thing for me”, he confessed sheepishly.

I know, since the divorce I’ve got a problem doing the washing-up.

 

GW: A flippin’ and a floppin’ like a fish out of water

“Very warm weather” – up to +15C anomaly – persisting over the Arctic, Iceland, Greenland, Scandinavia down into the British Isles and northern Europe through into next week, will push a mass of cold air down into the Balkans and across the Mediterranean. Morocco is in line for a clobbering from another deep low. Northern Scotland is forecast to broil today (14 Nov) in 17 degrees of highly unseasonal warmth.

I’m out today in my T-shirt. It’s all a bit topsy-turvy, this extinction business.

USA: Following analysis of emergency calls, the number of residents of Paradise, California missing, possibly perished after the Camp Fire raged through the town of 27,000 has been increased to OVER 600.

Up to 8 inches of early snow on the east coast and a big freeze-up has snarled traffic from Mississippi to Washington DC and up into New England. 6 people have died in traffic accidents.” (PBS) Prompting the Orange Nightmare to snarf: “So what happened to global warming?” In California: “As of Thursday morning (15 Nov.), the Camp Fire was 40 percent contained after having burned across 140,000 acres (219 square miles). 63 people are known to have died in the town of Paradise, overrun by the fast moving fire last week. Early enquiries blame communication problems and poor road infrastructure for the failure to get people out in time.

“Smoke from the catastrophic Camp Fire continues to plague much of central and northern California, bringing dangerously high levels of fine particulate pollution. Hourly levels were in the red “Unhealthy” range at more than 30 official EPA monitors across the region. … Two stations near the Camp Fire recorded PM2.5 levels on Thursday morning well into the maroon “hazardous” range—the highest level of danger on EPA’s Air Quality Index (AQI) scale. At this level, EPA warns that this would trigger a health warning of emergency conditions.” (Wunderground)

RT (Russia Today TV) is reporting, the fire also overran a heavily polluted nuclear waste disposal site, carrying radiation over Los Angeles. Well, it’s Russia Today, so.

Argentina: Four days of “severe weather, including heavy rain and flash flooding, has left around 3,000 people evacuated from parts of the capital Buenos Aires. Sauce Viejo city in the province of Santa Fe recorded 196mm of rain in 24 hours to 12 Nov. (National weather service) said that this November has already been one of the wettest on record.” (Floodlist)

Atlantic: After bringing heavy rain to the Leeward Islands, Tropical Depression 96L has turned north, where it has run into strong wind-shear and is not now expected to develop into Hurricane Patty after all. She’ll have to wait for another bus to come along.  Wind-shear has been a feature of this year’s overly quiet Caribbean hurricane season, keeping storms well out of harm’s way for the islands trashed last year by Irma and Maria.

World: October 2018 was the planet’s second-warmest October since record keeping began in 1880. The only warmer October came in 2015 (NOAA). The deadliest weather-related disaster of October 2018 was Cyclone Titli (eastern India) which killed at least 85 people and injured hundreds more. Storm surge, high winds and torrential rain were blamed for $920 million in damage.(Wunderground)

Pollution: A new “study, published in the Lancet Public Health, found the capacity of children’s lungs was reduced by about 5% when NO2 pollution was above legal levels, … resulting in a  higher risk of an early death, as well as a higher risk of lung diseases. Most urban areas in the UK have illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution. … The latest government action plan, which environmental lawyers called ‘pitiful’, revealed air pollution was even worse than previously feared.” (Edited from Guardian report)

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser, biggest in the park, erupts for the 27th time this year. A normal year might see one or two eruptions, if any.