800 Not Out!… The event horizon of a brown hole… Who was Mulgrew Miller?… An American psychopath… Cue spooky music… GW: Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!… Would you like ice in that?

Guardian: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters
On 26 February, 2012, the BogPo hit the ground running.

800 Not Out!

The Boglington Post, incorporating The Pumpkin, publishes its 800th Post today, 7 years and 5 months after its modest beginnings in February, 2012.

Founded by the late Sir Thanatossios Boglopoulos in competition with the absurdly named Arianna Stassinopoulos-Huffington’s Huffington Post, at a time when her writers were complaining of not being paid, early Posts were often short; even derisory. Pithy comments, bad jokes. Most consisted of just a single article; some humoresque, others autobiographical – often both.

But as the years went by, under the wise guidance of our new Publisher, Herr Professor Doktor Ernst von-und-zu Bogl, of Boglheim am Rhein, and the adroit editorship of his late father’s half-brother, the former children’s page editor, Uncle Bogler, The BogPo (as it was soon to be affectionately known) became broader – and bolder – in its concept, invoking a mission to provide quality writing, wild inaccuracies and profoundly cynical satire to the cognoscenti.

We have not been sparing in our use of adjectives.

Multiple articles, colored words and the inclusion of regular features – for instance, an obsessive interest in collecting evidence of climate change and the enticing prospect of human extinction began, in 2016, to manifest as the Granny Weatherwax diaries (GW standing also for Global Warming) – made it more like a regular news blog, only with cuss words.

The Thursday deadline soon became redundant as sheer boredom began to dictate a frenetic increase in output, while technical incompetence led to many editions like this one being published accidentally before time. We took a decision early on, not to hide our light under the bushel of a paywall, like the lousy bastards at the Washington Post, who could easily afford to go free. In any case, we couldn’t understand a word of the Patreon business model concept thing, and had no idea how else to force readers to send money.

Consequently, about twice a week you get 4,000 words for nothing. We hope you appreciate that, you stingy sods. (See me after. Ed.)

Following complaints from our persistent critic, Young Bogler, that no-one reads anymore, borrowed images were introduced, with what the Editor imagines are witty captions. Some amusing examples are revisited again in this edition. Thus, actual readers were no longer required. Just as well, as the average of daily Views, though climbing steadily, has yet to achieve critical mass (a high point of 47 was reached on one memorable day in October, 2016.) American spellings, too, were introduced, in case any Americans were watching; particularly, the NSA. (Hi, guyz!)

In passing, we should like to apologize to anyone who feels we may have stolen, overborrowed, overquoted or outright plagiarized their work for our researches. In fact, it seems it’s often a mutual process. Articles that appear in the BogPo/Pumpkin have a strange way of preceding, often by several days, well paid-for op-ed content generated by the soi-disant professionals in the mainstream press.

Visionary? Or merely doing our job! And, of course, as a non-profit claiming fair usage, we always give credit where credit is due. Sorry, Jacob – owing.

“I don’t give a fuck about the law, I want my fuckin’ money!”

Our sister site

In November 2016, The Pumpkin, now on its 92nd edition, became a separate entity focussing laserlike on the US political scene, following the accidental election of a senile, money-grubbing, malignant narcissist to the White House; a man who, while describing himself as a very smart and stable genius, has found it necessary to threaten to sue his old school if they release his grades to the media.

The possibilities for expressing weekly, in a newsy format, our fear and loathing of this spoilt, superannuated playboy – the Demander-in-Chief, as it were – the thin-skinned, sexually incontinent, mendacious, made-for-TV business mogul and his gang of lying, maladroit pirates, were too entertaining and concerning to ignore.

Readers have wondered why we are so interested in the US political scene from all the way over here in Boglington-on-Sea, a humdrum coastal resort in west Britain, where life goes on and the climate remains embarrassingly normal for a world on fire.

There are two reasons. One, your Uncle Bogler’s late granny was a US citizen, from Delaware; her family having migrated from Ireland in the late C19th. So we feel some attachment to the place – although we have never visited. My brother went over, and described the surviving family as, basically, trailer-trash.

And two, just you wait until Wilbur Ross’ little goblins have finished negotiating that post-Brexit trade deal with the incompetent buffoon and trainee serial killer, “Foreign Secretary” Dominic Raab. American spellings will be compulsory, we assure you. It’ll be daylight Raabery! (Sorry.)

As we know you all must be, dear Spammers, Followers, Likers and those no longer reading this, muh li’l bogl, we’re excited to be looking forward to the next 800 free issues.

Thank you for your loyal support.

Team Bogl (Your Uncle B.)

“You could drive a bus through these legs…!”

Newly appointed Secretary of State, Sajid Javid – the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver – tries on his new, reinforced Home Office trousers before continuing with Theresa May’s popular policy of creating a “Hostile Environment” for migrants (2017), accidentally interning and/or repatriating many people with a right to remain. Formerly a senior executive with Deutsche Bank, the bank fined over $16 billion for money-laundering and interest-rate rigging, the bank that lent $2 billion to Donald Trump despite his zero credit rating and history of defaults, “The Saj”was responsible for promoting the same “collateralized debt obligations”, the financial instruments that caused the 2007 banking crash. In July he was promoted by incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be Chancellor of the Exchequer.

 

The event horizon of a brown hole

“Democracy, here in the UK and in the US and Europe, has in recent years been subverted by vast amounts of dark money and by individuals and organisations intent on disregarding electoral law to the benefit of extreme rightwing ideas.”– Shadow minister, Chris Matheson MP.

Launching a new fundraising group mainly of Trump supporters (including Moron Jr) in New York calling itself World4Brexit, to “welcome Britain back to the international community, free of the EU”, Britain’s leading Euronoiac, Nigel Farage made it clear, the money was not to support Brexit candidates at the next General Election, which would of course be a breach of electoral law, but purely for research, to “dig deep, find out who is really running the show.”

Who is really running the show is, ultimately, the shadowy group of players around Vladimir Putin. Who else? What the “show” is, is you being a total arsehole, Nigel.

I’m sorry, but cogent political analysis and civil discourse break down at the event horizon of a brown hole.

“Pssst, wanna see my Mussolini?” (2017)

Jazz alert

Who was Mulgrew Miller?

Ciao, cool cats.

I’m forced to comment on a weird phenomenon.

Last night, 30 July, I was browsing on YouTube, looking for some lite jazz I could fall asleep to, and spotted the name of a familiar musician, the late virtuoso Danish bass player, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pederson – who co-nomenclaturally played a lot with the Oscar Peterson trio – no relation.

Sadly, NHØP, who was also a highly cultured man,  died in 2005 at the young age of 58, from heart disease, leaving a treasure trove of mouthwatering brilliance.

Truly one of the great bassists in jazz or indeed any music tradition, he was listed here among those little pictures down the side as playing on an album in a duet with a pianist called Mulgrew Miller, of whom, I swear, I had never heard.

Having listened to, and collected, jazz recordings for what – 15 years, including as a teenager and later intensively for the past ten years as an old bloke and wannabe performer, I honestly had never heard of Mulgrew Miller.

Not only that, but I swear Miller’s name does not come up once as listed either as a lead or side-man on any of the more than 400 jazz CDs I have collected over the past 10 years, dating back to the early 1940s and running on to the present day. The name sounds almost like a joke, a jazz musician out of a novel, or a disguise to fool the taxman.

And yet, having cropped up once, I’m now browsing through dozens of recordings by or featuring Mulgrew Miller, with growing admiration.

Is there some spiritual meaning to it?

I mean, it’s not a name you would easily forget. Also, he’s a bit of a genius, described in his Wikipedia entry as a sort of cross between Oscar Peterson and McCoy Tyner, although he’s very much his own man when it comes to style – virtuosic, powerful, delicate – but with a sense of humour and often a nod to the past.

It’s as if, from time to time in life, a wormhole opens up and however old you get, interesting things you knew nothing about before come wiggling through to take you completely by surprise.

(Mind you, it’s not long since I started to catch up to the wonderful Kenny Barron. I had at least heard of him.)

Miller was another of those tragically early casualties of the jazz world, dying of a stroke in 2015 at the ridiculous age of 57. Of course, you suspect a drug habit, but I doubt it. He had been Director of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University in New Jersey for several years. I suspect many more undersung jazz heroes are hiding away on the campuses of smalltown academic America. At least it pays.

These geniuses just pop in and out of parallel universes to enlighten and entertain us for a while before flitting back. Busy schedule. Many gigs.

(Incidentally, the reliable Japanese bassist Kyoshi Kitagara, who pops up on many of these recordings with Miller and Barron, is someone else I also discovered for the first time yesterday. Never come across him before either. How does this happen?)

Mulgrew Miller: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aX39pJ9C3s&list=RDA1Nx_Bnpb5s&index=5

Kenny Barron: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGYvuu8Fwog

My Jazz CDs (catalog): themindbogls.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php?s=my+jazz+CDs&post_status=all&post_type=page&action=-1&m=0&paged=1&action2=-1

 

An American psychopath

The New York Times tonight has a story to chill the blood. It’s about The Collector, Jeffrey Epstein. Ignore the bit about wealthy financier, he was a jerk, a pimp funded entirely by his influential pedophile clients:

“The wealthy financier, who has been charged with sex trafficking, told scientists and other acquaintances of his plans to seed the human race with his DNA by impregnating scores of women at his sprawling New Mexico ranch.” (NYT briefing)

“Mr. Epstein” (the NYT uses the honorific even when horrifying scumbags are identified as certifiable lunatics), “who used his wealth to cultivate relationships with a wide range of business, political and scientific luminaries (no, idiots, it was the other way around! They used their wealth to cultivate him! Ed.), also claimed to be bankrolling efforts to identify ‘a mysterious particle that might trigger the feeling that someone is watching you.'”

Oh, yes, Jeffrey. We know the feeling.

 

Telepathy corner

Cue spooky music

Two spam messages have illiterally just arrived on top of a list of 13, that the WordPress Spammeister, Arkayla, thinks I might want to approve. Why would I? Absolute gibberish, they’ve all been sent through poxy servers from untidy bedrooms in Kyrgzystan and will only contaminate my cloud, whatever.

These two both purport to be commenting on an ancient Post from 2012, that I thought I had recently deleted, punningly titled: “Oh, what a Tanglewood we weave”. It was all about buying a guitar made by a company called Tanglewood; which I’d done by mistake.

Not half an hour ago on my walk with Hunzi, I encountered Andy, whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to for the best part of a year. Andy runs a little guitar shop in the covered market. I’d placed a guitar with Andy to sell, about two years ago. He keeps selling it, only for no good reason, the buyers always return it.

We couldn’t really understand why. It’s a perfectly nice little instrument. Anyway, I asked him if he’d sold it, and probably out of guilt or sympathy he said he’d buy it off me, so I priced it very modestly at £50, he just happened to have £50 on him, and we parted ways rejoicing.

Oh, did I mention? It was the Tanglewood.

 

GW: Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!

Now, that’s better. There was almost no weather in yesterday’s edition, apart from perhaps a mention of two possible hurricanes in the Pacific, but now…

“Hurricane Erick is currently hurtling across the East Pacific Ocean towards Hawaii measuring winds of 132mph. At the last NOOA update, the powerful hurricane was located approximately 750 miles (1210 KM) east southeast of Hilo, Hawaii and around 965 miles (1550 KM) east southeast of Honolulu Hawaii. With wind speeds of 132mph, Erick is a category 4 hurricane, which according to the Saffir Simpson Wind Scale can be catastrophic (Express). Wunderground reports: “Erick’s top sustained winds jumped from 70 mph at 5 pm EDT Monday to 130 mph by 5 pm Tuesday, a spectacular leap that’s almost double the 35-mph-in-24-hours needed to qualify as rapid intensification.”

The report goes on to mention: “Tropical Storm Flossie is currently located 745 miles south of the southern tip of Baja California. It is currently moving at 20 miles per hour. On its current path, Flossie will enter Central Pacific waters on Friday or Saturday” and also threatens Hawaii. (Express) Wunderground reports, Flossie intensified to Cat 1 on Tuesday (30 July), but might not survive the wind shear in Erick’s wake.

Europe: Another wave of heat is on the cards, between intense rainstorms. “Forecasters say three more heatwaves could be on their way to the UK. Leon Brown, head of operations at The Weather Channel explained: ‘After the past week’s extreme heat, three more heatwaves are forecast in Britain this summer as air from Africa arrives.'” (Express) In the meantime, central and northern Europe and parts of Britain are being pounded by heavy thunderstorms.

Russia: A gentle nudge from your Gran has spurred the Floodlist team into reporting mainly as follows: “2,699 people in 8 districts of the Irkutsk region (Siberia) have been affected by (a) new wave of floods that started after heavy rains in the area. TASS says the water level in the Iya river in the region reached 11.25 metres on 31 July, well above the 7 metre danger mark. Flooding is also affecting the Amur region, where a state of emergency was declared on 25 July. Over 2,300 people have been evacuated. One of the worst hit areas is the city of Belogorsk and the surrounding district after flooding from the Tom River, a tributary of the Zeya.”

Meanwhile authorities have declared a state of emergency over wildfires in Siberia and the Far East. Almost 3 million hectares of land are estimated to have been affected, according to Russia’s Federal Forestry Agency. (Floodlist)

India: “7 people have died in Maharashtra in flood- and rain-related incidents, including drowning and collapsed buildings, since 27 July. As many as 166 people have now died in the state since the start of this year’s monsoon. A total of 55 villages are affected, with over 1,500 people evacuated.

“Meanwhile the death toll continues to rise in the NE states of Bihar and Assam. As of 30 July, DMD reported 127 fatalities in Bihar and 89 in Assam. As of 30 July there were over 650,000 people displaced in the two states. Elsewhere in the country, 26 people have died in Kerala and 13 in Rajasthan.” (Floodlist)

Boglington-on-Sea: Where normal is the new unusual…. I’m just putting a sweater on now, for the first time in weeks. It’s been struggling to reach 17C all day under gray skies, just like old times. The bonkers Express website is offering us a Grand Solar Minimum ice age for the next 30 years. That’ll see me out, then.

Residents of Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, were told to leave their homes and make arrangements to stay with friends or family “for a number of days” after severe weather in recent days left the Toddbrook reservoir above the town badly damaged and dangerously full. (Guardian)

Flooding in Yorkshire after 3 inches of rain – a month’s worth – fell in 4 hours, 5-in over 24 hours, washing out roads and bridges. A landslip on 30 July blocked train tracks between Carlisle and Skipton, disrupting rail travel. (Floodlist)

Atlantic: Two systems are rivals to intensify later in the week, with the name Chantal next on the list. One is a disturbance dumping heavy rain in the area of Puerto Rico that could become a Tropical Storm threat to Florida if it doesn’t get stopped either by wind shear or the mountains of Hispaniola. The other is a disturbance that’s just come out of West Africa along the usual hurricane trail, heading for the Leeward Islands. (Accuweather)

Tunnel approaching….

Arctic: The record-setting heat wave has moved north over Greenland, triggering temperatures as much as 25 to 30 deg. F. (16.6 C) warmer than normal. Tuesday’s (30 July) temperature may have surpassed 75 F. in some regions. The heatwave is expected to peak on Thursday with the biggest single-day melt ever recorded in Greenland. On 1 August alone, more than 12 billion tons of water will find its way down to the ocean, irreversibly raising sea levels. (Guardian, citing Rolling Stone)

President Trump has offered President Putin help to bring Siberia’s four months of wildfires under control. Raking the Taiga, possibly?

Yellowstone: 7 times in June, 5 times in July…. Biggest in the park, the Steamboat geyser went off again yesterday, 30 July, well ahead of its record year in 2018. Harmonic tremors continuing. (Greeley, citing USGS) Much excitement however is occurring at California’s rival Long Valley supervolcano (the magma chambers of the two may be connected), where USGS appears to be conducting extra aerial surveys, there have been earthquake swarms and there’s been 32 inches of ground uplift.

Moonshine: A “Black Supermoon” will not be visible over the USA tonight, 1 August. It will not be visible again over the UK at the end of the month. I have no idea, look it up. It’s bound to be cloudy.

 

Would you like ice in that?

Between 17 September, 1989 and 17 September, 2012, the extent of sea ice in the Arctic almost exactly halved: from 6.9m sq km to 3.4m sq km.

17 September is generally reckoned to be the perigee of annual ice extent, after the summer melt. 2012’s was the lowest extent recorded since satellite measurement began in the late 1970s.

On 28 July this year, extent was at 6.5m sq km., leaving 52 days of melting to go. An extrapolation of the extent at the current rate of melting would leave no sea ice left by 17 September, 2019. (Arctic News, 30 July)

The Pumpkin – Issue 87: The State of the Art, the Art of the State… Raindance festival… Off with their heads… The gain in Spain… Oh, the pain…

Quote of the Week

“I’m ashamed of my country for what it has done. It’s torn people apart … I am sick to death of politicians, especially British politicians. I am sick to death of Brexit. I am a European. I am not a stupid, colonial, imperialist English idiot.” – Sir Elton John, speaking while on his latest farewell tour in Verona.

 

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on an Isis propaganda video

“Ar-har, Jim lad, we be bound for Treasure Island!”

Long John Silver speaks out in shock new IS recruiting video.

 

“There’ll be only one monarch on parade.”

The State of the Art, the Art of the State

The problem with the Trump approach to diplomacy – stir everything up, throw shit at your allies and hold your enemies embarassingly close, while gutting the State Department of traditional diplomatic expertise and listening to nobody but the tiny yammering faces on Murdoch’s Fox & Friends – is that someday you’re going to turn up to the party to find the hosts piled up in the corner, gibbering incoherently in a state of advanced intoxication and no use to anybody.

This week, Trump’s callow son-in-law, special envoy Jared “Ken” Kushner arrived in Jerusalem to unveil his pre-doomed “peace plan” for the Middle East, only to find that the Israeli government had just collapsed in a groaning heap. Who expected that?

Newly re-elected by a whisker, The Kush’s dad’s old pal Netanyahu had tried to push for a law making it impossible to prosecute him on growing corruption charges, while parties far even to the right of his hardline Likud were refusing to join his coalition, leaving him with a minority in the Knesset.

As Kushner and his entourage were descending from the skies, Netanyahu was declaring a fresh election in the autumn, his majority whisked away in part by liberal voter opposition to Trump’s clumsy efforts to influence the election last month; while the White House’s unpopular attempts to deprive the Palestinian Authority of funding has largely failed as a typically Trumpian negotiating tactic since European sources have stepped into the breach.

The Washington Post reports:

“A new campaign cycle means no Israeli politician — least of all Netanyahu and Kushner’s other interlocutors on the Israeli right — would want to be associated with any kind of compromise with Palestinians.”

Nor, with the 2020 election fast approaching, does the Post think Trump will risk giving the deal another outing in November when the possibility – most say the likelihood – of failure could compromise his anticipated triumphal return to the White House for another four years of mounting chaos, kleptocracy and spiteful untruth-telling, a nation descending into madness.

Meanwhile, an ostentatiously huge delegation of 800 American officials: security men, hairdressers, burger-chefs and military planners has been landing on harmless little Britain like mosquitos to prearrange the arrival of The Beast – no, not Trump, the two-and-a-half ton bomb-proof perk, that travels everywhere to protect the president against satirical balloons – and the rest of the Imperial baggage-train, in advance of Trump’s greatest PR coup, his self-exonerating State visit.

And, oops, his dear friend Theresa May, whose authority as Prime Minister he went to great lengths on his “informal” visit last year to undermine, is now dead in the water and sinking fast, having agreed to step down as party leader the day after the Orange Nightmare goes home, under intolerable pressure from the Trumpists and Bannonites, the hardline nativist No Dealers, Victorian throwbacks and hedge-fund managers on the far right of her formerly centrist party, who have determinedly fucked-up her futile negotiations to exit the European Union with anything approaching our national dignity and the Good Friday Agreement intact.

Who will he be left to hold significant talks with?

The Pumpkin supposes he will not be much interested in being harangued on the subject of climate chaos and the Sixth Extinction by our putative future Green King, and may wish to escape ASAP the stuffy and oppressive atmosphere of Buck House and all those dull, hoity-toity, jewelry-encrusted losers and their hangers-on, just as soon as the photo op is finished.

There’ll be only one monarch on parade.

Nor will he want to mix with the likes of poor Jeremy Corbyn, who has already set light to his own invitation to the ceremonies. In the ritual pre-visit interview with Murdoch’s rabid tabloid Sun newspaper, Trump’s inner mob boss emerged to ominously inform Corbyn – just in case he should win an electoral victory – that he was making a big mistake.

Why, then, summon forth his old pal and elevator boy Nigel Farage, Britain’s Reichschancellor in waiting! Summon the correspondingly golden-haired wunderkind and darling of the provincial tricoteuses of the aging Conservative matriarchy, Boris “Watermelon, Picanninny, Letterbox, ‘Fuck Business'” Johnson.

Summon, why not, for Heaven’s sake, the pocket nationalist, “Tommy Robinson”, martyr for the cause of racist street-violence, to commiserate over the Presidential Abuse poor traduced Mr Trump has suffered for two years at the hands of Obama’s Deep-State Democrats and their profoundly conflicted inquisitor, Bob Mueller 111, gay lover of sacked FBI Director, James Comey, who has completely exonerated the President with his notorious hoax report levelling numerous unproceedable charges of treason and obstruction of justice at him that never happened, okay?

(“I wasn’t involved with the Russian attempt to… er, no, as you were, there was no Russian attempt to…”)

The fact is, whoever the “unindicted co-conspirator”, employer of undocumented labor and convicted tax-cheat, Trump chooses to consort with, his visit will be seen by most as an unwarranted intrusion into the political affairs of the nation. It remains to be seen what tone his infamous nocturnal tweets will adopt, what petty insults and whinges and lies and false accusations his tiny thumbs will produce around his unwelcome visit, for the entertainment of his dumbfucks at home.

It’s hard to see how exceptionalist British nativism can willingly reconcile to the imposition post-Brexit of US Imperial corporate hegemony in these islands, summarised simply for consumers as “chlorinated chicken”, although it’s a lot worse than that, but stranger things have happened.

His devoted followers may not be willing to consider, or even wish to hear about, Farage’s actual political agenda, beyond doing the maximum offence to inworkers and leaving the hated EU on any terms, including the collapse of much of Britain’s remaining manufacturing industry and the clawing back of worker and consumer protections.

But the removal of our revered State-funded universal healthcare system is high on his list, in favor of a US-style, US-owned, co-pay insurance market few people and small businesses will be able to afford to buy into.

So don’t blame The Pumpkin if life in Britain is about to take a very strange and ugly turn. He’s been trying to warn everybody for years.

 

Raindance festival

“Claire Cahm was preparing to set up an anti-Trump banner on the roof of her house, in the hope it catches his eye as he flies in. ‘I don’t suppose he will see it but it’s my gesture,’ she said. ‘We all have to do what we can. I hope it’s rainy and windy so his hair flies around everywhere.'” (Guardian)

Ooh, you absolute bitch! Portsmouth prepares to protest Trump’s personal Donald-Day event. (But of course, if it’s raining he won’t attend. Military helicopters can’t fly in the rain, as we all know.)

 

Off with their heads

Asked by his nemesis Jim Acosta of the hated CNN at a press conference on the lawn if he would agree that “treason” was a crime punishable by death, and who would he suggest could be prosecuted for the crime, a curiously swollen-looking President Trump began rattling off the names of James Comey, Peter Strojk and other former FBI officers he has had fired, apparently for investigating Russian interference in the election or, as in Comey’s case, refusing an illegal order to stop investigating former Trump soldier, Michael Flynn (said by a judge to have sold out his country) and swear personal allegiance to Trump.

Mr Trump also mentioned “Crooked” Hillary Clinton, who, he said, had instigated a coup d’etat against the government, purely out of spite because he won the election. (This, from the man who has floated the idea publicly that if he loses the 2020 election, he might refuse to leave office because the vote will have been rigged.)

Given the antithetical elements in the Commentariat and all the Democrats in the House, Death Row is going to get pretty crowded.

In the meantime, Trump has seized on comments tweeted by Liz, extreme rightwing daughter of former W Bush Vice-President and broadly acknowledged war criminal, Dick Cheney, one of the authors of the neocon conspiracy known as the “American Project for the 21st Century”, that political opposition to the President constitutes treason, to redefine the meaning of the word.

Bit by bit, America descends into the abyss.

 

For fairly terrifying analysis of the extent of the coup Trump is mounting against the State which, as the President, he is sworn to protect, see David Smith’s piece, ‘The Kraken unleashed’: how Trump’s shock troops attack US democracy, at http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/01/donald-trump-gorka-lewandowski-hannity-fbi-treason-mueller-russia

 

The gain in Spain

As further evidence of the growing insanity of the right, a proposal by the probably incoming Popular Party president of Spain’s Madrid region to abolish the city’s successful Low Emissions traffic zone must take the tortilla.

The aim apparently is to please the Vox party, that the Popular Party needs to go into coalition with to obtain a majority. The Francoist Vox is believed to be funded by the Christian right in the USA and to be acting as a conduit for money pouring into far-right disruptive parties in other parts of Europe.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, 40 – yes, a woman (pretty hot!) and probably a mother (her marital status cannot easily be ascertained) – has argued that traffic congestion at 3 a.m. is part of the city’s culture and what gives it its vibrancy. Increased traffic is consistent with the city’s lucrative nightlife, she says, and so must take precedence over what she admits is not an ideal environment for humans.

The scheme has rapidly cut congestion and dangerous nitrogen pollution from diesel engines by up to 50% in parts of the city, in response to EU regulation. The European Environment Agency has estimated that 30,000 additional deaths in Spain annually are caused by air pollution.

Much research recently has shown too that CO2 and other airborne pollutants, including microparticles from diesel exhaust, are damaging children’s growing brains and lungs, and actively cause cognitive impairment in adults.

Neoliberalism is literally killing people and making us even more stupid.

And these greedy, selfrighteous, self-serving fuckers on the Christian right just don’t care.

Well, if they don’t care if others live or die, babies and children, as long as they go on making money for Jesus and his Lear jet, then what is the moral bar to killing them first? (reporting: Guardian)

Just askin’.

 

Oh, the pain

In response to an interview with the US Ambassador to London, Mr Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson a couple of months ago, in which he told Britain we would basically have to suck-up US food standards if we wanted a trade deal, the Bogler pointed out that Mr Johnson’s family business, Johnson & Johnson, was facing 12 THOUSAND law suits in the USA relating to allegations that their famous baby powder is cut with cancer-causing asbestos dust.

It gets better. The State of Oklahoma is suing the New Jersey-based firm for perpetuating America’s worst ever public health crisis, that is killing more than 50 thousand people a year through overprescription of powerful painkilling opioid drugs, for conditions that are essentially medicalized, i.e. invented by doctors. The Guardian reports:

“The New Jersey-based firm, better known around the globe for baby powder and shampoo, is fighting allegations by the state of Oklahoma that it conspired with other drug makers deceptively to market opioids by downplaying the significant risk of addiction and by pressuring doctors to prescribe narcotic painkillers, including to children.”

Several other companies involved in the lethal trade, including the Sackler family, have already settled huge compensation claims. You can bet your boots the Johnsons would be the kind of philanthropic Christians who tenaciously oppose abortion, being pro-life. Being accused of killing live babies and children however is a problem for their legal team.

A superstorm cell, photographed on 27 May. America, anyone?
(Mike Coniglio, NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory.)

GW: Gettin’ better all the time

USA: The Weather Channel reports, “A much-needed break is finally on the horizon after a month-long siege of severe weather that ranks among the worst in modern U.S. records. A 12-day streak of daily rounds of severe weather culminated on Tuesday with a major long-track tornado … across the Kansas City metro area. … The havoc this month has also included widespread flash floods across the Plains and Midwest and severe river flooding in Oklahoma and Arkansas. … Amazingly, only six deaths have been directly attributed to this month’s tornado swarm.”

The worst flood in US history?: 2,289 died in the Johnstown flood of 31 May, 1889, 130 years ago, when a 40-foot wall of water from a bursting dam roared through the town. Around 8″ of rain had fallen overnight – the weather station was washed away with its operator, so no-one knows quite how much rain fell. Many residents took refuge on a stone bridge, where a huge pile of debris including oil tanks caught fire, leading to many deaths. (Weather historian, Christopher C Burt, on Weather Underground)

Vietnam: Heavy monsoonal rainfall in China that has claimed 9 lives and ruined 23 thousand Ha of crops has spilled over into north Vietnam and killed another 2 in floods and landslides that have destroyed homes and crops. “National Center for Meteorological Forecasting warned of further heavy rain with risk of flooding and landslides over the coming days.” (Floodlist) BBC Weather reports, the monsoon is late arriving in southern India but is expected any day now.

Japan: It seems a little cooler, Japan Times is now ignoring the whole story. Earlier in the week, The Weather Channel reports, “At least 5 people have died and nearly 600 have been hospitalized as a heat wave grips Japan. Sunday, the temperature hit 103.1 degrees in the coastal town of Saroma on the island of Hokkaido, according to the Japan Times. The Meteorological Agency said that is the highest temperature at any observation point in Japan for the month of May.”

Chile: BBC is reporting, trails of destruction have been caused by a rare series of strong tornadoes that hit the towns of Los Angeles and Conception, 100 km apart, yesterday. 1 person is reported dead, others injured.

Spain and Portugal: Many parts of the peninsula have been on Orange heat and fire alerts this past week. Spain’s national weather office placed one province, Cordoba, on Red alert, the highest level in the scale, meaning soaring temperatures posed an “extreme risk” to health. Temperatures in the Andalusian countryside were expected to climb to 44 deg. C., 111F (Earth Changes Media)

“‘These are not usual meteorological phenomena, being of an exceptional intensity and with a very high level of risk for the population,’ a spokesman for Spain’s national weather office said.”

It’s expected still to be around 30C this evening, 1 June, for the 8pm kick-off of the European Champions’ League final in Madrid between British football clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.

UK (the south, anyway ): “is forecast to record the hottest day of the year so far as temperatures are set to soar this weekend (1 June). According to the Met Office, the south-east of England could reach 29C (84F) on Saturday, 0.5C higher than the joint warmest days of the year so far, on 19 April and 15 May. The average June temperature is 17C. (Guardian Weather) Here in Boglington, it’s an agreeable 25C. Sadly, it’s a one-day wonder: Sunday it’s back to cloudy and cool with rain in the west.

“Britain is setting new records for going without coal-powered energy. In the latest milestone, it has gone for two weeks without using coal to generate electricity – the longest such period since 1882.” (Guardian Green Light)

 

Tunnel approaching…

Bali: Mt Agung is at it again. A major eruption yesterday, latest of many that have led to mass evacuations in the past two years and disrupted air travel, sent a cloud of ash up to a height of 6000 feet. Mt Etna on Sicily has also been erupting quite violently, a new fissure spewing lava in spectacular fashion.

Yellowstone: looks like the Steamboat geyser went off again briefly on 28 May. That makes 18 this year, on course for a new record to beat last year’s total of 32 (normal year is 2 or 3). USGS printouts show, there’s been major venting in the Norris Junction area this week of sulphur dioxide, ancient helium and other volcanic gases. (Mary Greeley)

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 11: The environmental crimes of Donald J Trump. Not microwaving, but moaning. And another Russian bank, O Lord.

(Offensive language warning. Look away now if you are easily upset by liberals who say unkind things about President Trump.)

Let’s just kill everything, Steve says it’s easier to start from scratch. Squiggle-wiggle.

The environmental crimes of Donald J Trump

President Trump is worse than a murderer.

Lock him up good.

This trainwreck of a President, this incompetent, pig-ignorant, foul-mouthed man, widely accused of money-laundering, sanctions-busting and connections with organized crime; a vainglorious, Satanic orange slug you could easily mistake for dog-crap, with a brain made of congealed greed and a tongue stiff with lies, an overgrown spoiled semiliterate brat with ADHD, easily distracted by shiny things, owing vast sums to pliable foreign bankers, has in less than two months done more to ensure the extinction of life on earth than the next asteroid impact.

(Of course, should it be confirmed that he has senile dementia, I will apologise.)

Does he even know it, given he believes anything he hears on InfoWars and signs everything Steve Bannon shoves in front of him?

He is an ecocide: a world-criminal; a Dementor. Someone who should be seized, head shaved, zippered into an outsize orange jumpsuit and dragged in shackles and handcuffs before the International Court on capital charges of crimes against humanity, before being publicly hanged on global reality TV wearing only a pair of Argyll socks with pink suspenders.

What good has he done anyone, except to have the Chinese bail out $250 million debts of his little plastic son-in-law, Kushner, his ‘White House advisor’, who made an ill-judged property investment in 2007 that orange daddy couldn’t fix ‘cos he too had gone tits up?

His insistence that Obamacare should be abandoned before anyone had come up with an actual plan to replace it, to back up his lies on the campaign trail that such a plan existed and it would be ‘the greatest plan ever’, providing the most people with ‘the greatest care in the world’, his ignorance and overweening vanity, his hatred of his racially impure predecessor, his insane need to do him down at any cost, have condemned hundreds of thousands of even his own Dumbfuck supporters to an early death.

He doesn’t care. He doesn’t even know it. He’s a complete amateur, an over-geared small businessman who has never worked for anyone but himself; never run a large organisation of any kind; never been subjected to critical assessment; never had to sort out anyone else’s problems: a weak-minded, poorly educated, reality TV-show compère in the grip of evil forces plotting the downfall of the American republic.

And you voted for it. The decrepit man-baby with his tiny index finger on the nuclear button. The plastic children running riot, growing their shitty business interests untramelled from offices in the sacred White House, polluting your democracy.

You dumb fucks.

But all that ineptitude and vainglory pales into insignificance when compared with another threat he poses, literally to the future of the human race; and much other life on the planet.

(Understand, I’m writing this off the top of my head because every time I start Googling stories related to his criminal lunacy I just get more and more links to more sites speculating about his astounding venality and desperate willingness to please evil authoritarian men, like his dad, like Putin; while not paying his debts.)

Among the environmental crimes this Putin-inspired American Carnage has already announced, I recall statements concerning just these actions among possibly many more (later additions dated):

  • An Order signed by Secretary Pruitt, 03 April, preventing a ban coming into effect next month on pesticide Clorpyrifos, known to inhibit brain development in unborn children, despite many reports on the danger. Why? A $1m donation from Dow AgroSciences might have helped.
  • A pledge to the US car industry to scrap the ’54 mpg performance’ target set to help reduce CO2 vehicle emissions by 9 billion tonnes a year, that they are already close to meeting. “Bad for jobs.” – no evidence of that, quite the contrary.
  • A pledge to row back on the Paris accord setting an ideal (already exceeded) 1.5 deg C. worldwide warming limit, signed by 179 nations, arguing that ‘climate change is bullshit’.
  • The removal of any other carbon reduction targets.
  • The relaxing of consumer protections on a wide range of goods and services; and (among other rules), presumably the requirement for banks to hold sufficient capital; the removal of banking regulations and oversight bodies.
  • The dismantling of the Environment Protection Agency and the Parks Departments. (The vast National Parks are a cherished American heritage. Trump’s executive orders open them up to exploitation and industrial development.)
  • Permits to drill on Federal land, and in the formerly protected areas of the Alaskan arctic (where there are massive methane deposits; trillions of tonnes just waiting to be released to the atmosphere).
  • The removal of protections for wildlife and endangered species, including: ending restricted areas and seasonal bans on hunting, permitting the taking of cubs, the use of automatic weapons and shooting wolves and bears from helicopters. (This is a completely insane, sadistic order that surely must be resisted by genuine hunters?)
  • Ditto, laws regarding the proper care of domestic animals including dogs, cats and – in the USA? You’re shitting me! – horses.
  • Overturning a requirement for oil and gas companies to declare payments to even the most kleptocratic foreign governments for drilling rights.
  • Imposition of a ban on two thousand government-employed scientists publishing or presenting the results of climate research.
  • Another ban on EPA, Parks Department and NASA earthwatch departments issuing press releases and other public information relating to environmental and climate issues. The winding down of staff; a 32 per cent budget cut to start with.
  • Appointment as advisor to the transition team of toxic Washington swamp creature, rent-a-liar Exxon-Mobil lobbyist and rancid climate-change denier, Myron Ebell.
  • Nomination of  Chief Scientist, Prof. William Happer who argues that all papers published by climate scientists must be ‘vetted’. Not peer-reviewed: ‘vetted’.
  • Appointment as Secretary for Environment of Oklahoma’s Attorney-General Scott Pruitt, notorious climate-change denier and frequent litigant on behalf of energy-extracting interests against the EPA, known or thought to be in the pocket of third-worst polluting energy conglomerate, Koch Industries.
  • Removal of Reagan-era ban on polluting waterways with coal slurry, benefitting £100 billion Koch brothers’ mining interests.
  • Appointment as Secretary of State of Mr Rex Tillerson, CEO and long-term company servant of Exxon-Mobil; known or thought to be negotiating with Russia’s Rosneft over drilling concessions in the Arctic, for which the removal of sanctions would be required. Even in office, Tillerson stands to benefit substantially from any rise in Exxon stock. According to Fortune magazine:

    “His biggest conflict by far is his huge interest in Exxon, through the direct ownership of about $54 million worth of shares, plus another $175 million in a financial contract called restricted stock units (RSUs). Those units entitle Tillerson to receive Exxon shares in the future for his past years of service.”

  • To remove ‘Obama-era’ economic and travel sanctions on Russia; and to blind-eye covert Russian military operations in Ukraine, to achieve the aim stated above.
  • Granting permission for the construction of controversial Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines to bring dirty oil from hugely polluting Canadian tar-sands extraction sites 1,900 miles overland to refineries and exporting ports in Texas.
  • Appointment as Attorney-General (i.e. the man who could turn a blind eye to the behaviour of energy companies and developers, and savagely prosecute protestors) of supine and compliant Confederate-era throwback, Jefferson Beauregard ‘Jeff’ Sessions 111.
  • Removal and non-replacement of long-serving officials from the State Department and federal agencies ensuring weakened oversight, loss of global influence, confusion and lack of continuity.
  • A (so far) failed attempt to abolish the House ethics committee.
  • Removing controls on methane releases from extractive activities.

Yes, these are all genuine ordinances, as far as I can tell, that have come out of the not-so White House since he took office. I’ll be adding more as you or I think of them – or as Orange Satan himself does.

(Incidentally, Mr Trump has taken three different positions on climate change: it’s a hoax, it might be true but scientists don’t agree, and it’s probably true, but it will hurt the American economy to do anything about it (actually the opposite would be true). Showing that a) he doesn’t know what it is, b) his friends are urging him to ignore it, and c) he doesn’t give a fuck anyway.

WKB3

The Koch Brothers. Charles (l.) and David, on vacation in California. 1927.

Meanwhile, I recommend you visit Arctic.news.blogspot.co.uk for the latest updates on Arctic methane emissions (highest ever), ocean temperatures (up12 deg C.), ice cover (lowest ever); 50 deg. C. anomalies and the second El Niño (warming Pacific) event in two years, that has already begun.

And you could follow that up with some new Chinese research into the severe smog event that covered an area the size of Europe with choking, poisonous fumes for weeks on end this winter:

“The work is the latest to show that changes in the rapidly warming Arctic are already leading to severe impacts for hundreds of millions of people across North America, Europe and Asia. The US has also seen a rise in episodes of stagnant air, which may be leading to higher air pollution there.” – The Guardian Today

theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/15/airpocalypse-smog-events-linked-to-global-warming-research-reveals

But the poor old car industry, having to produce fuel-efficient cars – now, helping their shareholders to survive is more important than your grandchildren’s lives, isn’t it? And the $100 billion Charles and David Koch have personally got stuffed under the mattress, piled eighty feet high, above sea level? Give ’em a break. They work hard a diggin’ that good, clean American coal. They deserve it.

America, you’re being screwed by this murdering, tax finagling Antichrist and his shitty administration of Russian-employed Deplorables.

And you’re not the only ones. We have to share this planet with you, fuck you.

Dearly beloved

A minor theme began to emerge from some of the nasty things I’ve been writing about that nice Mr Trump and his clean-living friends. You know how they’re all religous nutters? Well, Trump isn’t, but religious nutters love him anyway, bringin’ on dem End Times, Jedoof poppin’ up agin to judge them sinners Gorsuch can’t reach. Not Trump, of course.

So anyway, I went online… and found as ever I’d been beaten to it.

Alleged wife-beater Donald Trump picks two other alleged wife-beaters for his administration

That’s from The Palmer Report. In total:

  • Vladimir Putin recently supported a change in the law, decriminalising wife-beating.
  • President Erdogan recently supported a change in the law, decriminalising wife-beating.
  • Trump has three times been accused of violence, including rape, towards his wives. Allegations withdrawn.
  • His cabinet pick for Employment (Labour) Secretary, Andrew Puzder, once labelled America’s Worst Employer, has frequently been accused of beating his wife and once claimed he was only ‘drunk-driving’ as a defence against an assault charge after an incident in the car. (I believe he’s resiled from his nomination because of it.)
  • Steve Bannon was accused of assaulting his wife, but for some reason she left the state before she could testify and the charge was dropped.

But it’s okay, the Bible says so.

“There is a subculture called “Christian Domestic Discipline” that promotes corporal punishment of wives by husbands. While its advocates appeal to the Bible to support their views, the movement has also been described as a form of S&M and there is a FetLife page devoted to it. It has also been described as inherently abusive and as primarily appealing to mentally disturbed individuals.”

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_domestic_violence

Look out, ladies, here come the Christian husbands!

x

“What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately, including “microwaves that turn into cameras, etc,” Conway told New Jersey’s The Record newspaper in an interview on Sunday. “So we know that that is just a fact of modern life.”

Ping

Ohmigod, before I could learn to pronounce Lollykanne… Kollyanne… Pollyanna… Skellytanne, whatever, my boring old microwave just turned into a camera.

And I thought it was a TV set (© Sarah Palin, 2011). Hot dang.

Instead of heating my disgusting Morrison’s ready meal – I generally buy them only when I have a busy evening ahead and no time to not have to survive on par-broiled dogshit accompanied by Uncle Ben’s 2-minute racist rice with added hominy grits and black-eye peas – I could swear it was watching me.

“You don’t really know how to operate me, do you?” said a tinny, accusing voice that seemed to be emanating from an area with holes at the side. “You’re a technocretin.”

No I’m not, I replied hotly. “I’ve got a media degree and stuff!”

“So how come you just pressed the shutter button to start the video instead of the four-minute defrost? How come you just took a picture of yourself looking puzzled as you tried to work out how to reset the timer once you’d accidentally put me into time-delay mode and I wouldn’t switch on, huh?”

“Er… did you just see me pouring a large vodka and tonic?” I asked, nervously.

“You mean the third one? Yeah, sure. I’ve already sent a memo to your GP surgery, they’ve no-platformed you. Don’t say you weren’t warned.”

The data were already on their way to Langley, Va, via GCHQ in Cheltenham, an agreeable and thoroughly civilized Regency spa town in the west of England marked for instant nuclear obliteration thanks to the secretive toroidal building on its outskirts, the ear on the world that we don’t talk about.

I was a marked man too; someone without a Facebook account, found nowhere on Instagram, inked-out of Linked-in; having no idea what Snapchat or Deliveroo is; someone who bought a harmonica on Amazon last night out of sheer boredom, just to get a parcel, evidencing an eclectic browsing history no secret new Google NoCaptcha algorithm could make head or tail of; now revealed to be completely ignorant of the operation of my old Panasonic micro-whatsit pungent with last week’s fish, dessicated shreds of exploded salmon fillet still clinging to the walls and ceiling.

What more suspicious invidual could there be, you wonder?

“You’re a member of The Resistance,” intoned the microwave, accusingly. “Give us the names of your accomplices, if you know what’s good for you!”

The box emitted a burst of microwaves that came close to frying my liver. “That’s just a warning, Bogler!” it snarled, menacingly. “So what are you going to write about Donald Trump tonight, eh? It had better be good. Real nice. I have some good news stories you can put about. For instance, I just created another million jobs. So good, lotsa people goin’ back to work, 45 per cent employed, 50 per cent, maybe 55… tell your friends. (Hey, I just got a retweet from some guy in England. Do we let them in still?)”

The microwave panned around the room taking in the unwashed dishes, the rumpled and stained tablecloth, the dried splotches of old catfood on the grimy timber flooring; the unopened statements, the air of depression.

“Oh, I forgot, you don’t have any, do you?”

“Fake News!” I cried. “So fake!”

With a final ping, the cooker light went out. I stood there in the dark, wanting to cry. How come this gibbering Conway bimbo has a job, and I don’t?

“America the beautiful… from shore to slimy shore…”

Pong

So now there’s yet another investigation going on into Trump’s financial connections with Russia. Does it never end?

A report on TYT quoting CNN yesterday quoting practically everybody else on the internet as the story goes viral introduces us to yet another name, Alfa – one of the biggest banks in Russia, said to be Mr Putin’s private fiefdom.

Unusual lookup traffic has apparently been observed running continuously between Alfa Bank’s server and a server located in a small town in Pennsylvania, whose ownership has been traced back to the Trump Organization.

No-one seems to know what is in that traffic, but it seems to be almost a dedicated server, as 80% of the traffic is from Alfabank – far too high to be accidental. Is it email – or is it data? Is it fan mail, or is it financial information, like money movements?

In a further intriguing detail, it’s reported that most of the other 20% – we can presumably rule out a few spams for viagra and winks from an orange dating site – comes from a healthcare company that looks very much like spinoff from his old Amway do-it-yourself health products pyramid-selling operation, Spectrum Health.

Yes, pop-up again ‘Dick’ DeVos, the multibillionaire Republican party and Trump campaign donor ($22 million) whose wife Betsy got made Education Secretary, despite apparently not knowing the first thing about public education except that it’s not worth wasting federal budget on the coloured folks and the Dumbfucks. (True, they have created a number of scholarships for budding Christian entrepreneurs like themselves, and own at least one company hounding down student debtors).

Both the DeVos’s do however know quite a lot about the healthcare market.

Now, emails from a healthcare company could well be the viagra spam connection, I have no idea. Or it may be professional advice, how to structure what we’re not being encouraged to call ‘Trump-care’ to ensure the private clinic sector gets more traffic at higher prices from the insurers after Obamacare has ended up in the sterile bin, and 24 million Americans are abandoned to Jesus.

Its website describes Spectrum Health as a full-service private medical business located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, DeVos’s hometown. One of its services is a phone-in diagnostic and recommendation service for non-life-threatening conditions. For 45 bucks they’ll tell you to take two paracetamol and go to bed. That sounds like Amway.

Is Trump possibly getting medical treatment on the quiet from Spectrum? Knowing as we do that he almost certainly faked his medical reference, telling everyone he was the healthiest Presidential candidate ever? The Pumpkin would love to know.

But that’s probably not it either.

“Alfa Bank JSC, the corporate treasury of the Alfa Group, is the largest private commercial bank in Russia. It was founded by Russian businessman Mikhail Fridman, who is still the controlling owner today. It is headquartered in Moscow. It operates in seven countries, providing financial services to over 40,000 active corporate customers and 5.3 million retail clients. Alfa Bank is particularly active in Russia and Ukraine, ranking among top 10 largest banks in terms of capital in both countries.” – Wikipedia

What does Mr Trump’s organisation have to do with a major Russian bank? A Ukrainian national, Fridman (net worth $18 billion) has fingers in many pies, principally oil and banking. And he’s long been one of Putin’s magic circle. From Forbes Magazine:

“What’s fascinating is how many of these billionaires have some sort of connection to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mikhail Fridman, Viktor Vekselberg, Len Blavatnik, German Khan, Alexei Kuzmichev and Pyotr Aven each made a billion or more selling their stakes in oil giant TNK-BP to Kremlin-controlled Rosneft.”

And those sales, we know, form part of a mosaic of divestments from the public sector of a whole range of commodities formerly controlled by the Soviet State, from sales of which to the private sector Mr Putin has allegedly amassed a personal fortune close to $100 billion.

But it still doesn’t get us closer to a connection with Mr Trump, other than someone not a million miles from the President of the United States of America seems to be using one of his company servers as a dedicated pipeline to or from Alfa Bank – which also has branches in the USA, including a major investment arm in New York; and to the DeVos’s Spectrum healthcare company. So there may be nothing to it. Share price movements? Horse-racing tips? Travel offers?

A clue to a different coincidence is however to be found in the following report in Fortune magazine:

“…the bank (Alfa) has in any case been run at a respectable arm’s length from the corporate skulduggery its owners have engaged in elsewhere. Its founder, Mikhail Fridman, has now largely cut his links with the country where he made his billions. He has applied for permanent residency in the UK, and said in July that he intends to invest most of what he made selling his ($billions, remember?) share of oil company TNK-BP in U.S. healthcare…”

fortune.com/2017/01/11/donald-trump-intelligence-russian/

Maybe we’re barking up the wrong tree?

x

Taxing square

So he paid $38 million in tax in 2005?

He’s reported to be steaming that the return was leaked. How embarrassing, when you built your case to the electorate on being too smart to pay tax. And when you’re about to scrap the special billionaire tax rule he had to pay it under.

But even $150 million a year income doesn’t, I’m afraid, make anyone a ‘billionaire’. Trump’s indebtedness probably makes him a negative billionaire; but as he appears to have no intention of paying the banks back, what does it matter? Same difference.

While on analysis, the $38 million appears to be a chimera. Analysts have noticed that the sum seems significant. They’ve worked out that he might have paid $5 million tax on his declared $150 million income, after offsetting against £100 million ‘losses’ (the Great Businessman!) – the rest being invested in an IRS scheme for the mega-rich, allowing them to not actually pay the tax owed this year, but to park it in escrow and pay it whenever the time is more convenient; in the meanwhile hanging on to any interest earned.

So fake. But did he release the papers himself? It wouldn’t be the first time he’s pretended to be a leaker, or his own PR agent. And now the rest of the media are wondering, was Rachel Maddow at MSNBC, who broke the story, deliberately fed with the two pages, the most convenient pages showing the President actually paying tax out of the past 20 years during which most experts believe he didn’t? Because it seems they were posted in New York…

Actually, to the mailbox of financial journalist and veteran Trump-watcher, David Cay Johnson, who vouches for them and suggests they may have come instead from the busy, multidepartmental desk of Jared Kushner.

x

You’ve got $millions

Marissa Meyer, the attractive young CEO of Yahoo!, is reportedly on the way out of the door following the takeover by rapacious comms giant Verizon, which already owns AOL. (They don’t seem to have antitrust laws anymore in Trumpsville.)

With a severance package worth $23 million, according to Variety magazine.

Ms Mayer was heavily criticised during her time in charge for presiding over numerous breaches of security, not only through mass hacking of millions of records, but in freely handing customer data over to the NSA without even a token struggle.

Meanwhile, leaving the Bank of England only hours before she was due to take up a more senior post, having been fingered by a Commons committee as failing to register a conflict of interest on the application form she herself helped design – her brother works in Securities at Barclays – Charlotte Hogg, for whose family the word ‘Establishment’ had to be invented, gets nothing.

Ms Hogg, 47, and a genuine high-flyer, the former CEO of venture capital angels 3i, had ample warnings and persisted in claiming she had filled the form in correctly, so you could see her departure as a form of career suicide. She went, despite Governor Carney refusing to accept her resignation until the very last minute. She was that valued, he put his own career on the line to save her.

Her actual entitlement was three months’ salary: £65,000.

She chose not to take it.

And they say bankers are corrupt.

x

Going for the Jocular

I Got Algorithm

OMG!!! I may be caught in a ‘filter-bubble’!

That’s the latest thing where the people watching you watching them can select the news stuff you get to see on the basis of what you recently looked at rather than showing you what is actually happening outside.

So, as a serious journalist and newswatcher, I just found myself staring at a page of BBC News that includes the shock-horror content that Funny Girl, Sue Perkins won’t be able to play host in the Great British Bake-Off tent tonight, owing to a bereavement. But don’t worry, ‘cos Sue’s still in the prerecorded section, and she’ll be back next week!

It’s obviously serious, but not too serious. This story is currently running at number two in the popular and widely trusted news site’s main news rankings. (I may be the only visitor to BBC News, as whatever story I’ve just been browsing on always seems to get bumped up the chart.)

There then followed an impassioned thread of Comments from apparently real people about whether or not someone should have been ejected from the tent after baking the ultimate-looking lemon drizzle cake. (Apparently, 10 million people watched the first episode.)

I have no interest whatever in baking shows, but trapped in this algorithm I fully expect to receive urgent news feeds about nothing else from now on.

Actually, it’s quite soothing.

Justin Bieber has apparently broken it off with someone. And then I learned that some highly illustrated US rapper called Chris Brown has been arrested for pointing a gun at a woman who was admiring his friend’s diamond necklace (male friend…), which also sounds pretty serious; especially as Brown loudly invokes Black Lives Matter, a cause devoted to exposing police brutality, whenever he is arrested for… er, brutality.

One in five parents are apparently regretting their choice of baby’s name, according to BBC News, while young girls on social media are increasingly unhappy about their looks, and many women are asking why their gym kit smells sweaty? (Because you’re sweating! Duh.) Clyde the Turtle has been stolen from his tank at the Blue Planet aquarium in Ellesmere Port – police are seeking a topless teenager who may have smuggled the cute reptile out under a sweater.

And here, look, the Guardian wants me to know that Selena Gomez (who she? Ed.) has had to take a career break because she’s having panic attacks (useful info, actually, as I need a break from shopping in Morrison’s for the same reason). Tweeter, phone-in host and cyclo-fascist, Jeremy Vine has posted a video of a black woman abusing him in the street for videoing her abusing him for… I don’t know, the crime is lost in history. And, like, now Justin Bieber is apparently ‘seeing’ someone else!

And following on from the Burkini debate French politicians are arguing about women’s breasts. France’s enduring female symbol, Marianne, is always depicted norks-out. You’d never see Britannia with her jugs on parade.

The big news story of the week for me was the video of Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ bassist, Flea, giving Koko the Gorilla a lesson in playing electric Fender bass. Koko treated the instrument with childlike curiosity, respect and tenderness; unlike Flea on stage, obviously. She also admired his body art, and the pair are now thoroughly bonded.

Of actual news, I can find almost none. Brexit? So yesterday. Refugees? So last year.

This nonsense idea from the marketing baboonery that whatever you did, saw or bought yesterday is what you’re just dying to do, see and buy again today is fixing the world in a kind of Groundhog scenario. For years after I bought my militaristic son the birthday book he wanted on sniper technique, Amazon continued to select for me a choice of reading I feared would shortly get me arrested.

The late, great Humphrey Lyttleton summed it up: you can’t eat in the same restaurant every night.

He was talking about adultery, of course.

Isn’t everyone?

 

Stranger in the Night

So, today already, I see with amaze that this, muh li’l bogl, has received TWENTY Views and it is still only half-past eleven in the morning; barely second-coffee.

What’s going on? Have we gone virile? Only time will tell.

Statistics are all very well, but they seldom reveal easy truths. Each of twenty very old Posts was hacked in the night, by just one – presumably the same – person. Presumably the same person who read 47 old Posts ten days ago – a one-day record. But who is not viewing any more exciting current issues of the BogPo, which otherwise attracts on average half a dozen desultory viewings a week (see Comment below for who I think is doing it!)

There is just one piece I Posted in 2012 that has attracted a thread several miles long. ‘Does No-one Now Remember Comex 2?’ recounts the fallibly remembered history of a disastrous student expedition to India in 1967; and tries to explore the Bergsonian nature of memory.

This piece seems to wake up every September, at about the time the horrid events took place; thus answering the question posed in the title.

More recent upPostings, however, have not proved of any interest; although many of them uncannily predate by at least three days, highly-paid correspondents’ reports and Comment is Free pieces on the Guardian website and expert utterances on Newsnight and headlines in the Daily Mail.

So you could be reading it here first, for free, and more amusingly; but you’re not, more’s the pity.

 

Seek and ye shall Find

It’s the Editor’s fault.

The BogPo doesn’t go in for Search Engine Optimization, that I am reliably informed is the translation of SEO. We are editorially opposed to the ‘keyword’ culture that subordinates content and meaning to a system of signs intended merely to bamboozle Google, which (like Gordon the Green Engine) is a very clever and wise engine.

Nor would we pay for ‘paperclip’ deals or provide extra Lynx to other people’s dreadful websites in order to gain the attention of their readers, who have their own loyalties I’m sure.

No, the BogPo is a chthonic organism that will one day blossom and, indeed, fruit.

Until then, I shall continue to do my best to hide in plain sight, as despite obviously being a billionaire entrepreneur I remain a notoriously shy individual who seeks no temporal recognition or thanks.

Herr Professor Doktor Ernst von-und-zu Bogl (By appointment), Senior Editor-at-large

Aboard the BHS Arcadia, Boglèry-sur-Mer, France-Sud (32⊂, sunny).

 

Red Nose Daze

Readers of this, muh bogl, may recall some years ago I commented satirically, and with tongue firmly in cheek, on a news story about a consultant from Texas (a ‘Texpert’?) who was over here, ‘training’ British policemen at great expense in how you can spot a paedophile by the clothes they wear.

I suggested the police could catch more paedophiles then, by planting suspicious cardigans on the racks in charity shops and following home the dirty old men who bought them.

Although it obviously is a serious subject, nonetheless the proposition seemed utterly absurd and (in my belief) were it not for the hysterical atmosphere that has been whipped up among credulous village baboons in the wake of the Savile affair, this self-promoting expert Texan bigot might have been denied a visa on grounds that we don’t let fantasists and conmen into the country, where wasting police time is an indictable offence.

Now, however, I’m not so sure.

Women residents of a warden-patrolled apartment complex in Greenville, North Carolina, have reported seeing groups of men dressed as clowns hanging around in nearby woods, ‘whispering and making strange noises’; while children have reported that ‘clowns’ were attempting to lure them into the undergrowth.

‎Evil clownOne resident told police she was walking to her home on 21 August in the early hours, when she saw a large clown with a “blinking nose” standing under a lamp post near a rubbish bin, local news channel WYFF4 has reported. She said the clown waved at her, but did not speak or come near her. – BBC News report, 30 August

Greenville police reported finding no evidence, but the warden has warned residents to be on the alert and to observe the 10 pm ‘curfew’ imposed on minors (only in America!).

‘Colurophobia’ is a semi-officially recognised condition affecting people who have a genuine terror of clowns. I have actually met someone who had a similar phobia about puppets; a friend who is a puppeteer says it’s not that uncommon. A lot of people just find clowns creepy and desperately unfunny.

As one of the latter, while not an out-and-out phobic I suspect I must have had a bad experience being taken to the circus as a very small child. I certainly remember my grandfather running a red light (nose?) and crashing the car en route.

Of course, people having private conversations with man-sized rabbits are not uncommon. Aliens from outer space, too, like to hang about in woodland, whispering and making strange noises. Nuns high on wheat ergot tend to see sexually aroused demons in the convent. Donald Trump hears Muslims and Mexicans plotting the downfall of the US together with senior Republicans in his sleep.

But I’ve never heard of an outbreak of suburban mass hysteria involving false sightings of large, taciturn, paedophilic clowns with blinking noses gesturing satirically at housewives from behind the garbage bins. That’s a new one.

And children never lie when they get caught breaking curfew.

Could it have anything to do with the widely reported pandemic of adulterated heroin abuse in America’s rust-belt communities, that is causing hundreds of tenement dwellers to OD every day?

We may never know.

However, it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that strange men going about dressed as clowns could be classed as a danger to children on the basis of their obviously sinister outfits, excessively silly make-up and furtive sylvan habits; circuses R-rated as a precaution.

Best be on the safe side when it comes to menswear.

Photo: Google images

 

Lifestyle

By Lifestyle correspondent, ©2016 Gwyneth_Platform, @whereits@

“…for men the wearing of brown shoes with a business suit is generally, though not always, considered unacceptable by and for British bankers within the investment banking division” – Social Mobility Commission report

Question: what do you mean, ‘though not always’? Blue suit, black shoes. Always.

Time the hobbledehoys at the Social Mobility Commission employed a proper style consultant. Preferably a real man, educated at Eton and Oxbridge.

I am putting the Editor forward, forsooth!!

Hinterland: projecting the Welsh culture abroad

21 July, 2016

Rhodri Talfan Davies

Director for BBC Wales

 

Dear Mr Talfan Davies

While not disagreeing entirely with your views on the lack of Welsh cultural projection (BBC News website, 21 July), given that you might be responsible for some of it, I should like to make two or so points.

Wales is a far more multicultural place now than it was when I arrived as an ‘economic migrant’ from London, via Gloucestershire, fifteen years ago (today, as it happens!). Sometimes it seems as though there are more natives of Birmingham here than there are of Wales; Polish and other languages are heard on the street, we have a new Bangladeshi community; while cars seem sadly to have replaced sheep as the most multitudinous of the non-human population.

I appreciate therefore the importance of celebrating, preserving and promoting the Welsh dimension through its cultural institutions – although that sounds possibly like a museum curator talking, but perhaps there is more of a need to accept change and celebrate diversity, projecting a more fluid social dynamic?

BBC Drama, especially on Radio 4, seems to go through patches where all the scripts seem to be about the minutiae of life in Pakistani families (corner-shops, honour killings), Irish or Scottish (heroin-related, or someone has come back depressed from Afghan) – and then from time to time Welsh, when one sometimes feels perhaps a little patronised by a certain forced comedic dimension.

Welsh characters are too often caricatured as, well, a bit helpless. I have myself acted the Welshman in several local dramatic productions because not enough Welsh male actors will put themselves forward to join in. We recently had to rewrite the script of a Dylan Thomas bio-drama because the only real Welsh actor we had to play him was six feet tall, whereas the giant of Welsh modern Lit. was only five feet five in his holey socks.

In a sense this mirrors the dilemma of ethnic diversity in drama in general: you want to cast black actors, but where are they? Fortunately there is now a growing pool to draw on, and perhaps the same will be said of Welsh actors the more success the Rhys Ifans’, Michael Sheens’ and so on enjoy internationally. But we have yet to celebrate a black, Chinese or east European Welsh actor, I think!

I feel too there is an element of defensiveness in a lot of what you and others have been saying for many years; and it is perhaps that which is preventing the wider promotion and presentation of Welsh culture, as it is so inbred in its nature. Wales punches indeed significantly above its size in terms of cultural celebrity; but those artists and performers all recognise that their success depends on them becoming, first and foremost, internationalist. Somewhere there needs to be a balance; and, more importantly, relevance in a busy world where so much ‘culture’ is vying for attention

Which brings me to Hinterland….

Apart from the obvious scheduling problems and apparent budget shortage (why can’t Tom have a proper detective car, a vintage Jaguar like Morse or a (Welsh!) TVR, a battered old Mk1 Land-Rover he obviously cherishes, rather than that humdrum Volvo?), I and many of my friends here feel that Hinterland presents a remorselessly negative picture of life (and death) in Ceredigion. Most of us watch it largely because we enjoy the continuity errors!

If you will pardon an anecdote, last year I came across the cast and crew filming around the marina. I stopped and asked Mari when the new series was coming out; she thought ‘maybe’ in the autumn. ‘And will it be as gloomy as the last?’ I asked, jokingly. ‘Probably gloomier’, she replied glumly. It was!

I have to say, despite it winning an international award, I feel Hinterland is derivative, inward-looking and lacking in plot variation, precisely because of its overly Welsh one-dimensionality: the brooding landscape, thinly populated by embittered loners setting fire to one another’s houses over ancient feuds, seems almost satirical. The characters don’t seem fully developed in comparison, say, with The Bridge or other Nordic noir dramas on which the mood and feel of Hinterland are clearly based; they seem emotionally stuck, with what are thinly doled-out (does ‘Lloyd’ even exist, off-set?),  cardboard-cutout back-stories.

The lack of a realistically diverse ethnic and cultural dimension portrayed in this teeming university town and seaside resort does not at all reflect the life we know. (Yes, you did have a couple of Polish girls in one episode, well done! I have yet to identify a single English or Scottish character, who make up fully a third of the population… and where are the endless traffic snarl-ups?) There is so much more richness of history, intrigue and event in Aberystwyth than your writers seem willing to mine for stories. Why not set an episode in our university? It is a real one, at least!

There is of course no reason the show should reflect real life, it is drama after all, but if you are going to complain about the lack of Welsh cultural projection outside Wales, one viewing of Hinterland would be enough to convince most people of its severe limitations.

What is stopping you making more accessible programmes for the outside world? Apart, that is, from Dr Who? I suspect it is in fact the paucity of subjects; the narrowness of the Welsh dimension, that is holding things back.

To be frank, Shetland is a more reliable series; more openly reflective seemingly of its island life, more rooted in its community yet open to the wider world; and is more intricately and densely plotted, better produced and more naturalistically written, with interesting, three-dimensional characters showing vitality and progression.

Hinterland by contrast is an unwelcome study in Welsh claustrophobia; introverted; stuck in its miseries*; under-cast, short on locations, short on plot and character development and trapped in its own narrow country lanes.

A national depression narrative…. How good an ambassador is that for Wales’ diverse culture, I wonder?

 

*’Miseries’ sounds like ‘miniseries’. An odd word you often come across in TV columns. It was honestly years before the penny dropped and I realised that the word meant ‘mini-series’. ‘Miniseries’ sounds ecclesiastical, perhaps from a prayer: ‘Lord, forgive them their miniseries’; a part of the Tridentine mass (Let us now proceed to the miniseries), or a description of some priestly vestments: ‘He appeared at the altar in fetching pink miniseries’….

Blue Rondo à la Turque (Integrity unwrapped)

Handing out the lollipops

Since commencing this thread on Thursday the BogPo has been overwhelmed by the onward march (‘frenzied dash’ better, shurely? Ed.) of history.

On the subject of last night’s failed attempt by junior Army officers to overthrow the increasingly erratic Mr Erdogan, who blames all the nation’s misfortunes on a parallel universe ruled over by his Nemesis, the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, I should dare only to say that history teaches us that a fish rots from the head, the immediate precautionary removal of which ought to be the primary objective of any competent coup plotter.

(If it wasn’t, you start to wonder who exactly inspired the plot? And how many of the subsequent six thousand ‘arrests’* are merely opportunistic reductions in the swarm of Mr Erdogan’s imaginary enemies? Who will ‘try’ them, now he has sacked all the judges?)

Letting the President rally his vast horde of low-rent supporters on his iPhone made shutting down all the TV and radio stations a bit of a waste of scarce manpower; and letting him fly back to Istanbul from his holiday at an agreeable villa on the Sea of Marmara was a significant tactical blunder, especially as the plotters had supposedly surrounded the airport and grounded all flights.

The failure too to secure the support of the airforce and any of the ‘opposition’ parties in Parliament sealed the fate of the plotters, whose motives, intentions and the addresses of their friends and relatives are now being extracted from them in no doubt colourful and entertaining ways. Knowing their probable fate, why did they allow themselves to fail so easily?

They should have learned lessons from the fate of the Brexit plotters: you’re never as popular as you think you’re going to be, even when you’re winning. Coups aren’t over until you start handing out the lollipops.

Go, Bo!

And what does our new Foreign Secretary have to say about Turkish affairs in the light of last night’s events? Go to: <http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/19/boris-johnson-wins-most-offensive-erdogan-poem-competition> for some clues.

They say a week can be a long time in politics.

 *Now believed to be in the region of 50 thousand…

(Jazz alert)

Integrity unwrapped

As every reader of this, muh bogl, kno’, I sometimes allude to some of the worse things life can bring in its wake.

Like, when your socks slide down inside your wellies on a wet walk and bunch-up under your feet.

Or when a bunch of credulous baboons decides you’re going to leave the European Union.

I’ve expatiated before, I think, on the subject of cellophane packaging. As a collector of cheap reissues of old jazz albums on CD (see Pages: My Jazz CDs for full details, yawn), I am forever tearing my guitar-pickin’ thumbnail trying to slide it into the CD case around the edge to cut the cellophane seal.

As, in the old days, one unwrapped a pack of cigarettes. Almost.*

Not for nothing have easily corruptible CDs been described as intermediate technology. (Okay, I didn’t get paid for it, but it sounded good.) Cellophane rips, but only once its integrity has been compromised. Compromising its bloody integrity is 99.9 per cent of the battle. Fail to compromise its integrity, and its protective qualities may last a lifetime.

Cigarette packagers had the clever idea of designing-in a pull-strip around the pack, with a coloured tab you could easily get hold of, and tear through the cellophane in one quick motion. Tearing the cellophane was the first satisfying element of the daily (or in my case, twice-daily) ritual of opening a pack and smelling again that sweet air of Old Virginnie.

So you can imagine my delight when, within 24 hours of confirmation of my latest CD order, I discovered there was a pull-strip woven into the cellophane packaging!

Until I started exploring further, when it became evident that, whoever helpfully thought to provide a pull-strip, was almost certainly the same baboon who thoughtfully collects their dogshit in a little bag and then dumps the bag on the footpath across from my house.

No tab.

If you are interested in finding out more about modern jazz of the Bebop era (1945-59 – or for non-purists maybe ’68), I recommend the album as among the best I know: ‘Blowin’ the Blues Away’, by the Horace Silver quintet, on Blue Note 7243.

See, some good can come from the worst of adversity. But you may need a sharp knife.

And if YouTube viewers didn’t keep recommending me tawdry 1970s Italian ‘erotic’ movies about randy dentists dubbed in Russian, I’d suggest you might even look there and avoid the problem of cellophane altogether.

 *A modest proposal. Ban the insertion of the little tear-off cellophane strip around the cigarette pack and you deny the user access to the contents without insulting their intelligence. Result: extra health, and safety.

 

Be careful what you wish for #2

There seems to be a hint of punishment of the Brexiteers about Theresa May’s cabinet appointments.

Gove, for instance, the speccy little swot and crazed plotter, has been dumped altogether. The hapless Boris has been turned into a figure of ridicule on the global stage, being appointed Foreign Secretary; formerly an important job, now little more than a bag-carrier for the US State Department, his appointment has occasioned gales of mirth across the water.

Fallon, the hypocritical Scots bully-boy (see Posts passim), has been sent to Defence to bully us into paying for Son of Trident instead of wasting the money on hospitals. Boris’s bus conductress, Priti Patel has been sent back to India or wherever as International Aid minister. Grayling, he of the curiously shaped head, has been put in charge of making the trains run on time. (Presumably that includes HS2, for which we shall need easily 50,000 more EU migrant workers to build it.)

Ex-SAS man and arch Eurosceptic, David Davis (so good, they misspelled him once) has been given the thankless task of negotiating Brexit, serves him right. But at least he’s had the tough-guy training, which should enable him to yomp around Europe for a while with a backpack full of rocks. But then SAS operatives do like to go native ….

The only Brexiteer who’s in exactly the right job, ‘Dr’ Fox has been put in charge of International Business, which should allow him to pursue his lifelong interest in Britain becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the US defense industry, and will at least keep him and his invisible friend Mr Werritty out of the country for long periods at a time.*

The one I feel sorriest for is Jeremy C… sorry, Hunt. Nobody ever gets that right.  I can imagine how the poor chap has spent the day pleading to be released from the living hell that is the Junior Doctors’ dispute and given anything, even a junior ministry at Work and Pensions. But the ruthless Mrs May was having none of it. ‘Back you go, Jeremy, and sort the NHS out or MI5 will tell The Sun what we know you did behind the bike shed!’

What’s worse, he was a Remainer! But he might be reminded that in 2005 he co-authored a policy document advocating privatising the Health Service. Maybe she intends to take him up on that? So we can spend the £350 million a week instead on keeping Scottish shipbuilders in work?

I vaguely recall a TV mystery show back in the 1950s whose trailer carried the strapline: ‘Anything can happen in the next half-hour’.

So don’t bet money on whatever I say, will you.

*For further information about ‘Dr’ Fox and the weird and dangerous world inside his curiously shaped head, you could try both his Wikipedia entry and the following cut-and-paste link to an alarming article by Nik Cohen.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/07/liam-fox-azerbaijan-relationship-book-publishing

 

Trump vs Frump #3

“I was the one who predicted Brexit” – Donald J Trump

No, Donald, read my bogl Post of 2 May, 2013, and Posts subsequently. Unless you already did.

 

 

Calling in the receivers

Happy Birthday BogPo

Congratulations on our 500th Post. The first mindbogls.plc ‘The Boglington Post’ Post was Posted on this day, 27th February, four years ago. In that time the BogPo team has covered many subjects, breaking stories, extended whinges and mindblowingly prescient Comment pieces amounting to, ooh, well over half a million words of scintillation and amaze.

We would like therefore to remind all our Followers, Likers and Spammers that we haven’t charged you a penny for all our efforts to keep you entertained and informed. Yet we are having to pay men to come help renovate our kitchen. There is definitely something broken in our society when we have to say that.

THANKS A BUNCH.

(I was about to add YOU GUYS, but that would have broken one of my New Year’s resolutions.)

 

Calling in the receivers

Since the posters and banners began appearing everywhere to alert us to the imminent closure of our only local omni-DIY store – the next one being 37 miles away – unless you count Cheap Charlie’s little Aladdin’s Cave, where you can’t park but you can buy anything from some pretty unfashionable outdoor clothing to a tube of glue or a power-drill, but not the big stuff; you couldn’t embark on a kitchen refurbishment, or re-fence your garden, for instance – B&Q has been jammed to the rafters with all the refuseniks who couldn’t bring themselves to shop there before, scrambling for possible bargains.

All the staff who were never there when you needed someone have emerged from the woodwork, as it were; many extras seem to have been imported for the occasion, and you can barely negotiate the aisles with your unsteerable flatbed trolley for orange-suited Guantanamo releasees restocking the high shelves from fork-lift trucks laden with extra sale-bargain, 25% Off!  stuff. Hundreds of middle-aged husbands have rediscovered their pride in being able to put up shelves or hang ceiling paper and are reviving those long-abandoned refurbishment projects. (I just happen to be in the middle of one of mine.)

The actual final date of closure is nebulous: ‘the end of April’. ‘When we’ve sold everything’. You can even talk to the manager about acquiring the fixtures and fittings. It’s possible it may never happen. The assister who helps me to my car is upbeat: he has secured a transfer to a faraway branch where he can obtain a better qualification as a fork-lift truck driver.

That says it all, really, about our little town.

But it gives me hope for the EU referendum.

On the morning after he loses and the receivers take over the business, Mr Cameron will announce the closing-down sale of GB plc – henceforth Britain will be available only on-line.

Within minutes, all the people who couldn’t previously be bothered just because Europe was always there will start flocking to the Channel Tunnel and Heathrow airport, demanding in broken French to be let out before the iron gates clang shut for the last time and all the remaining unsold stock is shipped out to depotland. Sales of garlic, berets, bicycles, Johnny Halliday records  and funny sausage will soar.

I predict, once we leave the EU we will all become much more European.

It’s only because we really were Europeans for a generation that the British were so grudging, nudging and fudging about all things Continental – bureaucracy (as if ours weren’t the most enthusiastic bureaucrats in Brussels), red tape, health and safety regulations, rude waiters, straight bananas, refugees – Spanish planning laws.

Unbeatable football teams.

We imagine, don’t we, that we can be more like our wartime allies, the Norwegians (except Peter Quisling of course), who aren’t in the EU but do okay on the margin. They may be suicidal, crepuscular alcoholics, but they always come out nearly t0p of the clever people league tables, have ruddy complexions and are allowed to ski heroically for miles with rifles strapped to their backs.

It hasn’t quite occurred to us, has it, that their prosperity is based on not squandering their North Sea oil resource on pointless wars in flyblown desert countries, refinancing bankrupt banks, financing large US tech corporations with huge tax subsidies or protecting a few monosyllabic anglophone shepherds and a postmistress from invasion by any passing brutal South American junta. This has enabled them to build up a huge financial balance they are now able to plunder to support their refugees.

Nor are they forced by national pride and the Scottish labour unions to commit to spending £100 million on scraping the barnacles off the bottoms of their nuclear submarine fleet every 20 years. Despite being hundreds of miles closer to the growling Russian bear, they have never felt the necessity to acquire a nuclear bomb.

I’m not sure what they would make of our charming habit of scattering empty lager cans, condoms and McDonalds wrappers over our urban landscape. Most people don’t know that Norway pays the EU money to have bilateral trade agreements and be part of the customs union, they just don’t get a say in how things are managed. Nor are most people aware that Norway has the same population as Wales, a quasi-autonomous British principality on the Celtic fringe almost entirely funded by the EU.

Not many people I suspect, could name a single successful global Norwegian company, historical figure – Amundsen? Roald Dahl? – idea or invention. As for their music, their computer games, their fashion, their film industry, their … Edvard Munch? Even tiny Wales scores more highly in the culture stakes, although neither country has successfully exported its tricky language to three-quarters of the globe.

Not to disparage Norway, it gives great fjords, but we had a lot to offer Europe, didn’t we?

And they appreciated it.

And now we’re about to walk out on them, out of some vague and unjustifiable feeling of superiority.

The words ‘rats’ and ‘ship’ spring to mind.

 

And lo! the dead arose and baulked

I’m delighted that Mr Ian Duncan-Smith, the failed former leader of the Tory party (no bald man has been voted into office as Prime Minister since Winston Churchill. Interestingly you can Google ‘bald Prime Ministers’ and get masses of helpful advice), has come out so assertively against his own, shinily coiffed leader and in favour of Britain leaving the EU.

As the architect, both of the failed policy to introduce a cut-price ‘universal benefit’ and of the disgusting policies to deprive disabled people of essential State supports while forcing as many of them to go to work as his private contractors can possibly justify on the grounds of their spurious tests (almost three thousand people declared fit for work by these charlatans, the children of Mengele, have inconveniently died within six months), so publicly loathed and reviled is this bland, arch-Tory cunt that his support for Brexit can only help to persuade waverers brainwashed by forty years of anti-European propaganda serving the interests of the hard-right that perhaps, after all, there might be something in this Europe business.

Compassion, possibly.

And will someone tell the Prime Minister that relentlessly campaigning to stay in the EU on the entirely negative and virtually meaningless slogan that to leave would be ‘a leap into the unknown’ is not helping?

Perhaps Sir Linton Crosby, the architect of that inexplicable Tory election win last May, could be pressed into service – or, if he is already in service, then out of it? Someone, me possibly, needs to tell Mr Cameron that the way to win is to show ordinary Britons that being second-class citizens in Europe is the inevitable corollary of making Ian Duncan-Smith a first-class shit in HM Prison Britain.

 

Q. Why does Donald Trump keep asking ‘What’s going on?’

A. Because he doesn’t know.

Ta-ra fer now!

– Uncle Bogler