Friday, 19 September 2014

A Sticky Situation

Just like buses, you wait all day for a summer madness story, and then three come along at once ....

The E45 road near Sunne in West Sweden was the scene of an unusual accident when the road became impassable following a strange accident in July 2014.

A lorry's back-doors flew open and the load poured on to the road .... police had to hose down and clear 330 feet (100 metres) of roadway.

The Road To Tosseberger Was A Sticky Patch

And the cause of this was a vast amount of preserved fruit, known as pancake jam in Sweden. Now even I have to admit, that's an unusual traffic jam ..... sorry!

But strangely, this only a week or so after a mash up on a road in A64 near Malton, in Yorkshire when a lorry accidentally shed its load of ..... mash potatoes, at about 3.30pm on the 21st of June 2014.

One witness said: ‘It was like a sea of white. I was about a mile away from where it happened but I could still see it."

Mashed Potato ..... like a sea of white"

North Yorkshire Police closed the road for several hours after the incident, but nobody was injured in the incident ..... but unbelievably, this was actually the second potato spillage in the UK that month, there was another similar spillage at  Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, when a lorry spilled its load of mashed potato that was due to be used in animal feed.

The road was closed for three hours, while rescue workers scraped the potato from the road and hosed it down. 

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

The increasing hard Islamification of Turkey continues apace, as the Islamically 'conservative' ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), take an ever deeper grip on Turkey. The Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc recently declared that women shouldn't laugh in public as he made an anti-feminist speech.

He was railing against "moral corruption" in Turkey, but apparently its all down to the loose morals of women, particularly in the area of Turkey that is dominated by Constantinople, err sorry Istanbul, where the population are often descendants of westerners who settled there in Byzantine times, and who later converted to Islam after the Turks finally defeated the Greeks in 1453, those who didn't convert, faced ISIS like hard times.    

"A man should be moral but women should be moral as well, they should know what is decent and what is not decent,"  he declared, but then rounded on womankind who "... should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times."

He then attacked Turkish TV soap operas, and criticised the 'use of cars and mobile phones', which he claimed encouraged women to spend hours on the phone swapping recipes .... this should be ringing alarm bells, because its what Saudi clerics also preach about women ... no cars, no independence. However he did mention in his speech that Turkish men shouldn't become womanisers .... well that's a balanced argument then.   

Remember, they are already trying to ban alcohol via restrictions, and free speech is also under threat, but still this is the Islamic party that thinks that they should be allowed to join the European Union, as they are as democratic and respecting of women's rights as Denmark .... well perhaps in a 100 years, if Denmark and the rest of the continent is overwhelmed by immigration from Muslim lands ... but if not, then never.

#kahkaha Laughter ...

In response many women have launched a laugh back campaign under the hashtags #kahkaha (laughter), #direnkahkaha (resist laughter), and #direnkadin (resist woman). These are accompanied by pictures of them laughing .... Among the many images posted were the wife of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ..... laughing under her head scarf.

Two Dead Quangos

What bloody use are the Advertising Standards Authority and its stupid twin brother Ofcom? I ask because there have been a series of ridiculous judgements by these two organisation, who are quite obviously scratching around for reasons to exist.

The Advertising Standards Authority has recently banned a Jaguar TV commercial which shows two F-Type convertible sport cars driving down a closed road. It took the view that two racing cars .... well, er, 'Glorified Speed'.

And Ofcom, well they are once again having a go at the Top Gear TV show .... because the show featured Jeremy Clarkson et al, looking at a bridge they had built on the River Kwai as a local man walked across it. Clarkson remarked: "That is a proud moment. But there's a slope on it." ....  to which co-star Richard Hammond replied: "You're right. It's definitely higher on that side." .... however innocent this may seem, this it appears was both a truth, and a racial insult. Although I had to have the racial insult explained, apparently, 'a slope', can refer to Asians with slanted eyes.

Quangos Burning

Now I am not here to defend either Jaguar or Top Gear - although it seems that the BBC is trying to destroy its most popular younger male orientated TV show .... no doubt to be replaced with more episodes of EastEnders ... That'll bring in more women at least.

No, it was the basis of these actions that makes me sure that these two organisations are both past their useful life. Top Gear has a UK viewing figure of around Five Million while the Jag advert, if shown during a popular sports game, could well be seen by at least 8 to 10 million.

The number of complaints against Top Gear was two, I'll repeat that, just 2 complaints out of 5 million viewers .... so 0.000004 of the viewers complained. Statistically, that means that no one was offended.

Similarly, the number of complaints against the Jaguar Advert was was two, and I'll repeat that as well, just 2 complaints out of 5 million .... so again the best justification was 0.000004 of the viewers complained. Again, statistically, that means that no one was offended.

So effectively, what we can watch, what we can say or do is circumscribed by just two people (or maybe four, but I suspect that they may be the same two people). Now surely to trigger any actions, these two organisations must get a statistically significant number of complaints before they can act?

How can they act so harshly when just two complaints come in? To put this in perspective, the most complained about TV show in the UK this year was 'Big Brother' with 965 complaints, but incredibly popular, so ....? Its still on air, and no action taken. Even the drama 'Ripper St' attracted 88 complaints, but remained on air untouched by action. The Tom Cruise movie 'Jack Reacher' had 26 complaints .... but nothing. So why do two complaints cause warnings and removals for other programmes?

If their modus of action, is that any complaint is sufficient to act, then they are nothing more than censors, acting arbitrarily. As far as I can tell, there is no way to complain about their decisions, or the fact that they are acting unreasonably, in responding to single figure complaints.

In other words, just another couple of Quangos, who are acting like unelected governments, and who are now just laws unto themselves.     
 

The Dream That Was Once Argentina

Its interesting in a schadenfreude kinda way to watch as Argentina blows up economically again .... I mean I have no sympathy for them as a nation. In between bouts of dictatorship, they have usually interspersed populist governments who whip up bouts of anti British fervour in order to distract a rather stupid population from the economic woes that that they are facing.

El Presidenti Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is no exception to this, and in fact has rather modelled herself on the Hugo Chavez model of government, only with out the vast oil reserves that he had to lessen the damage of his policies by bribing the poor ..... So after the previous debt default of 2001-02, we can now add another as they have failed to pay the 'Vulture Bond' holders in the US who won a judgement there, to force Argentina for old bonds to be paid in full. Technically this means that Argentina is in default again ..... which as they are already locked out of the international money markets means they will merely remain so for longer.

So although the Kirchner government is in denial "We're not going to default, they'll have to invent a new term to define what's happening" she has proclaimed ... to deafening silence. But except for a few vague promises from the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) of support from the group, in her battle against the "vulture funds" little more is on offer. They also suggested that the organisation's new 'Development Bank' could well offer her an economic lifeline .... or maybe not. We shall see.

In the meantime interest rates on corporate debt is likely to increase and also the new default may spur some capital outflows, thus exacerbating an already bad shortage of hard currency, and so put renewed pressure on foreign exchange reserves and the almighty peso.

I say 'Almighty Peso, because there was a time when the idea that Argentina wasn't going to flourish, and the Argentine Peso wouldn't rival the US dollar in the Americas, would have been laughable. Argentina had what was referred to as 'Argentina’s Belle Époque', a period before the outbreak of the first world war, when the country claimed to be the world’s true land of opportunity.

Argentina Belle Epoch - They Weren't Even Anti-British Then - see the Union Jacks in Top Left Picture.

In the 43 years leading up to 1914, its GDP grew at an annual rate of 6%, which made it the fastest growing economy in the world for that period, outstripping even the USA. European immigrants flocked to find work in the agricultural sector, which was propelling Argentina’s expansion.

In 1914 half of Buenos Aires’s population was foreign-born, and the country ranked among the ten richest in the world. Whilst it still ranked below Australia, Britain and the United States etc, its economy was ranked above France, Germany and Italy. It's income per head was 92% of the average of 16 rich economies, and it looked down its nose at its South American neighbours. By comparison Brazil’s population was less than a quarter as well-off, and the rest where nowhere, and even at the end of this epoch in 1928, there were more cars in Argentina than in France, and more telephone lines than in Japan.

However this was its zenith, and although it has had periods of growth in the past 100 years, including a commodity boom around soya over the past decade, these economic bursts have only allowed Argentinians to remain wealthier than some of their neighbours. But its position as one of the world’s most vibrant economies is an almost forgotten memory. For example its income per head, is now just 43% of the level of those same 16 rich economies, and it trails Chile and Uruguay, and possibly even Columbia in the Southern Americas.

Argentina's GDP Per Person Going The Wrong Way ......

A lot of this can be laid at the feet of its corrupt or inept politicians, because if the Argentina government in the pre-WWI era led to economic boom, its history since the 1920's has indicated what happens when the politics goes wrong .... Firstly there has been a succession of military coups (First in 1930; followed swiftly and regularly by others in 1943, 1955, 1962, 1966, and 1976) .... this seems to have set the rot, because although the election of 1989, marked the first time in more than 60 years that a civilian president had handed power to an elected civilian successor, it hasn't stopped the inexorable decline into bad debt, boom and bust (with more bad debt).

Ah, but there was 'once a dream that was Argentina. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish... it was so fragile'.

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