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Friday, 25 March 2016

Je Suis Where Next

0nce again more sickening blasts in a Western city, once again the cry of Allahu Akbar (the soundtrack to this century), rings out as blood pours down the gutters of European streets, and once again a EU politician asks 'for calmness and solidarity'.

Another Capital Another Bombing Outrage ...

Work Through Joy

Apparently, Gallup the polling company, have consistently found that only 13 per cent of working people in the world actually enjoy going in to work. I was going to add 'in the mornings' or 'for a living' etc, but in fact it was simply going to work .... full stop. This heroic 13 per cent described themselves as being "engaged" or "emotionally invested" in their work, and thus focused on helping their organizations improve.

In fact, the results of the last such study, showed that the of the remaining 87 per cent of the work force, the largest, 63 per cent, were "not engaged" (or simply unmotivated, and unlikely to exert any extra effort), while the remaining 24 per cent were "actively disengaged". Or put another way hate their jobs, and were thus very non-productive. These work happiness figures hardly changes between 2009 and 2012.

Best And Worst Workers .....

The Benefit Trap Revisited

The other day I found out that a man I know, had given up work a couple of decades ago to 'care for his wife'. I was surprised at this information (which came from someone else), as nothing he had ever said, had suggested that he hadn't worked in decades, and as I had seen his wife occasionally, I had thought that he had only recently 'retired' early, and had a pension etc.

In fact I might add that he had even encouraged this belief, by implication when talking about 'grafting hard' when in another city in the past. On top of this was the fact that his wife often visits her family, and they go on a holiday abroad to Spain once every year, so this was something of a surprise on a couple of levels.

1) That he was not working (or recently stopped work), and
2) That he could afford a lifestyle that includes the pub at weekends, and a holiday abroad every year, while on welfare benefits.

Many People Are Called 'Workshy' ....

51st state

A while ago I predicted that under Raúl Castro, Cuba would suddenly see dramatic changes in the lifestyles of it peoples .... rather like ice dripping from a glacier it would be imperceptible, but the effects would accelerate and there would be a positive deluge of changes.

Well we are on the point where the tipping point will be passed. An American President has visited Cuba for the first time since Calvin Coolidge landed in Havana from a US battleship and declared in in 1928 that Cuba was "free and prosperous". Hardly a claim that Pres. Obama could make, and also hardly like Nixon going to China, but a hopeful sign nonetheless.

USA and Cuban Relations Are Always Difficult

Friday, 18 March 2016

The Life of Pie

Our snack foods have been around for far longer than most of us imagine ..... for example, whilst the Earl of Sandwich has given his name to two bits of bread, placed on either side of some meat (or other substances), its extremely unlikely that this was the first time this combination of bread and food was tried.

In ancient times, from ancient Sumer to Pharaonic Egypt, urban living brought street foods into existence. For instance, for most city living Roman citizens, they resided in what were the first 'high-rise, high occupancy apartment blocks', aka flats, all of which rarely had cooking facilities, and the occupants therefore depended on street food vendors for many of their meals.

This street meal was usually something simple, such as bread soaked in wine, or dipped in olive oil, or even fish oil, and eaten as a quick standing snack for breakfast or the midday meal from a stall. They would then more than likely enjoy a meal of cooked vegetable with stews later on, in a 'Popina'. This was a simple type of drinking establishment, opening out onto the street and which were the quick food establishments of the time e.g. wine bars with simple menu's.

Crabby Pattys - Snack Food.

Three Score And Ten

Bill Wyman is a musician who played in the rock band 'The Rolling Stones'. As such he is a minor celebrity, and so in our fame orientated society, that warrants some media attention. So the fact that the information that he had cancer made the BBC news is not too surprising, but what made me wonder, was the inherent suggestion in running the story, that it was a somehow a surprise that a 79 year old man was getting an illness. When I was younger, and certainly when Mr Wyman was growing up, 'old' men often died at around age 68 (women somewhat later), and anyone in their late 70's had done very well.

Three Score And Ten Was Our Allotted Lot ....

Nothing To Moan About

Mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is using the Human Rights Act (yes that one), to sue the Norwegian government, as he is not allowed contact with other prisoners ..... he has compared his conditions in prison to "torture". As you will no doubt recall, he killed 77 people in 2011. Which is a lot by any standards (even I.S. mass murderers struggle with that level of killing), and he is obviously unrepentant, judging by his Nazi salute in the court room.

Anders Breivik Is Not A Normal Man

Bad Name Means Bad Blood

Talking about Bud Weisser getting arrested in a brewery, made me think about other odd names, and whether they link to success (or indeed failure) ... for instance had I named a child 'Caractacus', would they have succeeded in life?

US research released in 2009, compared crime statistics, against a list of more than 15,000 boys first names, to reveal a distinct “name-crime link” among American males (but presumably the same applies in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand as well). Apparently the more unpopular or uncommon the boys first name is, the greater the chance that the juvenile would end up incarcerated later in life. This apparently held true across all races, with those boys with unpopular (i.e. not common) names, way more likely to do at least some time in prison.

Bad Name Equals Bad Blood

Friday, 11 March 2016

Your A Long Time Dead

As we have had something of a Fortean trend going on the recent posts .... I thought I might tale this off with an oddity from Torquay. The museum there apparently houses some ancient Egyptian items. One of which is the mummy of a young royal boy named Psamtek who had been interred around 600 BC. Oddly he had been reusing an older tenants Mummy casket, because it is around a millennium older than his bones. Presumably they had evicted the original occupant, although that was not confirmed in reports.

The heavy and hermetically sealed glass case protecting the mummy and casket from the public’s wandering (and often thieving), hands, had not been opened in seven years, and in any case was so heavy that the last time it been lifted, it had taken the efforts of seven men to do so, according to the Museum keeper.

Psamtek - Casket Stealer.

Insider Trading

Sometimes a story comes along, which can be easily read the other way ..... this is one is such a tale. Ostensibly the story is about a daring fraud and bank hack, 'foiled' in Bangladesh, but when examined more closely, there are a lot of tell-tale clues, that suggest that there is a lot more to this, than meets the eye.

It was reported that last month some 'Cyberthieves' targeted Bangladesh's Central Bank, and tried to get away with $1bn (£700m) in money, via bank transfers. They apparently used 'stolen credentials' to make the requests to transfer cash, look legitimate. They would apparently have succeeded, but for the fact that they were being greedy and making too many transfer requests in too short a period ... oh, and they couldn't spell correctly in English (BA Calcutta failed?). Not that the Bangladesh Central Bank spotted anything wrong, they were apparently totally unaware of the large volume of transfer requests being made against their plentiful funds.

You Never Know Where It Will Happen Next ....

The Law of Unintended Consequences

When Mother Merkel said something on the lines of  'Send us your poor Islamic masses, come to Germany!' .... she did so with little or no thought for the consequences. Firstly for Europe, for whom those consequences have played out like a broken violin. In fact she may well prove to be the architect of the end of free borders inside Europe, and perhaps even the ever closer union itself.

Mother Merkel of Europa

The Gates Of Vienna Have Been Breached

Twice in European history, all that stood between Central and Western Europe, and Ottoman Turk conquest, were the Gates of Vienna. Its because those gates held firm as late as 1683, western civilisation (including Christianity, the Renaissance, and Humanism), were not swept into the back waters of history .... as it has wherever else Islam took a good grip. The Middle East for example, once had more Christians than Muslims .... but we are actually watching the final eradication of Christianity from the Arab lands by rape, murder, forced conversions and expulsion.

Siege Of Vienna 1683 Saved Europe .... But Not Against Our Own Politicians

Friday, 4 March 2016

Will The Real Budweiser Please Stand Up

Stories with strange coincidences are always a joy to find. So I was hardly likely to ignore these two:

On the 4th of December last year, the TV station Fox2now in St Louis Missouri USA reported that a 19 year old man had been arrested for trespass and resisting arrest (an altercation, and fighting with security staff), after entering the secure area of the Budweiser Brewery in that town. The report stated that the man being charged was named Bud Weisser .... who has previous for this kind of crime.

Will The Real Bud Weisser Please Stand Up!

World War Myths

One of the great urban myths about the first world war was of soldiers, who were stood up to their knees in mud in the trenches of Flanders etc. With dead bodies rotting between the trenches, rats running over both them and the living, and foot rot their constant companion.

This version has been known to be a fallacy for many years, but as it doesn't fit in with the way its considered that events should taught be in certain left leaning educational quarters, where its 'Lions led by Donkeys', and uncaring upper class officers, beating their men to the front .... it gets largely ignored. After all why tell the truth, when a good lie is available?

Tommy Atkins Spent More Time Out Of The Trenches Than In Them.

PC Work Place Politics

There was another strange PC story in the news recently. It involved an occupational therapist who worked for East London NHS Foundation Trust. She had a colleague (they may be ex colleagues now), who is Muslim, and apparently they had taken to discussing comparative religion.

Religion and Politics Are An Office 'No No' .....

One Man's Opinion

Some people have asked me why I am voting out in the EU referendum .... I recall the referendum under Harold Wilson in 1975. It was fought under the banner of the fact that we had joined the EEC (European Economic Community) under Conservative PM Ted Heath in 1973, but with no referendum .... So off trotted Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson to 'renegotiate' our terms, and back he came with a bit of paper that 'met most of our demands', and he duly recommended that we remain in the EEC ..... sound familiar?

We had of course tried to join the EEC in 1963 and 1967, but had been blocked by General Charles de Gaulle of France, who feared that English would suddenly become the common language of the community. A fact he was right on, even if the French still deny it.

So when we joined the EEC, it was ostensibly with trade as the main reason, and in fact the politicians denied categorically that there was any political union involved (this despite the fact that the accession treaty said 'ever closer political union'). But somehow, somewhere, that EEC suddenly morphed into the EU (European Union), an organisation that is very obviously a political union.

European Union - UK In or Out?

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A middle aged orange male ... So 'un' PC it's not true....