Thursday, 29 June 2017

SOHN: The Circle

You know that moment when you suddenly hear a song you’ve been playing as part of your train music?

Usually I get a song fairly quickly, but sometimes the mood and the emotion escapes me. Happened with The Human League’s Human which I finally understood at 09:00 on weekday morning on a northbound Northern Line train leaving Camden Town. Happened with this song recently. I was on the District Line westbound going into Turnham Green.

 It was so much that I heard it, but felt it. In all its Ecclesiastes-style mournfulness.


It’s by a singer / composer / producer who goes by SOHN. I’ll let you look it all up.


Monday, 26 June 2017

Classic Mercedes Convertible in Mayfair

Sunday evening, on my way back from the gym and supper in Soho, passing through Mayfair on my way to Green Park tube, and across the road from Cecconi's is this Thing of Beauty.

It's a 300SL, which was the the fastest production car of its day, and one of the first to use fuel injection. It was actually more powerful than the racing cars it was derived from. 

Look at the tachometer and the speedometer. That's a red line at 6,000 rpm and a top speed of about 120 mph, unless you want to go the whole 7,000 rpm and slightly downhill, when you might get 160 mph out of it. No aerodynamics, just sheer brute power.

Oh. And you're looking at over £1,000,000 worth of car. At least.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Sir Mo Farah in Feltham

High quality street art hits a Feltham industrial estate. The artist worked a while on this, and it's clearly sponsored by Russell Finex, who supply specialised filtration equipment. Click on the picture because I uploaded it full-size and it shows the detail, the quality of the artist's work, and how damn good an iPhone SE camera is.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Random Photographs From Recent Days

A book in Foyles about Arnold Bax I'm never going to read (I listen to a lot of music, but don't read much about it); remember the General Election?; the Frank Pick memorial in Piccadilly Circus; runners in the London 10k by St James' Park; my local Air Park on a Sunday evening; the converted church across the road from Feltham station, taken through the clearest air I can remember.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Arrogance of the German Chancellor: My Last Political Post

Two years ago, the Chancellor of Germany, without consulting her fellow Europeans, or her fellow regional governors, decided to open Germany’s, and hence Europe’s, borders to millions of economic migrants who were mostly illiterate, innumerate, could not speak German or any other European language, had no trades, no skills, and had arrived mysteriously fit and aggressive at Mediterranean ports or eastern European borders after what must have been gruelling 1,200-mile journeys (at least) from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Nigeria and all points African and Middle Eastern.

The Chancellor did this despite the warnings, she must have received from her own intelligence services, about the low economic value of these young men, the fact that they had been recruited, transported by truck and lorry to the ports and borders by NGOs, and that they had been sent to Europe to farm for welfare benefits. Europe’s intelligence services are staffed by smart people: they must have worked out that communities all over those countries were sending Europe their lazy, angry, crazy, surplus, and criminal. Just as Castro sent the US his criminals, AIDs victims, long-term sick and other undesirables (as he saw it). They would have briefed the German Chancellor, and the EU, on this possibility.

A politician works for their constituents first, their fellow citizens second, and anyone else a very distant third. The job of governments is not to tell citizens how to live, and what they can and cannot say, do or believe. The duties of a government are to defend those people and their families against violence and exploitation, and then to advance their interests. It does not matter if the exploitation is the so-called Gig Economy and zero-hours contracts, or by migrants sent to farm welfare benefits, or whether the violence comes from men from another country wearing uniforms, or men from another country without uniforms beating and raping women. The German Chancellor failed in that duty. Victor Orban of Hungary did not. Neither did David Cameron, whom we may assume listened to the brief by his intelligence services, and refused to take large numbers of the fake Syrian refugees.

The German Chancellor’s act was one of sheer political brute force: she had the power to dump disaffected, violent and unemployable young men all over Europe, and she did so. Because power means nothing if it is not exercised arbitrarily from time to time. It was a message to the EU that Germany would do whatever its Chancellor wanted to do, that she could and would on a whim ignore her duties to the electorate, and that the EU would pay for it as well. She dared the EU to reprimand her, and it did not. She dared her own politicians to reprimand her, and they did not. When ordinary people started to complain, she turned the media companies into her censors. Her response to the outrage felt by ordinary European people at the invasion of 2015 was to make it a crime to express that outrage. Arrogance masked by righteousness.

So-called Liberals and other assorted “Good People” show a genuine righteous arrogance when they suppose that it is their job, and the government’s job, to make the electorate “better people”. It was a New Labour strategy to "rub the Right's nose in diversity” with indiscriminate immigration in the Oughties. One has to assume the was some gerrymandering intended as well. Now those “Good People” are smugly watching what they think is the train wreck of Brexit, thus showing no understanding of the cunning of reason. We can only be thankful that none of them have the ability to act with the same reckless and malicious brute force as the German Chancellor.

This righteous arrogance is why I want dump a basket of wet fish over the heads of many editorialists at the Financial Times, the Economist and other formerly august media institutions. It’s not their job to be on the right side of history, but it’s not smart to be so smugly on the wrong side either. A little self-awareness would help.

Having understood that it’s a wholly pointless anger about the arrogance and smugness (“Good People”) or hypocrisy (the German Chancellor) of politicians who refuse to do their job, and the media who fail to hold them to account for that failure, I’m now going to stop with the politics. This and the previous CUPID post are it. Prepare for lots of posts on things mundane, artistic or otherwise of a man with a life.

Monday, 12 June 2017

The CUPID (Con-Man/Useful Idiot/Denier)

I’m going to invent a new acronym: CUPID. Con-man, Useful Idiot or Denier. (The P is redundant.) I need this, because there’s a bunch of behaviours that show a family resemblance, but could come from one of three different motives. If you’re one of the people who invented the Russian Hacker scam, you’re a Con-man. If you believe it and pass it on, you’re a Useful Idiot. If you need to believe it because the alternative is to admit you were fooled by Hillary, you’re a Denier. If you are taking the EU shilling and talking down the UK’s prospects after 2019, you are a Con-man. And possibly a traitor. If you believe that Britain doesn’t deserve a good deal, because it was dumb to leave, you’re a Useful Idiot. If you think that one more popular movement could reverse the decision, and that the EU will take us back, you’re in psychiatric amounts of Denial.

Making a mistake doesn’t make you a CUPID. Doing something because you had the wrong beliefs about how the world worked, makes you ill-informed or ignorant. Making a mistake and not learning from it, makes you an idiot. Making a mistake, and claiming that the world should be a place where your mistake wouldn’t be a mistake: that’s being a CUPID. Making an obviously bad choice, and insisting the world be such that yours would be a good choice: that’s being a CUPID. Taking a job for which you have insufficient knowledge and skill, and not doing the reading and the practice: that’s being a CUPID. Thinking you can legislate the world to being a better place, and that people who avoid your legislation are bad people: that’s being a CUPID.

Posturing and virtue-signalling are symptoms of CUPIDidity.

EU bureaucrats are mostly CUPIDs. Washington Democrats are CUPIDs. Russian-hacker conspirators are Useful Idiots, and the people who started that nonsense are Con-men. Anyone who thinks that mo’ EU is what we need is a CUPID. People who want uneducated village Islamists in Europe are CUPIDs. And traitors. Impeach Trump-ers are CUPIDs. Apologists for Islam who won’t understand that it’s one religion in English and another in Arabic are CUPIDs. So are people who believe that mankind can affect the climate of this planet to a significant degree. Uber, Deliveroo, and all the other “gig economy” companies are evil Con-men. So is any other employer who uses zero-hours contracts or doesn’t pay interns. Those people are going to hell. The people who made and sold CDOs and all the bastard off-spring products are evil Con-men, as is anyone who lends sub-prime. Newspaper managements who spent zillions on building websites and then sacked the journalists they needed to put decent content on the websites are Idiots. People who tell you to buy gold every time anything happens are Con-men, and so are Bitcoin enthusiasts, while IT managers who offshore system administration and development are CUPIDs. People who think that a State basic income are CUPIDs who are also economic ignoramuses. Editors who let CUPIDs take up one column inch of space are Useful Idiots.

When, miraculously, a decent Brexit deal with some harsh bits on the side is agreed, the CUPIDs at The Economist will say that May's government did a good job negotiating, but that it was a shame they should have needed to. CUPIDs can be patronising.

Why is the world is suddenly full of CUPIDs? It always was, it's just that we can see this particular bunch more clearly, now that the "liberal" project is starting to fall apart.

The Con-men come from various lucrative scams that come from the “liberal” project, scams that require huge government subsidies: renewable energy, carbon trading, big education and the useless liberal arts degrees that go with it. I suspect that a lot of virtue-signalling by large US corporations is for employee retention and relations. Internationalism is a liberal project, and the Con-men turned that into H1-Bs, and the grotesquerie of American workers training their cheap Indian replacements. Neo-liberalism sounds as if it should be a Good Thing, but actually it is a Terrible Thing, bringing in low wages, volatile employment, cost-and-quality cutting, downsizing, automation, and off-shoring. Is it co-incidence that neo-Liberal Capitalists are enthusiastic supporters of SJW causes, and that their enthusiasm is directly proportional to the extent they exploit their working-class labour force? Smoke and mirrors?

And now the CUPIDs can sense that these scams and the accompanying free rides are going to stop. Daddy USA and Mommy UK are not going to pay their rent and bail them out anymore. The Saudis get it: they want the USA disrupting the liberal Arab world, they have to pay by purchasing billions of dollars of defence kit. The Europeans don’t get it: they think that the USA should subsidise NATO and and employ European workers on pointless climate change scams. Not any more. No more massive car exports from Germany, subsidised by a currency kept artificially low by bankrupt Greeks. Everyone knew that was happening, but now everyone knows everyone knows.

Donnie, Donnie, don’t you know you can’t talk about the family secrets like that?

So now the CUPIDs are whining like teenagers who just lost their allowance and Internet privileges. That would not matter much, if only they didn’t have Twitter, and if only the Press didn’t quote tweets. The press does not quote or refer to You Tube videos, partly because loony liberals don’t do well on You Tube, where it becomes fairly clear fairly quickly there’s something wrong with them. The maul-right is a lot more video-genic. Twitter and its press coverage makes the loony left look a lot more significant than it is. The minimal amount of work needed to tweet suits the quick, emotional reaction using cliches and catch-phrases. Just what journalists want: feel the offence. And what the CUPIDs want, is the world to be back they way it was, when no-one talked about their Big Problem.

The Big Problem is that CUPIDs are goats in sheep’s clothing. They call themselves “liberal” or “left-wing”, but they are not their grandfather’s liberal. Their grandfather was a decent middle-class man who supported the cause and betterment of the working man. The CUPIDs are Uber-loving, career-focussed, self-actualising, rootless apparatchiks who exploit their own working-class. In Europe they have the good manners to stay silent about the working-class, while at the same time removing its economic support and surrounding it with an unwanted vibrant diversity. In the US, it is acceptable and even virtuous to say things about white people, and especially unemployed rural white people, that would be considered actionable if said about urban people of colour. On either continent, they are a class apart with their own economic interests to protect: their taxpayer-funded, non-productive jobs, or the taxpayer-funded projects on which they work, disguised as private-sector employees. CUPIDs depend on the “liberal project”. Which is now being, as they used to say at Yahoo, “sunset”. Except that’s the wrong time of day. It’s really sunrise, and the CUPIDs are going up in flames, like vampires everywhere.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Election 2017: And The Hits Keep Coming

Calling an election was dumb.

Putting a dementia tax in the manifesto was dumber.

Saying she hadn't changed anything, instead of openly fessing up to bad judgement, was even dumber.

Faced with a Labour Party promising half a generation debt forgiveness, and not expecting youth registration and participation to increase, was a little complascent.

The more I think about it, the more I see that treating Brexit as some sort of moral crusade for sovereignty is going to put the bureaucrats' backs up. Brexit is a business deal and should be treated like one. Just with the bit where we repeal the 1972 Act one quiet morning. "That? Oh sure, we did that. It's just a formality. Now, about the Somerset Brie quota..."

A hung Parliament could be the best thing for the Brexit negotiations.

A party with a strong majority would see itself as having a mandate to do deals, and then feel under an obligation to the EU to sell those deals to the House. Basically acting as agents for the EU. And also vulnerable to a hundred negotiating tactics you would not believe.

A party with a weak majority can say "Well, we will take that to the House, and we'll let you know". They aren't going to argue anyone's case: the House will decide. This puts the decision where it belongs: on the 650 MP's in the House of Commons, equally across all parties. And with a narrow majority, no-one can afford to virtue-signal and otherwise posture. Lest one vote make us subjects of the European Courts forever.

That would take a little finesse. No emotive language, no bullying, just professional.

There's been way too much bullshit in the last eighteen months. In fact, I now understand the meaning of that phrase: "Man, the bullshit piled up so fast in Vietnam, you needed wings to stay above it."

(It's number 3 on the countdown)

Monday, 5 June 2017

May 2017 Review

Birthday Month.

(This post was written the Sunday after the London Bridge atrocity. The best thing to do when some evil losers kill people is to carry on like nothing happened. Unless you are directly involved. I'm in Brunswick Square, Sunday lunchtime, and it's doing regular business. People are walking around, no-one looks scared, the shops are open and the movies are showing. That is exactly the correct response. One's thoughts go to the relatives of the dead, and to the wounded, to whom may be granted a swift recovery. And then, on with normal life.)

I passed sixty-three this month. I don't look it to anyone under thirty-five. To me, I look like an old man who doesn't have wrinkles. For reasons I will explain in next month's review, I know my vital signs are phenomenal for someone in their mid-20's, let alone for my age. I look, however, like an old sports saloon does when surrounded by new sporty cars. You can see it was once a neat piece of kit, but it's out of its time. It's might even drive faster and better than a lot of the new cars, but it's still an old car.

Sis took me for a birthday supper at Gauthier, and we had lunch at Dishoom off Shoreditch High Street one Friday. I met a friend for an early supper at our regular venue: an Argentinian Steak House in Richmond. My Mother's birthday is this month, and Sis and I took her to Shambles in Teddington on a Saturday that was warm enough to sit outside. 

I read Sudhir Hazareesingh’s How the French Think, Ray Deletin’s The Axeman’s Jazz, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, Eduardo Rabassa’s Zero-Sum Game, Christie’s compilation of their greatest hits, Going Once: 250 Years of Culture, Taste and Collecting, Sarah Thornton’s 33 Artists in 3 Acts, and a chunk of Charles Hadlock’s Six Sources of Collapse

I saw Colossal and Raw at the Curzon Soho. Colossal has Anne Hathaway. That's pretty much all I needed to know about it. It's also a good film. Did I mention Anne Hathaway? Raw is not a movie about female power, but about what happens when mothers don't tell their daughters how to handle themselves. Forget you read that if you're going to see it. There were a lot of men at the Colossal screening, and a lot of younger women at the Raw screening. Raw did not have Anne Hathaway. I think that explains it.

I took a week off for my birthday, and the weather was rubbish. However, I re-discovered the pleasure of doing nothing but reading for a large chunk of the day - with quick breaks to load the washing machine, do a bit or ironing or cut my nails.

I took my right arm to my osteopath. It has been hurting ever sinceI started to do pull-ups. I can push with the best of them, but pulling has always been my weakness. Applies to weights in the gym as well. (Ba-boom-tish! I’m here all week.)

I arranged to get a Smart Meter installed. Except they never showed, called once in the morning to say they might be delayed but would still make an AM, and then I had to call them at one o’clock to find out what was going on, and they requested a delay until two, and then didn’t show up or call, so I re-booked, went shopping, called again and cancelled. Every time I deal with any of these guys - electricity, phone, gas, water - there’s always some damn reason they can’t make it. It’s always something that’s never happened before, but the point is, it’s always something. So I said, no thanks. Smart meters are for your convenience, not mine, so you can sack more meter-readers. And if the things need calibrating before leaving the depot, rather than work straight out of the box, I’m wondering what happens when my Smart Meter tells them I spent £1,000 on electricity in a month. How do I show it’s wrong? Too much computer. Give me the old electro-mechanical one. And hire a reader to check it.

Don’t get me started on what happened to Talk-Talk’s suburban London network when it rained on my week off. Three days the service was erratic, and I had to use all my powers of bluffing to get the telephone help line to admit it. And they want to sell me FTTC. Not while the last twenty yards is sixty-year old (at least!) copper from a distribution pole into the house. That’s going to go wonky every time the weather gets wet or cold. Distribution poles are a wonderful thing: that one survived the 1987 storm and didn’t blink an eyelid. But the insulation round the copper must be brittle and leaky by now.