Tag Archives: EU

I’m not racist but……….

It’s time to get a little controversial again I am afraid, so expect a good long read.  Make a cup of tea and get back to your screen as quickly as possible.  This is gonna take at least 30 minutes of your time.

Then, put your feet up and watch this little video of an Australian comedian debating gun control.  It’s in two parts but don’t worry, part 2 is directly underneath part 1.  When you are done watching, come back here and finish reading

 

 

 

So that’s Jim – a very clever guy, funny as hell and absolutely spot on with his remarks.

You know why I posted it right?  Another attack in America with 20 reported deaths. I, like the vast majority of the civilised population will wonder for just how long this can go on – certainly after Obama leaves office, I think there will be little hope of  any form of gun control for generations to come.  It’s a sad form of politics where the most powerful man in his country is powerless to make meaningful change.

Which of course leads me nicely into Brexit.  A step too far?

Well lets see.  At the head of the European Union sits an appointed board of governors.  This appointed board makes ALL of the decisions that affect all of Europe’s citizens, passes laws and membership requirements for all member states.  Below them in the heirachy are the MEP’s or Members of the European Parliament.  MEP’s are present from each country of the block and are voted for by each blocks citizens – but here is the cliff hanger – The MEP’s cannot propose, create or remove European law – that can only be done by the governors.

Tricky that, in a democracy! See, in whatever democratic society you live in, you have the option to vote in your representatives or equally vote out someone that has represented you badly.  So if someone taxes you too much – vote them out, if life is good, vote them in again.  But with the EU, there appears to be nothing you can do.  if you don’t like what they propose and enforce on you – there is nothing you can do to protest or show your distain.  That to me sounds more like a dictatorship than a democracy.

Now I have to admit that sometimes in a democracy, we need a little bit of a dictatorship.  See, all politicians, regardless of their colours want to get re-elected, they like the power and they certainly like the bigger pay packet that being in leadership provides. And this is where democracy fails us a little.  There are times when a government MUST, for the longer term good of their country, MUST make unpopular short term decisions with a view to a longer term win – but they rarely do. A single term in Parliament is not long enough to make good, future building changes for your public, it needs longer.  But who would re-elect a government that just increased taxes by say 2% to improve spending on healthcare or pensions?  Both in the long term good of the people but no one wants to pay for it.

So go back to the EU for a second, if they propose and implement something that 75% of the public dislike – nothing can be done to stop it – it becomes EU law and EU law MUST be complied with by ALL member states.

Some of this could be good too – we all drive cars now that have a standardised diagnostics socket on board so that not only main dealers can fix your car but also independents can too – they don’t have to buy one tool for Jaguar, one for Mercedes, one for Volvo etc – they all have to be the same.  But remember the oddities too – remember when cucumbers had to be grown straighter? or when they banned the UK from having different coloured fire extinguishers for different types of fires because they said it caused confusion?  Imagine that one – you are on holiday in Spain say, and there is a fire.  You have to read the extinguisher to see what type it is to make sure it is safe to use on that type of fire – BUT YOU DONT SPEAK SPANISH !

Nigel Farage once made a statement where he said something like –

‘If you think the EU is undemocratic, you have fundamentally misunderstood what the EU is about – It is Anti- Democratic’

Now that statement is absolutely cock on. He is 100% right.

Imagine for a minute, as individuals, we were not allowed to choose which bank we used, we were told which one we had to use, and the people that had the sole control on which bank we were forced to use,  were the bankers themselves.?

OK, so now you think I am a Brexit campaigner right?  Well understand my personal position.  Those of you that know what I am about, the essence of free movement around Europe has been the backbone of my existance for the last 11 years or so.  In those 11 years I have lived and worked in France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Portugal (lets exclude time in America and the Caribbean).  The schengen agreement has been very good for me – the single currency has been superb for me – I have often complained about needing the £ and €’s in my pocket but always been mindful that anyone who gave up the pound would be committing political suicide.

So I have several personal reasons for staying in.  A house in another EU country for one.  A job that requires me to travel extensively within Europe for another.  If the UK left, would I need a Schengen Visa to live and work around Europe for another 10 years? I currently have my car with me in Mallorca – will I still be able to do that? What would become of my house in Portugal – could I sell it and take the money out of the eurozone?

Moving around Europe has been fun, enlightening yet incredibly frustrating at times too.  One thing I will always say is that going back to the UK is going back to a country that works, has great healthcare, excellent customer service, shops that are open when you can use them, a great Police Force and minimal corruption.

Now before you disagree with any of those statements – Firstly ask yourself how much have you travelled and experienced things outside of the UK?  I have seen a lot over the last decade – let me assure you, of all of the countries I have seen, The UK has THE BEST answers – thats not to say they are perfect but they are certainly the best of all I have seen.  Secondly – if you believe the UK is not all that, why on earth do you think so many Non UK Nationals want to get there ????

The big question for me is – how much does the EU want to dissolve the UK’s identity?  Hollywood could make a film about it – the critics would call it a magnificent work of fiction, all the movie wankers in Cannes would quaff on about how good it was.

Imagine the UK getting absorbed into the EU to a point that our identity is lost for ever.  Way back in the 90’s I was completing a staff survey at one of the best companies I ever worked for, a company called LeasePlan.  They were conducting a survey of ethnic backgrounds for diversity.  Way back then, one thing that stuck with me was when they asked me for my nationality and there was no option for ‘British’.  I spoke to the H.R. director who was a very good friend of mine and of Indian descent and asked her where my option was and she told me I was now ‘European’.  I marked ‘other’ and sent it back.

Think it is still unrealistic?  Ask your parents who voted in the 70’s for joining what was then the common market.  Back then it was just a trade agreement – already now, Brussels pushes laws and regulations at the UK.

I am often left with the feeling that the Eurocrats view the Brits as a troublesome bunch that just won’t come quietly.  I know they fear us though too.  Imagine, if the UK votes to leave, they will be shitting in their overpaid pants, waiting for the next country to call a referendum too.  As I travel, I talk to locals.  Where ever I am, the same fears apply.  When the euro came in, prices went up, salaries went down – everyone is worried about immigration – EVERYONE.

If the UK leaves, it will survive.  It is the 5th largest economy in the world. I don’t doubt that things will be a little tougher for a couple of years while deals are thrashed out, but it will survive.  When other countries see this too  – they will want out.  Sure, economists are predicting doom and gloom but remember, these are the same economists that FAILED to see the banking crisis in 2008.  It will be a step into the unknown to leave but also remaining will be an unknown step too – a step of not knowing how much control Central Europe will take away from this plucky little island.  And remember, once it’s gone, there is no way of getting it back.

Greece is not in the headlines too much anymore – but it is still there – absorbing huge amounts of EU money on a daily basis.

I spent a lot of time in Brussels over the last 5 years or so.  One thing that struck me was the sheer amount of EU money that is lavished there.  Diplomatic cars, special parking places, houses rented to EU workers, lunch allowances, drinks after work – all paid for out of EU funds.

Consider this for a moment.  Lets say Brexit happens, the EU throws its toys out of the pram and sets about making an example of the UK.  Will all of the ex-pats in Spain and Portugal have to return home?  If they did, it would kill those economies stone dead.  Would the UK in return then kick out all of the europeans on a tit for tat basis?  Maybe – but that would relieve the housing shortage right?  Doctors waiting times would plummet and maybe you could then get an operation within a few days of diagnosis.

So the EU stops all trade with the UK.  Something like 40% of our goods are imported from Europe.  Could they sustain such a  loss in sales?  of course not.  There would need to be a trade deal made – a deal that helped both parties, a mutually beneficial agreement.  How long would that take?  Well we know the EU is a big beurocratic machine that rumbles along slower than a snails pace but while their economies are suffering, it would also be in their best interests to strike a deal.

Will people stop flying to Europe?  Of course not.  Every time I fly into Nice or Palma my passport is checked anyway – EVERY TIME so what difference would it make to me?  Every time someone lands in the UK – their passport is checked – no difference there either.  If I have to get a visa, its not the end of the world.  I have a visa for America – it was relatively inexpensive and simple enough to get, fits nicely in my passport along with an expired Russian Visa.

If the UK had intelligence of a terrorist attack in Paris, would they withold that information – of course not.  Would the Germans warn the UK of an impending attack – Of course they would.

Politicians now need to give facts to the public instead of scare mongering or ‘Project Fear’ as it has been called many times. The Leave campaign needs to accurately publish the NET cost of EU membership rather than that all encompassing larger figure that they like to band around.  The public need to trust their instincts when listening to the tripe that falls out of many politicians mouths and learn to dismiss comments that are clearly unsubstantiated nonsense.

There is a lot of wiffle waffle being spoken and it is damn easy to spot.  Apply a little bit of common sense and you can easily work things out for yourself.

Personally, I am better off in but if you prefer to have a democratic, self governing land of opportunity you have to vote out.  Merkel’s career is done – her people are vastly annoyed with her open door policy on immigration and as for Hollande, well, it wouldn’t be the first time the French have laid down at the feet of the Germans would it?

And just because you voice a concern about immigration – IT DOESN’T MAKE YOU A RACIST.  Remember the story about the boy who cried wolf?  If people continue to misuse the ‘racist’ card it will be come so devalued that when it is genuinely need, it will be ignored by the masses – and that would be a very sad situation.  People have a genuine concern about the physical load exerted by huge immigration on services within their countries.  Let them voice their opinions and be heard.  Immigration is not a bad thing – uncontrolled immigration is.

 

Phew – rant over

 

And Finally

 

If you really didn’t think Big Brother is watching you – something very suspicious happened to me today……Apple.

So we have all heard the rumours that your smart phone microphone can listen to your conversations covertly and then target web & app adverts specifically from the conversations it has eaves dropped on?  Well, this is true.   A myth buster style trial took place a couple of months ago and it took some tech nerds just 3 days to build an app with readily available software that could do just that.

Imagine my surprise today when I pulled my phone out of my pocket to see a web page displayed.  Ok, sometimes I may forget to screen lock it, we have all ‘butt dialled’ someone right ?  But what I saw today was beyond spooky.  Yesterday I received a photo on my phone of some paperwork for my rowing machine.  Within that paperwork were the operators instructions and other stuff including the original sales receipt.  I zoomed in on the receipt to get the invoice date and displayed above that date was the suppliers name, Fitness Superstore.  Well bugger me, if the web page being displayed wasn’t for the same company.

Now, the receipt was a year and a half old, my phone is only a month old, I didn’t even know the name of the store I bought it from but could there be a spy in my software that scans my photos and directs me to those web pages?


I’m with Boris

In the week that François Hollande said there would be consequences of a Brexit and the week that the dock crew here told me I couldn’t wash my car with the same environmentally friendly soap that we wash the boat with (but we can wash the boat with it – no problem) I would like to dedicate the video below to all of those that choose to be difficult for difficulties sake, without rhyme or reason – why has it taken them nearly 6 months to tell me this and  about the €24,000 fine !!!!!

I would also like to throw a ‘Conspiracy Theory’ out there after the suspension of John Longworth from the British Chamber of Commerce – who voiced a personal opinion that the UK would be better off in the EU if they could reform but that he had come to the conclusion that the EU was incapable of meaningful reform.  Now, the BCC had agreed to remain neutral on the Brexit question, and I reckon his statement was pretty damn neutral, giving a little bit from both sides.

p.s.  My spell check picked up François & Hollande as a typo – I chose the option ‘ignore always’.

p.p.s. – the reason why some of Europe is panicing so much is that when the UK leaves and others see we haven’t died a death – they will leave too – a shrinking EU is the worst nightmare for the power mongers.

 


Terrible Love

January is over – a vicious month for Cancer.

As I plugged along on my very muddy 10k run this morning I had plently of time for thoughts.  If I am honest, the run itself was far from perfect.  The tow path was a mud bath and the woods at the back of Abbots Farm almost had me on my arse twice.

Time wise, it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, not quite 2 minutes slower than my best on that route but it was muddy!

I slipped into thoughts.  Lets talk about Apple for a moment.  I read an article this week on the BBC that their latest iOS software for their phones has been permanently disabling phones that have been for repair by independent phone shops.  You send your new phone away for a screen replacement or a new home button and it comes back with ‘error 53′.  You might think this is not the end of the world but in iOS9 – this now means your phone is useless – it will never work again and any info on it is lost for good.

I have been experiencing similar bullish tactics with my Mac after recently upgrading to El Capitan.  You see , the biggest problem with computer updates is you are always told what they have added but they NEVER tell you what they have taken away. If you knew which functionailities were removed, updating would never be an option for most users.

So now, if I want to email you a photo, I can no longer use the attach button from my mail browser and then go into my photo library and find it – nope, Apple want you to buy into their Cloud product, that lets you share easily (or more easily than the way they force you into if you won’t pay), so instead now I have to open the photo app, drag a copy to the desk top and then attach it from there.  Hardly progress from what is one of silicone valleys’ giants now is it?  The last software was better.

It doesn’t stop there.  iPhone users that have the latest software will find that airdrop has changed too.  No longer can you open air drop and make your phone visible to only people in your contacts list as with the older software, no, privacy on airdrop is now only available if your contacts are in the cloud.

Of course, there is a price for using the cloud.

As my Mac gets older, slower and clunkier and needs some financial input I find myself questioning the rational for moving back to a windows based pc and an android phone. See, a pc of the same tech specs as the Mac will be around half the price and comes with the freedom to source ‘stuff’ from outside of the world of the manufacturer.  Its getting to be an easier choice to make. There was a time when I would have used that line of thought as a down side though.  Have you ever been on the end of a windows based problem where the hardware manufacturer blames the software and the software manufacturer blames the hardware?

It did make me think though – some time ago the EU ruled that car manufacturers had to make all of their car computer diagnostics plugs the same as each others.  The reason was to allow independent garages not to have to invest in different computers for all of the makes out there – or to put it in very basic terms, to allow more competition as to where you as a consumer can spend your money.  I can’t see that this is any different than that?

Hark back to better times, when Apple products were wanted because they were revolutionary.  Those days died with Mr. Jobs. Cancer affects more of us than you might believe.

Of course, a lot of Apples problems come from the ‘hipsters’ that just have to have the latest stuff.  I was looking on iTunes the other day for info about Birdys new album when I noticed that although the release is not due for another month, 11 people had left reviews for it.  The ‘I am so trendy crew’ had got there before the record company have even cut the final disc! Dont believe me?  look at the screen shot below.

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 11.56.48

I got into a debate on the Apple help forums the other week with a guy called Terence Devlin.  Terence suggests that people should stop complaining about when things change for the worse or stop working completely with Apple products because people aren’t running the very latest software.  His solution was to ‘upgrade – its free’  As our debate raged on, I mentioned that over 50% of the product reviews on the Apple store for its last iOS release gave it 1 star out of 5 with the majority of those recommending that you don’t install it at all (more 1 star reviews than 2,3,4,&5 added together).  Terence then suggested that those negative reviews should be ignored because people like to complain.  At that point, I gave up with the fucktard and left him to his little world of what I suspect is a very wealthy family that pay for whatever his little hipster heart desires.  I also suspect that he doesn’t work for two reasons.

  1. He is always camped outside the Apple store to be the first to get whatever is new that week.
  2. Daddy pays him a jolly good allowance each month so the reality of earning a living is left to the serfs and peasants on street level

 

So back in the UK for 10 days.  It is cold and wet here. Sure, the South of France gets cold too but it is dry, the air is dry which makes for a different, almost warming kind of cold.  Add to that I have allowed myself to be bullied into going to Bike Park Wales on Wednesday with The King of Touching Cloth himself – Mr Yates.  The very next day I have my ships medical to give me the green light to set sail for the next 2 years and then early next week, a funeral – but more on that later.

I am expecting to sustain some physical damage on Wednesday, not only from being miserable from the cold and wet for hours but also because of the tricky or even treacherous conditions will lead to mishaps I am sure.  Fingers crossed, it will be Yates this time.  While he is in a bundle of pain on the floor, I will pull along side him and gleefully jib, ‘see you at the bottom dick wad’ as is the norm for our outings – I like to think of it as the ‘Top Gear’ style of caring for your chums. I have little choice though – it will now cost me as much to back out of it as it will to go – and I hate wasting money.

The world needs a bit more Birdy

 


For other things, there’s Mastercard!

Can’t help but notice that finally, Word Press have forced their changes upon us – their ‘improved’ blogging experience will certainly add nothing for me but no doubt share my data with their paying clients.  And of course, being a grumpy old git, I will struggle to find everything now that it has all been changed around for no benefit to me.

Modern life can be suck a ball ache.

That said, the other day I had to chuckle – I got a speeding ticket.  Sure, my checkered past of high speeds in the UK is well documented but this one really was priceless.

I had to drive the boss’s car back from Nice airport – alone….!

A very nippy Mini Cooper Works, convertible. Naturally I gave it a bit of welly but I had forgotten a couple of things.  Normally in a UK plated car, speeding tickets don’t get issued.  Sadly this time, I was in a German registered car and Germany agrees to share vehicle details with the rest of the EU – unlike the UK.

So, at the boss’s HQ in Germany, they received the notice and forwarded it on to me.  It was all quite civil if I am honest – 126 in a 110 and a 45€ fine, payable on line in just a few seconds. Easy.

It was almost an enjoyable experience.

Oh the joys of Christmas

 

 


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