Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Drinking Illumination

While in Amsterdam last week we dined at a restaurant in Badhoevedorp called La Bouche. I was struck by a couple of chandeliers made of frosted wine glasses - one large and the other small. The meals were excellent too and the restaurant is highly recommended if you're in the area.

I so loved the chandeliers that I'm determined to get one - making it if necessary - for positioning over our kitchen island. It would look brilliant (literally) hanging from the oak beam.

I managed to obtain a similar hanger from Amazon for about 25 quid, which has room for 21 glasses; however, 21 frosted wine glasses come in at quite an expense (about £70 or more), so Hay found some polycarbonate ones on Amazon, but I don't think they will give as crisp an effect - they almost look dirty.

The hanger contraption won't be delivered till next week, although we've already had 24 polycarbonate wine glasses delivered. Inspection of the plastic wine glasses has confirmed my suspicion that they won't be as good as real glass, but I'll provide an update when the hanger is delivered.

I do, however, have a Lidl sand blasting attachment for my compressor - may make my own frosted wine glasses...

Monday, 20 November 2017

Remembrance Day

I drove past the village war memorial yesterday on the way to pick up the Sunday papers and it was resplendent in swathes of poppy wreaths. This got me thinking; has Remembrance Day had its day? A contentious subject, perhaps.

Remembrance Day was instituted in commemoration of the dead in WWI and was then extended to those who died in WWII. Since then it had been modified again to include all the dead in all wars, but it nevertheless remains rooted in WWI - the war to end all wars, which didn't

YouGov did a poll a short while ago concerning whether people participate in any way in Remembrance Day and I was surprised to discover that almost 2/3rd of the UK population don't participate at all. Given there's no past figures, it's hard to say whether it's a declining institution.

Many say it helps us remember our history and prevents us making the same mistakes, which is clearly tosh - we learn nothing from history and continually repeat our mistakes. We are taking into wars by politicians and for a variety of reasons, some of which have to do with cementing their own names in history.

I don't personally know anyone who died in any war, and I'm 62. I would guess that goes for the majority of people alive today in the UK and that's reflected in the YouGov poll. Yes, there will be people alive today who lost comrades or fathers in WWII, but they're a fast declining number.

We don't commemorate the deaths in the Wars of the Roses, the English Civil War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War or any war prior to 1914 - they've simply left the folk memory due to the distance in time and the fact (with the exception of the aristocracy) that we don't even know whether any of our ancestors took part in them. Yes, we have Waterloo Day and Trafalgar Day, but they're events that are generally restricted to the Army and Navy, are regimental and celebrate victory, as opposed to remembrance of the dead. There's also the fact that many who participate in Remembrance Day, especially from the right, undeniably use it as a form of triumphalism, which was not the original intention.

Then there's the fact that Remembrance Day is not exactly ecumenical, despite the large number of Empire troops who died in both world wars. The cenotaph was designed by Edwin Lutyens to commemorate all Empire dead and is devoid of any religious iconography; however, the CofE appropriated it and Remembrance Day has ever since been an affair with heavy CofE overtones. Recently some poor vicar tried to make his church's Remembrance Day event ecumenical, but was howled down by more vocal members of the British Legion.

I can't help feeling that, within 20 years or so, Remembrance Day may die out - unless we have yet another massive war. We already have the relatively new institution of Armed Forces Day, which honours living servicemen and women - perhaps it will become amalgamated with that at some stage.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Retiring Green Birds

Spotted in Lidl by Hay a few days ago:

Wonder if they're a bit stringy and if they provide a cage.

I keep hearing from Brexiteers about us having the lowest unemployment for ages and this being attributed to a booming economy. No-one seems to have paid attention to the fact that more people than ever before (the Baby Boomers) are retiring from the workforce and those numbers have to be replaced from a smaller pool just to keep up - it's nothing to do with a booming economy. It can't be when productivity is declining.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Headless Concorde Cheeses

There was something on the local news last night about the Concorde that's been opened to the public at Filton. Good to see it's finally set to turn a profit for someone, even though not in the way it was designed to.

I see Gregg's has come under fire for using a sausage roll to replace Jesus in a nativity scene. I'd have thought they'd use Baby Cheeses. What with all these calls for banning the hijab, I'd challenge anyone to find an image of Jesus' mother, Mary, without one.

That mad Italian scientist who wants to perform a live head transplant is crowing about a recent success, but on a corpse. To be fair, just using Superglue would work on a corpse. You wouldn't notice any difference.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Newspaper Russians

Spotted this yesterday, and I fully agree. Newspapers no longer reflect their readers' viewes, they formulate them. All the newspapers owned by these five are 100% pro-Brexit, print misleading, anti-EU propaganda and, most. importantly, desperately want to avoid an impending EU-driven crackdown on tax havens.

Seems the Russians not only want to destabilise the west through interference in cyberspace, but the use of their UN Security Council veto in the Syrian chemical weapons investigation extension will have the effect of prolonging a civil wart which is the main cause of refugees entering Europe in their droves.

I'm starting to join the dots and conclude that Putin is doing everything in his power to destabilise Europe and the USA.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Russian Leaks

All this Russian interference stuff - Russia is one of the most corrupt countries on earth, being the result of capitalism on steroids (and a warning to those who would let business run a country), yet it's somewhat strange that WikiLeaks publishes almost no Russian leaks. It's almost as if WWIII has already broken out, but in cyberspace, and Russia is winning.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Double Dutch Newspapers

Spotted this sign at the exhibition in Amsterdam yesterday:


Given the others I'm with had decided to attend a few of the parties that surround the event and I wasn't in the mood, I decided to walk back to our digs (getting a taxi at a show this size is impossible). A nice, 2 hour walk through various districts. Some enterprising person had set up a Christmas stall in their drive.

Before anyone mentions it's too early, don't forget that the Dutch have Sinterklaas on the 6th December.

Some more photos from my wander back.

What I like about my home country is that the people are very egalitarian. You may be better off than someone, but it's not something that you rub into their faces. The houses are all very similar and decorated is the same cosy style - conspicuous consumption and envy (and corruption) play a much smaller role in defining people here than in the UK.

I see the owners of the Daily Telegraph. the fabulously wealthy and tax avoiding Barclay twins, are keeping up the pressure for Brexit, and avoiding a planned EU crack down on tax havens, by resorting to bullying.

It's strange (and I'm being ironic) that newspapers owned by millionaires, such as the Times and Sunday Times, the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Express are all in support of Brexit and are doing their utmost to spout negative propaganda (and in some cases outright lies) about the EU. They very obviously don't want their owners' taxes investigated too closely. As usual though, much of the British public can't see further than the ends of their noses and are willing to be led like sheep by newspaper proprietors who prey on their insecurities and prejudices.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Remembrance Parade

There was a Remembrance Parade in Chipping Sodbury on Sunday. Here's one of the photos showing the village memorial where the name Percy Dash can just be made out (6th from the top on the left-most panel - click to enlarge). 

Percy was Hayley's great uncle, who was killed in in one of the first large battles of 1914. His name is also carved into the oak portico of Old Sodbury church. I believe he was 21 when he died.

YouGov did a poll yesterday of whether people participate in Remembrance Day events. As many as 61% take no part, which surprises me, whereas 36% do. Strangely, 3% don't seem to know what they do. When analysed for age, the older you are the more likely you are to participate. Women are less likely to participate than men, but only by a very small margin.

Monday, 13 November 2017

The Redwood Conundrum

I hear John Redwood, one of the Establishment Brexiteers and chairman of an investment committee for the Charles Stanley Group (for which he earns £180k a year), has been advising investors to move their money out of the UK and suggests the European Central Bank will pave the way for more fruitful investment than the Bank of England.

That's rather strange advice for a man who has long argued that the UK economy will flourish after leaving the EU.

I've long argued that the main beneficiaries of Brexit will be The City and speculators. Hardly surprising that those MPs with links to capital management firms, hedge funds and private healthcare operators are all for a hard Brexit. A classic case of The Establishment looking after its own interests first.

I'm currently reading Owen Jones' book, The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It, an eye-opener as to how business and vested interests are running UK for their own benefit. It's main premise is that a lot of politicians see Parliament as a stepping stone to lucrative boardroom positions following a couple of terms in the House and one in government, and they use policy, which is invariably propaganda spewed out by the press barons to manipulate public opinion, as a means of achieving this. A very well researched and interesting read about the collusion between politicians and the 4th Estate.

We've rented a house near Schiphol Airport for the duration of this maritime trade show we're exhibiting at in Amsterdam. Don't you just hate it when you have a state-of-the-art TV system with a separate box of some description and two remotes, neither of which seem to do anything meaningful, like just turn the TV on to a local TV station? Against all odds I at least managed to get YouTube up and running last night and had to suffice with that. Time was when you could simply turn a TV on, press a number and you'd get a TV channel corresponding with that number. Now you have to perm one input from half a dozen - most of which are superfluous - and read two or three manuals.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Smeared Clooney Trade Show

This thing about porn being found on Damian Green's computer years ago is sounding more and more like a political smear by the dark forces of the Brexit Establishment. They've lost the the economic argument, the intellectual argument - in fact any argument - and they know it, so they're resorting to smearing any Remainers in the cabinet.

The only beneficiaries of Brexit will be a few immensely wealthy people, as more wealth is concentrated into the hands of a few via the City, regulations designed to protect consumers and workers are rolled back and public expenditure comes under increasing pressure, with attendant calls to privatise everything in sight as a solution, with the prime target being the NHS (a surprising number of MPs have links to private healthcare firms). It has finally dawned on the Lincolnshire seafood industry that Brexit will be bad and they're lobbying for Brexit exemption, directly contradicting the Brexit propaganda machine; similarly Cornwall has crops rotting in the fields as there's no-one to harvest them and are also asking for immigration exceptions. Stand by for more smears in the coming weeks and months. Hammond will probably be the next target.

Remembrance Day seems to be becoming increasingly important in the British psyche - more so than ever before. Rather than a quiet contemplation of the senseless loss of life, it's assuming a worrying triumphalist tone. I'm not sure whether much of this is to do with the centenary events around WWI, but of late I've noticed how the fallen from two world wars are being used as unwitting recruits to the Brexit cause.

Jingoistic slogans are appearing on Facebook, such as; "We didn’t fight two world wars for this,"  and; "We saved you Europeans and you owe us." Very few of us alive today actually fought in WWII, so it morphs into; “Our fathers didn’t fight in WWII for this.” My father was in WWII; he didn’t have the luxury of a gun in his hands – he was a sitting target in a Dutch cargo ship and was torpedoed. Nevertheless, he was an ardent pro-European. Just because your father fought in WWII does not mean you speak for all people who fought. They also seem to think Britain beat the Nazis single-handed and forget about the Dutch, Poles, French, Australians, Canadians, Americans, Russians, Balkans, Indians, Norwegians, etc., etc. – a grouping referred to as the Allies.

The EU project was started to tie European nations closer together with trade, hoping to create one bloc, rather than constantly competing powers who went to war every 25 years or so.

To quote Herman Goering: “Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.” Sounds worryingly prescient. 

Harvey Weinstein - whatever happened to i before e, except after c? Not an attractive man, is he, no wonder women are coming out of the woodwork with harassment claims. I wonder if women are queuing up to be sexually harassed by George Clooney?

Off to Amsterdam this afternoon for a marine trade show till Friday, so posts may be somewhat sporadic this week - and very maritime.