Sunday, 30 April 2017

Peanuts


The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Numbers: Chapter 4 - God's Instructions for Packing



The tribes of Israel had been encamped around Mount Sinai now for over a year while God gave Moses commandments, they had made a golden calf, God had issued edicts and instructions and they had fashioned a big fancy tent and a golden monstrosity to put his commandments in. Now at last they were ready to move on and to head for the promised land. But first God had some more instructions for them. Well when you are moving house it's best to have someone who is good at organisation isn't it.

So, as we saw in chapter 3, God had decided that he wanted the Levites to be his servants, which means that they were to be the priests servants of course. This meant that they would be the ones who did all of the work around the Tabernacle including touching the holy items like the Ark of the Covenant and all of the gaudy furnishings held therein. Now God told them, via Moses of course, that only certain of them were to be entrusted with these most sacred of tasks. They had to be of a certain age.

Now, like a really picky customer of a removal company, God specified how he wanted all of his furnishing to be handled and packed. He didn't add, but might as well have done: BE CAREFUL WITH THAT, BE CAREFUL WITH THAT! If only he had thought to invent bubble wrap 3000 years earlier. Not so omniscient eh God.

So the priests packed everything up and then entrusted these holy items to the sons of Kohath. But they were told not to touch or even look at any of these items direct on pain of death. That puts into perspective that plate getting cracked eh?

The Gershonites were entrusted with all of the fine fabrics of the Tabernacle and the Merarites with the tent and the poles and so on.

And, with all of the packing done, they were finally on the move. This vast and wholly imaginary sea of people were about to move away from Mount Sinai where they had been for a year. It is not said how they had managed to live for so long when there was so many of them and archaeologists have never found the landfill site or the sewage works they presumably left behind, not to mention the thousands upon thousands of animal bones from all of those sacrifices.


Trump's 1st 100 Days

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Trump's First 100 Days: What Has He Done?

Friday, 28 April 2017

Peanuts


Boris Reaches the Parts Other Politicians Cannot Reach


In the 1992 election, then Tory Chairman, Chris Patten, unveiled a new poster to the bemusement of the press and then the country. Labour's Double Whammy was the phrase that baffled the nation and yet within weeks it had contributed to a most unexpected Tory victory and entered into common parlance.

Now I'm not saying that mutton-headed mugwump is necessarily going to enter the language with quite the same impact, but I have fast-tracked the order for 5000 T shirts just in case. Because say what you like about Boris, and plenty do, but he has a great eye and ear for a hard hitting phrase. You can tell that it hit home because Labour failed to simply laugh it off or raise an eyebrow as might have been the better response. They reacted with fury. Bugger! They said. He's hit the nail on the head.

Because, though it certainly never occurred to any of us before, or at least those of us educated in state schools perhaps, but Chauncey really is a mutton-headed mugwump. It just fits. All around the country people probably nodded their heads and said. Yep, mugwump! It's so obvious now he mentions it. It's like sliced bread, pairing cheese with onion or using his gambling problem to get Joey Barton kicked out of football.

In years to come you won't see the face of Chauncey, you will see a Mugwump. If he were not a Marxist who abhors capitalism he would have it trade-marked in readiness. That's Chauncey, not Boris obviously. Boris has trademarked his own name. It's ironic though that a Tory is known only by one name. Chauncey had once dreamt of that sort of thing like so many of his heroes. But now he can live the dream and emulate the likes of Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky. Mugwump they will say and people will nod and when they have finished laughing will remember the beautiful 18 months he led his party without ever once being ahead in the polls. Inspiring times. What a mugwump.

There was talk earlier this week that some were saying that Boris should be kept out of this election campaign for fear of what he might say or do. Then he enters it and immediately makes it accessible for everyone, regardless of their interest in politics. That is the man's talent. He is interesting. He is funny. He has a love of language and an ability with it that makes headlines. I have every admiration for Theresa May since she rose to the top job. She has brought a seriousness and strength of purpose that have been refreshing in the wake of David Cameron. But politics needs someone fun too and that is Boris. Labour would kill to have anyone like him. For the Tories they have him just as the comic relief.

It is highly unlikely that this is going to be an especially memorable election campaign. The Tories are going to play a safety first type campaign because they can and Labour are going to....well they are going to have Chauncey as their leader. What a mugwump. There, that's it summed up beautifully in one word you hadn't heard of until a day ago. Now you'll never forget it. It's a double whammy for Boris and the Tories.

Trump is Turning the Oval Office Into a Treehouse

Why Boys Are Mean to Girls They Like

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Peanuts


Trump's First 100 Days


Donald Trump reaches his 100 day point at the weekend. I haven't written about him for a while and so now seems to be a natural point to do so, even if the 100 day milestone is a ridiculous and pointless one as I have pointed out before. Trump has done so too, but still seems to be going all out to do things prior to it.

That is the thing about Trump. Though he dismisses the so called fake news mainstream media he still craves their attention and praise. And his scandal  ridden incompetent administration is in dire need of a win. His wall doesn't look like getting built and the attempts to repeal Obamacare are still struggling. Trump has made various vainglorious claims about his achievements to date, but that is standard Trump. He thinks if he says things often enough people will believe them. In the case of his base support that is probably true. But it is the rest of the country he needs to worry about.

And the scandals and question marks about him and the people around him have not gone away. The investigations are continuing and so are the revelations. Carl Bernstein says that there is a cover-up going on. Trump distracted us all with his attack on Syria, praised in many media outlets and indeed on this blog. But it doesn't amount to anything more than a distraction. Indeed that is probably all it was ever supposed to be. We knew this was a possibility at the time. Now it looks more and more like that.

What are his intentions vis a vis Russia, Syria, the Middle East? What are his intentions vis a vis China and North Korea? We can all see what he is trying to do. He is trying to bluff his way to forcing North Korea to back down. Thus far it seems to be working. They have still not yet had another nuclear test. But what happens if they do? Will Trump blink or will he attack? It's quite possible that even he doesn't know yet. Maybe it depends upon what CNN, the Washington Post or the New York Times are saying about him and if they have a story about his Russia links ready to go. It is not necessarily wrong to be contemplating military action against North Korea. Something is going to have be done after all. It is risky however. And it is especially risky if the president has no strategy behind it other than attention seeking and distraction from his own dishonesty and venality.

The White House has revealed a massive tax cut program this week. This blog believes in tax cuts as being a good way to stimulate the economy and to allow people to keep more of their own money. But these cuts look reckless and poorly targeted. They will add to America's already vast deficit and debt and will likely do little for the economy. You have to wonder, did Trump run for office just so that he could give himself a tax break and to boost his business? It sounds far-fetched but given that he seems to have no real agenda on anything other than tax cuts the unthinkable suddenly becomes thinkable. If only we had access to his tax returns. Maybe we will soon. He may be forced to reveal them by Congress.

The first 100 days have seen Trump achieve little except endless controversy, much tittering at his faux pas, ignorance and boorishness and given a massive boost to the circulation of newspapers. It has also given a shot in the arm to satirists. Saturday Night Live is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Shows like John Oliver's are on a high. The late night chat shows feel they almost have to talk about Trump at least 3 nights out of 5. When they do their ratings increase and their YouTube hits go viral. We even watch them this side of the Atlantic.

Two significant anniversaries happen in the coming days. That 100 day milestone for Trump and North Korea's 85th anniversary of its foundation by the Fat Leader's grandfather. Will they mark the event by starting a war? Given what we know about both men it cannot be ruled out.

How Do We Know the Universe is Accelerating?

Brian Greene Explains the Most Powerful Explosions

What Nice Men Don't Say to Nice Women

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Peanuts


PMQs Review: 26th April 2017 - The Chauncey's Last Stand? Edition


These days general election campaigns are sophisticated affairs with extensive and detailed polling, social media campaigns, specific targeting of individual voters, huge advertising campaigns with clever slogans, election buses, rallies, rebuttal units to hit back hard against the claims of opponents. Of course little of this applies to Labour. They haven't even got a slogan. They do however have their own rebuttal unit. Unfortunately however this exists to correct whatever gibberish the leader of the party said in a media interview earlier in the day.

Chauncey was at it again at the weekend talking about the highly expensive weapons system he has been forced to retain at the insistence of his party and its union paymasters but which he would refuse to use. He would also refuse to drop a bomb, not mother of all bombs or even a little sister of all bombs that would give him a nasty scare on the leader of ISIL without first giving him the opportunity for a nice chat over a cup of tea and the opportunity to be nice. Oh and Chauncey has a man writing his manifesto who thinks we should disarm the police and abolish MI6.

Labour are committing so many unforced errors they look like a British tennis team being abused by a racist former ladies man. There's another 6 weeks of this to go. Never mind though today they are promising to give NHS workers a pay rise and recruit more of them with money from their magic money tree. That magic money tree is going to be getting quite a shaking this next few weeks. It's the only tree in the land that will be denuded of all leaves and life by the middle of June.


Meanwhile the Lib Dems, perennial purveyors of the politics of all things to all men are however worried if all things to all men involves certain activities between men they regard as sinful. Tim Farron the born again Christian leader of the party keeps being asked if being gay and having gay sex is a sin.  He said it isn't. We're not sure if we believe him. But then he is a Lib Dem. Isn't that sin enough? When did we start believing a word they say anyway?

The Tories are telling the country today about their success in getting the deficit down to its lowest level since Gordon Brown - a sour faced man who ran the economy (badly) once and even became PM for a time - was in power. Labour have pointed out that the Tories promised to eradicate the deficit by 2015 but are now promising to do it around 2020. Or thereabouts. How this works as an attack line by Labour though is a mystery. Labour have complained bitterly about all Tory cuts or the lower levels of spending needed to constrain the deficit and get it under control. The Tories have been cautious about cutting spending too hard and seem to have got it about right hence the steady growth of the economy. Labour wants to start spending lavishly again on anything and everything whilst abolishing trade union rules meaning that we would soon have national strikes demanding massive pay rises. In quick time we would be Venezuela. But without the oil. We have got shale gas of course but Labour wouldn't allow that.

All in all this is one of those elections when we all think we know what is going to happen. The Tories are trying to persuade us that nothing is certain and that we must all turn out to vote. And they are trying not to appear too complacent. As proof of this they have tied Boris to a chair in a back office until June 9th. Nothing is being left to chance. Their election strategy can be summed up by pointing at Chauncey and raising an eyebrow. My brother thinks they should erect giant posters of Chauncey with the slogan Really? or Seriously? Or they could resurrect the old Labour isn't Working posters but with a picture of Chauncey shouting at people through a megaphone. It's going to be a Chauncey theme I feel.

The polls are looking disastrous for Labour. The latest today has the Tories on 49%. They are even ahead in Wales and making a comeback in Scotland. Looking on the bright side however Labour have been backed by Commies. The Communist Party is four square behind Chauncey.

This is the last PMQs before the election. Next week Parliament will be dissolved, MPs will cease to be MPs, some of them in the Labour Party forever rather than face the humiliation of having to pretend that they want Chauncey to be PM. Others are standing down because of old age or infirmity. Ken Clarke is now not standing down for precisely the same reason.

According to the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg, this Parliament has lasted for only 299 days and there have been only 61 PMQs. This is Chauncey's 53rd. His last? Don't bet on it.



Chauncey got to his feet in full on sanctimonious mode. He paid tribute to departing MPs, many of whom are departing because of him. He was cheered roundly and fulsomely by Tories who amused themselves with planning the election literature with him on the cover. And the back. And every page in between.

But he also went back to basics so to speak. Back at the beginning he used to crowd source his questions. Today he had cherry picked a few more from people who echoed his own prejudices and desire to spend ever more money we don't have. Government is about hard choices. Labour under Chauncey could not even decide to kill a terrorist who throws gay people of high buildings and encourages his followers to drive lorries and cars at schoolchildren. They would make the hard choice of throwing money at everything. And taxing anyone who earns more than £70, 000. These are the rich.

Chauncey's questions ranged across all of the subjects. Next to him he had Miss Piggy lookalike Lady Nugee gurning and shouting in sympathy. The central theme of his questions was however about money. Labour want to spend it and accuse the Tories of cutting. What has happened in reality is simply that the Government has increased spending less rapidly.  Hardly the same thing. Government spending has increased every year since the Tories came to power in 2010. In Labour la la economics though (c) Gordon Brown it amounts to a cut. It's why we are still grappling with his deficit.



None of the exchanges between the two were at all illuminating of course. It was just an exchange of slogans. Chauncey was a little more coherent than usual if only because he had had his questions written for him by the public. It's what it says about his political philosophy that is revealing. Mrs May was well prepared with slogans and the themes of the election plus a website that seemed to be in favour of the Labour leader but.....Mostly though she kept saying the same message over and over again. Strong leadership, strong economy, tough negotiator, Labour can't be trusted. That is what we are going to hear again and again. The public seem to believe her.

If there is a vulnerability for Mrs May it is over issues like aid spending and pensions. It is notable that she has refused to explicitly promise the continuation of the so called triple lock on pensions. The reason for this is simple and easy to understand. It is too expensive, was born of coalition politics and very close elections. It is unfair on the succeeding generations who have to fund it that pensioners are so lavishly rewarded with freebies and guaranteed pension increases. The PM found a form of words that boasted of its record without promising to continue it. She did however say that pensions will continue to increase. They will just not increase as quickly. More detail in the manifesto presumably. There may even be a surprise on this. That seems to be her preferred modus operandi.

You can expect the opposition parties, who are all under pressure this election as they face a resurgent and confident Conservative Party, to concentrate their fire on this area. And the NHS. And schools. So in other words it will be like every election in history. The Tories can just talk about Brexit, negotiating, strong leadership and the economy and play safety first. That is what the PM did today. Though Chauncey was not terrible neither was his performance anything other than average. For him that represents a triumph. But then that's why he is 20 plus points behind in the polls.

And that's it until June. For now we don't really know when we will be back. We just think we know.


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The Fear of Being Bad in Bed

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Peanuts


The Nuclear Option



Chauncey has the Communist Party of Great Britain on his side. Across the nation this revelation will have failed to stop anyone in their tracks. In much the same way Chauncey gave an interview at the weekend in which he wavered disastrously on the seemingly easy question about whether to kill the leader of a gang of criminals and zealots responsible for endless murders and probably even genocide. And of course he would send a letter to the commanding officers of our Trident submarines instructing them what to do in the event that they are unable to receive communications from London because it has been destroyed in a nuclear war. Chauncey would tell them that he wants to achieve a nuclear free world. Well, in the event that the commanders had to open a letter it would be probable that British nukes would be the only ones left since the rest of the world would have fired theirs and evaporated us all.

It is hard to decide, is it not, whether the insistence of the likes of Chauncey that they are working to create a more peaceful, nuclear free and nicer world is stupidity or stubbornness. Perhaps it is both. Do they really believe that those of us who support the retention of Trident want to see nuclear armageddon? Or have we learnt the lessons of history?

Add into the range of possibilities then that, in addition to stupidity and stubbornness is a large helping of preening vanity. Chauncey and co really do believe that they are better than the rest of us simply because they have a naive belief in talking, wanting peace, refusing to carry a stick in addition to talking softly. They are so determined to see the other point of view that they wave the white flag and become quislings. Hence Chauncey's appeasement of various terrorists over the years, something we are sure to hear more of in the coming weeks.

What do Chauncey and co see when they look at North Korea for instance? Do they see a country that is determined to join the nuclear club because it sees itself threatened with weapons that have not been fired in anger since 1945? Or do they see a regime that sees nuclear weapons as a guarantor of its continued ability to rape and rob its own countrymen and threaten the rest of the world unless it is bribed to play nice?

And what of Russia? How do they imagine that Vladimir Putin would behave if the doctrine of mutually assured destruction did not exist? Would he be even now expanding into those countries he regards as within his sphere of interest? Or would he be singing kumbaya around the camp fire and inviting us all to join in?

Here's an interesting question: why do the trade unions want the legislation that outlawed secondary picketing repealed? Its because it was a potent weapon they used to devastating effect in the 1970s to hold the rest of the country to ransom: a kind of industrial armageddon. Then along came Mrs Thatcher with her legislation and they were no longer able to.

Now Chauncey does not have the kind of intellect that will be able to compare and contrast those two things. He will see them as entirely unrelated. And they are to a large extent. But they do speak to human nature. And it is thanks to human nature that we need to have nuclear weapons. The moment that they were invented there was no turning back. Thankfully those who have these weapons are rational actors and appreciate the consequences. But that is why proliferation to the likes of North Korea is intolerable. North Korea would be obliterated in any exchange. But North Korea is not necessarily a rational actor. It might gamble that our rationality is our fatal weakness and thus play brinkmanship to its illogical conclusion. Much as the trade unions used to do and would again if they could. Call a strike and create havoc and poverty for everyone including your own side in the hope that the other side back down since they have no stomach for the fight.

But that is not an argument for unilateral disarmament. It is an argument for a minimum deterrent. It is an argument for what Britain has. It is an argument for having a leader who is prepared to use such weapons as a last resort and is prepared to say so. That is why, as a rule, the British people have resisted the opportunity to elect lefty posturing halfwits who have never grown out of their student politics.

The world is and remains a dangerous place. Nuclear weapons have actually ensured that it remains a lot less dangerous than it would otherwise be. They have ensured that World War 3 has not happened. Had nuclear weapons not been invented it would likely have broken out within a few years of the last war ending. It might even have broken out on the Korean peninsula.

The Five Standard Excuses

Why We (Sometimes) Wish Those We Love Might Die

Monday, 24 April 2017

Peanuts


The First Week


There was a raft of news about the election over the weekend including new polls which conformed what we already knew and what may have prompted the PM to call an election last week. The Tories are way out in the lead and the public simply does not believe that Chauncey is competent enough to lead his party let alone the country. Indeed the early days of the campaign have confirmed this with Chauncey himself, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler tying themselves up in knots when asked fairly simple questions about Labour policy and positions. They are going to find the next  7 weeks very trying indeed.

Labour, we were told, is not going to have a single manifesto. It is to have a rolling manifesto. In other words they are making it up as they go along and every time someone has a light go on over their heads it will be published pronto. A rolling manifesto does at least have the advantage that they can simply pretend none of it ever happened once their idea is ridiculed or shown to be unworkable as with most Labour pronouncements these days. Last week Chauncey would say something only for a spokesman to recant a few hours later. All Chauncey needs is his own Shaun Spicer and the image of incompetence would be complete.

Over the weekend Chauncey appeared on TV and said he would not necessarily order the killing of the ISIL leader offering a number of questions he would want answered before giving the order.

Indecision is his firm policy. Probably.

On one issue though he is firm and resolute. He doesn't want to keep Trident. This despite the fact that it remains Labour Party policy.

Never mind though, if Chauncey manages to get elected he's going to give us all 4 extra bank holidays. That's sure to stir the passions around the country. I'm looking forward to hearing him shouting about that through a megaphone. What do we want? 4 more bank holidays. When do we want them? In March, April and November.

Given all of this the Tories will probably be content to lay low and say as little as possible over the campaign. Indeed this seems largely to be their intent from what we can judge thus far. There will not be a huge opus like manifesto. They will get away with giving opaque answers to questions and being studiously vague so as not to be tied down. Mrs May last week didn't exactly say that the pensions triple lock was being abandoned. She just avoided trying to give a firm commitment on it. She is right to do so, since we cannot afford it. But it will have upset a lot of people. She gives the impression that she will relent on this as on many other issues if the question is asked persistently enough.

And why is she sticking with the idiotic pledge to spend 0.7% of GDP on aid when this angers so many people and is demonstrably wasteful? Surely a better form of words could be found rather than a ridiculous and ruinously expensive percentage target. All that that kind of target does is create a vast fund of money that DFID has to cast around to spend. It leads to waste and corruption. A better approach would be for the Government to set out its ideas for aid spending each year or over a period of 2 or 3 years and ask Parliament to authorise them. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with having a rough target for aid spending as there is for defence spending, but why set it in stone? There should also be a contingency fund for major emergencies such as another ebola outbreak. That is the kind of aid the British think of when they hear the word, not some of the absurd schemes that keep being funded. This is not to say that the argument about the need for soft British power in the wake of Brexit is not a good one. But the story of the previous weekend in which aid spending and defence and security spending could be merged was the right approach. While they are at it why not simply lump aid spending in with the Foreign Office budget?

The latest poll over the weekend showed that Chauncey is regarded with such contempt and derision that Labour are now second to the Tories on their perceived ability to manage the NHS. That is how badly Labour are set to fare in this election. Thus the Government's willingness to be pragmatic and to say as little as possible is understandable and wise. But they are unlikely to get away with blocking questions for the entire campaign as they did in the first week. We hope and trust that they do have answers.

Here's a primer for them though. Conservatives believe in government being as small as possible and for taxes to be as low as possible. Tories know that when taxes are cut this is not, as Labour would term it, a tax giveaway but just allowing people to keep more of their own money. Tories also know that the rich are already paying their fair share and to put taxes up would be self defeating and likely cost money. This has been proven time and time again. It would be nice, given how far ahead in the polls she is, if the PM were to reaffirm these basic Tory principles.

All in all though it's been an encouraging first few days. A safety first approach is the sensible one. But please think again about aid spending. It annoys people when at the same time the Government is cutting back on so much and apparently abandoning the triple lock. The British people are not against aid spending per se. Just aid spending as a way of shoring up a Tory image. As is being shown in Scotland, being true to your principles often has its own reward in the end.

Trump's 100 Day Report Card

Fox and Friends

Kim Jong-Un

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Peanuts


The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Numbers: Chapter 3 - The Non Denim Wearing Levites



After all of the boring rules and regulations of Leviticus we are getting back to the story. No, really we are. First though God had to set his house in order and to sort out the admin and apportion the chores. For this he needed some servants. And he has a whole tribe of people in mind for that - the Levites. And no, that has nothing to do with people who wear a lot of denim.

So you'll recall that, back in Exodus, Moses had a brother invented for him specifically so that some people could live the high life as priests based on their fictitious lineage back to him. Aaron was the brother in question and, said God (allegedly) his sons and sons of sons in perpetuity, would be his priests. Being a priest is of course a big deal because, as Leviticus outlined, they get to dress in fine clothes, eat lots of sacrifices given for God and even levy taxes.

And they also get a whole tribe of men who were to be their servants and the servants of the Tabernacle.

You may recall that a very long time ago two of the sons of Aaron were killed by God for getting things wrong in the Tabernacle. This left Aaron with two sons to be the priests.

Now you may also recall that back in Exodus God killed all of the first born of Egypt in order to persuade the Pharaoh to let his people go. God however spared the first born of the Israelites. In return for this God said that he wanted all of the spared first born to be his servants. Forever. Nice bargain.

But now, given that this was a rather high price, he made them another offer. Instead of having everyone's first born he would instead have a whole tribe of men to be his. What a generous God he is.

These were the sons of Levi. The Levites. They were to have a very important role. They were to be the servants of God. While the rest of the tribe were doing their daily jobs, raising their cattle and sheep and generally doing normal things, the Levites were to look after the Tabernacle, work for the priests and guard the Tabernacle if the tribe ever went to war.

So God decided to do a special census of the Levites, of all of the males over a month old. Each male was the descendant of one of Levi's three sons and so they were split into sub tribes and apportioned their own positions in the camp and their own special duties.

So the descendants of Gershon lived on the west side of the camp and were given fabric tending duties.

The descendants of Kohath were to take up position on the south of the camp and were given the job of looking after all of the holy items within the Tabernacle like the mythical Ark of the Covenant.

Merari's sons took up position on the north side and looked after the tent itself, and were responsible for erecting it.

Wondering what happened on the east side? That was where Moses and Aaron and the priests were to live. They got more space because they were so important, although what would have happened had Levi had more than 3 sons is not revealed. Anyone would think this was just made up.

So they counted everyone up and there were supposed to be 22 thousand Levites. This, needless to say, is ridiculous. How many people does it take to carry around a tent, a few altars and some fancy clothes? And while we're on the subject this is supposedly a tribe of hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people. In the desert. All camped around one tent. How big was this tent? Was it the size of a cathedral?

Anyway, God has given the Israelites this great deal, he wasn't claiming their first born. But in return for this they had to pay a tax. Well, who would have thought. Another tax. It's like living under a Labour government.

But the Israelites didn't object. They agreed to all of these highly unreasonable demands. It's all going really well isn't it. Don't worry, it won't last.







Bill O Reilly's 98 Novel Is Rich With Foreshadowing

North Korean Leader Nukes Sarcasm

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Peanuts


Video Diary: The General Election 2017 Edition

Film Review: The Zookeeper's Wife

Film Review: The Belko Experiment

Film Review: Their Finest

Film Review: Rules Don't Apply

Film Review: Unforgettable

Film Review: The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki

Film Review: The Transfiguration

Friday, 21 April 2017

Peanuts


Labour's Road to Oblivion


Strictly speaking of course the election campaign has not properly got underway, but in reality there is no time to be lost. At the last election we all knew exactly when the big day would be thanks to the hated Fixed Term Parliament Act and so the campaign effectively got started the moment that the New Year ticked around and the last strains of Auld Langs Syne had faded away. This time, again thanks to the FTPA, and our poker playing PM, we only thought we knew when the election would be.  It turns out we were wrong, for which we should all give thanks.

So now, though this Parliament has some business to complete, the campaign is underway. In 7 weeks time we will all be waking up (or sitting up all night in my case) to the results of an election nobody expected and many hoped would not happen.

It would be fascinating to know how the leadership of Labour feel now that it is all underway. They are trying to exude confidence of course, but they aren't even terribly good at that. Campaigning and evincing a consistent message? Not a chance. The best they could do on the opening day was to have their ever loyal, ever deluded supporters heckle reporters for asking questions they considered disobliging. Apparently it is beyond the pale to ask the leader of the party that hopes to form a government in 7 weeks time about his dire poll ratings.

Labour are 24 points behind the Tories in the polls, the public has already made up its mind about Chauncey and indeed Labour MPs are already talking about damage limitation. Many have simply given up and are either retreating to their constituencies to prepare for annihilation or are resigning in the hope that someone will offer them a job running a museum or part of the BBC. Channel 4 has a vacancy.

Labour is not even trying to win this election more honest Labour MPs are admitting, some even on the record. It's not just that they can read the polls like anyone else, they can see how useless their leader is. It's only a couple of years since Wallace had his embarrassingly awful campaign culminating in his platter of platitudes moment as he unveiled that giant tombstone that turned out to be very very prescient. Back then Labour told themselves that they needed a 35% strategy to win thanks to the electoral system slanted in their favour. That system remains in their favour since reforms have not had time to be passed into law and yet they will struggle to hold on to a swathe of seats across their traditional heartlands. But their chances of winning 35% of the vote are about as good as the BBC naming that plebiscite hating woman called Brenda as their election night host.

But there is a more than realistic chance that Labour will do much much worse than even the dire polls are predicting. Because Labour's first day, though certainly not a disaster, was an example of their woeful inexperience and ineptitude. It's not as if some Labour instincts, even those of Chauncey, will not chime with voters as he talked of some businessmen and their dubious practices. But nobody believed that Labour would be able to tackle any of this without causing damage to the country. And negotiating with Europe? Chauncey the pacifist would surrender. On their first day they managed to refuse to rule out a second EU referendum twice only to have a spokesman recant later much too late.


Best of the day though was when Dawn Butler managed to accuse Theresa May of trying to rig the electoral system only to be gently reminded that Labour voted in favour of it. She then accused the wrong company of not paying its taxes. The company she was thinking of also pays its taxes, it just avoids them, something Ms Butler might wish to read up about.

Will Labour get their act together? Don't bet on it. This is a front bench full of inexperienced people at best and the likes of Diane Abbott and Chauncey at worst. John McDonnell is nothing like as clever as he thinks he is and is widely reviled for previous stances, something you can be sure the Tories will keep hammering him about for the next 7 weeks. It will start to feel almost cruel, but then they knew this was coming. It's why Labour MPs tried to get rid of him and why they are now quitting in despair.



If they are lucky then the party will fall to the worst electoral result since Labour started to become a serious electoral force in this country. Labour are reduced to arguing that things might not necessarily be as bad as everyone thinks they will be. This means they are probably worse. Chauncey is determined, seemingly, to indulge his supporters' fantasy to the bitter end. Everyone is assuming that he will then do the decent thing and resign on the morning of June 9th as Wallace did 2 years ago. But then that was precisely the wrong thing to do. Chauncey was the result. Labour has a habit of getting these moments wrong. Chauncey will cling on and blame anyone but himself. The left will blame the media, Blairites even the BBC as Chauncey's brother did this week. Labour MPs, assuming they still are MPs, are in the hapless position of hoping that this election yields a result so bad that even the left cannot ignore it. Fortunately their leader is a man who may well satisfy this masochistic yearning. How long it will take Labour to recover is the real question.

Labour is in a mess entirely of its own making, a road they started down when they dumped Tony Blair for a man who had no more idea of what to do with the leadership than that he considered it his due. It then handed the leadership to a man who had no greater idea of what to do other than that he didn't want his brother to have the job. It then somehow contrived to elect a man as leader despite having checks and balances to prevent him even getting onto the ballot paper. It has consistently failed to remove him from the job despite his being clearly incapable of doing it competently and of having never had the confidence of his parliamentary party. In order to be a PM he or she must command the confidence of the House of Commons. Chauncey does not even command the confidence of the man who looks back at him in the mirror of a morning. He is a product of a middle class left wing upbringing typically cut off from the very people he claims to represent and fight for. He has no imagination, no sense of humour and no intellect. His education was minimal and disappointing and his career has been pointless and born of cronyism. He has never had a proper job and has spent his life spouting left wing drivel that history has consigned to the dustbin decades ago. He is unfit to lead his party and certainly unfit to be this country's Prime Minister at a time when we need our best and brightest leading us with strength, fortitude and resilience. The British public has seen through him since day one. His poll ratings have never risen above dire. He is heading to disaster and ignominy. A man as humble as he claims to be would have quit long ago. And so now he deserves to go down to a record defeat and likely his party's worst since it became one of the parties that aspire to government. After 2017 that may no longer be the case. It will be deserved. A chaotic party that cannot even run itself has no place aspiring to running the country.



How Deep is the Ocean?

A Farewell to Bill O Reilly

The New Mercedes S Class (2018 Model)

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Peanuts


We're Just Not That Into EU



I think a case is going to have to be made for a new stage in the famous five stages of grief: one that is applied especially to those who are grieving for the result of the EU referendum. In addition to denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance must now come a demand for a new referendum. Of course there has also been: try and use the courts and the House of Lords to frustrate the democratically obtained will of the people, but they have tried so many different ruses and tactics these last 10 months we would end up with dozens of stages of grief and it would be chaos.

Look, we get it. The political class by and large are very upset about what happened last June. They're so upset that Ken Clarke, it seems, having announced that he would be standing down at the next election is staying on, either because he wasn't expecting it to be quite this soon or because he imagines that he can play a part in stymying Brexit. Maybe he wants to join that nascent new centre ground party everyone keeps talking about. His local association should de-select the old has-been. 

The mistake that such people keep making is that they imagine that, because the referendum result was quite close - although a million people is still the population of the country's second city - that means that there are 16 million people across the land who are as angry at what happened last June as they are. This is nonsense. There are some people who are angry about it, but most people have shrugged and got on with their lives. Indeed some people, even though they voted to remain are entirely relaxed about it. Because whisper it but some people believed the lies told by the remain side and the gloom and doom predicted. The remain side, after all, had all the advantages and cheated and lied quite a lot. Yet it still lost. Imagine what the result would have been had things been fairer and more equal, had government departments not issued thinly disguised propaganda dressed up as erudite research, had the government not spent £9 million on that infamous leaflet, had they not found an excuse to keep voter registration open for an extra couple of days to try and give themselves an advantage and had not most of the establishment been on their side. 



Britain has always been a Euro sceptic nation. We all knew that. So why is it such a surprise to the establishment that they lost last June? And why would they imagine, consequently, that the country is angry about the result? We are also a nation of democrats. We accept the result of elections and plebiscites. It's just the bloody politicians who have a hard time with it, or who, like Ken Clarke, are hostile to the notion of referendums at all. I invite you to read his recently published memoirs on the subject and not grind your teeth in fury at his condescension and arrogance. Generally whenever he came across people he disagreed with he dismissed their arguments as nonsense. He never actually explained why though nor apologised for how wrong he was about the euro. If you'd like to borrow a copy then I'll lend you mine. No, actually you can have it. It's a terrible book. 



But now the remainers are pinning their hopes of stopping Brexit on this general election. They are going to be terribly disappointed again and then probably angry and depressed and angry and depressed again. Acceptance is never going to happen. Democracy has never sat well with the European project. 

You have to ask yourself though what they imagine the rest of the country, people who are not fired with evangelistic fervour for the EU make of all of this. Because most people have got on with their lives. In truth most people, even those who voted to remain, never really believed any of the claims of either side. Remain voters probably decided to settle for the status quo even though they were not very enthusiastic. The remain side lost because this grudging vote was not big enough thanks to their inability to come up with a single passionate argument in favour of the European project. 



This election then will not hinge on Brexit except in the sense that people now just want the government to get on with it. They will trust Theresa May to do a good job of delivering a good deal and of doing so in a steely-eyed way as is her forte. They may not especially like her but they respect her. The same cannot be said of poor old hopeless Chauncey. There is simply no way the man should be allowed anywhere near Downing Street. And so he and his hapless party will lose and will lose big. It's really as simple as that. Brexit is a side issue except for a peculiar type of European anorak, otherwise known as the Lib Dems. And Ken Clarke. Even the SNP don't really care about the EU except as a wedge issue to try and get another referendum. They may well find that they have overplayed their hand there too. 

Ultimately the country just doesn't care that much about the EU. They don't believe that it has delivered peace and prosperity. They don't believe that we are all about to go to hell in a hand cart because we are leaving. By the same token they don't believe that Britain will become paradise on Earth with low immigration once we have left. Things will go on much as they have always done. But we will have control over our own laws, our own borders and our own money again. We will still go on holiday in Europe, still expect them all to speak English, still play football against them and usually lose and still have the best league in Europe but not the best players who will still head to more glamorous parts of our continent even though we have the best capital city. In short nothing much will change.


Indeed nothing much will change with our politics. In the same way that some adherents of the euro still refuse to accept that they were wrong about advocating our entry into that job destroying, economically illiterate, Germany favouring, bovine farce, so the remainers will never accept that they were wrong about Brexit. They will insist, however many free trade deals we do, however good the access we get to the single market, however good and cooperative a relationship we maintain with our neighbours that we were better off being constantly outvoted by them and forced to pay for the privilege of importing more from them than they do from us.

Because ultimately their belief in the EU is an ideological one. Ideology is entirely resistant to facts and rational argument. Indeed such is their belief it is akin to a religion. It's why they remain so angry and simply cannot understand why others do not feel as they do. And they still won't believe it as the election results come in on June 9th. Still, at least they will have Chauncey to blame for those. 

Simone Biles on Dancing With the Stars



I loathe Strictly Come Dancing on the BBC. But if it had someone of the calibre of Simone Biles, the multi medal-winning Olympic gymnast I think ever I would watch it. Simone is simply adorable, multi-talented, sweet and utterly modest and self effacing. She is having a ball in the American version of the show as her Instagram account clearly demonstrates. She is, deservedly, America's sweetheart.

Kenny Everett Radio 2

Why We Go Cold On Our Partners

If You're Watching This, Thermonuclear War Hasn't Wiped Out Humanity

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Peanuts


PMQs Review: 19th April 2017 - The Elections and Saboteurs Edition


We're back. World War III has not yet started and so Parliament reassembles. For Labour WWIII would come as a blessing. According to the latest polls they are 21 points behind the Tories. But never mind, according to Diane Abbott they would be in single figures were it not for the dynamic leadership of Chauncey. He is worth 18-20 points for the party according to Abbott, who added that the public were especially inspired by his fondness for African dates and manhole covers. Not to mention his tendency to appoint brilliant intellects like herself to key positions in his Shadow Cabinet.

Quite where she gets this figure from is a mystery when another survey revealed that less than half of Labour voters, Labour voters think that Chauncey would make a better prime minister than Theresa May. Possibly the same place as Labour gets its policies.  Over the recess Labour took the opportunity to announce a number of new policies including the brilliant promise to pay everyone at least £10 an hour if they are elected, to raise taxes for the rich back up to 50%, clamp down on corporation tax and then wonder why the NHS has no money to spend on pesky patients. Labour are especially brilliant at spending other people's money. They cannot fathom why people don't like having half of their income confiscated by politicians and tend to bugger off thus buggering up the economy and throwing people out of work. But then the imagine that Chauncey is ultra popular and so this is only to be expected. When Labour lose seats in a couple of weeks time and are wiped out in Scotland it will be thanks to Chauncey's cunning uselessness strategy. He is lulling the Tories into complacency. He has them just where he wants them.

And as for his MPs? Well they had best be on their best behaviour too. Neil Coyle was reported to the party this week for being beastly about Chauncey. Coyle had asked questions about the party's communications strategy, why it takes so long to react to news stories and indeed whether or not it has a communications strategy at all. The leader's office replied saying that they were reporting him for this terrible disloyalty. Doesn't he realise that Chauncey is heroically lifting the party from singly figures to the heady heights of the mid twenties in the polls? Just 21 points behind the Tories. Poised and ready to strike they are. Yet still they carp and complain.



And yesterday of course the PM called an election, clearly because she is intimidated by the electoral asset that is Chauncey. As she stood at that lectern she gravely intoned that she seeks a mandate, but fully expects a hard fight against the bearded wonder who will probably continue his practice during the campaign of taking Mondays off to spend more time with his jam making equipment.

The PM went on a walking tour over the recess in addition to a tour to drum up trade. It clearly revivified her to such an extent that she changed her mind about an election and came up with a cunning reason for doing so. The other parties made her do it. They are playing games. Theresa is going to take them on at the ballot box. She decided 'with reluctance' to call an election whilst Labour still have a liability instead of a leader and she is 21 points ahead in the polls.

The other parties have of course welcomed the opportunity of an election whilst being scared shitless behind the scenes. Chauncey said he welcome the opportunity to take his policies to the country and then asked if anyone had seen them. Nicola Sturgeon said that the PM had made a huge miscalculation, which is code for 'oh bugger, she's just called our bluff. Again.' The Lib Dems said something. Probably. I lost interest. Apparently their leader is called Tim something. Only the Lib Dems could have a Tim as their leader. The Greens said all of the hot air was killing polar bears. Ukip said that their leader would have a comment for us soon, but did we know that he has said every wise quote ever known and also delivered the Gettysberg Address? Oh and he's a doctor, used to be a footballer and a cricketer and is married to a beauty queen.

All of which means that we only have another two of these sessions before parliament is dissolved, MPs cease to be MPs and Chauncey has to brush off his megaphone. As is now traditional during general election campaigns there are calls for debates. This would be a disaster. Last time we had to have debates involving a dozen people, the leader of all of the parties plus whoever claims to be leading Ukip this week. The PM has already let it be known that she sees no reason to share a stage with any of them. Anyway, if she did they would just look at her legs again.

There's an election. This will involve a lot of shouting and bogus arguments. The SNP have criticised Theresa May for not having a mandate but are now abstaining about having a general election. It's a sign of things to come this next 6 weeks.

The first question of the day was from Alberto Costa who shouted something about strong leadership and asked whether the PM agreed that she is wonderful, well words to that effect. The PM agreed that she is indeed a strong leader. She's certainly good at bluffing and keeping her cards close to her chest. Bodes well for the EU negotiations.

Chauncey wanted to talk about debates. Chauncey would be hopeless in a TV debate. You can't stick limpet-like to a script in a debate. Still, it is a tradition now that the opposition always call for a debate. Labour are already in meltdown. Imagine what they would suffer if the country were to see the kindly but confused old gentleman on prime time television.

But to be fair Chauncey was about as good and effective as he has ever been in these sessions. He read his questions quite well with only the occasional fluff. He even managed to extemporise on a couple of occasions, although only about the need for a debate he doesn't really want. Labour, it was reported yesterday, does not yet have any list of target seats, does not even have a slogan for the election and is in chaos. Chauncey wandered around aimlessly with his questions, but at least he shouted a lot.

Still Chauncey insisted he welcomes the opportunity of an election. His MPs probably don't agree with him about that, except in the sense that his losing might well rid them of him at last. Probably. He hasn't actually confirmed that he would go if he lost.

The PM was on top form today and so a better Chauncey did not score the win he might have otherwise done. She was also prepared with plenty of answers to Labour MPs asking them if they supported their leader. That is the problem Labour face. How can they go back to their constituencies and advocate for a Labour government when they know that Prime Minister Chauncey would be an unmitigated disaster. He is at odds with his own party about Trident and so they would buy the subs and the missiles but he would not be prepared to use them rendering them a very expensive jobs creation scheme and about as effective as a bow and arrow. This is clearly going to be a major Tory attack line against Labour. There is so much material on Chauncey and John McDonnell they should probably have had a lengthened election campaign.



Today the Daily Mail front page called the likes of the SNP and Lib Dems saboteurs. The SNP's Angus Robertson asked her to condemn this. She did not. Whatever you think of the Daily Mail it has every right to say whatever it likes, especially as an election approaches. Anyway the SNP are practically the definition of saboteurs and quislings. They will do and say anything they think will win them independence they demand despite its disastrous consequences. The PM told them to concentrate less on this and more on their day job of running their country, a job they are not doing too well.

Oh and we also heard from Tim Farron who leads the rump party so recently in government. Farron is a committed Christian and thinks being gay is a sin and has refused to say otherwise. He also wanted a debate though. Probably quite pleased that the PM has ruled one out.

Once Parliament is dissolved in a couple of weeks time it will be saying goodbye to a number of MPs who will not be returning. Some, like Ken Clarke are simply retiring at the end of glittering careers. Others, like Alan Johnson and a list of other Labour MPs who can see the writing on the wall, are leaving because of the hopelessness of their leader and the consequences for their electoral prospects. Oh and yet another is leaving 'for now' to spend more time with his jobs portfolio. Yes George Osborne will not be standing for re-election. Whatever will we do without him?

There is only going to be one more of these sessions, we think, before the election. Mrs May is moving the measure consistent with the hated Fixed Terms Parliament Act to call an election. The damned thing should be repealed early in the new Parliament. Oh and by the way, we have always had fixed terms. They were a maximum of five years. But there was the flexibility to call elections between that at the behest of the PM. It wasn't broke and didn't need fixing. It was only changed because of the Lib Dems.



June Election? You Read it Here First


You know how I hate to say I told you so. But here, just for the record, is what I wrote on this blog only 2 weeks ago.

Theresa May, when she was the party chairman, famously told the annual conference that for many the Tories were the nasty party. Maybe this is why she is so determined not to hold a general election. It would be altogether too nasty, too atavistic, too primal, too capitalist to hit Labour while it is at such a low ebb. That was the sort of thing Margaret Thatcher used to do after all. She used to look at the polls, look at the results of local elections and then call a general election, usually a full year before she really needed to, because she thought it was the best opportunity to win.

All of the talk about an early election has faded for now. We certainly won't be having one in May. But June? Well the speculation about that hasn't started yet. But it will.

This is particularly the case because the latest studies by the likes of John Curtice, psephologist and election guru extraordinaire, suggest that Labour are heading for meltdown in May's local elections. Disaster is coming in Scotland with the rest of the country not far behind. There will be a decent showing for the Lib Dems, particularly amongst the more rabid remainers out there presumably and the working class vote will continue to desert Labour. The Tories are set to actually increase their seats compared to last time these seats were contested.

And yet none of this will matter. Chauncey will cling on. The only thing that will finally kill him off is a general election, something that Labour is actively planning for as they still assume that, Mrs May being a Tory, she will have the killer instinct.

Well I would like to think that they are right. I fear however that Mrs May, though certainly not lacking in strength of will, is letting her innate caution get the better of her. Maybe she lacks faith in her own campaigning skills. Certainly she would not be a charismatic election performer. But, as we see at PMQs week in and week out, she doesn't need to be. She just needs to be moderately competent to secure a resounding win. Her lack of flash and quiet competence has impressed the public.



This blog has been calling for an election since last autumn and continues to do so now. The road to Brexit is going to be long and hard, the PM has a wafer thin majority and a parliament out to make trouble for her. If things get tough in the Brexit negotiations - and we are less than a week into the two years and already problems are piling up - then her current unassailable lead may look tenuous in the extreme.

It isn't just that a general election would deliver a much bigger working majority and free the PM from some of her own awkward squad enabling her to do a deal for all as she has promised, it is that she would have a mandate of her own and the perfect means to silence once and for all the moaning remainers. Her current poll rating is in the low to mid 40s. She would win a huge majority, kill off all further attempts to keep us in the EU, have a rock solid mandate to negotiate with the EU and five long years to do the deal and then demonstrate how much better off we are outside the EU. She would even have a mandate to prevent the SNP from having their second referendum because there is little chance that they would win as many MPs as in 2015. As an added bonus we might even get Ruth Davidson as an MP.

Please, Prime Minister, think again. Think of an excuse, any excuse to call an election in June. In truth though you don't really need one. You have several. We are leaving the EU, you are a new Prime Minister, people are out to make trouble for you and an election at the end of a fractious negotiation would be bad for everyone. Most of all though you would win and Labour would be annihilated. Chauncey should not be on the front bench. Let the electorate bring him and his party to their senses.

Kenny Everett Radio Show

Easy Explanation of Quantum Theory

Is There an Actual Tape of Trump's Russia Collusion?

Interlude

Stephen High Kicks His Way Into North Korea's Army

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

General Election!


This blog has been calling for a general election since last October. Today the Prime Minister has called one. Or at least called for one. Strictly speaking these days, thanks to the Fixed Term Parliament Act she has to do so with the permission of Parliament. That should be a formality.

The Tories currently have a commanding lead in the polls. Brexit is going to cause problems, irritations and many many fights in the coming months and years. The PM needs a mandate of her own and a better majority to do it without interference from the likes of the Lib Dems and the Lords.

She also of course faces a Labour Party in disarray and a liability for a leader. By calling this election she will despatch Chauncey back to the back benches where he belongs. I'd rather like to stand against him in Islington.

The PM could and should achieve a big working majority with an election. It is the right choice for her party and for the country. With an election held now that means she can carry on with Brexit and she won't have to worry about an election in 2020.

In her remarkably forthright statement outside Downing Street, she said that she needs her majority to force through Brexit against the game playing of the likes of the Lib Dems and SNP and also of the two-faced Labour Party. She is entirely right. It places Ukip in a difficult position though. Presumably they agree with her. So will they stand and split the right wing vote?

It's another hugely impressive move by the PM, something that will happen quickly and while the EU is still messing about with its own elections and stalling tactics. She is proving that, though she is cautious and takes her time, she is decisive. She has learnt the lessons of Gordon Brown and his election that never was. She has the support of the country and even of a majority of Labour supporters when ranged against Chauncey.

This is the Brexit election. Let's fight for it on the streets again just as we did last June. Congratulations Prime Minister. This blog gives you a standing ovation.

Peanuts


Who for Who?



There are persistent rumours that Kris Marshall, the actor who specialises in being gormless, is to be the new Doctor Who. For god's sake.

Just look back at his career. He rose to prominence, if that is the right word, in the execrable sitcom My Family, as the relentlessly annoying son, Nick. This led to a film role as by far the most irritating character in the often annoying Richard Curtis film, Love Actually. Marshall's cloying performance is one of those parts best avoided by fast forwarding or simply going out and making tea. Of course you could avoid the film altogether since it is Curtis at his most earnest and right-on, but how he thought any of the sequences with Marshall in them were funny rather than toe curling is a mystery.

He then became famous for appearing in an advert, one of those long series of adverts for BT in which he was in a will-they-won't-they? type arrangement with a woman who seemed to be too old for him. She probably wasn't, you understand. It is just that Marshall has a talent for appearing younger than he is. Cast him as the Doctor and he would probably make a character who is 1000+ seem quite immature and in need of a slap.



He has most recently been in Death in Paradise, a series that was always far-fetched and seemed to exist mostly as a means of sending well known actors for a couple of weeks in the Caribbean. It consequently got an all-star cast. I always assumed they got these parts as part of a package deal with the BBC for other more rewarding parts that aren't very well paid. Marshall made an already irritating series unwatchable.

In short then he is a not very good actor who is relentlessly annoying and always seems to play the same role. Quite what he would bring to the role of The Doctor is a mystery, although it's likely he would single-handedly bring the series to an and once again, ripe for revival in 10 years time.


There are many better actors out there who would be better. Indeed most of them. Hell, I would be better and I don't even have an Equity card. What is wrong with the suggestion of Phoebe Waller-Bridge from last year's brilliant Fleabag? She would be excellent. Or here's a suggestion: what about Toby Stephens? He has the looks, the comic timing and can actually act.


Of course the rumours about Marshall may well be wrong. Let us hope so. The current series started very promisingly and may well see the era of Steven Moffatt and Peter Capaldi end on a high. I have my fears about new show runner Chris Chibnall who takes over soon but am prepared to be open-minded. Unless of course he casts Kris Marshall in anything other than a role that gets exterminated immediately.


Theories About the Universe

Movies Hollywood Was Forced to Change for China

How Much of a Threat is North Korea?

Monday, 17 April 2017

Peanuts


Something Has to Give on North Korea and It's Their Turn


Well, so far at least, it seems to be working doesn't it. North Korea tried to fire another missile into the sea over the weekend but for now its atomic bomb test has not taken place.

Incidentally, for those who worry about North Korea, ask yourself this: if this is a state so dangerous how come it takes them days or even weeks to actually prepare themselves for one of these tests? Nuclear weapons are supposed to be a deterrent, a way of ensuring mutually assured destruction and thus keeping the peace. But if one side takes weeks or even months to fire their weapons the scales are not even are they? Perhaps the doves in North Korea tempted to despatch the Fat Leader should ponder that. If America is the hostile force it is portrayed as, then how come it hasn't long ago nuked them or invaded?

Here we are not much less credulous than those who live in that impoverished state and believe its bombastic propaganda, although at least most North Koreans only have one source of information and have been brainwashed all of their lives. We know that this is an isolated hermit country that started the Korean War and is only kept from humiliation and starvation thanks to the charity of others. North Korean collectivised farms have tractors donated by the European Union. It cannot keep lights on all night. It's military is hopelessly out of date. And though they are certainly very very good at frogmarching this wouldn't do them much good on the battlefield. Their southern neighbours would probably beat them hands down. Allied with the US it would all be over inside a week.

Most of us laugh at North Korea for the very good reason that it is ridiculous. But what is nearly as ridiculous is the media coverage of it as some kind of real life Bond villain complete with its own subterranean lair creating nuclear schemes to extort money from the world. Except that is exactly what has been happening under US administration after administration. They have bought the propaganda and decided to err on the side of caution. North Korea has exploited their naivety.

Apparently those who fear them have not noticed that they threaten war and thermonuclear armageddon regularly. They threaten it against anyone who makes a joke or even a movie about them. They once even threatened a west London barber. They would probably have threatened this blog by now but are too busy threatening the million or so other tweeters and bloggers who ridicule the leadership. It's a list that will have been added to this weekend. Still, I'm sure that they're getting around to me.

And yes I do know that they are in possession of actual bona fide atom bombs (not nukes) and that they are getting better at building them. They have certainly improved at making missiles too. Sometimes they even manage to fly for a few hundred yards before exploding. But it's all very hit and miss and when you are threatening the world with your weapons it is best to be sure that they actually work. For now, thankfully, they don't.

America has been trying and failing to deal with the North Korea issue going back to the 42nd president at least. Now the 45th is intent on a new approach. He is calling their bluff. And once again this blog feels compelled to give praise where it's due. Trump has probably been advised by those who know more than him, including his predecessor, that North Korea is the most pressing issue of his presidency. He also knows that time is running out. If this tiny and impoverished nation can extract concessions when it is not a threat other than a theoretical one, then what can it extract when it is a real one? Hand over Samsung? Hand over as much cheese as the Fat Leader can eat? Hand over South Korea? Trump has rightly decided that enough is enough.

Trump may be bluffing with his threats this weekend. But equally he might not. I earnestly hope it is the latter. He is said to be hugely impressed by all things military and by the capabilities of the services of which he is now commander in chief. He should be cautious of course. But he should also be prepared to use them if North Korea refuses to back down. He holds all the cards and they have bluffed successfully with no cards at all for too long. Best to hit them hard before they get to shuffle the pack.

Presumably the North is receiving a lot of angry frantic calls from China telling it to behave itself. Everyone always says that they are not as mad as sometimes appears to be the case. It all depends if the Fat Leader is willing and able to back down and whether doing so would be fatal to his leadership. His regime is a a lot less confident than it likes to appear to be. It won't take much to bring  fatty down. Stand by for the end game. He played his hand and pushed too far. America cannot allow him to acquire the weapons he thinks will guarantee his survival. They will actually seal his fate.    

Inside North Korea

Easter Message from Sean Spicer

Donald Trump's First 100 Days

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Peanuts


That Was Not a North Korean Show of Force



I don't usually write anything on Sundays other than my usual The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale, but I have to just quickly write about the steaming pile of ordure that has been written across the spectrum vis a vis the North Koreans and their supposed show of force.

It was nothing of the sort.

It was their equivalent of Trooping of the Colour: impressively coordinated and marshalled for sure, but it hardly means they are capable of waging war with a superpower currently proposing to increase defence spending by a sum greater than North Korea's entire annual GDP. North Korea, after all, is famously incapable of generating enough electricity to keep the lights on all night. If they declared war they would probably have to call it off after a power cut darkened their situation room.

Are they making progress with their atomic, not nuclear weapons? Yes of course they are. But they are still a long way off being able to reliably make nuclear as opposed to atomic weapons. If you don't know the difference then feel free to look it up on Wikipedia. That's probably what North Korea did.

And there is no evidence that they have managed to miniaturise the technology to put atop a missile. Furthermore the missile technology leaves a lot to be desired too. They periodically fire a missile or two into the sea but that proves nothing other than that they are desperate for attention. They probably miss their targets by a hundred miles or more each time, there is no way of knowing what they were aiming at. The missiles frequently fail and, as I write this, they have fired another one tonight. It exploded soon after launch. The engineers will probably be sent to a firing squad for that.



But that nicely sums up the pretensions and delusions of this state. They want to be taken seriously but are laughable for precisely that reason. They try too hard, their bluster and angry denunciations never amount to anything. They have to smuggle in via China the technology to make their missiles and weapons work. They are based on decades old designs and rely on a Heath Robinson, make-do-and-mend approach. The same is almost certainly true of all of those missiles that trundled through the streets of Pyongyang on Saturday that seem to have so impressed impressionable media outlets. It proved nothing other than their enduring capacity to hoodwink newspapers that bridle at fake news.

The Fat Leader is desperate to prove himself on the world stage, but his desperation is showing. And he has now got himself into a standoff with a superpower and also with his neighbour and only real friend in the world, China. There is only one way that can end.

Only a couple of weeks ago John McCain insulted the Fat Leader and North Korea threatened war then too. North Korea threatens war on average once a week.



We all assume that its massive army really is capable of delivering mass casualties in South Korea if the balloon went up. But even that is less than certain. Its military is huge of course but badly equipped and held together with string. Most of its weapons are from the Soviet era. If it were ever called upon to fight it would likely soon run out of functioning equipment, ammunition and very soon soldiers too. If America chose to punish them for firing a missile or exploding another atom bomb they would quickly be exposed as a paper tiger. Conventional wisdom has long assumed North Korea is a threat and thus they have been appeased or at least tolerated. The truth is probably the opposite. For all of the headlines about terrible impending doom that is the prosaic reality. North Korea is about as much of a threat to the world as Belgium.

This weekend will pass off entirely without incident I predict and the crisis, this latest crisis, will pass. In the event that they do test another atomic weapon they risk a massive American response. They will thus likely back down. China will have been sufficiently alarmed however to ratchet up the pressure on its errant neighbour. Maybe, just maybe, the fat little tyrant has backed himself into a corner, has bluffed too far. His demise may not be far off now. Wiser heads may prevail and depose him. If there is any justice he will be tied to one of his malfunctioning missiles and fired into the sea of Japan. They will probably miss.