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Saturday, December 31, 2016
On this the final day of 2016, I choose to salute perhaps the longest standing mayor of all, Rita Barberá who came to office in 1991 and served for 24 years, until her defeat in 2015. To have served for such a long time means that she had ample time to achieve some remarkable accomplishments for the city of Valencia, but also she had the time to make mistakes.
She died in 2016, just days after having been examined by the Supreme Tribunal, that might have led to an indictment for crimes committed in office. I think it was such a shame that a huge shadow hung over her head at the end.
What has moved me to write in her favor is that yesterday I thoroughly enjoyed myself, together with my wife at an installation that was all Rita, so I want to take a look at the way things were when we arrived in Valencia in 2000.
Madrid is the capital city of Spain, and Barcelona was the second most important city in the country. Valencia city was very much the poor step-child. It was the iniative of Rita to raise the profile of her beloved city through a number of publicity steps, which evidently were all taken in good faith. The objective was to attract tourism and business to the area, so that money spent to put Valencia on the map was expected to be recuperated eventually.
The first big event that she was successful in attracting was The America's Cup Race. For the city this was very costly and it completely changed how Valencianos saw their city. The port and the Mediterranean were at the back of the city rather than at the front. Normally any town or major city looks forward and out to sea. Not Valencia, but suddenly there was all this activity taking place at the port, which after all is next to the magnificent Malvarrosa Beach, so in our consciousness a major change took place.
To say that the city benefitted from all the publicity that surrounded that event is an understatement, and the event was successful. As an added benefit a dispute took place between a couple of competitors that extended the event and the publicity.
It was probably that event that led to the holding of The annual Formula 1 being staged here. Again, an event that generates massive publicity, but also generates massive cost to the host territory. After three or four years Valencia had to drop out as host, but again, Valencia was placed firmly on the map as a serious place to be.
Disaster struck with the economic downturn. That plunged countries around the world into chaos, including Valencia city which has been left with huge debts to clear without the economic impact from an increased travelling public and new major business coming into our community. She took the risk but good luck ran out, replaced by bad luck. We gambled and we both won and lost. Sometimes, that's life.
Shortly after arriving here in Valencia we visited the city zoo. We were appalled by what we saw. We also came to realize that we were not the only ones. Apparently many local Spanish people would be so upset by the treatment of the animals that they would leave the zoo and go straight to City Hall to scream at the mayor. How dare she treat animals in such a cruel manner, and in the names of the local residents.
Rita listened! She decided that the problem would be addressed, not with Band-Aids, but by building a world-class facility that would not even be called a zoo. Now, Valencia has a facility that is called "The BIOPARC" in which the animals are well cared for; in which they are free to roam about their enclosures to be themselves in conditions that mimic their own natural habitats, except that their space is limited to the facility rather than a whole country.
Yesterday was our third visit, on a perfect day, and while it is possible to see everything in one day I think most people want to take longer to just stay in one place for a long time to observe the various species. The very fact that we were all there generated good vibes. In spite of children running all over the place I never heard one cross word from the parents. People were super courteous to one another, and when the day was over we both agreed, what a nice day that was.
I think this is Rita's finest achievement. The animals win, and we the people can feel so much better that in a world where species are disappearing we are caring for our adopted friends, and we are doing it in a humane and caring way. I think to be someone who actually works there must mean that you have one of the very best jobs in the world.
It seems to me that on the Balance Sheet of Rita Berbera's life there is much more on the plus side than the minus. She has not been convicted of any crimes or misdemeanors, so she is innocent. In any event I prefer to remember her plusses. That's me, I always try to look on the bright side of life.
So, thank you Sra Barberá for all the hard work and dedication you have put into serving the people of Valencia. I am a foreigner but your many efforts have not been lost on me, and I'm so glad that you liked my "Obama" cap.
Copyright (c) 2016
Thursday, December 22, 2016
December 22nd, Mid Winter or Winter Solstice is the shortest day of light and the longest day of darkness. However, it is also the only day of the year that we can absolutely count on nothing but good evening television news. We just don't want to hear any bad news at all. This is the day when Spain's El Gordo Lottery draw takes place and 2.5 billion euros is distributed over 15.000 prizes. However, because these prizes are broken down into small shares no-one has any idea of how many people actually share in it.
Firstly, the system is totally secure from corruption. In a world that is so corrupt, that is really something. Secondly, it is also totally socialist in its structure. No one can win the lion's share for himself. Unlike other lotteries where there is a jackpot and one person gets to walk away with (sometimes) over a hundred million Pounds or Dollars, not so with El Gordo. (No-one needs to win that type of money.) It is intended that the amounts available to be won might pull you out of debt, or even assure you that you can live modestly for the rest of your life with careful planning.
The news hour has now finished for the day and we have been treated to images of people all over the country crying with tears of joy and dancing in the streets because they are feeling so high with pure and unadulterated happiness. Their number was called, especially for the major prizes in spite of that being an improbable thing. Every year the same thing happens and nothing gets rolled over. All the prize money is distributed with 99% of the residents participating. Even those of us who didn't win a thing still see it as good news because every year we do not win brings us closer to the year when we will.
The event generates its own human interest stories, such as 90% of the residents of an old folks home bought into the event, and won. Their average age was 90 and they won 400,000 euros per ticket. One old dear held three tickets. Don't you just love it!
One family, like so many others in Spain were all out of work, but they won enough money between them to redeem their dignity.
A few years ago a small village of 250 farmers all bought tickets with the same number. The number won second prize of euros 125,000 each ticket. (You could have held several tickets.) The twist in this story is that all enjoyed winnings except the one person who didn't believe in these things. He was a foreigner, but by all accounts he seems to be ok with the outcome.
It is gambling, which is to normally be discouraged. Many people in Spain play the lottery, and while I'm sure that a few go overboard the average person bets something modest, such as 5.00 euros on a line of numbers that might give a reasonable little lift to one's finances. It's really about hope, because life without hope; something to look forward to would be intolerable.
In a joking frame of mind I always say that one day I'm going to hit the lottery in a big way. When that happens I do hope I will get all of my money back.
Maybe, but hope springs eternally.
Copyright (c) 2016
Sunday, December 18, 2016
We have a gentleman living in our community who is a veteran of World War II. He is in his 95th year and loves to talk about his life of adventures, and to listen to him is a marvellous education in itself. His memory is as clear on things that happened many years ago as though they happened just yesterday.
However, one of his stories has so incensed me that it should be committed to print form, so I will do that for him.
He was a part of the landing force on D-Day and carried on throughout the whole war, and survived to tell the tale. He did that so that we are free from the yoke of Nazism. To have served for so long makes him a true hero in my eyes, along with all those who served and fell. So, it was only right and reasonable for the survivors of his regiment to be called to Buckingham Palace to be recognised and honored by the Royal Family.
He received an invitation on nicely embossed plain white card and arrived and together with his compatriots they walked into The Palace along the red carpet, but at a certain point he realised that for those who held similar cards to his they were ushered to the left while others who held invitations that were gold embossed went to the right. His group were led to what might have been at one time the stables, while the others went into the Palace proper.
The were very nicely entertained, but fed on a lacklustre lunch, and Prince Charles did make his rounds stopping at each table to commend the men and women. What took the shine off the event was the fact that they, who were prepared to give their lives to allow the British way of life to continue were segregated into the lesser class, while the others were wined and dined because of....what?
Correct me if you think I'm out of order, but I think this was an outrageous thing to do to people who were so deserving of the utmost respect of the nation. To go to all that effort to insult them by herding them into a second class group when they had every right to go first-class all the way beggars belief.
Yes, they should have been feted, but if not done properly, then it was as bad as not having been done at all. The Royal advisors have a lot to answer for. Far from honoring this gallant and patriotic gentleman, they inflicted an insult upon him that he has never forgotten, and will take into his grave.
For those responsible I say, shame! shame! shame on you!
Copyright (c) 2016
Saturday, December 10, 2016
The annual EL Gordo fever is growing as we approach December 22nd, 2016. That's the day that the draw will take place for the greatest lottery in the world. It is so great because it offers a real chance to an unknown quantity of people to win some usable quantities of money, but no one walks away with one or two hundred million euros. This is simply because no-one needs to win that much money.
When ordinary people win such huge amounts of money they are presented with an equally huge problem in that they will need to conserve and manage such a gargantuan windfall, and the average person will have no idea how to do that. (Usually the aftermath makes very grim reading indeed.) Anyway, if we win more than 15 million euros we will have more than our fair and reasonable share of good luck. There will be many, many people who will not agree with me, but that's my opinion.
By the unrestrained joy that is unleashed on that day throughout the country, and the world I think the vast majority would agree with me. Don't be greedy-think of the other needy neighbours. I am betting on one major roll of the dice. I have chosen our number and I have put enough money on it so that if the number comes up for first prize I will be set for the rest of my life with money left over to continue to help my family. If not, and if the number is not called at all I lose 200 euros - again.
There is a movie presently playing that has a terrific story line: a number of men holding a specific number who live in a small mountain village win first prize in El Gordo. The problem is that these tickets were only sold in a nearby brothel, so they are absolutely toxic. You can claim your prize with anonyminity, but you cannot use the money in any real way without giving the game away. I wonder how that ends?
So, on the 22nd December, from early morning I shall be stuck in front of the TV from the starting bell just in case our number comes up. I am the treasurer of our consortium of about 3000 people, and it will be my job to see that all are paid in a timely fashion. This will be a really nice problem to have and I would absolutely love the challenge.
Please wish me luck...the good kind.
Copyright (c) 2016
Sunday, December 4, 2016
Kevin Baker made me do it. My good friend Kevin dragged me, screaming, fighting, and yelling all the way into the 21st Century. Now I am the proud owner of an iPhone 6 Plus. I haven't completely forsaken my Nokia tiny palm mobile. Now I have two phones, but I have taken so long to step up my game and I really don't have a good excuse. I simply have not felt the drive to go modern all these years.
Kevin assures me that it will change my life. I think Kevin was embarrassed by being associated with a friend who was so behind the times when he is this super, on-the-cutting-edge kind of guy. When the mobile phone was first introduced I was steadfast. I would not have one because I just didn't want to always be available. Before the introduction of the mobile the best anyone could do was to have a long extension cord that allowed mother to be hanging out the clothes while talking to a friend.
With a mobile phone our stress level automatically rises because the phone might ring at any time. I was having a business lunch with a lady when she suddenly leaned down, picked up her handbag and held it to her head. " I thought I heard my phone ringing," she said. I thought she had suddenly lost her mind.
Humans were not structured to always be instantly contactable. It seems that the ringing of the phone must be replied to right away. Whatever we are doing when the phone rings we drop that and respond. That's the way it has always been. I have been in a long line at the bank. The teller is hard pressed to serve us, when the telephone rings. She ignores us to take the call. I just wish she could give me money through the phone.
We see it depicted in movies where a couple are making love and the phone rings. "Just a minute. I got to take this." What! Are you crazy? That's when you know you are sick. Go to a doctor now.
The good thing about having waited so long before moving up to a Smart Phone is that I have seen what bad and deadly habits can be formed if you allow them to start. I have made myself some promises that I will keep. Not to do so will be to complicate my life to no end.
With my little Nokia I would carry it around in my bag all day, and if it didn't ring I never touched it. I read my e-mails when I got home and was sat in front of my laptop. If I needed to send an urgent message I can only think of two times when it was so urgent that I went to a Locutorio to do it.
Promise number 1.When and wherever I sit down to eat I will not take out my phone and place it on the table. I will continue to not answer it while eating.
Promise number two: I will continue to not answer an incoming call while driving. I could ask Siri to read me the text of an incoming Whatssup message, but I won't. My attitude is that there is absolutely nothing in my life so urgent that it can't wait until I get to a convenient place to pull off the road, shut down the motor, and then see what all the fuss is about.
Promise number three: I will never walk and stare into my phone to send a text or read a message from someone. Perhaps I will take an incoming call while walking, if I can figure how to do that, but I will never fall into the habit of not being aware of my surroundings because I am totally concentrated on my phone. People have walked in front of trams and oncoming traffic and been killed.
It is true that when I have been expecting an important call I have taken my mobile into the bathroom with me, and I have had perfectly comfortable conversations while sitting down in there, but at least if I continue to do so my conversations will not be under the Face Time app.
Promise number Four: This could be the most important promise of all, is that you will never see a picture of the meal I'm about to eat, taken by me with my iPhone. Never! Never! Never!
I am perfectly aware that we all hold in the palm of our hands the most powerful device in communication, and I am a long way away from discovering the full capabilities of what it can do for me. I am quickly becoming comfortable with it and I am starting to feel like a pro. But here's the thing: I am in charge of it, not the other way round. I tell this to Kevin and he sniggers. He says that everybody does it. Well, not me Kev. I am one of a kind.
Stop laughing Kev.
Copyright (c) 2016
Saturday, November 26, 2016
This past week has been the week of my wife's birthday celebrations. We rode the AVE fast train from Valencia to Madrid in Preferente, or First Class. Now we are hooked! No more Tourist class for us.
We arrived there and took a taxi to our hotel on the Grand Avenue. We checked in and we pushed the button for the lift. There was a man standing there who was well dressed, and in spite of the fact there was a lady he insisted on entering first.(He needed to be behind us.) We were three in that small space. He pressed the first floor and as soon as the lift began to move he moved closer to me. I should have followed my first mind, which was to allow him to ride up by himself as I thought it peculiar that he pushed ahead of us to get in first.
He asked "Cafeteria?, Cafeteria?" At that point I concluded "Here we go again." I covered the point of my man bag closest to him with my hand and sure enough there came his left hand that was covered with his coat and he encountered my hand. I tickled his fingers and he jumped back. I smiled and admonished him not to do that. I didn't just get off the boat pal. His eyes went as wide as saucers. When the door opened he shot out and was gone. The danger was that I didn't know what he had in his right hand, which could have been a knife in case I tried to take him down.
We called the desk and gave them a description. They thought something was strange because they did notice him entering the lift with us, and then immediately he came down the stairs and out of the hotel. They called the police and within half an hour he had been arrested as a person of interest who was well known to them.
He got nothing from me as my things are secured with chains within my bag. I learned that many years ago when that foiled four beautiful Eastern European women who accosted me in broad daylight, surrounding me with their gorgeous bodies which they rubbed against me while trying to steal me blind. They actually had pulled my wallet and a second bag with my credit cards from my bag, but because they were on chains they became confused and the tugging alerted me as to what was going on. Again, they got nothing.
In every country around the world crime takes place everyday.People wake up in the morning and have a shower; they get dressed, have breakfast, and they go to work. Their careers centre around relieving the careless and uninformed of everything they can get. This is their work and they are very good at it.
In our case the man goes from hotel to hotel in the city employing various ruses to strip the newly arrived of whatever he can get. After dealing with the front desk I didn't actually fix my straps to secure the bag because I was only going up in the lift. He was counting on that.
I once stopped at a counter in a shopping centre where there was no one else around to ask a simple question. The top of my bag was open. Within half a second that counter suddenly became of interest to a whole family. I moved on very quickly, closing my bag in the process.
The moral of this story is that we are all open to suffer loss by theft every time we leave home. We cannot know exactly who is watching us, but we can safely assume our every move is under scrutiny because there are numerous people who are counting on successfully stealing from us.
Copyright (c) 2016
Saturday, November 12, 2016
In my blog of last week I suggested to Hillary Clinton that maybe she should have a Concession Speech ready, just in case. In fact I felt deep down that the result we got was on the way. The tip off to me came when the Klu Klux Klan declared they were for Trump; no surprise there, but then placards started showing up saying, "Blacks for Trump." Now, when have Blacks and the KKK agreed on anything?
This election will be discussed for the next One Hundred Years. How did he do it? Scholars will pour over every little bit of it. The Donald ran a campaign of ideas and reversals of ideas; of insults followed by those insulted joining up with him; and of grave threats to do this and that, followed by more reversals until on election day no one really knew what they were voting for.
If this was a plan it was brilliant, it was masterful, and of course, it worked. He got so close to Hillary, the front runner, and then, in a flash of supersonic speed he left her so far behind the result was not even close.
The American system that has the general public go to all the trouble of voting, only to find on Election Day that their popular vote is superseded by 507 super delegates that make up the electoral College must be great frustration for the millions. Those super delegates are supposed to stop the thing that happened from happening. Ironically, it was the popular vote that got it right in so far as the expected outcome was concerned, so what good are the super delegates? I think they are going to come under some close scrutiny.
Now there is rioting in the street. Trump said that he might not have accepted the outcome. Well, get a load of what's going on now.
So many people said they were voting for change. Well, good for them, because here comes change, ready or not.
Someone said that there will probably not be a Democrat in 2020 who will bother to run against him. Well, the next four years will be many lifetimes. It really all depends on what happens between now and then.
Copyright (c) 2016
Saturday, November 5, 2016
I wish I had the political imagination to write the blockbuster book that is presently playing out in real life, but unfortunately I don't. Even if I had no-one would have believed it was even possible. I might have sold a dozen copies so that people could mock me but no-one would have bought a plot that had the most ridiculous candidate come from absolutely last place to be running neck and neck for the office of the United States of America.
I would have had to conjure up the most ludicrous campaign strategy ever. Start by insulting people and countries. Be a person who shows he hates women and Latinos and Blacks and they will join with the white men to form an army of supporters. I would have to make him awfully flawed so that his opposition would fear a victory for him more than anything else they can imagine. To really confuse them I would have him commit every gaffe that has ever been done which resulted in those who made such gaffes resign. He would only get stronger Then, I would make the race so close no-one could call the outcome.
And then, for good measure, I would have him actually win. That way I could get several more books out of the situation.
As I said in my previous blog, you may not like anything about the man, but what he has achieved to date does deserve our respect. I'm not talking about praising him or saying that we like what has been done; only recognizing that he has overcome his challenges and has come to a place where he could possibly declare in three days time, " Mission Accomplished!" I think that there is no-one on the side of decency and what is right who would say that 9/11 was a great terrorist accomplishment, but they did get our attention.
I would have also had to make the opponent a strong woman, but one who is also flawed so that voters would not have all that clear a choice. Here we are, Saturday, November 5th, 2016, and all across The United States, and around the world the number one topic is the American Elections. However it turns out it will have worldwide repercussions into the unforeseen future.
I believe the lady candidate is confidant of a victory. Perhaps she should also have written an acceptance speech of defeat, so to be on the safe side.
Copyright (c) 2016
Sunday, October 30, 2016
I am not an American voter, but I have just as much to gain or lose as every American. This American election, more than most, will be a possible turning point in American history. Every eligible voter should participate to do their bit.
After the children have done their rounds trick or treating, the real Halloween horror begins. Economically, America has some radical changes ahead to adjust to, regardless of who wins the election. These changes will severely challenge the office of the president, and they will most likely mean the downfall of The United States of America as the top super power of the world.
Please don't misunderstand me when I say that I congratulate Mr Trump on running such a clever campaign. I am not one of his supporters, but I have analysed his unorthodox tactics and they have been brilliant. Of the seventeen Republican starters he was deemed to be at the bottom of the pack. Through the use of insults, outrageous statements and downright lies he has awakened a sleeping army of robots who have fallen in line behind him to crush all of his competition, and to take over their party; and now he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Hillary Clinton, and it is entirely possible that he may win the race.
Brilliant! That deserves my respect. Not my support, but when a person can overcome all the odds to get to a point where they can just about say, "Mission Accomplished!" that is to be admired.
What is to be admired even more is that his opponent first had to fight off a super strong challenge from Bernie Saunders, and where lesser women might have been crushed under The Donald's steam roller she is holding her own in the arm wrestling match of all time. Should she win we will hear much more about how it must have been rigged.
The past two elections saw America's first African-American elected to office, and throughout he has performed in proper presidential style. I am proud of him as he has been a true credit to black Americans, and black people in general. However, with a Republican congress and senate his hands have been tied. If Hillary Clinton wins her hands will also be tied; and because House Republicans don't want The Donald his hands will almost certainly be tied.
Whichever way we look at it, the next four years might be stalemate except for those economic forces I spoke of earlier. It remains to see whether the coming years will be relatively rational and reasoned, or anything goes. For the answer to that we just have to wait and see, but the outcome cannot be assumed.
It certainly has been the most startling and interesting race. It even topped the campaigns that seated President Obama. If only he could serve another eight years so that the nightmare on 1600, Pennsylvania Avenue could just go away.
Copyright (c) 2016
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Gretchen Kelly writes blogs. One of her blogs that appeared in The Huffington Post, (I think) of the 23rd November, 2015, she wrote, under the title, "The things all women do that you don't know about."
Oh? What could that be? I thought. So I read her long article, and by the end of it I was shamed to be a man.
What she meant by her title is that every day a woman can expect to be harassed or propositioned or touched or stared at, and she just sucks it up and keeps her mouth closed to keep the peace.
I have always been aware that there are significant differences between the lifestyles of men and women, to the extent that there has been this mystery that exists in my mind. Generally I applaud and respect the difference. I guess that I have made the mistake of putting women on a pedestal because I think they don't need or want to be there. But for me they have been my opposite specie to be admired, respected and sometimes loved.
Gretchen's article details the disgusting daily things that all young women are subjected to by us males. Usually by males with power to commit such behaviour, but behaviour that they should know better to control. Of course it's all sex based.
Let me tell you what my rather naïve impression has been. When I was a young man life was conservative. Females covered up, and they never opened their legs even if they were wearing slacks. They were super demure and if our eyes met they would turn away immediately. During my early years I never heard of a rape. I was about twelve when a case of manslaughter was prosecuted because a man struck his girlfriend and she went down and her skull was cracked open. That was a major scandal.
Times changed and females began to come out of their shell. They showed more flesh on the beach and in the street. They walked taller with more confidence as they became better educated and got good jobs. Some even earned more money than their tradesman husbands.
The worst sin I recall making against a girl was to take her for a ride on my shiny new motorbike, and for that I was told by my mates that she would give me sex. So, I told her that I wanted sex or she would have to walk back, not even realising that would have been rape.
The girl slapped me so hard that I was knocked off my feet, and then she threatened that her father and brothers would come after me if I didn't take her back promptly. Respect! That is what she knocked into my head, and I never did it again.
Now I'm learning that women are subject to sexual remarks, staring at their boobs or bums, inappropriate touching and proposals; and non-consensual sex if they want to get ahead in their careers. What a despicable lot we men can be.
Add to all the above the fathers who force their daughters to have sexual intercourse with them, or the brothers who molest their sisters; and those bastards who date rape by drugging women, and we men have a lot to answer for.
We can start by not participating in locker room talk about women. We can keep our hands to ourselves until it is appropriate to use them in a consensual way. We can wish that the rich and powerful guys would restrain themselves and act like decent humans, but we have heard how power seems to give people the presumed right to treat others. This is a truly a disgusting state of affairs.
Ladies, you will probably be surprised to learn that I do appraise your bodies when you are not aware, but I don't want to do anything about it these days. In my youth if I liked what I saw the pursuit began.. Some of you were not interested, and some were offended that I even took an interest. However, I only made a pass in the appropriate place where men and women came together to meet one another, and I was never rude.
As I think hard on my own behaviour in relation to the above list of sins of men, if I could think of something that needs and apology from me I would now give it. What I will do is offer my sincere apology to anyone whom I may have genuinely offended. I certainly would not have intended the offence.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
I watched a film this week called the Cokeville Miracle. It's really about Guardian Angels and Guiding Spirits, something I really do believe in.
Guardian Angels are apparently spirits that never ever lived as human beings. We all are assigned one whose job it is to protect us, to the best of their ability, from harm. However, if we choose to ignore their urgings, then we are on our own. We see examples of such activity everyday from people who take really stupid chances, intent on hurting themselves for a laugh.
Guiding Spirits are the spirits of those who have lived and died, but who linger and live vicariously through us with the intention of helping us to make the right decisions, and to bring comfort to us. They are most active after they have died as a human in giving comfort and assistance to their next of kin. They are also free to attach themselves to anyone they choose if they see that such a person needs help.
My present Guiding Spirit is my Cousin Margery who I find to be very helpful.
The story of the Cokeville Miracle is that a lunatic held all the children of the local school hostage and threatened to blow them up with a crude bomb he had made. To make a long story short the bomb did actually go off and in doing so everyone in the building were at risk of having been killed. The bomb was surrounded by children and their teachers yet, instead of the blast going outwards it went straight up.
Some of the children suffered none life threatening burns, but the only two lives lost were those of the bomber and his wife.
In the instant that the bomb went off children reported seeing angels surround the blast and they were led to safety by people they had either never seen before, or by a family member who had died.
The bomb did detonate; the children and their teachers are all alive; and the damage did occur to the building.
Perhaps anyone who is a sceptic might like to explain that.
Copyright (c) 2016
Sunday, October 9, 2016
Firstly, falling in love is a most personal subject, so let's not get into an argument with one another. If a person says that they fell in love at first sight, and especially if they are still together after any significant period of time the point goes to them
I can only express my views and opinions which are mine alone.
As a man I have only ever known lust at first sight. That is the way I am wired. I have seen women in the past and I have immediately fallen in lust with them. Being super beautiful or sexy was not always the criteria, rather it was something about the person that moved me to want her. All colours, shapes, nationalities, every one of them appealed on their own merit.
I have been in love. I have experienced what it feels like to give my all to a woman, and to feel her love in return. Wow! That is simply fabulous. However, I have never fallen in love at first sight. I wouldn't even know how to do that.
At first sight I can only know that she has something that I like about her. From a distance I will likely be attracted to her body. The best angle for me to first see her is from directly behind. From that angle I will see her head of hair, her shoulders and the line of her image. Perhaps she will be tall or medium or short. She may be shapely or homely. Her legs may be well developed or stocky. The most sexy thing about her at this point may be her buns.
A woman with well developed buns that move in that special way as she walks is a major turn-on to me. Her buns need not be oversize, but if they are firm and shapely, so much the better. Now if she turns sideway she will reveal her facial profile and her bust size. Her buttocks will also be highlighted. Finally, when I am facing her directly her frontal beauty will be revealed to me.
From this encounter I most likely will have concluded that she is someone I should try to meet. However, the rule is "never judge a book by its cover." Men do that all the time. We think, judged on what we see that we want this woman, meaning we just have to bed her. For all we know she might be a witch.
In my younger years when I did all my thinking with my lower head, if I did get an introduction to her I would have had no greater ambition than to fornicate. If that realisation was arrived at without too much delay and difficulty the relationship would not have progressed beyond that point.
Often lust progresses onto the "Like" stage as we get to know one another a little better. Love runs deep. I have only arrived at that stage once I get to know the person quite well. Once I learned of her philosophy of life, her humanity, integrity, potential loyalty; her kindness, her ability to focus, and her scope of intelligence can I open up my heart to let this person into my inner self.
I believe it when people say they fell in love with him/her the first time they laid eyes on them, but I believe it for reasons that most people probably wouldn't. I am a firm believer that we have lived before. I think that when we fall in love with someone we think we have never met before, that in reality this is the recognition and continuance of a relationship that existed in our past lives. Since our energy does not die it reincarnates into the body of a new born. Thus these two spirits recognize one another and the story continues.
I pass a man in our cars on my estate a couple of times a week who I have never met. I have no idea who he is; I have never seen him outside his car, and I have never spoken to him. He has never done anything wrong to me, yet I have an intense dislike of him, and I sense he doesn't like me either.
Again, I think this is something that is a carryover from our past lives.
This may seem strange to readers but I suggest that you Google "Reincarnation" for some eye opening facts about what really happens when we are born and when we die.
It's a good news story that you can also follow in my book: "Death is Not the End." Available from Amazon and Kindle.
Copyright (c) 2016
Saturday, October 1, 2016
I awoke this morning to the realisation that I had reached the 77th anniversary of the day I was born. Was I excited? No. After having celebrated 76 of these things you get kind of jaded. That is definitely not how it should be.
When I was a young person when another birthday came around it was celebrated in style. There had to be a party with friends and family gathered around, and it was a big deal. But why? The continuation of life was taken for granted. We were young and indestructible. However, looking back on some of the things we did to celebrate it really wasn't so guaranteed after all. Especially judging by the next day, or even the next week's hangover I at least wished I were dead.
Now, when birthdays are getting ever more difficult to attain I am laid back and relaxed to the point where I have to be reminded of the coming of the big day. I have concluded that in a sense birthdays are like our own skyscraper. I can relate to a tall building with 77 floors. Each floor represents one year in my life and is a living museum. Once in a while I return to certain floors for a visit.
The ground floor contains the front door through which I entered the world. The second, third and fourth floors were vast playgrounds and adventure lands. The fifth floor contained kindergarten. That was a big step up into an all together different world which was scary. That was when I came face-to-face with an introduction to real life.
It is not my intention here to pass individually through each floor, although on certain floors the visit would be more enjoyable than on others, but it is all there to be remembered and accounted for as "My Life." A similar structure exists for each and everyone, and always has although before high rises we could have used the analogy of one long continuous ground level building.
As I write this, through the magic of Facebook my wife is calling out a long list of friends and family who are sending love and best wishes from around the world. The world as it was is moving out of its shell as a place where we all lived in our own compartments, to a world that is truly global. The Internet is responsible for that in one way or another, and English is the language of the Internet. We are all inter-connected through the simple touch of a button so that whatever happens on the other side of the globe can be shared with everybody on this side and in between.
I would have to try extra hard to imagine our world in one hundred years from now. It will undoubtedly be a vastly different place from what it is today. There may be remnants of our culture and customs left, but very hard to recognize.
On the other hand, one hundred years from now there may be nothing at all, as mankind will have succeeded in making a total mess and it will all be gone.
Copyright (c) 2016
Sunday, September 25, 2016
First, let me say that as a black man I am so happy that I don't live in the United States of America. If I did I think I would be far more afraid of the police than I would be of the criminals.
Shootings of black men, most of whom turned out not to be armed has become a rallying cry for Black Lives Matter, because it seems to the police that they don't. America, I know you like to think you are a great country, and there are many things about your country of which you can be justifiably proud. Race relations is not one of them. Your greatest weak point is your widespread ownership of guns, which will lead to your downfall.
During 2015, there were about 1200 people killed by police. So far this year your police have killed between 790 and 844, depending on who you listen to, and if all deaths have been recorded.
Let's acknowledge that the police in America have a tough job. The policeman on lone traffic patrol needs to pull over a car at night. He approaches the car not knowing what he will find, including a possible gun in his ribs. In most other civilised countries he doesn't have to worry. So, perhaps its no wonder the American policeman is trigger happy because in America the citizen may not hesitate to shoot.
The media make much of the fact that another white policeman has shot another unarmed black man. The image that we get from that is that the police are infiltrated by a bunch of racist and depraved killer thugs in uniform. This may be the case to a certain extent, but then came September 20th and Charlotte, North Carolina and the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by a black policeman. What are we to make of that?
The police say that he held a pistol in his hands as he held them over his head, and that he refused to drop it. That would be an act of suicide by police. Members of the public and his family say he held a book in his hand that he had been reading. That might be an unlawful death by police.
Whichever, the media are playing down the fact that the policeman was black. Should this continue it would lessen the stigma of racism and strengthen the perception that all police are probably too trigger happy.
On September 16th, the media informed us that a white female officer, Betty Shelby, shot and killed unarmed Terence Crutcher unnecessarily. She has been charged with first degree manslaughter. Even her fellow officers witnessed the shooting, however, during 2015 there were 1200 people killed by police, some under extremely depraved conditions, and although twelve police were charged not one was convicted. The chances that Betty Shelby will spoil that record seem minimal.
The police can do anything they want to do with immunity. Or so it seems.
Although it certainly seems like it, blacks are not the only chosen race in the U.S. in this regard. This year it has been reported that 5.49 Native Americans per million population have been killed; 4.86 Blacks; 2.3 Hispanics, 1.95 Whites; and 0.72 Asian / Pacific Islanders. (Dylan Petrohilas/Think progress)
Confidence in the police is at an all time low, although whites strongly support them while I think most blacks would prefer to simply do away with police departments all together because they seem to be more trouble than they are worth.
America, you have to do better. Refugees from America has already started as a few families have found excuses for moving to Canada. In time I think it reasonable to expect this to become a torrent
Copyright (c) 2016
Sunday, September 18, 2016
The way our system works is that a person commits a crime and the police bring him to justice. Once found guilty the judge will pronounce sentence of say, ten years in prison. The victims of the crime all nod in satisfaction that he was put inside for a significant period of time.
However, what the judge has said, in effect is that for the next ten years you are hereby declared exempt from the normal costs of life. You will have a roof over your head, and we will provide you with three meals a day. You will not have to worry about water, gas, heating, electricity or telephone bills. You may not even have to do any work.
As an added bonus you will get to live with horrible people like yourself.
So, where's the punishment in all this? I don't know. Where the judge adds the extra words: "at hard labour," this might actually mean some hard graft. You may get to feel the pinch of paying for your sins. Without the hard labour the rest is a vacation.
In some countries if you are poor and unable to pay your bills, for the sin of owing people money you get sent to prison. For such people I imagine they find prison horrifying, difficult and painful. It's also pointless! If some of the silly people who commit others to prison for this crime of not being able to pay their bills should end up in similar situations, I think the practice would soon stop.
Being male and a homosexual has been a heavy burden to bear. Depending on the country a man might be killed, or beaten, or discriminated against. Many men, in the more understanding countries have been sent to prison for sex related activities as the State have invaded their bedrooms. So, in addition to the above list of freebies these guys land in a kind of heaven where men who are so starved for sexual release will not think too hard about finding it with a man who is already gay. The problem here may be sentences that are too lenient and short.
For those criminals who hurt people I think they should at least be flogged. Rape a woman, go to jail and be flogged. Feel the pain you have inflicted on another person. The damn Nazis did unspeakable horrid things to their prisoners, including beating them and ending their lives and the best that society could retaliate with is holiday camp-like conditions in jail? The guilty Nazis should have been flogged often and hard. It should have been made so terrible that they would have started crying two days in advance of their next punishment.
True, I haven't spent any time behind bars. That's because I haven't done anything to merit such treatment, nor do I ever intend to do so. That's the secret: Don't do the crime and you won't have to do the time.
Copyright (c) 2016
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Friday, 9th of September, 2016 it was reported by a medical association that the beneficial effects of statins are greatly understated, and the negative effects are grossly overstated.
These are the experts speaking so I had better not get myself into an argument with them, however, I do have to wonder.
For all my life I have struggled with elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol readings. I was put on tablets to lower my blood pressure, but when the doctor suggested a statin to regulate my cholesterol I hesitated. I had read enough press to make me wary of creating more harm than good by taking statins. My doctor cautioned that I should try the pill and if I had adverse effects I should then immediately cease.
Reluctantly I agreed. To begin with I could not feel any negative impact, and to the credit of the pill my readings fell to within the desired range quite quickly. The trouble is that I have been taking them for five years. During that period I have advanced from age 72 to age 77 and I have noticed what I thought were the effects of growing old.
My muscles have grown weak, especially in my legs. It had become a real chore to walk any distance, particularly uphill. At the gym, where I attend twice weekly, and at Pilates, where I attend once a week, I was struggling. The weight settings I have been using have been quite low and uncomfortable.
While walking an observer might well have thought I was drunk as my balance seemed to be getting worse. My problem was that I would feel dizzy, so much so that at times I would have to stop what I was doing to rest. The rest was also welcome because I seemed to be feeling constantly tired. During the Summer months everybody is tired from the extreme heat. Siesta if King! However, I would sometimes need a siesta during the morning.
I had been developing another problem that was almost un-noticed. I am an even tempered person by nature. Everyday I wake up with the same outlook on life, and I go through the day without being predisposed by ill-will towards my fellow man. Well, I found myself changing and turning into a grumpy old man. When I took stock of that situation I simply put it down to getting old syndrome.
Another most unwelcome development has been a reoccurring blurring of my vision. For my age I am proud that I go through each day without having to use my glasses very much. I do use my glasses for distance when driving at night, especially if I need to read signs. I have reading glasses but usually I make do without them. However, there are times when I have to rely on both pairs because my vision becomes so blurred. Getting old really is ugly.
The last straw was back pain that almost crippled me. It has happened to me twice over the past five years, and the crazy thing is that the pain has come on while I was not doing anything out of the ordinary. This last time I had been washing my face and when I straightened up the pain struck like a thunderbolt. It struck on my left side leaving me very reluctant to straighten that side. As a consequence I was lopsided. Eventually I just sucked up the pain and straightened myself and went and visited my doctor, who prescribed pain relief tablets and sent me for an x-ray.
I had the presence of mind to review the prospectus for the statins I have been taking for these past five years, including side effects that are common to those that are rare.
Dear Medical Association:
The prospectus indicates the following may be applicable: Weak muscles. (check) Tiredness (check).
Dizziness (check). Depression (check). Blurring of vision (check). Spasmodic muscle pain (check). Neck pain, which had gone almost un-noticed (check).
I stopped taking the pill immediately and the following has occurred: I feel lighter and have more spring in my step. I definitely have much more energy leading me to raise the weight limits at the gym. My balance has improved tremendously. When I walk I do not have the gait of a drunk, and although I could walk a straight line with difficulty, I'm almost there with that. Best of all, I am completely pain-free as I write this!
Other than a pill-a-day for blood pressure, and a pill which is aspirin-like to keep my blood reasonably thin, I am not on any other medication.
I don't think I can be accused of exaggerating the negatives that I have experienced, if indeed all that I have listed are exclusively associated with the statin, but the prospectus list of things to beware of takes up a full column that is 34 cm long.
That's a lot of possibilities!
Copyright (c) 2016
Sunday, September 4, 2016
Realistically, we cannot choose all of our neighbours. In practise we don't choose any of the people who live next to us. We can choose a neighbourhood for its social class. Our economic means will be the guiding light, but the neighbourhood is made up of individuals.
A family moved into a house and within three months their next door neighbour moved away stating his reason as the fact that the people who had moved in were black.
The only thing that we can deduce from the black family is that they are black. We can make the following fairly safe assumptions about the family who moved: they are white ignorant bigots who would add nothing to the lifestyle of anyone who had half a brain. They are people who consider themselves white supremists, whose principal emotion is hate. Rather than contributing anything to the white race they are seen as an embarrassment and are deemed to be white trash.
Perhaps the best situation is to simply have no real connection with the neighbours. If we are left alone to live our lives with consideration for those who live next door, but without any social interaction then there is no relationship to go wrong and complicate our existence. Sometimes the people next door seem to be nice and friendly but perhaps they have expectations of us, or vice versa. Should there be a disappointment in those expectations we then have to live with that.
Having said all that I remember growing up in a community of people who lived by a mutual code of caring and sharing. Our house was not lockable, and we children were subject to the same discipline everywhere within the community as we were at home. One day my mother fell ill and was unable to produce an evening meal for us. As if by magic one of the neighbours showed up with a full meal for us. How she even knew I have no idea because we didn't have a telephone.
If there was ever any bad blood between neighbours in our community I never heard of it. Human nature being what it is we could have expected something to go wrong, but our little world seemed to be idyllic.
So, neighbourhoods are potlucks. Once we choose the social level of living the rest becomes like a potluck draw. If you are living in a quiet and secure area with people who share respect and consideration for one another you are one of the very lucky ones. However, if you are finding yourself living in the jaws of hell I do sympathise with you. You need to win the lottery real big so that you can buy a house that you can surround with high walls so that you can create your own bubble.
If only we all had that choice.
Copyright (c) 2016
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Firstly, it is human nature to move from country to country. We have always done that and we will always do so. One benefit is that we spread culture and we learn from our travels, much like the pollination of bees and birds.
Secondly, when we travel we take with us what we know best: our own customs and culture. This is not always a good thing, but on balance it does work. One example where it does not work is the full cover, including the face burqa. In those native lands where it is the custom for the woman to completely cover up that is the way it is. However, in countries outside of that small circle it is not acceptable and it should be banned and enforced. This is mostly a security measure which requires that the population, without exception must show their faces.
Now we move to modesty. In the Arab world it is the custom that women cover themselves, either totally or 99%. I believe this is done for the purpose of promoting a society free from the temptation of the flesh. In Western societies women have the right to wear whatsoever they wish, within the norms of decency. That allows a very wide latitude of choice for women and in the process has the very opposite effect in that a man's attention is fixed on things sexual.
From the Western world we look at the Arabic customs and all that we see is oppression of women. However, when we talk to the women we find that they are comfortable in covering themselves to hold their beauty only for their husbands. Certainly their customs do seem unnecessarily draconian on women, but then their society is not plagued by so many of our own problems.
Enter Summertime at the beach. We have been living with Arabic women entering the sea fully clothed in their street wear. We have tutted and said how ridiculous but they were left alone to bathe in public as they saw fit. Now someone has designed a very beautiful and charming garment that adheres to all of the criteria of Islamic dress, but it is a bathing suit. It is only marginally more conservative than bathing suits of yesterday that protected the modesty of white women.
The mayors of 31 French seaside towns have decided, in their lack of common sense to ban the Birkini. They are in fact telling women they must take off more of their clothes to swim from their beaches. Not surprisingly the Supreme Court of France has struck down these banns, probably because they are unconstitutional, but really because they are stupid and provocative.
I don't want to be too hard on France as they have had a lot of problems as a result of hardline Muslims and a lot of people have lost their lives. However, this is making problems where none exists. Muslim women want to at least cover their hair, and at the extreme they want to completely disappear behind the cloth. Except for uncovering their face they should be left in peace to wear whatever they want, as are all other women in France.
At one time or another Frenchmen have invaded so many countries that belonged to other people. They carried with them their own customs and culture, somethings have been retained by the locals, and some other parts the locals found to be disgusting and insulting and have been rejected. The Birkini is simply a statement of the Muslim woman's modesty and conservatism. Intelligent people would celebrate that and stand with the woman and defend it as her right.
It's not broke so it does not need to be fixed!
Copyright (c) 2016
Sunday, August 21, 2016
This week's column is unusual in that I have written and published a serious work of non-fiction which is now available for sale on Amazon.co.uk and Kindle.
Down through the years I have always questioned life as presented to me, especially the things we take for granted through customary use. I think its healthy to ask ourselves why do we do things the way we do? Can we do ordinary things any better? Answers to questions such as those is what has led the world to improve itself constantly.
I found myself observing people very keenly, especially people from countries where traditionally they have been short of stature, but now in those countries can be found some very tall folk. What happened to suddenly change that? It does indicate that everything is changing.
Then, someone close to me died and that got me thinking about the end process; and at the same time I considered the beginning sequence of life. Does Mother Nature really discard the talent of the deceased; and is all that accumulated knowledge simply lost? Perhaps there is a correlation between the end of a person's life and the beginning of a newborn's life.
In following those lines of thinking I have discovered ample and persuasive evidence that we are living permanent lives in successive stages. When we are finished with this life we shall simply transition through the portal of death onto our next life.
There is also a practical use for this book: that is to help us better manage our bereavement grief. If we know that the person whom we have lost to death has actually gone on to his or her next life we have cause to celebrate both their life with us, and the beginning of their new adventure.
The book is an easy read. I have deliberately kept it short for the comfort of those people who don't even want to think about death.
All I ask is that readers take the subject seriously and keep an open mind. There is a worthwhile reward in store if you can get your head around the transition concept. Unrestrained grief can be one of the most intense and destructive emotions a human being can endure. If you can bring any sense of management to that it would surely be a good thing.
Once again, the title of the book is "Death is Not the End" by Eugene W Carmichael. On Kindle there are two other books by the same name.
Copyright (c) 2016
Saturday, August 13, 2016
I agree that this is a ridiculous title to a column that describes a wonderful two weeks in Britain, but the fact is that I was only able to flush one toilet on the first try, and that was in the home of a millionaire. What's with British toilets?
I'll return to that question, but I love Britain in the Summer because where I live it becomes too hot. When temperatures rise over 40 degrees it is no longer comfortable. I had been saying that I thought this Summer in Spain would be too dry and too hot, and so it is. We left for Britain at the end of July. By that time I was done. Stick a fork in me and take me out of the oven.
Brexit or no, Britain and the United Kingdom is always green, which is a welcome sight if you have been away from it for any length of time. We were back to do the same thing we did last year at the same time, and that was to give our support at a wedding; this time for my wife's niece. People are still getting married but what awaits them is a life of struggle, which is no different than in the past, but how young people get on the housing ladder is difficult to see. If you are an only child and your parents have their own home you can only hope that one day, when they pass, it will come to you. However, as parents we are living longer so you will likely have to wait for some time.
This was a very pleasant journey for us as we did a tour of friends homes to renew and nurture valuable relationships. We touched base with about forty people, several at the wedding, and in some cases one or two at a time. They were scattered over eight locations which meant a lot of driving for us in so much traffic, but our little rented Peugeot served us well.
Having family that you have a harmonious relationship with means that you have a thing of great value. They live their own lives and we live ours, but when we get together we realise how much value is added to our existence. In this case the family was on my wife's side. For me, I must try to visit my family at least every other year as there are many miles that separate us. Social media does offer something of an intermediate solution, but there is nothing like being there.
So, what's up with British toilets? You push the handle and a little water comes down and I think, here we go, only for it to stop. In most cases I never did get a steady flow going.
My next scientific quest is for the technique and the touch to make a British toilet flush on demand. It is the strangest lingering memory from a visit to the country when I carry with me so many other totally pleasant thoughts.
Copyright (c) 2016
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Let's face it! Whether it's convenient for you or not, the earth has grown warmer. It's so warm that I really wonder how much warmer before we mere mortals will simply shrivel up and blow away like dry leaves.
Here in Spain, this is the time of year when traditionally it has become so warm that during the afternoon hours people all but disappear indoors to get away from the sun. Usually, as is said, only mad dogs and Englishmen are to be found wandering around and doing our shopping when the stores are empty.
There is a phenomenon here where when the winds blow from one side of the country to the other, heat is collected from the earth as it goes and by the time it reaches the other side it feels like standing in front of a massive blowtorch. Generally it's called a Poniente, signifying that the wind is blowing from the west. The first time I experienced it I had stepped out of my car only to get a full frontal blast. I thought I had parked in front of the exhaust of a massive machine, but no, it was just the wind. I got back into my car and turned on the air-conditiong.
There are times when I come back to my car after it has been sitting in the sun, only to open the door
and have to stand back to give the heat time to escape. The door handle is hot and the steering wheel unbearable to the touch.
So how much more can we tolerate? Five more degrees max; ten?
Then I think of all those people down at the beach who lay out in the open to get a tan. I used to pass a beach that was located below road level. You could actually smell the pungent aroma of people cooking.
For those people who deny that global warming is taking place I can only say that your faith in believing that is exceedingly naïve, especially as you feel it as I do. I simply urge you to go to the beach and strip off all your clothes, no-one will mind, and lay out in the sun for as long as you like.
You will get the point!
Copyright (c) 2016
Saturday, July 23, 2016
There are two types of people who are drawn to join police forces all over the world. The first type are those public spirited individuals who want to genuinely serve and protect their fellow citizens. These are people who look forward to joining their local force, to learn as much as they can in their police academy, and then they want to go out into the community to uphold the law in a fair and human manner.
These will be those officers who are given respect and cooperation by the public and they become pillars of the community to whom people look up to for guidance and wisdom. Ideally, such officers will never have to fire their weapons in anger.
Unfortunately, the other type of recruit is a person who is probably mentally sick as he is a control freak. This type of person should be turned away at the beginning as he will be the source of many problems in the community and a pain in the ass for the force itself. Generally he is welcomed with open arms.
He is a cancer within the force. His style of policing will be abrasive and aggressive and embarrassing, but when a moderate policeman says something to challenge him that person gets dumped upon by all the officers of a similar persuasion. The facts are that such controlists are likely to be a majority because the police are in charge as they go about their daily tasks and they must exercise control.
Fundamentally, when we are confronted by the police we should be respectful and cooperative. When a policemen tells us to do something we should follow his instruction immediately. If he demands that we do something that is unlawful, or that is harmful to us we can challenge that in a court of law. To make matters worse he is also an officer of the court, but there are times when the court will turn against him and even send him to jail for having acted unlawfully.
Such a person is in fact a dictator who becomes accustomed to having his every word obeyed, both by members of the public and his own family. If he is a person who is a racist, which is very likely, that adds an element that is extremely explosive.
Then comes the final element that completes the description of a walking time bomb: he is given a gun.
In the United States it appears that there is a strategy against the black man to place as many behind bars as is possible, or to simply gun them down in the street at the hands of the police. It would appear that all certain policemen needs is the least resistance to their own barbaric behaviour and they shoot first and expect to be vindicated by more senior officers who are a part of the same mindset.
These things are done in the face of America's first black president, seemingly as a form of showing him the finger.
So, blacks are starting to push back by shooting policemen in cold blood. Perhaps that can be understood, but not only will the controlists police not back down, they will likely step up their game. They have more guns and ammo, and they have authority.
Focus needs to be placed upon those who control the policemen in the street to reign them in. If they are unable to do so then they should be removed until people are found to control the controlists.
Policemen in America shoot and kill white people as well as blacks, but the situation is so bad for blacks that people have had to come forward to remind America that Black Lives Matter as well as white lives.
The police against the public is normal: We can only hope we don't have the misfortune to run into the very sick one. A war against the police can only have dire consequences, and unfortunately that war has already begun.
Copyright (c) 2016
Monday, July 18, 2016
I have just taken a week away from my computer, my television, and my phone to go to the mountains and to let in the pure air and the unlimited beautiful scenery, and to relax. It feels really good to do that every once in a while. Mankind was not made to always be on alert, or to constantly absorb so much information. Considering that most of the information we receive is bad news I worry about my capacity to take on such data.
With our beloved electronic devices they usually tell us that they can not handle any more because they are full. That would be like our stomachs telling us that we don't need to eat any more, but as for our minds warning us that we have had enough bad news and that we are now in danger mode and should simply shut down; I think we just have to use our judgement. I'm finding that point is growing smaller and smaller because the news is so bad.
We now seem to be in a world where evil men are trying to outdo one another in the total number of innocent people they kill.
One week where everything was switched off has done me a world of good. Of course I have come back to where things are even worse than where I left them, but at least I gave myself a little holiday.
I think of my friends in the mountains of Cameroon who aren't even aware that the terrorist group Boka Haram are operating nearby and they live in splendid ignorance.
Oh, how I envy them!
Copyright (c) 2016
Sunday, July 10, 2016
I watched as Colin Powell set out the reasons for war against Iraq's Saddam Hussein and I immediately concluded, as a non-expert, that this would be a war simply because the Chief wanted it, and it was being persecuted on the very shaky grounds of a pretext. My sense was that General Powell was not himself convinced this was necessary, but as the good soldier that he was, when the Commander-in-Chief says jump, all that remains is how high.
We have no real idea of why Mr Bush decided he would remove Saddam from power and send him to his death, although there are many theories, but in general there is a school of thought that held that it was not a good idea. American commentators are now very strident in their criticisms of that war, and for those British forces that fought and died, it is no small wonder that the families are unforgiving.
Having declared war, then Mr Bush went looking for people to join with him in that ill conceived adventure. He picked on Tony Blair and Jose Maria Aznar of Spain. Tony bought into the idea fully, but Jose, while confirming he felt he was a friend of the president did not commit Spain to go to war.
With that as the background we examine the role of Mr Blair which seemed to be even more enthused than the president himself. He was unrestrained in his selling of the war, and the reasons why Britain should be involved. It even seemed that Mr Bush was a bit embarrassed by Mr Blair's activism.
The Chilcot Report was based upon information gathered in the cold light of day, long after the events have taken place, and with the benefit of hindsight. This is always the way it is. There is no heat of the moment to be taken into consideration, so if we didn't get it right at the moment this exercise will highlight all your mistakes in an unforgiving spirit.
Saddam Hussein and his sons were truly evil people who should have been wiped from the face of the earth. I think that idea has a huge degree of support. However, if you are going to do something like that it will involve such complex reactions that will follow that there has to be a comprehensive follow up plan in anticipation. That is what appears to have been missing, so failures or mistakes in the execution are laid even larger by what has followed. That is the rub.
A lot can be forgiven if an action ends in complete success across the board. Even then you will not please everybody and people will find reasons to criticise.
Nobody ever said being a leader is easy. It did seem that Mr Blair was on his way to finding himself in a tight spot. However, when the head of a government makes mistakes like those highlighted in The Chilcot Report they are usually made at the expense of people's loss of life. Usually the only redeeming quality of mistakes are the lessons we learn from them.
Lessons learned too late for the dead!
Copyright (c) 2016
Sunday, July 3, 2016
The world welcomed in 2016 in the usual fashion because it represented the arrival of new hope. If we knew then what we know now we need not have bothered.
It began in a big way with the political primary season in the United States. The long list of hopefuls lined up and mercifully and quickly they dropped out, one by one to reduce the field down to the one person who should not have even been in the mix to begin with. At the beginning the country said that Donald Trump had no chance whatsoever and he was thought of as a big joke.
Because this is the Year of the Stupid the world is now waiting and watching and holding its breath because The Donald is the Republican presumptive nominee for the office of President of the United States. Even the Republicans don't want him, and to make sure he doesn't get in there may be a new party called Republicans for Hillary.
How on earth did that happen?
Throughout the year other things have happened involving terrorism that is straight out of the lunatic asylum. People gathered together for an evening of entertainment only to meet their death. Perhaps they were at a football stadium, or at a restaurant or a rock concert and some people showed up bearing guns with bullets to end their lives.
This is called the slaughter of the innocents, but perhaps it means that none of us can be called innocent. We are all engaged in the war against terror. None of us are bystanders any longer. We should not simply go along meekly with whatever we are ordered to do by the terrorists. We have to fight back. What have we got to lose if they are going to kill us anyway. Don't be silly and just sit there.
That brings us to the Brexit in the U.K. I predicted that the vote would come down on the Leave side because the whole thing was so emotional. The Leave side spread such utter nonsense and whipped people into a frenzy under the heading: Let's take back our Country! We have all seen British Hooligans in action. What has happened is that a bunch of people have gone mad and voted to Leave, and now they are saying oops! Should not have done that! Can we repeat the referendum? Well, no!
It's the Silly Season! The Leave decision is so complex and suggests such an uncertain future for Britain that no-one even has any idea of how silly this is.
To add to the confusion Scotland voted in a referendum of their own a couple of years ago to remain with Britain, and by extension, to remain with the EU. Now that Britain has voted to Leave, Scotland now wants to leave Britain and remain with the EU. Don't think they can do that. Also, Northern Ireland are thinking about exiting Britain for the same reason. I wonder if Her Majesty knows any swear words?
Meanwhile, the British government has lost both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. (He just doesn't know it yet). To put the cherry on top of the cake, the man who led the charge to Leave, and the person who most wanted the role of Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has now stepped down. He doesn't want those things after all. WTF?
I told you it was silly!
Down under the Aussies have held a general election that ended in no decisive result, so Australia is without a government, and Spain has held its second general election to try and form a government, again without result, or even a likely chance of resolving the issue.
It's that Silly Season thing in full swing.
We now have the whole Summer ahead of us when we will all be on vacation at some point or other. That means enhanced use of airports and sea ports and trains and planes. See you when you get back.....hopefully.
Then comes November when the chance will be offered to commit the most silly act of all. I have been telling people to relax because there is no way that The Donald will become the next president. In fact, I have said that the system is designed to avoid just such a thing happening. If the people bring forth someone who is clearly a bad choice the super-delegates step in and make the intelligent call.
However, this is 2016, the Year of the Silly.
Copyright (c) 2016
Saturday, June 25, 2016
It was the Summer Solstice coupled with a full moon that drove the animal kingdom wild. Our house was plagued by flying ants and bugs of various kinds. They were all over the ceilings and covering the lights, and they were in our hair and our eyes and noses. They seemed to have gone mad.
The effect was still with us on June 23rd when the U.K. went to vote whether to stay where they were or to take a giant leap into the abyss. I have to say that I was not shocked or surprised with the outcome, although traditionally conservative Britain that does not like change found incredible courage to go for the biggest change of all, even though they have no idea what's in store with their decision.
This may indeed turn out to be a classic case of:" Be careful what you wish for!"
In a conversation I had with a friend of similar age, we were commenting on the fact that our lives were all about change. We were reflecting on how we went from one change to another, and the speed and depth of change. Especially when it comes to electronic and digital change, you pick up a gizmo, turn around once and that thing is redundant.
Well, it seems that we really hadn't seen anything. It appears that everything as we know it is now in play. The European Union is on the brink of no longer being a Union; the United Kingdom is no longer United, and the Great United States of America may have its days being counted as the Number One nation of the world. Our challenge, as citizens of the world, is that we have to open our minds and be ready to be flexible for whatever is coming. Decisions will be made in the near future that were unthinkable only a year ago. Some things will change for the worse that will leave us stunned, wondering how on earth did we arrive at this place.
The world is revolving so fast, and change is coming so rapidly that it seems that the world is about to go off the rails. I said I was not shocked nor surprised with the way the U.K. voted because for the common man it was an emotive issue, and I was fairly sure that emotion would carry the day. Today, there are a lot of people who are broadly smiling. I just hope they are still smiling a year from now.
There is one thing that deeply disturbs me, and that is the degree of emotional separation that the decision has caused. Families are struck by the bitterness; friends and companions have cooled their relationships; and here in Spain people in the streets seem to have a hostile attitude that you Brits have voted to leave the club, so why don't you just bugger off!
The British Prime Minister took the step to stand down to turn the leadership over to someone who believes in the Out decision. Many people have expressed disappointment and shock with his decision. In my opinion, if you voted for the U.K. to leave the EU but you didn't expect the Prime Minister to step down, that is pretty raw data that you had no idea, none at all in the gravity of the step you took.
But cheer up, it will get worse!
Copyright (c) 2016
Saturday, June 18, 2016
On hind sight the Referendum being held in the United Kingdom on whether to leave or stay is a mistake. No matter what the outcome the other side will be unhappy and claim that a mistake has been made. And what a Mistake it will be!
If the majority are for staying within the EU, then Brussels will be able to say, alright, now shut up and stop complaining!
On the other hand, if it's to leave, no one has any real idea of what that will mean.
The Stay group, which are the political, security and economic interests make a valid point.
The Leave group are more emotive in their concerns. They are sick and tired of being told what they can and cannot do. Brussels imposes rules and dictates upon the British way of life to the extent that traditionalists no longer recognize their own customs and culture. Many of the older Brits are over here in Spain impacting the Spanish way of life to the negative because they have lost the plot back home in Britain. I think that were I in their shoes I might understand what drives their frustration.
We are all living in a changing world, even conservative Britain, but I will be very surprised if the vote favors the biggest change of all. Britain does not generally favor change but it is possible that this time around the populace will vote for a change that no-one has any real idea of what the consequence will mean.
I think it's reasonable to expect a grand turnout of voters on Thursday. I hope all the bars will be closed until after the vote is completed. It would be horrible to be drunk when you voted, only to wake up the next day and realised you did what?
Copyright (c) 2016
Friday, June 10, 2016
Today is the 10th day of June, 2016, and the time is 6 pm Spanish time, and High Noon in Louisville, Kentucky in America. Today is the day when The Greatest is being gently and lovingly laid to rest.
I offer the following as my way of saying, Goodbye Champ!
Mohammed Ali has, as he said himself, lived a life of ten men and is larger than life. I must admit that I am not a fan of boxing but even I have to recognise that he was the best at what he did. He was great in the ring, but he was also great in everyday life.
The greatest thing that he did, in my opinion was done quietly in a conversation with Michael Parkinson, the well respected British talk show host. The interview lasted one hour and this selected excerpt formed part of it.
Michael Parkinson (MP)- When is your first recollection, as a child, of being a second class citizen?
MA: "Second class? Oh no, sixteenth class. They used to always say I was a second class citizen. I would say to my mother: Momma?
How come the Chinese can go where I can't go in America? Englishmen can come and set up a business in white America and do things I can't do. The Puerto Ricans, Hawaiians, just about everybody can do more than black people and are respected.
Oh man, if we were second-class citizens we'd be driving old Cadillacs and living good.
I always asked my mother, how come is everything white? Why is Jesus white with blond hair and blue eyes? Why is the Lord's supper all white men? Why is Santa Claus and Superman white? Why are the angels white; and the Pope white, and Mary. When we die are we going to Heaven?"
She said, of course were going to Heaven.
"Well, what happened to all the black angels?"
The took the pictures:
" I know, they were in the kitchen making the milk and honey."
With that he outlined the crux of the problem of the black tribe. There was nothing wrong with the creation of those symbols for the white tribe, but we black children grew up with nothing of our own to look up to so that we would feel good about ourselves.
So Mohammed Ali followed that up by giving the black tribe a hero that we could believe in. A real one, not one that was fake such as Santa Claus and Superman. He managed to conduct his life throughout without embarrassing his believers.
When he declared himself a conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam we all took a deep breath. However, we must remember that this was America at a time when the struggle for black civil rights was in full swing. Had he gone to Vietnam and been captured, his captors should have slapped him for being there to kill them when back home he did not even have the most basic of human rights.
In fact, there were apparently cases of black men in uniform being killed on the streets of America simply for wearing the uniform of the armed forces. Was he right? Absolutely! On this day there will be many who denounced him at the time for his stand, but who now see clearly what a giant the man was.
Unfortunately, there was only one Mohammed Ali. That was so that he would stand tall above all others as one to be emulated but probably never to be equalled.
I say, on this day, to you personally Mohammed Ali, I thank you so much for what you gave us; and especially for what it personally cost you. You have lived a life that was a glowing example that will never be forgotten. You are a positive influence for my son and my great grand daughters.
You once stood before an audience, in the grip of Parkinson's disease; shaking and with trembling voice you announced that you would come back. Your audience politely laughed, but the good news is that you will indeed be back through reincarnation in the body of some very lucky new born.
You were too good for only one round. I'm looking forward to Round Two!
Good bye for now, my friend!
Copyright (c) 2016
Saturday, June 4, 2016
I was not going to touch the incident at the Cincinnati Zoo, but there is so much material in the incident that I feel compelled to put my oar in.
I'm talking about the fact that a three-year old boy slipped away from his parents and fell down a fifteen foot embankment into Harambe, the gorilla's enclosure.
The fact that it happened at all means that responsibility must be shared between the parents and the zoo, as it was something that was supposedly guarded against. However, I am not about criticizing a family with four children or the zoo where that fencing has been adequate for 37 years. What I want to do is look at human responses that prove that there is no such thing as a consensus of opinion; on anything. It just doesn't exist.
Harambe was a beautiful gorilla and it is a real shame that he had to be sacrificed. However, there will be a school of thought that will hold that he was "just" an animal so what's the fuss all about? In the wild gorillas are routinely hunted and killed to the point of near extinction, yet there is very little in the way of public outrage as this goes on every day. These same people might even fantasize about hunting gorillas themselves.
Then there is the group who feel that the animal should not have been killed, no matter what. They say that Harambe seemed to be protecting the boy, but he could not have known how delicate this young human was. In his hands the boy was like a rag doll, and it is a miracle that in ten minutes in the enclosure the boy was not accidentally killed or even seriously harmed.
There have been a couple of cases lately where mature humans have entered into the enclosures of dangerous animals with the apparent intention of suffering suicide. Zoo officials have intervened to get the person out, sometimes at a cost to the animals. I know that officials cannot just stand by while the person realises his goal, but I certainly wish that they would go have a coffee while the man gets to know the animals a bit better.
It is important to remember that this was not a scene from King Kong. That was a movie with a script where it was known how the make-believe screen gorilla would act. This was real life where the people who were watching inadvertently further agitated the animal through their panic. It was a highly emotional ten minutes that could have so easily ended in the death of the child.
There are people who have been quick to condemn the parents for their failure to have kept absolute control over all four of their children. However, something like a simple incoming phone call would have been enough of a distraction, thereby reducing vigilance of four children onto one parent. A curious and adventurous child of three needs even less space to get into trouble.
This has to simply be chalked up to one of those extraordinary things that no-one ever wanted to see happen, but since it did all must learn the obvious lessons on offer.
Copyright (c) 2016
Sunday, May 29, 2016
This June will see three momentous decisions taken by voters. June the 23rd will see voters in a referendum in the United Kingdom decide whether they want to remain in the EU club, or whether they prefer to leave and go it alone.
This is a highly extraordinary consideration for a country that prefers tradition to change. There are people in Britain who still prefer to conduct all their communications through the snail mail of the Post Office. They are being asked to vote their opinion on whether to continue life as it is, or whether to jump off a cliff to see what happens after that.
Scotland recently went through a referendum on whether to remain part of the United Kingdom or to stand alone. That country decided that tradition ruled. At this point there simply is no way for anyone to have confidence in a prediction of how it will turn out. Fundamentally, there are two sides to the question, and both sides are entirely reasonable. On the one hand there is the economic and security case that states that Britain is much better off in staying where it is.
As members of a club, presumably there are benefits to be had for being a club member in the first place. In Britain's case there are. The club consists of 500 million people with whom to trade. Britain is an important member of the club and enjoys preferential treatment. It seems that the cost of membership must be worth it, otherwise I would have expected Britain to have quit a long time ago, were it not so. The people who take the position to stay in are mainly the elite ruling class.
The other position is social and personal. Britain continuously finds Brussels interfering in it's affairs. Unelected officials constantly stand in the way of the British way of life causing outrage throughout the country. What we see is a clash of cultures and complete, and some say, deliberate misunderstanding of how the British prefer to do things. This comes at the same time as Britain has to absorb immigrants from the former colonies which is placing enough strain on the English man and woman in the street. Voters in this group find the whole question highly emotive and may not be thinking all that clearly if they are being guided by their emotions.
One of the very big questions is should Britain decide to elect the Out option, what will happen to those people from the Continent who are in Britain at the moment, and, of course what will happen to the millions of Brits who are on the Continent. For those countries that host British pensioners who receive money from Britain, I imagine they will not be so keen to see them return to Britain, nor will they want to see their own nationals sent back.
One prediction that will most likely come true is that voting will see a very high turn out.
On June 26th, voting will take place again in Spain to try and form a government. We tried that last November and it ended with a hung system. The old system of interchange of the two dominant parties was broken because of corruption within the system that seems to have been ever present. That led to a disastrous situation for the country, and gave rise to the young warriors who want the old guard gone. The court system is clogged with so many political cases of corruption it is easy to see what they mean.
The country has been without an active government since it first tried to put in place a governing party, and in spite of several attempts to form a coalition that has not been possible. So, if at first we didn't succeed, we need to try again; and if not then, we will try yet again.
The third important vote will take place in my own country of Bermuda on June 23rd, where the referendum will decide whether to respect the right of gay people to happiness by being married to one another, either in church ceremonies or in civil unions. This is just as important as the other two decisions to be made as we live in a modern world of live, and let live.
There are some countries where gay people are killed. That says nothing about the gay person but a whole lot about the killers, nothing of which is good. Bermuda is, in so many ways a country to be envied. The literacy rate is near 100% and a great number of people live very well. A lot of people argue the case against gays and lesbians by citing the bible, but if God is responsible for creating mankind, if some of mankind have a sexual orientation toward one another, then that's the way God made them. Enough said!
The reason I'm thinking about these three significant voter exercises is that for one reason or another I either cannot, or am not allowed to vote in any of the exercises, but at least in two of the three the outcome will have a direct impact on my life.
That's sort of like having taxation without representation.
Copyright (c) 2016
Saturday, May 21, 2016
I overheard a British man at the next table telling his friends that he had left Britain and come to Spain because he could no longer abide the fact that the country was becoming overrun by Muslim immigrants. They had come into the country in droves, and they insisted on carrying on their way of life, instead of integrating into the English way.
He felt that it was just too much that they insisted on speaking in Arabic; they did not socially mix with English society, and that in fact they were a nation within a nation.
I thought, if only you could hear what the Spanish are saying about the British impact in Spain.
The man did have a point. He was describing how the world has always worked to cross pollinate cultures around the world. Stronger nations deliberately invaded other weaker nations and colonised and exploited them. The weaker nations even benefited by learning of new ways to do things. Britain was the country who boasted that they had invaded so many countries that the sun never set on their empire, and India was the jewel in the crown.
It didn't seem to occur to Britain that in invading a country that belonged to other people was wrong in principle. The only thing that made it right was might. The problem with that was once having taken over someone's country the population became awakened and aware of the existence of what was referred to as the Mother Land. It was only natural that in the fullness of time people would want to visit the invader's home.
Just as British invaders spoke their own language and practised their own customs and religion, so it is with even mere tourists. Very few people deliberately make the effort to change their own customs to adopt those of the host country. A person's way of life is what they know and is who they are. Also, we tend to think that our way is best, so why change.
British Muslims appear to find life in England more to their liking as they are able to practise their religion freely, which is not always the case in their homelands. However, they don't want to be Englishmen and Englishwomen. Some have arrived in England due to escape from persecution, and having had their lives interrupted they now simply want to continue on as before.
I am one of the few people I know who consciously make the effort to integrate totally into the culture of Spain. That is because I freely made to decision to move here because I fell in love with Spain and her people. I think the Spanish way of life is wonderful and I have chosen to adopt it for myself. It also helps that a Spanish explorer first discovered Bermuda, which is where the name comes from: Juan de Bermudez. The Spanish crown decided it did not have an interest in maintaining its claim to the island, and so it left Bermuda to be re-discovered by someone else. That person was Sir George Somers who claimed it for the British Throne.
I always wondered what life would have been like for me had Spain retained its right to the territory. I'm here finding out, and I'm not disappointed.
Meanwhile, life goes on in the United Kingdom as a rainbow of immigrants continue to come and go, and the country becomes more diversified as a result. Old-time Brits may indeed take umbrage with the changes, but it is the way of the world.
Nothing stands absolutely still. We are moving ahead or falling behind but change is relentless!
Copyright (c) 2016