Friday, November 15, 2019

FRIDAY MUSIC: Eileen Ivers, by JD

Eileen Ivers is an Irish/American violinist. Born in New York she began playing fiddle/violin at the age of nine and over the years has progressed from traditional Irish fiddle playing to being perfectly at home in virtually every genre of music. As an example see the video below in which she is more than a match for the great American jazz violinist Regina Carter and the classical player Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg. (By the way, she also plays the banjo, and why not!)

On her website, The New York Times describe her as "the Jimi Hendrix of the violin.
A ridiculous comparison. She is a virtuoso on violin, Hendrix was flash and mediocre even by rock's low standards.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

BREXIT: The Political Declaration - Fifty Shades Of Yea

The post below has also been published on The Conservative Woman:

The Political Declaration contains divorce terms so amicable that the opposing parties ought to get a room. Yet if the General Election forecasts are correct, the next Conservative government should have a majority that will let Boris Johnson radically revise the WA/PD or scrap them altogether. Will he do it?

Should he do it?

The hubristic European Union is already gloating that May’s Withdrawal Agreement hasn’t been modified, merely clarified. I haven’t yet studied the documentation, so I can’t say – but then, how many MPs and spads have done so? How many, rather, are like Douglas Hurd at Maastricht, who jested (and was it a jest?) ‘Now we’ve signed it – we had better read it’? Still, they’ve had two years to go through what was 599 pages and is now only 541 – not much longer than an airport bonkbuster; and it’s their job, after all.

The Political Declaration, on the other hand, is merely 26 pages in both the original and revised versions; the length of a short story. Even the layman can read that, and what a story it is!

This sketch of the future relationship between the divorcees is half lawyer and half lover. In the first version the word ‘ambitious’ appears seven times, ‘close’ sixteen, ‘to the extent possible’ (and similar phrases) thirteen, and ‘align/ment’ four. One feels the bonds being tied already. So masterful… and so yielding!

And the atmospherics are not much changed in the revision. Yes, the Irish backstop has been taken out – including the twice-used commanding phrase ‘on a permanent footing’ (how did that get past May’s negotiators?), but disputes are still to go to the EU’s Court of Justice for a ‘binding ruling’ (tighter, please!)

Here’s an odd detail: the original spoke of ‘administrative cooperation in customs’ but left out VAT. Not insignificant: we sent £3.1 billion (pre-rebate) to theEU last year, which is like winning the 10 biggest-ever jackpots on the Euromillions, twice over, annually. Oops, or not?

As for the UK-fisheries-strangling ‘level playing field’, here’s the new (longer) paragraph – even if, like me, you’re not legally trained, how many carefully ambiguous – and entangling - phrases can you find in it?

‘Given the Union and the United Kingdom's geographic proximity and economic interdependence, the future relationship must ensure open and fair competition, encompassing robust commitments to ensure a level playing field. The precise nature of commitments should be commensurate with the scope and depth of the future relationship and the economic connectedness of the Parties. These commitments should prevent distortions of trade and unfair competitive advantages. To that end, the Parties should uphold the common high standards applicable in the Union and the United Kingdom at the end of the transition period in the areas of state aid, competition, social and employment standards, environment, climate change, and relevant tax matters. The Parties should in particular maintain a robust and comprehensive framework for competition and state aid control that prevents undue distortion of trade and competition; commit to the principles of good governance in the area of taxation and to the curbing of harmful tax practices; and maintain environmental, social and employment standards at the current high levels provided by the existing common standards. In so doing, they should rely on appropriate and relevant Union and international standards, and include appropriate mechanisms to ensure effective implementation domestically, enforcement and dispute settlement. The future relationship should also promote adherence to and effective implementation of relevant internationally agreed principles and rules in these domains, including the Paris Agreement.’

Back to Johnson’s revise/scrap option. Can he do it?

Fair stands the wind for Boris: Corbyn's Labour Party has culled smoothie crypto-Marxist Blairites - who unlike him have actually held power and foisted real constitutional damage on us - but also repelled Old Labour by openly espousing a Marxism that would have Cassandra crying in the streets. Accordingly, Electoral Calculus predicts (as at 9 November) a 96-seat Conservative majority. This is not counting the pact offered by The Brexit Party (and favoured by TCW readers) that could split the working-class Labour vote in many key seats.

So far, Johnson rejects Farage's offer, but the risk he is taking is that enough traditional Conservative voters will understand and reject the hurriedly-made-over May deal to split their vote, too. Should they be convinced that Corbyn has no chance whatever, then anything could happen in the polling booths.

If Johnson wants a 1997-scale landslide, then like Blair he should shun presumption and over-engineer his campaign. There is still time: unless I'm mistaken, a new Parliament might pass a fresh Meaningful Vote in favour of an ironclad real deal on the slipway, instead of launching a paper boat into a stormy sea with BJ's huff-and-puff in its sails.

In short, the choice on 12 December is not between Citizen Smith and the Blond Bombshell; it's between Bullish Boris and Blowhard Boris. If he doesn't deliver Brexit, it won't be because he didn't have the chance. And then we shall know him.

Friday, November 08, 2019


You may not be familiar with the name Amos Lee but he is an extremely talented young singer/songwriter and fully deserves a place in our mini hall of musical fame here at Broad Oak Magazine. You will understand why when you listen to the selection included here.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Walking protohumans started in Europe?

According to research published in Nature, the first bipedal ancestor of modern humans may have come from southern Europe. Dubbed Danuvius Guggenmosi, the remains were found in Bavaria and date from c. 11.5 million years ago.

Only a few weeks before this discovery, another research team speculated that a 10-million-year-old pelvis belonging to another species called Rudapithecus Hungaricus may have enabled it to walk upright, too.

Before now, says the Daily Mail's report, the earliest evidence of two-legged hominids came from Kenya - the 6 million-year-old remains of Orrorin Tugenensis -  and some fossilised footprints on the island of Crete.

"The discovery of Danuvius may shatter the prevailing notion of how bipedalism evolved: that perhaps 6 million years ago in East Africa a chimpanzee-like ancestor started to walk on two legs after environmental changes created open landscapes and savannahs where forests once dominated."

So rather than coming from Africa, it's possible that some of humanity's ancestors may have gone there before re-migrating northwards.

Cross-posted on The Polynesian Times:

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Remainers softening? A straw in the wind

Two years ago, the world-famous broadcaster David Attenborough was comparing opposition to the EU to spitting in each other's faces, and 'criticised the decision to put leaving the European Union to a referendum because people had not been given “the facts"'.

More recently, without publicly declaring himself a Remainer or Leaver (and that in itself indicates consciousness of enduring public division), he has said:

“I think that the irritation of the ways in which the European community has interfered with people’s lives on silly levels or silly issues has irritated a lot of people who don’t actually understand what the advantages and the disadvantages are.”  ...

“They’re just fed up with somebody over there who doesn’t speak their language, telling him how much money they’ve got to charge for tomatoes or something silly.”

Asked if he was more of a Brexiteer than a Remainer, Sir David said he believed “there had to be a change, one way or another”.

It's interesting that he understands that there may indeed be disadvantages in our EU membership, and that the EU attempts to micromanage in a counterproductive way.

I read this as a sign that at least part of the Establishment is becoming aware that the Referendum result was not merely a flash in the pan and that there is much settled feeling against the European project.

Granted, in the quotation above the speaker seems to say - as so many Remainers said, immediately after the vote and persistently from then on, that such people 'don't actually understand' the issues (though I really don't see much clear, logic- and fact-based argument for the advantages, from Remainers).

But I sense a shift. And I think the traffic is more this way than that.

This post also appears on All About Brexit:

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

All About Brexit: new blog under construction

I think it's becoming clear that Brexit is going to be a long-drawn-out process, even after (or rather, because of) the "deal" that PM Johnson seems set to push through Parliament and the EU.

There's plenty of detailed academic-type discussion available online, but I think there is a gap in the market for a more simple, user-friendly vade mecum. So I am working on a blog that will provide information, links to documents and websites etc and act as a plain guide to the issues and history.

I would like to show both sides of the argument, but I wonder whether, like me, you have found it difficult to find sources that make the case for Remain anything like as thoroughly as the many proponents of Leave? So although - on the whole - I think we should leave the EU, it would be helpful to have links to logical and factual arguments from Remainers.

Your suggestions are warmly welcomed - can be an O/T comment on any post here or on the new blog, All About Brexit:


Saturday, November 02, 2019

Eco Loonery Addendum, by Wiggiatlarge

Shortly after my post on Eco Loonery was posted, two of the most cynical statements were issued by the government. Two aims can be gleaned from these measures and neither is for the benefit of the country, only for themselves.

Firstly they announced a halt to fracking amid fears of earthquakes. The fact no earthquakes have emanated from fracking sites world wide gives credibility to Jeremy Corbyn's statement, of all people. This is an election stunt. Why we should sit on 400 years of coal and shale gas but buy expensive Russian gas is a complete mystery. We are evermore going down the road of expensive and unreliable energy with wind and sun as the main suppliers.

I can only assume with no real evidence of earthquakes, just unfounded fears, that votes in the area with an election in the offing are more important than future independent energy supplies. Why are we not investing in clean coal and gas and preferring to buy in supplies as we are with gas and nuclear power from France? We are at the mercy of pricing over which we have no control. Madness.

The second item is even more daft. It would appear that Extinction Rebellion's desire to have "citizens' assemblies" to dictate or advise on eco policies has been given the green light, by the same government! 30,000 people will be asked at random if they wish to participate and then people will be selected to put forward their views.

Thirty thousand would seem like a large number but is a very small segment of the population at large.

The obvious and deliberate flaw in this is that you can bet no one who is not a climate change believer will be selected. So the likelihood is that those on the assembly platform will be almost certainly rabid eco loons as they will all be pushing to be selected, whereas others will not bother and the so called denier faction will be filtered out. We will then have XR actually pushing their agenda through a supposedly democratic means which of course it won't be.

You would think a government responsible for treating the country with contempt for three and a half years and rising would start to see the light but no, reverting to type and ignoring the people and giving in to minorities whatever the issue is now de riguer it seems.

Can we do anything ? Well voting them all out would be a start, but it will not happen. We seem to have an elite that is determined to ruin this country in so many ways, and they are succeeding.

More Eco Loonery, by Wiggiatlarge

At this moment in time it seems that every Brexit report, ad nauseam, is matched by another launch of "save the world for the children" or alternatively another green measure, some think tank backed by government (our) money has come up with to further ensure more penury for the little people in the not too distant future, usually following some new report of a climate model that spells out doom for all, yet no climate model has been correct on anything.

Naturally all these schemes come with the approval badge from those who either gain from it financially or find comfort in doing the ‘right’ thing regardless of consequences they will never have to endure.

I notice that any ‘good’ news on the sustainable front is given priority in the news. A report that for the first time sustainable energy provided more than 50% of the total needs omitted to tell that the quarter they were referring to was the three months of a very hot summer and the longest days when demand was at its lowest; of course when those still overcast drab and very cold winter days come come along and the sustainables only provide zilch there is no headline, only the threat of power cuts, which neatly brings me to the next nonsense in the eco world.

The 2050 target for zero emissions cannot possibly be reached with our current infrastructure. The National Grid report here talks of the need for 85 gigawatts needed by 2050 as against 60 now. In the light that they can’t get a single new nuclear plant built in twenty years, that can never be achieved with a combination of running down coal-fired power stations and replacing them with the weather-reliant wind and solar systems. And none of the figures show any allowance for the expanding (forever) population: official figures say that the next ten years will bring in 3 million extra, enough for another 3 Birminghams alone, never mind the endless illegal migrants that are reckoned to be anything from 1 to 10 million according to which report you want to believe.

These are basic facts. Silly claims that smart meters will make an eight gigabyte saving are pie in the sky: there is no proof for that assumption and it is just another push to get control of your energy so they can decide what you get and what you pay, never believe anything else on that front. Smart meters give the power companies the ability to decide what you can have at a given time and ramp up the price during peak periods, like the motor car in whatever form that takes it will be priced to dampen demand and use, they will have no choice because of the lack of the right type of infrastructure.

This quote from a government minister on smart meters….

‘Eventually, residents would be able to choose real-time tariffs, to switch on appliances when energy is cheapest' - i.e. you can use your kettle and save money if you put it on at 1 o'clock in the morning, plus he gives a veiled threat to those who have not complied and sought to have smart meters fitted…..

‘Lord Duncan admitted there had been "hiccups along the road", but there were potentially "big incentives" for people to agree to a smart meter being fitted. He added that those who stuck with "relic meters" risked "very high" maintenance costs.’ There are so far no advantages in smart meters for the consumer,  all the advantages are for the supplier and the veiled threat is just that. What high maintenance costs? Or are they going to charge us an exorbitant rate for meter reading as you have failed to toe the government line?

Still we will all be able to travel by train when we are priced off the road….

The contrasting views on future needs were highlighted in a Times business report on the aviation industry, in which it was stated that world-wide the number of aircraft expected to be in operation by 2050 will have doubled to around 44,000 - interesting in the light of what we are told re travelling by air, could it be just us being stopped from flying as it appears no one else will be ! And certainly not those celebs who happily pose with the likes of XR (Extinction Rebellion) protestors to boost their green credentials while at the same time totally ignoring the same advice regards themselves. (The Guardian forecasts 48,000!)

Naturally the population explosion world-wide is left out of any energy plans, yet how can that be? Every extra person on the planet will require feeding and will have have an energy requirement. Both needs are now being strangled at source by the green lobby yet they believe this is good for us, the same people who claim we are at fault as a prime industrial nation for the ‘horrors’ of climate change - which we aren’t - also benefited and are where they are in the pecking order because of the industrial revolution started in this country.

An interesting short video on where the population is going from the beginning of man on this earth or at least from when significant numbers had established:

Unless another form of propulsion is advanced as with hydrogen to become practical the EV (electric vehicle) will become the status quo, and I don’t oppose that; but with all the pressure from the green lobby groups and the energy companies who see the long term future and another fuel bonanza it cannot be done. The costings for the infrastructure involved are enormous - one estimate showed around 180 billion for the charging infrastructure - and we already lag far behind many other western nations in that respect.

The retail price of EVs is simply not on. Very little R&R is required to produce ICE (internal combustion engine) cars, yet despite manufacturers' claims of huge investment, electric motors have been around longer than the combustion engine, and still a recent report gave a figure of around £800-900 for an electric motor to power an average EV. Electric motors require no expensive gearbox and very few engine ancillaries, only the battery is expensive and the price there has plummeted as they become main line; so why the ridiculous cost? To which we know the answer: as with all 'new' technology the initial launch period is where manufacturers  make their money, as with e.g. mobile phones and cameras.

No one yet has given a solution to the recycling of the enormous amount of batteries that will start to end their useful life in the near future; not just car batteries but the already surging popularity of cordless, battery-powered tools and appliances. Anyone looking at the battery collection points in supermarkets sees overflowing containers of just the small batteries used in items like phones etc. The thought of car batteries being on that scale makes the mind boggle on that scale and as I've said, apart from mouthings in some quarters no evidence of a solution has appeared.

One of the more interesting and ludicrous aspects of all this Greta Hamburger attack on everyone to 'save the planet' has been people calling out the hypocrisy spouted by resource-wasteful celebs who then back track to the position that although they carry on doing what they do, they have warned the rest of us. A typical statement came from Lewis Hamilton of all people, who will no doubt claim that the ridicule heaped on him is because he is black or at least half black. This is what he said.

"It's not easy as we're travelling the world and our carbon footprint is higher than the average homeowner who lives in one city," said Hamilton. "That doesn't mean you should be afraid to speak out for positive change."

Hamilton used his Instagram feed last week to say he felt "like giving up on everything", that the world was "messed up" and to ask people to follow his example in taking up a plant-based diet to help the environment.”

So in his case eating beans makes his air travel and driving cars that guzzle fuel perfectly OK. "Bizarre" doesn’t cover it. 'Give up on everything' - we shall see, that is one of those statements like, “I will leave the country if we exit the EU”:  it never happens,  and he is far from alone. Most of the XR leaders have been found to be a long way from following their own diktat, but it was forever thus.

It could be that all the above is not worth worrying about anyway, just the demographic part. It might well be the case that those third world countries that are expanding at these alarming rates will simply decant to the west in numbers that are never sustainable and we all go back to third world living, something else there seems to be scant concern about in the minds of those who govern us.

Mad Max, anyone?