Whither Ukraine?

If you believe the news, never a good idea, you’d believe that Russia was acting with unpredictable aggression towards Ukraine. Of course, you’d also be incorrect. Russia is certainly acting with aggression, but it’s entirely predictable and entirely logical. Much has been said about Vladimir Putin’s argument that the collapse of the USSR was a geopolitical catastrophe. Many people in Russia agree with him. Far fewer in countries such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary or Ukraine would agree with him. The truth is, of course, that it was for the best for some countries, for the worse for others and, on the global scale, a calamity. The absence of an alternate power centre meant that the US was able to do as it wished on the global scale. Under Clinton, the US had a largely responsible foreign policy. Under Bush Jr. and Obama, the US behaved with reckless disregard. American intervention in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia led to chaos and misery.

I do not wish to defend Russian aggression per se. I also do not wish to be seen as an apologist for socialism or the USSR. If Russia had all that much to offer, then countries that were once part of the Russian Empire and the USSR wouldn’t have been so keen to get out from under Russia’s shadow. Even in Ukraine, one of the more troubled post-Soviet European states, the benefits of independence have far outweighed any negative consequences. Europe is not, however, the entire world.

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Is The Tide Turning?

Hi All, as you all probably know, it has been a long long time since I posted on here, but even I was surprised to see it was over three years ago. This is partly due to spending much of 2019 supporting Bettina in her battle against cancer, which thankfully now seems to be gone two years after chemo and radio treatment, albeit never completely gone from our thoughts. Then came the charade of a pandemic, and fanatical restrictions and measures to control it.

I accept that we have probably all had it up to the eyebrows on the topic of Covid, but in spite of that have decided to attempt to lay down my thoughts.

I wrote to my two children in April 2020, during complete lockdown here in Spain, on a sad note wondering if or when I would ever see them again. They laughed at the silly old bugger, exaggerating as usual. I wrote them a long letter in May 2020 explaining that I thought that this was the start of something quite big. The way that the whole world almost simultaneously reacted smelled of an orchestrated worldwide event. I told them in the letter that I predict vaccinations for everyone, even newborns, to be administered every year. Proof of vaccination would be required to do basic things and be able to take part in society. Bars, cafes, restaurants, gyms, theaters, leisure centres all would be only available to those who “did the right thing”. My son, now 42 thought that I was barmy and ridiculed me as a cranky conspiracy theorist. My daughter, now 48 was a little less direct, but I am sure had similar thoughts. Bettina didn’t want to talk about it, as she thought it would all be over by Christmas. I never felt so alone in my entire life as during 2020.

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Lizzie has gone ga-ga

Time for her to be sectioned

A knighthood for Tony Blair?

How absolutely stupid, devoid of all reason and contemptuous of millions of normal working people. Blair is a criminal – he should be in prison doing hard labour, for life.

I thought Lizzie was better than this, but sadly I’m wrong.

Scrap the monarchy, resume their spoils and demolish the whole corrupt system of privilege for the ultra rich, entitled wankers.

Ugh!

The Fall of Merkel

I had intended to write this sooner, but real life proved to be less than amenable.

Merkel is gone. The person who was the global face of Germany for 16 years is out of power and out of the Bundestag. The most noticeable thing is that there is nothing of note. Life carries on and her legacy, to use that awful term, has evaporated within days. That seems to be the norm; now more than ever. A prime minister like Cameron, a president like Obama, a Kanzler like Merkel can hold office for years, dominate discussion and public focus and then disappear as if they had never existed at all. If a legacy does exist, more often than not it’s toxic. Tony Blair left the UK worse for the wear, far worse. Turnbull left little of value, but planted a toxic crop that still hunts the Liberal Party. He’s not so much “the Ghost” as he is “the Fart”. Macron is creating a climate so toxic that even if he is forced out of power in April, the French state has become so heavy-handed and brutal that already strained relations between the people and the government will take years to heal if the French state makes few major mistakes.

So Merkel is gone. Her party is in tatters, rudderless, leaderless and in desperate need to find itself. Is it a centre-right, Christian Democratic party, the legacy of Adenauer? Is it a centrist party a la Merkel, reliant on Bavaria’s CSU to hold the line? After all, the only reason why it didn’t collapse entirely is that Bavaria, albeit by a reduced margin, once again supported the CSU. Without it, the theoretic centre-right would have been reduced to a rump opposition in the way that they were in Western Australia or the Northern Territories.

Germany has a new government. It is a complicated piece of political machinery. The Social Democrats stand at the centre of a three-party coalition that includes the Greens and the Free Democrats. The old party of labour, the party of activists and student union demagogues and the party of the polite middle class now need to hold together for four years. Is it possible? Quite probably so. The SPD haven’t led a government since 2005 and this is their chance to prove that they are still capable of that. For the Greens, it’s their first taste of power since 2005. For the FDP, it’s their first time in power since 2013 and their first time in a coalition with a party other than the CDU/CSU since Helmut Schmidt, some 40 years ago. It’s not that one can expect much from them, but being in power is its own aphrodisiac and it’s doubtful any of the three are keen to risk losing it (and electoral credibility).

The Ashes 2021/2

At long last . . .

Tomorrow at 10:00 am (midnight today GMT and Zulu) the first Ashes Test will begin at The Gabba in Brissy, just down the track from Boadicea and me. Weather permitting. We’re in one of our rainy years (La Niña), so getting rained off is quite a possibility. Fingers crossed – “she’ll be right!”

As you all will probably remember, I lost interest in Aussie cricket after Sandpapergate. Players, Management and all the hangers-on. I have followed a few games recently – WCT20 was, I have to admit, quite fun – but not to any depth. But time has passed and it is the Ashes after all, so I guess I’ll be watching every ball, as usual.

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Having Login Problems?

This may help, perhaps . . .

I did, for a while. Every time I came to the Chariot I had to login, which hadn’t been the case previously. I found a sort of work around which did the trick for me. Then some while later I found I didn’t need to bother, ‘cos everything was back how it used to was.

Being me, I’m running Edge on Windows 11, on a PC that doesn’t meet Microsoft’s ridiculous minimum requirements, thanks to an unofficial, official registry hack released by . . . Microsoft. Go figure!

Boadicea still runs the Chrome browser on Win 10 on both her machines – she’s had no problems whatsoever. My mobile runs the WordPress App on Android – no worries there, either.

Now that things have been corrected – in Edge or Windows or WordPress – you shouldn’t have any more trouble, but to be on the safe side you can follow the instructions below, if you like.

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Farewell, Hong Kong.

Hong Kong was always going to be China’s acid test. Thatcher, Britain’s last conviction PM, was never keen on returning it to China. She never trusted Beijing to abide by its commitments further than to interpret the Anglo-Chinese Joint Declaration whichever way suited it best. Originally inclined to hold onto the colony, she relented only because the Chinese were prepared and able to starve and dehydrate Hong Kong into submission.

Hong Kongers knew what they could expect. Some, such as Carrie Lam and Jackie Chan, sold their souls to the Party. Both have done well out of it. Carrie Lam, for all her uselessness and incompetence, was appointed Chief Executive of the territory. Jackie Chan is the CCP’s poster boy. He is the model that Beijing wants all Hong Kongers to emulate. Speak Cantonese if you wish, be a Hong Konger if you must, but never forget that Xi Dada is your lord and master and that you must bow to Beijing’s whims without complaint or question.

Of course, much of Hong Kong’s business elite have taken this position. So, frankly, has the greater portion of Hong Kong-based criminal syndicates. When there were protests, frequently heated, a singular, obvious fact was pointed out by many advocates of a liberal Hong Kong. The vast majority of thugs and troublemakers could not speak or understand Cantonese. They were Mandarin-speaking. That is, they were brought in from the Mainland to do the Triads’ and Chief Executive’s dirty work for them. The odds of someone recognising a Hong Konger would be too great.

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Howdy

Just thought I’d follow up on Sheona’s question about being able to write original posts.

Not much to really say. I’ve been extremely busy, balancing three jobs and a busy study schedule. Managed to slip out of California for a week to visit Texas. Will fly back to California tomorrow. Would prefer to be in Europe, but Boris managed to destroy that for me and I’m working on getting to Sweden.

Whither Australia? (And New Zealand, the UK and, indeed, the rest of the world!)

I recently came across this bit of prose.

“The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.”

It is from a very short story called “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. The full text, which seems to be in the public domain, can be found here.

https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cabarrus.k12.nc.us%2Fcms%2Flib09%2FNC01910456%2FCentricity%2FDomain%2F4127%2F2081%2520SS%2520Harrison%2520Bergeron.doc&wdOrigin=BROWSELINK

A little more research took me to this film, here: https://youtu.be/XBcpuBRUdNs I think it is worth watching.

Having followed some of what has been going on in Australia and, to be fair, France as well as one or two other countries, I cannot help feeling that our antipodean friends are well down the road to a Vonnegutian dystopia. By contrast, Zimbabwe, for now at least, seems the be the epitome of sanity and adherence to human rights.

What say others?